City proposes reconfiguring 2 playgrounds as part of East Side flood protection plan

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Asser Levy Playground (pictured) and Murphy’s Brother’s Playground will be impacted by the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project. (Photo courtesy of Parks Department)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The city has been exploring options to redesign Asser Levy Playground and Murphy’s Brother’s Playground, since both will be affected by the construction of flood protection along the East Side of Manhattan from East 23rd Street to Montgomery Street.

Earlier in the month, representatives from the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency discussed the proposals at a community meeting held at Washington Irving High School.

Carrie Grassi, the deputy director of planning for the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency, mentioned how the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project will run adjacent to both parks and construction will disturb activities there.

However, since the city is only in the concept design stage with the project, Grassi said that decisions for all aspects aren’t necessarily final yet. One such instance is the placement of the floodwall as it approaches the Asser Levy Playground. One configuration has the wall bordering the park along the FDR Drive, turning along East 25th Street and connecting with the floodwall that the VA Hospital is working on.

“But some feel that would be too imposing,” Grassi said.

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Teen arrested for violently mugging woman on Asser Levy Place

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A teenage girl was arrested for mugging a woman at the corner of East 25th Street and Asser Levy Place on Sunday night, police said.

The victim told police that three or four girls approached her from behind, pulled her to the ground by her hair and punched her as they stole her cell phone and wallet, which contained the victim’s credit cards. Police saw the incident and approached the girls immediately following the mugging, causing the teen with the wallet to drop it while they all attempted to flee.

The teen who was arrested was caught in front of 421 First Avenue at 10:39 p.m. and was charged with robbery and theft. Her name is being withheld due to her young age. None of the other girls were arrested.

Police said the teen admitted that she and her friends had planned to rob someone and also confirmed that the wallet belonged to the woman who was robbed.

The victim had a bruise on the left side of her neck and complained of pain in her neck and head, but she refused medical assistance at the scene.

 

Construction begins on VA flood wall

Barriers section off part of Asser Levy Park. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Barriers section off part of Asser Levy Park. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Last Monday, the VA Medical Center began its long-planned work on its flood wall at Asser Levy Park.  Mark Thompson, Community Board 6’s chair of Parks, Landmarks and Cultural Affairs, noted that the project has taken over a portion of the park about seven to eight feet wide, intruding upon the fitness equipment area and the track. However, Thompson said, the turf field should remain open for the duration of this project, except for a few days if the hospital needs to make a new water connection.

When asked about the project, and how long it would take, a spokesperson for the VA said it’s expected to be completed by March 10, 2016.

The rep, Claudie Benjamin, also sent T&V a letter that had been sent to Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer in advance of the project getting underway, which stated the plan of the hospital’s floodwall contractor, J. Civetta and Sons.

The letter, by Mike Bozeman, director of major projects at the VA’s Manhattan campus, stated that the project began with putting up a barrier along with length of the park, and by doing so, closing the western run of the track oval and decommissioning benches, ping pong tables and exercise equipment.

“J. Civetta and Sons recognizes that this encroachment into a public space presents a nuisance and therefore has affirmed that they are committed to complete all the necessary contractual work and to restore the park in a timely manner; not later than six months from the start – by March 10, 2016,” Bozeman said.

Police Watch: Police looking for Sixth Ave. attempted bank robber, teen arrested for thefts at fast food joints

Bank robbery suspect

Bank robbery suspect

MAN WANTED FOR ATTEMPTED BANK ROBBERY
Police are seeking the public’s assistance in locating and identifying a person wanted in connection to a robbery of an HSBC bank located at 800 Sixth Avenue.
On Thursday, February 5 at 8:45 a.m. a man walked into the bank and passed a demand note, but ended up fleeing without money.
The suspect is described as a black man who is approximately 35 years old, 5’7”, with a dark brown complexion and thin mustache. He was last seen wearing a dark colored winter hat with ear flaps, gray scarf, dark colored winter jacket, dark pants and tan boots.
Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call Crime stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).  The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website at nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting TIP577 and their tips to 274637 (CRIMES). All calls are strictly confidential.

