In the News: Community Board 1 Is Blocking Asphalt Green Again

••• A local “news source” (name redacted at its request) attended last night’s meeting of the CB1 Battery Park City Committee. [Note: The source requested that his text not be used, so I'm summarizing in my own words. The comments on this post were made about the original text.] The source posted that the group that has allegedly been fighting Asphalt Green has—behind closed doors—allegedly come up with a new stipulation that Asphalt Green not compete with Manhattan Youth. The source claimed that Anthony Notaro, chairman of Community Board 1′s Battery Park City Committee, would not allow the stipulation to become a matter of public record, and that other members of the committee did not understand why. Finally, the news source also claimed that the BPCA and Milstein Properties are in disagreement over who should pay to fix Sandy-related damage at Asphalt Green.

••• “Russell Crowe has been hanging out with a crowd of friends in the courtyard of the Greenwich Hotel in Tribeca, drinking amid the wafts of smoke coming from suspicious-smelling cigarettes and singing songs accompanied by an acoustic guitar. ‘Crowe is in the courtyard every night with his bandmates playing music. They’re not bad,’ said one neighbor who also noticed a very distinctive fragrance wafting up from the courtyard.” —New York Post

••• “Marc Forgione, who owns a Tribeca restaurant bearing his name, has joined the EMM Group. As the chef and partner of Abe & Arthur’s, which the group owns, he will oversee a redo of the meatpacking district restaurant, which will close this winter and reopen with a new name. He plans to serve dishes associated with New York. ‘I want to bring the dirty-water dog into fine dining,’ he said.” (Fine dining was not available for comment.) —New York Times

••• “The Battery Park City Authority hopes to complete a detailed assessment of damage from Hurricane Sandy to neighborhood infrastructure within the next several weeks, and then make public a specific timeline for repair. This assessment will cover damage to the new community center on North End Avenue (most recently targeted for opening on December 1), the ball fields (where the damage brought a premature end to the Downtown Soccer League season), and Pier A (which the Authority had originally hoped to turn over to its tenant and partner, the Poulakakos restaurant group by December 31).” Well, well, well… The Broadsheet now no longer refers to “the new community center” as Asphalt Green? This won’t exactly stop the accusations that the publication is in the pocket of the BPCA and other local interests.

••• Community Board 1′s Battery Park City Committee approved the liquor license application for El Vez, the New York outpost of a Philadelphia restaurant coming to the Conrad building. And El Vez will sell takeout from a separate entrance. —”News source” who wants its name redacted

••• Tenants at 67 Vestry are unhappy about how their landlord, Aby Rosen, has handled post-Sandy repairs, says the Tribeca Trib. Can’t they see how busy he is being fabulous?

30 Comments

  1. I was there last night and Jeff Galloway and Anthony Notaro had in fact met in secret to draft the MOU document and even refused to show the members of CB1 Battery Park City Committee who were sitting right next to them.

    Needles to say they (Notaro and Galloway) also refused to discuss or show it to the public even though Notaro held this revised MOU right in his hand during the discussion.

    If you do something in secret, you have something to hide. …

  2. This secret MOU disgusts me. Whoever alerted the NY Times and the Wall Street Journal to the meeting before this, should alert them again. Apparently, CB1 and BPCA feel they have absolutely no accountability to the people they serve.

    Amazing that, even when there is a public meeting going on, no one really pushes the issue and says “as a member of the CB1 Battery Park Committee, I’m asking to see that MOU. NOW.” Who ARE these people?

  3. Community 1 board is “run” by Bob Townley of Downtown Community Center/ Manhattan youth. He is the driver behind this MOU (that was created by Galloway and Notaro) so he can protect his monopoly of poorly run, 3rd rate youth activities and after-school programs south of Canal Street. They entire community board 1 is complicit and so no one says a word. As a taxpayer, the Community 1 meetings are a revolting sight to behold.

  4. Shouldn’t the MOU be made available for reasonable public inspection? Why isn’t Scott Stringer saying anything? Why, oh why? NYC Charter – Chapter 70 – (d) Each community board shall: (7) Elect its own officers; adopt, and make available for reasonable public inspection, by-laws and statements of the duties assigned by the board to its district manager and other professional staff appointed pursuant to subdivision f of this section; and keep a public record of its activities and transactions, including minutes of its meetings, majority and minority reports, and all documents the board is required by law to review, which shall be made available, in accordance with law, to elected officials upon request and for reasonable public inspection;

  5. This attempt to gin up some kind of anti-Asphalt Green conspiracy is pathetic. Steven Greer is clearly making this up to try and manufacture controversy where it doesn’t exist. Tribeca Citizen should investigate him, not humor him. Everybody wants Asphalt Green to succeed, it fills an obvious need. There is obviously no “MOU” in effect with the Authority.

