Area residents protest planned closure of post office

Residents of Stuyvesant Town and the East Village as well as postal employees and union reps packed a meeting on the planned closure of the Peter Stuyvesant Post Office on Monday. Photo by Sabina Mollot

Residents of Stuyvesant Town and the East Village as well as postal employees and union reps packed a meeting on the planned closure of the Peter Stuyvesant Post Office on Monday.
Photos by Sabina Mollot

By Sabina Mollot
For the past few weeks, Stuyvesant Town residents as well as those who live on the south side of 14th Street have been swapping stories about what is likely to become of the Peter Stuyvesant Post Office once its lease expires next year, with condo towers and NYU dorms topping the list of possibilities.
And on Monday, around 100 people, mostly seniors who live nearby as well as around half a dozen postal employees, aired their concerns and fears at a town hall meeting held at the Campos Plaza Community Center.
At the meeting, which was hosted by Community Boards 3 and 6 and Council Members Rosie Mendez and Dan Garodnick, a handful of reps from the United States Postal Service also showed up. Among them were Joseph Mulvey, who handles “facilities implementation,” some regional reps and the manager of the Peter Stuyvesant station. However, Mulvey was the only one who addressed the crowd to speak or to answer questions.
Ignoring some heckling, Mulvey told the audience that the USPS already had a possible replacement location for the post office, 333 East 14th Street. That address was last occupied by a Duane Reade store that is now around the corner on First Avenue. It is also significantly smaller than the current post office, which is consistent with what the USPS has said it is aiming to do agency-wide, which is downsize certain existing stations. For the new station, the USPS is looking for a retail space that’s 5,000-6,000 square feet.
Mulvey said the new space would be used for customer services only while mail sorting and the location’s mail carriers would be rerouted to the Madison Square Post Office on East 23rd Street off of Lexington Avenue. The new location would not have as many mailboxes as the current one, but according to Mulvey, they wouldn’t be needed since at Peter Stuyvesant, only three fourths of the boxes are rented out.
Customers of the post office seemed to disagree though and, while balancing on canes for support in numerous cases, said they didn’t understand why the USPS was closing such a busy station, one with lines that frequently spill out the door. Their arguments were echoed by postal workers from Peter Stuyvesant as well as other post offices who blasted the USPS for not keeping employees in the loop about their plans and also for treating the proposed move as if it were a done deal.
While the USPS’s lease is set to expire in February, 2014, the employees called out the agency’s administration for choosing to leave.
Though the USPS has said the decision to leave came after it tried and failed to reach an agreement with the owner, a rep for Benenson Capital Partners, which represents the owner, told the employees — and Town & Village recently — that leaving was the USPS’s idea because it wanted less space. A few employees, including a couple of reps for the union that represents postal employees, even accused the agency of methodically closing and consolidating stations in an effort to fail and eventually go private.

Jonathan Smith the postal employees union president

Jonathan Smith, the postal employees union president

“When you say the lease wasn’t renewed, that’s a lie,” said Jonathan Smith, the president of the New York Metro Area Postal Union. “It’s about big money.”
He noted how the USPS was also in the process of trying to close a post office in Chelsea and other one near the Triboro Bridge. Unlike Peter Stuyvesant, those two are owned by the USPS. “The other buildings you own,” said Smith. “How could a facility be cheaper than (when you are) owning it?”
Though Mulvey didn’t respond to the accusation about privatization at the meeting, a USPS regional spokesperson who was present at the event later denied this.
“That could not be further from the truth,” said Congetta Chirichello. “The postal service is committed to keeping alive the mission of providing universal service to the American people into the future and keeping the postal service viable for generations to come.”
At the Campos Plaza Community Center, the USPS distributed flyers and requested the public’s input on the plan, including what services they’d like to see at the new station. However, the running theme in the comments made at the microphone seemed to be: Just keep it where it is.
“This is going to create a real hardship for the seniors,” said Mendez, shortly before the meeting began.
Garodnick added that he wanted to be certain that before the post office closes, a new one would be already open and ready to serve customers.
“The services must have continuity,” he said.

