Gas finally back on at Frank’s

Frank’s Trattoria on First Avenue (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Frank’s Trattoria on First Avenue (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Frank’s Trattoria, the First Avenue restaurant and pizzeria that had been operating without gas for eight weeks, finally got it switched back on. The gas came back on last Wednesday afternoon, which meant that once again the owners, the Pino family, were able to make pizza and other foods that couldn’t be prepared efficiently using just electric stoves.

Restaurant manager Marcello Vasquez told Town & Village once the gas came back on at around 2 p.m. word quickly got around and the restaurant got busy again.

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First Avenue restaurant hasn’t had gas in eight weeks (UPDATED)

Frank’s Trattoria on First Avenue (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Frank’s Trattoria on First Avenue (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

UPDATE at 3 p.m.: According to the manager, the gas was turned on at 1 p.m. today and pizza is once again available.

By Sabina Mollot

At a pizzeria and restaurant across from Peter Cooper Village, a gas shutdown is responsible for taking the business’s bread and butter for the past eight weeks.

That’s when the gas was shut off at Frank’s Trattoria by Con Ed, and since then the First Avenue business has been able to cook some of its dishes after bringing in four electric stoves, although pizza still can’t be prepared there. A manager, Marcello Vasquez, told Town & Village pizza accounted for close to half of Frank’s business. As for the other meal options, the restaurant’s lost business there too because it takes longer to cook with the electric stoves and customers aren’t always willing to wait, Vazquez explained.

He added that the problem started when a building on the corner of East 21st Street had a gas leak on December 18, leaving the restaurant, between East 21st and 22nd Streets, with inadequate gas to cook with. The owners called Con Ed who said the leak was coming from Frank’s and said the restaurant needed a new meter. The gas was then shut off.

But Vazquez now believes it was a mistake to call Con Ed instead of first calling a plumber. The restaurant did later have a plumber come and replace the pipes. The employee said on Friday he was since told that the gas could come back on Monday or Tuesday. “But,” he added, “we already have seven weeks. This is crazy.”

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Three PCV buildings lose power, since restored, due to smoke condition in wiring

(Photo via Wikipedia)

(Photo via Wikipedia)

By Sabina Mollot

On Friday, an electrical short in some underground wiring caused a power outage in three buildings in Peter Cooper Village.

At around 12:20 a.m. the short caused smoke to start billowing out of two manhole covers located between 2 Peter Cooper Road and 510 East 23rd Street, according to a Facebook post from property management. The buildings 3, 4 and 5 Peter Cooper Road were then left without power and heat.

A resident at 3 Peter Cooper told Town & Village she was told by public safety officers that there was a transformer fire impacting the building. However, a spokesperson for the FDNY couldn’t confirm the presence of fire as opposed to just smoke conditions to T&V.

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Rendering, details announced about new building for R&S Strauss site

Rendering of 644 East 14th Street

Rendering of 644 East 14th Street

By Sabina Mollot

Progress is being made to turn the former R&S Strauss site into a residential building.

Opal Holdings purchased the site of the former auto parts shop – across the street from Stuyvesant Town at 644 East 14th – in July.

The owner has since secured a $52 million first mortgage loan. The announcement was made by Madison Realty Capital, the firm that provided the financing, who also provided some details about the future building.

The plans for 644 East 14th Street include 50 residential units, 8,064 square feet of retail space with 200 feet of frontage on 14th Street and Avenue C, and 21,575 square feet of community facility space. Residential units (it wasn’t clear if they’d be co-ops, condos or rentals) will offer contemporary finishes and large balconies with East River views.

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East River flood protection plan extended to 25th St.

Meeting attendees in 2015 look at a model of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village with a planned elevated park at the waterfront. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Meeting attendees in 2015 look at a model of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village with a planned elevated park at the waterfront. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The plan to provide flood protection to the community along the East River has shifted design elements from East 23rd Street to 25th Street due to complications with the intersection in the original plan. The Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency announced the changes to the East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) plan in a task force meeting with Community Boards 3 and 6 on Tuesday night.

Representatives from the Office of Recovery and Resiliency as well as the urban design team working on the project have spoken at community meetings previously about the plan, the goal of which is to provide flood protection from Montgomery Street to East 23rd Street, incorporating floodwalls and an elevated park.

Carrie Grassi, Deputy Director for Planning at the Office of Recovery and Resiliency, said that the “tieback” was moved to East 25th Street because East 23rd Street is a technically difficult area.

