Residents of Kips Bay NYCHA building worried about privatization

Tenants at 344 East 28th Street say there’s been no communication from NYCHA about the agency’s plans. (Photo via Google Maps)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Residents of the New York City Housing Authority development at 344 East 28th Street are demanding transparency after the city agency announced that a new program would be implemented for tenants in the building to privatize ownership.

NYCHA hosted a meeting at Bellevue Hospital last week to give tenants information about the Permanent Affordability Commitment Together (PACT) Unfunded Units program but tenants said prior to the meeting that they weren’t given any information about the program previously or been allowed to give any input about whether or not they want to join.

The program is part of a push by NYCHA to increase revenue for repairs in developments throughout the city that have long been neglected. The plan involves shifting management of NYCHA complexes to private developers through PACT as well as the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD).

A flyer distributed to residents claims that the program will provide funding for necessary repairs, upgrades and renovations, ensure affordability and protect tenant rights.

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Downsized Beth Israel may get even smaller

Mount Sinai Beth Israel Corporate Director of Community Affairs Brad Korn and Mount Sinai Senior Director for Community and Government Brad Beckstrom discuss the new facility at Tuesday’s Community Board 6 meeting. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The new Mount Sinai Beth Israel hospital planned for East 13th Street may be shorter than initially planned due to newly-discovered unused space at the adjacent New York Eye and Ear facility, representatives announced at a sparsely-attended Community Board 6 meeting this Tuesday.

“We discovered that there was more property available inside the New York Eye and Ear building, which allowed us to reconfigure what we’re going to do with the new building on 13th Street,” said Brad Korn, corporate director of community affairs for Mount Sinai Beth Israel. “We’re not changing any of the programs or promises we made on beds or anything like that, but it just makes it a little easier and will be a little less intrusive in the new build-up.”

Korn said at the meeting that the new space delayed the hospital from submitting a certificate of need, which was expected to be approved by the end of last year and will now likely be submitted by the middle of this year.

“(The new plan) will connect to the New York Eye and Ear building so it will become an integrated hospital,” said Brad Beckstrom, senior director for community and government for Mount Sinai.

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Police Watch: Teen arrested for Flatiron burglaries, Man arrested for assaulting ex-girlfriend

TEEN BUSTED FOR BURGLARIES IN FLATIRON

Police have arrested a teenager they believe was behind a pattern of burglaries in Flatiron.

The first incident was when he broke into Madison Reed Color Bar at 11 West 18th Street on Thursday, January 10 at 9:30 p.m. Police said that he forced open the door at the salon while it was closed and swiped cash from the register.

Later that night at 2:30 a.m. on January 11, the teen allegedly forced open the door of Boqueria at 53 West 19th Street when the business was closed, but he left without taking anything.

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Opinion: Down the Amazon

By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders

Any way you slice it, last week was a bad week for Jeff Bezos, the richest man in America. Mr. Bezos owns the online retail shopping giant Amazon as well as other businesses. His net worth is reportedly north of $75 billion; yes, that is billions.

Earlier in the month, the National Enquirer tabloid threatened to release salacious photos of Mr. Bezos engaged in extramarital activities during what might become the most expensive divorce in history. Then a few days later, bowing to political pressure from politicians and communities in Queens, Mr. Bezos pulled the plug and backed out of his deal with Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo to build a massive back office complex in Long Island City, just a stone’s throw across the East River. The deal had been consummated by promises of government subsidies totaling $3 billion from the city and state. So what happened?

As I wrote on this page several months ago, the entire Amazon announcement back in November was curious to begin with. First of all, the governor disclosed this agreement days after he was re-elected. With news like that, one would have expected that the governor would have wanted to make this public before the election if it was so terrific. Hmmm. On the surface it seemed like a pretty good deal for New York City with the prospect of thousands of new jobs. But then the details trickled out.

Very few could argue against the benefits to the city’s economy by opening a major new enterprise which may have brought significant new employment to our city and the new income tax revenue that such jobs would have produced. But there were other issues as well with such a huge land deal. These issues are routinely vetted by the local community and the City Council. That is how our city government works, or is supposed to work.

