Tenants rallied outside 1 Centre Street on Thursday (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Rent stabilized tenants geared up for the upcoming Rent Guidelines Board vote at a rally before the board’s first public meeting of the year this past Thursday morning. Encouraged by a recent ruling by the New York Supreme Court, tenant advocates pushed for a rent rollback.
“As Judge Debra James ruled in her courtroom on Tuesday, the RGB must consider tenant affordability, along with landlord expenses, income and profit,” said Anne Cunningham, a tenant of a residential hotel on the Upper West Side who has been coming to RGB-related housings rights protests for more than 30 years. “And when the RGB votes, they must consider a rent rollback for tenants as a fair and reasonable rent adjustment.”
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney is hoping that the momentum surrounding the Fearless Girl statue will encourage members of Congress to pass legislation beneficial to women. The Congresswoman shared the wish at City Hall this past Monday after announcing that the artwork will stay in its place in front of Wall Street’s Charging Bull until 2018.
“It empowers women in so many fields and now with all the energy around the Fearless Girl, hopefully we can pass my legislation,” she said. “I’m hoping this will spark a movement in Congress to pass legislation I support that focuses on women, like the National Women’s Museum and the Equal Rights Amendment. It inspires us to get out and get things done.”
Maloney said that the statue’s extension was thanks to the mayor and commissioner of the Department of Transportation because the piece was officially accepted into the DOT’s art program.
When the Peter Stuyvesant Little League celebrates its season opening day, this year on April 1, former Mets outfielder and coach Mookie Wilson will join the players at Con Ed Field, and along their march through the neighborhood.
Wilson, whose real first name is William, played for the Mets for over a decade starting in 1980, then later played for the Toronto Blue Jays. In his post-playing career, he served as first base coach to the Mets first from 1996-2002, then again in 2011 for one season and has also managed other teams.
It’s a PSLL tradition to have a former pro baseball player give a pep talk to the kids and throw the first pitch of the season. Previous MLB guests have included Dwight “Doc” Gooden, former Mets player Keith Hernandez and last year, former Mets manager Bobby Valentine.
This year, players from the PSLL’s new division for kids with disabilities, The Challengers, will lead the annual parade, alongside Wilson.
Re: “Spring is here: The proof is in the park,” T&V, Mar. 23
Kudos to Liza Mindemann, park manager at Stuyvesant Cove Park, for her work at the park and her T&V article about the park. And our thanks to her for mentioning that the park exists today because of sustained community advocacy.
Members of our community, some now gone, led the fight that succeeded in defeating the planned over-development that would have blocked access to the waterfront. It is so easy for this effort to be forgotten when area populations and demographics change as much as our neighborhood has over the last several decades.
Many people know the Stuyvesant Cove Park Association as the group responsible for presenting the free concert series in the park each summer. But the SCPA has a long history of assisting Solar One by recruiting volunteers, purchasing mulch, providing funds to replace plants swept away by Hurricane Sandy or paying for fencing to protect those plants as they took root and established themselves.
UPDATE: Jimmy McMillan, early today, announced he was calling off the strike in light of a judge’s decision on Tuesday to keep the rent freeze in place.
Jimmy McMillan is now running for Rosie Mendez’s Council seat. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Sabina Mollot
Jimmy “The Rent is Too Damn High” McMillan, now a Republican City Council candidate, is calling on the tenants of New York City to join him in a rent strike this October.
McMillan, an East Village resident who’s been in and out of court with his own landlord for years, said the plan is inspired by what he’s blasting as conflicting interests in the New York City Housing Court.
“The attorneys that sit on a committee that appoint New York City Housing Court (judges), stand before that same judge against the tenant representing the landlord,” he stated in a press release.
The 70-year-old Vietnam vet also believes this setup has impacted his own case.
According to current information on the New York Courts website, the advisory committee that helps appoint judges to the Housing Part of the Civil Court includes three representatives of the real estate industry, including the chair of the NYC Housing Authority, three members from tenants’ organizations, two members representing civic groups, two bar association members, two public members, one mayoral appointee and the commissioner of the state housing agency, Housing and Community Renewal.
McMillan’s plan to strike, meanwhile, is also aimed at raising awareness of his campaign platform — affordability. His goal is to see rents slashed across the board.
MAN WANTED FOR STRING OF MEDICATION THEFTS
Police are looking for a man believed to be behind a pattern of over-the-counter medication thefts that occurred in Gramercy, Midtown, the Upper East Side and the Upper West Side.
