Cops and neighbors share frustration on homeless encampments

Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman, commanding officer of the 13th Precinct (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

While the topic of scofflaw cyclists normally dominates meetings with local police officers, on Tuesday night, those in attendance at the most recent gathering of the 13th Precinct Community Council told officers homelessness has them concerned.

A Union Square resident noted that there have been homeless encampments in the park recently, despite him having raised the issue at the meeting last month. Executive Officer Ernesto Castro said that the precinct has been to the park to break up the encampment but the problem is recurring.

“We have gone over there and taken it down but they’re just coming back,” he said.

“It is a tough situation but one point of leverage we do have is that you can’t have a mattress on the street so we can keep going back there to break it up,” Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman, the precinct’s commanding officer, added. “It’s not illegal to have a sign or just to be on the street but mattresses are definitely not allowed.”

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Cops say they’ve been ticketing scofflaw cyclists

Police have been confiscating e-bikes like these (pictured in a January Twitter post by the 13th Precinct).

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Just as it did at another cop and community meeting earlier this month in Stuyvesant Town, the topic of bikes dominated the discussion at the 13th Precinct Community Council’s most recent meeting on Tuesday.

“I haven’t been to one of these meetings so this might have been mentioned before, but bikes are a problem,” one Stuyvesant Town resident said early in the evening, prompting a roomful of commiserative chuckles.

In response, Executive Officer Ernesto Castro said that regarding e-bikes, the NYPD is working on operations borough-wide and noted that the precinct has issued 92 summonses for bikes this year, more than last year during the same period.

“This is a difficult area but we are making progress,” Castro assured meeting attendees.

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Cop cracking down on drunk drivers in 13th Precinct

Police Officer Nicholas Clemente with Executive Officer Ernesto Castro at the 13th Precinct Community Council meeting (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Drunk drivers, beware.

Police Officer Nicholas Clemente of the 13th Precinct has arrested so many behind the wheel boozers recently that on Tuesday, he was recognized for his efforts. Clemente was the recipient of the February Cop of the Month award at a meeting held by the 13th Precinct Community Council.

Executive Officer Ernesto Castro, who led the meeting because Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman was out due to a personal matter, said that Clemente had made a significant number of arrests of intoxicated drivers throughout the precinct last year and so far this year.

“(Clemente) has made it his priority to ensure the safety of our motorists and pedestrians every night,” Castro said. “His job is to identify by observation or by accidents whether someone is intoxicated. In 2018, he made it a priority and he arrested 15 people for that, nine of them being from observation alone, either driving in the wrong direction or swerving or taking red lights. This year so far he’s made two valuable arrests for (driving while intoxicated) and he continues to strive toward that.”

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New Year brings spike in crime

Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman at the 13th Precinct Community Council meeting on Tuesday, January 15 (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The beginning of the year has brought a spike in crime to the 13th Precinct, with an almost 14 percent increase in the last week due to a string of burglaries and robberies.

“The good news is that I made them stop the shutdown for the L train in anticipation of the increase in crime that we’ve seen lately,” Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman joked at the precinct’s most recent community council meeting on Tuesday, January 15.

Hellman, the precinct’s commanding officer, told neighborhood residents in attendance at the council’s first monthly meeting of the year that the last week was the most high-volume for crime since he took over the precinct at the beginning of last year.

In addition to the arrest of Bryan Lincoln, who was collared for three alleged attempted robberies in Union Square on January 11, Hellman said that two suspects who haven’t been arrested were responsible for four burglaries within a three-block radius in the precinct that same day, breaking into businesses while they were closed and grabbing cash from the registers.

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National Night Out Against Crime

NATIONAL NIGHT OUT AGAINST CRIME was held by the 13th Precinct Community Council at Peter’s Field playground last Thursday evening, providing the neighborhood with an annual barbecue and block party, though this year’s ended early due to a storm. (Pictured) Some of the event’s organizers: Carol Schachter, Pat Sallin, Frank Scala, president of the 13th Precinct Community Council, Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman, commanding officer of the 13th Precinct, NYC Department for the Aging Assistant Commissioner Eileen Mullarkey, who presented a proclamation, and the precinct’s Executive Officer Ernesto Castro

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

National Night Out Against Crime, an annual block party aimed at bringing members of law enforcement agencies and community members together, was cut short this year due to a thunderstorm. However, before the blackening sky shut things down last Tuesday evening, the event held by the 13th Precinct Community Council in the Peter’s Field playground on Second Avenue in Gramercy managed to draw a steady stream of neighbors.

