Two fires in Stuy Town this week

By Sabina Mollot
As construction work was ongoing at an Avenue C building, a fire started at around 9:45 p.m. on Wednesday night. According to a resident of 315 Avenue C, the smoke could be smelled in apartments and three firetrucks responded to what was apparently a welding accident.

Initially, a rep for the FDNY said the only record of a fire that was responded to was a rubbish fire that started in a dumpster located near Avenue C. The Fire Dept. rep said he suspected that was the same incident the resident reported. However, another spokesperson for the FDNY, Elisheva Zakheim, later also said a fire was called in at 9:50 p.m. with trucks responding to 321 Avenue C three minutes and 21 seconds later. At that time, firefighters found smoke conditions resulting from the fire that was extinguished before they got there by workers who had been “sweating a pipe.” Firefighters then searched that building and the adjacent building, 315, to make sure there was no other fire and to ventilate and clear smoke. They left the scene after 38 minutes and no one was injured.

The fire broke had broken out while water was shut down at 315 as well as 319 and 321 Avenue C.
The water shutdown had been scheduled ahead of time due to the construction. However it continued hours past when the water was supposed to come back on, which was 4 p.m. The resident who spoke with T&V said water still wasn’t even back on by 10 p.m., leaving him and his neighbors unable to wash or flush the toilet.

“I understand situations happen,” he said, “but one, they should have communicated updates – they have our email addresses and can have public safety hang signs – and two, they should have made accommodations for the restroom.”

We’ll update this post when we hear back from CWCapital on the fire and water shutdown.

There was also a fire on Friday evening, that 20 trucks with almost 80 firefighters responded to at 287 Avenue C in Stuyvesant Town. The blaze, which was reported at 9:30 p.m., was accidental, fire marshals determined, caused by tea candles. According to the FDNY, the fire was brought under control 31 minutes after the call with no injuries.

This article was updated to include additional information from the FDNY.

Letters to the editor, May 8

Landmarking won’t help T&V Synagogue

The following is an open letter given as testimony regarding the possible landmarking of the Town & Village Synagogue. (It has been edited for length.)

Dear Commissioners and Landmarks Preservation Staff:

As a member of the Town & Village Synagogue and as a longtime resident of the community in which the Synagogue is located, I strongly oppose landmark designation of our building.

I have been a member of the synagogue for the past 21 years and a resident of this community since 1980. The T&V Synagogue has been an important part of my life, and the life of my wife and family. Our children attended its innovative Hebrew School for many years and we as a family have attended services at T&V regularly for more than two decades. It is a spiritual home and a community home for all of us. We are not a wealthy congregation but a very engaged, active community.

Throughout the period in which we have been members of the T&V community, our building has been a problem without solution. Our physical space has been a great challenge to us and has placed great limitations on the number and kinds of activities and programs that we can have at any one time. Even without the threat of landmarking, making our building safe, accessible and adaptable to our needs has proved to be beyond our means. Moreover, the space, laid out almost 150 years ago, poses tremendous safety risks to our congregation. During regular Saturday services, our sanctuary usually has approximately 125 people in attendance, many of them elderly and dependent on canes, walkers and wheelchairs. Despite years of efforts to solve the emergency egress problems that are posed by the dangerous stairways and limited exits, our congregation has not been able to come up with a viable plan to rectify this dangerous situation. This situation is even more dire on the high holidays, when the sanctuary is jammed with more than 400 people. I have served on several committees over the years tasked with finding a solution to these dire problems.

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.  In addition, the lack of an elevator makes access to the sanctuary difficult or impossible for people with disabilities, which is only partially rectified by the presence of a chair lift on one of the stairwells, which when working, makes entry and egress for both the disabled and those who otherwise use that stairway slow and difficult.

We also take issue with the alleged basis for landmarking our building. We believe that our building has minimal architectural value, and the historical value of it having been a house of worship for many generations is simply misplaced. The congregations that occupied our building before us left for more suitable locations, and we as a congregation should be free to do so also. In fact, it is not this undistinguished building that is of historical value to the community, but the vital continuation of the traditions of worship and community service that can best be served by allowing our congregation to maximize the benefits of a new or radically redesigned building.

We are lucky to be serving new constituencies as our community grows and changes, but the financial constraints of a landmarking designation for our building will be a hardship to us.

I have consistently supported landmarking of major architectural and cultural buildings. However, blanket landmarking of whole neighborhoods (or individual buildings) with little architectural import makes a mockery of the substantial benefit that underlies the landmarking law. If T&V is to be landmarked (to which I vehemently object), I repeat and renew the request to exclude from landmark designation the separate back building that is not visible from East 14th Street or First and Second Avenues.

Thank you for your consideration.

Henry Condell, PCV


Continue reading

Police Watch, May 8: Man on robbery spree tasers victim, ‘perv’ busted at Union Square subway


Photo of the suspect in Bhojan Inc.

Photo of the suspect in Bhojan Inc.

