Epstein hosts town hall for East Side residents

Assemblymember Harvey Epstein spoke at a recent town hall about legislation he recently introduced that aims to increase job opportunities for individuals with disabilities. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Assemblymember Harvey Epstein held his second annual town hall last weekend to address concerns in the community on housing, as well as disability rights, climate change, prison reform and education. The event was held in the Friends Seminary at 218 East 16th Street and US Senator Charles Schumer also made an appearance near the end of the town hall after a stop at the Chinese New Year celebration in Lower Manhattan in order to provide an update for residents in the community about the impeachment trial.

Advocates broke off into panels for the majority of the town hall to discuss each of the topics but housing was combined into one panel at the end of the afternoon. Yonatan Tadele and Alex Lee of Cooper Square Committee, Barika Williams of Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development, and Munir Smith of GOLES discussed preservation of affordable housing and how tenants can protect themselves against predatory landlords, as well as what advocates still need to work towards after the success of last year’s strengthening of the rent laws.

Williams said that homeownership should be part of the conversation in addition to the discussion about the rent laws.

“Sometimes you’re like, I don’t want to have to fight this renter fight for the rest of my life, and maybe would like to purchase a home,” she said. “So we have to be able to think of those things and we’ve got to think about preserving our stock. There’s going to be a huge battle to make sure that that housing doesn’t all go to market rate because then we’re right back where we started fighting.”

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Local Democratic club endorses Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney at forum

The Eleanor Roosevelt Democratic Club endorsed Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney in her re-election bid over her four Democratic challengers. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Eleanor Roosevelt Democratic Club voted to endorse Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney for re-election after a forum featuring the current representative and four of her Democratic opponents on Tuesday evening at the New York New Church on East 35th Street.

Stuy Town resident Peter Harrison, Upper East Side resident Erica Vladimer, Long Island City resident Lauren Ashcraft and Lower East Side resident Suraj Patel made their case in their campaigns against the longtime incumbent at the event co-organized by the Tilden Democrats, Gramercy Stuyvesant Independent Democrats, Four Freedoms, Coalition of a District Alternative (CODA), East River Democratic Club and Lexington Democrats. Tilden previously endorsed Maloney for re-election in November.

Members of the various Democratic clubs that were in attendance submitted questions for each of the candidates, focusing on topics such as housing, transportation, education and infrastructure. ERDC District Leader Mike Corbett lead the forum last Tuesday.

All of the candidates said that they are supportive of protecting and expanding affordable housing as well as protecting public housing, although Congresswoman Maloney was the only candidate who specified where she believes the district needs more affordable housing.

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Teens busted for robbery on First Avenue

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police arrested two teenagers for a robbery that took place on Wednesday, January 8 around 11 p.m. on First Avenue between East 18th and 19th Streets. One of the teens was arrested on Wednesday, January 22 at 8 a.m. inside the 13th precinct, and the second suspect was arrested in the precinct on Friday, January 24 at 9 a.m.

The victim told police that he was walking north on First Avenue when the teenagers approached him and asked if he wanted to fight. Police said that the teens then punched the victim in the face and removed his cell phone and keys before fleeing the scene.

Police did not have further information about whether the robbery took place on the east or west side of First Avenue.

Letters to the editor, Jan. 30

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Aggressive and persistent scammers

Dear editor,

Tactics used by phone scammers are becoming ever more aggressive. On Friday, January 25 between the hours of 4:30 and 8:30 p.m., I received at least 20 calls telling me about “suspicious activities….” The caller(s) had the audacity to leave numerous messages with the following “toll free” number: 208-262-0000. I was compelled to turn off my voice mail, but the phone kept on ringing. In the meantime, I found out that a neighbor of mine received identical calls, which makes me wonder whether other tenants of PCV/ST have been targeted as well. Verizon was of no assistance. What can be done about this? How can we put a stop to this intrusion on our lives?

Name withheld
Stuyvesant Town

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Police Watch: Men arrested for stabbing, stolen car in separate incidents

MAN ARRESTED FOR STABBING AT NYCHA BUILDING

Police arrested a 64-year-old man for an assault that took place inside 344 East 28th Street on October 8, 2019, 4:25 a.m. Police said that a woman got into a dispute with a man that she didn’t know and suffered a stab wound on her lower right leg.

A witness told police that he saw the victim and the man go into an elevator in the building while involved in a fight and after the victim got out of the elevator, she said that the man had stabbed her. The suspect was charged with assault inside the 13th precinct on Wednesday, January 22 at 8:45 a.m. 

MAN BUSTED FOR STOLEN CAR

Police arrested a 34-year-old man at the corner of Park Avenue South and East 19th Street on Wednesday, January 22 at 6:58 p.m. for stealing a car from First Avenue. The victim told police that he parked his vehicle in front of 325 First Avenue near East 19th Street when it was stolen. The vehicle was still running but did not have a key, and the victim was nearby and said that he saw the suspect get inside his car and take off, heading west on East 19th Street without permission.

