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Summer Outdoor Art and Fun Flourish in Turtle Bay
Turtle Bay is “sizzling” this summer, with outdoor art and sculpture, concerts and dancers in the park, garden parties, bustling sidewalk cafes and an ever-growing Greenmarket now celebrating its fifth year in the neighborhood.
Mary and Andreas Adams admire works by art and design students at the Plaza’s first art show.
Preliminary plans for an office/apartment complex on the nine-acre Con Edison Waterside site, unveiled at a Community Board 6 meeting in May, call for maximum density construction of several tall towers, four of which would be 79 to 85 stories, or nearly 900 feet tall. (By comparison, the Trump World Tower at First Avenue and 47th Street is 865 feet tall.)
This summer marks the start of the 15th year that Walt McGovern has been contributing cartoons to the Turtle Bay Newsletter, adding a touch of style and humor that makes the Newsletter unique among neighborhood publications.
Three handsome, albeit unlandmarked, brownstones at 250-254 East 49th Street have been razed to make way for a 20-story condominium. In mid-June, with only a shallow excavation dug, work ground to halt and the City Department of Buildings placed a “stop work” order on the site for unexplained reasons.
The TBA is following the situation closely. But as of mid-July, one of Turtle Bay’s finest residential blocks is left with a gaping, and potentially hazardous, gap. 250-252 East 49th Street was the site of the former Box Tree Restaurant and Inn.
Being a Tiny Tot in Turtle Bay
BY ELIZABETH “LIZZIE” FU (WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM HER MOM, SHARON WEE FU)
I’ve lived in Turtle Bay my whole life, all 19 months of it. Before I showed up, my mom and dad (“Mama” and “Dada” to me) had lived here a long time. Mama says she’s always thought of Turtle Bay as a village within the City, and now with me in the picture, she says it has even more of a small-town feel. When we’re out, neighbors and shopkeepers all want to talk to us, and there are little parks and playgrounds where I meet other kids and Mama meets new mothers and nannies.
The New York State Legislature ended its annual session without approving plans for the United Nations Development Corporation (UNDC) takeover of Robert Moses Playground for construction of United Nations offices. While the TBA opposed the plan based on land use concerns, it was politics surrounding anti-U.N. sentiment that stopped it in Albany.
Despite a chilly day, the Turtle Bay Street Fair on May 22 drew big crowds and netted the TBA $10,000, money that will be given back to the community in the form of grants and donations. The TBA thanks local businesses whose generous donations helped make the Fair’s raffle such a success:
…Featuring neighborhood establishments that help make Turtle Bay a special place to live and work
Turtle Bay neighbors could be forgiven for walking past Chocolat Bla Bla Bla without realizing there’s a little shop nestled behind the vine-covered entrance, its fetching signage blending with the flowers. But once inside, it’s doubtful anyone would ever again miss this tiny treasure on 50th Street just off First Avenue.
• The recently opened Spafumerie II & Le Petit Spa invites neighbors to come in and learn more about their products and services. Located at 900 Second Avenue at 48th Street, the Spafumerie, a new TBA business member, offers TBA members a 10 percent discount. 212-644-9525
• Smorgas Chef, serving innovative Scandinavian cuisine, has opened at 924 Second Avenue at 49th Street. A new TBA business member, Smorgas Chef offers TBA members a 10 percent discount at both its new midtown location and its downtown restaurant on Stone Street. 212-486-1411.
• The TBA sends a hearty thanks to PK’s Place, 211 East 46th Street, for donating two delicious strawberry cakes for the annual garden party held in May at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza to celebrate Katharine Hepburn’s birthday.
• After 35 years at its East 52nd Street location, Bridge Kitchenware has moved to another Turtle Bay location, 711 Third Avenue at 45th Street (entrance on 45th Street).
Turtle Bay Happenings...
Upcoming cultural events
Cervantes Institute. “Shadow and Light: Journeys through Spanish Art,” exhibit of 20th Century Spanish artists, through Sept. 3. Free admission. Gallery hours: 12:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday-Monday. On Wednesdays, Sept. 7 to Oct. 5: Argentinean contemporary film series, with English subtitles. 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Free. 211-215 East 49th Street. Information: 212-308-7720; www.cervantes.org.
Trygve Lie Gallery. Exhibit of paintings and drawings by Wenche de Cruz, well-known contemporary Norwegian artist, Sept.8 to Oct.9. Free admission. 317 East 52nd Street. Information: 212-319-0370; www.trygveliegallery.com.
Turtle Bay Music School. Voice recital by adult students, 6:45 p.m., Oct. 14; Instrumental and voice recital by children and teens, 5 p.m. and 6:15 p.m., Oct. 21. Free. Em Lee Concert Hall, Turtle Bay Music School, 244 East 52nd Street. Information: 212-753-8811, ext. 23; www.tbms.org.
Japan Society. “Hiroshi Sugimoto: History to History.” Exhibit of the internationally acclaimed artist’s photographs juxtaposed with ancient religious artifacts. Sept. 23 to Jan.8. Admission $12; $10 seniors. 333 East 47th Street. Information: 212-832-1155; www.japansociety.org.
