Letters to the editor, Apr. 18

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Stats show where bikes are a problem

The 13th Precinct has said that they view bike violations seriously but with limited resources, they do targeted enforcement based on data.

While NYC Opendata for Vehicular Accidents shows that 6th Avenue from 14th to 29th is quite a problem, our area has its problems too. Pedestrians were injured in bike incidents in 2019 at 1st Avenue and 15th Street in 2018 at 2nd Ave and 22nd Street and in 2016 at 1st Avenue and 18th and at 1st Avenue and 27th Street.

With an aging population in Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village and so many bikers breaking laws on 1st and 2nd Avenues, our situation is likely to get worse. In addition to seeing red lights cut constantly from 15th Street to 22nd, from 21st to 23rd, we’ve seen motorized and non-motorized bikes, skateboards and scooters being ridden right on the sidewalks.

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Police Watch: Woman accused of ID theft, Man charged with obstructing EMT

WOMAN ACCUSED OF ID THEFT AT BANK
Police arrested 59-year-old Robin Hill for an alleged theft inside the TD Bank at 90 Fifth Avenue on Thursday, April 11 at 4:48 p.m. Police said that Hill entered the bank, claiming that she lost her debit card and was trying to get a replacement card. When she presented a New Jersey ID to the bank employee, the employee discovered that the card was allegedly a fake license with Hill’s photograph and someone else’s name. The employee notified the supervisor at the location and they were able to get in touch with the actual owner of the account, who said that she had not given any permission to Hill to access it. When Hill was searched, officers found a valid New York State driver’s license with her real personal information on it. Hill was charged with grand larceny, identity theft and forgery.

MAN CHARGED WITH OBSTRUCTING EMT IN FRONT OF BETH ISRAEL
Police arrested 34-year-old Ricardo Gonzalez for allegedly preventing emergency workers from doing their job in front of Mount Sinai Beth Israel at 10 Union Square East on Saturday, April 13 at 9:49 a.m. Police said that Gonzalez walked in front of an ambulance, obstructing the workers from responding to an emergency call. Gonzalez also allegedly made threatening gestures and used threatening language to EMT personnel. Police said that Gonzalez attempted to punch one of the workers and refused to disperse from the location, causing alarm and annoyance. Gonzalez was charged with an unclassified misdemeanor and disorderly conduct.

TEENS ARRESTED FOR ROBBERY
Police arrested two teenagers for a robbery in front of 495 Second Avenue on Sunday, April 14 at 10:47 a.m. Police said that the two teens punched the victim in the face before forcibly removing cash from him. One of the teens allegedly ran when officers attempted to handcuff them and he resisted arrest. The teens were charged with robbery and possession of stolen property. The names of the teens are being withheld due to their young age.

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Editorial: Thrift stores wish you wouldn’t do this

Donated VHS tapes and other items decorate the sidewalk outside Angel Street thrift shop. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

We get it. Sometimes the most convenient time to run an errand, like finally bringing in that donate pile to the thrift store it’s intended for, is before work. When said store is still closed.

But sadly, most of the time what happens is the bags will get picked through by the homeless. Now, you might say, fine, if they need it. But as we witnessed in front of the Angel Street thrift store on a  recent morning, this also means the donated items will end up everywhere, including in the gutter, where they become filthy and useless.

Prior to writing this rant, we spoke with the head cashier at Angel Street (at its new location on West 22nd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues) Tiffany Davenport.

Of course, said Davenport. she and her coworkers would appreciate if people brought their donations during business hours, but ultimately Davenport said, “You can’t help what people do. We could try to enforce what we want them to do but at the end of the day, it’s their decision.”

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Man killed by L train at First Avenue station

Feb21 First Avenue L train station entrance closeup

L train at First Avenue (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A 36-year-old man committed suicide by jumping in front of an L train at the First Avenue station on Monday evening, the NYPD said. 

According to an NYPD spokesperson, the train operator saw the man standing on the Eighth Avenue-bound platform as the train was pulling into the station around 5:30 p.m. on Monday, April 15. The operator observed the victim jump off the platform as the train arrived, and he was found in between the train cars.

The NYPD is withholding the name of the victim pending family notification.

Service on the L was halted between Bedford Avenue and Eighth Avenue for about two hours after the incident, causing delays in L train service in both directions during the evening rush hour.

The MTA announced via Twitter that third-rail power was restored at First Avenue by 7 p.m. and service was restored by 7:30 p.m. with residual delays.

Opinion: Will this year be different?

By Assemblymember Steven Sanders

The Jewish festival of Passover is just around the corner. Families will gather at the Seder table where the ancient and traditional question will be asked “Why is this night different from all other nights?” But for tenants in New York City the most pressing question is: Will this year be different from all other years… and if so why?