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Letters to the editor, Jan. 23

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

A plug for D’Agostino

Amidst the excitement over the new Trader Joe’s, I’d like to take this opportunity to remind ST-PCV residents that there’s a terrific and convenient D’Agostino at 355 First Ave., between East 20th and 21st Streets, where the old Gristedes used to be. The store has been completely renovated, and now sports clean, bright, wide aisles, a salad and readymade food bar and a pleasant seating area with chairs and tables, where a weary shopper can also comfortably perch while reviewing a shopping list.

Best of all are Larry the manager, and his always helpful, friendly, and kind staff (thank you, Jose, Theresa, Zenia, Rose, Brandon, and anyone whose name I may have misspelled or inadvertently omitted), who always give customers the kind of personal service so very rare and sadly lacking in the impersonal online or chain big box experience. Whether helping you locate the products you want, or checking you out and bagging or delivering your groceries, the staff always offers help with genuine warmth and smiles.

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Tenants rally to save Fifth Avenue building

Although the building is not in his district, Assemblymember Harvey Epstein spoke at the rally against the demolition of the Fifth Avenue building and the proposed development at the site. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Tenants, local elected officials and housing advocates last Friday rallied against a plan from Madison Realty Capital that would demolish a five-story, 20-unit apartment building on Fifth Avenue in a historic district and replace it with a building almost four times as tall as the existing structure but with fewer apartments.

The plan from the developer would replace the building at 14-16 Fifth Avenue, which was constructed in 1848, with a 244-foot, 21-story tower with 18 units of luxury housing.

Advocates at the rally last week condemned the project, arguing that the proposed building was an inappropriate size compared to other buildings in the neighborhood. The demolition of the building would also include the loss of at least 10 rent-stabilized units, which would then be replaced by fewer units, all of which would be unaffordable.

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Permits filed for new tower at life sciences facility

ARE presented a 3D model of the new tower at a Community Board 6 meeting last fall. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Permits were filed last Friday for a 21-story building on East 30th Street between First Avenue and the FDR that will be the third stage of development for the Alexandria Center for Life Science campus that is just south of Bellevue Hospital.

New York Health + Hospitals filed the application because the hospital system leases the land to Alexandria Real Estate and filed the permits on behalf of their tenant.

The permits filed with the Department of Buildings on January 10 indicate that the proposed development is expected to be 384 feet tall and 587,137 square feet, with 417,734 allocated for commercial space.

A representative from the city’s Economic Development Corporation confirmed that the building will be the North Tower of the current Alexandria campus and although the application was filed for 500 East 30th Street, the building will most likely have an odd-numbered address on East 29th Street. EDC also noted that all of the commercial space will be wet-lab capable and there will be a small retail component on the ground level facing south.

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John ‘Butch’ Purcell, mayor of Stuy Town, dies at 74

Residents left flowers at the entrance of Playground 9 in Stuyvesant Town this week following the news that John “Butch” Purcell, for whom the playground had recently been renamed, had died on Sunday. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

John “Butch” Purcell, known to many in the community as the mayor of Stuyvesant Town, passed away on Sunday night at age 74. He is survived by his wife, Mary, and their son, John Purcell Jr.

Purcell earned his mayor nickname from being one of the first black families that moved into Stuyvesant Town in the 1960s, and he celebrated his 50th year in the community in 2018.

Purcell played basketball throughout his life and although he never went pro himself, he started coaching at 27. He coached athletes at Harlem’s Rucker Park tournaments from 1972 to 1992, as well as for the New York Pro Basketball League, and by his own estimate, coached more than 75 NBA players, including Julius Erving. He was honored by the Brooklyn USA Athletic Association for his coaching career in 2017.

In addition to coaching, Purcell also worked for more than 40 years in drug counseling at Beth Israel Medical Center, where he started working in 1967 for the hospital’s methadone treatment program. Purcell worked directly for the NBA during the 1980s as well, counseling players, and continued to counsel players and others until he retired in 2013.

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Letters to the editor, Jan. 16

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Three cheers for snow removal plan

I was extremely pleased to see the article on Manhattan Borough President Gail Brewer’s attention to the issue of snow removal (T&V, January 2). Those of us who live in ST/PCV can usually expect a coordinated and well-executed snow removal plan for the interiors and perimeters of the properties. But people have jobs, appointments, etc. that take them to neighborhoods all over the city regardless of the weather, and non-compliant property owners create a hazard for all of us.

