CompassRock closes up shop

CompassRock CEO David Sorise

CompassRock CEO David Sorise

By Sabina Mollot

The company set up to manage Stuyvesant Town after it fell into receivership has closed.

CompassRock was originally founded by special servicer CWCapital in 2012 to manage multifamily properties around the country.

However, its two biggest jobs were at the 11,200-plus-unit Stuy Town, and at Riverton Houses in Harlem, where it managed 1,229 apartments.

In January this year, CompassRock lost its contract at Riverton when CWCapital sold the property to A&E.  Then in April, the firm got the boot from Stuy Town when new owner Blackstone replaced it with its own subsidiary company, StuyTown Property Services.

CWCapital declined to comment on the current status of CompassRock, whose website has been down for months. Phone numbers listed for the company had no option to leave a message.

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CompassRock officially out, Blackstone’s management company named

rick1

Rick Hayduk  (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Three months after taking over the property, Blackstone has announced the name of its own recently formed management company that will handle the day-to-day operations at Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village. This is following CompassRock’s official exit from ST/PCV on April 1.

Unlike CompassRock, the new company, called “StuyTown Property Services,” will — as its name suggests — just be for the management of ST/PCV, according to a Blackstone spokesperson.

In other management changes, along with four recent plumbing hires, StuyTown Property Services has also added three new people to its resident relations division. Those employees will be responsible for cleanliness inspections, maintenance issues and hands-on resident relations, said Blackstone spokesperson Paula Chirhart.

“The termination of the previous management agreement and the formal establishment of StuyTown Property Services marks a major milestone for all residents,” said Nadeem Meghji, senior managing director for Blackstone. “We are pleased to have Rick (Hayduk) and his StuyTown Property Services team in place and ready to serve the community.”

In January, resort and residential industry veteran Rick Hayduk was hired as Stuy Town’s new general manager. He was also the first person in that role to move into the community since the Met Life days, and is the new company’s CEO.

Meanwhile, this is the second apartment complex CompassRock has lost from its portfolio in recent months. CompassRock, CWCapital’s management arm formed in 2012, had been managing the 1,229-unit Riverton Houses in Harlem while CWCapital oversaw the property following an over-leveraged deal. Then last December, Riverton was sold to A&E Real Estate, and according to a spokesperson, Daniel White, A&E prefers to do its own management of the properties it owns.

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T&V toy drive deadline extended

Dec17 toys

Some of the toys already donated (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

The deadline for Town & Village’s annual toy drive benefitting Mount Sinai Beth Israel has been extended to December 21. This year the deadline for the drive was earlier than those of past drives (December 11), which was aimed to helping the hospital distribute the toys to the children it serves in a more timely fashion. However, T&V’s partners in this endeavor, CompassRock, Waterside Plaza management and M&T Bank, have generously allowed the use of their spaces for a longer period in order to accept additional donations.

At this time, toys and other gifts appropriate for kids up to 14 years old can be left at any of the following dropoff points:

Stuyvesant Town’s management office, 276 First Avenue in the First Avenue Loop

M&T Bank at the corner of First Avenue and East 23rd Street

Waterside, where donation boxes will be at the management office, 30 Waterside Plaza; the Health Club, 35 Waterside Plaza; and the Community Center, 40 Waterside Plaza

Town & Village office, 20 West 22nd Street, Suite 1503, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.

Due to hospital policy, all donated items must be new and unwrapped. All gifts are appreciated, though the highest need is gifts for older boys. Gifts from this drive go to children stuck spending their holidays in hospital rooms as well as families the hospital serves through its outpatient clinics, many of whom can’t afford to get presents for their children.

Town & Village would like to thank our partners on this project as well as our incredible readers who have donated already.

 

Blackstone addresses tenants’ concerns

Market raters bash deal, ask for insider priority on affordable apts.,

Blackstone says students have been top complaint of residents

Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, Blackstone senior managing director Nadeem Meghji, Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Vicki Been, Congress Member Carolyn Maloney, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, Council Member Dan Garodnick and ST-PCV Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg listen as Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, Blackstone senior managing director Nadeem Meghji, Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Vicki Been, Congress Member Carolyn Maloney, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, Council Member Dan Garodnick and ST-PCV Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg listen as Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Following the news about a change in ownership just a few days earlier, over 500 Stuy Town residents showed up at a meeting on Saturday where a representative for the new landlord, Blackstone, answered questions.

