Neighborhood not on board with nixing Stuyvesant name

Following the Confederate monument controversy in Charlottesville and other Southern cities, debate has been swirling around New York City statues that could be considered symbols of hate, including The Peter Stuyvesant statue in Stuyvesant Square Park. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

While states in the South wrangle with whether or not to remove statues of Confederate soldiers, the controversy over monuments has moved closer to home for New Yorkers, with a group of Jewish activists advocating for the removal of Peter Stuyvesant’s name and monuments from city property because the former director-general was anti-Semitic. However, residents of Stuyvesant Town and park-goers in Stuyvesant Square this week weren’t having it.

“It’s all a waste of time,” said longtime Stuyvesant Town resident Don Burkett. “It’s all of this politically correct nonsense. All the problems in the country and they’re worried about a statue.”

The New York Post along with a handful of Jewish media outlets reported last week that the Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center is demanding the mayor remove all mentions of Stuyvesant from city property in a bid to remove “symbols of hate” from the city.

“It would be like if they wanted to rename Gramercy,” said Peg Reilly, an artist who has been living on Avenue C for the last 20 years. “Who cares at this point? It’s history.”

Residents of Stuyvesant Town and park-goers in Stuyvesant Square alike said they weren’t even aware of Stuyvesant’s anti-Semitic proclivities.

Stuyvesant was said to have resisted Jewish refugees from Brazil from settling in New Amsterdam, and was also known to have been against additional religions other than his own, the Dutch Reform Church, such as Quakers and Lutherans. He also wouldn’t allow Jews to fight in the volunteer militia but then taxed them to have someone else fight in their stead.

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Letters to the editor, Aug. 31

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Speranza will protect affordability

Last month, our City Council approved a package of tenant-protection bills that will provide legal counsel to low-income tenants facing eviction, and curb tenant harassment. This is a huge victory for tenants, but there’s still much more we must do – especially in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, where rent-stabilized tenants know first-hand the struggles of rising rents. This fall, we must elect a Council Member who will adopt bold, innovative solutions to solve the affordability crisis. That’s why I’ve endorsed Democrat Marti Speranza.

While every candidate talks about affordable housing, Marti has a workable 19 point plan that will protect residents of ST/PCV while preserving and creating more permanently affordable housing throughout the district. A cornerstone of her Plan for A Livable City is creating a citywide Community Land Trust (CLT), a proven method of transforming underutilized land into permanently affordable housing.

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Police Watch: Man wanted for robbery, Woman arrested for assault

MEN WANTED FOR KICKING, ROBBING 62-YEAR-OLD WOMAN IN ALPHABET CITY
Police are looking for two men who robbed and kicked a 62-year-old woman on East 5th Street between Avenues C and D on Saturday, August 19 around 8 p.m. Police said that the two suspects followed the woman down the street and kicked her, causing her to fall to the ground, and fled with her purse. Police said that the victim sustained bruising and swelling.
The first suspect is described as a Hispanic man in his twenties and was last seen wearing a blue jersey with the number “12” on the front, blue jeans and wore his hat backwards. The second suspect is described as a black man in his twenties who was shirtless and wearing his hat backwards.
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 nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

UPDATE: Police have arrested 16-year-old Ian Williams and a 14-year-old boy in connection with this robbery on Thursday around 12:36 a.m.

Robbery suspects

WOMAN CHARGED WITH ASSAULT OF SENIOR IN GRAMERCY
Police arrested 56-year-old Deborah Sanders for an alleged assault in the lobby of 141 East 23rd Street, a residential building for seniors, last Monday at 11:20 a.m. Police said that Sanders got into an argument with a 69-year-old woman over the victim taking photos of her. Sanders then allegedly smacked and punched the victim in the face, causing cuts to her forehead and mouth. Police said that the suspect and victim did not know each other.

