Stuy Town gets new public safety chief

New Public Safety Chief Frances Martin is a Stuyvesant town resident.

By Sabina Mollot

On Tuesday, StuyTown Property Services made the surprise announcement that there was a new chief of public safety in the community.

The job has been given to Frances Martin, a Stuyvesant Town resident and a former NYPD officer who has been working as a lieutenant for SPS for the past seven years on the overnight shift. She is the first woman to become head of public safety in the complex.

SPS made the announcement via email, which curiously omitted any reference to the chief of public safety for the past 11 years, William McClellan. McClellan also previously had worked for the NYPD. SPS wouldn’t comment on the reason for the popular employee’s departure, but praised him in a written statement to Town & Village.

“Chief McClellan served the community well over his 11 years and we thank him for his leadership and service,” spokesperson Paula Chirhart said.

As for Martin, the newsletter states: “She served the city of New York for 27 years and retired as commander of the Detective Squad in 2010. She was an appointee of the then police commissioner and has worked task forces with the FBI, Secret Service, and just about every other federal agency including Homeland Security in the aftermath of 9/11. At the time of her departure, Martin was one of the highest ranking female officers in the NYPD.”

Another Stuyvesant Town resident, Joseph Gamba, will be taking on the role of deputy chief of public safety.

Cops hunting man who robbed 3 women on same night in Stuy Town and East Village

Update: Police have released a photo of the suspect.

oct20-robbery

Robbery suspect

By Sabina Mollot

Cops are on the lookout for a man who robbed three women in one night, two in Stuyvesant Town. One of the robberies happened at 15 Stuyvesant Oval, the other on the sidewalk near 330 First Avenue, and another took place in the East Village. All the incidents happened on Monday, October 10 from 2-3 a.m.

The crimes were discussed by the commanding officer of the 13th Precinct, Deputy Inspector Brendan Timoney, on Tuesday night at a meeting of the 13th Precinct Community Council.

Timoney noted, however, that one of the Stuyvesant Town victims successfully fought the mugger off, knocking him down before he got away. This was near 330 First Avenue.

“She threw the guy around a little,” he said.

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Lieutenant governor hopeful takes tour of Stuy Town

Kathy Hochul gets an earful from tenants and local elected officials during a walk through the complex. (Pictured) Council Member Dan Garonick introduces her to Public Safety Chief Bill McClellan. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Kathy Hochul gets an earful from tenants and local elected officials during a walk through the complex. (Pictured) Council Member Dan Garonick introduces her to Public Safety Chief Bill McClellan. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

The Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association, which has recently enlisted the aid of the de Blasio administration in an effort to maintain some affordability in the complex, is also now hoping it will have an ally in Kathy Hochul, Governor Cuomo’s choice for the next lieutenant governor.

On Thursday afternoon, Hochul joined Tenants Association Chair Susan Steinberg along with a handful of TA volunteers on a stroll through Stuy Town, and got filled in on tenants’ more pressing concerns. She’d come at the request of Council Member Dan Garodnick, who was also there with Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh. Prior to the walk through the grounds, Hochul, a former Congresswoman asked the small group, “What’s on your mind?”

“You got a whole afternoon?” was Steinberg’s answer.

Tenants then began chiming in about the dormification of the community with students packing into apartments in order to make the rent affordable, major capital improvements (MCI) for what often seems like unnecessary work — and tenants’ frustration at having to pay for those improvements in perpetuity — and the fear of both longterm and newer tenants of getting priced out. Other topics brought up included more longterm tenants’ fear of harassment, increased transience and questions about what will happen to the rents when the J-51 tax abatement expires in the year 2020. Steinberg also briefed Hochul on the TA’s partnership with developer Brookfield aimed at a condo conversion as well as CW’s lack of interest in talking business with them. Al Doyle, the former president of the Tenants Association, brought up the ongoing issue of predatory equity throughout the city, with Stuy Town, of course, being the poster child for the practice.

