Repair of Stuyvesant Square Park’s historic fence to start soon, city says

Money was raised to fix the fence outside of Stuyvesant Square Park in 2012. (Photo by Michael Alcamo)

Money was raised to fix the fence outside of Stuyvesant Square Park in 2012. (Photo by Michael Alcamo)

By Sabina Mollot

It was almost two and half years ago, in June of 2012 when the last $600,000 needed for the restoration of Stuyvesant Square Park’s historic, cast iron fence and the surrounding sidewalk was finally allocated after years of fundraising. The project, which had been pushed by the Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association, eventually had a total price tag of $5.5 million, funded by local elected officials.

But today, work on the fence on the park’s east section, which needs some of its rotted pieces recreated, still hasn’t begun. A separate project to fix the park’s west section fence had been completed earlier. Work to accompany the fence project, such as fixing the damaged bluestone sidewalk, has also still not been done. Yet another long awaited and related project, to install a curb cut or ramp at the park’s eastern gate to allow access to wheelchair users, has also still not happened.

But fortunately for those whose who’ve been following the progress, or rather lack of it, change does finally appear to be on the horizon.

Community Board 6’s Parks Committee has been assured by the Parks Department that work will begin soon. Or rather, that it already has. Mark Thompson, who heads Community Board 6’s Parks Committee, said he’s been told the official start date of the project was October 20. However, he was also warned that this wouldn’t mean shovels would hit the ground on that date although work would begin internally on the project.

As for when the actual repairs will start, there still doesn’t seem to be a set date for that, and one local tree-planting and park activist, Michael Alcamo, has said he’ll believe it when he sees it.

Alcamo, a Stuyvesant Town resident, had spearheaded a letter writing campaign in 2012 that was instrumental in securing the last of the funds for the project from then-Borough President Scott Stringer. Though he conceded some of the blame for the delay on getting started was finding artisans capable of repairing the landmarked fence, which apparently there aren’t too many of, he said he is now concerned the project is no longer even considered a priority by the city. Alcamo referred to the mayor’s recently announced initiative to focus on the needs of parks in outer boroughs, particularly in poorer areas.

“Has the money been allocated to outer boroughs? That would be useful for the community to know,” said Alcamo.

He added that the fence isn’t even his main concern, but the cracked sidewalk is since that could pose a danger to pedestrians, as is the lack of of a wheelchair ramp.

Tree and park activist Michael Alcamo has been pushing the city to install a ramp for disabled park goers at the park’s entrance. (Photo by Michael Alcamo)

Tree and park activist Michael Alcamo has been pushing the city to install a ramp for disabled park goers at the park’s entrance. (Photo by Michael Alcamo)

“In 1990, the Americans With Disabilities Act required that public facilities, including parks, must be accessible to persons with disabilities,” said Alcamo. “The eastern side of Stuyvesant Square Park, which faces Stuyvesant Town, has not been in compliance for 24 years. We have been asking for four years for a curb cut in order to make the park accessible to persons of limited mobility.”

Alcamo, who recently founded an organization called Friends of Stuyvesant Square Park, had hoped to speed up the curb cut installation by asking Community Board 6 to pass a resolution calling for the work to be done, but, he said, the board’s Parks Committee declined. As for why the committee didn’t want to take that step, Thompson told Town & Village he didn’t think a resolution would be necessary since the community board has already had assurances from the Parks Department that the project will begin soon, including the installation of a ramp.

Thompson added that he did understand Alcamo’s concerns since early on the fundraising process, $500,000 of the project’s funds were reallocated to another Parks Department need.

“It shouldn’t have happened, but it did,” said Thompson. Because of this, CB6 has been “politely” nudging the city about the park from time to time. “We’re all concerned,” he said. But he added, “the money is allocated. It is happening.”

A rep for Parks echoed Thompson in saying the city is not redirecting the project’s cash elsewhere.

“No funds have been reallocated from Manhattan to the other boroughs and all the funds allocated for this project are intact,” Philip Abramson, a Parks Department spokesperson told T&V.

The contractor on the project is UA Construction, who was selected after the initially chosen vendor (chosen for being the lowest bidder) ended up not working out. UA Construction was the second lowest bidder. The lowest bidder, Abramson said, “was not successful in going through the pre-qualification process.”

He didn’t respond to a question about why the first company didn’t qualify though he did say that at this time UA Construction is working with the Department of Transportation on getting a permit for a street closure so work can begin.

Rosalee Isaly, the president of the Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association, said she’s had a recent discussion with Parks reps to make sure the dog walkers who come to use the park’s dog run will be able to access it while work is ongoing.

“They’ll be aware of them,” she said of the dog walkers. She added that come springtime, the park’s west side will also get some attention with the installation of an irrigation system. “All that planting that gets done needs water and the watering this past summer was torturous,” she said. “They had to drag in hoses.”

The labor-intensive act of planting should pay off in the spring though. Dozens of volunteers, mainly high school and college students, have been participating in monthly gardening days at the park to plant, paint benches and rake leaves. On a volunteer day in October, around 11,500 bulbs for tulips, daffodils and bluebells were planted.

“It’s really warming,” said Isaly. “I think it’s going to be spectacular spring in the park.”

A DOT spokesperson did not respond to a request from T&V asking about the status of the permit and where the street closures would be exactly.

