Volume 81, Number 1 | June 2 - 8, 2011
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

At the Albany award ceremony for Mary Spink, from left, Rosie Mendez, Spink, State Senator Daniel Squadron and Susan Stetzer.

Scoopy's Notebook

A lifetime of achievement:
State Senator Daniel Squadron recently honored the Lower East Side’s Mary Spink as one of New York’s “Women of Distinction” at the annual Senate celebration recognizing outstanding women throughout the state. Squadron said selecting Spink from among all the accomplished women in his district was “the obvious choice.” “Mary Spink’s achievements, against all odds, serve to inspire and empower the community,” he said. “Mary embodies what the Lower East Side is and can be.” As executive director of the Lower East Side People’s Mutual Housing Association and a member of Community Board 3, Spink has worked tirelessly for the community on issues such as housing, drug and crime prevention and the arts. “Her passion, hard work and ingenuity have inspired countless others and made the Lower East Side a better place,” the state senator said. “I’m thrilled to honor everything that Mary has done to make our community more affordable and diverse.” Spink was accompanied up to Albany by City Councilmember Rosie Mendez and C.B. 3 District Manager Susan Stetzer. Said Mendez, “Mary Spink’s work as a low-income housing developer and her lifetime volunteerism in community preservation and stabilization in the Lower East Side is worthy of recognition. I am grateful that Senator Squadron honored Mary with the Woman of Distinction Award.” Said Stetzer, “Mary is what the Lower East Side is all about. She is a tough, strong woman who uses her incredible skills to help the most vulnerable in our community — and Mary gets things done! She is a role model and an inspiration for us all.” “It was a wonderful event,” Spink said. “I want to thank Senator Squadron for including me in the ranks of so many truly great women of New York State.” Born in 1946, a Schenectady native, Spink moved to New York City in her late teens. Through the years, she has owned and operated a dress shop, a newsstand, a hardware store and Sacred Circle, Inc., all on the Lower East Side. Her résumé also includes experience as a cook, record promoter, bricklayer, dancer, waitress, plumber, office manager, superintendent and property manager. In addition to the People’s Mutual Housing Association, she has served on the board of other leading community organizations, such as the Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union and the Lower Eastside Girls Club.

Smokin’ Memorial Day:
Feeling we “got to get ourselves back to the gaaahar-den,” we stopped by the Memorial Day barbecue at Dias y Flores Community Garden on E. 13th St. where Jeff Wright was leading the jam sessions on guitar. We bumped into Dottie Wilson, who queried, as she was lighting up her cigarette, if smoking was now also banned in community gardens, as it has been in city parks since May 23. The assumption was that it is, but she declined to “self-enforce” and went ahead and puffed on her tax-free Indian reservation cigarette.

Photo by Scoopy

Devin Vajac got a $50 ticket for biking east in the Prince St. bike lane.

Prada push:
In the ongoing “Bicycle Wars,” West Village activist and cyclist Jim Fouratt tells us he was recently riding in the bike lane on Sixth Ave. at 22nd St. when he came upon a man toting Prada bags standing right smack in the bike path. Fouratt blew his whistle and called out, “Bike lane!” whereupon, he said, the man brushed against him, sending him flying. When Fouratt got up and protested, the man yelled, “Bicycle terrorist!” To top it off, Fouratt lost his bridge in the spill, which is why he’s now missing his “new tooth.” Frankly, Fouratt said, this is the reason he sometimes rides on the sidewalks, albeit slowly and very carefully: It’s just a lot safer than being on the street, even in a bike lane, he said.

Law of the lane:
In more Memorial Day doings, around 4 p.m., we were biking along in the Prince St. bike lane, when we saw Devin Vajac getting a ticket at the corner of Lafayette St. The 22-year-old bike messenger from Bushwick, by way of Chicago, was busted by a Fifth Precinct police officer for going eastbound in the westbound bike lane. Hit with a $50 fine, Vajac readily admitted he was in error, and said he really never goes the wrong way in the bike lanes, and doesn’t like it when others do. He said he only was going to do it for a block or two to get to a less-congested street. The officer, who declined to give her name, said she regularly does enforcement on cycling at that particular corner — which has seen some bicycling accidents in recent weeks — as part of her patrol throughout the precinct. She said she mainly enforces for four things: going the wrong way in the bike lane; running the red light; not biking in the bike lane when one is available; and riding on the sidewalk. Asked about skateboarders going the wrong way in the lane, she said that subject actually has come up at the monthly Fifth Precinct Community Council meetings, but that her commanding officer has told her to hold off — at least for now — on enforcing against skateboarders and also rollerbladers. If a skateboarder is involved in an accident, however, she speculated enforcement might kick in.

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