Life In The Big City

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Developers Plan Underground NYC Park

Visitors from around the world are drawn to New York City’s High Line, an elevated park built on defunct railroad tracks transformed into an urban sanctuary of flowers, grasses and trees.

Private planners inspired by the High Line’s success are now looking deep under Manhattan at a proposal to create the Lowline, billed as the world’s first underground park, Fox News reported.

The project would occupy a 116-year-old abandoned trolley terminal below the Lower East Side that’s been used for storage since 1948.

Street-level solar collectors would be used to filter the sun about 20 feet down to bedrock, turning the dank, subterranean space into a luminous, plant-filled oasis. The park would offer city residents a place of refuge and host art exhibits, music performances, readings and children’s activities.

The Lowline is only one part of a Lower East Side
revitalization project.

The planners say they’re not erasing the rich history of the Lower East Side.

Dan Barasch co-founded the nonprofit Lowline project with architect James Ramsey, a former NASA engineer. The park is expected to cost about $60 million in mostly private funds, plus some government money. More than $1 million has been raised for research and design.

Barasch estimates it will take about five years before construction begins to transform the 1-acre relic of the past into a destination of the future.

First, he says, the Lowline team of three, plus hundreds of volunteers, must tackle some technical challenges, such as how to channel the natural sunlight from the collectors to the park below, using the latest optics. Then, they must determine the best way to position the sunlight so it allows plants to grow.

Several high-tech companies have already used such systems to funnel natural illumination to previously light-inaccessible areas.

“But you can’t just cut the street open,” says Barasch.

Community members had their own questions at a Lowline presentation held recently at the Tenement Museum, which celebrates the rich history of the Lower East Side. Some asked where the street-level entrances would be, how the space would be ventilated and what kinds of plants would be brought in.

 Bold New Park Planned to Float in Hudson River

A new, offshore, $170 million, futuristic park built atop an undulating platform 186 feet off the Hudson River shoreline, near 14th Street, featuring a series of wooded nooks and three performance venues, including an amphitheater, may soon become a reality.

Mr. Barry Diller, a private investor, has agreed to provide
$130 million to build the park through a family foundation. An additional $39.5 million would come from the city, the state and the Hudson River Park Trust, the New York Times reported.

The proposal has the support of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio. Because the park does not need to raise funds to get off the ground, officials seem to be proceeding as though the concept will become reality. Mr. Diller has also agreed to run the
2.4-acre park and cover its operating expenses for 20 years.

As envisioned, the park, to be known as Pier 55, would replace
Pier 54, a narrow, crumbling, flat-topped structure within Hudson River Park that juts 875 feet into the river. Pier 54 was once a departure point for ocean liners that has been used in recent years for outdoor movies and other activities, but it has been slowly collapsing into the river, and there is little money available to rebuild it.

The park’s parallelogram-shaped platform would sit atop
300 mushroom-shaped concrete columns ranging in height from
70 feet above the water to 15 feet above, roughly the minimum required post-Hurricane Sandy. The platform’s height would allow sunlight below and help guard against storms.

The biggest performance space planned for the park could accommodate up to 1,000 people in seats and another 2,500 on a lawn. Other sections would hold an 800-seat amphitheater and a small stage with 250 seats.

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Towering Housing Development
Planned for Sheepshead Bay

The builder of a cluster of luxury condos in Brighton Beach is planning to build a 30-floor high-rise on a vacant lot in South Brooklyn, reported the New York Daily News.

Permit applications show the developer plans to build a 333-foot-tall skyscraper just north of the Belt Parkway.

The plans, previously reported by New York YIMBY, call for 250 apartments above 14,530 square feet of commercial space.

The site is located at 1501 Voorhies Ave., next to the Sheepshead Bay B and Q subway station. Future residents would tower over neighboring low-rises and enjoy a view over the Belt Parkway to the water.

Muss Development bought the property in April for $16.2 million, city records show. The previous owner, Acadia Realty Trust, had planned a sprawling mall for the neighborhood, but the project collapsed.

The plans will require zoning approval, according to the city.

City Launches Largest Ever
Afterschool Expansion For Middle School Kids   

Mayor Bill de Blasio and other city officials launched School’s Out New York City (SONYC), the city’s largest ever expansion of afterschool for middle school students. The number of seats will nearly double to 78,000 during the course of the school year. Applications for
city-funded middle school and elementary school afterschool programs are ongoing and available at nyc.gov/afterschool.

The unprecedented expansion is part of the de Blasio administration’s plan to transform public education in New York City, which includes Pre-K for All, the creation of new community schools, and a historic contract with teachers. The afterschool expansion will reduce inequality across all communities, and provide sixth, seventh and eighth graders with safe, high-quality learning and recreational opportunities during an especially challenging time in their lives.

The launch of SONYC, by the numbers:

• $145 million in new afterschool funding (FY15).

• 271 new SONYC middle school programs –
bringing the total to 562 citywide.

• Programming five days per week for 36 weeks
during the school year.

• A price-per-participant increase to $3,000 (higher for programs serving students with special needs) that will cover additional hours and enable providers to hire and retain qualified staff and offer
high-quality programming.

For more information about applying for city-funded afterschool programs, visit nyc.gov/afterschool, or call 311 or DYCD Youth Connect at 1-800-246-4646.

Speed Camera Generates $77,550 in One Day

A speed camera positioned near Ocean Parkway at the end of a 400-foot exit ramp in Brooklyn cited 1,551 tickets on July 7, according to the Department of Transportation, the New York Post reported. At $50 a ticket, the camera generated $77,550 for
the city.

A DOT spokesman said the camera is “a good amount of distance for drivers to adjust their speeds.”

Local politicians are split over the controversial camera. The area’s city councilman, Chaim Deutsch, praised it for making roadways safer. “If anyone is speeding . . . they deserve a summons,” he told the blog Sheepshead Bites. But Councilman Mark Treyger has blasted the camera’s location as a speed trap.

Speed-camera violations are issued to anyone going more than 10 mph over the posted speed limit, which in this case is 30 mph. Speedsters are sent violations in the mail within 30 days.

“Someone slowing from 50 to 40 mph or from 45 to 35 would not receive a violation,” a DOT spokesperson said.

The agency said earlier this month that its 20 existing cameras issued 183,000 tickets since January, netting about $9.2 million. The city is adding 120 new speed cameras near public schools, which are expected to be in place by the end of 2015.

 

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