CSA at 14th Street Y starting up for the season

A few of the offerings through the volunteer-run CSA at the 14th Street Y

A few of the offerings through the volunteer-run CSA at the 14th Street Y

By Maria Rocha-Buschel
The 14th Street Y and sustainability organization Just Food are again partnering with Mountain View Farms to bring locally grown, organic produce to CSA members every week from June to October.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a partnership where community members purchase shares of the season’s harvest directly from the farmer and the 14th Street Y has been offering the program since 2008.
Frances Anderson, a member of the 14th Street Y, has been a volunteer organizer for the program since it began. The CSA originally partnered with a different farm located in upstate New York but Anderson said that Hurricane Irene devastated their farmland in 2011, bringing a sad end to the partnership.
“They weren’t able to continue doing CSAs in the city after that because their losses were so huge,” she said. “It wasn’t uncommon that year for a lot of farms in that corridor, unfortunately. The destruction of farmland was really quite significant. It was kind of a shock to us and we never really thought about what a catastrophic year would mean.”
Many of the farms upstate were scaling back after Irene but Just Food helped the CSA at the Y to connect with Mountain View Farm, which was a little more sheltered from flooding due to its location in Western Massachusetts, and so far the partnership has been working well. “We really appreciate the consistency in the quality and quantity of the vegetables we get from them, and because of the way in which they operate, with 90 percent of their clientele being CSAs as opposed to farmer’s markets, they just have a really consistent supply,” Anderson said.
While the 14th Street Y provides infrastructure support for the CSA, Anderson said that it’s primarily a volunteer-driven program. Some volunteers dedicate more time than others but anyone who signs up for a CSA membership is required to work one shift throughout the season. This just means helping out with distribution for a couple of hours and the policy isn’t particularly strict.
“People work crazy hours, so sometimes people need help from family because they can’t be there themselves and that’s fine,” Anderson said. “Teenagers have done shifts for their parents. It’s not onerous work; it’s just to help it run smoothly.”
Summer and fall shares include carrots, bok choy, lettuce, beets, cabbage, kohlrabi, spinach, fennel, Swiss chard, cantaloupe, a variety of squashes, cucumbers, tomatoes, garlic, sweet potatoes, onions, scallions, eggplants, peppers and others. Mountain View Farm has partnered with nearby farms and orchards this year to add a fruit share, which will include strawberries, blueberries, apples and pears.
Full shares, $600, are available for weekly pick-up and and half shares, $310, are collected bi-weekly. The shares are available to pick up on Thursdays from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the lobby of the Y. A normal week’s share averages about $27. Anderson said that a full share every week is good for a family of four that eats a lot of vegetables.
“My family of three gets a weekly distribution but for some families that’s way too much,” she said.
She added that while half-shares come out every other week, it can involve a lot of planning to make sure certain things are eaten before they go bad and if there are individuals who want to participate, volunteers with the CSA can connect those people with each other to split a half share. Even with the most meticulous planning, CSA members are sometimes still overloaded with vegetables they are pressured to eat before they start rotting and Anderson said that they are hoping to offer some additional programming at the Y this year to help alleviate that problem.
“We’re trying to have a couple of canning demonstrations,” she said. “Learning how to can or how to pickle vegetables that you have in crazy abundance are great skills to learn and not ones that we tend to pick up when living in the city, so we want to teach people how to preserve their share for the rest of the season.”
Anderson noted that even though there are some vegetables that don’t get claimed every week, none of it goes to waste.
“Everything left over that isn’t picked up by CSA members gets donated to the Sirovich Center and they love it,” she said. “It adds fresh vegetables to what they make there. Nothing gets thrown wholesale into the compost.”
CSA membership is open to everyone, not just 14th Street Y members, and the deadline to register is May 30. For more information or to register, visit Mountain View Farm CSA’s website.

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Police release photos of Immaculate Conception burglary suspect

Immaculate Conception Church burglary suspect

Immaculate Conception Church burglary suspect

By Sabina Mollot
Police have released surveillance photos of the man who coolly strode into Immaculate Conception Church on Sunday, prowled various rooms and then left with $11,000 in cash from a rectory bedroom on Sunday.

Based on the photos and video that was taken, the church’s pastor, Monsignor Kevin Nelan said he believes the man is Hispanic, and in his 20s, brushing 30. Based on his actions, he added, police are looking into the possibility that someone gave him information about where to look for the money.

The unidentified man first entered the church at 414 East 14th Street at 1:15 p.m. as a group of parishioners was entering the building. He then tried to access a few rooms including — twice — Nelan’s locked bedroom in the rectory. “That’s what made me think someone gave him information,” Nelan said. The man also didn’t bother searching anywhere in a community room he went into. The bedroom broken into was on the third floor, which doesn’t have cameras, and the priest who was victimized didn’t even realize the money had been taken from his nightstand until Tuesday.

Based on security footage, the man was in the church building for around 25 minutes before he was finally confronted by employees and escorted out. This was when the parish’s music director immediately realized he shouldn’t be there and asked what he was doing, Nelan said. In response, the man mumbled that he was looking for someone named Maria, but he still didn’t leave until confronted by two other employees, one of whom followed him through the stairs out the door.
“He was either very confident or very stupid,” said Nelan. “He didn’t know or didn’t care that he was being filmed.”

Since the incident, detectives from the 9th Precinct have been interviewing church employees who worked on Sunday about the prowler. “They’re going after any lead they can find,” said Nelan, who said at this time there is still no suspect in mind. However, he added, “We’re going to put his picture everywhere.”

The man was able to access the building when a church employee opened the door for a group of people heading to a meeting room. Though initially the burglar was thought to be in the middle of the group, he was actually at the end, possibly waiting for someone to open the door. “As it was closing, he stepped inside,” said Nelan, who added that since the incident, church employees have been spoken to about being more vigilant about keeping track of the entrances. Still, he stressed he didn’t think it was the fault of the woman who let him in. “It’s like at a building when someone waits for an old lady to come in and puts his foot in the door. We all have to be more vigilant. Thank God no one was hurt. Thank God he wasn’t violent.”

The burglary suspect is a light skinned man who was wearing a black baseball hat, brown shorts, white sneakers and a red t-shirt. Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at (800) 577-TIPS. The public can also submit tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Website at nypdcrimestoppers.com or texting TIP577 and their tips to 274637(CRIMES).

‘CAPE’ crusade aims to fight predatory equity

Council Member Dan Garodnick, with other elected officials at City Hall, discusses the “CAPE” coalition. (Photo by Ilona Kramer)

Council Member Dan Garodnick, with other elected officials at City Hall, discusses the “CAPE” coalition. (Photo by Ilona Kramer)

By Sabina Mollot
On Wednesday, Council Members Dan Garodnick, Jumaane Williams and Ritchie Torres announced the formation of a coalition of over 40 elected officials who are committed to keeping affordable housing from turning into overleveraged housing.
Specifically, the Coalition Against Predatory Equity (CAPE) was organized in an effort to avoid the type of massive debt deals that have led to the loss of affordable housing like at Stuyvesant Town.
“We have a wide-ranging, diverse group and together we have some powerful principles,” said Garodnick, adding that the coalition is “strength in numbers.”