MAN NABBED FOR IPHONE ‘THEFT’ FROM CAR
Samuelle Blakely, 46, was arrested for petit larceny at the corner of Broadway and West 28th Street last Thursday at 4:04 p.m. Blakely was also charged with resisting arrest and possession of stolen property.
The victim told police that she was in a car with her boyfriend and had asked Blakeley if he knew where a nearby bathroom was, then left the vehicle. Her boyfriend was still in the driver’s seat and Blakely allegedly got into the car. When the victim returned to find Blakeley still sitting in the passenger’s seat, she asked him to leave and when she got back in the car, immediately noticed that her cell phone was missing from the seat.
A lieutenant stopped Blakely not long after on suspicion of stealing a cell phone and Blakely allegedly pushed the officer away, causing injury. Police said that he ran north on Broadway towards West 28th Street. He was then stopped at the intersection and arrested. After searching him, police said that he was in possession of a stolen iPhone 4 belonging to the victim that was recovered after it fell out of his pant leg.

TEEN BUSTED FOR ‘FAKE’ NBA ALL STAR TICKETS
Nineteen-year-old Derrick Johnson was arrested in front of 100 East 23rd Street for forgery and fraudulent accosting last Thursday at 5:15 p.m. Johnson allegedly agree to meet an undercover officer to sell tickets to the NBA All Star Game via Craigslist and when the officer met up with him, the tickets appeared to be fraudulent.

PIPE ASSAULT ON FIRST AVE. AND EAST 25TH
Police arrested 53-year-old Jerome Maxwell for assault at the corner of First Avenue and East 25th Street last Saturday at 2:41 a.m. Maxwell allegedly hit the victim with a metal pipe in the left shoulder, causing pain and swelling.

MAN ARRESTED FOR ‘SELLING DRUGS’ AT ASSER LEVY PLACE
Police arrested 26-year-old Eduardo Garcia for intent to sell a controlled substance and sale of a controlled substance at the corner of Asser Levy Place and East 23rd Street last Thursday at 10:10 p.m. Garcia was allegedly selling a quantity of a controlled substance to another person and after searching him, police said that he was in possession of an additional quantity of a controlled substance.

CREDIT CARD THIEF NABBED
Police arrested a teenager for grand larceny inside School of the Future at 127 East 22nd Street last Thursday at 2:14 p.m. The teen used a stolen credit card inside the Chipotle at 125 East 23rd Street for food totaling $18.25. The teen said that he got the card from his friend, who had stolen it from a teacher.

WANTED GAP SWEATER ‘THIEVES’ CAUGHT
Police arrested two men who were connected to previous crimes within the 13th precinct last week. James Whiting, 45, and Frankie Blake, also 45, were charged with possession of stolen property and burglar’s tools. Police said that Whiting and Blake, who officers recognized from a “wanted” posted, were seen in front of 69 Fifth Avenue last Thursday at 2:10 p.m. casing the location.
When an officer approached, he saw that they were allegedly in possession of burglar’s tools (a box lined with foil inside a large plastic bag), which contained stolen merchandise with security tags. The two had allegedly previously swiped sweaters from the nearby Gap store.
Police said that Whiting was in possession of suboxone, a drug used to treat dependence on opiates, and was charged with possession of a controlled substance.

TEEN BUSTED FOR THEFTS AT FAST FOOD JOINTS
Nineteen-year-old Roland Thomas was arrested inside the 13th Precinct last Friday at 6 p.m. Thomas was charged with three counts of grand larceny and one count of possession of stolen property. Thomas allegedly entered the Starbucks at 10 Union Square East at an earlier date and stole a bag containing credit cards. On a different occasion, Thomas allegedly swiped a Lenovo laptop from the Chickpea at 210 East 14th Street. Police said that when he was arrested, Thomas was in possession of the Lenovo laptop and a tablet belonging to an unknown victim. Police said that Thomas was responsible for two additional grand larcenies, one of which happened at the end of last year, but no further information was available about where the alleged thefts took place.

MAN ARRESTED FOR COUNTERFEIT SNEAKS
Police arrested 49-year-old Christopher Bailey in front of 18 West 29th Street for forgery last Tuesday at 10:10 a.m. Bailey was allegedly in possession of trademark counterfeit sneakers in public view.

