Kips Bay dog run opens unofficially

Pooches play at an unfinished dog run at Bellevue South Park. (Photo by Aaron Humphrey)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Pooch owners in Kips Bay celebrated the opening of a temporary dog run in Bellevue South Park earlier this month after having pushed for the run for years. Neighborhood group KBK9 announced on its Facebook page on December 16 that the temporary run had been opened since the double gate was fully installed that week. The spot for the temporary run is an already fenced-in area adjacent to the basketball courts near the East 26th Street end of the park. Community advocates have been pushing for a fully ADA-compliant dog run in the space and while the temporary version is not accessible, the completed run will be once renovations are finished.

Dog owners using the park on Wednesday morning said they were grateful for the run’s opening, since they don’t want to have to take their dogs too far from home now that winter’s begun. Karen Keavey lives two blocks from Bellevue South and said that the next closest dog run is Madison Square Park, which is at least a 20-minute walk, whereas Bellevue South is a four-minute walk for her and her puggle, Louis.

“This has changed my life,” Keavey said. “It’s good for the park that this has opened up. It brings a different element in.”

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MCIs, noise top tenant concerns at meeting

ST-PCV Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg speaks at Sunday’s meeting. Also pictured: Council Member-elect Keith Powers, Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, Council Member Dan Garodnick and State Senator Brad Hoylman (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

At a Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association meeting that was held on Sunday afternoon, while those in attendance were briefed on numerous issues such as coastal resiliency, the looming L train shutdown and Beth Israel developments, it was the ongoing issues of noise from construction as well as major capital improvements (MCI) that residents seemed most concerned about.

At the meeting, held at the auditorium of Simon Baruch Middle School, Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg spoke about recent MCIs for exterior restoration work, hot water heaters and video intercoms in Peter Cooper Village.

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DEC: Contaminant recovery wells won’t be intrusive

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New York State Department of Conservation project managers Gardiner Cross and Doug MacNeal at a public meeting last Wednesday (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel 

With a contaminant recovery plan having been proposed for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, representatives from the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) addressed concerns of residents last week at a public meeting.

This included making assurances that wells the DEC and Con Edison plan to build in ST/PCV to collect the leftover chemicals so they can be disposed of wouldn’t be intrusive. Con Ed has been working with DEC on what’s been referred to as a “remediation” for the site, which was once home to a manufactured gas plant (MGP).

The DEC had actually directed Con Edison to begin remediation for this project back in 2011. However, DEC project manager Doug MacNeal said during the meeting that the process was delayed for the last five years because of the changes in ownership at ST/PCV.

MacNeal said that exact locations haven’t been determined for the wells yet, but Council Member Dan Garodnick, who was also at the meeting, which held at Beth Israel last Wednesday, said that he would push DEC to site them as far away as possible from doors, windows and playgrounds.

One possible location for the wells, of which there will be 10 in Peter Cooper and six in Stuy Town, would be inside the garages. Meeting attendees burst into laughter when geologist and DEC project manager Gardiner Cross said that this was because the garages already have good ventilation. However, MacNeal backed up his statement, explaining that to be up to code, a garage has to have a functional ventilation system. If it doesn’t, he added, residents should contact DEC.

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Powers and Rivera win big in City Council race

 

Council Member-elect Keith Powers, pictured outside Peter Cooper Village on Tuesday morning with his mother Barbara and Council Member Dan Garodnick (Photo courtesy of Dan Garodnick)

Council Member-elect Carlina Rivera (center) with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer on Tuesday (Photo courtesy of Gale Brewer)

By Sabina Mollot

After a citywide general election that proved to be hotly contested in local City Council races but somewhat lackluster in the mayoral department, the results were in on Tuesday night, with all sought after positions remaining solidly Democrat.

Based on unofficial results provided by the New York City Board of Elections, Keith Powers and Carlina Rivera will be the next City Council members, replacing the term-limited Dan Garodnick and Rosie Mendez, respectively.

Democrat Rivera won with wide margins in District 2, receiving 82.86 percent of the vote. Republican and Rent is 2 Damn High Party’s Jimmy McMillan got 11.58 percent of the vote. Liberal Party’s Jasmin Sanchez got 2.02 percent. Libertarian Party’s Don Garrity got 1.73 percent. Green Party’s Manny Cavaco got 1.56 percent. There were also 59 write-ins (0.26 percent) out of 23,047 people voting in the race.

