Peter’s Field to get turf coating for Little League during park construction

Peter’s Field on East 20th Street at Second Avenue (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Parks Department will be installing turf surfaces at three asphalt playgrounds in Community District 6 to provide alternative spaces for Little Leagues along the East River during construction for the East Side Coastal Resiliency project.

The mitigation project, which representatives from Parks announced at a joint Land Use and Parks Committee meeting for Community Board 6 on Monday night, includes installing turf and painting lines for baseball, softball and soccer. The changes are planned for Peter’s Field at Second Avenue and East 20th Street, as well as St. Vartan’s at First Avenue and East 35th Street and Robert Moses playground at First Avenue and East 41st Street.

The Peter’s Field playground space is connected to Simon Baruch JHS on East 20th Street and Sarah Neilson from the Parks Department said at the CB6 meeting that the agency talked to the principal of the school, who approved of the plan. The basketball hoops will still be available on the playground, although in response to a question about replacing the nets on the hoops, Nielson said that is unlikely since the nets often get vandalized and the hoops often get damaged because kids hang from the nets and pull them down.

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Letters to the editor, Oct. 17

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Street co-naming inconsistencies

To the editor:

The Town and Village report on the rescinding of the proposed street co-naming for William Maxwell Evarts was seriously in error (“Controversy over anti-Mormon rhetoric nixes street co-naming,” T&V, October 10).

Community Board 6’s objections were twofold: (1) Evart’s defense of the anti-Reconstructionist President Andrew Johnson in his Impeachment trial, and (2) Evart’s central role in the theft of the presidential election of 1876. There was no consideration or even any mention of any Mormon Church controversy by CB6.

Robert Pigott’s article highlighted Evarts’ role defending Johnson, but omitted Johnson’s efforts to obstruct the then newly passed 13th Amendment. It also omitted Evarts’ central role in the Hayes-Tilden election.

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Controversy over anti-Mormon rhetoric nixes street co-naming

The phrases “The W.M. Evarts” and “The U.S. Senate” are engraved above the doorways of these Second Avenue apartment buildings. A resolution to co-name the street corner was rescinded after the 19th century legislator’s history of anti-Mormon rhetoric was uncovered upon further vetting. (Photo by Ryan Songalia)

By Ryan Songalia

Community Board 6 has reversed its decision to approve a street co-naming in honor of a former New York U.S. Senator and U.S. Attorney General after City Council uncovered anti-Mormon rhetoric in his writings.

After initially approving a co-naming for William Evarts on Second Avenue between East 14th and 15th Streets at a full board meeting last April, the board rescinded the resolution on September 11 when the full board reconvened after the summer recess after the general counsel for City Council had uncovered the parts of Evarts’ history that had not aged well.

The proposal was first brought forward last November by Upper East Side resident Bob Pigott, who used to walk past the apartment buildings located at 231 and 235 Second Avenue on his way to Stuyvesant High School in the mid-1970s.

Above the doorways reads “The W.M. Evarts” and “The U.S. Senate,” and it wasn’t until decades later when Pigott began researching his 2014 book, “New York’s Legal Landmarks: A Guide to Legal Edifices, Institutions, Lore, History, and Curiosities on the City’s Streets,” that he realized who “W.M. Evarts” was.

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Bike lane coming to FDR service road

The bike lane outside of Waterside Plaza (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Department of Transportation will begin implementing safety improvements on the FDR Service Road that include a two-way bike lane between East 25th and 33rd Street this month. The improvements specifically address the Greenway along Waterside Plaza, the Water Club at East 30th Street and the East 34th Street intersection near the heliport.

The DOT made the announcement about the project on Twitter last Thursday, although the plan was originally presented to Community Board 6 two and a half years ago in November 2016. The DOT had also announced plans last September to start implementation of the project in the fall but later said in November that it would be pushed back to this summer.

A spokesperson told Town & Village that the then-two-year delay was not unusual, given that the project was especially “complex” and the agency was still working out construction scheduling and the final designs. The DOT also attributed some of the delay to changes in the plan to the design around the Water Club.

