Electric bus fleet won’t be ready in time for L shutdown

An electric bus similar to those that will be rolled out during the L train shutdown (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Electric buses for the new M14 SBS route for the L train shutdown won’t be in the fleet until the end of 2019, at least five months after the shutdown begins, NYC Transit officials said at a Community Board 5 meeting last week.

Fifteen of the 40 vehicles on this route will be electric articulated buses. There will be five electric and 10 hybrid diesel-electric buses for the inter-borough routes in use by April 2019, but this fleet is twice that of the M14 at 80 buses.

“Less than half of the M14 buses will be electric but these have a very long lead time to get,” said Rob Thompson of NYC Transit. “We’re throwing them out as fast as we can get them.”

New York City Transit will also be making changes to bus stops around 14th Street prior to the shutdown and Thompson noted that two stops near Union Square would be relocated within the next month to accommodate the work that DOT is doing for the shutdown.

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Upcoming L train work announced, bigger ferries coming before shutdown

Part of the L train construction site on 14th Street at Avenue A (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

From constant noise to the chaotic construction scene that has effectively hidden a number of local storefronts, the ongoing L train preliminary construction work to the upcoming shutdown has been the primary concern for many fed up residents of Stuyvesant Town.

The issue was among several brought up at a meeting held by the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association on Saturday afternoon at Mount Sinai Beth Israel.

At the meeting, attended by local elected officials and around 125 tenants, State Senator Brad Hoylman brought up a few updates to the work schedule that were only shared with his office a day earlier.

“They absolutely have to do a better job of communicating with us,” he told the crowd about the memo. “There needs to be an individual in charge and they need to have an email address on the construction site.”

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This week in history: 70 years ago

The following news stories ran in the May 20, 1948 issue of Town & Village.

14th Street Crosstown service extended following wartime shortage of spare parts

The New York City Omnibus Company announced that it would extend its 14th Street crosstown bus service to go from river to river. Previously, it had been running from the East River to Broadway. If commuters wanted to continue crosstown, they would have to transfer. The vice president of the company, F. Baker, explained the reason for the less lengthy route, saying the problem dated back to the war, when the company couldn’t get enough spare parts to keep its fleet of buses running. They ended up with fewer buses, after resorting to stripping some for spare parts.

New VA hospital

The Veterans Administration announced it had obtained a six-acre plot of land from First Avenue to Avenue A and 23rd to 25th Streets for the construction of a new hospital with an expected price tag of $15 million. The hospital would have 1,000 beds, making it smaller than other local VAs (like Kingsbridge in The Bronx with 1,600 and Halloran in Staten Island with 1,500). The nearby Bellevue Hospital had 3,000 beds.

NY Infirmary stays in the neighborhood

The New York Infirmary ended up forgoing a decision to move from the Stuyvesant Square neighborhood to York Avenue and 62nd Street in order to cooperate fully with the Hospital Council of Greater New York, in its effort to space hospitals where they were most needed throughout the city. Mrs. Frank Vanderlip, board of the infirmary’s trustees, announced instead the new facility would be built at 15th Street and Stuyvesant Square.

“With the sharp increase of other hospital services expected in this part of the East Side, the New York Infirmary may look forward to an expanding future, no longer as a women and children’s hospital but as a community hospital,” said Vanderlip.

Garage rate gripe

Town & Village was hearing from a number of residents complaining about the cost of renting a garage space. One resident fumed that when he was first informed of the garages, he was told they would cost about $10 a month to use. But then then he ended up being charged $20.

While costs of operation and construction had gone up since news of the garages was announced, readers still said they felt $20 a month was a bit too much. Instead, they suggested a slightly lower rate in exchange for a commitment to a longer lease.

Meanwhile, Stuy Town garages still were less expensive than those in the immediate area, which averaged $25 a month without service and $40 with service.

Lawsuit aims to stop L-pocalypse

Apr5 14th St coalition Schwartz Prentiss

Attorney Arthur Schwartz (pictured with Edith Prentiss, a disabled rights activist) says disabled commuters aren’t being considered, nor are the neighborhoods that will be dealing with chaotic traffic. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Tuesday morning, a coalition of neighborhood groups sued in a Manhattan Federal Court in an attempt to stop the planned L train shutdown starting a year from now. The suit accuses the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the city Department of Transportation and the Federal Transportation Administration of ignoring the needs of disabled riders along the L line, and disregarding the communities who’ll be dealing with constant congestion from diesel-spewing buses.