Democrat Powers also won easily with 57.09 percent of the vote in District 4. Republican Rebecca Harary came in second with 30.75 percent. The tally also includes votes for the candidate through the other lines she ran on, Women’s Equality, Reform and Stop de Blasio. Liberal Party’s Rachel Honig got 12.06 percent. There were also 26 write-ins (0.1 percent) out of 27,511 people voting.

Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, as was widely predicted, got Daniel Squadron’s abandoned downtown Senate seat, receiving 84.86 percent of the vote. Republican candidate Analicia Alexander got 14.68 percent. This means Kavanagh’s District 74 Assembly seat, which includes Stuyvesant Town and Waterside, is now vacant. A few local Democrats have already expressed interest.

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Renovation work stops in four PCV apartments due to lack of permits

Peter Cooper Village

By Sabina Mollot

This week, the city issued stop work orders on four apartments in Peter Cooper Village that had been undergoing renovations, due to a lack of permits. The four units were among the 115 apartments in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village that are being reconfigured to add an additional bedroom in each, and management is currently in the process of applying for the permits for the work.

The Department of Buildings issued the stop work orders after inspecting the apartments on Friday morning, the ST-PCV Tenants Association said. In five apartments, they found three violations in each, all related to work without a permit. Stop work orders were issued on only four, though, since management was able to immediately get a permit for one of the units.

Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg said it was the TA who tipped off the city to the problem as well as alerting management, who had been unaware of the lack of permits. The TA was initially only looking into the situation after hearing from several tenants in neighboring apartments to the ones being renovated, who were complaining about noise, vibrations and even walls cracking. While management has been responsive to requests for repairs that Steinberg’s aware of, a few eagle-eyed residents also noticed that permits weren’t posted in buildings.

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Stuy Town Citi Bike users frustrated by empty racks

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An empty Citi Bike rack on East 20th Street on Tuesday morning (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

 

By Sabina Mollot

Last week, the Department of Transportation announced that bike ridership in New York City had reached a record high. This spike in cycling is due to, in large part, the arrival of Citi Bike as well as the addition of many new miles of bike lanes during the Mayor Bloomberg administration. However, this news likely didn’t come as a surprise to residents of Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village who, for the past few months, have been finding their Citi Bike racks empty when hoping to ride to work in the mornings.

“They take (the bikes) away at night and they bring them back in the morning but they stop at a certain time,” said Christopher Simonetti, a frustrated Citi Bike member told us recently.

Simonetti, who heads straight for the rack near his Stuyvesant Town building on East 20th Street each morning, said it’s always empty from 9-10:15 a.m.

He’s been calling the bike share service regularly throughout the summer about this issue and has also asked for more racks.

“It’s the forgotten area of Citi Bikes,” he said. “This area is not being serviced.”

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Pols pushing mayor to sign Commercial Rent Tax reform bill

Council Member Dan Garodnick, standing next to the bill’s co-sponsor Council Member Helen Rosenthal (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Monday, Manhattan politicians and small business advocates gathered on the steps of City Hall to push the Commercial Rent Tax reform bill sponsored by Council Members Dan Garodnick and Helen Rosenthal.

This was the third public announcement in recent months about the bill, which so far the mayor hasn’t committed to supporting.

Garodnick said at this point, the Council has had a hearing on the CRT bill and although there’s been no vote yet, 38 of his colleagues have signed on as co-sponsors. Asked why there hasn’t been a vote, Garodnick said Council members usually first want to know if the mayor “will support it rather than veto it.”

Rosenthal later said, “We are optimistic that he will embrace it.”

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Garodnick: Commercial Rent Tax bill would hardly cost city anything

Council Member Dan Garodnick, pictured with Borough President Gale Brewer and local business owners outside Whisk in Flatiron (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

A day after Mayor de Blasio released his executive budget, a handful of local elected officials took the opportunity to push for legislation that would eliminate the Commercial Rent Tax for about 3,400 small business owners in Manhattan.

The bill, which is sponsored by Council Members Dan Garodnick and Helen Rosenthal, was first announced in 2015, and at this point has 35 co-sponsors in the Council.

If passed it would raise the threshold of rent retailers who must pay the tax from those paying $250,000 a year to $500,000 year. The tax, which was first implemented in 1963, only applies to Manhattan businesses between Chambers Street and 96th Street. Garodnick has said raising the rent threshold would help 40 percent of the businesses owners now paying the tax while only costing the city six percent of the revenue the tax brings in, about $4.5 million.

