Man on bike snatching phones and bags from women in Gramercy and Flatiron

Phone and bag snatching suspect

Phone and bag snatching suspect

Police are looking for a man who’s stolen from at least eleven women throughout the Gramercy and Flatiron neighborhoods while riding a bike. Cops say the man has been riding up to women and then snatches their phones or their purses before pedaling away on either a Citi Bike or a bike with a basket.

The 13th Precinct’s new commanding officer, Captain Brendan Timoney, had warned the community about a cyclist stealing phones out of women’s hands while they’re distracted at the last Community Council meeting, but details on the crimes weren’t released by police until Wednesday night.

Cops say the larceny pattern, which began in February, is as follows:

On Monday, February 2 at around 11:30 p.m., the man snatched an iPhone from a a 32-year-old woman who was walking on 6th Avenue.

On Tuesday, February 3 at around 10:30 p.m., he grabbed an iPhone from a a 34-year-old woman walking on West 19th Street near 5th Avenue.

On Saturday, February 28 at 9 p.m., the man stole a phone from a 21-year-old woman walking on East 20th Street at Second Avenue.

On Saturday, March 7 at 11:30 p.m. the man snatched a purse from a 34-year-old woman as she walked along East 27th Street, in the vicinity of Third Avenue.

On Sunday, March 15 at 2:20 a.m., the man swiped a purse from a 29-year-old woman who was in front of 100 West 21st Street.

On Sunday, March 15 at 10:40 p.m., the man grabbed a phone out of a 22-year-old woman’s hand as she was walking along East 22nd Street.

On Tuesday, March 31 at 1 a.m., he grabbed a phone from a 24-year-old woman who was walking on East 21st Street near Park Avenue South.

On Saturday, April 4 at 6 a.m. he stole a phone from a 21-year-old woman who was standing in front of 32 East 32nd Street.

On Monday, April 20 at midnight, the man took a phone from a 27-year-old woman walking on 6th Avenue, in the vicinity of West 16th Street.

On Tuesday, April 28 at 1 a.m., he stole a purse from a 23-year-old woman in front of 544 6th Avenue.

On Wednesday, April 29, 2015, at 10:30 p.m., he grabbed a purse from a 42-year-old woman who was in front of 135 East 17th Street.

There were no injuries reported in any of the incidents and police say the the serial cyclist thief is a black man with a beard.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS or submit tips by logging onto www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or texting tips to 274637(CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

Changes to sanit. garage plan aired

Area residents still against proposal, DSNY shoots down CB6’s suggested alternative sites

The Brookdale campus, the city’s proposed site for the sanitation garage. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

The Brookdale campus, the city’s proposed site for the sanitation garage. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Community residents and members of Community Board 6 were packed in at an unusually well-attended Land Use and Waterfront committee meeting last Wednesday to hear a presentation from the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) and the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) on some of the new plans for the Brookdale Campus at East 25th Street and First Avenue.

The EDC first became involved in the project last year due to the protesting from the community and elected officials, demanding a more comprehensive plan for the site. EDC is now working with DSNY on the project, but DSNY is still the lead agency for the garage proposal, which encompasses the middle section of the site. EDC is the lead agency on the development of the bookend parcels of the site and will be working with the community to come up with options for the development of that property. The EDC has also formed a working group to address possibilities for the bookend property of the site, consisting of community board members, elected officials, residents and other community advocates, which will first meet on February 23 and it will be holding up to eight additional meetings through the end of April.

The most recent meeting on the garage, which itself was held inside one of the buildings at the Brookdale Campus, was mainly an opportunity for the DSNY to come before the committee and the public and discuss changes to its proposal for the garage. It is the first time since a previous meeting in June, 2013, also held in the auditorium at Brookdale, that DSNY has publicly spoken about the proposal and it is the first time the EDC has come to one of the committee meetings specifically to address the proposed sanitation garage.

This particular meeting had also been postponed a number of times due to scheduling and weather, but when the two agencies got through their respective presentations, the consensus among the residents was no different than at meetings in the past: we don’t want this garage in our community.

Kate Van Tassel, Vice President of the EDC, wasn’t able to get through much of her presentation before being interrupted by an angry resident who said that he was sick of hearing the same thing from the city about the garage proposal and was upset that the construction of the garage would mean giving up a viable housing facility. Van Tassel explained that this presentation was actually new, and did offer different options for community space on the bookend parcels such as affordable housing, which has not been discussed at previous meetings on the garage, but all of the plans were working under the assumption that the sanitation garage would still be located in the middle portion of the property.

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Ribbon cut at newly expanded Asser Levy Playground

Feb5 Asser Levy Garodnick equipment

Council Member Dan Garodnick tries out the adult fitness equipment. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Last Friday morning, in near-freezing weather following the second snowfall in a week, local community leaders and politicians cut the ribbon on the newly expanded Asser Levy Playground.

Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver joked that “It’s a pleasure to cut a ribbon on this warm and sunny day,” as the politicians on either side of him sat bundled up for the cold. He then went on to say the project had been successful in terms of being both “on time and on budget and that gets a double round of applause.”

