Before moving on, Garodnick reflects on 12 years fighting for tenants’ rights

For Council Member Dan Garodnick, defending tenants from harassment has been a signature issue. (Photo by William Alatriste)

By Sabina Mollot

It was in 2005 when Dan Garodnick, an attorney who worked for the firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkin, Wharton & Garrison before running for office, was elected to the City Council, replacing Eva Moskowitz.

Garodnick won with 63 percent of the vote and since then, has held onto the position easily while making tenant rights a signature issue.

At the start of the New Year, however, Garodnick will be the one term-limited out of his Council seat, to be succeeded by a neighbor he endorsed, Keith Powers.

Recently, over a cappuccino at the Starbucks in Peter Cooper Village, Garodnick, now 45, reflected on his 12 years in office, all the while giving little away about what he’ll be doing next.

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Gramercy Park packed on Christmas Eve

Photos by Ira Fox

By Sabina Mollot

On Christmas Eve, carolers came from far and wide to celebrate the evening at Gramercy Park. Christmas Eve is the one day of the year when the gated park is open to the public, and Arlene Harrison, president of the Gramercy Park Block Association and park trustee, estimated that there were over 1,000 people in attendance. Some, however, couldn’t fit into the park where police were manning two open gates.

“Everyone eventually got in, but the park was packed and (police) said no one was complaining,” Harrison said. “Everyone seemed very delighted to be there.”

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Letters to the editor, Dec. 28

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

New initiative for teaching teachers

Have you ever wondered how schools are preparing our students from kindergarten through high school to understand climate, how it affects us and what we can do about it?  One solution that has been suggested is to reach out to the teacher training colleges who prepare the adult students to be teachers before they enter the children’s classrooms. Here in New York City, Teachers College, Columbia University and New York University are both participating with the New York CityDepartment Of Education (DOE) Office of Sustainability, to increase environmental and sustainability education for teachers and students. There is also an initiative from NYC DOE to strengthen the sustainability coordinator position in each public school.

We were delighted that State Senator Brian Kavanaugh was able to speak at the recent meeting of the Environmental Education Advisory Council (EEAC) dealing with the aforementioned issues. The senator spoke about initiatives on the environment that he sponsored when he served in the State Assembly before he won a spot in the State Senate recently. He also offered suggestions for helping to improve environmental and sustainability education in the schools.

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East Side Diner closes 16 months after opening

East Side Diner pictured on a recent night (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

East Side Diner, which opened at the corner of First Avenue and East 23rd Street on Labor Day of 2016, suddenly closed last Wednesday.

Owner Nick Kaloudis, who opened the business in a space that had previously been home to another diner, the East Side Café, told Town & Village he decided to cut his losses due to a few factors.

Reached on the phone, Kaloudis said the main issue is that he recently learned he was on the hook for about $50,000 in back taxes that were owed by the prior diner. He said he fought the landlord, Magnum Real Estate Group, over this in court and lost, and is now attempting to get out of his lease five years early. Other reasons for his deciding to close are a rent hike and the raising of the minimum wage.

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Man drawing swastikas and penises in different Manhattan buildings

Jan4 penis guy

The suspect is being investigated by the Hate Crimes Task Force.

The suspect is being investigated by the Hate Crimes Task Force.

Police are looking for a man who’s been scrawling swastikas and penises on doors in apartment buildings in NoMad, Chelsea and Lower Manhattan.

Police said the man began his crude graffiti spree on Sunday, November 26 at 7:30 p.m. when he strolled into a residential building on Madison Avenue and East 29th Street, went to the 48th floor and drew a swastika on two of the doors and a penis on another door. He added the tag “Max G was here” on another door.

