Saturday, June 27, 2009
Chinatown Community Supports
William Thompson's Mayoral Candidacy
Chatham Square Reconstruction Debacle Convinces Community that Mayor Bloomberg Must Go
What: Press Conference in support of William Thompson for Mayor
Who: Confirmed Speaker, Comptroller William Thompson
When: Tuesday, June 30, 2009, 1:15 p.m.
Where: Kim Lau Memorial Arch at Chatham Square in Chinatown
This event is being organized by the Civic Center Residents Coalition, representing Chinatown residents and businesses. The group was founded after 9/11 in response to government street shutdowns and permit placard abuse that resulted in massive traffic delays in Chinatown and the Civic Centre.
WITH APOLOGIES - THIS EVENT HAS BEEN TEMPORARILY POSTPONED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE-Donations to Norman Siegel's campaign may of course still be made through the website www.normansiegel.com
Veronica Leung, owner of Dim Sum GoGo and Jan Lee of the Civic Center Residents Coalition will host a fundraiser for Norman Siegel, who is running for Public Advocate, on July 2, 2009, at 6:00 p.m.
Dim Sum GoGo is world renowned for its Hong Kong style cuisine and superb Dim Sum.
This Chinatown institution has been featured on The Food Network with host Tyler Florence.
We look forward to seeing you at this fun and tasty event.
Dim Sum gogo: # 5 East Broadway at Chatham Square
NYC NY 10013(212) 732-0796
Jan Lee 212-587-2393
ON MONDAY JUNE 29th at 5:pm
Norman Siegel will be meeting Chinatown residents and business people face to face at a sidewalk
"meet and greet " to hear from NY'ers in the Chinatown and Lower East Side communities.
We have a chance to see the future public advocate in action, hearing our concerns, providing solutions, and educating us about the Public Advocate's purpose in City Government.
Norman will be on hand to be explain the role of the public advocate and how he plans to place volunteer public advocates into each community in NYC to report to the Public Advocate the concerns and complaints of the people.
The Public Advocate is responsible for reporting the failure of any City agency or official to comply with the New York City Charter.
The office also monitors the effectiveness of the City's public information and education efforts about citywide initiatives.
The Public Advocate presides at meetings of the City Council and is a member of all Council committees.
He/she also has the power to introduce legislation.
Please come and meet Norman Siegel and share your thoughts and concerns about the Chinatown and Lower East Side community!!
PLACE: Columbus Park (in the heart of Chinatown) 10013
Corner of Mulberry and Bayard (on Mulberry) on the sidewalk
rain location: In front of 19 Mott St. NYC 10013
Thursday, June 25, 2009
The Downtown Express reports on two very different accounts of the same event taking place during a dinner with Mayor Bloomberg and Chinatown leadership.
"Colonialism" is defined as "the building and maintaining of colonies in one territory by people from another territory".
Seems like the "colony" is confused.
From Downtown Express :
Open & shut
After Mayor Michael Bloomberg made a private campaign stop in Chinatown last Friday, the mayor’s staff and the residents he met with had very different accounts of what happened.
Justin Yu, president of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, said Bloomberg made a groundbreaking promise to help the community reopen Park Row, closed to traffic after 9/11 because it runs beneath One Police Plaza.
Bloomberg told Chinatown leaders that the decision to reopen Park Row is not his alone, and Bloomberg suggested that residents lobby the federal government, which also has a say, Yu said.
“His hand is pretty limited,” Yu said. But if Yu and others contact federal agencies about reopening the street, “He will in some way back us up,” Yu said.
Chinatown residents who have been fighting for years to reopen the street were surprised to hear of Bloomberg’s commitment — and, as it turned out, so was Bloomberg’s staff.
“That’s not at all what he said about Park Row,” said Marc La Vorgna, spokesperson for the mayor. “The city’s position is that it is a security concern due to the location of the Police Dept. We don’t have a change of position. We’re not advocating for the reopening of Park Row.”
Yu did not back off his account, but he clammed up after we called the mayor’s office, referring all questions back to Bloomberg’s press office.
The dinner took place at a small restaurant on Bayard St. called the New Yeah Shanghai Deluxe Restaurant. Yu said Bloomberg also chatted with the other patrons, and the cooks rushed out of the kitchen to catch a glimpse.
“The mayor said the food tasted very well,” Yu said, “and next time he would bring his girlfriend, just to eat.”
Monday, June 15, 2009
Chinatown residents have reported to CCRC that NYPD tow trucks have been seen towing cars from Baxter Street parking spaces over the last week.