‘POT’ DEALER ARRESTED
Police arrested 35-year-old Mamamdou Barry at the corner of Broadway and West 28th Street last Tuesday at 11:07 a.m. Barry was charged with resisting arrest, an unclassified misdemeanor, sale of marijuana and possession of marijuana. Police said that he was selling pot at the corner and when they tried to stop him, he fled. When he was searched, he was allegedly in possession of additional marijuana.

MAN NABBED FOR SELLING ‘LOOSIES’
Fifty-one-year-old Kenny Smith was arrested for an unclassified violation in front of 52 West 28th Street last Tuesday at 5:25 p.m. Smith was allegedly approaching pedestrians and selling loose cigarettes without a license.

ARREST FOR ‘SNATCHING’ WALLET AT KOA
Eighteen-year-old Dayanara Torres was arrested for grand larceny and possession of stolen property last Wednesday in front of KOA at 12 West 21st Street at 12:20 p.m. Torres allegedly took a wallet from a handbag containing multiple credit cards and cash from the location.

MAN ARRESTED FOR STOLEN PROPERTY
Police arrested 41-year-old Pedro Rivera for possession of stolen property in front of 139 Fifth Avenue last Tuesday at 1:45 p.m. Police said that Rivera was hiding inside a public phone booth while he was removing items from their security casing and putting them into a black backpack, then left the location. He was allegedly in possession of stolen property when he was searched.

WOULD-BE BIKE ‘THIEF’ BUSTED
Police arrested 29-year-old Jeremy Rodriguez for burglar’s tools and petit larceny in front of 60 West 23rd Street last Wednesday at 5:24 p.m. Rodriguez was allegedly yanking on a bicycle lock in an attempt to remove the bicycle from the rack. Police said that Rodriguez was also in possession of a metal rod commonly used in bike thefts.

VENDOR BUSTED FOR ‘FAKE’ ROLEX
Michael Groux, 31, was arrested in front of 41 Union Square West last Wednesday at 5 p.m. for forgery and an unclassified misdemeanor. Groux was allegedly displaying for sale six watches with a counterfeit trademark for Rolex, and police said that when they asked Groux to show them a DCA license, he couldn’t.

MAN BUSTED FOR CAMERA STORE ‘THEFT’
Police arrested 27-year-old Xavier Veal for grand larceny inside Adorama at 42 West 18th Street last Thursday at 8:35 p.m. Veal allegedly removed $2,400 worth of merchandise from the store, put it into his jacket and attempted to leave.

Ribbon cut at newly expanded Asser Levy Playground

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Council Member Dan Garodnick tries out the adult fitness equipment. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Last Friday morning, in near-freezing weather following the second snowfall in a week, local community leaders and politicians cut the ribbon on the newly expanded Asser Levy Playground.

Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver joked that “It’s a pleasure to cut a ribbon on this warm and sunny day,” as the politicians on either side of him sat bundled up for the cold. He then went on to say the project had been successful in terms of being both “on time and on budget and that gets a double round of applause.”

New features along the two-block-long park that was formerly a street include a track, adult fitness equipment, a synthetic turf field, drinking fountains, lighting, trees, tables and benches.

The work was funded with allocations of $1,175,000 from Council Member Dan Garodnick, $500,000 from the UN Development Corporation, and $670,000 from the mayor.

While at the podium, Silver joked that Garodnick was so enamored with project, “he named his son Asher.”

In response Garodnick confided that he’d actually told his son that the playground had been named after him.

“There are no limits to my deception,” he quipped. “I told him it was a typo on the sign.” He added that since he also has another son, “We’ll have to see what we can do for Devin.”

While construction had been underway at the site, the Council member said he and both of his young sons would pop by each day from their apartment in Peter Cooper Village and ask the project supervisor for status updates. And, he added, the supervisor was very nice about it.

The playground work was tied to a land deal that would allow the United Nations to put a building on space occupied by Robert Moses Park.While naturally the plan to remove that park space has been met with some opposition from neighbors, Garodnick said Robert Moses Park is underutilized, as the space now occupied by Asser Levy Playground was when it was a street.

