Scoopy’s Notebook, Week of Nov. 30, 2017

Local activist Sharon Woolums got a photo with Selena Gomez recently on MacDougal St., where the young singer was staying. Woolums said she knew it was Gomez because paparazzi who had been staking out the songbird told her about it. She said Gomez was happy to pose for the photo, but insisted to Woolums, “Only if it’s with your bicycle.” Photo courtesy Sharon Woolums

Let there be lights: Why are there new generator-powered New York Police Department floodlight towers in Washington Square Park? We spotted at least three there the other day, two on either side of the fountain plaza and another on the central-axis path on the park’s west side. Villager reader Michael Hochstat said these lights were first turned on Tuesday night and one was glaring right into his window on Washington Place all the way over by Broadway. “It shines right into my apartment,” he said. “First the ‘Fences’ artwork, now foodlights. Do we need new management to run this park? The lights are horrible. Just close [the park] at night.” We noticed some skateboarders there this past frigid Monday night around 11 p.m., making a racket shouting across the plaza to each other and clack-clack-clacking their boards while doing tricks on the black-granite benches. Two police cars with lights flashing soon rolled up and the skateboarders chilled out. Bob Gormley, district manager of Community Board 2, said he had gotten a couple of complaints about the skateboarders and had noticed the new lights, but wasn’t sure what they were there for. However, Detective Jimmy Alberici, Sixth Precinct community affairs officer, said the police lights are there for “just extra security.” They’re not there for the skateboarders per se…just “for everything,” he said. Alberici also noted that the park’s actual lights are being cleaned right now, so apparently the extra illumination might be needed. As for the police car that has been parking at the park’s northwest corner until 10 p.m. each night for the past few months, it’s there to deter drug dealers in that section of the park, where they try to make themselves comfortable at the tables.

Smorg Square tree spree: Where did the new Smorgasburg a.k.a. Smorg Square go? Darlene Lutz, our Duarte Square Deep Throat, said the hipsterish outdoor vendors market basically closed up shop about three weeks ago. As we noticed while passing by the other night, the square, located on the north side of Canal St. at Sixth Ave., is now filled by a seasonal holiday tree market, Soho Christmas Trees. Lutz said the forest of firs actually fills about half of the sprawling Trinity Real Estate-owned lot, while Smorgasburg’s unused picnic tables and other equipment is sitting idly by on the rest of the property. “They dismantled the bar,” she noted of Smorgasburg. “They’ve removed all the tents but one.” Jonathan Butler, Smorgasburg’s co-founder, said the outdoor food mecca is not gone, just on hiatus for a little bit. Basically, he told us, the city’s Department of Buildings has been dragging its feet on approving essential infrastructure that his operation needs, including electricity, water and shipping containers, among other things. “The wheels of city bureaucracy can turn very slowly,” he said. “We will start up in the spring again.” To hear Lutz tell it, the Duarte Square Smorgasburg had been doing terribly. But Butler tells another story. “It was going well,” he said. “Particularly people who work in the neighborhood on Fridays really liked it.” On the other hand, Butler noted of Lutz, “Her fears were overblown. It has 20 percent of the vendors of Brooklyn Smorgasburg. It was supposed to be a place-making exercise more than anything, not to replicate the size of the crowds of Brooklyn Smorgasburg.”

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