City hears community input for East Side Coastal Resiliency Plan

Some of the crowd at a workshop held at Washington Irving High School on Monday to gather information on how community residents want to interact with the waterfront (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Some of the crowd at a workshop held at Washington Irving High School on Monday to gather information on how community residents want to interact with the waterfront (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Since wreaking havoc on the city almost two and a half years ago, Hurricane Sandy has prompted the formation of various programs and projects throughout New York, with efforts being made to prevent such a catastrophe from repeating. One such effort driven by the city is the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project, which is in the early planning stages and this past week held workshops looking for input from community residents on how they want to interact with the waterfront.

The workshops were held last Thursday and this past Monday, with the first being held on East Houston Street and the second at Washington Irving High School on Irving Place. A representative for Rebuild by Design, which was launched by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and which ran the competition to come up with solutions for preserving the coastline, said at the event on Monday that the locations were intentional; each workshop covered the same material but was held in different parts of the project area to give residents an option that was in their neighborhood.

Maps were stationed at the back of the auditorium for attendees to provide input on how they interact with the waterfront throughout the project area, which spans from Montgomery Street north to East 23rd Street. Dan Zarrilli, director of the Office of Recovery and Resiliency, said that one of the major aspects of the process for the project is community engagement and gathering input from activities like this.

“We’re here to listen and we want to make sure that we incorporate the insight of the community,” he said. “We’ve set up a task force with community boards 3 and 6 to be a continuing source of insight. The city came up with this program to recommend things to do. It’s not just about the past, it’s about a range of shocks we endured and looking beyond the coast to build up and reinforce the infrastructure. It’s about interacting with the neighborhood.”

Zarrilli said that much of what the project is focusing on through the end of this year is getting this feedback from the community to create a more complete picture for the design plan and another workshop soliciting input is planned for the end of May.

The project is part of a bigger initiative to protect Lower Manhattan known as the Big U, which was the winning design in the Rebuild by Design competition in 2013. Jeremy Siegel, a project designer with the consultant team of Big U and director of Rebuild by Design, explained at the workshop what the designers are looking at for this phase of the project.

“We’ve been working since December on some of the engineering aspects, like investigating below grade and checking drainage, checking how much water the existing infrastructure can accommodate, surveying the land and inspecting waterfront structures,” he said. “We have divers out in the East River examining the flood risk and checking how high the flood wall would need to go.”

Zarrilli added that community involvement is an important component to add to all the information from the engineers.

“We’ll be taking the site surveys and all of the engineering things with the overlay of the community process so we can understand everything in context,” he said. “Community engagement is key.”

Siegel noted that within the space from Montgomery to East 23rd, the project is split into two project areas: Montgomery to East 14th Streets and East 14th to 23rd Streets. All of the neighborhoods in these areas had different challenges during Hurricane Sandy and Siegel said that part of the design plans will be the considerations for different aspects of the area, such as the substation at Con Edison that flooded and caused power outages throughout Lower Manhattan, as well as the NYCHA properties and hospitals that are nearby that also suffered flood damage. The three different options for mitigating flooding in the future that Siegel outlined include some kind of berm or levee, a permanent floodwall or some kind of deployable floodwall.

“(The deployable wall) would only be put in place in a storm event,” Siegel said. “These carry risks because human operation is involved, so we’re looking at more passive and permanent measures, so resiliency is there in a robust way.”

One resident asked at the workshop why the project area didn’t extend past East 23rd Street since the hospitals in that area had been badly damaged by flooding as well. Zarrilli explained that billions of dollars are already being invested in that area through different projects.

“The city just announced more funding for Bellevue and NYU is receiving FEMA money, so this project is focusing south,” he said.

Peter Cooper Resident Anne Greenberg had a related question about one such project that the VA Hospital on East 23rd Street has proposed, which includes a floodwall to protect the facility from water damage in the future. She noted that in the event of flooding like that in the future, the water could be redirected right into Peter Cooper Village. Zarrilli noted that they are looking at flood modeling to make sure that doesn’t happen and added that they do intend to talk to STPCV management to work with them, but he couldn’t confirm that they have yet.

Following the workshops, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney emphasized the importance of the project and praised the mayor’s office for the initiative.