New features along the two-block-long park that was formerly a street include a track, adult fitness equipment, a synthetic turf field, drinking fountains, lighting, trees, tables and benches.

The work was funded with allocations of $1,175,000 from Council Member Dan Garodnick, $500,000 from the UN Development Corporation, and $670,000 from the mayor.

While at the podium, Silver joked that Garodnick was so enamored with project, “he named his son Asher.”

In response Garodnick confided that he’d actually told his son that the playground had been named after him.

“There are no limits to my deception,” he quipped. “I told him it was a typo on the sign.” He added that since he also has another son, “We’ll have to see what we can do for Devin.”

While construction had been underway at the site, the Council member said he and both of his young sons would pop by each day from their apartment in Peter Cooper Village and ask the project supervisor for status updates. And, he added, the supervisor was very nice about it.

The playground work was tied to a land deal that would allow the United Nations to put a building on space occupied by Robert Moses Park.While naturally the plan to remove that park space has been met with some opposition from neighbors, Garodnick said Robert Moses Park is underutilized, as the space now occupied by Asser Levy Playground was when it was a street.

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Op-Ed: St. Vartan’s Park should be considered as alternative site for sanitation garage

The Brookdale campus is the city’s proposed site for a sanitation garage. A firm hired by Community Board 6 has recommended Con Ed property. J.G. Collins however suggests a portion of St. Vartan’s Park. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

The Brookdale campus is the city’s proposed site for a sanitation garage. A firm hired by Community Board 6 has recommended Con Ed property. J.G. Collins however suggests a portion of St. Vartan’s Park. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By J.G. Collins
Town & Village has recently reported on the alternative proposals that city and East Side public officials are considering for a garage that the Department of Sanitation (“DSNY”) has proposed to serve Community District Six.

In reviewing alternatives, it’s important to give due weight to those suggested by Community Board Six, Community District Six residents, neighborhood groups, and individuals who might propose viable options that officials have not have otherwise considered. Community Board Six has already offered wise alternatives by engaging a planning firm. But officials shouldn’t consider these (to be the “only” alternatives. Instead, they should welcome all practicable alternatives to best accommodate the required garage within District Six. (Local officials might even consider sponsoring a design exhibit, and perhaps even offer a small cash prize, for viable alternatives proposed by anyone wishing to take up the challenge.)

As an example of proposals that should be welcomed, consider the black-top and tennis court on the western portion of St. Vartan’s Park, between East 35th Street and East 36th Street, just east of Second Avenue. The space is nearly 70 percent of the 83,000 square feet the DSNY proposes to build, including the “Tunnel Entrance Street” that bifurcates the tennis court and the black top.

If a garage were built on the site of the St. Vartan’s Park tennis court and blacktop, Tunnel Entrance Street between 35th and 36th Street could be eliminated and made part of the building footprint. Alternatively, if traffic required, the street could be left open through to the Queens Midtown Tunnel entry and the street could be converted as an underpass with the garage built above it. (The underpass would be suspended and joined above a base built on the current blacktop and tennis court.)

The current tennis court and blacktop playing area could be replicated in a “sky park” on the roof of the garage and covered with netting, like the Sol Goldman Y rooftop play area, or permanently enclosed, like the “bubble top” play space above the United Nations School. The facility could be made accessible by an elevator and a stairwell.

St. Vartan’s Park has several advantages. First, it has minimal impact on noise and zoning because the area is not as heavily residential as either the Brookdale or the Con Edison sites. The north border, on East 36th Street, has no nearby residences as it sits above the the Queens Midtown Tunnel. East 35th Street, the southern border, is the rear side of St. Vartan’s Cathedral, as well as some apartment buildings, but traffic could be directed so that sanitation trucks never cross in front of them.

Second, the land is already “city-owned,” so the land to build a DSNY garage would come at no additional cost.

Third, construction of a DSNY garage on the St. Vartan’s Park site with a sky park on the roof would actually increase the footprint of the total park space on the site by the addition 3,500 square feet of “Tunnel Entrance Street.” It might be made into a “rain or shine” play area if it is enclosed.

Traffic for the St. Vartan’s Blacktop location is somewhat a problem, but not overwhelmingly so. South- and west-bound sanitation trucks could exit the garage behind St. Vartan’s Cathedral to avoid Queens-Midtown Tunnel traffic and the few residential apartments on East 35th Street. Northbound trucks would avoid tunnel traffic completely by exiting the garage at East 36th Street, where there are no nearby residential buildings, and turning left onto First Avenue to go uptown.

Ingress to a St. Vartan’s garage when the trucks return from their shifts could be limited to East 35th Street, but west of Tunnel Entrance Street (so that trucks don’t pass in front of the apartment buildings on the block) and to East 36th Street via Second Avenue, so as to minimize disturbance to neighborhood residents and the already heavy traffic on East 36th Street west of Second Avenue.

