L train neighbors slam MTA over noise, debris and mysterious goo

Dec13 L train Epstein

Assembly Member Harvey Epstein with L train construction zone neighbors and disability advocates in front of the MTA’s headquarters (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

While most New Yorkers are approaching April with a sense of dread because of the start to the 15-month L-pocalypse, for those who live around the East 14th Street construction site, the nightmare has been going on already for quite some time.

Recently, local elected officials were able to secure some concessions from the MTA in response to neighbor concerns like additional lighting along the sidewalks where views of the street are obstructed by construction barriers, a commitment to install air quality monitors along the street and reopening of the sidewalk on the East Village side of the street, where stores have been cut off from foot traffic.

However, many concerns have remained, such as noisy work that goes on from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., as well as on weekends, clouds of debris that have caused some neighbors to fear for their respiratory health and equipment-packed streets that have led to an obstacle course for the disabled. Residents have also been left to wonder about the presence of an unidentified, glowing green substance in one of the many dumpsters that regularly get trucked in and out of the site.

On Tuesday, Assembly Member Harvey Epstein joined a few residents whose apartments overlook the construction zone for a press conference in front of MTA’s downtown Broadway headquarters. The protesters held signs that indicated MTA stands for “Making Tenants Angry” and one that showed a photo of the goo-filled dumpster at the site.

“We respect the need to upgrade the L train,” said Epstein. “But at what cost? At what consequences? We ask the MTA to do more.”

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Some parks are still closed after snowstorm knocks limbs off trees

Nov22 gramercy park clean-up

A worker secures a tree in Gramercy Park after a snowstorm caused a still undetermined amount of damage in the park and other parks. (Photos courtesy of Gramercy Park Block Associaton)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Unexpected heavy snowfall last Thursday caused damage to trees throughout the neighborhood, resulting in park closures through this week, long after all the snow from the storm had melted.

Arlene Harrison, the president of the Gramercy Park Block Association and park trustee, sent an email to park neighbors on Friday noting that the park would be closed until further notice, and included photos of several downed tree limbs inside the park.

“Park caretakers who have been working here for decades said that it was the worst single hit to the park since they’ve worked here,” said Harrison, who made the decision to padlock the park gates for safety reasons until the debris is cleared. She said that the park could reopen by the end of the week but it had to remain closed until the crew can determine that it’s safe.

She added that the crew was pruning on the western side of the park right before the storm so there was the least amount of damage on that side, but five trees in the park were “ravaged” because of the wind and heavy snow.

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Robber threatens First Avenue CVS employee with needle

Robbery suspect

By Sabina Mollot

Police are looking for a man who, when caught shoplifting at the CVS store across from Stuyvesant Town, threatened an employee with a hypodermic needle.

The man strolled into the store, located at 253 First Avenue, on Wednesday, November 14 at 8 p.m. and began throwing items from the shelves into a garbage bag. When an employee confronted him in the aisle, the man pulled out the needle and told the worker to “step back.”

The man then fled with about $170 in merchandise.

The suspect, who is being sought for robbery, is described as black, in his 30s, about 5 ft. 8 ins. and 180 lbs. At the time of the incident, he was wearing a white sweatshirt, a black jogging jacket, a black skull cap and black sneakers.

Stuyvesant Town’s female Boy Scout looking to ‘Connect a Pet with a Vet’

Nov8 Sydney Ireland

Sydney Ireland

Since the Boy Scouts started allowing in younger girls ages 5-10 this September, 56,000 have joined. While this should be wonderful news, the Scouts have yet to recognize the contributions by girls who have already been in the program, albeit unofficially, for years. This means that Sydney Ireland, a Stuy Town resident and female Boy Scout who is currently close to completing her Eagle project, is expected by the Boy Scouts to start the program over in February, when girls will be allowed to officially join.

That said, Sydney is still fighting to have her work (over a decade’s worth) with the program recognized.

On Sunday, she will be involved with a Connect a Pet with a Vet project. Working with Bideawee pet adoption on 38th Street, just east of First Avenue, and veterans groups, including Backpacks for Life and 100 Memorial Run, Sydney will be raising money to cover the adoption costs for veterans. Donations can also be made online.

Bideawee is also hoping for donations of leashes, harnesses, dog and cat toys and clean towels. The Irelands’ family dog, Scout, came from Bideawee.

New fences for Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village green spaces

 

New section of fence in the forefront, older fence behind it (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Local residents noticed a recent change in the neighborhood at squirrel-level: new fencing around the grassy areas and tree pits in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village.

Stuy Town resident Jerry Alperstein saw the old wire fencing rolled up on the grass with a new, shorter fence installed along the 18th Street Loop near his apartment at the end of last month and ST-PCV general manager Rick Hayduk confirmed that the fences on the interior of the property are being switched out.

“It’s more decorative than what’s there now and it’s more like the original fence that was up,” Alperstein said when he noticed the new fence.

