Volume 74, Number 26 | October 27 - November 03 , 2004

News Briefs

Lopez and Lawyers Guild call for information on ‘Guantanamo’

City Councilmember Margarita Lopez joined the National Lawyers Guild last week in demanding information from the Police Department and the Hudson River Park Trust regarding conditions at Pier 57 when it was used as a preliminary holding site for protestors arrested during the Republican National Convention.

The demand came at an Oct. 13 news conference on the steps of City Hall. Lopez and Yetta G. Kurland of the National Lawyers Guild said the Trust and police should have known that the pier, where hundreds of detainees were held for as long as 36 hours, had lead or asbestos contamination.

Lopez and Kurland said the former M.T.A. bus garage on Pier 57 — dubbed “Guantanamo on the Hudson” by protesters — had substandard or inoperable wiring, fire suppression and other vital systems.

The Trust, which controls the pier between 16th and 17th Sts., intends to redevelop it with commercial and public space as part of the 5-mile-long riverfront park. The Trust gave temporary control of the pier to the Police Department in preparation for the R.N.C. at the end of August.

Connie Fishman, the Trust’s president, wrote the Police Department during the convention, protesting the use of the pier as a primary detention center, as opposed to a secondary detention center, saying this violated the Trust’s memorandum of understanding with the N.Y.P.D.

Parade to scare up a crowd on 6th
The 31st Annual Greenwich Village Halloween Parade will take place on Sun., Oct. 31, from 8 p.m.-10 p.m. One and all are invited to join the march or handle puppets. Lineup for participants starts at 6:30 p.m. on Sixth Ave. south of Spring St. The parade route is along Sixth Ave. from Spring St. to 21st St.

These boots were made for…whatever
On Monday, DSW, one of the country’s largest retailers of fashion and designer-brand shoes, opened at 4 Union Sq. S., between Broadway and University Pl., in the former Bradlees department store building. At the grand opening, highlighted by a shoelace-cutting ceremony, DSW presented singer and actress Bette Midler with a $500,000 check for her New York Restoration Project. A public/private partnership, N.Y.R.P. works to reclaim, restore and develop under-resourced parks, community gardens and open space in New York City. DSW also donated work boots and sneakers to the hundreds of N.Y.R.P. volunteers to help their cleanup and revitalization efforts. Filene’s Basement has also opened for business in the building, but its grand opening will be Thurs., Oct. 28. Also coming soon to the former Bradlees building, owned by Vornado, are a Whole Foods supermarket, featuring organic produce and food, and Forever 21 women’s clothing store. However, Whole Foods’ opening has reportedly been delayed until spring next year, as the supermarket is still configuring the space.

Guild receives challenge grant
The Kresge Foundation has established a $500,000 challenge grant to the Hudson Guild for the renovation of the Guild’s flagship community center underway at 428 W. 26th St., which is scheduled to open early next year.

“We’re honored that The Kresge Foundation has chosen Hudson Guild for this grant. Kresge trustees have given us a challenge that we both believe is achievable. When the John Lovejoy Elliott Center opens it’s going to be a great place for everyone in Chelsea,” said Janice McGuire, executive director of the Guild.

Memorial to the 1,239 dead in action
Honor the Fallen Memorial, an exhibit with placards and photos of the more than 1,239 American soldiers killed since the beginning of military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, will be on display in the south plaza of Union Sq. Park from noon to 2 p.m. Fri. Nov. 9.

Shown at various locations including Union Sq. since Sept. 10, the memorial is the creation of Nicholas Benjamin Cohen, a former U.S. Army Ranger and lieutenant in the 82nd Airborne Division and currently a Columbia University student.

Cohen said, “No matter what your view of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, you can probably accept that we as Americans owe it to the men and women who serve in uniform to remain aware of the consequences of our decision to use military force.”

Cohen intends to show the memorial as long as Americans are deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq.

To help with the exhibit or donate money for its support, phone Nicholas Cohen at 917-748-8780 or e-mail at nbc2103@columbia.edu.

The $500,000 grant is contingent on the Guild’s raising the final $3.2 million of its $11 million goal for its “Community Works!” campaign.