PCV dog trainer denies competing with Happy Dogs, poaching clients

Peter Cooper resident Blake Rodriguez of DCTK9, with other dog walkers, walks a dog close to home in August. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Peter Cooper resident Blake Rodriguez of DCTK9, with other dog walkers, walks a dog close to home in August. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

In September, new doggie daycare center Happy Dogs, which is located on First Avenue north of 23rd Street, sued a former trainer the company had worked with, accusing Blake Rodriguez, a Peter Cooper resident, of poaching customers and starting a competing business, Dream Come True K9 (DCTK9).

The problem, said Ien and Jennifer Cheng, who own Happy Dogs, was that during the course of their working relationship, Rodriguez said he wanted to open his own rehabilitation center for dogs with behavioral issues. Though they knew this, they became concerned that despite his having signed an agreement not to compete, his center, located a mile and half downtown of Happy Dogs in Manhattan, would do just that by offering overnight boarding as Happy Dogs also does.

The contract called for him not to start a competing business within three miles of of Happy Dogs after the working relationship had ended. Happy Dogs also accused Rodriguez of illegally boarding dogs in his apartment.

A month after the suit was filed, last Thursday, a judge at a city Civil Court heard arguments from both sides and while he didn’t come to any decision, indicated he didn’t think Rodriguez’s dog walking and training company posed much of a threat to Happy Dogs. Noting that DCTK9 is a startup while Happy Dogs has two locations (one in Kips Bay and another in McCarren Park in Brooklyn), Judge Robert Reed said, “It’s like a gnat causing annoyance to an elephant.”

Reed brought up how many dogs there were in the city, saying that just that morning he’d been emailed an ad for a doggie daycare service “and I don’t have a dog.” He added that he wondered why Happy Dogs was so worried about losing clients when “there’s a lot more people with dogs within that three mile radius” of Manhattan.

Happy Dogs owner Jennifer Cheng at the First  Avenue facility in 2013 (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Happy Dogs owner Jennifer Cheng at the First Avenue facility in 2013 (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

In response, attorney Robert Landy, who was representing Happy Dogs, said that while Happy Dogs didn’t consider itself unique, it was trying to keep its clients from being poached by Rodriguez. The lawsuit had stated that the Chengs had seen testimonials on DCTK9’s website from former clients of Happy Dogs. In response to Reed’s earlier comparison of the two businesses, the attorney said that he “wouldn’t consider Happy Dogs a giant elephant,” but agreed that Happy Dogs was a bigger operation. He said the company recently expanded so that there are now 30 employees.

Landy added that Rodriguez and the Chengs had worked on the group training sessions held at Happy Dogs together and as a result Rodriguez got confidential information about the company’s clients and their dogs’ needs. He also said that during a time after the working relationship had ended but when the Chengs and Rodriguez were still trying to renew it, there was a lot of back and forth on what Rodriguez was going to do with his company, with boarding being a murky subject.

Rodriguez’s website, he added, initially described DCTK9 as a one-stop shop for various dog-related services. But DCTK9, in a written response to the lawsuit, had said Rodriguez had been unaware of this at first since he hadn’t been the one to designed his recently revamped website. The website also utilized SEO services aimed at bringing more traffic to the site. This, Rodriguez’s counter-complaint explained, was the reason for the “one-stop shop” wording. In court, Landy said he found that difficult to believe.

“The defendant will say what’s most useful for himself and then back away from it,” said Landy.

Reed, however, said he was concerned that “stopping (Rodriguez) from being able to go off on a new venture, I don’t know if that’s in keeping with public policy.” He also said he thought the two businesses’ neighborhoods’, DCTK9’s on the Lower East Side vs. Happy Dogs near Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper and Gramercy Park were different in the latter ones “have a bit more money.”

In arguing for DCTK9, attorney Aglaia Davis said Rodriguez doesn’t advertise or solicit clients, and when he gets calls, refers the caller to his website to make sure what the person is looking for is training or walking as part of a training program, rather than daycare. “If someone was to say, ‘I don’t want to be with Happy Dogs, anymore. I’m looking for somewhere to drop off my dog and pick it up at 5,” DCTK9 wouldn’t be able to offer the service, she said. “Their businesses are not competing.”

At this point, Reed said he couldn’t even understand why there was a dispute.

Following the arguments, Rodriguez who’d been present at court, said he thought “this whole thing is silly.” He said the only dogs he offers boarding to are the ones participating in his training program or that have used the training program in the past.

“We do make an expectation for dogs we’ve trained,” he said. “It’s not for everybody. It’s not daycare.”

He also denied boarding dogs in his apartment in Peter Cooper Village.

“I have a center. That’s where I live. I have a dog,” he said.

The Chengs weren’t present at the court appearance, and Landy declined to make any further comment. A spokesperson for CW declined to comment on whether or not Rodriguez has boarded dogs at his home.

Letters to the editor, Oct. 23

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Tenants don’t deserve the silent treatment

Last Friday a man tried to rape a young woman in an elevator in Stuyvesant Town. Thankfully, the alleged perpetrator has now been caught.

While the Tenants Association quickly sent out an email informing tenants as to what had happened and urging them to stay alert and be careful, not one word about the incident was heard from CWCapital or Compass Rock. There were no emails from them. No warning flyers were posted in buildings or put under apartment doors. Nothing.

Unfortunately, their disgraceful behavior all too amply demonstrates and reinforces the feeling of many tenants that CWCapital, Andrew MacArthur and Compass Rock show little or no regard for tenants. Management was willing to risk tenants’ safety – maybe even their lives – by saying nothing to them about this crime. Why? To protect their bottom line.

