Co-op to Help Hawks Rebuild, but the Street Is Still Restless
December 15, 2004
By THOMAS J. LUECK
A week after it removed a red-tailed hawk's nest from its facade and was met by a storm of protest, a Fifth Avenue co-op building agreed yesterday to requests by the Audubon Society to help the hawks rebuild.
But the agreement came on a day of heightened tension outside 927 Fifth Avenue, the sumptuous co-op where the hawks have roosted on a perch overlooking Central Park for 11 years. The co-op is also home to some of the biggest names in New York society.
With negotiations taking place inside, those protesting the removal of the nest continued their vigil across Fifth Avenue in Central Park. One of them, Lincoln Karim, an engineer, was arrested on charges of aggravated harassment, stalking and endangering the welfare of a child.
Mr. Karim, who was being held last night at the 19th Precinct station house, was accused of approaching the television newscaster Paula Zahn and her family, who live in the building, on several occasions, the police said. At one point he told Ms. Zahn's 7-year-old son, "Your parents are going to pay for this," according to law enforcement officials with knowledge of the case. Officials said that encounter occurred on Monday outside the building as the boy and his nanny were walking his dog.
The arrest of Mr. Karim prompted a swift response by another of the co-op's many celebrity residents, Mary Tyler Moore, who has publicly allied herself with the protesters. Soon after Mr. Karim was approached by four detectives and driven away, Ms. Moore and her husband, the Manhattan cardiologist Robert Levine, hailed a cab and drove to the 19th Precinct station house to assist Mr. Karim, although they were not aware of the charges against him, according to Marie Winn, a Manhattan writer, bird watcher and friend of Ms. Moore's who joined in the cab ride. Mr. Karim runs a Web site for bird lovers, www.palemale.com, named for the male hawk.
"Mary Tyler Moore was magnificent," Ms. Winn said. When she was unable to speak with Mr. Karim and determine the charges against him, Ms. Moore returned to speak to a group of about 40 protesters who remained opposite 927 Fifth Avenue.
She was greeted by loud applause, and thanked her fellow demonstrators. "That applause is the best applause I have received in my life," Ms. Moore said, according to two people who were present.
The agreement forged by Audubon Society and co-op officials centered on a strategy to allow the hawks, Pale Male and Lola, to rebuild their nest in the same spot on a 12th-floor cornice. The co-op, led by Richard Cohen, its board president and Ms. Zahn's husband, had sought to steer the hawks to another location on the building by providing a platform or box, but agreed yesterday that "the hawks will return to the same spot," Mr. Cohen said in an interview.
The co-op was clearly under pressure to compromise. Another of its well-known shareholders, Bruce Wasserstein, the Wall Street deal maker, tried in recent days to persuade Mr. Cohen to settle, according to someone close to the family who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Within days, said Mr. Cohen and John Flicker, president of the National Audubon Society, a network of steel spikes are to be erected on top of the hawks' 12th-floor cornice. The spikes are meant to duplicate others that were installed to discourage pigeons but served as an anchor for the nest until they were removed.
Audubon officials agreed to a plan by the co-op's architect to surround the spikes with some form of protective rail that would prevent the sticks and small branches used for nest building from falling to the sidewalk. Co-op officials said they had removed the nest after some residents complained about the carcasses of pigeons that the hawks dropped onto the sidewalk after devouring.
Mr. Cohen said the design of the rail must be approved by the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission, since the co-op is in a landmark district. But he said he expected landmarks approval to come quickly, and Robert B. Tierney, the commission's chairman, said Monday that the approval could come within hours after an application was filed.
By engaging an architect, the co-op can "create a secure and stable environment that should enable the birds to return to their home of more than a decade," Mr. Flicker said in a statement.
"I think we have a great deal," said E. J. McAdams, executive director of New York City Audubon, the local chapter of the Audubon Society.
Mr. Cohen said the plan was meant to carry the hawks through their mating season, which begins in January and, if successful, will culminate when Lola lays eggs in March. After that, he said, other measures may be considered to make the nest less of a nuisance, but without removing it or moving it elsewhere.
Howard O. Stier, Michael Wilson and Jennifer 8. Lee contributed reporting for this article.
SOURCE: The New York Times
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