Fed up by basketball noise, ST man aims to get rid of playground

Stuyvesant Town’s Playground 11 (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

When Stuyvesant Town management announced last year that the sports tent, which had been installed at Playground 11 for a couple of winter seasons, would not be returning, the news was sad to local sports fans but a relief to others. One of the reasons for the oversized tent’s discontinued use was that its usage didn’t justify the energy it took to heat it, but another reason was neighbors’ complaints of noise.

One of the residents who’d been affected by the noise was psychotherapist Stuart Levinson, who said his eleventh floor apartment directly overlooked it. However, even with the tent gone, according to Levinson, the noise from the playground’s basketball courts, is not.

Recently, Levinson, who was also very vocal about his dislike of the tent, started a petition to ask StuyTown Property Services to get rid of the playground as well. Instead, he suggested, the space could be used for a community garden. The petition, which he sent to Town & Village, was signed by 30 people, all in his building, 285 Avenue C.

Levinson has been living in Stuyvesant Town for two years, which is when he married his wife, a resident of 20 years. So, he acknowledged, many of his neighbors have been living in the community long enough to either not notice the noise, anymore, or not care.

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Historic park fence finally repaired

A section of fence gets lifted into the park late last month. (Photo by Mark Thompson)

By Sabina Mollot

After years of delays due to budget and contractor related issues, work finally began to complete the restoration of the historic cast iron fence that surrounds Stuyvesant Square Park’s east section.

Starting late last month, large sections of the landmarked fence were hoisted in via crane as were the fence posts, which were placed temporarily on the lawn.

At some point in the coming months there will be a ribbon cutting, but in the meantime, the construction itself is something to celebrate for community activists who’ve been pushing for this project’s completion for 20 years.

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Injured bat found in PCV

Local veterinarian Dr. Timothy Mann said he suspects this bat is an Eastern Red bat, although it’s not normal to see one during the day. (Photo by Lisa Kuklinski)

By Sabina Mollot

Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village have long been well known as sanctuaries to birds as well as squirrels, and in late 2015, the park-filled property was even visited by a coyote.

Still, a Peter Cooper Village mom was shocked on Saturday morning when she and her young son spotted a bat lying on the ground.

Additionally, the bat, which was motionless near 2 Peter Cooper Road, did not appear to be in good shape.

“I thought it was dead because it was lying face up on the ground,” the mom, Lisa Kuklinski, later told Town & Village. “Then I got closer and I could see it was trying to breathe.”

For a moment, she thought about taking it home, “but I don’t know anything about bats,” she said. So, instead Kuklinski called the Public Safety department. She went out again a couple of hours later but by then the bat was gone.

She isn’t sure what happened to the bat to cause it to have lost the use of its wings. “I don’t know if one of the hawks got it.”

Hawks have been spotted more frequently in ST/PCV, as T&V reported in February.

Fortunately, the bat did make it off the pavement alive, according to management.

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Spring is here: The proof is in the park

Mertensia virginca buds emerge from the ice at Stuyvesant Cove.

By Liza Mindemann
Stuyvesant Cove Park Manager

Despite the recent blanket of heavy snow, we are slowly moving away from the dormancy of winter into the season of spring ephemerals at Stuyvesant Cove Park. Due to another mild winter, we had consistent signs of life all winter long in the scattered lemon-yellow blooms of Golden Alexander (Zizia aurea), much dwarfed compared to their usual summer height but present nonetheless, which bloomed just above their basal leaves throughout the coldest days.

Later in the season we will notice the taller stalks of these very same flowers and in August, the swallowtail butterflies they attract. Just within the last two weeks, peaking through the remaining patches of snow, Virginia Bluebells (Martensia virginica), have also begun their spring show of small purple buds that when fully open are more of a cobalt blue and bell-shaped.

Spring ephemerals are the earliest to bloom, woken by the shift in sunlight and longer, warmer days, but short-lived, as by early June they have moved through the entire cycle of bloom, fertilization, seed production and are ready to retreat back under the earth as other, taller plants over-shadow and the large canopy trees leaf out and change the light-landscape of the garden.

