Letters to the editor, Apr. 25

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Congestion pricing will drive us out

The following is an open letter to Council Member Keith Powers in response to an e-blast from the council member updating District 4 residents on the passing of congestion pricing in the state legislature’s budget on April 1.

Dear Council Member Powers:

Thank you for the community update. I hope you decide to work toward a greater exemption from congestion pricing for residents in the zone who keep their vehicles garaged and who are not in the protected group of residents [Exemptions for residents making less than $60,000 who live inside the zone] who must use the streets to park and double park when streets are cleaned.

I offer the worst of all indignities: Garage parkers at Waterside Plaza, Peter Cooper Village who enter the FDR north or south who never enter into the grid of midtown streets are either hit with the scanners leaving home or coming home – a high price tax to live in those communities, alongside a highway, that never intersects the congested streets of mid-Manhattan. Does that make sense?

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Homeless man accused of smashing over 40 WiFi kiosks in Manhattan

Juan Rodriguez was arrested in connection with the incidents.

By Sabina Mollot

Police have arrested a man they believe is responsible for a week-long LinkNYC kiosk smashing spree in different neighborhoods in Manhattan.

Juan Rodriguez, 41, who’d been staying at the East 30th Street men’s shelter, was picked up by police in front of 230 East 21st Street at about 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

From April 16-23, a man, who was seen on surveillance video, smashed 42 Wi-Fi hubs with a brick or other blunt objects in Greenwich Village, Chelsea, Flatiron and in midtown.

Rodriguez has been arrested a number of times since 2006, mostly for alleged marijuana possession and criminal mischief, police said.

Do you recognize this woman?

Police are asking the community’s help in identifying a woman who has been admitted to Mount Sinai Beth Israel at 281 First Avenue.

The woman was found on the street disoriented by passersby, who then walked her over to the hospital on Thursday, April 18 at around 4 p.m.

She is described as white, about 55-65 years of age and 180 lbs. She was wearing all dark clothing.

Anyone with information 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. All calls are strictly confidential.

$1,000 reward offered for kitten stolen from Petco

By Sabina Mollot

Cat rescue organization KittyKind is hoping to find a kitten that was stolen on Friday at around 2:25 p.m. from the Union Square Petco.

Though no one saw him in the act, a man breezed into the store on East 17th Street while the cats and kittens up for adoption were in their cages. Volunteers are only there in the mornings, evenings and weekends, so none were present when the man came in mid-afternoon, walked over to the cages and broke the lock of a lower cage. He then took a 12-week-old striped kitten named Sage from inside, leaving its sister Rosemary behind, and walked out the door.

According to Valerie Vlasaty, a KittyKind volunteer later briefed on the situation, a customer happened to see the man leave and mentioned he’d walked out with a kitten to an employee. The employee then went outside to try and stop the man, but it was too late; he’d already disappeared into the Union Square crowd.

“We’re devastated, heartbroken,” said Vlasaty.

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Opinion: Truth or consequences

By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders

Anti-Vaxxers. That’s what they call themselves. They are mostly parents who for one reason or another refuse to have their children vaccinated for any number of childhood diseases or annual flu shots. Sometimes it is based on religious grounds and sometimes it is from fear that a vaccination can cause harm or that a child’s immune system may be compromised by avoiding these diseases and the antibodies that result.

This issue has been brought into sharp focus by the outbreak of the highly contagious measles infection in New York and other cities which had virtually been eradicated two decades ago due to the vaccination protocol.

Obviously all parents want what is best for their children. But to deny the availability and effectiveness of modern medicine does not seem a wise choice. And when children are not vaccinated, or adults opt not to get flu shots, it puts the public health at much greater risk.

Influenza kills thousands of Americans each year. Measles, chicken pox and mumps can also cause permanent damage to a young child in severe cases, and even death.

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Former Stuyvesant Town resident’s memoir details fostering, adopting child on the spectrum

Margaret Gonzalez, author of Body in Space

By Sabina Mollot

Like many people who’ve retired, former teacher and Stuyvesant Town resident Margaret Gonzalez had fully intended to write a novel. But after joining a writing group, she was instead encouraged to get out her own story, which involves the lengthy and often frustrating process of becoming a foster parent and eventually adopting her daughter, who’s on the autism spectrum. Now a grandmother living in Cape Coral, Florida, Gonzalez said she’s now glad she took this advice, and over the holidays, self-published the memoir, Body in Space: My Life with Tammy. 

