Stuy Town woman performing in benefit show

Emily Ruderman, member of theater troupe that benefits charities (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

When Stuy Town resident Emily Ruderman made a shift in her career away from the arts, it happened to coincide with the beginning of her involvement in a Manhattan theater troupe, giving her a new creative outlet.

Ruderman, who used to work for nonprofit Roundabout Theatre and later Nickelodeon, started as a project manager at the advertising agency Grey about five months ago, and became a member of the Blue Hill Troupe about a month before starting her new job.

The all-volunteer troupe is based uptown and produces a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta and a Broadway musical every year, as well as a concert, to benefit various charities throughout the city. The organization focuses on one charity each year and this year is partnering with Rocking the Boat, a Bronx-based nonprofit that teaches high school students about science and math through boatbuilding and sailing programs.

The spring show for the company is “City of Angels.” It premiered on April 21 and will have its final two shows this coming weekend at El Teatro of El Museo del Barrio in East Harlem.

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Challengers make their debut

On Sunday, a division of the Peter Stuyvesant Little League for kids with disabilities played its first game. (Photo courtesy of PSLL)

By Sabina Mollot

Earlier this spring, the Peter Stuyvesant Little League debuted a new division for disabled players, The Challengers.

The kids were recruited pretty quickly, with just enough time for them to be able to march in the league’s annual parade on April 1. Then, last Sunday, the newly formed division played its first game on Con Ed Field.

For many of the 25 players, who’ve been placed on two teams, the Angels and the Braves, it was also their first time playing baseball.

Rick Hayduk, Stuyvesant Town’s general manager who helped form the division, said because of the severity of the kids’ disabilities, they wouldn’t have been able to qualify even to play tee-ball (which is how most Little Leaguers start). The players’ conditions include varying degrees of autism, cerebral palsy and Down Syndrome.

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WIHS neighbors blast lack of notice on planned construction

Council Member Rosie Mendez at a meeting held at the school building (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Residents of East 16th and 17th Streets expressed frustration about the planned construction for Washington Irving High School’s façade at a meeting hosted by Council Member Rosie Mendez inside the building on Monday.

East 16th Street resident Julie Block said that she was frustrated by the lack of communication on the part of the School Construction Authority about the project.

“Shame on you for the lack of community input until now,” she said. “We’re the stakeholders in this and we deserve to know what’s going on.”

The purpose of the project, Mendez said, is to repair the facade because of the cracks in the masonry. Netting and scaffolding has been put up to prevent pieces from falling onto pedestrians and some parts of the facade have been temporarily fixed, but some of the more severe cracks have caused water damage and staining inside the school. The budget for the project is $40 million and the expected completion date is March 2020.

The Department of Education did not have representatives at the meeting.

Residents who attended, however, were also concerned that the project will take longer because the work has to be done outside of school hours, with some asking why the work couldn’t get done when the main school closed in 2015 and before the multiple charter schools started moving in.

“If you find a way to stop Eva Moskowitz, let me know,” responded Mendez. “There’s a K-4 school here now and I don’t think we should even have elementary students in this building, but I wasn’t able to stop it.”

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Editorial: Same old, same old at the RGB

On the heels of tenants’ bargaining power getting stripped away in Albany through the renewal of 421a and the de-coupling of the tax break’s expiration date with that of the rent regulations, the Rent Guidelines Board made it clear that it’s not considering the rent rollback tenants have asked for or even another freeze.

Additionally, the city’s stabilized landlords, represented by the group Rent Stabilization Association, feel they need a win after losing a lawsuit in March charging that last year’s rent freeze wasn’t valid.

So despite this being an election year, in which a pro-tenant mayor is hoping to get reelected, there probably won’t be another freeze. The rent increase ranges voted on Tuesday night, 1-3 percent for a one-year lease, 2-4 percent for a two-year lease, are just preliminary, but there’s also no reason to believe there could still be a freeze without bringing new, significant evidence to light that could change the board members’ minds.

Landlords have made the argument that it costs big bucks to run buildings properly, even more so in the past year, and tenants did already get two years of a freeze if they signed a one-year lease. A small business owner (as the RSA insists most landlords are) who can’t make ends meet because the rent is too damn low does sound like a legit argument indeed.

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Tenants, landlords both plead their case

Tim Collins, counsel for ST-PCV Tenants Association

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Each year, prior to the final vote of the Rent Guidelines Board that determines the increases the city’s stabilized renters will have to pay, tenant advocates as well as real estate industry professionals both make impassioned pleas at public hearings.

At one such hearing last Thursday, tenant advocates called for a rent freeze while landlords pushed for increases.

Tim Collins, head counsel for the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association and a former executive director of the board, noted that while last year he had urged the board to roll back rents, this year he was advocating for a rent freeze.

“The price index is significant but when weighted against other economic factors, a rent freeze would be appropriate,” he said.

Collins explained that he wasn’t basing his decision on tenant welfare.

“Although I respect and am concerned about people left out by poverty and one of the barriers to a decent life is housing, but the board shouldn’t focus on making every apartment affordable,” he said. “But the board also shouldn’t focus on making every owner profitable. If you look at what you’ve done, what prior boards have done, all told since 1990 (increases have been) higher than what is needed to keep owners whole.”