Many property owners seem to have the attitude that if Mother Nature dropped the snow, let her take care of getting rid of it. Others rely on pedestrian foot traffic to create a path and still others, who opt to leave storefronts vacant, seem to think they have no obligation to remove snow from in front of a property that is not producing income.

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Community Board 6 mulling bike parking amidst recent thefts

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

With residents on high alert about bicycle security, members of the Community Board 6 transportation committee discussed the possibility of allocating bike parking somewhere in the district at a recent meeting on Monday, January 6.

One committee member suggested that the community board encourage the development of bike parking that repurposes old bus shelters to be used as bike parking, similar to a structure currently in place at West 23rd Street and Eighth Avenue.

Committee member Brian Van Nieuwenhoven noted that while the city has installed this kind of bike parking in other parts of the city, including one in Union Square, it didn’t seem like an initiative they were expanding, and he said that he’s more concerned about bike security, citing the Peter Cooper Village resident whose $3,000 cargo bike was stolen just after Christmas.

“Whatever has gone on with bicycle theft, it has not abated in the city,” he said, adding that if the community board wants funding for this, it’s better to get the request in sooner rather than later.

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MTA, DOT share results of busway report with Community Board 6

CB6 transportation committee chair Sandra McKee and NYC Transit transportation planner Patrick Dougherty at the meeting on Monday (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Representatives from the Department of Transportation and MTA presented results from a recent report on the 14th Street busway during Community Board 6’s most recent transportation committee on Monday. The report was conducted by Sam Schwartz Engineering, and Dan Schack, a senior associate at SSE, said that normally the agency would wait at least a year to draw any conclusions but the city committed to regular reports on the pilot program.

Schack emphasized that these are only preliminary results, with data only available from November and December, and the final report is expected to be delivered in Spring 2021, with regular reports until then as the city tracks the program’s progress.

Patrick Dougherty, a transportation planner for long-range bus planning at MTA New York City Transit, said that the agency is encouraged by the results so far, especially given how poorly the bus on 14th Street has performed in the past.

“From our perspective, which is operating safe and efficient bus service across 14th Street, the numbers have proven that this has been very successful so far,” he said. “I just want to remind everyone that [the M14] was the second slowest route in the entire city. It was losing ridership year after year, and almost immediately travel times have improved. It’s getting riders back on the bus. Gaining 6,000 riders within a month is incredible. We really support the pilot and hope it continues after the first 18 months.”

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Six wanted in gang assault

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police are looking for six men wanted in a gang assault that took place in the Flatiron District during the early morning hours of New Year’s Day.

A 25-year-old man reported to police that he was walking near the corner of West 25th Street and Sixth Avenue on Wednesday, January 1 around 4:15 a.m. when six individuals approached him. The suspects then chased the victim, pushed him into a doorway at 101 West 25th Street and punched and kicked the victim in the head multiple times.

The suspects fled in an unknown direction and the victim was removed to Bellevue Hospital for treatment.

Anyone with information in regard to the identity of these individuals 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 or on Twitter @ NYPDTips.

All calls are strictly confidential.

One arrested as e-bike thefts increase

One of the suspects in multiple recent e-bike thefts

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police have arrested a 24-year-old man in connection with the theft of an e-bike from a restaurant on East 14th Street over the weekend.

The arrest comes after the New York Times reported last Friday that at least 24 e-bikes have been reported stolen throughout the city since last September. The NYPD told the Times that nearly two dozen delivery workers have been attacked and their e-bikes have been stolen by the same two men, who police said ambushed the riders with pepper spray or at knife point. The bikes stolen from the workers can cost as much as $2,000.

Although not an e-bike, Peter Cooper Village resident Adriana Hammonds also reported the theft of her new cargo bike just after Christmas. The family had taken out a loan to pay for the $3,000 bike and it was stolen the first day they took it out for a ride. The bike was meant for Hammonds to use to bring her 6-year-old son Sebastian to school and after assembling it right after the holiday, she and her son took it to visit a friend and locked the bike on East 18th Street and Irving Place. When they returned two hours later, the bike had been stolen.

The Bronx resident who was arrested for the recent e-bike theft was caught at the corner of Second Avenue and East 15th Street on Sunday, January 5 at 7:53 p.m. after a witness chased him from the restaurant where he took the bike.

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Letters to the editor, Jan. 9

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Heat improvements in STPCV

I recently read a letter about the heat, or lack of heat, in PCVST.

Here’s my take. I’m a resident of the complex for 28 years. Over the years, I’ve had different devices that have told me the temperature in my apartment.

Up until there were sensors put in some apartments, the temperature in my apartment would hover around 80-83 degrees in the winter. That was with windows open.

I’m on the 10th of an 11-floor building, so I accepted that my apartment would be hotter than those below. But I always wondered, if my apartment was 80 degrees, was there really someone in my line on the first or second floor who was cold?

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