The four goals of the group are:
To get Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to commit to not lending to any owner in a deal that puts affordable housing at risk.
Avoid investment of city and state pension funds in deals that harm tenants.
Stop offering tax abatements or subsidies to development deals that would lead to the loss of affordable units.
Come up with legislation aimed at limiting “the abuses of predatory equity, and assists tenants in over-leveraged buildings.”

Garodnick, who released a report about the dangers of predatory equity in April, said the coalition is also concerned about the Stuyvesant Town foreclosure and the reports of a bid by CWCapital’s parent company Fortress.
“We are looking into the appropriateness of all that activity,” said Garodnick, adding that all of the coalition’s four principles are relevant to a post-predatory equity Stuyvesant Town.

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who’s previously authored legislation that if passed, would ensure more responsible lending by Fannie and Freddie, said she’d reintroduce that bill this week.
“Nothing was more shocking about the Tishman Speyer/Stuy Town/Peter Cooper transaction than finding out that the federally-chartered Government-Sponsored-Enterprises tasked with expanding affordable housing were actually investing in a deal that could only succeed by converting as many affordable units as possible into luxury rent apartments,” said Maloney. The congresswoman said she hoped the bill would “send a message that these GSEs cannot game the system and fail to comply with their affordable housing responsibilities.”

Along with politicians, over a dozen organizations, including the ST-PCV Tenants Association, Tenants and Neighbors and the Urban Justice Center, have joined the coalition.

Letters to the editor, May 29

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Time to stand up against predatory equity

On Friday, June 13, after CWCapital forecloses on the mezzanine (junior) debt for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, there is a very real threat that Fortress, the parent company of CWCapital, could use a questionable contract clause to instantly become the owner of our two complexes.

What happens on that day will affect us all. It could be Tishman Speyer redux. The financial press is speculating, full of scenarios providing detailed financial road maps to our demise.

Fortress is seeking to bid $4.7 billion for a property valued at $3.2 billion. Possibly adding nearly 50 percent more debt to the property in ​yet another overleveraged buyout will lead to problems for every one of us. These problems will assuredly be worse than what we have faced since 2006.

A show of our strength starts at 10 a.m. on June 13, when members of our community will assemble at City Hall to demonstrate our backing of the elected representatives who right now are working to try to save us from a predatory takeover. Let’s show Mayor de Blasio that we are a community worth saving, and show the hedge funds and real estate moguls that we are a community to be reckoned with. It’s worth making a serious effort to swell the group that will be bused to City Hall and back.
The two core groups that make up our community must stay united.

The first group — the young families and responsible singles and couples — I like to call the “New Stabilizers.”

The New Stabilizers have held on, many by their fingernails, so they can convert their high rents into more affordable long-term equity as apartment owners. Members of this group are the most vulnerable to losing their homes via exorbitant rent increases. The point will come when large numbers of New Stabilizers will be driven from a community that has suited their needs. More instability for everyone.

It’s heartbreaking that New Stabilizers will have to uproot their children from our fantastic local schools that I and others here got the opportunity to go to. These parents will have the painful task of explaining to their kids why they have to make new friends as they are forced to find another home. For this group, a takeover by anyone other than the tenants is their tipping point.

The second group — long-term traditionally rent-stabilized tenants — has a target on their backs too. They’re not as easy to hit, but a predatory owner will try, using the same tactics so ferociously applied by Tishman Speyer to challenge the legality of tenants’ stabilized status. Demolition of buildings is also a possible — and perfectly lawful — means for eviction. Tearing down our aging structures and “developing” our green spaces with shiny new towers is one sure way to pay down the debt.

For all of us, a tenant-led purchase is the only defense against a new predatory landlord. If you’re a long-term rent-stabilized tenant, you’ll be able to stay in your home and enjoy the same rent-stabilized protections you’ve always had with neighbors as your owners rather than hedge funds or dynastic New York real estate families.

For all of us, a new predatory landlord means more bad leasing policies that expand the number of “converted” apartments, which create higher concentrations of roommates in dorm-like occupancy, accompanied by more of the inevitable noise and bad neighbor behavior.

Churn, transients and predatory speculation are the problems. The answers are the young stabilizing families and responsible couples and singles vesting in their community and standing shoulder to shoulder with their longer-term neighbors who may wish to remain as renters living peacefully in their homes.

We all share the desire for our children and our neighbors’ children to grow up in the same safe, unique, extraordinary city setting many longer-term tenants have had. We need to carry on that tradition.

If ever there was a time to be vocal and visible, that time is now. If we just accept what might happen on June 13, we and our children will have to face the consequences.

Don’t let Friday, June 13, be the final chapter. Join us and fill the steps of City Hall to show the world we are organized and that we are a community, not a commodity. For more information about the rally and to RSVP for transportation, visit http://stpcvta.org/june13 or call (866) 290-9036.

John H. Marsh III,
President,
Stuyvesant Town-
Peter Cooper Village
Tenants Association​

Answers on local effects of climate change

To the Editor:

I’d like to bring to the attention of our neighbors who were affected by Hurricane Sandy but who may still be questioning whether climate change is happening due to human continued use of fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas (methane) that the Sierra Club has some answers.

Their monthly meetings take place in the Seafarers & International House located at 123 East 15th Street on the northeast corner of Irving Place on the third Wednesday of the month. On May 21, I attended the third in their sustainability series called “Photovoltaics.” To my surprise and delight the first speaker was Chris Neidl recently back from India and at work again with Solar One. Chris was followed by Marlene Brown from the New Mexico Department of Energy. Both speakers answered many questions from the packed audience about solar energy for New York City.

Many of us remember how when Hurricane Sandy hit, the Solar One building in Stuyvesant Cove Park was the only place in our neighborhood that had electricity due to solar energy stored in its generator and people were coming to power their cell phones and medical apparatus. Solar One staff and volunteers brought solar panels and apparatus to the hard hit areas of the Rockaways and other coastal areas of NYC to help out.

On Wednesday, June 11, Solar One will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a boat trip from the East 23rd Street pier at 6 p.m. followed by a picnic supper and dancing under a big tent at the Cove until 10 p.m.  For more information and other events go to http://www.solar1.org.

The last in the Sierra Club Spring series takes place on Wednesday, June 18 on President Obama’s climate action plan with the Judith Enck, Head of Region 2 EPA (NY, NJ and Puerto Rico) as the speaker. There have been many ideas suggested for how hard hit coastal areas like ours can be protected from future storms. This would be a good time to ask our questions and hopefully get some answers. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for socializing and refreshments. Programs start at 7 p.m. $10 suggested donation; $3 for students.

Who knows? Maybe it’s a dream, but perhaps sometime in the future Stuyvesant Town could become an Eco Village and resilient.