Manhattan DOT Community Coordinator Colleen Chattergoon told members of Community Board 6 last fall that the Water Club didn’t want bike traffic directly in front of their entrance, so the design was adjusted to include granite planters and a Jersey barrier as buffers. The restaurant also agreed to relocate a large container currently in their parking lot so that the DOT could more easily implement the bike lane changes.

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CB6 holds panel on preventing hate crime

Community Board 6 Housing, Homeless and Human Rights committee chair Carin van der Donk, Audacia Ray, Michael Cohen, Angela Fernandez, Council Member Mark Levine, Calee Prindle and Franck Joseph (Photo courtesy of Community Board 6)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Community Board 6 hosted a panel on the prevention of hate crimes at the end of last month, shortly before the de Blasio administration announced that the newly-formed Office of Hate Crime Prevention will be opening sooner than anticipated.

Councilmember Mark Levine, who represents Northern Manhattan and sponsored the legislation to open the office, announced on Tuesday that the office would be opening this summer. It was originally scheduled to open in November.

“The epidemic of hate crimes sweeping across the country is a national crisis,” Levine said. “We have an obligation to guarantee the safety and security of every community that calls New York home.”

At the forum held at Baruch College on May 20, Levine thanked CB6’s Housing, Homeless and Human Rights committee for writing a resolution in support of the legislation regarding hate crimes prevention and education, the first board in the city to do so. CB6 adopted the resolution supporting the bill at the full board meeting in March.

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Stuy Town-Peter Cooper residents have been asking for Avenue A entrance to L train since 1947

Rendering of Avenue A entrance to First Avenue subway station, currently under construction

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

With the L train slowdown officially underway, Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village residents and others who rely on the train are already enduring service cuts and crowding. However, the bright light at the end of the tunnel, especially for residents living farther east, along with a safe subway system, is the promise of a new entrance at Avenue A and East 14th Street for the First Avenue station.

Town & Village has reported in the last five years that neighborhood residents, transit advocates and local elected officials had been asking the MTA to consider a new entrance at least since 2014 and were denied on more than one occasion, but the request is actually almost as old as Stuyvesant Town itself.

A Stuy Town resident who moved into the complex when it opened in 1947 wrote a letter to the Brooklyn Manhattan Transit Corporation, which operated the L at the time, asking if the transit agency would expand the First Avenue station by building an entrance at Avenue A. Resident Reginald Gilbert of 625 East 14th Street argued that pressure on the station from the influx of new residents made the new entrance a necessity.

“With the increase of tenants in (Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village), the First Avenue station is becoming more and more crowded during the rush hours with passengers jamming up in the first cars going west and the rear cars coming east,” Gilbert wrote in his letter, which T&V also published in the November 27, 1947 issue. “This condition exists with only a small portion of (the complex) occupied and will be aggravated with the influx of new residents during the next few months.”

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Letters to the editor, Mar. 14

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Forget the tax, just cut spending

Re: “Council pushes pied-à-terre tax,” T&V, Feb. 28

After reading the piece on pied-à-terre taxes, I couldn’t help but wonder when I might read a story about State Senators, City Council members, or the mayor suggesting we actually cut back on certain types of expenses to help pay the bills that come due.

Rather we live in an era where spending more, increasing benefits paid for and entitlements is the annual plan and the solution is always another, or an increased, tax.

Slowly read the story about this proposed tax. It is a tax on people who “are not subject to city or state income taxes” because they are not permanent residents. They pay real estate taxes, maintenance of their homes, employ people and pay our generous sales taxes when they spend money here. But we want to tax them so we can have enough capital to offer early retirement at 50 percent of the final year’s wages to city employees.

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MTA offers few definite answers to L train concerns

Stuyvesant Town resident Mary Garvey brings up bike lanes at the meeting. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

As of Monday night, the MTA would still not confirm or deny the possibility of exit-only L train stations at First and Third Avenues or the specifics of increased bus service during the revised L tunnel construction project.

Representatives from the agency were at a Community Board 6 meeting on Monday, where frustrated East Side residents in attendance didn’t get any of the answers they were hoping for.