As always, participants got to speak with NYPD officials and representatives from other agencies and local businesses and nonprofits at informational tables over plates of free food. There were also free activities for children.

The storm was no joke, though, as Gothamist reported last Wednesday that three people had been struck by lightning.

But prior to the event shutting down after two hours instead of the usual three, in keeping with tradition, a representative from the mayor’s office brought a proclamation.

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Two cops recognized for arrests of robbers

Officer Brendan Bellew (pictured at left) was presented with a Cop of the Month award by Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman and 13th Precinct Community Council President Frank Scala. Officer Nicholas Clemente (not pictured) was also given an award for his service. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A pair of cops were recognized for their work in catching multiple robbers over the last month at the 13th Precinct’s community council meeting on Tuesday evening.

Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman, the precinct’s commanding officer, praised Police Officer Brendan Bellew for spotting a man on April 11 in front of 8 Gramercy Park South and recognizing him from a wanted poster about a robbery inside a Duane Reade at 333 Seventh Avenue earlier this month.

“This guy has 35 arrests and has been on the job for six months,” Hellman said. “This was an incident of shoplifting gone wrong in a Duane Reade and there was an image captured with surveillance. Brendan recognized him from the photo and arrested him. He’s a great example for the kids.”

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Police on lookout for phony basketball team now on robbery spree

The five robbery suspects seen at Blue Smoke restaurant in Flatiron

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police are looking for five young black men in connection with a number of robberies committed under the guise of raising money for a community basketball team. Most recently, they robbed a man at Danny Meyer’s Blue Smoke barbecue restaurant in Flatiron on Sunday evening.

Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman, commanding officer of the 13th Precinct, told community members at a community council meeting on Tuesday that police have identified at least one of the suspects as a 15-year-old boy who has previously been arrested for violent assaults and robberies throughout Manhattan.

In other recent incidents, the boy and four others whose ages are unknown have gone up to victims while holding a clipboard to solicit donations for a basketball team that doesn’t exist.

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First Ave./14th St. a seedy intersection, neighbors tell cops

Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman, commanding officer of the 13th Precinct (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The intersection at East 14th Street and First Avenue has recently become a hub for the homeless as well as unsavory characters who’ve been loitering, making neighborhood residents feel unsafe, a number of neighbors have been saying.

The intersection was one of the topics brought up to police at a meeting on Tuesday evening held by the 13th Precinct Community Council.

StuyTown Property Services general manager Rick Hayduk told the precinct commanding officer, Steven Hellman, that management has gotten an uptick in calls about the area.

“We wanted to heighten awareness about First and 14th because there’s been an increase in vagrants,” Hayduk said.

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Former CB6 chair enters Assembly race

Sandro Sherrod (Photo by Bert Ongkeo)

By Sabina Mollot

In a race that so far has no set Election Day, three candidates have already announced their hopes of replacing Brian Kavanagh in the New York Assembly, 74th District.

The most recent one to make his candidacy official is former Community Board 6 chair Sandro Sherrod, a resident of Stuyvesant Town.

Sherrod, 41, works at NYU Langone Center with the title of director of collaborative infrastructure and audio-visual strategy. (As he explains it, he’s responsible for integrative technology and how it gets used.) He’s been at the East Side hospital for the past 17 years and has a record of community activism that’s almost as long. He’s been the president of the Tilden Democratic Club, where he is now a district leader. He’s been the corresponding secretary of the 13th Precinct Community Council and he’s served on the board of the Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association. He is now a board member of the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association and is still involved with CB6, which he chaired from 2012-2015. He also chaired the board’s health committee and was vice chair of the parks committee.

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Note to candidates: ST/PCV is off limits to door-knocking

Rick Hayduk (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

With the election coming in November, candidates for City Council as well as those canvassing for them should take note: Stuy Town is off limits.

Stuyvesant Town’s general manager Rick Hayduk said at a meeting this week held by the 13th Precinct Community Council that while door-knocking isn’t illegal in the city, it is against the “house rules” on the property.

