Stuy Town resident honored for career coaching NBA players

John “Butch” Purcell, also known as the mayor of Stuyvesant Town, pictured with his pooch Ginger (Photo by Kelly Vohs)

By Sabina Mollot

Longtime Stuyvesant Town resident John “Butch” Purcell, known to many of his neighbors as the mayor of Stuyvesant Town, was honored last weekend by the Brooklyn USA Athletic Association for his career coaching basketball players.

On Sunday, he was inducted into the group’s now 37-year-old Basketball Hall of Fame at a ceremony held in Brooklyn’s El Caribe Country Club.

A number of National Basketball Association players have also been honored, which, said Purcell, is “why it’s a great honor to be inducted.”

Purcell, now 72 and retired, coached athletes from 1972-1992 at Harlem’s Rucker Park tournaments as well as for the New York Pro Basketball League. During those 20 years, he estimated he’s coached over 75 NBA players, including Julius “Dr. J” Erving. A big part of his job involved training the summer league, “keeping players in shape, keeping them in tournaments, keeping them ready for fall,” Purcell said.

Other players he coached included Charlie Scott, Billy Paultz and Kenny Charles.

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Jimmy Fallon reads from his kids’ book at Barnes & Noble

Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Toddlers and “Tonight Show” fans alike were delighted by the appearance of Jimmy Fallon at the Union Square Barnes and Noble earlier this month to talk about his newest children’s book, Everything is Mama. The late night host visited the store previously when his first children’s book, Your Baby’s First Word Will Be Dada, was released in 2015.

Fallon joked at the event that he decided to do a follow-up because the first book was the result of a “fake competition” with his wife.

“It was fake because my wife didn’t care about it at all but I was trying to make ‘Dada’ our daughter’s first word,” he said. “But girls are much smarter than boys so I wanted to do another one, to teach kids about more important words like ‘balloon.’”

Man missing from Kips Bay shelter

Police are looking for a homeless man who’s been staying at the 30th Street Men’s Shelter, but hasn’t been seen since the evening of October 1.

Llya Vugmeyster, 34, has been spotted in the vicinity of Lower Manhattan as well as within the Greenwich Village area to Midtown South but police didn’t specify when this was. He has been in and out of the shelter system.

He is white, 6 ft. 1 ins. and 180 lbs.

Anyone with information 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 or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

Crowds come out for Halloween in Stuy Town

On Saturday afternoon, families from Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village packed the Oval for the complex’s annual kids’ event for Halloween.

At any given time around hundreds of costume-clad celebrants milled around, picking pumpkins to decorate, dancing to music by the Alex Alexander Band or getting their faces painted. There were also carnival games, two bouncy houses and a haunted house. Management estimated the total figure of guests coming through at over 3,000, even with wristband-only access for residents and their guests.

Photos by Sabina Mollot

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Thief grabs phone from woman at Union Square subway

Cell phone theft suspect

Cops are looking for a thief who snatched a woman’s cell phone and took off at the Union Square subway station.

According to police, the suspect approached the 25-year-old victim while she was standing at the “Q” platform, on Saturday, September 30 at 7:15 p.m. When the woman tried to get her phone back, a second suspect blocked her path.

That individual, a 15-year-old from the Bronx, was caught at the scene by officers.

His partner is described as male, black and last seen wearing a gray hooded sweater, blue jeans and black sneakers.

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

Green, Libertarian candidates also on ballot in Council race

Manny Cavaco, Green Party candidate (Photos courtesy of candidates)

By Sabina Mollot

On Election Day, residents of District 2: the East Village, the Lower East Side, Gramercy and Kips Bay, will have five City Council candidates to choose from. They are Democratic nominee Carlina Rivera, Liberal Party candidate Jasmin Sanchez, who ran as a Democrat in the primary, and Republican Jimmy “The Rent is Too Damn High” McMillan as well as two additional candidates running almost entirely inactive campaigns.

They are Libertarian Donald Garrity of Kips Bay and Green Party candidate Manny Cavaco of the Lower East Side.

Cavaco, who spoke with Town & Village this week, is a veteran candidate, having run for City Council the first time in 1991. However, the now 62-year-old truck driver and teamster with Local 917 admitted he doesn’t play to win.

“Green Party candidates don’t win,” he said. However, like many longshot candidates, he’s running based on his passion for a particular issue. In his case, it’s a desire to see a public bank developed in New York, similar to one that’s been proposed for Santa Fe.

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Council could become less progressive: TenantsPAC

Mike McKee of TenantsPAC (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

The City Council could become less progressive next year following the elections, TenantsPAC treasurer and spokesperson Mike McKee is warning.

According to McKee, while some leading City Council candidates, Democratic nominees Keith Powers of District 4 and Carlina Rivera of District 2, are known to be tenant-friendly, elsewhere in the city, the likely winners are more conservative.

In an article McKee recently penned for Tenant, the monthly newsletter put out by Met Council on Housing, he noted how Bronx Assembly Member Mark Gjonaj, a landlord who’s repeatedly voted against repealing vacancy deregulation in Albany, beat a pro-tenant opponent, Marjorie Velasquez in the primary. Gnonaj, who spent $700,000 in the race (more than $200 for each vote he got) probably would have lost, McKee said, if a third candidate, John Doyle, hadn’t run and gotten 1,600 votes.

