Strand bookstore fighting landmarking attempt

Strand bookstore at 826-828 Broadway and 12th Street (Photo via Wikipedia)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Advocates for the Strand bookstore are protesting its proposed landmarking ahead of the last public hearing on the topic next Tuesday.

Nancy Bass Wyden, the owner of the Strand, came out against the proposed landmarking of her business at the end of last year, arguing at a previous public hearing before the Landmarks Preservation Commission that doing so would destroy the business.

Bass Wyden’s family, which has been operating the bookstore at 826-828 Broadway at 12th Street since 1927, has owned the building for the last 20 years. The store was originally opened by Benjamin Bass and the family has been operating the business for the last 90 years. The business relocated to its current spot on Broadway just south of Union Square Park in 1956 and Benjamin’s son, Fred, bought the building in 1996.

“We operate on thin margins,” Bass Wyden argued in a petition against the landmarking. “For every repair and every upgrade, the Strand would have to go through the slow bureaucracy of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which adds to the expenses to keep Strand alive.”

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Measles is a concern for New Yorkers, says NYU Langone doctor

By Sabina Mollot

Despite some pretty stringent rules about immunization in schools, measles has made its comeback. So far, cases have been reported in 10 states, including New York, where there have been over 200 reported cases, all in Orthodox Jewish enclaves upstate as well as in Brooklyn.

According to the New York City Health Department, there have been 67 cases of measles since last October, all in Brooklyn.

To keep the disease from spreading in the city, mandatory school exclusions are currently in effect for children attending yeshivas or yeshiva-based childcare centers in the neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Borough Park. This means the students must remain home from school while the outbreak is ongoing, including children who have religious exemptions or valid medical exemptions.

Meanwhile, upstate, Rockland County has seen 130 cases, Orange County 10 cases and Monroe County seven, according to the State Department of Health. In response to the outbreak there, Rockland County has excluded approximately 6,000 unvaccinated children at schools that are either located in close proximity to cases or that have vaccination rates below 95 percent.  State health officials have also met with local rabbinical leaders, parents and pediatricians on school exclusions and on getting children vaccinated.

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Letters to the editor, Feb. 14

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

The time-honored tradition of greed

The average rent in Stuy Town/Peter Cooper Village is now higher than the average rent in the rest of Manhattan. This is pretty worrisome trend. Far from being a middle-class bastion, it is now a high-rent complex.

Greedy landlords contributed. Metropolitan Life had enormous help from city to clear 80 acres in the Gas House District and evict over 13,000 working class people and their families from their homes. They said it was a slum clearance project — but there were three churches, three schools and countless mom and pop stores all there. The landlord was given enormous tax breaks.

When Mike Bloomberg was asked to intervene when Met Life said they wanted to cash in their chips in a $5.4 billion payday, Bloomberg adapted a laissez-faire attitude and said it was a “private transaction.” He deliberately turned a blind eye.

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East 14th Street man reported missing

Po Fung Eng

Police are looking for a resident of East 14th Street who was last seen on Tuesday at around 1:30 a.m.

Po Fung Eng, 55, who lives in a building east of Third Avenue, is described as Asian, 5’9″ tall and 130 pounds. He was last seen wearing a gray jacket and blue pants.

Anyone with information 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, on Twitter @NYPDTips or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

Neighbors say safety first with Bellevue South Park renovations

Bellevue South Park (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Community organizers and the Parks Department got closer to an agreement about renovations planned for Bellevue South Park in Kips Bay after a Community Board 6 Parks committee meeting last Tuesday. The meeting was scheduled because park advocates were unsatisfied with designs the city had presented to the committee last month.

Manhattan Borough Commissioner Chief of Staff Steven Simon, who expressed frustration at the last meeting when met with resistance about the plans, at first balked at the idea of coming back to the committee next month, saying that it was unusual for Parks to even come back to the community board a second time, but ultimately agreed that the architects could make additional adjustments to the design and return to the committee in March.

Kips Bay residents Aaron Humphrey, Karen Lee, Pauline Yablonski and Courtney Bird offered suggestions to the plans that the Parks Department presented to the committee in January, which includes an ADA-compliant dog run and updated play equipment that will also be moved away from the adult exercise equipment.

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Guest steals electronics from Peter Cooper Village resident

Theft suspect in Peter Cooper Village

By Sabina Mollot

Police are looking for a man who stole electronics from a Peter Cooper Village resident he went home with on Friday, February 8.

The victim told police he and the other man, who he met at a bar that evening, went to his apartment at 601 East 20th Street. After his guest left, at around 1:30 a.m., the resident realized various items were missing from the apartment, including an iPhone, driver’s license, two Microsoft Surface Pros, an Apple MacBook and a Playstation.

The suspect was seen on surveillance video. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).

Parents still hope to save St. Brigid School

St. Brigid families gathered after mass on Sunday to protest the closure of the East Village school and to strategize. (Photos by Sidney Goldberg)

By Sabina Mollot

Shell-shocked parents and students at St. Brigid, a parish-run Catholic school across from Tompkins Square Park, have been doing hail Marys in the hopes of getting the Archdiocese to rethink a decision made last week to shutter the school and four others in the city.