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Murals will soon adorn Stuy Cove

Art to become a yearly project for SVA students

The mural will have a theme of birds and butterflies. (Pictured) A butterfly lands on a plant at Stuyvesant Cove Park. (Photo by Heather Holland)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel 

Students at the School of Visual Arts will soon be working on a project to spruce up Stuyvesant Cove Park with murals. The project is being organized through a community service program aimed at getting students more involved with the neighborhood since the university recently opened a new building at 340 East 24th Street.

Regina Degnan, a student advisor at SVA’s International Student Office, explained the project at a recent meeting for Community Board 6’s parks committee, whose members were supportive of the idea.

Dina Elkan, director of communications and events at Solar 1, was also at the meeting and said the area frequently has problems with graffiti and artwork would help combat that issue. Although the pieces will only be completed with acrylic paint and aren’t meant to be permanent, Elkan said that they would be looking into coating the completed pieces with a graffiti-resistant finish to discourage vandalism.

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Kips Bay residents ask for temporary dog run

At a Community Board 6 meeting, delays on getting the funding for the dog run for Bellevue South Park were explained. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Dog owners in Kips Bay are pushing the Parks Department to consider a temporary solution for the lack of a dog run in Bellevue South Park. Members of multiple neighborhood groups made their case at a recent Parks Committee meeting of Community Board 6, arguing that a temporary run near the basketball courts would give residents an immediate place to play with Fido instead of having to wait at least five years while the Parks Department completes additional renovations on the park.

Kips Bay Neighborhood Association member Karen Lee said at the meeting that there is an area north of the basketball courts that is already fenced in and the group has submitted an application for a grant for $280,000 from Borough President Gale Brewer’s office to make changes to the space, such as an access ramp, a nonskid surface and automatic openers for the entrance gates. Lee said that the funding is mainly necessary to make the space accessible for residents with disabilities, which she said is one of the main motivations for pushing for the dog run in the first place.

“Dog runs in the city aren’t ADA compliant,” she explained prior to the meeting. “This would be the first dog run in the city that is ADA compliant. Hospital row is right there and there’s a huge community of disabled people in this neighborhood who already use this park.”

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Neighbors concerned over proposal for floodwalls by two playgrounds

Murphy's Brother's Playground (Photo courtesy of Parks NYC)

Murphy’s Brother’s Playground (Photo courtesy of Parks NYC)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Community residents voiced their concerns about a plan to redesign two local playgrounds around a floodwall that’s part of the coastal resiliency project planned for the East Side.

They got a chance to provide input on changes for Asser Levy and Murphy’s Brothers playgrounds in a meeting last Thursday. This was the second public meeting on the subject.

Meanwhile, some residents were frustrated that the proposals from the mayor’s officer were the same as those presented at the previous meeting, held last November. Carrie Grassi, deputy director for planning at the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency, explained that this meeting was primarily scheduled to give residents a second chance to provide input at a more convenient location, since some had complained the previous meeting was held too far from the actual project area. The most recent meeting was held directly adjacent to the affected area at the VA Medical Center, while the previous meeting was held at Washington Irving High School.

“We wanted to give more people the opportunity to see the presentation with fresh eyes so they were unbiased in their feedback,” she said.

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Kips Bay dog run delayed due to city budget errors

Bellevue Park South (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Bellevue Park South (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A dog run for Bellevue Park South has been stymied by bureaucratic funding woes and miscommunications between the City Council and the Parks Department, Town & Village learned last week.

The Kips Bay Neighborhood Association had been working with City Councilmember Rosie Mendez on the project and last year, Mendez allocated $1.2 million for the new dog run. However, Mendez said she was later told by the Parks Department that the project would ultimately cost closer to $6 million.

She said officials at the city agency told her last May that the project wouldn’t be able to move forward unless it was fully funded and in the meantime, she learned that McKinley Playground on Avenue A and East 3rd Street needed about the same amount that had been allocated to the Bellevue South project, so before the city’s budget was approved in June, she decided to move the money to the McKinley project instead.

“I figured that I could either put the $1.2 million into the Bellevue South Park and have no projects move forward, or I could have another project get completed,” Mendez said. “I decided to move forward with the other project and that’s the decision I would make again today.”

