Oil spills into East River after Con Ed transformer failure

May11 Con Ed

Con Ed substation in Manhattan (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

A failure of equipment at a Con Ed substation in Brooklyn has led to a so far unknown amount of oil to leak into the East River.

The U.S. Coast Guard has been responding to the problem since it was reported on Sunday afternoon, though as of Tuesday afternoon, it was unclear if the substance, dielectric fluid, was still leaking into the river in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

The fluid, which is used to insulate transformer cables, is a kind of mineral oil, so “It’s not like sludge or petroleum,” said Coast Guard Public Affairs Chief Warrant Officer Allyson Conroy. However, she added, “It’s still not native to the environment it’s leeching into.”

Additionally, while the Coast Guard is not aware of just how much of the oil has been spilled so far, she referred to the failure of a Con Ed transformer that led to the incident as “catastrophic.

“The transformer is caput,” she added.

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Two ST buildings left with no gas due to leak

By Sabina Mollot

Since October 31, a gas leak at 272 and 274 First Avenue has left residents without gas in their buildings. The laundry room has been out of use as well since then.

In a flyer that was posted by CompassRock on November 4, management explained that the shutdown was done by Con Ed so emergency repairs could be conducted on the main gas line.

The note to residents went on to say management was working with the utility to ensure that gas would be restored “as safely and as quickly as possible.”

However, the memo also said that gas isn’t expected to be turned on again until Con Ed approves each apartment line after repairs.

Sidney Alvarez, a spokesperson for Con Ed, said on the 31st, the utility had been called about a gas odor and upon arrival, inspectors found that there was a gas leak on the extension service traced to a gas meter room.

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Elevated park option for East River waterfront

Those in attendance at the  meeting last Tuesday sat at tables while the pros and cons of each option for the project were discussed. (Pictured) Guests seated before the presentation began (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Those in attendance at the meeting last Tuesday sat at tables while the pros and cons of each option for the project were discussed. (Pictured) Guests seated before the presentation began (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

 By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Neighborhood residents recently learned that the East River may be getting a new elevated park along with flood protection. The discussion about the park took place at the most recent workshop for the East Side Coastal Resiliency project, held at the Stein Senior Center last Tuesday. Representatives from the mayor’s office and BIG U, the winning design firm in the Rebuild by Design competition in 2013, said that this type of flood protection was one of the most popular with residents, according to feedback from the community at the previous workshop in May.

Carrie Grassi, senior policy adviser at the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency, also discussed the three options for flood protection in the area along the East River between 14th and 23rd Streets, which includes a berm, which would have a park on top, a flood wall or a deployable, and noted that community members saw the advantages of all three depending on the area.

The area along the river from 14th to 23rd is known as Project Area 2 and Project Area 1 extends south from 14th Street to Montgomery Street. The workshops have been split along these boundaries to focus more on the specific needs of each area.

Grassi noted that there is a need for compromise when considering different characteristics even within each designated project area and the specifics of each kind of flood protection, and they’re hoping the workshops will help find the right balance for Project Area 2.

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Police arrest Con Ed employee for ax attacks, stabbing

A weapon allegedly used by Trevial Terry (Photo courtesy of NYPD)

A weapon allegedly used by Trevial Terry (Photo courtesy of NYPD)

By Sabina Mollot

Police have arrested a Con Ed employee who allegedly attacked three people on Monday afternoon, including the mother of his child, using an ax.

Trevial Terry, 40, who lives at 580 St. Nicholas Avenue in Harlem, is accused of stabbing the 35-year-old mother of his child at 135 East 64th Street. Officers, when arriving at the scene found the victim in the building’s vestibule bleeding from multiple stab wounds in her stomach and back. She told them that Terry had approached her, pushed her into the building’s vestibule and then stabbed her. She was taken to New York Presbyterian Hospital in serious but stable condition.

According to the Daily News, the victim was Alicia Sylvia, and the two were in the midst of a custody battle. She’d been attacked at the building where she works.

Then later, Terry walked into the Con Ed building at 4 Irving Plaza where he’s worked for the past 15 years. His title is commercial service representative for the Department of Energy Services. Once there he headed to the 10th floor office and allegedly pulled out an ax when he saw a 49-year-old colleague and struck him in the face with it. A witness, a 40-year-old man, tried to help the victim, but then was struck in the arm by Terry who police said was using a “pointed tip hammer.”

Terry then attempted to flee by running down the stairs and into the parking lot, where officers arrested him. According to the Daily News, the cops had help from employees who’d chased him out of the building. A Times story stated that when Terry entered the office, he’d asked for a supervisor but was told the supervisor was unavailable. The two victims were taken to Bellevue Hospital where they were both listed in stable condition. Terry was also taken to Bellevue Hospital in stable condition.

He’s been charged with three counts of attempted murder, six counts of assault and four counts of criminal possession of a weapon.

Allan Drury, a spokesperson for Con Ed, said he didn’t know what would make the longtime employee snap and that as far as he knew there had been no prior incidents involving Terry. He said the victims’ injuries were non-life threatening.

An NYPD spokesperson said Terry has no prior arrests, unless they’ve been sealed.

Pols name and shame ‘predatory’ landlords

Council Members Dan Garodnick and Jumaane Williams with tenants at a press conference at City Hall (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Council Members Dan Garodnick and Jumaane Williams with tenants at a press conference at City Hall (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Tenant advocate groups have a message for landlord who harass tenants: You’re being watched.

