By Sabina Mollot
Where there’s smoke there’s ire — and Stuyvesant Town management has gotten that very clear message after poring over countless surveys, reports from focus groups and a steady stream of complaints from tenants from over the past few months.
Specifically, residents have told the new owner they’ve had it with neighbors who smoke outside building entrances, causing the smoke and ash to billow up into their windows. In response, StuyTown Property Services announced last week in a tenant newsletter that it would be introducing “designated smoking areas” to the property.
Additionally, there will be, over the next few weeks, a total of 70 urns for disposing of cigarette butts placed throughout Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village.
ST/PCV General Manager Rick Hayduk spoke in more detail about the plan with Town & Village this week, saying the project is part of the ongoing “Good Neighbors” campaign encouraging courteous behavior. Recent newsletters also addressed dog and noise related complaints.
As for the smoking concerns, Hayduk said management hoped the plan would work for nonsmokers and smokers alike since the urns, which will be the designated smoking areas, will be placed about 50 feet away from buildings.
“So it’s not like we’re sending them to another part of the property,” he said. “It’s far enough from the buildings but close enough where it doesn’t become an inconvenience to someone.”
The urns will stand over three feet high and be a few square inches wide. Hayduk said they will also serve a dual purpose, since the other goal is to get people to stop tossing their cigarette butts onto the ground or flower beds. Some urns will be placed in areas that are known to be popular gathering spots. (The grounds crew can tell by all the discarded cigarette butts).
Hayduk noted that the project was an investment, since the purchase and installation of each urn will cost $500. With the owner having purchased 10 extras in case any need to be replaced, that brings the price to $40,000.
As for how the smoking zones will be enforced, Hayduk said he’s just hoping residents will be agreeable to doing it without management forcing the issue.
“The last thing we want is where you have rules, rules, rules,” said Hayduk. “It’s a neighborhood and what we’re trying to do is have some guidelines for cohabitation. Happy, friendly neighborhood. That’s the goal.”
Hayduk added that this was done now because with the weather getting warmer, more residents are keeping windows open. Additionally, the smoke complaints have been fairly frequent. “It came up enough where it was on our radar to address it.”
Another current effort that’s part of the Good Neighbors campaign is urging residents not to overstuff washing machines. This week, 150 new laundry machines and 150 laundry carts have been brought to the complex (along with seven day a week onsite repair service, compared to five days a week previously). Hayduk noted that the top reason for breakdowns of the old machines was user error, specifically people overloading the washers and dryers. If users hear a loud thump-thump-thump noise, that’s a sign the machine has been overloaded. New signs asking residents not to do this have since been put up in laundry rooms.