“We need to immediately address the City’s vulnerability to extreme storms, which are only increasing in frequency and severity as a result of climate change,” Maloney said. “Lower Manhattan was particularly hard hit, and I am pleased to have worked to obtain federal funding to improve the resiliency of the area. I applaud Mayor de Blasio and the Office of Recovery and Resiliency for coordinating the city-wide efforts to protect our residents and infrastructure and for including the public in the planning. The East Side Coastal Resiliency Project is an important first step in preparing Manhattan’s East Side for future storms and will offer new open space and amenities that will benefit our community for generations to come.”

Soapbox: Port Ambrose problems: Reso. 549 would stop it

By Anne Lazarus

A liquid natural gas facility has been proposed to be built, approximately 15 miles off the shore of Long Island. When Methane is chilled to -260 degrees, it becomes a highly-volatile, potentially explosive liquid. The port would allow two LNG (liquified natural gas) vessels (which are as long as the Empire State Building is tall) to directly connect to the region’s natural gas system. This capacity could be increased.

Port Ambrose has been presented as an importer of natural gas (Methane), but the United States is awash in natural gas and is looking for opportunities to export this fossil fuel. Prices for Methane abroad are higher than domestic prices. This facility can easily and will be used as an export facility. Liquifying and reversing to vapor form of natural gas is fossil-fuel intensive. Port Ambrose is a stimulus to the tracking industry in the Marcellus. What are the dangers and problems with Port Ambrose?

This facility is within a few miles of three international airports and densely-populated areas. It is located near highly-trafficked navigational areas, including tankers carrying chemicals and petroleum. A collision could be disastrous. Hundreds of thousands of boats and ships navigate in the area of the proposed LNG. During Hurricane Sandy wave heights were nearly 30 feet. We are expecting more intense hurricanes. Scarce resources will be spent for security.

LNG tankers, plus the operation and construction of this facility will destroy billions of fish eggs and other benthic and marine life. Avian life will also be severely affected. The fishing industry will be negatively affected. The quality and safety of fish caught in this region will also be questionable. Whale species such as Fin and Humpback, Dolphin species and other marine mammals and reptiles, such as endangered sea turtles will be exposed to the harmful effects of this LNG. Tourism and recreational use of the oceans will be curtailed.

Who owns Liberty LNG, Port Ambrose?

Liberty Natural Gas is a foreign entity. The corporation may be licensed in Delaware.  It has an office in New York City, but managed by an investment group in Canada and entirely owned by a bank in the Cayman Islands. We do not know who is behind the company.

Port Ambrose can be stopped. If either Governor Cuomo or Governor Christie of NJ veto the project, it will not be built. Resolution 549 in the NYC Council, if passed will request Gov. Cuomo to veto Port Ambrose. This resolution has been introduced by Councilman Donovan Richards and many Council members are supporting it, but more are needed. Hopefully, Resolution 549 will pass. More than 24,370 citizens submitted comments on the first phase of Port Ambrose and only 17 were in favor. Only six permanent jobs will result from the port. Go to CleanOceanAction.org for more information.

Anne Lazarus is a resident of Stuyvesant Town and an environmental activist. She is the guide for the seasonal bird watching tours organized by the Stuyvesant Cove Park Association.

Neighborhood networking site now includes ST/PCV

An actor dressed as a town crier sings Tenant King’s praises as the company attempts to market its services to Stuyvesant Town residents. (Photo courtesy of Tenant King)

An actor dressed as a town crier sings Tenant King’s praises as the company attempts to market its services to Stuyvesant Town residents. (Photo courtesy of Tenant King)

By Sabina Mollot

A new social networking site for residents of specific neighborhoods has recently expanded its reach to include residents of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village.

Tenant King, which began including the neighborhood last September, is aimed at helping people interact with neighbors online in a way that encourages talk about local businesses and also offers a way for people to buy and sell things to neighbors through a listings section.

The contents of the site only becomes available to a visitor after he or she has provided proof of an address that coincides with the right network/neighborhood, of which currently there are just a few. Along with ST/PCV, there’s also Tribeca, Battery Park City, the Seaport, the Financial District and Long Island City. Without signing up, access to information on the site, tenantking.com, is pretty limited.

So, as the company, which was co-founded by two Long Island City residents, boasts on the site, there are “No stalkers, no marketers, no bots, no management companies, just you and your fellow tenants.” Of the two founders, one is Mihkel Noormagi, an Estonia native who’s lived in New York for the past five years. The other is Hungarian-born Patrik Misko. The two met when working at Elegran, a midtown real estate firm.