Rather than acknowledging the attack publicly, Management sought to avoid scaring off current or future renters, especially those whose parents foot the bill for them to live here. Protecting management’s bottom line is also the reason that crimes in STPCV are often reported as having occurred in “Gramercy.” Tenants need to demand that the 13th precinct start reporting the location of these crimes accurately. If it doesn’t, it will be viewed by tenants as nothing less than a tool of CWCapital, Andrew MacArthur and CompassRock.

Name withheld, ST

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Letters to the Editor, October 2

Windows present a hazard to visiting birds

Black-throated Green Warbler that collided with a window in Stuyvesant Town

Black-throated Green Warbler that collided with a window in Stuyvesant Town

Today a sizable number of migrating birds visited Stuyvesant Town. Unfortunately, I found a deceased Black-throated Green Warbler. The bird had collided with a glass window.

We are losing billions of birds to glass fatalities. Many of the birds are insectivores and also consume other invertebrates such as ticks. They serve us well by eating vast numbers of mosquitoes and other insects we try to control with toxic pesticides.

Their numbers are declining because of habitat loss, pollution, including pesticides, feral cats, incorrect lighting on cell-phone towers, deforestation and glass collisions.

Is this acceptable? People were looking sadly at the beautiful bird.

We can help by keeping our shades drawn whenever we can and keeping our screens on our windows. If you see a deceased bird you can take a picture and send it to: dbirds@nycaudubon.org. Please include the location.

Thank you,

Anne Lazarus, ST

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Letters to the editor, Sept. 25

Conversion would allow NYU tenants to buy

To the Editor,

A letter in your Sept. 18 edition says conversion of PCVST to condos can serve to end dormitory living here by NYU undergraduates. The opposite could happen. In a conversion, existing leaseholders have the right of first refusal to buy the apartments they are leasing.

If NYU holds leases on the apartments occupied by students, NYU would have the right to buy those apartments in a conversion.  Also, NYU would be able to buy any apartments not purchased by other leaseholders. NYU obviously needs student housing in this area. A conversion could result in an increase in the number of apartments occupied by undergraduate students.

There are efforts to keep, or make, PCVST affordable housing. That’s consistent with having undergraduate students as neighbors. Students need affordable housing. NYU undergraduates will disappear from PCVST when NYU builds more dormitories, or when rents rise to a level where the owner finds it more attractive to rent to someone other than students.

Another letter in the same issue wonders what happened to the concept of converting PCVST to condominiums. The beginning point of a conversion is either a purchase of PCVST by a new owner who will pursue conversion, or a decision by the present owner to do a conversion. If the property isn’t for sale, there can’t be a new owner.  So the basic question is: How likely is it that the existing owner will sell, or convert, the property?

PCVST was built and owned by MetLife as an income producing property, because MetLife wanted a reliable source of income. When MetLife sold the property, the largest source of financing for the buyer was first mortgage bonds purchased by large institutions. They bought those bonds, because they wanted a reliable source of income, and the bonds provided that.

When the owners of the bonds took over ownership of PCVST, they acquired a property that provides the reliable source of income they want. Ownership of PCVST meets their investment objective.

The amount of income the owners can earn from the property is limited by rent stabilization, until the low interest rate J-51 financing on the property matures in June 2020 (or earlier if the J-51 financing is prepaid).  Then apartments can move to market rents as provided by New York law. Thus, in six years the owners will be able to start increasing their rental income.

The owners are large, deep pocket, institutions.  For them, six years is a reasonable wait.

As the total rental income increases, the value of the PCVST will increase. The increase in rental income will occur gradually over a considerable number of years, and the property’s value will continue to rise during those years. At some point, the owners may want to cash out, either by sale or conversion. But right now the property is meeting the owners’ investment objectives, and future of the property is positive. It will be a lot of years before the present owners sell or convert.

Floyd Smith, PCV

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Happy Dogs says former trainer stole clients, started competing business

Trainer also boards dogs illegally in his Peter Cooper Village apt., complaint says

Peter Cooper resident Blake Rodriguez of DCTK9, with other dog walkers, walks a dog close to home in August. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Peter Cooper resident Blake Rodriguez of DCTK9, with other dog walkers, walks a dog close to home in August. Happy Dogs’ owners say he boards dogs in his apartment. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

At Happy Dogs Stuyvesant Town, a dog daycare, bath and boarding business that opened last summer on First Avenue between 23rd and 24th Streets, the owners are suing a former dog trainer they worked with, accusing him of pilfering their pooch clients for his own dog walking and training business. Additionally, according to the suit, which was filed by owners Jennifer and Ien Cheng on Tuesday, the dog trainer, Peter Cooper Village resident Blake Rodriguez, has been illegally boarding dogs in his apartment on East 20th Street.

In 2012, The Chengs said they’d asked Rodriguez to train dogs at their Williamsburg facility, one of two Happy Dogs centers they now own and at that time, the only one open, though there was a plan to expand the business to Manhattan. According to the suit, under the agreement, the owners were to provide the space, promote the training service and he’d collect two thirds of the money brought in as a commission. Additionally, they said, the contract called for him not to compete with their business or work for any competitor within a three-mile radius of Happy Dogs during the contract and for 12 months following termination of the agreement.

But, they argued, he’s been doing just that by opening his own center early in 2014 on Attorney Street. They’ve noticed that since then, they’ve seen photos online of Rodriguez with dogs that used to be their clients or that have been coming to Happy Dogs less lately.