Joy Garland, ST

 

Police Watch: Burglar hits Immaculate Conception Church, Former Beth Israel doctor sentenced

Compiled by Maria Rocha-Buschel

BURGLAR HITS IMMACULATE CONCEPTION CHURCH
Police are looking for a burglar who stole $11,000 in cash from the rectory at Immaculate Conception Church. The man entered the church at 414 East 14th Street on Sunday at 1:15 p.m. and then went into a bedroom located on the third floor rectory where he took the money from a nightstand, cops said. He is described as a light skinned man who was wearing a black baseball hat, brown shorts, white sneakers and a red t-shirt. Anyone with information about the burglary is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at (800) 577-TIPS. The public can also submit tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Website at nypdcrimestoppers.com or texting TIP577 and their tips to 274637(CRIMES).

FORMER BETH ISRAEL DOCTOR CONVICTED
Lawrence Levitan, 58, was sentenced to six months of jail time and 1,000 hours of community service this past Tuesday. The former Beth Israel Medical Center ob-gyn pleaded guilty to grand larceny in the third degree this past February. At trial, he admitted to stealing $268,000 from the hospital by diverting insurance checks and cheating on his taxes.

CRAIGSLIST-SCAMMED IN COFFEE SHOP
Police arrested 24-year-old Dequaan Brown for a robbery inside the restaurant Coffee Shop at 29 Union Square West last Saturday at 2 p.m. A 26-year-old man told police that he was meeting Brown to buy a Galaxy 5 phone from him. He originally spoke to someone named Carlos that he found through Craigslist. They had agreed to meet in Union Square for the transaction but Carlos then called the victim at 1:45 p.m. and told him that he wouldn’t be able to make it but that his partner Dequaan would meet him instead. The victim told Carlos that he would wait for Dequaan in the Coffee Shop near the park. A few minutes later, the victim got a text from Brown asking for the location of the restaurant. When he arrived, he asked the victim if he had the money for the phone and after the victim gave him $400 in cash, Brown allegedly said, “I have a gun in my duffel bag. Don’t chase me.” He then walked out of the restaurant calmly and the victim followed him to the train station. They both ended up on a downtown Q train and the victim then asked the conductor to stop the train. The conductor stopped the train at Canal Street and the train doors opened, giving Brown the opportunity to run again. He allegedly attempted to flee but ran into two officers from the First Precinct. The victim told the police, “That’s the guy,” and Brown was arrested and brought back to the 13th Precinct.

NEIGHBOR HARASSMENT IN 19 STUY OVAL
A resident of 19 Stuyvesant Oval reported last Monday at 3:38 p.m. that she has been continually harassed by a neighbor in her building. She told police that she received two text messages from him and she was alarmed by the messages because they made no sense and were sexually explicit. She said that she ran into him on the street at East 18th Street and First Avenue. He started talking to her and made no sense, saying that she was yelling when she wasn’t and he told her, “You’re just another Jew.” The victim was alarmed by the incident and said anything else happens, she said that she wants to file an order of protection.

KNIFE PULLED AT WATERSIDE PLAZA
Police arrested 60-year-old Angel Fuentes for menacing inside 40 Waterside Plaza last Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. Police responded to the scene and a 55-year-old man told them that Fuentes allegedly came out of his apartment, displaying a kitchen knife and menaced him with it. At that point, the victim called the police and then met them in the lobby. Fuentes wasn’t in his apartment by the time police came but after conducting a canvass, they found him in the front of the building. He was also allegedly in possession of a small bag of marijuana.

‘PERVS’ NABBED IN UNION SQUARE
Police arrested two men for unlawful surveillance at the Union Square subway station last week. Thirty-seven-year-old Marquis Traynham was arrested last Thursday at 8:55 a.m. Traynham allegedly put an electronic recording device under the skirt of multiple women on a downtown 6 train and the subway stairs while the women were leaving the station. Police arrested 35-year-old Jose Quezada Veloz last Friday at 6:39 p.m. Veloz was seen standing directly under the right side of the stairs leading to the downtown 4/5/6 platform and he was allegedly looking up the skirts of women going up and down the stairs and also had his cell phone in video mode pointed directly under a woman’s skirt with the lens facing up.

HIT-AND-RUN ON EAST 23RD
A 48-year-old man reported that he was involved in a car accident opposite 400 East 23rd Street last Thursday at 10:05 a.m. He told police that he was driving west on East 23rd Street when a woman in a white sedan struck his car, causing him to hit a parked car. She then fled the scene west and onto First Avenue. There were no injuries and no arrests were made.

MOTORCYCLE STOLEN ON EAST 14TH
A 24-year-old man reported that his motorcycle was stolen after he parked it in front of 655 East 14th Street at midnight last Wednesday. He told police that he parked the bike there and when he went to retrieve it later on Wednesday, the bike was gone. The tow pound had no record of the bike being towed and Stuy Town security said that their cameras don’t face the area where the bike was removed from.

BAG STOLEN IN STUYVESANT SQUARE PARK
A 13-year-old boy reported that his bag while he was in Stuyvesant Square Park at the northeast corner of Perlman Place and East 15th Street last Friday at 2:45 p.m. He told police that he put his bag on a bench and walked around the park. When he went back to the bench, his bag, which contained his iPhone, Nintendo 3DS, a Pokemon game and school supplies, was gone.

FOUR NABBED IN BRAWL OUTSIDE STUY TOWN
Police arrested 42-year-old Christopher Todd, 39-year-old Anika Reynolds, 33-year-old Eric Gersbeck and another individual for assault in front of 647 East 14th Street last Thursday at 8:34 a.m. The four allegedly got into a fight in front of Stuyvesant Town. All of them sustained minor scratches and refused medical attention at the scene.

CYCLIST KICKED ON SECOND AVENUE
A 22-year-old cyclist reported that he was assaulted while he was riding his bike at the northeast corner of Second Avenue and East 15th Street last Thursday at 7 p.m. He told police that he was riding his bike and an unknown person kicked him, causing him to fall off the bike and cause minor bleeding due to a cut on his knee. The person then fled in an unknown direction and no arrests have been made.

IPHONE STOLEN FROM FARMER’S MARKET
A 22-year-old woman reported that her iPhone was stolen while she was in Union Square Park at East 17th Street last Saturday at 5 p.m. She told police that she was working at the farmer’s market and left her cell phone on a table unattended while she went to the bathroom and when she returned, her phone was missing. She said that she tracked the phone and it was located at First Avenue and St. Mark’s Place.

CYCLIST HIT-AND-RUN BY CABBIE
A 44-year-old man reported that he was involved in an accident while he was on his bike in front of 160 West 25th Street last Thursday at 7:30 p.m. He told police that he was riding his bike at the location when a taxi hit his bike from the rear. The victim then fell off his bike and got a bruise on his head and hand, and he also complained of back pain. The taxi fled the scene and a canvass was conducted of the area with negative results. The victim could only remember that it was a taxi that hit him and had no other information.