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Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh and Kathy Hochul (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Kavanagh and Garodnick brought up that they wanted to see the rent laws get strengthened, but the State Senate hasn’t exactly been friendly to tenants. While refraining from making any promises, Hochul said she thought the community is “worth fighting for.” If she becomes lieutenant governor, she pointed out, she’d have the tie-breaking vote in the event of a deadlock in Albany. From 2011-2013, Hochul represented New York’s 26th District, which includes the areas of Buffalo and Niagara Falls.

During her time in Congress, she lived with colleague Carolyn Maloney in Washington.

“We used to say that we should have a reality show, ‘The Real Women in Congress,’” said Hochul. When asked how Maloney was as a roommate, Hochul admitted, “She’s a lot cleaner than I am.” As for the current state of the Congress, Hochul casually remarked that it’s “the most dysfunctional government on the planet.” However, she added quickly, “There are still a lot of good people out there.”

Hochul also touted her experience, claiming she’d helped make the Department of Motor Vehicles “a more positive experience” when she served as county clerk and when in Congress, fought with other Democrats “like pit bulls” to get more cash for restoration after Hurricane Sandy than Republicans wanted to allocate. During the walk through the grounds, Hochul said that from what she’s seen, “Everybody wants the same thing. A safe house, a job, their kids to get a good education. It’s universal. It’s not downstate or upstate. This is what the governor and I are focused on.”

Steinberg pointed out some positive aspects of the community like the playgrounds, a few of which recently got new water features, and the hayrides for kids that take place each Halloween. When passing by the Oval Café/Playground 9 area, Hochul remarked, “I’d like to live here.”

When the group walked past the Public Safety office, Garodnick, realizing officers might think tenants were about to rally, made a point to say hello and introduce Hochul to Public Safety Chief Bill McClellan. Soon afterwards, Hochul left the complex at First Avenue and the crowd dispersed.

Hochul (right) listens to tenants, including Tenants Association Chair Susan Steinberg and Council Member Dan Garodnick, discuss quality of life issues and dwindling affordability in Stuy Town. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Hochul (right) listens to tenants, including Tenants Association Chair Susan Steinberg and Council Member Dan Garodnick, discuss quality of life issues and dwindling affordability in Stuy Town. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Steinberg then said that she did feel Hochul was genuinely listening to tenants. “I think she got it,” Steinberg said. Kavanagh also said he thought she’d make “a strong partner in the executive branch,” and support tenants, while Garodnick also said he believed Hochul would be in tenants’ corner. “She is clearly a serious and thoughtful person who was willing to take the time to understand our unique challenges,” Garodnick said.

Doyle, meanwhile, just seemed happy that the would-be lieutenant governor got to hear firsthand from tenants how all the different types of rent increases were impacting the community.

“Homeowners outside the city, when we tell them how (an MCI) is a permanent increase, they don’t believe us,” he said.

Following the stroll, T&V asked what Hochul’s thoughts were on the Cuomo administration doing something to preserve dwindling stability and affordability in the community.

Responding in a written statement, she said, “Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village are critical to keeping New York affordable. I will work closely with the governor, along with the office of New York State Homes and Community Renewal, to ensure that the rights of thousands of rent-regulated tenants are maintained and preserved for generations to come.”

There was no response, though, when T&V asked Hochul’s campaign reps if she wanted to comment on investigation over corruption in the governor’s Moreland Commission. However, in an interview this week with Buffalo-based NBC news outlet WGRZ, she defended the commission, saying, “they had the independence to do what they needed to do.”