Every spring around this time the Rent Guidelines Board meets to recommend rent increase adjustments for rent stabilized apartment lease renewals and vacancy allowances for new leases during the next 12 to 24 months beginning on October 1.

Moreover, some tenants also get notified of additional permanent rent increases from major capital improvement (MCI) work done in their buildings. Sometimes those MCIs amount to little more than necessary longterm maintenance which is required to keep buildings in good repair. Yet the owner can reap significant profits from tenants who continue to pay for those projects long after the owner has recouped the costs for their MCI project.

There is reason to believe that much of this may change this year.

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Park’s late champion to be honored for service

Rosalee Isaly, who died last July from cancer, helped revitalize Stuyvesant Square Park after a period of decline.

By Sabina Mollot

Last July, Stuyvesant Square Park lost its top overseer for half a century with the death of Rosalee Islay, the longtime president of the Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association, from pancreatic cancer at age 81. This year, the organization for which she volunteered will honor her posthumously at its annual benefit gala. The theme will be “Sowing the Seeds for the next 50 Years.”

“We’re honoring Rosalee for all she achieved over the decades,” said Phyllis Mangels, a board member of the SPNA. Additionally, going forward each year’s event will be named for Isaly though the name hasn’t yet been established. Miriam Dasic, the organization’s vice president, joked to Town & Village that with a name like Rosalee, the potential for flower puns are endless, though she promised “nothing too corny” after this reporter suggested “Everything’s coming up Rosalee.”

Meanwhile, the flowers that bloom consistently in the park today are there in large part due to Isaly’s efforts, which involved starting — and later expanding — volunteer gardening events. They’re now held around the year at least twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Work ranges from cleanup to planting to making sure bushes are kept at safe heights for visibility purposes.

The gardening program was part of a larger effort spearheaded by Isaly to revitalize the park after a long period of decline. This also included implementing free summer programming like tango classes and jazz concerts and pushing for years to see a multi-million project to restore the park’s historic wrought-iron fence restored.

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Gramercy woman reported missing

Apr18 Arlene Drucker

Arlene Drucker

Police are asking the public’s assistance in finding Arlene Drucker, 69, who was last seen at her home at 125 East 24th Street on Saturday morning.

She is described as being 5’7″ tall, 140 lbs., with a thin build, brown eyes, short blonde-grey hair and missing her teeth. She was last seen wearing a blue sun dress and blue sneakers.

Anyone with information 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 nypdcrimestoppers.com or on Twitter @NYPDTips. All calls are strictly confidential.

 

Man charged with trying to bribe inspector

52 West 28th Street

52 West 28th Street

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police arrested a man in NoMad for allegedly attempting to bribe city officials in exchange for passing a gas inspection last week.

Yonghuang Zheng, 49, allegedly offered cash to two Department of Buildings inspectors in exchange for passing a gas inspection at 52 West 28th Street on Wednesday, April 3 at 2:50 p.m.

According to the district attorney’s office, an inspector saw that the set-up in the building was not up to code and there was no licensed plumber at the location, which is required for gas turn-on inspections. Zheng then allegedly offered the inspector money in order to pass the inspection and said, “Please do not fail me. I will take care of you.”

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Reviews mixed on wine and beer for Five Stuy Cafe

Stuyvesant Town management said cafe staffers would undergo training to prevent customers from being overserved. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Stuyvesant Town residents expressed concern at a town hall last Wednesday about the possibility of increased noise and rowdiness if beer and wine were to be served at Five Stuy Cafe, while some others voiced their support for a license.

ST/PCV general manager Rick Hayduk, café operator Frank Traina and on-site manager Murat Alpay offered information at the town hall about the addition of beer and beer and wine to the menu, and some in attendance took issue with Hayduk and Traina’s assessment that the proposal had “overwhelming support” from residents.

“It’s very hard to create community but it’s very easy to destroy it,” one resident said. “Your position would be much stronger not just by asking people who frequent the cafe but everyone in Stuyvesant Town. The general statement about the ‘overwhelming demand’ just sounds like advertising copy. It doesn’t sound very convincing.”

Hayduk said that management would be willing to put together a survey in the days following the town hall that could be emailed to residents to get their feedback.

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Rally planned over planned squirrel feeding ban

A squirrel and a park goer share a bench at Madison Square Park. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

A group of animal rights activists will be holding a rally on the front steps of City Hall on Tuesday to protest a full wildlife feeding ban in city parks that’s expected to begin this summer.

The Bronx Animal Rights Electors is arguing that the mayor has “only listened to the Parks Department’s arguments for the ban and now, despite overwhelming public opposition and without any form of a city council review, he approves the Parks Department steamrolling this ban.”

Earlier this year, the Parks Department, which technically always forbade the feeding of animals in city parks, except for squirrels and birds, pushed for a full wildlife feeding ban. The reason, the department explained at the time, was to keep rats at bay.