    While Townley has a few remaining allies at CB1, his main supporter, Julie Menin (whom he repaid with a video endorsement for her slowmoving campaign), has abandoned him.

  6. The only person against Asphalt Green is Bob Townley because he does not want to lose his monopoly.

    Unfortunately, he has some allies in cb1 who drafted and are trying to push forward this ridiculous MOU on his behalf. If you show up at one of those CB1 meetings, it will be very clear what is going on. I am hoping that Dennis Mehiel, Chair of BPCA, sees exactly what this is and never signs it.

    However, all of this nonsense delays the opening and denies the residents of BPC (who paid for it) and downtown access to a phenomenal facility run by a premier, NOT-FOR-PROFIT organization, Asphalt GREEN.

    Ask anyone in BPC or Tribeca and you will hear that the residents of downtown are dying for excellent fitness, sports instruction, especially for their kids.

    We are fortunate to have great public schools, but sadly have lousy after-school programs and no decent local summer camp, thanks to the current monopoly enjoyed by Bob Townley.

  7. The BatteryPark.tv report is completely inaccurate. Here are the facts. The opening by Asphalt Green and the MOU are two separate issues which may seem to be related but are actually not. First, The year long delay has nothing to do with CB#!, Townley, Galloway, McVay-Hughes or myself. That gives us too much credit to think we could have that power. When the new BPCA Chair Dennis Mehiel came in, he personally got involved in settling, what we then learned was, a contract impasse between BPCA & AG. Combined with permitting problems, the opening was delayed but Mehiel got that done and in late October he announced a new contract and opening date of December 1st. Seems to be Murphy’s Law that Hurricane Sandy hit pushing the opening back. Now for the MOU which has been in place since February, 2001 signed by CB#1, BPCA and our local Council Member at that time, which set up task forces made up of CB1 members and representatives of local elected officials charged with advising BPCA on the construction and operation of the BPC Ballfields and Community Center. The Ballfields Task Force (chaired by Jeff Galloway) and the Community Center Task Force (chaired by me) have been continuously working with BPCA regarding the construction and operation of the Ballfields and Community Center since 2001. Everything you see in these two facilities today is the direct result of input from these two task forces, whose formal recommendations are made in public meetings. In 2009, CB1 and BPCA began discussing whether the 2001 MOU needed to be updated to take account of developments since 2001. It’s important to note that when the 2001 MOU was signed, BPCA through their Parks Conservancy would operate the center and the field. Now BPCA has hired AG to operate the community center but not the ballfields. CB1 held a series of public meetings in 2009 to take comments from the public regarding possible changes to the 2001 MOU. CB1 solicited comments from BPCA at that time, but BPCA asked that CB1 reduce the public comments into a revised draft and present that draft to BPCA in the form of a resolution. A resolution supporting this revised draft was unanimously passed at the public CB1 meeting in January 2010; the resolution included the full text of the MOU draft and has long been available on CB1’s website (http://www.nyc.gov/html/mancb1/downloads/pdf/Resolutions/10-01-26.pdf). Since then, BPCA and CB1 have exchanged comments and revisions to the draft, but a series of events completely unrelated to the MOU have delayed finalization of the updated MOU since that time – among other things, BPCA has been through 3 Presidents in those 3 years. In the meantime, BPCA and the CB1 task forces have continued to work cooperatively with BPCA on the Ballfields and Community Center. The Ballfields Task Force led the conversion of the Ballfields to artificial turf. Finally, the Community Center Task Force participated in the selection of Asphalt Green as operator. We want them to open and be successful. They offer programs that don’t overlap with other centers as much as anyone thinks, offering choices to individuals and families in this fast growing part of NYC. Jeff Galloway and I eagerly look forward to the Center’s opening, as soon as the damage from Superstorm Sandy can be repaired.

  8. Mr. Notaro opened his comment by stating “BatteryPark.TV is completely wrong” then proceeded to not list a single thing we wrote that was incorrect.