In previous postings on this blog we have shown Parks Department pick up trucks, garbage trucks, and vans parked on the sidewalks at Worth and Baxter Streets. The practice of driving on sidewalks, in some cases five feet from the entrance to the playground at Columbus Park, is not only dangerous and irresponsible, but also downright disrespectful to the Chinatown community.
At a recent town hall on transportation hosted by Councilmembers Liu and Gerson, CCRC alerted D.O.T. Lower Manhattan Commissioner Luis Sanchez of the problem. He assured us that he would pass this information on to the Parks Department.
Some weeks later, with no progress, CCRC brought the issue, armed with photos to the doorstep of Adrian Benepe NYC Parks Commissioner via a letter.
Another two weeks after that we approached the Lower Manhattan Parks Department Commissioner while he was attending the Chinatown Working Group's Town Hall, and again presented the photos and a copy of the letter sent to Adrian Benepe. He promised to call us the next day. He did not.
In fact no representative from the NYC Parks Department has ever acknowledged in writing CCRC's complaints of sidewalk driving despite hand delivered photos to:
D.O.T.'s Luis Sanchez, messenger delivered photos to Adrian Benepe, hand delivered photos and letter to the Lower Manhattan Parks Dept. Commissioner, photos handed to Transportation Alternatives Communications Director Wiley Norville,
hand delivered letter and photos to Council members Liu and Gerson, our Community Board Chair and the Community Board Transportation Committee Chair.
We'd like a commitment from the Parks Department that this "trend" will permanently stop throughout the City's parks.
Without so much as an acknowledgement of receipt of the letter and photos there appears to be progress two months after the initial issue was raised by CCRC.
As you can see from the photos shown here, a truck that habitually parked on the sidewalk at Worth St. and Baxter, has parked at the sidewalk curb instead.
The NYPD must be "helping" the Parks Dept. "find" spaces at the curb by removing offending placard holding vehicles that park in "no standing anytime" spaces.
Moral of the story: If you show photo evidence of unsafe conditions caused by government vehicles, take those photos to two council members, a D.O.T. commissioner, the Lower Manhattan Commissioner of Parks, the Commissioner of Parks, the Community Board Transportation Chair, the Community Board Chair, Transportation Alternatives, two Chinese language newspapers, publish the photos on three blog entries on the internet, then YOU TOO can get results from the Parks Dept. and D.O.T.
Let's hope we can have a safe summer at Columbus Park.
UPDATE: June, 20 '09
The NYPD makes regular patrols of Worth and Baxter Streets. The offending vehicles, a grey van, a Parks Department pickup truck, and a white pickup truck are no longer around, proof that park goers suspicions were correct - that the drivers of these vehicles were simply parking to use the outdoor jungle gym for exercise. WATCH OUT they are probably at a park near YOU now.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Councilmembers John Liu and Alan J. Gerson provided a Town Hall to discuss transportation related issues in May 2009. At that meeting, Civic Center Residents Coalition member Jan Lee asked the D.O.T. Lower Manhattan Commissioner, Luis Sanchez, whether the City will be adopting Fast-Fleet zip car technology to its fleet of government vehicles.
Fast-fleet zip car technology is a fully transparent computer regulated car sharing program designed for municipalities to control and monitor the usage of the government vehicle fleet.
Washington D.C. has made the switch to fast-fleet and immediately reduced its fleet and is projected to save millions of dollars while reducing carbon emissions and saving on maintenance of its fleet. They have also provided many more public parking spaces by reducing its fleet.
Luis Sanchez, the lower Manhattan commissioner of transportation, explained that "the D.O.T. will be working on a "pilot program" in its own department, and based on the data may or may not adopt the technology for the entire City fleet."
The Civic Center Residents Coalition witnessing first hand the extraordinarily close relationship Transportation Alternatives ( a bicycle advocacy group) has with the Department of Transportation and Commissioner Janette Sadik Khan, sent a letter to Transportation Alternatives requesting they use their relationship to encourage the D.O.T. to adopt Fast-Fleet. Both CCRC and Trans. Alt. have worked hard to REDUCE government employees abusing their parking privileges throughout the City by documenting the offenders and drawing copious media coverage.
The Department of Transportation and Transportation Alternatives have not followed up on the idea of Fast-Fleet zip car technology. Wiley Norville, Communications Director of Transportation Alternatives has not replied to CCRC's open letter requesting they support Fast-Fleet.
When a snake oil salesmen tells you he knows what's good for you, be wary.