At a press conference last Thursday, the advocates and elected officials said that they have identified predatory equity landlords who tenants say have been mistreating them and forcing them to live in hazardous conditions. Councilmembers Dan Garodnick and Jumaane Williams, who formed the Coalition Against Predatory Equity last year with Councilmember Ritchie Torres from the Bronx, were at the event.

“We now have names attached to these situations so they know we’re going after them,” Williams, chair of the Council’s Housing Committee, said.

The landlords that have been singled out are Alma Realty Corp., Benedict Realty Group, Coltown Properties, Icon, SMRC Management, Steve Croman and Ved Parkash. Various tenants from buildings owned by these landlords were at the event, including residents of 444 East 13th Street, who recently filed a lawsuit against their new management company with the help of the Urban Justice Center because they have no gas or hot water and the management company has been doing construction despite a stop work order from the Department of Buildings.

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Con Ed employees win industry award for East River fish protection project

Workers install equipment in the East River that reduces the plant’s impact on the  marine life. (Photo courtesy of Con Ed.)

Workers install equipment in the East River that reduces the plant’s impact on the marine life. (Photo courtesy of Con Ed)

By Sabina Mollot

Two Con Ed employees have been recognized for developing a system that protects the fish in the East River from the utility’s steam and electric plant operations.

Gary Thorn, a section manager in Central Engineering, and Brian Brush, senior scientist in Environmental Health and Safety, were the winners of an industry award called the Technology Transfer Award from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).

The pair led a $36 million project to design a system of five screens with fine mesh panels to filter fish, eggs and larvae from the water cooling intake at the East River generating station off East 14th Street. Additionally, while the work had initially been expected to be completed by the end of 2014, it wound up being done over a year ahead of schedule, by the end of 2013. The project started in 2006 with testing and site evaluation and review of technologies.

“A lot of the early work consisted of collection of data like how many fish there were,” said Brush. “It was a good deal of fish, but it’s importance to distinguish that when we say fish the technology also protects eggs and larvae and they’re more abundant than actual fish.”

The screens, along with a fish-return system, reduce the plant’s impact on the river. The fish-return system uses a low-pressure spray to gently remove any aquatic organisms trapped on the screens and return them to the river.

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Op-Ed: St. Vartan’s Park should be considered as alternative site for sanitation garage

The Brookdale campus is the city’s proposed site for a sanitation garage. A firm hired by Community Board 6 has recommended Con Ed property. J.G. Collins however suggests a portion of St. Vartan’s Park. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

The Brookdale campus is the city’s proposed site for a sanitation garage. A firm hired by Community Board 6 has recommended Con Ed property. J.G. Collins however suggests a portion of St. Vartan’s Park. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By J.G. Collins
Town & Village has recently reported on the alternative proposals that city and East Side public officials are considering for a garage that the Department of Sanitation (“DSNY”) has proposed to serve Community District Six.

In reviewing alternatives, it’s important to give due weight to those suggested by Community Board Six, Community District Six residents, neighborhood groups, and individuals who might propose viable options that officials have not have otherwise considered. Community Board Six has already offered wise alternatives by engaging a planning firm. But officials shouldn’t consider these (to be the “only” alternatives. Instead, they should welcome all practicable alternatives to best accommodate the required garage within District Six. (Local officials might even consider sponsoring a design exhibit, and perhaps even offer a small cash prize, for viable alternatives proposed by anyone wishing to take up the challenge.)

As an example of proposals that should be welcomed, consider the black-top and tennis court on the western portion of St. Vartan’s Park, between East 35th Street and East 36th Street, just east of Second Avenue. The space is nearly 70 percent of the 83,000 square feet the DSNY proposes to build, including the “Tunnel Entrance Street” that bifurcates the tennis court and the black top.

If a garage were built on the site of the St. Vartan’s Park tennis court and blacktop, Tunnel Entrance Street between 35th and 36th Street could be eliminated and made part of the building footprint. Alternatively, if traffic required, the street could be left open through to the Queens Midtown Tunnel entry and the street could be converted as an underpass with the garage built above it. (The underpass would be suspended and joined above a base built on the current blacktop and tennis court.)

The current tennis court and blacktop playing area could be replicated in a “sky park” on the roof of the garage and covered with netting, like the Sol Goldman Y rooftop play area, or permanently enclosed, like the “bubble top” play space above the United Nations School. The facility could be made accessible by an elevator and a stairwell.

St. Vartan’s Park has several advantages. First, it has minimal impact on noise and zoning because the area is not as heavily residential as either the Brookdale or the Con Edison sites. The north border, on East 36th Street, has no nearby residences as it sits above the the Queens Midtown Tunnel. East 35th Street, the southern border, is the rear side of St. Vartan’s Cathedral, as well as some apartment buildings, but traffic could be directed so that sanitation trucks never cross in front of them.

Second, the land is already “city-owned,” so the land to build a DSNY garage would come at no additional cost.

Third, construction of a DSNY garage on the St. Vartan’s Park site with a sky park on the roof would actually increase the footprint of the total park space on the site by the addition 3,500 square feet of “Tunnel Entrance Street.” It might be made into a “rain or shine” play area if it is enclosed.

Traffic for the St. Vartan’s Blacktop location is somewhat a problem, but not overwhelmingly so. South- and west-bound sanitation trucks could exit the garage behind St. Vartan’s Cathedral to avoid Queens-Midtown Tunnel traffic and the few residential apartments on East 35th Street. Northbound trucks would avoid tunnel traffic completely by exiting the garage at East 36th Street, where there are no nearby residential buildings, and turning left onto First Avenue to go uptown.

