New ferry route schedules are now available online

July26 Ferry

The Lower East Side ferry route will launch on August 29. (Photo by Thomas Rochford)

The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and NYC Ferry operated by Hornblower have announced details regarding the launch of the Lower East Side ferry route on August 29 as well as the Soundview ferry route on August 15.

The Lower East Side route, which will run from Wall Street/Pier 11, to Corlears Hook, to Stuyvesant Cove, East 34th Street, and end at Long Island City, Queens, will be a 32-minute trip from start to finish.

The Soundview route will run from the Soundview section of the Bronx (Clason Point Park), to East 90th Street in Manhattan, to East 34th Street, ending its run at Wall Street/Pier 11, and will take about 54 minutes from start to finish.
Schedules for the new routes are available on the NYC Ferry website, ferry.nyc and will also be accessible on the NYC Ferry app prior to the launch.

“We’re excited to launch NYC Ferry service in the Bronx, the Upper East Side and the Lower East Side, which have historically been transit deserts,” said NYCEDC President James Patchett. “For the same cost of a subway ride, New Yorkers that live and work in these communities will now have a fast, affordable and convenient way to get around the city.”

“With the launch of the 2018 routes, NYC Ferry is excited to expand across New York Harbor and continue to build neighborhood connections to the Bronx, Upper East Side and the Lower East Side,” said Cameron Clark, SVP of NYC Ferry operated by Hornblower. “We encourage everyone to hop on board and explore these new, affordable routes that will enhance commutes and shorten travel times for thousands of New Yorkers.”

NYC Ferry has already employed over 325 people as captains, deckhands, customer service agents, operations and more. New Yorkers can still apply at ferry.nyc.

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Diesel buses blasted at L train meeting

An L train user speaks at the meeting held on Monday night. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Residents of Lower Manhattan expressed frustration about the possible environmental impacts of the L train shutdown because of an increase in buses in downtown neighborhoods at a public meeting hosted by the MTA last Monday evening.

MTA New York City Transit and the Federal Transit Administration prepared analysis at the end of last month that examines potential impacts of the MTA and DOT’s mitigation plans for the L train closure scheduled to begin in April 2019 and last for 15 months. The public meeting held on Monday at the MTA’s downtown headquarters was to solicit public feedback on the potential environmental impacts of the mitigation plan that were reviewed in this document.

Assembly Member Harvey Epstein said that one of his concerns was about the possibility of an increase in carbon monoxide and particulate matter because of the increase in congestion and bus traffic, which wasn’t analyzed in the document.

“The volume of buses will have a serious consequences,” Epstein said. “With only 15 clean, electric buses, there’s some real concern about the risk for people in my community. We need to have some more information about what that will be and will need more information throughout the process.”

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Letters to the editor, Aug. 9

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Thinking like a New Yorker

Regarding Town & Village’s question from July 26, Do thoughts of crime affect your daily routine and do you avoid certain streets or going out at certain times?

I don’t think of crime geographically; I can’t name any specific areas I avoid, fearing for my personal safety. As a teacher, I’ve traveled all over Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn and I’ve developed confidence about my bearings and familiarity with the variety of neighborhoods my students come from. I am more conscious of situations and the possibility of interaction and communication.

Twelve years ago, I was badly beaten by a group of gang members only two blocks from Stuy Town; the police later told me I was one victim of a serial attack, most likely part of an initiation routine.

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Affordability deal proposed for Waterside Plaza

Sept12 Waterside

Waterside Plaza

By Sabina Mollot

The owner of Waterside Plaza, Richard Ravitch, has entered into a tentative deal with the city to help preserve affordability at the complex in 325 apartments occupied by “settling tenants.”

Those tenants had entered into an agreement with the owner after the property left the affordable Mitchell-Lama program at the turn of the millennium to pay a fixed increase each year, which is currently 4.25 percent. In those apartments, about 30 percent of Waterside’s housing stock, the majority of their occupants are seniors.