Hayduk confirmed that the new iron wickets were indeed a bit of a throwback, but “we feel they are architecturally appropriate for Stuyvesant Town in 2018 and beyond,” he said.

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Halloween celebrated in Stuyvesant Town

Space Cadets w kids

The Space Cadets (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Tuesday afternoon, Stuyvesant Town held its annual Halloween festival for children, after the event was delayed due to a storm on Saturday.

Fortunately, the weather was dry and mild on Tuesday.

“I’m glad we invested all our money in bribing Mother Nature,” joked Robert Vazquez, Stuy Town’s director of lifestyle services. “She cost a lot but it was worth it.”

This year’s event was packed as usual with costumed revelers enjoying bounce houses, an arts & crafts table, a pumpkin patch fashioned out of balloons and a corn maze. Kids also got to dance to the music of the band Space Cadets and take pictures at a display of skeletons.

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Stuy Town Halloween events for residents

Halloween display in Stuyvesant Town (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

StuyTown property Services presents the following free Halloween events for residents. Guests are asked to bring their resident IDs.

Family Halloween Fun-Fest

On Tuesday, October 30 from 3:30 to 6 p.m. on the Oval, families are invited to come in costume to the annual fair, which this year will feature five bounce houses for various ages, carnival snacks, a craft area with rubbed art, buttons, crowns, puppets, murals, a balloon-filled pumpkin patch with mini pumpkins for decorating, live music and guest entertainers with magic and mayhem.

Editor’s note: This event has been rescheduled from October 27 due to a predicted nor’easter.

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Man takes fatal leap in Stuyvesant Town

Oct25 Suicide cops

Police and FDNY response to the scene. (Photo by Sugi Tabero)

By Sabina Mollot

On Tuesday afternoon, a 66-year-old man jumped from a building in Stuyvesant Town.

Police were alerted by a few people calling 911 at 3:20 p.m. and the area behind 16 Stuyvesant Oval was taped off by police and responders from the FDNY. The man was declared dead at the scene.

A resident walking by the building, who wanted to remain anonymous, pointed out that this was the latest in a disturbing pattern.

“I’m 65 and I’m shaking,” she said. “It’s a bit much.”

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All Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village security cameras getting replaced

Stuyvesant Town’s public safety command center will soon look like this, following the installation of nearly 1,500 new cameras around the complex. (Pictured above) a similarly upgraded security office with technology installed by the same company that’s working with Stuyvesant Town (Photo by Fortress Security)

By Sabina Mollot

As part of an ongoing effort aimed at making Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village safer, management will soon be replacing all 1,332 of the surveillance cameras on the property with newer models that offer higher-resolution images. Another 161 cameras will also be installed in other places, including each building’s laundry room and carriage rooms, where bikes are stored. This will bring the total to 1,493 cameras onsite.

The project will cost close to $2 million. However, according to Stuyvesant Town General Manager Rick Hayduk, the cost will not be passed on to tenants through a major capital improvement (MCI) rent increase.

According to Rei Moya, director of operations in ST/PCV, the new cameras will offer significantly better image quality, similar to that of a TV show, as opposed to the somewhat choppy grainy footage that’s currently available. (The resolution is 1,080 as opposed to the current 480.) It will also be available through an ethernet connection, allowing public safety department and management employees to access images on their phones, which hadn’t been possible previously. The new technology will also enable a photo to be taken any time a person passes through certain thresholds, like near carriage rooms. While this means every resident will have his or her photo taken on every trip to retrieve a bike, it will also capture individuals looking to steal bikes. The purpose of the photos is that they will save a lot of time as compared to the current process of scrolling through what can amount to hundreds of hours of footage to find a theft suspect.

“If someone hops a fence and runs, with the technology this system has a threshold so anyone jumping a fence gets their photo taken,” Hayduk explained.

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Local tap water source changed after complaints about taste and smell

Council Member Keith Powers is calling for additional testing of the water after hearing from dozens of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village residents.

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Department of Environmental Protection has stopped distributing water from the Croton watershed after an increase of complaints from residents about the quality of their tap water.

A spokesperson confirmed on Tuesday that the department decreased the percentage of Croton water going into distribution in response to the reports from residents about an “earthy” taste or smell to the water, and said that complaints to 311 have dropped since this change.

StuyTown Property Services sent out an email last Thursday with updates about the initial changes from the department, which were due to the DEP shutting down the Catskill Aqueduct for 10 weeks for an infrastructure project to upgrade the aqueduct.

The DEP noted that the Catskill Aqueduct is 113 years old and the ten-week renovation will cost $156 million. Gothamist reported last week that this Catskill Aqueduct shutdown will be the first of three before the Delaware Aqueduct is closed in 2022 for several months of repairs.

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Teen nabbed for trying to rob Stuy Town resident

Stuy Town

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A 14-year-old boy was arrested after getting into a fight with two Stuy Town residents in front of 410 East 20th Street on Friday, October 12 at 9:49 p.m. and attempting to steal one of their phones.