When the D.O.T. tells you they are trying out a "pilot program," "a trial period", or based on statistics they "will make adjustments" -- don't believe them.
Sadik Khan is revealing more and more of the DOT's actual plans.............. they say they are pilot programs...... then "ooops" she spills the beans............
More from the NY Times on the Times Square lawn chairs:
City officials were quick to reiterate that the lawn chairs will be gone by the end of the summer, replaced by sturdier stock.
“As a temporary treatment in a temporary period, I think the chairs do match the atmosphere of the new space, and they reflect the fact that it’s an unofficial kickoff for summer,” said Janette Sadik-Khan, the city’s transportation commissioner. But, she added, “The plan all along is to bring in world-class treatment, and we’ve ordered hundreds of new chairs and tables and umbrellas.”
Let me get this straight. At the end of the “trial” the DOT is going to carefully analyze the results to see if the traffic diversion works - but they’ve *already* ordered permanent chairs. Umbrellas too. The pink flamingos will arrive next summer.
Yes, I feel quite confident that Khan’s DOT is keeping an open mind about this.
Full article here
Community Board 3 formed the Chatham Square Task Force of Community Board 3 - a hastily cobbled group of community activists, stake holders and CB members to address the detailed plans of Chatham Square and come up with some alternative plans with the hopes that community input would be realized through a resolution.
All along the Dept. of Transporation told CB3 and the Chinatown community at large that the deadline for construction was imminent and unchangeable. In reality, the "deadline" was nonexistent and the D.O.T. knew it since they never sent out the bids to construction companies as they said they had back in January, thus setting the entire project back indefinitely. Meanwhile hundreds of hours of analysis by volunteers and community board members as well as a professional traffic engineer (working on funds provided by the Community Board's transportation related American Red Cross grant) was pulled together with the idea that bulldozers were making their way to Chatham Square with a start date of "early July". The convenient excuse for the refusal to entertain logical and practical Task Force solutions to ludicrous and unproven, untested D.O.T. plans was the lack of time necessary to analyze the community plans. Now we know that was a lie.
How can The Department Of Transportation and its Commissioner Sadik Khan expect anyone in New York to believe them after they repeatedly deceive communities this way? The Bloomberg administration, Sadik Khan and the sheep-followers they brainwash are herded into "plazas" and work in consort to persuade the rest of us to "just believe" that their plans for our City will work.
As Councilman John Liu rightfully points out "where is the accountability" and where is the transparency in the D.O.T.?
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz
NYC's DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan may be beloved by cycling enthusiasts for her radical expansion of the city's bike lanes, but to critics like Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, she's "an anti-car extremist. It's kind of easy for Ms. Sadik-Khan to be holier than thou and tell people they have no business driving. She may live down the block from the subway station—but most people don't." And John Liu, the City Council member from Queens who chairs the council’s Transportation Committee, says her agenda comes with "a sense of the elite telling the everyday people what’s good for them, and that’s simply not appreciated. I think it can no longer be ignored, the demographic groups calling for these changes versus the demographic groups that protest." John Del Signore in News on May 18, 2009 11:24 AM
Friday, June 12, 2009
Volume 22, Number 05 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | June 12 - 18, 2009
Chinatown happy as traffic plan is stalled for now
By Julie Shapiro
The city will not begin reconstructing Chatham Square this summer, after the unpopular plan drew months of criticism from the community and elected officials.
The city insisted this week that the delay does not mean the $50 million project is shelved, but officials would not say when the work would start. Several Downtown politicians and community leaders said that the project is unlikely to move forward anytime soon.
“I don’t think they’re going to do anything anymore,” said Justin Yu, chairperson of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association. Yu met with D.O.T. Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and other high-level D.O.T. staff last week to discuss the Chatham Square plan. “Definitely she said they would reconsider it, review it,” Yu said of Sadik-Khan.
Yu is one of many Chinatown leaders who oppose the city’s proposal for the complicated seven-way intersection. The city wants to realign the streets that feed Chatham Square, connecting East Broadway to Worth St. and the Bowery to St. James Place. The plan would cut Park Row out of the intersection, essentially making permanent the post-9/11 decision to close part of the street to protect One Police Plaza.
Chinatown advocates spoke out against the city’s plan immediately when the city began pushing it late last year. The advocates were concerned that the city’s traffic and pedestrian improvements would be outweighed by the negative impact of the three-year construction on local businesses. When the city decided to move ahead with the reconfiguration anyway, residents and business owners banded together, holding rallies and gathering petition signatures.
“I guess D.O.T. got the message,” Yu said.
