2015: A look back

A coyote (not the one pictured) was spotted in Stuyvesant Town in January.

A coyote (not the one pictured) was spotted in Stuyvesant Town in January.

By Sabina Mollot

Capped with yet another sale of Stuyvesant Town — this time with the highest price tag ever at $5.45 billion — 2015 was certainly an eventful year for the community.

Town & Village has taken a look back to find the top ten local events of the year.

1. The highly anticipated sale of course was a big one, with the deal being cheered as part of Mayor de Blasio’s campaign platform promise to preserve or build 200,000 units of affordable housing. The sale to new owners The Blackstone Group came as welcome news to many tenants due to its representatives’ willingness to listen to tenant concerns as well as a commitment to preserve 5,000 units of affordable housing. While for others — specifically, tenants in the other 6,200-plus units, the deal simply maintains the status quo of stabilized status with market rate tents. Blackstone has promised additional announcements early in the New Year, which hopefully will include a decision, made in cooperation with the city, of how people can get a lease to the affordable units as they become available.

2. Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village, while always known as a bird sanctuary and a habitat for the world’s most well-fed squirrels, also managed to attract the attention of a coyote. The young female coyote, named Stella by Parks reps who rescued her, had been found wandering around the Avenue C side of the property near the Con Ed plant. She was captured by police officers, and then later released by the Parks department into a wooded area in the Bronx.

A Parks official T&V interviewed about the incident said that coyote sightings in the city are becoming more common, and she expected that this trend would only continue. Just a couple of weeks prior to the Stuy Town sighting, another coyote was found in Riverside Park, and in 2011, another coyote had wandered into Tribeca.

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Letters to the Editor, Dec. 31

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Climate research is often alarmist

Re: Letter, “Scientists largely agree on climate,” T&V, Nov. 26

David Chowes wrote that 98 percent of climatologists (and other scientists) agree on the relationship between climate warming and the production of carbon dioxide by humans. One hundred percent of scientists agree that carbon dioxide contributes to the greenhouse effect, including myself.

The disagreement comes in regard to whether that contribution is significant and whether it is harmful. The 98 percent figure that Mr. Chowes quotes comes from a survey whose validity has been widely challenged and whose results do not match many other surveys. Recently, for example, a survey of 1868 scientists conducted in the Netherlands found that just 43 percent agreed that “It is extremely likely that more than half of global warming from 1951 to 2010 was caused by human activity.”

Suppose, for argument’s sake, that 98 percent of climate experts did say that human activity has had a significant impact on global warming. Supposing those scientists made these claims because they truly believed them and not because their grant money depended on it.

Too much of the raw data does not agree with their predictions, including the fact that the poles haven’t melted. (In Antarctica the ice has grown.) This is true despite data manipulation scandals such as the Climategate scandal of Nov 2009 and the subsequent tampering of climate data reported by the Telegraph in Jan 2015.

The most important lesson scientists learn is to be skeptical. The Xhosa tribe which Dr. Isaac discusses in her global warming book The Roosters of the Apocalypse destroyed their cattle in a misguided belief that doing so would defeat the British. Their mistake was that they listened to what their leaders said instead of relying on common sense. Like the Xhosa who destroyed their economy, we are doing enormous damage to ours through global alarmism as Dr. Isaac’s shocking book demonstrates.

Sincerely,

Gamaliel Isaac, ST

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Police Watch: Men wanted for fur theft, Assault at deli on Lex.

MAN ARRESTED AT 30TH STREET MEN’S SHELTER FOR MISSOURI ‘FELONY’
Police arrested 32-year-old Jarrick Sinclair for an unclassified felony and for being a fugitive from another state inside the 30th Street Men’s Shelter at 400 East 30th Street last Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. Police said that Sinclair was wanted by the state of Missouri and there was a warrant from the county of St. Louis from March 6.