The CB6 meeting was the first appearance by the transit authority at the community board since the new plan, which allows the L train to continue running while work is being done, was announced in January. Officials from the agency shared updates at the meeting that the MTA had offered local elected officials in mid-February.

Glen Lunden, manager of operations planning at NYC Transit, said that part of the mitigation efforts under the revised plan includes increasing service on the M14, especially along the M14A, which uses Avenue A and runs from the West Village to Grand Street on the Lower East Side. The M14D uses Avenue D, and goes between Chelsea Piers and Delancey Street on the Lower East Side. As Town & Village has previously reported, the agency is planning to launch Select Bus Service on the M14 route but the express but service won’t be available until later in the year.

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Editorial: What the L is the MTA thinking?

As more details continue to be announced (or leaked) with regards to the revised L train repair plan, what becomes increasingly clear is that avoiding a full shutdown doesn’t mean avoiding a painfully slow commute.

As Town & Village reported last week, though many details are still up the air, there is a possibility of the two Manhattan East Side L stations becoming exit only (First and Third Avenue). Additionally, so far it appears that Select Bus Service won’t be made available until months after the project begins. On the latter issue, the MTA wants to do outreach first to see if SBS is truly needed.

This we don’t understand. Even under normal circumstances, the L train is crowded and alternative methods of transportation need to be expanded. The M14 as it exists today is currently too poky along this very busy street to be a truly dependable alternative. Of course SBS is needed.

Now, as for this other business of potentially not allowing anyone to enter the First and Third Avenue stations in order to mitigate crowding, this would be, as Council Member Keith Powers put it, “effectively a shutdown” for anyone who lives near the First or Third Avenue stations.

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Downsized Beth Israel may get even smaller

Mount Sinai Beth Israel Corporate Director of Community Affairs Brad Korn and Mount Sinai Senior Director for Community and Government Brad Beckstrom discuss the new facility at Tuesday’s Community Board 6 meeting. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The new Mount Sinai Beth Israel hospital planned for East 13th Street may be shorter than initially planned due to newly-discovered unused space at the adjacent New York Eye and Ear facility, representatives announced at a sparsely-attended Community Board 6 meeting this Tuesday.

“We discovered that there was more property available inside the New York Eye and Ear building, which allowed us to reconfigure what we’re going to do with the new building on 13th Street,” said Brad Korn, corporate director of community affairs for Mount Sinai Beth Israel. “We’re not changing any of the programs or promises we made on beds or anything like that, but it just makes it a little easier and will be a little less intrusive in the new build-up.”

Korn said at the meeting that the new space delayed the hospital from submitting a certificate of need, which was expected to be approved by the end of last year and will now likely be submitted by the middle of this year.

“(The new plan) will connect to the New York Eye and Ear building so it will become an integrated hospital,” said Brad Beckstrom, senior director for community and government for Mount Sinai.

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Updated: 5 Stuy Café applies for wine and beer license (application withdrawn)

dec1-5-stuy-cafe

5 Stuy Cafe (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Update at 12:15 p.m.: Cooper Cafe has withdrawn its application and will not be at Community Board 6’s Thursday meeting, CB6 has told us.

By Sabina Mollot

The operators of 5 Stuy Café have applied for a wine, beer and cider license and the application will be among one of several to be discussed at a Community Board 6 meeting on Thursday evening.

Liquor and beer and wine licenses are granted or denied by the State Liquor Authority, but community boards have an advisory role.

The Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association mentioned the upcoming meeting in an email blast to tenants on Monday evening. It will be held by the CB6 Business Affairs and Street Activities Committee on Thursday, February 28 at 7 p.m. at the board office at 211 East 43rd Street, Suite 1404.

Meanwhile, Stuy Town general manager Rick Hayduk told Town & Village that after learning about the application, he would be requesting that it be withdrawn until the details are vetted by StuyTown Property Services. The café is run by a third-party operator called Cooper Café LLC.

Susan Steinberg, the president of the ST-PCV Tenants Association, said the association has not taken a position on alcohol being served at the café.