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Letters to the Editor, Apr. 27

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Lawns for people, not pooches

To the Editor:

The newly hired management people have made one of their first decisions to eliminate many of the lawn covered green spaces in the back of our buildings and turn them into “dog friendly spaces.” These are now effectively noisy dog runs and puts dogs before tenants. Not a good start.

Formerly, these lawns were used by young children to crawl and play around – sometimes tenants would read, relax or sun bathe on them. These, along with benches, playgrounds and the Oval, were much needed islands of tranquility amid the city and helped make Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village the oasis it was once known for (see the lovely 70th Anniversary Exhibit on the Oval).

In turning these lawns into fly infested dog toilets, we now witness employees having to clean up after those dog owners who are not so thoughtful – a real waste of their time and energy. These lawns will soon turn into brown and dead places as the small “dog friendly” areas set up previously have become. They will also match the lovely stained carpets that greet guests as they step out of elevators on many floors of our buildings. This is getting out of hand. The next logical step is to turn Stuyvesant Oval into a large dog run with all that space and those trees.

A suggestion. Why not put up signs reading “Curb Your Dog,” which, by the way, is the law in New York City. Dog owners could allow their dogs to relieve themselves in handy nearby gutters which are supposed to be cleaned and disinfected by Sanitation vehicles at least once a week. Owners would still need to clean up after their dogs. No poop and flies on the green spaces or sidewalks. No noisy dog runs. More sanitary conditions in ST/PCV. In short, put tenant needs before dog needs.

Name withheld, ST

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Police Watch: Man arrested for jumping into L tracks, Stabbing on Sixth Ave.

MAN ARRESTED FOR JUMPING INTO TRACKS WHILE RUNNING FROM COPS
Police arrested 32-year-old Jose Vijay for reckless endangerment and criminal trespass inside the First Avenue L station last Tuesday at 6:46 p.m. Police were responding to a call about Vijay about a previous sex abuse case while he was at the Third Avenue station on the L train. Police said that he matched the description of a man who was wanted for sex abuse and escorted him off the train. Officers then identified him as a suspect for the earlier incident, but while he was being held at the station, Vijay allegedly jumped onto the tracks and fled down the tunnel. Police said that he was seen passing between the tracks as a train was pulling into the station. No further information was available about the sex abuse case for which he was originally pursued.

MAN NABBED FOR STABBING ON SIXTH AVENUE
Police arrested 28-year-old Cedric Toon for assault and weapons possession last Sunday at 3:30 a.m. in front of 686 Sixth Avenue. Police said that Toon stabbed the victim in the back near his right shoulder with a knife, causing a puncture wound. Police searched the area and found Toon nearby, and two witnesses positively identified him.

MAN NABBED FOR ASSAULTING COP ON BROADWAY
Police arrested 25-year-old Mohamed Thiam for assault of a peace officer last Friday at 4:34 p.m. in front of 1165 Broadway at 27th Street. Police said that they approached Thiam because he was drinking beer out of a cup on the sidewalk and he allegedly refused to show the officer his ID. When they attempted to place him in handcuffs, he allegedly started flailing his arms to prevent being handcuffed. Police said that in the struggle, he punched the arresting office in the face.

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RGB’s preliminary vote: 1-3 percent for one-year-leases, 2-4 percent for two-year leases

ST-PCV Tenants Association members Wendy Byrne, Anne Greenberg, Al Doyle and Jimmy Walker at a pre-vote rally (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

At a typically raucous meeting attended by around 125 tenants, the Rent Guidelines Board made a preliminary vote for a rent increase that ranged from 1-3 percent for tenants signing a one-year lease and 2-4 percent for those signing a two-year lease. The motion for those amounts was made by the board chair Kathleen Roberts who got a 5:4 majority. Both the board’s tenant and owner members opposed it.

Landlord member Mary Serafy had called for a 4 percent increase for one-year leases and 6 percent for two-year leases. Tenant member Sheila Garcia had requested rollbacks for tenants in buildings where owners had raised rent through other means like major capital improvements or individual apartment improvements over the last three years while suggesting ranges of zero to two percent for tenants in other buildings. Like the landlords’ proposal, however, the motion was shot down 7:2.

Serafy had made the argument that market rate tenants, along with landlords, would suffer if there was a third rent freeze, with landlords trying to make up the lost income. She also pointed out that operating costs were up 6.2 percent.

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UPDATED: Eleven-year-old boy reported missing, last seen at School of the Future

Apr27 Campello

Marcus Campello

UPDATE at 10:26 a.m.: Police said Marcus Campello has been found safe although a spokesperson for the department didn’t have details.

 

An 11-year-old student at School of the Future was reported missing early Wednesday, with police saying he was last seen at the Gramercy school Tuesday afternoon.

Marcus Campello, who lives on East 41st Street, also went missing last week. Police issued a similar alert last Friday morning, although Campello was found later in the day.

One law enforcement source said he ran away from home.

School of the Future is located at 127 East 22nd Street and Lexington.

