UPDATED: Con Ed recommends putting wells in ST/PCV to recover contaminants from former gas plant

Mar13 Con Ed

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

UPDATE: Con Ed has changed the date and venue of the upcoming meeting. It will be on Wednesday, November 1 at 7 p.m. at Mount Sinai Beth Israel’s Podell Auditorium in the Bernstein Building, 10 Perlman Place, one block west of First Avenue between 15th and 16th Streets, according to an email sent to neighbors from the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association.

By Sabina Mollot

As most people who live in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village know, the property is the site of the former Gashouse District, named for the Manufactured Gas Plant (MGP) stations and facilities run by Con Ed and its predecessor companies.

In recent years, the utility has been conducting an investigation in and around ST/PCV, looking for contaminants in the ground, groundwater and air. The investigation is being coordinated with the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the State Department of Health.

According to the study’s findings from investigations in 2006 and 2008, contaminants were found, but located deep in the ground (at least five feet) with most even lower, and in groundwater beneath the site, though that water is not used for drinking. MGP residential levels tested in the air indoors were found to be typical. Outdoor air samples collected were also found to be normal for an urban area. Because of this, Con Ed said in an advisory this week that it’s unlikely people will come into contact with these contaminants, though air monitoring will continue.

Still, the company is now proposing a “remediation” (cleanup) plan for the site that involves, among other things, the placement of wells.

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Mendez mulling a run for Kavanagh’s Assembly seat

Councilmember Rosie Mendez (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

With Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh having recently secured the party support he needed to secure the Democratic nomination for Daniel Squadron’s downtown seat, term-limited Council Member Rosie Mendez said she’s looking into the possibility of running for Kavanagh’s Assembly seat.

Prior to the primary for City Council and other citywide races, Mendez said she hadn’t had time to focus on the race. But now, she said, she can.

“It’s something I will look into now that we are through with the primary,” she said on Sunday afternoon, after the unveiling of Children’s Court Way street co-naming in Gramercy.

In September, Kavanagh secured the nod to get on the ballot through support of Brooklyn and Manhattan party bosses, rather than individual county committee members having their votes counted — or even getting to vote at all in Brooklyn, which makes up part of the Senate district. This strong-arm tactic, while criticized by more than a few people, was the legal alternative to a primary, which Squadron’s hasty departure from the legislature left no time for.

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Rose crystal tower goes up in Union Square

Tower as seen from the west (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

A new tower has just risen in Union Square, but unlike when this normally happens, there will be no howling about zoning and affordability.

The tower is actually a sculpture made out of nearly 350 rose-colored crystals and it debuted on Friday morning at an island east of Union Square Park.

“Rose Crystal Tower” was the creation of Dale Chihuly, whose career in the arts has spanned 56 years. It was done in partnership with Marlborough Gallery, the Union Square Partnership and the Parks Department, and will remain on view through October 2018.

At a ceremony unveiling the sculpture, which will be lit up at night through 16 lighting fixtures, Parks Commissioner Bill Castro noted the installation was part of the 50th anniversary for the city’s program of putting art in public spaces. At this time, over 1,300 artists have had their work on display through the program in 2,000 installations.

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Stuy Town garage customers won’t get expected refunds

Aug16 garage

Stuyvesant Town’s garages are run by Quik Park. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

For the Stuyvesant Town residents who are customers of the complex’s six garages, which are run by Quik Park, the wait for a refund for $60 in rate increases that came without notice last year is finally over. This is because there will be no refunds issued to these customers after all.

In July, Councilman Dan Garodnick said he was told by the Department of Consumer Affairs that refunds were on the way for customers of Quik Park (parent company Citizens Icon Holdings) who’d been issued an improperly implemented increase. This was accurate, but apparently the Stuy Town garage customers were not included in that pool of motorists. The only refunds that will come through are for customers who’d gotten a notice that the rate hikes they were being charged were for a “Living Wage Assessment,” which happened elsewhere in the city.

Asked if there was still a possibility that the Stuy Town customers could see their money back as well, a spokesperson for the DCA didn’t have a response, but did say the department was working with the garage company (and others in the industry) to ensure customers will receive proper notice of increases in the future.

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Mind the gap

ST/PCV moms share tales of toddlers’ hands getting stuck in elevators doors

By Sabina Mollot

If your young child ever got his or her hand stuck behind the door of an elevator, you’re not alone.

Two weeks ago, a Stuyvesant Town toddler broke her finger after her hand got stuck into a gap in the moving elevator door in her building. Then, after it happened, the girl’s mother posted a warning to other parents on a local Facebook group, only to then hear from several other parents that the same thing had happened to their children over the years, in Stuyvesant Town as well as other places.

The girl’s mom also later spoke to Town & Village about the incident, which she was shocked to learn was a relatively common occurrence.

The mother, who asked that her name not be used, said on September 21, she and her daughter arrived on the T level in her building and when the elevator door opened, the girl put her hand on the inside of the door.

“I lunged, but not fast enough,” her mom said. When the door opened fully, it pulled the girl’s hand into the gap that hides the inner door, trapping her hand into a very narrow space. After a few minutes of pulling and screaming (on both the mother and daughter’s parts), they were able to get the girl’s hand free. A trip to NYU Langone confirmed that her ring finger had been broken.

