MTA offers few definite answers to L train concerns

Stuyvesant Town resident Mary Garvey brings up bike lanes at the meeting. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

As of Monday night, the MTA would still not confirm or deny the possibility of exit-only L train stations at First and Third Avenues or the specifics of increased bus service during the revised L tunnel construction project.

Representatives from the agency were at a Community Board 6 meeting on Monday, where frustrated East Side residents in attendance didn’t get any of the answers they were hoping for.

The CB6 meeting was the first appearance by the transit authority at the community board since the new plan, which allows the L train to continue running while work is being done, was announced in January. Officials from the agency shared updates at the meeting that the MTA had offered local elected officials in mid-February.

Glen Lunden, manager of operations planning at NYC Transit, said that part of the mitigation efforts under the revised plan includes increasing service on the M14, especially along the M14A, which uses Avenue A and runs from the West Village to Grand Street on the Lower East Side. The M14D uses Avenue D, and goes between Chelsea Piers and Delancey Street on the Lower East Side. As Town & Village has previously reported, the agency is planning to launch Select Bus Service on the M14 route but the express but service won’t be available until later in the year.

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CB6 votes in favor of SBJSA, but with a few suggestions

Katie Loeb, budget director for Council Member Carlina Rivera, discusses the Small Business Jobs Survival Act at a meeting of Community Board 6. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Business Affairs and Street Activities Committee for Community Board 6 voted last Thursday to support the Small Business Jobs Survival Act with a handful of suggestions to narrow the scope of the legislation, encouraging local elected officials to focus the bill even more on mom-and-pop type businesses throughout the city.

The resolution the committee passed on the SBJSA encouraged legislators to define “small business,” which the bill doesn’t explicitly do, and provide stipulations to prohibit formulaic businesses or chains from repeating in small neighborhoods.

The resolution additionally encouraged lawmakers to focus on small businesses instead of all commercial businesses, which can also include larger corporate businesses as well as chains. The committee also urged legislators to create provisions in the bill that would encourage landlords to lease to new businesses, as well as to minority-owned, women-owned and veteran-owned businesses.

Since the bill has been introduced in the City Council and not at the state level, the resolution urged state legislators to create and pass a similar bill with all the same stipulations to solidify the same protections at the state level.

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Community Board 6 refuses to give blessing for all-night permit at Kips Bay bar on New Year’s Eve

ER Bar and Lounge on Second Avenue

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Business Affairs and Street Activities Committee for Community Board 6 has blocked an application from a Kips Bay bar to operate for an all-night party on New Year’s Eve. ER Bar and Lounge at 605 Second Avenue, between East 33rd and 34th Streets, closes at 3 a.m. on a regular basis but a representative for the bar told the committee that they were hoping to capitalize on the holiday and stay open for just a couple more hours. The committee, however, wasn’t having it.

“I don’t like the idea that there isn’t a specific deadline,” said committee member Julie Block, before instead proposing that the community board limit the bar to a 4 a.m. closing time. Block said that she was concerned about the bar’s laissez-faire attitude about a potential closing time on the holiday, since the application didn’t include a specific closing time other than “for a couple more hours.”

Other committee members were worried about the idea of a bar serving alcohol without the option of food for the entire time. Member Dan Devine said he wasn’t sure if the flexibility of the bar’s policy was a great idea since the venue isn’t planning to make the event ticketed but he said that he’s open to it.

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CB6 supports bill aimed at protecting bike lanes near construction sites

Council Member Carlina Rivera

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Community Board 6 has voted to support Councilmember Carlina Rivera’s legislation to protect bike lanes during street construction.

The bill, which Rivera introduced in mid-October, would require holders of Department of Transportation permits that allow construction on city streets to preserve impacted bike lanes and provide a safe and sufficient detour.

