Community celebrates National Night Out

Genesis Parra gets behind the wheel of a police car at the 13th Precinct’s National Night Out Against Crime event on Tuesday. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Genesis Parra gets behind the wheel of a police car at the 13th Precinct’s National Night Out Against Crime event on Tuesday. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

National Night Out Against Crime, an annual event aimed at growing relationships between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve, took place on Tuesday night.

The event organized by the 13th Precinct and the precinct’s Community Council, went off without a hitch at the M.S. 104 Playground, despite some blustery wind and clouds that looked to be threatening rain. Fortunately, after two weeks of scorching heat and rain, many attendees from the neighborhood commented that they enjoyed the rare breeze. Families from the surrounding neighborhoods mingled with the local cops and business owners who had booths at the event while chowing down on chicken and rice from the Halal Guys, as well as burgers and dogs cooked up on the grill by officers from the precinct.

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Garodnick: East Side Coastal Resiliency plans could leave Watersiders stranded

Councilman Dan Garodnick and Waterside Tenants Association President Janet Handal are concerned about a potential lack of vehicle access to Waterside Plaza in the event of an emergency. (Photo courtesy of Waterside Plaza)

Councilman Dan Garodnick and Waterside Tenants Association President Janet Handal are concerned about a potential lack of vehicle access to Waterside Plaza in the event of an emergency. (Photo courtesy of Waterside Plaza)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Councilmember Dan Garodnick said he’s concerned that plans for the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project, which is aimed at protecting the East Side in the event of a disaster, will block vehicle access to Waterside Plaza.

He mentioned this in testimony he gave on the draft scope of work for the environmental impact statement that will be done for the ESCR Project, on Monday.

Each alternative design for the ESCR has a set of barriers that would block the northbound FDR Drive service road at 23rd Street when deployed in the event of a flood. Garodnick pointed out that the barriers would then be blocking the only point of vehicle access to Waterside Plaza, which would block access for emergency vehicles, buses and trucks to the complex.

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Tenants pack legal clinic

Council Member Dan Garodnick speaks to tenants at the legal clinic on nonrenewal notices and succession rights last Wednesday, as Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg listens. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Council Member Dan Garodnick speaks to tenants at the legal clinic on nonrenewal notices and succession rights last Wednesday, as Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg listens. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Over 250 people showed up last Wednesday to a legal clinic held by the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association, to have their questions answered about the recent round of golub notices and to learn about apartment succession rights. Aki Younge, a paralegal working on the community development project in the housing practice area for the Urban Justice Center, offered general information about the two complicated legal topics while four lawyers from the UJC were available for individual appointments to meet with tenants about their specific concerns.

The meeting, held in the auditorium at Simon Baruch Middle School, started at 6 p.m. and TA President Susan Steinberg said that they ended up having to schedule the appointments right at the beginning of the meeting because about 30 people had requested a slot with a lawyer.

“There are only four lawyers so we needed to have them meeting with people to whole time to get all of the appointments in,” she said. “Thirty was way more than we expected. We thought it would only be a handful of people but clearly we have hit a nerve.”

Councilmember Dan Garodnick, who was also in attendance, recalled that this kind of meeting was a much more common occurrence during the days of Tishman Speyer.

“We had a lot of these meetings in those days when Tishman Speyer was using aggressive acts, trying to find ways to get people out,” he said. “We’ve had years of calm but (CWCapital) has said that they felt they had let the question lapse, but they have also said that this is a one-time push on the issue, when you’ll see this level of notices.”

Despite the frequency of building owners using specific legal issues against tenants, Younge explained that the rules are not intended to be malicious.

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Why NY needs the Export-Import Bank

By Congress Member Carolyn Maloney and Council Member Dan Garodnick

In the last eight years, nearly 350 exporters, including 200 small businesses in New York have created or sustained jobs by exporting $11 billion worth of their products with the assistance of the Export-Import Bank. The bank is a little-known but important part of our country’s efforts to help businesses sell everything from peanut butter to airplanes abroad.

Even though the bank is operating at no cost to taxpayers and provided a $1 billion profit in 2013 alone, for a second year in a row Congress is threatening to shut it down. And as the clock ticks, New Yorkers’ jobs are hanging in the balance.

