Volume 76, Number 1 | June 6 - 12, 2007

Scoopy’s notebook

Papaya’s new brew: Although some Villagers are none too fond of the local papaya stores — what with their messy wrappers littering the sidewalk and their motorcycle-revving clientele — there’s no denying the papaya-frankfurter combo is a New York classic and a cheap and tasty meal. But Papaya Dog, a relative newcomer on the papaya scene at Carmine St. and Sixth Ave., is poised to take papaya to a new place: The small papaya purveyor plans to add beer and wine to its menu. We just hope they’re not thinking about papaya-flavored brewskies. Of course, they’ll have to change their name. We’ve already thought of a few: Papaya Drunk as a Dog…Sudsy Papaya…or how about Papaya, Pinot Noir et Les Pups? The application is on the agenda for Community Board 2’s Business Committee meeting, on Tues., June 12, at SEIU 32BJ, 101 Sixth Ave., 22nd floor, starting at 6:30 p.m. Neighbor Susan Rosengarten tells us there is “a lot of opposition, as well as outrage,” over the application, but that it will be hard to fight, since the State Liquor Authority doesn’t hold 500-foot-rule hearings for wine and beer licenses. “We can only hope the S.L.A. will do what we think is the right thing,” she said.

N.Y.U. big dig: It’s nearing two months since New York University reached a deal with 250 Mercer St.’s co-op board under which they agreed to support N.Y.U.’s expansion of its co-generation plant under Mercer St. — a major, two-year project. Yet, the agreement still hasn’t been signed, and some residents of the co-op who oppose the project keep claiming the deal has fallen through. But Alicia Hurley, N.Y.U. associate vice president for government and community affairs, put those rumors to rest. “There has been lots of back and forth,” Hurley said. “They have a final version now for sign-off. There are no problems or areas where we haven’t been able to come to agreement; these things simply take time.”

Fireplace firestorm: A sales hook for a residential building undergoing a swank renovation at 209 E. Second St. on Avenue B is that each apartment will have its own wood-burning fireplace. John Penley, who lives around the corner, is up in arms. “If every luxury condo does this and starts a trend, it’s just going to add tons of extra, unnecessary pollution,” he said. “Basically, I don’t want a lot of yuppies coming down here and burning a lot of wood. They figure this is something no one else has, so they can jack up the price even more. It goes against everything Bloomberg is pushing with his green building thing. I pity the poor neighbors — unless they put in scrubbers or something, it’ll be terrible for them. I’m hoping it can be stopped before it actually gets done.” According to California’s Air Resources Board’s Web site, “wood-burning fireplaces produce far more pollution than heaters using other fuels” — specifically, pollution in the form of carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, volatile organic compounds, benzene, formaldehyde and benzo-a-pyrene. Back in the days of the Tompkins Square tent city, of course, they used to have fire barrels in the park, and churches from New Jersey would truck in wood. “They were doing it to keep people from dying and freezing out there,” Penley said, “not because they wanted a fireplace in their luxury condo.” However, broker Shawn Felker, of Prudential Douglas Elliman, said the building’s main attraction is that it has a keyed elevator and that the apartments are spacious lofts. “This is the Lower East Side, which was traditionally an immigrant area, so there’s not very many full-floor apartments,” he said. “It’s a Soho, Tribeca luxury.” Felker said Keith Haring used to live in the building. “You wouldn’t really heat with a wood-burning fireplace,” Felker noted, adding that the fireplaces were already there. However, some of the new owners are already asking that their fireplaces be converted to burn with gas. In fact, Felker said, the building’s heating system uses Runtal radiators, based on a European model that uses boiled water, as opposed to forced heat, and which are much more environmentally safe. “I lived on that block and thought it was hell,” Felker recalled. “And now we’re selling apartments for 20 to 25 grand over the asking price.” He said the apartments sold out in just three weeks.

Boys in the bubble: Each time we stop by to check out how Cartel, the “Band in the Bubble,” are doing at Pier 54, we find out a bit more about these stalwart young musicians and their incredible feat of endurance. They’ve been locked inside the three-story, fiberglass structure since May 24. We’re told their main fan base is 15-year-old girls. One devoted 14-year-old recently passed her bra to them through a special sliding drawer for them to autograph, and afterward, proudly showed it off by wearing it over her shirt. They have a recording studio in the bubble and are hard at work cutting a new album, to be released July 24. Wyclef Jean will stop by this Thursday afternoon to jam on a song and help produce the disc. They also flew in a tattoo artist from Atlanta to do some ink for them — though we don’t know why they didn’t use some of our local talent. A publicist said when Cartel finally “bursts” out of the bubble on June 12 at 8 p.m. it will be “an extravagant burst,” after which they’ll play a concert on the pier.

The Diether rebellion: Doris Diether, zoning doyenne of Community Board 2, despite being notified of her pending designation as “Zoning chairperson emeritus,” still hopes to hang on to her position as chairperson of the board’s Zoning and Housing Committee. “Emeritus” means “retired,” as far as she’s concerned — “And I ain’t retired!” she said. Diether’s been told she can still attend hearings at City Hall and report back on them to the committee. She said she’ll go to the hearings, all right, but as “an individual citizen,” and won’t fill in the committee. Diether said she’s already gotten several supportive phone calls after Scoopy reported last week on her “honorable demotion.”

Well, well, will: Speaking of community boards, Borough President Scott Stringer has a sterling record as far as we’re concerned in his appointments to and management of the local boards. However, it’s come to our attention that one C.B. 2 member, Will Weder, neither lives nor works in the district — the key requirement for being on a community board. Weder told us he originally was appointed by former B.P. C. Virginia Fields years ago because his partner, Greg Lambert, was active in the Village Reform Democratic Club. Weder confessed that when his term is up in two years, he’ll probably apply for membership on the East Side’s Community Board 6, in which he lives. We like Weder and think he’s a good board member, and feel sort of bad for blowing his cover — but should he really be on Board 2? And how did this slip through Stringer’s vaunted, blue-ribbon screening panel? So far, Stringer’s office hasn’t provided an answer. Weder did say both Maria Passannante Derr, the board’s chairperson, and Jo Hamilton, its vice chairperson, recently encouraged him to stay on the board.

Feel better: Former school board member Sophie Gerson got hip-replacement surgery on Wednesday after putting it off for three years. Her son, Councilmember Alan Gerson, has been a bit harder to reach this week as he helps her through it. “She’ll be back on the campaign trail soon,” Gerson assured.

On Jerry’s team: After four and a half years, political young gun Micah Lasher has decided to leave his firm, KnickerbockerSKD, and move to the public sector. He’s Congressmember Jerry Nadler’s West Side community rep.

All she wrote: After 22 years, Theresa’s Polish restaurant, at First Ave. between Sixth and Seventh Sts., lost its lease. They closed last Thursday. “The chicken soup there was spectacular,” said Anna Sawaryn. “They did a full renovation only 10 years ago.”

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