Natasha Amott, the owner of Whisk, a kitchen related goods shop in Flatiron, where the announcement on the bill was made last Thursday, said her CRT costs her $15,000 a year. This is on top of the $315,000 she pays in rent each year and another standard corporate tax.

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See Dan run for mayor… maybe

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Council Member Dan Garodnick (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

For months now, Councilman Dan Garodnick would only say he’s exploring his options when asked what position he’s now fundraising for. But according to a Saturday item in the New York Post, Garodnick is “seriously considering” running for mayor. Citing unnamed sources, the paper said he is “50-50” about running. Garodnick didn’t return our call requesting comment, nor did Waterside Plaza owner/former lieutenant governor Richard Ravitch, who the Post said Garodnick had spoken to about his thoughts about running. In February, Politico also ran a story about how he’d been speaking with donors, consultants and others about possibly throwing his hat in the ring.

It’s been expected that Comptroller Scott Stringer will run for mayor at some point, when and if charges are brought against Mayor Bill de Blasio for his fundraising tactics. Former mayoral candidate Christine Quinn has also been a rumored candidate. However, at this time, de Blasio’s most serious opponent seems to be Republican developer Paul Massey.

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Third round of ‘Roberts’ checks may be on the way

ST buildingsBy Sabina Mollot

Last October, residents of Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village who were represented in the “Roberts v. Tishman Speyer” class action lawsuit saw a second wave of payouts from the initial $68.75 million pool.

Now it’s likely that there will be a third round of checks, according to Michael Liskow, who’s one of the attorneys representing tenants from the firm Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz.

As a condition of the second payout, if there was more than $100,000 left after a deadline for checks to be deposited passed, then there would be another distribution. If there was less than $100,000 left, then the remaining funds would be split among two local nonprofits, the ST-PCV Tenants Association and the Peter Stuyvesant Little League.

The 120-day deadline has already passed for most of the recipients but attorneys won’t know the exact amount that’s left in the pool until around March 15. This is when the deadline will have passed for all eligible class suit members. However, as of this week, there was over $150,000 left, Liskow said.

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Tenants protest landlord lawsuit aimed at undoing rent freeze

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Council Member Dan Garodnick outside the courthouse where arguments were being heard over the Rent Stabilization Association’s lawsuit (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Lawyers for a landlord group were met by an angry crowd of protesters as they arrived in court to argue against a citywide rent freeze Tuesday.

Despite freezing temperatures and snow, the sign-waving group of renters, made up mostly of seniors, led chants that at times called for either a rent freeze or a rollback.

Among their supporters was Council Member Dan Garodnick, who said, “We have seen what happens year after year, even in years when costs went down. Rents only seemed to go in one direction and that was up. As a result, evictions go up. Homelessness goes up. The Rent Guidelines Board acted totally appropriately in making that determination.”

Judge Debra James was hearing arguments from the Rent Stabilization Association, the plaintiff, and those seeking to intervene in the lawsuit, including a coalition of tenant groups, legal service organizations and 18 City Council members.

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‘Jew man’ graffiti seen across from Stuy Town

Council Member Dan Garodnick, who took this photo, said this is the first time he's seen anti-Semitic graffiti in the community.

Council Member Dan Garodnick, who took this photo, said this is the first time he’s seen anti-Semitic graffiti in the community.

By Sabina Mollot

As local elected officials have pointed out, bias crimes are on the rise since the election nationwide.

The community has been seeing its fair share too. Yesterday, Council Member Dan Garodnick snapped a photo of anti-semitic graffiti across from Stuyvesant Town.

“Hate crimes spiking since the election,” Garodnick tweeted on Monday. “This graffiti now appears across from StuyTown & local synagogue (Town and Village). We can’t let this become the new normal.”

Garodnick later said he had never before seen anti-Semitic graffiti in the community. He also said this was the only recent incident he was aware of.

The graffiti, above the Papaya hot dog storefront on First Avenue and 14th Street, depicts the spray painted words “Jew man” accompanied by crude drawings of smiley faces with side locks, which are worn by religious Jewish men. It was spray painted large enough to be easily seen from across the street.

The incident comes three weeks after State Senator Brad Hoylman saw two swastikas scratched into the door of the building where he lives in Greenwich Village.

