Garodnick aims to put the brakes on scofflaw cyclists

Council Member Dan Garodnick discussed bike-related safety issues at a press conference in Queens last week.

Council Member Dan Garodnick discussing bike-related safety issues at a press conference in Queens in 2012

By Sabina Mollot

Council Member Dan Garodnick is aiming to rein in cyclists who flout traffic rules. Noting that the problem of bike riders failing to yield to pedestrians has become an increasingly common problem on the East Side of Manhattan, the council member penned a letter to five precincts covering the area in the hopes of getting cops to step up enforcement of bike infractions.

In the letter, which was sent to the commanding officers of the 13th, 17th, 19th, Midtown South and Midtown North Precincts, Garodnick said that it’s no longer just delivery people who can be blamed for cutting off pedestrians or riding the wrong way in the bike lanes.

“Rather,” he said, “commuting and recreational bicyclists are equally often the culprits of such behavior. I have seen I myself repeatedly and it has been reiterated to me by countless constituents.”

Other problems he’s noticed include riding on the sidewalks and riding in the right direction on the street but outside of bike lanes. In those cases sometimes Garodnick said he understood cyclists were breaking the rules for their own safety so he also asked police for more enforcement of vehicles illegally stopped on bike lanes or those who don’t yield to bike riders.

Garodnick noted that he didn’t think enforcement should come via a “ticketing blitz” on select days but be a regular routine and he also suggested more cops be deployed on bikes specifically for this purpose. He also noted that he’d been in touch with Transportation Alternatives, and the organization had since committed to doing outreach in areas the precincts believe it might be helpful.

“I have too many constituents who are afraid to cross the street,” Garodnick told Town & Village. “Not just because of the cars, anymore. We need more constant enforcement of the rules.”

Since sending the letter last Thursday, Garodnick said he said he’d heard from precinct commanders who said they were aware of the problem. Indeed, inconsiderate bike riders are often the bane of community residents who voice their concerns at monthly meetings of the 13th Precinct Community Council. While Garodnick noted that Central Park, which is in his district, has had the most high profile issue with bike infractions, the rest of the district, from the Upper East Side down to Stuyvesant Town, has just as many.

In particular, “from 14th Street to 23rd Street, it’s a regular problem,” he said. “As it’s gotten safer to ride bikes in New York City, which is a very good thing, we need to readjust and focus our attention onto the rules that apply to everyone.”

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Flatiron and Union Square BIDs gear up for holiday season

A family poses for holiday portraits at Union Square Park. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

A family poses for holiday portraits at Union Square Park. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Neighborhood groups have been kicking off the holiday season this past week with events aimed at promoting local businesses as shopping destinations as well as consumer safety during a busy time of year for crime. Department of Consumer Affairs commissioner Julie Menin was on the Flatiron’s south public plaza last Thursday to remind consumers to be vigilant while shopping during the holidays and the Union Square community kicked off the holiday shopping season with free professional portraits in the pavilion on the north plaza on Sunday.

Jennifer Falk, executive director of the Union Square Partnership, said that this year was the first time portraits were offered. “We’ve been doing some new community events but this one is really to kick off the holiday season,” she said. The schedule was booked for the day and Falk noted that people were having their photos taken with family and some people even brought their pets. “We’re excited that the community is coming out,” she said, adding that this is one of the new holidays programs the Partnership is adding this season.

The Association for the Help of Retarded Children (AHRC), based in Lower Manhattan, usually takes a weekly field trip to Union Square on Sundays. They meet at the Barnes and Noble across from the north plaza and were able to get a group photo because they happened to be in the area. Leroy Dyer, the program supervisor, takes the kids on recreational trips every weekend and he said that the kids were excited that the event happened to coincide with their weekly outing.

Meanwhile, Menin was at the Flatiron Plaza doling out tips on how New Yorkers can get the most for their money during the busy shopping season. She cited the list of “10 Things Every Consumer Should Know,” which is available on the city website at nyc.gov/consumers. The list includes tips about making a budget, being alert for holiday scams and being aware of consumer rights.

Jennifer Brown, Flatiron BID executive director, speaks at the Flatiron Plaza. (Photo by Cameron Blaylock, courtesy of Van Alen Institute)

Jennifer Brown, Flatiron BID executive director, speaks at the Flatiron Plaza. (Photo by Cameron Blaylock, courtesy of Van Alen Institute)

“We want to support small business and make sure that hardworking New Yorkers get the most for their money,” Menin said. She added that some of the important tips to keep in mind are to compare prices and be aware of stores’ refund policies. Parents should also be particularly aware of product recalls, which can be checked through the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website at cpsc.gov.

“We want residents to be aware of all the great small businesses that are here, regardless of the neighborhood, but we do have a lot of both independent and national businesses in the Flatiron District,” Flatiron BID executive director Jennifer Brown noted at the event. “There’s something for everyone here. We want to encourage people to shop local and help independent businesses thrive.”

Letters to the Editor, Nov. 27

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Remembering the Ave. C sanitation garage

Dear Town & Village,

I am writing about your October 9 page one article, “CB6 offers proposal: sanitation garage could go near Con Ed.”

