Note to candidates: ST/PCV is off limits to door-knocking

Rick Hayduk (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

With the election coming in November, candidates for City Council as well as those canvassing for them should take note: Stuy Town is off limits.

Stuyvesant Town’s general manager Rick Hayduk said at a meeting this week held by the 13th Precinct Community Council that while door-knocking isn’t illegal in the city, it is against the “house rules” on the property.

His comment was in response to a complaint from a resident at the meeting who said door-knockers were roaming the complex before the primary election in September.

Hayduk agreed that “It was pretty rampant (during the primary).”

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Mayor: Bellevue South Park getting $3.5M for upgrades

Mayor Bill de Blasio with Councilmember Rosie Mendez at last week’s town hall meeting for residents of Gramercy, Kips Bay, the East Village and Lower East Side (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Long requested improvements to Bellevue South Park, including a dog run, will be getting made, thanks to an infusion of $3.5 million in funding announced by the mayor.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the allocation of cash during a town hall hosted by Councilmember Rosie Mendez last Thursday for her constituents in Gramercy, Kips, Bay, the East Village and the Lower East Side.

“This is a park that Councilmember Mendez has put resources into as well as the borough president and Councilmember Garodnick,” the mayor said. “We’ll be able to add a dog run, upgrade the plaza and add a large play area.”

Natalie Grybauskas, a representative for the mayor’s office, added that the renovations also include upgrades to the basketball court, but could not provide specifics on the exact scope of the project, including where in the park the dog run will be located.

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Hoylman pushes anti-Weinstein behavior bill

State Senator Brad Hoylman (Photo courtesy of Brad Hoylman)

By Sabina Mollot

As a red carpet-length list of accusers continues to speak out against alleged serial sexual predator Harvey Weinstein — State Senator Brad Hoylman is pushing a bill aiming to end the silencing of victims.

Hoylman, who’s authored the bill along with Queens Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, said it would forbid companies from forcing employees to waive their right to file claims of harassment or discrimination. It would also keep those companies from forcing those employees to keep quiet about such behavior. The prohibition also applies to companies when employing independent contractors.

“These non-disclosure agreements are preventing employees from speaking out so you have a vicious cycle that’s being perpetrated,” he said. “Multiple employees (of Weinstein Company) as we’ve seen, are all silenced.”

If a company were to tell an employee they still had to sign such an agreement, under the legislation, “it’s unenforceable,” said Hoylman. “A court would consider that portion null and void.”

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Solar One replacement building breaks ground

City Council Dan Garodnick, Solar One Executive Director Chris Collins and Manhattan Borough Preident Gale Brewer hold hard hats at a ceremony for Solar 2 on Tuesday. (Brewer’s forehead bandage was due to a recent car collision, though she said it looked worse than it was.) (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

After 10 years of planning, environmental non-profit Solar One announced a timeline for the construction of the new, replacement educational center known as Solar 2 on Tuesday, ideally to be completed by the end of next year.

Dina Elkan, communications director for Solar One, said that the incentive to finish within that time frame is partially because city budget is fixed so the funding from elected officials needs to be used by then. One of the challenges will be the overlapping East Side Coastal Resiliency project but Elkan said that since it’s the same architectural firm working on both, the two projects will be coordinating throughout the process.

At a ceremonial groundbreaking on Tuesday, Solar One also acknowledged outgoing Councilmember Dan Garodnick’s commitment to the project from the beginning of his tenure at City Hall.

“When he was elected 12 years ago, he came here with his campaign manager and asked how he could help,” Solar One Executive Director Chris Collins said. “His vision and willingness to examine thorny problems makes him unique to the community.”

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Female pickpockets pummel victim for asking for her wallet back

Police are on the lookout for a trio of pickpockets who gang-assaulted their victim when she realized her wallet was gone.

On Saturday evening at 6:45 p.m., police said the victim, a 19-year-old woman, was at the L train platform at the Union Square subway station when she was approached by the three suspects, who managed to swipe the victim’s wallet when boarding the train. The victim then confronted them, and asked for her wallet back. But instead of handing it over, as the train came to stop at 8th Avenue and 14th Street, the suspects punched and hit the victim on her face and body, then fled.

The victim was taken to Healthplex Medical Center for her injuries, which police did not specify.

The suspects are described as being black and 17 to 19 years old.

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UPDATED: Con Ed recommends putting wells in ST/PCV to recover contaminants from former gas plant

Mar13 Con Ed

The gas works and storage tanks of Con Ed’s predecessor company in 1890. (Photo courtesy of Con Ed)

UPDATE: Con Ed has changed the date and venue of the upcoming meeting. It will be on Wednesday, November 1 at 7 p.m. at Mount Sinai Beth Israel’s Podell Auditorium in the Bernstein Building, 10 Perlman Place, one block west of First Avenue between 15th and 16th Streets, according to an email sent to neighbors from the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association.

