By Sabina Mollot
After the explosion in Chelsea that injured 29 people, and the arrest of a man believed to be behind the attack and another attempted bombing nearby, in Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village, residents told Town & Village they were naturally concerned about their safety — but not enough to panic.
Peter Cooper resident L. Infantino said she was at a movie theater on West 23rd Street near the explosion site a half hour before the bomb went off.
“I was very lucky,” said Infantino, who’d been out with a friend. The incident left her asking questions about why that location was chosen, and she’s guessing that it’s because it was close to the subway and PATH station, where the bomber could have made a quick exit.
Another longtime Stuy Town resident told Town & Village she was also on the block the explosion occurred an hour or two before it happened. “I had lunch at the McDonald’s off that corner of 23rd Street,” she said.
The resident, Celia, who didn’t want to give her last name, also said she knew immediately that the explosion was an act of terror even while initial media accounts didn’t refer to it as such.
“I think things are getting tough for ISIS and they’re encouraging people to try things locally,” she theorized. “But thank God nobody was seriously hurt and thank God they have somebody who they think was responsible.”
Asked if she was concerned about her safety, she said yes, but, she added, “I go about my business as I have to. I worked all my life and if I was still working I don’t know if I would be too scared to go into the subway. We have to live. If we’re able to live, we should live.”
While sitting with neighbors near the fountain in Peter Cooper, Mildred Nizewitz admitted to being frightened by the intentional blast.
“It’s sad that we live in a country where you can’t even go grocery shopping and not worry about something happening,” Nizewitz said. “I go shopping on Sixth Avenue. I was there a week ago and never gave it a thought.” She added that recently she’d been “worried sick” about a trip her son was planning to Croatia. “My son said, ‘Why are you worried about me going to Croatia when you’re right on 23rd Street?”
Peter Cooper resident Nick Ramondos said while he was concerned, he felt things like this have always happened, but weren’t covered as extensively.
“There are always going to be disturbed people,” he said. “There’s not much you can do about individual disturbed people. If you see a knapsack, report it, but in terms of predicting what individuals are going to do, it’s impossible to determine which person’s going to snap at any moment.”
Asked if the incident made him worried, Ramondos said, “Sure, I’m worried. I’d like to go to Paris, to Instanbul, places I’ve been to but now I’d be concerned.”
Stuyvesant Town resident Kay Vota said she was “definitely” concerned following the incident. As she explained it, “I’m confident in the NYPD and our emergency people. New York City is the best place to be, but we have no control over nut jobs. So I pray a lot.”
Asked if they were concerned following the Chelsea blast, two men sitting together on a bench near the Oval fountain said “yes” and “no” at the same time.
Saying yes was Ted Goldman, who added, “You’ve got to be alert, you’ve got to be smart and you’ve got to be lucky. To ignore it is like sticking your head in the sand.”
Being smart, he explained, means staying out of certain areas. On the other hand, he added, “If I go into the subway and there’s a bomb, what can I do? But I’ve got to keep living.”
Neighbor Marshall Blass piped in, “Obviously I don’t want anything to happen. But I’m not going to change my activities and I’m not going to stop going down 23rd Street or going on the M23. Of course I’m concerned, but I’m not going to let it worry me.” He added that he was impressed by the NYPD and the FBI and the fact that a suspect was apprehended so quickly after the attack.
Strolling through Peter Cooper, Michael Marino, a Lower East Side resident, said he believed incidents like the one that happened on Saturday were “the new normal.”
After the explosion, his instinct was to start texting and to get on Facebook to “make sure my friends were alive.”
A friend of his had actually been at the movie theater on West 23rd Street near Eighth Avenue when the crude bomb went off and the pal “had no clue. That’s New York for you. There are loud noises.”