    Fact: The revised MOU was withdrawn by Mr. Notaro in October, then a new resurfaced in secret after Hurricane Sandy created the opportunity of crisis

    Fact: the CB1 BPC committee has not been shown this mystery MOU

    Fact: The mystery MOU still would impose an 11 member oversight board of bureaucrats to stifle Asphalt Green. That is all we know since it is still a secret

  9. Reply to “This is Pathetic”. Way to go. Post ad hominem attacks under an anonymous alias. You have zero credibility.

    Steven E. Greer, MD
    BatteryPark.TV

  10. I’m sorry, Mr Greer, but you have an interesting idea of what constitutes a “fact”. The idea that “Sandy created an opportunity of crisis”, and the idea that the purpose of the 11 member board is to “stifle Asphalt Green” are both opinions, and not facts. You may be right, and I applaud your tenacity with regards to this issue, but making these accusations without anything more than conjecture is unfair, especially when you lay claim to the mantle of “journalism” on your blog.

  11. Reply to Doug

    Yet another anonymous critic, likely part of the special interests pushing for this MOU who would not stand the light of scrutiny if we know your identity

    Dr. Steven Greer
    BatteryPark.TV

  12. So, your only response to my criticism is to make some ridiculous comment about my anonymity? Can’t address the actual issue? Not too surprising from you, “Dr”. You can think whatever you want about who I am, it still doesn’t change the fact that the things you would like to label as facts are not facts, but opinions.

  13. Doug, are you saying that, when we finally get a look at this MOU, there won’t be language in there protecting the interests of Manhattan Youth? Because that would be great. I guess we won’t know until CB1 and BPCA decide to be transparent with the residents. Won’t hold my breath.

  14. The above question also goes to Anthony Notaro.

  15. Dr. Greer is correct and should be commended for exposing these behind close doors sleazy practices of Jeff Galloway and CB1. The MOU serves one purpose and that is to protect the monopolies of the special interests. They do not want competition from Asphalt Green.

  16. I’ve served on community board 1, and most of the people I served with there were people volunteering time and energy to make their communities better. If you have such strong feelings about this (or any other issue) please come to a community board meeting and make them known.

  17. Spoken like a true former CB1 member.
    “Most people”? What are the other people there for?
    “Most people” aren’t interested in going to a CB1 meeting to tell them what they should already know – it’s pretty simple.
    “It’s because of the ever-changing BPCA president…no, no, it’s because of Sandy….no, no, no, it’s Murphy’s Law!!! Hysterical.
    CB1 should form a task force to figure out how to best spend their time and energy to get a community center open. Right now, Asphalt Green isn’t open and the community isn’t any better.

  18. BPC residents are tired of all these shenanigans! We want Asphalt Green to open as soon as possible. It’s time to get the local news media involve to embarrass these so-called “opponents” of Asphalt Green!

  19. There will always be people who assume the worst motives in the actions of others, and who simply can’t comprehend that there are people who want to try to improve things around them without any expectation of personal benefit, other than the shared benefit of an improved community. Yes, many of us on CB1 have children in the local schools or who play on the Ballfields or participate in Downtown Day Camp or other Manhattan Youth Programs. Some might call that a conflict of interest, but I don’t. If it were, there would be no school Parents Associations, local Little Leagues or scouting programs in any community.

    I joined CB1 in 2002 because I wanted to help rebuild Lower Manhattan after 9/11. I’m proud to have had a small part in efforts mostly led by others, including Julie Menin, Catherine Hughes, Anthony Notaro, Bob Townley, Paul Hovitz, Mark Costello, Michael Connolly, Linda Belfer, and many other dedicated CB1 members, to accomplish things for our local community that other community boards only dream of: securing 3 new public schools for our community (PS 276, the Spruce Street School and the Peck Slip School — CB1 also secured PS 234 and PS/IS 89, but that predated my involvement); the creation of the Downtown Community Center; negotiating with Goldman Sachs to obtain the funding to build the BPC Public Library; converting the Ballfields to artificial turf to allow greatly expanded play time; participating in the development of the RFP for the BPC Community Center and the selection of Asphalt Green as operator, which will bring world class programming to our neighborhood; assisting in mediating disputes at the WTC site so that redevelopment is finally on the way; advocating for, and participating in the design of, the 3 dog runs in BPC; assisting BPCA in developing the RFP for the BPC Ice Rink; and addressing countless non-glamorous neighborhood issues, such as liquor licenses, traffic signals, zoning variances, and the like. And these are but a small sample of the issues that CB1 has addressed in recent years, trying to make Lower Manhattan a better place for all of its residents.