This traffic arrangement would keep sanitation trucks almost entirely away from the entrances to the St. Vartan’s “kiddy park” that would remain intact on the eastern

Bellevue was ready for Ebola, administrator says

Medical Director Dr. Nathan Link speaks at a Bellevue Community Advisory Board meeting with Associate Director for Community Relations Melissa Henry (left) and Associate Executive Director of Public Affairs and Community Relations Evelyn Hernandez. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Medical Director Dr. Nathan Link speaks at a Bellevue Community Advisory Board meeting with Associate Director for Community Relations Melissa Henry (left) and Associate Executive Director of Public Affairs and Community Relations Evelyn Hernandez. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Almost exactly 24 hours after Dr. Nathan Link provided updates on Ebola at the hospital’s monthly Community Advisory Board meeting last Wednesday, Bellevue’s isolation facilities were put to the test when Harlem resident Dr. Craig Spencer was admitted last Thursday evening with a confirmed case of the virus.

At the meeting the night before Spencer’s admittance, Link expressed confidence that the hospital was prepared as the city’s authorized center for treating Ebola, noting that the CDC had been there earlier that day and gave high praise to their preparations.

“We’ve been working on this since late July and preparations are complete,” Link assured the CAB members. At the time of the meeting, Link emphasized that there had not yet been a confirmed case of the virus in any of the patients who came in with suspicious symptoms and up until that point, there had been 30 people who came in with possible Ebola symptoms. “In all of these cases, Ebola was ruled out and they were released,” Link said. “Two patients from other facilities were brought to Bellevue, treated in isolation and both were discharged. We’ve had a number of opportunities to practice.”

When a committee member expressed anxiety about the situation with healthcare workers in Dallas, Link noted that Bellevue staff and administrators were learning from the missteps in Texas and had the proper equipment and training to deal with a confirmed case of the virus.

“We have state of the art equipment for the staff,” Link said. “We’ve used recommendations from Emory University Hospital and the University of  Nebraska  Medical Center  and biosafety experts from NYU. We’ve purchased equipment that was recommended and masks with a higher standard of protection. We have the same level of protection that Emory and Nebraska have in their facilities that have successfully treated patients with Ebola. The patients treated at those facilities have survived and are all safe.”

Link added that the isolation unit in 7W had specialized equipment with ICU-level care, including dialysis available in the room so patients don’t have to be brought anywhere else and a separate lab available so tests can be done right in the unit. “The patients are completely sealed off with no possibility of mixing,” he said.

The Wall Street Journal also reported last Friday that Bellevue has actually long been prepared for such an event, as the hospital already had an isolation ward that was put in place in the 1990s to deal with the AIDS crisis. The unit was developed when health officials were struggling to control the increasing number of tuberculosis cases driven by the rise of HIV, which lowered resistance to TB in infected adults. The ward has special anterooms, as well as plumbing and ventilation separate from the rest of the hospital, which became crucial in the city’s successful fight against TB.

Since Spencer was admitted to Bellevue, there was an additional scare with a five-year-old Bronx resident who had recently returned from Guinea and was also exhibiting the tell-tale symptoms of the illness, including a fever. He was tested on Monday and the result was negative. The hospital conducted an additional test “out of an abundance of caution” and kept the boy for observation. He was found to have a respiratory infection, which can have similar symptoms of Ebola. He was removed from isolation on Tuesday and remained at the hospital for treatment of the infection.

Bellevue reported that Spencer, who had also recently returned from Guinea, remained in serious but stable condition as of Tuesday.

Police looking for armed robber

Robbery suspect

Robbery suspect

Police are looking for a robber they say pulled a gun while holding up four businesses in Manhattan.

In the most recent incident, on September 29 at 12:25 a.m., the man went into Central Deli, located at 515 Second Avenue between 28th and 29th Streets, and threatened an employee with a gun while demanding cash. The employee complied and the gunman ran off with $1,000.

Cops say the pattern of gunpoint robberies began on September 4 when the man robbed a Subway sandwich shop at 12 West 25th Street. He then fled with an undisclosed amount of money.

On September 24, at close to 11 p.m., he pulled a similar robbery at Infinity News, located at 837 Lexington Avenue. This time he got away with $4,000.

On September 28, 2014 at 11:40 p.m., he robbed Food Corp., located at 426 Amsterdam Avenue and got away with $400.

The suspect is described as black, 5 ft. 6 ins. tall and 150 lbs. He was last seen wearing a grey hooded jacket and multi-colored baseball hat.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS or leave tips online at www.nypdcrimestoppers.com.

Possible changes to waterfront floated

Kayakers paddle around at an event at Stuyvesant Cove Park in June.  At a recent Community Board 6 meeting, Council Member Dan Garodnick answered questions from community residents about ideas for improvements at Stuyvesant Cove Park and said available funds would be most conducive to a kayak launch. Other suggestions for utilizing the East River waterfront were also brought up. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Kayakers paddle around at an event at Stuyvesant Cove Park in June. At a recent Community Board 6 meeting, Council Member Dan Garodnick answered questions from community residents about ideas for improvements at Stuyvesant Cove Park and said available funds would be most conducive to a kayak launch. Other suggestions for utilizing the East River waterfront were also brought up. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Community Board 6’s Land Use and Waterfront Committee discussed some of the imminent changes planned for the East River, in the context of both the Blueway Plan to provide more access to the river for recreational activities and the proposed renovations of the Skyport Marina at the committee’s monthly meeting last Wednesday.