IPHONE STOLEN AT STUY TOWN PARTY
An 18-year-old woman reported that her phone was stolen while she was inside 330 First Avenue on Saturday, May 17 at 11:59 p.m. She told police that she had left the phone inside the apartment while there for a friend’s party and when she went back to retrieve the phone, it was missing. The phone was tracked through “Find my iPhone” to a location in Brooklyn.

MAN BUSTED FOR KNIFE AT FIRST AVE L
Police arrested 28-year-old Nicholas Kleoudis for criminal possession of a weapon last Saturday at 11:28 p.m. at the First Avenue L station. Kleoudis allegedly had a black metal clip attached to his front right pants pocket and upon further investigation, it was determined to be a gravity knife, police said.

ARREST MADE FOR ‘POT’ POSSESSION
Police arrested 29-year-old Anthony Womack for unlawful possession of marijuana last Saturday at 4:20 p.m. in the Union Square station. Womack was sitting on the steps in the station, blocking passenger movement. When asked, he had no form of identification to give the police and a bag of alleged marijuana was recovered from his left front pants pocket.

NO ARRESTS IN EAST 15TH ST. TAUNTING
A 41-year-old woman reported that she was harassed at the northeast corner of East 15th Street and the FDR on Sunday, May 18 at 4:30 p.m. She told police that someone approached her, pulled her hair and then ran away. When she confronted him, he told her, “We were playing a game.”

Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association will rally on day of foreclosure sale

ST-PCV Tenants Association President John Marsh, pictured in May, 2013 with local elected officials and tenants, protests a mid-lease increase. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

ST-PCV Tenants Association President John Marsh, pictured in May, 2013 with local elected officials and tenants, protests a mid-lease increase. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot
Following reports that Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village’s special debt servicer, CWCapital’s own parent company, Fortress, intends to bid on the property on the day of a foreclosure sale, the ST-PCV Tenants Association has organized a rally to protest the way business is being quietly conducted.
Because the Fortress bid has been reported to be $4.7 billion, according to Bloomberg, TA President John Marsh said at that price, the pressure to make a profit is likely to create a repeat scenario of the Tishman Speyer purchase with its business plan of evicting tenants paying lower rents.
“Right this instant we all need to start talking about what we are going to do about Fortress and the other sharks circling us,” TA President John Marsh told neighbors on Facebook. “The writing is on the wall. It’s about to happen again. Tishman Speyer redux. The financial press is speculating, full of scenarios providing detailed financial road maps to our demise.
Another issue is the debate over whether a purchase by Fortress is a conflict of interest, which Susan Steinberg, chair of the Tenants Association, said is difficult to answer without looking at a contract that’s confidential.
“So nobody can read the clauses, and I think that would have been very helpful if some attorneys would have been able to take a look at it,” she said.
“To me,” Steinberg added, “it looks like insider trading. That’s my perception. But without having access to a basic document, it’s really hard to make a judgment call.”
She also said she thought it was disingenuous of the special servicer to refuse to talk business with the TA, after initially saying the company just wanted to wait until the “Roberts v. Tishman Speyer” negotiations were concluded. “They were stringing us along,” said Steinberg.
The Tenants Association announced its own intention to bid, with partner Brookfield Asset Management, in 2011. The TA/Brookfield bid has never had a dollar amount attached to it and that has not changed. However, the TA has stressed that the bondholders would be made whole.
A spokesperson for CWCapital has previously declined to comment on the reported Fortress bid and was not immediately available for comment on the upcoming rally.
The purpose of the rally, the TA said, is to show any potential owner the political might of the tenants.
“It’s to let them know if they think we’re going to sit down and let them roll over us, they’re wrong,” said Steinberg. “If they think we can’t create trouble for them, they’re wrong. We expect the elected officials to continue to support us.”
Marsh added, “We need a responsible owner, who takes the long view and not just someone looking to make a quick buck, getting in and getting out.”
On May 13, CWCapital announced it would begin foreclosure proceedings on a chunk of the mezzanine debt that’s reportedly worth $300 million and set a sale for June 13. By doing so it will be able to take over the property, at least temporarily.
The TA’s rally will begin that day, a Friday at 10 a.m. on the steps on City Hall. Local elected officials are expected to attend and the TA is asking tenants to show up as well.

T&V Synagogue leaders don’t want landmark status

Town & Village Synagogue on East 14th Street (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Town & Village Synagogue on East 14th Street (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Although Town & Village Synagogue on East 14th Street is currently being considered for landmarking by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, the community most affected by the effort isn’t particularly enthusiastic about the prospect.

“We really don’t want the landmarking,” Synagogue President Marianna Mott Newirth said. “I’ll honor what their decision is but I don’t think the building merits landmarking. We take a position in preserving the community and we’ll have to go through all these hoops because of what they see from the street.”

Town & Village’s building has been on East 14th Street for 150 years, but the synagogue itself began elsewhere, so the physical manifestation for the congregation is not the most important aspect of the community for many of its members.

One such member, Peter Cooper Village resident Henry Condell, wrote a letter to the Landmarks Preservation Commission, published in the May 8 issue of Town & Village, that urged the commission not to landmark the synagogue because many members believe that the continuation of their traditions are more important than the building where the traditions are practiced.

“Even without the threat of landmarking, making our building safe, accessible and adaptable to our needs has proved to be beyond our means,” Condell argued. “Moreover, the space, laid out almost 150 years ago, poses tremendous safety risks to our congregation. Despite our best efforts and consultations with several professionals, we have been unable to come up with a practical and affordable solution to making this antiquated building safe.”

Newirth noted that the landmarking effort has been going on for almost 40 years and even just being under consideration has affected the synagogue’s ability to make the necessary repairs on their building. “Even just being calendared, if there’s anything that affects the façade we need to go through the LPC,” Newirth said. “There’s work on the roof that can’t be done because we’re being considered for landmarking. Those onion domes, which are one of the main reasons for the landmarking, are exceedingly leaky and of course that’s what everyone sees. But that’s one of the parts that needs to be fixed yesterday. And even now, our hands our tied. That’s a prime example of how being landmarked would cause delays.”

As a compromise, both Newirth and Condell have said that if landmarking does go through, they want to make a distinction between the front part of the building, which includes the historic façade and the main sanctuary, and the back part of the building, which encompasses the kitchen and office spaces that get used for various programs not necessarily related to their religious services. Per this distinction, they are hoping that only the front part of the building be considered for landmarking.

Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh submitted testimony in favor of the landmarking but also made the distinction between the two parts of the building, based on feedback from constituents who are members of the synagogue, and specified that only the front part of the building should be landmarked. He noted in his testimony that “the building in the back of the lot was not part of the original plan and serves various, newer purposes” and is not architecturally significant.

“We serve our membership but we also serve our greater community, people who are not Jewish,” Newirth said. “The people who were most vocal about landmarking our building have never stepped through our doors and never even knew there was a back building. I can completely understand (the architectural significance of the façade) and we’re not interested in ruining that but we are interested in enhancing what we have so our members can get the most out of our services.”

