Baby born on FDR Drive

Police officers with the newborn (Photos courtesy of NYPD)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

It’s a boy! A baby was born on the FDR Drive after police received a call about a woman in labor near East 20th Street early Tuesday morning.

Detective Michael Sharpe of the NYPD Collision Investigation Squad was heading north on the FDR when he heard the dispatch call but when he arrived at the location, he didn’t see anyone in need of assistance. He continued to look around on the northbound side of the FDR and eventually found the family on the highway near East 47th Street.

Sharpe approached the vehicle and found that the woman was in labor and the baby’s father was receiving detailed instructions on child delivery from the 911 dispatcher. Sharpe and the father assisted the pregnant woman in the delivery of a baby boy.

They then wrapped the newborn in a blanket to keep him warm and Detectives Robert Mirfield and Joe Conway, who arrived shortly after his birth, cleared the baby’s airway and cut the umbilical cord.

The newborn

The newborn

Mirfield and Conway work with NYPD Emergency Service Unit Truck 1, which is stationed at the 13th Precinct and the detectives are trained New York State Emergency Medical technicians.

After highway patrol officers flagged down a nearby ambulette, the mother and newborn were taken with an escort to New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center. The mother and baby, whose names weren’t released by police, were reported to be in stable condition.

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City digs out after blizzard

Packed 20th Street Loops after the blizzard

Packed 20th Street Loop after the blizzard (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

After last year’s fake-out for a “historic” snowstorm that dropped a mere nine inches on the city instead of the predicted three feet, the de Blasio administration was more cautious with the hyperbole preceding last week’s storm.

This time, though, the blizzard delivered: last week’s storm brought the second biggest snowfall since the city started recording the data in 1869, only a tenth of an inch less than the biggest in 2006, with 26.8 inches measured in Central Park by the time the storm dissipated on Saturday night.

The mayor issued a travel ban on all non-emergency vehicles at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday when the forecasts were predicting 20 to 25 inches of snow. While the governor shut down the subway completely in anticipation of last year’s storm, subway service remained at least partially available for the duration of the blizzard, although the MTA did ultimately shut down bus service at noon and service at aboveground subway stations at 4 p.m.

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Mumbles restaurant closes, La Follia will take over space

Jan28 Mumbles

Mumbles at Third Avenue and 17th Street (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

 

By Sabina Mollot

Mumbles, a family-run restaurant that’s been in the Gramercy neighborhood for 22 years, closed its doors for good on Sunday.

The business has been sold to the owners of a nearby restaurant La Follia, who will be moving in February.

On Thursday, January 21, Mumbles’ owner, David Feldman threw a going away party at the restaurant, which he said was packed with family, friends and regulars.

Reached at the restaurant the next day as the city prepared for a blizzard, Feldman explained his reasons for closing the restaurant, which at one time had three Manhattan locations.

For one thing, his father, who started the business, died six years ago, leaving Feldman and his brother to run things. But then Feldman also lost his brother a year ago to cancer.

This left Feldman alone to run Mumbles as well as two other restaurants the family owned, Benjamin in Murray Hill, and East of Eighth in Chelsea, as well as a catering business. Those businesses will all remain open.

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Snapping the snowstorm: Gramercy Park in pictures

Making the best of a weekend of being snowed in, numerous residents of Gramercy Park headed outside, cameras in tow, to capture the blizzard’s beauty as well as the opportunity to enjoy the snow with their families. The neighbor photo project was organized by Arlene Harrison, president of the Gramercy Park Block Association. Here are just some of the photos. The rest (over 100) can be seen on Harrison’s Flickr.

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Letters to the Editor, Jan. 28

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

TWC should consider the blind

On January 6, State Senator Brad Hoylman reached out to Robert D. Marcus,chairman and CEO of Time Warner Cable to ask about implanting services to make more television programs accessible to the blind. This is a copy of that letter.

Dear Mr. Marcus:

I am writing to state my concerns regarding the lack of accessibility features offered to Time Warner Cable customers who are blind or visually impaired.