On Sunday, parents, local elected officials and children making homemade signs gathered for a brain storming session and protest after mass, and one parent and school volunteer, Amanda Daloisio, insisted, “We’re not going down without a fight.”

Daloisio, who lives a block away from the school, said parents, on top of being heartbroken are also furious about the way the announcement was handled.

Daloisio said the principal was the first to be told on a Friday but was instructed not to tell anyone. She did share the news with teachers at an emergency meeting the following Monday, but they too were told to stay silent. Parents were then given notices in their children’s backpacks although curiously some students were told about it by the principal before their parents. Parents received an alert on their phones to be on the lookout for the letter.

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‘Landmarks Lion’ Jack Taylor dies

June21 SPNA Jack Taylor and Rosalee Isaly

Jack Taylor with Rosalee Isaly, then-president of the Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association, who presented him with an award for his preservation work in the neighborhood last year (also now deceased) (Photo by Andrew Garn)

By Sabina Mollot

Jack Taylor, a historic preservationist and resident of East 18th Street in Gramercy, died last Thursday, February 7, in his sleep. He was 94, and had suffered some health problems, including with his leg in recent months, making it hard for him to get around.
For decades Taylor was known for his efforts to save buildings slated for the wrecking ball in the Gramercy, Stuyvesant Square and Union Square neighborhoods and to get them landmarked.

He was involved in numerous civic groups, including the Gramercy Park Block Association, the Union Square Community Coalition, the Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association and the Historic Districts Council.

He’d been retired since the 1980s, when he served as managing editor for Family Circle for several years. After retiring, he still did some freelance editing work.
His legacy of preservation began when he was inspired by the loss of Luchow’s restaurant, according to a transcript of a 2004 forum he participated in held by the New York Preservation Archive Project. The place was over a century old when Taylor learned it was at risk and got involved with an informal group aimed at saving it, headed by the USCC. The “born and bred” Manhattanite noted he had been born in Greenwich Village, not far from Luchow’s.

“Was it an architectural landmark? Was it a cultural landmark? Just what was it?” Taylor had mused at the forum. “It didn’t matter to me then, because I didn’t know the ropes very much. But it just seemed to be something that the city of New York would be the worse without. Regardless of the food, which had plummeted in the meantime. It was the philosophy of the thing.”

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Police Watch: Man arrested for phone theft, ACS teen nabbed for beatdown

MAN CHARGED WITH PHONE THEFT AFTER BEING CHASED DOWN BY VICTIM
Police arrested 43-year-old Maitreya One for an alleged theft from the Fat Buddha bar at 212 Avenue A between 13th and 14th Streets on Saturday, February 9 at 11:44 p.m. The victim told police that she put her phone on a table in the bar and turned her back to it, and when she turned back around, the phone was missing. She said that she used the Find My iPhone app and it pinged at the McDonald’s at 404 East 14th Street. She said that she pinged her phone again while walking around nearby and heard it coming from an unknown man. She said that she confronted the man and asked for the phone back, which he refused. The victim said that she called 911 and followed the man to East 17th Street and Second Avenue, where he was arrested. When the suspect was taken into custody, the victim’s phone was recovered from his front right jacket pocket. One was arrested at the corner of Second Avenue and East 17th Street on Sunday, February 10 at 12:52 a.m. and was charged with petit larceny and possession of stolen property.

ACS TEEN NABBED FOR BEATDOWN OF ANOTHER TEEN
Police arrested a teenager for an alleged assault that took place in front of 130 East 29th Street on November 20, 2018, at 10:30 p.m. The victim told police that the suspect punched him numerous times in the face, causing swelling and bruising to both cheeks and his right eye. Police said that the suspect and the victim know each other because they both live in the Administration for Children’s Services facility at 492 First Avenue. The teen was arrested on Friday, February 8 at 2 a.m. inside the 13th precinct.

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Opinion: Mark-Viverito blocked SBJSA

By Sung Soo Kim, founder, Small Business Congress

Normally, the small business advocates would call upon all New Yorkers to put aside the canned election political rhetoric and instead scrutinize the records, qualifications, public statements and past actions of the candidates. There is no time for this proper analysis, but one candidate’s shameful record on dealing with the small business crisis and being influenced by a lobby must be exposed to the voters, especially in the immigrant community.

We carefully reviewed public advocate candidate Melissa Mark-Viverito’s (MMV) record and actions as speaker on addressing the specific crisis of the closings of long established small businesses. Also examined were her actions to address the anti-democratic rigging by a lobby taking place in the speaker’s office for over four years.

Nobody is more qualified to make this assessment than the small business advocates who have been fighting for justice for decades. The small businesses themselves wrote the original legislation (Small Business Jobs Survival Act, Jobs Survival Act ) giving rights to businesses to survive when their leases expired and then advocated for over 30 years to get it passed.