By Sabina Mollot

As most people who live in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village know, the property is the site of the former Gashouse District, named for the Manufactured Gas Plant (MGP) stations and facilities run by Con Ed and its predecessor companies.

In recent years, the utility has been conducting an investigation in and around ST/PCV, looking for contaminants in the ground, groundwater and air. The investigation is being coordinated with the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the State Department of Health.

According to the study’s findings from investigations in 2006 and 2008, contaminants were found, but located deep in the ground (at least five feet) with most even lower, and in groundwater beneath the site, though that water is not used for drinking. MGP residential levels tested in the air indoors were found to be typical. Outdoor air samples collected were also found to be normal for an urban area. Because of this, Con Ed said in an advisory this week that it’s unlikely people will come into contact with these contaminants, though air monitoring will continue.

Still, the company is now proposing a “remediation” (cleanup) plan for the site that involves, among other things, the placement of wells.

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Police Watch: Arrests for public lewdness, backpack thefts

MAN BUSTED FOR MASTURBATING, TRESPASSING IN FIRE STATION
Police arrested 49-year-old Kevin Townsend for public lewdness and criminal trespass inside 234 East 29th Street last Wednesday at 11:42 a.m. A witness told police that Townsend was masturbating in public view. Police said that Townsend also followed firefighters while yelling at them and allegedly followed them into a firehouse. Police said that he was told multiple times to leave but he reportedly refused. Firefighters told police that he became irate and they held him down until police responded.
Townsend was previously convicted for public lewdness this past April in Grand Central.

MAN ARRESTED FOR BACKPACK THEFTS AT RESTAURANTS IN FLATIRON, GRAMERCY
Police arrested 54-year-old John Solomon last Tuesday morning for allegedly swiping bags at a coffee bar and restaurants in Flatiron and Gramercy.
Police said on September 18, Solomon took a victim’s backpack from inside Gregory’s Coffee at 327 Park Avenue South at 3 p.m. while it was on the floor next to him. Surveillance video shows Solomon allegedly removing the bag while the victim was distracted and then leaving the location.
Solomon was also charged with theft for allegedly stealing a laptop and another backpack. Police said that he stole a laptop from the counter inside New York Kimchi at 160 East 23rd Street at 8:50 a.m. without permission and video surveillance shows him allegedly going behind the counter and taking the laptop. Around 9 a.m. the same day, Solomon allegedly stole a victim’s backpack from the floor inside the Outback Steakhouse at 60 West 23rd Street. Police said that the victim was distracted and Solomon picked it up before walking out of the location.
Police said that Solomon was also spotted stealing a bag outside 2 Broadway and a restaurant at 225 Liberty Street in the Financial District earlier this month.

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Local pols shoot to kill weaker gun restrictions

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney is fighting for proposed legislation. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

In response to the deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas, local elected officials joined Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance in trying to push tighter federal gun restrictions.

“Congress’s first priority should be to keep people safe, but when it comes to gun violence we are failing miserably,” said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, while at a press conference on Saturday near Union Square Park’s Gandhi statue.

She added, “We need to pass common sense, effective reforms like universal background checks, an assault weapons ban and stricter gun trafficking laws. These will help save lives, while at the same time respect the Second Amendment.”

The House was scheduled to consider legislation that would reduce current restrictions on buying silencers last week but postponed bringing it up because of the massacre the previous weekend.

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Hoylman: Restaurants are taking the heat for delayed gas service

Frank’s Trattoria went without gas for eight weeks earlier this year following a gas leak at a nearby building. It is still in business, though others that have gone through lengthy periods without gas were less fortunate. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Earlier this year, Frank’s Trattoria, a pizzeria and restaurant across from Peter Cooper Village, went eight weeks without gas to cook with following a gas leak at a neighboring building. The roughly two months spent without gas was due to delays in getting inspections from Con Ed as well as getting all the necessary paperwork from Department of Buildings. The owners at the time told Town & Village they were trying to stay afloat by cooking what menu items they could using electric stoves they purchased. However, they still lost a lot of business since they couldn’t make pizza that way and because the portable stoves took longer to cook with, some customers would choose not to wait.

The owners told us they didn’t even know how much they lost, but it’s possible the amount was $140,000.

Apparently, this is the average loss to Manhattan businesses that had the same problem in recent years, who also had an average wait of 68 days for the gas to go back on. Those figures are the result of a study conducted by the office of state Senator Brad Hoylman, with owners of businesses being interviewed through a survey.

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Man arrested for arson at Bellevue

Bellevue Hospital Center (Photo courtesy of HHC)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A 24-year-old man was arrested after allegedly setting fires inside Bellevue Hospital.