Federal Communications Commission Chair Tom Wheeler has recognized the necessity to “dramatically simplify the ability of individuals who are blind and visually impaired to view television programming” by making video devices with “talking menus” and “talking guides” available to all consumers by December of this year. While I am pleased that the FCC has committed to ensuring that all cable providers adhere to high standards of accessibility, I am disappointed that enforcement will not go into effect until the end of 2016. Until that time, Time Warner Cable’s inaccessible interface and programs leave many blind or visually impaired consumers without the ability to take advantage of an activity that so many of us take for granted.

I implore you to take action as a responsible corporate citizen to improve the standard of living for your blind and visually impaired customers. Comcast has already set an example with its simple to use and accessible technology, making it possible for its blind and visually impaired customers to enjoy quality television programming with ease and independence. Time Warner Cable must step up as a leader in cable television technology and provide its customers with the accessibility features they need. Moreover, Time Warner Cable must implement basic accessibility standards, including the availability of television guides and documents written in Braille and the option to increase font sizes of on-screen menus for those with limited visibility.

Over 8 million Americans have a visual impairment, including nearly 400,000 New Yorkers. I recently had a conversation with a constituent of mine who is legally blind. He describes himself as a “movie buff” and recounts childhood memories of bonding with his father over favorite television shows. Despite his love for film, he is unable to fully access Time Warner Cable’s expansive movie and television options without great difficulty or assistance.

I urge you to take responsibility for giving consumers with visual impairments access to the same compelling and exciting television programming available to anyone else. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Brad Hoylman
New York State Senate, 27th District

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Maloney to MTA: Don’t shut down L

Dec31 Maloney

Congress Member Carolyn Maloney

 

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and a few other elected officials have asked MTA to reconsider its plans to shut down L train service between Manhattan and Brooklyn while the agency does repair work on the line.

The request came in the form of a letter to MTA chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast on Monday, requesting a meeting to discuss the impacts of the proposed Hurricane-Sandy related repairs.

“There is no duplicate mode of transportation,” Maloney said in the letter. “We understand that the tunnel is over 100 years old, that it was badly damaged by Superstorm Sandy and that repairs must be made; however, we are deeply concerned that the closure could leave commuters with no means of getting to and from the Williamsburg/Greenpoint area.”

The letter’s authors also requested that Prendergast or other MTA representatives work with them on a mitigation plan.

“We would like to be involved in the planning at an early stage so that our suggestions and concerns can be taken into account as you develop your plans,” they said in the letter.

Maloney was joined in the letter by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, State Senators Martin Malavé Dilan and Daniel Squadron, Assembly Member Joseph Lentol and Council Member Stephen Levin.

In response, MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz told Town & Village that while the work is necessary because of the damage done to the tubes because of the salt water that flooded in from the storm, the agency has not finalized decisions about the work, which won’t be started for a couple years. He added that the agency is planning to work with the community throughout the process, although he did not have specifics about setting up a meeting with Maloney and other local elected officials.

“We look forward to meeting with elected officials, community representatives and riders and listening to their ideas for the best way to mitigate the impact to customers who travel through the Canarsie Tube every day,” Ortiz said.

A number of community groups and businesses, including Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, the Greenpoint Chamber of Commerce and Neighbors Allied for Good Growth (NAG), have organized to express their concerns about the proposed shutdowns. The groups are joining for a community meeting at Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg on Thursday, January 28 at 11 a.m.