New command center offers better access to Public Safety

Public Safety Chief Bill McClellan at the new office/command center (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Public Safety Chief Bill McClellan at the new office/command center (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot
Earlier this month, Stuyvesant Town’s Public Safety department officially settled into its new home at what was previously a storage area at 2 Stuyvesant Oval.
Following a winter-long construction project, the resulting office, designed by architectural firm STV, is a 1,840-square-foot, glass-front structure with a similar look to the Oval Amenities spaces. Inside the space, past a small lobby, there’s a command center where dozens of new HD monitors allow officers to see everything that the 1,200 surveillance cameras located throughout the complex see in high-definition quality.
But the newer technology isn’t the only improvement. During an interview with a T&V reporter at the office this week, Public Safety Chief Bill McClellan said residents have been giving overwhelmingly positive feedback about the department’s more central location and the easier access to the officers.
“Now they can walk past and they see we take security seriously here,” said McClellan.
In fact, said McClellan, after Hurricane Sandy destroyed the old office on Avenue C and Public Safety had to move to a temporary office at the old Oval Film space, officers began hearing that most residents found the location to be an improvement. So this was taken into consideration by CWCapital when planning a permanent address, as well as the need to keep the office out of a flood zone.
“We want people to come in and ask questions and interact with our Public Safety team,” said CWCapital spokesperson Brian Moriarty, who was also present during the interview, along with CWCapital Asset Manager Andrew Cain. “It’s more convenient for residents.”
It was in 2006 that ST/PCV’s security department officially became known as “Public Safety,” which McClellan said was done since the department is made up of peace officers, not guards.
That said, while preventing and stopping crime is the top priority for the officers, mainly it is quality of life issues that they’re responding to on a regular basis, such as loud parties and unregistered dogs. Dealing with the latter issue has been made a little easier since management introduced a brightly colored registration tag for dogs, eliminating the need to stop all dog owners as they walk through the grounds. When dealing with the former issue, McClellan himself will sometimes show up to the offending apartment with a member of the property’s legal team when a noise issue is particularly serious and persisting.

The new Public Safety office at 2 Stuyvesant Oval (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

The new Public Safety office at 2 Stuyvesant Oval (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

McClellan, who’s worked for ST/PCV for the past eight years, previously had a 21-year career with the NYPD, and his last role was that of commanding officer of the 71st Precinct in Crown Heights. Since his arrival in ST/PCV, crime in the community has decreased, he said, a fact he credits to upgrades made to the property’s security system as the technology has improved. For example, the system was designed so that cameras can be added any time anywhere, and there have been many added over the past few years as the layout has changed to feature the new amenity spaces as well as the more recent construction projects like the extension of the leasing office. Some cameras also face outside the property, and that came in handy recently when police were looking for a robber who kept hitting a Dunkin Donuts shop on the west side of First Avenue. After the NYPD asked ST/PCV Public Safety to focus a camera at that location, the footage wound up being instrumental in the arrest several days later of a man who molested a young girl at the shop.
Crime tends to be higher on the west side of First Avenue than on the ST/PCV side, “and we’d like to keep it that way,” said McClellan, who also provided some interesting local crime stats. ST/PCV, which covers 10 percent of the 13th Precinct’s coverage area geographically and is home to 24.5 percent of the precinct’s population, only accounts for 5 percent of the crime.
But when there are crimes on the property, once catching the perps, Public Safety officers will typically turn them over to the 13th Precinct for arrests. Though 40 of ST/PCV’s officers are official peace officers with the authority from the NYPD to issue summonses and make arrests, there are still other limitations to consider. “We don’t have an arrest processing center here and we don’t have cells,” said McClellan.
Hours for the new Public Safety office, during which walk-ins are welcomed, are 8:30 a.m.-8 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends and holidays. The command center is open 24/7 though and people can come in with an emergency after hours.
The construction of the office comes after CWCapital also invested in new trucks as well as three T3 motion scooters for the officers to make their rounds in.

Resident town hall gets heated

Stuyvesant Town Security Chief Bill McClellan and General Manager Sean Sullivan address residents at a town hall meeting on Tuesday. Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel

Stuyvesant Town Security Chief Bill McClellan and General Manager Sean Sullivan address residents at a town hall meeting on Tuesday.
Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

General Manager Sean Sullivan hosted a town hall meeting for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village residents last Tuesday, the first such meeting in a number of years. Sullivan noted at the beginning of the meeting that its purpose was an informal gathering to talk with seniors about residential programming and the community center, but it quickly became clear that residents had other things on their minds. Security issues, Sandy-related problems and the rising student population were some of the main concerns of tenants at the meeting.