Police said that a security guard saw Jason Peterson-Ridge on video surveillance starting multiple fires on three different floors shortly after he was discharged as a patient at the hospital on September 24 at 10 p.m.

According to the Manhattan district attorney’s office, Peterson-Ridge approached a hand sanitizer stand inside the hospital and filled the catching tray with hand sanitizer, then lit the vapors, causing them to ignite and start a fire.

The FDNY said that the fire caused the dispenser to melt, resulting in damage to the floor and additionally caused charring to the wall and smoke damage to the wall and ceiling.

Police said that he fled to his apartment nearby, where he was arrested a few hours later at 1:46 a.m.

Peterson-Ridge’s attorney could not be reached for comment.

 

Blessing of the Animals

(Photo by Joseph Torre)

Over the past two weekends, a number of local churches have held “Blessing of the Animals” ceremonies, in which parishioners are invited to bring their pets for just that purpose. The events are timed to celebrate the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals. This past Saturday, at Church of the Epiphany’s ceremony, Father Austin Titus led the ceremony for local pooches and a guinea pig (pictured above). Another ceremony was held on the West Side at the Church of St. Francis Xavier (pictured below). Guests included a turtle, a service dog (shown in jacket) and quite a few other dogs.

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Skunk visits Stuy Town, later relocated upstate

Anne Lazarus saw this skunk while out bird watching. (Photo by Anne Lazarus)

By Sabina Mollot

On Friday morning, a resident of Stuyvesant Town who was out bird watching saw a form of wildlife she’d never encountered before — a skunk – by the Oval.

The resident, Anne Lazarus, said at first she thought she was looking at a large cat — possibly around two feet long including its tail – but then realized what it was as it lumbered along the walkway. Therefore, she knew not to get too close.

Upon noticing Lazarus, she said, “It raised its tail and I backed off quickly.” She then contacted a public safety and an officer who’s previously rescued animals, Patrolman Morales, responded. Armed with a bag at the end of a pole he managed to get the black and white critter inside a large container. Unfortunately, this wasn’t without getting sprayed first.

UPDATE: Later, he told us: “Thank goodness I live alone because whoever I was with would have left, I smelled so bad.”

Lazarus had left the scene by that point but later heard from Morales that he’d brought the skunk to an appropriate area in upstate Kingston and released it there.

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Teen worker tells would-be robber to get out of ST Dunkin’ Donuts

Tanzina Haque refused demands for cash from a man believed by cops to have robbed or tried to rob five businesses in Manhattan and Brooklyn. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Police are looking for a senior citizen who’s had had limited success in a series of robberies, most recently at the Dunkin’ Donuts in Stuyvesant Town.

In that incident, which occurred on Friday, September 8, the man, who’s believed to be 65-70 years old, pulled out a kitchen knife and demanded money from an 18-year-old staffer. However, according to the employee who was reached on the phone this week, Tanzina Haque, the robber didn’t get it.

According to Haque, the interaction started normally with the man asking about prices of the things he wanted, like a doughnut. But then he took out his knife. At first, Haque said she didn’t notice it, so he made a point of telling her he had one while saying, “Give me the money.” However, she refused. The robber asked again, and Haque told him to leave. When he still kept asking, Haque said she got louder, again telling him to leave.

“I said, ‘I’m going to call the cops.’” Finally, the man gave up and left empty-handed.

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Art in Odd Places returns

Performer Lulu Lolo will bless immigrants as Mother Cabrini in this year’s festival, which has more performance art installations than visual ones. (Photos courtesy of AiOP)

By Sabina Mollot

Art in Odd Places, the annual outdoor array of performance and visual art that takes over the length of 14th Street for several days, is back. This year, the festival is running from Thursday, October 12 to Sunday, October 15 with a reception on Friday, October 13 from 6-8 p.m., also outdoors, on 14th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues.

This is the festival’s 14th year and it’s now been on 14th Street for a decade with the location having been chosen because of its site as a crossroads to a few different neighborhoods.

In keeping with tradition, each year’s festival has a theme and this year’s is “sense,” which a press release explains is supposed to “welcome gestures that aim to awaken dormant perceptions.”

The festival’s 60-plus artists have chosen to interpret it in many different ways, according to one of AiOP’s three curators, Nicolás Dumit Estévez Raful.

“Ways that are sometimes literal, and in ways that are metaphorical,” he said.

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Suspect arrested in Kips Bay shooting

Straus Houses (Photo via Google Maps)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police arrested a man last week for a shooting that took place in front of the Straus Houses on East 28th Street at the end of September.

Andres Taveras, 22, allegedly shot a 17-year-old boy around 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 26 in the courtyard at 224 East 28th Street.

He was arrested when he turned himself in to an officer who was patrolling near the scene of the crime last Friday at 1:50 a.m.

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