Driver plows into cars, synagogue on East 20th Street

The jeep crashed through the building's front gate. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

The jeep crashed through the building’s front gate. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A woman seemingly lost control of her jeep and crashed it into the front gate of the Chabad of Gramercy Park synagogue on Wednesday evening.

Minor injuries were reported after the accident, which happened on East 20th Street near First Avenue at 5 p.m.

At least six cars were damaged as a result, with one bystander describing the accident as a “domino effect.”

Andres Gomes, whose vehicle was damaged, said that the incident was confusing because the driver who set off the chain reaction appeared to be driving erratically, pulling her vehicle forward, then putting it in reverse before driving forward again, hitting multiple cars with each change of direction, before she backed into the gate.

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East River flood protection plan extended to 25th St.

Meeting attendees in 2015 look at a model of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village with a planned elevated park at the waterfront. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Meeting attendees in 2015 look at a model of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village with a planned elevated park at the waterfront. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The plan to provide flood protection to the community along the East River has shifted design elements from East 23rd Street to 25th Street due to complications with the intersection in the original plan. The Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency announced the changes to the East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) plan in a task force meeting with Community Boards 3 and 6 on Tuesday night.

Representatives from the Office of Recovery and Resiliency as well as the urban design team working on the project have spoken at community meetings previously about the plan, the goal of which is to provide flood protection from Montgomery Street to East 23rd Street, incorporating floodwalls and an elevated park.

Carrie Grassi, Deputy Director for Planning at the Office of Recovery and Resiliency, said that the “tieback” was moved to East 25th Street because East 23rd Street is a technically difficult area.

“We’re trying to come up with an alternative that doesn’t make that intersection worse,” she said.

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Even without internet, homeless camps still a concern in Gramercy

A LinkNYC tower is used on Third Avenue (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

A LinkNYC tower is used on Third Avenue (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Sabina Mollot

Last Wednesday, the city yanked the internet from its new wi-fi stations following community outrage and news reports about the kiosks being monopolized by the homeless. As Town & Village recently reported, in Gramercy they’d be used for hours or even days at a time by homeless people who in some cases set up camps and according to one Post report, a Murray Hill resident was even treated to the sight of a man masturbating near her home while using a kiosk to watch porn.

However, even with internet access now scrubbed, some Gramercy residents are saying the kiosks are still hangouts for homeless people who in some cases drink at the sites and remain there for days on end. Their concerns were raised on Tuesday night at a meeting of the 13th Precinct Community Council, where the precinct’s commanding officer, Deputy Inspector Brendan Timoney assured neighbors police were responding to such complaints, and increasing homeless outreach efforts.

One woman, Julie Block, complained that homeless people are a round-the-clock presence at 16th Street and Third Avenue. In response, Timoney said those individuals have actually since moved a block north to 17th Street. However, he also said there would be more efforts to get those people into shelters, in coordination with the organizations Breaking Ground and Urban Pathways. “We’ll have to go out there again,” Timoney said.

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Man made false bomb threat on L train

sept22-false-bomb-threatPolice are looking for a man who made a false bomb threat on the L train on Saturday. At around 5:45 p.m., the man, who was on the L after it left the Bedford Avenue station, yelled out “Bomb!”, then counted down from five and yelled out “boom!”

This was prior to the bomb going off in Chelsea at around 8:30 p.m.

A passenger took a picture of the suspect with her cell phone before she made an exit at the First Avenue station.

The individual is described Hispanic, 30 to 40 years old, 5’10”; and was last seen wearing a white t-shirt and blue pants.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website at http://www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

Soapbox: A place for intellectual retirees

By Elaine Greene Weisburg

Members of The New School’s Institute for Retired Professionals are accustomed to hearing fellow members express their gratitude for this Greenwich Village learning center. This reporter, a member since 2005, has often heard the following comment in one form or another: “The IRP saved my life.”

Of the dozen or so IRP retirees living in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, several have been members for two decades. Among them are Rhonda Gelb who went from school guidance counselor to retirement counselor at J.P. Morgan; Harriett Zwerling, who taught two generations of fourth graders in Greenpoint; and Beverly Butler, a retired city social worker.

For over 50 years this arm of The New School has been an inspirational pioneer in the lifelong education movement, a movement that the aging of the baby boomer generation is actively fueling. The IRP, although a part of a university, does not draw upon its faculty. We practice peer learning which means we, the members, run our program and conduct our classes under the guidance of the IRP executive director.

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Tenants fight landlord lawsuit to undo rent freeze

sept22-rally-tenants-cropped

Tenants defend the rent freeze. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

A group of tenants from around the city are hoping to intervene in a lawsuit that was filed in July aimed at stopping the rent freeze authorized a month earlier by the Rent Guidelines Board.

That lawsuit was filed by the Rent Stabilization Association, an organization that represents around 25,000 landlords in New York City.

On Tuesday morning, the tenant group announced its intention to fight the litigation at a rally held at Foley Square, near the courthouses. The group, dubbed the Rent Justice Coalition, includes tenant and civic groups from around the city with legal representation by Legal Aid Society, Goddard Riverside and the Urban Justice Center.