His comment was in response to a complaint from a resident at the meeting who said door-knockers were roaming the complex before the primary election in September.

Hayduk agreed that “It was pretty rampant (during the primary).”

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National Night Out Against Crime

Anil Sheokumar, representative for Public Advocate Letitia James; Rachel Atcheson, liaison from the mayor’s office; 13th Precinct Commanding Officer Deputy Inspector Brendan Timoney; Detective Vincent Arlotta; 13th Precinct Community Council President Frank Scala; event organizer Jo-Ann Polise, 13th Precinct Community Council member Pat Sallin and Police Officer John Considine (Photos by Sabina Mollot and Jo-Ann Polise)

By Sabina Mollot

On Tuesday night, crowds came out at parks across the country for parties that were held as part of National Night Out Against Crime. Established in 1984 as a way to highlight the importance of partnerships between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve, National Night Out is typically celebrated with a block party where neighbors can also get the ear of cops on issues of local concern.

Each year, one of these events is held by the 13th Precinct Community Council at the Second Avenue playground of the Simon Baruch Middle School.

At Tuesday’s event, Arlene Harrison, the president of the Gramercy Park Block Association, said she was there to show her support for the NYPD following a recent fatal shooting of a Bronx officer.

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Pigeon-napper strikes again, says PCV woman

Pigeons like these have been getting sold for target practice. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Pigeons like these have been getting sold for target practice. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Last month, Town & Village reported that a ring of bird-nappers have been seen trapping and then selling local pigeons to customers out of state who then use them for target practice. While they have yet to be arrested, one bird-napper was caught last year on Stuyvesant Town’s surveillance cameras as he worked to catch birds on East 14th Street and First Avenue.

And now, he’s back, according to a woman who said she watched in horror as a man caught pigeons in a net in Peter Cooper Village on Saturday.

The witness, a resident of Peter Cooper who asked that her name not be published, said it happened in broad daylight at around 12:10 p.m. on First Avenue between 21st and 22nd Streets.

She said she watched as he put out some seed, and following a few birds’ immediate interest, quickly scooped them up. He didn’t get more than those few, however, since the woman said she screamed at him to stop.

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City holds off on plan to diversify street fairs after community groups fight local vendor rule

Community organizations who rely on revenue from street fairs had opposed the proposal to make it mandatory to have 50 percent of the vendors be local. (Photo via Wikipedia)

Community organizations who rely on revenue from street fairs had opposed the proposal to make it mandatory to have 50 percent of the vendors be local. (Photo via Wikipedia)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

To the relief of a number of community organizations, the Mayor’s Office decided not to approve proposed new rules for street fairs for the upcoming year that would have required increased participation from local businesses. The proposal was aimed at sprinkling some local flavor into street fairs, which, despite where in the city they’re taking place, are often practically identical. The Street Activity Permit Office (SAPO) of the Office of Citywide Event Coordination and Management (OCECM) announced on October 28 that it would be extending the existing moratorium on street fair applications through 2017. A public hearing on the proposed rule will be held this Friday.

The city had previously proposed new rules that, among other requirements, would require 50 percent of vendors participating in street fairs to be from within the community district boundaries of where the fairs were taking place. Another proposed rule would have decreased the number of fairs allowed in each community district per year from 18 to 10.

Community organizers were worried that the new regulation requiring increased participation from local vendors would affect their revenue because not enough local businesses would want to take part.

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Editorial: Re-elect Maloney, Kavanagh

June30 Maloney Hoylman

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and State Senator Brad Hoylman talk to voters outside Stuyvesant Town during the June congressional primary. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

While it’s understandable that the minds of voters this coming Election Day are on the race for president, there are also a couple of local races to think about, in the case of the Stuyvesant Town/Gramercy/Kips Bay area, for Congress and for New York State Assembly.

Following publishing interviews with the opponents of two longterm incumbents, the editorial staff of Town & Village has come to the following decisions for endorsements:

Maloney’s opponent, Robert Ardini, has argued that our nation’s founding fathers never intended for elected officials to remain in one office for as long as the incumbent has, which is 23 years. While he makes a legitimate argument about how tough it is for someone to break in to the world of politics against someone who’s so well-known, we do not believe this is the only reason Maloney has consistently clobbered her opponents over the years.