This week, the city acknowledged the delay in the project, but denied that anything beside the schedule had changed.
“The project is not suspended or shelved,” said Scott Gastel, D.O.T. spokesperson. “We are working on some timing and coordination issues,” he added in an e-mailed statement.
Gastel would not say when construction contracts would go out to bid or when work would begin.
The city previously said it was essential for construction to begin this summer, so that the intersection would be able to handle an increased flow of cars during Brooklyn Bridge work starting next year. Gastel would not say how the Chatham Square delay would impact the bridge work.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said in a statement that the reason D.O.T. is delaying the start of Chatham Square work is to coordinate it with the Brooklyn Bridge rehabilitation.
“I am pleased that the city has finally heeded our call to slow down this project,” Silver said in the statement. “Undertaking any major construction project in this area at this time would have a devastating effect on dozens of small businesses who are struggling during these difficult economic times.”
Since the bulldozers won’t be arriving in Chatham Square anytime soon, Councilmember Alan Gerson said the community now has time to work with D.O.T. on a plan that makes everyone happy.
“It’s a wonderful victory for the community,” said Gerson, who protested the Chatham Square plan last month with Comptroller Bill Thompson. “This gives us a chance to regroup.”
Jan Lee, a Chinatown activist and owner of an antiques store, also was glad the project is on hold, but said it’s important to remain vigilant. Lee heard from a city official that D.O.T. is only delaying the project to avoid widespread protests during election season.
If Mayor Mike Bloomberg gets re-elected in November, “this project starts the day after,” Lee said, based on what the city official told him.
Lee hopes the delay will give the Civic Center Residents Coalition time to build support for their alternate plan, which would leave the intersection largely as is, reducing the project’s scope, cost and duration. The plan, endorsed by Community Board 3, would add a new one-lane road directly connecting St. James Place to East Broadway but would leave Park Row in its central position, in the hope that it will one day reopen.
In a seven-page letter to C.B. 3 last month, Luis Sanchez, D.O.T.’s Lower Manhattan borough commissioner, said the community alternative plan would provide some relief to the traffic that snarls the intersection, but wouldn’t work as well as the city’s plan. Sanchez also said the city’s plan improves pedestrian safety and expands plaza space, while the community’s plan doesn’t.
C.B. 3’s Chatham Square Task Force, which relied on the expertise of traffic consultant Brian Ketcham, also recommended that the city add a second eastbound lane to Worth St.
In his May 1 letter, Sanchez agreed that widening Worth St. would improve traffic flow, and he said the city’s original plan included that. The city also wanted to add a third southbound lane to Bowery.
But the problem is that widening the streets would cut into park space that has both state and city protections, Sanchez wrote. In late 2007, D.O.T. asked elected officials if they would support removing some park space for traffic improvements, and they did not support it, Sanchez said.
Now, redesigning the intersection would require another five to seven months of work, Sanchez wrote.
“It is simply too late to consider such a fundamental change to the design,” he wrote, although his letter was written over a month before the city delayed the project indefinitely.
Gerson said Chatham Square’s current work delay gives the city more than enough time to get approval to remove a small amount of park space and redesign the intersection. Gerson supports demapping the park areas — which are basically concrete-topped plaza spaces — and he expects that it would take no more than a few months to do so, especially since the city is adding more park space in the design.
Silver, who has a large say on whether the park space is demapped, has not seen any specific proposals and has not taken a position, said Caryn Adams, Silver’s spokesperson. In general, D.O.T. should work with the community to reach a consensus for Chatham Square, Silver said in a statement.
Some Chinatown residents would prefer to leave the intersection as is.
Steven Wong, chairperson of the Lin Zexu Foundation, is concerned the construction will hurt his Chatham Square translation business, and he does not want the work to disrupt the central plaza that features a statue of Lin Zexu, a 19th-century Chinese scholar and official.
Before any work starts, Wong wants to see a detailed study of how the plan will improve pedestrian safety, so people “can walk across the street without fear of getting run over by cars,” Wong said.