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Bird-nappers selling local pigeons for shooting practice

A suspected bird-napper was caught in the act on Stuyvesant Town surveillance footage. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

A suspected bird-napper was caught in the act on Stuyvesant Town surveillance footage. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Wildlife advocates are in a fowl mood thanks to a ring of pigeon-nappers. The bird thieves have been trapping the ubiquitous New York bird from local parks recently and selling them for target practice out of state, including to customers in Pennsylvania. Neighborhood resident and wildlife advocate Andrew Garn expressed his concern for the birds at the recent community council meeting at the 13th Precinct on Tuesday.

“I know it sounds like a joke,” Garn admitted after a smattering of laughter from meeting attendees. “But this has been going on in the neighborhood for years.”

Garn, a photographer who took an interest in the birds’ plight about two years ago after photographing them for about eight years, said that the trappers catch the birds by putting down feed and using spring-loaded nets. Garn lives in Stuyvesant Square and although he noted that this is an ongoing problem throughout the city, he said it is especially prevalent in parks in his neighborhood.

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Nothing uncool about Geek Street Fair

Participants could participate in the construction of what would become a 10-foot-wide ball of hexagonal shapes with MoMath. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

Participants could participate in the construction of what would become a 10-foot-wide ball of hexagonal shapes with MoMath. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Thursday, October 13, Google hosted its third “Geek Street Fair” at Union Square Park. The midday event, attended by students from nearby schools, included interactive booths where kids could see robots, get behind the wheel of a student-built racecar and play games with a science or tech twist.

Participating companies and organizations with booths included Flatiron’s Museum of Mathematics (MoMath), Google (which has an office in Chelsea), Facebook, Pinterest, The Cooper Union, First Robotics and Black Girls Code. At the Cooper Union booth, the racecar on display, which students raised $50,000 from sponsors to build, was a popular stop.

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Get to know your native plants, one streetside planter at a time

Boy Scout Baird Johnson, Epiphany Church custodian Fidel Rivera, and Solar One employees Diana Grueberg, Stuyvesant Cove Park gardener, and Liza Mindemann, park manager

Boy Scout Baird Johnson, Epiphany Church custodian Fidel Rivera, and Solar One employees Diana Grueberg, Stuyvesant Cove Park gardener, and Liza Mindemann, park manager

By Liza Mindemann, Stuyvesant Cove Park manager

In an effort to add some green to Second Avenue, Stuyvesant Cove Park, which is managed by Solar One, recently partnered with Epiphany Church to fill unclaimed street planters at the corner of Second Ave and 22nd Street.

Stuy Cove supplied the plants, carefully dug and potted by community volunteers from areas where the park’s plants were spreading too aggressively, while the church offered to take over the maintenance and watering of the planters going forward. The two parties jointly organized a volunteer event around planting day and with the help of Baird Johnson, a volunteer and also a member of the Boy Scouts, the soil in the planters was replenished with compost from Stuy Cove and filled with an array of native plants, curated to bloom throughout the season.

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Man creeps out kids by snapping pics at Peter Cooper playground

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A man employed as a caretaker by an elderly resident was caught taking pictures of kids as they played in a Peter Cooper Village playground this week.
A resident shared news of the incident on the Stuyvesant Town Peter Cooper Tenants Facebook page this past Saturday, saying it happened as her daughter and her daughter’s friends were at the playground.

The man was reportedly sitting on a bench in the playground and when the kids suspected he might be filming them, one snuck behind where he was sitting on the bench and found that he was, in fact, taking photographs. They asked him if he was taping them and he said he was, and when they asked why, he reportedly said it was because he wanted to.

The girl’s father then approached the man, asking if he had a child in the park. The man said that he didn’t but was the aide of an elderly man also sitting in the playground. After the girl’s father called security, the aide said that he wasn’t filming the kids but he handed officers his phone, which had photographs of the children on it. The resident who reported the incident noted that the man was not charged with a crime because NYPD said that citations are only issued in city parks for being in a playground without a child. Since ST/PCV is private property, such matters are left up to the Public Safety department, who reportedly deleted the media on the man’s phone before returning the device to him.