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Police Watch: Drug deals at Straus Houses, Pair busted for ‘drugs’ at Edition Hotel

MEN BUSTED FOR DRUG DEALS AT STRAUS HOUSES
Twenty-year-old Carlos Garcia was arrested for intent to sell a controlled substance inside 344 East 28th Street last Wednesday at 6:05 a.m. Police said that officers had a warrant to search Garcia’s apartment and when they arrived, they allegedly found marijuana and crack cocaine. Garcia allegedly attempted to throw the narcotics out the window of his 21st floor apartment when police arrived.
Police also arrested 38-year-olds Carl Atkinson and Peter Guigress for an alleged drug deal in front of 224 East 28th Street last Thursday 11:58 p.m. Police said that Atkinson was in front of the building attempting to exchange two small ziplock bags of alleged crack cocaine for cash. When police approached them, Atkinson allegedly threw both bags to the ground and police said that Guigress shoved the cash into his pocket. Police recovered both the bags with alleged drugs and the cash. Guigress was allegedly in possession of a crack pipe that was in his left coat pocket. Atkinson was charged with intent to sell a controlled substance and Guigress was charged with possession of a controlled substance.

The Edition Hotel (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

PAIR CHARGED WITH DRUG POSSESSION, STOLEN CREDIT CARDS AT EDITION HOTEL
Police arrested a man and a woman for a variety of alleged controlled substances after the pair reportedly refused to pay for hotel room services inside the Edition Hotel at 5 Madison Avenue inside the Met Life building last Thursday at 10:21 p.m.
When 36-year-old Sarah Reitz and 38-year-old Andrej Marecek refused to pay for the services, police said, officers searched their room and found alleged heroin and crystal meth. Macerek and Reitz were also allegedly in possession of numerous credit account numbers with expiration dates and security codes as well as credit cards belonging to other individuals.

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Kellogg’s opens café in Union Sq.

The DIY cereal station is open for business. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Venerable cereal company Kellogg’s opened a cereal-centric café on the north side of Union Square in mid-December. The cafe was previously open as a pop-up in Times Square but that location closed in August in preparation for the debut of the bigger space downtown.

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THANK YOU: Generous T&V readers donate over 400 toys to holiday drive

Dr. Bonnie Robbins, coordinator of children and family services at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, with some of the donated toys (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Readers of Town & Village have once again made the holidays a little brighter for children stuck in hospital rooms as well as well as other children in need by donating 406 toys to this newspaper’s annual drive.

The toys will be distributed throughout the pediatric department of Mount Sinai Beth Israel, where some young patients are awaiting surgery, as well as to the children of patients who utilize the hospital’s network of opioid treatment centers. The vast majority of the patients are low-income.

“These toys mean so much to our families, many of whom struggle during the holiday season to make it a special time for their kids,” said Bonnie Robbins, PhD, coordinator of children and family services at Mount Sinai Beth Israel. “These gifts go a long way to giving our children a truly happy holiday.”

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Garodnick bill for ‘potty parity’ passed by City Council

The legislation would affect new and newly renovated buildings.

By Sabina Mollot

A “potty parity” bill, pushing for new and renovated buildings to offer changing tables in bathrooms accessible to men as well as women, was passed in the City Council on December 11.

The mayor held a hearing on the bill on Monday and is expected to sign it soon, according to one of the legislation’s co-sponsors, Dan Garodnick. The other sponsor is Brooklyn Council Member Rafael Espinal, who said he got to work on the bill after witnessing a man change his daughter’s diaper on the sink of a public bathroom.

“Moms and dads should have equal access to sanitary and safe spaces when changing their baby’s diapers,” he said.

Meanwhile, Garodnick, who has two young sons, can certainly relate.

“As a dad who has changed my fair share of diapers I can say from personal experience that there are very few restrooms with diaper changing stations and it shouldn’t be that way,” he said.

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Hotel 17 reopens with ‘extended stay’ model

Hotel 17 shut down regular hotel operations to comply with the Illegal Hotels Law. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Hotel 17, the Stuyvesant Square budget hotel that closed in April due to zoning issues, has recently reinvented itself as an extended stay hotel.

The 160-room hotel, which is located at 225 East 17th Street, notes on its website in several places that it’s now “extended stay,” meaning guests must book a room for 30 days or longer.

Doing this keeps the building, which was never actually zoned as a hotel, in compliance with the city’s Illegal Hotels Law. The law forbids buildings that are zoned as residential from renting units for under 30 days. Hotel 17 operated openly as a hotel for decades but a few years ago found itself in trouble with the city upon a crackdown on short-term rentals.