Mayor Bill de Blasio popped by for a bit and spoke, as did U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, but the real star of the show wound up being Nadeem Meghji, senior managing director for Blackstone. Meghji started off by telling tenants at Baruch College’s auditorium that their various concerns, brought up in the days following the sale, were being taken “very seriously.” He indicated CompassRock would not continue to manage the complex, but then later said there isn’t a timeline for any change in management teams. Meghji, who was in charge of the Stuy Town deal, frequently elicited applause when responding to tenants’ questions although he admitted he didn’t yet have enough information to answer them all. He told tenants, in response to questions about student apartments, that Blackstone had been hearing about this issue more than any other.

He added that Blackstone would be seeking further tenant feedback via focus groups and a hotline.

“We know that we are going to need to earn your trust,” he said.

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Residents have mixed reactions to affordability plan

Jonathan Gray listens to tenants. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Jonathan Gray listens to tenants. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

At the big announcement on Tuesday, residents who’d skipped work that morning as well as a number of retirees made up most of the crowd (along with a gaggle of reporters, photographers and cameramen).

Many seemed shocked by the news, and not all were thrilled.

One man, as he walked home along the First Avenue Loop, stopped Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen to tell her she had done a beautiful job explaining the situation. However, he then added, “It doesn’t impact me because I’m market rate, so I’ll be killing myself this afternoon.”

He then walked away, as Glen responded, “Please don’t do that.”

Residents also gave Blackstone’s Jonathan Gray an earful after the press conference. When one resident asked if CompassRock would continue to maintain the complex, he asked, “What do you think of them?” The tenant then said, “Get rid of them,” before several other tenants also began descending on him with their own complaints.

A resident of 30 years who was standing nearby, Lawrence Scheyer, simply said, “I hope Blackstone will be good stewards of this property.”

Scheyer, a real estate attorney and member of Community Board Six’s Transportation Committee, said he also wondered how the tax breaks offered to the owner in exchange for preserving affordability in 5,000 units would impact funding for the MTA. “They get a fair amount of revenue from (mortgage) recording taxes,” he explained.

Rosemary Newnham, a mom of two in Peter Cooper who does some freelance medical writing, said she didn’t think the new arrangement would help her. Her husband is a doctor and she guessed they probably bring in just over $130,000 a year. But, she added, “What is middle income in Manhattan?” She guessed it was closer to $200,000, due to costs like babysitters and daycare. She added that the last articles she wrote, “I paid for because I had to hire a sitter.”

Newnham added, “My husband does important work, saving people’s lives and we barely have any money after we pay our rent.”

Her two-bedroom in Peter Cooper, where her family’s lived since 2008, rents for close to $6,000. After the “Roberts” settlement, the couple got a check for around $100, if it was even that much.

So that new deal “is not going to change our situation as far as I can see,” Newnham said.

John “Butch” Purcell, a resident of Stuy Town since 1968, seemed more optimistic about the future.

“I think it’s a great move in terms of the 20-year thing,” said Purcell, who’s retired from a career in drug treatment counseling. “I think de Blasio stepping in was a very good move. It’s a good situation. Most people are feeling relaxed although not too relaxed because we don’t know what’s coming after this, anything that’s unsaid. What’s coming down the pike we don’t know but it’s a lot better than it was.”

Marina Metalios, a 25-year resident, was also cautiously enthusiastic. Metalios is a tenant activist who also works for UHAB, an organization that helps tenants convert their buildings to affordable co-ops, among other assistance for tenants.

“I want to see the next generation have an opportunity to live here,” she said. “I have a niece and nephew born in Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper and I wonder if they could stick around when they’re adults. It seems the plan for those 5,000 units to be targeted by income might create an opportunity for that. I like that, but what happens in the 20th year? Year 20 is troublesome for me. I want something that is permanently affordable or affordable for a very long time. I don’t see how this plays out after year 20.”