The NYPD is still trying to track down a gunman believed to be behind to a series of armed robberies of businesses starting last November. In the latest incident, he tasered his victim, before fleeing with $1,800, seven cartons of Newport cigarettes and 29 lottery scratch-off games. This occurred at Two Friends store on 46 8th Avenue on May 4. The robber first pulled a gun on a store clerk before ordering him onto the floor. He then zip-tied the victim’s hands and tasered him several times.
Police believe that he is the same thug responsible for a holdup at gunpoint at Marim Candy Store at 381 First Avenue across from Peter Cooper Village. In that incident, on February 28, he made off with about $3,000.
The suspect is described as white, 40-50 years of age, approximately 5’8” in height and of medium build. He was wearing a black Chicago White Sox baseball hat with the word CHICAGO printed across the front.
Anyone with information in regards to these incidents is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).  The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website at or by texting TIP577 and their tips to 274637 (CRIMES). All calls are strictly confidential.
UPDATE, May 9: Police obtained photos of the suspect, seen here, taken in Bhojan Inc. at 270 West 36th Street, where he went on May 6 around 4:10 p.m. to redeem lottery tickets.

Police arrested 50-year-old Stephen Martinez for public lewdness last Friday at 9:47 a.m. inside the Union Square subway station. Martinez was standing on the downtown 4/5/6 platform at Grand Central, allegedly masturbating with his hand inside his pants. He then boarded a downtown 4 train and stood behind a 30-year-old woman, closing his eyes and continuing to masturbate until his penis became erect, police said. He allegedly continued this behavior from the 42nd Street station to Union Square.

Police arrested 32-year-old Karl Sholder for unlawful surveillance at the Union Square subway station last Monday, April 28 at 3:50 p.m. A 24-year-old woman was walking up the stairs from the N platform when Sholder allegedly followed her while holding his cell phone under her dress with the video camera function activated. The victim had no knowledge of his actions and told police that she didn’t know him.

A 29-year-old man reported that he was assaulted while he was in the Baruch College library at 17 Lexington Avenue last Wednesday at 11 a.m. He told police that he was studying when another man came into the library suddenly and started making a lot of noise. The victim said that he approached the boisterous individual and asked him to please be quiet but the man said that he wasn’t too happy at being told what to do and sucker-punched the victim in the left eye, causing a blood clot in his eye and a swollen left cheek. No arrests were made.

Police arrested 54-year-old Stanley Rawls for criminal possession of a weapon on an uptown F train at the Sixth Avenue/23rd Street station last Thursday at 11:30 a.m. Rawls was seen panhandling for change by shaking a cup, walking up and down the middle car of the train, and after searching him, police found that he was allegedly in possession of a sock with metal bars in it.

A 23-year-old woman reported that her bag was stolen while she was inside Slate bar at 54 West 21st Street last Saturday at 2 a.m. She told police that she was hanging out in the bar and left her bag on the couch. When she returned to get the bag, it was no longer there.

A 28-year-old woman told police that her purse was stolen while she was at the bar in the Ace Hotel at 20 West 29th Street last Saturday at 2 a.m. She reported that she was with friends at the bar and put her bag on the table behind her where others had done the same. Ten minutes later when she went to retrieve her purse, which contained cash, her iPhone 5, MetroCard and keys, it was gone.

A 27-year-old woman reported that her phone was stolen while she was inside the bar at the Gansevoort Hotel inside 420 Park Avenue South on Friday, April 25 at 1:50 a.m. She told police on May 1 that she assumed the phone had fallen out of her bag because it doesn’t close securely. She said that she called her phone the next day and made contact with a man who said that the phone was in Brooklyn and he would return it to the Gansevoort because he would like someone to do the same if the situation ever happened to him. However, the man didn’t mention a time frame for the return and the victim said that she has been calling the hotel every day since the incident and her property hasn’t been returned.

A Peter Cooper Village resident reported that his bike was damaged after he parked it in the garage at Avenue C and East 20th Street last Wednesday at 6 p.m. He noticed after returning to retrieve the bike at 9 p.m. the same day that it had been vandalized. No arrests have been made.

Police arrested 54-year-old Wilfredo Rodriguez for petit larceny that occurred inside Gramercy Wine and Spirits at 104 East 23rd Street on Friday, April 18 at 2:16 p.m. Rodriguez allegedly removed a bottle of Moët Rosé from the shelf and fled the store without paying. He was arrested for the theft last Saturday at 4:40 p.m.

A 35-year-old man reported that his car was missing after he parked it in front of 36 West 20th Street last Saturday at 9 p.m. He returned to the spot at noon the next day and found that the car, a Mercedes Benz valued at $83,000, was missing. The victim told police that he left the vehicle locked and secure and there was no broken glass at the scene. The car is equipped with an alarm but computer checks were negative.

A 42-year-old man reported that his property was stolen from his van that he parked in front of 3 West 17th Street last Friday at 2:30 a.m. He returned to the commercial van at 3:50 a.m. and he noticed that his passenger’s side window was smashed by an unknown object and his Samsung tablet had been stolen.

A 66-year-old man told police that he was harassed while he was standing with his car at the northeast corner of First Avenue and East 17th Street last Sunday at 4 p.m. He said that another man hit his car window with his hand, cursed at the victim’s family and made threatening statements.

Police arrested 47-year-old Franklin Gaskin for petit larceny at the northeast corner of Lexington Avenue and East 27th Street last Tuesday at 10:35 a.m. Gaskin allegedly removed a messenger bag from inside the victim’s car without permission.

A 60-year-old man told police that he was harassed on East 17th Street between First and Second Avenue last Sunday at 4 p.m. He reported that he got into an argument with another man when the man pushed him to the ground.