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Letters to the editor, Dec. 21

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Nightmare on East 14th Street

We were all aware of the closing down of the L train in 2019 due to repairs required in the tunnel damaged in superstorm Sandy. This was a known fact to our community and the entire city. However, we were not aware of the construction that would start a few months back building an entrance to the L First Avenue station on Avenue A, as it was almost impossible to find room on the platform.

In any event, about 4-6 months ago, we noticed bus stops were being moved and a lot of fencing was being put  up. Then we realized, this is it; the construction would start on a subway entrance to the L train on 14th Street and  Avenue A. Instead of being good news, it became difficult to get past the construction site, the noise, the dust, the trucks the workmen standing around, causing causing smoke, litter, clutter as even if our neighborhood is not crowded enough.

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National Christmas Bird Count

THESE BERRIES WERE FOR THE BIRDS.—On Saturday, Stuyvesant Town resident Barbara Bienenfeld spied this robin in a snow-covered bush with berries as she walked into the 14th Street Loop at Avenue A. The photo was taken on Saturday, the day before the National Christmas Bird Count.

On Sunday morning, a local group of birders participated in the national Christmas Bird Count, beginning at Stuyvesant Cove and then moving onto Stuyvesant Town.

Local team members were Pearl Broder, Wendy Byrne, Louise Fraza and Anne Lazarus, who passed along the list of bird species that were spotted, including Sharp-Shinned and Cooper’s Hawks attempting to hunt. “Lots of drama out there,” reported Lazarus, who compiled this list.

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Hailing Access-a-Ride will get much easier with app

State Senator Liz Krueger with representatives of the MTA’s Paratransit agency and disability advocates at a forum held last Thursday (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Access-A-Ride, the method of public transportation relied upon by many disabled New Yorkers, will finally be brought up to speed, thanks to a new app.

Representatives from Paratransit, the branch of the MTA that operates “demand-response” service for customers with disabilities, have announced that the agency will be launching a unified app by next June to improve transparency and provide flexibility in scheduling rides.

Paratransit said this will allow passengers to reserve trips in advance to areas of the city covered by the subway, even if it’s just one hour in advance. The current system, meanwhile, forces users to reserve rides at least 24 hours in advance and with little recourse if rides are delayed or don’t show at all.

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Stuy Town bus terminal proposed for L shutdown

MTA graphic depicting proposed mitigation plans during the L train shutdown

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A new temporary bus terminal may be headed for under the FDR Drive across from Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, the MTA and the city have announced. The terminal will act as a transfer point for ferry riders during the 15-month L train shutdown, with more than 60 buses per hour going through the space under the FDR.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Department of Transportation both discussed the plan while testifying at a City Council Transportation Committee hearing last Thursday. During the hearing, they provided information on the proposed terminal and other mitigation plans for the shutdown, including a new, also-temporary ferry route that will end at the planned Stuyvesant Cove ferry stop at East 20th Street and connect with the M14 Select Bus Service (SBS), which is expected to launch in time for the shutdown.

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Police Watch: Man arrested for violently mugging senior, Teens arrested for robbery on Third Avenue

MAN CHARGED WITH VIOLENTLY MUGGING ELDERLY WOMAN
Police arrested 59-year-old Leroy Wright last Thursday for allegedly punching and robbing an elderly woman in October.
Police said that Wright followed an 81-year-old woman into her building near West 13th Street and Seventh Avenue on October 20 around 6:50 p.m. As she was opening the vestibule door, Wright allegedly punched her in the head several times, grabbed her handbag and fled. Police said that the victim suffered bumps and bruises but refused medical attention. When he was arrested, he was also charged in connection with an incident that took place inside 86 Horatio Street on the evening of August 2. Wright was charged with robbery and assault.

TEENS ACCUSED OF ROBBERY ON THIRD AVENUE
Nineteen-year-old Darius Batts and another teenager were arrested for allegedly punching and robbing a victim in front of 325 Third Avenue, near East 25th Street.
Police said last Thursday at 9:30 p.m. Batts, the other teenager and another suspect who wasn’t arrested wore masks and allegedly punched the victim in the head before stealing his wallet. The other teenager who was arrested is a student at Manhattan High School at 317 West 57th Street.

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