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Bus service will soon be increased at Waterside Plaza

An M34A bus at Waterside Plaza (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Residents of Waterside Plaza, who for years have complained of limited access to mass transit, will soon be seeing a major increase in the number of buses coming to and leaving from the complex each day.

Normally, only M34A buses come and go directly to Waterside, but the additional service will come through the M34 Select Bus Service (SBS), starting on September 3.

On weekdays from 11 a.m.-1 a.m., the following day, there will be 22 additional trips (an increase of 44 percent). On Saturdays from 11 a.m.-1 a.m. the following day there will be 14 additional trips (an increase of 30 percent). On Sundays from noon to 1 a.m. the following day, there will also be 14 additional trips (an increase of 39 percent).

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Hoylman: J-51 tenants need info from HCR

State Senator Brad Hoylman (Photo courtesy of Brad Hoylman)

By Sabina Mollot

With the exception of residents of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, for most New Yorkers, the letter J followed by number 51 has no meaning whatsoever. And consequently, this could mean they are living in an illegally deregulated apartment without even knowing it.

However, State Senator Brad Hoylman said he wants to make sure New York’s renters know what their rights are if they’re living in buildings where the landlords have benefitted from the J-51 tax break.

In a letter, he called on the state housing agency, Homes and Community Renewal, to inform tenants living in deregulated buildings if their landlords have been enrolled in the tax benefit program. The letter, which was sent to the agency’s commissioner, RuthAnne Visnauskas on August 7, Hoylman noted that the HCR routinely reaches out to the owners of more than 4,000 buildings with information about reregulation. But renters, meanwhile, are left in the dark as to their buildings’ history and may not know if they’re being overcharged.

He called the practice of keeping landlords but not tenants in the loop “baffling.”

Hoylman added, “It’s tenants who don’t know what their rights are and should be informed that their building may have been illegally deregulated because the owners had received J-51. It’s fine to notify landlords so that they will be compliant but they should let the tenants know.”

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Former Obama staffer runs for Council

Ronnie Cho with former President Barack Obama at the White House (Photo by Pete Souza)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

East Village resident Ronnie Cho knew that he wanted to be in public service when he saw how hard his parents worked as struggling small business owners while he was growing up.

“That experience made me want to help my community,” he said. “I didn’t know about politics then but I had the seed of public service planted early. I wanted to be a part of the process that elected good people.”

Cho is running to replace term-limited City Councilmember Rosie Mendez in District 2, which covers the East Village as well as Union Square, Alphabet City, Kips Bay, Murray Hill and parts of the Lower East Side, and is a former staffer from the Obama administration in addition to previous roles with MTV in social engagement and public affairs.

Cho’s parents immigrated to the United States from South Korea and ultimately settled in Phoenix, where Cho and his siblings grew up and where they opened a restaurant in which he spent his childhood years. Cho ultimately studied political science in college with the goal of connecting with people in the community.

“People need a relationship with government,” he said. “I believe government should be a force of good. It should have a role in creating opportunities and protecting people. You need to stand on street corners and be ready to be yelled at, disagreed with. It’s part of the process.”

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Embattled First Ave. speakeasy, Visana, closes

Visana/Pisa pizzeria (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

 

By Sabina Mollot

Visana, the speakeasy style cocktail lounge that operated behind a pizzeria across from Stuyvesant Town, has closed.

Opened two summers ago at 321 First Avenue, serving gluten free pizza in the front and cocktails with organic spirits in the back, business was rocky from nearly the start due to quality of life complaints from neighbors over noise. Police were also called to the scene over an incident of underage drinking in 2016.

In January, the business lost its liquor license, according to a document from the State Liquor Authority. The SLA cited several reasons, in a decision that was issued last November. Reasons included allowing the business to become noisy and “disorderly” enough to attract police attention, allowing dancing without a cabaret license and not conforming with regulations regarding the employment of security guards.

Meanwhile, according to David Jaffee, Visana’s owner, the business is now sold. Reached via email on Monday, he said he closed the lounge due to problems he was having with neighbors. He said he thought Visana might have succeeded elsewhere but said two neighbors in particular “made it their mission to always call police.”

