By Sabina Mollot
John Marsh, who’s been president of the ST-PCV Tenants Association since 2013, and previously was vice president, has stepped down from the organization, and the new president will be the TA’s former chair, Susan Steinberg.
Steinberg said this week that Marsh’s decision was due to needing to focus on other aspects of his life, which was the same reason cited by his predecessor, Al Doyle. Doyle held the position for around two decades.
This week, Marsh was out of the country on vacation and couldn’t be reached but Steinberg said the decision was announced at a TA meeting held on Wednesday, June 24.
Kevin Farrelly is now the chair and John J. Sheehy is vice president. Margaret Salacan, treasurer, and Kirstin Aadahl, secretary, will continue in those posts.
A specialist in data security who works as an IT consultant, Marsh first joined the TA to establish an online presence for it.
His contributions include creating the message center, the membership relational database and the online bed bug registry. He also organized the TA’s volunteers who help distribute information to neighbors in each building and was a key figure in finding the plaintiffs in the “Roberts vs. Tishman Speyer” case, although the TA itself was not a plaintiff.
He commented on his tenure in a written statement released by the TA on Monday.
“I’ve devoted thousands of hours to the TA for each of the past 15 years,” he said. “With the organization in the hands of a talented group of committed directors, this seems an appropriate time for me to turn my attention to other projects.”
He added that one project he has in mind involves building an organization locally that would help seniors stay in their homes. Marsh is still a director of TenantsPAC and a member of the local CERT (Community Emergency Response Team). He also serves on the co-op board and is treasurer of the Round Lake Realty Corporation, for a property owned by his family.
Council Member Dan Garodnick issued a statement in support of Marsh’s volunteer work, saying he’s leaving the TA a “much stronger, better organized Tenants Association than he found it.
“The TA is losing a tremendous champion but thanks to his hard work, I know they won’t miss a beat,” he added.
Steinberg, meanwhile, is recently retired from a career in marketing for engineers and architects. This is fortunate, since, she noted this Monday, the TA is a full-time gig at this point.
That day, her top priority was getting tenants organized for that night’s Rent Guidelines Board vote.
On more day to day issues in the community, safety is a priority. With Stuyvesant Town having been the site of three alleged rape attempts in the past year as well as a stabbing, Steinberg said security concerns will be brought up at the next meeting between the TA and CompassRock this month.
“My contention is this,” she said. “All of a sudden we were luxury housing. We weren’t really attractive (to criminals) before that.” Additionally, she referred to the new younger demographic as a reason for the rise in crime. “We have younger people and that’s a greater attraction to one kind of perpetrator or the next. We used to have the lowest crime rate in the city, but I’m talking about before Tishman Speyer.”
Back in those days, she recalled, the most frequent complaints were about brown water.
These days, the complaints are far more varied, and as the TA president, it will be Steinberg who’s tasked with sifting through as they come in each morning via the organization’s message center. Then comes determining the urgency and seriousness of each one and whether they require management intervention or simply referring the neighbor to the right venue, like 311. Top quality of life issues are still either dog or laundry room involved, as well as a habit some residents have of smoking right in front of their buildings. This month, the TA has also heard from around half a dozen preferential rent paying residents who say they’ve gotten “astronomical increases.”
Steinberg, who moved to Stuy Town in 1980, also joined the TA that year.
She said she was motivated by wanting to “keep the middle class and affordable housing in New York City and not Boise, Idaho.”
As for the TA’s hope of going condo, this is not an effort that’s seen any movement lately.
“It’s been as quiet as a graveyard,” said Steinberg. While the TA still believes a tenant-led ownership deal is the best option tenants have for preserving the community intact, Steinberg said the TA won’t know anything else until CWCapital “really gets serious about selling. Nobody has a crystal ball unfortunately.”