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Letters to the Editor, Nov. 27

Asser Levy Pl. closure causing traffic issues

The following is an open letter to Department of Transportation Margaret Forgione from Waterside Plaza Tenants Association President Janet Handal:

Hello Margaret,

We are delighted to see that ground has been broken on Asser Levy Park. However, the closing of Asser Levy has created a problem for eastbound traffic on 23rd Street, which needs to go uptown on First Avenue. A few years ago, a no left turn sign was posted at this intersection for eastbound traffic. To go uptown, people proceeded to Asser Levy, turned left and then left again on 25th Street and then right on First Avenue to proceed uptown. When I discussed this potential problem with Dan Garodnick when the park was being contemplated, I was assured that the traffic signage would be revisited. As 23rd is a major cross-town corridor, uptown access is needed at First Avenue. I checked yesterday and the no left sign is still up.

I also wanted to bring to your attention that the streetlights on the 42nd Street FDR off ramp are not working. There are also a number of streetlights on the FDR in the NYU Bellevue area, which are not working.

I look forward to your attention to this matter.

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Ground broken on extension to Asser Levy Playground

Local politicians and Parks reps break ground at a Wednesday morning ceremony. (Pictured Parks Department Manhattan Borough Commissioner William Castro, State Senator Brad Hoylman, Parks Commissioner Veronica White, Council Member Dan Garodnick, Community Board 6 Chair Sandro Sherrod, State Senator Liz Krueger and Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Local politicians and Parks reps break ground at a Wednesday morning ceremony. (Pictured) Parks Department Manhattan Borough Commissioner William Castro, State Senator Brad Hoylman, Parks Commissioner Veronica White, Council Member Dan Garodnick, Community Board 6 Chair Sandro Sherrod, State Senator Liz Krueger and Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Local elected officials joined the New York City Parks Department and neighborhood residents to celebrate the groundbreaking of the new park planned for Asser Levy Place between East 23rd and 25th Streets on Wednesday.

“This underutilized space was screaming for us to do this here,” said City Council Member Dan Garodnick, who helped secure some of the funds for the new park.

Garodnick was joined at the ceremony by State Senators Brad Hoylman and Liz Krueger, NYC Parks Commissioner Veronica White, Manhattan Borough Commissioner William Castro, CB6 chair Sandro Sherrod and Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, who rode a Citi Bike to the event.

“The Parks Department has a great legacy in this city and we’re grateful for all the open spaces that you’ve brought here,” Hoylman said. “It’s important to our kids and families to have these open spaces and we want to attract more young people to the community. This park is going to help.”

Kavanagh added that the planned park was the result of a successful land swap and although other parkland was given up, it was beneficial that the city was able to gain more park space in exchange.

“This is a very exciting day because we’re doing more to expand our parkland. This is just the first piece of a bigger project,” Garodnick added, referring to the plan for the East River Blueway.

The new park will be adjacent to the Asser Levy playground and recreation center. The space will serve as a replacement for the parkland lost to the development of a new United Nations building at Robert Moses playground. The new park will offer space for various recreational activities, including ping pong, badminton, volleyball, chess, soccer, football, t-ball and others.

There will be an artificial turf field, adult fitness equipment, benches, tables, an exercise track, drinking fountains and trees. The project was funded with allocations of $500,000 from the UN Development Corporation and $1,175,000 from Garodnick and it is expected to be complete by next fall.

 

Oct. 24 Week In Review

Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal introduced legislation last year that would protect rent-regulated tenants filing for bankruptcy protection and would prevent a landlord from buying a rent-regulated tenant’s lease at a discounted price to satisfy a portion of the tenant’s debt in bankruptcy. In a recent trend, bankruptcy courts have been allowing bankruptcy trustees to count the value of a rent-regulated lease as an asset when the tenant files for bankruptcy.
The state provides an exemption for homeowners filing for bankruptcy so that they will not lose their homes and the intent of bankruptcy is not to destabilize families by making them homeless and the same should be true for rent-regulated tenants, Rosenthal argued, because their apartments are just as much of a home as a house or other owned property.
“Filing for bankruptcy won’t land you in debtor’s prison anymore, but if you’re a rent-regulated tenant, it could make you homeless, and that’s simply unfair,” Rosenthal said. “That’s why I introduced legislation to ensure that rent-regulated tenants are afforded the same protections as homeowners when filing for bankruptcy.”