It was after moving to the neighborhood, that they came up with the idea for Tenant King, “because they saw a need,” said Meena Ziabari, a spokesperson for the company, “for a way to meet people in your neighborhood that might share interests with you.”

The most popular feature so far seems to be the listings, which was created as a locally oriented alternative to Craigslist. So far, it seems to have worked, with people using the section not only for commerce but for things like giving away furniture and starting book clubs. There’s also been a lot of debate online on issues affecting the different neighborhoods; a recent thread among Stuy Town neighbors revolved around the rudeness of a dog owner who’d left the pooch’s pee in an elevator. Another dog-related conversation started when a user offered to walk other people’s dogs for them.

“She runs in the morning and said, ‘I would love to help,’” said Ziabari.

Membership on the site is free, and while Tenant King is hoping to form partnerships with businesses in their areas of coverage and eventually be able to collect some sort of fees that way, the website and service have yet to be monetized. Meanwhile, businesses are not allowed to join as members, which is a rule aimed at discouraging self-promotion. Individual service providers, such as dog walkers and baby sitters, however, are an exception.

As of this month, Noormagi said there are close to 4,000 members of Tenant King in the participating neighborhoods, mostly in Long Island City. Around 700 members are from ST/PCV.

In other recent developments, Noormagi noted that the company has been shooting member video testimonials and has started actively looking for investors.

So far, there hasn’t been too much in the way of promotion, although actors dressed as medieval town criers did prance through the Oval on one afternoon last fall to hand out invitation codes. The effort, Ziabari recalled, delighted the kids. “They had a lot of families coming up to them, asking how they got there, by time machine?”

Responding to invitations, which can also be sent by mail upon request is one way would-be members can verify their addresses. Another way is to send a scan of an ID or debit card.

If things take off, the company hopes to eventually expand its services. “We would love to do it across the country,” Ziabari said, “but for now, this is for New York City.”

One of Ess-A-Bagel’s owners hit by car in front of shop

Ess-a-Bagel as it looked on Monday (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Ess-a-Bagel as it looked last Monday (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

One of the members of the family that owns Ess-a-Bagel was taken to the hospital last Monday after he was hit by a car on the street outside the now closed bagel shop.

The accident occurred close to 11 a.m., according to the FDNY, and the victim, Michael Wenzelberg, was taken to Mt. Sinai Beth Israel.

According to another owner, David Wilpon, Wenzelberg, who’s in his early 50s and is Wilpon’s brother-in-law, suffered a broken rib and some bruising and sprains. “But,” he added, “It could have been worse” as there was no internal bleeding.

Wilpon didn’t see the accident, but said his wife did and there is video footage. He added that Wenzelberg had been in the crosswalk at the time. It wasn’t a hit-and-run and the driver was female, though Wilpon didn’t know anything about her beyond that.

This happened as Wilpon and others were clearing things out of the shop, which closed that day. Word of the accident soon spread on the ST-PCV Tenants Association Facebook page.

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Big shows are boosting NAC’s profile

Guests view prints by Salvador Dali during a show at the National Arts Club in February. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Guests view prints by Salvador Dali during a show at the National Arts Club in February. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

It was four years ago when the National Arts Club was making far more headlines for a scandal, with its longtime president O. Aldon James replaced over allegations of misusing club money and terrorizing anyone who crossed him, than for the arts it was supposed to be championing. At that time, a longtime active member, Dianne Bernhard, replaced James as president of the club. After serving for one two-year term, she opted to take the position of director of fine arts, which, she explained at the time, was to bring the focus back on the arts, and to get the social club taken seriously by the art world.

Since then, to say she’s achieved her goal would be an understatement, with the club’s five galleries, which are open to the public, running different shows each month, and at least a few times a year with works by high profile contemporary artists or old masters. There are also monthly Sunday salons with guest speakers that tie into the shows and the club is in the process of finding a new artist in residence. The club’s programming hasn’t gone unnoticed by art professionals and collectors, and club membership has even seen a boost because of it.

“It’s brought more young people in and it’s brought more art-minded people,” said Bernhard.

