East 17th Street shelter will open in April

Bowery Residents Committee CEO Muzzy Rosenblatt speaks at a meeting on Tuesday about a Safe Haven shelter that’s now being renovated. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A new Safe Haven shelter the city is opening on East 17th Street in a former Beth Israel AIDS hospice is expected to be operational by early April, according to its operator, the Bowery Residents Committee.

Members of Community Board 6’s housing, homeless and human rights committee held a meeting about the shelter on Tuesday night, with BRC CEO Muzzy Rosenblatt providing updates. This was the first meeting on the subject since another one for neighborhood organizations was held last July.

At that time, Rosenblatt predicted that the shelter would be operational by Labor Day of last year after minor repairs but on Tuesday, he said renovations at the building, which is owned by Mount Sinai, were more extensive than anticipated.

“At that point, we hadn’t actually seen the elevator in the building but we were making projections based on previous city dealings with elevators,” he said. “Once we saw the elevator, we realized that it actually needed to be replaced, which takes longer because the elevator has to be site-specific, but that work is now underway and we don’t anticipate any further delays.”

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Neighbors clash on planned Kips Bay bike lane

A man who came to a recent Community Board 6 meeting on the proposed protected bike lane for Kips Bay was one of numerous meeting attendees who said it was sorely needed. Others expressed concern about the loss of parking. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Community Board 6’s transportation committee this Monday voted in favor of a resolution supporting the Department of Transportation’s proposal to install bike lanes on 26th and 29th Streets.

Community Board 5, which covers the western portion of the streets, had a much more contentious meeting last week on the proposal in which a vote was delayed because of disagreements about the removal of parking spaces.

While Community Board 6 members were not enthusiastic about the loss of parking either, the members ultimately voted to support the plan in a 9 to 2 vote.

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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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Kips Bay will get protected bike lanes sometime in 2019

A protected bike lane (or bike lane with a physical barrier like parked cars) in Flatiron (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Department of Transportation announced in January that two pairs of crosstown protected bike lanes will be added to Midtown neighborhoods, including through Kips Bay on 26th and 29th Streets.

The two pairs of protected bike lanes will run on each proposed street in opposite directions to complement each other, with the 26th Street lane heading eastbound and the 29th Street lane going west. The second pair of protected lanes will be directly south of Central Park on two streets in the 50s but the exact locations have not yet been determined. The DOT anticipates that the budget will be less than $500,000 for each new lane. The agency expects to complete implementation of all the crosstown routes between spring and fall in 2019.

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Solar 2 design released

This rendering, by Bjark Ingels Group (BIG), shows how the replacement building for Solar One will look, complete with a kayak launch accessible at Stuyvesant Cove Park.

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Project architects have released renderings for Solar One’s new building that will be replacing the environmental organization’s original structure along the East River across from Peter Cooper Village within the next two years. The Economic Development Corporation, the city agency overseeing the project, presented the plan to Community Board 6’s land use and waterfront committee on January 22.

Although the project has been referred to as “Solar 2,” the new building will fully replace the organization’s original structure and the renderings show a “Solar One” sign on the building’s western face. According to the presentation, construction on Solar 2 is expected to be completed before the start of 2019 and construction on the additional flood protection in Stuyvesant Cove Park, which is part of the East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) project, won’t begin until 2021 or 2022. The ESCR project includes a combination of berms and flood walls to protect the nearby neighborhoods from a possible flood event, and since Solar One’s building is expected to be operational before construction begins for the ESCR, that flood protection will be built around the new structure.

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Solar One replacement building breaks ground

City Council Dan Garodnick, Solar One Executive Director Chris Collins and Manhattan Borough Preident Gale Brewer hold hard hats at a ceremony for Solar 2 on Tuesday. (Brewer’s forehead bandage was due to a recent car collision, though she said it looked worse than it was.) (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

After 10 years of planning, environmental non-profit Solar One announced a timeline for the construction of the new, replacement educational center known as Solar 2 on Tuesday, ideally to be completed by the end of next year.

Dina Elkan, communications director for Solar One, said that the incentive to finish within that time frame is partially because city budget is fixed so the funding from elected officials needs to be used by then. One of the challenges will be the overlapping East Side Coastal Resiliency project but Elkan said that since it’s the same architectural firm working on both, the two projects will be coordinating throughout the process.

