By Sabina Mollot
Safety and quality of life issues for Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village residents were addressed on Saturday at a Tenants Association meeting, from the upcoming “L-pocalypse” to speeding cyclists who terrorize local seniors.
As for the latter issue, Rick Hayduk, Stuyvesant Town’s general manager, told residents that soon new signs would be placed around the complex’s entrances warning cyclists to slow down and keep their lights on after dark.
In other complex news, management is also lightening the workloads of porters who will soon only be focused on two buildings each instead of three. Hayduck said tenants could expect to see the impacts of this in 60-90 days, since first management had to hire a few more part-time porters.
Hayduk also discussed a few other initiatives, like bulletin boards soon to come to in lobbies to provide property alerts and the “good neighbors” campaign, which he said has already had an effect on some people’s habits of slamming doors and smoking near buildings.
TA President Susan Steinberg then got onto the topic of MCIs, saying that while tenants’ relationship with the new owner has been a productive one — with Blackstone even scoring well on a tenant survey the TA issued recently — the TA was still challenging the latest round of MCIs.
There are four major capital improvement increases that management have warned are on the horizon (façade waterproofing, ADA ramps, video intercoms and water heaters).
“We are vigorously challenging those,” Steinberg said, saying that in some cases, the MCIs, applied for CWCapital, were not filed “in a timely way.”
Steinberg then added that the Tenants Association is also planning to expand its communications with neighbors on issues that affect the community with alerts on its websites. New domain names have already been purchased, Steinberg said, stuytown.nyc, stuyvesanttown.nyc and petercoopervillage.nyc. Alerts will include things like school closings, Office of Emergency Management memos, MTA advisories and street closures.
“It will take a couple of months to get up,” Steinberg said.
Another concern, raised by a few tenants, was crowding on the L train and First Avenue station that was likely to get worse following the opening of new residential developments along East 14th Street and another planned for Avenue C.
Council Member Dan Garodnick responded to say he has shared those same concerns with the MTA, comparing the current state of 14th Street as “a blank canvas. So it’s the right time to have this conversation.”
Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh added that he would push for more funding for the MTA for infrastructure improvements and more buses on 14th Street.
Other concerns raised by individual tenants were related to dogs, such as one woman’s complaint about dog walkers who frequently take multiple dogs for strolls around Stuy Town. In response, Hayduk said public safety has been cracking down on this by issuing summonses, and that the new blue lanyards registered pooches have to wear have helped this effort.
“Public safety officers have stopped over 3,000 people that have not had the lanyard,” Hayduk said. He also said the walkways have been getting sanitized more frequently. When the woman who spoke about the problem said it was still a major issue near her building on 14th Street and Avenue B, Hayduk said he’d increase patrols in that area and urged residents to report any problems.
There were also comments on local issues from elected officials at Saturday’s meeting, including Garodnick, Kavanagh, State Senator Brad Hoylman and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. Comptroller Scott Stringer and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer also stopped by.
Garodnick discussed the ongoing scam perpetrated by callers pretending to be from the IRS and demanding immediate tax payments their targets supposedly owe. When Garodnick asked how many people in the audience had been on the receiving end of the calls, nearly every hand in the crowd of around 200 people went up. Garodnick then shared that he too was told by a caller that someone “would show up in 30 minutes to put me and my family in jail.” He then mentioned the recent arrest of around 70 people in Mumbai who were believed to be involved in the scam.
When it was his turn at the podium, Hoylman spoke about Democrats’ hope of flipping the now Republican-controlled Senate, which prompted one resident in the audience to storm off, after asking what that had to do with the community. Steinberg then defended Hoylman for pushing the Democrats’ agenda, arguing that in Albany, they’re the ones who are usually tenant-friendly.
“It will impact what happens here,” Steinberg said. “It will impact rent regulations…. Republicans are not as devoted to the tenant cause.”
Hoylman then joked that New York Democrats will have Donald Trump to thank on Election Day with the presidential candidate’s popularity on the wane, according to polls. “He’s behind 25 points,” Hoylman said. “Many Democrats will be riding Hillary Clinton’s pantsuit tails.”
Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh spoke about rent regulations, saying that while they were not up for renewal again until 2019, tenants don’t necessarily need to wait that long to see any action if “we have a partner in the Senate.”
He then discussed the law that allows vacancy bonuses, which are increases of up to 20 percent owners of rent stabilized properties can charge when a tenant moves out.
“Half of all rent increases in the entire city in rent stabilized apartments results from that one law,” Kavanagh said. “It’s time to repeal it.”
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney discussed local transit woes, saying there would be a silver lining to come out of the dreaded shutdown of the L line tubes beginning 2019 — higher property values nearby.
She said that following the first phase of the Second Avenue Subway construction, property values nearby increased, and she predicted the same for the neighborhoods surrounding the L.
As for residents’ options for transit during the 18-month shutdown, Maloney spoke of a traffic study the city had committed to on a proposal for a car-free 14th Street.
“We’ll see what the study finds,” she said, adding that she would make sure any plan would include frequent buses, dedicated bus lanes and ferry service to Brooklyn.
The congresswoman also had her usual words of praise for the Stuy Town community, in this case while recalling the visit in April by former President Bill Clinton. Maloney shared how she and Clinton had been talking about a book he read about successful societies, which included humans, ants and cockroaches.
Maloney then told the former leader of the free world that those societies reminded her of Stuyvesant Town.
“What we all have in common is we help each other,” she said, crediting the success of the community, such as in the deal to retain 5,000 affordable units, to its tenants’ organizational skills.
After hearing this, Steinberg quipped that Maloney had “left out mole rats and termites.”