Jazz. Jazz performances on Wednesdays at 1 p.m., Saint Peter’s Church at Lexington Avenue and 54th Street. Admission: $5. Information: 212-935-2200; www.saintpeters.org.
Five massive iron sculptures, like this one surrounded by youngsters from the Vanderbilt YMCA summer program, are on display at the west end of Dag Hammarskjold Plaza until November. The exhibit, by Francisco Leiro, is sponsored by Instituto Cervantes.
Light-Rail Plan Opposed
The TBA opposes a proposal by a citizens group calling for a 42nd Street light-rail system, running river-to-river and extending to ferry terminals at 35th Street. Under the so-called “Vision42” plan – an initiative of the not-for-profit Institute for Rational Urban Mobility – 42nd Street would become a pedestrian mall with all vehicular traffic being diverted to other streets.
Best Hot Dog. When the New York Times recently named eateries serving the best hot dogs in the metropolitan area, The Patio, in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, was one of them. “…a fine …all-beef foot long in an excellent toasted bun. It makes for a classy alfresco eating experience,” the Times said. The Patio also serves sandwiches, snacks and beverages.
Walking Tour. A copy of “A Day in Turtle Bay,” a pocket guide and walking tour of architectural and historic sites in the neighborhood, was sent to all TBA members in early May. TBA members may purchase extra copies for $5 if picked up at the TBA office, and $7 to cover postage if mailed.
Garden Care. Neighbors can be assured that the U.N. Gardens are being well cared for during the construction project that’s kept the park closed for most of the past four years. The U.N. press office reports, and neighbors whose apartments overlook the park agree, that the U.N. gardeners are caring for the park meticulously – keeping shrubs pruned, lawn mowed and rose garden in glorious condition. The park is scheduled to open again in the fall.
Painting Mailboxes Green. Armed with cans of “mailbox green” paint provided by the U.S. Postal Service, a TBA volunteer team headed by Bill Huxley spent a weekend in late May painting over graffiti on Turtle Bay mailboxes. Thanks to all who helped!
See Graffiti? Report it. The New York City Police Department is cracking down on graffiti vandalism. Turtle Bay neighbors can help out by calling 911 to report an act of graffiti vandalism in progress and 311 to report graffiti that already exists. Or you can call the TBA office and the TBA will pass on your graffiti report. Be sure to state the exact location.
Next Generation. Please contact the TBA if you, or someone you know, would like to help with the new TBA Next Generation Committee. The group is looking into ways to attract younger adults into the organization. Call TBA at 212-751-5465 or e-mail TBA firstname.lastname@example.org.
Congratulations. Long-time TBA member Tony Picillo has been named the Vanderbilt YMCA’s “Volunteer of the Year” for his many contributions over the years.
TBA Board at Work
The following is a summary of issues and activities addressed at recent TBA Board meetings, as reflected in the meeting minutes. The TBA:
• continues to work, as a participant in the East Midtown Coalition for Sensible Development, on two issues of critical importance to the neighborhood: opposing the sale of Moses Playground to the United Nations without an equivalent park site being designated in its place, and monitoring ongoing plans for the development of the Con Ed Waterside site.
• has joined other neighborhood interests in opposing the MTA’s planned utility building on East 50th Street.
• has voted to oppose a plan for a light rail system on 42nd Street, a proposal that would add significant vehicular traffic to Turtle Bay streets.
• is in communication with the owners and management of Dag Hammarskjold Towers at 240 East 47th Street, and the City Department of Buildings, in an effort to have the building’s pocket park at 46th Street and Second Avenue reopened to the public.
• produced a pocket guide and walking tour of Turtle Bay.
• has sponsored or supported recent neighborhood events, including a private screening of the movie “The Interpreter,” the annual Katharine Hepburn garden party, Turtle Bay Street Fair, and an art show at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza.
• continues its work to beautify the neighborhood through its Tree Program and support of the Turtle Bay Tree Fund, as well as support of community parks.
• continues to endorse the process to achieve City landmark status for the East 54th Street Recreation Center, in conjunction with the Sutton Area Community.
Mark Your Calendar
17th Precinct Community Council Open Meeting Last Tuesday every month, 6 p.m. Except July, August, December Sutton Place Synagogue 225 East 51st Street 212-826-3228
Community Board 6 Full Board Meeting Second Wednesday every month, 7 p.m. NYU Medical Center 550 First Avenue (between 30th and 31st Streets) 212-319-3750 Tuesday, August 2, 2005
Annual “Night Out Against Crime” Event, 5 - 9 p.m. Sponsored by the 17th Precinct Community Council Dag Hammarskjold Plaza 212-826-3228 Saturday, September 3, 2005
Friends of Dag Hammarskjold Plaza Street Fair Second Avenue, 45th to 57th Street 212-969-8820
Turtle Bay Newsletter
Vol. 48, No. 3
Editor: Pamela Hanlon
Contributors: Terri Heveran,
Olga Hoffmann, Bill Huxley,
Millie Margiotta, Patricia Q. McDougald,
Bruce Silberblatt, Sharon Wee
Cartoonist: Walt McGovern
Photography: Vivian Gordon
Check the TBA
On the east side of Second Avenue, 48-49th Streets,
on outside wall of the supermarket.