Gonzalez, who had a career as a French teacher at Friends Seminary for 34 years, became a foster parent after hearing from a friend about five children who were placed into foster care, four boys and a girl. Due to privacy regulations in the system, Gonzalez never learned the full story about the situation, other than that the father was incarcerated and the mother may also have been involved in illegal activities. Her friend had taken in the four boys and Gonzalez decided to take in their sister, Tammy. At that time, Tammy was already living with a foster family, though it wasn’t their intention to keep her.

She was four at the time, and so speech-impaired that she couldn’t say her own name. Then, like now (at the age of 40), Tammy isn’t one to talk about her biological family or the system.

“I still to this day don’t know what her family was like,” said Gonzalez. “Now she’ll say, ‘Been there, and it sucked.’”

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Powers concerned about Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town being marketed separately

Apr18 Leasing office 2 closeup

A new leasing office is under construction in Peter Cooper Village. (Photo by Thomas Rochford)

By Sabina Mollot

In response to the latest branding efforts by StuyTown Property Services, which have included new logos for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village and a new leasing office now being built in Peter Cooper, some residents have been worried this was an attempt to treat the two complexes differently.

Council Member Keith Powers, who said he’d been hearing from neighbors on this issue, sent a letter to ST/PCV general manager Hayduk last Wednesday, asking him to clarify that the branding wouldn’t mean Stuy Town and Peter Cooper Village would no longer have access to the same amenities.

Powers also asked if apartments in both complexes would still be available through the lottery system for reduced rents. He also wanted to know if all the marketing would mean existing tenants should now expect diminished benefits and if management planned to reduce staff levels at either complex. Powers also had a question on apartment finishes, asking if Stuyvesant Town apartments would end up looking different from those in Peter Cooper.

“As a lifelong resident who has lived in both Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town, I am concerned that current plans are to put the two properties on a separate path in the short-term and long-term,” Powers wrote.

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PSLL Challengers celebrate opening day

The Peter Stuyvesant Little League Challenger Division for players with disabilities held its opening day on Saturday, April 14. (Photos by Benjy Kile)

On Sunday, April 14, the Peter Stuyvesant Little League Challenger Division for players with disabilities celebrated its third season opening day. Games were played at around 3 p.m. at Con Ed Field.

The Challenger division is for boys and girls with physical and developmental challenges between the ages of 4 and 18 (or still in high school) so they can enjoy the game of baseball in a supportive, non-competitive environment. They are assisted by buddies, other PSLL players and there are no balls, strikes or outs during games.

This year, the PSLL has 800 members, a record number for the league.

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Letters to the editor, Apr. 18

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Stats show where bikes are a problem

The 13th Precinct has said that they view bike violations seriously but with limited resources, they do targeted enforcement based on data.

While NYC Opendata for Vehicular Accidents shows that 6th Avenue from 14th to 29th is quite a problem, our area has its problems too. Pedestrians were injured in bike incidents in 2019 at 1st Avenue and 15th Street in 2018 at 2nd Ave and 22nd Street and in 2016 at 1st Avenue and 18th and at 1st Avenue and 27th Street.

With an aging population in Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village and so many bikers breaking laws on 1st and 2nd Avenues, our situation is likely to get worse. In addition to seeing red lights cut constantly from 15th Street to 22nd, from 21st to 23rd, we’ve seen motorized and non-motorized bikes, skateboards and scooters being ridden right on the sidewalks.

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Editorial: Thrift stores wish you wouldn’t do this

Donated VHS tapes and other items decorate the sidewalk outside Angel Street thrift shop. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

We get it. Sometimes the most convenient time to run an errand, like finally bringing in that donate pile to the thrift store it’s intended for, is before work. When said store is still closed.

But sadly, most of the time what happens is the bags will get picked through by the homeless. Now, you might say, fine, if they need it. But as we witnessed in front of the Angel Street thrift store on a  recent morning, this also means the donated items will end up everywhere, including in the gutter, where they become filthy and useless.

Prior to writing this rant, we spoke with the head cashier at Angel Street (at its new location on West 22nd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues) Tiffany Davenport.

Of course, said Davenport. she and her coworkers would appreciate if people brought their donations during business hours, but ultimately Davenport said, “You can’t help what people do. We could try to enforce what we want them to do but at the end of the day, it’s their decision.”

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Opinion: Will this year be different?

By Assemblymember Steven Sanders

The Jewish festival of Passover is just around the corner. Families will gather at the Seder table where the ancient and traditional question will be asked “Why is this night different from all other nights?” But for tenants in New York City the most pressing question is: Will this year be different from all other years… and if so why?