It went on to say, “(there’s) a plan that presents the possibility of building the facility near the Con Edison plant at East 14th Street and Avenue C.” (That’s where the big gas tanks used to be; Stuyvesant Town was – out of what used to be known as “The Gashouse District” and is now a sports field for Little League baseball and soccer.) For Community Board 6 it would be an alternative to building a garage the Department of Sanitation wants to build at East 25th Street between First Avenue and the FDR.

Once upon a time, there was a sanitation garage on Avenue C between 16th and 17th Streets and it was there before STPCV was built. It was enormous, taller than ST buildings and it was large enough to hold several ST buildings with space to spare. From my parents’ window, you could see ST buildings, Playground 4, the FDR Drive, the East River and “the building.”

It was referred to as “The Sanitation Garage” or “the building” because there was nothing designating its name. That was just one of its mysteries. All anyone knew was that sanitation trucks (called “garbage trucks” then), snow plows and other snow removal equipment and other vehicles for various city uses parked there. You rarely saw a vehicle enter and never saw a vehicle leave. They made very little noise entering the building’s steep ramp. No one I knew ever saw a vehicle leave it. There was never a light on in any of its windows.

The only sign of life in it ever were yellow painted block letters on 23 of its many thousands of windows spelling out “Welcome, Colonel John Glenn.” This was in 1962, after he became the first American to orbit the earth. He was in New York for a ticker-tape parade and the FDR Drive overpass by it. My guess is he didn’t see it while playing handball in Pat’s Park.

The sign stayed on its windows until the building was town down in the 1980s.

I remember thinking, “they shouldn’t tear this building down because they don’t build them like this anymore and they’ll need it sometime in the future.” It would have solved the problem of building a new one on East 14th and Avenue C (and eliminating the sports field there now) or building a new one on East 25th Street.

If a new sanitation garage is built on East 15th and Avenue C, it might outlive STPCV. In 2065, there may not be an STPCV. Who knows what the future holds?

STPCV might be bought up, leveled and replaced by higher-priced high rises. Its tenants may find the sanitation garage not “befitting” their neighborhood and pressure the powers that be into building one some place else (possibly East 25th Street). Then they would have a lovely field at East 15th and Avenue C worthy of their children’s need for a large sports field.

A cautionary tale,

Richard Luksin
Minneapolis, MN

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Police Watch: Union Square ‘trespasser’ arrested, man assaulted by cellphone

MAN ASSAULTED IN FRONT OF BETH ISRAEL
Police arrested Michael Rohan, 22, for assault in front of Beth Israel Medical Center at 281 First Avenue last Saturday at 3:53 a.m. Rohan was being escorted out of the building when he allegedly punched the man escorting him in the face, causing redness, swelling and substantial pain.

TWO ARRESTED IN FIGHT ON EAST 23RD
Police arrested 27-year-old Farrag Bassam and 31-year-old Mohamed Moussa for assault in front of 115 East 23rd Street last Saturday at 6:30 p.m. Bassam and Moussa got into a fight in front of the location. Bassam allegedly bit Moussa, causing cuts, and police said that Moussa hit Bassam in the head, causing a bruise.

MAN BUSTED FOR DRUGS IN NYCHA BUILDING
Martin Negron, 42, was arrested for possession of a hypodermic instrument inside 224 East 28th Street last Tuesday at 9:06 p.m. Negron was allegedly inside a stairwell on the 14th floor of the NYCHA building, without knowing anyone in the building.
After he was stopped, he was found to be in possession of alleged crack cocaine and several alleged crack pipes, as well as a prescription to trazodone that wasn’t his, two knives and 18 hypodermic needles, police said. Negron was also charged with possession of a weapon, possession of a controlled substance and criminal trespassing.

URINATOR BUSTED FOR RAZOR BLADES
Police arrested 54-year-old Charles Holt for weapons possession at the corner of Seventh Avenue and West 14th Street last Wednesday at 3:15 a.m. Police said that Holt was urinating in front of the location in plain view and when he was searched, he was allegedly in possession of two razor blades with no legitimate reason to carry them. He allegedly told police that he carries them for protection.

PHONE ‘THIEF’ BUSTED AT BELLEVUE SHELTER
Twenty-year-old Marc Velez for grand larceny in front of 400 East 30th Street last Wednesday at 10:49 a.m. Velez allegedly grabbed a woman’s cell phone from her hand and fled east on foot towards Bellevue Shelter. Police searched the shelter and found Velez, who matched the description that the victim gave, and upon further investigation, her phone was allegedly inside his room locker.

MAN NABBED FOR ‘GOLD KNUCKLES’
Police arrested 32-year-old Andre Perry for possession of a weapon inside the Union Square subway station last Wednesday at 2:26 p.m. Perry was allegedly walking inside the subway mezzanine with gold metal knuckles in plain view.

WOMAN SKIPPED ON BAR TAB
Ashley Oliver, 23, wa s arrested for theft of services in front of the Four Points Sheraton Hotel at 160 West 25th Street last Wednesday at 4:14 p.m. Oliver sat down at the hotel bar and ordered two Heineken beers and then allegedly refused to pay for them. She was then kicked out and told not to come back but she allegedly walked back in. Police said that the bill she refused to pay was for $15.24.

