Harvest in the Square raises $371K

Gupshup mixologist Michael Belasco, head chef Gurpreet Singh and sous chef Ramesh Bishe enjoyed their first Harvest in the Square, held under a tent on the northern end of Union Square Park on Thursday, September 19. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Union Square Partnership raised more than $371,000 at the 24th annual Harvest in the Square on Thursday, September 19. The yearly tasting event, held under a tent at the northern end of Union Square Park, raises money to support the Partnership’s work in the neighborhood to beautify the park and offer programming. The event has raised more than $7 million over the last two decades.

“Year after year, Harvest in the Square brings the community together under one tent for an unforgettable evening filled with vibrant food and excitement,” said Jennifer Falk, Executive Director of the Union Square Partnership. “We’ve already begun to prepare for our 25th Annual Harvest in the Square next year and look forward to another successful night.”

A number of chefs that participated featured tastes of dishes popular at their restaurant or that highlighted fall produce from the Union Square greenmarket.

The lineup for the event this year featured 61 restaurants, cocktail bars, wineries, breweries and distilleries, including returning favorite Union Square Cafe, whose owner, Danny Meyer, is a founding member of the event. Bocce USQ, a restaurant chair for the event, also returned, carrying a seasonal pizza with roasted brussels sprouts, caramelized onions and fresh mozzarella over from their adjacent location in the Pavilion.

Continue reading

Burglary on East 10th Street

Burglary suspects

The New York City Police Department is asking the public’s assistance identifying a person wanted for questioning in connection to a burglary that occurred within the confines of the 6th Precinct.

It was reported to police that on Wednesday, August 14 around 8 a.m. inside 32 East 10th Street, an unidentified man and woman entered a 31-year-old female’s apartment by unknown means. Once inside, they removed approximately $5,200 worth of jewelry and electronics before fleeing in unknown direction.

Anyone with information in regard to the identity of these two individuals is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the CrimeStoppers website at nypdcrimestoppers.com or on Twitter @ NYPDTips.

Co-owner of The Stand killed

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police arrested 27-year-old Joseph Porter for the murder of 40-year-old David Kimowitz, co-owner of The Stand comedy club in Union Square, and his live-in au pair, 26-year-old Karen Bermudez-Rodriguez early Saturday morning on August 3.

The New York Times reported that Porter was the boyfriend of Bermudez-Rodriguez and he was charged with two counts of murder, possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and criminal restraint.

The Times reported that police responded to a 911 call to the Maplewood, NJ home around sunrise reporting that a woman was being assaulted, and when police arrived, they found Bermudez-Rodriguez lying in the street, critically injured. She was transported to Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, where she later died.

According to the criminal complaint, Bermudez-Rodriguez and Porter had communicated via text on the night of the murders and Bermudez-Rodriguez had written that she wanted to break up with Porter, who then responded that he was upset with her because she was trying to end the relationship.

Continue reading

Man robbed for his Citi Bike on East 14th Street

Citi Bike robbery suspects

By Sabina Mollot

Cops are looking for a group of teenagers who robbed a man for his Citi Bike on East 14th Street.

The victim, a 23-year-old man, told police he was riding his Citi Bike on June 4 at around 9 p.m. on First Avenue when he stopped on 14th Street to get something to eat.

Robbery suspect

When he left his bike to go inside Halal Guys at 307 East 14th Street, he saw a group of teens try to take the bike. The victim confronted them and was able to grab the bike back at first, but was struck on the head by one of the teens and he dropped it. The group then fled with the bike, heading west on East 15th Street towards Second Avenue. Police later found the Citi Bike nearby.

Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). All calls will be kept confidential.

Lyft car and other vehicles crash on Second Avenue

June6 accident1

Vehicle collision at Second Avenue and 14th Street (Photos by Jefferson Siegel)

By Jefferson Siegel

Just after 7 pm Tuesday, the quiet early-evening atmosphere at 2nd Avenue and 14th Street was shattered by a loud metal-crunching explosion when three app-driven car service vehicles collided.

The crash was followed by screams as people rushed to find a Lyft driver trapped in his car and a cyclist on the curb. The driver appeared to be unconscious as he sat motionless, his body surrounded by front and side air bags. The driver-side door had been smashed by a mini-van which blocked anyone from reaching the driver. Firefighters arrived within minutes and tried smashing the passenger-side window to reach the driver. They were able to enter the car from the rear door and place a neck brace on the driver.