The legislation specifies that at least three quarters of the original bike lane or four feet, whichever is larger, should be maintained, and the bike lane needs to be separated from vehicle traffic with a barrier. The bill would also ensure that the bike lane is not open to pedestrian traffic.

At the CB6 meeting on November 12, Stuy Town resident and Community Board member Larry Scheyer raised the issue of whether or not there are already any existing policies addressing this, and member Gene Santoro noted that there is not yet anything specific requiring builders to protect the existing bike lanes.

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Greenway project near Waterside postponed to 2019

 

The bike lane outside of Waterside Plaza (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

After announcing in September that work would begin this fall on improvements to the Greenway on the East Side between Waterside Plaza and the East 34th Street Heliport, the Department of Transportation confirmed this week that it has been put on hold until next year.

A spokesperson for the DOT did not have specific details on when next year the work would begin but said that the agency expects to start work when the weather gets warmer and to complete the project by next summer.

DOT originally presented the project to Community Board 6 two years ago in November 2016 with plans for the bike lanes north of Stuyvesant Cove Park leading up to Waterside Plaza, past the United Nations International School and the Water Club, up to the heliport at East 34th Street, reconfiguring the lanes to make them more visible and separate cyclists from vehicle traffic.

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Community Board 6 mulling restrictions on new newsstands

Concerns were raised about newsstands that would compete with businesses they’re across from or block historic properties. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Newsstands are as much a part of street life in New York as bodegas and corner delis but after a recent influx of applications for new locations in the area, members of Community Board 6 have decided to revise the criteria for approving them in the district.

Protecting those existing delis and other small businesses is one of the reasons for the proposed changes to the criteria, said Andrew Gross, a member of the transportation committee who combed through the requirements that other boards in the city use to come up with changes for CB6.

“When there were applicants who wanted to put up newsstands in front of small businesses in the district, like bodegas and delis, it seemed like a competitive issue that could harm the pre-existing small businesses,” Gross said. “We’re not here to punish people for opening newsstands but this is a bit of an archaic system that hasn’t been updated in a while.”

Newsstands are ultimately approved by the Department of Consumer Affairs but potential operators are required to submit materials to the appropriate community board to give members an opportunity to comment on the application.

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Waterside Plaza residents retiring next year could benefit from affordability plan

Waterside residents learn more about the affordability agreement at a Community Board 6 meeting on Monday. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Waterside Plaza tenants might want to consider early retirement to take full advantage of the affordability deal brokered between owner Richard Ravitch and the city.

Representatives from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development told Waterside Plaza residents at a recent Community Board 6 meeting that only tenants who have retired by 2019 will be eligible to have their rent reset as part of the deal that was announced earlier this month.

Dozens of residents, including Waterside Tenants Association President Janet Handal and property manager Peter Davis, were at the Land Use and Waterfront committee meeting on Monday to learn additional details about the plan.

A number of residents at the meeting expressed concern about how much they would benefit through the plan, saying that they were eight to 10 years away from retirement and would ideally like to stay at Waterside Plaza for the foreseeable future but wanted to be eligible for a rent reduction.

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Neighbors clash on planned Kips Bay bike lane

A man who came to a recent Community Board 6 meeting on the proposed protected bike lane for Kips Bay was one of numerous meeting attendees who said it was sorely needed. Others expressed concern about the loss of parking. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Community Board 6’s transportation committee this Monday voted in favor of a resolution supporting the Department of Transportation’s proposal to install bike lanes on 26th and 29th Streets.

Community Board 5, which covers the western portion of the streets, had a much more contentious meeting last week on the proposal in which a vote was delayed because of disagreements about the removal of parking spaces.

While Community Board 6 members were not enthusiastic about the loss of parking either, the members ultimately voted to support the plan in a 9 to 2 vote.

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Second bar planned for Maialino

Maialino (Photo courtesy of the Gramercy Park Hotel)

Maialino (Photo courtesy of the Gramercy Park Hotel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Danny Meyer is hoping to give his Gramercy Park restaurant Maialino a partial makeover with the addition of a bar.