We know from firsthand experience who is a true progressive and friend of small business and who has been bought off to stop our bill and deny rights to small business owners.  We know when we receive justice and fair treatment at City Hall and when justice is denied by a rigged system. Our warning to voters to not vote for MMV is based solely upon the true record of MMV as speaker on our crisis.

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Opinion: Shutdowns and showdowns

By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders

The federal government shutdown is over, at least for now. This lull before the next budget deadline is a good time to reflect on recent events. Does the president really have an appetite for putting 800,000 federal workers through that financial trauma again? Does he really want to again halt essential functions rendered by FBI agents and air traffic controllers, persons running national parks or those dispensing critical human services to the needy?

Some years ago, when budget delays were common in New York State for lack of an agreement between the legislature and the governor, the state at that time enacted a policy whereby legislators would not be paid until the budget was passed. This was done both in the hopes of spurring agreements as well as punishment for negligent and tardy behavior. So here is an idea:

Come February 15, if there is no budget in place in Washington D.C. and hostages need to be taken, have the members of the executive branch of government, including the president, vice president, the cabinet and their staffs go without their pay until the issues are resolved. And do the same with all members of Congress and their staffs. Whether elected officials are paid bi-weekly, bi-monthly, or once a year, it is legal.

Rumor has it that there is legislation to do just that which is actually being proposed in the House of Representatives. Good. Let them put their money where their mouth is.

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USPS fights back against ‘fishers’ with new mailboxes

Two of the new mailboxes at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street are considered higher security due to a slit for inserting mail rather than a pull-out handle. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Mailbox fishing, a type of theft aimed at stealing checks that can later be altered, has just gotten harder.

This is because the United States Postal Services is currently in the process of replacing 5,000 mail collection boxes throughout the city with higher-security models. Xavier Hernandez, a spokesperson for the USPS, said the project is being done in coordination with law enforcement agencies.

The main difference between the old boxes and new is that there is no longer a pull-down handle, but a narrow slot where letters can be inserted and dropped. Areas throughout the five boroughs that are considered “high needs” because they have been popular targets for theft, have been getting their mailboxes replaced first.

The USPS can usually tell when their collection boxes have been tampered with, because they are scratched up or have glue inside or in some cases, evidence of someone having tried to pry off the fronts. Hernandez declined to share which neighborhoods were considered high-need, explaining that thieves have managed to exploit that information. Tips on suspected theft have come from the NYPD, postal employees and customers who call if they believe they’ve had a check stolen.

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Man charged with package theft in Stuyvesant Town

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police caught a man last week believed to be responsible for an alleged package theft in Stuyvesant Town that took place last January.

Carl Cadell, 29, was allegedly seen inside 445 East 14th Street by StuyTown Public Safety on January 5, 2018 around 3 p.m. Police said that Cadell was on the 12th floor of the building with a package that didn’t belong to him. The package was allegedly addressed to a resident in 449 East 14th Street. According to the district attorney’s office, Cadell could be seen on surveillance video entering that building and removing the package before he went inside 445 East 14th Street.

StuyTown Property Services general manager Rick Hayduk said that video showed Cadell “piggybacking” into both buildings.

According to Hayduk, public safety approached Cadell because he was acting suspiciously inside 445 East 14th Street, and police said that he shoved the officer against the wall before fleeing on foot.

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Burglar steals from apartment on East 18th Street

By Sabina Mollot

Police are looking for a burglar who stole $4,500 in cash and electronics from an apartment on East 18th Street on Wednesday, February 6.

Feb14 burglary suspect b

Burglary suspect

It was around noon when police said the man managed to get in by forcing his way into the apartment’s door.

This is the second time an apartment has been burglarized on this street in recent weeks, although based on surveillance images, this is a different suspect.

On Wednesday, January 23 at approximately 6:30 a.m. in the vicinity of East 18th Street and 2nd Avenue, another man got into an apartment via a fire escape. He started to help himself to items from an entertainment center before two residents walked in on him and he fled, this time through the door.

Anyone with information on either incident is asked to call 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).

At Epstein town hall, concerns abound on bikes, voting rights

Rachel Bloom from Citizens United Foundation (right) on voting rights at the town hall

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Assembly Member Harvey Epstein hosted a town hall at the New York University Dental School on East 24th Street last Thursday, attended by more than 100 people braving last week’s arctic deep freeze.

Instead of a single-room free-for-all, the event was broken up into two separate hour-long panels with three different topics that residents could learn more about during each panel. Epstein said that the approach intended to give attendees one-on-one time with experts on a number of different topics, which included voting rights, education and legalization of marijuana during the first panel and transportation, housing and disability rights during the second.

Alex Camarda from Reinvent Albany and Rachel Bloom from Citizens Union Foundation discussed voting rights and good government during the first panel, answering questions about legislative issues such as closing the LLC Loophole, in addition to addressing difficulties that residents had while voting in the last election.

“I’ve lived in Stuyvesant Town for many years and I had so much trouble voting in the last election,” Adrienne Cosner said. “There’s been a lot of irregularity.”

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