Police Watch: Man shot at FDR apartment, Police looking for bank robber

Knife recovered from the scene

Knife recovered from the scene

COP SHOOTS KNIFE-WIELDING MAN IN APARTMENT ON FDR DRIVE
A police officer shot a man on Tuesday after responding to a call about an emotionally disturbed person at 911 FDR Drive. Police arrived at the scene just after midnight, but by then the man had left the location and fled to 765 FDR Drive near East 8th Street. A sergeant and a police officer in uniform assigned to Police Service Area 4 arrived at 765 FDR Drive and headed to the sixth floor, where they believed the man ran to. Once on the sixth floor, the officers heard a loud commotion on the seventh floor and went up to investigate. The officers went to an apartment on the seventh floor, where they encountered a 25-year-old man armed with a knife. After repeated calls for the man to drop the knife, police said he advanced towards the officer in a threatening manner. The sergeant then fired his gun, the single shot striking the man in the chest. EMS responded and took the man to Bellevue Hospital in stable condition and he was arrested. Both officers were taken to Beth Israel Hospital for evaluation. A knife was recovered at the scene and the investigation is ongoing. The man’s name has not been released.

MAN ARRESTED FOR ‘ASSAULT’ IN UNION SQUARE
Police arrested 22-year-old Gage Quinones last Friday at 7:45 a.m. for an assault that took place on November 5, 2015 at the corner of Union Square East and East 16th Street. The victim told police that he felt a hard object hit him in the back of the head. When he turned to face the direction of the blow, he reported that Quinones was standing there holding a brick and the suspect allegedly used the brick to hit the victim in the face as well. Police said that the assault caused the victim to suffer cuts on his head and face, as well as four broken bones, swelling and substantial pain.
Quinones was also previously charged with assault in October 2014 after he allegedly mugged someone in Union Square. That incident took place at the same intersection and police said that Quinones punched a man who was talking on the phone, causing him to drop it, after which he allegedly grabbed $100 in cash from the victim’s pocket as well as his phone from the ground.

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More about those air rights

By Sabina Mollot

As part of its $5.45 billion sale of Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village, new owner Blackstone has also acquired the property’s air rights. Blackstone has said those will be used elsewhere in the city and has committed not to build over ST/PCV’s open spaces or to redevelop existing structures.

Recently, the New York Post’s Lois Weiss noted that those air or redevelopment rights (roughly one million square feet) include about 250,000 square feet that have been retained through a Stuyvesant Town associated LLC. These include 200,000 square feet for a community facility, 25,000 for residential and 25,000 for commercial, the Post said, adding that the rights could be worth $625 million.

Additionally, Weiss later reported that the aforementioned figures actually fell short of the actual amount of air rights — that, according to Comptroller Scott Stringer, there were actually 10.7 million square feet of transferable air or development rights. This meant that even at a discounted rate, they could fetch an addition $1 million.

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Editorial: A kinder, gentler Andrew Cuomo?

Jan14 Cuomo

Governor Andrew Cuomo sits front and center during the passage of last year’s “Big Ugly” (Photo via Governor Cuomo)

Renters in New York have had good reason to be skeptical of anything that gets said by Andrew Cuomo.

Last year, as corruption scandals erupted around him involving two house leaders, he only chirped briefly about ethics reform but didn’t elaborate on what this meant he would do. Additionally, as rent regulations were up for renewal, he implied this was a job for the two chambers, rather than the state’s top elected official, to handle, and acted as if simply passing them as they were was being pro-tenant. He changed his tune a couple of times, at first saying there was too much chaos in Albany for him to focus on the rent laws, then later said he would strengthen them. Ultimately, the laws were slightly strengthened in a legislative package dubbed the “Big Ugly” by tenant advocates.

But in this New Year, New Yorkers got to see a more compassionate side to the governor in his State of the State address. Along with calling for long-awaited ethics reforms in the state capitol, including closure of the LLC Loophole, Cuomo discussed the importance of things like paid family leave and spending time with loved ones before it’s too late.

He recalled how when his father Mario’s health was declining before his death a year ago, the “indignity of his bodily failures” was difficult for his father to handle. Cuomo said he kept trying to motivate him by giving him reasons he was needed, but ultimately the younger Cuomo chose not to take more time off to spend with his father during that period.

“It’s a mistake I blame myself for every day,” said Cuomo, before making a case for passing family leave. “A lot of people don’t have a choice” on taking time off, he added.