Rodriguez, they said, had been a trainer with his own company, Dream Come True K9 (DCTK9), since 2010. His services included boarding and extensive training for behavioral issues. The Chengs said until he trained at Happy Dogs, he hadn’t offered group training. When the first training class was held, in 2012, 80 percent of the participants were already existing Happy Dogs clients.

They also said in the suit that they recently discovered that in addition to training, Rodriguez was also providing boarding for dogs not in the board-and-train program. They did know about dogs being boarded for a specific training program for dogs with “significant” behavioral problems. This wasn’t a conflict since Happy Dogs didn’t offer the service. It is noted in the complaint, however, that is against New York health code and against Peter Cooper Village/Stuyvesant Town leasing policy.

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Letters to the Editor, Aug. 28

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Playground is supposed to be for everyone

I recently had two unpleasant experiences at Playground 4 while supervising my grandchildren at the showers.

In one, children had covered the drain with a plastic bag, creating a pool. When I asked them to remove it because it is a drain and it created an unsafe condition for the little kids, their father got irate with me… calling me a grumpy old lady and that I shouldn’t be reprimanding anyone’s child and they were having fun.

Just today, I brought my granddaughter out. Every adult who had a toddler was sitting along the railing because a group of boys from a local soccer team were having fun running, racing and pouring water on one another. When I asked them not to run near my granddaughter, their coach (I assume) pointed out to me that “the playground was for 5-12-year-olds” and the baby shouldn’t be there. My reply is that it was a hot day and certainly we all could enjoy the sprinklers and the boys could run around in other parts of the playground. Later when I reread the sign – it was about the equipment – on one side it is for kids 5-12 years old and the other side 2-5 years old.

I get it; the older kids have other ideas about water and sprinklers… and they need to expend their energy, but these facilities Stuyvesant Town has beautifully kept up are for the use of everyone in the development. I feel there is utter disregard for responsible behavior towards one another. (And don’t let me get started on dog owners not picking up after their pets, letting them run around in fenced areas.) It is not just what you and your child or team wants. It is about respecting others’ right to enjoy the same space.

J.Thomas, ST

The unaffordable zone

As I run and walk around Manhattan, I can’t help but notice all the buildings being demolished so they could put up luxury buildings. In Brooklyn, the old Domino Sugar factory is now gone. On South and Pitt Street, the Pathmark is gone so they could put up a 65-story building.

What happened to all the zoning laws on height of buildings? Pier 17 at the South Street Seaport is gone so they could put high-end stories in. And right on 14th Street between Avenue A and B, they are going to put mainly luxury buildings with a few affordable apartments.

Now, we could blame the greedy real estate moguls and the Republicans but this is a Democratic town. I blame all the politicians who former Mayor Mike Bloomberg paid off so he could make New York the way he thinks it should be, besides other reasons.

Shame on all of them. Just look around Stuyvesant Town, how they are constantly eliminating parking spots. This only hurts the middle class, the very people they say they’re fighting for. Like President Reagan said many times, “I work for the people, not the other way around.”

Name withheld, ST

Just an observation on letters

Re: Letter, “Why limit topics in T&V letters?” T&V, Aug. 21

I read Mr. John M. Giannone’s letter and agree that he is fortunate that T&V publishes him. As many times as I tried to makes sense of his last two paragraphs, they came off as cryptic.

If, however, Mr. Giannone read the New York Observer-– a County centric paper that lapses into Brooklyn – cover to cover every week, his letters to T&V would soon be crisper.

Billy Sternberg, ST

A few suggestions on ‘petiquette’

DOs
Elevator etiquette: If an elderly neighbor, or family with a baby, toddler, or small children are on the elevator, take the following elevator. You might have to wait 30 seconds but you will communicate a considerate and caring concern for others in doing so.

When outdoors, always be mindful of how close you and your dog are to an apartment window or building entrance. Move along if your dog starts to bark or howl.

Always always always clean up. Forgot your bag? Ask a person walking their dog to give you one of theirs. Never leave a mess no matter what. Come back later if you have to and pick up.

Steer away from the Oval for your dog’s first walk of the day.  Save the pleasure of an Oval stroll with your pooch until after she/he has already finished going and his/her bladder is empty.

Train your dog to never pee or poop where people walk. Head straight for the curb, gutter, or walk to the cobblestones on the perimeters of the PCVST property, or the border areas that separate the walking path from the black garden fencing.

Still, accidents can and will happen so carry a small squeeze bottle with water and diluted dish liquid (such as Dawn brand which is plant and wildlife-friendly). Squirt the mild soapy solution once or twice anywhere the dog pees or leaves a mark.

DON’Ts:
Don’t let a dog pee on or around park benches or seating. Practice odor-control. Never deposit any bagged pet waste in a trash receptacle near bench seating.  Don’t use retractable leashes.

Name withheld, ST

Canine cameos

Thank you so much, Town & Village, for featuring our beautiful four-legged friends on your photo gallery page of dogs (“The Dog Run,” Aug. 7). The article is fantastic as usual! We appreciate your continued support.

Cathryn Duhigg, President, Cauz for Pawz

Etiquette at the dog run

Volunteers planning new rules for Madison Square Park dog run

Jemmy’s dog run volunteers John Thomas with his dog Higgins and Emily Khasidy with her dog Finlay (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Jemmy’s dog run volunteers John Thomas with his dog Higgins and Emily Khasidy with her dog Finlay (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot
When it comes to behavior at the dog runs, the rules for humans are pretty universal; pick up after Fido, don’t let him get into fights with other dogs and don’t allow any other behavior you wouldn’t want a child strolling by to witness.