‘DRUNK’ DRIVER BUSTED FOR DRUGS
Police arrested 36-year-old Alfred Soto for possession of a controlled substance at the corner of West 27th Street and Sixth Avenue last Saturday at 2:24 a.m. Police said that he was driving while intoxicated and after pulling out of a parking spot, he allegedly merged into traffic without signaling, nearly hitting another car. Police said he then swerved into the third right lane, nearly hitting two more cars. He blew .173 on a Breathalyzer at the scene. After searching him, police found that he was in possession of an alleged controlled substance. Police did not specify what the controlled substance was. Soto was also charged with intoxicated driving.

OFFICE ‘BURGLAR’ BUSTED
Police arrested 38-year-old Hunter Manderson for burglary at the corner of Broadway and East 21st Street last Sunday at 12:40 p.m. A man told police that he saw an unknown person inside his office without permission. Manderson allegedly removed items from the office and fled through the main front entrance. He was also charged with possession of stolen property and criminal trespassing.

WOULD-BE BIKE ‘THIEF’ NABBED ON WEST 23RD
Police arrested 49-year-old Christopher Williams in front of 60 West 23rd Street for possession of burglar’s tools last Wednesday at 2:25 p.m. Williams was allegedly trying to cut off a bike lock from a locked bicycle with a pair of wire cutters.

MAN ARRESTED FOR TRESPASSING IN UNION SQUARE STATION
Thirty-year-old Kieran Minihan was arrested for criminal trespassing inside the Union Square subway station last Sunday at 4:05 a.m. Minihan was allegedly inside the catwalk on the northeast side of the downtown 4 platform without permission to be there.

‘PHONE SNATCHER’ NABBED ON WEST 16TH
Thirty-year-old Matthew Mullen was arrested for grand larceny in front of 16 West 16th Street last Tuesday at 4:06 p.m. Mullen allegedly walked up to a woman and grabbed her cell phone from her hand, then fled on foot. He was subsequently stopped and apprehended by police. The victim didn’t have any injuries from the incident.

MAN ARRESTED FOR ‘ASSAULT’ BY PHONE
Thirty-one-year-old Christopher Bailey was arrested for assault in front of 37 West 20th Street last Saturday at 9:22 p.m. Bailey allegedly injured another man by hitting him across the face with his cell phone, causing a laceration to the victim’s right eye. Bailey was also charged with possession of a weapon, but it was not immediately clear what the weapon was.

WOMAN ARRESTED FOR STOLEN PURSE
Police arrested 23-year-old Zeina Hameda for grand larceny in front of 797 Sixth Avenue last Sunday at 5:30 a.m. In a previous incident in Queens, Hameda allegedly stole another woman’s purse, which contained her cell phone, four credit cards, a driver’s license and $186 in cash. Police said that the victim’s bag had been stolen when left unattended. The victim identified Hameda at the scene.

Suspect in ST attempted rape pleads not guilty

Parents of victim say their daughter won’t let attack ‘derail’ her life

Attempted rape suspect Juan Scott entered a plea of not guilty.

Attempted rape suspect Juan Scott entered a plea of not guilty.

By Sabina Mollot

Juan Scott, the man arrested for the attempted rape of a woman in Stuyvesant Town as well as sexually abusing two other women made a brief appearance in court on Tuesday to plead not guilty. The plea was for all three incidents, with the attack on a woman in Stuyvesant Town in October being the most recent one.

Based on the nature of the alleged crimes, which include burglary that’s sexually motivated, Assistant District Attorney Brendan Tracy had recommended the judge give Scott a 20-year sentence as well as post-release supervision. In court, after being led inside in cuffs while wearing a t-shirt and jeans, the 26-year-old suspect said nothing beyond uttering the words “not guilty” three times.

After Scott was escorted out, the parents of the Stuyvesant Town victim spoke with reporters to say their 20-year-old daughter was doing well and was in class at NYU while court was in session.

“She’s strong, she’s doing okay,” said her father, who, like her mother, ask that their names not be published. “She’s not going to let a piece of trash derail her from where she wants to go.” He added that she planned to continue living in Stuyvesant Town and that he hopes the case won’t get sensationalized because of Scott being the cousin of a celebrity — actress Rosario Dawson.

“I feel sorry for her,” he said of Dawson. “I’m sure she wants nothing to do with this.”

On the plea of not guilty, the victim’s mother said, “For him to plead not guilty blows my mind.” Her husband added, “This is our due process. It’s something that makes you wish you could go back to the time when people were stoned. My wife believes in karma so I have to believe this guy will get what he deserves.”

Following the arraignment, the family was scheduled to fly back to the parents’ home in Riverside, California to celebrate Thanksgiving. The daughter is a third year student doing individual studies in NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study and it’s also her third year living in the city. Her mother, who has two other adult children older than the one living in Stuyvesant Town, said her youngest daughter may go into marketing.

Andrew Bernstein, Scott’s Legal Aid attorney, didn’t take questions from reporters after court was adjourned.

In the Stuy Town incident, an intruder was seen on surveillance cameras following a woman into the building and into the elevator where he pounced on her. She fought him off, though she sustained some injuries, and he fled. The alleged attacker is seen in security footage running out the door and even climbing down a tree to escape.

The victim’s father said his daughter had been followed into the building after getting out of a cab only 40 feet away from the building. After getting arrested for the incident a couple of days later, Scott, who’d been staying at a former squat on East 13th Street, was also charged with sexually abusing a woman he’d been dating at a building on East 13th Street in September as well as another woman at a building on East 11th Street in June.