Every spring around this time the Rent Guidelines Board meets to recommend rent increase adjustments for rent stabilized apartment lease renewals and vacancy allowances for new leases during the next 12 to 24 months beginning on October 1.

Moreover, some tenants also get notified of additional permanent rent increases from major capital improvement (MCI) work done in their buildings. Sometimes those MCIs amount to little more than necessary longterm maintenance which is required to keep buildings in good repair. Yet the owner can reap significant profits from tenants who continue to pay for those projects long after the owner has recouped the costs for their MCI project.

There is reason to believe that much of this may change this year.

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Park’s late champion to be honored for service

Rosalee Isaly, who died last July from cancer, helped revitalize Stuyvesant Square Park after a period of decline.

By Sabina Mollot

Last July, Stuyvesant Square Park lost its top overseer for half a century with the death of Rosalee Islay, the longtime president of the Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association, from pancreatic cancer at age 81. This year, the organization for which she volunteered will honor her posthumously at its annual benefit gala. The theme will be “Sowing the Seeds for the next 50 Years.”

“We’re honoring Rosalee for all she achieved over the decades,” said Phyllis Mangels, a board member of the SPNA. Additionally, going forward each year’s event will be named for Isaly though the name hasn’t yet been established. Miriam Dasic, the organization’s vice president, joked to Town & Village that with a name like Rosalee, the potential for flower puns are endless, though she promised “nothing too corny” after this reporter suggested “Everything’s coming up Rosalee.”

Meanwhile, the flowers that bloom consistently in the park today are there in large part due to Isaly’s efforts, which involved starting — and later expanding — volunteer gardening events. They’re now held around the year at least twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Work ranges from cleanup to planting to making sure bushes are kept at safe heights for visibility purposes.

The gardening program was part of a larger effort spearheaded by Isaly to revitalize the park after a long period of decline. This also included implementing free summer programming like tango classes and jazz concerts and pushing for years to see a multi-million project to restore the park’s historic wrought-iron fence restored.

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Gramercy woman reported missing

Apr18 Arlene Drucker

Arlene Drucker

Police are asking the public’s assistance in finding Arlene Drucker, 69, who was last seen at her home at 125 East 24th Street on Saturday morning.

She is described as being 5’7″ tall, 140 lbs., with a thin build, brown eyes, short blonde-grey hair and missing her teeth. She was last seen wearing a blue sun dress and blue sneakers.

Anyone with information 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 nypdcrimestoppers.com or on Twitter @NYPDTips. All calls are strictly confidential.

 

Rally planned over planned squirrel feeding ban

A squirrel and a park goer share a bench at Madison Square Park. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

A group of animal rights activists will be holding a rally on the front steps of City Hall on Tuesday to protest a full wildlife feeding ban in city parks that’s expected to begin this summer.

The Bronx Animal Rights Electors is arguing that the mayor has “only listened to the Parks Department’s arguments for the ban and now, despite overwhelming public opposition and without any form of a city council review, he approves the Parks Department steamrolling this ban.”

Earlier this year, the Parks Department, which technically always forbade the feeding of animals in city parks, except for squirrels and birds, pushed for a full wildlife feeding ban. The reason, the department explained at the time, was to keep rats at bay.

“We think all New Yorkers should be healthy eaters, including our wildlife,” spokesperson Meghan Lalor said. “But, food left on the ground is an open invitation for rodents to congregate for a free meal. This amendment will help to clarify the rules, and keep our parks safe and clean.”

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Assembly taking aim at MCIs, IAIs, vacancy de-control

Photo by Sidney Goldberg

Assembly Member Harvey Epstein during a recent tenant lobbying day in Albany (Photo by Sidney Goldberg)

By Sabina Mollot

With the rent regulations set to expire on June 15, the New York State Assembly has set public hearings on May 2 and 9 to discuss a package of proposals aimed at strengthening the current laws.

Among the legislation includes a bill that would end major capital improvement (MCI) rent increases and also require the state housing agency to create a program ensuring property owners maintain a certain level of repair. MCIs are charges tacked on to a tenant’s rent to pay for improvements to the property.

“The major capital improvement rent increase program is a flawed system which has been overly complex for property owners to navigate,” said the bill’s sponsor, Assembly Member Brian Barnwell, “and has been a great disservice in our efforts to preserve the affordable housing stock.”

Another bill would end individual apartment improvements (IAI). Under the current law, landlords are allowed to raise rent after making IAIs, which can range from cosmetic repairs to redoing various rooms.

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