“We’re trying to come up with an alternative that doesn’t make that intersection worse,” she said.

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PSLL wins 3 championship titles

The 12-year-old majors division team members celebrate their championship. (Photo by Jeff Ourvan)

The 12-year-old majors division team members celebrate their championship. (Photos by Jeff Ourvan)

In an unprecedented streak of Little League World Series tournament victories, the local Peter Stuyvesant Little League (PSLL) recently brought home three Manhattan and New York City championship banners. The wins included, for the first time in PSLL’s history, a New York City championship, simultaneous Manhattan championships for the 11 and 12-year-old and 9 and 10-year-old baseball squads, and the second consecutive year in which the PSLL 9 and 10-year-old tournament team secured the Manhattan championship.

“Thanks to some very talented and dedicated players, these players’ parents, and improved coaching opportunities in PSLL, we’ve started to produce winning teams over the past three to four years,” said Jeff Ourvan, the PSLL president.

Ourvan added that winter clinics the players got to participate in the Courts at Stuy Town were “a particularly huge boost,” as was Con Edison’s support of the league’s field requests through the spring and summer.

“It really takes a large community effort to support so many kids in this way,” Ourvan said, “and we’re so grateful we can respond to that support with what’s now becoming a winning tradition.”

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Criminals posing as Con Edison workers to get into people’s homes

Feb25 Con Ed

Con Ed plant (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

 

Following an incident in which a man robbed an elderly woman at knifepoint in Coney Island by pretending to be an employee of Con Edison, the utility has issued a warning to New Yorkers to be wary of anyone claiming to be from the company and needing access to their apartments.

The Brooklyn robbery also followed other similar crimes, Allan Drury, a spokesperson for Con Ed said, noting that scammers have used the company’s name those times too.

Last Monday, a pair of thugs claiming to be from Con Ed got into a woman’s home before sexually assaulting her while her daughter was in the house, Pix11 reported. The 26-year-old victim was tied to a table and sexually assaulted.

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Letters to the Editor, Jan. 21

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Con Ed blocking Ave. C parking spots

Dear T&V,

I have a complaint about a parking situation currently happening on East 16th Street just south of Avenue C. This street is located between two properties belonging to Con Edison. The block has public parking spaces for about 15 cars as regulated by D.O.T. signage.

For the last couple of weeks, Con Ed has been placing cones in the street prohibiting people from parking there. (Except perhaps their own employees or contractors.) They even employ an outside agency of some sort to have someone stand there and tell people they can’t park there. There are no work order notices or temporary suspension indication on the street parking signs. There is no digging or other signs of work taking place. They have parked a large generator on the street for some time and they recently added a second one.

Recently I sought parking there around 5:45 p.m. and the street was empty. The cones were out and I was told there was no parking allowed. Forty-five minutes later, still looking for a spot, I found several passenger cars parked there with cones placed on top. They were okay to park there, I guess? Friends of Con Ed?

I am a resident of Stuyvesant Town who uses a car for work each day. Parking is difficult enough without Con Ed taking over a public thoroughfare without any apparent permits to do so. Is Con Ed just doing as they please because they can? Have they secured the proper authority to take over public parking? Why are there no postings of temporary work permits? Do they intend to “take over” this space permanently and further diminish the availability of street parking? This would lead to a host of other quality of life issues.

Thank you for your assistance in looking into this matter.

Name withheld, ST

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2015: A look back

A coyote (not the one pictured) was spotted in Stuyvesant Town in January.

A coyote (not the one pictured) was spotted in Stuyvesant Town in January.

By Sabina Mollot

Capped with yet another sale of Stuyvesant Town — this time with the highest price tag ever at $5.45 billion — 2015 was certainly an eventful year for the community.

Town & Village has taken a look back to find the top ten local events of the year.

1. The highly anticipated sale of course was a big one, with the deal being cheered as part of Mayor de Blasio’s campaign platform promise to preserve or build 200,000 units of affordable housing. The sale to new owners The Blackstone Group came as welcome news to many tenants due to its representatives’ willingness to listen to tenant concerns as well as a commitment to preserve 5,000 units of affordable housing. While for others — specifically, tenants in the other 6,200-plus units, the deal simply maintains the status quo of stabilized status with market rate tents. Blackstone has promised additional announcements early in the New Year, which hopefully will include a decision, made in cooperation with the city, of how people can get a lease to the affordable units as they become available.

2. Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village, while always known as a bird sanctuary and a habitat for the world’s most well-fed squirrels, also managed to attract the attention of a coyote. The young female coyote, named Stella by Parks reps who rescued her, had been found wandering around the Avenue C side of the property near the Con Ed plant. She was captured by police officers, and then later released by the Parks department into a wooded area in the Bronx.

A Parks official T&V interviewed about the incident said that coyote sightings in the city are becoming more common, and she expected that this trend would only continue. Just a couple of weeks prior to the Stuy Town sighting, another coyote was found in Riverside Park, and in 2011, another coyote had wandered into Tribeca.

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Police Watch: NYU student groped in ST, Con Ed contractor busted for ‘theft’

NYU STUDENT GROPED IN STUY TOWN APT.
NYU’s Washington Square news reported that a student was groped last week in a Stuy Town apartment.
The student reported last Thursday that she was forcibly fondled by another NYU student in the apartment and police notification was offered but declined.

CON ED CONTRACTOR ARRESTED FOR ‘THEFT’ AT OFFICE
Police arrested 51-year-old Silvestre Reynoso inside the Con Edison offices at 4 Irving Place last Thursday at 11:35 a.m. for grand larceny and possession of stolen property. Police said that Reynoso was an employee at the office as an IT tech and he allegedly stole two brand new laptops belonging to Con Edison on November 10. Police said that he did not have permission to take the laptops and he allegedly sold them via Craigslist.
A representative for Con Edison said that Reynoso was an outside contractor that was hired to work in information resources for the utility and was not an employee of Con Edison.

ARREST FOR ‘FAILED’ INSPECTION AT CLUB RIFF RAFF
Police arrested 31-year-old Habte Charles Rostant Demis for an unclassified violation of New York State laws inside Club Riff Raff at 360 Park Avenue South last Sunday at 2:21 a.m. Police said that while conducting an inspection at the club, Demis was unable to produce a public assembly permit.

VENDORS COLLARED FOR COUNTERFEIT LABELS
Police arrested two people last Tuesday for forgery. Mohammed Hossain, 45, was arrested in front of 1177 Broadway at 1:30 p.m. and 40-year-old Borukhay Maksumov was arrested in front of 28 East 23rd Street at 3:30 p.m. Police said that Hossain displayed and offered for sale a wallet for ten dollars that was deemed counterfeit. Maksumov was allegedly offering for sale counterfeit bracelets that bore a trademark for Cartier. A representative from the company confirmed that the bracelets were counterfeit.

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Letters to the Editor, Oct. 22

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Sick of Ave. C looking like Swiss cheese

A reader sent this letter to Town & Village last Tuesday about traffic problems during ongoing work along Avenue C. A response from the DOT and Con Ed follows.

Avenue C has been torn up for over three weeks, between at least 20th Street and 14th Street. I assume this is done by the DOT but I’m not certain of it.

In any case how can any responsible agency be permitted to tear up a major access road (this stretch serves as both means of entry and exit for the East River Drive) and leave it in the condition of a veritable mine field? It’s beyond reason. Traffic is slowed to a crawl and vehicles are swerving left and right to avoid major pot holes, exposed sewer covers and gas vents. (On what had been a level street to begin with, I traverse the area daily and there were no issues with this street.) Vehicle and pedestrian safety are severely compromised.

One evening last week, Con Edison employed the use of traffic cones and security guards on both 16th and 14th Streets to secure parking for their employees on the Stuyvesant Town perimeter. I believe this was done due to the congestion caused by no parking on Avenue C. Is this legal? And to top it off, that same night DOT (?) was tearing up the intersection at 14th Street and First Avenue.

What’s going on here? Why is our neighborhood being taxed so severely by poorly coordinated city services and an out of control power company? If street work is necessary, fine. Tear it up as needed but don’t leave it in this condition for weeks (months?) at a time.

Demolition/tear-up should not be permitted unless the repairs are to be made immediately. Is this so contractors can start as many jobs as possible and then get back to them when they see fit? Who is responsible for this? The public is not being well served.

Name withheld, ST

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Area residents wary of planned ferry landing

Meeting attendees look at a model of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village with a planned elevated park at the waterfront. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Meeting attendees look at a model of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village with a planned elevated park at the waterfront. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Community residents got the opportunity to interact with 3D models showing possibilities for flood protection and access to the waterfront on the East Side at the most recent workshop for the East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) project last Thursday evening. This meeting was the third in a round of public workshops, held at Washington Irving High School, discussing different options for the area along the East River from East 14th to 23rd Streets in terms of protecting the neighborhood from future storm surges and future Hurricane Sandys.