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Format of sanitation garage ‘open house’ a surprise to attendees

The Brookdale campus is the city’s proposed site for a sanitation garage. A firm hired by Community Board 6 has recommended Con Ed property. J.G. Collins however suggests a portion of St. Vartan’s Park. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

The Brookdale campus is the city’s proposed site for a sanitation garage. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Community residents were surprised by the format of the most recent meeting on the proposed sanitation garage, held at the Brookdale Campus on East 25th Street last Thursday evening.

The meeting, billed as an open house, went “exactly as anticipated,” Economic Development Corporation senior associate of public affairs Ian Fried told Town & Village, but the set-up was different from that of previous meetings on the subject and many residents at the most recent event felt that it wasn’t as constructive as meetings in the past.

“What we were expecting was something more like what happened the last time it was in the auditorium,” ST-PCV Tenants Association chair Susan Steinberg said. “(The last meeting) was a back and forth discussion. We thought we’d be shown a slideshow and more details about the project.

Instead, there were representatives from DSNY or EDC at these stations answering questions so you got one-on-one time, but there wasn’t a real format where those who were attending could express their thoughts and react to the content. Almost everybody I spoke with, it was not what we were expecting.”

The meeting was held inside the Brookdale Campus, the location for which the sanitation garage is proposed. The second most recent meeting on the topic was a more boisterous affair, during which some meeting attendees took turns yelling harsh criticisms about the plan to the representatives of the two agencies who had given the presentations.

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Major explosion causes building collapse, fire on Second Ave. at East 7th

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A building on Second Avenue near East 7th Street has collapsed due to an explosion and fire earlier this afternoon, the FDNY confirmed. The collapse occurred at 123 Second Avenue and  FDNY said that 121 Second Avenue had also partially collapsed, but it was unclear whether this was a direct result of the explosion or occurred later. Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a press conference on Thursday evening that 119 and 125 Second Avenue have also been affected, and FDNY said that the emergency call came from 125 Second Avenue at 3:17 p.m. Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said that the area around 119 Second Avenue was vacated because of a possible collapse of that building as well, as a result of the fire that extended there following the explosion.

The FDNY does not know the cause of the incident yet but police at the scene said that it was consistent with a gas explosion. The mayor confirmed that explosion appears to have been caused by plumbing and gas work that was going on in 121 Second Avenue, but the investigation is still ongoing. The mayor added that the FDNY is dealing with a seven-alarm incident and have contained fires in all four of the buildings so far. 

Second Avenue was closed from East 14th Street to Houston after the explosion. The affected buildings included a number of apartments as well as restaurants Sushi Park at 121 Second Ave. and Pommes Frites at 123 Second Ave.

Notify NYC reported that the New York City Unified Victim Identification System (UVIS) was activated in response to the fire. Anyone concerned about the welfare of someone who may have been affected by the collapse and are unable to contact them should call 311. From outside of NYC, relatives and friends can call (212) 639-9675. The American Red Cross has also opened a reception center at P.S. 63 at 121 East 3rd Street in Manhattan.

“Today our community’s heart is breaking,” Council Member Rosie Mendez said in response to the tragedy. “My thoughts and prayers are with those affected by this tragedy. I am working closely with emergency services, my colleagues in government and with community leaders to respond to this horrible event. I thank the people of New York for the outpouring of concern and support. We pray for the victims and their families.”

On Thursday evening, Con Ed also issued a statement, noting the building had failed an inspection.

“Con Edison is working with fire officials and other agencies at the scene of today’s explosion and building collapse on 2nd Avenue near 7th Street in the East Village neighborhood in Manhattan,” the utility said.

“Earlier today, Con Edison personnel were at the location to evaluate work the building plumber was doing inside 121 2nd Ave. in connection with a gas service upgrade. The work failed our inspection for several reasons, including insufficient spacing for the installation of the meter in the basement.

“We had no reports of gas odors in the area prior to the fire and explosion. A survey conducted yesterday of the gas mains on the block found no leaks. We continue to work with all agencies on the investigation into the cause, and we are praying for the recovery of all the injured.”

Editorial: Small businesses are everyone’s business

Businesses, particularly small ones that help shape a neighborhood’s identity, are always on the minds of New Yorkers, who’ve grown weary of seeing them disappear in favor of banks and chain stores.

However, there are, finally, some opportunities to help small businesses. One opportunity is of course, presented by the more pleasant weather that comes with spring (well, hopefully soon, anyway) and the chance to check out all the new places to shop, eat or drink that have popped up in the post-holiday months and to re-discover tried and true favorites.