MEN WANTED FOR $25,000 FUR THEFT
Cops are asking for the public’s assistance in identifying three suspects wanted for burglary within the confines of the 13th Precinct.
On Monday, November 16 at 3:49 a.m. inside of Henry Cowit/Madison Avenue Furs at 118 West 27th Street, three unknown suspects got into the business by throwing a brick through a glass front door. Once inside, the suspects stole 30 fur coats with a total value of about $25,000. The suspects fled in a black four-door sedan.
Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS. The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Website at nypdcrimestoppers.com or texting their tips and TIP577 to 274637 (CRIMES). All calls are kept strictly confidential.

DRUNK MAN ARRESTED FOR ‘ASSAULTING’ WOMAN ON CHRISTMAS
Police arrested 36-year-old Abdul Alim for assault inside New York Deli and Grocery at 71 Lexington Avenue (at East 26th Street) on Christmas Day at 11:34 p.m. The victim told police that she walked into the deli when Alim, who she didn’t know, allegedly approached her and hit her in the face with a soda can. Police said that he then grabbed a black broom and struck her in the face multiple times with it. The victim called police and held Alim there, and she told police that he said he had been drinking and was drunk. The victim, who was taken to Lenox Hill Healthplex, sustained a swollen lip and stitches on the left side of her nose.

CIVIC-MINDED ‘VANDAL’ ARRESTED
Police arrested 29-year-old Josiah Wall for graffiti and criminal mischief in front of Press, a sandwich shop, at 34 East 23rd Street on Christmas Day. Police said that Wall was seen at 9:16 p.m. making graffiti on a public sign and light pole that was a sketch of a man with glasses and the word “Vote” in red, white and blue.

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Opinion: Hoylman on Albany: It’d be funny if it weren’t true

State Senator Brad Hoylman

State Senator Brad Hoylman

By State Senator Brad Hoylman

I was recently asked to speak at the inauguration of a local judge. When it was my turn to give remarks, I told the packed crowd that the judge had asked me to speak about Albany. Without much prompting, the crowd broke into giggles. It’s telling that our state legislature is a punch line.

I think some of us can’t help but laugh because the corruption in Albany has taken on comic proportions. Consider the fact that the criminal acts perpetrated by former Republican Leader Dean Skelos were so brazen as to have been committed after the governor created a special commission under the Moreland Act to investigate public corruption in the state legislature and after the U.S. attorney announced that he had personally taken up the cause. It’s pathetic, sad – and yes, even funny – that Skelos was so arrogant and inept as to pursue his transgressions while federal prosecutors were busy listening to his every word.

The Skelos conviction is just one example why the public has lost confidence in state government. Unfortunately, there are plenty of other reasons, too. Since 2000, 41 state elected officials have been accused, indicted or convicted of official misconduct, including five legislators this year alone, among their ranks, of course, Skelos and former Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver. In the Senate, it’s breathtaking that since 2008, five consecutive leaders of this body have been arrested.

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Man leaps to his death at Straus Houses

The incident worried some residents of 344 East 28th Street about roof accessibility. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

The incident worried some residents of 344 East 28th Street about roof accessibility. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A 29-year-old resident of the Straus Houses at 344 East 28th Street was found dead outside the building in apparent suicide early last Thursday morning. The Daily News reported that the victim was found in the building’s courtyard around 3:08 a.m. A representative from the NYPD said that the man’s injuries were consistent with a fall and the incident is currently being investigated as a suicide.

Tenants Association President Aaron Humphrey said that he was still awake when the man fell, and he called 911 to report the incident. The Daily News had reported that the man jumped from his apartment on the ninth floor. Humphrey noted, though, that based on the location of the victim’s apartment windows and where he was found, it would be impossible for him to have jumped from that window, meaning that he may have jumped from the roof. However, the NYPD could not confirm to Town & Village before press time from where the victim had jumped.

The incident incited concerns about roof accessibility among some tenants, and one resident said that officers from the 13th Precinct informed tenants at a recent meeting that the motion sensor for the roof door had not been on.

