Permits filed for new tower at life sciences facility

ARE presented a 3D model of the new tower at a Community Board 6 meeting last fall. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Permits were filed last Friday for a 21-story building on East 30th Street between First Avenue and the FDR that will be the third stage of development for the Alexandria Center for Life Science campus that is just south of Bellevue Hospital.

New York Health + Hospitals filed the application because the hospital system leases the land to Alexandria Real Estate and filed the permits on behalf of their tenant.

The permits filed with the Department of Buildings on January 10 indicate that the proposed development is expected to be 384 feet tall and 587,137 square feet, with 417,734 allocated for commercial space.

A representative from the city’s Economic Development Corporation confirmed that the building will be the North Tower of the current Alexandria campus and although the application was filed for 500 East 30th Street, the building will most likely have an odd-numbered address on East 29th Street. EDC also noted that all of the commercial space will be wet-lab capable and there will be a small retail component on the ground level facing south.

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John ‘Butch’ Purcell, mayor of Stuy Town, dies at 74

Residents left flowers at the entrance of Playground 9 in Stuyvesant Town this week following the news that John “Butch” Purcell, for whom the playground had recently been renamed, had died on Sunday. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

John “Butch” Purcell, known to many in the community as the mayor of Stuyvesant Town, passed away on Sunday night at age 74. He is survived by his wife, Mary, and their son, John Purcell Jr.

Purcell earned his mayor nickname from being one of the first black families that moved into Stuyvesant Town in the 1960s, and he celebrated his 50th year in the community in 2018.

Purcell played basketball throughout his life and although he never went pro himself, he started coaching at 27. He coached athletes at Harlem’s Rucker Park tournaments from 1972 to 1992, as well as for the New York Pro Basketball League, and by his own estimate, coached more than 75 NBA players, including Julius Erving. He was honored by the Brooklyn USA Athletic Association for his coaching career in 2017.

In addition to coaching, Purcell also worked for more than 40 years in drug counseling at Beth Israel Medical Center, where he started working in 1967 for the hospital’s methadone treatment program. Purcell worked directly for the NBA during the 1980s as well, counseling players, and continued to counsel players and others until he retired in 2013.

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Letters to the editor, Jan. 16

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Three cheers for snow removal plan

I was extremely pleased to see the article on Manhattan Borough President Gail Brewer’s attention to the issue of snow removal (T&V, January 2). Those of us who live in ST/PCV can usually expect a coordinated and well-executed snow removal plan for the interiors and perimeters of the properties. But people have jobs, appointments, etc. that take them to neighborhoods all over the city regardless of the weather, and non-compliant property owners create a hazard for all of us.

Many property owners seem to have the attitude that if Mother Nature dropped the snow, let her take care of getting rid of it. Others rely on pedestrian foot traffic to create a path and still others, who opt to leave storefronts vacant, seem to think they have no obligation to remove snow from in front of a property that is not producing income.

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Community Board 6 mulling bike parking amidst recent thefts

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

With residents on high alert about bicycle security, members of the Community Board 6 transportation committee discussed the possibility of allocating bike parking somewhere in the district at a recent meeting on Monday, January 6.

One committee member suggested that the community board encourage the development of bike parking that repurposes old bus shelters to be used as bike parking, similar to a structure currently in place at West 23rd Street and Eighth Avenue.

Committee member Brian Van Nieuwenhoven noted that while the city has installed this kind of bike parking in other parts of the city, including one in Union Square, it didn’t seem like an initiative they were expanding, and he said that he’s more concerned about bike security, citing the Peter Cooper Village resident whose $3,000 cargo bike was stolen just after Christmas.

“Whatever has gone on with bicycle theft, it has not abated in the city,” he said, adding that if the community board wants funding for this, it’s better to get the request in sooner rather than later.

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MTA, DOT share results of busway report with Community Board 6

CB6 transportation committee chair Sandra McKee and NYC Transit transportation planner Patrick Dougherty at the meeting on Monday (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Representatives from the Department of Transportation and MTA presented results from a recent report on the 14th Street busway during Community Board 6’s most recent transportation committee on Monday. The report was conducted by Sam Schwartz Engineering, and Dan Schack, a senior associate at SSE, said that normally the agency would wait at least a year to draw any conclusions but the city committed to regular reports on the pilot program.

Schack emphasized that these are only preliminary results, with data only available from November and December, and the final report is expected to be delivered in Spring 2021, with regular reports until then as the city tracks the program’s progress.

Patrick Dougherty, a transportation planner for long-range bus planning at MTA New York City Transit, said that the agency is encouraged by the results so far, especially given how poorly the bus on 14th Street has performed in the past.