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Gramercy block is co-named for former Children’s Court building

(Pictured L-R) Some of the project committee members gather at the sign unveiling: Claude L. Winfield; Judge Andrea Masley; Lois Rakoff; Tiffany Townsend; Dr. Samuel D. Albert; Louise Dankberg; Molly Hollister; Michelle Deal Winfield; Dr. David Christy, provost of Baruch College; and Council Member Rosie Mendez (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Sunday afternoon, a crowd of around 30 people, mostly community activist types, gathered at the northwest corner of East 22nd Street and Third Avenue for a ceremony to co-name the block “Children’s Court Way.”

The project was in the works for the past two years, and was the idea of East Midtown Plaza resident Michelle Deal Winfield.

The Children’s Court used to be located on East 22nd Street, in what is now home to Baruch College’s Steven L. Newman Real Estate Institute. Today, there is just a bit of lingering evidence as to what the building’s prior purpose was, like the marble water drinking fountain built specifically for a child’s height, as well as some of the stairs in the building that are four and a half inches high instead of the standard eight.

According to Gramercy: Its Architectural Surroundings, a book published by the Gramercy Neighborhood Associates in 1996, a court for children was first established in Manhattan in the former Department of Public Charities Building on Third Avenue and 11th Street. This was in response to a push by reformers to treat juvenile delinquents differently from adult criminals and take their family circumstances into account. However, this court, a division of The Court of Special Sessions, was still required by law to treat children in the same manner as adults.

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Letters to the editor, Oct. 5

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Dog runs need owners to pitch in

Re: “Dog owners say lack of open space the biggest challenge” and “Redesigned dog run in the works for Madison Sq. Park,” T&V “Dog Days” issue, Sept. 21

As an individual charged with attempting to administer the Union Square Dog Run (U-Dog), I found several comments in the two stories worthy of further pursuit:

 In the Madison Square story Ms. Munoz says she doesn’t bring her dog into the run because of the smell. Can’t resist a remark here — where does Li Li pee that she mops it up or does she realize she spreads the same smells around town for all pedestrians and children by going around the run?

Ms. Dang said she passes U-Dog up to go to Madison Square because our run smells worse due to the surface. The surfaces are the same! As is Washington Square.

But she also adds her preference that she likes paving options because “Concrete is easier to clean.” I always wonder, who do all these people think “cleans” the run? There is no service out there, the owners either pitch in and monthly pour cleansers and water or they let rain do it.

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ST Republican runs for boro prez

For Frank Scala, pictured at his barber shop, priorities are tackling homelessness and helping businesses stay in place. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Frank Scala, at the age of 78, is a veteran in more than one sense of the word. Along with having served in the Italian Navy, the Sicily native has also worked as a barber for decades at his own shop, La Scala, and he also has a history of running for office in New York City.

Being a Republican hasn’t stopped him from attempting to defeat popular Democrat incumbents. He’s challenged former Assembly Member Steven Sanders, current Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh and State Senator Brad Hoylman.

And now Scala, a resident of Stuyvesant Town, has set his sights on the Manhattan borough president’s office, running against Gale Brewer.

Last year, when running against Kavanagh, Scala at first said he was just doing it out of a sense of obligation to the Republican Party since no one else had stepped up. He’d begrudgingly done the same thing two years earlier to give Republicans someone from their own party to vote for, when challenging Hoylman. But Scala later changed his mind, saying he wanted to run “legit.” This time, he’s running a mostly inactive race — he isn’t fundraising and has no website.

But he was still happy to do an interview to discuss the issues he thinks are a priority for the borough and the campaign.

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Woman arrested in connection with fatal butt injection on East 21st Street

Aug3 Fatal butt injection

LATESHA BYNUM

By Sabina Mollot 

Police have arrested a Queens woman believed to have been involved in the death of a woman who received a fatal cosmetic butt injection last summer in an unmarked building near Peter Cooper Village.

Allison Spence, 44, has been arrested on charges of manslaughter and unauthorized practice of profession for the injection. Spence, who police said turned herself in, allegedly acted as a nurse during the procedure, for which the suspected doctor has still not been arrested. Police said they have identified the man but haven’t disclosed his name. That man is not a real doctor, according to a story in CBS New York, but police told Town & Village they couldn’t confirm that at this time.

The procedure was performed at a third floor apartment at 319 East 21st Street, between First and Second Avenues on July 15. Later police were summoned in response to Bynum complaining of dizziness and chest pains. She was taken to St. Luke’s Hospital, but 12 days later was taken off life support after being pronounced brain dead.

The medical examiner has deemed the death of 31-year-old mother Latesha Bynum, a Harlem resident, a homicide.

A lawyer for Bynum’s family told CBS New York the doctor is a phony who used a Dunkin Donuts as his waiting room, and that a fake nurse greeted her. The attorney also said the doctor had a pattern of injecting unsuspecting women with “silicone poison into his patients’ buttocks and/or thighs.”

Meanwhile, Spence’s sister told the Daily News her sister denied giving any injection, saying she only prepped the patient by massaging her muscles.