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The Day | Bank to Replace Mars Bar

EAST VILLAGE view empty streetGloria Chung

Good morning, East Village.

In one of the more extreme transformations to hit the neighborhood, word comes that a branch of TD Bank will occupy the ground floor space of the 12-story apartment building under construction on Second Avenue at East 1st Street. An answer, at last, to the question: what could possibly replace Mars Bar?

Perhaps less jarring, the Lower East Side Ecology Center has laid out a proposal for a wetland at East River Park–which, after all, is very wet a lot of the time. The plan calls for fencing off part of the area already used for composting, and would use naturally filtered water generated by the composting process.

By the way, do you call 311 to complain about rats in the ‘hood? Hardly ever, according to this interactive map. I guess we just got used to them.

East Village Weathers the Superstorm

UntitledDaniel Maurer FDR Drive near East 10th.

East Villagers woke up to waterlogged cars, downed trees, limited cell phone reception, and an acrid smell in the air – a lingering reminder of a circuit-breaker explosion at the Con Edison plant on 14th Street that preceded a blackout affecting nearly all of Manhattan south of 39th Street.

Next to the facility, on 13th Street east of Avenue C, a half dozen people attempted to dry out and jump-start cars that had been underwater hours before, as other vehicles sat in garages where water still stood above tire level. On Avenue C, a Stuy Town resident tended to a Volvo with a smashed window. The man, who did not want to be named, said he had tried to drive the car out of an underground garage after he looked out of his apartment window and saw river water beginning to gush up Avenue C.

UntitledDaniel Maurer

Within five to ten minutes, he said, the water was up to mid-thigh level. “I tried to get out of the garage and as soon as I hit the gate it was a wall of water,” he said. When he realized the water had reached his car window, he bailed out and waded through a chest-level “river,” dodging floating vehicles as he tried to get to shallower waters on 14th Street. “Cars were afloat. All I needed was one car to blow me into the wall. It was chaotic,” he said, adding that the scene became “9/11-like” when a circuit-breaker exploded at the Con Ed plant, just a block away, and plunged the neighborhood into darkness around 8:30 p.m. Read more…

Riverside Robber: Police Seek Suspect in 16 Hold-Ups

Suspected Serial RobberStephen Rex Brown The suspect in a long string of robberies.

The police are on the hunt for a suspect in a string of at least 16 robberies, half of which were in the East Village.

In all the cases, which take place near the East River, the perpetrator either flashed a knife or gun, or simulated one. He then attempted to take his victims’ property — common items include cellphones and wallets — and usually succeeded. None of the victims were hurt.

In the first four incidents in early May the suspect robbed victims in elevators in Campos Plaza and the Lillian Wald Houses, the police said. Only in the last incident on May 15 did he actually flash a weapon — a knife — before grabbing the victims Sony PSP, cash and a watch. Read more…

East River Park Gets a Touch-Up, and Ideas for a Facelift

Paul Yanchyshyn and Diana Carulli give new color to a painted labyrinth in East River Park.Melvin Felix Paul Yanchyshyn and Diana Carulli give new color to a painted labyrinth in East River Park.

After five weekends of weeding, mulching and painting, the women of the New York Junior League will unveil upgrades at East River Park tomorrow. The Playground Improvement Project, a committee of the league, volunteered its time throughout the spring to beautify 57 acres of riverfront between East 12th Street and Montgomery Street.

Visitors will now find new benches, fresh coats of paint on playground equipment and fences, as well as a brand new flower garden near the tennis courts at Houston Street.

The improvements are likely to be folded into the Blueway project, a proposal to make the shore along the East River, from the Brooklyn Bridge north to East 38th Street, as accessible and pleasant as Hudson River Park to the west.

Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, one of the promoters of the Blueway, said the improvements to the park were welcome during the project’s early planning stages. “I saw first hand how they’ve been working hard getting the park ready for the summer for residents to enjoy,” said Mr. Kavanagh. Read more…

Stabbing in East River Park

A man was stabbed in a playground in East River Park last night, the police said.

The 59-year-old was near FDR Drive and East Eighth Street at around 8:30 p.m. when he got in a dispute with another man. The argument escalated, and the victim was stabbed in the torso.

Police charged Conrado Speck, 50, with assault with a weapon and criminal possession of a weapon. The victim is expected to survive.

Pols, Residents Ponder: What Should East River ‘Blueway’ Look Like?

East-River-Blueway_Interactive-Map An interactive map allows users to submit Blueway ideas.

“The west side has the High Line, Hudson River Park, Chelsea Piers,” said Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer at the first community-wide planning meeting for the East River Blueway. “Now it’s time for the East Side to have an iconic outdoor space.”

In its planning stages since September 2011, the Blueway aims to make the East River more accessible, with beautified walkways, from the Brooklyn Bridge to East 38th Street. Yesterday’s meeting brought together residents, politicians, and members of Community Board 6 as well as the project’s design team to share ideas regarding water access, biking routes, and improved water quality for swimming, kayaking and fishing.

Crossing the FDR is currently a major obstacle to accessing the river. According to Adam Lubinsky, Managing Principal of WXY Architecture + Urban Design, the East Side has only half the number of street crossings – including underpasses, overpasses and street level pathways – as the West Side. “How can we engage with a river that we’ve been separated from for so long?” asked Mr. Lubinsky. Read more…

A Little League and A Refuge

Last weekend, the Felix Millan Little League Blood Hounds scrimmaged their rival, the Yankees, on Diamond 5 at East River Park to gear up for the league’s 35th opening day on Saturday.

The team’s coaches, many of whom participated in the league as youngsters, said that the league provides a crucial refuge from the potential perils on the streets of the East Village and Lower East Side.

The Local caught up with Manny Rodriguez, president of Felix Millan Little League since its inaugural campaign in 1977, and a few coaches, players, and alums to find out what the league means to the community.

NYU Journalism’s Mark Riffee reports.

Reflecting on East River Park Delays

East River Park Suzanne Rozdeba The East River Park is the focal point of an unrealized plan for a unbroken protected greenway on Manhattan’s east side. Below: The park, renamed for former Mayor John V. Lindsay in 2001, is also a hub for runners and cyclists.
East River Park

Before the construction of the East River (later FDR) Drive and the public housing along the east side of the street, Avenue D’s relationship with the East River was much more direct than we see now. When the area was still dominated by an active industrial waterfront, almost every east-west street in the neighborhood flowed directly into the river. Today, only a couple of those streets give access to the waterfront and the FDR must be traversed first.

Indeed, a quick look at some historical photographs and maps shows that the water was physically much closer to Avenue D than it is today. For instance, if you stood on the corner of 13th Street on Avenue D in the 1930’s, you could look directly at the water lapping up against the dock, while today that view is dominated by a power plant. Meanwhile, a walk from the corner of East Sixth street and Avenue D would deliver you to the water’s edge after approximately 900 feet, and the equivalent walk today is about 350 feet longer.

The difference, of course, is due both to FDR Drive and the East River Park (renamed John V. Lindsay Park in 2001). What the neighborhood lost in direct access to the water, it gained in additional open space. In fact, it gained Manhattan’s biggest open space south of 59th Street. The park, which is almost 60 acres in size and stretches from East 12th Street to Montgomery Street, owes its origins to the FDR Drive and Robert Moses, the man behind almost every piece of serious infrastructure conceived and/or constructed between the Great Depression and the city’s financial crisis of the 1970’s.
Read more…