Ingress to a St. Vartan’s garage when the trucks return from their shifts could be limited to East 35th Street, but west of Tunnel Entrance Street (so that trucks don’t pass in front of the apartment buildings on the block) and to East 36th Street via Second Avenue, so as to minimize disturbance to neighborhood residents and the already heavy traffic on East 36th Street west of Second Avenue.

This traffic arrangement would keep sanitation trucks almost entirely away from the entrances to the St. Vartan’s “kiddy park” that would remain intact on the eastern

Adventures in Stuyvesant Town: From the playgrounds to the projects in the 1960s and 70s

Author Brenden Crowe is pictured shooting the puck. The player wearing the #21 jersey is Robbie McDonald. John Mastrorocco is the goalie. The boy closest to #21 is Phillip Spallino. Player #19 is Danny O’Shea. Other kids pictured are: Neil Crawford, Ricky Kirk, Eddie Mackey and Pat Mackey.

Author Brenden Crowe is pictured shooting the puck. The player wearing the #21 jersey is Robbie McDonald. John Mastrorocco is the goalie. The boy closest to #21 is Phillip Spallino. Player #19 is Danny O’Shea. Other kids pictured are: Neil Crawford, Ricky Kirk, Eddie Mackey and Pat Mackey.

By Brenden Crowe

The greatest place to grow up in the sixties and seventies was Stuy Town. You had hundreds of kids playing in Stuy Town’s 12 playgrounds, not realizing that these friendships they were forming were not for a few years but for life. There was an unexplainable bond that Stuy Town kids had for each other. If you grew up on the same playground the bond was even stronger. If you lived in the same building, it was like you were family.

I grew up at 245 Avenue C on our side of the floor it was the same for families for over a quarter of a century. We had great neighbors, the Flemings, the Cordovanos and Wests and we could always count on each other if we ever needed help. Other families that lived there for decades were the Ryan, Collin, Clarke, Lyden and Delaney families. People like Mike Lyden always took an interest in my life. He would ask me, “When’s opening day for Little League?” or tell my brother Tim, “I heard you had a great time at the dance Friday night.”

When I was in second grade, I used to take Jimmy Delaney (first grader) to school at Saint Emeric’s. You were just taught to look after one another. When you went south of 14th Street in those days you had to be careful because it was a tough neighborhood. Charlie White of 271 Avenue C actually got shot in the leg going to Saint Emeric’s. A couple of Stuy Town kids got robbed going to school.

My father always taught me to see trouble a block ahead so you can make a left or a right hand turn. My brothers and the older kids taught us to be tough. When you walked to Saint Emeric’s you had to pass by Strauss Auto Parts store at 14th Street and Avenue C. There was no one ever in that store but somehow they made a living because it was there for over 40 years. Another establishment you would pass was Mousey’s bar on 13th Street and Avenue C. If you look in the dictionary for the word “dive,” you would see a picture of Mousey’s. They should have had a sign in the window, “underage drinking encouraged.” After you passed Mousey’s, you went east on 13th Street toward Avenue D and you had Haven Plaza on your right and Con Ed on the left. The Con Ed men would try to make us laugh and always gave us electric tape for our hockey pads if we asked. It was always comforting knowing they were there. When you got close to Avenue D, you made a right into an alley way. Once you made it past the alley way you knew you were safe and now it was time to have fun in the playground.

There were many games we used to play but my favorites were ring-a-levio and punch ball. The Saint Emeric’s playground was probably four times bigger than the average Catholic school playground so there was plenty of space to play. Ring-a-levio was usually played with seven or eight kids on each side. One side would start behind a safety line and each kid’s goal was to touch the Church wall which was about 100 feet away. Each kid would go off on his own and try to touch the church wall with about seven or eight kids trying to grab you. And kids didn’t grab you softly. The last two kids were usually the best athletes who got to run towards the wall together. They were known as the Big Two. If you were a member of the Big Two, you were moving up in the world. If one of the Big Two touched the wall he freed all the kids. You had to get back to base without being captured. If you were captured again it was really sad.

The other game was punch ball. All you needed was a rubber ball and chalk for the bases. It was played like regular baseball. The batter would throw the ball up in the air and punch the ball as hard as he could.
Playground 5 was the place to play punch ball. It was a rectangle playground being 200 feet long and 75 feet wide. The game was seven on seven (no pitcher or right fielder). If you wanted to hit a home run you had to hit it to dead center and it had to go between the “three trees.” You would see unbelievable one handed catches because you didn’t have a glove. Kids would slide on the concrete like it was nothing. I remember my brother Brian, Sid and Mike Lyden being able to reach the “three trees.” Other players like Frannie Sheehan, Pat Cavanaugh, and Kevin Keane seemingly could punch the ball just wherever they wanted. If you found yourself playing catcher or second base in punch ball you knew you were close to not being picked next time because they were positions that didn’t get much action.

One time my brother Timmy was playing punch ball with the older guys. It was the bottom of the last inning and a boy on third with two outs. Ronnie Driscoll, an older boy, came up to Timmy and said, “Timmy, I really want to win this game.” Timmy got a hit to win the game and Ronnie picked up Timmy on his shoulders. Years later Ronnie told Timmy he had a bet on the game.

