L train neighbors slam MTA over noise, debris and mysterious goo

Dec13 L train Epstein

Assembly Member Harvey Epstein with L train construction zone neighbors and disability advocates in front of the MTA’s headquarters (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

While most New Yorkers are approaching April with a sense of dread because of the start to the 15-month L-pocalypse, for those who live around the East 14th Street construction site, the nightmare has been going on already for quite some time.

Recently, local elected officials were able to secure some concessions from the MTA in response to neighbor concerns like additional lighting along the sidewalks where views of the street are obstructed by construction barriers, a commitment to install air quality monitors along the street and reopening of the sidewalk on the East Village side of the street, where stores have been cut off from foot traffic.

However, many concerns have remained, such as noisy work that goes on from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., as well as on weekends, clouds of debris that have caused some neighbors to fear for their respiratory health and equipment-packed streets that have led to an obstacle course for the disabled. Residents have also been left to wonder about the presence of an unidentified, glowing green substance in one of the many dumpsters that regularly get trucked in and out of the site.

On Tuesday, Assembly Member Harvey Epstein joined a few residents whose apartments overlook the construction zone for a press conference in front of MTA’s downtown Broadway headquarters. The protesters held signs that indicated MTA stands for “Making Tenants Angry” and one that showed a photo of the goo-filled dumpster at the site.

“We respect the need to upgrade the L train,” said Epstein. “But at what cost? At what consequences? We ask the MTA to do more.”

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Shoplifter threatens Target employee with box cutter

Nov29 Target robbery suspect

Target robbery suspect

By Sabina Mollot

Police are looking for a man who threatened a Target employee with a box cutter when he was caught shoplifting at the store at 500 East 14th Street.

On Friday, November 23 at about 2:45 p.m. the man strolled into the store and proceeded to take diapers, body wash, lotion and deodorant without paying, police said. When he was confronted by a store security worker, the man pulled out the box cutter, while warning the victim, “I will cut you.”

He then fled with the merchandise.

The suspect, who was seen on fuzzy surveillance video, is described as being about 5 ft 6 ins. tall. He is being sought for robbery.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782) or visit nypdcrimestoppers.com. All calls are strictly confidential.

Man charged with bag snatching and violent mugging on First Ave.

Stuyvesant Town Dunkin Donuts

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police have arrested a man they say punched and robbed a man on First Avenue and also snatched a woman’s bag at the Stuyvesant Town Dunkin Donuts.

Raymond Velez, 23, allegedly walked up to a table at Dunkin Donuts at 266 First Avenue last Wednesday at 9 p.m. where the victim was sitting and grabbed her purse, which contained three credit cards.

Ten minutes later, police said he was walking near 253 First Avenue when he allegedly grabbed the second victim who had cash in his hand. Police said that Velez attempted to throw the victim to the ground and in the scuffle, Velez allegedly punched the victim in the mouth and he sustained a bruise on his lip and a cut on his hand.

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Lawsuit aims to stop L-pocalypse

Apr5 14th St coalition Schwartz Prentiss

Attorney Arthur Schwartz (pictured with Edith Prentiss, a disabled rights activist) says disabled commuters aren’t being considered, nor are the neighborhoods that will be dealing with chaotic traffic. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Tuesday morning, a coalition of neighborhood groups sued in a Manhattan Federal Court in an attempt to stop the planned L train shutdown starting a year from now. The suit accuses the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the city Department of Transportation and the Federal Transportation Administration of ignoring the needs of disabled riders along the L line, and disregarding the communities who’ll be dealing with constant congestion from diesel-spewing buses.

According to the attorney representing the groups, dubbed “the 14th Street Coalition,” Arthur Schwartz, the FTA “has failed to enforce compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) even though the nearly $1 billion project is being federally funded.” The MTA and DOT meanwhile, he said have failed to prepare a required Environmental Impact Statement, which he said would have compelled the agencies to be more responsive to community input.

The suit aims to halt the work as well as its federal funding until the plans do something about the lack of elevators in each L station and about the expected environmental impacts from substituting the L train with significantly expanded above ground mass transit.

The plan calls for creating a 14th Street “busway” between Third and Eighth Avenues going west and from Ninth to Third Avenues going east. Car traffic will not be able to cross anywhere along the busway. Access-A-Ride will be included along with emergency vehicles. The plan is to enforce these rules during “peak” hours. A constant fleet of shuttle buses will be traveling from Brooklyn to Manhattan over the Williamsburg Bridge and there will also be a protected bike lane on East 13th Street.

