MSBI nurses protest to keep pensions intact

July19 Beth Israel nurses First Ave2

Nurses and other 1199SEIU employees outside Mount Sinai Beth Israel on First Avenue (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

As Mount Sinai continues its downsizing of Beth Israel’s facilities in preparation for a new hospital to eventually open on Second Avenue, nurses and other employees within the union 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East have been bracing for possible cuts to their benefits.

On Thursday, July 12, union members picketed outside hospitals throughout the city that have employees from 1199SEIU, including Beth Israel on First Avenue and 16th Street and Mount Sinai Downtown in Union Square, formerly Beth Israel’s Phillips Ambulatory Care Center.

At each facility, over a dozen nurses and other union employees marched or stood outside while chanting and holding signs starting shortly before noon.
“Up with the union, down with the bosses!” and “union busting is disgusting” were a couple of the chants shouted from behind a barricade on First Avenue.
A nurse at the Union Square facility who’s worked for the hospital over a decade said she’s used to fighting in this manner every three years whenever the contract is about to expire. However, this time, she said things were different because it’s the first time administrators are planning to stop paying into employees’ pensions and also want them to start contributing to their health benefits, which she — and other employees — acknowledged were very good.

However, the nurse said base pay for nurses at Beth Israel is lower than pay at other hospitals within the Mount Sinai network, and she doesn’t believe employees will get the raise they’re hoping for to compensate for this.

“We’d rather have the benefits,” said the Union Square nurse, who asked to remain anonymous, “because benefits are expensive.” Another new development, said the nurse, was that employees these days “float” between different Mount Sinai facilities in the area, instead of being stationed at just the ambulatory building.

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Stuy Town detective on the case of murder mystery penned by former tenant

Thomas Cassidy was inspired by true crime tales he’d hear from his father and a friend who both had careers in the NYPD. (Photo courtesy of author)

By Sabina Mollot

The year is 1981, the place, a crime-ridden New York City and Stuyvesant Town resident and cop is tasked with finding out who murdered a famous actor — also his best friend — at a Manhattan hotel. On top of that, the mayor is up for reelection and since a high-profile murder can’t help his chances at the polls, the cop is warned to keep a lid on media leaks, or be thrown off the case.

The scenario is fortunately fictional. However, it has come to life in 2018 the form of a new novel, Damage Control, written by a former Stuyvesant Town resident, Thomas Cassidy.

Damage Control ($26.95) was released on June 12 by Cedar Forge. However, it has been in the works for last 25 years by Cassidy, who recently retired from a 20-year career as a special investigator for the New York State attorney general and whose father Hugh Cassidy served in the NYPD for over 30 years.

As for its title, Cassidy explained, “What they’re trying to do is damage control, trying to deflect attention from the crime wave. Everyone, including the mayor’s office, the corporate office of the flagship hotel, the Police Department, everyone is doing some form of damage control. Everyone’s trying to put a positive spin on it and that makes it difficult for the detective trying to solve the crime.”

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Former roommate charged with stealing $40G from ST golf player

Stuyvesant Town resident Bernie Rothenberg, pictured at his 100th birthday party last year at his apartment (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Sabina Mollot

The family of Bernie Rothenberg, a Stuyvesant Town centenarian well-known to neighbors for his daily golfing at a playground by his apartment has recently appealed to the community to help recoup some of the tens of thousands of dollars they said was stolen from three of his bank accounts.

The money, his son Don told Town & Village, totaled $40,000 and was taken over the past two years, until Don happened to notice the disappearing funds on a third account, since that was a joint account he had access to.

Chloe Garcia, a 26-year-old woman who lived with the elder Rothenberg for over five years until April when she was confronted by his family and thrown out, has since been arrested and charged with grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property. According to the criminal complaint, which doesn’t name the victim, the withdrawn funds come to around $50,000. In it, Garcia allegedly said she got the pin number to Rothenberg’s debit card in his mail and used it for various charges and also wrote checks to herself from his bank account. She was arrested on May 24.

Her Legal Aid attorney, Rebecca Heinsen, declined to comment on the case.

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Stuy Town author hoping to crowd-fund children’s book

Fran Alongi

By Sabina Mollot

While a trip to the chiropractor’s office might not be too many people’s idea of fun, one Stuyvesant Town resident recently found the experience worthy of writing a book.