“Doyle based his campaign around (attacking) Mark Gjonaj, so if (voters) didn’t vote for him, they would have voted for Marjorie Velasquez,” McKee explained. “So there’s no question that she would have won.”

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Opinion: It’s a matter of when

By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

Next week will mark the fifth anniversary of the devastating Super Storm Sandy that ravaged much of New York City and the lower part of Manhattan in particular. The fury of that storm battered the low lying areas, caused the East River and Hudson River to overflow their banks and flooded miles of the coast line and interior blocks. Streets saw four feet of water. Cars parked on Avenue C and nearby streets were virtually swallowed up. Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village were swamped and suffered a loss of power and heat for a week. Residents, especially the elderly were stranded in their buildings, without elevator service. To make matters worse, that week was unusually cold with temperatures plunging into the 40s at night. It was hard to escape the chill.  I was there, we all were there… and it was harrowing and it was dangerous. Eventually the lights went back on and the steam heat was restored. But the flooding destroyed basements and the cleanup took over a year at a cost of billions of dollars in the affected metropolitan region.

This community suffered mightily that week, but we also discovered much as well. On the good side, we realized once again that New Yorkers are at their best in a crisis. Neighbor helping neighbor and reaching out to strangers to help keep them safe. We witnessed this same resilience after the September 11, 2001 attack on our city. The character of New York City residents is tough but caring. In an emergency, the famous aloofness and at time gruffness of New Yorkers gives way to acts of kindness and genuine concern.

But we also learned that our city, its topography and infrastructure is totally insufficient to ward off such devastating storms. And we know that with the changing climate, which is undeniable except perhaps by some politicians in Washington D.C., such severe storms will become more frequent in the future. The oceans are rising, the global temperatures are warming and these conditions will make hurricanes and superstorms worse and worse and regularly threaten the Atlantic coastal areas. It is not a matter of “if,” but rather a matter of when and where.

In the short run there will be no remedy or even common sense preparation coming from the federal government. The Trump Administration has pulled out of the Paris Climate Accords which would have required this country along with all other countries to do more to limit the emission of greenhouse gases and other causal actions that threaten our ecosystem and environment. For the most part our national leaders are taking an ostrich-like approach to this issue, burying its head along with any studies that substantiate climate change. So if New York wants to protect itself it will need to act alone.

We will need to build higher barriers along the low-lying areas of the East River and the Hudson River to guard against storm surge and over flow. Sadly some of the vulnerable areas in Queens, Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn that border on ocean or bays will be hard to defend. Some of those areas are just too open and vulnerable.

We also must undertake to better protect our underground subway system by installing the most efficient pumping apparatus so that our tunnels can remain operational. None of this will be cheap or fast, but it is essential. Mayoral candidates should be talking about this now.

The alternative is to just leave ourselves at the mercy of Mother Nature who seems increasingly angry with us.

The Soapbox: The bicycle purge of 2018

ebikeBy Andrew Paul Grell

Mayor De Blasio announced on October 20th that commencing on January 1, 2018, there would be a crack-down on bicycles with electric booster motors, or “e-bikes,” including targeted enforcement, confiscations, and fines. The policy as described is:

  1. Counter to post-Giuliani New York City transportation policy;
  2. Counter to the mayor’s stated climate change emissions reduction policy of April 2016;
  3. A roadblock on the way to reducing deaths and costly hospitalizations from ozone and fine particulates;
  4. Likely to be in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act; and
  5. A hindrance to mechanical, thermodynamic, and economic efficiency.

No pedestrians enjoy being cut off by cyclists, electric or not. No cyclists enjoy having to detour around pedestrians in bicycle priority reservation lanes. No one – driver, cyclist, or pedestrian – quite knows what a mixing zone or a bike box are or how they’re supposed to work. And surprisingly, not many drivers know what “Turning Vehicles Yield to Bicycles” signs mean, even though the sign has pictures on it. Everyone, on or off a bike, wants their take-out food to arrive while it’s still hot. Everyone on this list can be satisfied, and in so doing, can initiate tremendous savings in lives, health, money and time.

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Select Bus Service planned for 14th St. and 20 other city routes

Mayor Bill de Blasio was all smiles on the M23 on the way to announce an expansion to Select Bus Service (SBS) throughout the five boroughs. (Pictured) Assembly Member Dick Gottfried, State Senator Brad Hoylman, de Blasio and straphangers (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Friday, Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled a plan to speed up bus rides citywide by adding 21 new Select Bus Service (SBS) routes. The new routes will be in all five boroughs with Manhattan getting new crosstown routes, so far unspecified except for 14th Street.

De Blasio cheered the plan after boarding an M23 (twice the winner of the Straphangers Campaign’s Pokey award for being the slowest route) on Ninth Avenue. He was joined by local elected officials including State Senator Brad Hoylman — who noted that the bus has been nicknamed “the turtle” — as well as a gaggle of reporters. From there the pols rode to Chelsea Piers, where the mayor announced details over nearby construction noise.