It was reported to the police that on Tuesday, February 21 at 10:05 p.m., an unidentified man entered the Duane Reade located at 125 Third Avenue near East 14th Street and stole various medicationsfrom the shelves then fled in an unknown direction. The same man is suspected in eight other incidents from January 9 through February 23, with the suspect hitting Duane Reades on First and Second Avenue and Lexington Avenue on the Upper East Side, as well as other locations of the chain on Columbus Avenue.
The individual is described as a black man, 30 to 40 years old, 5’ 10”, and was last seen wearing a gray jacket above a gray sweatshirt and a hat.
Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS or for Spanish 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Website at nypdcrimestoppers.com or texting their tips to 274637(CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.
Cell phone theft suspect
MAN WANTED FOR THEFTS FROM CELL PHONE STORES
Police are still looking for a man wanted in connection with a number of cell phone thefts in Gramercy, Midtown North and South, and the Upper West Side.
The man is suspected of cutting the security devices on two cell phones inside a Verizon store at 395 Third Avenue on Sunday, January 22 around 5:15 p.m. and he is suspected of committing similar crimes at AT&T, Metro PCS and T-Mobile stores throughout the city in January. Last Friday, police also connected the man to an additional theft inside an AT&T store at 2066 Broadway on the Upper West Side, when he removed two cell phones before fleeing in an unknown direction.
The suspect is described as a man who is 5’10”, 165lb-175lbs and was last seen wearing a black hooded sweatshirt with a quarter-length overcoat. He has a distinctive scar on the left side of his head right above the ear.
Anyone with information in regards to these incidents is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).
Mertensia virginca buds emerge from the ice at Stuyvesant Cove.
By Liza Mindemann Stuyvesant Cove Park Manager
Despite the recent blanket of heavy snow, we are slowly moving away from the dormancy of winter into the season of spring ephemerals at Stuyvesant Cove Park. Due to another mild winter, we had consistent signs of life all winter long in the scattered lemon-yellow blooms of Golden Alexander (Zizia aurea), much dwarfed compared to their usual summer height but present nonetheless, which bloomed just above their basal leaves throughout the coldest days.
Later in the season we will notice the taller stalks of these very same flowers and in August, the swallowtail butterflies they attract. Just within the last two weeks, peaking through the remaining patches of snow, Virginia Bluebells (Martensia virginica), have also begun their spring show of small purple buds that when fully open are more of a cobalt blue and bell-shaped.
Spring ephemerals are the earliest to bloom, woken by the shift in sunlight and longer, warmer days, but short-lived, as by early June they have moved through the entire cycle of bloom, fertilization, seed production and are ready to retreat back under the earth as other, taller plants over-shadow and the large canopy trees leaf out and change the light-landscape of the garden.
Tenants protest the lawsuit last September. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
On Tuesday, a judge ruled against a landlord group that had sued to undo the rent freeze for over a million stabilized tenants in New York City.
The fight might not be over though since the Rent Stabilization Association, which represents over 25,000 property owners in the city, later tweeted that it would review Judge Debra James’ decision and “seek grounds for appeal.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio, meanwhile, cheered the news, and while discussing it on Tuesday, also brought up the mansion tax, saying this would create affordable housing for 25,000 more New Yorkers.
“Everyone who has struggled to pay the rent ― here’s the good news ― the people won and the landlords lost,” de Blasio said.
Ryan Singer, executive director of the Board of Standards and Appeals, tells protesters the application has been withdrawn. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
The developers of the former Peter Stuyvesant Post Office site have given up on trying to get the green light to add another story to their planned East 14th Street residential building.
The announcement that Benenson Capital Partners and Mack Real Estate Group had withdrawn their application was made on Tuesday morning. The news, delivered by Ryan Singer, executive director of the Board of Standards and Appeals, to a group of mostly union member protesters across the street from the BSA building on Reade Street, elicited cheers.
“The process worked the way it should,” Singer said. “Based on comments from the board yesterday, they felt they could no longer pursue the variance.”
Cailin Krogman’s car parked by the sign last November (Photo by Cailin Krogman)
By Sabina Mollot
Earlier this month, a parking regulation sign located outside Peter Cooper Village on East 20th Street that had been confusing drivers was replaced with a new one. The problem with it previously, as one Peter Cooper driver who got socked with a $115 ticket told us, was that an arrow indicating where one couldn’t park appeared to contradict what the paint lines on the street indicated.