Longtime resident Fran Alongi, who frequently sees a chiropractor for adjustments, said it was seeing how inviting the office has been for children and families, in no small part due to the presence of a mascot dog who humors young patients that want to chase him, that inspired her to write a story about it.

The book, her second, is called Max Gets Well-Adjusted and it’s intended for children ages 2-5. Her first book was a novel with fantasy aspects called The Moons of Koda, that she self-published in 2016. This time around she’s also self-publishing, only in this case, she’s hoping to get the associated costs crowd-funded. She currently has a GoFundMe page that’s seeking $3,000 for printing, illustration, advertising and other costs.

According to Alongi, the motivation for the book was to make children who might be scared of going to a chiropractor for a back problem or other issues more confident about the experience. She said she’d noticed while waiting to see the doctor that children who were there alongside their parents never seemed to be uncomfortable. What she soon realized was that this was because their parents didn’t seem nervous, especially since they were often patients themselves. Meanwhile, the office pooch, Cooper, was almost like a therapy dog in his willingness to run and hide from children, then letting them almost catch him.

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Ferry service to start by end of summer

‘Stuy Town’ sign will be changed to ‘Stuy Cove,’ landings will offer some protection from weather

A completed ferry landing in Astoria (Photo courtesy of the Economic Development Corporation)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Service on the new Lower East Side ferry route, including at Stuyvesant Cove, is on schedule to begin at the end of the summer, representatives for NYC Ferry reported to Community Board 6’s transportation committee this past Monday, although spokespeople did not have a more specific date.

The ferry, operated by Hornblower Cruises and managed by the Economic Development Corporation, will run starting from Wall Street, making stops at Corlears Hook on the Lower East Side, Stuyvesant Cove and 34th Street before ending at Long Island City, Queens.

Because construction appears nearly finished at the Stuyvesant Cove landing near 20th Street, one Stuyvesant Town resident, Larry Scheyer, questioned why service wouldn’t be starting sooner.

In response, EDC Vice President of government and community relations Radhy Miranda said that even after the landings are built, there are additional protocols before service can actually begin.

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MGP recovery wells will be installed soon in Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village

The gas works and storage tanks of Con Ed’s predecessor company in 1890 (Photo courtesy of Con Ed)

By Sabina Mollot

Con Ed announced on Wednesday that there will be a public information session on June 7 from 6-8 p.m. in Stuyvesant Town on the ongoing Manufactured Gas Plant (MGP) remediation project. NYSDEC and Con Edison will be available in the Election Room located at 451 East 14th Street to answer questions from the community.

As Town & Village has previously reported, as part of the MGP cleanup in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, a total of 16 “passive recovery wells” will be installed in specific locations around the property. The goal is to look for any remaining underground contaminants stemming from the days when the property was home to the gas works and storage tanks from Con Ed’s predecessor companies.

According to Con Ed, the work is expected to begin work the week of June 11, and drilling is expected to begin the week of June 18 and will probably last four weeks. Work days will be from 9-5 p.m.  Ten wells will be placed near East 20th Street and Avenue C and East 17th Street and Avenue C and six will be located near East 14th Street and Avenue C.

In an email, the company warned that there will be fenced off work areas surrounding wells and there may be periodic noise from two drills and possibly odors.

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ST residents concerned about trees and organized play at Playground 1

Rendering provided by StuyTown Property Services shows how the playground will look once renovated.

By Susan Steinberg
President of the ST-PCV Tenants Association

About 35 Stuyvesant Town tenants attended a town hall on Monday night focusing on the reimagined Playground 1. Hosted by Rick Hayduk, general manager of StuyTown Property Services, assisted by Wes Richards, chief landscape designer and Kevin Wyatt, master arborist, the event took place at the community center.

Hayduk reviewed the need for improvements, including unsafe asphalt requiring resurfacing, parapet walls that were collapsing and trees in various states of decay.  Construction work has already begun on rebuilding the parapets, to the chagrin of the residents living around the playground, well represented at the meeting, who are trying to cope with the drilling. The worst of the noise is expected to be over in two weeks. When completed, the playground will consist of two major areas, an AstroTurf section (about one third of the total area) and a resurfaced asphalt area (two thirds) allowing for roller hockey and T-ball. A net will separate the two areas. The decaying trees will be replaced by Princeton Elms 22 feet high. These grow 4-6.5 feet a year and produce food for squirrels. The design showed 28 benches. The playground is envisioned as serving children ages 12 and under.