Conversion, legal issues, rent regulations to be discussed at TA meeting

Brewer, Stringer support TA’s conversion effort

ST-PCV Tenants Association President John Marsh speaking at meeting on Saturday (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

ST-PCV Tenants Association President John Marsh at a previous meeting (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

The Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association will be holding its next general meeting on Saturday, December 6 at 1 p.m.

Topics will include recent legal issues, the annual review of Tenant Association activities, a conversion update, the Fannie Mae–Freddie Mac commitment to ST/PCV, what lies ahead in Albany post-election with respect to tenant issues and how New York City’s Comptroller’s Office and the Manhattan Borough President’s office will support the TA’s conversion effort.

Speakers will include TA attorney Tim Collins, Councilman Dan Garodnick, Congress Member Carolyn Maloney, NYS Senator Brad Hoylman, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.

After the speakers, there will be an open mike question-and-answer session. Tenants will have an opportunity to line up before a floor microphone and ask about critical issues.

The meeting will be held at Middle School 104, East 20th Street between First and Second Avenues. Doors open at 12:30 p.m.

Repair of Stuyvesant Square Park’s historic fence to start soon, city says

Money was raised to fix the fence outside of Stuyvesant Square Park in 2012. (Photo by Michael Alcamo)

Money was raised to fix the fence outside of Stuyvesant Square Park in 2012. (Photo by Michael Alcamo)

By Sabina Mollot

It was almost two and half years ago, in June of 2012 when the last $600,000 needed for the restoration of Stuyvesant Square Park’s historic, cast iron fence and the surrounding sidewalk was finally allocated after years of fundraising. The project, which had been pushed by the Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association, eventually had a total price tag of $5.5 million, funded by local elected officials.

But today, work on the fence on the park’s east section, which needs some of its rotted pieces recreated, still hasn’t begun. A separate project to fix the park’s west section fence had been completed earlier. Work to accompany the fence project, such as fixing the damaged bluestone sidewalk, has also still not been done. Yet another long awaited and related project, to install a curb cut or ramp at the park’s eastern gate to allow access to wheelchair users, has also still not happened.

But fortunately for those whose who’ve been following the progress, or rather lack of it, change does finally appear to be on the horizon.

Community Board 6’s Parks Committee has been assured by the Parks Department that work will begin soon. Or rather, that it already has. Mark Thompson, who heads Community Board 6’s Parks Committee, said he’s been told the official start date of the project was October 20. However, he was also warned that this wouldn’t mean shovels would hit the ground on that date although work would begin internally on the project.

As for when the actual repairs will start, there still doesn’t seem to be a set date for that, and one local tree-planting and park activist, Michael Alcamo, has said he’ll believe it when he sees it.

Alcamo, a Stuyvesant Town resident, had spearheaded a letter writing campaign in 2012 that was instrumental in securing the last of the funds for the project from then-Borough President Scott Stringer. Though he conceded some of the blame for the delay on getting started was finding artisans capable of repairing the landmarked fence, which apparently there aren’t too many of, he said he is now concerned the project is no longer even considered a priority by the city. Alcamo referred to the mayor’s recently announced initiative to focus on the needs of parks in outer boroughs, particularly in poorer areas.

“Has the money been allocated to outer boroughs? That would be useful for the community to know,” said Alcamo.

He added that the fence isn’t even his main concern, but the cracked sidewalk is since that could pose a danger to pedestrians, as is the lack of of a wheelchair ramp.

Tree and park activist Michael Alcamo has been pushing the city to install a ramp for disabled park goers at the park’s entrance. (Photo by Michael Alcamo)

Tree and park activist Michael Alcamo has been pushing the city to install a ramp for disabled park goers at the park’s entrance. (Photo by Michael Alcamo)

“In 1990, the Americans With Disabilities Act required that public facilities, including parks, must be accessible to persons with disabilities,” said Alcamo. “The eastern side of Stuyvesant Square Park, which faces Stuyvesant Town, has not been in compliance for 24 years. We have been asking for four years for a curb cut in order to make the park accessible to persons of limited mobility.”

Alcamo, who recently founded an organization called Friends of Stuyvesant Square Park, had hoped to speed up the curb cut installation by asking Community Board 6 to pass a resolution calling for the work to be done, but, he said, the board’s Parks Committee declined. As for why the committee didn’t want to take that step, Thompson told Town & Village he didn’t think a resolution would be necessary since the community board has already had assurances from the Parks Department that the project will begin soon, including the installation of a ramp.

Thompson added that he did understand Alcamo’s concerns since early on the fundraising process, $500,000 of the project’s funds were reallocated to another Parks Department need.

“It shouldn’t have happened, but it did,” said Thompson. Because of this, CB6 has been “politely” nudging the city about the park from time to time. “We’re all concerned,” he said. But he added, “the money is allocated. It is happening.”

A rep for Parks echoed Thompson in saying the city is not redirecting the project’s cash elsewhere.

“No funds have been reallocated from Manhattan to the other boroughs and all the funds allocated for this project are intact,” Philip Abramson, a Parks Department spokesperson told T&V.

The contractor on the project is UA Construction, who was selected after the initially chosen vendor (chosen for being the lowest bidder) ended up not working out. UA Construction was the second lowest bidder. The lowest bidder, Abramson said, “was not successful in going through the pre-qualification process.”