In April, the New York City Council Committee on Economic Development held a hearing to examine what would happen if Congress failed to extend the bank. The findings were alarming. The bank has created an estimated $4 billion in export value for New York City alone — and we know that every $1 billion in new exports creates nearly 5,000 new jobs. Nationwide, the bank created or sustained more than 164,000 jobs last year.

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Investing in Stuyvesant Cove Park and planning for the community

Four members of the John Colianni Quintet at a previous concert at the Cove (Photo courtesy of Stuyvesant Cove Park Association)

Four members of the John Colianni Quintet at a previous concert at the Cove (Photo courtesy of Stuyvesant Cove Park Association)

By Jo-Ann Polise

The Stuyvesant Cove Park Association is stepping up again this year to help improve conditions at Stuyvesant Cove and to lure area residents to the river with a series of free outdoor concerts.

The concerts are offered free of charge to all and include a variety of styles including swing, jazz, blues and bluegrass as well as an evening of traditional Irish music and dance.

Plans for the annual series begin in March and among this year’s musicians are several past performers including John Colianni, the Rutkowski Family Trio, Sean Mahony and David Hershey-Webb. New to the roster are Jason Green and The Labor of Love, New Harvest and Niall O’Leary and friends.

I serve on the board of The SCPA and am the coordinator for the annual concert series. I met Jason Green when I went to hear another artist perform at an East Village restaurant. I spoke to the guitarist during the break and Jason Green and The Labor of Love will be opening the concert series later this month. In a similar fashion, fiddle player Clarence Ferrari was part of a group that performed last year and will be performing country and bluegrass with New Harvest in July.

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New lighting planned for Kips Bay around homeless shelter

Council Members Dan Garodnick and Rosie Mendez outside the 30th Street men’s shelter Photo by David Kimball-Stanley)

Council Members Dan Garodnick and Rosie Mendez outside the 30th Street men’s shelter (Photo by David Kimball-Stanley)

By Sabina Mollot

City Council Members and Dan Garodnick and Rosie Mendez are hoping to shed a little light on the subject of resident safety in Kips Bay.

The plan is to have new lighting installed on the streets around the Bellevue shelter on East 30th Street and First Avenue. Additional lighting is also planned for a nearby playground, Bellevue South and possibly other playgrounds.

The project is in response to concerns by neighbors of the shelter, who, as Town & Village reported last week, feel that the city-run facility’s 850 residents have gotten out of control with aggressive panhandling, loitering, fighting, public urination and sometimes worse.

On a recent evening Garodnick and Mendez took a stroll through the neighborhood along with employees of the Department of Transportation’s lighting division to see which streets could use more visibility.

Though Garodnick said all the exact locations have not yet been determined, the block of the shelter, from 29th to 30th Streets along First Avenue, will be included as will 30th Street between First and Second Avenues. The manager of the residential building located there has said men have used that block as a toilet and the ledge of the adjoining garage wall as a bed.

“We are exploring funding those initiatives as soon as this month in the city budget which we are about to pass,” said Garodnick.

He added that he doesn’t know yet what the project will cost since it hasn’t yet been determined if the lighting will be standard DOT issue or a “less ordinary solution.”

Another safety improvement planned is to cut back any overgrown trees along 30th Street between First and Second Avenues which have been impeding light.

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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Letters to the editor, June 18

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

What happened to Stuy Town recreation?

As a very long-term Stuyvesant Town resident whose three children grew up here it is very sad to see what happened to the Recreation Department. At one point about 4-6 years ago the Recreation Department under Radu Ocnean (who left a number of years ago) had a staff of about 40-50 people. There used to be countless tournaments run by the Recreation Department (soccer, basketball, paddle tennis, table tennis, free throw contest, chess, bocce, etc.). Kids of all ages and adults were looking forward to them every year. None of them exist anymore.

The Recreation Department used to run a Super Bowl Trivia Contest, Oscar Trivia Contest, March Madness picks every year. Hundreds of people attended all these events and looked forward to them every year. None of them exist anymore. Kids looked forward every year to something called Point Tournament. All kids who grew up here participated in it at one point or another. It does not exist anymore. As a parent who could always see a familiar face of a Recreation Department staff in almost every playground starting games with kids, paying attention to make sure rules are followed and engaging with kids and parents alike. It does not happen anymore.