“From our perspective, which is operating safe and efficient bus service across 14th Street, the numbers have proven that this has been very successful so far,” he said. “I just want to remind everyone that [the M14] was the second slowest route in the entire city. It was losing ridership year after year, and almost immediately travel times have improved. It’s getting riders back on the bus. Gaining 6,000 riders within a month is incredible. We really support the pilot and hope it continues after the first 18 months.”

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Six wanted in gang assault

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police are looking for six men wanted in a gang assault that took place in the Flatiron District during the early morning hours of New Year’s Day.

A 25-year-old man reported to police that he was walking near the corner of West 25th Street and Sixth Avenue on Wednesday, January 1 around 4:15 a.m. when six individuals approached him. The suspects then chased the victim, pushed him into a doorway at 101 West 25th Street and punched and kicked the victim in the head multiple times.

The suspects fled in an unknown direction and the victim was removed to Bellevue Hospital for treatment.

Anyone with information in regard to the identity of these individuals 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.

One arrested as e-bike thefts increase

One of the suspects in multiple recent e-bike thefts

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police have arrested a 24-year-old man in connection with the theft of an e-bike from a restaurant on East 14th Street over the weekend.

The arrest comes after the New York Times reported last Friday that at least 24 e-bikes have been reported stolen throughout the city since last September. The NYPD told the Times that nearly two dozen delivery workers have been attacked and their e-bikes have been stolen by the same two men, who police said ambushed the riders with pepper spray or at knife point. The bikes stolen from the workers can cost as much as $2,000.

Although not an e-bike, Peter Cooper Village resident Adriana Hammonds also reported the theft of her new cargo bike just after Christmas. The family had taken out a loan to pay for the $3,000 bike and it was stolen the first day they took it out for a ride. The bike was meant for Hammonds to use to bring her 6-year-old son Sebastian to school and after assembling it right after the holiday, she and her son took it to visit a friend and locked the bike on East 18th Street and Irving Place. When they returned two hours later, the bike had been stolen.

The Bronx resident who was arrested for the recent e-bike theft was caught at the corner of Second Avenue and East 15th Street on Sunday, January 5 at 7:53 p.m. after a witness chased him from the restaurant where he took the bike.

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Letters to the editor, Jan. 9

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Heat improvements in STPCV

I recently read a letter about the heat, or lack of heat, in PCVST.

Here’s my take. I’m a resident of the complex for 28 years. Over the years, I’ve had different devices that have told me the temperature in my apartment.

Up until there were sensors put in some apartments, the temperature in my apartment would hover around 80-83 degrees in the winter. That was with windows open.

I’m on the 10th of an 11-floor building, so I accepted that my apartment would be hotter than those below. But I always wondered, if my apartment was 80 degrees, was there really someone in my line on the first or second floor who was cold?

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Unimpeachably good year for movie goers

Scorsese’s “The Irishman” closes the book of the Hollywood gangster genre.

By Ken Chanko

With everything else going on in the country right now it’s gratifying to report that 2019 turned out to be an unimpeachably good year for discerning movie-goers.

Before getting to this year’s remarkably robust ten-best list, it must be noted that 2019 saw the full impact of Netflix, for better and for worse. Quality mid-range films are getting squeezed between a rock — Hollywood’s reliance on Marvel-style formulaic franchise fare — and a hard place — the popularity of Netflix, which keeps folks increasingly on their sofas, in turn making studio execs even less willing to green-light more box-office risky (i.e., non-sequel superhero) films in the first place.

Then there was the dispute between the nation’s movie theater chains and officials at Netflix over Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman,” the year’s best film. On the one hand, the movie’s shortened window in theaters before Netflix streamed it bodes ill for those still wanting to see worthy films get vigorous distribution at their local theaters; on the other hand, Netflix, as opposed to studios like Paramount or Universal, was the only “distributor” willing to pony-up the $150 million Scorsese needed to make his classic mob epic in the first place.

        So, there you have it. And here are my best films of the year:

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Hundreds protest before Trump is impeached

The rally in Union Square was held on the night before the impeachment vote in the House. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Rain and raw, damp weather did not stop the hundreds of protesters who marched from Times Square to Union Square last Tuesday in support President Donald Trump’s impeachment, which the US House of Representatives voted for on Wednesday.

“Impeach and Remove” rallies organized by progressive groups such as MoveOn.org and the Women’s March took place in cities across the country prior to the impeachment vote that was scheduled for the following day in the House. Local groups that participated in the rallies included Empire State Indivisible, Common Cause New York and Rise and Resist.

One group of protesters at the Union Square protest carried a giant cloth banner with the words from Article II, Section 4 of the United States Constitution printed on it: “The President, Vice President and all Civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Other protesters at the rally had an inflatable caricature of the president along with LED signs that spelled out “End 45.”