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L train could be shut down for years between Brooklyn and Manhattan

Feb26 L Train

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

L train service between Brooklyn and Manhattan could be shut down completely for multiple years due to long-needed repairs because of damage from Hurricane Sandy.

The service disruption was originally reported by Gothamist last Wednesday, which explained that the work would not shut down the train completely but would terminate Manhattan-bound service from Canarsie at Bedford Avenue, the line’s busiest station.

Following the report on Gothamist, transportation blog Second Avenue Sagas noted that a complete shutdown would likely not last three full years, as this is the long-term timeline for all of the work needed on the L line if the repairs were done on one tube at a time or otherwise split the shutdown of the tunnel. If the MTA were to completely shut down the tunnel to do the repairs, it would take two years at most, a source told the blog.

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Garodnick’s $1.5M campaign warchest

Council Member Dan Garodnick Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Council Member Dan Garodnick (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Currently in his third term – and last due to term limits — Council Member Dan Garodnick has been actively fundraising for higher office, collecting a total of $1.5 million.

Earlier this week, when asked what position he’s seeking, Garodnick would only tell Town & Village: “I’m keeping my options open on my next steps.”

However, he is at least eyeing a state position, according to a report in the Daily News on Monday, which also quoted an anonymous source as saying he’s raised $400,000 in a state campaign coffer. The article said he may be looking towards the comptroller or attorney general seat if they open up.

His statements to T&V weren’t too different though from the sentiments from the article’s source, who added that Garodnick was just trying to be prepared for any potential openings.

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UPDATED: Mayor issues travel ban for NYC

snow by sidney schneck

The snow at around 11 a.m. (Photo by Sidney Schneck)

Mayor de Blasio has just issued a travel ban for New York City. The mayor restricted travel in all cases except emergencies beginning at 2:30 p.m. today. The latest forecasts anticipate approximately 20 to 25 inches across New York City. The mayor also urged Broadway theaters and restaurants to close for the day.

“New Yorkers should head home now,” de Blasio said in an official statement. “We need cars off the road so that our equipment can do its work and keep streets passable for emergency vehicles. Travel conditions are dangerous, and we want to keep all New Yorkers safe until this storm passes. This travel ban is mandatory as of 2:30 p.m. today.”

UPDATE: The travel ban was lifted on Sunday at 7 a.m.

In addition, the MTA has also just begun a service shutdown.

I an email to neighbors, the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association shared the announcement from the Transit Authority.

“Because of the winter storm, an orderly shutdown of all local, limited and express bus service is planned to begin at noon. Please adjust your travel plans accordingly.”

For more information, visit http://www.mta.info/.

UPDATE: As of 7:45 a.m. Sunday, all MTA Bus and Access-A-Ride service was restored. Commuters have been warned to expect residual delays. All elevated MTA subway lines will resume service Sunday, January 24, at 9 a.m.. Metro-North Railroad service will begin restoring service at noon. Long Island Rail Road is still suspended and is expected to be restored Monday morning, January 25. Expect residual delays and check MTA for updates: http://alert.mta.info/.

UPDATE #2 at 9:02 a.m.: The outdoor sections of the following MTA subway lines will remain suspended until further notice due to on-going snow clearing operations: A, Q, N, L, S (Franklin Ave Shuttle) and Staten Island Railway. Additionally, bus customers should expect delays and service changes throughout the day. For the latest information on subway service and bus routes visit: http://www.mta.info.

The East River Ferry service has also been suspended until further notice. For more information visit http://www.eastriverferry.com/ServiceAlerts/.

UPDATE: As of 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, the ferry has resumed service. For the latest updates, see: http://www.eastriverferry.com/ServiceAlerts

 

Additionally, The New York City Department of Transportation, in conjunction with the Department of Sanitation, on Saturday announced that Alternate Side Parking Regulations will be suspended Monday, January 25 to allow for snow removal. Payment at parking meters will remain in effect throughout the city.

UPDATE: ST/PCV General Manager Rick Hayduk sent out an email on Saturday evening to brief tenants on the status of snow removal and other issues.