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Garodnick: East Side Coastal Resiliency plans could leave Watersiders stranded

Councilman Dan Garodnick and Waterside Tenants Association President Janet Handal are concerned about a potential lack of vehicle access to Waterside Plaza in the event of an emergency. (Photo courtesy of Waterside Plaza)

Councilman Dan Garodnick and Waterside Tenants Association President Janet Handal are concerned about a potential lack of vehicle access to Waterside Plaza in the event of an emergency. (Photo courtesy of Waterside Plaza)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Councilmember Dan Garodnick said he’s concerned that plans for the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project, which is aimed at protecting the East Side in the event of a disaster, will block vehicle access to Waterside Plaza.

He mentioned this in testimony he gave on the draft scope of work for the environmental impact statement that will be done for the ESCR Project, on Monday.

Each alternative design for the ESCR has a set of barriers that would block the northbound FDR Drive service road at 23rd Street when deployed in the event of a flood. Garodnick pointed out that the barriers would then be blocking the only point of vehicle access to Waterside Plaza, which would block access for emergency vehicles, buses and trucks to the complex.

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Riverton sale will keep most apts. affordable

Riverton Houses was sold to A&E with the city providing some tax breaks.

Riverton Houses was sold to A&E with the city providing some tax breaks.

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Less than two months after the announcement of the sale of ST/PCV, the city came to a similar agreement with Riverton Houses’ new owner A&E Real Estate to protect almost 1,000 low and middle-income homes at the development in Harlem, announcing that the property was sold for $201 million last Wednesday.

CWCapital had been in control of Riverton, a sister property of Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper, since 2010 after taking over from Larry Gluck’s Stellar Management. Stellar had bought the development in 2005, hoping to bring in higher-paying tenants, but defaulted on its $225 million mortgage and its lenders foreclosed.

The property was sold under an agreement to keep the remaining rent stabilized units affordable and in exchange, the city will provide A&E with property tax breaks and other incentives worth about $100 million. Affordability is being preserved through a real estate tax exemption, which will be provided for 30 years and was approved by City Council.

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Study shows far more heat complaints in East Village than ST

2015-10-20 12.50.57

Stuyvesant Town (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

In case you’re wondering how your building, or the whole neighborhood for that measure, compares to others in terms of heat complaints, apartment listings site RentHop has compiled a map based on complaint calls to 311 made during the last heat season.

According to its data on unique callers, Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village residents made a measly 56 complaints, in comparison with East Villagers who made over seven times that many at 396. The Murray Hill-Kips Bay area also had significantly fewer with 144 calls while Gramercy residents made 119 calls. Lower East Siders made 160, Chinatown 213.

The coldest New Yorkers hailed from lower-income neighborhoods such as Washington Heights in Manhattan (1,935 in the north and south sections) and Crown Heights in Brooklyn (1,382 in the north and south sections). But along with the East Village, another pricey Manhattan neighborhood where residents said they lacked adequate heat was the Upper West Side with a total of 629 complaints.

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THANK YOU: Over 200 toys donated to T&V drive

Mount Sinai Beth Israel’s Dr. Bonnie Robbins, coordinator of children and family services, with some of the toys at her office. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Mount Sinai Beth Israel’s Dr. Bonnie Robbins, coordinator of children and family services, with some of the toys at her office. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Readers of Town & Village have once again made the holidays a little brighter for children stuck in hospital rooms as well as the families utilizing the outpatient clinics run by Mount Sinai Beth Israel by donating over 200 toys to this newspaper’s annual drive.

This year’s haul included an impressive mix of gifts for kids of all ages, including art supplies, science sets, a remote controlled helicopter, dolls and doll outfits, sports equipment and numerous cute stuffed animals.

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Blackstone takes ownership of ST/PCV

Jon Gray, global head of real estate for Blackstone Photo by Sabina Mollot

Jon Gray, global head of real estate for Blackstone (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Blackstone and Ivanhoé Cambridge announced on Friday that they closed on the deal to purchase Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. This means that the companies have assumed ownership and CWCapital, the special servicer since 2010, no longer has any ownership interests in the property.