The Tenants Association meanwhile issued an official statement, praising the commitments made by the owner.

“After years of fighting to deliver a more stable and affordable future for our community, today we can celebrate an important success,” said Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg.

“We have eliminated the incentives that have existed for landlords to try to kick rent-stabilized tenants to the curb, and provided security for ‘Roberts’ tenants when the J-51 tax abatement expires in 2020. We welcome Blackstone and Ivanhoé Cambridge’s commitment to protecting our valued open spaces, keeping Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper as a unified whole, and endeavoring to create an environment that is most suitable for long term tenants seeking to develop roots here.

“We also strongly support the steps being taken to assist the senior population in our community. This deal is the result of years of advocacy, and we welcome the opportunity to work with Blackstone and Ivanhoé Cambridge to bring stability back to this community.”

Linda Ayache, a longtime resident, said her concern was about the students in the community or specifically frathouse antics she said she recently witnessed.

Last week, Ayache said a bunch of “young people jumped into the fountain and the women were rubbing themselves like it was a wet t-shirt contest.” Security didn’t respond right away, she said. Security itself was another issue Ayache hoped would be a priority for a new owner.

“Last night a gang of boys accosted a female at 9 Oval at 5 p.m.,” she said.

Former ST leasing agent says she was fired over sick days

Annette Beatrice said she started suffering from respiratory issues and migraines after construction began at the leasing office. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Annette Beatrice said she started suffering from respiratory issues and migraines after construction began at the leasing office. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

A former leasing agent working for Stuyvesant Town filed a lawsuit against CompassRock on Friday, saying she was wrongly fired after becoming sick during a construction project at the First Avenue leasing office.

The former employee, Annette Beatrice, said she’d been working at the property since getting hired by Tishman Speyer in 2009. However, it was during February of 2013 when a project to expand the leasing office caused her workplace to be “filled with dust, pungent smells and the constant ear-piercing sounds of drilling and hammering.” As a result, Beatrice said that she started to suffer from migraines as well as respiratory issues and was vomiting at work.

Beatrice said that in an attempt to recover, she was out of work for three weeks. She’d discussed the matter of her health problems stemming from the office environment, but then nothing was done about it, she said. Meanwhile, her condition left her unable to focus at work.

Beatrice said it was on or around July 12 of 2013 when she spoke with a supervisor to request taking a few days off to try and recover from her ongoing symptoms. She was then told she could, as long as she provided a doctor’s note upon her return. However, after 10 days passed, CompassRock’s human resources manager, Hope Gause, called her to inform her she’d be terminated if she didn’t “immediately” provide the note, the suit said. Gause is named in the complaint as a co-defendant. The next day, Gause fired her, Beatrice said.

In the suit, the former employee accused CompassRock of not engaging in a “good faith” process, adding that her symptoms, such as migraines and respiratory issues, constitute disabilities under the law. She claimed her request for time off constituted “a reasonable accommodation under the (New York City Human Rights Law).”

Beatrice is suing for a total of $2,500,000 ($500,000 for lost pay and benefits as well as $2,000,000 in damages including “pain and suffering, anxiety, humiliation, loss of enjoyment of life, physical injury and emotional distress and medical expences”).

Beatrice’s attorney, Douglas Lipsky, declined to comment on pending litigation. A spokesperson for CWCapital also declined to comment.

According to Beatrice’s LinkedIn profile, she currently works for Stellar Management. An email sent to a company email address requesting comment wasn’t returned.

From laundry rooms to noisy neighbors

Stuy Town’s general manager discusses projects and policy

Apr16 David Sorise

David Sorise, ST/PCV general manager (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Earlier this month, Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village’s general manager David Sorise sat with a Town & Village reporter and answered a number of questions about ongoing projects and policy in the property.

The interview, which took place at the gleaming new management office, also centered around CompassRock’s hope of managing Co-op City (which was covered in another article last week).

As for other issues that came up, one was ongoing construction and renovation work.

Stuyvesant Town buildings are now in the process of getting a new intercom system, similar to the ones now used in Peter Cooper Village.