USPS reps Joseph Mulvey and Congetta Chirichello

USPS reps Joseph Mulvey and Congetta Chirichello

Mulvey meanwhile, whose job it is to speak to the public about planned “facility actions” in the New York/New Jersey area, said suggestions were encouraged and “welcome.”
Still, he warned, the post office is “obligated to quit and surrender the premises” when the lease is up. It was this February, he said, when the process began of browsing around for a new location and alerting local elected officials about the planned closure.
“I stressed to them the urgency that we get moving because moving a post office is not an easy task,” said Mulvey. “In the meantime, we have kept our finger on the pulse of the market.”
In the event the 333 East 14th address between First and Second Avenues doesn’t work out, Mulvey said there are other spaces on 14th Street within one tenth of a mile of the Peter Stuyvesant station that the USPS is eyeing as well.
Though it didn’t deter anyone, those who soon got up to speak at the podium had to do so over the rattling and banging sounds coming from the community center’s HVAC system.
One woman, Diane Greenberg, who lives in a building on East 13th Street, said her husband is 91 and, “He certainly can’t go to any other facility,” and that as a patient at Memorial Sloan Kettering, she “certainly can’t” either.
A few other neighborhood residents said they wondered if the post office on East 14th Street between First Avenue and Avenue A was being targeted instead of another station on East 11th Street and Fourth Avenue, because there were more low income tenants and fewer market rent paying ones in Stuyvesant Town and nearby NYCHA developments.
Stuyvesant Town resident Audrey Levine, who’s blind, said she relies on the post office for pickups and

Stuyvesant Town resident Audrey Levine

Stuyvesant Town resident Audrey Levine

dropoffs of books in Braille, which, she noted “are kind of heavy,” as well as a mailbox she checks regularly for a music-related nonprofit she runs.
“When I get out of the train and First and 14th, I first go to the post office,” she said. “So to find another building is going to be a pain for me.”
Another Stuy Town resident, Beverly Abisogun, said the station “needs to be expanded,” not relocated. “Anybody who uses it regularly knows that.”
She also said she agreed with statements postal employees had made, blaming the USPS’s financial hardships not on a decline in mail, as the agency’s claimed, but a law that was passed in 2006. The law forces the USPS to fund its employee pensions 75 years into the future, costing it $5.5 billion a year.
“The problem started with what Congress did,” said Abisogun. “We need to find a new strategy because it’s like musical chairs and more and more of the chairs are being removed.”
Another critic of the plan was Diane Jackson, a retired postal employee who’d worked at the Peter Stuyvesant post office for 23 years.
“It needs to remain exactly where it is,” she said.
She went on to say that a statement previously made by the USPS, which is that it would find an alternative location somewhere in the 10009 zip code, didn’t take into an account that many customers at Peter Stuyvesant come from other zip codes as well as 10009 such as 10002 (the Lower East Side) and 10010 (Peter Cooper Village).
“Do you think the people in Stuyvesant Town and next to it in Peter Cooper Village go to Madison Square? No, they go to Peter Stuyvesant,” she said.
A Stuyvesant Town resident named David Cook made a similar point when he questioned the USPS reps.
“Do you bureaucrats realize a move to 23rd Street is much more burdensome for people who walk than for people who drive?” he asked. “It might not be such a big deal in Podunk, but here it’s a big deal.”
A couple of union reps acknowledged complaints about the post office, including those made at the meeting about long lines and lost parcels, by predicting problems would only get worse with the move.
But according to one resident of Campos Plaza, they already have. Though she didn’t speak at the meeting since she didn’t know she had to sign up first, Campos Plaza Tenants Association President DeReese Huff later said she’s seen a sharp decline in postal services over the past couple of weeks and is wondering if the post office’s employees are making a statement. In one case, a woman in the complex got another woman’s hearing aid in the mail, even though they live in different buildings. While she said she shared the employees’ frustrations, “They’re taking it out on the wrong people.”
The meeting was also attended by Council Member Jessica Lappin, who’s running for borough president and is chair of the Council’s Aging Committee. Reps for State Senator Brad Hoylman, Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney were also there.
Maloney, who wasn’t at the meeting, told T&V that she was against the law that forces the USPS to fund its pension plans so far into the future. She also said she’d asked the USPS if she could see the financials on the Peter Stuyvesant station, but was refused.
“I know it’s making money, and if it’s making money, why close it?” she said. “In (this) neighborhood, around Stuyvesant Town, there’s no guarantee putting it in another location is going to save money.”
Maloney and several other local elected officials sent a letter on Friday to Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe requesting a meeting.
Following the town hall, when asked if all the testimony from customers and employees would impact the USPS’s decision to relocate, Chirichello said the public comments would be reviewed before any decision is made.
On the issue of Peter Stuyvesant station being a busy and likely a profitable station, Chirichello said, “Retail business is good. However, moving to a smaller space so we do not have to maintain the excess space is a good business decision as well. And in the case of Peter Stuy, one potential relocation site is around the corner from the present post office. If we did move forward, the new state of the art post office will continue to provide the same services as now by the same friendly employees customers have come to know by name.”
She also responded to a question from T&V asking about one rumor swirling around which is that the USPS had an option to buy the Peter Stuyvesant station.
“As of late, buying the building which has more space than is needed for retail and post office box operations space to accommodate customers needs would not help the postal service regain financial stability. The financial crisis the postal service is faced with is dire. We are reviewing every opportunity to close the gaps in order to save money.”
Public comments are being accepted through May 7. Written testimony that’s submitted must reference the post office by name or location, the USPS said, and be sent to Joseph J. Mulvey, Facilities Implementation, U.S. Postal Service, 2 Congress Street, Room 8, Milford, MA, 01757-9998.