He didn’t respond to a question about why the first company didn’t qualify though he did say that at this time UA Construction is working with the Department of Transportation on getting a permit for a street closure so work can begin.

Rosalee Isaly, the president of the Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association, said she’s had a recent discussion with Parks reps to make sure the dog walkers who come to use the park’s dog run will be able to access it while work is ongoing.

“They’ll be aware of them,” she said of the dog walkers. She added that come springtime, the park’s west side will also get some attention with the installation of an irrigation system. “All that planting that gets done needs water and the watering this past summer was torturous,” she said. “They had to drag in hoses.”

The labor-intensive act of planting should pay off in the spring though. Dozens of volunteers, mainly high school and college students, have been participating in monthly gardening days at the park to plant, paint benches and rake leaves. On a volunteer day in October, around 11,500 bulbs for tulips, daffodils and bluebells were planted.

“It’s really warming,” said Isaly. “I think it’s going to be spectacular spring in the park.”

A DOT spokesperson did not respond to a request from T&V asking about the status of the permit and where the street closures would be exactly.

TenantsPAC: It’s time for tenants to step up the pressure in Albany

TeantsPAC Treasurer Mike McKee (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

TeantsPAC Treasurer Mike McKee (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot
As is well known by tenant activists, the State Senate has long been the realm where any tenant-friendly legislation, from MCI limitations to elimination of preferential rents, has gone to die. While it did seem likely that the Democrats would be controlling the Senate after Election Day, following a decision by rogue Democrat group, the Independent Democratic Coalition, to end an alliance with Republicans, the Republicans then managed to win a narrow, but still clear majority, making an alliance with the IDC unnecessary.

Some critics have been quick to put the blame on the Election Day results on nation-wide voting trends as well as low turnout during a non-presidential election year. Others have said the blame is Governor Cuomo’s for not making an effort to help the Democrat candidates.
Mike McKee, treasurer of Tenants Political Action Committee, is in the latter camp, saying he believes Cuomo would rather have Republicans running the Senate.

“I’m very cynical about whether we will get any help from the governor,” he said. “On the one hand it’s better to have a governor who wants the rent laws on the books unlike George Pataki, but to keep them the way they are — containing the seeds of their own destruction — is not the answer.”

As for what all of this will mean for tenants with the rent regulation laws up for renewal or expiration next year, McKee said while the real estate industry clearly has the edge with a Republican-controlled Senate, tenants may still have a shot at getting some meaningful reform. That is, if they’re willing to fight for it.

“We have some leverage we didn’t have three years ago if Shelly Silver chooses to use it,” said McKee, “things that can be traded.”

The leverage, he believes, is in the 421-a and J-51 tax breaks, which owners want to be passed and property tax caps, “which the governor very much wants.”
McKee made a point to note that he personally abhors the 421-a tax abatement since it subsidizes “billionaires buying condos.” But developers want it as well as J-51, with McKee saying they hadn’t been scared off by “Roberts v. Tishman Speyer,” which ruled that owners accepting those breaks couldn’t deregulate apartments in those properties. “Those programs are extremely lucrative,” he said. And, said McKee, tenants should keep their eyes on the prize, which is vacancy deregulation.

“We mean full repeal. Not simply raising the threshold like they did three years ago. They raised the threshold and called it a great victory and they’re still trying to spin it as a victory when it was a cosmetic change.” This was in reference to the amendment of the law that allowed landlords to de-regulate an apartment if the rent was $2,000 and the tenant’s income was $175,000 for two years, by increasing that amount to $2,500 or more and $200,000.

“We have rent stabilized apartments in Stuyvesant Town renting for $5,000 or more because politicians allowed the rent laws to be trampled,” McKee added.

What tenants can do, he said, is ask their Assembly members to put pressure on Speaker Sheldon Silver to get tenant-friendly legislation to become more than just one-house bills.

“Do I think Shelly Silver is likely to do this on his own initiative? No. He’s going to have to be pushed,” said McKee. “If he’s going to just posture and introduce bills that die in the Senate, and put out press releases saying how pro-tenant the Assembly is, we’re in trouble. The question is whether or not the governor and the speaker will use that leverage.”

What doesn’t need to be fought for, said McKee, is repeal of the Urstadt Law, which would return home rule on housing to the city. Focusing on that this year, he believes is a trap, since the odds of the Senate agreeing to to it are too slim.

“We need a lot of things,” he said. “We need MCI reform so MCI increases aren’t permanent and compounded into the base rent and reform of the Rent Guidelines Board and stopping the 20 percent vacancy bonuses. But without vacancy deregulation, none of those changes are going to mean anything, because without the rent regulation system, in a few years there won’t be anything left.”

McKee believes that close to 400,000 units of affordable housing have been lost in the past 20 years due to erosion of the rent laws. In 1996, 56 percent of rental units in the city were rent controlled or rent stabilized, based on figures from a city housing and vacancy survey that’s done every three years. Fifteen years later, in 2011, that number had been whittled down to 47 percent, based on the same source. “That should tell you something about the rate of loss,” he said. In some cases, this is due to condo or co-op conversion, but the majority of those cases are vacancy deregulation.