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Roller coaster-like sculpture headed to Madison Sq. Park

Rendering of “Big Bling,”  which will stand 40 feet high (Photo courtesy of Madison Square Park Conservancy)

Rendering of “Big Bling,” which will stand 40 feet high (Photo courtesy of Madison Square Park Conservancy)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Madison Square Park Conservancy announced at the beginning of this month that a multi-tier sculpture from American artist Martin Puryear will be the next public installation in the park beginning next May. The structure, which resembles a gilded rollercoaster and called “Big Bling,” will be the largest temporary outdoor public work that Puryear has completed, at 40 feet long and almost 40 feet high.

The structure is the 33rd public art installation by Mad. Sq. Art, the contemporary art program of the conservancy, and will be made of birch plywood and 22-karat gold leaf with multiple levels and wrapped in a fine chain-link fence. It will also include a gold-leafed shackle anchored near the top of the structure.

Puryear, who lives and works in the Hudson Valley region, tends to focus his work on handmade pieces using methods such as carpentry, boat building and other similar trades. His signature material is wood, which he is using for the Madison Square Park sculpture and which serves to anchor the physicality of the enormous piece.

Senior curator Brooke Kamin Rapaport said that the conservancy has been working with Puryear for about a year and a half to develop the piece. They approached him to create a commissioned work for the conservancy, and Big Bling is what he proposed.

“It’s an extraordinary work and though it’s a temporary outdoor piece, it maintains all of the strengths and power of his indoor projects,” she said.

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Police arrest hammer attack suspect

Photo of hammer attack suspect

Photo of hammer attack suspect

The man shot by police yesterday who’s believed to be the hammer-wielding lunatic who attacked four people on Monday, has since been arrested.

Police announced on Thursday morning that the man, who’s been identified as David Baril, has been arrested and charged with seven counts of felony assault as well as criminal possession of a weapon.

Baril was approached by the cops on a midtown street Wednesday morning when, according to the NYPD, he began swinging at a female officer, Lauren O’Rourke, with a hammer. It was her partner, Geraldo Casaigne, who shot Baril, striking him twice, once in the right arm and once in the torso. He was taken to Bellevue Hospital for treatment. Police said he is in critical but stable condition.

Baril was stopped by the cops after they recognized him as the suspect behind a string of random attacks on three women and one man, who were each struck on the head with a hammer. The cops had been in the area for an unrelated assault, according to the Post, who added that Baril has a long rap sheet that includes assaulting a police officer and jumping a counter at a KFC and punching an employee.

On Monday, his crime spree reportedly began by attacking a man on West 35th Street, a woman sitting inside Union Square Park, a woman walking on West 17th Street west of Sixth Avenue and a woman near Madison Square Park.

O’Rourke sustained abrasions and lacerations to the back of her head and back and taken to Bellevue Hospital. Casaigne was also taken to Bellevue for tinnitus. Both officers have been treated and released.

Police Commissioner Bratton visited the two officers at the hospital on Wednesday.

Note: This article is updated from the print version about the shooting to include information about the arrest and additional details about the incident from the police.

The public in public art

Fata Morgana is now on view at Madison Square Park. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Fata Morgana is now on view at Madison Square Park. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Brooke Kamin Rapaport, Martin Friedman  Senior Curator, Madison Square Park Conservancy

Public outdoor sculpture is a communal activity. During periods of art installation, visitors to Madison Square Park can watch a project unfold over days and weeks. People discuss their perceptions and ask questions of me, my colleagues at Madison Square Park Conservancy, the install crews, and the presenting artist. Oftentimes, park goers watch this process with a sense of wonderment and pride; I have seen groups of neighbors applaud an artist at key moments during a temporary work’s on-site creation. Once complete, the public role in public art is further revealed as people interact with the piece by walking around the sculpture, taking their lunch next to the work or considering the merits of the project in conversation with co-workers, friends and family.

Creating outdoor sculpture in an urban oasis like Madison Square Park is unlike any other art experience. In preparation for major shows, museums and galleries draw the curtain for behind-the-scenes activity. When the curtain is pulled back, an indoor exhibition is complete and camera-ready. There is great theatricality on the opening day. By contrast, in constructing public art in real time right before your eyes, people view almost cinematic progress as a sculpture is made.

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