The LPC hosted a public hearing at the end of March about the proposed landmarking and kicked off a month of public feedback throughout April, but Newirth said that she isn’t sure how long they’ll be waiting for a response. She said that it might even be possible that they’ll have to go through the whole process again because, since the city’s administration has recently changed, a new chair of the commission was just appointed last week.

UPS says delivery policy never changed

Packages recently piled up in the lobby of Council  Member Dan Garodnick’s building in Peter Cooper Village. (Photo by Dan Garodnick)

Packages recently piled up in the lobby of Council Member Dan Garodnick’s building in Peter Cooper Village. (Photo by Dan Garodnick)

By Sabina Mollot
Back in April, CompassRock alerted residents to a change in policy in which UPS would no longer be leaving packages for residents outside their doors without their signatures. Instead, residents were advised they could get a membership to Oval Concierge, which would accept packages on their behalf. One month of complimentary service was offered in the emailed alert to residents “while you sort out your plans to get deliveries safely home.”
However, this week, UPS said that it never changed its policy and that packages could still be left outside doors. Council Member Dan Garodnick was made aware of this in a letter from UPS’s Vice President of State Government Affairs Mark Giuffre, after contacting the company. Garodnick also said he’s since alerted Oval Concierge to the error.
When asked about the alert, a spokesperson for UPS, Dan McMackin, told T&V, “We’re confused. We have no idea what they’re talking about.”
He added that there are buildings where owners handle packages for tenants and in those buildings, tenants are notified by UPS that the owner has them. However, said McMackin, there’s no such agreement at ST/PCV.
In response to a call from T&V, a spokesperson for CWCapital, Brian Moriarty, said the reason the alert went out is because UPS drivers were the ones to make a call as to whether or not to leave packages in buildings. Apparently they can decline to do so in the event of package thefts being reported at a particular building.
“We were just told by the customer service rep it is the driver’s discretion whether or not to leave a package when three or more packages have gone missing from a particular location,” Moriarty. “I don’t know that the flag on certain PCVST building would necessarily be communicated to the national (UPS) office.”
Meanwhile, Garodnick said he’s also followed up on another issue relating to packages left in buildings. In recent months, residents have been complaining that a third party delivery company for Amazon has been leaving packages unattended in building lobbies.
Recently, when spotting a deliveryman doing just this in his own building, Garodnick said he asked why the packages were being left there. The response: “He said, ‘Well most people aren’t home,’” said Garodnick. “So I’ve raised the issue with Amazon and they’re looking into the issue. I am trying to get us back into a place where people can expect to see packages in front of their doors without having to rely on Oval Concierge service.”
The third party delivery company, which apparently works for various dot coms, is called Special Logistics. They did not return a call by T&V’s press time.
McMackin said UPS would be looking into the matter of any packages left in lobbies. “Packages should not be showing up in lobbies,” he said.

Police Watch, May 22

MAN ASSAULTED ACROSS FROM STUY TOWN
A 36-year-old man reported that he was assaulted in front of No. 1 Chinese Restaurant at 263 First Avenue last Thursday at 9:30 p.m. He told police that he got into a fight with an unknown person who punched him in the face multiple times, causing a cut on his lips. The man then fled north on First Avenue. No arrests have been made.

ACCIDENT AT EAST 20TH AND FIRST AVENUE
An employee of Whole Foods told police that she was driving a vehicle belonging to her company at the northeast corner of First Avenue and East 20th Street last Saturday at 9:15 p.m. when she was involved in an accident. She told police that the other vehicle left the scene without stopping to exchange information.

PRESCRIPTION PADS STOLEN FROM CAR
A 37-year-old man reported that his car was broken into last Friday while it was parked in front of his office 225 East 17th Street. He told police that he parked the car on the south side of the street around 4 p.m. to go to work and the car was locked with all the windows rolled up. When he returned to the car at 9:10 p.m., he said that the contents of his glove box and car were thrown around and that three prescription pads were missing from the middle console. He said that he was sure the pads were in the car before he left. He said that none of the windows were broken but the back driver’s side window was lowered about one or two inches. There were no signs of forced entry.

‘DRUNK’ DRIVER ARRESTED ON FDR
Police arrested 22-year-old Alexander Zuluaga for intoxicated driving last Saturday at 5:10 a.m. at the northeast corner of the FDR and East 23rd Street. Police were responding to a motor vehicle accident at the scene and Zuluaga, one of the drivers involved, allegedly had the smell of alcohol on him and admitted that he had been drinking prior to the accident. He blew .132 on a Breathalyzer at the scene, police said.

ARREST FOR STOLEN PHONE AT CHURCH FLEA
Police arrested 53-year-old Eduardo Caraball for criminal possession of stolen property inside the flea market at Immaculate Conception in front of 409 East 14th Street last Saturday at 10:55 a.m. A plainclothes officer was inside the flea market in the church courtyard, a fencing-prone location, where Caraball was seen allegedly selling a white Galaxy Samsung phone that had been stolen from someone inside the 59th Street subway station last Wednesday.

BIKE STOLEN ON RUTHERFORD PLACE
A 48-year-old man reported that his bike was stolen after he parked it in front of 1 Rutherford Place last Wednesday at 10 p.m. He told police that he locked the bike to a pole and when he returned the next day at 8:36 a.m., the bicycle was gone but the lock was still attached to the pole.

WOMAN ARRESTED FOR SKIPPING CAB FARE
Police arrested 38-year-old Erin Beck for obstruction of government administration last Friday at 11:37 p.m. in front of 150 East 18th Street. Beck asked a cab driver to bring her to East 18th Street and Irving Place and after arriving, her debit card was declined multiple times when she tried to pay the $20 fare.
Beck told the driver that if he brought her to her apartment at 105 East 18th Street, she would go up and get cash to pay the fare. She said that she would give the driver her declined card to hold as a way to prove that she would come back down. The driver waited about an hour before notifying the police and upon going up to her apartment, she refused to pay the fare initially, police said.
When she was told of the consequences of not paying, she allegedly took a jar of coins from her closet and shoved them in the arresting officer’s face. She allegedly told police to “get the f— out” of her apartment and refused to go downstairs to give the coins to the driver.

MAN BUSTED FOR STOLEN BAG
Police arrested 58-year-old Adrian Cook for criminal possession of stolen property last Saturday at 2:05 a.m. at the southwest corner of Irving Place and East 14th Street. Cook was on the sidewalk allegedly searching through a blue backpack not belonging to him, containing an Apple laptop, computer charger, cell phone charger and vitamins. Cook allegedly threw the backpack into the trash in an effort to conceal the crime. He was also found in possession of a crack pipe containing residue.

ASSAULT AT SOCIETY BILLIARDS BAR
A 36-year-old man reported that he was assaulted while outside the Society Billiard Bar at 10 East 21st Street last Saturday at 3:45 a.m. He told police that he was leaving the bar when he bumped into someone else and they got into an argument. The other man then hit him on the head forcefully and several other men proceeded to punch and kick the victim, causing bruising and substantial pain. He said that he didn’t know the men who assaulted him and the men all fled in an unknown direction.

