Real estate attorney running for City Council

Erin Hussein (Photos courtesy of Erin Hussein)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Real estate attorney Erin Hussein, a candidate for City Council, said that she was motivated to join the race because she’s invested in her neighborhood, the East Village.

“I’m running for District 2 because of District 2,” she said. “I’ve lived here for more than 20 years and it’s been intertwined with my entire life.”

Hussein, a Democrat, is running to replace term-limited City Councilmember Rosie Mendez. She moved to the city for college in 1988 after growing up in Waterbury, Connecticut. While New York is a bigger city, Hussein said she sees neighborhoods that make up the communities as similar to small towns like hers.

“Cities are organisms,” she said. “It’s a collection of neighborhoods, a collection of people. But we’re becoming less focused on people and more focused on buildings, and on the very wealthy elites.”

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Parents sent letters after too-young kids visit new playground

The fitness playground opened on August 1. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Since the opening of the new fitness playground in Stuyvesant Town on August 1, management has been taking the space’s age restrictions seriously, by putting some parents on notice.

Over the weekend, we heard from David Dartley, a resident who was irked to receive a letter from management he described as “creepy,” that asked him to keep his too-young kid out of the playground.

The letter, signed from Public Safety Chief William McClellan, read, in part, “As we’re of the belief that your child was observed on the Fitness Playground this past weekend, we respectfully ask that you adhere to the policies for the good of all residents who wish to work out without interference from unsupervised children.”

Dartley admitted to us that his kids were on the playground, explaining that he saw other young children there too, and figured the worst thing that could happen is for them to get kicked out. The playground is restricted to users who are 15 and up as well as 12-14 with parental supervision.

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Man threatens to shoot victim in Union Square

Aug24 robbery Union Square

Robbery suspect

Police are hunting a robber they say threatened to shoot a man who was stuck in traffic in Union Square.

According to police, the victim, a 35-year-old man, was in his car on East 13th Street between Broadway and Fourth Avenue, when the other man opened the rear door and got in. He then demanded money, threatening to shoot the victim if he didn’t comply. The victim turned over his cash and the mugger fled the car. It isn’t clear if he actually had a gun.

The incident occurred on July 21, but police only released an advisory on Thursday night.

The suspect is described as black with a dark complexion and 30-35 years old. He was last seen wearing a white short sleeved shirt, black and blue baseball cap and dark sunglasses.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS or for Spanish 1-888-57-PISTA (74782) The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Website at nypdcrimestoppers.com or texting their tips to 274637(CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

 

Letters to the editor, Aug. 17

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Playgrounds should be monitored

Re: Editorial, “That’s some key (card),” T&V, Aug. 10

Dear Editor:

I agree with you that “more boots on the ground” are needed in Stuy Town/Cooper Village, but that should be a 24-hour a day situation. The playgrounds are not open in inclement weather, and in fair weather they are only open from 9:15 a.m. to dusk.

Let us not forget that this was the first and (perhaps) still only “private, gated community” in Manhattan. We have no lobby concierges, and the fact is that there are many “outsiders” walking into this supposedly private community from north, south, east and west of the development. Not all are here to see our beautiful gardens and fountains! Many residents bring guests in, and that is just fine, as long as they are guests and not intruders. In my opinion, those guard posts at all entrances that cost thousands of dollars to build and stand empty year after year, should be manned, especially between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m.

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City Council takes aim at bullying landlords

Council Member Helen Rosenthal has proposed opening an Office of tenant Advocate. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Last Wednesday, the City Council overwhelmingly passed a set of bills that’s been dubbed the Stand for Tenant Safety Act. The legislation aims to crack down on acts of harassment by unscrupulous landlords by increasing penalties and making it easier for tenants to prove they’re being harassed, including when the behavior comes in the form of construction. Other bills call for the creation of a task force as well as a new office to help tenants cut through red tape.

That bill, sponsored by Helen Rosenthal, would create an “Office of Tenant Advocate” within the Department of Buildings.

“While many at DOB do important work on behalf of tenants, the bureaucracy just isn’t in place to make tenants’ voices heard,” Rosenthal said. “This bill will change that, giving tenants a dedicated watchdog and workhorse on their behalf.”

The bill to create a task force is aimed at evaluating current practices used by city agencies with regards to renovation and construction at residential buildings. Dan Garodnick, who sponsored this bill, said the task force would then come up with ideas to improve communication between the agencies, including the DOB, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the mayor’s office.

