If emergency strikes, head to this Union Square high school

The Clinton School replaces Baruch College as a local evacuation center. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Clinton School at 10 East 15th Street has replaced the Baruch building on East 24th Street as the closest evacuation center for Gramercy residents for the 2017 coastal storm season, altering the location that has been in place for the neighborhood at least since Hurricane Irene in 2011.

Office of Emergency Management (OEM) press secretary Nancy Silvestri said that the evacuation centers are reevaluated every year to make sure the facilities are prepared to operate in the event of a disaster, and the previous site was swapped out for the Clinton School after discussions with Baruch and the City University of New York (CUNY).

Silvestri noted that the OEM has partnered with CUNY in the past to designate university buildings as evacuation centers but some of those sites were swapped out this year for various reasons.

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Rent will go up 1.25, 2 percent

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Tenants play limbo at the vote. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The city’s rent-stabilized renters will be seeing increases of 1.25 percent for one-year leases and 2 percent for two-year leases.

The increases were voted on by the Rent Guidelines Board on Tuesday evening, after two years of rent freezes for one-year leases, frustrating tenants as well as landlords.

Tenant advocates and community groups were pushing for at least another freeze and in many cases a rollback, but owner representatives felt that the increases didn’t go far enough.

Tenant member Harvey Epstein said in his remarks prior to introducing the proposal that ultimately passed that he and Sheila Garcia, the second tenant member on the board, knew tenants needed a rollback or at least a freeze, but he said that neither were possible at this year’s vote.

“It’s our job to do the best we can and live with the political realities,” Epstein said. “We take this job seriously and today is the first day to move to a better system.”

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Blackstone addresses tenants’ concerns

Market raters bash deal, ask for insider priority on affordable apts.,

Blackstone says students have been top complaint of residents

Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, Blackstone senior managing director Nadeem Meghji, Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Vicki Been, Congress Member Carolyn Maloney, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, Council Member Dan Garodnick and ST-PCV Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg listen as Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, Blackstone senior managing director Nadeem Meghji, Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Vicki Been, Congress Member Carolyn Maloney, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, Council Member Dan Garodnick and ST-PCV Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg listen as Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Following the news about a change in ownership just a few days earlier, over 500 Stuy Town residents showed up at a meeting on Saturday where a representative for the new landlord, Blackstone, answered questions.

Mayor Bill de Blasio popped by for a bit and spoke, as did U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, but the real star of the show wound up being Nadeem Meghji, senior managing director for Blackstone. Meghji started off by telling tenants at Baruch College’s auditorium that their various concerns, brought up in the days following the sale, were being taken “very seriously.” He indicated CompassRock would not continue to manage the complex, but then later said there isn’t a timeline for any change in management teams. Meghji, who was in charge of the Stuy Town deal, frequently elicited applause when responding to tenants’ questions although he admitted he didn’t yet have enough information to answer them all. He told tenants, in response to questions about student apartments, that Blackstone had been hearing about this issue more than any other.

He added that Blackstone would be seeking further tenant feedback via focus groups and a hotline.

“We know that we are going to need to earn your trust,” he said.

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Mayor focuses on housing in State of the City address

Mayor Bill de Blasio referenced Stuyvesant Town during his speech on affordable housing gone wrong. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Mayor Bill de Blasio referenced Stuyvesant Town during his speech on affordable housing gone wrong. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Mayor Bill de Blasio gave his second State of the City address at Baruch College at Lexington Avenue and East 23rd Street on Tuesday morning, making affordable housing the focus of the speech and his agenda for the next year. He outlined a number of new programs, including housing for targeted populations like seniors and veterans and said that he would be working to protect tenants against predatory landlords and institute mandatory inclusionary zoning to require affordable housing in new developments.

The mayor singled out Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village in the address, praising the complex as a bastion of affordable housing and an example that his administration will follow, but acknowledged that there are lessons to be learned when building a new development planned for Sunnyside, Queens.

“Stuy Town, when it opened in 1947, provided our city with 11,250 affordable apartments, a community where trees and parks, and shops dotted a landscape from which residents could actually see the sky,” the mayor said. “We’re bringing that same kind of scale, and a real sense of urgency, to Sunnyside Yards and setting the same exact goal of 11,250 affordable units, as part of a neighborhood that anyone would be proud to call home. And in contrast to the recent history of Stuy Town, we’re going to make sure that affordable housing at Sunnyside Yards stays that way.”

The mayor noted in the address that one of the problems with housing for middle class New Yorkers has been is that the city did not have strong enough laws or rules in place that limited what developers were allowed to build.

