Surprise inspections have residents on edge

By Sabina Mollot

Residents who’ve recently called for plumbing work have been getting more than just their sinks checked.

According to one family in Stuyvesant Town, an appointment last week to have a drain snaked turned into a surprise apartment inspection when the maintenance worker assigned to the job also opened closed bedroom doors and asked the residents questions about their counter tops and appliances.

A resident of the apartment at 280 First Avenue, who asked that his name not be published, said the employee also frightened his adult daughter, who was in her room when he opened the door — without knocking. While the father was in another room, he said the worker breezed into his daughter’s room, telling her he was looking for air conditioners.

After the dad confronted him, the workers was “very apologetic,” saying management was making him to do it.

The employee also produced paperwork showing notes he’d taken at other apartments he’d been working in, and that he was supposed to ask if people had air conditioners.

The employee then asked if the family had a dishwasher and also asked about the countertop in the kitchen, which is when the resident said he told the worker to cut the questioning. The resident said that again the employee was very apologetic and left soon afterwards.

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Soapbox: Why people go postal

Last Friday afternoon at about 2:30 p.m., I went to the Stuyvesant Post Office. The metal gate was down and a long message was taped to it indicating that they were closed in preparation for their move to the old Duane Reade on 14th.

No mention of when the new facility would be open for business.

Prior to this, no posters had been prominently displayed regarding the move. Nor was there a mailing to 10009 postal customers to let them know in advance when the switch over from one facility to another would take place.

Since the publicity months ago when the move had been announced, there had been no follow-up communication with customers.

I went next morning at 8:45 a.m. and joined a small line of people needing new post office box keys. The metal gate, still down, no longer had Friday’s notice. In fact, there was no notice of any kind. At 9 a.m., the gate was still down. At 9:03 a.m., a woman happened along and told us the new facility was open and that is where they were doing key replacements. Some of the folks had been waiting in line in front of the old facility since 8 a.m. and were angry that the original notice misled them.

At the “cozy” (read cramped) new site, only one woman was doing key replacement. Of course, because there was no sign at the old facility explaining that there would be no retail services, no mail pickup, no package pickup, etc., she was trying to answer all the customers who kept coming in looking for services not being offered and was starting to get frazzled and snappy.

After getting my new keys, I walked back to the old site where a small crowd had gathered, not knowing what was going on. I explained things to them, went back home to create two signs about the old site being closed forever and the new one opening at 9 a.m. Monday (February 24), and taped them up on the gate. By Monday morning, the signs were down and people were standing around looking at the metal gate, not knowing the status.

The lack of respect for postal customers seems to have been a hallmark of this particular post office for years, but there is no excuse for not taking simple measures that keep people informed.

If I can put up a sign, so can they.

The responsibility does not lie just with the manager of this branch. It should have been the responsibility of a higher-up to ensure that the public was well informed. In this, as in many other situations, a failure to communicate is a failing indeed.

Susan Steinberg
Stuyvesant Town

Letters to the editor, Feb. 27

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Shivering tenants getting cold shoulder

In last week’s “Letters to the editor,” there was a letter describing and highlighting the lack of heat in so many of the Peter Cooper/Stuyvesant apartments.

I write this in my cold den with the heater blasting away. We all agree that we have had unusually cold weather. In that spirit, why is it that CW continues to keep heat out of our apartments during the day? With this inclement weather, many elderly and even young families with babies are homebound. This is something that should be considered.

My friends and I have called 311 and the two Project Managers, whose numbers have been given to the service department and us. There is never a reply from the CW executives, even though our telephone numbers are included in the message on their tapes. 311 has responded, but it does not seem to matter. When calling the service department, we are told, “I will make out a work order.” It seems their pad of work orders must have had to be reprinted since so many of them have been made out, but it never seems to make a difference.

I have been living in Peter Cooper for over 65 years. Sure, I have had situations regarding heat during those times, but this year takes the cake. Something must be done and should be done to require heat in our apartments.

Name withheld, PCV

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End in sight for construction project

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Representatives from CW Capital and CompassRock said that they hope to have the major construction on the new management office finished by this May at a meeting with the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association on Tuesday evening.

The new management office is planned for the space between Playground 8 and the buildings at 272, 274, 276 and 278 First Avenue along the First Avenue Loop and construction officially began on January 22.