And while most dog owners are responsible, there always seem a few bad apples that give the rest a bad rep. So, at one local dog run, the volunteers who help maintain it are planning to implement a few new, albeit basic rules, which they shared with Town & Village.

This would be at Jemmy’s Dog Run, the 12-year-old dog run at Madison Square Park. Jemmy’s is maintained by the Parks Department and the Madison Square Park Conservancy with the help of volunteers in a dog run association.

Two of the association’s core group of active members are Flatiron residents John Thomas, owner of olde English bulldogge Higgins and Emily Khasidy, owner of Finlay, a rhodesian ridgeback. Both dog owners checked out a number of other dog runs’ rules and policies before coming up with a list for Jemmy’s, which they said will go up on signage soon after the association reviews them.

A few of the rules (which may or may not end up on the official list) are as follows:

Do not feed the dogs, unless they’re your own.

According to Thomas and Khasidy, it isn’t uncommon for dog lovers to want to feed others’ dogs treats. But this isn’t appropriate, since dog runs are not petting zoos.

Do not play rough with dogs. While dogs will play rough with each other, this doesn’t give people a free pass to do the same. Khasidy said sometimes it’s necessary for one owner to say to another, albeit nicely, “You’re playing too rough with him and he doesn’t like that.”

Don’t bring children into the run for the purpose of playing with dogs. Thomas and Khasidy said they occasionally see parents bring children into the run to attempt to get them socialized with dogs or to see how they are around them. But dog owners wish they wouldn’t.

“Some people let their kids in here, but I wouldn’t let my dog in the playground,” said Thomas. While this may sound harsh, dog owners, he reasoned, have a reason to be. “If he bites you, you can have him put down.” Khasidy agreed, noting if her dog bites someone, “a judge isn’t going to side with me. So we want to put a sign since not all dogs like kids and not all kids like dogs.”

Be mindful of behavioral issues of dogs that haven’t been neutered or spayed.

Khasidy said sometimes those dogs just won’t get along with other dogs. If that’s the case, “If your unneuetered dog is causing a problem, it might be best to remove your dog from the park for a while.” This, Thomas acknowledged, may lead to fights between owners over who has to leave. However, even more fights tend to occur over the next rule.

Don’t hold the gate open any longer than necessary. The dogs could get out and end up in traffic.

Don’t bring in poorly socialized dogs.

“One example,” said Thomas, “is a guy whose dog was a rescue pit bill, who spent most of his life in a crate. Dogs in that situation, he explained, will end up scared in a dog run with other dogs, and could also end up scaring other owners. “Because it was a pit bull, to someone else it could be very scary.”

Pick up after your dog. Though it may sound obvious, even seasoned dog owners can get distracted and end up not noticing that their dog has left something behind. “People are on headphones an they don’t look at their dogs,” said Thomas. “You have to make an effort to be aware of what your dog’s doing.” Dog poop, he added, is the number one infraction at the dog run. In Khasidy’s view, the best way to deal with this is directly; with dog owners sometimes having to point out poop piles to other owners. When she’s done it, owners have handled it politely, she said.

Meanwhile, along with its goal of new signage, the dog run association is trying to raise funds for some improvements for the Jemmy’s. Short term goals are to get new gravel (since the current gravel, larger pebbles, can get stuck on dogs’ paws) and to fix a bench that was partially dismantled when a smaller dog got a paw stuck inside the planks. Since then, with the surface removed, dogs that have been jumping around it have managed to sail inside and get hurt. More longterm goals are to get a water feature more elaborate than the current one (a garden hose), better drainage and some sort of structure that would offer more shade.

Jemmy’s Dog Run came about when the Conservancy orchestrated a renovation of the entire park, which was at the time run down and drug-ridden. Twelve years later, around 75-100 dogs use Jemmy’s run each day, mostly neighborhood dogs during the week, and others from further away on weekends. It’s named after James Madison, whose nickname was Jemmy.

Along with the dog run and its fence in 2002 (a separate fence for an area for smaller dogs wouldn’t come until 2011) the park also got new lighting and a reflecting pool for the north end.

More recently, an association of local dog owners was formed with the aim of maintaining as well as improving the dog run. The dog run costs the Conservancy about $50,000 each year to maintain, including the cost of the staffer to clean it, and repairs on infrastructure as well as the recently added large shade umbrellas. Those, branded with the conservancy logo, cost $1,000 each.

Currently, a website aimed at raising money for the run has been confusing to some would-be donors, since it refers to the spot as James’ dog run, so Thomas recommended that anyone with questions about Jemmy’s email volunteers at maddogcommittee@gmail.com.