 

 

 

Opinion: Local kid makes good

steveFarhood

Steve Farhood

 

By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

 

Longtime Stuyvesant Town resident Steve Farhood has made it to the top!

There have been many, many successful persons from this community. A number of them were born right here and grew up around the playgrounds of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. They attended the local public or parochial schools. Many remained here as adults becoming outstanding members of their chosen professions. But none that I know of have been inducted into one of the major sports Hall of Fame. That is until Steve Farhood.

Those who knew Steve growing up or as a young adult probably watched him excel at paddle tennis winning titles and even national championships, some played right here on the courts in Stuyvesant Town. He had a penetrating and accurate backhand. Take it from me, one of the many players who fell victim to his talent on the court. But paddle tennis is not a major sport. Where Steve found his fame was in the pugilistic “sweet science” otherwise known as boxing. And he did so without ever lacing up a glove or landing a punch against another person.

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Hotel 17 has closed down

Hotel 17 at 225 East 17th Street (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

City says SRO building is running illegal hotel, but owner, fighting closure, says business is legit

By Sabina Mollot

Hotel 17, a budget hotel located in Stuyvesant Square, has stopped taking reservations and has been cleared of guests.

According to the general property manager of the business, Eyal Siri, this is not due to lack of business but due to the city’s crackdown on illegal hotels, which Siri said he’s been unfairly ensnared in.

Siri, whose family has leased and operated the hotel since the 1970s, admitted the business was never actually certified as a hotel, even though it has served that purpose openly for decades. According to the certificate of occupancy from 1943, it’s a Class A multi-dwelling/single room occupancy/old law tenement. In recent years, the city has had a task force investigate illegal hotels, which are usually residential buildings where rooms or apartments have been rented to people for under 30 days.

As of Monday, on the hotel’s website, a notice on the home page indicates the business is closed.

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Cops make string of K2 arrests on 14th St.

Deputy Inspector Brendan Timoney (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police have noticed an increase in the use of K2 around West 14th Street and Sixth Avenue and believe that smokers of the drug are coming into the city on the PATH train, which has a stop at the intersection.

According to the commanding officer of the 13th Precinct, Deputy Inspector Brendan Timoney, there were at least 10 people arrested for K2, also known as synthetic marijuana, in the last week, and charged with violating health codes.

Timoney discussed the arrests at a 13th Precinct Community Council meeting held on Tuesday, noting that two arrests were made at the Gramercy precinct earlier in the day.

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Costs up for owners of rent stabilized buildings, RGB says

nov20-mike-mckee

Mike McKee of TenantsPAC

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Prices have increased 6.2 percent for owners of rent stabilized buildings in the last year, a study released by the Rent Guidelines Board last Thursday found.

RGB executive director Andrew McLaughlin said that one of the main factors for this increase was a 24.6 percent increase in fuel costs due to the year’s winter weather, which was reportedly colder than average.

However, RGB tenant member Harvey Epstein expressed concern and confusion about the reported increase in fuel costs, noting that 2016 was one of the hottest years on record. McLaughlin explained that the winter was 18 percent colder than the previous year, based on comparing each month to those in the previous year, and there were more days in which the average temperature was lower than 65 degrees.

The increase in fuel costs from 2016 to 2017 contrasted sharply with prices from the previous year, when fuel cost decreased 41.2 percent and by 21 percent the year before that. The decrease in last year’s fuel costs contributed to the negative price index in 2016, at -1.2.

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Easter in Stuyvesant Town

Crafts table (Photos by Maya Rader)

By Maya Rader

On Easter Sunday, children and their families celebrated in Stuy Town with an egg hunt, potato sack races and a visit from the Easter Bunny. The annual event also included arts & crafts tables, two bouncy houses and gigantic foam building blocks to play with. The egg hunt started at 12:15 and ended pretty soon after that with no egg left behind. According to management’s figures, around 2,500 people stopped by throughout the duration of the event.

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Letters to the Editor, Apr. 20

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

It’s only another local business

After 40 years serving high-quality food at reasonable prices, our neighborhood vegetarian restaurant, Angelica’s, is closing its doors.

Reportedly, the main reason for this sad event is the increase in rent to $26,000 a month. In order to meet this landlord-imposed hefty price tag, symbolic of the Trump Administration’s values or lack thereof, the owner, Leslie McEachern, would have to pay her employees the equivalent of the Chinese child-worker rate, probably a bowl of rice.

In addition, in lieu of serving fresh organic produce and helping local farmers support their families, Leslie would have to serve to her patrons the cheapest food available, food no doubt lacking in the nutritional value of organics. Although many business men are guided by the principles encapsulated by the phrase “It’s only business,” Leslie would never serve meals under these conditions.

Following in the bootsteps of the Trump administration, which intends to throw such humanitarian programs as Meals on Wheels under the bus, Angelica’s landlord has returned our earth Angel-ica to heaven much sooner than her patrons would like and if this landlord were asked, “Where is Angelica’s?” he’d no doubt reply, “She sleeps with the fishes.” I guess we are in the tyrannical age of “It’s only business.”

John Cappelletti, ST

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