And as always, said McKee, tenants should also keep their mouths open — not to mention their wallets —in the effort to help TenantsPAC.
“I’m talking about money, I’m talking about bodies,” he said. “We have all volunteers so 95 percent of all we raise goes directly to the candidates we support.” (The other 5 percent goes to the organization’s phone, internet, and office rent expenses.) The money, however, never comes close to what the real estate industry spends to elect Republicans. (As of October 20, the Real Estate Board of New York had spent $1.9 million and owner group the Rent Stabilization Association spent $500,000.) Additionally, unlike REBNY, the RSA did this quietly, funneling the funds to a Washington, D.C.-based Republican State Leadership Committee which then gave an even larger amount to a New York group which spent heavily to elect Republicans, Crain’s reported on Friday.

The tenants do have one advantage though. “One of the things we bring to the table that the real estate lobby doesn’t is volunteers.”

He noted that many volunteers as well as donors have been residents of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. But for those whose rent demands don’t allow for large donations or work schedules don’t leave time for trips upstate to go door-knocking, McKee recommends phone banking as a good alternative for would-be volunteers. This can be done at home, usually in the evenings, and even after elections, since TenantsPAC phone banks in support of legislation.

As for why Election Day was such a dismal one for Democrat legislators and candidates, McKee believes Democrat voter apathy is partially to blame. While he was in upstate Kingston going door to door to campaign for Democrat Senator CeCe Tkaczyk, who ended up losing, he saw it firsthand.

“In non-presidential election years, Republican voters show up and Democrats tend to stay home,” he said.

Letters to the Editor, Nov. 20

Thankful to a neighbor in Stuyvesant Town

Giving thanks came early last week at Associated thanks to Pat, the lady behind me on line, who insisted on paying my grocery bill when the cashier informed me I had only three cents left in my food stamp account.

It was November 12, my usual day to start receiving food stamps for the month, and I had only a small change purse with me that had nowhere near enough to cover the bill.

What I didn’t know was that the federal government wasn’t working on Veterans Day so all those who usually get their allotment on the 11th had to wait til the next day and those on the 12th still another day. Don’t know how long it takes for everyone to get back on schedule.

This most generous woman lives in Stuyvesant Town but refused to give me her last name so we could eventually pay her back. She’s somewhere in the SW quadrant near Playground 7, maybe 455 or 453 East 14th St. And we can’t thank her enough!

Name withheld, ST

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Police Watch: Traffic agent hit by car, ‘dine and ditch’ at 40/40 Club

DRIVER ARRESTED AFTER HITTING TRAFFIC AGENT
Police arrested 41-year-old Joshua Bright in front of 394 East 25th Street for a public administration felony and leaving the scene of an accident last Tuesday at 9:43 a.m. Bright was making a right turn from the FDR driving south onto East 23rd Street going west.
Bright allegedly made the turn from the far left lane where there is right turn only lane provided. The traffic agent directing pedestrian traffic had to shove a pedestrian out of the way to avoid being hit and the guard instructed Bright to stop and allow pedestrians to cross. Bright then allegedly drove into the traffic agent causing an injury to his right leg and knee and fled the scene. The traffic agent followed Bright to East 25th Street where he was arrested.

TOOTHBRUSH ‘THIEF’ BUSTED
Police arrested 57-year-old Richard Trott for petit larceny in front of the Walgreens at 298 First Avenue last Monday at 12:35 a.m. Trott allegedly swiped 15 Oral B toothbrushes after hiding them inside his shirt.

MAN WHO ‘PISTOL-WHIPPED’ VICTIM ARRESTED
Police arrested 21-year-old Christopher Falco for robbery and weapons possession inside the 13th Precinct last Tuesday at 10 a.m. Falco allegedly tried to mug someone in front of 234 East 25th Street on an earlier date when he also hit the victim over the head with an imitation pistol.

TEENS BUSTED FOR CREDIT CARD THEFT AT STARBUCKS
Police arrested four teenagers for allegedly swiping a credit card from a counter at Starbucks. It was last Monday at 10:06 p.m. at the Starbucks at 393 Third Avenue between 27th and 28th Streets when the teens spotted the credit card and grabbed it, police said. However, the card was recovered at the scene.
The teens are residents of the ACS facility and are students at the Urban Assembly High School of Music and Art and Fannie Lou Hamer High School. One of the teens was also charged with impersonation because she gave a false date of birth. Their names are being withheld by Town & Village due to their age.

CITI BIKE ‘THIEF’ NABBED ON WEST 18TH
Police arrested a teenager for grand larceny in front of 23 West 18th Street last Monday at 3:59 p.m. The teen was riding a Citi Bike that didn’t belong to him and told the officer at the scene, “I found it.” Citi Bike confirmed that the boy did not have a membership with the program and the value of the bike is $1,200. The teen is a student at the Business of Sports School. His name is being withheld due to his age.

WOMAN ARRESTED FOR 40/40 CLUB ‘DINE AND DITCH’
Twenty-one-year-old Monica Gooding was arrested for theft of services last Saturday at 4:13 a.m. in front of the 40/40 Club at 6 West 25th Street. Gooding ordered food and drinks from the club and when the server approached her with the bill, she allegedly had no means to pay it. Gooding allegedly owed $70.77.

PAIR BUSTED FOR THROWING CANDLE OUT OF WINDOW
Police arrested 21-year-old Richard Hsu and 20-year-old Cindy Pi for reckless endangerment in front of 346 East 15th Street last Sunday at 4:48 p.m. Hsu and Pi allegedly threw a glass candle out of a second floor apartment window at the victim. The glass shattered in a common area near the victim and Hsu and Pi allegedly admitted that they threw the candle out of the window.