Sign of respect for immigrants

Local politicians and community and business groups unveiled a new street sign at Allen St. between Delancey and Broome Sts. co-naming Allen St. the Avenue of the Immigrants in honor of the Lower East Side’s rich history as a melting pot for new Americans and home to many cultures. Above, Congressmember Nydia Velazquez, left, and Councilmember Alan Gerson, spoke. At left, unveiling the new sign. Among groups represented were Asian Americans for Equality, Two Bridges Neighborhood Council and the Lower East Side Business Improvement District. (Villager photos by Elisabeth Robert)

Author sees shades of 1984 in 2004
Jonathan Greenberg, former policy director for Lower Manhattan Redevlopment for Councilmember Alan Gerson, is fighting the reelection of President George W. Bush in his own way, by handing out free copies of his new social satire, “America 2014: An Orwellian Tale.” Roughly based on George Orwell’s “1984,” Greenberg’s book discusses life in the fourth “Blush” administration. Greenberg, who is chairperson of the board of Gist Communications, a new media company he founded in Soho in 1996, took another page from Orwell by writing under a pen name, Dawn Blair.

Greenberg’s book is being distributed by student activists at college campuses in eight large swing states, including University of Miami, Penn State and Kent State. So far, nearly 4,000 books with a retail value of more than $50,000 have been given out.

New Board 3 policy on documents
Community Board 3 has a new policy regarding release of documents. Saying they are complying with the borough president’s rules for community boards and also doing their part to prevent identity theft, the board is now requiring that an e-mail be sent to request the release of documents, which will have any sensitive information, like Social Security numbers or financial details in ULURP land-use reviews, redacted. “It’s really not complicated — 21st-century identity theft,” said David McWater, C.B. 3 chairperson. “But I actually think the office is going to be more accessible than ever.” McWater said the board received a $50,000 information technology grant from Councilmember Margarita Lopez that will allow them to put a virtual library of resolutions and meeting minutes online and also decrease the mounds of paper in
the office.

Giving students the tools

Last Wednesday, The Related Companies, the Union Square Partnership and PENCIL (Public Education Needs Civic Involvement in Learning) announced The Related Companies’ gift of three, new, state-of-the-art computer labs worth $500,000 to Washington Irving High School. Shown in the photo below at left are, from left, Denise DiCarlo, Washington Irving principal; Jeff T. Blau, president of The Related Companies; Karen H. Shaw, executive director of the Union Square Partnership; and Lisa Belzberg, PENCIL executive chairperson. The gift brings 100 new computers to the 3,000-pupil school, at which the city beefed up security last year as a result of safety concerns. The Related Companies, one of New York’s most active real estate development firms, built One Union Square. Related’s Blau is on the Partnership’s board of directors. PENCIL runs the Principal For a Day program, which pairs thousands of New Yorkers from the private sector with the city’s schools. The Partnership runs various student programs at the school on Irving Pl. at 17th St., including after-school activities, college-readiness and career-readiness courses, mentoring and tutoring.

Cute as pumpkins

The Village Alliance business improvement district sponsored the Ninth Annual Greenwich Village Urban Pumpkin Field — a kids’ pumpkin “hunt” and painting extravaganza — last Saturday at Jefferson Market Garden and Ruth Wittenberg Triangle at Sixth and Greenwich Aves. Other sponsors were Jefferson Market Garden, the New York Public Library and North Fork Bank. (Villager photos by Jennifer Bodrow)

Kids have their pick of piers of fear
Ghosts, goblins and monsters will haunt the Hudson River waterfront at 14th St. and at 23rd St. on Halloween weekend.

The Hudson River Park Trust will present its fifth annual Pier of Fear event at Pier 54 at 14th St. from noon to 9 p.m. on Sat. Oct. 30 and Sun. Oct. 31, featuring a Maze of Horror with actors playing ghoulish guides leading visitors through tunnels, secret passages and chambers of horror. For the squeamish, the free program at Pier 54 will also offer storytelling and face painting.

On the Chelsea waterfront, members of the Police Athletic League’s Maritime Adventure Program will transform the decommissioned lightship Frying Pan at Pier 63 Maritime, into a Ship of Ghouls and open it to visitors on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The program will include a den of coffins, a fortuneteller spinning spooky yarns and The Monster of the Hudson River on the ship docked on Pier 63 Maritime at 23rd St. on the north side of Basketball City. The event, designed for children 8 years and older, is free, but a donation is suggested. The ship will welcome boarders from 5-8 p.m. on Oct. 29, noon to 4 p.m. on Oct. 30 and noon to 6 p.m. on Oct. 31. Reservations are required for groups of 10 or more, phone 212-477-9450 ex. 357.

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