One time Mike Cavanaugh hit a home run hitting a ball on top of Saint Emeric’s roof. When I think of Mike Cavanaugh I don’t think of him as a successful engineer but the boy who was the only one to hit a home run on the roof of Saint Emeric’s. When I think of Billy “Nat” Foley, I don’t think of him as a successful Wall Street executive, but the boy who made some amazing shots at Playground 9. When I think of Jim Nestor “Wolfe,” I don’t think of him as a successful writer but the clutchiest pitcher in the Knights of Columbus softball league. When I think of Eddie Mackey, a successful CPA, I think of Eddie Mackey, a successful CPA. The Mackey family has been a great family in Stuy Town for over 60 years.

At Saint Emeric’s, there were hardly any problems between the Irish and Italian kids from Stuy Town and the Puerto Rican kids from below 14th Street, some of whom lived in the projects across the street. The parents also got along famously and it definitely showed at Midnight Mass on Christmas when half the mass was in English and the other half in Spanish. There was great camaraderie. The only time there was tension was when one of the teachers in my brother Timmy’s class decided it was a good idea to put a production of “West Side Story” on with the white kids as the Jets and the Puerto Ricans as the Sharks.

When I was in third grade, I got invited to a party for Carlos Lopez in Jacob Riis housing project. I always heard how dangerous it was. If I had to go there by myself I probably would have been scared, but my mother took me to the party. It seemed to be an unwritten rule that if you were with your mother no one could bother you so I felt safe. Everyone had a great time at the party.

Stuy Town kids were good kids but no one I knew was an angel. Our third grade class got invited to the Bozo the Clown T.V. show. It was exciting and fun to be on a set. Roseann Keane was chosen to try and win prizes. She had to spin a Frisbee on a stick. I thought Roseann spun the Frisbee on a stick for a period of time. Bozo disagreed. Our mothers were best friends and I figured I would have gotten all the boy toys. When the camera started to span the students I didn’t make the best decision in my life when I gave the finger to the camera. A week later Bozo was going to be shown on T.V. My strategy was to sit in front of the T.V. and when they showed me flipping the bird to Bozo I would stand up and block my mother’s view. It worked. When I went to school the next day I was treated like a hero with lots of pats on the back. I still was worried about being called down to the principal’s office. I somehow got away with it.

Another time I was with my friend Johnny Messina. We went to Dalton’s malt shop on Avenue B. The Dalton brothers were hardworking men and also owned a fish store and a deli. Johnny and I walked into the malt shop and Johnny said, “Dalton, can you get me a chocolate milk shake?” Mike Dalton, who was probably in his early thirties, looked down at this 10-year-old boy and said, “That’s Mr. Dalton.” Mike Dalton went on for about three minutes why he should be called Mr. Dalton. When Mike Dalton finally finished Johnny said, “Dalton, can I get my milk shake now?”

Right below 14th Street, there was a gang called the Black Spades. They always wore their gang leather jackets. An off-shoot of this gang was called the Young Spades, who also wore gang leather jackets. They were young teenagers. One time the Young Spades were walking from Playground 4 to Playground 5 when Neil Crawford, John Mastrorocco and I threw dirt bombs at the gang. They immediately chased us.

We ran through Playground 11 and when I got to the other side of the playground, I got my pass key out and ran into 14 Stuyvesant Oval. Every Stuy Town kid had a pass key for all 89 buildings. We got away. Somehow the Young Spades found out John’s name. I saw Mrs. Mastrorocco the next day and she said, “If they know John’s name I think they should know your name too.” I remember thinking that that was the worst idea I ever heard of.

The author and friends on the playground–(Front row) Ricky McDonnell, Brian Mastrocco, Timmy Crowe, with his face covered is Brendan Crowe, (Back row) Kevin Keane, Jimmy Mastrocco, Bobby Curran, Ken Sidlowski, Ray Stout, Brian Crowe and Mike Lyden

The author and friends on the playground–(Front row) Ricky McDonnell, Brian Mastrocco, Timmy Crowe, with his face covered is Brendan Crowe, (Back row) Kevin Keane, Jimmy Mastrocco, Bobby Curran, Ken Sidlowski, Ray Stout, Brian Crowe and Mike Lyden

Most Stuy Town kids stayed on their playground or the one closest to them until they were 11 or 12 and then they branched out. Whatever playground you lived on was the sport you played. Playground 7 was the mecca of Stuy Town hockey even though Playground 5 and Playground 1 also played hockey. We had a hockey league at Playground 7. Playgrounds 9 and 11 were basketball playgrounds. Our Playground was Playground 5 where we played football, hockey and punch ball.

My brother Timmy and his friends Mike Cavanaugh, Danny O’Shea, Rickey McDonnell, Marc Smalley and Robbie McDonald, just to name a few challenged the Playground 11 boys — Billy Jaris, Paul Gannon, Billy Kiernan, Jake McGarty and Jimmy Murtha to a game of football. This was definitely a Playground 5 sport. It was always exciting to play kids from another playground in any sport. I was proud of the Playground 5 boys, winning the football game 5-1, with my brother Timmy catching two touchdowns. When the Playground 11 boys challenged Playground 5 in basketball, they crushed the Playground 5 boys.
Stuy Town had the greatest athletes because we played sports all the time. There were no emails, phones, computers or Instagram. We played hard and played all day long. Kelly Grant played professional basketball in Europe. Donny Jackson was the quarterback at Columbia. Kevin McQuaid set football receiving records at Fordham. John Owens had the Catholic school track record for the 100-yard dash. Mike Lyden and Richie Maier were stars playing hockey in college. In one game Mike Lyden scored a hat trick and my brother Brian and his friends threw their hats on the ice. Roger McTiernan was the M.V.P. in the Xavier-Fordham football game; 35 years later Roger’s son also won the M.V.P.