MAN BUSTED FOR ‘STOLEN’ DELIVERY
Police arrested 35-year-old Muazzam Butt at the corner of Lexington Avenue and East 27th Street for petit larceny. Butt allegedly accepted a delivery to his business but then wouldn’t pay the delivery driver or give back the package.

KNIVES PULLED OUTSIDE OF BELLEVUE
Twenty-year-old Jonathan Alives was arrested for menacing in front of Bellevue Hospital last Saturday at 5:37 a.m. Police said that Alives got into an argument with another man and then threatened him with two knives. Alives was also charged with weapons possession and disorderly conduct.

WOMAN ‘RESISTED’ ARREST AT IRVING PLAZA
Thirty-year-old Tessa John-Connor was arrested in front of Irving Plaza at 17 Irving Place last Sunday at 1:51 a.m. An officer was at the location for crowd control after a concert and repeatedly told John-Connor that she had to move away from the front of the location. She allegedly refused and when the officer attempted to remove her from the area, she pushed him and grabbed onto other officers, police said. She allegedly resisted arrest by flailing her arms and pulling them to the front of her body to avoid being handcuffed. John-Connor was charged with resisting arrest, a public administration misdemeanor and disorderly conduct.

‘SHOPLIFTER’ ARRESTED ON IRVING PLACE
Michelle Mickelley, 34, was arrested for allegedly assaulting a peace officer in front of the Con Ed building at 4 Irving Place. It was last Thursday when Mickelley had allegedly been shoplifting at the store and tried to leave the store without paying. Store security followed her outside and police tried to restrain her when she allegedly smacked one of the officers, causing an abrasion on the officer’s hands.

TEEN BUSTED FOR STOLEN RENTAL CAR
Police arrested a teen inside the 13th Precinct last Thursday at 1 p.m. for grand larceny auto. Police said that the teen stole a car from Hertz Rent a Car. The company has a location in Gramercy at 245 East 19th Street. The teen’s name is being withheld due to his age.

Crime down this month in 13th Precinct, deputy inspector says

Deputy Inspector David Ehrenberg at a meeting of the 13th Precinct Community Council (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

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

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Crime has been down in the 13th Precinct in the last month and is also down overall for the year, Deputy Inspector David Ehrenberg, the commanding officer of the precinct, told neighborhood residents on Tuesday.

Ehrenberg, who was discussing local crime stats at the most recent meeting of the 13th Precinct Community Council, said that the 12 percent decrease is partially due to a decrease in grand larcenies, burglaries and robberies, but the latter two crimes have continued to pose a problem throughout the year.

“Robberies and burglaries are the key numbers to look out for,” he said, adding that felony assaults are also up this month.

He noted, though, as he has mentioned at meetings in the past, that the assaults aren’t much of a concern for the precinct since those numbers are primarily due to the hospitals in the area and the fact that officers are sometimes injured by people there who are resisting arrest, rather than random assaults on the streets.

Addressing a recent increase in assaults by delivery men, including an alleged attempted rape in Stuyvesant Town by a deli worker, the deputy inspector warned residents to take precautions when food is brought up to their apartments. He added that letting someone inside also gives them access to and knowledge of valuables that might be sitting out.

“There’s no reason to let people see what you have in there,” he said.

Like in a number of previous meetings, Ehrenberg made note of the surprising number of people who are victims of preventable crimes, like theft of unattended property.

“Pocketbooks on the backs of chairs and laptops left out unattended are being stolen. Leaving these things out in the open like that, you’re asking opportunists to come out and take it,” he said. “It’s easier to prevent this kind of crime than it is to do an investigation and solve it.”

He added that especially with the holiday season coming up, residents should be mindful of what they leave out and visible in their cars.
“Even if you went shopping and you’re just running into a restaurant to grab a quick bite, don’t,” Ehrenberg said. “We make collars on this kind of crime all the time but after we get them there are 20 more out there. We can’t stop that; it’s too many people.”

At one point the conversation turned to the annual SantaCon pub crawl, which is scheduled for December 13. The event has often been the bane of neighborhood residents where the crawl takes place due to public drunkenness by countless Santas and the deluge of vomit and public urination that usually comes with it. Inspector Ehrenberg, however, said that the precinct isn’t concerned about any problems with the event this year because aside from a group of brawling Santas whose fight was broadcast on YouTube, the weekend of the event last year was not especially problematic.

“We’re not expecting any issues (with SantaCon) this year,” he said. “Last year we put extra cops out and we’re going to have extra police for it this year, but I don’t think there will be any problems.”

The crawl typically starts somewhere in Manhattan, then makes its way to Brooklyn, though the route isn’t announced until shortly before the event. It was recently reported by Gothamist that the crawl was headed to Bushwick this year, but those plans have since been scrapped, amNY reported, and it remains to be seen where it may head.

Ehrenberg then honored two plainclothes police officers with the Cop of the Month award for their work that led to the capture of two gunmen last month. As Town & Village reported on the incident in October, a man was stopped in a rental car because police suspected that he was in possession of fraudulent credit cards. He and the other man in the car were found to be in possession of two loaded .40 caliber guns. Ehrenberg praised the officers’ work in tracking the men down.