Chris Connolly June 11th, 2009 at 7:06 PM
Congratulations to the Chinatown community's effort in beating back the onslaught of the bully boys at DOT and their handlers in Transportation Alternatives and their lackeys on Streetsblog. No one wanted this stupid proposal except DOT commish Sadik-Khan, the chief bully, and her little hipster friends from Brooklyn who control the show at DOT nowadays. Congrats also to the community board for standing by the neighborhood residents and businesses in beating back this assault. You put Sadik-Khan in her place! Let her go back to Times Square and cater to the needs of the tourists there. She and her minions are not welcome downtown.
smallbusinessadvocate June 12th, 2009 at 12:20 AM
in Dec. of 2008 people who did not live in Chinatown, didn't own businesses in Chinatown, and never attended the numerous meetings with the D.O.T. on this subject decided - after seeing the D.O.T. produced drawings of the proposed Chatham Square reconstruction for less than a week to have a "call to arms" for NYC to go against the Chinatown community with a blog posting entitled : "Oppo
Thursday, June 11, 2009
127 W 26th St # 1002
New York, NY 10001
We are writing to ask for your support in joining the Civic Center Residents Coalition to ask the New York City government to enact “fast-fleet” (aka Zip Car) technology to its entire fleet of vehicles.
The New York Times reported as far back as 1987 about abuse of parking spaces by NYPD and government vehicles in Chinatown. The Civic Center Residents Coalition, CCRC, is well recognized for having exposed congested streets, dangerous conditions, and loss of revenue due to the abundance of illegally parked government owned and government employee’s commuter vehicles throughout the Chinatown/lower Manhattan area during the last several years.
Recognizing the struggle of Chinatown activists trying to clear its streets of illegally parked government fleet vehicles and privately owned commuter vehicles with agency sanctioned placards, Transportation Alternatives began research on a large scale to further expose the danger, disrespect, and loss and revenue to the City as a result of the abuse.
It is for this reason that we ask you to support for NYC what Washington D.C. has adopted as its answer to reduce its fleet, streamline its finances, and eliminate once and for all abuse of government owned vehicles.
Fast Fleet, Zip Car technology will be launched in 15 cities in the coming years. Currently New York City is not on that list. Fast-Fleet (http://dcfleetshare.fastfleet.net/) is a fully transparent system that continually monitors every vehicle’s use, location, agency, and driver, thereby eliminating the need for placards.
Just as important as the elimination of abuse is the drastic and immediate reduction of the City’s vehicle fleet because fast-fleet is a car SHARING program. Once cars are shared throughout the City and throughout the day, parking spaces for these cars, maintenance, fuel, and emissions are all reduced.
Can we count on Transportation Alternatives to enthusiastically support this twenty first century solution to government waste in vehicle usage which will for generations to come improve the City of New York?
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Mayoral Candidate Bill Thompson blasts the Mayor and suggests that the budget cuts to Community Boards is a tactic to lessen their effectiveness and secure their eventual obsolescence.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Manhattan CB1 committee chair John Fratta said that the "equal" cuts that Mayor is proposing for the community boards is contrary to what happened when the city budget allowed for increases in all city agencies. He went on to say that community boards never got a budget increase when times were good, and now that times are not too good, the mayor says he has to make "equal" cuts all around. Fratta: "it's a farce".
Last updated: 10:17 am
June 9, 2009
Posted: 2:22 am
June 9, 2009
The Crossroads of the World looks more like a city dump these days, thanks to those new pedestrian plazas.
The cheapo tables and chairs set up in the pedestrian-only sections of Times Square have become a magnet for nightcrawler slobs who carelessly toss hot-dog wrappers, empty soda bottles and McDonald's bags on the street.
"Especially speaking of weekends, like Saturday and Sunday morning, it looks like a bomb hit," said Tim Tompkins, the president of Times Square Alliance, the group responsible for keeping the plazas clean.
Officials said they were caught off-guard by the crowds drawn to the newly car-free section of Broadway, and that the trash is one of the growing pains of the setup.
On Saturday night, the Department of Sanitation was called in to do an additional garbage-truck run just to clean out overflowing trash cans, Tompkins said.
The alliance, which gets its funding from business owners to keep the area spruced up, is revamping its cleaning staff's hours to fill a late-night gap in service from 10 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.
Starting next week, there will be sweepers and garbage collectors on a new 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. shift, Tompkins said.
"Part of it is, we don't have enough trash cans out. Got a bunch of extra cans from Sanitation, but they're overflowing. We're getting more," Tompkins said.
Yesterday's early-morning mess was mostly the work of crowds that gathered at Duffy Square on Sunday night to watch the Tony Awards on big-screen TVs, officials said.
Business owners said they've seen more trash on the streets in the morning.
"It's starting to be more messy since the plazas came," said Akram Awad, a manager at Roxy Delicatessen.
Tompkins said the mess was likely the work of residents.
"I think tourists sometimes clean up better than New Yorkers do," he said.
But some city dwellers balked at the notion.
"It's tourists. They like to sit out here, but they don't like to clean anything up," said Jason Cruz, 30, from Brooklyn.