Another opportunity New Yorkers have to help protect the retail diversity of the city is to reach out to elected officials and ask them to support legislation aimed at helping small businesses.

As reported in this week’s issue, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer has drafted legislation that would give retail tenants a fighting chance at staying put when it comes time for lease renewal. It’s not exactly commercial rent control, but even giving small businesses the option of sitting down to negotiate rather than just allowing them to get abruptly kicked out would be a pretty significant shift of power.

A recently launched effort by blogger Jeremiah Moss of Vanishing New York called #Savenyc is aimed at collecting people’s stories about their favorite small businesses, which, like waiting lists for affordable apartments, seem to be a dying breed.

And here at Town & Village, we’d like to think we’re no slouches about supporting local merchants and restaurants either, with monthly new local business roundups and also the Shopping Local series of articles profiling businesses both old and new. While we’ve let that series, begun in the months after Hurricane Sandy, lapse, we are proud to announce its return in upcoming issues. If you’re the owner of a small business we haven’t yet gotten to, or if you know of a business you think deserves some publicity, please send your suggestions to us at editor@townvillage.net.

Brewer throws lifeline to mom-and-pop shops

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer discusses her legislation at the Upper West Side location of Halal Guys. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer discusses her legislation at the Upper West Side location of Halal Guys. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Legislation would make it mandatory for landlords to negotiate with retail tenants

By Sabina Mollot

New legislation could curb a trend of mom-and-pop businesses being replaced by banks and chain stores.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said she’s drafting legislation that would make it mandatory for a building’s owner to at least allow a retail tenant a chance to negotiate to keep his or her space.

“The future of street level retail stores and restaurants — I call them storefronters — has begun to look murky,” Brewer said on Monday. “Every day, the press has another story about a kids’ clothing store or a shoe repair shop closing to make room for a chain or a bank.”

The bill, which is being sponsored by the City Council’s Small Business Committee Chair Robert Cornegy at Brewer’s request, along with giving tenants a chance to negotiate, would also give the tenant the option of a one-year lease extension with a maximum rent increase of 15 percent. Additionally, a building owner, if planning on evicting the tenant, would have to give the tenant notice of that intention 180 days before the end of a lease. “So businesses will have enough time to find new space and make a transition, hopefully in the same neighborhood,” said Brewer.

Brewer also said she wanted to help business owners threatened by rent increases the option of purchasing the storefront through “condo-ization.”

“Many of the long-standing small businesses that are here today are only here because they had an opportunity to buy the building,” she said. “There was a time where you could buy a building, but that opportunity today is dim.”

While this is technically already possible under current law, Brewer said there are ways the city could be helping the process along. It may be possible, she added, to create a condo if the business portion of the building is split from the residential portion. Additionally, if 51 percent of the property or more is occupied by the business, it could qualify for a federal Small Business Association loan of up to $5 million.

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Letters to the Editor, Mar. 26

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Two sides to every cyclist/driver dispute

To the Editor,

I was disappointed that you reported “Cyclist wanted for assault” (Police Watch, T&V, March 19) without adding quotation marks around “Assault,” to indicate that the person has only been alleged to have committed a crime.

The article itself made it clear that the automobile driver’s claims were prima facie preposterous:  “A 54-year-old man was in his car when he was cut off by a bicyclist,” you reported. The average car weighs 4,000 pounds. The average bike weighs 20 pounds. How can it be that the driver can legitimately claim he was cut off by a bicyclist?

More appropriately, your article could have said the driver “claimed he had been cut off by a bicyclist.”

More likely, what happened was that the driver of the car was passing too close to the cyclist, or otherwise driving in a reckless fashion.  Words were exchanged, and the driver likely threatened the cyclist with bodily harm. Whether or not the cyclist used his bike lock to defend himself, possibly striking the automobile’s window in the process, is a matter for a jury to determine, after weighing the evidence. The prosecutor will need more than the angry driver’s word for it.

Often, there are two sides to every story.  If we are to make New York City livable again, we probably should give cyclists the benefit of the doubt before indicting them for a felony without hearing their side of the story.