“We have people around here in possession of guns like elsewhere in the city but thankfully we don’t have shootings like in other commands because of the work that these guys do,” he said.

Ehrenberg also noted at the meeting that as of this past Monday, the precinct is online. The precinct started tweeting under the handle @NYPD13PCT.
“A lot of us are new to the Twitter thing but it’s a learning curve,” Ehrenberg said. He added that residents are still better off calling community affairs at (212) 477-7406 or 311 about quality of life issues.

 

Players temporarily closes bar due to permit issue

The Players on Gramercy Park South (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

The Players on Gramercy Park South (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Sabina Mollot

The Players club, which reopened with a skimmed down skeleton crew in September after its usual summer hiatus, unexpectedly faced another roadblock to financial recovery last week.

The club had apparently neglected to renew a permit to serve food, and it expired on July 1. The permit was tied into its ability to keep its bar open. As a result, from Thursday to Monday, there was no bar service. The club, since September, hasn’t been serving food except during events.

By Tuesday morning, however, club president Arthur Makar said the permit issue had been resolved and members were being notified that the bar would reopen in the evening.

“With all of the turnover at the staff level, the expiration date was missed,” Makar explained to Town & Village. “It shouldn’t have happened but it did.”

The general manager of the club at that time was let go in September, and a couple of employees were also fired at that time, including someone who’d been hired to book events.

The club is, however, scheduled to hold an event on Tuesday night.

There’s currently still no general manager at The Players though there is now an operations manager.

A club member, who asked to remain anonymous, told T&V he was glad to see that “there’s a happy ending” to the permit lapse, but was still concerned that it happened.

“For the bar to be closed Friday, Saturday and Sunday, it’s just another kick in the pants,” he said. “It gives the impression that things are falling apart. It’s another blot The Players doesn’t need at this time.”

In September, Makar said the club was hoping to bring back regular food service, having recently upped its health department score from a C to an A. However, the club was, and is still, in the midst of digging its way out of a $3.5 million financial hole.

TD Bank on First Avenue robbed

Nov20 TD Bank

TD Bank on First Avenue (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

 

By Sabina Mollot

The TD Bank located across the street from Stuyvesant Town on First Avenue and East 19th Street was robbed on Monday afternoon, police said.

The robber, who’s described as Hispanic, was dressed in blue pants, a blue jacket and had a blue scarf covering his face when he entered the bank at around 1:45 p.m. He then passed a note to a teller demanding cash, and got away with $206 and a dye pack. The robber fled west on East 19th Street and managed to get about halfway down the block when the dye pack exploded.

Police are still looking for the man, but didn’t have a physical description for him.

The bank closed for the day after the incident.

Town & Village community getting geared up for annual holiday toy drive

Some of the donated toys from a previous T&V drive

Some of the donated toys from a previous T&V driveBy Sabina Mollot

By Sabina Mollot

With the holiday season around the corner, Town & Village is asking readers and community residents to help spread cheer by participating in our annual holiday toy drive.

This year, the drive will deliver gifts to Mt. Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center. Toys will then be distributed to children of patients of the hospital’s outpatient clinic programas as well as to children who’ll be spending their holidays in hospital rooms while undergoing medical treatment.

Gifts appropriate for children of all ages are welcome with items for older kids (13 and 14-year-olds) being the highest need. Due to hospital policy, the donated items must be new. Partnering with T&V on the drive this year by providing convenient dropoff points are CWCapital/CompassRock, the management of Waterside Plaza and M&T Bank.

Through December 12, toys may be left at:
• The new Stuyvesant Town management office at 276 First Avenue
• M&T Bank at 397 First Avenue near 23rd Street
• Waterside Management Office, 30 Waterside Plaza
• Waterside Swim & Health Club, 35 Waterside Plaza
• Waterside Community Center, 40 Waterside Plaza, Level A
• The Town & Village office at 20 West 22nd Street, 14th floor.
Bonnie Robbins, PhD, co-ordinator at Mt. Sinai Beth Israel, said gifts from drives have made a world of a difference to the children the hospital serves. In many cases, their families would not be able to provide them with any presents .

Local resident cries foul as tree is axed on East 20th street

A tree near 440 East 20th Street was cut down.

A tree near 440 East 20th Street was cut down.

By Sabina Mollot
Last Tuesday afternoon, a Stuyvesant Town resident walking past 440 and 430 East 20th Street said she noticed that a very tall, mature tree was in the midst of being cut down.
The resident, who asked that her name not be published, told Town & Village she’d asked a nearby Public Safety officer what was going on and was initially told that the tree was just being trimmed for safety reasons.
She was also told it had to do with the tree being in the way of a ramp for disabled residents that was going to
be built alongside the building.
The building already has a ramp but according to the officer, that one wasn’t up to code.

The stump of the tree was later removed as well.

The stump of the tree was later removed as well.

The resident added that after she stuck around a while, it became clear that the tree was actually being cut down, so she headed over to the new management office to make a complaint about what seemed like unnecessary arborcide as well as the lack of notice that a tree would be coming down.
That’s when she said she was told by a property manager that the tree was actually diseased.
She didn’t get a response as to the lack of notice though other than management tends to get overwhelmed due to all the work going on at the property at any given time.
After returning later in the day to the spot where the tree had been, the stump that had been there briefly after it was chopped was also gone.
A spokesperson for CWCapital did not respond to a request for comment on the tree.