WINE THIEF BUSTED FOR THREATS
Police arrested 26-year-old Tymel Morgan for menacing inside NYC Wine Merchants at 745 Sixth Avenue last Friday at 4:39 p.m. The store owner told police that Morgan entered the store and removed a bottle of Terra Andina wine from the store without paying, so the owner followed him outside. Morgan then put the bottle on the ground, allowing the owner to take the bottle back. About 15 minutes later, Morgan returned to the store and when the owner asked him to leave, Morgan allegedly swung a broken beer bottle in the owner’s face in a threatening manner. Morgan allegedly became irate and started smashing bottles in the store, damaging six bottles of wine and then fled. He ran north on Sixth Avenue and police apprehended him in front of 125 West 24th Street.

EMS WORKERS ASSAULTED AT BRC
Police arrested 45-year-old Robert Virgilio for assault inside the BRC at 127 West 25th Street last Friday at 4:30 p.m. Virgilio allegedly attacked two EMS workers who were on duty. One of the workers was punched and scratched in the face and the second was bit on the right side of his chest, kicked in the leg and punched in the back of the neck by Virgilio, police said.

PS 40 PARENT HARASSED
A 49-year-old woman reported that she was harassed while she was bringing her son to PS 40 at 320 East 20th Street last Thursday at 9:35 a.m. She told police that she got into an argument with another parent, who has been harassing her over the last few months. Her son and the other woman’s son both go to PS 40 and live in the same building complex. She is in fear for her own safety and that of her son’s and is very alarmed. The school suggested that she file a police report about the incident.

‘PERV’ NABBED AT UNION SQUARE
Police arrested 32-year-old Shaunell Rios for forcible touching inside the Union Square subway station last Wednesday at 9:45 a.m. Rios allegedly rubbed and bumped his groin on a 38-year-old woman’s buttocks while on a downtown 5 train from 42nd Street Grand Central.

MAN BUSTED FOR ‘PICK-POCKETING’ SENIOR
Police arrested 48-year-old Duval Simmons for grand larceny at the northeast corner of Third Avenue and East 14th Street last Wednesday at 10:50 a.m. While riding an Eighth Avenue-bound L train, police saw Simmons put his jacket over his right arm and allegedly put his hands inside the pants pocket of a 70-year-old man in an attempt to remove his property. Simmons stiffened up and flailed his arms to prevent being handcuffed.

‘UPSKIRTER’ ARRESTED AT UNION SQUARE
Police arrested 27-year-old Ariel Visoso for unlawful surveillance last Thursday at 12:15 p.m. inside the Union Square subway station. Visoso allegedly placed a cell phone underneath the skirt of multiple women who were walking up the stairs while the recording feature was activated.

WOMAN BUSTED FOR FALSE BANK ACCOUNT
Police arrested 32-year-old Latrice Gregory for grand larceny inside the Banco Popular at 441 Second Avenue last Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. Gregory allegedly went to the bank and opened a checking account with forged identification. She then tried to take an $8,000 loan once the account was opened and was pre-approved, police said.

Letters to the editor, May 22

Time to stop making excuses on housing laws

The issues surrounding affordable middle incoming housing in New York City are complex and depressing at best. In past years leaders like Senator Roy Goodman, Councilman Andrew Eristoff and Assemblyman Steven Sanders worked tirelessly to keep PCV/ST a float for thousands of families. These Republicans and Democrats together saw the value in preserving this unique community.

Now after the sale by Met Life and the events surrounding it, it has become a circus of lawyers, politicians and greedy real estate moguls who cannot agree and have no vested interest or vision in preserving the community and its original purpose.

Politicians and the like continue to make excuses such as no movement in Albany on campaign finance reform, ineffectual rent laws and chronic Republican-bashing.

If State Senator Hoylman had stayed after his talk at the tenants meeting on Saturday, May 10, he might have heard questions from the floor by people who are directly affected by this housing crisis and shared his ideas about what he might actually do to support the efforts to preserve the PCV/ST community, instead of passing the buck and again blaming it all on the Republicans’ eternal blockage in the state housing committee.

Are we really so strapped politically? If this issue of affordable middle class housing is really a priority, you can’t just give it lip service. The most movement in this whole situation, quite frankly, has been the persistent hard work of the ST-PCV Tenants Association.

Frank J. Scala, ST
President,
Albano Republican Club

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Robberies, larcenies down in 13th Precinct, assaults are up

Deputy Inspector David Ehrenberg, pictured at a recent meeting of the 13th Precinct Community Council (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Deputy Inspector David Ehrenberg, pictured at a recent meeting of the 13th Precinct Community Council (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Crime was down 4.7 percent overall in the 13th precinct last month, with robberies, grand larcenies and car thefts all down as well. Burglaries, often a problem for the precinct, were even for the month. Felony assaults were up but in most cases, the people involved knew each other or it had to do with incidents involving EMTs and peace officers.
The neighborhood’s recent crime was reviewed at the 13th Precinct Community Council meeting last Tuesday by the precinct’s commanding officer, David Ehrenberg.
“We’ve been getting crushed with burgs but we were down seven residential burglaries this month,” Ehrenberg said. “There’s still an issue with commercial burglaries and we’re trying to get businesses with burglary alarms and preventative measures.”
He added that a number of residential burglaries were still occurring because apartment doors were being left unlocked.
“You could have the best lock in the world but if it’s not locked, it’s not going to do any good,” he said. “It’s common sense to lock your door. It’s our responsibility to catch the crooks but we need your help to prevent it.”
Grand larcenies were down in the last month and the numbers are down for the year as well.
“We’re very happy with those numbers,” Ehrenberg said. “Property theft is what drives our crime and we drive a lot of city crime just because of those numbers, so we’re glad it’s down.”
While grand larcenies are down overall for the neighborhood, Ehrenberg noted that the theft of unattended property and identity theft have increased slightly. ATM skimmers continue to be a problem for the precinct and Ehrenberg advised residents to check the card readers at the machines to make sure they’re not the flimsy scanners attached by criminals attempting to steal personal information and to cover the keypad while entering the card’s PIN.
Ehrenberg continued to be baffled by the number of unattended property thefts in the precinct in places like Starbucks, mainly because the crime is so preventable.
“We took a walk to a lot of different places in the precinct today and we saw a lot of laptops just sitting there,” he said. “You’re not going to leave $500 sitting out but people are leaving $1,000 and $2,000 computers unattended. It’s an opportunist’s crime.”
Grand larceny auto, specifically of motorcycles, was a major problem for the precinct last year but Ehrenberg said that the precinct is down for the month and the year in car thefts.