I remember talking to Radu many years ago when the budget was cut down to zero for the Recreation Department and he needed to find ways to procure equipment for the kids/adults for the many sports. He got ZogSports to come and in return for using a couple of courts for a couple of hours a few days a week he got tens of thousands of dollars of equipment in return. I remember that because after one complaint from a person they stopped that great program which ran here for years.

Radu also starting selling Christmas trees which has grown to a cash cow. (I guess they still keep that since it makes a lot of money).

To finish, it is sad because it seems that there are only about 4-5 Recreation staff if that. The Recreation Department staff was always the face of Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village. All residents knew them, grew up with them and parents were more comfortable with their children in the playgrounds because of them. It does not exist anymore.

Jim Altman, ST

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Dinner with a senator

By Former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

Sandersheadshot

Several months ago during one of the late night pauses in the state budget deliberations, I had the occasion to have dinner in Albany with one of the rising stars of the New York State Senate, our own Brad Hoylman.

The meal itself was not all that memorable, although it did consist of my favorite Italian food and it was pretty darn good. But what I remember most about that evening was not the pasta or pastry for dessert but rather the intelligence, humility and the down to earth common sense of the fellow sitting across the table, Senator Brad Hoylman.

Unlike our mayor, Brad arrived pretty close to the scheduled time and without an entourage. But nonetheless he apologized for being just a few minutes late because work in the Senate was running a bit long that evening and he wasn’t exactly sure of the street that our bistro was located on.

I had actually known Brad a little bit prior to his 2012 election to the State Senate. Brad was a vice president of the prestigious New York City Partnership which is a progressive organization of business and civic leaders. I also knew of Brad’s work in local politics from the Lower West Side of Manhattan.

The reviews on Brad had always been good but I never really spent much time with him. We immediately launched into a multi-dimensional conversation involving the need for political reforms, tenant protections, education, health matters and family values. I was so impressed with Brad’s grasp and understanding of a wide range of important topics and his many good ideas about how to make government more accountable to voters and work better.Perhaps because he has only been in the State Senate for three years he has not had time to become jaded. But I suspect that if Brad serves in the Senate for 23 years, he will be the same positive thinking progressive elected official who cares more about good public policy than the personal enrichment either of money or power that some in politics seem to lust after. Brad seems to be cut from a different cloth. A fabric which is made of durable and sterner stuff.

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SCRIE/DRIE tenants could face reductions or elimination of benefits

Pol calls for moratorium on notices to recipients

Council Member Helen Rosenthal  (pictured at an anti-Airbnb rally earlier this year) is calling on the city to issue a moratorium on notices to SCRIE/DRIE tenants, warning them they could lose their benefits.

Council Member Helen Rosenthal at an anti-Airbnb rally earlier this year

By Sabina Mollot

Last week, thousands of tenants enrolled in SCRIE/DRIE rent increase subsidy programs learned that their benefits may end up getting reduced or eliminated altogether. The notification came by way of letters from the Department of Finance to around 5,700 people.

The programs subsidize rent increases that are faced by seniors and disabled people, respectively, who are making under $50,000 and whose rent takes up a third of their incomes.

The benefits however could expire when they attempt to renew them, according to Upper West Side City Council Member Helen Rosenthal who said last week she was approached by numerous concerned tenants who didn’t know what the letters they’d received meant.

Those letters have since been blasted by Rosenthal as being full of “technical jargon” with little detail, and she and a few other Council members have called on the Department of Finance to rescind them and not send any more until January, 2016. A moratorium, she explained, would give tenants time to plan for any changes.

Additionally, “We’re trying to understand what it means as well,” said Rosenthal of herself and her Council colleagues.

When she asked the Department of Finance why they were sent, she said she was told that previously there hadn’t been a mechanism to track whether or not recipients’ incomes were in fact one third of their rent, and now there is.

With many people enrolled in both programs living on fixed incomes, Rosenthal called the potential hikes, which she said on average would be $86, significant.

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