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Locals to get their say on controversial 14th Street Busway

By Linda O’Flanagan

Businesses and residents on and around the controversial new 14th Street busway will get a chance to have their say at a series of public meetings this month.

Local Community Boards will be hosting meetings to provide information about preliminary data on what’s officially known as 14th Street Transit/Truck Priority pilot.

NYC DOT and their consultant team from Sam Schwartz Engineering will provide an update about the pilot. A presentation will describe the independent monitoring for the project and the DOT will share results from the preliminary report.

Despite a report from the city in December hailing the busway as a big hit, many residents and business owners have bemoaned the transit program that limits traffic to buses, trucks, emergency vehicles and drop-offs.

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Busway report finds decreased transit times

The busway on 14th Street officially launched last October. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The mayor’s office released a report on the 14th Street Busway on Wednesday, finding that ridership and speeds on the M14-SBS have both increased significantly, although car traffic slowed slightly on adjacent side streets.

Since the October implementation of the busway, officially called the Transit & Truck Priority (TTP) Pilot, crosstown commutes for bus riders are now as much as nine minutes faster than they were previously and trips along most of the adjacent side streets are less than a minute slower than before the restrictions were put into place.

Bicycling has also surged since the Department of Transportation created protected bike lanes on 12th and 13th Streets, in addition to an increase in popularity for Citi Bike.

The DOT studied the impact of the pilot on side streets from 12th to 19th, finding that travel times increased by zero to two minutes during weekday peak hours. Travel times increased slightly more on 17th Street between Third and Ninth Avenues, which saw a 3.4-minute increase in travel time. The report also found, however, that the volume of vehicles on 12th Street did not change significantly and actually decreased on 13th Street.

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Christmas Eve caroling in Gramercy Park

GPBA President Arlene Harrison and trustee Rev. Tom Pike (center) with officers from the 13th precinct. (Photos by Ira Fox)

Nearly 2,000 people crowded into Gramercy Park for the annual Christmas Caroling sponsored by the Park Trustees and organized once again by the Gramercy Park Block Association. The caroling was led by GPBA president Arlene Harrison and trustee Rev. Tom Pike, with music led by Calvary church music director Kamel Boutros.

“This year, mostly due to media attention, the event was attended by nearly 2,000 people from around the world who were visiting New York for the holidays,” Harrison said.

Harrison thanked the officers of the 13th precinct for policing the event saying, “Thanks to their outstanding police presence, in particular Chief Hughes, Chief Comodo the 13th Precinct and the Neighborhood Coordination Officers the Rodriguez brothers, our caroling event was the best and safest ever.”

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Community Council for 13th precinct celebrates the holidays

Members of the Community Council celebrated the holidays at Hane Sushi on Tuesday. (From left to right) Julia Yepez-Macbeth, Elvie Coutain, VL Swanson, Community Council President Frank Scala, Melanie Hague-Scala, Carol Schachter and Pat Salin (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The 13th Precinct Community Council celebrated the holidays this past Tuesday with a festive dinner in lieu of the regular monthly meeting.

The dinner, at Hane Sushi in Stuyvesant Town, was scheduled for the same evening as a number of “Impeachment Eve” protests across the country, including one that ended in Union Square after a march from Times Square.

Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman, commanding officer of the precinct, and Detective Vincent Arlotta both arrived at the dinner on time but left shortly after to provide support for the officers in Union Square, where more than 1,500 protesters were expected on Tuesday evening, the night before the House of Representatives was expected to vote to impeach President Donald Trump.

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Town & Village drive collects 450 toys, baby items

Bonnie Robbins, coordinator for children and family services at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, will help distribute the toys throughout the hospital systems’ 10 clinics. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Town & Village readers once again helped bring some holiday cheer to families who use the outpatient clinics run by Mount Sinai Beth Israel by donating approximately 450 toys and items for new babies to the annual drive this year, overwhelmingly topping last year’s donations of around 250.

Bonnie Robbins, PhD, is the coordinator for children and family services at MSBI and said that the marked increase in donations can be attributed to residents who also donated boxes of diapers, pampers and gently-used baby clothing, which in past years are not items that the drive has received.

Robbins said that some donors use the drive as an opportunity to “declutter” and donations have include used items in poor condition, which the clinics would never give the patients for their children, but most of the clothing was freshly laundered and in great condition, so Robbins said that she was fine with including those in the drive because baby clothing is often “passed down” anyway. Food items like formula were also donated, but unfortunately had to be discarded because Robbins said that the clinics can’t distribute food items that they haven’t purchased themselves because it’s too difficult to tell if the items have been tampered with.

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