Now's your chance to text a thumbs-up -- or -down -- when reviewing the new plazas.
A marketing company yesterday unveiled a Times Square billboard that asks people, "Are you happy with the new Broadway?" and tells them to text "Love it" or "Hate it" to its number.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
December 16, 2008
Contact: Press Office
THOMPSON TO CITY: CHATHAM SQUARE PROPOSAL MUST BE DELAYED
New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr. is expressing deep concerns about the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Chatham Square / Park Row Improvement Program.
In a letter to DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan – which can be viewed at www.comptroller.nyc.gov – Thompson criticized the agency for moving forward with the plan despite overwhelming community opposition from Chinatown and surrounding neighborhoods.
“It’s clear that Chatham Square – with its long crossings and poor pedestrian sight lines – must be rethought, and that he congested traffic on Park Row must be improved,” Thompson said.. “But process matters, and the City has not engaged in sufficient dialogue with community members. As it stands now, neighborhood representatives feel left out of the process.”
Thompson also expressed concern that Community Board 3 is scheduled to vote on the plan tonight, after one hardly-publicized hearing on December 2, 2008.
“As a result, a plan that would completely tear down and redesign a large area of Chinatown may be approved within the span of two weeks,” Thompson added. “Clearly, community members have not been given enough time to respond to the plan nor even comprehend it, as specific details have been perfunctory at best.”
In the letter, Thompson emphasized that DOT cannot guarantee that local small businesses will be supported during the project’s construction phase as a fatal flaw. He also cited DOT’s lack of a specific timeline for the project as problematic, and stressed that the plan does not make clear when, exactly, Park Row will be opened.
“These and other questions must be answered before this ill-conceived plan moves forward,” Thompson said. “For the sake of community members, local businesses, and our City government’s responsibility to operate fairly and transparently, I strongly urge you to delay this proposal and being to address the community’s significant needs and concerns.”
Where'd the "Shoe Guy" go? aka: Bloomberg's determined to bring the suburban experience to Chinatown.
From the Daily News:
Searching for the elusive Shoe Guy in Chinatown
Thursday, June 4th 2009, 4:00 AM
'Shoe Guy' Zhong Wen Qiang has a long history of working in Columbus Park. Hermann for News
Where did the Shoe Guy go?
"Ask the Watch Guy," says a worker in Chinatown's Columbus Park, which for years and years was ringed with fortune-tellers and repairmen plying their crafts, until police ousted them a while back.
"If you find him, let me know."
Found him. The Watch Guy, who fixes timepieces people in other parts of the city throw away, was on Bayard St., hiding behind a tree near his old prime spot near Mulberry.
He used to work side by side with the old cobbler, who'd fix the heels of assistant district attorneys sitting sheepishly in their socks.
Watch Guy pointed to a windblown sign.
"The Shoes Stand have been on Bayard St. for 26 years," it read. "Now it move."
"Police evict everybody," whispered a fortune-teller who looked around nervously as she read a customer's future from a picture card. "They say sidewalk too crowded."
Imagine that: a crowded street in Chinatown!
Who's going to go next - the ladies smoking under their parasols? The circles of men who bet on Chinese chess? Or the brass band that plays funerals, New Orleans-style, right down the block?
They're treating the craftsmen like the criminals who once ruled Five Points, where Columbus Park sits.
"That, I don't know," said Wee Wong of the Chinese Benevolent Association.
"I am not aware of this," said Susan Stetzer, district manager of Community Board 3.
Off we went, squeezing past deliverymen pushing handcarts, girls sipping from coconuts, florists weaving carnations, the singing dolls and 25-cent toy elephant rides, and there he was - at Elizabeth and Grand - the Shoe Guy.
A line of customers who'd tracked him to this spot stood with their worn and broken shoes - because who can afford to keep buying new?
Zhong Wen Qiang effortlessly sewed a leather sole - his feet bare and the tools of his trade in wood tackle boxes around him.
"The government evicted him, and we don't know why," said Zhong's daughter Sally, a sidewalk beauty under a skyblue Easter hat, who tinkered with her father.
"The police say Big Boss told them, but we don't know who he is. They tell us we have to rent a store and get a license."
Watch Guy snuck back to the more prime location of the park, she's told.
"Police just keep evicting him," she said. At 73, her dad's too old for that.
Police Inspector Gin Yee said Shoe Guy "needs to get a general vendor's license. We had community meetings about this. He had ample warning.
"Everybody else has to get a license, and so does he."
