Neighbors say safety first with Bellevue South Park renovations

Bellevue South Park (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Community organizers and the Parks Department got closer to an agreement about renovations planned for Bellevue South Park in Kips Bay after a Community Board 6 Parks committee meeting last Tuesday. The meeting was scheduled because park advocates were unsatisfied with designs the city had presented to the committee last month.

Manhattan Borough Commissioner Chief of Staff Steven Simon, who expressed frustration at the last meeting when met with resistance about the plans, at first balked at the idea of coming back to the committee next month, saying that it was unusual for Parks to even come back to the community board a second time, but ultimately agreed that the architects could make additional adjustments to the design and return to the committee in March.

Kips Bay residents Aaron Humphrey, Karen Lee, Pauline Yablonski and Courtney Bird offered suggestions to the plans that the Parks Department presented to the committee in January, which includes an ADA-compliant dog run and updated play equipment that will also be moved away from the adult exercise equipment.

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Police Watch: Man arrested for phone theft, ACS teen nabbed for beatdown

MAN CHARGED WITH PHONE THEFT AFTER BEING CHASED DOWN BY VICTIM
Police arrested 43-year-old Maitreya One for an alleged theft from the Fat Buddha bar at 212 Avenue A between 13th and 14th Streets on Saturday, February 9 at 11:44 p.m. The victim told police that she put her phone on a table in the bar and turned her back to it, and when she turned back around, the phone was missing. She said that she used the Find My iPhone app and it pinged at the McDonald’s at 404 East 14th Street. She said that she pinged her phone again while walking around nearby and heard it coming from an unknown man. She said that she confronted the man and asked for the phone back, which he refused. The victim said that she called 911 and followed the man to East 17th Street and Second Avenue, where he was arrested. When the suspect was taken into custody, the victim’s phone was recovered from his front right jacket pocket. One was arrested at the corner of Second Avenue and East 17th Street on Sunday, February 10 at 12:52 a.m. and was charged with petit larceny and possession of stolen property.

ACS TEEN NABBED FOR BEATDOWN OF ANOTHER TEEN
Police arrested a teenager for an alleged assault that took place in front of 130 East 29th Street on November 20, 2018, at 10:30 p.m. The victim told police that the suspect punched him numerous times in the face, causing swelling and bruising to both cheeks and his right eye. Police said that the suspect and the victim know each other because they both live in the Administration for Children’s Services facility at 492 First Avenue. The teen was arrested on Friday, February 8 at 2 a.m. inside the 13th precinct.

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Man charged with package theft in Stuyvesant Town

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police caught a man last week believed to be responsible for an alleged package theft in Stuyvesant Town that took place last January.

Carl Cadell, 29, was allegedly seen inside 445 East 14th Street by StuyTown Public Safety on January 5, 2018 around 3 p.m. Police said that Cadell was on the 12th floor of the building with a package that didn’t belong to him. The package was allegedly addressed to a resident in 449 East 14th Street. According to the district attorney’s office, Cadell could be seen on surveillance video entering that building and removing the package before he went inside 445 East 14th Street.

StuyTown Property Services general manager Rick Hayduk said that video showed Cadell “piggybacking” into both buildings.

According to Hayduk, public safety approached Cadell because he was acting suspiciously inside 445 East 14th Street, and police said that he shoved the officer against the wall before fleeing on foot.

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At Epstein town hall, concerns abound on bikes, voting rights

Rachel Bloom from Citizens United Foundation (right) on voting rights at the town hall

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Assembly Member Harvey Epstein hosted a town hall at the New York University Dental School on East 24th Street last Thursday, attended by more than 100 people braving last week’s arctic deep freeze.

Instead of a single-room free-for-all, the event was broken up into two separate hour-long panels with three different topics that residents could learn more about during each panel. Epstein said that the approach intended to give attendees one-on-one time with experts on a number of different topics, which included voting rights, education and legalization of marijuana during the first panel and transportation, housing and disability rights during the second.

Alex Camarda from Reinvent Albany and Rachel Bloom from Citizens Union Foundation discussed voting rights and good government during the first panel, answering questions about legislative issues such as closing the LLC Loophole, in addition to addressing difficulties that residents had while voting in the last election.