Amazon would only build this complex with the billions in public taxpayer subsidies and other little goodies like a private helicopter landing site for Mr. Bezos and his top executives to come and go. All city and state reviews of this city property transfer would be suspended. No oversight or official comment by the City Council or the local Community Planning Boards would be allowed. Why not? The answer is probably that Mr. Bezos did not want to negotiate with anybody other than the mayor and the governor and did not want to risk getting tied up in discussions if his plans were not to the liking of the immediate communities to be impacted.

But why did the governor and the mayor who usually agree on nothing but always talk about good government bi-laterally enter into this most non-transparent arrangement with Amazon and giving no community leaders or representatives of government a say in the matter? I suspect that it had as much to do with political development as it did with economic development. Reference back to my opening sentence. Mr. Bezos is fabulously wealthy and is known to help underwrite the political aspirations of his most favored politicians. Both Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo have aspirations that go beyond New York City or New York State. Pardon my cynicism.

But all is not lost. If the city and the state were prepared to give Amazon all those billions of dollars in public money for its private construction, why not re-purpose that money for job training, education including vocational, and support for small businesses? That investment would also create more jobs and more taxes paid, as well as economic activity. So evidently the money is there to be spent, but will it be spent on anything or anyone other than the richest man in America?

Updated: 5 Stuy Café applies for wine and beer license (application withdrawn)

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5 Stuy Cafe (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Update at 12:15 p.m.: Cooper Cafe has withdrawn its application and will not be at Community Board 6’s Thursday meeting, CB6 has told us.

By Sabina Mollot

The operators of 5 Stuy Café have applied for a wine, beer and cider license and the application will be among one of several to be discussed at a Community Board 6 meeting on Thursday evening.

Liquor and beer and wine licenses are granted or denied by the State Liquor Authority, but community boards have an advisory role.

The Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association mentioned the upcoming meeting in an email blast to tenants on Monday evening. It will be held by the CB6 Business Affairs and Street Activities Committee on Thursday, February 28 at 7 p.m. at the board office at 211 East 43rd Street, Suite 1404.

Meanwhile, Stuy Town general manager Rick Hayduk told Town & Village that after learning about the application, he would be requesting that it be withdrawn until the details are vetted by StuyTown Property Services. The café is run by a third-party operator called Cooper Café LLC.

Susan Steinberg, the president of the ST-PCV Tenants Association, said the association has not taken a position on alcohol being served at the café.

“We acknowledge the many tenants who have requested the option of having a glass of beer or wine with their food,” said Steinberg. “We also acknowledge the many tenants who are concerned about the possible consequences (increased noise and commotion) that might arise as a result of the wine and beer license. An applicant who comes before the Business Affairs and Street Activities Committee of Community Board 6 will need to assure Board 6 and the public of their procedures to contain noise and nuisance. (Disclosure: I am Vice Chair of that committee; I can ask questions but will have to abstain from voting.)  Assuming the application is approved, if management is unable to contain behavior after a few months, the TA will come down hard.”

Man charged with burglaries in Union Square

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police arrested a man for multiple alleged burglaries that occurred inside a building on West 17th Street just west of Fifth Avenue on February 11.

Police said that 56-year-old Anthony Dunn forced open an apartment door inside the building and took electronics and cash. Dunn allegedly forced the door in another apartment in the building and police said he took electronics from that unit as well, in addition to silverware.

Dunn allegedly attempted to break into a third apartment in the building but while he was attempting to force open the door, another resident heard him went outside his apartment to ask Dunn what he was doing. Dunn reportedly said that he was from maintenance and was there to fix the apartment door, but then said he was at the wrong apartment and he fled the scene without getting inside.

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Editorial: Your vote really does count this time

Town & Village has opined before about the uselessness of certain city elected positions, like borough presidents and the public advocate, the latter of which has an office that’s currently up for grabs.

On Tuesday, February 26, there is an open special election for the office of public advocate, which was vacated by Letitia James when she became attorney general. Now, 17 people are vying for her position, which despite having no real power, has proven to be very powerful in another way, by boosting one’s profile for the next big race. Mayor Bill de Blasio is a good example of this.

