Letters to the Editor, Jan. 9

Political cartoon by Jim Meadows (jimtoon.com)

Political cartoon by Jim Meadows (jimtoon.com)

What are the policies for student apartments?

To the Editor,

I recently witnessed an early morning scuffle between a neighboring tenant and the Security personnel of PCVST over incessant noise issues driving her to lose sleep and becoming extremely  frustrated over the lack of response from management. The problem here was the upstairs “neighbor.”

But the root cause of the problem is the local universities, NYU and the New School to name a few, who have entered into an “arrangement” with PCVST management to house students in a traditional urban residential setting.

The dormitory atmosphere that has been created is not compatible with the notion of decent affordable housing for families and working New Yorkers.  It has eroded the original intent of the developments’ creation.

Those of us who remember dorm life recall it was a great time of discovery and freedom – responsibility only came after graduation when reality set in.

As tenants, we have a right to know what this arrangement with the schools consists of. First, is it legal under NYS laws, which protect these housing units? Are there rules for students in other dorms under their direction and what are they? Has PCVST management given leniency on noise and rowdiness issues due to a seeming endless lucrative arrangement with these schools? Are there separate rules for the students and non-student tenants? As tenants, what recourse do we have against the nuisance?

Perhaps the Tenants Association and our state legislators can get some answers for us so we can better understand what is being created here.

Charles Sturcken, ST

Continue reading

MTA gets earful about L train and station crowding

Straphangers head upstairs to exit the First Avenue L station on a recent morning. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Straphangers head upstairs to exit the First Avenue L station on a recent morning. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Representatives from the Metropolitan Transit Authority made an appearance at Community Board 6’s most recent transportation committee meeting to discuss the lack of distinguishing lights on SBS buses and the ongoing issue of overcrowding at the First Avenue L train station.

Residents at the meeting said that their concerns were more about dangerous conditions at the station due to the crowds, rather than it just being a nuisance.

“It’s an accident waiting to happen,” said one Stuyvesant Town resident at the meeting. “It’s routinely dangerous and way beyond annoying because everyone masses at the station’s exits.”

Others at the meeting agreed, adding that on top of the station’s increasing popularity as more people have moved to Williamsburg, the lack of multiple exits results in commuters packing the end of the train and causing hazardous conditions on the platform because of the pushing and shoving of the crowd.

“We acknowledge that (there are overcrowding problems),” Rob Marino, the MTA deputy director of government and community relations, said in response. “The station was built in 1924 and was probably not designed for the level of service that it receives now.”

Transportation committee member Fred Arcaro asked about the possibility of conducting a study to increase the number of trains but according to MTA representative Marcus Book, there have been studies done determining when the train is the busiest and the L is already running at capacity at those times, he said.

Stuy Town resident and Transportation Committee Member Larry Scheyer asked about the possibility of building another entrance to the station at Avenue A in an attempt to balance out the crowds. CB6 Chair Sandro Sherrod added that there was discussion in CB6 about four years ago about L train crowding at the station and the MTA had discussed the possibility of doing a feasibility study on an eastern entrance for the station. But both Marino and Book said that there were no plans for such a study at the moment and although they understand it’s a problem, building an entirely new entrance is an “expensive proposition.” They had no other information about solutions for the time being, other than to say that the issue was “on the radar.”

Meanwhile, area residents also shared their concerns about the SBS blue lights with the MTA reps.

A lack of the flashing blue lights that used to announce the impending arrival of the SBS express buses have been a problem for bus riders since Staten Island representatives pressured the MTA to turn them off at the end of 2012. SBS buses were put into service in 2008 and the lights caused no problems until Staten Island got its first SBS bus in late 2012 and then-MTA commissioner Joe Lhota agreed to turn them off at the beginning of 2013.

Marino said at the meeting that at the time SBS routes were initially rolled out, the NYPD had no problems with the flashing blue lights on the front of the buses, but Staten Island representatives later protested the lights, saying that they were too similar to volunteer emergency vehicles and were causing too much confusion for drivers.

Since the lights were turned off about a year ago, the MTA has been trying to work with the State DMV to find an alternative but have had no luck so far, as most other light colors are also reserved for emergency vehicles by law.

Local elected officials have introduced legislation that would allow purple lights and although it will be reintroduced in the next Assembly and State Senate sessions, Staten Island representatives have said that they oppose any lights for the vehicles.

As a result of the difficulty in getting the lights restored, the MTA has been exploring other options.

“We’re looking into doing things that are not regulated by the state and will hopefully be able to do something to designate (SBS buses),” Marino said. He added that the MTA is coming up with such a plan, one that doesn’t involve lights at all. He wasn’t able to give any details at the meeting but said that he was hoping they would be able to announce the plan soon.