A flood wall will soon be built to protect the VA Medical Center from future storms. (Rendering courtesy of VA Medical Center)

A flood wall will soon be built to protect the VA Medical Center from future storms. (Rendering courtesy of VA Medical Center)

There will soon be a temporary flood wall around the VA’s Manhattan Campus on East 23rd Street, the VA New York Harbor Healthcare System announced on Tuesday. The temporary wall will extend from Asser Levy Place, partially up East 23rd Street and to East 25th Street. The eight-foot flood wall, made of cellular structures filled with sand, is expected to take about six weeks to complete construction. Construction of a higher, more permanent wall to protect from future storms potentially stronger than Hurricane Sandy will be built over an 18-month period. The VA was closed for many months following Hurricane Sandy, opening partially in March and then fully over the summer.

Asser Levy Place will also be closed to traffic beginning October 28 in anticipation of a new park that will be in its place. The expansion of the park is due to funding from City Councilmember Dan Garodnick and the United Nations Development Corporation. Work is expected to be completed on the project within a year.
“Open space is sorely needed on the East Side of Manhattan, and this expansion will ultimately mean more open space not only at Asser Levy, but also for the whole East Side waterfront,” Garodnick said. “This is the first step in a plan that will increase the amount of active space East Siders get, and at no cost to the City.”

With the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy coming up next week, Con Edison has made numerous improvements to its energy-delivery systems as part of its plan to strengthen critical infrastructure and protect residents from major storms. The overhead equipment is now more resilient, substations have new walls and raised equipment and gas and steam infrastructure is protected with water-proofing measures. The next steps for post-Hurricane Sandy plans throughout the next few years include burying 30 miles of overhead lines, installing stronger aerial cable, redesigning lower Manhattan networks to de-energize customers in flood zones and replacing cast iron and steel gas pipes in flood-prone areas.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that a number of New York chefs and restaurants have taken the “Pride of New York Pledge” to support New York State’s agricultural products and local foods, increasing their usage by 10 percent or more. The program is designed to encourage the local culinary industry to take advantage of the food and beverage products that the state has to offer. A number of local restaurants will be participating, including Danny Meyer’s Gramercy Tavern, Union Square Cafe, Maialino and Blue Smoke.

The New York Daily News reported last Saturday that Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio is a supporter of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed ban on big sodas. “I’m not ever afraid to disagree with Mayor Bloomberg when I think he’s wrong. But I believe the mayor is right on this issue,” de Blasio said. “We are losing the war on obesity. It’s unacceptable. This is a case where we have to get aggressive.”

The Downtown Manhattan exit ramp will be closed for the weekend beginning on Friday at 7 p.m. Motorists are advised to use an alternate route into Manhattan and to expect delays. There will also be one tube closed for the weekend at the Queens Midtown Tunnel, beginning this Saturday at 1 a.m., through 5 a.m. next Monday, due to necessary construction.

Bill de Blasio failed to report the tens of thousands of dollars in income from renting out his second Brooklyn home in his Conflict of Interest Board filing, Crain’s New York Business reported on Monday. A campaign spokesperson told Crain’s that the rental proceeds didn’t need to be reported to the conflicts board because there was no net income, but the city’s administrative code says that lawmakers need to report any income of $1,000 or more from each source during the previous calendar year.

Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, chair of the Commission on Government Administration, co-hosted a roundtable discussion on cloud computing in government last Tuesday. Cloud computing technology creates opportunities to improve coordination and efficiency of government resources, as well as reshape the state government’s interactions with the general public, such as how the public can access important information. Kavanagh will also be hosting a roundtable discussion on open data next Tuesday.

Pols: Sanitation garage plan rushed, incomplete

A tour of the 57th Street sanitation garage was held last Wednesday. (Pictured) A DSNY rep, Bob Qu, a rep for Council Member Dan Garodnick; Janet Handal, president of the Waterside Tenants Assocation; Garodnick, Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh and Gerard Schiffren, a resident of East 23rd Street Photo courtesy of Dan Garodnick

A tour of the 57th Street sanitation garage was held last Wednesday. (Pictured) A DSNY rep, Bob Qu, a rep for Council Member Dan Garodnick; Janet Handal, president of the Waterside Tenants Assocation; Garodnick, Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh and Gerard Schiffren, a resident of East 23rd Street
Photo courtesy of Dan Garodnick

