Youth crime up in Gramercy, cops say

Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Robberies and burglaries committed by teenagers have been increasing since the end of last year, Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman reported at the 13th Precinct Community Council’s most recent meeting this past Tuesday.

“Trends [in robberies] that we were seeing at the end of last year carried over into the beginning of this year,” Hellman said.

Hellman said that while the precinct’s apprehension rate is “very good,” he wants the command to be more preventive so that the incidents don’t occur in the first place, part of which requires youth outreach. Robberies overall are up 36% for the year so far.

The NYPD will be rolling out a new youth program in March, partially in response to the increase in youth crime, which will work in conjunction with and under the structure of the neighborhood policing program that was implemented in the 13th precinct in October 2018.

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Management will return lobby directories, names on intercoms

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The STPCV Tenants Association announced in an email last Wednesday that management would be restoring the resident directories in lobbies and on building intercoms.

Last November, some residents noticed that tenant names had been removed from building intercoms, making it difficult for visitors to find residents’ apartments without knowing the apartment number. StuyTown Property Services General Manager Rick Hayduk said at the time that management had been receiving an increasing number of requests to have their names removed from video intercoms and the resident lists in building lobbies due to privacy concerns. After a number of complaints from residents, management later announced that there would be an opt-in option for residents that would allow tenants to still have their names listed on the intercoms, but at that point there was no plan to bring back the printed building directories, and the TA continued to push the issue with management, citing possible housing violations.

Hayduk, while noting that the law still seemed antiquated, said that management will be returning tenant names to intercoms and reinstalling the lobby directories.

“Our position is that we take privacy seriously,” Hayduk said. “We had less than 10% of residents opt-in, but the challenge is always awareness.”

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Letters to the editor, Feb. 20

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

The climate crisis continues

“We are grieving our grandkids – yours and mine.” This powerful message was written on a large poster carried by two grandmothers during a recent demonstration in Park Slope initiated by the environmental organization Extinction/Rebellion (www.rebellion.earth). This sentiment is expressed often by seniors and is totally justified. If we do not take action to drastically reduce global warming now the future for the next generations looks bleak. Why are we procrastinating?

Fortunately, not everyone is. Recently, there seems to be a recognition of the dangers at hand at the highest level of industry, finance, and government, some of them expressed at the World Economic Forum (WEF) at Davos, Switzerland. It behooves us to take note of the following:

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Stuy Town teen reported missing

The teen was reported missing from Stuy Town on February 12.

The New York City Police Department is seeking the public’s assistance in locating a person reported missing on Wednesday, February 12 in Stuyvesant Town.

Police said that 16-year-old Sarah Sitorus was last seen at her apartment at 11 Stuyvesant Oval around 1 p.m. last Wednesday. She is described as 5′ 3″ tall, 140 pounds. She was last seen wearing all blue clothing.

Anyone with information in regard to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the CrimeStoppers website at nypdcrimestoppers.com or on Twitter @NYPDTips.

All calls are strictly confidential.

Police Watch: Girl arrested for sexual misconduct, Paramedic assaulted

GIRL ARRESTED FOR SEXUAL MISCONDUCT AT GOOD SHEPHERD

Police arrested a teenage girl for sexual misconduct inside Good Shepherd Services at 337 East 17th Street on Tuesday, February 11 at 10:33 p.m. The victim told police that while playing a game of truth or dare, the suspect said, “I haven’t eaten anyone out in a while.” The victim said that she no longer wanted to play but as she was walking away, the suspect pulled the victim’s pants down and started performing oral sex on her without her consent.

MAN ARRESTED FOR ASSAULTING PARAMEDIC

Police arrested a 39-year-old man for assaulting a paramedic at the corner of Lexington Avenue and East 29th Street on Tuesday, February 11 at 12:09 p.m. Police said that the paramedic was administering first aid to someone who was unconscious when the suspect punched him multiple times, causing pain and a bruise to his left temple.

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Opinion: A changing of the guard?

By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders

I get a lot of political emails. It seems that I am on everybody’s mailing list. But none more than from 36-year-old Suraj Patel. If the name rings a bell it is because he ran against Carolyn Maloney in the Democratic Party Primary two years ago and did fairly well, winning about 40% of the vote. Undaunted by his defeat, he is challenging Maloney again. In truth, he never really stopped running.

This year the Primary is in June… just four months away. But who is Mr. Patel? And what makes him run? The trend in the Democratic Party starting with Alexandra Ocasio Cortez, now referred to as “AOC” by tabloid newspapers, is for young persons in a big hurry to run for high office. Two years ago, the then-unknown 20-something Alexandra Ocasio Cortez toppled Congressman Joe Crowley, who was an influential veteran of the House of Representatives for 20 years after having served in the State Assembly for over a decade. She has since gone on to become a progressive political rock star and is quoted in the press almost as much as President Trump.