The residents, who police said were intoxicated at the time, reportedly argued with the teen and two other boys while returning home but police had no further information about what started the argument.

The teen who was arrested was held at the location by Stuyvesant Town security until police arrived but the two other boys weren’t caught. Police said that the teen is not a resident of Stuy Town or Peter Cooper Village.

The teen, whose name is being withheld due to his young age, was charged with robbery.

Stuy Fitness gym opens on 14th St., 20th St. gym to be upgraded soon

Stuy Fitness on East 14th Street had a soft opening over the weekend and opened officially last Monday. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Monday, Stuyvesant Town’s second gym for residents, Stuy Fitness, opened officially following a soft opening over the weekend.

Rick Hayduk, Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village’s general manager, said the gym is 90 percent complete at this time, with final touches to depend on feedback from residents. Hayduk also said that the 20th Street gym, Oval Fitness, which has been open for the past decade, will be seeing upgrades and a refurbishment within the year.

As for the new gym, the gleaming white and blue space is in sharp contrast with the chaotic scene that is now East 14th Street. As the L train work on the Avenue A entrance and the construction related to the looming L shutdown ensues, Hayduk said he felt Stuyvesant Town had a responsibility to at least make part of the street appear presentable. The 8,500-square-foot facility, which cost $3.5 million to build, is located in what was previously a Citi Bike storage space and prior to that, a daycare center that was flooded during hurricane Sandy. The daycare center is now on Avenue C and management is currently looking for a suitable replacement storage area for Citi Bike.

Meanwhile, the gym came about from demand from residents, specifically those who didn’t live on or near 20th Street and indicated that they would join a gym if it were more convenient.

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Singer Garland Jeffreys’ tips for aspiring musicians

Dec28 Garland Jeffreys

Stuyvesant Town rock singer Garland Jeffreys (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Monday, October 22, Stuyvesant Town rock singer Garland Jeffreys will be performing a concert at a fundraiser for the 14th Street Y, where he, his wife Claire and daughter Savannah are longtime members.

It will be the first of a few local concerts coming up for the singer, following a recent tour through Europe to promote his last album, “14 Steps to Harlem.”
Now in the early writing stages for his next album, to be called, “Dash of Soul,” and fundraising for a documentary about his career, Jeffreys, 75, spoke with Town & Village to share tips for new and aspiring musicians.

“I’m always happy to talk to people who are starting out,” he said, adding that starting out means picking a musical direction to take.

“What kinds of songs do they want to write? Love songs, protest songs or a Dylan-esque area?” he asked. “They should work and work and work on the music and not take it for granted. I tell stories about different things, like race, like my childhood, my passions.”
In recent years, Jeffreys has been known to do many concerts in people’s homes, which he recommends doing as well as finding local venues like bars.

“If you’re starting out, anywhere is a good place to start,” said Jeffreys. “Just get your guitar and get your keyboard and get to practicing and that’s how your songwriting evolves.”

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(UPDATED: Suspect arrested) Man chokes, sexually assaults woman in Stuy Town

Update: Police have arrested a man who was staying at the Armory Men’s Shelter on Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn. Melvin Collins, 36, was arrested Tuesday afternoon and charged with burglary, sexual abuse, criminal obstruction of breathing, forcible touching and assault.

By Sabina Mollot

Police are looking for a man who followed a woman into a building in Stuyvesant Town on Monday morning.

The victim, a 42-year-old woman, had entered 315 Avenue C when a man followed her inside at about 8:10 a.m.

Once inside an elevator, the man started groping and kissing her, police said. The woman then ran out of the elevator and the man chased her, and tried to pull her into a stairwell. The attacker then got on top of the woman and choked her. He took off however, fleeing down the stairs when the victim started screaming.

The victim suffered scratches to her neck and was taken to Bellevue Hospital in stable condition.

The suspect is described as being black, 30-35 years old and about 5’7″ to 5’9″, with a slim build. He was last seen wearing a dark long sleeve shirt, dark sneakers with white soles, and a baseball hat.

Neither he nor the victim are residents of Stuyvesant Town, according to management, and security has been beefed up in response to the incident.

“StuyTown Property Services has provided NYPD with video and is fully cooperating in the apprehension of the suspect,” said Rick Hayduk, general manager of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. “Public Safety presence has been heightened around the two communities. Our thoughts are with the victim and her family.”

Man fatally struck by L train at First Avenue

July28 L train people waiting

Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

A man died after being struck by an L train as it barreled into First Avenue on Tuesday afternoon.

The victim, whose name wasn’t released, had been leaning over the tracks just after noon, police said, before the Eighth Avenue-bound train struck him. According to one source, the man jumped, but police said the investigation is ongoing. The Daily News said the victim was a New York University student.

L train service was canceled in both directions after the incident, resuming a couple of hours later with delays.