Stuyvesant Town folk pop singer releases album

Zoe Kessler, pictured at the First Avenue/14th Street intersection on a typical day earlier this spring, says she was inspired in part by the community and the city.

By Sabina Mollot

For this self-taught musician, the city is her muse.

The evidence is “These Streets,” an album of folk rock music released by Zoe Kessler, a recent Harvard graduate and lifelong Stuyvesant Town resident.

The album was a result of four years of experience learning to play guitar and write music, though she became even more focused on it after graduating last year. Kessler, now 23, never had any formal training in music, but taught herself to sing and play guitar in college. Not wanting to annoy her roommates, Kessler got her first audiences and her earliest practicing in at once when she’d play guitar at a courtyard not far from her dorm. Encouraged by the response, she soon moved on to playing her own music at a local Starbucks.

“I felt like it was a good place to play, because it was very low-key,” said Kessler. “The only people who were there for me were my friends, and if they weren’t, it was no offense. I was paid one latte per show. It was literally coffee house music.”

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Suspect arrested for Peter Cooper Village burglaries

Peter Cooper Village

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police have arrested a man for allegedly stealing packages and bikes in Peter Cooper Village buildings on various days in April.

In one of the most recent incidents, James Curry, 55 allegedly took a bike from inside 370 First Avenue on Monday, April 23 around 3 p.m. The victim told police that he left his bike in the hallway of the building and when he returned, it was missing. Police said that a man could be seen on surveillance video removing the bike, and Curry reportedly identified himself on the video.

The first incident took place on Monday, April 2 sometime between 1 and 10:30 p.m. inside 431 East 20th Street when Curry allegedly stole packages containing knee-high suede boots as well as energy drinks belonging to two different residents.

Both victims told police that they had the items delivered to the building but never received the packages. A porter for the building also told police that he found empty boxes for both the boots and the energy drinks and that someone had taken the items without permission.

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Police Watch: East Village groper wanted, Man arrested for ‘stolen’ debit cards

Sex abuse suspect

COPS ON LOOKOUT FOR EAST VILLAGE GROPER
Cops are looking for a man who forcibly groped a woman through her clothing in the East Village.
On Friday, May 11 at 11 p.m., the victim said he grabbed her in front of 162 Second Avenue between East 10th and 11th Streets. He then snatched a wallet from another victim’s hand while running off. Police didn’t give a description of the suspect but a fuzzy surveillance photo shows a thin, dark haired man. Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).

MAN ALLEGEDLY STOLE DEBIT CARDS
Police arrested 25-year-old Shaquille Urgent for an alleged grand larceny at the corner of Second Avenue and East 26th Street on Sunday, May 27 at 4:29 a.m. The victim told police that Urgent asked the victim to come to a party but said that he needed to see the victim’s wallet to make sure that he wasn’t a police officer. The victim gave his wallet to another suspect, who took the debit cards out of his wallet and both men allegedly walked away without returning the cards. The victim said that he then followed the suspects for several blocks asking for his property back, at which point the unknown suspect fled in a taxi, but police were able to arrest Urgent.

BRC RESIDENT CHARGED WITH FOR SEX ABUSE IN CHINATOWN
Police arrested 30-year-old Jahi Walker for alleged sexual abuse inside the Bowery Resident’s Committee shelter at 127 West 25th Street on Wednesday, May 23 at 8 a.m. Police said that on Thursday, May 10 at 6:30 p.m., the victim was walking to work in Chinatown when Walker allegedly grabbed and squeezed the victim’s buttocks, then reportedly reached under the victim’s skirt and touched her over her underwear. After the victim pushed Walker away, she took a photo of him using her cell phone, leading to his identification.

MAN ACCUSED OF MENACING IN CHELSEA
Police arrested 37-year-old Kariyn Jackson for alleged menacing at the corner of Seventh Avenue and West 27th Street on Tuesday, May 22 at 12:53 a.m. Police said that Jackson pulled out a knife in front of an employee at a nearby store. Jackson allegedly fled the store but police stopped him on West 25th Street where he was searched and officers allegedly recovered credit cards and MetroCards that didn’t belong to him. Police said that a knife was recovered from in front of 245 West 25th Street. He was also charged with possession of stolen property and weapons possession.

MEN ALLEGEDLY FOUND WITH FORGED CREDIT CARDS AT STARBUCKS
Police arrested 20-year-old Cesar Pritchard and 20-year-old Tyrell Cohen for forgery inside the Starbucks at 14 West 23rd Street on Friday, May 25 at 4:18 p.m. Police said that Pritchard was attempting to use a forged credit card at multiple locations and when he was searched, he was allegedly in possession of additional forged cards, a small bag of alleged marijuana and an allegedly fraudulent Michigan driver’s license. Police said that Cohen was in possession of six fraudulent credit cards and Pritchard was also charged with forgery and possession of marijuana.