We can understand, however, if people aren’t motivated to do these candidates  any favors. It’s hard to think of any important things accomplished by the public advocate other than the maintenance of the worst landlord watchdog list. But even this is not enough of a reason to keep the office open at the taxpayers’ expense in our view. That said, our view on this matter doesn’t actually matter at all because despite an ongoing City Council effort to eliminate the position, of public advocate, it’s still there. So New Yorkers may as well make the best of their (many) options.

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MTA announces open houses on revised L train plan

L train at First Avenue (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Sabina Mollot

The MTA has announced it will hold a series of open houses starting in March to address any concerns related to the revised L train plan. Representatives from the Department of Transportation and NYC Transit will also be available to discuss planned street treatments and M14 Select Bus Service.

The four open houses, two in Manhattan, two in Brooklyn, are scheduled for:

Thursday, March 7: Our Lady of Guadalupe at St. Bernard, 328 West 14th Street (between 8th and 9th Avenues)
Wednesday, March 13: Williamsburg Northside School, 299 N. 7th Street (at Meeker Avenue)
Tuesday, March 19: Grand Street Campus High School, 850 Grand Street (between Bushwick Avenue and Waterbury Street)
Monday, April 8: 14th Street Y, 344 East 14th Street (between 1st and 2nd Avenues)

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Police suspect bodegas re-selling stolen goods

Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police have been surveilling local bodegas where stolen goods are suspected to be sold.

Responding to a question about a spike in the number of thefts from neighborhood pharmacies, Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman said at the 13th Precinct Community Council’s January meeting that shoplifting in pharmacy chains like Duane Reade and CVS is problematic throughout Manhattan. So is the reselling of those items to other stores, and Hellman said undercover officers have been on it.

“It’s a slow process because they start to recognize our undercover guys but we’re still watching them,” he said of one local bodega suspected of selling stolen merchandise. “We think there are other bodegas where they’re fencing things so we’re trying to track those, too.”

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Public advocate race cheat sheet

By Sabina Mollot

On Tuesday, New York voters will have the opportunity to elect the next public advocate, following the last occupant of this office, Letitia James, becoming the attorney general.

While this is a role with little governing power, it’s widely seen as a stepping stone for individuals looking to become mayor or to gain other prominent positions. As to why New Yorkers should bother with this race, there is also the fact that the office exists to be a watchdog, a check on the mayor. Meanwhile, the public advocate is also the first in line to assume the title of mayor if something were to happen to the mayor. The public advocate can also introduce and sponsor legislation.

This race has proven to be extraordinarily competitive with 17 people on the ballot (one of them inactive) in an open special election. Voters shouldn’t expect to just pick a random name that matches their party as candidates have come up with their own party lines. The competition won’t end after February 26, though. In September there will be a primary and in November, a general election.

Read on to learn a few details about each name on this race’s bloated ballot.

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Cop cracking down on drunk drivers in 13th Precinct

Police Officer Nicholas Clemente with Executive Officer Ernesto Castro at the 13th Precinct Community Council meeting (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Drunk drivers, beware.

Police Officer Nicholas Clemente of the 13th Precinct has arrested so many behind the wheel boozers recently that on Tuesday, he was recognized for his efforts. Clemente was the recipient of the February Cop of the Month award at a meeting held by the 13th Precinct Community Council.

Executive Officer Ernesto Castro, who led the meeting because Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman was out due to a personal matter, said that Clemente had made a significant number of arrests of intoxicated drivers throughout the precinct last year and so far this year.

“(Clemente) has made it his priority to ensure the safety of our motorists and pedestrians every night,” Castro said. “His job is to identify by observation or by accidents whether someone is intoxicated. In 2018, he made it a priority and he arrested 15 people for that, nine of them being from observation alone, either driving in the wrong direction or swerving or taking red lights. This year so far he’s made two valuable arrests for (driving while intoxicated) and he continues to strive toward that.”

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Protesters pack Union Square over border wall

Hundreds of protesters packed Union Square Park on Monday evening to protest the president’s renewed push for a border wall.