The boys weren’t the only great athletes in Stuy Town. Nancy Murphy was three years older than me and I would watch in awe how well she competed against the boys. Nancy was the prettiest tomboy and was excellent in football, basketball and punch ball. Gina Ribaudo along with Rosemary Bennett and Dianne D’Imperio led the Epiphany eighth grade girls in basketball to the Manhattan Catholic school championship. Gina, in a foul shooting completion at the Police Academy, was 15 for 15.
We all played hard and had fun doing it. Barry McTiernan once told my wife Margaret, “Stuy Town guys don’t like to lose.”

If we weren’t playing sports we were finding fun things to do. I remember my brother John and his friends jumping off the garage ventilators which were about 15 feet high and jumping into the snow drifts. I remember scores of kids sleigh riding on Playground 5 hill and sleighing underneath a two-foot chain. God must have been watching after us because no one broke his neck. Once in a while my father or another parent would take us up to Pilgrim’s Hill in Central Park and go sleigh riding on some big hills. We played a game called “Animal,” where one kid had the football and all the other kids tried to tackle him. We had snowball fights, went skitching, played scullies and played tackle football in the snow in the playground. We had great games of manhunt. One kid at Playground 7 took the long fire hose out of the staircase and turned the water on in the winter full blast. Instead of playing roller hockey the next day, kids brought out their ice skates.

Kids from Immaculate Conception and Epiphany would have water balloon fights. Once, kids from Immaculate chased Padraic Carlin, Brian Loesch and me with eggs, shaving cream and water balloons. Unfortunately Brian didn’t make it. Mrs. Loesch had to do an extra load of wash that night.

One time I was going home and I heard two people screaming my name from the roof. It was Jimmy Murtha and Jeanie Collin who locked themselves on the roof. I went up to unlock the door. The roof was one place that Stuy Town kids found love.

I’m proud telling people I grew up in Stuy Town. We had so many characters but even better guys and girls. We were raised by parents from the greatest generation who all seemed to think alike. Kids moving away from Stuy Town was extremely rare. There was such stability. There was no keeping up with the Joneses because we all lived in the same complex. I wouldn’t trade my growing up in Stuy Town for anything in the world.

The kids of Stuy Town are now in their 50s and 60s but many are still called by their nicknames. People still call my brother Brian Birdie. People still ask D.A. Hopper what D.A. stands for. Donald Hopper would tell them it means, “Don’t ask.” The kids of the 60s and 70s do get together periodically. Bubba Kiely has had his turkey trot party for over 40 years. Stuy Town guys go to the racetrack at Monmouth once a year and always have a great time. My brother Timmy, among others, have golf outings to keep in touch.

Unfortunately we also see each other at wakes and funerals. One of Stuy Town’s best passed away last month. His name is Jimmy Capuano. He was a great athlete, played guitar, was tough and loved to laugh. He was a great father and husband. You know how much he was loved because you were waiting on line at Andrett’s Funeral Home for over an hour. I would make a winning bet that Jimmy is playing guitar right now for the choirs of angels.
God bless Jimmy, his family, and the people who grew up in the playgrounds of Stuy Town in the 60s and 70s.

Letters to the Editor, Dec. 18

You  want to put it where?

Re: “CB6 to vote on sanit. garage alternatives,” T&V, Dec. 18

To the editor:

On December 10, my wife and I attended an open meeting of Community Board 6.  Our chief interest was the report given by BFJ Planning — a private consultation firm — outlining two options for the construction of a sanitation garage in CB6. One plan would place the garage at 25th Street and First Avenue (Brookdale) as an underground facility with other as yet-to-be-determined structures above it. The other plan would place the plant on Avenue C between 15th and 16th Streets — a flat site currently owned by Con Ed and used for employee parking fronting a huge baseball/soccer field used by our community’s children in the spring, summer and fall seasons.

Both options would put the garage in a flood zone. In the case of the Brookdale option, with the garage underground, a flood from a storm of the Sandy type would not merely flood the garage with salt water, it would create a submerged structure — as in swimming pool — with indeterminate consequences for the garage itself, overlying structures and the immediate intersection — not a promising option.

In the second option, the one on Avenue C between 15th and 16th Streets, a flood of the Sandy type would clearly impact on the garage, as it impacted on everything in our area in 2012, but  here is the significant difference: the flood waters would recede. Of course there would be damage, but in this simplified scenario once the salt water recedes the area would dry and repairs would begin.

This raises the obvious question: for whom is the first plan, the Brookdale option, a consideration? We have heard some strong and firm objections to it, and in contrast, reasoned favorable remarks about the option on Avenue C — if Con Ed sells/rents/ transfers the property to the city, which I am sure the city and Con Ed will “work-out.” So… do we have two options? If you think, as I do (with the limited information available to us ordinary not-yet-apathetic-voters) you will conclude that in reality we have been given one real option.

It is the multiple story site on Avenue C between 15th and 16th Streets. To be sure, the decision making process will appear open, above board, well-reasoned, and in the end wholly predetermined. The result will be a two, three, four, five story maintenance/cleaning facility right smack in a flood zone.

So… in light of what scientists have been long-warning about climate change and the certain flooding of lowlands — witness this area in 2012 — can a paid consulting firm and city fathers do no better than propose building a garage in an area that government itself has designated a flood zone? (A suggestion: in view of climate certainties, find an elevated part of the island.)

John M. Giannone, ST

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Letters to the Editor, Dec. 11

Dec11 Toon de Blasio

Thanks, Con Ed, for Saturday morning ‘alarm’

The following open letter was written by Stuyvesant town resident Sherman Sussman, who had been getting routinely woken up by vehicles entering and exiting the Con Ed property during the wee hours of the morning.