“We acknowledge the many tenants who have requested the option of having a glass of beer or wine with their food,” said Steinberg. “We also acknowledge the many tenants who are concerned about the possible consequences (increased noise and commotion) that might arise as a result of the wine and beer license. An applicant who comes before the Business Affairs and Street Activities Committee of Community Board 6 will need to assure Board 6 and the public of their procedures to contain noise and nuisance. (Disclosure: I am Vice Chair of that committee; I can ask questions but will have to abstain from voting.)  Assuming the application is approved, if management is unable to contain behavior after a few months, the TA will come down hard.”

Affordable housing and L train woes top concerns at East Side town hall

Mayor Bill de Blasio answers questions from audience members at a town hall co-hosted by Council Member Keith Powers at Hunter College. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The L train shutdown and the lack of local affordable housing were among the main concerns of East Side residents who packed a town hall hosted by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Councilmember Keith Powers last Wednesday evening. The mayor, along with numerous representatives from city agencies as well as Powers and other local elected officials, answered questions from more than 300 advocates and community residents during the event at Hunter College.

Stuyvesant Town resident and former ST/PCV Tenants Association president Al Doyle got in the first question of the night, asking the mayor if he would actively support a return to rent stabilization of all apartments that had been deregulated due to vacancy decontrol.

The mayor admitted that he couldn’t necessarily commit to that, at least at this point, despite wanting to.

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CB6 votes in favor of SBJSA, but with a few suggestions

Katie Loeb, budget director for Council Member Carlina Rivera, discusses the Small Business Jobs Survival Act at a meeting of Community Board 6. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Business Affairs and Street Activities Committee for Community Board 6 voted last Thursday to support the Small Business Jobs Survival Act with a handful of suggestions to narrow the scope of the legislation, encouraging local elected officials to focus the bill even more on mom-and-pop type businesses throughout the city.

The resolution the committee passed on the SBJSA encouraged legislators to define “small business,” which the bill doesn’t explicitly do, and provide stipulations to prohibit formulaic businesses or chains from repeating in small neighborhoods.

The resolution additionally encouraged lawmakers to focus on small businesses instead of all commercial businesses, which can also include larger corporate businesses as well as chains. The committee also urged legislators to create provisions in the bill that would encourage landlords to lease to new businesses, as well as to minority-owned, women-owned and veteran-owned businesses.

Since the bill has been introduced in the City Council and not at the state level, the resolution urged state legislators to create and pass a similar bill with all the same stipulations to solidify the same protections at the state level.

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Greenway project near Waterside postponed to 2019

 

The bike lane outside of Waterside Plaza (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

After announcing in September that work would begin this fall on improvements to the Greenway on the East Side between Waterside Plaza and the East 34th Street Heliport, the Department of Transportation confirmed this week that it has been put on hold until next year.

A spokesperson for the DOT did not have specific details on when next year the work would begin but said that the agency expects to start work when the weather gets warmer and to complete the project by next summer.

DOT originally presented the project to Community Board 6 two years ago in November 2016 with plans for the bike lanes north of Stuyvesant Cove Park leading up to Waterside Plaza, past the United Nations International School and the Water Club, up to the heliport at East 34th Street, reconfiguring the lanes to make them more visible and separate cyclists from vehicle traffic.

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MTA aiming to restore parking on E. 14th St., add pedestrian spaces

L train construction site on East 14th Street (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

With preparations for the L train shutdown already months in progress, 14th Street residents are now seeing changes to create the incoming busway, increased pedestrian spaces and accommodations for bicyclists.

Residents and local business owners have also expressed concern about the shrinking sidewalk space on the south side of 14th Street right by the First Avenue station and the loss of parking in the same area due to the preliminary work by the MTA.

However, Kaitlin McCready with NYC Transit said at a recent Community Board 6 transportation committee meeting that the agency is aiming to reopen the south side of East 14th Street by the end of this month, and restore parking there in the next several months, ideally by next January.

The Union Square Partnership also sent out updates at the beginning of November, noting that implementation for a shared street on University Place will begin this month. Shared streets are roads where pedestrians and cyclists share space with slow-moving vehicles, and the shared street on University will be between East 13th and 14th Streets. The additions will include creating curb extensions on University Place and East 14th at the southeast and southwest corners, as well as at the northwest and southeast corners of East 13th Street.

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