It’s true, of course, that in the heavily Democratic borough of Manhattan, a Democrat is always going to have the advantage, as is the individual with more name recognition. However, an official’s experience is not something that goes unnoticed by voters and it shouldn’t be dismissed as a bad thing. Despite hitting brick walls in Washington thanks to partisan gridlock, Maloney has continued to remain responsive to the concerns of voters, both large and small. She has remained true to her platform of championing women’s rights from equal pay at work to the never-ending battle of protecting a woman’s right to choose. In her district, she pushes funding for mass transit infrastructural projects (good for commuters and good for job creation) and has remained on top of the looming L-pocalypse, a major concern of constituents. Additionally, the congresswoman, an Upper East Sider, has remained a dependable advocate for tenants.

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Local candidates spar at forum

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney speaks at last Tuesday’s candidate night event hosted by the 17th Precinct Community Council. Other speakers included  Robert Ardini (right), Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh and his opponent Frank Scala. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney speaks at last Tuesday’s candidate night event hosted by the 17th Precinct Community Council. Other speakers included Robert Ardini (right), Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh and his opponent Frank Scala. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Local politicians and political hopefuls gathered at the Sutton Place Synagogue last Tuesday evening to discuss their platforms at an event for local candidates hosted by the 17th Precinct Community Council. Democratic incumbents Brian Kavanagh, who represents the 74th Assembly District, and Carolyn Maloney, the U.S. Representative for New York’s 12th congressional district, made appearances at the event, along with their Republican challengers, Stuyvesant Town resident Frank Scala and Long Island City resident Robert Ardini, respectively.

Scala, who’s the president of the Vincent Albano Republican Club, is also the owner of a barber shop on Fifth Avenue. Ardini is a former marketing executive who is currently focusing full-time on the race.

When it was his turn at the podium, Ardini brought up the nearly quarter-century long stronghold Maloney has in the district.

“It doesn’t seem like intention of founders for politicians to serve indefinitely,” he said, arguing that there should be term limits. “Congresswoman Maloney, you are a national treasure but it’s time to give someone else a chance.”

Maloney, on the other hand, had a different perspective.

“We do have term limits in our country,” she said “They’re called elections. If you don’t like the job someone is doing, vote for someone else. I’m proud of my record and have ideas of more to do.”

Ardini noted that another issue he’s concerned with is the national debt and he said he felt that current politicians aren’t doing enough to address the issue but Maloney argued that Democrats have been able to deal with the deficit effectively.

“I’m concerned about national debt too but when Bill Clinton was president, we balanced the budget and had a surplus that was (later) spent on wars,” she said. “We were shedding 800,000 jobs a month but with hard work, we have grown our way out of that. Our economy, although not as good as we’d like, is leading the world even though we suffered that terrible financial crisis.”

While addressing a question about community policing, Assembly candidate Frank Scala said he felt stop and frisk was necessary, but only in specific circumstances.

“When the temperature outside is 95 and you see a guy with a big hood and glasses and he seems suspicious, that would be a case for stop and frisk,” he said. “If the guy is running that means something is wrong.”

Kavanagh, on the other hand, said that he thought the policy is unnecessary as well as unconstitutional, and that it didn’t have a noticeable impact in the reduction of crime throughout the city.

“The NYPD has been able to continue reduction of crime despite not using stop and frisk,” he said. “The policy made it difficult for police to work with communities and it doesn’t lead to good relationships.”

Scala, who is also president of the 13th Precinct Community Council, has had a close relationship with the NYPD and praised the work they do, specifically those at his local precinct.

“Police do a good job. Some police abuse the uniform but most of the time I believe they do a good job and should continue to do whatever they’re doing,” he said.

He added, however, that he felt local Democratic politicians have done less well by the community throughout the years.

“When Roy Goodman was our senator, Stuy Town and Peter Cooper were best places you could live but we’ve had nothing but problems since Democrats took over,” he said, then apologizing to his opponent for the slight.

While at the meeting, a Maloney supporter named Paige Judge shared that she is against term limits.

“You only learn about things in government by doing it,” she argued. “I wish you would forget about term limits. You’re going to lose a lot of good people that way.”