The good news is Zhong does not have to rent a storefront to get a general vendor's license, and it's only 100 bucks, Consumer Affairs Department spokeswoman Beth Miller said.
The bad news is, "the street vendor licenses were capped ... at 853," she said. "There's a waiting list."
Mayor Bloomberg wants to keep the flavor of the city's neighborhoods, so maybe he and his commissioner can grandfather this grandfather in.
At least they should go watch him make old shoes look new.
And gentlemen, bring your wingtips.
Saturday, June 6, 2009
A lack of hard data is the status quo for D.O.T. - we're unapologetic for not feeling warm and fuzzy over your lawn chairs on Broadway
Broadway tap dance: City Hall has yet to produce data behind Times Square traffic plan
Sunday, May 31st 2009, 6:26 PM
This much we know for sure about the Bloomberg administration's grand experiment to speed traffic by closing Broadway at Times and Herald squares: People who like to sit on beach chairs are thrilled.
All else is unknown, except that cabbies and delivery truck drivers are griping. But hack attacks and trucker truculence are hardly gold standards for judging travel times.
So we again pose the question to Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, whose brainchild the closure is: Will you please explain the scientific method by which you will determine success and failure?
If she has such a method. We've grown skeptical on that point because the yardsticks, while seemingly very basic, have not been forthcoming.
Not that we're traffic engineers, but we would compare vehicular loads and speeds on all the avenues from Fifth Ave. to the Hudson before the closures and after the closures. And we would do the same for all the crosstown streets that could possibly be affected.
Again, that would be loads and speeds before compared with loads and speeds after. How hard could it be to publish those numbers? Not hard at all.
So let's have them.
Ever since the construction began on what used to be the private parking lot at 52 Mulberry St. the community has been wondering "what is going up on that spot"? Well, now that the owners, Marly Corp., have hoisted their banner on the glass clad building we know - it's a hotel.
Marly corp. bought all three adjacent properties (46-52 Mulberry), opened the hugely successful Mama's cafe in one of the them, and YoBerry frozen yogurt in another in preparation for the hotel which was the last piece in the puzzle.
Marly corp. owns several retail hardware stores, construction supply businesses, and a contracting company (or two) in Brooklyn and Manhattan.
UPDATE: Curbed.com has listed this posting on their own blog. curbed.com according the NY Times receives 2 million hits per month.
Friday, June 5, 2009
A CCRC tipster reports today that the D.O.T. Commish had a meeting with the Chinatown Consolidated Benevolent Association board of directors Wednesday to announce that the Chatham Square reconstruction will be delayed for a year. It was noted that no media were invited to attend this meeting.
The D.O.T. stated at the meeting that the reason for the delay was that the D.O.T. had not yet sent out the bids to contractors for the reconstruction, even though at numerous public presentations they claimed bids went out in January of 2009. CCRC was told that the contract review process would be finalized in June of 09, with construction started on the first phase of the project, the water main replacement, in July 09.
Sources tell CCRC that no government contracts have been signed for Chatham Square so it is unlikely that the water main project will start, much less the total reconstruction and reconfiguration.
It is no mistake that the bids were never sent out to contractors because this is, after all a Mayoral election year. Mayor Bloomberg floated many balloons in the area during the last several years trying to access the popularity of such a major undertaking designed to permanently close Park Row. He tried unsuccessfully to strong arm the Chinatown community into swallowing a thinly veiled ploy to keep Park Row from reopening to appease the NYPD Commish.
Continued bad press, protests, press conferences, and exposure on the Park Row and Chatham Square issues finally kept the construction bids from ever seeing the light of day.
It's clear that they Mayor was hedging his bets on whether the pressure would last, why else would he hold up the bidding process? Knowing the project would be met with thousands of protesters as the bulldozers moved into Chatham Square he sensed his ever dwindling popularity slipping further into the abyss.
Perhaps it was seeing his rival, Comptroller Thompson, at the LMDC headquarters supporting CCRC in their plea for the LMDC board to stop all funding for Chatham Square that was the final straw. Public Advocate candidate Norman Siegel would prove a formidable force if elected and seeing him supporting Chinatown on this issue probably didn't sit well either.
The only SURE way to keep the D.O.T.'s plans for Chatham Square from moving forward is to vote Mayor Bloomberg OUT OF OFFICE.
CCRC will continue to lobby the LMDC for an opportunity to present the community alternative plans for Chatham Square.
The year long delay will be an opportunity for the rest of NYC and City Council, and D.O.T. to examine the merits of the community plan.
UPDATE: This blog posting has been listed on numerous community blogs throughout lower Manhattan, including www.curbed.com (which receives 2 million hits per month).