According to the attorney representing the groups, dubbed “the 14th Street Coalition,” Arthur Schwartz, the FTA “has failed to enforce compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) even though the nearly $1 billion project is being federally funded.” The MTA and DOT meanwhile, he said have failed to prepare a required Environmental Impact Statement, which he said would have compelled the agencies to be more responsive to community input.

The suit aims to halt the work as well as its federal funding until the plans do something about the lack of elevators in each L station and about the expected environmental impacts from substituting the L train with significantly expanded above ground mass transit.

The plan calls for creating a 14th Street “busway” between Third and Eighth Avenues going west and from Ninth to Third Avenues going east. Car traffic will not be able to cross anywhere along the busway. Access-A-Ride will be included along with emergency vehicles. The plan is to enforce these rules during “peak” hours. A constant fleet of shuttle buses will be traveling from Brooklyn to Manhattan over the Williamsburg Bridge and there will also be a protected bike lane on East 13th Street.

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More details (and concerns) on 14th St. ‘Busway’

Stuyvesant Town resident AJ Miller expresses her concerns to transit officials at an open house at the 14th Street Y. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The MTA and DOT released details on the “Busway” coming to 14th Street during the expected L train shutdown at Community Board 6’s transportation committee meeting on Monday. The agencies also gathered feedback on the plans during an open house at the 14th Street Y last Wednesday.

The new Busway will be on 14th from Third to Eighth Avenues going westbound and from Ninth to Third Avenues going east.

In both directions between Third and First Avenues, there will be a painted bus lane on the street but traffic will not be restricted and cars will be able to head across 14th Street, whereas traffic will not be allowed to cross anywhere along the Busway.

Meeting attendees asked DOT representatives why the Busway was not extended all the way to First Avenue or Avenue C and DOT representative Aaron Sugiura explained that it wasn’t ideal, but that the negatives outweighed the positives.

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Intentionally odd art takes over 14th Street

Charley Friedman’s performance “Adenoid’s Adenoid” between Sixth and Seventh Avenues (Photos by Ed Woodham)

By Sabina Mollot

This year’s Art in Odd Places festival, an outdoor exhibit of performances and installations, took place along the length of 14th Street from Thursday, October 12 to Sunday, October 15. For those who missed it — or just didn’t get a chance to see everything — the art this year took a lot of cues from nature and health-related topics as well as other issues near the hearts of the 60-plus participants. This was in keeping with the theme of “sense.”

Linda Mary Montano was a nursing home patient aided by healthcare workers. Lulu Lolo blessed immigrants on the street as Mother Cabrini. Clarivel Ruiz provided blessings through rose water and dance. Antonia Perez gave out plastic flowers she made out of grocery bags.

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Art in Odd Places returns

Performer Lulu Lolo will bless immigrants as Mother Cabrini in this year’s festival, which has more performance art installations than visual ones. (Photos courtesy of AiOP)

By Sabina Mollot

Art in Odd Places, the annual outdoor array of performance and visual art that takes over the length of 14th Street for several days, is back. This year, the festival is running from Thursday, October 12 to Sunday, October 15 with a reception on Friday, October 13 from 6-8 p.m., also outdoors, on 14th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues.

This is the festival’s 14th year and it’s now been on 14th Street for a decade with the location having been chosen because of its site as a crossroads to a few different neighborhoods.

In keeping with tradition, each year’s festival has a theme and this year’s is “sense,” which a press release explains is supposed to “welcome gestures that aim to awaken dormant perceptions.”

The festival’s 60-plus artists have chosen to interpret it in many different ways, according to one of AiOP’s three curators, Nicolás Dumit Estévez Raful.

“Ways that are sometimes literal, and in ways that are metaphorical,” he said.

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Man gropes woman in Stuyvesant Town elevator

By Sabina Mollot

Cops are looking for a man who groped a 30-year-old woman inside her building in Stuyvesant Town on Tuesday.

Police said that around 5:40 p.m., the suspect followed the victim inside her building, which is located in the vicinity of East 14th Street and the 14th Street Loop. He then followed her into an elevator and got out on the second floor, but as the elevator door was about to close he got back in and pressed the fifth floor button. When the elevator reached the fourth floor, and the victim was getting out, the man grabbed her buttocks under her skirt.