Sorise said every building will be getting the intercoms. “Our old system is difficult to service because it is an old technology,” he explained.

When working on the year’s capital budget, management determined that replacing the system would actually be more cost effective than maintaining it.

“It makes sense — it’s something we had to do proactively. The project should be completed this year.”

Since it’s a capital project that does mean it could be applicable for a major capital improvement (MCI) increase.

Another effort is to become more energy efficient and currently building stairways are getting outfitted with LED lights. The next project is to install the long-lasting bulbs in hallways too.

“The hallways will happen later this year,” said Sorise.

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CompassRock 1 of 3 finalists to manage Co-op City

Co-op City as seen from the east (Photo via Wikipedia)

Co-op City as seen from the east (Photo via Wikipedia)

By Sabina Mollot

CompassRock, which was still a startup when it took over the day-to-day operations of Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village, has recently set its eyes on an even bigger catch.

Last November, the Denver-based management arm of CWCapital became one of eight companies that put out a bid to manage Co-op City in The Bronx, and now it’s considered one of three favorites.

Jeffrey Buss, an attorney for the co-op, which is known as a company as Riverbay Corporation, said the goal is to pick a new management company by the end of this month, although there have already been delays.

First the 15-member co-op board has to make a decision, but even then Wells Fargo, which has a $621.5 million mortgage with the property, still has a say, and HUD (a major guarantor) and the state housing agency are also key players.

Meanwhile, Cleve Taylor, the president of the board, isn’t sold on CompassRock, explaining that he finds the company’s lack of experience – it formed in 2012 — concerning.

“That is one of my chief concerns,” he said. “It appears in our management criteria that with respect to managing Co-op City, they are supposed to have five years of experience. It appears to me on the surface that CompassRock does not meet that criteria. So that is a major concern of mine. My second concern is that CompassRock does not have sufficient experience managing Mitchell-Lama cooperatives in the State of New York. CompassRock’s relationship is mostly landlord-tenant based.”

He added that he thinks Riverbay might even be better off without a third party manager.

“It is my opinion that if a qualified managing agent is not found that Riverbay Corporation should remain a self-managed entity,” said Taylor, “since our managers have more experience than CompassRock, LLC. It’s just a plain fact.” However, he added, bank documents contain language that says there must be a managing agent or general manager.

Co-op City has been searching for a new managing agent since last October, and its last management company, Marion Scott Inc., has been out of the picture since November. Riverbay and MSI are currently in litigation, with the latter having sued in an attempt to get reinstated. The property, meanwhile has accused its former managers of mismanaging money and labor relations with the property and it is now in the midst of hammering out a $6.4 million settlement to be paid to employees by September. As a result, Co-op City’s residents will likely soon be facing a 4.5 percent hike in their monthly carrying charges in order to pay for it.

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CW sues insurer over Sandy claims

 

Workers in the repair and cleanup effort in Peter Cooper Village in November, 2012

Workers in the repair and cleanup effort in Peter Cooper Village in November, 2012

 

By Sabina Mollot
It was 28 months ago when the wrath of Hurricane Sandy caused the East River to rise 14 feet and barrel its way into Manhattan’s East Side. In Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, the gushing water caused unprecedented damage, destroying the management office and flooding basements and garages. But according to CWCapital, its insurance company has still not paid over a third of what the owner believes is owed for the damage.
The suit, filed last Thursday, said Lexington Insurance Co. has only paid $60 million of the repair costs and estimated losses that the owner has claimed were actually over $95 million. Adding insult to injury, the insurance company is also trying to bring the entire amount, including what has already been paid, to appraisal.

In its complaint, which is over 100 pages long, CW said the insurer, despite having its agents examine the damage on site, has “capped what it was willing to pay, regardless of the costs of repair.” Additionally, “Lexington simply ignored PCV/ST’s pleas for payment while at the same time, acknowledging that they were covered.”

The suit, which was first reported by Law360, noted how employees on the property immediately started work on the repairs to minimize the inconvenience to residents, which CW said served to minimize business interruption losses.
CW had hoped to get the insurer to agree on a $100 million settlement but Lexington and agents for Lexington from an insurance industry adjuster called Vericlaim “rebuffed those efforts.”