The property wound up with a price tag of $5.45 billion, the New York Times reported, which would make the cost even more than that of the historic sale to Tishman Speyer. However, according to a spokesperson for Blackstone, the net price paid was still the previously reported amount of $5.3 billion. The previous figure includes full payment of transfer taxes. Prior to announcing the deal in October, the city had agreed to provide Blackstone with around $225 million in tax breaks and a loan that will be forgiven.

Meanwhile, the closing was rushed in order to prevent yet another pesky lawsuit against CWCapital, this time threatened by commercial landlord SL Green, according to the Times. SL Green was involved the 2006 sale of the property, having lent and lost about $200 million. But perhaps more importantly, the article noted, a real estate investor whose partners include Fortress, CW’s parent company, had challenged a midtown skyscraper SL Green wanted to build. “Fearing that the suit could delay the closing, the company offered SL Green what it considered a token amount, $10 million.”

This reported threat came on the heels of another suit against CW, this one by a group of lenders led by hedge fund Appaloosa, being withdrawn. That group had filed suit over CW being able to walk off with a reported $566 million in fees from the sale and other services rendered at Stuyvesant Town.

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Ess-a-Bagel should open in February

By Sabina Mollot

This past week, a couple of residents of Stuyvesant Town told Town & Village they were concerned that Ess-a-Bagel, which recently inked a lease in the complex, wasn’t going to open or might be having some problems. This, they explained was due to the fact that no work appeared to be going on in the space, which is now marked by a “coming soon” banner in the window. This appeared to be in contrast with what an onsite worker told T&V two weeks ago, that the place could open “hopefully” by the end of January.

Meanwhile, according to one of the owners, Muriel Frost, things are proceeding at the new space, despite having to wait for some permits and other paperwork issues. The new location, she added, could be open by February 1. Or, she admitted, “it could be February 10.”

She’s been fielding plenty of questions on that subject at Ess-a-Bagel’s Third Avenue location, where some regulars of the old shop on First Avenue will sometimes travel for their bagels on weekends.

“Customers come up on Sundays and ask,” said Frost. “God willing everything will be okay.”

Letters to the Editor, Dec. 24

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

‘New system’ for plumbing service stinks!

Re: Story, “Garodnick: Stuy Town plumbing service has gone down the toilet,” T&V, Dec. 17

The reduction of our plumbing service is just the latest, most blatant example of what CompassRock (CWCapital) has been getting away with during the past few years in order to enrich themselves further. I say it is the most blatant because so many residents feel the effects as soon as there is a problem which is typically several times a year, while other service cuts including in pest control and security may be less obvious but nevertheless still noticed by many.

I currently have a problem with my bathroom sink being completely clogged, and therefore unusable. When I called management services to arrange an appointment I was very disturbed when they told me the earliest appointment they could arrange for me was in three weeks! When I replied that this is something that used to be resolved in a few days, they responded that they now have a new system. They wouldn’t explain their “new system,” but it obviously meant saving more money by cutting our services even more. I did call the Blackstone hotline at (221) 655-9870 to report it and was told that they have been flooded with similar complaints.

I guess it’s not enough that CW is receiving over a half billion dollar windfall from the upcoming sale but obviously they feel they need to squeeze out a few thousand dollars more at the expense of their tenants.

At least when the sale is completed we can likely expect CompassRock to depart, and I’m sure I express the sentiment of many tenants when I say to them “Goodbye, and good riddance!”

Ed Lee, ST

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Police Watch: Home Depot employee ‘threatens’ shooting, Man arrested for ‘arson’

