Local politicians call on sanitation to remove trucks from East 10th Street

The trucks have been on East 10th Street for almost a year. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

State elected officials are introducing legislation that would prevent the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) from storing their trucks in residential neighborhoods after East Village residents voiced complaints about the vehicles on their block for the last year.

Elected officials spoke about the quality of life issue on the block at East 10th Street between First and Second Avenues this past Sunday morning, noting that it has been almost a year since the Department of Sanitation started parking on the block and also announced that they would be sending a letter to Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia requesting updates on the situation.

The letter noted that Mayor Bill de Blasio addressed the situation last September, shortly after the trucks first arrived in the neighborhood on September 15, 2018, saying that he would try to work something out with the commissioner because the city didn’t want residential areas to feel the burden of the trucks, but the situation has remained largely unchanged since then, residents and business owners said.

The proposed legislation, sponsored by Deborah Glick in the State Assembly and Brad Hoylman in the State Senate, would amend the administrative code to prohibit garbage trucks from parking overnight on city streets. The new section would specify that vehicles operated by or under contract with the Department of Sanitation, and which are used for removing, disposing of or transporting solid waste, can’t be parked on the streets overnight.

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Local writers wanted for monthly meetups

East Village Wordsmiths has been hosted at Ciao for Now on East 12th Street for the last year.

By Sabina Mollot and Maria Rocha-Buschel

For the past year, a group of writers led by Stuyvesant Town resident Leigh Anne O’Connor have been meeting monthly at East Village restaurant Ciao for Now where they take turns reading from new works.

In recent months the writing workshop, dubbed the East Village Wordsmiths, has grown in numbers, though O’Connor said there is still plenty of room for more.

“It would be great to have a steady group of performers,” she said. “Sometimes we’re there and we have an hour and 20 minutes but sometimes we’re done inside an hour. I want it to expand into having a solid show.”

O’Connor, who works as a lactation consultant for breastfeeding mothers, says she had been doing writing on the breastfeeding and other issues that involved raising children. One of her motivations for starting the group, though, came from a writing class that she took at the Tribeca 92nd Street Y where she got the opportunity to perform some of her work.

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Street restoration begins on East 14th Street

Construction crews were out on East 14th Street on Tuesday morning removing barricades from an island near the front of the Associated Supermarket adjacent to the L train worksite. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

East Side residents may soon be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel with the L project—or at least across East 14th Street. The MTA noted in a newsletter sent out on Saturday that street restoration began on the Manhattan side for the L project over the weekend, meaning that construction crews would begin packing up and restoring a section of the street and sidewalk, clearing up some of the above-ground construction at the site in front of the Associated Supermarket in Stuyvesant Town.

The construction management team working on the project said that street restoration means that the crew will reconstruct the street, sidewalk paving and trees back to the way it was before the project began.

“The biggest task is rebuilding the street itself,” the team said in the newsletter. “We’ll be doing that work ourselves, following very specific rules from the city [Department of Transportation].”

The process of street restoration includes multiple steps, beginning with dumping in backfill that is compressed with a heavy vibrating roller and tamping machines, followed by a base of concrete. An asphalt spreader will then move down the street with crews following to rake the asphalt even and to minimize traffic disruptions, this work is done at night.

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Letters to the editor, Aug. 22

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Unfair criticisms of Schwarzman

Re: “Pulling back the curtain on Blackstone,” letter, T&V, Aug. 15

Dear Editor,

I find the character assassination by letter writer “name withheld” of Stephen Schwarzman and President Trump offensive and all too common by Trump haters. The letter writer should at least have the courage to sign his name. It’s not as if Antifa will show up at his door and threaten his wife and children. Contrary to what “Name withheld” would have us believe, Trump never said there were good white supremacists. Trump said, “In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy.”

Regarding caging of children, there is no question the situation of people detained at our border is an unfortunate one, but before we believe people who bash Trump for political gain, we need to ask ourselves what are the alternatives. One is to send the illegal immigrants back home immediately, but that would require changing laws that the Democrats refuse to change.