The meeting, held at P.S. 40 on East 19th Street, was held to answer questions about the construction of the new office because residents have said they’ve been unable to find any information about the project, such as what the plans for the new building are, how much of a disturbance construction will be and when the structure is expected to be completed.

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Letters to the editor, Feb. 20

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Plight of the working middle class is ignored

To the editor:

With reference to the letter to the editors, by “Name Withheld” regarding the DHCR response on MCI orders and the letter from the elected officials (T&V, Feb. 13): I entirely agree with the comments of the writer.

It should be obvious to everyone that, except for very rare exceptions, these politicians are just another set of scammers who come with all sorts of high flying promises and offers to work towards improving the quality of life of the voters; but after they are elected, these promises and offers are conveniently shelved and forgotten, as they get on the bandwagon and work towards ensuring their survival and patronage by the political establishment.

For example, during the last election, the promises made by Messrs. Garodnick and Kavanagh: to work towards eliminating the MCI law that forces tenants to pay for major capital improvements, which raise the value of buildings for landlords, and thus increase their wealth.

New York is the only city that allows landlords to pass the cost of repairs and renovations onto the tenants. Capital improvements, as I mentioned above, increase the landlords’ wealth; they do not increase, or provide very little increase, in the rental value received by the tenants. Tenants do not share in the profit increases, or wealth gains, enjoyed by the landlords from capital improvements.

Thus, our elected officials should be doing their best and trying hard to work towards eliminating this law that benefits landlords but penalizes tenants, who are already under major economic stress in trying to exist with limited means in this city.

My fervent suggestion to all tenants reading this letter is to write and communicate with our new mayor, Mr. De Blasio, and the new City Council — both of whom appear to be more in tune with the plight of the working middle class than their predecessors.

It is imperative that we make our voices heard and that we provide the mayor with evidence so that he knows the majority of New York citizens are desperate for relief and support in trying to live decently in this city we all love.

Al Salame, ST

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Three Cheers for CVS

By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

Last month on January 23, I wrote on this page that government ought to recognize cigarettes for what they are: an addictive toxin and as such its production and retail sale should be banned. I opined what public health organizations have been saying for years based on decades of study and irrefutable medical and scientific evidence that smoking or inhaling second hand smoke is the greatest health risk threatening Americans. And those astronomical costs to our health care system are ultimately borne by everyone in the form of higher taxes and fees.

In the interim, I have heard back from a number smokers and non-smokers alike. Predictably, many smokers believe that being able to buy a cigarette is part of their liberties, which although unlike guns (as some like to say) is not protected in the Constitution. Others observe that prohibition did not work for alcohol so why repeat the same mistake? Furthermore, growing tobacco and selling it to cigarette manufacturers for retail sale is a huge American industry. All true. But at what cost? Nearly 500,000 Americans die each and every year to smoking related causes. And the expense to our health care system to treat smoking related diseases is a staggering $300 billion annually. Non-smokers care mostly about having to inhale second hand smoke, which studies indicate is almost as deadly as direct smoking over a prolonged period of time.

But smoking is well ingrained in or culture and for sure it is big business. Enter CVS.

Last week, this giant pharmacy chain which makes more money selling tobacco products than penicillin announced that it would stop selling cigarettes in its thousands of outlets across the country, including the one across the street from Peter Cooper Village on 23rd Street near First Avenue. In making their announcement, CVS concluded that selling cigarettes is inconsistent with its main mission of wellness. No longer will they sell antibiotics and cough medicine designed to treat people’s illnesses and symptoms and then sell them disease-inducing cigarettes on their way out.

This move by CVS took guts and a profound sense of civic responsibility rarely exhibited by mega companies otherwise preoccupied with their bottom line. Probably they will lose money… in the short run.

However, I intend to take my pharmacy business from other large chains to CVS. I am very comfortable entrusting my health needs to a pharmacy that puts the well-being of its customers above profits.

The question now is what will other pharmacy chains like Duane Reade and the independents do? Will they double down on their cigarette sales, or will they follow the courageous and visionary example of CVS?

Imagine if every pharmacy and business dedicated to the good health of their customers decided to just say no to cigarettes?!

Steven Sanders is a former Assemblyman who represented this community for 28 years from 1978-2005. He currently is the Executive Director of ACTS, an association that provides services to young children with developmental and learning disabilities.

