May 25th - May 31st, 2013
City to Expand Ferry Service Between Manhattan and Red Hook
May 23 - Starting this Memorial Day weekend, the city is expanding free ferry service between Lower Manhattan and Red Hook, reported NY1. The ferry will run from Pier 11 in Manhattan to a new stop at Van Brunt Street and then to the IKEA furniture store. City officials hope the service brings foot traffic to businesses in Red Hook damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Free transfers will be offered from the Red Hook Ferry to the East River Ferry, which makes stops in Brooklyn and Queens. The new service will run from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. through Labor Day.
A Sphere That Has Taken a Year to Roll Nowhere
May 24 - The last word on the fate of Fritz Koenig's "Sphere" for the World Trade Center, installed in 2002 at Battery Park as the city's interim 9/11 memorial, came a year ago from Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. "I think it's beautiful where it is," he said. And that's where it has remained, reported the New York Times. The "Sphere," which was to have been moved in the late spring of 2012, is still in Battery Park. If officials at City Hall, the parks department, the Battery Conservancy, the Port Authority or the 9/11 Memorial have a plan to relocate the 25-foot sculpture -- badly damaged when the twin towers crashed down around it on Sept. 11, 2001 -- they have not disclosed it. The Battery Conservancy, headed by Warrie Price, does not want the "Sphere" in Battery Park, which it runs under contract with the parks department. Though the sculpture may be the biggest draw in the park after Castle Clinton, it was installed as an interim measure and has no place in the long-term renovation plan. The conservancy may also be concerned that Battery Park has so many memorials already that it will begin to feel like a necropolis. Commencement of the renovation of Battery Park was supposed to be the nonnegotiable deadline for a relocation plan, since the "Sphere" stands in the middle of the construction area. But work crews have devised a way around it, suggesting strongly that Bloomberg's last words a year ago were the last word indeed.
Travel Forecast for Summer in NYC: 13.4 Million Visitors Expected
May 24 - The travel forecast for the city this summer is hot, hot, hot, according to the New York Daily News. Officials are predicting 13.4 million visitors to the Big Apple over the next three months -- a 2.5 percent increase from last year. Nationally, 31.2 million Americans were expected to hit the road this Memorial Day weekend, about the same number as last year, AAA said.
St. Johns University to Sell Campus in Lower Manhattan
May 24 - St. John's University in New York agreed to sell its Lower Manhattan campus to a group including developer Steven Witkoff and property investor Fisher Brothers, which plan to build condominiums at the site, according to Bloomberg. Selling the property at 101 Murray St. will give the university a "major infusion of capital," President Donald Harrington said in a statement today. Proceeds will be used for student financial aid, academic programs and facility improvements, the university said. The sale price, which the seller didn't disclose, will exceed $200 million, said a person with knowledge of transaction. The developers plan to tear down a 10-story building on the property and build a condo project, said the person, who asked not to be named because the details are private. St. John's will continue to occupy the building until mid-2014, according to the statement.
Con Ed Set to Install Waterproof Transformers in Lower Manhattan
May 28 - Con Edison is about to embark on a new four-year project to help keep downtown's lights on in the event of another massive storm, reported DNAinfo.com. The power company is slated to install 158 new water-proof transformers under the streets of Lower Manhattan to prevent corrosive floodwaters from short-circuiting the city's power, said David Gmach, Con Ed's director of public affairs, at a recent Community Board 1 meeting. The old transformers could not function if submerged under water, he said. Replacing the devices, which sit under sidewalks and streets, will call for jack-hammering to open the roadways, Gmach said. Thousands of people in Manhattan were without electricity for days after Hurricane Sandy tore through the city at the end of October. Changing out the transformers is part of an $80 million storm-readiness plan that will begin before the end of 2013, Gmach said. Other Con Ed equipment is also being modernized and replaced, or moved to higher ground.
Schumer Says New Statue of Liberty Security Risky
May 27 - New security plans for the Statue of Liberty could leave visitors vulnerable when it reopens July Fourth, New York officials said Monday. The Associated Press reported that Sen. Charles Schumer and New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly called for the National Park Service to reverse its plan, which calls for visitors to board boats either lower Manhattan or New Jersey and stop at nearby Ellis Island for security. The statue was closed after Superstorm Sandy. Storm surges flooded Liberty Island, destroying boilers and electrical systems, but the statue, which is on higher ground on the island, remained intact. Previously, passengers were screened with airport-style metal detectors before they boarded boats for Liberty Island from Battery Park in Lower Manhattan and Liberty State Park in New Jersey. Both officials said any additional costs could be covered with a small increase in the fee charged to visit the island. They also advocated scheduled ticketing to help reduce lines. The Ellis Island Immigration Museum, which suffered severe damage to its infrastructure during the storm, will remain closed for repairs, except for the proposed screening area.
Company That Oversaw 130 Liberty Demo Cannot Seek $80 Million
May 28 - The construction company hired to demolish the former Deutsche Bank (130 Liberty Street) cannot bill taxpayers for $80 million it claims it was shortchanged, a New York state appeals court ruled on Tuesday, the latest chapter in the litigation surrounding the ill-fated project. Reuters reported that the decision from the Appellate Division largely affirmed a lower court ruling wiping out most of the claims filed by Bovis Lend Lease against the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. The two sides have waged a legal battle for years over tens of millions of dollars spent on the site. The corporation in 2004 acquired the building, which was heavily damaged in the attacks, in order to take it down. It hired Bovis, now known as Lend Lease, to oversee asbestos removal and demolition for roughly $81 million. The project was plagued by delays, most notably a deadly fire in 2007 that killed two firefighters, and the cost eventually ballooned past $200 million. Bovis reached a non-prosecution agreement with the district attorney's office in exchange for acknowledging some responsibility, making changes to its safety procedures and creating a fund for the firefighters' families. In its lawsuit against LMDC, filed in 2009, Bovis claimed that government regulators conducted unreasonably frequent and heavy-handed inspections, causing massive delays and doubling its costs. The company argued that LMDC was obligated to pay an additional $80 million because the delays were unforeseen.
Google Street View Now Includes 9-11 Memorial
May 29 - Those who haven't had the opportunity to visit New York City and see the Memorial at the World Trade Center now can tour it via Google Street View, reported CNET. Users can zoom in and out and "walk around" to view the memorial from different angles. Images from the north and south memorial pools feature the engraved names of the victims of the terrorist attacks in New York City, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, PA. The zoom feature is precise enough to read each person's name. Google also has expanded its coverage of New York's famed Central Park.
Port Authority Installing Flood Barriers at PATH Stations
May 29 - In an attempt to ward off flood damage for the upcoming hurricane season, the Port Authority is installing stackable metal flood barriers at PATH stations, stockpiling spare parts, pre-positioning pumps and generators, and getting thousands of sandbags in place, reported WNYC. Last year, Sandy caused $2 billion worth of damage to Port Authority airports, bridges, and tunnels. But it was the PATH system that suffered some of the agency's most catastrophic flooding, and full service took months to restore -- in part because it was difficult to find replacement parts for the aging equipment. It took 13 weeks for PATH service to resume between Hoboken and the World Trade Center. Port Authority Chief Pat Foye said the PATH outage hampered the region's recovery, and added that so far, the Port Authority has been awarded $1.36 billion from the Federal Transit Administration. In its Wednesday board meeting, the Port Authority approved an additional $59 million in mitigation funding. Of that amount, $21 million will go to PATH system to install more pumps, watertight doors, and flood barriers. The World Trade Center will get $5.5 million for similar protections. Foye said the WTC already has approximately 40,000 sandbags and 2,400 tons of sand available to prepare for storms.