Continue reading

Cannabis Parade and rally at Union Square

A man wears a marijuana-inspired flag as he joined hundreds at the 2019 Cannabis Parade and Rally in Union Square on Saturday, May 4.

Photos by Jefferson Siegel

Hundreds marched down Broadway to Union Square on Saturday in the Cannabis Parade and Rally. The annual event drew people, some puffing away on indeterminate substances, who listened to speakers call for a renewed push for marijuana legalization in Albany before the legislative session ends in June.

Continue reading

$1,000 reward offered for kitten stolen from Petco

By Sabina Mollot

Cat rescue organization KittyKind is hoping to find a kitten that was stolen on Friday at around 2:25 p.m. from the Union Square Petco.

Though no one saw him in the act, a man breezed into the store on East 17th Street while the cats and kittens up for adoption were in their cages. Volunteers are only there in the mornings, evenings and weekends, so none were present when the man came in mid-afternoon, walked over to the cages and broke the lock of a lower cage. He then took a 12-week-old striped kitten named Sage from inside, leaving its sister Rosemary behind, and walked out the door.

According to Valerie Vlasaty, a KittyKind volunteer later briefed on the situation, a customer happened to see the man leave and mentioned he’d walked out with a kitten to an employee. The employee then went outside to try and stop the man, but it was too late; he’d already disappeared into the Union Square crowd.

“We’re devastated, heartbroken,” said Vlasaty.

Continue reading

Bike ride memorializes cyclist who was killed

Dozens of cyclists pedal up First Avenue from 14th Street (pictured) passing 35th Street. (Photo by Jefferson Siegel)

By Jefferson Siegel

On Saturday a bike memorial ride was held to honor bike messenger Aurilla Lawrence, 25, who was killed on the night of February 28 in Williamsburg when she was hit by a truck. The truck driver did not stop.

A large mass of cyclists pedaled east along 14th Street from Union Square Park to First Avenue before turning uptown.

At one point the ride split into two parts, with one group of about 30 heading uptown into Harlem before eventually crossing the river into the Bronx, while a second group of about 50 cyclists criss-crossed downtown streets before heading up University Place, past Union Square and then up Broadway against traffic.

Police in cars and on scooters followed the cyclists as they moved throughout town. There was at least one arrest at 46th Street and Seventh Avenue.

Lawrence was the fifth cyclist to die so far this year, compared with ten bike fatalities in all of 2018.

 

 

‘Landmarks Lion’ Jack Taylor dies

June21 SPNA Jack Taylor and Rosalee Isaly

Jack Taylor with Rosalee Isaly, then-president of the Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association, who presented him with an award for his preservation work in the neighborhood last year (also now deceased) (Photo by Andrew Garn)

By Sabina Mollot

Jack Taylor, a historic preservationist and resident of East 18th Street in Gramercy, died last Thursday, February 7, in his sleep. He was 94, and had suffered some health problems, including with his leg in recent months, making it hard for him to get around.
For decades Taylor was known for his efforts to save buildings slated for the wrecking ball in the Gramercy, Stuyvesant Square and Union Square neighborhoods and to get them landmarked.

He was involved in numerous civic groups, including the Gramercy Park Block Association, the Union Square Community Coalition, the Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association and the Historic Districts Council.

He’d been retired since the 1980s, when he served as managing editor for Family Circle for several years. After retiring, he still did some freelance editing work.
His legacy of preservation began when he was inspired by the loss of Luchow’s restaurant, according to a transcript of a 2004 forum he participated in held by the New York Preservation Archive Project. The place was over a century old when Taylor learned it was at risk and got involved with an informal group aimed at saving it, headed by the USCC. The “born and bred” Manhattanite noted he had been born in Greenwich Village, not far from Luchow’s.

“Was it an architectural landmark? Was it a cultural landmark? Just what was it?” Taylor had mused at the forum. “It didn’t matter to me then, because I didn’t know the ropes very much. But it just seemed to be something that the city of New York would be the worse without. Regardless of the food, which had plummeted in the meantime. It was the philosophy of the thing.”