Additionally, a Muslim Baruch College student was harassed on the train at 23rd Street last weekend by men who were trying to grab her hijab and yelling “Donald Trump” and anti-Muslim slurs, according to a Daily News report.

UPDATE: According to a Stuy Town resident, the graffiti didn’t happen post-election. The tipster told T&V she first spotted the spray-painted sentiment in the middle of October.

Op-Ed: The Election 2016: The fight we had and the battles to come

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Council Member Dan Garodnick, his wife Zoe Segal-Reichlin, and their sons Asher and Devin on the campaign trail

 

By City Council Member Dan Garodnick

Like most New Yorkers, I was extremely disappointed in the outcome of the presidential election. Hillary Clinton won nearly 80 percent of the vote in Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village, and the nationwide popular vote by more than 2 million votes.  Despite this result, she won’t be occupying the Oval Office in January.  

I am further disturbed and outraged by the uptick in hate crimes and bias incidents that have been taking place across the United States and in our own backyard. A swastika was recently carved into a door in the apartment building our own State Senator, Brad Hoylman. Hate crimes against Muslims in New York City have doubled from 2015 to 2016. A terrifying, homophobic death threat was sent to an openly gay colleague of mine, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer of Queens. This is shameful, unacceptable, and not the city I know.

It’s also not the country I saw as I campaigned for Hillary Clinton.

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More ‘Roberts’ money on the way for some Stuy Town residents

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Council Member Dan Garodnick discusses the payouts. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot 

Nearly 2,000 residents of Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village who were part of the “Roberts vs. Tishman Speyer” lawsuit, which proved apartments were illegally deregulated, will soon see another round of checks.

Attorneys on the case said there was about $450,000 left in unclaimed damages from the suit, which in 2013 resulted in a $173 million settlement for tenants ($68.75 million of that amount being cash and the rest in rent reductions).

On Saturday, the checks were discussed by City Council Member Dan Garodnick at a meeting of the ST-PCV Tenants Association.

Garodnick, who’s a resident of Peter Cooper Village, told neighbors that in order to be eligible for the money, the class action suit’s plaintiffs would have had to file as current, not former, tenants, and have received more than the minimum payout, which was $150. They also would have had to deposit their original check.

In this case, “The checks should be coming in the next few weeks,” he said. Residents will then have 120 days to deposit the money. After that, any unclaimed money, if less than $100,000, will be split evenly between two local nonprofits: the ST-PCV Tenants Association and the Peter Stuyvesant Little League.

According to Garodnick, there are 1,973 people who are eligible for the payout, which would make the average check around $228. This time, no one has to file any paperwork to get their damages.

“This was a big tenant win for our community and for the city,” said Garodnick, who was a member of the “Roberts” class action suit. “I am glad that those who were harmed continue to see compensation.”

Lawyers for tenants said there were over 27,000 tenants and former tenants who were awarded damages from former landlords Tishman Speyer and Met Life. The damages were 100 percent of what the tenants overpaid based on calculations from a very complicated settlement formula, minus 30 percent for legal fees and other fees.

800 ST/PCV residents who qualify for SCRIE/DRIE haven’t enrolled

City pushing rent freeze programs on East Side

Last Thursday, Finance Commissioner Jacques Jiha and Council Member Dan Garodnick announced that citywide, eligible seniors and disabled tenants aren’t taking advantage of an available rent freeze, especially in Stuyvesant Town and along the East Side of Manhattan. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

Last Thursday, Finance Commissioner Jacques Jiha and Council Member Dan Garodnick announced that citywide, eligible seniors and disabled tenants aren’t taking advantage of an available rent freeze, especially in Stuyvesant Town and along the East Side of Manhattan. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Last Thursday, the city rolled out what’s it’s calling East Side Rent Freeze Month, a series of events in October aimed at getting eligible New Yorkers signed up for programs that would exempt them from rent hikes, including MCIs (major capital improvements).

The reason for the push was that in Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village alone, 800 eligible tenants have yet to sign up for the programs. According to Jacques Jiha, the city’s finance commissioner, the number of eligible people citywide is 80,000, and many of them are East Siders.

“The East Side of Manhattan has the highest number of eligible participants,” said Jiha, as he stood outside Stuyvesant Town’s Community Center with local elected officials and tenants for a press conference. “During the month we’ll sign up as many eligible seniors and people with disabilities as possible.”

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