Letters to the Editor, July 31

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Hamas is the reason for Gaza bloodshed

An excellent essay was offered by Ms. Jeannette Shuck in last week’s edition of T&V. If Canada had a grudge against our nation, would we and the rest of the world countenance continuous bombings of New York State?
Many people have vague information concerning history and current events. They are told by the media here and in Europe that about eight times as many Palestinians have been killed and gravely injured in  relation to Israel’s retaliation. So, a moral equivalency is created with Hamas now seemingly to have the ethical upper hand.
Let’s get things straight: Hamas is a terrorist organization and its charter wants not only the state of Israel to be thrown into the sea – but, also, all Jews murdered. “Infidels” would come next – think Christians. Hamas is filled with holocaust deniers, which may be even more egregious than the many millions of murders committed by the Nazis.
Hamas kidnapped and murdered three Israeli teens (one of whom was a joint U.S./American citizenship) as the daily bombings continued.
If Jews learned just one lesson from the slaughter in Germany and many of the other occupied nations: “never again!”
The most significant difference between most of the Muslim states is cultural differences (values and behaviors). While Israel follows the ancient Greek concepts of democracy and the enlightenment, many (not all) Muslims have gotten frozen in a condition where little has changed since the beginning of Islam: the deplorable treatment of women, lack of basic freedoms which we take for granted in the west.
Since 1948 when the U.N. and President Truman (also the U.S.S.R.) recognized the Zionist state, Israel has become a truly first world nation. As the heralded “Arab Spring” never succeeded – just like Russia after the evil empire died, they had no history of a democratic background and values. Democracy can only evolve over time.
Thank you, Ms. Shuck, for telling it like it is. Your very words said in some Muslim nations would lead to a fatwah!
David Chowes, PCV

 

No evidence in destruction of Flight 17

The NY Times and other major US news outlets continue to play their part in the ongoing propaganda war between our government and Russia’s over the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.  U.S. and Ukrainian government officials began claiming that rebels shot it down using a powerful Russian-supplied Buk missile battery immediately after the plane went down.
This week, the Times again reported that claim as fact.  Considering that Russia and the US are nuclear powers with the capability to wipe out the planet many times over, it might be a good idea to take a deep breath and remember that an impartial inquiry is still underway and no formal conclusions have been announced.
In the meantime, there’s this to consider. Ukraine has most likely been blanketed by U.S. satellite surveillance since the civil war erupted.
Nevertheless, our government has not provided a single image of Buk missile batteries in eastern Ukraine, let alone being deployed by rebels.
A month ago Craig Whitlock  of the Washington Post quoted the U.S. commander of NATO forces in Europe saying “We have not seen any of the [Russian] air-defense vehicles across the border yet.”
Whitlock also reported that “Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said defense officials could not point to specific evidence that an SA-11 [Buk] surface-to-air missile system had been transported from Russia into eastern Ukraine.”
Also remember what this civil war is all about.  Elected President Yanukovych had been trying to attract capital to maintain Ukraine’s standard of living.
Rebels in the east rejected his ouster after Yanukovych decided against accepting IMF austerity demands necessary for an association agreement with the EU in favor of what he considered a better deal with Russia. The newly appointed interim government of Ukraine ended up signing the association agreement with the EU.
J Sicoransa, ST

 

Dog doo is a don’t

I’d like to thank Town & Village for the page 2 photo of the dog sitting on a Stuyvesant Town bench.
It served as a reminder that we are not only tracking fecal matter into our apartments on the soles of our shoes but also on the seats of our pants, the backs of our dresses and the bottoms of our briefcases, tote bags and purses. What a pleasant thought.
Name withheld, ST

 

The dog days of summer are here

Callie1

On August 7, Town & Village will publish its third annual Dog Days of Summer issue, an issue devoted to all the furry friends in the community.

Town & Village is inviting readers to submit photos of their dogs, whether they’re playing in the local dog runs, wearing a funny costume, performing a trick or making mischief.

We’re also asking if any local dog owners have stories they want to share about their pets or other animals: Are you a dog owner with ideas about how to make the community more pet-friendly? Are you a rescuer with important info about the city’s canine population? Do you love dogs — but wish the owners around here were more responsible? If you feel you have a story to share, please call T&V at (212) 777-6611 x104 or email editor@townvillage.net.

If you are the owner of a dog-related businesses, please call (212) 777-6611 x114 or email Melissa@townvillage.net to learn about advertising opportunities.

Sanitation garage, homelessness addressed at Gramercy forum

Council Member Rosie Mendez, LaToneya Burwell, director of Community Affairs at the Department of Homeless Services, DSNY community affairs liaison Julian Sepulveda, Lieutenant Vincent Collins, Police officer John Considine and Assistant District Attorney Kaitrin Roberts (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Council Member Rosie Mendez, LaToneya Burwell, director of Community Affairs at the Department of Homeless Services, DSNY community affairs liaison Julian Sepulveda, Lieutenant Vincent Collins, Police officer John Considine and Assistant District Attorney Kaitrin Roberts (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel
City Councilwoman Rosie Mendez moderated a quality of life forum at School of the Future on East 22nd Street this past Tuesday evening and answered questions from the community with the help of representatives from various city agencies. The event was co-hosted by Gramercy Neighborhood Associates and Community Board 6 and there were representatives from the various city agencies in attendance to answer questions.

District Manager Dan Miner noted that turnout seemed low because of the ongoing thunderstorms and the middle of the forum was interrupted by a flash flood warning alarm blast from an attendee’s cell phone. The Parks Department, Department of Transportation and the Department of Health did not have representatives at the forum, making it a smaller affair than a similar quality of life forum that was held for the Kips Bay community in the spring.
Mendez noted that this forum was meant to build on the event at Kips Bay and the representatives present at the forum included Lieutenant Vincent Collins and Police officer John Considine of the 13th Precinct, LaToneya Burwell, director of Community Affairs at the Department of Homeless Services, Julian Sepulveda, the community affairs liaison at the Department of Sanitation and Kaitrin Roberts, Assistant District Attorney in the Manhattan District Attorney Crime Strategy Unit.