But back to Patel. Like AOC, and actually like Trump, he runs for office having never served a day in his life in government. So clearly one can be elected to an important federal office without first having learned about government from the inside. Some people actually think that is a virtue. And like Donald Trump, Mr. Patel has a lot of experience operating hotels and has made a considerable amount of money. But why is he running against Carolyn Maloney, who is now a 28-year member of Congress and at the height of her influence, having been named Chair of the important Committee on Oversight? He says he has a lot of policy disagreements with Maloney but for the most part they seem to be nuanced and not notable.

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Opinion: New York’s new plastic bag ban

By State Senator Brad Hoylman and Assembly Member Harvey Epstein

We’ve all seen single-use plastic bags littered throughout New York City. They get stuck in trees, clutter up parks and sidewalks and wash up on the shores of the East River.

The Department of Environmental Conservation estimates New Yorkers use 23 billion plastic bags annually. Their usage is so widespread that EPA estimates there will be more plastic than fish in our planet’s oceans by the year 2050.

In fact, discarded single-use plastic bags are the main component of the so-called “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” a free-floating island twice the size of Texas that is a proven hosts for microbes and toxic pesticides that often end up in our food.

Plastic bags pollute our waterways and oceans, causing harm to marine life by choking them or building up their stomachs. Producing plastic bags is a huge contributor to our current recycling crisis, and causes the release of harmful greenhouse gases, which drives the historic and dangerous warming of our planet.

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CUNY students, pols protest tuition hikes

Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

City University of New York students, education advocates and local elected officials rallied on the Baruch Plaza at Lexington Avenue and East 25th Street last Thursday, protesting tuition hikes for CUNY students.

Assemblymember Harvey Epstein argued at the rally that more money should be allocated to the city and state university systems, and also said that bills he has introduced would help provide that funding.

One piece of legislation from Epstein, which is co-sponsored by Assemblymember Dick Gottfried, would impose a 2% sales tax on various luxury items, including vehicles, jewelry and clothing over a certain amount, and the tax would be distributed equally to SUNY and CUNY. Another bill would increase taxes on beer and would direct the revenue generated from the tax to SUNY and CUNY, with Epstein noting that New York currently has one of the lowest beer taxes in the country. The bill would increase the tax to 30 cents per gallon, up from 14.

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Police Watch: Teens busted for robberies in separate incidents

TEENS BUSTED FOR ROBBERIES

Police arrested two teenagers in the 13th precinct for multiple robberies that took place at the end of last month.

A man was walking to the 1 train from work on January 23 around 1:35 a.m. when he said that six people approached him, tackled him to the ground and took his phone from his pocket. One of the teens was arrested for the robbery on January 31. Police said that three suspects were caught on February 3, 4 and 5, respectively.

Two of the teens arrested for this robbery were also charged in connection with an incident that took place around 2:30 a.m. on the same day, when police said that the two teens assaulted him and removed his cell phone and wallet from his jacket.

TEENS NABBED FOR ROBBERY IN CHELSEA

Police arrested a 19-year-old and another teenager involved in a robbery and fight at the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 17th Street on Wednesday, February 5 at 2:32 p.m. Police said that the two suspects who were arrested were working with two other people who weren’t arrested, and the group approached the victim’s and got into an argument that escalated into a fight.

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Maloney challenger Erica Vladimer ending campaign

Erica Vladimer (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

District 12 congressional candidate and Upper East Side resident Erica Vladimer is ending her bid to replace incumbent Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. Vladimer announced the end of her campaign in an emailed statement to supporters last Friday.

Vladimer said that she made the decision after difficulties fundraising and also due to a struggle with health issues, partially due to a lack of insurance since she’s been campaigning.

“Knowing myself personally, and knowing that anything I chose to do, I want to do my best, I realized that I couldn’t do that and didn’t feel comfortable with that,” she said of the overall decision.

Vladimer said that for a newcomer like herself, it was difficult to get momentum against Maloney, who already has a fundraising base as an incumbent congresswoman.

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Peter Cooper Village senior scammed

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police are asking for the public’s assistance in finding men who scammed a Peter Cooper Village senior out of more than $9,000 last month.

The 77-year-old victim told police that the unidentified men called her between 2:45 p.m. on Thursday, January 16 and 12:30 p.m. on Friday, January 17, telling her that her grandson had been involved in a car accident and he required money for bail. After speaking to the victim by phone, one of the suspects met the victim at her apartment near 2 Peter Cooper Road and got $9,200 in cash from her.