In light of the keycard failures during Sandy, one resident asked Sullivan at the beginning of the meeting if it would be possible to put regular cylinders with physical keys back on apartment doors.

“You may not like some of my responses but I’m going to try to be straight with you tonight,” Sullivan said. “The short answer is no. It’s a system that we put in place and it works. (Sandy) was an extraordinary moment in time and we took extraordinary measures.” Residents responded to this, frustrated, saying the system obviously does not work if it failed for so long after the storm, but Sullivan noted that Sandy was not a typical scenario. “Battery backup for the keycard system will work in a typical outage,” he said.

In addition to the keycard failures, other residents noted that the emergency lights in the stairwells failed as well. Sullivan said that there is a battery backup for these as well but they did not last as long as the outage because they were only meant to be used for hours at a time, not days. When tenants specified that there were cases in which the lighting did not even last for hours after the blackout, Sullivan said that he wasn’t aware of this issue and would look into it.

Many Peter Cooper Village residents were on hand at the meeting to express frustrations about the lack of laundry services, as well as the partial elevator service that still exists in some of the buildings.

“My husband is in a wheelchair. We waited two and a half hours because the one elevator was out (a couple weeks ago),” one resident said. “You can keep your memos about the landscaping. Restoring elevator service should be your number one priority. All we’ve got is reassurances and no definitive information.”

After heckling from other meeting attendees about the lack of a concrete date, Sullivan said the hope is that all elevator service will be restored by the end of this month, and attempted to explain why the process has been so lengthy.

“They’re not broken, they’re gone,” he said. “The workers are rebuilding the elevators in the shaft from scratch. We were fortunate to get in the queue. There were a lot of manufacturers that stopped taking orders because the need was just so high (after Sandy). There is no profit for us to move any slower on this.”

As for laundry, service for residents without it in Peter Cooper Village will still have a few months to wait.

“We’ve said that laundry service would be fully restored by September of this year. I’m not changing their timeline but we are trying to do better than that,” he said. “We’re focused on restoring these services. We don’t want you to be frustrated, but the damage was significant and severe. I understand the level of frustration and I don’t want to diminish it for a moment. We’re working on it. It’s not a great solution but we’re doing our best.”

Although noise and late-night rowdiness from the community’s younger population has been a recent complaint of many residents in this newspaper’s letters to the editor, residents at the meeting were more bothered by the transient nature of students in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. The constant moving in and out of short-term tenants was a point of concern for those at the meeting. Some residents noted that it even becomes a frustrating security issue because building doors have been propped open while people are moving. “It happens every month, sometimes in the middle of the month as well,” one resident said at the meeting. “When I bring it up to them, security says, ‘oh it’s fine.’ But it’s not fine. It’s a safety issue.”

ST/PCV Security Chief Bill McClellan said that alarms are set to go off if a door has been propped open for three minutes. They’ve also sent people to close doors and tell movers that they can’t prop the doors open, but residents at the meeting were frustrated that this was not helping, one noting that she had told movers herself not to prop the door open and the mover cursed at her.

A resident of 541 East 20th Street said that she was concerned about safety issues as well after maintenance had entered her apartment to install an intercom without notice or permission, and was especially disturbed after hearing about the reports of burglaries in the community.

Sullivan said that maintenance is supposed to reach out to tenants beforehand and for tenants that don’t respond, maintenance may come back multiple times to deal with these exceptions. After not specifically addressing the resident’s situation, other attendees at the meeting became frustrated, yelling while Sullivan attempted to move on to another question.

In response to concerns about the thefts possibly being related to recent maintenance work, Sullivan added that public safety is supposed to escort outside contractors to the apartments to supervise but otherwise had no information about why this incident occurred at the building on East 20th Street.

In some of the less contentious moments of the evening, Sullivan did announce that the gym is expected to reopen in just a few weeks.

He also noted, to the appreciation of the tenants at the meeting, that the doors in the community center would be replaced by automatic sliding doors, similar to those in supermarkets, because there have been issues with seniors walking into the doors or having difficult getting them open.