Several residents challenged the project. They said playground as it existed was one playground where there was no “theme,” no organized play, no schedules and where residents could site and enjoy quiet time. One resident said she had specifically moved to a building overlooking that playground because it was quiet.

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Irish dance school students kick off market with style

Photos by Arica Aylesworth

On Saturday, during the Stuyvesant Town Flea Market, a troupe of Irish step dancers performed on the Oval lawn. The performance was organized by Aherne Sheehan School of Irish Dance and Stuyvesant Town residents Arica Aylesworth and her husband Peter Lavin. Their children Ryan and Kristin do competitive dancing with Aherne and thought of the idea to perform came from hearing from many of Stuy Town’s Irish-American residents that they used to do Irish dancing as children.

Aylesworth and Lavin, who’s an Irish-American lifelong resident of the community had discussed ways of giving back to the community and said the school and instructor Elise Wright agreed to donate the performance.

Aherne has been featured by the BBC and has had performances at the Apollo Theater and several off-Broadway shows.

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Crowds come out for flea market

Vendors Waltrine Cooke and Carolyn Laws-Parker both welcomed the opportunity to see neighbors at the resurrected event. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Saturday, the second flea market to take place after a hiatus of about 15 years took place in Stuyvesant Town under a mostly sunny and warm sky.

Around 530 vendors were selling their wares, a number that was slightly higher than last year’s. This time vendors had tables inside three playgrounds, instead of lining the Oval out to the loop roads. Vendors who spoke with Town & Village seemed to have mixed feelings about this, though all were nonetheless glad to see the flea market tradition living on.

At Playground 9, Marilyn Ray, who was stationed near an entrance, seemed happy with the arrangement as her table was a popular stop for those looking for vintage prints and ephemera. Asked how business was going, she answered, “Pretty good. It’s the prints that are selling better than anything else.”

Alicia Zanelli, a longtime resident selling some Peruvian-made items, was less impressed about how packed Playground 9 was with sellers. “Everyone’s getting squeezed,” she said. “We have so many beautiful areas. Open them up!”

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Residents grieve for downed trees

Tree stumps line the south end of the playground on Friday. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

SPS says removals were for resident safety

By Sabina Mollot

Though it did come with warning, a number of Stuyvesant Town residents were nonetheless unprepared for the moment when trees that were nearly as old and as tall as nearby buildings began getting sawed down and carted away.

The old oaks’ removal was explained by management in an email on Friday (and in a prior email blast) as being necessary due to disease and decay. Additionally, StuyTown Property Services CEO Rick Hayduk added in the Friday email to tenants, they’d be replaced in June by Princeton elms and the remains of the oaks would be mulched. Still, for some residents whose windows overlook Playground 1, the removal of the 18 mature trees around it hit home as hard as the loss of an old friend.

“As I speak I hear a chainsaw cutting down a 70-year-old tree,” Stuart Strong, a resident of 330 First Avenue told Town & Village on Friday. Strong, who was horrified, added, “They’re sturdy as anything. We’re looking at stumps that used to be oak trees. I don’t see any decay. They provide environment and enjoyment.”

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Powers presents Council proclamation to Stuyvesant Town female Boy Scout

Council Member Keith Powers with Sydney Ireland at a ceremony at Immaculate Conception Church on Tuesday night (Photo by John McCarten)

Sydney Ireland, the female Boy Scout from Stuyvesant Town, who so far has been unable to get her accomplishments from over the past decade and rank formally recognized by her organization, was instead recognized on Tuesday evening with a proclamation from the City Council. The proclamation was presented by Council Member Keith Powers and was also signed by Speaker Corey Johnson.

Troop 414 hosted a Court of Honor for Boy Scouts receiving rank advancement and earning merit badges on Tuesday, including Sydney and other young women — though it was technically unofficial — at Immaculate Conception Church. Powers also presented the Troop with a certificate of appreciation.