Under the agreement, which still must go through a ULURP process and get the approval of Community Board 6, the borough president and the City Council, tenants in those 325 apartments will all see some sort of rent relief.

For tenants earning under 165 percent of the area median income and paying over 30 percent of their household incomes in rent — effectively making them rent-burdened — their rents will become 30 percent of whatever their incomes are. Currently, 165 percent of the AMI is $120,615 for one person, $154,935 for a family of three and $185,995 for a family of five.

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Officials say traffic enforcement and bus volume should make L train shutdown less hellish

Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and NYC Transit President Andy Byford with Manhattan and Brooklyn elected officials (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Monday morning, transit officials and local elected officials told reporters they don’t expect the dreaded L train shutdown will be the L-pocalypse of doom everyone else is pretty sure it will be for the 15 months it will take to do repairs.

Reasons for this declaration include plans to run 80 shuttle buses an hour over the Williamsburg Bridge during peak times and “aggressive” enforcement to make sure private vehicles don’t jam traffic along high occupancy vehicle lanes. The soon-to-launch Lower East Side ferry schedule will also be timed to coordinate with bus arrivals.

Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and NYC Transit President Andy Byford, along with the politicians, had hopped out of a shiny, new electric bus — one of 25 that will be implemented during the L shutdown – on 14th Street and Union Square, before announcing a few updates to the mitigation plans.

One is that the NYPD is working on a plan for enforcement of traffic in HOV lanes so they don’t get crowded with private vehicles, including mini-bus services that have popped up.

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LOCAL HISTORIC PROFILE: Harry Burleigh, singer, composer

Aug2 burleigh

By Sabina Mollot

Henry “Harry” Thacker Burleigh was a baritone singer, composer and arranger who worked for over half a century at St. George’s Parish in Stuyvesant Square as a soloist. He also sang for 25 years at another Manhattan religious institution, Temple Emanu-El, and at both institutions, he was the first black singer to be hired.

Burleigh (December 2, 1866-September 12, 1949, pronounced “burly”) received his earliest musical training from his mother, according to a Library of Congress profile, while a Wikipedia bio also notes he learned about spirituals and slave songs from his grandfather, Hamilton Waters, who’d bought his way out of slavery in 1835. Burleigh’s father, Henry Thacker Burleigh, Sr., a naval veteran in the Civil War, was the first black juror in Erie County in 1871.

As for the younger Burleigh, called Harry, even without formal training, he was able to find employment as a soloist in several churches and synagogues in his native Erie, Pennsylvania. When he came to New York, he sang with Free African Church of St. Philip’s on West 25th Street, the first black congregation of Protestant Episcopalians in the city, according to the Dvořák American Heritage Association. Burleigh then became situated in part of a large black community there that established itself around St. Philip’s.

At the age of 26, Burleigh was accepted, with a scholarship, to the National Conservatory of Music in New York City at the age of 26. The conservatory was then run out of two homes where the Washington Irving High School campus currently exists today.

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Reader opinions: Crime in the city

In our last issue, Town & Village asked readers if thoughts of crime in this city affect their daily routines. We also asked, “Do you avoid certain streets or going out at certain times?”

Here are a few responses:

Martha Wolberg says, “I’ve lived in this neighborhood for 40 years. I have never felt safer. When I moved here, it was quite dangerous. Now, I can come home at 2 or 3 in the morning and there is no problem. I live on 14th Street between Second and First Avenues. All the bars in the neighborhood make it very safe – there are always people hanging out late at night.”