General manager Andrea Czachor appeared before the Business Affairs and Street Activities committee for Community Board 6 last Thursday with the proposal, which will require the restaurant to alter its existing liquor license. The committee approved the request, although the community board’s role is only advisory and the change will have to be made official through the State Liquor Authority.

Czachor, who has been working in the restaurant since it opened at the Gramercy Park Hotel, said that the space where the bar will be going is already a counter but the restaurant previously used it for storage and to prepare food. Since the restaurant is no longer using the space for storage or food preparation, Czachor said that management decided to add five seats to the counter in order to convert it to a bar and serve alcohol directly to customers.

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City holds off on plan to diversify street fairs after community groups fight local vendor rule

Community organizations who rely on revenue from street fairs had opposed the proposal to make it mandatory to have 50 percent of the vendors be local. (Photo via Wikipedia)

Community organizations who rely on revenue from street fairs had opposed the proposal to make it mandatory to have 50 percent of the vendors be local. (Photo via Wikipedia)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

To the relief of a number of community organizations, the Mayor’s Office decided not to approve proposed new rules for street fairs for the upcoming year that would have required increased participation from local businesses. The proposal was aimed at sprinkling some local flavor into street fairs, which, despite where in the city they’re taking place, are often practically identical. The Street Activity Permit Office (SAPO) of the Office of Citywide Event Coordination and Management (OCECM) announced on October 28 that it would be extending the existing moratorium on street fair applications through 2017. A public hearing on the proposed rule will be held this Friday.

The city had previously proposed new rules that, among other requirements, would require 50 percent of vendors participating in street fairs to be from within the community district boundaries of where the fairs were taking place. Another proposed rule would have decreased the number of fairs allowed in each community district per year from 18 to 10.

Community organizers were worried that the new regulation requiring increased participation from local vendors would affect their revenue because not enough local businesses would want to take part.

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City proposes reconfiguring 2 playgrounds as part of East Side flood protection plan

nov24-asser-levy-playground

Asser Levy Playground (pictured) and Murphy’s Brother’s Playground will be impacted by the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project. (Photo courtesy of Parks Department)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The city has been exploring options to redesign Asser Levy Playground and Murphy’s Brother’s Playground, since both will be affected by the construction of flood protection along the East Side of Manhattan from East 23rd Street to Montgomery Street.

Earlier in the month, representatives from the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency discussed the proposals at a community meeting held at Washington Irving High School.

Carrie Grassi, the deputy director of planning for the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency, mentioned how the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project will run adjacent to both parks and construction will disturb activities there.

However, since the city is only in the concept design stage with the project, Grassi said that decisions for all aspects aren’t necessarily final yet. One such instance is the placement of the floodwall as it approaches the Asser Levy Playground. One configuration has the wall bordering the park along the FDR Drive, turning along East 25th Street and connecting with the floodwall that the VA Hospital is working on.

“But some feel that would be too imposing,” Grassi said.

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CB6 urges city not to eliminate M23 stop

Request a condition for support of M23 SBS plan

New York City Transit said the M23 route was picked for SBS because of its high ridership per mile and the nearby subway connections. (Photo via nyc.gov)

New York City Transit said the M23 route was picked for SBS because of its high ridership per mile and the nearby subway connections. (Photo via nyc.gov)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Transportation Committee for Community Board 6 voted for a resolution in support of the Department of Transportation and NYC Transit’s plan for select bus service along the M23 route, but only on the condition that the proposal reconsider the elimination of bus stops near Peter Cooper Village along the route.

The DOT and NYCT presented the plan to the committee at last month’s meeting and one part of the proposal included consolidating the East 20th Street stops at First Avenue and the East 20th Street Loop on the westbound side of the route. The plan would relocate the First Avenue stop closer to the existing Loop stop, to a location between the two but closer to First Avenue.