HOME DEPOT EMPLOYEE ACCUSED OF THREATENING COPYCAT SHOOTING
Police arrested 31-year-old Home Depot employee Rafael Borbon the day after he allegedly threatened a copycat attack of a shooting earlier this year at the store at 40 West 23rd Street. Borbon, who was charged with stalking and harassment inside the 13th precinct on Saturday, allegedly told one of his coworkers that he wanted to leave his job “how Calvin did,” in reference to Calvin Esdaile, another Home Depot employee who had fatally shot a manager at the store in January before killing himself.
According to the criminal complaint, Borbon first mentioned his idea last Wednesday and allegedly told a co-worker that he would do it “bigger and better” and would use an AK-47 instead of a handgun to shoot the store managers.
His co-worker said that they discussed Borbon’s alleged plan again last Friday.
“I thought about what we talked about before,” he reportedly said. “I’d like to do it. Except when I do it, they’ll need more ambulances and more priests.”
The co-worker told police that Borbon’s statements put her in fear for her personal safety and for the safety of her co-workers.
Borbon was arraigned on Sunday and released on his own recognizance. His next court date is on January 21 and a temporary order of protection was issued, prohibiting him from entering the store.

MAN ARRESTED AT SHELTER FOR ‘THREATS’
Police arrested 33-year-old Jamel Cobb for aggravated harassment last Wednesday at 1:15 p.m. inside the 30th Street Men’s Shelter at 400 East 30th Street. The victim told police that Cobb called her on November 16, and he allegedly threatened to come to her house and shoot her.

MAN ARRESTED FOR ‘ARSON’ IN FIRST AVENUE APARTMENT
Police arrested 57-year-old Christophe Gay for arson, reckless endangerment and criminal mischief last Friday at 9:54 p.m. at the corner of First Avenue and East 22nd Street. Police said that after arguing with his boyfriend, Gay destroyed property in their home that belonged to both of them, then set fire to property in their kitchen. He allegedly took a photograph of the remains and sent it via text message to his boyfriend with the message, “How do you like this?” The fire was deemed incendiary by the fire marshal.

MAN BREAKS WINDOW AT NO. 1 CHINESE RESTAURANT
Twenty-nine-year-old Jamel McMillian was arrested for criminal mischief in front of No. 1 Chinese Restaurant at 265 First Avenue last Friday at 12:12 p.m. An employee at the restaurant between 15th and 16th Streets told police that he asked McMillian to leave and when McMillian exited, he allegedly kicked the glass plate front window, causing it to break. The employee said that the window was valued at approximately $1,000.

TEEN ARRESTED FOR STOLEN IPHONE
Police arrested a teenager for petit larceny and possession of stolen property in front of the CVS store at 253 First Avenue last Saturday at 1:10 p.m. After stopping the teen and searching him, police found that he was in possession of an iPhone that wasn’t his. Police said that the teen is currently a student at the New Design High School at Essex and Grand Street and his name is being withheld due to his age.

MAN ARRESTED FOR ‘GROPING’ WOMAN
Police arrested 36-year-old Solomon Miller for sexual abuse inside Trevi Coffee Shop at 48 Union Square East last Wednesday at 9:17 a.m. The victim told police that while entering the deli, Miller allegedly grabbed her butt.

MAN BUSTED FOR STROLLER ‘THEFT’
Police arrested 41-year-old Michael Ballard for burglary and possession of stolen property last Wednesday at 3:44 p.m. inside 214 East 25th Street. Police were responding to a call in the area about a suspicious man on the block related to a recent burglary. Police saw Ballard walking away from where the incident occurred. The victim told police that Ballard had followed her into her building and claimed that he lived there. After he followed her inside, he allegedly walked out with her baby stroller. Police found Ballard after searching the area.

MAN ARRESTED FOR CD ‘FORGERIES’
Forty-year-old Vashon Watts was arrested for the manufacture of unauthorized recordings at the corner of Third Avenue and East 29th Street last Monday at 10:54 a.m. Watts was initially stopped for an alleged traffic infraction. Police said that he denied having identification and knowingly misrepresented his name and date of birth even when advised that doing so was a crime. Once he relented and produced his valid ID card, police found that his license was allegedly suspended. He was also in possession of 345 allegedly counterfeit CDs. Watts was also charged with forgery, impersonation of a public servant, an unclassified traffic misdemeanor and unlicensed operator.