14th Street between Avenues B and C during Hurricane Sandy in 2012 (Photographer unknown)

East River water buried cars outside of Stuyvesant Town when Hurricane Sandy hit. (Photographer unknown)

CW said it has since refined its estimate to reflect newer information and now believes the actual costs from repairs and losses amount to $95,296,483. The owner said the insurer has been provided with access to the property’s employees as well as the related documentation. “PCV/ST has responded to reasonable, and many unreasonable requests for information by Lexington and Vericlaim,” CW wrote.

CW also wrote that the refusal to pay the full estimate is the result of an “incomplete” inspection that was conducted in 2013 by an insurance industry construction consultant called Wakelee Associates. “Based largely on Wakelee’s results,” Lexington informed CW that the loss and damage amounted to about $60 million. Close to $53 million of that has actually been paid out, which, with the $7,500,000 deductible, reflects Lexington’s $60 million estimate.

CW also said some of its costs have been challenged in cases where equipment had to be replaced rather than just repaired. CW defended its actions though, citing in one example the property’s heat controls. The system had controllers that were destroyed in many buildings when Sandy hit. A different type of system was then installed since the original one was no longer commercially available.

CW gave some other examples of not receiving all it believes the property was owed, including in work relating to replacement of all the buildings’ cast iron drain pipes, which had all gotten clogged with water and debris. When dozens of onsite plumbers couldn’t unclog them, contractors had to be hired to saw through concrete basement floors, which meant additional costs to replace floors, drywall, tile and other property. A year later, Wakelee “took the position they could have been unclogged,” said CW, adding that there were no objections when the work was being done. CW said Lexington also accused the owner of having a “premeditated plan” to replace them.

Workers clean out an Avenue C garage in November, 2012 (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Workers clean out an Avenue C garage in November, 2012 (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

The document went on to list other things CW was stuck footing all or some of the bill for such as replacement of steel window and door frames that had been exposed to river water and had corroded, work at the old management office, now converted into apartments (specifically installation of equipment and furniture), damaged fire mains, asbestos removal from buildings, reimbursement for employees’ cleanup/repair work (since they were diverted from their regular duties to do it) and income loss from laundry rooms, garages and the fitness center.
CW is also attempting to block Lexington from pursuing appraisal.

A spokesperson for CWCapital said he couldn’t comment on pending litigation, and a spokesperson for Lexington didn’t respond to a request for comment.

THANK YOU: Readers donate hundreds of toys to T&V holiday drive

Bonnie Robbins, coordinator of children and family services at Mt. Sinai Beth Israel, stands by some of the donated toys. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Bonnie Robbins, coordinator of children and family services at Mt. Sinai Beth Israel, stands by some of the donated toys. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot
Each year during the holiday season, Town & Village holds a toy drive benefitting a local hospital and, thanks to our generous readers and other community members, hundreds of new toys were donated.

All of the toys (we stopped counting at 300 but there were plenty more) were brought to Mt. Sinai Beth Israel last Friday. As always, the toys are given to kids who are stuck spending their holidays in hospital rooms as well as the children of patients of the hospital’s outpatient programs and clinics. In many cases, those patients can’t afford for shop for presents for their kids.

For this drive, Town & Village partnered with Stuyvesant Town management, Waterside Plaza management and M&T Bank on First Avenue, who all provided convenient donation dropoff sites.

The drive, which began in mid-November, ended last Thursday. However, it was during the last week when many of the donations were made, including, in one case, an entire truck load at once. (This was after a Stuy Town family held a party at which guests were each asked to bring a donated gift.) The haul included Barbies, Lego sets, remote control operated helicopters, tricycles, sports equipment, jewelry making kits, board games, books, action figures, toy instruments and stuffed animals.

Bonnie Robbins, Ph.D., the coordinator of children and family services at Mt. Sinai Beth Israel, noted that the variety of donated items means it’s that much easier for hospital staffers to match gifts to kids’ interests.

