West Side Notes From the Neighborhood

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As the fate of the Tavern on the Green site begins to take shape, some residents and preservationists aren't thrilled with the proposed changes. Last week, the Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the city's plans to revamp the historic space and spend $10 million to scale it down from its opulent past. The plans include restoring and uncovering the original Victorian gothic style of Jacob Wrey Mould's 19th-century design, which local preservation groups like Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts and Landmark West applaud. What they aren't as keen on, however, is the giant glass box pavilion addition planned for the east facade that would allow for year-round seating.

In testimony before the LPC, Friends called the addition "unrefined, discordant and inconsistent with the architect's approach toward returning the building to its historic form." Landmark West testified, "The pavilion proposed is a hefty glass-and-metal box that does nothing but hide what is most exciting about the building's primary facade: the east-facing central bay." They claim that "approving the proposed addition opens the door to insensitive additions in years to come and the Tavern on the Green begins down the slippery slope from which it is presently recovering."

While the design will move forward (the city expects to finished construction by summer 2013), the hunt for a new operator for the restaurant has also raised some debate. The city's request for proposals calls for a casual atmosphere and reasonably priced eatery, which Community Board 7 embraced and Community Board 8 on the East Side disapproved. Aspiring operators have until March 30 to submit proposals.


Last year, parents of gifted and talented students (and prospective students) at Upper West Side elementary school P.S. 9 were up in arms over the Department of Education's decision to shut down the program to incoming kindergartners. The DOE determined that the school would need the space for regular catchment students, but now parents are arguing that there will be enough space for an incoming G and T class in the fall of 2012. Twenty families from P.S. 9 have signed a letter urging Marc Sternberg, deputy chancellor for portfolio planning at the DOE, to consider opening the G and T program again, citing expectations that there will be more room at the school in the next few years and that parents would prefer to have one class rather than none at all. The DOE has yet to respond.



Last week, local residents and preservationists rallied around a historic mural on the Upper West Side to petition the Landmarks Preservation Commission to save it from the wrecking ball. The mural has been situated outside the now-defunct Cuban hotspot Victor's Café for four decades, and fans say that its significance to the area's Latino and gay cultures makes it worth preserving. Greg Hunt, who purchased the café and hopes to open a wine bar at the location, isn't convinced it will fit into the aesthetic he has planned for his new joint and has petitioned LPC to let him knock it down. The commissioners were split at the hearing, meaning that Hunt will have to come back with his application.

Hunt is no stranger to community opposition; his previous plan to open a similar wine bar on Central Park West was thwarted by his wealthy neighbors and their powerful lobbyists.


City Council Member Gale Brewer is working with the Council and the New Business Acceleration Team to gather information from local retailers about their experiences opening a business in the city. The NBAT was created in 2010 to help restaurants navigate the city's requirements and open their doors more quickly and efficiently and is planning to expand its services to help retailers. Any retail or storefront service business (e.g. dry cleaners, salons, repair shops) owners are encouraged to complete the survey by Monday, March 12. Hard copies are available at Brewer's district office, 563 Columbus Ave., and online at bit.ly/zwD34Y.


The Riverside Choral Society will present a concert, Of Peace, celebrating various settings of the hymn "Dona Nobis Pacem," from Music Pulitzer Prize winner Lewis Spratlan's composition to the famous cantata by Ralph Vaughan Williams. The chorus will also perform a "Dona Nobis" by Joseph Gregorio and "Carols of Death," by William Schuman. Conductor Patrick Gardner is the director of choral activities at Rutgers University's Mason Gross School of the Arts, in New Brunswick, N.J., and the Rutgers Kirkpatrick Choir and University Orchestra will be joining the choral society. The concert will feature soprano Jennifer Bird and baritone Randall Scarlata. Friday, March 9, 8 p.m. Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, 1941 Broadway. Tickets are $25, $45 or $75 and are available at riversidechoral.org or the Lincoln Center box office, 212-671-4050.

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