Stuy Town resident says gold watch was stolen from apartment, then returned

Frank Scala, at a recent Tenants Association meeting, discusses how his gold watch went missing. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Frank Scala, at a recent Tenants Association meeting, discusses how his gold watch went missing. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot
During a string of burglaries a year ago in Stuyvesant Town, when someone who may have been working for the property stole jewelry from apartments, longtime resident Frank Scala’s was one of them.
Only in his case, when a gold watch was stolen, it was returned.
Though it’s a year later, the incident was clearly fresh in Scala’s mind when he discussed it at a Tenants Association meeting on May 10.
Scala, who owns the La Scala barber shop on Fifth Avenue, is also a community activist, serving as the president of 13th Precinct Community Council and the Albano Republican Club.
He brought up the burglary during a Q&A period, though the only answer he got was the stunned silence of his neighbors in the audience.
According to Scala, the incident occurred on the day that work was being done on his apartment’s intercom. He hadn’t particularly wanted to let anyone in his home while he was at work, but the intercom work wasn’t optional.
So naturally, Scala was shocked to discover when he came home later that day that his gold watch was missing. He’d noticed it was gone when he’d opened a drawer looking for something else. Two gold rings and another watch, this one just a knockoff of a Rolex design, were also missing.
Scala, who’s now 75, called Public Safety and the police.
Then, said Scala, a week after the incident, he returned home from work to find the watch, inside a plastic grocery store bag that was hanging off his doorknob.
He said he wasn’t completely surprised about this as the watch, while valuable with platinum and diamond accents, had his name engraved inside. “You can’t sell it because it’s unique,” he told Town & Village. The rings, he added, were never returned.
Adding insult to injury, said Scala, is that the work that was done on his intercom was never completed. “There’s been a hole in the wall where the intercom used to be.”
This week, a detective at the 13th Precinct said the case is closed since the watch was found. A spokesperson for CWCapital declined to comment.
Last May, four burglaries were reported, each one at buildings in Stuyvesant Town where repairs were being made on the intercoms. Scala’s is one of them. The burglar or burglars, who never left any sign of forced entry, took thousands of dollars worth of expensive gold jewelry in each apartment hit. The pattern stopped, however, after a master key was taken away from the contractors doing the work.

 

Stuyvesant Town dad: Rezoning put my kids in different schools

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

When Paul and Allison Walsh sent their daughter Jane to PS 40 for pre-K in 2003, they never thought there would be any problems sending the rest of their children there, especially since they haven’t moved from their apartment at 17 Stuyvesant Oval in 18 years.

Jane Walsh, 15;  Gavin Walsh, 12; and Nora Walsh will be 5 in June

Jane Walsh, 15; Gavin Walsh, 12; and Nora Walsh will be 5 in June

But now that their youngest daughter Nora is going into kindergarten this coming fall, the family has discovered that there won’t be a spot for her in the popular elementary school because, even though their address was in District 2 when they moved into their apartment, they are now in District 1, according to information from the Department of Education.

In between their oldest and youngest daughters, the Walshes had a son, Gavin, and the first signs of zoning troubles appeared when they tried to enroll him in the school in 2007. Although it wasn’t a problem for Jane to gain admission, Paul said that when they sent in the application for Gavin, they received a call from the school’s principal, noting that 17 Stuyvesant Oval was no longer in District 2.

They were able to get a zoning variance for him to attend because their daughter was still enrolled at the time, but since their son graduated from PS 40 in June 2013, the system effectively views them as a purely District 1 family now, even though Paul noted that they’ve spent the past ten years building relationships in the PS 40 community and have had two children in the school.

Although the zoning line between District 2 and District 1 for elementary schools seems to fall evenly at East 14th Street on the DOE’s online maps, the reality is more complicated. The line actually cuts through Stuyvesant Town around East 18th Street, putting a number of buildings in the complex in District 1 with the majority in District 2.

A memo that the Department of Education released in 2007 further complicated the line, noting that the DOE had been using incorrect information to make school assignments since 1984 for certain buildings in Stuyvesant Town. The memo said that the other odd-numbered buildings in 11 to 21 Stuyvesant Oval, which had been incorrectly assigned to PS 40, were actually zoned for PS 19 in District 1 and that the odd-numbered buildings in 239 to 273 Avenue C, also previously assigned to PS 40, were zoned for PS 61 in District 1.

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MCI settlement was best possible deal for tenants, TA attorney says

Tenants Association attorney Tim Collins at a meeting on Saturday (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Tenants Association attorney Tim Collins at a meeting on Saturday (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot
On the heels of the MCI settlement between CWCapital and the ST-PCV Tenants Association, around 250 tenants attended a meeting on Saturday to learn more about what the deal meant for them.
As usual almost all in attendance at the TA meeting, held at the Simon Baruch Middle School, were seniors. A bunch came armed with questions regarding the MCIs as well as quality of life and general affordability issues. However, those with unique circumstances were herded into another room at the school where there were tables to set up to help people understand the figures on their leases and with other problems.
Meanwhile, Tim Collins, the attorney for the ST-PCV Tenants Association addressed the crowd. First, he responded to some “grumbling” the deal has gotten since for most non-“Roberts” tenants, there’s only five percent removed from their monthly payments. Collins argued that as with any settlement, “you have to make deals. You have to trade something.” “Roberts” tenants wound up getting the higher reductions or full eliminations of the monthly payments because, said Collins, “they’re already paying very high rents.”
As a result of the deal, all tenants have had the retroactive portion of their MCIs (major capital improvements) eliminated. As for the monthly or permanent portion, “Roberts” tenants paying the full legal rent get a 5 percent credit. “Roberts’ tenants paying either the maximum modified legal rent or the maximum “Roberts” preferential rent get a 50 percent credit (as determined by the class action settlement). “Roberts” tenants paying less than the modified legal rent or “Roberts” preferential rent get a credit of 100 percent.
SCRIE/DRIE tenants are also exempt from having to pay the MCIs at all.
Non-“Roberts” tenants paying the full legal rent get a 5 percent credit. Non-“Roberts” tenants paying less than the full legal rent get a credit of 100 percent.  The credits are retroactive to January of this year and appear as two separate credits on tenants’ rent bill from May (one for May, one for the other four months).
While discussing the settlement, Collins tried to discourage residents from filing individual PARs (petitions for administrative review) since that could unravel the settlement for all tenants, a clause CW insisted on. Those hoping to score a better deal, warned Collins, would have less standing as individuals with the Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) than a coalition like the TA has. He also pointed out that the TA had been at work for months in the hope of getting the best possible deal.
“I think we accomplished that,” said Collins.
He also shared with tenants that the settlement almost didn’t happen, with the talks breaking down twice. He declined to explain why, but admitted he wasn’t happy about having to agree that tenants would have to give up the option to file PARs.
But in trying to see it from the owner’s side, Collins said, “They wanted there to be finality. They wanted to have peace. They don’t want to fight 500 or 1,000 PARs that disrupt the deal.”
The deal does however make exceptions for tenants who want to file a PAR in unusual circumstances, such as the room count of their apartments being incorrect, since MCI costs vary based on the number of rooms in a unit.
Collins also reminded tenants that even before the negotiations, the TA had managed to convince the DHCR to knock 23 percent off the amount then-owner Tishman Speyer asked for in 2009. The challenge that followed came about after tenants received notices of the approved MCIs last fall and Collins saw that none of his arguments made in 2012 against the improvements, such as shoddy workmanship, had been considered.
The attorney also echoed the sentiment often made by local politicians that MCIs are not just a problem for tenants in Stuy Town, but a result of a law that favors landlords by allowing them to charge in perpetuity for building improvements.
“The main problem is in Albany,” he said.