 

By Sabina Mollot
Local elected officials are calling on the city to come up with a more comprehensive plan on its intended use for a block where a planned sanitation garage is to be built. More details, they’re saying, are needed about what the east and west parcels of the property on the current Hunter College Brookdale campus, would be used for, as well as other factors. Only the center area is slated to be used for the garage.
This comes after a tour was held last Wednesday of an existing garage facility on 57th Street in an attempt by the Department of Sanitation to answer questions about the one intended for 25th Street and First Avenue. The tour was attended by Council Member Dan Garodnick, Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh and representatives for State Senator Brad Hoylman and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, as well as a few community leaders. Janet Handal, president of the Waterside Tenants Association, was present, as was the property’s general manager, Peter Davis, and 23rd Street resident Gerard Schriffen, president of a group called the Rose Hill Community Association. Leading the tour at the 57th Street facility was Dan Klein, director of real estate for DSNY.
Following the tour, Kavanagh and Garodnick echoed concerns previously made by community residents about the Brookdale facility plan, which was first announced close to a year ago, being sped along to get necessary approvals while Mayor Bloomberg is still in office. The city announced the plan as part of a land swap that would give Hunter property on 73rd Street for a new school and medical facility to be built in collaboration with Memorial Sloan Kettering.
Kavanagh, however, called the DSNY’s hope to get a ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) for the garage “premature,” considering the garage isn’t even going to begin construction until 2018. The ULURP, he added, should wait “until they can tell us what they want to do with the entire building. And they have no idea what they want to do with the rest of the building. There are a lot more questions than answers at this point.”
Garodnick said the tour was “useful in that you can get a sense of the potential structure,” but, he added, “We think this proposal is being rushed and it has not fully contemplated the entire block be tween the FDR Drive and First Avenue.”
The Brookdale campus takes up a full city block from 25th to 26th Streets and First Avenue to the FDR Drive. “It’s impossible to evaluate an incomplete plan,” said Garodnick, “and that’s what we have.”
He added that he thought the discussion should continue as it has been at Community Board 6 meetings. The last public meeting on the subject was held in late June and an extended public comment period ended on August 14.
In response to a question from a reporter of whether the DSNY would delay its ULURP request, Belinda Mager, a spokesperson for the department, indicated it wouldn’t.
“DSNY needs to advance the site selection and design process of this garage so that construction contracts can be awarded as soon as the city has site control in 2015,” she said. She added that, “DSNY would only control the part of the site required for the garage.”
The department has said previously the west and east sides could be leased out by the city to private developers. Meanwhile, the lack of available information on the plans for the east and west parcels has led at least one neighborhood resident, Schriffen, to draw his own conclusions — that the city will be using one side to store fuel tanks, the other for a salt shed. The DSNY has however said that while there will be fuel storage onsite, there won’t be a salt shed.
“No salt shed is included with this project,” said Mager. “Salt spreaders would be loaded at existing salt sheds.”
Still, Schriffen, a former prosecutor turned private practice attorney, said he thinks that’s what’s coming because there isn’t yet one nearby and the department’s own scoping document, dated May 24, notes that the department wants to rezone the block from its current R8 (mixed residential and institutional status) to M-16, which is for “large scale special development” and to get “various bulk waivers.”
As for a salt shed, he said he was opposed to that use for the property as well as the storage of diesel fuel due to the dangerous chemicals that are found in both.
To store the fuel tanks, Schriffen said he was told on the tour that there would be a berm made of pebbles with a concrete lid. Handal said it was explained that it would be placed below ground but appear to be above ground inside and “above the flood plain.” She added that she’s been asking for a drawing of the plan since she and others on the tour found the explanation confusing.
Later, Mager said the tanks would be stored underground “and would be constructed to adhere to all applicable city, state and federal codes.”
On the tour, Sanitation reps noted that there were vents in the garage for pumping out fumes for the safety of people in the building, but Schriffen, who lives on East 23rd Street, later said he wondered about the safety of the surrounding community.
“Where do those fumes go?” he said. “Bellevue? The V.A. hospital? NYU Medical School is going to be sucking all that in?”
Other area residents have also expressed concern about the presence of onsite diesel fuel tanks at the garage and how they would affect security and air quality. Additional concerns have been raised about traffic on the surrounding streets due to sanitation trucks competing for space with V.A. and Bellevue hospital ambulances, odors from garbage emanating from the site and excess noise once construction begins.
Handal said she was particularly concerned about traffic congestion around the facility since Waterside Plaza, which is located right across the FDR Drive from the site, has two onsite schools. Additionally, a nearby street, Asser Levy Place, is eventually going to be closed to traffic following the Asser Levy Playground’s planned expansion.
“They say they’ve done traffic studies already, but I want to see copies of those because they need to do that during the school year,” said Handal.
Area residents have also been vocal about their opposition to the garage based on the fact that such a facility is completely inconsistent with the rest of First Avenue in the East 20s and some of the 30s, now a corridor housing three hospitals as well as numerous other medical and science-related facilities.