The victim then smacked the man and screamed, but according to cops, the suspect remained in the elevator for a time with the doors closed. He then fled the building in an unknown direction.

Police also believe the suspect had followed the victim as she was walking home from the subway station on 14th Street and First Avenue.

The suspect is described as Asian with a light complexion, approximately 20-27 years of age, 5’4″, 150 lbs., brown eyes, black hair, last seen wearing a black baseball hat, black sneakers, white shirt and blue jeans.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS or for Spanish 1-888-57-PISTA (74782)

The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Website at http://www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or texting their tips to 274637(CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

14th St. SBS route planned ahead of L shutdown

The MTA and the city are working on plans to enhance bus and ferry service, including Select Bus Service for 14th Street. Meanwhile, work will soon begin on the Avenue A entrance of the First Avenue subway station just west of Avenue A. (Corner pictured here opposite Stuyvesant Town) (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The MTA has announced that preliminary street work on the new entrance for the L train at Avenue A and East 14th Street will begin this month. The new entrance is planned for the north and south sides of East 14th Street, just west of Avenue A.

Additionally, the MTA recently discussed plans for a new Select Bus Service (SBS) route along 14th Street to help make the looming L train shutdown less of a nightmare.

The plans for mitigation were discussed at the last Community Board 6 Transportation Committee meeting.

The shutdown, which is expected to begin in April 2019, will affect about 225,000 riders and cuts off train service between Brooklyn and Manhattan so the MTA can make repairs to the Canarsie Tunnel, which was badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

The MTA is working on plans with the Department of Transportation for a series of buses, road improvements and ferries.

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‘Jew man’ graffiti seen across from Stuy Town

Council Member Dan Garodnick, who took this photo, said this is the first time he's seen anti-Semitic graffiti in the community.

Council Member Dan Garodnick, who took this photo, said this is the first time he’s seen anti-Semitic graffiti in the community.

By Sabina Mollot

As local elected officials have pointed out, bias crimes are on the rise since the election nationwide.

The community has been seeing its fair share too. Yesterday, Council Member Dan Garodnick snapped a photo of anti-semitic graffiti across from Stuyvesant Town.

“Hate crimes spiking since the election,” Garodnick tweeted on Monday. “This graffiti now appears across from StuyTown & local synagogue (Town and Village). We can’t let this become the new normal.”

Garodnick later said he had never before seen anti-Semitic graffiti in the community. He also said this was the only recent incident he was aware of.

The graffiti, above the Papaya hot dog storefront on First Avenue and 14th Street, depicts the spray painted words “Jew man” accompanied by crude drawings of smiley faces with side locks, which are worn by religious Jewish men. It was spray painted large enough to be easily seen from across the street.

The incident comes three weeks after State Senator Brad Hoylman saw two swastikas scratched into the door of the building where he lives in Greenwich Village.

Additionally, a Muslim Baruch College student was harassed on the train at 23rd Street last weekend by men who were trying to grab her hijab and yelling “Donald Trump” and anti-Muslim slurs, according to a Daily News report.

UPDATE: According to a Stuy Town resident, the graffiti didn’t happen post-election. The tipster told T&V she first spotted the spray-painted sentiment in the middle of October.

PCV doctor named president of Mount Sinai Downtown

Jeremy Boal, MD, is the new president of Mount Sinai Downtown, which includes Beth Israel and the Eye and Ear Infirmary. (Photo courtesy of Mount Sinai)

Jeremy Boal, MD, is the new president of Mount Sinai Downtown, which includes Beth Israel and the Eye and Ear Infirmary. (Photo courtesy of Mount Sinai)

By Sabina Mollot

On the heels of Mount Sinai Beth Israel’s president, Suzanne Somerville, stepping down, a Peter Cooper Village resident who began his career as a resident in the hospital network 25 years ago has been named the president of Mount Sinai Downtown. This includes the current and future Beth Israel as well as the Eye and Ear Infirmary.

Additionally, Jeremy Boal, MD, who currently serves as executive vice president and chief medical officer of the Mount Sinai Health System, is being promoted to executive vice president and chief clinical officer. Though the transition has already begun, the appointment having been announced internally last Wednesday, he won’t be fully assuming the new role until January, 2017. Prior to his current role, he served as chief medical officer at North Shore LIJ (now Northwell Health).