“It’s in conflict with the sign; it doesn’t match up,” said the driver Cailin Krogman. Last November 13, Krogman had parked where she thought it would be okay to do so, over a car’s length away from the sign, only to get slapped with the ticket anyway that evening.
So, while the sign having been changed is good news for drivers (a result of Krogman complaining numerous times to Council Member Dan Garodnick’s office), naturally, Krogman said she would still like her ticket dismissed. Especially since, she pointed out, she’s been paying attention to the spot since her ticket was given and seen that others have not been ticketed. Adding insult to injury, said Krogman, her car has a visible tag indicating she’s a disabled driver.
Town & Village is proud to present “The Soapbox,” a column featuring a different voice from the neighborhood in each one. All are welcome to submit columns on the topic of the author’s choice, preferably not longer than 650 words, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Barry Shapiro
For those not aware, East Midtown Rezoning is a city initiative to rezone roughly from 39th Street to 57th Street from Fifth Avenue to Third Avenue.
The proposed changes in the area will allow real estate developers to build higher and increase overall free space for development by about 6.5 percent. There will also be development of some public spaces and improvements to subway stations.
This along with the LIRR terminal at Grand Central planned to open in 2022 will significantly add to the area’s population density.
Major rezoning has to go through the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), which requires pertinent community boards to have their say. Negative votes by community board reps on the project’s Borough Council would have a somewhat damaging effect.
The number of robberies and burglaries within the confines of the 13th Precinct have spiked in the last month, although crime in the last 28-day period is down 31 percent overall.
The precinct’s commanding officer, Deputy Inspector Brendan Timoney, reported the increases at the most recent 13th Precinct Community Council meeting on Tuesday night, noting that robberies are up 33 percent and burglaries are up 44 percent. This includes a number of bank robberies and Timoney said this isn’t just a local problem.
“We’ve been seeing these significant robberies all over the city, not just in the 13th, but we have a great record of arresting these guys,” he said.
The mural will have a theme of birds and butterflies. (Pictured) A butterfly lands on a plant at Stuyvesant Cove Park. (Photo by Heather Holland)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Students at the School of Visual Arts will soon be working on a project to spruce up Stuyvesant Cove Park with murals. The project is being organized through a community service program aimed at getting students more involved with the neighborhood since the university recently opened a new building at 340 East 24th Street.
Regina Degnan, a student advisor at SVA’s International Student Office, explained the project at a recent meeting for Community Board 6’s parks committee, whose members were supportive of the idea.
Dina Elkan, director of communications and events at Solar 1, was also at the meeting and said the area frequently has problems with graffiti and artwork would help combat that issue. Although the pieces will only be completed with acrylic paint and aren’t meant to be permanent, Elkan said that they would be looking into coating the completed pieces with a graffiti-resistant finish to discourage vandalism.
Earlier this month, it appeared there might be another distribution of checks, albeit small ones, to residents of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village who’d been represented in the Roberts v. Tishman Speyer lawsuit.
However, that’s no longer a possibility as the money left in that pot is under $33,000, according to tenants’ law firm, Wolf Haldenstein. Had the remaining funds been over $100,000 it would have gotten distributed to tenants, as part of the settlement deal hashed out in 2013. For an amount lower than $100,000, however, the remaining funds are to be split evenly between two nonprofits: the Peter Stuyvesant Little League and the ST-PCV Tenants Association.
Previously, Wolf Haldenstein attorney Michael Liskow told Town & Village it looked like there was going to be over $150,000 left in the pool of damages intended for residents. That money represented checks that were not deposited by a 120-day deadline. But Liskow this week said he later learned the $150,000 figure he got from the claims administrator, which he thought was updated as of the end of January, didn’t reflect withdrawals from the amount during January. He also apologized for providing us with the “stale” figure earlier.
Tenant activists gather outside an event held by the Real Estate Board of New York. (Photo courtesy of Faith in New York)
By Sabina Mollot
A group of tenant activists, dressed in black, disrupted a real estate industry luncheon in midtown last Wednesday to mourn the loss of affordable housing in the city. One of the groups organizing the effort was Faith in New York along with Tenants and Neighbors, the latter of whom have a tradition of protesting at events held by the Real Estate Board of New York.
“REBNY has led the charge for pro-gentrification and pro-displacement policies across New York for decades,” Katie Goldstein, executive director of Tenants & Neighbors later said in a written statement. “We are here standing with faith leaders and tenants across New York to mourn the death of affordable housing as we actively organize against REBNY’s policies and practices.”