Why??? You guys were doing so good. Not perfect by far but good.

So why is it that the neighborhood needs to be awakened at 6:45 a.m. on a Saturday morning?

Con Ed has decided that the big orange bucket truck with its noisy movement alarm (which is unnecesesary in a non-construction site, in fact the only noise that is being made is by the alarm) is necessary to move at this time in the morning.

A. Is it because there is an emergency? I don’t see one.
B. Is it because people like myself like to get a little more sleep on a Saturday morning?
C. Or is it because Con Ed really doesn’t care what they do at whatever time they feel like doing it?

Sherman Sussan, ST

Did you say… too much heat?

To the Editor:

I must admit to being flabbergasted by a letter in this week’s paper (“Can’t take the heat,” T&V, Dec. 4) complaining about too much heat in his/her apartment. Wish I could say the same.

In my building heat has been at a minimum. I always thought that when it is under 50 degrees outside, heat is required.

Oh well, maybe 20th Street has a different climate from 14th!

H. Zwerling,
430 E. 20th St.

Appreciative of T&V’s de-cluttering tips

Dear Town & Village,

I know I’ve written you in the past about how useful and informative and interesting AJ Miller’s column is, and I’m doing so again.

For example, her “De-cluttering problems and solutions” in your October 30 issue, as an example, was a simply written yet eloquently stated column.

Well-written and practical. She’s a gem as are many of your fine writers, reporters and columnists.

Thanks.

Richard Luksin,
Minneapolis, MN

What happened to going to the bondholders?

To the Editor:

On October 20, 2012, to great fanfare, press releases, and news conferences, local elected officials and the STPCV Tenants Association said that they were taking our case directly to the bondholders. TA leaders said the time had come to “cut out the middleman.”

If CW Capital would not give us a seat at the table, they said, then CW should step aside and we would “talk directly to the bondholders.”

Two years later, we have heard nothing. Apparently, the TA prefers to have press conferences.  Perhaps despite their promises, they did not really contact the bondholders. If they did, then we the tenants deserve to know what did the bondholders say.

The TA repeatedly says that it wants a seat at the table to allow the 11,000 tenants to take charge of their destiny and ensure middle class affordability through a non-eviction condo conversion.   But now Mayor de Blasio feels that STPCV should remain a rental complex forever, and the TA refuses to challenge him on it.

The TA apparently prefers to trumpet “affordability!” like a voice crying in the wilderness, rather than tell us what the bondholders said – and require the mayor to be responsive to 30,000 residents of our community.

Mayor de Blasio needs to stand with tenants, not with the developers of affordable housing and the landlords.

The time has come to go directly to the bondholders, as the TA promised us two years ago.

Name withheld, ST

Con Ed to replace transformer

Con Ed plant on Avenue C Photo by Sabina Mollot

Con Ed plant on Avenue C
(Photo by Sabina Mollot)

No parking on  Ave. C, 14-16th Sts. from Oct. 20-24

By Sabina Mollot

Con Ed announced last week that the utility would be embarking on a project that could last up to three months. The work, which has been described as maintenance, is to replace a transformer at the Avenue C steam plant.

The company had issued a notice on Friday that the work would begin on Monday, October 20 and on three dates, would be conducted between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m. This would involve deliveries of heavy equipment and require the use of machinery and cranes. The three nights when work is scheduled to be done are: Thursday, October 23, Friday, October 24 and Monday, October 27.

To accommodate all the heavy equipment as well as an oversized trailer, there will be no parking allowed on Avenue C between East 14th and 16th Streets on both sides from Monday, October 20 to the morning of Friday, October 24.
Con Ed said there would be no service disruptions as a result of the equipment upgrade.

When asked why some of the work had to be done at night, a spokesperson for the utility, Allan Drury, said it’s because of the oversize vehicles that are needed to transport the equipment.

“Traffic issues require the deliveries to be made during off-hours,” he said.

Earlier this month, Town & Village interviewed a Stuy Town resident in a building at 14th Street and Avenue C, who said he’s been plagued for years by work that’s already been getting conducted at the Con Ed facility in the wee hours of the mornings. The work usually involves large equipment being moved around although the majority of the noise comes from oversized trucks entering and exiting the plant’s property.

Since the story ran, the resident, Sherman Sussman, told T&V he’s seen some slight improvement on the weekends, but is still frequently woken up by horns honking and other traffic noise coming from Con Ed during the workweek.

He seemed somewhat hopeful however after getting a notice about the upcoming transformer project from a Con Ed rep.
In a note to Sussman, the rep noted how transportation vendors have been alerted to minimize noise from vehicles idling or backing up in an effort to “be mindful of the community.”

CB6 offers proposal: Sanitation garage could go near Con Ed

BFJ Planning Senior Associate Jonathan Martin discusses an alternative site for the planned Brookdale campus  sanitation garage. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

BFJ Planning Senior Associate Jonathan Martin discusses an alternative site for the planned Brookdale campus sanitation garage. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Members of Community Board 6’s Land Use and Waterfront Committee recently learned of a new proposal concerning the garage that the Department of Sanitation wants to build on East 25th Street between First Avenue and the FDR; a plan that presents the possibility of building the facility near the Con Edison plant at East 15th Street and Avenue C.

This proposal came from BFJ Planning, a consulting firm that CB6 has hired to come up with other options for the Brookdale Campus, which will be vacated when Hunter College moves the current program uptown, as well as to come up with an alternative spot for the sanitation garage.

