Letters to the Editor, Feb. 28

Moms aren’t the only fans of ice rink

Re: “Stuy Town moms hope to see return of ice rink,” T&V, Feb. 21
It’s not only “moms” that would like to see the ice skating rink back next year. I am a single tenant, childless and no longer able to ice-skate myself due to MVA injuries sustained last decade. (I loaned my skates to neighbors that can.)
I received many hours of joy just watching the skaters, that represented four generations, and remembering my younger days on the ice (once a lake froze, in my day, it stayed frozen for months). It was wonderful to watch skaters, be they not-quite-three or pushing 93, improve week after week. I spotted some Olympic hopefuls (figure and speed categories) out there!
Margaret Anne “Peg” Donohue

No misadventures in maintenance here

Re: “They plumb forgot my sink repairs,” Letter, T&V, Feb. 21
Greetings! I am a tenant at Stuy Town for over a decade and not once did I have trouble with the maintenance department. Let alone a horror story as described by Name Withheld of PCV about plumbers that came and went with unfinished business.
I feel sorry for the tenant’s trouble, but I also would like to take the opportunity and thank the team at the maintenance department for always trying to help and accommodate us quick as possible. It worked for us.
R. Condon, ST

What fracking means for New York State

To the Editor,
Sadly, in regards to fracking, it seems like Governor Cuomo is becoming as dishonest as the gas industry. In pushing to open New York to fracking, a process we know will endanger our health and pollute our environment, the Governor appears to be sacrificing our health and safety for gas company profits.
Ample evidence shows that fracking has contaminated drinking water and polluted the environment. In Pennsylvania, we’ve seen families who – before fracking came to town – had enjoyed clean water for decades. Now that drilling has invaded their communities, their water is no longer safe to drink, cook with or shower in. The gas industry is trying to cover up these problems, and they continue to deny the damage fracking has done. It’s clear that they have been, and will continue to be, dishonest.
Now, Governor Cuomo appears to be doing the same. The Governor proposed rules for fracking before the state has even finished studying its impacts to public health and our environment. How could we possibly know what rules are needed before we know the damage fracking will do?
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like Governor Cuomo cares. It looks like he’s in such a hurry to rubber stamp fracking that he’s cheating his own process.
Fracking in New York could mean more than just the contamination of our drinking water. It would also mean the destruction of thousands of acres of family farms and forests. Some of our most beautiful rural and natural landscapes will be leveled as gas companies reap the benefits. Governor Cuomo – do the right thing. Ban fracking in New York.
Alexandra Tsubota
Intern with Environment New York

Op-Ed: The East River Blueway: A model for all five boroughs

By Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer and State Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh

Plans for the East River Blueway include a footbridge that would also serve as a seawall. (Rendering by  WXY Architecture + Urban Design)

Plans for the East River Blueway include a footbridge that would also serve as a seawall. (Rendering by WXY Architecture + Urban Design)

As New York City recovers from Hurricane Sandy, communities in all five boroughs are understandably focused on repairing waterfront neighborhoods that were hit by historic flooding. But we must also ensure that these recovery efforts protect our city against the next big storm and other threats to our coastal communities as the climate changes and sea levels rise.

That’s the philosophy and overriding goal of the recently unveiled East River Blueway Plan, which our offices began developing in 2010. We hoped to redesign an often forgotten stretch of our East Side waterfront, from the Brooklyn Bridge to East 38th Street. Our objective was to open up the long-neglected area, creating beachfront access, recreational activities, tree-lined walkways, and other amenities that would bring people closer to the water. But we also knew that we had to protect this low-lying area from storms and flooding.

When Hurricane Sandy hit, it confirmed our worst fears about the need to plan differently for the future. And it strengthened our resolve, because New York City cannot be a place where people’s lives and livelihoods are threatened by a storm, no matter how powerful. Now that the winds have died and the waters have receded, we must get down to the job of making our coastal communities more resilient, through better infrastructure and ecological features that provide natural protection from flooding.

Continue reading

Letters to the Editor, Feb. 21

Shout out for another small business

Re: Letter, “A standout pharmacy,” T&V, Feb. 7

I, too, would like to join in identifying a neighborhood store that has been in business for several years at 206 First Avenue.

New York City Pharmacy is a family-run neighborhood pharmacy, and I am lucky to have found Ali Yasin, the chief pharmacist, and his sons who work alongside him.