Monday update on Waterside Plaza on ongoing Con Ed repairs and voting place change from Waterside Tenants Association

Dear Neighbors and Fellow Tenants,

I have just heard from Council Member Dan Garodnick that voting for Waterside residents has been moved to Asser Levy Recreation Center.  Voting hours will be the same as at Waterside.  Asser Levy is located at 23rd Street and Asser Levy Place.  You can reach it by walking over the 25th Street footbridge  and then heading down Asser Levy place to the recreation center on the left hand side of the street.  You can also walk along the river to 23rd Street, then make a right and proceed to Asser Levy Place.  Voting has been moved because we do not know with certainty if there will be power at Waterside on Monday.  If you have any questions about voting, please call Dan Garodnick’s office on Monday at 212-818-0580.

Late Sunday afternoon, Waterside Management sent an email to residents telling us that power would not be restored on Sunday because to do so could endanger the lives of the workers and/or cause an explosion.  While this situation has been an ordeal for all of us, I know that we all want the energizing of the buildings to proceed in a safe manner.

Many have sought a more detailed understanding of the problem.  This is what I know.  There are three main types of components involved in the re-energizing process.  The first and second, the feeder lines and the transformers, are owned and controlled by Con Ed, even though they are located on Waterside’s property.  The third is the switch, which is owned by Waterside.  These three component are located in each building.  All of this equipment was subjected to a 5′ storm surgeon the A Level and suffered salt damage that was far worse than first thought. It is my understanding that Saturday Con Ed worked all day on the feeder lines and the transformers.  On Sunday, when they conducted their tests, they determined it was not safe to proceed with powering up Waterside’s switches.

It is my understanding that Waterside has had a team of electrical contractors and electricians working throughout the week.  Sunday afternoon, after learning the results of  Con Edison’s tests, Waterside hired 26 additional electricians to assist with the remediation.

Re the 30 building and the generator, the generator has been on premises since early Sunday morning and has been fueled with diesel– which was not easy for Waterside to accomplish given the fuel shortages throughout the tri-state area. This generator replaces the work done by the 30 building transformer which was damaged beyond repair in the storm.  Additional wiring, set up and testing must be completed before the generator can be brought on stream, but my understanding is that it will beoperational in the next day or two, again subject to it being safe to do so.

As Annle Levy noted in her call/email, this is a very complex remediation with many variables. Not everything can be known in advance; some steps must be done in sequence and some problems cannot be uncovered until a series of steps are first executed.

Waterside Management will keep you informed as to progress during the day tomorrow, as will the WTA. Please do not return to Waterside until you have been told the power is on in your building and it is safe to return. Current conditions at Waterside are harsh– there is no power, no water, no heat, and no ability to flush the toilets.

For those who were not able to evacuate, food, water and blankets are being delivered to the door. Water is available in the staging area of the lobby of the 30 building during the day in limited quantities for other residents who were not able to evacuate, but are able to go up and down the stairs. If it is too heavy, there are sometimes volunteers to carry it up.

I know this has been an ordeal for all of us. My husband and I have been fortunate to be apartment guests of a dear friend, but I have returned each day to check in on neighbors and my pets.  I am as eager as all of you are to be back in my home with the basics of power, water and heat.

I continue to ask for your patience, cooperation and  understanding as Con Ed and Waterside work to resolve our power outage in a safe manner.

Thank you,

Janet Handal

President, WTA