While sorting out the toys at her office, Robbins said, “This year the community has really outdone itself in terms of its generosity and words cannot express how appreciative we are.
“The toys,” she added, “really make a difference between our kids having a happy holiday or not. Sometimes the presents they get from the program are the only gifts they receive. When they see them, their faces just light up and we want to thank each and every person for their thoughtfulness and continued support of what we do.”

The staff of Town & Village would also like to extend a heartfelt thank you to our readers for their generosity as well as to CWCapital/CompassRock, Waterside and M&T Bank, for their participation.
We also wish all in the community a Happy New Year.

Over 700 area residents get trained by National Guard for future disasters

The auditorium of the High School for Health Professions and Human Services was packed with people, many from Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village,  to be trained in emergency preparedness from the New York National Guard. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

The auditorium of the High School for Health Professions and Human Services was packed with people, many from Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village, to be trained in emergency preparedness from the New York National Guard. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Over 700 community residents, many from Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, received training in emergency preparedness from the New York National Guard last Thursday evening, courtesy of a program initiated by Governor Cuomo and designed by the Department of Homeland Security.

The training was led by Captain Glenford Rose, who advised area residents to be aware of different kinds of emergencies, including fires and gas leaks, and not just Sandy-like disasters. Rose reminded residents, who had packed the auditorium at the High School for Health Professions and Human Services, to stock up on supplies and to have a kit ready with everything needed in an emergency. Participants at the training received a knapsack full of necessities, but Rose emphasized that this kit was just a starting point and noted that individuals should make sure to customize their kit for their needs, such as accounting for pets, special medications and adding in various important documents.

Councilwoman Rosie Mendez was at the event and had a tip of her own: fill the bathtub with water.

“But make sure the lock works,” she added. “I put water in mine and two hours later it was gone!”

A number of other local elected officials were involved in the event, including Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. City Councilman Dan Garodnick and State Senator Brad Hoylman also made appearances at the event, with both offering opening remarks for the training.

Garodnick recounted his experience with a group National Guard troops during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, in which he led about 50 servicemen and women all the way through Stuyvesant Town, on a chilly November night while the power was still out, in an attempt to reach Waterside Plaza before they were met with a locked gate at the northeast corner of Peter Cooper Village.

“That was the end of my military career,” Garodnick joked.

The Manhattan CERT team also collaborated on the event with the governor’s office, in addition to New York State Community Affairs, the PCVST Management office and the ST-PCV Tenants Association.

Ready New York liaison Virginia Rosario had put together 950 packets of materials to hand out at the event and ST-PCV Tenants Association president and Ready New York member John Marsh put together a flier that was posted in all Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village buildings, courtesy of management.

Alexandria Wiedenbaum and Sergeant Major Armando Lopez, helping people sign in and register for the training.  (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Alexandria Wiedenbaum and Sergeant Major Armando Lopez, helping people sign in and register for the training. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

There were 739 people at the training meeting, which wound up being the highest number of people that have been trained at a single event. Following the training last Thursday, there was an additional event in Lower Manhattan last weekend where 455 people were trained. Since the program was launched in February, the New York State National Guard has held 205 of these events and trained 27,245 people.

Erik Bottcher, a representative from Governor Cuomo’s office, said that he was thrilled with the turnout and said it probably won’t be the last opportunity for residents to find out about emergency preparedness.

“This is an ongoing project,” he said. “As a storm-affected area, there will definitely be more events here in the future.”

Garodnick noted after the event that the chaos following Hurricane Sandy increased awareness for emergency preparedness and since then the number of these kinds of events has increased.

“It is really important for people to be prepared for the unexpected and the expected in New York,” he said. “We’re no strangers to natural disasters or other emergencies but the time to focus on this issue is in a moment of calm. I think because of the number of people it affected and the duration of time that they were affected, (Hurricane Sandy) opened a lot of eyes toward emergency preparedness.”

Alexandria Wiedenbaum, who has been in the Army National Guard for over two years, usually leads trainings in Staten Island with Sergeant Major Armando Lopez. There are eight teams of throughout the state and each team is responsible for a different region, but Wiedenbaum said that she and Lopez, as well as others from teams throughout the state, had congregated at the Thursday training, because it was such a big event.