BFJ Planning Senior Associate Jonathan Martin presented the preliminary proposal, which had been shown to the board’s steering committee for the sanitation garage last month, at the Land Use and Waterfront Committee’s monthly meeting last Wednesday. Martin focused on the rationale behind the alternative location for the facility.
He acknowledged that DSNY’s plan is partially understandable.

“They want to put their trucks near the service area,” he said. “At the moment the trucks are six miles away but the Brookdale site is two miles away.”

He then explained that one possibility they are exploring in their alternatives is space near the Con Ed plant next to Stuyvesant Town, which would still be near the community district’s service area.

Unlike the Brookdale Campus, however, which will revert back to the city once Hunter College vacates the site, the Con Edison site is not city property. This means that to even consider building a garage on the site, the city would have to acquire the property from Con Edison first.

Aside from this obstacle, Martin explained that the plan would involve relocating John J. Murphy Park up to space which is now surface parking for Con Edison. At that point, the space then becomes open to other uses and in an overlay, Martin showed that DSNY’s plans for the garage fit neatly on top of the space. The potential Con Edison space is actually longer than the Brookdale site, which would offer various opportunities.

“The structure wouldn’t have to go up five stories like the building they’ve proposed,” Martin explained.

Committee members and residents of the surrounding community are opposed to the garage at the Brookdale site primarily because of the potential garage’s proximity to a number of hospitals and healthcare facilities but traffic and noise are also a concern, and Stuyvesant Town resident and committee member Larry Scheyer noted that the latter would be a problem at the Con Edison site as well.

“Many parts of the day have that area gridlocked,” he said. “Add hundreds of sanitation trucks with no other way to get in and out, it would be a nightmare.”

When asked if DSNY had considered the Con Edison site for the garage, DSNY spokesperson Keith Mellis only said that the Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed garage would include a discussion of alternatives that Sanitation has investigated.

Opinion: Quality of life issues need to be addressed

Bus stop construction site on First Avenue and 14th Street (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Bus stop construction site on First Avenue and 14th Street (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By William Oddo
I know we are supposed to feel grateful for only a $50 a month rent increase for “maintenance improvements.” Some might suggest common sense and that these maintenance items should be paid from our monthly rent. In any case, there are some significant day-to-day issues that most residents would like improved but few seem to have addressed.
One is unsafe, substandard and hazardous pedestrian intersection ramp condition at intersections and crosswalks. The other is the loss of significant resident parking due to constant “temporary construction” of one sort or another and lack of government attention and repairs.

Sidewalk pedestrian ramp conditions
Throughout our community at sidewalk intersection ramps poorly designed, unsafe physical conditions, and steep ramp angles create conditions for large water “ponding” to form (think ice skating in winter).
This both blocks passage in warm weather rain and creates slipping conditions after practically every cold rain event. The “ponding” condition is worsened by the placement of Citi Bike stations that block drainage along street curbs.

Worse yet, the steep pedestrian ramp angles lack adequate level and safe sidewalk refuge areas (particularly all along the 1st Ave. west sidewalk area – 15th to 22nd St.), and tripping hazards at pavement and curb intersection.
Even in dry weather the most able of us have to be aware of these and other obstacles like phone/billboard obstructions, newspaper stanchions, and other street furniture that block and impede the 13 access nodes/locations surrounding our community.

Fourteen intersection improvements for 25,000+ people shouldn’t be too difficult for our electeds. Here’s the list if they need: 14th St. at Ave. A, B and C; 1st Ave. at 14th, 16th, 18th, 20th and 23rd St.; 20th St. at Ave. A, B and C, and Ave. C at 23rd, 18th and 16th St.
The fact is these pedestrian street crossing ramps do not assure disabled and aging community residents of a safe crossing let alone meet current engineering design standards (plus substandard federal, state, NYC DOT requirements).

Street crosswalk conditions
Once entering the street crosswalk one is presented with more dangerous crossing conditions; don’t even think of tripping here. The worst conditions exist at 1st Ave. at 14th and 20th Streets. Here it’s due to poor pavement conditions, utility manhole location hazards, the abrupt change in crosswalk elevations (urban hill and dale tripping hazards) and constant construction (destroying just finished improvements).
These conditions are of course beyond the usual post winter pothole repairs.

Bus stop construction
The forever bus stop construction project (over a year in the works) surrounding the busiest transit intersection at 14th St. and 1st. Ave has created more pedestrian safety issues and obstacles and further loss of resident parking.This particular project begins along 14th Street (in front of our closest and one of busiest MTA community bus stops) and extends along First Ave to 16th Street.
So if you need to transfer from a 14th St. bus to 1st Ave. bus or from 14th St. “L” train stop, just hike on over to 16th Street. It’s comical if not a pathetic situation.

Neighborhood parking search
Apparently, pedestrian walking hazards and residents driving in circles after work (yes there are jobs that are not near public transit or require private vehicles) in search for a parking space have escaped the attention of our local elected officials.
Recently, we have lost significant parking along the entire First Ave. Loop road and created pedestrian obstacles with little or no mitigation. We have lost almost 200 parking spaces all 14th and 15th Street due to Con Ed. They said this was a terrorist hazard but only at this power pant.

If you live in a public housing residence on 14th Street there is a good chance private, onsite parking is available for about $100 a month. Better yet for free on the non-terrorist side of the 14th Street power plant.

Some possible solutions
So here’s what our elected officials can do to get to work to help everyday conditions for all our residents:
1. Improve all 14 intersections surrounding our community free of “ponding” and designed to meet NYC/S and federal pedestrian design standards.