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Police Watch: Man busted for attempted stroller theft, Man arrested for assault of senior

MAN BUSTED FOR ATTEMPTED STROLLER THEFT
Police arrested 38-year-old Michael Monaghan for an alleged theft from Union Square Park on Saturday, August 17 at 6:08 p.m. The victim told police that a witness told her Monaghan removed her unattended strolled from the playground area in Union Square Park and proceeded to take it towards the Parks bathroom located on the northeast side of the park. The witness followed Monaghan and saw him allegedly remove property from the stroller, then alerted the owner that the stroller had been taken. When the victim arrived at the location near the playground, she positively identified the stroller as hers and the witness positively identified Monaghan as the person who had allegedly removed the stroller. Monaghan was arrested in front of 45 East 17th Street.

MAN ARRESTED FOR ASSAULT OF SENIOR
Police arrested 33-year-old Todd Lyons for allegedly assaulting an elderly man at the corner of Union Square East and East 15th Street on Friday, August 16 at 2:40 p.m. Police said that Lyons physically assaulted the man, who is in his 70s, by punching him in the face twice and also allegedly assaulted a woman while he was walking away. Lyons was stopped in front of 262 West 24th Street and was identified by a witness who was present during the assault. The victim refused medical attention at the scene and sustained injuries to the top of his right eye.

WOMAN ACCUSED OF STEALING CREDIT CARD
Police arrested 38-year-old Melissa Torres for an alleged theft that took place inside an apartment at 331 East 29th Street sometime in March or April. Police said that Torres, an acquaintance of the victim, removed her credit card from her apartment while the victim was in the hospital. Torres was charged with grand larceny inside the 13th precinct on Thursday, August 15 at 10:45 a.m.

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Opinion: A fitting tribute

By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders

Last weekend, my wife and I hosted friends of ours from the great state of Michigan who were visiting New York City. Of course they wanted to see all the sites of interest in Manhattan. We did that and we also saw some wonderful shows on Broadway, including “To Kill A Mockingbird” and “Ain’t Too Proud,” which is a wonderful musical about the life and times of that great Motown singing group known as The Temptations. I recommend both shows.

But as we approach the 18th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, my friends wanted to go downtown to “Ground Zero” and see the area which for many New Yorkers, and Americans everywhere, has become sacred ground and a pilgrimage.

It is hard to believe that so many years have now passed since that dreadful day when nearly 3,000 people were killed by the two planes that crashed into the Twin Towers and caused such destruction. Surely it is a moment in time that none of us will ever forget. I was just a few hundred yards away when the planes struck. No New Yorker in particular can ever forget the grief and anger that we all felt as our city was attacked.

I found myself reliving the whole experience as I walked my friends from the Brooklyn Bridge subway stop across City Hall Park to Broadway and then along Church Street to the site. Retracing the very path that I travelled that morning on 9/11.

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Texas girl battling cancer travels to New York to meet NYPD

Seven-year-old Abigail Arias, pictured with her family, Gramercy Park Block Association President Arlene Harrison and members of the 13th precinct and the NYPD (Photos courtesy of Blue Lives Matter NYC)

Last week, the Gramercy Park Block Association welcomed 7-year-old Freeport, TX Honorary Police Chief Abigail Arias (badge# 758), her father Rueben, mother Eileen, brother Ethan and Freeport Police Chief Raymond A. Garivey to Gramercy Park.

Blue Lives Matter NYC co-founders Sgt. Joseph Imperatrice, Det. Carlos Delgado and PO Chris Brinkley organized a trip to New York City for Arias, who dreams of becoming a police officer, but suffers from a incurable form of kidney cancer.

To welcome Arias to Gramercy Park, GPBA President Arlene Harrison and Kathleen Scupp organized a pizza party, and invited local NYPD, including Manhattan South Chief Salvatore Comodo, Det. Greg Welch and Emergency Service Truck 1, and 13th Precinct Neighborhood Coordinating Officers. The party was co-hosted by the Gramercy Park Hotel and Maialino Restaurant.