“I’ve lived in Stuyvesant Town for many years and I had so much trouble voting in the last election,” Adrienne Cosner said. “There’s been a lot of irregularity.”

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Neighbors demand clarity on Coastal Resiliency project

Department of Design and Construction associate project manager Eric Ilijevich (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Gramercy residents slammed city officials for a lack of updates and lack of response to concerns about the flood protection project planned for the East Side at a Community Board 6 meeting last Monday.

Representatives for the Department of Design and Construction, which is overseeing the plan known as the East Side Coastal Resiliency project, were at the Land Use and Waterfront committee meeting last week ostensibly to provide updates on Project Area 2, which stretches from East 13th Street around the Con Edison plant up to just beyond the Asser Levy Recreation Center and playground at East 25th Street.

But Land Use Committee member and East Midtown Plaza resident Claude Winfield expressed frustration at the meeting that DDC’s presentation encompassed the changes outside the community district without addressing any of the concerns committee members had expressed about the project in their neighborhood.

When representatives for DDC said that there would be additional opportunities to ask questions about the plan, committee chair Sandro Sherrod responded, “We don’t have questions so much as objections to parts of the plan.”

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Investors are still fighting over Stuyvesant Town billions

Stuyvesant Town’s former special debt servicer is doing battle with a company called Cobalt VR. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Jackson Chen

A decade after the cityʼs most infamous apartment deal collapsed, investors are still fighting over the money lost and won in Stuyvesant Town.

The New York State Appellate Division of the Supreme Court has upheld a ruling that could have forced special servicer CW Capital to shut down sales until a fight over the $1 billion it earned while serving as caretaker to the 11,200-unit apartment community is resolved.

CW Capital — an affiliate of Fortress Investment Group — was appointed special servicer to the $3 billion Stuy Town/Peter Cooper Village mortgage after Tishman Speyer handed back the keys to the historic East Side development in 2010 following the market crash.

The complex was originally purchased in 2006 by Tishman Speyer and BlackRock for $5.4 billion. When they defaulted on the mortgage, CW Capital was put in charge of the property management and creditors for the years the property remained in default.

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Pols get behind female Boy Scout, who is still unrecognized by BSA

Local elected officials held a press conference by the Fearless Girl statue to draw attention to the fact that Stuyvesant Town Boy Scout Sydney Ireland, who’s been in the program for over a decade, still doesn’t have her record of work recognized. (Pictured) Assembly Member Harvey Epstein, Sydney Ireland, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, State Senator Brad Hoylman and Sonia Ossorio, president of the New York chapter of NOW (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Just as the organization officially began accepting girls into its program on February 1, elected officials last week called on the Boy Scouts of America to officially recognize Stuyvesant Town resident Sydney Ireland’s 13 years of work as a Scout.

Assembly Member Harvey Epstein, along with State Senator (and Eagle Scout) Brad Hoylman and other advocates, joined 17-year-old Ireland at the Fearless Girl statue last Thursday to demand the BSA formally acknowledge Ireland’s work with the organization.

Ireland joined the Cub Scouts at age four with her brother and has been fighting to be recognized by the organization since she was 11. She said that leaders at the local level have been more open to making decisions that allow her and other girls to participate but that despite changes at the national level, much of her work in the Scouts will have to be redone.

“If the (Boy Scouts of America) wants to welcome young women and build our program, we must be treated equally,” Ireland, who has been working to obtain the coveted Eagle rank, said. “(Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh) should not hide behind the discriminatory membership ban against girls to then justify dismissing my hard work and the work of so many young women.”

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Police Watch: Massage therapist charged with sex abuse, Man busted for alleged attempted purse-snatching

MASSAGE THERAPIST CHARGED WITH SEX ABUSE
Police arrested 36-year-old Omar Walrond for alleged sex abuse that took place on December 3, 2018, at 10 a.m. inside Metassage at 12 West 27th Street. The victim told police that Walrond, her former coworker who is a licensed massage therapist, allegedly groped her numerous times during a massage session. She said that during the session, she was wearing underwear and Walrond allegedly reached inside to touch her vagina. He also reportedly groped her breast excessively during the session, and she said that she felt extremely uncomfortable during the massage. Police said that the victim used to work in the massage parlor with Walrond.

