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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Cops issue summonses for underage drinking at First Avenue lounge

Mar17 Visana

Visana, a pizzeria in front and cocktail lounge in back, on First Avenue (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Visana, the First Avenue speakeasy style cocktail lounge that’s previously drawn the ire of neighbors due to nighttime noise, had the 13th Precinct’s commanding officer seeing red recently after officers issued seven summonses for underage drinking.

Deputy Inspector Brendan Timoney said the 13th Precinct will be taking a more active role with regards to disruptive patrons at Visana after those incidents, which occurred at the end of February.

“We’ve been on top of them lately but that was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Timoney said. “(Visana owner David Jaffee) was crying out in the street saying they didn’t want this to happen but they advertised a party that night. They knew this would happen when they packed the place.”

Jaffee and his partner Ross Rachlin have been at a number of meetings of the 13th Precinct Community Council in the last few months but were not present this Tuesday as Timoney addressed community members.

Area residents, who were at the meeting to find out if progress had been made in keeping the bar under control, praised the police officers who have responded to the scene in dealing with the drunken crowds.

Visana recently failed to get the support of a Community Board 6 committee in its hopes for renewal of its liquor license. The business has an upcoming hearing with the State Liquor Authority regarding charges on noise and license issues.

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CB6 committee cautiously approves license for vegan cafe

V-Spot owner Daniel Carabaño addresses the BASA Committee while an attorney for the business stands by.

V-Spot owner Daniel Carabaño addresses the BASA Committee while an attorney for the business stands by.

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Despite some neighbors’ concerns about connections to a comedy club that’s frequently cited for nighttime noise, the Community Board 6 Business Affairs and Street Activities (BASA) committee approved a new vegan café’s request for a beer and wine license. This was after initially rejecting the application in January.

Committee chair Keith Powers said at a committee meeting at the end of February that when VSpot, the new restaurant at 241 East 24th Street, originally came before the committee, they were rejected because there were concerns about the restaurant’s connection to the New York Comedy Club next door, so the committee asked the owner to come back and explain the connection.

“People felt like they might be artificially expanding the comedy club,” said Powers.

VSpot owner Daniel Carabaño explained that he is fully responsible for operating the restaurant, and New York Comedy Club co-owner Scott Lindner said at the meeting that the partnership between the club and the café was merely out of expediency when the vegan restaurant wanted to open a location in the space.

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Community Board 6 committee denies Visana’s license request

Visana owners David Jaffee and Ross Rachlin (standing) argue they’ve been judged harshly since opening their First Avenue pizzeria/cocktail bar.

Visana owners David Jaffee and Ross Rachlin (standing) argue they’ve been judged harshly since opening their First Avenue pizzeria/cocktail bar.

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Community Board 6 members objected to the re-approval of a liquor license for the problematic First Avenue lounge Visana after owners David Jaffee and Ross Rachlin approached the board again due to a mistake from the State Liquor Authority when their license was originally approved last year.

The two owners, whose new business has been plagued by complaints from neighbors about loud music and rowdy patrons following their opening late last year, appeared before the Business Affairs and Street Activities committee last Thursday night. The appearance was related to the State Liquor Authority’s realization that it was a mistake to issue the license because of the 500 foot rule, which states that if an owner wants to open a bar within 500 feet of three other liquor licenses there needs to be a special hearing to prevent residential areas from being oversaturated by bars.

The community board’s vote is only advisory so the vote did not affect the lounge’s current license or ability to stay open but committee chair Keith Powers said that the objection could negatively affect the business’s standing with the SLA.

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First Ave. lounge cited for noise is trying to renew liquor license

Visana, a speakeasy style lounge that’s also a pizzeria (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Visana, a speakeasy style lounge that’s also a pizzeria (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Visana, the new speakeasy style cocktail lounge on First Avenue that’s also a pizzeria in front, will be seeking the blessing of Community Board 6 for a renewal of its liquor license on Thursday.

However, as Town & Village has previously reported, the new venue, across from Stuyvesant Town, has managed to draw the ire of neighbors due to nighttime noise.

In November, cops at the 13th Precinct told neighborhood residents who’d complained about noise they’d be following up with the owner David Jaffee on that issue.

“The educating part has come and gone so we’ll deal with it accordingly,” said Detective Ray Dorrian at the time.

He’d also since then been slapped with charges by the State Liquor Authority over the noise complaints.

Another potential obstacle for the business is that too many licenses have been issued in the area already. The SLA generally only allows three full liquor licenses within 500 foot radius of one another, but according to a spokesperson for the agency, there were already three when Visana applied, but didn’t disclose this.

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CB6 gets new chair

New Community Board 6 Chair Rick Eggers (Photo courtesy of CB6)

New Community Board 6 Chair Rick Eggers (Photo courtesy of CB6)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Community Board 6 has a new chair in Murray Hill resident Rick Eggers, who was elected this past October. Eggers’s election brings an end to Stuyvesant Town’s reign over the board, as community residents Mark Thompson and Sandro Sherrod, respectively, have headed the body for the previous two three-year terms.

Eggers, who has lived in the district for 33 years and formally started as the board’s chair in November, was appointed to the board in 2008. He was a member of the Budget and Governmental Affairs Committee for eight years and served as chair on that committee for five years. He was also Vice Chair of the Board for the last three years before being elected Board Chair.

When the bylaws were revised in 2014, Eggers was chair of the Special Committee on Bylaws and was also a member of the Health and Education Committee for almost eight years. He represented the community board on the Bellevue Community Advisory Board and the Mount Sinai Beth Israel Community Advisory Council for about five years.

Eggers is currently retired but was previously a tax law specialist with the IRS and also previously did product research and product management for TIAA-CREF. He is currently a member of the New York County Democratic Committee and a member and officer of the Eleanor Roosevelt Democratic Club.

Eggers’s predecessor received a proclamation from Borough President Gale Brewer for his service that declared November 18, 2015 “Sandro Sherrod Appreciation Day” in Manhattan. State Senator Brad Hoylman also honored Sherrod with a proclamation, declaring December 16, 2015 as “Sandro Sherrod Appreciation Day” in the 27th Senate District.

In other CB6 news, District Manager Dan Miner parted ways with the board. Eggers said in a notice to board members in December that Miner was resigning to take a job involving community education on resilience, sustainability and energy efficiency. The position has yet to be filled.

ST-PCV TA will hold meeting on planned E. 20th St. ferry landing

The East River Ferry service that was launched last year recently served a million riders. Mayor Bloomberg announced that he and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn will be launching a survey to help improve the service.

The East River Ferry

The city is planning to expand existing ferry service on the East River and citywide, and a new ferry landing is to be built at East 20th Street. The Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association has invited officials from the NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC) to fill residents in on the project. The new landing would be part of the Lower East Side route, a stop between an existing stop at East 34th Street and another at Wall Street/Pier 11.

The Tenants Association is holding an open meeting on Thursday, January 14 from 6-7:30 p.m. at the VA Medical Center atrium conference room, 423 East 23rd Street east of First Avenue.

Questions are encouraged, such as:

What impacts will the new facility have on noise and pollution? Will ferry passengers crowd local buses? What effect will the ferry landing have on the new storm barrier design? What impact will the landing have on pedestrians and bicyclists in Stuyvesant Cove Park? What new commuting options will be available to Stuy Town and Peter Cooper residents?