Since the first public workshop was held in March, the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency along with the urban design team working on the project have narrowed the design ideas down into a combination of an elevated park that integrates static floodwalls and deployable features. The break in the elevated park, known as a berm or levee, at East 20th Street is partially to accommodate a ferry landing that the Environmental Development Cooperation is considering developing there. Representatives from the city and the urban designers working on the project said they could not answer specific questions on the ferry landing itself since that project is not under the purview of the ESCR, but some residents at the meeting expressed concern about what the increased foot traffic would mean for the neighborhood.

“We want to see certain lovely things stay but newer, shinier and busier isn’t always better,” Stuyvesant Town resident Laura Koestler said. “Right now it’s small potatoes but it can become commercialized. With the possibility of a ferry over there, I just picture what the insane crowds have become at the Williamsburg Flea.”

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East 13th St. tenants accusing landlord of harassment

Residents demonstrated outside their building last Thursday to protest aggressive buyout tactics and other ways they say the landlord is harassing them. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Residents demonstrated outside their building last Thursday to protest aggressive buyout tactics and other ways they say the landlord is harassing them. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Residents at 444 East 13th Street have been without cooking gas and hot water for over a month, but, as the rent-stabilized tenants in the building said during a protest on Thursday, that’s not their only concern.

The problems with their gas, they said, are just one of many that tenants see as harassment aimed at driving them out of their long-time homes.

Stephanie Rudolph, an attorney with the Urban Justice Center, represents the tenants and filed a lawsuit on their behalf last Friday, also requesting – and getting — an injunction, which prohibits any contact by the owners.

There are currently nine apartments in the building that are occupied out of 15 and Raphael Toledano, who bought the building at the beginning of this year, has been using relocation specialists who’ve been offering tenants buyouts from $30,000 to $60,000.

Rudolph had also previously sent the management company a cease and desist order on May 15, telling them to stop contacting tenants about surrendering their apartments and she said that not long after, tenants were showered with gifts from the management company with an apology about the lack of gas in the building.

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Ideas for waterfront by Stuy Cove include cafes, elevated park

Area residents listen to a discussion about potential use of the waterfront at a meeting at Washington Irving High School. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Area residents listen to a discussion about potential use of the waterfront at a meeting at Washington Irving High School. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The coastal resiliency project backed by the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency has announced new possible plans for the waterfront by Stuyvesant Cove Park, with ideas including cafes or an elevated park.

The Tuesday evening workshop held at Washington Irving High School was more interactive than the previous gathering, which was mainly a presentation from ORR director Dan Zarilli and Jeremy Siegel, a project designer with the consultant team of Big U and director of Rebuild by Design.

Rebuild by Design was launched by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and held a competition for resiliency ideas, which resulted in the Big U project to protect the coastline known as the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project.

ORR senior policy advisor Carrie Grassi said this week that there was a short gap between the end of the contest and the beginning of the design process, but the project is now gaining more momentum.

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DSNY insists alternative sanit. garage sites won’t work

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

At a meeting last Wednesday, reps from the Sanitation Department and the Economic Development Corporation addressed residents to who live near the proposed sanitation garage, to explain their rejections, at a previous meeting, of ideas from Community Board 6 for alternative sites.

The meeting was held by the Community Board 6 Land Use and Waterfront Committee.

In attendance was DSNY architect Mike Friedlander, who reiterated a position made before by the city that both alternatives to the Brookdale campus that had been suggested by CB6 were not feasible for both financial and physical reasons. The first alternative offered by CB6 suggests using land that is currently owned and occupied by Con Edison.

Friedlander said that DSNY has been able to discuss the plan with the utility, and found that Con Edison has no intention to sell the property at this time. He added, as he noted in a previous meeting, that even if Con Edison were willing to vacate the land, it would not automatically go to DSNY.

“There’s no funding for the acquisition of property,” Friedlander said.

As for making the garage underground at the Brookdale site, the second alternative suggestion from CB6, Friedlander said that it would be a prohibitively expensive plan.

“We would basically have to build a bathtub, built down 50 feet or so, and with a high water table in the area, that would cost a lot of money,” he said.

Money has always been a key part of the plan as it’s been proposed by Sanitation, as another representative, Andres De Leon, said at the most recent meeting. De Leon noted that the reason the plan stalled to begin with was because of financial difficulties when the economy crashed in 2008, which prevented the garage from being rebuilt in the original location.

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