City Council Member Dan Garodnick was on hand at the meeting to collect input from the committee on how the community would like to use the $1.5 million in funds that his office has allocated for Stuyvesant Cove Park.

A number of volunteers and staff members from organizations such as Long Island Community Boathouse and Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance attended the meeting. Rob Buchanan from the NYC Watertrail Association said that he and his colleagues found out about the meeting too late to prepare a presentation with ideas and would be willing to come back to the meeting next month, but LIC Boathouse volunteer Ted Gruber had a preliminary suggestion.

“You already have a kayak launch there but there’s a fence in the way,” he noted. “It would only take about $5,000 and what you could do is put a gate and a couple of steps before it gets warm next year, because who knows when the rest of this would happen.”

The council member acknowledged that there are interim solutions that could be considered, but he is optimistic that the project will be completed. What that project is specifically, he said, is up to the ideas from the community, but he feels that the money available is most conducive to a kayak launch.

Council Member Dan Garodnick (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Council Member Dan Garodnick (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

According to calculations that Garodnick got from the Economic Development Corporation, expanding a beach in the space would be about $7 million, which would be more than an ecodock and kayak launch. An ecodock would also be costly at $4 to $5 million, he said, including an additional $500,000 per year for dredging because the water is too shallow, but that option would be revenue-generating because it would allow historic vessels to dock there.

EDC’s Senior Vice President of Asset Management Rich Cote was at the meeting to address additional questions about the proposed renovations to the Skyport Marina and a number of committee members expressed concern about the changes, especially in light of the discussion about increasing recreational activity on the East River not far from where the marina is situated. Cote had said that the bulk of the work planned was focused on maintenance and improvements to the infrastructure, and one of the major concerns from committee members was the possible addition of more space for larger seaplanes that was included in the presentation EDC gave at the previous meeting.

“A new seaplane dock is not maintenance,” argued Committee Vice Chair Ellen Imbimbo. “If you want to have the discussion on what the river is for, like those uses that Councilmember Garodnick spoke to earlier, then a seaplane dock seems contradictory to all of our discussions of making the river accessible so we can all enjoy it. I don’t think it’s about noise. It’s about how we view the East River: for fun and swimming or for more seaplanes.”

Imbimbo added that the Community Board has a history of opposing seaplanes, noting that committee member Lou Sepersky found a CB6 resolution from 1999 that opposed seaplanes and the community board struggled with the city over the heliport at East 34th Street when that was new to the area.

Cote responded that there were no specific plans for larger seaplanes to be docked at the marina “in the near future” and that they were only creating a place for seaplanes to come in, but committee members were not appeased by the implication that larger seaplanes could technically be docking at the marina at some point.

“There is nothing in this for the community,” said Waterside Tenants Association President Janet Handal. “The plan has nothing for the community except noise and problems.”

CB6 offers proposal: Sanitation garage could go near Con Ed

BFJ Planning Senior Associate Jonathan Martin discusses an alternative site for the planned Brookdale campus  sanitation garage. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

BFJ Planning Senior Associate Jonathan Martin discusses an alternative site for the planned Brookdale campus sanitation garage. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Members of Community Board 6’s Land Use and Waterfront Committee recently learned of a new proposal concerning the garage that the Department of Sanitation wants to build on East 25th Street between First Avenue and the FDR; a plan that presents the possibility of building the facility near the Con Edison plant at East 15th Street and Avenue C.

This proposal came from BFJ Planning, a consulting firm that CB6 has hired to come up with other options for the Brookdale Campus, which will be vacated when Hunter College moves the current program uptown, as well as to come up with an alternative spot for the sanitation garage.

BFJ Planning Senior Associate Jonathan Martin presented the preliminary proposal, which had been shown to the board’s steering committee for the sanitation garage last month, at the Land Use and Waterfront Committee’s monthly meeting last Wednesday. Martin focused on the rationale behind the alternative location for the facility.
He acknowledged that DSNY’s plan is partially understandable.

“They want to put their trucks near the service area,” he said. “At the moment the trucks are six miles away but the Brookdale site is two miles away.”

He then explained that one possibility they are exploring in their alternatives is space near the Con Ed plant next to Stuyvesant Town, which would still be near the community district’s service area.

Unlike the Brookdale Campus, however, which will revert back to the city once Hunter College vacates the site, the Con Edison site is not city property. This means that to even consider building a garage on the site, the city would have to acquire the property from Con Edison first.

Aside from this obstacle, Martin explained that the plan would involve relocating John J. Murphy Park up to space which is now surface parking for Con Edison. At that point, the space then becomes open to other uses and in an overlay, Martin showed that DSNY’s plans for the garage fit neatly on top of the space. The potential Con Edison space is actually longer than the Brookdale site, which would offer various opportunities.

“The structure wouldn’t have to go up five stories like the building they’ve proposed,” Martin explained.

Committee members and residents of the surrounding community are opposed to the garage at the Brookdale site primarily because of the potential garage’s proximity to a number of hospitals and healthcare facilities but traffic and noise are also a concern, and Stuyvesant Town resident and committee member Larry Scheyer noted that the latter would be a problem at the Con Edison site as well.

“Many parts of the day have that area gridlocked,” he said. “Add hundreds of sanitation trucks with no other way to get in and out, it would be a nightmare.”