MEN ARRESTED FOR SELLING ‘LOOSIES’
Police arrested two people last week for selling loose cigarettes, charging them with a violation of tax law and unlawful peddling.
Eric Johnson, 46, in front of 109 East 16th Street last Tuesday at 1:19 p.m. Police said that Johnson was selling untaxed cigarettes for cash on a public sidewalk and did not have a vendor license.
Police arrested 31-year-old Johnny Grima last Friday at 8:06 a.m. at the corner of East 14th Street and Union Square East. Grima was allegedly selling one pack of cigarettes on the sidewalk for cash without a vendor’s license.

TWO ARRESTED IN BROADWAY ‘DRUG DEAL’
Police arrested two people involved in a drug deal in front of 1165 Broadway last Thursday at 8:02 p.m. Alexis McGregor, 33, and Curtis Jones, 27, were both charged with possession of marijuana. McGregor was additionally charged with forgery and Jones was also charged with resisting arrest and sale of marijuana. Police said that McGregor was sitting in his car when Jones approached him and handed him a bag of alleged marijuana in exchange for cash. His temporary vehicle plate was also discovered to be altered and therefore invalid, police said.
When McGregor and Jones were stopped, Jones allegedly began spitting at officers and kicked at police to prevent the officer from placing him in handcuffs.

MAN ARRESTED FOR ‘DRUGS’ ON EAST 25TH
Nineteen-year-old Justin Rowe was arrested for possession of a controlled substance in front of 240 East 25th Street last Saturday at 11:19 p.m. Police said that Rowe was in possession of a quantity of alleged cocaine.

TURNSTILE ‘JUMPER’ BUSTED FOR ‘DRUGS’
Police arrested 31-year-old Miguel Fernandez for theft of services inside the Union Square subway station at Union Square East and East 14th Street last Wednesday at 9:10 a.m. Police said that Fernandez walked through the emergency exit gate in the station to avoid paying the fare and also remained in the station unlawfully. When he was searched, he was also found to be in possession of an alleged hypodermic needle and a small clear bottle of pills with no label or name on it, police said. He was also charged with possession of a hypodermic instrument, possession of a controlled substance and criminal trespass.

Opinion: The world has seen this kind of hate-mongering before

By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

A country weary of war, wracked and roiled by economic woes. Its citizens worried about their jobs and their future. A loss of national confidence in the present. A charismatic leader emerges running for the highest office in the land, promising to make the country “great again” while attacking a religious minority as evil and subversive. Stoking suspicion and fear towards immigrants, non-Caucasian people and non-native born residents. America in 2015? Yes. Also Germany in 1933.

I do not know if Donald Trump is a closeted fascist as some have said, or just so impulsive that he says whatever enters his mind at a given moment.

Children often times have no impulse control and just blurt out things that adults would filter. That is not being politically correct, that is acting like a grown up and understanding that words matter as well as actions.

Donald Trump has insulted immigrants, African Americans, millions of peace loving Muslim citizens and stereotyped Jews. He has attacked with childish characterizations his opponents and critical journalists. He has mocked a disabled reporter and called Senator John McCain a false war hero.

He has repeatedly referred to the President of the United States as “stupid” and suggested that Obama has lied about his birth origin and his practiced religion. Donald Trump is not just being politically incorrect as he and his supporters say, he is behaving like a spoiled adolescent unable to temper his impulses. He is dangerous.

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Garodnick: Stuy Town plumbing service has gone down the toilet

Councilmember Dan Garodnick (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Councilmember Dan Garodnick (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

For months now, residents of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village who’ve had plumbing problems have been made to wait longer than they’ve ever had to previously for someone to fix the problem.

Susan Steinberg, president of the Tenants Association, said the issue has been going on since last summer and she has brought up the issue to CWCapital as well as new owner Blackstone. Wait times for plumbers had risen to 10 days, and then recently spiked again to over two weeks or three weeks, Steinberg said.

Last Friday, Council Member Dan Garodnick sent a letter about the plumbing pileups to Jonathan Gray, Blackstone’s global head of real estate, noting that in some cases, residents have gotten so frustrated with the lack of service they’ve sought emergency repairs from the HPD.

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