SUSPECT ARRESTED IN UNION SQUARE FOR ALLEGED DOWNTOWN ROBBERY
Police arrested 27-year-old Waleek Watford for a previous alleged robbery at the corner of Union Square West and East 14th Street on Friday, May 25 at 1:30 p.m. Police said that Watford and 23-year-old Senee Roldan, who was arrested in connection with the alleged robbery on May 17, took the victim’s backpack from the ground inside the Fulton Street subway station in the Financial District and allegedly threatened her if she went to the police about the incident.

MAN CHARGED WITH PAWNING FRIEND’S BIKE
Police arrested 31-year-old Robert Bazemore for petit larceny in front of 101 East 14th Street on Friday, May 25 at 4 p.m. Police said that Bazemore and the victim were friends and Bazemore borrowed the victim’s bike but never returned it. Bazemore allegedly pawned the bicycle at a nearby pawn shop.

MGP recovery wells will be installed soon in Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village

The gas works and storage tanks of Con Ed’s predecessor company in 1890 (Photo courtesy of Con Ed)

By Sabina Mollot

Con Ed announced on Wednesday that there will be a public information session on June 7 from 6-8 p.m. in Stuyvesant Town on the ongoing Manufactured Gas Plant (MGP) remediation project. NYSDEC and Con Edison will be available in the Election Room located at 451 East 14th Street to answer questions from the community.

As Town & Village has previously reported, as part of the MGP cleanup in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, a total of 16 “passive recovery wells” will be installed in specific locations around the property. The goal is to look for any remaining underground contaminants stemming from the days when the property was home to the gas works and storage tanks from Con Ed’s predecessor companies.

According to Con Ed, the work is expected to begin work the week of June 11, and drilling is expected to begin the week of June 18 and will probably last four weeks. Work days will be from 9-5 p.m.  Ten wells will be placed near East 20th Street and Avenue C and East 17th Street and Avenue C and six will be located near East 14th Street and Avenue C.

In an email, the company warned that there will be fenced off work areas surrounding wells and there may be periodic noise from two drills and possibly odors.

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Cops looking for man in Game Stop robbery spree

Robbery suspect

By Sabina Mollot

Police are looking for a man they say robbed five Manhattan locations of the Game Stop store, most recently in Union Square.

In the most recent incident, on Tuesday at 1:40 p.m., the man went to the store west of the park at 32 East 14th Street and asked the cashier for a Play Station 4. When the cashier stated he would retrieve one, the robber grabbed him by the shirt, and demanded the money in the register. He snatched about $800 from two cash registers before fleeing into the Union Square subway station.

Police say the man started his robbery spree on Sunday, May 6 at 5:40 p.m. at the store at 128 East 86th Street. There, he approached a 29-year-old cashier and put a dark colored duffle bag on the counter and placed his hand inside of the bag. He then told the worker that he didn’t want to hurt him and demanded all the cash from the register. He got away from that store with $1,100.

He returned to the same store on Tuesday, May 22 at about 1:15 p.m., approached a 21-year-old employee and did the same thing as he had previously. After putting his bag on the counter, he threatened to hurt the employee if he didn’t empty both registers. This time he got away with $600.

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Man arrested for assault of senior outside Stuyvesant Town

Assault suspect

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police have arrested a 35-year-old man for the alleged assault of a senior at a Stuyvesant Town bus stop and for reportedly punching a second person at the end of April.

Konstantin Verbitsky allegedly approached the 82-year-old woman while she was sitting on a bus stop bench at East 14th Street and First Avenue on April 22 around 7 p.m. and reportedly pushed her to the ground without provocation. Police said that while she was on the ground, he also punched her, causing pain and swelling in the victim’s hip, back, neck, knees and shoulder.

Verbitsky was also charged in connection with a second alleged assault that took place at the same corner a few minutes later. Police said that the second victim was at the corner recording something on his phone when Verbitsky allegedly walked up to him and punched him in the face.

Police said that Verbitsky did not know either victim. The suspect was charged in connection with both assaults on Tuesday, May 15 at 8:30 a.m. inside the 13th precinct. Verbitsky’s attorney could not be reached for comment.

Opinion: Embassy relocation a bad move

By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders

The Middle East is a powder keg. Everybody knows that. Well, almost everybody.

It is a toxic cauldron of grievances dating back centuries. Disputed land, hatred between religions, tribal warfare, ancient cultures and grudges abound. Anybody who wants to try to bring a political settlement to these historic forces must be both very knowledgeable and extremely careful. Too much blood has been spilled, and too many lives already lost in that troubled region of the world.

So Donald Trump’s cavalier attitude towards the political reckoning within the State of Israel and the surrounding Palestinian areas was certain to become incendiary with loss of life the result. Anyone could see that coming. Well, almost anyone.