The next day, the suspects called the victim back and said that in order to expunge her grandson’s arrest record, she would have to pay an additional $7,000. The victim had become suspicious, so when the suspects arrived to collect the second payment, she handed them miscellaneous papers in an envelope and not the additional requested sum.

Police said that on both occasions, the suspects fled towards Second Avenue when they left the victim’s apartment building. The victim was not injured as a result of the incident.

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Openings and closings in the neighborhood

The Trader Joe’s on East 14th Street across from Stuyvesant Town has opened. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Business activity in Kips Bay and Gramercy in the last month has been strangely representative of trends throughout the city, at least regarding grocery stores: following a little bit of a “will they/won’t they” melodrama, longtime New York chain Fairway announced that it would be closing a number of their stores while Trader Joe’s, one of the chains blamed for Fairway’s demise, has finally opened across from Stuyvesant Town.

Recently opened 

Trader Joe’s, 436 East 14th Street, between First Avenue and Avenue A, traderjoes.com

The aforementioned Trader Joe’s officially opened across from Stuyvesant Town at the beginning of the year. Local blog EV Grieve reported that the grand opening was on January 6. The location features local artwork and is managed by a “store captain” who has been with the company for 14 years. Rumors of the new store on East 14th were first reported in 2017, in the years following the demolition of the building that once contained the Peter Stuyvesant Post Office. The store is in the retail space of an eight-story luxury rental building called EVE. 

The Dip, 58 St. Marks Place, between First and Second Avenues, (646) 559-9050,  thedipnyc.com

Gothamist reported at the end of December that a new sandwich spot had opened on St. Mark’s Place. The shop primarily offers sandwiches and focuses on the French Dip, a kind of hot sandwich made of thinly sliced roast beef with cheese that is served with a container of beef broth. In addition to a French Dip sandwich, the spot offers a buttermilk fried chicken sandwich, grilled cheese, corned beef and other options. The restaurant, which occupies a narrow space with about six stools along an eating counter, is open Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight. The spot is closed on Mondays.

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Man’s skull fractured in New Year’s Day assault

The New York City Police Department is asking for the public’s assistance in locating these unidentified men who are wanted in connection to an assault that occurred in the East Village just after New Year’s.

It was reported to the police that on January 1 around 4 a.m., a 25-year-old male victim was assaulted by three unidentified males near East 9th Street and Avenue A. The victim was removed to Bellevue Hospital with a fractured skull and broken nose.

Anyone with information in regard to the identity of these men is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the CrimeStoppers website or on Twitter @NYPDTips.

All calls are strictly confidential.

Maloney challenger proposes free public transit

District 12 Congressional candidate Peter Harrison (standing, center) announced his transit plan at East 14th Street and First Avenue this past Tuesday with (from left to right) Brooklyn City Council candidate Victoria Cambranes and activists Dustin Jones and Dannelly Rodriguez. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Stuy Town resident and Congressional candidate Peter Harrison announced his campaign to make public transit free and increase accessibility throughout the system on Tuesday morning at the corner of First Avenue and East 14th Street.

Harrison’s proposal, the “Freedom of Movement in America Plan,” calls on the federal government to spend $1.7 trillion on public transportation over the next 10 years. One component of the plan is to make transit completely fare-free and provide $17 billion in federal funding to cover fare revenue, in addition to providing $9 billion in funding for paratransit in order to achieve 100% accessibility for public transit.

Another aspect of the proposal would fund the Federal Railroad Administration in order to invest $150 billion in Amtrak, $150 billion into the development of high-speed rail and update rolling stock to decarbonized, emission-free systems within 12 years at a cost of $500 million a year.

Harrison, a Democratic Socialist who is challenging incumbent Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney in District 12, said that his plan isn’t intended to punish car-owners, but aims to make transportation more accessible for everyone, especially residents who can’t afford cars.

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Former Stuy Town resident writes book set in the neighborhood

Wayne pictured in his Stuyvesant Town apartment in 2012 (Photo by Christopher Gabello)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Former Stuy Town resident and author Teddy Wayne used his former home as inspiration for a new novel set in and around the property that is set to debut on February 25.

The novel, “Apartment,” is set in 1996, about seven years before Wayne moved into the neighborhood, so he conducted some background research on the neighborhood to make sure the details were accurate, such as whether or not the fountain was on the Oval then and if certain businesses in the area were open at the time. But Wayne said it was the environment in the neighborhood and the property that inspired him to examine the loneliness of these specific city dwellers.

“It was a formative place in my 20s,” he said. “I wanted to write a novel that revolves around this apartment and explore a friendship through this confined space.”

The story follows an unnamed narrator who is attending an MFA program while living in an illegal sublet in Stuyvesant Town, and he offers a spare bedroom rent-free to a classmate.

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