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Seniors attend East Midtown Plaza forum on emergency preparedness

Seniors in attendance at the event held on Tuesday by the Office of Emergency Management and CERT volunteers (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Seniors in attendance at the event held on Tuesday by the Office of Emergency Management and CERT volunteers
(Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

With the worst of hurricane season yet to come, since activity in the Atlantic picks up the most from August through October, the Office of Emergency Management offered a presentation for the East Midtown Plaza senior committee last Tuesday evening.

John Greenwood, a Human Services Planning Specialist for the OEM, and members of Community Board 6’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) explained the importance of emergency preparedness for seniors, including evacuation protocol in the event of a disaster and the new hurricane zones, at the monthly meeting. Greenwood noted that the hurricane guide changed after Hurricane Sandy and that instead of three lettered zones, there are now six numbered zones.

Committee co-chair Jeanne Poindexter added that the buildings East Midtown Plaza are in three different evacuation zones and that any of the buildings located on First Avenue are highly susceptible to flooding.

Jeanne Poindexter, East Midtown Plaza senior committee co-chair

Jeanne Poindexter, East Midtown Plaza senior committee co-chair

The new hurricane maps, which were made available at the meeting, are also available online or zones can be found out by calling 311 and Greenwood said that although they’re not the most pleasant place, it’s important for residents to know where the evacuation centers are as well, which are also noted on the maps.

“They’re just a giant room with cots and the food isn’t the greatest, but it’s good to know where they are in case you have to go,” he said.

He added that pets are allowed in all of the evacuation centers and Baruch College is the closest handicap accessible facility that functions as an evacuation center. There are 10 facilities throughout the city that are handicap accessible and meet all the ADA requirements but Greenwood said they haven’t been noted on the map yet. Greenwood noted that one of the reasons for the changes in zones is money.

“The mayor is the only one who can make the call for evacuations but it’s a multimillion dollar decision,” he said. “With the changes in the zones, there are now less people per zone so it won’t encompass as many residents if evacuations have to take place.”

Jeanne Poindexter, East Midtown Plaza senior committee co-chair

Jeanne Poindexter, East Midtown Plaza senior committee co-chair

Greenwood also told the seniors at the meeting that it’s important to have an emergency plan and to fill out the “Ready New York” packets that detail important information for residents to have at hand in case of an emergency, like contact phone numbers and any medical conditions. “That’s beneficial for you because if you show up at an evacuation center with this guide, they’ll have all the information already and can give you the best care if you need help,” he said.

Virginia Rosario, a member of the CB6 CERT and a resident of Stuyvesant Town, explained what her responsibilities are as a member of the team and how she is prepared to help other residents if disaster strikes. “We’ve been trained by the OEM and we’re only deployed when the office gives permission,” Rosario said. “We weren’t deployed during Hurricane Sandy because most of CB6 was down but some volunteers can help with things like bringing water to residents.”

Police Watch, May 8: Man on robbery spree tasers victim, ‘perv’ busted at Union Square subway

MAN ON ROBBERY SPREE TASERS VICTIM

Photo of the suspect in Bhojan Inc.

Photo of the suspect in Bhojan Inc.

The NYPD is still trying to track down a gunman believed to be behind to a series of armed robberies of businesses starting last November. In the latest incident, he tasered his victim, before fleeing with $1,800, seven cartons of Newport cigarettes and 29 lottery scratch-off games. This occurred at Two Friends store on 46 8th Avenue on May 4. The robber first pulled a gun on a store clerk before ordering him onto the floor. He then zip-tied the victim’s hands and tasered him several times.
Police believe that he is the same thug responsible for a holdup at gunpoint at Marim Candy Store at 381 First Avenue across from Peter Cooper Village. In that incident, on February 28, he made off with about $3,000.
The suspect is described as white, 40-50 years of age, approximately 5’8” in height and of medium build. He was wearing a black Chicago White Sox baseball hat with the word CHICAGO printed across the front.
Anyone with information in regards to these incidents 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.
UPDATE, May 9: Police obtained photos of the suspect, seen here, taken in Bhojan Inc. at 270 West 36th Street, where he went on May 6 around 4:10 p.m. to redeem lottery tickets.

‘PERV’ BUSTED AT UNION SQUARE
Police arrested 50-year-old Stephen Martinez for public lewdness last Friday at 9:47 a.m. inside the Union Square subway station. Martinez was standing on the downtown 4/5/6 platform at Grand Central, allegedly masturbating with his hand inside his pants. He then boarded a downtown 4 train and stood behind a 30-year-old woman, closing his eyes and continuing to masturbate until his penis became erect, police said. He allegedly continued this behavior from the 42nd Street station to Union Square.