Letters to the Editor, Apr. 25

Never mind the dogs, control the owners

The following letter was sent by a resident of Stuyvesant Town to David Woodward, president of Compassrock Real Estate, LLC. (The letter has been edited for length and the author’s name has been withheld upon request.)

My father was one of the GIs who came to live here right after WWII. I was born here and have lived here on two more occasions, most recently for the last 29 years. Both of my daughters were born here and I raised my second daughter here and she will be 24 in August.

My daily exercise routine, every morning for the last 29 years has included a power/speed walk around the Oval.  However at one point I had to move my workout to the East River due to being suddenly and viciously attacked by an over the weight limit, dangerous dog. The dog is large and is mostly white with black patches on its head and back. This dog had previously lunged at me about five times and the owner refuses to properly control the dog as people pass by. I changed my route after asking the owner to properly control the dog to no avail.

I am lucky that I have my eyesight as the dog came from behind the low wall by the Oval Study and reared up on its hind legs, like a bear, and went for my eyes. I was fortunate to have good reflexes and blocked the paws with my wrist weights but the dog proceeded to carve into my chest and down my right thigh, causing me to bleed. As an “unruly puller,” I have seen this dog lunge at children and small dogs and the owner is not strong enough to keep control as the dog walks her.

Since then I have had the misfortune of the dog and owner come past my apartment building when I was starting out on my workout a week ago. The dog tried to attack my left arm and again I pulled it away just in time. I could not believe this same dog is still walking the premises despite the fact that I have notified security every single time the dog goes after me. The owner resides at 430 East 20th Street.   4.7 million Americans are bitten or cut or attacked by dogs every year. 15 to 20 people die each year, 30,000 have surgery. When a dog has dangerous propensities, the owner is liable but the landlord can be held negligent. One security officer suggested that the dog has a blood lust for me.

My added concern is that after the dog cut my chest and thigh, months later I was rushed to NYU’s ER as I developed a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in my thigh and leg and was treated with a blood thinner so that I didn’t throw a clot to my lungs or brain. I have to take this medication every day.  This is the same condition Hillary Clinton just had in recent months. The concern is not that I am afraid of the dog; it’s that this dog or any other aggressive over weight (was 80 lbs., now is a 50 lb. restriction) dog will scratch/cut/lacerate any part of my body and I could bleed to death or if it knocks me down and I hit my head, a blot clot could form in my brain.  I am also concerned that when my blood relatives, like my two daughters and grandson might also be attacked by this dog if blood lust in animals actually exists in dogs.

My suggestion is that all dog owners should be required to demonstrate that their dog is not over the weight limit and use short three foot training leashes. Ban the use of extension leashes, which will be against the rules when a dog enters the Oval or any path leading to the Oval; when walking two or more dogs, they all need to be to one side of the dog walker, not off in opposite directions, taking up the entire width of the path. Any dog that lunges should be banned from any path leading to the Oval.

Another suggestion:  Ban dogs from entering the Oval at all. Why have you put up the green fences in the community? Was that decision dog related?

Name withheld, ST

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Peter Stuyvesant Little League marches into a new season

Members of the Peter Stuyvesant Little League and their families head out for the annual PSLL Parade on Saturday morning.

Members of the Peter Stuyvesant Little League and their families head out for the annual PSLL Parade on Saturday morning (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Saturday morning, another season of youth baseball was kicked off with bagpipe music and the annual parade of the Peter Stuyvesant Little League through Stuyvesant Town to the freshly replanted Con Ed Field.

Hundreds of little leaguers marched alongside their parents, local pols and a special guest, former hitter Cecil Fielder who played for the Detroit Tigers as well as the New York Yankees and other teams.

