VA taking aim at veteran suicides

Suicide prevention coordinator Kate Mostkoff and clinical psychologist Mia Ihm, PhD, at the Manhattan VA (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

From January 22-25, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been engaging in a nationwide suicide prevention effort, with the various facilities, including Manhattan VA on East 23rd Street, hoping to reach out to veterans who wouldn’t normally show up at their doors.

This is because 20 veterans die by suicide each day and out of those 20, 14 haven’t been seeking services at the VA.

Meanwhile, the VA has developed the most comprehensive suicide prevention program in the entire country, according to suicide prevention coordinator Kate Mostkoff and Mia Ihm, PhD, a clinical psychologist, who both work at the Manhattan hospital. A VA system-wide veterans crisis line gets hundreds of calls each day, with on average two or three of those calls being routed to the Manhattan VA on weekdays, and even more on weekends. This makes the Manhattan campus one of the busier recipients of such calls and the hospital is required to respond to those calls within 24 hours. The line, staffed by veterans and family members, can be reached at 1-800-273-8255 (Press 1).

When responding to callers, it’s usually recommended that the caller follow up to determine if the problem is PTSD related. “Sometimes a hospital stay is required,” said Mostkoff, “usually brief” at a mental health outpatient clinic for common problems such as substance abuse, anxiety or depression.

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Police Watch: Driver allegedly fled scene of accident, Man charged with office burglary

DRIVER ALLEGEDLY FLED SCENE OF ACCIDENT
Police arrested 33-year-old Raechard White for allegedly leaving the scene of an accident. The victim told police that he was driving east on East 23rd Street with a green light when another vehicle driving north on Park Avenue South went through the red light, striking his vehicle. The victim said that the driver of the vehicle that hit him got out of the car and ran into the subway.

Police were unable to find him at the time, but White had allegedly left a wallet in the vehicle with his name on it and he was arrested inside the 13th Precinct on Tuesday, January 15 at 9 a.m. White was also charged with being an unlicensed operator. Police said that the victim suffered injuries to his ribs and was taken to Bellevue Hospital.

MAN CHARGED WITH OFFICE BURGLARY
Police arrested 20-year-old Jose Gutierrez for alleged burglaries inside 55 West 21st Street last summer. Police said that Gutierrez could be seen on video surveillance after hours while the office was closed for business and was allegedly stealing equipment. Police said that Gutierrez was inside the office on July 18, 2018, and another date later in the month.

Gutierrez was charged with burglary inside the 13th Precinct on Monday, January 14.

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Water main break disrupts L train service

Feb26 L Train

By Sabina Mollot

A water main break in Chelsea caused L train service to be disrupted on Wednesday morning as crews worked to stop the flooding.

According to the Department of Environmental Protection, the 20-inch pipe located at Seventh Avenue between 14th and 15th Street burst at around 5:35 a.m. The water was later shut off though, stopping the leak, though not before some flooding in the subway. As of 9:30 a.m., crews were still working to excavate the roadway and repair the main though 14th Street was reopened to traffic.

As of 9:15 a.m., there was still no L train service between Union Square and Eighth Avenue, though otherwise L trains were still running every six minutes, the MTA said.

Still, the agency warned, “Expect delays in both directions” and suggested taking the M14 bus instead.

On its website, the MTA said water had stopped flowing into the tunnel, and crews were still busy clearing water and debris, and inspecting all affected switch and signal equipment. “We are working hard to restore full service by the afternoon rush,” the agency said.

L train updates have been posted online.

Update at 4:30 p.m.: A spokesperson for the DEP says a new valve has been installed and water service restored to 15th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues.  Work continues to repair the main and restore water service to a building on corner of 14th Street and 7th Avenue, which is home to about 450 people. Work was still ongoing to resurface western lanes of Seventh Avenue though they were expected to reopen within the hour.

Driver injured after losing control of cab in Stuyvesant Town

The damaged taxi was moved onto the 14th Street Loop Road. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Sabina Mollot

A cab driver was injured after losing control of her vehicle in Stuyvesant Town on Tuesday.

The cab ended up on the lawn outside 521 East 14th Street after it took down about two car lengths of the chicken wire fence along the grass outside the building.

The driver was taken to Bellevue Hospital in serious condition after the accident was reported at 11:30 a.m., according to the FDNY. The department didn’t have details on the nature of the victim’s injuries.

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Union Square Partnership seeking suggestions on how to improve the area

People in attendance at the forum discuss ideas. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Union Square Partnership launched an initiative at the end of last year to solicit ideas from area residents and business owners about how to improve the neighborhood.

The Partnership announced the new project earlier last year and held “pop-up listening sessions” for two months in the district during the fall but began the community planning process with a forum at the end of November at the 14th Street Y, inviting neighbors to get involved in discussions with representatives from Marvel Architects, the firm that will be designing the final plans.