Sure enough, President Trump made good on a campaign promise to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem against the advice of our European allies and most experienced Middle East diplomats in this country. He did it to satisfy his political base here at home. Did he realize that the fate of Jerusalem is central to any negotiation to arrive at a real peace agreement between Israel, the Palestinians and the Arab countries that support the Palestinians? He probably does not, or does not care. After all, it made for good politics at home. The consequence was predictable: violent protests occurred and scores of deaths resulted.

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Soapbox: In pursuit of a presentable passport photo

Three of the author’s passport photo attempts

By Kathy Meeks

Oh dread. My passport has expired and I need a new passport picture. Looking on the internet, I go to a shipping/mailing/copying outfit a 10-minute walk from me in the East Village that provides this service. In a space teeming with customers waiting to mail packages, one of the clerks lines me up against a white background screen and takes the shot. It costs $15 and it looks like a mugshot.

I am not running around with a passport that makes me look hungover for the next ten years. When I was young and photogenic, I could get away with drugstore passport photos. Now that I have reached a more, shall we say, sophisticated stage of life, I need help. I need a real photographer. But I don’t want to pay an arm and a leg. I’m not trying to get a date or an acting job, impress people on LinkedIn or immortalize myself as a dynamic executive. I just want to look like a normal, respectable person in a passport photo.

Lucky me. I chanced upon David Beyda, who has a very small studio on 40th Street opposite Bryant Park. He does photos for all of the above needs, but also passport photos, and the passport pictures packages are reasonably priced from $20 to the “deluxe” $99 package. I choose the deluxe. I figure I could use all the help I could get. After a certain age, lighting and camera angle are everything.

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Teen sentenced to five months in prison for spa theft

Spring Garden Spa (Photo via Google Maps)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Nineteen-year-old alleged serial shoplifter Elijah Rosario was sentenced to five months in prison last Friday after he was arrested for stealing from a spa on East 16th Street at the end of April. A fourth person, 43-year-old Marvin Townsend, was also arrested last week in connection with one of the later attempted thefts at the business and was charged with robbery.

Rosario was reportedly working with 20-year-old Shaquasha Goldstein, who is due back in court on May 25, and another person who hasn’t been arrested to steal from Spring Garden Spa at 344 East 16th Street just west of First Avenue on April 25.

Police said that Rosario, Goldstein and the third unknown person got into the spa at 10:30 p.m. that night and allegedly got away with $180. According to the district attorney’s office, Rosario and the third suspect could be seen on surveillance video ringing the bell to get into the business and once they got inside, Goldstein reportedly went behind the register and grabbed the cash.

As Town & Village previously reported, Goldstein and 33-year-old Eric Dineen have been charged in connection with additional burglaries at the spa in April and May. The DA’s office said that Goldstein got away with $200 in cash on April 23 from the business, although it was unclear if she was working with anyone else in that incident.

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Republican small business owner challenging Maloney

Eliot Rabin at his Upper East Side shop for women (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

In June, Congress Member Carolyn Maloney will face off against fellow Democrat Suraj Patel, but already another opponent has joined the race, this one a Republican who’s gotten the backing of Manhattan GOP.

That candidate, who’s just getting started petitioning and organizing his campaign, is Eliot Rabin, also known to some as Peter Elliot, which is his retail business on the Upper East Side.

Rabin, who’s run upscale clothing boutiques in the neighborhood since the 1970s and worked in the fashion industry in other capacities even longer, was motivated to run for office after the latest high school shooting massacre.

“After Florida, I exploded,” he said, while sitting for an interview at his women’s boutique on Madison Avenue and 81st Street. “There’s a lack of moral courage in our government.”

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Waterside Plaza celebrates royal couple

British International School director Abby Greystoke (left) and Peter Davis pose with a cardboard cutout of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at Waterside Plaza’s royal wedding viewing party. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Waterside Plaza was honored with typically British weather for the occasion of the royal wedding last Saturday but the spirits of Harry and Meghan enthusiasts weren’t dampened at the community’s viewing party, hosted in a joint event by Waterside and the British International School, which is housed on the property.

Aside from the school, Waterside Plaza has another unique connection to the UK that made it an especially appropriate spot to watch the nuptials of Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle.

“We’re technically on British soil right now,” joked Michelle Glazer, who lives at Waterside Plaza and works at the school. While the school is not an embassy and not recognized as British territory, the statement is still somewhat accurate, even if just in a literal sense.

“Waterside was built on landfill that was brought back from the UK,” Glazer explained. “American ships went to bring supplies to Europe after the war but you can’t send empty ships back across the ocean, so they had to weigh the ships down with rubble that came from bombed out buildings.”