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Stuy Town flea market will return with designated space for artists on April 21

At this year’s flea market, sellers will only be located inside playgrounds. (Pictured) Vendors at Stuy Town’s Playground 11 at the 2017 event

By Sabina Mollot

On Friday, Stuyvesant Town management announced that the flea market, which returned last year after a hiatus of over a decade, will take place this year on Saturday, April 21.

In an email to residents, a few changes to the way the market is set up were mentioned. For one thing, instead of circling the Oval and sprawling out into the loop roads, with playgrounds included, this year, the market will only take place inside three playgrounds.

Asked about this, General Manager Rick Hayduk said this isn’t to limit the number of participants. (Last year, there were over 500.) Rather, management is confident the same if not more vendors will be able to fit this way.

The new layout may also improve visibility for vendors who may have otherwise been stationed on the outskirts of the event. (A few vendors in the playgrounds and on the loops furthest from the Oval told Town & Village last year they suspected they were getting less foot traffic.)

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Upgraded heat system leads to fewer complaints in ST/PCV

Stuyvesant Town on a recent winter day (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

There’s no question this winter in New York City has been a particularly brutal one, up until last week, anyway.

As always, this has led to some heat complaints in residential buildings across the city. As Town & Village recently reported, a study conducted by RentHop showed that on the week of the “bomb cyclone” snowstorm on January 4, the citywide average for complaints about lack of heat in a neighborhood was 39.5 unique complaints per 1,000 apartments (57.3 including duplicate complaints).

In Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village that week, there were 8.9 complaints per 1,000 units in Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village or 93 actual complaints (99 including duplicates). However, based on management’s figures, heat complaints have been decreasing in recent years.

This, StuyTown Property Services spokesperson Paula Chirhart said, is due to a few engineering improvements made to the 70-year-old complex’s heating system as well as nonstop micromanaging of said system.

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ST/PCV residents enjoy brief break from winter

On Tuesday, children enjoyed the first opportunity in months to play comfortably outside. In Peter Cooper Village, kids on scooters could be seen everywhere. (Pictured) Sisters Alice and Sophie Ghalem with their friends Aya and Sakura Donnelly ride outside Playground 2. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

As the weatherman predicted, the sun came out on Tuesday, bringing with it temperatures that went up to the 60s and even higher on Wednesday.

With the muggy morning a distant memory, on Tuesday afternoon families headed outside to local playgrounds. In Stuyvesant Town, rows of strollers could be seen double parked at the tower playground while at the ice rink the chiller worked overtime for unbundled up skaters. Tee-shirt wearing basketball players took over the First Avenue playground in Peter Cooper while kids, donning helmets, whizzed by on the paths on their scooters outside a packed Playground 2. Over by the fitness playground, neighbors Lisa Chin and Anne Fischbach, who sometimes utilize the equipment there, seemed more content on this tropical day to just relax on a bench.

“There were even more people before,” said Fischbach while gesturing to where a few men were training in a corner of the playground. As for her own plans that evening, Fischbach quipped, “I’m going to watch television at 8 and have dinner.”

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Study shows where tenants are freezing the most in their apts.

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The “bomb cyclone” hits New York City on January 4. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel_

By Sabina Mollot

With temperatures that now feel downright tropical in comparison to the deep freeze of last month, it may be hard to imagine that the first week of the year was a record breaker for heat complaints.

However, according to a study conducted by RentHop, an apartment listings service, the “bomb cyclone” on January 4 contributed to 30,000 complaints being made by New Yorkers during the first week of the year about a lack of heat in their homes. The study was based solely on complaints made to 311 and the number was about the same as heat complaints during the first week of the year from the previous three years combined.

The study also noted that neighborhoods with the most complaints were less expensive ones and many were also high-complaint areas last year. The study also came up with a formula that “de-dupes” or ignores duplicate complaints (more than one from one address on the same day) and also “normalizes,” taking into account that some neighborhoods are bigger than others by calculating complaints per 1,000 units. The study also determined which apartments were priciest by looking at the average asking rents of one-bedroom apartment listings in 2017. In doing so, RentHop found that Erasmus in Brooklyn had the most complaints in its’ “de-duped, normalized” formula at 117.5 that week, higher than the previous year’s 79.9 complaints. One-bedroom apartments in this area go for $1,750. There were 1,516 actual complaints.

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