When asked if DSNY had considered the Con Edison site for the garage, DSNY spokesperson Keith Mellis only said that the Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed garage would include a discussion of alternatives that Sanitation has investigated.

NYU Langone doctor: Flu is still bigger threat than Enterovirus D68

Michael Phillips, MD, director of infection control and prevention at NYU Langone

Michael Phillips, MD, director of infection control and prevention at NYU Langone

By Sabina Mollot

Amidst the spreading of a serious respiratory illness in 18 states so far, including New York, last week, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer urged the Center for Disease Control to provide more resources to local hospitals in the face of Enterovirus D68 as well as resources to help spread awareness about it.

Twelve children have contracted the virus in New York State so far, including one resident of New York City. There have been a total of 153 confirmed cases of the virus in 18 states between August and September 18 and the virus is suspected of causing the death of a New Jersey pre-schooler. Part of the problem, Schumer noted is that at first, the virus may appear to be a cold which can then lead to more serious symptoms that can lead to hospitalization.

However, this week, the director of infection control and prevention at NYU Langone, Michael Phillips, MD, said that while New Yorkers should always be vigilant about any threat to their health, statistically, catching the flu is still a far bigger risk than D68.

“What captures people’s attention is when there’s a new, novel infection out there, people wonder, ‘Am I and my loved ones at risk?’,” he said.

Phillips added that while conditions like D68 and even ebola are currently a cause for concern for healthcare practitioners, for the community, the hospital’s main goal is prevention the spread of the flu.

“I think the flu for sure is a constant and has a devastating toll in the community,” he said. “We have vaccines and they’re underutilized. We had an unpredictable season last year and one of the things you can say about the flu each year is that it’s unpredictable.”

Last year, what was unusual in flu patterns was that people were coming down with it late in the season, even April, as much as they were around the holidays. Then, there was an outbreak of measles in the spring, and, noted Phillips, there’s always a risk of transmission when people aren’t getting immunized.

While some people are wary of getting the flu shot, Phillips is a staunch believer in its effectiveness.

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East Side residents and groups participating in People’s Climate March on September 21

Mural of fifteen environmentalists created by girls of the Lower Eastside Girls Club

Mural of fifteen environmentalists created by girls of the Lower Eastside Girls Club

As world leaders convene in New York City next week for a United Nations Summit on Climate Change, more than one hundred thousand people are expected to attend a mass demonstration demanding action on the climate crisis. Organized by a coalition of over 1,200 environmental, labor, faith, and business groups, The People’s Climate March will be held this Sunday, September 21. The march comes less than two years after Superstorm Sandy caused more than $65 billion in damage along the east coast and as the world continues to experience  extreme weather events including severe drought in California and the worst flooding South Asia has encountered in more than a century, all of which scientist consensus increasingly links to manmade climate change.

Residents of East Lower Manhattan, along with neighborhood organizations such as Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES), are campaigning to get their neighbors to join the march, which will start at  11:30 a.m. on Central Park West and proceed south through midtown.

“During Hurricane Sandy, the stretch from E. 20th Street to E. 34th Street was under over six feet of water,” said Stuyvesant Town resident and organizer Lucy Block.  “As climate change continues, NYC will face more extreme weather events. As a young person, I’m fighting for my future.”

“After years of organizing to protect our community from unjust housing policies and bad landlords, surviving Hurricane Sandy taught us that we would also have to protect our community from the impacts of climate change,” said Demaris Reyes, Executive Director of GOLES. “We know that climate change disproportionately impacts low-income communities of color, and capping greenhouse emissions is an huge step to prevent more disasters like Sandy and protect our community.”

Area organizations that have signed up as partners of the Climate March include the New School, the Sara Roosevelt Park Community Coalition, the Sixth Street Center, La Plaza Cultural, 9BC Tompkins Square Block Association and the NYC Community Garden Coalition.

Benjamin Tressler, a resident of Kips Bay, said, “The march is just the start. We have to keep up the pressure on our government and corporations – but we also have to do more as individuals and as communities to reduce our carbon footprint, conserve energy, and turn from dirty fossil fuels to clean renewable power.”

Seniors attend East Midtown Plaza forum on emergency preparedness

Seniors in attendance at the event held on Tuesday by the Office of Emergency Management and CERT volunteers (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Seniors in attendance at the event held on Tuesday by the Office of Emergency Management and CERT volunteers
(Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

With the worst of hurricane season yet to come, since activity in the Atlantic picks up the most from August through October, the Office of Emergency Management offered a presentation for the East Midtown Plaza senior committee last Tuesday evening.

John Greenwood, a Human Services Planning Specialist for the OEM, and members of Community Board 6’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) explained the importance of emergency preparedness for seniors, including evacuation protocol in the event of a disaster and the new hurricane zones, at the monthly meeting. Greenwood noted that the hurricane guide changed after Hurricane Sandy and that instead of three lettered zones, there are now six numbered zones.

Committee co-chair Jeanne Poindexter added that the buildings East Midtown Plaza are in three different evacuation zones and that any of the buildings located on First Avenue are highly susceptible to flooding.