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Disability advocates rally for subway accessibility

Assembly Member Harvey Epstein, City Council Member Keith Powers and State Senator Brad Hoylman (along with Hoylman’s daughter Lucy) rallied with disability advocates for more accessibility in the MTA last week. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Disability advocates and elected officials braved the rain last Thursday to demand that the MTA increase accessibility in the system during the L train shutdown. The advocates and politicians met in front of the Third Avenue L station, one of the stops being closed during the shutdown that won’t be getting an elevator and which is currently inaccessible.

“New Yorkers who depend on mass transit are being locked out,” State Senator Brad Hoylman said. “Less than a quarter of the stations have elevators and on a good day, 10 percent of those aren’t working. We need to tell the MTA to do better.”

Hoylman brought his young daughter Lucy in her strolled to help demonstrate that parents, as well as people with mobility challenges, are often affected by the lack of elevators in the system.

“Think of the lack of vision that the MTA is demonstrating by trying to fix stations with new lights and paint,” Hoylman said, referring to recent station improvements the agency has done throughout the system. “That’s like putting down new carpet when you don’t have a roof.”

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Police Watch: Man arrested for First Ave. assault, Officer assault at Beth Israel

MAN ARRESTED FOR FIRST AVENUE ASSAULT
Police arrested 42-year-old Wesley Walker for an alleged assault in front of 390 First Avenue on Saturday, May 19 at 8:26 a.m. Police said that the 43-year-old victim was walking down the street when Walker, who he didn’t know, approached him and started punching him in the face. Police said that the victim complained of pain to his face and was also bleeding from the back of his head.

OFFICER ASSAULTED AT MOUNT SINAI BETH ISRAEL
Police arrested 39-year-old Jason Marshall for the alleged assault of a peace officer in front of Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital on Monday, May 14 at 3:58 a.m. Police said that an EMS worker was transporting Marshall to the hospital and when they arrived, Marshall requested a wheelchair but one was not available. Police said that Marshall became irate and allegedly punched the EMS worker in the chest.

BOY BUSTED FOR ASSAULT AT WASHINGTON IRVING
Police arrested a teenager for assault and possession of marijuana inside the Washington Irving Campus at 40 Irving Place on Monday, May 14 at 1:24 p.m. The victim told police that she and the suspect got into an argument over the phone the day before, which later led to the suspect posting on social media that the victim was a hoe. The victim said that she and a friend also posted about the suspect and said that she and a friend were going to get beat up. She told police that on Monday, May 14, she didn’t talk to the suspect but later in the day, he walked up to her and punched her in the face, causing a cut on her forehead. The victim was brought to Bellevue Hospital and when the suspect was searched, police found that he was in possession of marijuana. The teen’s name is being withheld due to his young age.

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Teen arrested for second sex crime at Washington Irving

Washington Irving High School, pictured in 2016 (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A student arrested for a rape at the Washington Irving campus at 40 Irving Place last December allegedly had sex with another teenage girl without her consent less than four months after he was allowed to return to the school, police sources told Town & Village last week.

Gramercy Arts High School student Jevon Martin, 18, was charged with sexual misconduct and endangering the welfare of a child at the end of April after a 15-year-old student came forward and told police that on March 26, Martin allegedly put his fingers in her genitals. At this point, police said she told him, “No,” and he reportedly proceeded to have sex with her without her consent. Police said that this incident, like the incident in December, took place in a stairwell in the school building.

According to 13th precinct Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman, Martin made bail after his second arrest but was not allowed back in the Washington Irving campus since then and is currently in a program at an Alternative Learning Center while he waits on an expulsion hearing.

Alternative Learning Centers, managed by the Office of Safety and Youth Development in the Department of Education, provide classes for middle and high school students who are on suspension longer than five days.

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NY Infirmary for Women and Children founder honored with plaque

Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, speaks at the plaque unveiling. (Photo by Harry Bubbins)

On Monday, Elizabeth Blackwell, who founded the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, the first hospital to be run by and for women, was commemorated with the unveiling of a historic plaque at 58 Bleecker Street. Blackwell was also the first woman doctor in America.

The Greenwich Village address was chosen because it was the original site of the infirmary, which was later moved to East 15th Street in Stuyvesant Square. The infirmary in more recent years was incorporated into New York-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital. The infirmary had originally operated out of a house that’s still standing, though it was originally numbered 64 Bleecker Street.

Built in 1822-1823, the Federal style house was erected for James Roosevelt, the great-grandfather of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who lived there until his death just ten years before Blackwell embarked on her groundbreaking effort. Blackwell’s hospital opened on May 12, 1857, the 37th birthday of Florence Nightingale, whom Blackwell had befriended earlier in her career. The hospital was open seven days a week and provided medical care for needy women and children free of charge.

Monday’s plaque unveiling, which took place almost 161 years to the day after the infirmary opened, was organized by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.

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