Name Withheld, ST

Police Watch: Woman wanted for hot coffee assault, men behind ‘speakeasy’ busted

Assault suspect

Assault suspect

WOMAN WANTED FOR ASSAULT BY COFFEE
Police are looking for a woman who threw hot coffee at the face of a 45-year-old MTA bus driver at the intersection of Broadway and West 23rd Street on Tuesday. The scalding attack took place on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17 at 11 a.m.
The suspect is described as a female, white, mid 20’s with long hair.
Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS. The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Website at nypdcrimestoppers.com or texting their tips to 274637(CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

PENNSYLVANIA FUGITIVE ARRESTED AT VA HOSPITAL
Last Tuesday, police arrested a man who allegedly hit a 16-year-old in the head, tied her to a motel bed and sexually assaulted her last June in Lehigh, Pennsylvania.
Michael Burdo, 58, was collared at the VA Hospital 423 East 23rd Street at 1:30 p.m. Police said that Burdo was to be extradited for Pennsylvania because a warrant was issued for his arrest on March 4 in Lehigh, charging him with aggravated assault, false imprisonment, aggravated indecent assault without consent, indecent assault, forcible compulsion, aggravated indecent assault-forcible compulsion and three counts of assault. Burdo was also charged with being a fugitive from another state.
A local Lehigh newspaper reported at the beginning of March that authorities were looking for Burdo after he missed a court hearing. The paper found that he had gone to New York to visit his sister instead of going to the hearing and overdosed on pills. He was brought to the VA Hospital and couldn’t be immediately removed because the hospital is on federal property.

MEN BUSTED FOR RUNNING ‘SPEAKEASY’ ON EAST 15TH STREET
Police arrested two people involved in an alleged illegal after-hours operation last Sunday at 1:35 a.m. inside 117 East 15th Street.
Guy Jacobson, 53, was allegedly running the illegal bar/nightclub at the location and selling alcohol without a license. Police said he’d been working the door at the entrance to the club, and was previously the owner of a bar called Belmont Lounge. The allegedly illegal club was in the basement of the former Belmont Lounge, according to the District Attorney’s office, who also said Jacobson owns the building but couldn’t produce an active State Liquor Authority license.
James Hill, 31, was also arrested for possession of a controlled substance, which police said was found after an inspection at the location.
Police said that there were 444 cans of beer, 66 bottles of beer and 158 bottles of liquor that were being sold to patrons, who were being charged $5 per beer and $8 for mixed drinks. Police recovered $2,331 at the premises.

CAB RIDER SCAMMED NEAR UNION SQUARE
A user on the website Reddit posted photos online of his encounter with a man who was scamming people with a fake taxi. Gothamist reported that the victim got a ride in the cab to Union Square last Thursday and the credit card machine in the backseat was broken.
When he handed his card to the driver, he noticed that there were two machines, one of which he said looked like a credit card skimmer. After seeing the second swiper, he also noticed that there was no information about the driver in the backseat and when he got out of the car, he saw that the medallion had been removed.
The Taxi and Limousine Commission told CBS that the car was likely a retired cab that was bought at an auction and had been seized twice, in 2006 and 2007.

MTA WORKER HALTS STABBING
Police arrested 27-year-old Donald Cheatham for assault and possession of a weapon inside the Park Avenue South/28th Street station last Sunday at 8:22 a.m. Police said that Cheatham slashed the victim with a folding knife on the back of the neck and right side of the head, causing cuts.
Gothamist reported on Sunday that an MTA worker had intervened in the fight between Cheatham and the 30-year-old victim, who were arguing about a phone in front of the MetroCard booth. Richard Singleton, who has worked for the MTA for 18 years, grabbed Cheatham’s arm, causing him to drop the knife, and Singleton said he got on top of Cheatham to hold him there until police arrived.

‘DRUG DEALERS’ BUSTED ON EAST 15TH
Police arrested two men involved in a drug deal in front of 105 East 15th Street last Tuesday at 2:20 p.m. Tony Ray, 29, was charged with the sale of marijuana and 25-year-old Lewis Emmerson was charged with the sale of marijuana and possession of marijuana. Police said that Ray and Emmerson sold marijuana to an undercover officer and Emmerson was allegedly in possession of more marijuana.

MAN ASSAULTED BY TEENS
Police arrested a teenager for assault at the corner of Second Avenue and East 28th Street last Sunday at 7:27 p.m. The victim told police that he was crossing the street when he was pushed to the ground and punched in the back of the head by four boys, causing substantial pain and swelling to his neck and head. Three of the boys were not arrested and the name of the teen who was arrested is being withheld due to his age.