Earlier this week, Boal spoke with Town & Village about community concerns such as potential loss of services from the neighborhood, the status of the medical giant’s real estate and the enhanced offerings that have been promised to patients at the future, much smaller hospital building adjacent to Eye and Ear.

Since 2003, Boal has been a resident of Peter Cooper where he lives with his family, which includes two daughters, one 13, the other 16.

The interview, edited for length, is below.

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Straphangers weigh in on ways to deal with L train shutdown

Paul Steely-White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Paul Steely-White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A transit-focused nonprofit has enlisted the public to come up with ideas to help make the looming L train shutdown less painful, and the first of three workshops on the subject took place on Monday night at Town and Village Synagogue.

There didn’t seem to be any new ideas but rather people stressing options brought up previously, such as the street being shut down to car traffic and beefing up the supply of buses.

Paul Steely-White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, said that regardless of the overall plan, the public feedback process could be a good opportunity to improve bus transit in the city.

Meanwhile, he added that the imminent shutdown will be a serious problem if it’s not met with proactive solutions beforehand.

“We’re trying to get our heads around the thought of what happens if there’s no contingency,” he said. “I don’t think anyone thinks it’ll just be ok if we do nothing.”

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Art festival will focus on race

An artist participating in the upcoming Art in Odd Places festival, Walis Johnson, will have a mobile installation along 14th Street detailing how people of color faced discrimination in Stuyvesant Town and other areas. (Pictured) Some of the artifacts that go along with stories she’s collected by doing interviews (Photo courtesy of Walis Johnson)

An artist participating in the upcoming Art in Odd Places festival, Walis Johnson, will have a mobile installation along 14th Street detailing how people of color faced discrimination in Stuyvesant Town and other areas. (Pictured) Some of the artifacts that go along with stories she’s collected by doing interviews (Photo courtesy of Walis Johnson)

By Sabina Mollot

There’s no question that race is the most widely covered topic this year in the news, whether the word’s in reference to the upcoming presidential election or race as in skin color, with recent protests stemming from the Black Lives Matter movement. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it’s the theme chosen for artists to run with in what is sure to be a politically charged Art in Odd Places festival.

The annual art show, which features both visual and performance art pieces along the length of 14th Street for a few days, is set to run this year from October 6-9.

This year there will be 34 artists, most of them with works that are performance based. The event was founded by teaching artist Ed Woodham, and this year there are four curators: Elissa Blount-Moorhead, Rylee Eterginoso, Tumelo Mosaka and Ikechukwu Onyewuenyi.

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MTA will conduct study on a traffic-free 14th Street during L train shutdown

hoylman

State Senator Brad Hoylman (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

The MTA will be conducting a study on a plan to close 14th Street to traffic for the duration of the planned 18-month L train shutdown.

The feasibility study was announced by State Senator Brad Hoylman on Wednesday, who, along with quite a few other elected officials, had requested the study.

“More than 50,000 people cross Manhattan daily on the L train below 14th Street,” Hoylman said. “It’s crucial that we have a plan in place to accommodate these riders given the L train will be closed for 18 months starting in January, 2019.”

He added that the study includes a proposal for a dedicated bus lane and expanded cyclist and pedestrian access.

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Artist looking for ST residents to interview for art/history project

Walis Johnson, a filmmaker, artist and teacher at Parsons School of Design, is looking to interview residents of Stuyvesant Town who have lived in the neighborhood for 30 years or longer. The conversations will aid in her production of “The Red Line Archive,” a mobile art piece aimed at igniting public dialogue about the political, social and personal impacts of the 1938 Red Line Maps. The project will be part of the Art in Odd Places festival that takes place every October along the length of 14th Street.

Redlining refers to a federal map officially drawn in 1935 that selectively denied financing for housing mortgages, insurance and other services in neighborhoods demarcated by red shading on a map. Redlined neighborhoods became zones of disinvestment and urban neglect where services (both financial and human) were systematically denied to people of color and ethnic working class citizens.

For this years’ AiOP festival, themed “Race,” Johnson is working with photographer Murray Cox and NYU professor Aimee vonBokel to add information to the site specific exhibition about the area of 14th Street from First Avenue to Avenue C.

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