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October 23, 2013- By Steven E. Greer, MD
At the October 22nd joint session of the Community Board 1 (CB1) meeting, two apartment owners from 200 Rector Place protested the City DOT plans to install a concrete media on West Thames, in front of their building, which would prevent dangerous illegal U-turns that have led to numerous vehicular accidents on West Thames (and that have killed pedestrians at a nearby intersection). They had attempted to muster a larger following by placing fliers on the doorman desk of their building, but only two people showed up, not counting their employee, the building manager. (Both people showing up were also the ones to place the ineffective fliers on the desks.)
The concrete median barriers have strong support from the community, particularly from parents of school age children who have to cross the wide West Thames street on their way to PS 276 and new Montessori pre-K schools. Other members of the 200 Rector Place apartment owner’s board were not concerned enough about the DOT plans to attend the CB1 meeting.
The two women protestors from 200 Rector Place, Justine Cuccia and Lucy Kuhn, are admittedly motivated by special interests. One agenda of theirs is to preserve the ability to make a left-hand illegal turns into the parking inside 200 Rector Place garage where luxury vehicles park. The other agenda is to maintain the expansively wide street which now affords for easy double parking of moving vans.
Milstein Properties constructed 200 Rector Place in the 1980’s and maintains ownership of most of the units in the building. Milstein’s Milford Management company, headed by Loraine Doyle and Steve Rossi, manages the building, along with several others in Battery Park City.
In the video, the special interests are seen hyping imaginary unfounded concerns that the barriers might bring. BatteryPark.TV spoke with one of the protestors at the meeting, Gus Ouranitsas, the day after his appearance before the CB1. Gus is the building manager for 200 Rector Place. When asked whether his employer, Milstein properties, requested him to attend the CB1 meeting, he replied. “This is a personal thing for me.”, and went on to explain his concerns were that the concrete medians will no longer allow moving vans to park in front of the service entrance to unload furniture.
However, Mr. Ouranitsas’ concerns are invalid, since plenty of space remains for the moving vans just 20 yards east on West Thames, albeit slightly less convenient. Asked whether he was well informed of the DOT plans at all, astonishingly, he admitted that he had not seen the actual DOT plans until the evening of the CB1 meeting when they were projected on the screen as he spoke (the DOT plans had been emailed to him numerous times over several months).
Mr. Ouranitsas, along with the other two protestors, Lucy Kuhn and Justine Cuccia (both on the apartment owners board), want the DOT to delay the construction of the DOT plans for West Thames and “walk the street, studying it further”. When asked whether he knew that the DOT has already walked the street with real-time feedback from numerous BPC resident, Mr. Ouranitsas was also unaware of that.
Ironically, it was Ms. Cuccia (wife of Broadsheet writer Matt Fenton) who became outraged over the construction of the West Thames playground in 2009, which is adjacent to 200 Rector Place. She focused her unsuccessful opposition to the development project back then by claiming that a tire swing installed was unsafe and might cause children to bump their heads. She seems to have no concerns now over 4-year-old toddlers crossing a chaotic West Thames Street and being killed by vehicles.