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City: Don’t just blame high rent

Study reveals variety of reasons for retail vacancies

The city described vacancy rates as “volatile,” varying widely from neighborhood to neighborhood. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

While too-high rents and competition from Amazon are often blamed for the state of the city’s struggling retail sector, when there’s a high vacancy rate in a particular neighborhood, it can’t necessarily be pinned down to one specific obstacle.

At least, that’s the conclusion drawn by the Department of City Planning (DCP), which has released a study of the city’s retail storefronts to determine vacancy rates and the possible reasons for them.

The report was done after assessing 10,000 storefronts in 24 retail corridors around the boroughs using data from a tech platform put out by the company Live XYZ as well as on the ground surveys. Looking at trends from late 2017 through Fall 2018, the study also used demographic, land use and real estate data, and input from local business associations. The survey defined a vacant space as vacant and available. Those not included in stats were vacant spaces with active construction or known redevelopment plans as well as empty stores with signage announcing a future tenant. Occupied stores with a “for lease” sign were also excluded from the vacancy figures.

Overall the study found, when comparing similar data from a decade ago, vacancy has increased from 7.6-9 percent over the studied neighborhoods.

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Opinion: Turning over a new leaf at Bellevue Park South

Bellevue South Park (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Assemblymember Harvey Epstein

For almost four decades, Bellevue South Park has provided Kips Bay residents a much-needed oasis for recreation and relaxation in an area otherwise starved for green space. Unfortunately, in recent years, the park has become a hotspot for illegal activity that includes drinking and drug use. These behaviors make the park unwelcome and unsafe for the families in the neighborhood. We must address these problems as a community and make the park a safe and enjoyable place for all.

Bellevue Hospital, which operates over 300 psychiatric beds, and the 850-bed 30th Street Men’s Shelter are just steps away from the park, making it a natural hang out spot for homeless individuals as well as those with mental health issues. Often these groups overlap, creating even greater challenges with providing services. Further complicating the situation is the nearby The Children’s Center, whose clients are city’s most vulnerable children waiting to be placed with a foster family. Teens in the facility face incredible emotional stress and unfortunately have a history of being involved in violent incidents around the neighborhood.

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Pedestrian killed on Sixth Avenue at West 23rd Street

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police reported that 60-year-old Michael Collopy was killed after he was reportedly knocked down by a cyclist in bike lane at the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 23rd Street on Wednesday, July 31 at 11:53 a.m. EMS transported Collopy to Bellevue Hospital and he succumbed to his injuries there on Monday, August 5.

The NYPD initially reported in a notice sent on Wednesday, August 7 that a preliminary investigation conducted by NYPD’s Highway Collision Investigation Squad found that a bicyclist was traveling north on Sixth Avenue in the bike lane when he hit Collopy, who was allegedly standing in the lane. Police said that the bicyclist did not remain on the scene.

The NYPD claimed last Wednesday that the medical examiner determined the cause of death to be the result of a pedestrian being struck by a bicyclist, but multiple news outlets reported that the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner disputed this assessment. The New York Daily News reported that the medical examiner said the “cause and manner of death in this case is pending determination.”

Multiple arrests for robberies last week

By Maria Rocha-Buschel  

Police arrested multiple people for alleged robberies in the neighborhood, including for a violent incident at the bus stop on First Avenue at East 14th Street last weekend.

Jason Vincente, 39, allegedly approached a woman in her 20s while she was waiting for the bus at the northeast corner of East 14th Street and First Avenue on Saturday, August 10 at 12:25 a.m.

Police said that Vincente attempted to grab the victim’s bag and when the victim refused to give it to him, he allegedly said, “Gimme your money,” and reportedly grabbed the victim by the shirt.

When she refused, police said that Vincente forced her into the wall of the bus stop enclosure, hitting her head against the glass multiple times, causing a bruise on her head and substantial pain. The victim was transported to Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital for treatment but no further information about her condition was available.