Event organizer Larry Wood of Goddard Riverside told the crowd of tenants and activists, “The RSA says the Rent Guidelines Board used criteria they shouldn’t have. The RSA claims tenant affordability shouldn’t have been considered. It’s outrageous to say they’re not supposed to think about tenant hardship.”

The suit had argued that the issue of affordability shouldn’t be handled by the RGB, but by government-sponsored rent relief subsidies.

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This restaurant flipper says he’ll be keeping the East Side Diner

Nick Kaloudis comes from a family in the restaurant business. His cousin is the owner of Tivoli. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Nick Kaloudis comes from a family in the restaurant business. His cousin is the owner of Tivoli. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

After nearly four decades, the East Side Café on East 23rd Street, west of First Avenue, closed earlier this summer. However, unlike so many Manhattan businesses that have been shutting their doors for good, this was just temporary, with the place sold, renovated and then re-branded as the East Side Diner. Technically, the place had always been a diner, so the name change was simply a matter of hammering home what the places does, according to the new owner, Nick Kaloudis.

Kaloudis, 38, comes from a family long ensconced in the diner biz; his cousin Gus Kassimis is the owner of the soon-to-be-opened Tivoli at the former Lyric Diner space on Third Avenue.

Together, Kaloudis and other family members have purchased 17 diners around the city, and whenever possible the properties they’re in. However, Kaloudis flips the businesses rather than run them. The East Side Diner, however, will be different. This is the first time he’s purchased a business on his own due to the former owner, Spiros Mouzakitis, wanting to retire.

“He’s been on the same block for 38 years,” explained Kaloudis. “After a while you’re tired of 15-16 hour shifts.”

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T&V’s search for the best burgers

sept15-burgerThe Schnipper’s Classic at Schnipper’s

By Sabina Mollot

Town & Village presents a series of reviews of burgers available at local restaurants. While there’s certainly no shortage of places that serve this American staple, the question is simply where to get the most bang for your (typically) eight to sixteen bucks. In related news, September 18 is National Cheeseburger Day.

For this review, we headed to Schnipper’s, a place that prides itself on its comfort food, and burgers are just part, albeit a large part, of the menu. Of a dozen burger options to choose from, we picked the Schnipper’s Classic ($9).

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Wait list opens for affordable apartments in Kips Bay

By Sabina Mollot

New Yorkers on the lookout for a more affordable home might want to consider Phipps Plaza South, two buildings located in Kips Bay, where there is currently a lottery for affordable apartments.

There is at this time just a small amount of vacancies, but there is also a wait list, according to a spokesperson for Phipps, which, this week, announced the opportunity via an ad. The reason for the announcement since most units are already filled is that the owner, nonprofit developer Phipps Houses, is required to periodically refresh the waiting list if it’s out of date or applicants fall below a certain number. This policy is a HUD requirement for Section at 8 at the property.

The two buildings are located at 330 East 26th Street and 444 Second Avenue and together have 404 apartments that are mostly low-income. None are market rate, according to the spokesperson, James Yolle, and it’s covered under a regulatory agreement until 2039 and will then become rent stabilized. Any unit rented goes to someone on the waiting list, which applicants can get on based on income limits.

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No primary scheduled in 74th Assembly District, but no one tells voters – again

Helpful signs like the ones pictured above were nowhere to be found on Tuesday.

Helpful signs like the ones pictured above were nowhere to be found on Tuesday.

By Sabina Mollot

On Tuesday, Primary Day, there was no polling in the 74th Assembly District, due to no uncontested races. However, voters in the district, which includes Stuyvesant Town and Kips Bay, weren’t given notice of this, leading some to venture out to do their civic duty and be counted as they would do any other voting day.

“Just walked to polling place at 283 Avenue C only to discover nothing going on and definitely no signs,” one annoyed reader told Town & Village in an email on Tuesday. “Went to security to be informed that the Board of Elections notified them at about noon that since no one was running in our district they would save money and not open. Save money great… but what else do they have to do but inform voters?”

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UPDATED: Man wanted for Chelsea explosion

28-year-old Ahmad Khan Rahami

28-year-old Ahmad Khan Rahami

UPDATE: Rahami has been arrested after firing at police in New Jersey, NBC New York reported. He’s also wanted for a bombing in New Jersey, the Daily News reported.

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police are looking for a man believed to be involved in the bombing in front of  135 West 23rd Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues on Saturday night.

Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28, is a U.S. citizen of Afghan descent, born on January 23, 1988 in Afghanistan. His last known address was in Elizabeth, NJ. He is about 5’6″ and weighs about 200 pounds, He has brown eyes, brown hair and brown facial hair.

He is considered armed and dangerous and police are instructing anyone who sees him not to approach him and to dial 911 immediately.