By Jefferson Siegel

Hundreds gathered in Union Square on the Presidents Day holiday, Monday night, to protest the policies of president Donald Trump and specifically his declaration of a national emergency to build a wall on the Mexican border. Dozens of similar protests were also held around the country. Sixteen state attorneys general as well as several legal organizations and numerous private citizens have filed lawsuits against Trump over declaring a national emergency.

At Union Square, there were also a handful of Trump supporters who were being kept apart from the main protest.

Photos by Jefferson Siegel

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New L woes: Delayed SBS, Report of exit-only stations

Council Member Keith Powers said he has asked the MTA not to make the First and Third AvenueL stations exit only during the revised L train project, but hasn’t received an answer. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

With L train riders wondering just how rough their commutes will be for the next 15-20 months, the MTA is now saying the work should take less time than originally thought, 15-18 months.

However, during this time, there is the possibility that the First and Third Avenue stops could become exit only to limit crowding, a plan the agency was considering, according to a report based on a draft memo obtained by Streetsblog. Additionally, while there will be M14 Select Bus Service, that isn’t expected to be made available until the fall, local elected officials recently learned.

Council Member Keith Powers, who was in attendance at an MTA briefing held last Wednesday for elected officials, said he has grilled the agency on these and other concerns from L train riders and residents who live around the construction zone. Another concern is that with the revised L train repair plan, service will be dramatically reduced on weeknights from 8 p.m.-5 a.m. and on the weekends.

“The number one concern we (have been hearing) was the possibility of First Avenue (and Third Avenue) being exit only,” Powers said. “I pushed back on this very hard. We can’t close First Avenue if the SBS isn’t ready in time. This is why you need L train alternatives that are good. We want there to be bus service or an L train stop. This is unacceptable. Not to have it in a construction zone, it’s a triple whammy. It’s unacceptable.”

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Letters to the editor, Feb. 21

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

So this was my evening

To the Town & Village Editor:

A few weeks ago I got off the LIRR at Penn Station near 11 p.m. I took the 1 downtown, knowing I could walk underground to 6th Avenue should the L have already been shut down. At 6th Avenue the platform was full, 60 to 100 people.

An automated announcement repeated itself: “The next L to Canarsie will be at 11:20 p.m.”

I then saw three people spot a sign taped to a poll that I hadn’t seen. They walked away as if to leave. I heard the announcement again, looked at the time and saw it was 11:40 p.m. That was when the MTA guys closing the station, cordoning off the platforms with yellow tape, first came around to alert us directly. But indeed that sign clearly said, last train 10:30 p.m.

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Police Watch: Man charged with newsstand robbery, Bouncer accused of assault

MAN CHARGED WITH UNION SQUARE SUBWAY NEWSSTAND ROBBERY
Police arrested 27-year-old Nicholas Labasta for an alleged robbery that took place inside the Union Square subway station on Tuesday, February 12 at 4 a.m. The victim told police that he was working behind the counter at the newsstand inside the station when Labasta allegedly reached over the counter into the open cash register. The victim said that he attempted to stop Labasta from taking the cash, and Labasta allegedly punched the victim in the face. Police said that he then grabbed cash in singles and fled the station. The victim later identified Labasta outside and police stopped him in front of 841 Broadway, where they recovered the cash in singles in his pocket. Labasta was also charged with grand larceny and petit larceny.

BOUNCER AT BOUNCE ACCUSED OF ASSAULT
Police arrested 35-year-old Modesto Morales for an alleged assault in front of Bounce nightclub at 55 West 21st Street on Saturday, February 16 at 2:56 a.m. The victim told police that Morales, who is a bouncer at the club, punched him in the mouth unprovoked, causing swelling and bleeding.

MAN ACCUSED OF SNATCHING PHONE
Police arrested 32-year-old Alexandre Teixeira for an alleged theft at the corner of Union Square East and East 14th Street on Friday, February 15 at 4:41 p.m. Police heard the victim shouting, “Police, help, he took my phone!” while running after Teixeira. Police said when they caught up with Teixeira and he was arrested, he had the victim’s phone. Teixeira was charged with grand larceny, criminal mischief and possession of stolen property.

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