Following the march, Fielder, who’s hit 319 home runs in his career, gave the kids tips on how to be a good player.

For one thing, he told them, listen to your coaches. Fielder praised his own high school coach, saying, “That man taught me everything I know. My coach taught me back in 1970 that if that if I can’t look at myself in the mirror every day and say I did my best then I wasted a day.”

That said, he added that that bad days were bound to happen, but “It will always be about how you can be the next day.”

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Letters to the Editor, Apr. 18

Sick over paid leave responses

Last week’s article, “Local business owners blast paid sick leave” (T&V, Apr. 4) is the latest in a series of contentious actions involving local government.

It might be interesting to your readers to have more reporting on how the elected officials have voted on the legislation. In fact, a recap of all such votes would be a service to our residents.

John Duffy, ST

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Reminder: Peter Stuyvesant Little League Parade on Saturday morning

Players march through Stuyvesant Town in last year’s parade. Photo by Sabina Mollot

Players march through Stuyvesant Town in last year’s parade.
Photo by Sabina Mollot

The Peter Stuyvesant Little League Parade will take place this Saturday, April 13 at 8:30 a.m., starting at 20th Street and First Avenue. Player members and their families will march along with politicos before heading out to Con Ed Field.

 

Letters to the Editor, Apr. 11

Another gas leak that didn’t smell

Re: “Resident concerned over gas leak in apt,” T&V, Mar. 28

I had a gas leak in my apartment several years ago. And you could not smell it in the kitchen.

I noticed the smell of gas in the hallway on my floor, and more of it just inside the apartment door. So I checked in the kitchen; the jets were all off, and there was no smell of gas. So I wrongly concluded it had come from some other apartment.

A couple of days later a group of neighbors rang my bell and said I must have a gas leak. They had smelt it in the hallway and it seemed strongest near the door of my apartment. We called Stuy Town security and the man who came verified my claim that there was no smell of gas in the kitchen. The neighbors were not satisfied. Two more security officers came and they agreed there was an odor of gas in the hallway and near my apartment door, but not in the kitchen. Finally they brought in a device that dings in the presence of gas and the device went berserk.

The leak was in the connection between the gas pipe and the tube that leads to the range.

Why could it not be detected by a person’s unaided nose in the kitchen? I think the answer is that, because there is no window in the hallway, the building has an exhaust system that draws air out of the hallway and replaces it with air drawn out of the apartments by suctioning it from under the apartment doors.

Air, including gas, in the kitchen is therefore pulled to the apartment door. Since all the gas cannot get out through the small space under the door, it builds up at that place, and you can smell it there.

Don Murray, ST

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Court approves ‘Roberts’ settlement

Tenants attorney Alex SchmidtPhoto courtesy of Wolf Haldenstein

Tenants attorney Alex Schmidt
Photo courtesy of Wolf Haldenstein

By Sabina Mollot

On Tuesday morning, a State Supreme Court judge said he’d approve a $68.75 million settlement that was reached in the “Roberts v. Tishman Speyer” lawsuit last fall, ending litigation and negotiations that had stretched on for over six years.

The settlement came after a 2009 Court of Appeals ruling establishing that apartments in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village had been wrongly deregulated, with thousands of tenants getting overcharged as result.

During the lively hearing, Justice Richard B. Lowe congratulated attorneys for both sides, the tenants as well as CWCapital, the special servicer of the property, for eventually turning what has been a drawn out battle into a landmark settlement.

“What started as a slug fest has emerged into a love fest,” joked Lowe. “There was contentious discussion to the extent that I pulled people back to the table. That’s my job, but the fact is that everybody stayed in.”

CWCapital sttorney Greg CrossPhoto courtesy of Venable

CWCapital attorney Greg Cross
Photo courtesy of Venable

Lowe, the first presiding justice of the Appellate Term, First Division of the State Supreme Court, added that it was the longest running litigation he’s been involved with.

“And those who know me know that I do not permit litigation to drag on, but… if this wasn’t settled, we would have major obstacles to overcome.”

What the justice said also factored into his decision to agree with the terms was knowing that the state housing agency was okay with the deal. Speaking at the hearing was an attorney from the Division of Housing and Community Renewal, Gary Connor, who confirmed, “The division is on board. (The settlement) is fair and reasonable.”

The DHCR, which once famously erred in its opinion that landlords could deregulate properties receiving J-51 tax breaks, like Stuyvesant Town, is now part of an umbrella agency called Homes and Community Renewal (HCR).

If the housing agency had to individually litigate each tenant’s case, “It would be in litigation for the next 15 years,” said Lowe.