The FBI is investigating the cause of the explosion, which occurred at 8:30 p.m. Multiple news outlets reported that the bomb, which was made with a pressure cooker, flip phone and Christmas lights, was filled with shrapnel and designed to inflict maximum damage. Another device was found on West 27th Street that did not detonate. Twenty-nine people were injured, and all of the victims were treated at the hospital and have been released.

As of Monday morning, most of the transit closures and street detours have been lifted but 23rd Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues remains closed. M23 buses are detoured in both directions, to 14th Street in the eastbound direction and to 34th Street in the westbound direction. PATH service has resumed except at the 23rd Street station.

 

3 local organizations holding food festivals as fundraising events

At a previous Harvest in the Square, guests sit outside the tent. (Photo by Liz Ligon/courtesy of Union Square Partnership)

At a previous Harvest in the Square, guests sit outside the tent. (Photo by Liz Ligon/courtesy of Union Square Partnership)

By Sabina Mollot

Supporting neighborhood organizations is about to get very tasty.

This is because three local organizations are holding food tasting events this month bypassing more traditional kinds of fundraising events. The hosts are, respectively, the Union Square Partnership, hosting the 21st annual Harvest in the Square festival on September 22, Gramercy Neighborhood Associates, holding the fourth annual Taste of Gramercy Neighborhood on September 24, and Solar One, holding an Oktoberfest event on September 27.

Details for each event are as follows:

Harvest in the Square benefits its host’s efforts to maintain and beautify Union Square Park as well as fund summer programming. Over 50 local restaurants will participate at this event, held under a giant tent at the park’s North Plaza.

A handful of those include Croque Monsieur, Gramercy Tavern, Ngam, Rosa Mexicano, Strip House, Flats Fix, Black Barn, The Pavilion, The Poke Spot, Union Fare and Hill Country Chicken. There will also be tastings from a dozen regional wineries.

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13th Precinct remembers 9/11 on 15th anniversary

Officers of Emergency Service Truck #1, the 13th Precinct, the K9 unit and NYPD retirees who returned for the WTC Remembrance Ceremony along with Gramercy Park Block Association President Arlene Harrison in front of the 13th Precinct on East 21st Street (Photo by William Baker/Courtesy of the PBA of the NYPD)

Officers of Emergency Service Truck #1, the 13th Precinct, the K9 unit and NYPD retirees who returned for the WTC Remembrance Ceremony along with Gramercy Park Block Association President Arlene Harrison in front of the 13th Precinct on East 21st Street (Photo by William Baker/Courtesy of the PBA of the NYPD)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Officers of the 13th Precinct and residents of Gramercy commemorated the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center this past Sunday.

Officers gathered outside the precinct at 8:30 a.m. and observed a moment of silence at 8:46, the time that the first plane collided with the north tower.

Calvary Church on East 21st Street hosted one service at 11 a.m. on the day of the anniversary and invited Arlene Harrison, president of the Gramercy Park Block Association, to speak about the parish’s partnership with the community in the days and weeks following the attacks.

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Con Ed driver who fatally hit woman from Stuy Town found guilty of careless driving

Driver sues DMV over agency taking too long to restore license

Four days after Stella Huang was hit by a Con Ed truck in 2013, the area at 16th Street and Avenue C is coned off. At that time, a streetlight there was broken. (Photo by Lawrence Scheyer)

Four days after Stella Huang was hit by a Con Ed truck in 2013, the area at 16th Street and Avenue C was coned off. At that time, a streetlight there was broken. (Photo by Lawrence Scheyer)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Con Edison employee who fatally struck an elderly Stuyvesant Town resident on Avenue C at East 16th Street in 2013 had his license revoked this past August as a result of the incident. He’s since filed a lawsuit because he felt that the Department of Motor Vehicles wasn’t processing his application to reinstate his license quickly enough.

Streetsblog NYC reported on Tuesday that the driver, Andrew Franco, was found guilty of careless driving, meaning that 88-year-old Stella Huang likely had the right of way when Franco hit and killed her around 5:15 p.m. on November 27, 2013. The Daily News reported that the decision was only handed down this past August, almost three years after the accident, following multiple hearings and an appeal, and that Franco filed the lawsuit against the DMV last Friday.

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Letters to the Editor, Sept. 15

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

A few points on previous squirrel letters

Re: Letter, “T&V story was squirrel slander,” T&V, July 28, written by the author of this letter and other letters about squirrels

Dear Ms. Sabina Mollot,

First I would like to apologize because now we understand that T&V was purposely misled when you wrote the article about “aggressive squirrels.”

To Judith Swearingen, I would like to let her know that we stand 100 percent in support of Mr. Salame’s letter on July 28. The fabrication of lies (regardless if it is against an ethnic group or animals) with the sole purpose of creating fear, panic, mistrust and hate towards a person, persons, ethnic group, religion is illegal and immoral to say the least. J. Swearingen missed the point of the letter. May I remind her that a subtle racism and antisemitism continue to exist in certain sectors of the society. I was also very impressed with her pseudo mental analysis of Mr. Salame’s other battles that have nothing to do with the squirrels.

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