They are all friendly, pleasant and very helpful, and they treat everyone the same, whether you’re a new customer or a customer of many years. Ali, a patient man, is never too busy to answer my questions or concerns I might have and always responds with a caring demeanor and a smile. And there is Andrew, who has store duties in addition to making deliveries, and a helpful young lady who works as a cashier. The store carries many useful items and some items that are regularly on sale or at a discount. It’s always a pleasure to stop by the pharmacy, even just to say hello to Ali and the others.

Evelyn Morris, ST
Continue reading

East River Blueway plan calls for storm-protected, greener waterfront

ConEd after

A rendering depicts the East River waterfront after the addition of wetlands and trees.
Renderings courtesy of WXY Architecture + Urban Designs

By Sabina Mollot

Last Thursday, a plan was announced for the redevelopment of the East River waterfront from the Brooklyn Bridge to 38th Street, which would not only add a number of recreational water-related activities for area residents but also protect the East Side from a future Sandy-like disaster.

The plan, which has been in the works for over a year through a study conducted by Borough President Scott Stringer and Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, not to mention the input of dozens of agencies and community groups, has yet to be formally discussed in detail.

However, some of the major aspects of the project, which could cost “in the tens of millions,” said Stringer, have already been provided for, such as $3.5 million allocated by the borough president for the addition of wetlands, specifically salt marshes, to spots along the riverfront.

The man-made wetlands would be extended from the shoreline and serve a few purposes. One is to add drainage under the FDR Drive to prevent flooding like that experienced during Sandy in the event of another storm. Other functions of the wetlands would be to help improve the overall quality of the water in the river and to encourage pedestrian access to the water.

“With this blueprint what we’re doing is opening up the Lower East Side waterfront,” said Stringer, “to amenities and beaches.”

Slide 1

This is an image of the proposed Blueway footbridge and storm surge barrier, looking north toward Stuyvesant Town and Stuy Cove. In addition to providing greater pedestrian connectivity, the bridge would also serve as a flood barrier for the Con Ed steam plant.

The salt marshes would be placed along the areas from the Brooklyn Bridge to Rutgers Slip and Stuyvesant Cove to around East 14th Street. They would improve water quality by helping to absorb some of the combined sewer overflow, which has a habit of showing up in the river at certain points after heavy rainfalls. Renderings for the plan, created by W X Y architecture + urban design, also show a number of new trees lining the area of what’s being called the East River Blueway.

Other parts of the plan for the Blueway include transforming the roof of the Skyport Garage into a garden and recreational area with some sort of food service and opening a boat launch on a floating dock for kayaks and other man-powered boats by Stuyvesant Cove Park as well as a kayak launch by the Brooklyn Bridge.

According to Kavanagh, the boat launches would actually be one of the less expensive aspects of the plan though it’s already proved to be a popular one. Last August, a kayak launch was organized at Stuyvesant Cove Park that was a huge hit with area residents. The event didn’t happen randomly though.

boat launch

Man-powered boat launches would be part of the Blueway plan by the Brooklyn Bridge and Stuyvesant Cove Park.

“It was partially intended to be a demonstration of the demand for that kind of thing,” said Kavanagh, who was there participating. “It was great to see people lining up all day to get kayaks.”

The kayaks would be included in the floating dock feature.

The plan also calls for an elevated footbridge to be built at 14th Street and the FDR Drive by the Con Ed steam plant. This would eliminate what’s become known as the “choke point,” where the foot and bike path is at its narrowest — four feet and six inches. It will also serve as a water barrier that, as it turns out, Con Ed needs if there’s a storm surge in order to prevent blackouts in the area.

This would probably be one of the more expensive projects to execute, but also one of the most necessary, said Kavanagh, if just to relieve traffic at the choke point. “As we continue to encourage waterfront projects, you get more people into this street,” he said.

As for the proposal for the Blueway, Stringer said over 40 stakeholders have been consulted so far from Con Ed to various city and state departments to elected officials to tenant groups like the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village and Waterside Tenants Associations and the Murray Hill Neighborhood Association. The Lower East Side Ecology Center and Community Boards 3 and 6 have also been involved and are considered community partners. There will also, Stringer noted, be many more opportunities for the community to weigh in, including in a few weeks time when more details are rolled out. The borough president and comptroller hopeful, who announced the plan in his state of the borough address, added that he also thought of the Blueway as “a model for the whole East Side and the whole city.

“Some projects will happen sooner rather than later, but look at what we have changed on the West Side waterfront,” he said. “We should start to do that on the East Side. It’s not fancy stuff. It’s priority.”

Stringer added that he wasn’t too worried about securing the funds for the project, despite its hefty estimated price tag. Compared to the over $60 billion in Sandy aid that’s become available and the billions in infrastructure that would be protected, “It’s really pennies on the dollar,” he said.