    The only reason that the BPC Community Center and the Ballfields even exist is because CB1 negotiated the commitment from BPCA to get them built. Prior to that, the BPCA plan was for residential development on those sites. As a result of the CB1 negotiations, BPCA agreed to build the Community Center and make the Ballfields permanent, and entered into the 2001 MOU that has governed the design and operation of these facilities since that time. The task of getting the Center open, however, is in the hands of BPCA and AG, not CB1. BPCA, AG and CB1 all want the Center open as soon as humanly possible.

  20. Mr. Galloway posted a strange and lengthy history of the CB1 and his great accomplishments (which are misleading to say the least), but he does not deny or refute anything about the secretive MOU that he is pushing. Also, to claim that he is on the CB1 for altruistic reasons is absurd.

    Steven E. Greer, MD
    BatteryPark.TV

  21. Hi Jeff–I think the issue that people are objecting to is this re-tooled MOU which has only been seen by a few people. Also these task forces that also don’t seem to report out publicly. If, when ths new MOU comes to light, it has language designed to protect Bob Townley’s business, then people are certainly right to question your motives. If not, great!

  22. It WAS humanly possible to open Asphalt Green a looooong time ago. It was a human-made disaster before Sandy arrived. I hope all of those individuals responsible for creating the delays with Asphalt Green aren’t the same people patting themselves on the back at the ribbon cutting ceremony.
    And does Manhattan Youth have a permit to park their donation bike-a-billboard in front of Whole Foods?

  23. I’m entertained by a few things that Notaro and Galloway say here.

    From Notaro: ” CB1 held a series of public meetings in 2009 to take comments from the public regarding possible changes to the 2001 MOU”. Of course this is a fabrication. Public comments were not incorporated in the MOU. Instead, the changes made in the MOU that were made in the 2009-10 timeframe were drafted by Townley, Costello, and a few other insiders, and this was done secretly with no public input. They were the antithesesis of public input. They were drafted in secret, and kept secret until voted upon by the board. The same thing is happening again now. Townley wants non-compete language included in the MOU to essentially protect his monopoly. Costello and the leagues wanted language included to protect their absolute control of the ballfields. Back in 2010 BPCA responded by eliminating language in the MOU that protected Townley’s interests at the expense of downtown residents. That language included most of the non-compete guarantees Townley was clamoring for , as well as guarantees that he would be guaranteed a seat on the oversight committee. Townley also wanted to be guaranteed FREE access to the BPC Community Center for Manhattan Youth, a bizarre and unreasonable request that was cut from the MOU in BPCA’s response.

    From Galloway we get this typical self-congratulatory boilerplate:”The only reason that the BPC Community Center and the Ballfields even exist is because CB1 negotiated the commitment from BPCA to get them built.” Only a lawyer would crow about getting nothing done, and that is exactly what Galloway does. He brags about what he has done to create a community center that is still not open TWO YEARS after it was scheduled to open. Why is it not open? Oh, that’s the BPCA and AG’s problem, demurs Galloway. But the truth, the real dirty truth here is that for two years the CB1 community center task force has had Townley as a member with a HUGE conflict of interest regarding Asphalt Green and as a result of that conflict of interest there has been NO pressure from CB1 at all to open the center. Townley’s fiefdom has been well served by Galloway, Notaro , et al for two years. The only losers are all residents of BPC who now have no BPC Community Center because of Townley’s fiefdom and conflict of interest, and no Downtown Community Center because Townley was spending “non-profit” $$$ on steaks at The Palm rather than on flood insurance.

    Many many residents of BPC have had enough of Galloway and Notaro, and Townley. They serve themselves, not us. It’s time to throw the bums out.

  24. Well said James. I also commented a while ago on the flood insurance issue. I found it absolutely ridiculous that neighborhood people were hauling loads of trash (dusty and dangerous work that an insured cleanup company should have been responsible for) from manhattan youth.

    we need asphalt green to open so there is a nice & welcoming center for all of us and our families to enjoy!

  25. For those people insistent on branding Manhattan Youth as a 3rd rate outfit, your anger might be misplaced. My neighbor, a senior has used MY’s senior swim program for years, for free. She would not be able to afford to pay for this sort of service and would not be able to travel out of the neighborhood for this amenity. Many seniors in the neighborhood have benefited from MY. Many people have used their services and facilities when nothing else existed down here. And their pricing model is more accommodating to a broader range of people. We have been thankful for MY for what they have done and how they have priced things.Throwing around labels like “3rd rate” and “monopoly of mediocrity” are opinions, and while you are entitled to those if you have used MY, they don’t encourage productive conversation.