Alan Krevis, president of the Gramercy Neighborhood Associates (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Alan Krevis, president of the Gramercy Neighborhood Associates (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

One of the topics discussed, albeit briefly, was the sanitation garage that is planned for the Brookdale campus. Councilwoman Mendez said that the garage was a plan that was submitted under the previous administration but the current administration has yet to announce a stance on it. Mendez and her fellow City Councilmember Dan Garodnick have been called to a meeting about the garage that will take place in the next week or so, she added, and more updated information should hopefully be forthcoming after that.

Other questions addressed at the forum had to do with cleanliness. Mendez noted that a number of the questions sent in had to do with dog waste. Sepulveda of the DSNY noted that issuing a summons to someone for not cleaning up after their dog is tricky because it is something that police have to witness occurring. He encouraged residents to submit complaints to 311 so the city is aware of problem areas and the DSNY has been working with Business Improvement Districts throughout the city on sanitation-related issues to make sure that areas are clean, but beyond that, it’s a difficult rule to enforce. Mendez added that a new initiative was proposed and passed in the last city budget this June which allots between $90-$100 thousand per council district for city clean-up.

Burwell, a representative for the Department of Homeless Services, addressed questions about what to do about homeless people on the street. She emphasized that it isn’t illegal to be homeless but residents can contact 311 and DHS will send their street outreach team to engage with the person.

Many of the representatives for city agencies at the previous Kips Bay forum emphasized that 311 was the perfect catch-all for complaints on just about anything and some of the attendees at this most recent forum expressed frustration about the bureaucracy that sometimes seems involved in getting problems solved after reporting them to 311.

Sepulveda acknowledged that calling 311 can seem frustrating but assured the residents that the complaints were being heard.
“Our office deals with 311 requests all day,” he said. “It’s not just a black hole. They are getting somewhere. We do have to abide by certain rules and regulations so sometimes the issue is just out of the agency’s hands.”

Lieutenant Collins of the 13th Precinct also made the distinction between when to call 911 versus 311.
“If you fear for your safety or their safety, that’s a 911 situation,” he said.
“If someone could get injured, that’s always a 911 call. Sometimes if it’s a grey area; they may redirect the call to 311, but if there’s a chance of injury, it’s always better to call 911.”

Community Board 6 will be hosting other forums in the future and Miner said that the next meeting on the radar will be a senior issues panel on September 15. More information about the panelists and topics to be discussed will be available closer to the event’s date.

Sandy-damaged space on Ave. C gets revived as pet store

Alphapet City has two floors including the basement. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Alphapet City has two floors including the basement. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Store owners Sam Cheung, Tony T. and Tony G. have been in the pet supply trade for about five years, but when their business started outgrowing the 200 square foot space in Chinatown, they looked to expand.

Alphapet City, the resulting store, opened on Avenue C at the beginning of March and Cheung said that the perfect space just fell into their laps.

“We could barely find a space this big anywhere in the city but this place had everything,” he said. “We didn’t have to buy a whole new (air conditioning) system. It was mostly just cosmetic work and repairs. This place wasn’t in the best shape but we just did everything ourselves and it worked out.”

The repairs Cheung is referring to were due to damage wrought by Hurricane Sandy. The store, which is two floors including a basement level, is on the same block as a number of other businesses that sustained serious basement flooding and water damage from the storm, on Avenue C between East 11th and 12th Streets. The C-Town next door was closed for months afterward and Ave. C Pharmacy on their other side lost most of its basement stock because of flooding damage.

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New command center offers better access to Public Safety

Public Safety Chief Bill McClellan at the new office/command center (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Public Safety Chief Bill McClellan at the new office/command center (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot
Earlier this month, Stuyvesant Town’s Public Safety department officially settled into its new home at what was previously a storage area at 2 Stuyvesant Oval.
Following a winter-long construction project, the resulting office, designed by architectural firm STV, is a 1,840-square-foot, glass-front structure with a similar look to the Oval Amenities spaces. Inside the space, past a small lobby, there’s a command center where dozens of new HD monitors allow officers to see everything that the 1,200 surveillance cameras located throughout the complex see in high-definition quality.
But the newer technology isn’t the only improvement. During an interview with a T&V reporter at the office this week, Public Safety Chief Bill McClellan said residents have been giving overwhelmingly positive feedback about the department’s more central location and the easier access to the officers.
“Now they can walk past and they see we take security seriously here,” said McClellan.
In fact, said McClellan, after Hurricane Sandy destroyed the old office on Avenue C and Public Safety had to move to a temporary office at the old Oval Film space, officers began hearing that most residents found the location to be an improvement. So this was taken into consideration by CWCapital when planning a permanent address, as well as the need to keep the office out of a flood zone.
“We want people to come in and ask questions and interact with our Public Safety team,” said CWCapital spokesperson Brian Moriarty, who was also present during the interview, along with CWCapital Asset Manager Andrew Cain. “It’s more convenient for residents.”
It was in 2006 that ST/PCV’s security department officially became known as “Public Safety,” which McClellan said was done since the department is made up of peace officers, not guards.
That said, while preventing and stopping crime is the top priority for the officers, mainly it is quality of life issues that they’re responding to on a regular basis, such as loud parties and unregistered dogs. Dealing with the latter issue has been made a little easier since management introduced a brightly colored registration tag for dogs, eliminating the need to stop all dog owners as they walk through the grounds. When dealing with the former issue, McClellan himself will sometimes show up to the offending apartment with a member of the property’s legal team when a noise issue is particularly serious and persisting.