Kavanagh agreed about the funding, noting that the plan was still just that, in the idea phase, for the longterm vision of the East Side waterfront.

“We’re not saying, ‘Build it tomorrow,” he said. “Our goal is to have a comprehensive plan that looks at ways the community would like to use the river and protects the ecology of the river.”

The Blueway follows another proposed huge project that envisions a greener waterfront, the East River Greenway plan. The Greenway project includes expanding the United Nations campus and building a promenade from 38th to 60th Streets.

Letters to the Editor, Feb. 14

Barriers blocked access on East 20th Street

To the Editor:

On the fifteenth of January when I went downstairs to find my car, parked in its usual place, the loading zone in front of 430 and 440 East 20th Street with my handicapped permit prominently displayed, it was all alone in the always full area and adorned with a notice giving the usual threats, towing etc. Large wooden blocks had been placed along with metal gates the whole length of the area from the parking garage to the corner Loop exit.

Since I am in my eighties and use a walker, having my car so available is extremely important for the conduct of my life. The barriers have forced me to park at some distance and to struggle along, sometimes with a shopping bag to get into my building.

Finally, since no sort of work is being visibly conducted I called the management office and was told that something or other will be done to my building at some future date. The supervisor I spoke to seemed rather confused about the project. I asked why they have taken the space two weeks ahead of the actual work, causing myself and other residents, some in wheelchairs, extraordinary problems. The five or six doctors’ offices in my building are surely receiving complaints from patients keeping their appointments while family members wait in cars. As for the delivery trucks, including the USPS one can easily imagine a lot of strong language in reaction to the loss of loading zone.

How long will this outrage go on until it gets worse?

H. Zwerling, ST

This letter was forwarded by T&V to a rep for management last Tuesday and the author said work began on 440 E. 20th later that day. CWCapital spokesperson Kara Krippen said the work was being done on the 20th Street Loop to stay in compliance with Local Law 11, which relates to facade inspections.

Continue reading

Storm advisory for residents from CompassRock

A bus gets stuck in the snow during the blizzard of December, 2010.Photo by Sabina Mollot

A bus gets stuck in the snow during the blizzard of December, 2010.
Photo by Sabina Mollot

The following notice was emailed by CompassRock to residents of Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village this morning regarding the impending storm.
STORM ADVISORY NOTICE     2.8.13

In anticipation of the potential storm which is expected to impact the New York City area, we have made extensive preparations. We have procured the necessary supplies, equipment, internal labor and third party contractors to minimize the impact of the storm to the best of our ability, and to deal with any subsequent effects from the storm, including preparations for expedient snow removal.

 We are asking all residents to take precautions and make necessary preparations. Due to the extreme weather over the last several months and the forecasted blizzard conditions, there is a higher risk of fallen branches and trees. Residents are advised to remain indoors for their own safety. All PCVST playgrounds will be closed until after the storm.

 

Please stay indoors and stock up on supplies in your apartment:

–          Water (bottled, jugs)

–          Non-perishable food

–          Battery-operated radio

–          Working flashlights and extra supply of batteries

–           Warm blankets

–          Please DO NOT RELY ON CANDLES. They may cause fire.

 

Additional precautions:

–          Check on emergency supply kit

–          Charge cell phone(s)

–          Check on friends and neighbors especially those who are elderly or have disabilities or special needs and require assistance with their preparation.

Snow blankets everything during the blizzard of 2010.Photo by Sabina Mollot

Snow blankets everything during the blizzard of 2010.
Photo by Sabina Mollot

 

For additional information call 311 or visit www.nyc.gov/oem and stay tuned to local radio and TV broadcasts for the latest information.

Call Public Safety at (212) 420-5000 if you require assistance or to report an emergency on property.

Call Resident Services at (212) 420-5000 to report a maintenance emergency and to receive property storm updates. Updates will also be posted on our website atwww.pcvst.com and www.facebook.com/pcvst

As you may know, Management has implemented an emergency phone notification system. To add or update your phone or email, please go to www.pcvst.com.

 

ST-PCV TA to file for Sandy rent reductions

By Sabina Mollot

Workers stand by generators used to dehumidify building basements in Peter Cooper in late November.

For the first time in the history of the complex, the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association is calling for a rent reduction due to a lack of basic services such as working elevators and laundry equipment in buildings that were hard-hit by Sandy.

On February 1, attorneys for the Tenants Association served ST/PCV General Manager Sean Sullivan and Andrew MacArthur of CWCapital with a notice that it would be filing a rent reduction claim before New York State’s Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) agency for a diminution of services under the Rent Stabilization Law.