The settlement, which was first announced last November, means that 21,250 current and former market rate tenants will get a total of $68.75 million in damages, which when combined with savings from already made rent reductions that also came as a result of “Roberts,” brings the total take to $146.85 million. On Wednesday, tenants’ attorney Alex Schmidt said the total amount with rent savings is now even higher, an estimated $173.25 million since over 6,000 more class members have since been discovered.

Since the settlement was made, tenants have been mixed on the deal, since rents could go up as a result and many tenants thought their individual payouts were going to be higher. The average check is said to be $3,200. Schmidt has told Town & Village that after legal fees, tenants should see 70 percent of the damages, though it could be higher if fewer people file claims. Of the 30 percent in legal fees, 27.5 percent is attorney compensation. That issue was also the subject of some debate in the courtroom, with Lowe questioning certain expenses like computer research, secretarial overtime and attorneys who charged as much as $890 an hour.

“I would just like to know if any of you guys know what my hourly rate is,” the justice asked the plaintiffs. “I don’t know if it’s $100 an hour.”

Lowe added that he would have capped the hourly rate at $700, but ultimately decided he didn’t want to “nickel and dime” anyone. Lowe said he’d leave the decision on whether to consider any reductions in fees up to the attorneys.

“The bench believes all of you have earned your compensation,” he said.

In response, one of the tenants’ attorneys defended the fees as a necessity to keep top talent away from competing firms, but he said his own rate was lower.

Following the judge’s decision, Greg Cross, an attorney for CWCapital said he was relieved by it.

“We have no interest in litigating with the tenants,” he said.

Schmidt said he was also relieved it was over, noting, “All the cells in my body are breathing a sigh of relief.”

He also said he hoped it would lead to a future for the tenants in which they can buy the property. Meanwhile, he said, the judge’s order on the decision was expected to happen this week, and tenants would have until May 15 to file their claims.

“It feels good to have some finality,” said Schmidt. “It was a tremendous service for the community and the city. Now everyone can get on with their lives.”

Council Member Dan Garodnick, who along with the ST-PCV Tenants Association has held off from completely endorsing the settlement due to concerns of rent hikes, nevertheless called the case “a historic win.”

He also noted that the settlement was what CW has said needed to happen before there could be any talk of a tenant-led purchase and that it has resulted in some rent protections along with the cash payouts.

“This case has always been about protecting rent stabilized units from abuses,” said Garodnick. “The victory in Roberts sends a clear message to landlords across the city that the rent stabilization law cannot and will not be circumvented.”

All members of the class action suit need to sign on to the claim if they want to receive their damages, Schmidt has said. Anyone who needs claim paperwork should contact the Berdon Claims Administration at (800) 766-3330.

Players director John Martello resigns

John Martello at the club's Edwin Booth Room last year Photo by Sabina Mollot

John Martello at the club’s Edwin Booth Room last year
Photo by Sabina Mollot

By Sabina Mollot

John Martello, the executive director of The Players, who’s been blamed for the current financial disaster at the Gramercy Park club, has resigned, the club announced today.

In an official statement, Johnnie Planco, club president, said, “After nearly 20 years of serving as executive director of The Players Club, John Martello has resigned from his position. On behalf of the Board of Directors we wish to thank him for his years of service and wish him well on his future endeavors.”

The statement, which came from the club’s vice president, James Fenniman, via email, added that there would be a press briefing on Monday afternoon, but until then, “no further information will be provided.”

The club held a meeting on Wednesday evening that was closed to the press and according to an employee, this is when the decision was made. On March 14, at another meeting, the club’s membership learned through an audit committee that the club was in danger of closing due to allegations of money mismanagement.

As Town & Village has previously reported, Martello is being criticized by members and former members as well as employees for giving away memberships and spaces for events that could have earned the club $3,500. The club’s seven-member executive committee has also come under fire for having relationships with the institution that could be considered a conflict of interest. Two sell insurance to the club and another has employed Martello as a New York Film Academy teacher. As has also been reported by T&V, club members kept propping up the club for years whenever there was some sort of financial emergency through large loans and gifts. One loan from a member was for $2 million. One gift, from a former member, for fixing up an office was $60,000. Another member repaired the water-damaged Grill Room after an oversized ceiling panel came crashing down during a dinner.

Martello has said the club was doing poorly because membership took a nosedive during the recession.