Kay Vota says, “It is always wise to be cautious. Once I was being followed in subway facility and I led guy straight to a cop! Once I was followed on the streets of NYC and I ducked into a building with a doorman and told him I was being followed. Once I started out of my garage back door and a giant man was on the steps and I slammed the door, called Public Safety and an officer arrived in a matter of minutes. I do not answer phone calls that I do not recognize the number. A lot of seniors live in our community and we are harassed by spoofing (an official phone number that is faked by some techie device) pretending to be the IRS with threats about being arrested if we don’t call right back. Stuy Town Public Safety when under William McClellan offered a course to tenants, teaching ways of protecting oneself when attacked. The same people taught us that taught Public Safety officers. I thought it was very valuable. Finally, if someone comes to your door claiming to be some kind of inspector, do not open your door. Tell them you will call public safety to escort them in to your home. Also, if you have home aids, be sure to have a closet key to lock valuables so there will be no temptation for anyone to steal what is too easily accessible. Better safe than sorry! And another thing, always trust but verify.”

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Editorial: Save mom and pop from scam suits

Just in case anyone was thinking that things are just too easy these days for proprietors of small businesses in this city, here is yet more proof that their problems are a lot bigger than Amazon and changing consumer preferences.

Many mom-and-pop shops, who already face an uphill battle thanks to the uncertainty of lease renewals, endless fees and fines from the city and rising rents, generally cannot afford to get tangled up in lengthy litigation battles. So it wasn’t surprising to learn that at least a couple of local businesses blinked when threatened by a potential lawsuit from a serial plaintiff charging discrimination against the disabled.

Access for wheelchair users and other people with mobility challenges is very much a real issue; one that is thankfully finally getting some attention thanks to a recent lawsuit that is trying to stop the L train shutdown.

That litigation has already successfully drawn attention to the willful ignoring of the needs of the disabled to get around the city on mass transit like anyone else. However, that isn’t what was filed by plaintiff Arik Matatov, a wheelchair-using man and his attorney, against dozens of small businesses in Manhattan, while, the New York Post revealed last week, he can actually walk.

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Opinion: That moment when you’re poked by a squirrel on a park bench

A similar offender in Stuy Town in 2016 (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Squirrels have been a hot topic in this community and in this newspaper over the years. Each side has been unexpectedly passionate in defending its position, to say the least: one of the most recent controversies involved a resident who received a threatening postcard because of a lukewarm annoyance at the rodents’ ceaseless begging. But the debate has finally become personal because on a weekend earlier this summer, I had an encounter that tipped my bias in favor of a ban on squirrel-feeding.

I was sitting on a bench in Madison Square Park on a Saturday afternoon, minding my own business, when I felt something tap against my shoulder. I turned and realized I was almost face to face with a squirrel, not the expected human hand, perched on the back of the bench, who for some reason thought I had a treat for him.

I’ve never had particularly strong feelings about this topic before and could see both sides of the argument. Squirrels can be a bit ratty-looking but also cute in their own way and I can understand the appeal of communing with nature in a city where nature is scarce. And if someone wants squirrels surrounding them or even climbing all over their body, that’s their business.

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Seniors warned: Don’t ignore summonses

Fidel Del Valle, commissioner of the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings, speaks at the event held at the Sirovich Center, pictured with Council Member Carlina Rivera (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Ignoring that $100 ticket could end up costing more than $12,000.

The high price tag of ignoring a summons was a major impetus for the workshop held by Councilmember Carlina Rivera at the Sirovich Senior Center on East 12th Street last Friday.

Representatives from the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings, which handles most of the summonses issued in the city, wanted to educate seniors on the new ways in which the city is helping residents deal with summonses without even leaving their homes, which can be especially useful for seniors who have mobility challenges.

Assistant Commissioner Marisa Senigo said that there isn’t specific data about how many summonses seniors as a group receive because the agency doesn’t record demographic information, but summonses issued to seniors would often fall under the “personal behavior” category, such as public consumption of alcohol, public urination or being in a park after dark.

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Asbestos cleanup underway at future home to Beth Israel

future beth israel

Eye & Ear Infirmary as seen from Second Avenue (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

During a day of picketing by unionized nurses and other employees of Beth Israel last month, one longtime employee told us that demolition of the site that is to become the future, smaller hospital has been delayed thanks to asbestos. In response, she said, employees who are awaiting the renewal of their contracts in September, have been told they may need to stick around longer than planned at the First Avenue flagship building, which is slowly being emptied of different departments.