Walrond was arrested on Monday, January 28 at 8:15 a.m. and was charged with sexual abuse and forcible touching.

MAN BUSTED FOR ALLEGED ATTEMPTED PURSE-SNATCHING ON EAST 15TH STREET
Police arrested 29-year-old Jerome Richards for an alleged attempted theft in front of 210 East 15th Street on Saturday, February 2 at 7 a.m. The victim told police that she was leaving the Third Avenue L station on 14th Street and headed north towards East 15th Street towards her job when she noticed that Richards was following closely behind her. She then crossed East 15th Street and Richards followed, then allegedly attempted to snatch her bag from her three to four times. Richards failed to get the victim’s bag from her and fled the location, but was arrested when the victim searched the area with officers and spotted him nearby.

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Owner of Sal Anthony’s loses battle with cancer

Anthony Macagnone (center) reopened Sal Anthony’s in Gramercy in 2017. (Pictured) Macagnone with wife Cynthia Graham and son Anthony Jr. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Gramercy business owner Anthony Macagnone died on Wednesday, January 23, from esophageal cancer. He was 79.

Macagnone was most well-known throughout the Gramercy neighborhood as the owner of two very different businesses both operating under the name Sal Anthony’s: a restaurant and a fitness studio.

Although Macagnone’s career in the restaurant business started more than 50 years ago, his most constant presence in the neighborhood in the last 20 years has actually been through Sal Anthony’s Movement Salon, which he opened in 1999 after leasing an old beer hall and former restaurant on Third Avenue.

The original restaurant, which Macagnone opened when he bought a spot on Irving Place in 1966 after working at the nearby Pete’s Tavern, was open until about 10 years ago when he was forced to close over a dispute with the landlord about rent, but he was able to reopen the restaurant on Third Avenue and East 19th Street under the same name two years ago.

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Police Watch: Man arrested for robbery, Man charged with stealing hand truck

ACCUSED OF BREAKING WINDOW, MAN THEN ARRESTED FOR PREVIOUS ROBBERY
Police arrested 42-year-old Christopher Keppel for alleged criminal mischief in front of Papaya Dog at 239 First Avenue on Thursday, January 24 at 3:40 p.m. Police said that when Keppel was fighting with an unknown person, he punched the storefront of the business.

After searching the area, an employee of the business spotted Keppel and identified him as the person who had allegedly damaged the window. After Keppel was searched, police found that he was in possession of a bag with a white powder that was inside his boot. Keppel allegedly told police that the bag was his crack.

After he was arrested, Keppel was charged with a robbery that took place in front of 245 First Avenue on January 18 at 5:55 a.m. Police said that Keppel grabbed the victim’s cell phone from his hand and punched him in the face.

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New Year brings spike in crime

Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman at the 13th Precinct Community Council meeting on Tuesday, January 15 (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The beginning of the year has brought a spike in crime to the 13th Precinct, with an almost 14 percent increase in the last week due to a string of burglaries and robberies.

“The good news is that I made them stop the shutdown for the L train in anticipation of the increase in crime that we’ve seen lately,” Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman joked at the precinct’s most recent community council meeting on Tuesday, January 15.

Hellman, the precinct’s commanding officer, told neighborhood residents in attendance at the council’s first monthly meeting of the year that the last week was the most high-volume for crime since he took over the precinct at the beginning of last year.

In addition to the arrest of Bryan Lincoln, who was collared for three alleged attempted robberies in Union Square on January 11, Hellman said that two suspects who haven’t been arrested were responsible for four burglaries within a three-block radius in the precinct that same day, breaking into businesses while they were closed and grabbing cash from the registers.

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Parks mulling full wildlife feeding ban

The proposal follows the Madison Square Park Conservancy’s asking park goers to stop feeding the squirrels, arguing its caused more aggressive begging and damage to the park’s tree canopy. (Photo by Madison Square Park Conservancy)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Resident bird and squirrel-lovers, beware: a popular park pastime might soon be banned. The Parks Department announced last Friday that the agency will be holding hearings this March on changes to city rules that would prohibit park patrons from feeding birds and squirrels.