Jeanne Poindexter, East Midtown Plaza senior committee co-chair

Jeanne Poindexter, East Midtown Plaza senior committee co-chair

The new hurricane maps, which were made available at the meeting, are also available online or zones can be found out by calling 311 and Greenwood said that although they’re not the most pleasant place, it’s important for residents to know where the evacuation centers are as well, which are also noted on the maps.

“They’re just a giant room with cots and the food isn’t the greatest, but it’s good to know where they are in case you have to go,” he said.

He added that pets are allowed in all of the evacuation centers and Baruch College is the closest handicap accessible facility that functions as an evacuation center. There are 10 facilities throughout the city that are handicap accessible and meet all the ADA requirements but Greenwood said they haven’t been noted on the map yet. Greenwood noted that one of the reasons for the changes in zones is money.

“The mayor is the only one who can make the call for evacuations but it’s a multimillion dollar decision,” he said. “With the changes in the zones, there are now less people per zone so it won’t encompass as many residents if evacuations have to take place.”

Jeanne Poindexter, East Midtown Plaza senior committee co-chair

Jeanne Poindexter, East Midtown Plaza senior committee co-chair

Greenwood also told the seniors at the meeting that it’s important to have an emergency plan and to fill out the “Ready New York” packets that detail important information for residents to have at hand in case of an emergency, like contact phone numbers and any medical conditions. “That’s beneficial for you because if you show up at an evacuation center with this guide, they’ll have all the information already and can give you the best care if you need help,” he said.

Virginia Rosario, a member of the CB6 CERT and a resident of Stuyvesant Town, explained what her responsibilities are as a member of the team and how she is prepared to help other residents if disaster strikes. “We’ve been trained by the OEM and we’re only deployed when the office gives permission,” Rosario said. “We weren’t deployed during Hurricane Sandy because most of CB6 was down but some volunteers can help with things like bringing water to residents.”

Police Watch: Camera pervs, groping and pick-pocketing arrests at Union Square subway

Compiled by Maria Rocha-Buschel

CAMERA ‘PERVS’ BUSTED AT UNION SQUARE
Police arrested two men for “obscene material” in unrelated incidents at Union Square station last week. Rubio Patricio-Palaguachi, 37, was arrested last Tuesday at 2 p.m. Patricio-Palaguachi was allegedly walking directly behind a woman with his Samsung Galaxy phone camera lens facing upward under her dress and while she was walking up the stairs out of the station, recording her underwear as she walked. She told police that she did not know him and did not give him permission to film her.
Oscar Torres, 31, was arrested last Sunday at 4:35 p.m. Torres allegedly placed a recording device under the skirt of a girl as she was walking up the stairs out of the station.

‘GROPER’ NABBED IN UNION SQUARE
Police arrested Carlos Hernandez Saavedra, 50, arrested for groping a woman at the Union Square subway station last Friday at 5:45 p.m. Hernandez Saavedra was allegedly touching and rubbing a woman’s butt while on the train without her permission.

MAN BUSTED FOR SNATCHING WALLET
Police arrested 50-year-old James Davis in Union Square for grand larceny last Monday at 10:40 a.m. Davis allegedly reached into a woman’s purse while on an Eighth Avenue-bound L train and removed her wallet. Police said that he used a dry cleaning bag with a pink shirt to cover his left arm while removing the wallet. He allegedly fled onto a downtown express train to avoid being arrested. Police arrested him on the 4/5/6 platform and he was allegedly in possession of a Samsung Galaxy phone and two MetroCards that belonged to someone else.

PHONE SNATCHER NABBED IN UNION SQUARE
Thirty-two-year-old Billy Decaneo was arrested for grand larceny at Union Square East and East 14th Street last Tuesday at 7:41 a.m. The victim said that he was sitting in Union Square Park on the steps by the fountain. He had his bag on his lap and was looking for his wallet when Decaneo allegedly reached into the bag and took his cell phone with charger attached. The victim alerted a nearby officer and the victim’s phone was in Decaneo’s hand when he was arrested, police said.

ARREST FOR PHONY MUGGING STORY
Police arrested 27-year-old Jennifer Fleischer arrested for perjury last Wednesday at 3:20 p.m. at the Union Square subway station. Fleischer allegedly told police that while she was getting off an uptown M train at the Broadway-Lafayette station, an unknown black man mugged her and stole her purse, containing her MetroCard and $20 in cash. Upon further investigation, she recanted her story, allegedly saying that she made it up as an excuse to not go to work and that her property was in the garbage.

MAN ADMITS HAVING GUN
Police arrested 27-year-old Bobby Robinson for weapons possession inside the 13th precinct at 230 East 21st Street last Sunday at 12:30 a.m. Police said that Robinson freely walked up to an officer, while not in custody, and spontaneously said, “that’s my car and I left a gun in the trunk.” A handgun was recovered from the car.


‘DRUNK DRIVER’ AT THIRD AND EAST 15TH
Police arrested 40-year-old William Mack arrested for intoxicated driving last Tuesday at 2:53 a.m. at Third Avenue and East 15th Street. Police saw him swerving in traffic and he allegedly had a smell of alcohol on his breath when police stopped him. He blew a .157 on a Breathalyzer, police said.