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When things were looking up

CHAMPIONS OF BREAKFAST–In Stuyvesant Town, residents headed out to the Oval on Monday to witness the eclipse, many of them with homemade tools fashioned from cereal boxes to safely view the solar display. (Photo by Susan Turchin)

On Monday afternoon, crowds of people in the path of what was dubbed the Great American Eclipse spilled out onto wide streets, into parks and onto building roofs to experience the partial blotting out of the sun. Armed with either special eclipse glasses or homemade viewing devices made by cutting pinholes into cereal boxes or even using spaghetti strainers, those watching turned the activity into a community event, sharing viewing tools and mutual awe.

Click through for more photos of New Yorkers taking in the eclipse.

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Female pick-pockets steal wallet at Flatiron restaurant

Pick-pocketing suspects

Police are looking for two women who worked together to steal a wallet from a woman eating dinner at a restaurant on Park Avenue South.

On Saturday, August 19 at around 8 p.m., the two suspects were sitting at a table at Farmer and the Fish near a 56-year-old woman whose purse was draped over the back of her chair. Both the suspects took turns reaching into the victim’s purse and one of them was able to get her wallet. The pair then left.

An hour and a half later, the victim’s credit card was used to by over $1,500 worth of merchandise at a Target at 445 Gold Street in Brooklyn.

Both suspects are heavy black women, one with blond hair, who was last seen wearing a dress, the other with black hair, last seen wearing a black baseball cap, a t-shirt and jeans.

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 www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

Opinion: Combating ‘high rent blight’

State Senator Brad Hoylman

By Brad Hoylman

“Commerce is killing culture.” That’s what an East Village small business owner told me as my office prepared a report documenting how independent businesses are being forced out of our neighborhood by rising rents and replaced by national chains or left vacant for years.

I continually hear concerns about this phenomenon — known as “high-rent blight” — from neighbors concerned about availability of local goods and services, empty storefronts’ negative impacts on neighborhoods, and the loss of treasured bookstores and restaurants.

My report, “Bleaker on Bleecker: A Snapshot of High-Rent Blight in Greenwich Village and Chelsea,” examines this vexing problem. Using data collected through surveys across major commercial hubs, the report found a storefront vacancy rate as high as 6.67 percent along Second Avenue from 3rd to 14th Streets, and an even more alarming 10.83 percent storefront turnover rate over the last 12 months. On First Avenue from 10th to 23rd Streets, the vacancy rate was 5.76 percent, while the turnover rate was 11.51 percent.

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Letters to the editor, Aug. 24

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Keep park goers safe, prune the trees

The following is an open letter to William T. Castro, Manhattan Borough Commissioner of Parks, from Michael Alcamo, executive director of friends of Stuyvesant Square Park: Alcamo sent the letter a day after an oversized tree fell in Central Park, injuring a woman and her three children.

Dear Commissioner Castro:

We are writing to ask for a review of the tree safety and lighting conditions in Stuyvesant Square Park. Due to the wet weather this spring, and the recent hot, sunny days, trees in the western park are flourishing. We normally view this laudable; however, several trees are now obscuring lamp posts in the western park fountain plaza.

Neighbors have recently remarked how dark the park can be after sunset. With the shorter days approaching, we wish to bring this to your attention and ask for your assistance proactively.

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Police Watch: Homeless man stabbed in Union Square, Man wanted for burglaries on West 14th

HOMELESS MAN STABBED IN UNION SQUARE PARK
A homeless man was stabbed by a group of men in Union Square Park early Monday morning, DNAinfo reported. Police said that the 39-year-old homeless man was arguing with the men near East 14th Street and Union Square East around 3:30 a.m. when they stabbed the victim in the chest and fled. It wasn’t immediately clear what the argument was about or how many people were involved, but no arrests were made at the time of the incident.