“Construction harassment is a lesser known but deeply troubling form of harassment,” Garodnick said. “We are determined to deliver effective and consistent strategies to help combat this practice.”

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Fourth teen nabbed for robbery near PCV

Peter Cooper Village

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police arrested a fourth teenager in connection with a robbery that took place on East 20th Street outside Peter Cooper Village in July and police are reportedly still looking for five additional suspects.

Police said that the teen was accompanied by eight other people who snatched the victim’s cell phone while hitting him with hockey sticks. Three of the teens were arrested earlier this month, as Town & Village previously reported.

Because all of the suspects so far are minors, no further information is available about where they live and their names are withheld from the public due to their young age. The most recent suspect was charged inside the 13th Precinct last Tuesday at 1:20 a.m.

Although the incident took place outside Peter Cooper Village and not on the property, StuyTown Property Services spokeswoman Paula Chirhart commented on the issue to note that management takes such incidents seriously.

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UPDATED: Gramercy woman reported missing

Aug24 missing

Olivia Novik

UPDATE: Police report Novik has been found and is safe.

Police are asking for help in finding a missing Gramercy woman who was last seen on Monday, August 14 in the East Village.
Olivia Novik, 26, is a resident of the Gramercy Arms building at 145 East 15th Street.

She is described as approximately 5’6″ tall, 140 lbs. with brown eyes and long brown hair and has a tattoo of an olive branch on her back. The missing might be wearing a brown and white blouse with dark leggings and sandals.

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 tips by logging onto tnypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

Police Watch: Different suspects wanted for robbery at bubble tea spot, menacing at nightclub

One of the two suspects

TWO WANTED FOR ATTEMPTED ROBBERY AT BUBBLE TEA SPOT
The NYPD is on the lookout for two men who tried to rob a bubble tea shop in Flatiron.
On Friday, August 11 at 7 p.m., two men entered a Coco bubble tea spot, located at 38 Lexington Avenue and East 24th Street. One of the men approached the counter, simulated a gun with his hand under his sweatshirt and demanded cash from the register. However, they ended up fleeing the location without getting any money.
The first suspect is described as black, 20-30 years old and was last seen wearing a blue head scarf, white hooded sweat jacket, green knapsack, blue jeans and black shoes.
The second suspect is described as white or Hispanic, approximately 20-30 years old and was last seen wearing a black baseball cap, gray hooded sweat jacket, white T-shirt, blue jeans, sneakers and was walking with a cane.
Anyone with information in regards to this incident 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 Crime Stoppers website at nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

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Cops investigate suspicious package at First Avenue L train station

Aug17 bomb scare

By Sabina Mollot

At around 5 p.m. on Tuesday, the NYPD Bomb Squad cordoned off First Avenue near the L train station on East 14th Street and the station itself after getting a 911 call about a suspicious package. However, by 5:40 p.m., the NYPD gave the all clear. As for what the package, which had been seen under a bench on the southbound platform was, a spokesperson for the department said he didn’t know other than “It wasn’t a bomb.” The photo, taken by Stuyvesant Town resident Henry Beck shows a traffic-free First Avenue at around 15th Street at 5:30 p.m. today.

 

Weekly historic walks bring Flatiron District’s past to life

Miriam Berman on a recent tour (Photo courtesy of 23rd Street/Flatiron Partnership/BID)

By Sabina Mollot

During the summertime, residents of Flatiron have come to expect an array of things to do in the neighborhood that are all free, from tech lectures on the pedestrian plaza to morning kids’ concerts in the park to outdoor fitness classes. But there’s one event that takes place every Sunday all year long and that would be the free guided historic tour of the district.

The walk, sponsored by the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership/BID has three guides who work on rotation. One of them is Miriam Berman, who gives tours about twice a month and in 2001, wrote a book about the community, Madison Square: The Park and Its Celebrated Landmarks. Other guides are Mike Kaback and Fred Cookinham.

Recently, Berman spoke with Town & Village about the BID’s long-running event, some surprising facts about the Flatiron neighborhood and her own interest in the area, which she refers to as Madison Square.

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Opinion: A trip to Dallas and the past

In the background is the Texas Book Depository Building. The corner window below the top floor is where Oswald was said to have fired his shots. The marking in the street is where JFK was struck.