MAN GRABS AND ‘THREATENS’ WOMAN
Police arrested 29-year-old Kevin Newton arrested for criminal mischief in front of 717 Sixth Avenue last Tuesday at 1:50 a.m. The victim told police that she was walking on the sidewalk when she felt Newton grab her wrist. She pulled free and began to walk away from him but he allegedly followed her for about two blocks and began to verbally threaten her. She attempted to call 911 when he smacked the phone from her hand, causing the glass screen to shatter, police said. She also told police that he spit in her face.

BIKE ‘BURGLAR’ BUSTED ON WEST 25TH
Police arrested 54-year-old Lindsay Thomas arrested for possession of burglar’s tools last Wednesday at 1:45 p.m. in front of 40 West 25th Street. Thomas was walking east with two other unknown men when they were seen stopping at a Citibike rack. The first unknown man pointed at the rack while the second unknown man was seen attempting to remove the bike by pulling on the tire. The men then fled in unknown directions and when police stopped Thomas, he was allegedly in possession of burglar’s tools.

SUBWAY BUSKER BUSTED FOR FORGERY
Claudio Soto, 32, was arrested for forgery last Wednesday 6:25 p.m. inside the Union Square station. Soto was allegedly playing an electric guitar with an amplification device on the L platform in violation of transit rules. When asked to produce identification, he gave a forged US permanent resident card and forged Chilean driver’s license

MAN ARRESTED FOR KICKING DOOR
Police arrested 22-year-old Vincent Florido for criminal mischief last Thursday at 12:45 a.m. in front of Friend of a Farmer at 77 Irving Place. Florido allegedly damaged the front lobby door by kicking the glass intentionally.

ATTEMPTED BIKE ‘THIEF’ BUSTED
Police arrested 19-year-old Anthony Barahona for possession of burglar’s tools in front of 10 Union Square East last Thursday at 2:20 p.m. Barahona was allegedly using wirecutters to open a bicycle lock which didn’t belong to him. Police said that he was in possession of another pair of wirecutters, which were in his backpack.

MAN ARRESTED FOR POT
Ibrahima Jalloh, 23, was arrested for marijuana possession last Wednesday at 6:23 p.m. at Broadway and West 28th Street. Police said he had it in plain view on a public sidewalk.

TEEN RIDING BIKE ON SIDEWALK ARRESTED FOR BRASS KNUCKLES
Police arrested a 17-year-old for weapons possession at West 23rd Street and Seventh Avenue last Monday at 5:35 p.m. Miller was allegedly riding a black bicycle recklessly on the sidewalk of Seventh Avenue, causing about 15 people to move out of the way. He was also in possession of brass knuckles in his left shorts pocket, police said.

MAN HIT OVER THE HEAD WITH BOTTLE
James Quinn, 23, was arrested for assault last Saturday at 3:34 p.m. in front of 101 West 25th Street. Quinn got into an argument with the victim and allegedly hit him over the head with a bottle.

TEENS ACROBATS ARRESTED
Police arrested two teens for reckless endangerment last Saturday at 8:10 p.m. at the Union Square subway station. A 16-year-old and 18-year-old Kyle Solomon were allegedly working together, dancing and somersaulting on a crowded L train, causing a hazard to themselves and others, police said. The name of the 16-year-old is being withheld due to his age.

MAN ARRESTED FOR SELLING ‘LOOSIE’
Police arrested 38-year-old Udo Onua for violating tax law at East 14th Street and Union Square West last Thursday at 9:28 a.m. Onua was allegedly selling loose Newport cigarettes from a carton with an Ohio stamp in exchange for cash.

‘DRUNK DRIVER’ BUSTED ON SECOND AVENUE
Police arrested Victor Assante, 44, for intoxicated driving in front of 531 Second Avenue last Friday at 3:01 a.m. Assante was driving north on Third Avenue and then east on East 29th Street and while driving on Third Avenue, he was allegedly swerving back and forth between the far right lane and the middle of the road. He was stopped near East 29th Street because he allegedly didn’t signal when he turned and police said that he had a strong odor of alcohol on his breathe, watery, bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and was unsteady on his feet.

NYU Langone gets $1.1B for Sandy repairs

NYU Langone Medical Center’s main campus at 550 First Avenue (Photo courtesy of NYU Langone)

NYU Langone Medical Center’s main campus at 550 First Avenue (Photo courtesy of NYU Langone)

By Sabina Mollot
On Tuesday, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer announced $1.13 billion in FEMA funding for Sandy repair work and mitigation projects at NYU Langone Medical Center.

The $1.13 billion is the total project cost, 90 percent of which will be covered by the federal government. Of that, $540 million is for permanent repairs and restoration for damaged elements of a variety of NYU Langone buildings, and $589 million will go towards mitigation work to protect against future storms. This is the second-largest Project Worksheet in FEMA’s history.

The funds are in addition to $150 million in emergency federal Sandy aid the hospital received in January of 2013.

Like nearby hospitals Bellevue and the V.A. Manhattan campus, NYU Langone saw extensive flood damage as a result of Sandy and had to temporarily close.