The new Public Safety office at 2 Stuyvesant Oval (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

The new Public Safety office at 2 Stuyvesant Oval (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

McClellan, who’s worked for ST/PCV for the past eight years, previously had a 21-year career with the NYPD, and his last role was that of commanding officer of the 71st Precinct in Crown Heights. Since his arrival in ST/PCV, crime in the community has decreased, he said, a fact he credits to upgrades made to the property’s security system as the technology has improved. For example, the system was designed so that cameras can be added any time anywhere, and there have been many added over the past few years as the layout has changed to feature the new amenity spaces as well as the more recent construction projects like the extension of the leasing office. Some cameras also face outside the property, and that came in handy recently when police were looking for a robber who kept hitting a Dunkin Donuts shop on the west side of First Avenue. After the NYPD asked ST/PCV Public Safety to focus a camera at that location, the footage wound up being instrumental in the arrest several days later of a man who molested a young girl at the shop.
Crime tends to be higher on the west side of First Avenue than on the ST/PCV side, “and we’d like to keep it that way,” said McClellan, who also provided some interesting local crime stats. ST/PCV, which covers 10 percent of the 13th Precinct’s coverage area geographically and is home to 24.5 percent of the precinct’s population, only accounts for 5 percent of the crime.
But when there are crimes on the property, once catching the perps, Public Safety officers will typically turn them over to the 13th Precinct for arrests. Though 40 of ST/PCV’s officers are official peace officers with the authority from the NYPD to issue summonses and make arrests, there are still other limitations to consider. “We don’t have an arrest processing center here and we don’t have cells,” said McClellan.
Hours for the new Public Safety office, during which walk-ins are welcomed, are 8:30 a.m.-8 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends and holidays. The command center is open 24/7 though and people can come in with an emergency after hours.
The construction of the office comes after CWCapital also invested in new trucks as well as three T3 motion scooters for the officers to make their rounds in.

Letters to the Editor, Aug. 29

Pissed off about not wanting to be pissed on

Re: Letter, “Why landscape fences make complete sense,” T&V, Aug. 22

John Giannone writes that irresponsible dog owners think “that it is ok for dogs to urinate on anything that grows and anything that does not — grass, bushes, trees, garbage cans, street posts, bench legs, the walkways, the legs of pedestrians. (Ok, so the last is false!)” John, are you sure “the last is false”? I witnessed my neighbor’s dog pee on her leg while I was speaking with her at the door of her apartment. So I know that man’s best friend (and woman’s too) does pee on the legs of humans. Some friend.

Also, it almost happened to me. I was sitting on a bench in front of the children’s playground in the Oval watching people walking their dogs in the “no dog area” gravel where the greenmarket is located on Sundays and where children play during the week. This was a weekday and I was watching a dog lift its leg to pee on the sign that read  “no dog area” when a cute little dog, which bore a resemblance to my neighbor’s cute little dog, approached me. Thanks to my scientific background, I could discern that he was a male. His owner was watching her dog, which is unusual as most owners are too busy talking or texting on the phone or to a friend or themselves to notice what their dog is doing, as the little doggie approached my leg and started to sniff my foot. This dog was probably smelling some other dog’s doo doo that I had inadvertently stepped on; it’s so difficult not to step on a schmear or two of this fecal matter, wet or dry, in Stuy Town as it is left all over the walkways so that residents can bring these little gifts home for their children or cats to enjoy.

But I became anxious as her male dog got within inches of my leg. She did not pull the dog away from me, being of the school that advocates letting the little pet pissers live their lives to the fullest by smelling everything in sight. To avoid any unnecessary confrontations, as I might have been mistaken for a fire hydrant, I gently lifted my foot to shoo the dog away. But the owner barked, “What are you doing to my dog?” I replied, “I don’t like having urine on my pants. It’s not good for relationships.” Then she growled, “Well, you don’t have to hit him!” And then her dog led her away. She had her nose in the air while his was towards the ground, living his life to the fullest.

John Cappelletti, ST

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Letters to the Editor, Aug. 22

Why landscape fences make complete sense

A number of neighbors have voiced irritation at the presence of fencing now encircling much of the plantings. About that fencing, I agree, it is rather cheap, ugly and not the sort of fencing likely to last. In fact, in some places it is already compromised.

However, I find our neighbors’ expressed puzzlement a bit fictitious. “Why has the fencing gone up?” they ask. Really? Really? They don’t know?

Let’s provide some data from which they might construct a hypothesis.

First: “dog friendly.” Second: irresponsible owners of PCV/ST: No place for dogs to do doggie things. Third: irresponsible tenants: First: buying dogs when it is know that the place has no way to accommodate their elimination needs. Second: some irresponsible dog owners: putting it out that it is ok for dogs to urinate on anything that grows and anything that does not — grass, bushes, trees, garbage cans, street posts, bench legs, the walkways, the legs of pedestrians. (Ok, so the last is false!)

Third: making a common practice of allowing dogs to defecate on common ground. (Thanks by the way to the large dog owner who covered his/her doggy’s fecal matter with leaves on the south side of the paddle ball courts a few weeks back: I really loved the soft gushy slippery feel.)

So, about our neighbors who want the rest of us to believe that they are puzzled about the presence of fencing and the closing of the “open look” give an explanation your best shot!

John Giannone, ST

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