Asked about this, a spokesperson for Mount Sinai confirmed the presence of asbestos at the future hospital, which will be located where there is currently another of the network’s hospitals, New York Eye & Ear Infirmary’s residential building, on East 13th Street and Second Avenue. However, she indicated the project is moving on schedule.

“The scheduled demolition and abatement of this building continues as planned and is projected to be completed this fall,” said Lucia Lee. “Our architects, designers and construction firms have been hired and working diligently on the planning. Once the demo is completed we will begin the first construction phase of the new building, pending approvals, including the Certificate of Need (CON). In the meantime, the current Beth Israel hospital remains open and fully accessible to the community and will remain so until the new hospital is opened.”

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Gramercy shop sued by wheelchair plaintiff closes

Aug2 Asia Market

Asia Market on Third Avenue (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Last week, a disabled resident of Queens who was suing around 50 business over lack of access to him in his wheelchair was revealed to be able to walk in an article by the New York Post. The paper then went on to report that all the lawsuits were being dropped by the man’s attorney, Jeffrey Neiman, who claimed he had no idea that his client’s claims of being unable to walk weren’t legit.

Meanwhile, one of the businesses targeted by the plaintiff, Arik Matatov, was Asia Market, an Asian grocery store in Gramercy that closed on Tuesday. The store has been open for about a year on Third Avenue between East 18th and 19th Streets.

Reached by phone on Monday, a woman who introduced herself as one of the owners, said the lawsuit, despite having been reportedly dropped, was a factor in the decision to close.

Naomi Kwong said, “It is one of the reasons,” saying that she was first contacted by an attorney earlier this year with a Fed Exed complaint of inaccessibility. Thinking it seemed fishy, she then looked up Neiman and his client online and found information on what appeared to be a quickly drafted website that was created in January.

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Police Watch: Man arrested for up-skirting, ACS teens arrested for robbery

MAN ALLEGEDLY UP-SKIRTED TEENAGE GIRL
Police arrested 37-year-old Kevin Myers for allegedly filming a teenage girl without her permission inside the Union Square subway station at Union Square West and East 14th Street on Tuesday, July 24 at 7:46 p.m. Police said that Myers placed his cell phone with the camera function in the on position recording under the skirt of a 17-year-old. Myers was charged with unlawful surveillance.

ACS TEENS ARRESTED FOR ROBBERY
Police arrested two teenage girls for a robbery inside Bellevue South Park that took place on July 24. Police said that the teens attacked the victim and stole her wallet, including her passport, Medicaid card and cash.

The teens were arrested for the incident inside the Administration for Children’s Services building at 492 First Avenue on Thursday, July 26 at 2:11 p.m. Police said that both suspects as well as the victim were all residents of the ACS facility.

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Target’s East Village store drew controversy on its opening weekend

The new Target on East 14th Street (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Popular chain store Target caused controversy at the opening of the new East Village store at the end of last month because of their homage to former dive bar and music club CBGB and ultimately apologized for the marketing stunt, the New York Times reported at the end of last week.

The new store opened on East 14th Street between Avenues A and B with grand opening festivities on the weekend of July 21 with a vinyl facade depicting tenements and old storefronts, including CBGB, with “TRGT” in the bar’s classic font on the temporary overhang.

Jeremiah Moss, whose blog Vanishing New York and book of the same name document gentrification in the city, called the display a “deplorable commodification of local neighborhood culture” and expressed disgust over the fake storefronts.

“The façade is draped in vinyl sheets printed with images of tenements, the same sort of buildings that get demolished to make room for such developments,” Moss wrote. “Here they sit, hollow movie-set shells, below the shiny windows of the high-end rentals. They are the dead risen from the grave, zombies enlisted to work for the corporation.”

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