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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Lottery reopens in Stuyvesant Town

Stuyvesant Town (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Stuyvesant Town’s apartment lottery has reopened, this time for applicants earning a maximum 165 percent of the area median income (AMI).

The lottery opened on January 16 and would-be residents (and current residents) have the opportunity to apply until February 21, 2018. The waiting list for people who’ve already applied is still active, so no further action is required on their part.

Applications are currently being accepted for one-bedroom apartments at $2,889 and two-bedrooms for $3,543 in Stuy Town and Peter Cooper Village. An advertisement for the lottery puts the income limits for the one-bedroom apartments at $110,220 for a single person, $126,060 for two people and $141,735 for three. For the two-bedroom, income limits are $126,060 for two people, $141,735 for three, $157,410 for four people and $170,115 for five. Applicants also can’t have more than $250,000 in assets though sometimes there are exceptions with regards to retirement accounts.

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Watchdog says affordability preserved through Stuy Town deal was exaggerated

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Mayor Bill de Blasio and other elected officials with tenants in October, 2015 announcing the sale of Stuyvesant Town (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

In October of 2015, a grinning Mayor Bill de Blasio stood alongside other elected officials to declare that the sale of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village to The Blackstone Group and partner Ivanhoe Cambridge was the “mother of all preservations deals.”

However, the Independent Budget Office of the City of New York (IBO) is now suggesting, in a report released Friday, that the amount of affordability preserved was inflated.

The IBO estimated that while the deal was supposed to preserve 100,000 “apartment years” (the equivalent of 5,000 apartments for 20 years), 64,000 of those apartment years would have remained affordable anyway through rent stabilization. This would mean the deal really only saved 36,000 apartment years, not 100,000. The report also noted that when the sale took place, just over 5,000 apartments were already renting at below-market rates due to rent stabilization.

While there has been plenty of debate over just how “affordable” the 5,000 apartments that are preserved and leased through a lottery system actually are, according to the IBO, only three percent of those 100,000 apartment years are reserved for low-income households. Twenty-seven percent are intended for middle income households while the remaining six percent of apartment years are units that will remain rent-stabilized longer than they would have without the deal. For its report, the IBO said it considered all of the newly created lottery apartments as well as ones that remain stabilized to be benefits to the city.

Additionally, the report indicated that the city used some misleading numbers at the time of the property sale.

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ST girl recognized as Boy Scout after 11 years of Scouting

Sydney Ireland speaks at the National Organization for Women convention in 2015. (Photos courtesy of Gary Ireland)

By Sabina Mollot

Since the age of four, Sydney Ireland knew that she wanted to be a Boy Scout. It didn’t matter that she wasn’t a boy. Her older brother Bryan was a Scout — later an Eagle Scout — and she wanted to be doing the things he was doing, from earning merit badges to ice climbing in Lake Placid.

Now 15, Sydney has been active in the Boy Scouts — albeit unofficially — for over a decade, and has been along with her family, pushing for the national organization to formally accept and recognize the contributions made by female members like herself. She first reached out to the organization via an op-ed in this newspaper. She’s since done a handful of interviews on the subject and recently even got the backing of NOW.

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Stuy Town attorney aims to make practicing law a less brutal sport

Marjorie Silver has authored a book on collaborative law. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

A Stuyvesant Town attorney, whose career has been shaped by alternative law, or more specifically, law when practiced in a way that’s meant to be more civil — and less traumatizing — for all involved in a case, has just released on a book on the subject.

Transforming Justice, Lawyers, and the Practice of Law was put together by Marjorie Silver, who also wrote one chapter with the other 15 chapters written by different authors.

Nearly all those authors, along with Silver, were participants in the Project for Integrating Spirituality, Law and Politics (PISLAP), which is aimed at making law more collaborative and less adversarial. The publisher is the family-owned Carolina Academic Press.

Silver, who’s been an attorney for decades and is also an associate professor at Touro Law Center, said she has always tried to encourage students to practice law in the same fashion, “in a way that’s less adversarial, more healing.”

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Democrats vying for Kavanagh’s Assembly seat

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Harvey Epstein (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Sabina Mollot

Following Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh’s easy victory at the polls last week for the downtown Senate seat he wanted, two Democrat candidates have expressed interest in filling the now vacant 74th District Assembly seat.

One of them is Harvey Epstein, a tenant representative on the Rent Guidelines Board and the project director of the Community Development Project of the Urban Justice Center. The other is Mike Corbett, an aide to Queens-based City Council Member Costa Constantinides and a former teamster. Marie Ternes, a communications consultant who previously worked for then-Congress Member Anthony Weiner, said she is considering running.

Recently, outgoing City Council Member Rosie Mendez told Town & Village she was mulling a run for Assembly, but then later told the local blog Lo Down that she’d decided against it. Council Member Dan Garodnick has also previously said he has no plan to run.

Corbett, Epstein and Ternes spoke with a Town & Village reporter this week, although Ternes declined to be interviewed at this time since she hasn’t yet made a decision on running.

It’s expected that there will be a County Committee vote held by each party to determine who will get onto the ballot for a special election. However, it’s still unclear when the vote will be or when the election will be, since a special election must be called by the governor. Another possible, though unlikely, scenario is that there will be a primary in June when there’s a Congressional primary, or even later.

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Veterans Day celebrated in Stuyvesant Town

Flags on lawn2 Kristy

Residents place flags on the Oval lawn. (Photos by Kristy Ye-Ling)

By Kristy Ye-Ling

Despite frigid temperatures, around 150 Stuyvesant Town residents gathered on the Oval on Saturday morning for a Veterans Day ceremony held by management. General Manager Rick Hayduk welcomed everyone in brief opening remarks and introduced a few veterans. Then, residents had the opportunity to place American flags on the Oval lawn. A total of 7,008 flags were planted to express gratitude towards the servicemen and women who lost their lives since September 11th, 2001. Additionally, yellow paper was tied in bands around the trees in the area where residents (eventually hundreds) wrote thank you messages to veterans.

One of the veterans in attendance was former Navy personnelman Daniel Murphy, who shared, “I was in the Mediterranean three times, the Caribbean four times.” His most memorable experience was having President Kennedy on his ship during the Cuban crisis where he led a flotilla of 86 ships as a flagship.