Continue reading

Water main break disrupts L train service

Feb26 L Train

By Sabina Mollot

A water main break in Chelsea caused L train service to be disrupted on Wednesday morning as crews worked to stop the flooding.

According to the Department of Environmental Protection, the 20-inch pipe located at Seventh Avenue between 14th and 15th Street burst at around 5:35 a.m. The water was later shut off though, stopping the leak, though not before some flooding in the subway. As of 9:30 a.m., crews were still working to excavate the roadway and repair the main though 14th Street was reopened to traffic.

As of 9:15 a.m., there was still no L train service between Union Square and Eighth Avenue, though otherwise L trains were still running every six minutes, the MTA said.

Still, the agency warned, “Expect delays in both directions” and suggested taking the M14 bus instead.

On its website, the MTA said water had stopped flowing into the tunnel, and crews were still busy clearing water and debris, and inspecting all affected switch and signal equipment. “We are working hard to restore full service by the afternoon rush,” the agency said.

L train updates have been posted online.

Update at 4:30 p.m.: A spokesperson for the DEP says a new valve has been installed and water service restored to 15th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues.  Work continues to repair the main and restore water service to a building on corner of 14th Street and 7th Avenue, which is home to about 450 people. Work was still ongoing to resurface western lanes of Seventh Avenue though they were expected to reopen within the hour.

Union Square Partnership seeking suggestions on how to improve the area

People in attendance at the forum discuss ideas. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Union Square Partnership launched an initiative at the end of last year to solicit ideas from area residents and business owners about how to improve the neighborhood.

The Partnership announced the new project earlier last year and held “pop-up listening sessions” for two months in the district during the fall but began the community planning process with a forum at the end of November at the 14th Street Y, inviting neighbors to get involved in discussions with representatives from Marvel Architects, the firm that will be designing the final plans.

Although the neighborhood specifically around 14th Street might not be experiencing as much change as originally anticipated with the supposed cancellation of the L train shutdown, this project from the Partnership was intended to look beyond the next few years and focus on long-term goals beyond whatever changes the neighborhood will face during the construction on the L train.

“We have money to spend on the community so what we want to know is what types of investments we can make to make the neighborhood better in terms of sustainability,” said Jennifer Falk, executive director of the Partnership.

Continue reading

Cops on lookout for L train masturbator

Dec13 public lewdness

Public lewdness suspect

Police are looking for a man who was seen masturbating on an L train at Union Square on Monday, December 3.

The victim, a 29-year-old woman, said that it occurred at around 12:45 p.m. as the man stood close to where she was. The victim snapped a photo of the suspect before she left the train at the next station.

The suspect is described as white and 25-35 years-old, and was last seen wearing all dark clothing.

Anyone with information in regard to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crimestoppers website at nypdcrimestoppers.com, on Twitter @NYPDTips or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

 

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.

Continue reading

Man sentenced to five months for bodega robbery, lawsuit alleges sex abuse at spa

MAN SENTENCED TO FIVE MONTHS FOR 14TH STREET BODEGA ROBBERY

The Manhattan District Attorney has announced the quick sentencing of 36-year-old Eutano Bernard to five months in jail for a robbery inside the bodega at 353 East 14th Street on Wednesday, November 14 at 6:53 a.m. Bernard pleaded guilty to assault in the third degree and was sentenced on Monday. He had entered the store, Community Candy, west of First Avenue, on Wednesday morning and told the cashier, “Give me the money,” before he tried to get behind the counter. He then attacked the store employee, causing cuts to the victim’s head and mouth.

MAN FILES SEX ABUSE LAWSUIT AGAINST FLATIRON SPA WORKER

The New York Post reported that a man who said he was sexually abused while getting a massage in the Living Fresh Men’s Spa at 44 West 22nd Street is suing the person he accused of the crime. As Town & Village reported in September, 47-year-old Pei Tian was charged with sexual abuse after he allegedly removed the towel from the victim during a massage and used his hands to touch the victim’s genitals and buttocks. The suit says that the victim, New Jersey resident Ronnie Arnau, went to the spa with his husband to get a massage and facial but 10 minutes into the session, Tian began focusing “exclusively” on Arnau’s buttocks, making him uncomfortable. The suit seeks unspecified damages and Arnau’s lawyer said that the spa ignored her client when Arnau first reported the assault.

