News briefs

Park Row bill hearing

The City Council will be holding a hearing Thursday on a bill to force the city to examine the effects security-related street closures have on residents, businesses and the environment. The so-called “Park Row bill” is sponsored by Councilmember Alan Gerson, who proposed the legislation as a result of the city’s closure of the section of Park Row that runs near police headquarters in Lower Manhattan.

Chinatown residents and other Downtowners have sued the city to reopen the street, saying the closure has caused traffic congestion, hurt businesses and potentially slowed down ambulances and emergency vehicles rushing to Chatham Towers and Chatham Green.

Gerson and his 10 co-sponsors have agreed to changes in the bill that they hope will prevent a mayoral veto. Under the legislation’s new wording the city would have 90 days rather than 45 days after a street closure before it would be forced to explain the reasons, alternatives and the effects of the traffic change. Dirk McCall, Gerson’s chief of staff, said he is cautiously optimistic the changes will be enough to prevent a veto.

Officials from the city’s Transportation Dept. and perhaps the New York Police Dept. are expected to testify along with residents on Jan. 27 at 250 Broadway, 14th floor, starting at 10 a.m.

Preschool fair

The third annual Downtown Preschool Fair is coming to Stuyvesant High School on Jan. 24th.

Hosted by the Battery Park City Neighbors & Parents’ Association and the B.P.C. Parks Conservancy, the fair will begin with an hour-long introductory presentation by the directors of the various Downtown preschools. Parents will then have the opportunity to meet the representatives in person at their individual tables and gather useful information culled by the Neighbors Association.

From 7:30 to 9 p.m., parents can mingle at the free event with representatives from Battery Park Day Nursery, Buckle My Shoe, Church Street School of Music and Art, Educational Alliance, Downtown Little School, Park Preschool, Montessori School of Manhattan, Washington Market Preschool, FedKids Early Childhood Center and other schools.

The Downtown Preschool Fair, a free event, will be at Stuyvesant High School on Mon., Jan 24th from 7:30 – 9 p.m. For more information, visit the Battery Park City Neighbors & Parents’ Association website at

New Planning director

City Planning chairperson Amanda Burden last week named Raymond Gastil, a former director of the Van Alen Institute, as director of City Planning’s Manhattan office.

A founding director of the Van Alen Projects in Public Architecture, which advocates planning and design for urban regeneration, Gastil also was a member of the Memorial Center Advisory Committee for the World Trade Center site and has served as juror and adviser to a number of major urban projects. He is the author of “Beyond the Edge: New York’s New Waterfront” and has organized a wide range of exhibits, forums and competitions.

Gastil previously directed programs for the Regional Plan Association and taught at Pratt Institute and University of Pennsylvania, he received his master of architecture degree from Princeton University.

Gastil succeeds Vishaan Chakrabarti, who is returning to the firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill after heading the Manhattan office for two years.

Deutsche hearing

The Lower Manhattan Development Corp. will be holding a public hearing Monday to present its plan to dismantle the Deutsche Bank building across the street from the World Trade Center site. The 130 Liberty St. building was damaged and contaminated on Sept. 11, 2001 and was bought by the L.M.D.C. last year in order to expand the W.T.C. site. The added space will enable officials to reduce the office density, and add a Liberty St. park to the site plan. The hearing will be held Jan. 24 at St. John’s University’s campus in Lower Manhattan, 101 Murray St., at 6 p.m. More information about the deconstruction plan is available at

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