The Parks Department will be holding a public hearing on Friday, March 1 for a proposed amendment to the rules regarding feeding animals in parks. The current rules on wildlife feeding don’t specifically ban the feeding of birds and squirrels but under the proposed amendment, feeding all animals in city parks would be prohibited. Under the current rule, feeding all other animals in city parks, including in zoo areas, is not allowed.

The agency said that one of the main reasons for the new rule is to reduce food sources for rats and other rodents as a humane method of pest control.

“Sharing your last slice is generally good etiquette in NYC, unless you’re sharing it with a rat or a squirrel,” a representative for the Parks Department said. “Feeding wildlife in parks creates a mess and is bad for the health of our native wildlife. Through our new policy, we’ll make sure that squirrels, pigeons, and other animals don’t rely on takeout.”

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Police Watch: Driver allegedly fled scene of accident, Man charged with office burglary

DRIVER ALLEGEDLY FLED SCENE OF ACCIDENT
Police arrested 33-year-old Raechard White for allegedly leaving the scene of an accident. The victim told police that he was driving east on East 23rd Street with a green light when another vehicle driving north on Park Avenue South went through the red light, striking his vehicle. The victim said that the driver of the vehicle that hit him got out of the car and ran into the subway.

Police were unable to find him at the time, but White had allegedly left a wallet in the vehicle with his name on it and he was arrested inside the 13th Precinct on Tuesday, January 15 at 9 a.m. White was also charged with being an unlicensed operator. Police said that the victim suffered injuries to his ribs and was taken to Bellevue Hospital.

MAN CHARGED WITH OFFICE BURGLARY
Police arrested 20-year-old Jose Gutierrez for alleged burglaries inside 55 West 21st Street last summer. Police said that Gutierrez could be seen on video surveillance after hours while the office was closed for business and was allegedly stealing equipment. Police said that Gutierrez was inside the office on July 18, 2018, and another date later in the month.

Gutierrez was charged with burglary inside the 13th Precinct on Monday, January 14.

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Union Square Partnership seeking suggestions on how to improve the area

People in attendance at the forum discuss ideas. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Union Square Partnership launched an initiative at the end of last year to solicit ideas from area residents and business owners about how to improve the neighborhood.

The Partnership announced the new project earlier last year and held “pop-up listening sessions” for two months in the district during the fall but began the community planning process with a forum at the end of November at the 14th Street Y, inviting neighbors to get involved in discussions with representatives from Marvel Architects, the firm that will be designing the final plans.

Although the neighborhood specifically around 14th Street might not be experiencing as much change as originally anticipated with the supposed cancellation of the L train shutdown, this project from the Partnership was intended to look beyond the next few years and focus on long-term goals beyond whatever changes the neighborhood will face during the construction on the L train.

“We have money to spend on the community so what we want to know is what types of investments we can make to make the neighborhood better in terms of sustainability,” said Jennifer Falk, executive director of the Partnership.

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28th Street 6 station reopens

A floral mosaic pattern adorns the inside of the newly-renovated Kips Bay subway station. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The 28th Street 6 station reopened on Monday evening after being closed for renovations since last July.

The station was expected to reopen around the same time as the 23rd Street F/M station at Sixth Avenue, which did come back into service on the last day of November, the walls of the newly-renovated station adorned with tile mosaics of Weimaraners in collared shirts, but the repairs for the 6 station in Kips Bay needed to be more extensive than the agency initially expected.

A representative for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority told Town & Village that the delay in reopening 28th Street was due to significant deterioration to the station’s steel column structure that needed to be fixed. Customers were alerted through social media, station signage and digital signage that the station was expected to re-open by mid-January.

The MTA announced the station’s reopening on Twitter this past Monday, noting that the agency had repaired the platform’s structural steel and concrete, replaced the platform edges and repaired the stairways. The MTA also added new digital wayfinding and customer information screens to the station.

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