Meeting set to address planned closure of Peter Stuyvesant Post Office

Apr4 Post office vertical

Peter Stuyvesant Post Office
Photo by Sabina Mollot

By Sabina Mollot

Last week, Town & Village reported that a public meeting would soon take place to discuss concerns over the planned closure of the Peter Stuyvesant Post Office in 2014.

This week, a date for the meeting has been set by the U.S. Postal Service and Community Boards 3 and 6 for April 22 at 6:30 p.m. at the Campos Plaza Community Center.

Members of the public will also have the opportunity to submit written testimony, Sandro Sherrod, the chair of Community Board 6 said today. Testimony can be submitted through May 7. Originally the deadline was going to be April 20, but Sherrod said it was extended at the board’s request due to the fact that news of the closure has already concerned many in the community.

“There are a lot of older folks and limited mobility folks from Stuyvesant Town and this would present a hardship,” he said.

Even, Sherrod conceded, with the place’s infamous long lines and ornery employees.

“It’s a very inefficient operation there,” he said. “I’m always surprised at how long it takes to pick up my packages — never less than 20 minutes. But my neighbors are all talking about it.”

In response to the closure concerns, Connie Chirichello, a spokesperson for the USPS, said that although the location would be closing, a smaller center would reopen in its place somewhere else in the 10009 zip code. The USPS is looking for a 5,000 square foot center for customer service windows and mailboxes, while carriers would be rerouted to the Madison Square Post Office on East 23rd Street. This, the USPS said, shouldn’t affect customers in any way.

The agency said that it tried but was unable to reach a lease renewal agreement with the owner of the building, which is located between First Avenue and Avenue A. The lease is set to expire in February, 2014.

“We are not taking away service from the community – Delivery will continue as usual,” Chirichello said. “We are adjusting the amount of space that is actually needed to help reduce costs and at the same time make money. Customers will continue to see the same friendly employees they have come to know by name but only at the smaller post office. Customers will receive the same service they have come to expect and deserve.”

She also noted the need to downsize in space, since the entire agency has had to “tighten their belt not one notch but several.”

Citing some statistics, Chirichello noted that over the past eight years, the volume of first class mail volume has decreased 40 percent, while at the same costs have gone up for maintaining buildings, fueling up trucks, “and many of the high costs that affect all of us in our daily lives also affects business.”

As for where the station could be relocated, Sherrod said he didn’t have any ideas offhand. “I don’t think there are a lot of places in the area that are large enough,” he said.

He also added that he heard from the union that represents mail carriers that it was the owner who tried to renew the lease but that the USPS was the disinterested party.

The USPS will discuss its plans to move the Peter Stuyvesant station elsewhere at the April 22 meeting. The venue will be the Campos Plaza Community Center and gym at 611 East 13th Street (between Avenues B and C). This will be the second of two public meetings on this issue. The first meeting was held with the Manhattan Borough Board in March. Written testimony that’s submitted must reference the post office by name or location, the USPS said, and be sent to Joseph J. Mulvey, Facilities Implementation, U.S. Postal Service, 2 Congress Street, Room 8, Milford, MA, 01757-9998.

Letters to the Editor, Apr. 4

Don’t kick nonresidents out of greenmarket

To the Editor,

Six months ago, the Tenants Association said it was taking our case “directly to the bondholders.”

Instead, we learn this week that the TA is again fighting the farmers market, this time demanding the equivalent of a “gated community” – to prevent non-residents from enjoying our farmers market and purchasing fresh zucchini, blueberries, Finnish rye bread, cage free eggs or wild flounder.

In the words of New York City law, the farmers market can be held on the Oval because it is an “accessory use” which is “substantially for the benefit of residents and guests.”

If 10 or 20 people come in from East 12th Street, we should welcome them with open arms, not make them feel like second-class citizens.  If we let the TA have its way, soon, the TA will be demanding identity cards from anyone who wishes to play basketball or to sit quietly by the fountain and read a newspaper, or sunbathe on the Oval lawn.

In fact, we need more diversity in the farmers market, not less.

We should be encouraging neighboring apartment complexes to patronize the farmers market, so that our farmers will sell more produce, not less produce. In the interest of diversity, we should ensure that at least 10 percent of the customers of the farmers market reside outside of ST/PCV itself.  We should treat these customers as our guests and make them feel welcome. As long as the market is “substantially for the benefit” of ST/PCV residents, it can remain as long as we want it to.

If the TA dislikes fresh fruits and vegetables, and wishes to spend its time and energy on a quixotic effort to ban the farmers market, then it is more than welcome to shop at The Associated.

Yours sincerely,

Name Withheld, ST

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