CAMERA ‘PERV’ ARRESTED IN UNION SQUARE
Police arrested 32-year-old Karl Sholder for unlawful surveillance at the Union Square subway station last Monday, April 28 at 3:50 p.m. A 24-year-old woman was walking up the stairs from the N platform when Sholder allegedly followed her while holding his cell phone under her dress with the video camera function activated. The victim had no knowledge of his actions and told police that she didn’t know him.

ASSAULT AT BARUCH COLLEGE LIBRARY
A 29-year-old man reported that he was assaulted while he was in the Baruch College library at 17 Lexington Avenue last Wednesday at 11 a.m. He told police that he was studying when another man came into the library suddenly and started making a lot of noise. The victim said that he approached the boisterous individual and asked him to please be quiet but the man said that he wasn’t too happy at being told what to do and sucker-punched the victim in the left eye, causing a blood clot in his eye and a swollen left cheek. No arrests were made.

PANHANDLER BUSTED FOR ‘WEAPON’ ON F TRAIN
Police arrested 54-year-old Stanley Rawls for criminal possession of a weapon on an uptown F train at the Sixth Avenue/23rd Street station last Thursday at 11:30 a.m. Rawls was seen panhandling for change by shaking a cup, walking up and down the middle car of the train, and after searching him, police found that he was allegedly in possession of a sock with metal bars in it.

BAG STOLEN AT SLATE
A 23-year-old woman reported that her bag was stolen while she was inside Slate bar at 54 West 21st Street last Saturday at 2 a.m. She told police that she was hanging out in the bar and left her bag on the couch. When she returned to get the bag, it was no longer there.

BAG STOLEN AT ACE HOTEL
A 28-year-old woman told police that her purse was stolen while she was at the bar in the Ace Hotel at 20 West 29th Street last Saturday at 2 a.m. She reported that she was with friends at the bar and put her bag on the table behind her where others had done the same. Ten minutes later when she went to retrieve her purse, which contained cash, her iPhone 5, MetroCard and keys, it was gone.

PHONE STOLEN FROM GANSEVOORT HOTEL
A 27-year-old woman reported that her phone was stolen while she was inside the bar at the Gansevoort Hotel inside 420 Park Avenue South on Friday, April 25 at 1:50 a.m. She told police on May 1 that she assumed the phone had fallen out of her bag because it doesn’t close securely. She said that she called her phone the next day and made contact with a man who said that the phone was in Brooklyn and he would return it to the Gansevoort because he would like someone to do the same if the situation ever happened to him. However, the man didn’t mention a time frame for the return and the victim said that she has been calling the hotel every day since the incident and her property hasn’t been returned.

BIKE DAMAGED IN EAST AVE. C GARAGE
A Peter Cooper Village resident reported that his bike was damaged after he parked it in the garage at Avenue C and East 20th Street last Wednesday at 6 p.m. He noticed after returning to retrieve the bike at 9 p.m. the same day that it had been vandalized. No arrests have been made.

CHAMPAGNE ‘THIEF’ BUSTED
Police arrested 54-year-old Wilfredo Rodriguez for petit larceny that occurred inside Gramercy Wine and Spirits at 104 East 23rd Street on Friday, April 18 at 2:16 p.m. Rodriguez allegedly removed a bottle of Moët Rosé from the shelf and fled the store without paying. He was arrested for the theft last Saturday at 4:40 p.m.

MERCEDES STOLEN ON WEST 20TH
A 35-year-old man reported that his car was missing after he parked it in front of 36 West 20th Street last Saturday at 9 p.m. He returned to the spot at noon the next day and found that the car, a Mercedes Benz valued at $83,000, was missing. The victim told police that he left the vehicle locked and secure and there was no broken glass at the scene. The car is equipped with an alarm but computer checks were negative.

TABLET STOLEN FROM PARKED VAN
A 42-year-old man reported that his property was stolen from his van that he parked in front of 3 West 17th Street last Friday at 2:30 a.m. He returned to the commercial van at 3:50 a.m. and he noticed that his passenger’s side window was smashed by an unknown object and his Samsung tablet had been stolen.

HARASSMENT AT FIRST AVE. AND EAST 17TH
A 66-year-old man told police that he was harassed while he was standing with his car at the northeast corner of First Avenue and East 17th Street last Sunday at 4 p.m. He said that another man hit his car window with his hand, cursed at the victim’s family and made threatening statements.

MAN ARRESTED FOR THEFT FROM CAR
Police arrested 47-year-old Franklin Gaskin for petit larceny at the northeast corner of Lexington Avenue and East 27th Street last Tuesday at 10:35 a.m. Gaskin allegedly removed a messenger bag from inside the victim’s car without permission.

MAN PUSHED ON EAST 17TH STREET
A 60-year-old man told police that he was harassed on East 17th Street between First and Second Avenue last Sunday at 4 p.m. He reported that he got into an argument with another man when the man pushed him to the ground.