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Safety concerns about new Kips Bay bike lane

Waterside Tenants Association President Janet Handal expressed concern last week that the new shared bike path underneath the FDR at the heliport is too narrow for both bikes and pedestrians. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Waterside Plaza tenants rallied last Thursday to protest the newly-installed shared bike/pedestrian path for the East River Greenway that runs adjacent to the heliport at East 34th Street that the Department of Transportation installed within the last month.

Waterside Tenants Association President Janet Handal told Town & Village this week that there are a number of issues with the new configuration, primarily around the newly-painted lane by the heliport.

“It is a major thoroughfare for parents with children in strollers going to the United Nations International School and the British International School,” she said, noting that before the lane was painted recently it was a pedestrian path, but the new lane between 33rd and 34th Streets designates it as a shared bike and pedestrian path, making it cramped when both cyclists and pedestrians are there at once.

“It’s certainly not room for bikes going both directions and people walking,” she added.

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Busway halted—again

Select Bus Service launched on the M14A/D at the beginning of July but it is the only SBS route in the city that doesn’t have a dedicated bus lane due to the current litigation. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Within days of a judge giving the 14th Street busway the go-ahead after a lawsuit prevented it from going into effect at the beginning of July, West Village, Union Square and Flatiron residents and community groups have once again held up the pilot program through an appeal.

Gothamist reported that shortly after the Department of Transportation, the city agency implementing the busway, had previewed the changes last Friday following the temporary restraining order being lifted on Tuesday, a judge granted an appeal to the community groups and stopped the busway from going into effect this past Monday.

Tensions have been high between transit advocates and the residents working to prevent the busway, particularly Arthur Schwartz, an attorney who filed the initial lawsuit and who also lives on West 12th Street, and have only increased since the end of last week.

Transit group Transportation Alternatives announced a press conference in front of Schwartz’s own West Village apartment to pressure Schwartz into dropping the lawsuit, planned for this past Wednesday after T&V’s deadline. Schwartz condemned the move as an intimidation tactic.

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Letter to the editor, Aug. 15

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Pulling back the curtain on Blackstone

Dear editor,

I am simply sickened to learn that Stephen Schwarzman, the CEO of Blackstone, the company that bought Stuyvesant Town, is a large donor of Trump. This simply sickens me, yet there is nothing I can do about it, short of moving!

Tenants must understand that Schwarzman, by his donations, makes it possible to witness the philosophy of ugliness in having an incompetent person sit in the White House, and by association, share the same philosophy of caging children, targeting immigrants and others, and encouraging the chants of “lock her up” and “send her back.” It is the same philosophy of believing white supremacists have good people on both sides. The curtain has been pulled back allowing a clear look at who owns and runs this development.

Now, we know more today and must never forget who supports the man with the vile tongue.

Name withheld
Stuyvesant Town

Police Watch: Woman busted for selling stolen guitar, Man arrested for forgery

WOMAN BUSTED FOR SELLING STOLEN GUITAR
Police arrested a 21-year-old woman who attempted to sell a guitar stolen from a Guitar Center in Midtown to another Guitar Center location in Union Square.

According to police, Zujey Benitez entered the store at 25 West 14th Street on Friday, August 9 at 8:45 p.m. and attempted to sell a white Fender guitar that had been reported stolen from the Guitar Center location at 218 West 44th Street on Friday, August 2.

Benitez, who was charged with possession of stolen property at the time of her arrest, was later charged with two counts of grand larceny as well when a further investigation revealed that she and another person who wasn’t arrested had also allegedly stolen the white Fender guitar from the store in Midtown, as well as a green Fender guitar from the same store earlier this month.

MAN NABBED FOR ‘FORGERY’

Police arrested 39-year-old Jason Lent for an alleged forgery on Tuesday, August 6 at 3:48 p.m. at the corner of West 16th Street and Fifth Avenue. Police were responding to a call about an individual trying to access a bank account with a fraudulent ID inside the Bank of America at 116 Fifth Avenue around 3:15 p.m. After police arrived, they found Lent nearby and when he was searched, he was allegedly in possession of a fraudulent New Jersey State ID and a fraudulent credit card. Lent was also charged with possession of a controlled substance.

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