“Dear Residents of Stuy Town and Peter Cooper Village,

“The snow continues to fall at this hour and it is reported we are to receive even more snow before it tapers off around midnight.

“The PCVST team has been at work since midnight to stay on top of the snow removal.  Right now, we are focused on clearing the drivable roads ensuring access for emergency vehicles along with terrace level entry and exit points.  In addition, we are clearing the perimeter sidewalks but struggling to keep them clear due to drifting snow off of 1st Avenue and 20th street.  Know that over 50 of our team are out in the storm operating machinery and shovels to keep the roads and pathways safe.

“Inasmuch as Mayor de Blasio has asked everyone to stay inside, for those who do venture outside, be warned that there is significant black ice (under the  snow pack and covering cleared areas) and snow drifting.  Conditions are dangerous and we also encourage everyone to stay inside.

“With the expected termination of the snow around midnight, the team will continue to work into the early morning to clear roads and paths in preparation for the tomorrow’s activity.  Our equipment will continue to make noise and as such, we ask for your forgiveness.

“PCVST’s Sunday services operation will be limited as we return the complex to normalcy.  As always, the resident services representatives are on the phone to take any emergency calls.  We ask that any non-emergency calls be held  until Monday simply because we are not sure how many associates can make it to PCVST tomorrow.   Trash pick-up today was extremely limited and it is expected that tomorrow’s pick up will be as well solely due to the sanitation team assisting with snow removal.   As for all other services and activities (Oval Concierge, ICE, Oval Café, etc.), it is a fair assumption that they will not operate tomorrow but will return to normal operating hours on Monday.

“We are grateful for your patience and want you to know that the dedicated associates of PCVST are tirelessly working to get us back to normal as quickly as possible.

“Please reach out to me or anyone on our team if there’s any way we can assist you at the Resident Services number  of 212-420-5000.”

 

UPDATE on Sunday evening: Hayduk sent out an updated memo to tenants on the status of snow removal and to warn motorists not to double park on the Loop Roads or they will get towed.

“Dear Residents of PCVST,

“Thank you for your continued patience as we clear roadways, paths and sidewalks.  As of this hour, the team has made great progress but our director of horticulture (and  snow removal), Chuck Hartsell,  reports we’re at the 75%-80% mark.  The remainder of the clearing will be a bit slower due to the volume of snow restricting the use of plows.  We’re focused  on widening the drivable roads but must use the smaller equipment that lifts and removes the snow.  In addition, we continue to salt all areas and the melting process will be expedited as the sun hits these areas.

“All terrace level entries are clear but in some cases, such as the buildings on 1st avenue, the main entries remain under significant snow.  Once the bobcats are finished with the road widening, they will  move over to the few entries that need removal.  We will be out with the equipment until midnight so we ask for forgiveness for any noise created.

“Regrettably, some residents are double  parking  on the loop roads.  Those  vehicles will be towed as we cannot risk emergency vehicles being restricted from passage.  If  you are or know of said owners, ask them to remove them immediately.  We also ask residents to refrain from leaving boots and other items in the hallways.  The porters are on their normal schedule but sanitation removal continues to be restricted.  We’re back to normal tomorrow.

“Also, with the warming temperatures, icicles and snow are falling from air conditioning units and window sills.  Please, proceed with caution whenever exiting or entering the  buildings.

“We’ve opened Playgrounds 1 & 7 along with the perimeter areas of the Oval.  These areas have seen some great snowmen and igloos.  I’m confident the next generation of New York’s engineers and creatives are coming out of Stuy Town and PCV.

“ICE was opened a couple of hours ago.  Andrew and the ICE team dug out the equivalent of a speed skating circle for skaters.  We expect to have the full rink open tomorrow by 4pm.  The tented basketball courts are  open as is the Oval Café.  All other amenities will be open tomorrow with business as usual.  Lastly, our resident services team remain on the phones if you should need  anything at 212-420-5000.  We ask once more to hold off on non-emergency requests until tomorrow so we can focus on the clean-up.