Although the neighborhood specifically around 14th Street might not be experiencing as much change as originally anticipated with the supposed cancellation of the L train shutdown, this project from the Partnership was intended to look beyond the next few years and focus on long-term goals beyond whatever changes the neighborhood will face during the construction on the L train.

“We have money to spend on the community so what we want to know is what types of investments we can make to make the neighborhood better in terms of sustainability,” said Jennifer Falk, executive director of the Partnership.

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Cops on lookout for subway groper at Union Square

Forcible touching suspect

Cops are looking for a man who grabbed a woman’s behind on a southbound 4 train on Friday, January 4. It was around 8:40 a.m. when, as the train was leaving Union Square, the man groped the 37-year-old victim. She managed to get a photo of the suspect on her phone before she got off the train at the Brooklyn Bridge station. The suspect remained on the train.

He is described as being black, 60 to 65 years old and 5’8″ to 5’9″ tall. He was last seen wearing a gray knit cap, a dark, colored hooded sweater and a green jacket.

Anyone with information in regard 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 CrimeStoppers website at nypdcrimestoppers.com, on Twitter @NYPDTips or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

MTA says shutdown officially off despite lack of board vote

Straphangers waiting for the L at First Ave. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Two days after the board members of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority held an emergency meeting on the alternative L train repair plan, albeit without holding a vote on a subject, the MTA announced that the shutdown was definitely not happening.

After reiterating that the agency had been presented with a plan for the damaged Canarsie tubes that would allow for less disruption for riders, it said in a press release last Thursday that “the total shutdown of both tunnels and all service scheduled for April 27 will not be necessary.”

The MTA added that the construction schedule and new contracts were expected to take several weeks to complete.

While no dollar figure was mentioned, the MTA also said the cost would not likely be higher than the original plan and that the repair time estimate remained at 15-20 months, as the governor had predicted.

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28th Street 6 station reopens

A floral mosaic pattern adorns the inside of the newly-renovated Kips Bay subway station. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The 28th Street 6 station reopened on Monday evening after being closed for renovations since last July.

The station was expected to reopen around the same time as the 23rd Street F/M station at Sixth Avenue, which did come back into service on the last day of November, the walls of the newly-renovated station adorned with tile mosaics of Weimaraners in collared shirts, but the repairs for the 6 station in Kips Bay needed to be more extensive than the agency initially expected.

A representative for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority told Town & Village that the delay in reopening 28th Street was due to significant deterioration to the station’s steel column structure that needed to be fixed. Customers were alerted through social media, station signage and digital signage that the station was expected to re-open by mid-January.

The MTA announced the station’s reopening on Twitter this past Monday, noting that the agency had repaired the platform’s structural steel and concrete, replaced the platform edges and repaired the stairways. The MTA also added new digital wayfinding and customer information screens to the station.

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City sues over $20M Airbnb scheme

Three buildings in Kips Bay, including 207-215 East 27th Street, were named in a lawsuit against a Manhattan brokerage firm, with the city alleging they were being marketed as short-term rentals. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Monday, the city sued a Manhattan brokerage firm, Metropolitan Property Group, as well as real estate agents and entities currently or formerly associated with Metropolitan, accusing them of running a $20 million illegal short-term rental scheme.

The rentals, arranged mostly through Airbnb, were spread across 130 apartments in 35 buildings, the city said. Five of the buildings were listed in the lawsuit, three of them located in Kips Bay at 207-215 East 27th Street, 230 East 30th Street and 218 Third Avenue. Another was in Midtown East at 123 East 54th Street and another building in Harlem, 200 East 116th Street, was completely transformed into an illegal hotel, according to the lawsuit filed by the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement (OSE).

OSE said it was also able to determine that 18 entities affiliated with MPG and its employees received at least $20.7 million for short-term rental transactions made through Airbnb alone from 2015 to 2018. Named in the suit were Metropolitan CEO Sami Katri, his wife Shely Katri, Maxim Beckman, Simon Itah and Alon Karasenty.

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Woman raped, tied up in E. 14th St. apt.

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

An East Village woman was raped and tied up inside her East 14th Street apartment over the weekend, police said.

Police said a 20-year-old woman woke up in her apartment between First and Second Avenues on Saturday around 2:30 a.m. to a man standing over her demanding money. According to the New York Post, the man was masked and dressed in black and said, “Shut up and do what I say or I’ll point something at you,” then sexually assaulted her.

The woman said that after he raped her, he demanded to know how much money was in her bank account because he needed $1,000 and when she said that she didn’t have that much, he reportedly bound her with duct tape, the Post said.

Police said that he took her iPhone, laptop and credit card before fleeing her apartment. According to the cops, the woman was able to free herself from the tape and when she couldn’t find her phone, ran into the nearby Papaya Dog at the northwest corner of East 14th Street and First Avenue to call the police around 3 a.m.

She was treated at nearby Beth Israel Hospital and has since stopped cooperating with police in the investigation. No arrests have been made.

Man robbed at gunpoint on East 13th Street

Robbery suspect

By Sabina Mollot

Cops are looking for a gunman who robbed a 28-year-old man in the East Village at around 5:45 a.m. on Thursday.