“We think all New Yorkers should be healthy eaters, including our wildlife,” spokesperson Meghan Lalor said. “But, food left on the ground is an open invitation for rodents to congregate for a free meal. This amendment will help to clarify the rules, and keep our parks safe and clean.”

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Assembly taking aim at MCIs, IAIs, vacancy de-control

Photo by Sidney Goldberg

Assembly Member Harvey Epstein during a recent tenant lobbying day in Albany (Photo by Sidney Goldberg)

By Sabina Mollot

With the rent regulations set to expire on June 15, the New York State Assembly has set public hearings on May 2 and 9 to discuss a package of proposals aimed at strengthening the current laws.

Among the legislation includes a bill that would end major capital improvement (MCI) rent increases and also require the state housing agency to create a program ensuring property owners maintain a certain level of repair. MCIs are charges tacked on to a tenant’s rent to pay for improvements to the property.

“The major capital improvement rent increase program is a flawed system which has been overly complex for property owners to navigate,” said the bill’s sponsor, Assembly Member Brian Barnwell, “and has been a great disservice in our efforts to preserve the affordable housing stock.”

Another bill would end individual apartment improvements (IAI). Under the current law, landlords are allowed to raise rent after making IAIs, which can range from cosmetic repairs to redoing various rooms.

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Buses, not L train, the top concern at MTA town hall

Bus protesters

Protesters slam the elimination of bus stops at the L train open house at the 14th Street Y. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

East Side straphangers voiced concerns about changes to the M14 route at the latest L train town hall held at the 14th Street Y this past Monday.

The MTA and NYC Transit held the town hall to accept feedback on the L train plan, and while M14 bus service is not directly related to the project, the MTA is planning to make the route SBS to help commuters when L train service is limited during the construction.

The Department of Transportation is also still considering implementing a “busway” along 14th Street that would limit private traffic on the roadway, and DOT Director of Transit Policy Aaron Sugiura said that a decision on the busway will likely be made by early summer around the time that SBS is launched on the M14. The DOT is requesting feedback on the busway and will make a decision after receiving input from the community.

“The volume of people on 14th Street was going to be staggering (with a full shutdown) so it’s slightly less of an issue now,” Sugiura said. “But (a busway is) still a possibility and we’re still working on what exactly it would look like.”

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New leasing office for Peter Cooper Village under construction

A new leasing office is under construction in Peter Cooper Village. (Photos by Thomas Rochford)

By Sabina Mollot

Earlier this week, residents noticed that a new leasing office was being advertised in Peter Cooper Village in the corner space previously occupied by the Petite Abeille restaurant. The slick-looking posters show smiling individuals of various ages, and the property’s very new logo for Peter Cooper.

Asked about the advertisements, Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village general manager Rick Hayduk confirmed there is a new leasing office under construction just for Peter Cooper, but it will be housed in the neighboring 350 First Avenue. This is where another leasing office, primarily a center for brokers’ use, used to be until closing last year. The new leasing office was briefly mentioned in an e-blast to neighbors last week that also mentioned the Stuyvesant Town leasing office would be getting “a refresh,” as would signage and employee uniforms.

“Since our acquisition in late 2015, StuyTown Property Services’ and Beam Living’s focused attention has been on improving a resident’s experience (resident communication, situational response time, exterior aesthetics, quality of life issues, playgrounds, etc.), and we felt it was time to reset the ‘public’ image of the two communities,” Hayduk said in a written statement. Continue reading

Suspect charged with trying to rob Stuy Town Citibank

Citibank attempted robbery suspect

Police arrested a Bronx man on Thursday in connection with an attempted robbery of the Citibank at 262 First Avenue last month.

Robert Balsano, 47, of 1146 Ogden Avenue, allegedly strolled up to a teller on Saturday, March 23 with an encyclopedia that had a note inside demanding cash. However, the teller refused and he ended up fleeing without any money.

 

 

Bigger and better with 800 players

Peter Stuyvesant Little League players

Peter Stuyvesant Little League players and their families headed out for the annual parade through Stuyvesant Town on Saturday. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Saturday, hundreds of young baseball and softball players and their parents marched through Stuyvesant Town to Con Edison Field for the annual Peter Stuyvesant Little League Parade.

As always, they were led by a pair of bagpipers from First Avenue to around the Oval to the field for a brief ceremony where former Mets player Nelson Figueroa gave a pep talk. Local elected officials also showed up to wish the players a good season, which has already begun with a record number— 800 kids in the league. There were also a few new teams, bringing the total to 74 across 14 divisions.

At the field, PSLL President Seth Coren announced that the number of female players has also gone way up.

“In 2003, there were 75 girls playing softball,” he said. “Today we have over 200.”

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