Downtown Digest, Week of Sept. 26

Proposed federal law would salvage millions for 9/11 survivors

Congressman Jerrold Nadler has introduced a bill that could salvage millions of dollars for the 9/11 health bill, which faces significant financial cuts amounting to approximately $300 million.

The Save America’s National Economy (SANE) Act would repeal sequestration, or automatic spending cuts, which scheduled to go into effect starting next January. Were the bill to pass Congress, it would effectively safeguard $211 million in funds allocated to the Zadroga Act’s Victim Compensation Fund and $118 million for the World Trade Center Health Program. The proposed 7.6 percent spending reduction, which would otherwise cut these amounts from the law, is part of sweeping cutbacks in many of the nation’s social care services under sequestration.

The bill, which passed last summer, was proposed as a means of cutting the national deficit.

The budget cuts would compromise the middle class, children, seniors and the most vulnerable members of society, Nadler argued.

“The simple truth is that no one  — not the president and not the Congress — ever wanted or expected sequestration to take effect. Why?  Because we have a jobs problem, and the spending cuts demanded by mandatory sequestration are a huge jobs killer and a major blow to our economy,” he said in a statement.

Nadler continued, “It is imperative that we stop the misguided and self-made disaster that sequestration, or equivalent spending cuts, will bring.”


New Greek restaurant opens on Fulton Street

GRK Fresh Greek has opened to the public at 111 Fulton St. in the Financial District. The menu features Greek yogurts, salads, sides, and Yeeros, the restaurant’s signature dish.

A Yeero, known at street carts as a Gyro, is composed of chicken, beef or lamb. The meat is roasted, thinly sliced, marinated and wrapped in house-baked pita — visible on the spit behind the counter and carved on the spot.

There are also several vegetarian options, including salad with lentils and tzatziki spreads, as well as a frozen yogurt topped with figs, olives, pepper, cucumber and basil.

Michael Liristis, the restaurant’s director of operations, said they take its mission to provide authentic food very seriously.

“We fly our yogurt in from Greece in order to make sure it is distinct and fresh,” he said.

Liristis flew several men in from Greece to train the staff — among them are a consulting chef, two men to train workers on the line to wrap and roll the pitas and a “master stacker” to prepare the meat, which comes from local farms.

Liristis said that, since opening, the restaurant has seen nonstop customers from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., including local college kids, workers and other neighborhood folk. “The neighborhood has really embraced us,” said Liristis. “We’ve been blessed.”

GRK expects to receive its beer and liquor license in the next two weeks. The eatery also expects to open locations in Soho and Chelsea before the year’s end.

Bowling Green renovations underway

The city Department of Transportation has begun to spruce up Bowling Green Park and the surrounding area.

By the D.O.T.’s estimates, nearly 400 people per hour walk on Whitehall Street — both on and off the sidewalk — and currently, the sidewalks can’t handle the load. As a result, Downtown residents and workers are spilling out onto the street and exposing themselves to oncoming traffic, a cause for concern among city officials.

A re-design of the streetscape, featuring an expansion of the pedestrian plaza, is poised to give locals a lot more room to walk around safely. In order to reduce overcrowding, several crosswalks will be narrowed, and sidewalks will be widened — including the one on Whitehall Street between Broadway and Pearl Streets.

The plan will also provide more space around the Charging Bull. The statue currently stands at a narrow intersection in the middle of Whitehall Street, leaving little room for people to approach it safely amid moving traffic. Due to ongoing Occupy Wall Street protests, the bull is currently partitioned off by barricades.

Aesthetic changes are also on the horizon for Bowling Green, including the installation of nearly two dozen decorative planters courtesy of the Downtown Alliance.

Community Board 1 passed a resolution in support of D.O.T.’s plan.


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