Schumer said the money was awarded through a new process built into the Sandy aid bill that’s aimed at cutting federal red tape to get financial help where it’s needed most.

“This is a large amount of money, but the damage was enormous,” he said in a written statement. “When I witnessed this first-hand a few days after Sandy, I was shocked. I am pleased to see this desperately needed reimbursement to repair and rebuild in a resilient way.”

Repair work covers $540 million at the main campus for damage to the systems that operate building management, electrical and plumbing, fire alarms and fire protection, security, IT systems, telephony, as well as elevate and architectural damage. The hazard mitigation projects cover $589 million at the main campus at 550 First Avenue and its Center for Biomedical Imagining at 660 First Avenue. This includes installing exterior flood doors/barriers/egress, reinforcing walls, reinforcing slabs, filing in area ways, sealing exterior penetrations, elevating elevator program and service equipment, installing internal flood doors, sealing interior penetrations, installing check valves/backflow preventers and installing pumps and sump pumps.

The funding will include repairs at the Smilow Research Center, Schwartz Care center, Medical Science Building, Skirball Institute, Tisch Hospital, Alumni Hall, Rusk Institute, Perelman Building, Schwartz Hall and Coles Student Laboratories.

In a prepared statement, Robert I. Grossman, Dean and CEO of NYU Langone Medical Center, praised Schumer for securing the FEMA funds. “We are grateful to U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer for his unwavering support in achieving this extraordinary federal grant from FEMA, and are also appreciative of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s leadership throughout our recovery from Superstorm Sandy,” Grossman said.

New York Theatre Ballet finds a home at St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery

Dance students at New York Theatre Ballet (Photo by Richard Termine)

Dance students at New York Theatre Ballet (Photo by Richard Termine)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

It was last fall when the director of the New York Theatre Ballet, which had been located at the Madison Avenue Baptist Church on East 31st Street for over 30 years, learned that the company would be getting evicted in May. But thanks to a conveniently-timed call to City Councilmember Rosie Mendez’s office, the NYTB recently found a new home in another church: St. Mark’s in-the-Bowery, on Second Avenue at East 10th Street.

“No pun intended; it was like being on a wing and a prayer,” Mendez said. “We get calls all the time from organizations getting priced out of their spaces. It just happened that St. Mark’s Church told us they would be losing a tenant and then we got a call from Diana.”

“Diana” is Diana Byer, the founder and artistic director of the company who has been looking for a space since the end of last year.

“We looked every day since last fall, so we really want to thank everyone there because if it wasn’t for the people in her office, we never would have found a space,” she said.

Byer had enlisted the help of a number of neighborhood groups in an effort to stay in the area, including the Flatiron BID and the Gramercy Park Block Association. Byer said that Arlene Harrison, the president of the GPBA, was also instrumental in helping them find a new space and Harrison has been fighting to keep the company in the neighborhood because of its involvement with the community.

“Since a major focus of the Gramercy Park Block Association is ‘Neighbors Helping Neighbors, Taking Care of our Neighbors in Need,’ we have been involved in New York Theatre Ballet’s Project LIFT since Diana founded it in 1989,” Harrison said. LIFT is the school’s program that allows underprivileged children the opportunity to learn to dance. She added that there are also a number of Gramercy Park children who attend the school, and the students there have performed “The Nutcracker” at the nearby Players and National Arts Club in the past, so it was important for the community that the NYTB remain nearby.

“It’s hard because you want to keep them in the neighborhood and there are not a lot of affordable commercial spaces in my district,” said Mendez. “But this worked out for both sides.”

Dance student jumping with teacher (Photo by Christopher Duggan)

Dance student jumping with teacher (Photo by Christopher Duggan)

The company won’t be taking over the space right away but Byer said that they got in by July 8 to do some necessary renovations. The goal is to reopen for the school year two weeks after Labor Day on September 15. Even though the space was previously used for performances, Byer said that there are some adjustments that need to be made before it becomes a dance studio.

“We have to put in a sprung floor (for dancing) and put in mirrors and barres,” she said. “We’ll also have to uncover the windows. Those are boarded up now because it’s a blackbox theater and we want it to be more open, and we’ll be painting so it’s very light and airy.”

The rector at St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery, Winnie Varghese, said that dance has been part of the church’s community since the early 1900s. William Guthrie, who was the rector of the church from 1911 to 1937, thought that art and dance held an important place in religion and at the time, created scandal by bringing in statues of Native Americans and allowing dance performances in the church.

“He was really interested in the idea that arts were how Americans would understand spiritual experiences,” Varghese said.

Although the New York Theatre Ballet hasn’t officially moved into the church yet, it has been using another floor for two weeks in July for a summer camp that allows children ages nine to 12 to learn ballet and jazz, as well as do some of their own choreography.

One of the additions that Byer said will begin at the new space is adult classes. NYTB used to offer adult classes but Byer said they hadn’t been offered in the last few years. Byer added that the company also hopes to be performing with Danspace Project, a community of contemporary dance artists that has rented out space in the church for over 30 years, by June, 2015.

“We’re really excited to expand in this new neighborhood,” Byer said. “We want to be part of the neighborhood and not just for children. We want to involve everyone. It’s going to be terrific.”