The victim was in front of 201 Second Avenue and East 13th Street when a man turned a gun on him and demanded his phone. The victim refused and kept walking and the mugger hit him several times on his head before fleeing emptyhanded. The victim was treated for multiple cuts at Bellevue Hospital.

The suspect is described as black and 20-30 years old and was last seen wearing a yellow/blue hooded jacket, black pants and gray sneakers.

 Anyone with information in regard 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 CrimeStoppers website at nypdcrimestoppers.com on Twitter @NYPDTips or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

Whose subway line is it, anyway?

MTA board meets on new L train plan, with mixed reviews

Some of the crowd at the L train meeting on Tuesday (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Tuesday, as Governor Cuomo gave his state of the state address, which mentioned his eleventh hour L train shutdown alternative, the Metropolitan Transit Authority did as the governor’s been demanding, holding an emergency board meeting on the state of the L train.

At this meeting, which drew a crowd of over 100 people, a mix of members of the public and media professionals as well as at least a couple of elected officials, over a dozen MTA board members took turns asking questions about Cuomo’s alternative to the shutdown. There was no vote on whether to approve it or not.

Meanwhile, a few board members, including Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, were confused about what they were there for since the alternative repair plan to the Canarsie tubes has already been spoken about as if it’s a done deal.

“Is the decision made?” asked Trottenberg. “Do we have any actual role here? I’m not hearing that we do.”

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Letters to the editor, Jan. 17

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

You don’t have to drive to hate 20th St.

Dear Editors:

Well, I’ve just about seen it all in my six decades here living in ST/PCV… mostly good, some great, some questionable, but now I have seen it all! The asinine idea by some “brainiac” in NYC government that decided to totally screw up East 20th Street between First Avenue and Avenue C!

No, I’m not a car owner that lost one of the few precious parking spaces; just a good ol’ fashioned resident that cares about his neighbors and most importantly, our safety. Over the last few years we went from the normal two east and westbound lanes, to one more narrow lane to appease all the Bloomberg/Big Bird bike riders.

And now we have the narrowest east/westbound lanes for traffic so that a two-way bike lane could be constructed on the north or Peter Cooper side… not to mention that those bike lanes must be crossed to get to a parked car, the two new bus stop islands or to simply cross the street to go to Lenz’s Deli, Mount Sinai or Oval Fitness. Bozos!

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ST/PCV management warns recent crimes due to ‘piggybacking’

jan17 pcv burglary suspect

Peter Cooper Village burglary suspect

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Stuyvesant Town management sent a newsletter around to residents earlier this week warning about an increase in building break-ins throughout the complex and warning against allowing non-residents to “piggy-back” inside.

StuyTown Property Services CEO Rick Hayduk told Town & Village that none of the incidents mentioned in the email were new and had all been reported in the last six months. The incidents included the assault of a woman who had been hired by residents and was attacked after security buzzed her into the Stuyvesant Town building and a man followed her inside, in addition to a teenager who was mugged in a Peter Cooper Village vestibule last fall.

One incident that Town & Village did not learn of at the time was an apartment break-in that occurred within the last few months where a man followed a resident into the building and started checking for open doors. Finding one, he began taking things from an apartment and was leaving as a teenage resident was returning. The resident wasn’t harmed and the suspect hasn’t been arrested.

This incident wasn’t publicized at the time because the resident requested that it not be made public, although Hayduk noted that it was reported to the NYPD.

Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman also noted at the 13th Precinct community council’s most recent meeting on Tuesday evening that package thefts have been up in the neighborhood, with two suspects being arrested for a string of six incidents in Stuyvesant Town on Christmas after they managed to get into multiple buildings. Hayduk noted in the email that package thefts have increased on the property and often occur when non-residents manage to piggy-back into the buildings.
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Police Watch: Man charged with assaulting officers, Office burglary in Flatiron

MAN CHARGED WITH ASSAULTING TWO OFFICERS AT BELLEVUE
Police arrested 20-year-old Abdul Sweleh for allegedly assaulting officers inside Bellevue Hospital on Monday, January 7 at 9:25 p.m. Police said that Sweleh punched two peace officers who were attempting to subdue him. Sweleh allegedly punched one of the victims in the face, causing pain and swelling, and caused a possible bone fracture after allegedly punching the other officer in the face.

MAN ALLEGEDLY BURGLARIZED OFFICE IN FLATIRON
Police arrested 32-year-old Isaac Logan for alleged burglaries inside 79 Fifth Avenue that took place last year.

Police said that Logan entered the offices of Fahrenheit 212 at the location while the business was closed and allegedly stole a MacBook on August 11, 2018 around 5 p.m. Police said that Logan could be seen on surveillance video removing two MacBooks from the office on November 22, 2018 at 4:16 p.m.

Logan was also charged with criminal trespass because he was allegedly inside the office on November 14, 2018 at 5 p.m. without permission.

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