Collins’ advice: Sign a one-year lease, not two.
Collins concluded his talk by urging tenants who have lease renewals coming up before October to take a one-year lease rather than a two-year one.
The reason, said Collins, who served as the executive director/counsel for the Rent Guidelines Board from 1987-1994, is that the RGB is expected to vote for a lower increase this year than what was handed down in previous years. Even a rent freeze is possible based on the preliminary vote last week. However, the increase voted on won’t go into effect until October.
Collins added that in recent years, the board’s increases amount to “nothing less than a scandal.”
The reason, he said, is that arguments made in support of owners involved projected operating cost increases that were much higher than what they actually turned out to be. At the same time, household incomes were dropping. Collins admitted that when he worked for the board, he took a somewhat hands-off approach, telling its members, “It’s not your job to make every apartment affordable or every building profitable for owners.” But over time, he started to feel like landlords were being given too much and advised the board to implement a rent freeze.
“This year I’m asking for a rollback,” he added.
Following his comments, TA President John Marsh chimed in to say Collins was speaking for himself and not on behalf of the TA, since what kind of lease to sign is always a gamble.
Council Member Dan Garodnick also spoke about the RGB, to recommend that tenants to participate in this year’s vote process by speaking at public hearings about their MCIs. With a new chair and new mayor, Garodnick pointed out that tenants have a better shot at swaying the board this year than they’ve had in the last 20 years. “I would encourage you to make your voices heard,” he said. “It’s quite an opportunity for tenants in this city.”
(Editor’s note: In a recent editorial, T&V also recommended that tenants tell the RGB about their MCIs, in the hope that hearing about unexpected increases tenants are made to pay mid-lease will have an impact on the board’s decision on the annual increase.)
The next public hearing in Manhattan takes place on June 16 at the Emigrant Savings Bank at 49-51 Chambers Street from 2-6 p.m.

ST-PCV Tenants Association President John Marsh speaking at a Tenants Association meeting on Saturday, with Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, Comptroller Scott Stringer, State Senator Brad Hoylman and Council Member Dan Garodnick (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

ST-PCV Tenants Association President John Marsh speaking at a Tenants Association meeting on Saturday, with Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, Comptroller Scott Stringer, State Senator Brad Hoylman and Council Member Dan Garodnick (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Support for tenant-led purchase of ST/PCV
Another issue discussed at the meeting was the future sale of ST/PCV, with Garodnick saying a tenant-led deal has the support of the city’s housing commissioner.
Later, he told Town & Village that along with HPD (Department of Housing Preservation and Development) Commissioner Vicki Been, he’d also spoken with the deputy mayor for economic development, Alicia Glen.
“My sense from them was that they wanted to find a way to be supportive of tenants in our initiative if they can,” he said.
On the other hand, CWCapital has remained unwilling to talk business.
“Not just with us but with anybody,” Garodnick said at the meeting. “We all suspect that a sale is somewhere on the horizon, but we’re not sure when.”
(Three days after the meeting, the plan to foreclose on the Stuy Town’s mezzanine was made public.)

Tenants at the meeting at Simon Baruch Middle School (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Tenants at the meeting at Simon Baruch Middle School (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Why tenants are pretty much doomed thanks to Albany and City Hall
As always, there was also much depressing talk about the politics governing rent laws at the event. Local elected officials took turns at the podium explaining why tenant-friendly bills never get anywhere.
State Senator Brad Hoylman reiterated a point he’s made before, saying that until there’s campaign finance reform, the State Senate, which is controlled by Republicans, will remain a place that’s more friendly to landlords than tenants. He noted that many of the Republicans get millions in campaign contributions from real estate interests and also often live in upstate districts where there are few renters. The Olean, NY-based Cathy Young, who chairs the Senate Standing Committee on Housing, Construction and Community Development, has blocked campaign finance reform from even being discussed on the Senate floor, Hoylman said. This, he explained, is why Senate members have been reduced to arguing about yogurt.
“Her district is closer to Detroit than Manhattan,” said Hoylman of Young, who’s also legislatively tried to undo “Roberts v. Tishman Speyer.” “We need to continue to fight for campaign finance reform,” Hoylman added. “It is fundamental to changing the power dynamic in Albany.”
Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh then spoke about how the state housing agency’s new Tenants Protection Unit was in danger of being de-funded by the State Senate.
Also at the meeting was Comptroller Scott Stringer who said that the mayor’s housing plan aimed at building or preserving 200,000 units of affordable housing won’t be enough to make up for the amount of affordable units that are getting lost each year. In the last 12 years,
Stringer said, “rent have skyrocketed by 75 percent,” while in the past 16 years, 400,000 apartments that rented for $1,000 or less disappeared. “Two hundred thousand (units), it’s just not enough to deal with the crisis,” Stringer said.

ST-PCV Tenants Association still in, despite reported Fortress bid

ST-PCV Tenants Association President John Marsh speaking at a Tenants Association meeting on Saturday, with Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, Comptroller Scott Stringer, State Senator Brad Hoylman and Council Member Dan Garodnick (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

ST-PCV Tenants Association President John Marsh speaking at a Tenants Association meeting on Saturday, with Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, Comptroller Scott Stringer, State Senator Brad Hoylman and Council Member Dan Garodnick (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

On Thursday morning, the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association announced that it was still interested in buying, and hoped that now that foreclosure proceedings have begun, CWCapital would be ready to talk business.
In an email sent out to neighbors (also available online) Tenants Association President John Marsh said, “We want to make certain that the young families just now trying to put down roots here, can carry on that tradition and that no tenant will ever again be at the mercy of a predatory landlord. The TA-Brookfield plan would deliver full recovery to the primary bondholders. Now that CW can no longer claim the place is not for sale, we hope they will take our offer seriously.”
CWCapital has so far kept its tradition of not saying anything about selling the place, other than a brief statement on Tuesday to announce the foreclosure on the property’s mezzanine debt and a sale scheduled for June 13.
Marsh also said in the email, “CWCapital will become the owner of the property on June 13, at least temporarily. Subsequently, they could hold an auction similar to what we saw in 2006, when Tishman Speyer bought the property.”
A report by Businessweek has said CW parent company Fortress was preparing a bid of $4.7 billion.
While he was running for mayor, Bill de Blasio promised he would keep ST/PCV affordable. Council Member Dan Garodnick has said he learned that a tenant-led bid would have the support of the city’s housing commissioner, Vicki Been, and the deputy mayor for economic development, Alicia Glen. In an official statement, Glen said, “Stuy Town and Peter Cooper Village are critical bulwarks of affordability for middle class families. Our housing plan emphasizes preservation, and with so many affordable units at risk in these developments, the stakes are too high to be hands-off. We are in active discussions with the lenders, Councilman Dan Garodnick and tenants in the hopes of reaching a joint approach.”