West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Volume 77 / Number 29 - December 19 - 25, 2007

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Scoopy's Notebook

Fountain info flow: We tried repeatedly over the last week to get answers from Councilmember Alan Gerson and the Parks Department on whether moving the Washington Square Park fountain about 20 feet to the east and repairing it would indeed cost $500,000 more than repairing it in place, as claimed by a new study commissioned by opponents of the park’s renovation. As our deadline approached, we got some information. Jama Adams, a Parks spokesperson, said: “Relocation of the fountain will not cost significantly more than restoring it in place, and is an essential component of the park renovation plan, which was developed with extensive community input, and will increase unpaved green space by 20 percent. Opponents neglect to mention that their proposal would require that the 130-year-old brick foundation of the fountain remain in place, an effort that would involve tunneling underneath in order to facilitate eight different water supplies and an electrical conduit.” Gerson said his office is reviewing the new fountain study by landscape architect Anthony Walmsley, commissioned by Luther Harris, as well as the Parks Department’s report. As of Tuesday, Gerson didn’t have anything to divulge about the comparative costs of moving the fountain versus keeping it in place. “We’re reviewing both submissions,” Gerson said. “It’s technical. We may consult with our own independent experts if we have to.” Reversing himself from last week when he told The Villager that $500,000 wasn’t that much in light of the $11 million price tag of the renovation’s Phase I, and that delaying the project would only raise construction costs, this week he called it a potential deal-breaker. “That $500,000 increment from moving the fountain alone would be contrary to the representation of the Parks Department,” Gerson said on Tuesday. “That would, in my opinion, jeopardize that part of the project” — i.e. the fountain wouldn’t move anywhere. Gerson said he will give a definitive answer at this Thursday’s full Community Board 2 meeting, at P.S. 130, at 143 Baxter St., between Hester and Grand Sts., in Chinatown, starting at 6:30 p.m. Jonathan Greenberg of the Open Washington Square Park Coalition said he heard from a source about a “high-level meeting” in which Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff and Comptroller Bill Thompson discussed the fountain figures flap, but that couldn’t be confirmed by press time.

The kids are all right — for now: Children’s Liberation, the beleaguered East Village daycare center faced with a Jan. 4 funding cutoff by the city Administration for Children’s Services, won a temporary reprieve on Tues., Dec. 18. Federal Judge Denny Chin worked out an informal agreement whereby A.C.S. would continue funding Children’s Liberation until June 30. “That gives us another six months to find a permanent solution,” said Arthur Schwartz, attorney for the daycare, which has been sharing the P.S. 122 Community Center at the corner of First Ave. and E. Ninth St. with three arts groups for the past 25 years. “A.C.S. has agreed to cooperate in finding suitable alternative space,” said Schwartz. The current building at 150 First Ave. has been slated for renovation for years and the three arts groups have won the support of the Department of Cultural Affairs to expand with a new theater that would usurp the play yard used by the 88 youngsters enrolled in Children’s Liberation. On Dec. 5, District Council 1707, the union representing daycare workers, rallied at City Hall with other labor unions protesting the city’s plan to defund Children’s Liberation and a daycare in the Bronx. In a letter last month to Mayor Bloomberg, Katharine Wolpe, president of Village Independent Democrats, urged that Children’s Liberation, the only publicly funded daycare in the East Village, be guaranteed the return to its space in the P.S. 122 building when renovations are complete.

File under football: The fact that Pier 40 is known as a sports pier might be influencing a potential Pier 40 developer who is now trying to buy a sports team. No, we’re not talking DUSC. Try Dolphins. Yes, Stephen Ross, head of The Related Companies, the group that is trying to remake Pier 40 into a Cirque du Soleil and entertainment destination, and a partner are reportedly in negotiations to buy the Miami Dolphins football team for more than $1 billion.

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