Greenwich Street Work Brings Pain
By Matt Dunning
UPDATED Jun. 02
Current street work occupies two blocks of Greenwich Street, from Canal to Desbrosses Streets. It will eventually continue onto Hubert Street.
Carl Glassman / Tribeca Trib
Current street work occupies two blocks of Greenwich Street, from Canal to Desbrosses Streets. It will eventually continue down to Hubert Street.
The living is not easy for residents and business owners along a portion of Greenwich Street in Tribeca. Noisy, disruptive street work on just two blocks, between Canal and Desbrosses, has been going on for the past five months.
Worse, it is a sign of what’s in store for many others down the road.
The utility upgrade and street repair work, along the five blocks between Canal and Hubert Streets, is part of a two-year project that also includes sections of Leonard and Harrison Streets. In addition, a separate water main replacement is planned next summer for Hudson Street between Hubert and Laight Streets and including work on Hubert, North Moore, Beach and Franklin Streets.
The Greenwich Street project is slated to continue into the summer of next year. Already it is two months behind schedule due to the removal of the contractor, Felix Construction, for “integrity issues,” according to Matthew Monahan, spokesman for the city’s Department of Design and Construction, the agency in charge of the project.
For those living and working near the street work, the disruption seems to be without end.
As early as 6:30 a.m., the sound of iron plates dropping onto the roadway is a harsh prelude to the cacophony of drills, chainsaws and clanging machinery that fills nearby apartments the rest of the day. Utility shutoffs have left apartments and restaurants without water on four separate days—so far—and without gas during two bone-chilling days in February. Nearby parking has all but vanished, as available spots are occupied with construction equipment during off hours and workers’ vehicles during the day.
“Every neighbor, from here down to Hubert Street, is going to go through this exact same story,” said Jim Conley, as the steady sound of a backhoe’s diesel engine roared beneath his window at 130 Watts St. “If they don’t get a better system in place going forward, it’s going to be a whole lot more of what we’re going through.”
One day last month, residents of Conley’s building discovered their basement flooded with more than a foot of water, damaging or ruining the contents of storage lockers there. Jordan Kurzweil, another resident of the building, rattled off a list of damaged or destroyed possessions now residing in a communal heap in the basement hallway.
“Stereo equipment, artwork, mid-century furniture, my high school yearbook, about 1,000 photos,” he said. “My kids’ toys, my CD collection; there was a lot in there.”
Jim Conley stands beside residents’ belongings ruined when their basement lockers were flooded.
Carl Glassman / Tribeca Trib
Jim Conley stands beside residents’ belongings ruined when their basement lockers were flooded.
Monahan said that a 130-year-old water main had become attached to a slab of underground concrete. As crews contracted by the city were removing the concrete, they accidentally took a piece of the water main with it. He said the city had not determined whether it would take responsibility for the broken pipe and residents are uncertain whether insurance will cover the cleanup.
The basement of a second building, 472 Greenwich Street, was also flooded. Marcy Brafman, the co-op president, said water has been seeping into the basement since the project began. She worries about mold and mildew taking root in the building’s foundation and, like her neighbors, does not know if they will be reimbursed by the city.
“I find it hard to believe that it couldn’t have been avoided or foreseen,” Brafman said. “The city should not be putting us through this. We’re not complainers, but there’s an issue of health and safety here.”
For the past five months, business owners have also contended with dust, debris and shrieking construction equipment. Gary Latawiec, owner of the Spa of Tranquility, said that trying to run a relaxation center near the work site—especially one with “tranquility” in its name—has turned into “a contradiction.” He estimated he has lost more than $45,000 since the project began. After the first few weeks, he stopped asking customers to pay for massages and other services if their sessions were pierced by the racket of jackhammers or chainsaws. When utilities are shut off, his employees cannot give pedicures or facial treatments. Latawiec said his business was hit especially hard during the normally lucrative Tribeca Film Festival.
“People saw all that, they saw the orange fences, and they’d turn around,” he said. “They wouldn’t bother coming up the block.”
“It’s a nightmare,” said Stacey Sosa, owner of Estancia 460, the restaurant next door. “I’m a destination spot, so people come but they see all the barriers and everything, then they decide they’re going to go someplace else.”
On May 21, she and the other business owners on the block were notified that the water would be shut off—for the fourth time—the following day. Her staff would later spend much of the evening filling water jugs and buying bottled water at a nearby grocery in preparation.
“Coupled with the economic downturn,” she said, “it’s another thing I didn’t need.”