At a ceremonial groundbreaking on Tuesday, Solar One also acknowledged outgoing Councilmember Dan Garodnick’s commitment to the project from the beginning of his tenure at City Hall.

“When he was elected 12 years ago, he came here with his campaign manager and asked how he could help,” Solar One Executive Director Chris Collins said. “His vision and willingness to examine thorny problems makes him unique to the community.”

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Possible upgrades for 30th St. shelter

Council Member Dan Garodnick speaks at a meeting aimed at coming up with ways to improve the men’s shelter. (Photo courtesy of Dan Garodnick)

By Sabina Mollot

The Department of Homeless Services is planning to make some upgrades to the dilapidated 30th Street men’s homeless shelter, possibly even turning an unused theater into a space for public use.

On Monday, July 17, representatives of the department met with a few representatives of Community Board 6 as well as a few elected officials to discuss ideas, including to create a co-working space where shelter residents can get job placement assistance and work on resumes. As for the theater, a possible plan would be to renovate it or even repurpose it and have it used by the shelter’s residents or the community. Outside the shelter, which is located inside the Bellevue Old Psych building on First Avenue, another idea was to create green spaces like a small park that could also be open to the public.

Following the brainstorming session, Council Member Dan Garodnick said ideas were based on what the shelter’s residents want as well as what the surrounding community wants.

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Neighbors celebrate restoration of Stuyvesant Square Park fence

A ribbon cutting ceremony was attended by Community Board 6 chair Rick Eggers, Ana Maria Moore of the Stuyvesant Square Park Neighborhood Association, CB6 Parks, Landmarks and Cultural Affairs committee member Gary Papush, City Councilmember Rosie Mendez, Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver and Eliza Fish, eight-time granddaughter of Peter Stuyvesant. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

After waiting for decades, community residents and activists finally got to witness the completion of a newly restored fence along the eastern end of Stuyvesant Square Park.

Neighborhood residents and local elected officials had been working to fully restore the historical structure since at least the late 1980s, when the 170-year-old fence was first partially restored. Reasons for the various delays included problems finding a contractor to do the job of restoring a landmarked but badly rotted fence as well as having money that had been allocated for the $5.5 million project get steered towards other priorities of the city.

So a ribbon cutting ceremony held by a section of fence facing Nathan Perlman Place was well-attended on June 15.

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‘Safe Haven’ for homeless to open on East 17th St.

327 East 17th Street (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

The city is planning to open a new “Safe Haven” facility to house chronically homeless individuals in a Stuyvesant Square building that’s owned by Mount Sinai.

The building was previously used by Beth Israel as an HIV/AIDS hospice/residential treatment center. It is currently empty, located at 327 East 17th Street between First and Second Avenues. At one time, the site was a home rented by the Czech composer Antonin Dvorak, though it was later demolished.

Word of the proposal, which is aimed at housing 28 homeless people and helping them transition to regular housing, got out on Tuesday with an email from Community Board 6 to various community organizations.

According to the email, CB6 has plenty of questions about the plan, including why it’s coming to the area when there’s already an 850-bed shelter on East 30th Street and other, local smaller shelters, and concern over the location’s proximity to neighborhood schools. The email also noted there was no guarantee the homeless individuals would be people from the district.

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Peter Cooper Council candidate has 3 club endorsements, nearly $200G in war chest

Photo courtesy of Keith Powers

Keith Powers, a candidate for City Council in District 4, announced on Tuesday that he’d gotten support from three Democratic clubs on the East Side of Manhattan. The Samuel J. Tilden Democratic Club, Four Freedoms Democratic Club and Eleanor Roosevelt Democratic Club (where Powers is a district leader), voted to endorse Powers, a resident of Peter Cooper Village, last week.

In addition, a spokesperson for the campaign said Powers has amassed close to $200,000 in campaign cash.

The rep said Powers has maxed out on his matching funds at $100,100 and has raised $98,000 in private funds. With the two amounts combined, Powers has hit the $182,000 City Council spending cap.

“With our endorsement, we see Keith as the most qualified candidate who has what it takes to protect our party’s values with new and innovative solutions for the unique needs of our community,” said Greg Martello, president of the Samuel J. Tilden Democratic Club.

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Historic park fence finally repaired

A section of fence gets lifted into the park late last month. (Photo by Mark Thompson)

By Sabina Mollot

After years of delays due to budget and contractor related issues, work finally began to complete the restoration of the historic cast iron fence that surrounds Stuyvesant Square Park’s east section.