‘BAIL-JUMPING’ ROLLERBLADER NABBED IN SUBWAY
Police arrested 21-year-old Ricky Cabrera for bail jumping inside the Union Square subway station at Union Square East and East 14th Street last Wednesday at 1:10 p.m. Police said that Cabrera was skating at a high speed on rollerblades inside a crowded subway station, creating a hazardous condition, swerving in and out of other people. When he was stopped, police found that he had an open warrant. Cabrera was also charged with an unclassified violation of New York State laws and disorderly conduct.

SENIOR ARRESTED FOR ‘PUNCHING’ EMS
Police arrested 65-year-old William Miller for assault at the corner of First Avenue and East 16th Street last Saturday at 10:57 p.m. Police said that Miller punched an EMS worker in the face, causing swelling. He was also charged with assault of a peace officer.

MEN ARRESTED FOR ‘XANAX’
Three men were arrested for drugs last Thursday at 6:36 p.m. on the corner of Union Square East and East 15th Street.
Jonathan Sehring, 29, and Keith Ronquillo, also 29, were charged with possession of a controlled substance and 43-year-old Unice Jinks was charged with sale of a controlled substance. Police said that Jinks sold Xanax pills to an undercover officer and Sehring and Ronquillo were allegedly in possession of a controlled substance.

MEN BUSTED FOR ‘LIGHTING UP’ ON SUBWAY
Police arrested several people for smoking inside the subway system last week, who were charged with unclassified violations of New York State laws.
Yan Rakhamimov, 25, was allegedly smoking a cigarette on the platform at the Union Square subway station last Thursday at 8:38 p.m.
Thirty-six-year-old Yomar Portalatin and 33-year-old Sainlouis Moore were arrested at the Union Square station last Saturday at 1:20 a.m. Portalatin and Moore were allegedly smoking on an uptown 6 train.

WOMAN NABBED FOR NYCHA ‘TRESPASSING’
Twenty-year-old Brianne Amaker was arrested for criminal trespass inside 344 East 28th Street last Friday at 12:52 a.m. Amaker was allegedly inside the public housing development without permission and police said that she was also on the 13th floor, arguing and acting aggressive towards one of the tenants.

TEENS ARRESTED FOR POT OUTSIDE STUY TOWN
Police arrested two teenagers for possession of marijuana at the corner of Avenue C and East 16th Street last Friday at 1:20 p.m. The teens were smoking marijuana inside the park in public view. The names of the teens are being withheld due to their age.

TEENS BUSTED FOR ‘BOOSTING’ BIKE SEAT
Nineteen-year-olds Matthew MacConnoran and Jean Pineda were arrested for petit larceny at the corner of Asser Levy Place and East 25th Street last Saturday at 11:49 p.m. Police said that MacConnoran and Pineda were trying to remove a bicycle seat from a bicycle that didn’t belong to them. MacConnoran was also charged with burglar’s tools.

FIGHT ON WEST 16TH ST.
Police arrested two people involved in a fight in front of 37 West 16th Street last Sunday at 11:42 a.m. Tristan Wilson, 32, and Pasqual Vargas, 62, were charged with assault. Police said that the two men got into a fight and both sustained injuries.

‘PANHANDLER’ ARRESTED ON 2 TRAIN
Sixty-year-old Cesar Bracamonte was arrested for an unclassified violation of New York State laws at the 14th Street and Seventh Avenue subway station last Wednesday at 12:15 p.m. Bracamonte was allegedly panhandling and asking for money after playing music on a downtown 2 train.

TEEN ARRESTED FOR BATHROOM FIGHT
Police arrested a teenager for assault last Monday at 11:19 a.m. inside the High School for Health Professions and Human Services at 345 East 15th Street. There was a fight and the boy who was arrested punched and kicked the victim, causing contusions and bruising. The fight took place inside the school’s bathroom and the teen attends the Institute for Collaborative Education High School. The teen’s name is being withheld due to his age.

ST author hopes book will help people mourning a loved one

Fran Alongi

Fran Alongi

By Sabina Mollot

It was nine years ago when Fran Alongi, a Stuyvesant Town resident, lost her mother to a massive stroke. Though it was hardly the first time someone close to her had died, the death, along with a months-long period in which she was ill, was one of the most painful experiences Alongi could recall going through.