By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

This year is the centennial celebration of the birth and life of our nation’s 35th president, John F. Kennedy. He was assassinated on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas.

Despite the official conclusions of the Warren Commission, the killing of Kennedy has been shrouded in mystery for decades. Fifteen years after the Warren report pronounced Lee Harvey Oswald as the lone gunman acting on his own, a congressional inquiry into the events of 1963 determined that it was “probable” that there was a conspiracy.

Like many, I had always been fascinated by the events culminating in the shooting in Dealey Plaza and the aftermath. So last week I traveled to Dallas to see for myself what I had read in books and seen in actual film footage… the site of America’s most shocking murder.

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Cops arrest man believed to be behind string of cab robberies

Police said Bryant White robbed seven cab drivers this summer.

By Sabina Mollot

On Thursday, police arrested a homeless man, Bryant White, 50, and charged him with robbing multiple cab drivers in Flatiron, Greenwich Village and midtown.

Police found him at East 15th Street and Union Square East where an officer stopped him for a bike infraction. The cop then saw that Grant fit the description of the robber who’s been terrorizing cab drivers by riding his bike up to their doors and stealing cash through the window right out of their shirt pockets. In one incident, the robber also punched a victim.

In all seven known robberies, which took place from June 28 to July 31, a total of $710 was stolen.

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Editorial: That’s some key (card)

Last week, Stuyvesant Town management opened a brand new fitness playground, the first of the complex’s playgrounds to be completely renovated and outfitted with a key-card entry system.

At the ribbon cutting, General Manager Rick Hayduk announced the other playgrounds would eventually follow, not only in being renovated but in becoming key-card access only. This is now Blackstone’s property and the owner can of course do what it wants to the playgrounds. However, before this plan is put into action, we hope management reconsiders completely shutting the playgrounds’ gates to outsiders.

Granted, for years, signs on each playground clearly state that Stuy Town/Peter Cooper is private property and the premises are intended for residents’ use. However, we see nothing wrong with the current system, where non-residents are still welcome to visit a playground so long as a) they’re not being rowdy, b) they haven’t confused some part of the property for a dog run and c) they’re not crowding out actual residents. A few years ago, management began having monitors check IDs at the busier playgrounds to prevent this from happening, and it seems to have worked. We realize a key-card access system is cheaper in the long run than having someone staff the playground so maybe having such a system at just the busiest playgrounds could be a good compromise. The rationale behind this key-card entry plan is to make residents feel safe. Another way to do this would be to have more boots on the ground, worn by public safety officers. The sight of more security people still seems, to us, less intimidating than gating off the community, bit by bit.

We are not knocking gates, by the way. They work well at some places, like Gramercy Park, where the space’s exclusivity is its main selling point. But ST/PCV isn’t Gramercy Park, and we’re pretty sure its accessibility — without the pressure of a guided visit by a leasing agent — has helped rent more than a few homes.

Almost all NYC neighborhoods are unaffordable to current residents, based on apt. listing study

In Long Island City, with a $3,300 two-bedroom apartment median rent and a median household income of $28,378, tenants pay 139.54 percent of their incomes on rent. (Photo by King of Hearts/via RentHop.com)

By Sabina Mollot

In news that is certain to surprise absolutely no one, New York City fared the worst when compared to four other major cities in a study looking to determine which cities have the fewest neighborhoods with affordable two-bedroom apartments.

Additionally, in New York City, the neighborhoods with the highest low income to high rent ratio were the Lower East Side, Williamsburg and Long Island City.

Upper East Side-Carnegie Hill was actually the most affordable to the neighborhood’s own residents with an average household income of $155,213 and average two-bedroom rent of $3,555. The median income for all of NYC is $55,752 with a 2.4 person household.

The study was conducted by RentHop, an online apartment listings directory.

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Local restaurants participating in Restaurant Week

A meatball dish at Bread and Tulips

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

This year marks the 25th anniversary for NYC Restaurant Week and a number of Union Square, Flatiron and Gramercy establishments are have been participating in the event. Restaurants participating in the event are offering three-course lunches for $29 and dinner for $42, not including beverages or gratuity. Restaurants participating offer a special menu from Monday through Friday, with Sunday optional, and a handful here are offering special menus for lunch and dinner on Sunday as well. The event kicked off on July 24 and is running through August 18.

Click through for a selection of neighborhood restaurants participating this year.

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