Starting late last month, large sections of the landmarked fence were hoisted in via crane as were the fence posts, which were placed temporarily on the lawn.

At some point in the coming months there will be a ribbon cutting, but in the meantime, the construction itself is something to celebrate for community activists who’ve been pushing for this project’s completion for 20 years.

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The Soapbox: Many questions remain on East Midtown Rezoning

Town & Village is proud to present “The Soapbox,” a column featuring a different voice from the neighborhood in each one. All are welcome to submit columns on the topic of the author’s choice, preferably not longer than 650 words, to editor@townvillage.net.

By Barry Shapiro

For those not aware, East Midtown Rezoning is a city initiative to rezone roughly from 39th Street to 57th Street from Fifth Avenue to Third Avenue.
The proposed changes in the area will allow real estate developers to build higher and increase overall free space for development by about 6.5 percent. There will also be development of some public spaces and improvements to subway stations.

This along with the LIRR terminal at Grand Central planned to open in 2022 will significantly add to the area’s population density.

Major rezoning has to go through the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), which requires pertinent community boards to have their say. Negative votes by community board reps on the project’s Borough Council would have a somewhat damaging effect.

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Murals will soon adorn Stuy Cove

Art to become a yearly project for SVA students

The mural will have a theme of birds and butterflies. (Pictured) A butterfly lands on a plant at Stuyvesant Cove Park. (Photo by Heather Holland)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel 

Students at the School of Visual Arts will soon be working on a project to spruce up Stuyvesant Cove Park with murals. The project is being organized through a community service program aimed at getting students more involved with the neighborhood since the university recently opened a new building at 340 East 24th Street.

Regina Degnan, a student advisor at SVA’s International Student Office, explained the project at a recent meeting for Community Board 6’s parks committee, whose members were supportive of the idea.

Dina Elkan, director of communications and events at Solar 1, was also at the meeting and said the area frequently has problems with graffiti and artwork would help combat that issue. Although the pieces will only be completed with acrylic paint and aren’t meant to be permanent, Elkan said that they would be looking into coating the completed pieces with a graffiti-resistant finish to discourage vandalism.

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Kips Bay residents ask for temporary dog run

At a Community Board 6 meeting, delays on getting the funding for the dog run for Bellevue South Park were explained. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Dog owners in Kips Bay are pushing the Parks Department to consider a temporary solution for the lack of a dog run in Bellevue South Park. Members of multiple neighborhood groups made their case at a recent Parks Committee meeting of Community Board 6, arguing that a temporary run near the basketball courts would give residents an immediate place to play with Fido instead of having to wait at least five years while the Parks Department completes additional renovations on the park.

Kips Bay Neighborhood Association member Karen Lee said at the meeting that there is an area north of the basketball courts that is already fenced in and the group has submitted an application for a grant for $280,000 from Borough President Gale Brewer’s office to make changes to the space, such as an access ramp, a nonskid surface and automatic openers for the entrance gates. Lee said that the funding is mainly necessary to make the space accessible for residents with disabilities, which she said is one of the main motivations for pushing for the dog run in the first place.

“Dog runs in the city aren’t ADA compliant,” she explained prior to the meeting. “This would be the first dog run in the city that is ADA compliant. Hospital row is right there and there’s a huge community of disabled people in this neighborhood who already use this park.”

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Second bar planned for Maialino

Maialino (Photo courtesy of the Gramercy Park Hotel)

Maialino (Photo courtesy of the Gramercy Park Hotel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Danny Meyer is hoping to give his Gramercy Park restaurant Maialino a partial makeover with the addition of a bar.

General manager Andrea Czachor appeared before the Business Affairs and Street Activities committee for Community Board 6 last Thursday with the proposal, which will require the restaurant to alter its existing liquor license. The committee approved the request, although the community board’s role is only advisory and the change will have to be made official through the State Liquor Authority.

Czachor, who has been working in the restaurant since it opened at the Gramercy Park Hotel, said that the space where the bar will be going is already a counter but the restaurant previously used it for storage and to prepare food. Since the restaurant is no longer using the space for storage or food preparation, Czachor said that management decided to add five seats to the counter in order to convert it to a bar and serve alcohol directly to customers.

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