MAN WANTED FOR MULTIPLE BURGLARIES ON WEST 14TH STREET
Police are looking for a man wanted in connection with a number of burglaries at multiple businesses inside 154 West 14th Street in the West Village earlier this summer. Police said that the suspect entered the offices of Grove Atlantic on Wednesday, July 26 around 1:33 a.m., reportedly getting in by forcing open the front door. Once inside, he stole four laptops.
The second incident occurred on Saturday, August 5 around 10 p.m. when the suspect entered Atelier Esthetique by forcing open the door. He also allegedly forced open the register and took $300.
The man was described as Hispanic and was last seen wearing a t-shirt and shorts. 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 nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

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Homeless man assaulted by 5 people outside 7-Eleven

Four of the five assault suspects

By Sabina Mollot

Cops are looking for a group of three women and two men who beat up a homeless man in front of the 7-Eleven at 239 East 14th Street.

On Thursday, August 17 at about 1:30 a.m., police said the group got into an argument with the 56-year-old victim that turned physical. All five are said to have been involved, punching and kicking the victim repeatedly while he was on the ground in front of the store. The man, who got cuts and bruising to his head, was treated at Beth Israel Hospital, and has since been released.

Meanwhile, the franchisee of the 7-Eleven, Sal Napolitano, told Town & Village the problem started when the victim, who he said is a drinker, confronted the alleged assailants outside the nearby IHOP.

“He went up to them. He doesn’t remember what he said. He said something to them that they took great offense to, not that that’s any justification,” said Napolitano, who added that the suspects had come into his store but didn’t make any trouble while there.

The victim is actually a regular at the store, usually buying a couple of beers. Other than panhandling in the neighborhood to get the money for his drinks, Napolitano said the man doesn’t make any trouble, either.

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Soapbox: NY Democrats, fighting for landlords since 2000

By Barry Shapiro

Among rising residential and commercial rents, the demise of small businesses and dramatic increases in homelessness due to rising rents, does anyone recognize the behavior of NYC Democratic politicians as truly representing the values of the Democratic Party we have known for close to 70 years?

Dysfunction characterizes the party. Thanks to dysfunction in Albany, due to the defections of the Independent Democratic Conference and Senator Simcha Felder, Democrats remain the Senate minority and can offer little challenge to the Urstadt Law, a GOP-sponsored law that took most control of rent stabilization away from the City Council in 1971 and posited it with the state.

Overly landlord-friendly actions characterize the Democrats since 2000. Bloomberg was a Democrat who ran as a Republican and in many ways acted like a Republican. We saw some of the highest RGB increases under him even during the financial meltdown; his attitude toward real estate in Manhattan was close to laissez faire. The Trump Soho fiasco occurred under him, a saga that still hasn’t ended. And in 2002, under “Democratic” Speaker Pete Vallone, the vacancy allowance increase rule was passed by the City Council, which allows landlords to raise rent stabilized rents by 18 and 20 percent each time a unit is vacated. Given the strategy of renting to students we’ve seen applied in ST/PCV, this poorly-framed law gave landlords an invaluable tool for moving stabilized rents higher. After it passed the council, this law then passed over to Albany control.

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Man wanted for bank robbery and two unsuccessful attempts

Robbery suspect

Police are on the lookout for a man who robbed one bank and tried to rob two others, including a bank in Union Square.

The robber, who would slip demand notes through the teller windows each time, first hit the HSBC Bank at 15 Union Square West on Wednesday, August 16 at 12:25 p.m. After passing a note to the teller, a 54-year-old woman, she walked away from the window and the suspect fled empty-handed.

Then, at 1:40 p.m., he tried his luck at a Chase Bank at 1260 Broadway between 33rd and 34th Streets. This time, the man got away with cash and fled.

Police believe the same man tried to rob another Chase Bank at 2099 Broadway at 73rd Street on Friday, August 18 at 4:20 p.m. The teller did not comply, though, and the robber fled southbound on Broadway.  Continue reading