“This has been an epic 48 hours.  I’ve learned (to no surprise) that those who serve you: the porters, the sanitation team, the horticulture (snow removal team), public safety, resident services and those who lead them, care so much for the residents that many have worked 24 hours straight to ensure your safety and limited interruption to your Sunday.  I come out of this proud to be a part  of this team. ”

 

Week In Review, Jan. 21

State Senator Brad Hoylman called on telecommunications giant Time Warner Cable on Monday to improve access for blind and visually impaired customers by voluntarily instituting basic product standards, including television guides and documents written in Braille, font size options for on-screen menus, as well as “talking menus” and “talking guides.” In a letter to Chairman and CEO Robert Marcus, Hoylman noted that while “Comcast has already set an example with its simple to use and accessible technology,” Time Warner has yet to implement similar programs for its share of New York’s 400,000 visually impaired residents.
Hoylman learned of the issue from a constituent while visiting VISIONS, a nonprofit that offers rehabilitation and social services to the visually impaired, in his senate district with NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer.

Council Member Robert Cornegy (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Council Member Robert Cornegy (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

The City Council voted unanimously in support of legislation to change the way that the city communicates with New Yorkers who qualify for the city’s Rent Freeze Program on Tuesday.
The legislation, sponsored by Council Member Robert Cornegy, requires the Department of Finance to include a notice regarding legal and preferential rents on certain documents related to the NYC Rent Freeze Program.
Specifically, the notice must include the rent amount on which the benefit calculation was based, an explanation of why that amount was used in the calculation, an explanation that the tenant may continue to pay a preferential rent even once enrolled in the program, A statement that the tenant can obtain a rent registration history and file a complaint with the State Division of Housing and Community Renewal and a telephone number and email address for that agency. In addition, by 2018, the legislation would require the Department of Finance to include both the preferential and legal regulated rents of applicants to the NYC Rent Freeze Program in its database and include the preferential rent amount in the notice described above.

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A peek at ST’s newest studios

A studio facing First Avenue built out of a former trunk room (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

A studio facing First Avenue built out of a former trunk room (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Since last summer, five new studio apartments have popped up in Stuyvesant Town. At this time, though they’re not yet on the market, they will be soon, having finally completed their transformation from former trunk rooms and other spaces once used for storage.

The rents for the studios, which are bigger than the five studios built last year on Avenue C, haven’t been officially determined yet. A Blackstone rep said that won’t be decided until a city inspection. However, they will be market rate.

CWCapital had declined to comment on the units as they were being built at 250, 270, 280 and 300 First Avenue and 435 East 14th Street. Permits for their being built were approved on June 30.

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First Ave. lounge still noisy, say neighbors

Deputy Inspector Brendan Timoney (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Deputy Inspector Brendan Timoney (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Attendance at the first 13th Precinct Community Council meeting of 2016 was surprisingly high considering the event was on Tuesday, a bitterly cold evening.

But residents who live on First Avenue at East 18th Street above Visana, the relatively new pizza place that becomes a lounge at night, were motivated by what they complained is excess noise.

There have already been a couple of community council meetings in recent months to complain about the noise from this space. One resident was at the meeting this week with similar complaints, noting that on one recent evening, it was particularly loud because a party bus was parked in front of the establishment.

Owner David Jaffee, who has said previously that he wants to work with the community to resolve any ongoing issues, was at the meeting and said that this was the first time that there has been a party bus parked outside the business. Jaffee argued that he and his business partner are responsive to residents in the area but he noted that the resident who was at the meeting never reached out to him at the time to complain about the issue.

“We try to be proactive,” he said. “I went outside and spoke to the driver but the driver refused to move.”

But the precinct’s commanding officer, Deputy Inspector Brendan Timoney, who has held meetings with Jaffee on this issue in the past, wasn’t satisfied with the owner’s attempts to mitigate the noise problems.

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