Continue reading

Letters to the Editor, Feb. 7

Roberts settlement a win

As I listened to Alex Schmidt, plaintiffs lead attorney in the Roberts case, make his fine presentation to the ST/PCV (Tenants Association meeting) audience this past Saturday morning (Jan.  26) I was struck by the fact that the settlement negotiated between the parties was not only an eminently fair one, but a compelling one. For that reason I wish to share my professional judgment about this settlement with the other members of the class, of which I am one.

This is undoubtedly the largest landlord-tenant class action settlement in our country’s history, and it’s the only one of the several “J-51” class actions that has been resolved to date. Three cash components ($100,000,000 former market rate tenants have saved in since the Interim Settlement in December 2009;  $68,750,000 to be refunded for past overcharges between 2003 and 2009; and future rent savings over the next eight years that could rise to as much as $275,000,000) form the core of the settlement. It is a staggering accomplishment.

If the Roberts case had not been settled but was lost either at trial or by class de-certification, none of these benefits would have been achieved.  Moreover, the 4,300 apartments at issue would have been returned to market rate from which residents could be evicted any time their leases came up for renewal. The more than 22,000 affected individual tenants would be facing the nearly impossible task of hiring their own lawyers and filing actions to recover past overcharges and establish future rents.

It is critical that all class members understand that the Interim Rents of 2009, damages and Preferential formulas under this settlement are more favorable to tenants than what the formulas likely would have been absent the settlement and left to the courts for decision.

One reason for this is the landlords who unlawfully deregulated while in the J-51 program, argued that after the Court of Appeals ruling returning the apartments to rent stabilization they should be entitled to all credits and increases they would have been entitled to under the Rent Stabilization Laws had they not deregulated the apartments. The Roberts plaintiffs argued that the landlords should not be entitled to any of these credits because of their unlawful conduct. The settlement resolved this issue in a manner very favorable to the class, while the law in other related J-51 cases was evolving in a direction decidedly unfavorable to our class members.

While rents will go up for most tenants under this settlement by a few to several hundred dollars per month, that is a result of how the law has changed in the landlords’ favor rather than the settlement. If there had been no settlement, rents certainly would have gone up much more and climbed much faster during the next eight years.

This is a sensational result for the class as a whole under any standard, but clearly when considering the turn for the worse the law was taking. And since the vast majority of class members achieved some combination of rent savings, rent refunds and future rent savings, the settlement is very good for each of us individually, too.

John J. Sheehy, Esq.

The writer was the chair of a large litigation department of a major international law firm and member of the New York State Commission on judicial conduct. He is presently a director of the ST-PCV Tenants Association, but is writing in his private capacity. The TA, which was not a party to the action, has taken no position on the settlement.

Continue reading

Water main break on 23rd Street and Fifth Avenue (updated)

whirlpool

Flooding from the water main on the northeast corner of 23rd Street and Fifth Avenue
Photos by Sabina Mollot

By Sabina Mollot

A water main break on Friday morning before 11 a.m. sent rivers of water gushing throughout the street on Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street and inside the Q/N/R subway station, where trains stopped working.

Outside of Madison Square Park, on the east side, cars driving south found themselves having to get past a seven-foot-wide whirlpool. Naturally, tourists continued to stand around anyway to take pictures of the Flatiron Building, as firefighters responded to the scene.

The 36-inch water main was from 1915, according to William Podstupka, one of the MTA workers at the scene. An official agency spokesman couldn’t confirm the main’s age, though, explaining, “the MTA doesn’t own the water main.” Podstupka, however, said the main had caused 36,000 gallons of water to spurt out and that workers were just hoping to have the situation under control by Friday evening.

The break caused N and Q trains to stop running between 57th Street and Dekalb Avenue and R trains to stop running between Queens Plaza and Whitehall Street.

Update: As of 1:55 a.m. on Saturday, normal N, Q and R train service has resumed in Manhattan. According to an official NYC alert, straphangers should expect residual delays and traffic near East 23rd Street and Broadway.

Additionally, the Department of Environmental Protection was on the scene to address problems with water pressure in the area as a result of the break. If anyone still has low water pressure, Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who sent out an email alert via the Flatiron BID, said the DEP is tracking complaints via the 3-1-1 system.

Stroller

Passersby slosh through the water on the northwest corner of 23rd Street and Fifth Avenue.

23rd Street NW corner puddle

Flooding at around 11 a.m.

workers

Three hours later, workers remain at the scene.