Letters to the Editor, Feb. 13

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Hard to believe management’s heat ‘policy’

I am so happy to find out why my apartment has been freezing all winter and why every time I complain to management, nothing is ever done—management’s goal is to provide a temperature of 72 degrees, which I do not believe given how many times my thermostat has been below 72.

Like all of the neighbors in my building, I too have bought a space heater and I am sure the New York City Fire Department would be thrilled to know most everyone in PCV/ST runs a space heater to keep warm.

Seventy-two degrees is only a few degrees above 68, the level enacted into law to prevent slumlords from providing inadequate heat. If the legal minimum threshold were 64 degrees, would CompassRock’s target be 68?

PCV/ST apartments are not tenements in a poor section of the city, but potentially the best place to live for a family with beautiful grounds and playgrounds, none of which the current owners and management can take credit for.

What they can take credit for is providing a very annoying and uncomfortable living environment with their heat policy. With the amount I pay for rent as a market-rate tenant, I expect a certain level of comfort and not a heat policy designed to provide the minimum amount of heat legally required.

Name withheld

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TA meeting to focus on management office construction

Rendering of the new management office as seen in 276 First Avenue (Photo by Kent Howard)

Rendering of the new management office as seen in 276 First Avenue (Photo by Kent Howard)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Stuy Town Tenants Association is set to host a meeting to discuss the construction of a new management office as concern over disruption caused by the project continues to rise.

The TA is primarily concerned about quality-of-life issues, including the removal of walkways and benches, loss of greenery and possible noise.The original management office on Avenue C was swept away by Hurricane Sandy . There are plans to turn what’s left into a children’s facility.

The new management office will border 272, 274, 276 and 278 First Avenue and while CW Capital met with residents to discuss the project last October, there has been little communication since then. Local elected officials — City Councilmember Dan Garodnick, Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh and State Senator Brad Hoylman — sent a letter to CW Capital vice president Andrew MacArthur last Friday asking for transparency about the project.

The Department of Buildings is to conduct an audit of the site in order to ensure compliance with the Building Code and Zoning Resolutions.

The letter from the elected officials was in response to a meeting held by tenants of 276 First Avenue that was organized by building resident and former Community Board 6 chair, Mark Thompson.

“Seniors especially are really stressed out because now the park is gone,” he said. “(Stuyvesant Town) is being marketed as this green oasis in the city and they’re cutting all the trees down.”

Kent Howard, of 276 First Avenue, told T&V that he started the website StuyTownBigDig.com to keep track of what they see going on.

“It’s hard to tell at this point but it looks a lot larger than I originally anticipated,” Howard said.

“Tenants are concerned,” Thompson added. “That’s the bottom line.”

The TA meeting will take place on Tuesday, February 18 at 6 p.m. in the auditorium at PS 40, 320 East 20th Street.

Doors will open at 5:45 p.m. Representatives from CW Capital and CompassRock will be there, in addition to local elected officials Senator Hoylman, Assemblymember Kavanagh and City Councilmember Garodnick.

Letters to the editor, Feb. 6

CW: look into heating issues

The following is a letter that City Councilmember Dan Garodnick’s office sent on January 23 to CW Capital Vice President Andrew MacArthur concerning the recent heat complaints in Stuy Town and Peter Cooper. His office has not received a response to the letter.

Dear Mr. MacArthur:

I write to you to alert you to the significant number of complaints my office has received this winter regarding heat in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. The new automated system for a time reduced the number of complaints that my office received, but this year appears to be leaving more residents in that cold than usual.

As you know, New York City requires residential building owners to hear tenants’ apartments at a minimum of 68 degrees Fahrenheit between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. when outdoor temperatures fall below 55 degrees. Between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., building owners are required to maintain an indoor temperature of 55 degrees when outdoor temperatures fall below 40 degrees. While I understand that your engineers likely program the temperatures to be higher than the bare minimum, the complaints this year have gone up considerably and it deserves your attention.

Please investigate any changes that have been made this year compared to years previous in order to identify what may be causing this problem. I would appreciate learning the results of your inquiry.

Above all, I ask that you please urgently take all necessary steps to ensure that apartments are getting the proper level of hear. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

City Councilmember Daniel R. Garodnick

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