2. Identify and create permanent and robust intersection crosswalks at major crossings in our community. Once completed, no major deconstruction work is allowed unless in extreme emergencies. This can be accomplished by building adequately sized utility access conduits (mini-tunnels) for future needs under these crosswalks.
This would require an inter-department and public /private property coordination to establish future design and construction requirements and standards for access. Just think what we did in Times Square – we can do this here. Let’s start with 1st Ave. at 14th and 20th Street as a pilot.

3. Relocate all Citi Bike on street parking to city owned islands and wide sidewalk areas surrounding our community. That effort alone would regain about 30 to 40 permanent parking space for our community and improve drainage and intersection “ponding.” There are plenty of examples of this suggestion all around our community and city. (Hint, photos examples sent to our local officials).

4. Redesign and reopen hundreds of safe parking spaces along 14th and 15th Streets and still keep us safe from terrorists. An added benefit is pedestrian safety adjacent to our schools, parks, churches, and synagogues will be significantly improved and vehicular traffic reduced. Why? Because vehicles to and from the FDR Drive will have access to highway ramps that have been closed.

5. Contact our local electeds and Community Board 6 officers (some even live in our community) to act on your behalf to improve a few everyday community safety conditions.

William Oddo is a Stuyvesant Town resident and founder of Stuyvesant Town Quiet Oval.

Gashouse Gang honors Stuy Town with name

One of the Peter Stuyvesant Little League’s junior teams has chosen its name based on where the majority of its players are from. See story on Page 5. (Photo by Tomoe Mattiello)

One of the Peter Stuyvesant Little League’s junior teams has chosen its name based on where the majority of its players are from. (Photo by Tomoe Mattiello)

Whenever one of the Peter Stuyvesant Little League teams is asked to choose a name the usual inclination is to immediately choose Yankees or Mets before another team has a chance. This year one of the juniors teams wanted something different. With most of the players born and raised in Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town and with their little league years coming to a close, it was decided they wanted a name which would pay homage to their place of origin.

“Keith Kelly actually came up with the name,” stated Gashouse Gang Manager Tim McCann.“Keith is our resident historian and was aware of the properties’ history before these now iconic buildings were built to supply affordable housing for the returning G.I.s of World War Two.”

Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village was long known as the Gas House District as early as 1842. After the first gas tank was constructed, huge gas holding tanks soon followed and unfortunately occasionally leaked, making the area an undesirable place to live. To make matters worse, crime was high and it also just happened to be the home base of the Gashouse Gang, which committed a reported 30 holdups every night on East 20th Street alone around the turn of the century.

“I’m not quite sure if the team was aware of the notoriety of Gashouse Gang and the gang’s history but either way, the team is aptly named,” said McCann.

 

CWCapital: Stuy Town’s First Avenue Loop is being closed to make repairs beneath the road

CWCapital says the current closure of the First Avenue Loop wasn't planned as part of the management office construction. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

CWCapital says the current closure of the First Avenue Loop wasn’t planned as part of the management office construction. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot
Following the announcement on Thursday that the First Avenue Loop would be closed to traffic and parking for 4-6 weeks, starting Monday, nearby residents have been left wondering why there was barely any notice and of course, where they were supposed to park in the meantime.
Since last week, Council Member Dan Garodnick said his office has been on the receiving end of many complaints, in particular due to the minimal information offered in official notices that had been posted along the Loop Road.
“I have asked for a complete explanation for the community about the need for the project and why it was not disclosed earlier and for ways they can try and limit the time and the inconvenience,” he said on Monday morning.
He added that for some residents, the closure is “beyond an inconvenience. It really is a necessity for disabled parkers, for school bus pickups and for Access-A-Ride.” The lack of information, added Garodnick, “is extremely disrespectful to people who rely on it.”
The initial notice, which was also announced via an email from the ST-PCV Tenants Association, only explained that the closure was due to necessary work related to an electrical upgrade.
But by this afternoon, more details about the project were made available online by CWCapital.
In the notice, CWCapital said that the work is to replace and repair aged infrastructure and damaged power lines that run directly beneath the road. Though not currently used to power any buildings, they “will be necessary to provide adequate power to the new management office.”
As for why the work had to be done immediately, CW said the work was not planned as part of the construction of the management office, but deemed imminent after the special servicer consulted with Con Ed and other experts.
“We did not expect these power lines to be as badly damaged as they were,” CW said. “We worked closely with Con Ed and our engineers to identify alternate, less disruptive ways to address the issue. Ultimately, all the experts agree that this is the best and safest option.”
Meanwhile, until the work is completed, any drivers that attempt to park on the First Avenue Loop can expect to have their cars towed, management warned. The only exceptions for vehicles even being allowed in is for emergency vehicles, Access-A-Ride and “small school buses.” Large buses “may not be able to access the Loop Road during this work.” While the work is ongoing, public safety officers will be on the scene. The road will be closed from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
One resident strolling by at 2:45 p.m. on Monday overheard an officer at the scene saying that cars could come in for dropoffs, but no through traffic or parking was allowed. At that time, there were four officers manning the First Avenue Loop entrance at 18th Street, who, he said, looked like police, not public safety officers.
In response to the new information, Garodnick said he would like to know, if the roads are only going to be closed during the day, why at least disabled residents  can’t park their cars overnight.
(We’ll update this post if we get a response from management on this one.)
Residents with questions have been directed by CWCapital to call (212) 253-3653 or email projectmgmt@pcvst.com.