October 6th - October 12th, 2012
9/11 Memorial Manager Claims Firing for Pointing Out Security, Health Problems
October 8 - A former manager at the Sept. 11 memorial was fired for raising health and security concerns at one of the most security-conscious places in the world, he said in a lawsuit filed today. The Associated Press reported that as facilities director, Thomas Cancelliere alerted his bosses that the water in the memorials signature fountains carried illness-causing bacteria, the exit gates were too narrow and could hinder an evacuation, and there were no security checks at a public parking garage directly below the off-site room where the memorials millions of visitors are screened, the lawsuit said. The National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum said his claims are baseless and Cancelliere was fired because he failed to meet job requirements. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages under the state whistle-blower-protection law. Cancelliere, 67, was fired last month in what his bosses said was cost-cutting but he calls retaliation, according to the suit, filed in a Manhattan state court. No one else was axed at the time, it said. The nonprofit memorial foundation spent about $28 million last year and is ramping up to lay out $60 million a year once an accompanying museum opens, including about $12 million a year on security.
High Profile Terror Suspects Arrive in NYC Without Much Fanfare
October 8 - In 2009, when Attorney General Eric Holder announced plans to try the alleged mastermind behind the September 11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, in a civilian court in Lower Manhattan it caused a firestorm of criticism and raised security concerns. Federal prosecutors on Saturday announced the arrival of Abu Hamza al-Masri, an Islamic cleric and alleged terrorist mastermind linked to al-Qaida, for trial in that same civilian court without either, reported WNYC. The 54-year-old al-Masri was extradited to the U.S. from the U.K., and faces an 11-count indictment for terror plotting in three countries, as well as conspiring with Seattle men to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon. In an interview with WNYC, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said al-Masri did not hold the same significance as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Kelly said he was given ample advance notice about al-Masris arrival in Lower Manhattan by the U.S. Marshal Service and believes there will be no additional security-related traffic delays for area businesses and residents on Tuesday when al-Masri makes his formal appearance before a judge. Mayor Michael Bloomberg added the city knows how to protect people and the public will be well protected.
New York Group DCTV to Build Doc-Only Theater
October 8 - The 40-year-old Downtown Community Television Center (DCTV) has laid plans to begin construction on a doc-only movie theater in lower Manhattan, reported Variety and other news sources. The new 73-seat theater with 4K digital cinema tech will screen first-run docs year-round while also programming special events organized around the work of filmmakers at all stages of their careers. The theater will be built inside the DCTV downtown outpost in a converted firehouse at Lafayette and White Street, with construction to begin in March and scheduled to last a year. DCTVs docu-centric activities include educational programs as well as production resources including equipment and facility rentals and post-production services. The new theater will be funded by a slew of orgs ranging from local, state and federal government groups (such as the Lower Manhattan Development Corp.) to charitable funds including the Rockefeller Foundation and the Samuel Rubin Foundation. DCTV will celebrate its 40th birthday with an Oct. 11 event that will honor Sheila Nevins and HBO Documentaries, as well as the organization board chair Cora Weiss.
At Mouth of Holland Tunnel, a Vision for an Unlikely Oasis
October 8 - A business improvement district in Lower Manhattan will unveil a proposal to create a pedestrian haven out of the area known to real estate agents as Hudson Square, and known to most other residents as the smattering of blocks -- south of the West Village, west of SoHo -- one must traverse to reach the tunnel, according to the New York Times. Long-term plans from the group, called theHudson Square Connection, include refashioning the rock-strewed lot just outside the tunnel, known as Freeman Plaza, into a tree-lined space with tables and chairs; reducing the width of roadway lanes on Hudson Street and widening the adjacent sidewalk; and repurposing a little-used offshoot of Avenue of the Americas into a street for cars and pedestrians. Last month, a miniplaza was also added between oncoming traffic lanes near Canal and Hudson Streets, in hopes of making it easier to cross the street. Janette Sadik-Khan, the transportation commissioner, said Tuesday that while the city was still reviewing the proposals. A five-year plan, which does not include some measures like the Freeman Plaza overhaul or the plaza at Canal and Hudson Streets, calls for $27 million in funds. Some residents and employees in the neighborhood said they could not imagine perching so close to oncoming traffic.
Newest Public Plaza in FiDi is Not Public Enough, Users Complain
October 10 - It was supposed to be a mutually beneficial trade: Developers of the new W Hotel at 123 Washington St. would get to construct a taller building, and in return the community would get a public plaza in an area with limited open space.But just months after the long-anticipated Gwathmey Plaza opened at Washington and Carlisle streets, questions are being raised over what the neighborhood really got out of the deal, which gave the developer nearly 60,000 additional square feet, reported the Tribeca Trib. Plaza users complain that the space appears less like a public plaza, and more like private outdoor seating for BLT Bar & Grill, a restaurant on the ground floor of the hotel and operators of a food kiosk.Representatives of the Moinian Group told the CB1 Financial District Committee that the issues seemed to be largely a matter of messaging and something they would tackle.The plaza, which fronts both Washington and Carlisle streets, is divided into two sections. The half that is closest to Washington Street features a few wooden benches and an outdoor dining cafe for the restaurant. Further toward Greenwich Street, the plaza is raised, with tables, benches and the food kiosk. Although the benches along the street seem well-used by passersby, few visitors or area workers seem aware that the tables on the platform are for the public and not just seating for the burger kiosk. There is a sign on either end of the plaza stating the space is for public use, but none within the seating areas.
School Construction Officials Show Design of New Peck Slip School
October 10 - It will be another three years before the Peck Slip School building opens. But School Construction Authority officials are showing what the finished structure will look like, reported the Tribeca Trib. Most notable are the two floors added to the four-story former post office, vacated this year. The top, sixth floor will be an enclosed rooftop playground with metal fabric to keep balls from sailing onto Peck Slip. A gymatorium, combination of gym and auditorium, with stage and removable seats, occupies the fifth floor of the elementary school. The school entrance will be on Peck Slip, with lobby, exercise and lunch rooms on the first floor. Offices will be on the second floor, music and library on the fourth. The fifth floor will house the art and science rooms as well as upper level of the double-floor-height gymatorium. Classrooms will occupy the second through fifth floors.