“This is our tax dollars invested,” Lopez said of the training sessions. “Sandy told us that there’s a problem. Sandy showed how many people weren’t prepared so we’re trying to change that.”

Local resident cries foul as tree is axed on East 20th street

A tree near 440 East 20th Street was cut down.

A tree near 440 East 20th Street was cut down.

By Sabina Mollot
Last Tuesday afternoon, a Stuyvesant Town resident walking past 440 and 430 East 20th Street said she noticed that a very tall, mature tree was in the midst of being cut down.
The resident, who asked that her name not be published, told Town & Village she’d asked a nearby Public Safety officer what was going on and was initially told that the tree was just being trimmed for safety reasons.
She was also told it had to do with the tree being in the way of a ramp for disabled residents that was going to
be built alongside the building.
The building already has a ramp but according to the officer, that one wasn’t up to code.

The stump of the tree was later removed as well.

The stump of the tree was later removed as well.

The resident added that after she stuck around a while, it became clear that the tree was actually being cut down, so she headed over to the new management office to make a complaint about what seemed like unnecessary arborcide as well as the lack of notice that a tree would be coming down.
That’s when she said she was told by a property manager that the tree was actually diseased.
She didn’t get a response as to the lack of notice though other than management tends to get overwhelmed due to all the work going on at the property at any given time.
After returning later in the day to the spot where the tree had been, the stump that had been there briefly after it was chopped was also gone.
A spokesperson for CWCapital did not respond to a request for comment on the tree.

Winter sports coming to ST Playground 11

A promotional photo shows what the Courts at Stuy Town will look like.

A promotional photo shows what the Courts at Stuy Town will look like.

By Sabina Mollot

Last week, CompassRock announced, via its tenant emailed newsletter, that Playground 11 would soon become home to “The Courts at Stuy Town,” a center for various winter sports programs to be held under a heated tent.

The programs, which have separate fees, are for residents and their guests and include Super Soccer Stars, batting cages with the Peter Stuyvesant Little League, golf and instructional basketball for kids and basketball games for adults. During hours where there’s nothing scheduled, residents can still use the space for ping pong and basketball. There will also be free film screenings and arts & crafts, management said. The Courts are set to open on November 15 and run through March 1 with the hours of 9 a.m.-9 p.m.

Currently, registration is only open for the instructional basketball with Dribbl and Super Soccer Stars. Dribbl will be $360 or $450 depending on the session and the soccer program costs between $365 and $400 depending on the session.

Prior to CompassRock’s announcement, the Tenants Association gave neighbors a heads up via email blast that the indoor sports programming were on the way. The TA noted that while it would have appreciated if the owner had consulted with tenants before digging up the the area around the playground to start installing the electrical system, the center could be a positive addition as long as it doesn’t become disruptive to tenants in neighboring buildings.

This week, Tenants Association Chair Susan Steinberg said that while tenants haven’t really been asking questions about The Courts, the TA still has its own concerns. One is potential disruptive noise from the scheduled activities or the tent’s heating system. Another is making sure that users of the space are screened to make sure it remains for residents and their guests. Steinberg said another concern is security if the roof of the structure is tall enough to block out lighting.

“The TA is keeping its eyes on the progress of Playground 11,” she said.

Council Member Dan Garodnick added that the noise issue “has been raised with management and we will stay on top of them.”

In response, a CWCapital spokesperson that the tent should actually help reduce the noise.

“As far as noise, the playground will be open the same hours and have the same activities as in the summer, spring and fall, and we expect the tent will dampen much of the noise. We will monitor the noise and take additional mitigation steps if it is necessary.” The spokesperson, Brian Moriarty, added, “PCVST is a very active community, and based on the enormous popularity of the ice skating rink, it’s clear that people like to stay active during the winter too. So we’re very excited that people will now be able to enjoy the playground throughout the year, just as they have in the warmer months.”

Meanwhile, a couple of residents in buildings close to the playground, which is on the east side of the Oval, told T&V said they were still concerned about noise.

Jill Pratzon, a resident in a building overlooking the playground, said she and her husband would prefer the playground as it is.