Prior to her mother’s stroke, Alongi had been meaning to write a book about personal loss, but it was her death, she explained, that spurred her into actually doing it.

She’d worked on the story, the genre of which is contemporary fantasy, on weekends since then – up until recently she’d also always had a corporate day job — and finally finished it last fall.

Titled Moons of Koda, the story has since been released as an e-book, which Alongi self-published, and she’s hoping it will be as helpful for others in to read as it was for her to write.

“It’s about having hope and believing during the grieving process,” said Alongi. The death of her mother, she noted, has remained a challenge. “I still have urges to call her. It’s very hard.”

Initially, she’d intended her book to be a children’s book, but friends who’ve read it advised her that the content seemed equally — if not more — appropriate for adults. The story revolves around a mysterious, somehow unearthly character called Koda, who Alongi named after the Sioux Indian word for friend.

“She comes into the world in a dark way which makes the (other characters) think she is a threat, but she’s not,” said Alongi. “She’s essentially an angelic figure.”

Moons of Koda is set in the 1950s in a small town in Wyoming. It’s there where the title character encounters a family with three young children whose father has died. Since Koda needs a place to stay, the mother allows her to sleep in their shed.

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Kavanagh rips State Senate effort to defund Tenant Protection Unit

Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh

Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh

By Sabina Mollot

The Assembly will be fighting back against a push from the State Senate to defund the Tenant Protection Unit (TPU), Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh said this week.

The TPU is a division of the state housing agency, Homes and Community Renewal, along with others like the Division of Housing and Community Renewal.

And according to Kavanagh, the plan to strip the TPU of its funding was in the State Senate’s budget proposal.

However, the TPU, he noted, has been helpful to tenants in fighting landlords who’ve improperly deregulated properties by getting the units reregulated and getting back rent paid to tenants.

“Unfortunately, the Senate Republicans do not want the rent laws to be enforced,” said Kavanagh about the effort, which was first reported by the Daily News. “So they’re trying to remove the funding.”

The Assembly has already put forth its own budget proposal as has the governor, with both supporting the agency. But Kavanagh said since the governor and both houses have to support it, the Assembly is bracing for a fight.

“We’re going to fight this and we expect that they’re going to fight back,” he said.

The Senate’s Housing Chair Catherine Young, a Republican from upstate Olean, did not respond to a request for comment from T&V. However, according to the Daily News, she believes the TPU has been operating with a lack of transparency.

While the focus is still on the budget, as well as school reforms and ethics reforms, renewal or expiration of the Rent Stabilization Laws (the latter of which is not expected) is set to take place in June.

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Advocates call for rent rollback at RGB forum

Rent Guidelines Board Tenant Representatives Sheila Garcia (center) and Harvey Epstein (left) with others at rally in front of 1 Centre Street prior to the RGB’s first meeting of the year (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Rent Guidelines Board Tenant Representatives Sheila Garcia (center) and Harvey Epstein (left) with others at rally in front of 1 Centre Street prior to the RGB’s first meeting of the year (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Ahead of the Rent Guidelines Board’s first meeting of the year, tenant advocates called for a rent rollback at a forum hosted by Council Member Corey Johnson at PS 3 in Greenwich Village last Wednesday evening attended by about 100 area residents, most of whom were rent stabilized tenants.

Attorney Tim Collins, who also represents the ST-PCV Tenants Association, is the former executive director of the RGB from 1987 to 1993 and he argued that putting a stop to increases for rent stabilized tenants is long overdue.

“Last year I didn’t ask for a rent freeze; I pushed for a rollback then,” Collins said. “The numbers are clear. The board has clear data on where operating costs have gone. We know that operating costs have gone up faster than inflation at 144 percent but landlords have been given 177 percent in increases since 1990. The RGB has overcompensated owners.”

Johnson, who represents Manhattan’s District 3, periodically hosts “Let’s Talk” events for community residents to inform New Yorkers about issues important to them. He won’t be hosting any other events on the RGB this year, but he said that this event was scheduled specifically to be on the night before the board’s first meeting of the year.

“It’s important that New Yorkers understand what is going on and the massive reforms that need to happen,” he said. “And we want to make sure that the RGB is treating tenants fairly.”

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