The proposal argued that the distance between the two stops is short, even for local bus spacing, and the stop at First Avenue would need to be lengthened anyway to install the fare payment machines for Select Bus Service, so consolidating the stops would potentially decrease travel times along the route.

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Stuy Town M23 bus stops may be consolidated for SBS

New York City Transit said the M23 route was picked for SBS because of its high ridership per mile and the nearby subway connections. (Photo via nyc.gov)

New York City Transit said the M23 route was picked for SBS because of its high ridership per mile and the nearby subway connections. (Photo via nyc.gov)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Bus stops in Stuyvesant Town along the M23 may be consolidated when Select Bus Service is implemented along the route, Department of Transportation and New York City Transit representatives said last week. The reps from DOT and NYCT discussed the issue at a recent meeting for Community Board 6’s transportation committee, where they also discussed existing conditions for the route for the M23.

Regarding the stops near Stuyvesant Town, NYCT is considering consolidating the stops at East 20th Street/First Avenue and the East 20th Street Loop because they are about 450 feet apart, which is short even for local bus spacing, according to NYCT. The two stops are only on the westbound side of the route.

Committee member Gene Santoro argued that consolidating the two stops might not be beneficial for residents who regularly use the M23, specifically because of Stuy Town and Peter Cooper’s population.

“Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village are a mixture of older people and younger people with kids,” he said. “I would bet that’s why that stop is there in the first place. (The stop at Avenue C and East 20th Street) is all the way at the river. That’s a longer distance than one city block.”

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CB6 eyes city-owned sites for open space

Baruch College’s pedestrian block on East 25th Street (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Baruch College’s pedestrian block on East 25th Street (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Community Board 6 is exploring opportunities to create more open space in the district and discussed the possibility of utilizing city-owned property to do so at the most recent Land Use and Waterfront committee meeting earlier this month.

Committee Chair Terrence O’Neal said that the board is currently combing the neighborhood for spaces owned by the city that might be available, but it isn’t always a straightforward transaction.

“When (the city does) own property, they want to make something out of it,” he said, referencing the deal the city made with Brookdale and Hunter College for the planned sanitation garage.

Although residents are still fighting the plan, the sanitation garage proposal for the Brookdale site at East 25th Street and First Avenue came about because the original site of the sanitation garage, at East 74th Street and York Avenue, was sold to Memorial Sloan Kettering hospital. The sale provided funding for the garage, which needed to be replaced, and the land on East 25th Street will revert back to city ownership when Hunter College moves the facilities currently in that space up to Yorkville as part of the MSK project.

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Visana owners get a break–for now

Visana pizzeria and cocktail lounge (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Visana pizzeria and cocktail lounge (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The owners of troubled First Avenue cocktail lounge Visana got a break on Tuesday when an administrative law judge granted an adjournment during a hearing at the State Liquor Authority to give them time to get an attorney. The adjournment for the two owners, David Jaffee and Ross Rachlin, came despite objections from the attorney for the SLA.

Margarita Marsico, associate general counsel for the authority, objected to Judge Ann Cullen’s adjournment because, she argued, Jaffee and Rachlin have had more than enough time to get legal representation. She said that prior to scheduling the hearing, the owners no longer had an attorney but Jaffee had indicated that he would be representing himself.

“We proposed this date ahead of time and he’d had ample time to get a lawyer,” she said. “He’s had an attorney (previously) and said that this date was okay. He had ways of meeting me and getting in touch with me about this.”

Marsico added that, due to the serious nature of the charges over noise, a number of residents had come to testify and they had agreed to appear under the presumption that they would actually get to testify at the Tuesday hearing.

“I have an 83-year-old resident who’s sick who came to testify,” she said. “It’s unusual to have residents testify in a case like this and I have four who came today. I respect everyone’s right to representation but he knew how to hire a liquor lawyer to apply for the license and he acts like he doesn’t know what to do now.”

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