“We value the quiet immensely. It makes the extra 15 minute walk to Avenue C from the L train count for something,” said Pratzon. “Our view is great, too; we can see the Oval across the basketball courts. The view and the tranquility are also amenities that we pay for; if we lose those, my husband asks, do we get an MCR? You know, a Major Capital Refund? Management says on their website that the sound will be minimized by the tent, but they don’t say that it will be eliminated.”

Pratzon also offered an update on Wednesday morning, noting that due to the bleating of a construction vehicle, there was “no need for an alarm.” Work began at around 8 a.m. “This is going to be a tall structure,” she noted.

Another resident, who didn’t want his name published, said his main concern was security and the structure blocking views around the playground. “We have a plethora of carts and construction vehicles and this will create blind spots along the pedestrian paths,” he said. He added that with the time it would take to assemble and then disassemble the structure, “for two months, this is going to be a construction zone.”

Peter Cooper lawn could become another playground

Lawn in Peter Cooper Village (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Lawn in Peter Cooper Village (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot
The east side of Peter Cooper Village where there’s currently a spacious lawn could become another playground.

A resident of 8 Peter Cooper Village told Town & Village that last week he saw a man walking around on the lawn between his building and 541 East 20th Street, measuring things like the circumferences of trees and the length of shadows the trees cast. When the resident, who didn’t want his name published, asked the man what he was doing, the reply was that he was an architect hired by CWCapital and that the owner was thinking of turning the lawn into a playground.

According to the resident, who’s since started circulating a petition against changing the lawn to a playground, the green space is already utilized as active play space by kids to play ball. Additionally, he said, the other playgrounds aren’t over-crowded.

“Even people in our building with children are against it,” he fumed. He added, “If I hadn’t asked the guy what he was doing, all of a sudden there would have been bulldozers tearing it up.”

After the conversation with the architect, the resident spoke with fellow PCV resident Council Member Dan Garodnick, who in turn, spoke with management to say he too was opposed to repurposing the green space.

“This is a bad idea and I hope they shelve it,” Garodnick told T&V. “The playgrounds in our community are great. If anything, they should do a better job making sure that people are respecting the rules. As to the green spaces, community members don’t know if they’re for dogs or for people or neither or for both.”

In related news, a winter roof is currently in the works for Stuyvesant Town’s Playground 11.
A spokesperson for CWCapital declined to comment at this time on the green space and Playground 11.

Three people have attempted to pay with fake hundreds at City Wings Café

Oct2 City WingsBy Sabina Mollot

City Wings Café, a new restaurant across from Peter Cooper Village, has a message for customers who’ve been attempting to pay for their food with counterfeit bills:

The fake buck stops here.

Will Hsu, the manager at City Wings, said that at least three different people (two men and one woman) have come in for the past three Sunday afternoons trying to pass off fake Benjamins as the real deal when purchasing small items like sodas. The phony customers have come in at especially busy times but still got caught since Hsu has to personally approve purchases made with large bills.

What’s caught his attention is that these bills look completely legit, passing the ink pen test. However, they flunk the smell test when the security line, a strip down the middle of new bills that’s supposed to be strong, has ripped easily each time.

When Hsu confronted the fraudsters, “they play dumb. ‘Oh, I’ll be back with another bill.’ They’re not coming back.”

And since the M.O. has remained completely the same, he believes the incidents are connected with a group of people involved. Hsu doesn’t remember much about how the suspects look, other than they are in their late 20s or early 30s, black and “very clean, legit, regular people. They order something small, like two sodas, something under five dollars.”

On Tuesday, Hsu put up a sign on City Wings’ door, warning would-be fraudsters that the next time a bill is suspected of being fake, police will be called. He also said it’s a heads-up for the other restaurants in the neighborhood.

Yves Jadot, one of the owners of the restaurants Petite Abeille and Vamos, which are across the street from City Wings on First Avenue, said he was not aware of anyone coming in recently attempting to pay with fake hundreds. Rather, it’s simply a problem his restaurants deal with from time to time. More often people will attempt to pay with fake twenties since it’s known employees check the hundreds.

“When someone buys a coffee with a hundred it’s a red flag,” said Jadot.