MAN CHARGED WITH EXTORTION OVER PHONE STOLEN FROM GYM

Police arrested 40-year-old Sefu Sieka for an alleged theft in front of 4 Union Square East on Tuesday, November 13 at 11:19 a.m. The victim previously went into the 13th Precinct and told police that his wallet had been stolen from his locker while he was working out at a Blink Fitness.
He said that after it was taken, an unknown woman contacted him and said that she had his wallet and credit cards and wanted a reward from him in exchange for returning the wallet. She also reportedly told the victim that she had used the money in his wallet to buy food.
The victim and special operations officers from the 13th Precinct set up a meeting with the victim and Sieka, at which point Sieka was allegedly seen with the victim’s wallet before handing it over in exchange for cash. He was arrested shortly after. Sieka was charged with grand larceny by extortion, possession of stolen property and petit larceny.

WOMAN ALLEGEDLY LIED HER WAY INTO A FLATIRON APARTMENT

Police arrested 66-year-old Constance Gibbons for allegedly trespassing inside an apartment at 1107 Broadway this summer. Police said that Gibbons went inside the building on July 17 around 5 p.m. and gave the doorman her name, allegedly telling him that she was a representative of Eaton Properties, a property management company. Police said that the doorman gave her a key to one of the apartments, which she then reportedly entered unlawfully. Gibbons was arrested inside the 13th Precinct on Friday, November 16 at 5:34 p.m. Police said that Gibbons gained entry into an apartment by use of deception and remained there without permission.

‘DRUNK’ DRIVER ARRESTED AFTER CRASHING INTO SCAFFOLDING

Police arrested 25-year-old Einne Bunting after he was involved in an accident in front of 49 West 20th Street on Saturday, November 17 at 2:39 a.m. Police said that Bunting was driving east on West 20th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenue, allegedly speeding, when he reportedly lost control of the vehicle, spun out of control and crashed into the scaffolding in front of the building on West 20th. When police arrived, Bunting allegedly had a strong odor of alcohol on his breath, slurred speech and bloodshot, watery eyes. Bunting was taken to Bellevue Hospital for blood testing after he was arrested. He was charged with criminal mischief and intoxicated driving.

MAN ACCUSED OF DAMAGING LYFT DRIVER’S CAR IN KIPS BAY

Police arrested 28-year-old Youssouf Konate for allegedly damaging a car at the corner of First Avenue and East 28th Street on Saturday, November 17 at 8:45 a.m. The victim told police that he received a call to pick up Konate from his Lyft app. When he arrived, Konate and five other men tried to get into the victim’s car. The victim told Konate that he wasn’t allowed to have that many people in the car, after which Donate allegedly kicked the passenger’s side rear door, leaving a dent.

TEEN WORKER ARRESTED FOR STEALING CASH FROM BED BATH & BEYOND

Police arrested a teenager inside the bed Bath & Beyond at 620 Sixth Avenue for petit larceny on Tuesday, November 13 at 8:30 p.m. Police said that the teen, an employee at the store, was observed swiping cash from the store’s register on various occasions between November 5 and 12. The total value lost was under $1,000. The teen’s name is being withheld because of his young age.

Harvest in the Square raises $430G for Union Square Park

Tim Meyers, chef at Bocce USQ (at left) at Harvest in the Square (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Harvest in the Square, the annual food festival that serves as a fundraiser for Union Square Park, raised $430,000 at this year’s event, topping last year’s fundraising amount of $368,000.

Union Square Partnership executive director Jennifer Falk said that a portion of the money raised always goes to programming in the park, such as free community programs through summer in the square, as well as landscaping of park and plazas and capital work to make repairs.

The Partnership will work with the Parks Department over the winter to develop ideas for what the park needs and work on whatever project is chosen will begin next April. The money raised through last year’s Harvest in the Square was used to build out brand new seating area just south of where the mother and child fountain is on the west side of the park between 15th and 16th Streets. The Partnership said that in the last 23 years, the event has raised a total of $6.7 million.

Falk noted that a significant portion of the money from last year was used to replace equipment in the playgrounds and to replace some of the park lighting with LED energy.

Continue reading