    My children participate in both the soccer and little league that use the fields. I am thankful to have affordable recreational options in our neighborhood, that don’t cost an arm and a leg and that enable local kids to enjoy athletic options.

    As a tax payer and parent in Battery Park City, I don’t want the fields to be handed over to the highest bidder. I suspect that is the goal of the MOU–to find a way to preserve affordability. It is a tricky thing to do because it does provide some protections to groups. I have a membership at AG, and am torn, because the Downtown Soccer League does not have a girls league (they won’t even entertain the thought) and they don’t have a competitive division. I would like for my kids to have more options in the neighborhood, which is one reason we joined AG. I would also not be in favor of giving AG or any single vendor that does not serve the broadest community full reign over the fields. My kids don’t use Downtown Day Camp, but I would like for my kids to be able to take a class at AG over the summer and be able to use the field. Only a small percentage of neighborhood kids use Downtown Day Camp and it would not really be fair to keep the fields off limits for the entire summer to preserve that historic agreement.
    I don’t see why the MOU should hold up the opening of the community center. And for the public to believe it is not holding up the opening, it should just be released and made public.
    People (myself included) are angry over the delays. The “PR” dept. of the BPCA has been anything but forth coming (why are my tax dollars being used to pay someone to lie to us????) and what we have learned over the past year is the BPCA has given out false and misleading information even when they were aware that the reality of the situation was different.

  26. You say our “opinions” do not “encourage productive conversation”, but a secretive MOU does?

    You claim that Manhattan Youth is not third rate. We can find no one to say that the programs that they have enrolled their child in has been impressive. It is glorified babysitting, not top-notch coach that leads to NCAA scholarships and Olympic medals.

    Your children in soccer and baseball have nothing to fear about losing use of the fields. Bob Townley, at his anti-Asphalt Green rally co-promoted by the Broadsheet, used child props holding signs that read “Save our fields”, which were literally propaganda. In fact, all of the sports leagues can now obtain three-year permits and near free rates of usage.

    You wrote, ” I don’t want the fields to be handed over to the highest bidder”. As a “tax payer”, you prefer to get a bad deal and give away the fields for free and have substandard managers? By the way, Asphalt Green is very affordable. Also, BPC real estate owners do not want the value of their property eroded by a low-end product coming from the community center.

    We agree with what you wrote, ” I have a membership at AG, and am torn, because the Downtown Soccer League does not have a girls league (they won’t even entertain the thought) and they don’t have a competitive division. I would like for my kids to have more options in the neighborhood, which is one reason we joined AG.”

    I also agree with what you wrote, ” I don’t see why the MOU should hold up the opening of the community center. And for the public to believe it is not holding up the opening, it should just be released and made public. People (myself included) are angry over the delays.”

    Steven E. Greer
    DowntownManhattan.TV

  27. Enough positioning. Enough patting yourselves on the back for all of your contributions to the neighborhood. Enough pointing fingers. Enough he said, she said. Enough secrecy. Enough empty promises. I signed a contract with Asphalt Green OVER A YEAR AGO. I agreed to pay a monthly rate in exchange for access to a facility, programming and services accessible to me and my family in my neighborhood.

    Let me boil this down for you as a taxpayer, neighbor and Asphalt Green member: When. Will. The. Facility. Be. Open?

  28. “As the neighborhood grows, CB1 just sucks more and more.”
    Let’s keep this simple for CB1, when AG finally opens, will they have a 2am or 4am closing? Or will they have to come back to ask in a couple of months when Asphalt Green actually turns out to be a cocktail lounge? Nothing gets by CB1. Tammany Hall rises!

  29. There’s plenty of room there for a sidewalk cafe.

  30. I can vouch for Jeff Galloway’s intentions and those of the CB1 as a decades long investor in the BPC community. My family and I have live in the area since its inception. There is a person on this thread who uses his website and antagonistic views to INCITE conflict. Ironically, this person is a renter of a modest 1 bedroom apartment and has only lived in the area 8 years. I am not clear as to how this person has such a vested interest in the BPC community? I think his vested interest is in creating conflict since he spends his days video-taping livery car drivers/food delivery people and terrorizing his own doormen. Efforts he views as noble and the rest of us view as NUTS. Thank you to Jeff Galloway and the CB1 for their tireless work in bettering the quality of life for Battery Park City residents.