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Intentionally odd art takes over 14th Street

Charley Friedman’s performance “Adenoid’s Adenoid” between Sixth and Seventh Avenues (Photos by Ed Woodham)

By Sabina Mollot

This year’s Art in Odd Places festival, an outdoor exhibit of performances and installations, took place along the length of 14th Street from Thursday, October 12 to Sunday, October 15. For those who missed it — or just didn’t get a chance to see everything — the art this year took a lot of cues from nature and health-related topics as well as other issues near the hearts of the 60-plus participants. This was in keeping with the theme of “sense.”

Linda Mary Montano was a nursing home patient aided by healthcare workers. Lulu Lolo blessed immigrants on the street as Mother Cabrini. Clarivel Ruiz provided blessings through rose water and dance. Antonia Perez gave out plastic flowers she made out of grocery bags.

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Bellevue gets 3D mammogram machine

3D mammogram machine (Photo courtesy of NYC Health + Hospitals)

By Sabina Mollot

With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Bellevue Hospital has recently invested in new 3D mammogram imaging technology, which studies have shown leads to earlier detection of breast cancer. The hospital has also purchased new biopsy machines, which are needed to read the images from the mammography technology, known as Digital Breast Homesynthesis.

Dr. Hildegard Toth, section chief of breast imaging at Bellevue, said the new technology was a very important development in breast imaging as it reduces false positives, which in turn reduces the chances patients will be called back for follow-up visits. According to peer-reviewed papers that have looked at the technology as used in 13 centers, the number of patients being called back for followup appointments was reduced by 15 percent.

It also is able to detect early cases of cancer, which means in those cases, patients have more options for treatment.

“Generally, these are small cancers, less aggressive and would not have been found otherwise,” Toth said.

The way the imaging system works is that it’s able to produce a series of images of the breast, which can then be broken down and reconstructed to show breast tissue in multiple slice-like sections, not unlike a loaf of bread.

“It affords the ability to reduce the effects of tissue overlap, because sometimes you have breast tissue that is superimposed and you’ll be unable to distinguish an abnormality from something that’s benign,” Toth said.

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Letters to the editor, Oct. 26

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Enough from the squirrels’ PR people

It takes a lot for me to pen a letter on any topic since I have an opinion on almost every subject, but when things get personal, I feel the need to speak out. Of all the topics I now feel the need to speak out about, squirrels were not at the top of my list. When people write letters to the editor describing children attacking wildlife (Ms. Antini), or accuse tenants of spreading false statements of squirrel attacks and rummaging through garbage cans (Mr. Paslayan), or saying that squirrels are not aggressive (Ms. Turchin), I have to counter those arguments. Especially since my son is a friend of that little girl who was scratched (“Squirrel scratches kid in ST,” T&V, Sept. 14) so I can bear witness to this firsthand.

As a lifelong resident of over 50 years in Stuy Town and now raising two very young children here, I am constantly in the playgrounds and because of this I am witness to squirrels not only rummaging through garbage cans (picture included), but also going in and out of people’s strollers seeking and stealing food.

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Gramercy block co-named to honor Mother Cabrini

Council Member Rosie Mendez at the ceremony with Sister Pietrina Raccuglia, a member of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which was founded by Mother Cabrini (Photo courtesy of Council Member Rosie Mendez)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

East 19th Street between Second and Third Avenues has been co-named in honor of a saint who was a presence on the block since the early 1900s.

Father Arthur Golino, a former priest at Epiphany Church who was recently transferred to St. Patrick’s, was the impetus for the co-naming and said on Friday during a brief ceremony that the 100th anniversary of the death of Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini gave him a reason to push for the dedication.

“We figured that the sisters have been in the neighborhood for 100 years so it was about time they were recognized,” Golino said. “She walked around this neighborhood and 19th Street between Second and Third was always famous for Cabrini sisters.”

Mother Cabrini, who was the first naturalized American citizen to be canonized, came to the United States in the late 1800s to help Italian immigrants. She founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and although the congregation is now based on East 19th Street, missionary sisters are scattered throughout the world and a handful even came from far-off posts in Ethiopia, Brazil and Central America to attend the dedication ceremony and sisters from the congregation helped to organize the event held last week.

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Work to start soon on Stuy Cove ferry landing

Rendering released by Economic Development Corporation in May 2016 of what new ferry landing will look like

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Winter is coming and so is construction on a ferry landing at Stuyvesant Cove. Construction on the 20th Street stop will likely begin this winter and finish by spring in order to be functional on the new Lower East Side route launching next summer.

Representatives from the Economic Development Corporation, the city agency that controls NYC Ferry, offered the information on the new landing at a City Council hearing for the economic development committee last Thursday.

EDC executive vice president Seth Meyers said that the work needed to be done during the winter because of restrictions that prevent construction from parts of spring into summer.

“There are times of the year, due to what’s called a fish moratorium while fish are breeding, that we can’t do work in the water,” he said.

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