March 25th - March 29th, 2013
Ellis Island Museum Unlikely to Reopen in 2013 After Severe Superstorm Damage
March 24 - The Ellis Island Immigration Museum, which sustained severe damage to its infrastructure from the surging waters of Superstorm Sandy, is not expected to re-open to the public this year, the National Park Service said. The Associated Press reported that the Oct. 29 storm bought water levels as high as eight feet to Ellis Island, adjacent to the home of the Statue of Liberty, destroying boilers and electrical systems. The museum "is under repair from storm damage and will not likely be open in 2013," the park service said Friday, as it announced that security screening for visitors to the Statue of Liberty would be moving to temporary facilities on Ellis Island. Spokeswoman Linda Friar said that the site was still without power, which was continuing to have a negative impact on the physical condition of the building. Museum artifacts survived the storm unscathed, but more than 1 million items had to be moved to storage facilities because it has been impossible to maintain the climate-controlled environment needed for their preservation. Those items would need to be put back in place before the museum could re-open. Nearby Liberty Island, where about 75 percent of its 12 acres was flooded, also suffered damage, but the Statue of Liberty was unharmed. Officials said earlier last week that the Statue of Liberty will re-open to the public by July 4. The park service said visitors will board cruise ships from either Battery Park in Lower Manhattan or Liberty State Park, N.J., and stop at Ellis Island for a security check. Visitors will then continue to Liberty Island for a secondary screening.
Cars That Run on Amps, Rather Than Gallons, Fill Up Gratis
March 25 - On March 11, a new electric vehicle charging station came online in Battery Park City, when a contingent of green energy VIPs flipped the switch on a ChargePoint station at the Solaire, located on River Terrace. The Broadsheet reported that the station is available for use, free of charge, by any driver who pays the garage's usual parking fees. But what a voltaic fill-up may save in dollars, it can cost in hours: Charging an electric car up to its full range can take a substantial amount of time, in some cases, several hours. The launch is part of a broader push by the City and State governments to expand the infrastructure needed to support electric vehicles. In June, 2012, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a $4.4 million package of grants designed to bring 325 charging stations to New York in the near future, and launch up to 3,000 such stations by 2018. And Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced plans in February of this year to make up to 20 percent of new parking garage spaces in New York City electric vehicle-ready by 2020. That could amount to as many as 10,000 spaces.
Pier Park to Reopen for Summer
March 26 - State Senator Daniel Squadron, who has led the push for a continuous green ribbon of waterfront parks around Lower Manhattan, announced that Pier 42 (on the East River, between the Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges, near Jackson Street) will open for interim recreational use on May 4, reported the Broadsheet. Although plans for a permanent park are still being drawn up, the provisional facility will have picnic tables and a freshly resurfaced "greenway" for joggers and bikers.
Plans for Ground Zero Arts Hub Shift Again
March 26 - The plans for the performing arts center in the new World Trade Center have changed, once again, because of finances. The New York Times reports that starchitect Frank Gehry is still designing the project, but the multi-layered, tree-studded model we've come to know will not be what rises on the site. The art hub's primary tenant was to be Joyce Theater, which planned to make the space a home for dance, and while Joyce Theater will still be involved, dance will only be one piece of the pie. The arts center's board decided that a multi-disciplinary space would be more viable. That means the design is being downsized as well. Instead of four stages, including a 1,000-seat theater, there will be just two stages, one of which will be a 200-seat flex space. The size of the main theater has yet to be determined. The Joyce Theater's president said "there will be a whole new redesign."
Babies Lead Downtown Population Boom, New Report Says
March 26 - The city perhaps is hoping that numbers do lie since recent Census numbers show Lower Manhattan's well-chronicled population surge is even more dramatic than previously thought when you look at the boom in babies and toddlers -- a group that looks to be a few years away from longer school waiting lists. According to the Downtown Express, there was large growth in the downtown childhood population across most neighborhoods and age groups, but the most dramatic increases between 2000 and 2010 were in the 4 and under category. The Financial District and Tribeca roughly tripled their youngest populations with a 242 percent increase in FiDi and a 196 percent in Tribeca, according to C.B. 1 analysis. Battery Park City saw an increase of about 150 percent in ages 0 to 4 over 10 years. Even the Seaport-Civic Center area, which showed zero growth in the overall underage population, still had a 57 percent hike among the pre-school set. The Dept. of Education has maintained that downtown's newer schools -- Peck Slip, P.S. 276 and Spruce Street -- will be enough to met the growing demand.
Asphalt Green Community Center to Open in June
March 26 - The long-awaited Asphalt Green community center in Battery Park City inched closer to opening on March 26 when the Battery Park City Authority board of directors agreed to an amended contract with Asphalt Green, reported the Downtown Express. The contract specifies that Asphalt Green will have "substantial access" to the community center premises at 212 North End Ave. as of May 1 while the B.P.C.A. puts the final touches on construction. This work must be finished by mid-June so that Asphalt Green Battery Park City can open its summer day camp on June 27. If the B.P.C.A. fails to meet these dates, there will be financial penalties. Should the authority not be able to grant access by May 1, it will pay Asphalt Green $25,000 a week. Gwen Dawson, senior vice president of asset management for the authority, is in charge of the construction work. She said that it is moving forward on an expedited schedule and that the contractors are being paid accordingly.