We have more today about that huge event held by the Satmar Hasidic sect of Brooklyn at Pier 36/Basketball City Tuesday evening.
Residents were fuming because guests attending the annual dinner took over virtually all of the public parking in the area. There was gridlock on the waterfront, as the drivers of chartered buses and private cars fought for scarce spaces, in some instances parking on sidewalks and in front of driveways. The politically connected organization had a permit from the NYPD.
We’ve now heard from Manuel Cartagena, board president of the Gouverneur Gardens Co-op, which is located right across the street from the Pier 36 events space. In an email message, Cartagena recounted Tuesday’s events and noted that the organizers, “accommodated parking by displacing thousands of cooperators of Gouverneur Gardens and residents in our community with no notice at all.”
— News In Satmar (@NewsInSatmar) December 23, 2016
Cartagena also provided a copy of a memo sent by Gouverneur Gardens General Manager Don Haslett to residents. “Armed with permits from the City of New York,” the memo reads, and with the assistance of the NYPD, Basketball City commandeered an astonishing number of parking spaces.” The memo noted that parking in the neighborhood has been “sectioned off” in the past for Pier 36 events, but that “those (previous) efforts were comparatively modest.” Tuesday’s “sweep of such a large area,” Haslett wrote, “took us all by surprise.”
“Between occasional noise complaints,” the memo stated, and limited parking disruptions, “Basketball City has not been the best of neighbors. However the sheer magnitude of (Tuesday’s) action requires that we prevent anything like this from happening again.” Haslett concluded, “It should be obvious that the people who live in this neighborhood should not be displaced by guests to a dinner party. Those people are free to use Uber, or a Yellow Cab or Public Transportation.” Haslett said, “We have directed the corporate attorneys to look into this issue and to take steps to reign in this outrageous behavior from the commercial enterprise across the street.”
The dinner at Pier 36 was attended by many of the movers-and-shakers in New York City politics. The Satmar organization received greetings from U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer. Others on hand included: Assemblyman Joe Lentol, City Council member Stephen Levin and Council member Mark Levine.
The 7th Precinct advised community leaders via email on Sunday morning that the Satmar dinner would be taking place. The email indicated that the, “City granted (the organizers) permission to put no parking signs up on multiple streets in the area…” The other day, we contacted the precinct for more details. Our contact in the community affairs office said that the permit came from the mayor’s office. There was a big police presence on the waterfront Tuesday evening. An officer from the 83rd Precinct was struck and suffered minor injuries. We’re told the person who hit the officer was not an attendee of the Pier 36 event.
We also checked in with Bruce Radler, owner of Basketball City. He indicated that the booking at Pier 36 was made at the last minute, after another venue fell through. “It came together very late,” he said. Radler said that Basketball City did not play a role in applying for the “no parking” permits. Any time parking has been restricted in the area, Radler said, it has been the doing of event organizers. Community Board 3 has asked Basketball City to appear at an upcoming meeting. It’s likely to happen at the February parks committee meeting.
Basketball City is a 70,000 square foot space that rents out its courts to corporate basketball and volleyball leagues. It doubles as an events facility and has hosted a wide variety of high profile happenings, from fashion shows, to product launches to musical performances. Basketball City has always been controversial. There was a long battle to recapture Pier 36 for the community. Many people were disappointed when the city leased a large section of the pier to Basketball City rather than establishing a more conventional community center at the location. In addition to his money-making ventures, Radler offers the courts at Basketball City to local schools and organizations.
We reached out to the city’s Economic Development Corp., which oversees Pier 36, for this story. The press office did not respond.
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