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Robber hitting drugstores in Manhattan

Robbery suspect

Cops are on the lookout for a man who’s been robbing drugstores in Union Square and in Greenwich Village as well as a Dunkin Donuts in The Bronx. The suspect, in each incident, has made employees believe he had a gun before demanding cash.

Police say the string of holdups started on the morning of Monday, December 18 when the man strolled into a CVS at 65 Fifth Avenue between 13th and 14th Street. He then threatened employees while simulating a gun inside his coat. The suspect helped himself to $150 from the register before running out.

On the evening of Tuesday, December 26, the man walked into a Walgreens at 145 Fourth Avenue near East 14th Street. He simulated a gun under his coat while threatening employees, this time getting away with $500 in cash.

Later that same evening, he did the same thing at a Dunkin Donuts at 513 East 138th Street. He swiped $1,700 from the register before fleeing the store into a subway station.

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Con Ed crew at work on East 14th Street in wee hours on Tuesday

Con Ed trucks on East 14th Street (Photo by Sherman Sussman)

By Sabina Mollot

With construction a constant in Manhattan, some residents have the misfortune of hearing trucks back up, pile drivers pound and re-directed motorists curse as the soundtracks to their day. However, one resident of Stuyvesant Town, who lives down the street from the Extell development site and across the street from Con Ed, reached out to us after being woken up at 2:45 a.m. on Tuesday due to work crews on the street.

According to Sherman Sussman, it was at that time that he saw a crew in Con Ed trucks doing non-emergency work in front of 635 East 14th Street. He knew it was non-emergency work after heading downstairs and speaking with the foreman. There were also other trucks idling for over 15 minutes by then, he told us.

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Culinary couple opens cafe on East 14th St.

Björn and CJ Holm in front of Fat Cat Kitchen (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Officially opened in May by married chefs CJ and Björn Holm in a space formerly occupied by a palm reader, new café Fat Cat Kitchen on East 14th Street is looking to become a neighborhood mainstay.

“Even after being open for only a month, we already got a lot of repeat customers,” CJ said of the recent opening. “People who are trying our food are coming back.”

CJ said that she and her husband, who previously ran a catering company together, were actively looking for a space to open their restaurant.

“It’s a lot of work in the food industry, working so hard for someone else,” she said. “When you’re working that hard, you want to work for yourself.”

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Bus stop shelters on East 14th Street removed, will be relocated

Bus stop removal1

The MTA said the removals were because of impending work. (Photos by Hermann Reiner)

By Sabina Mollot

On July 1, an eagle-eyed reader informed us an unannounced removal of M14 bus stop shelters had occurred that day and the day before from Avenues A to B. We reached out to the Department of Transportation for an explanation and the agency responded via email Thursday evening to say the stops were removed due to impending work, but would be relocated this week.

The agency didn’t say what project the impending work is for, but Council Member Dan Garodnick said he was told by the MTA it had to do with the looming L train line repairs, which include building an Avenue A subway entrance.

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Letters to the editor, June 22

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

From ShopRite to shopper shuttles

Dear Editor,

I would like to add to the conversation regarding a supermarket on East 14th Street off First Avenue.

First let me say how pleased I am with the service, responsiveness, attitude and tone provided by our new owners and management. Kudos to them for taking into consideration tenants’ needs and interests. I am fortunate to have a car and therefore shop in Brooklyn. However, I “fill in” with items purchased at our local grocers. I understand why many people no longer purchase some items because of the exaggerated prices, sometime double what I pay in Brooklyn. Double.

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Man gropes woman in Stuyvesant Town elevator

By Sabina Mollot

Cops are looking for a man who groped a 30-year-old woman inside her building in Stuyvesant Town on Tuesday.

Police said that around 5:40 p.m., the suspect followed the victim inside her building, which is located in the vicinity of East 14th Street and the 14th Street Loop. He then followed her into an elevator and got out on the second floor, but as the elevator door was about to close he got back in and pressed the fifth floor button. When the elevator reached the fourth floor, and the victim was getting out, the man grabbed her buttocks under her skirt.

The victim then smacked the man and screamed, but according to cops, the suspect remained in the elevator for a time with the doors closed. He then fled the building in an unknown direction.

Police also believe the suspect had followed the victim as she was walking home from the subway station on 14th Street and First Avenue.

The suspect is described as Asian with a light complexion, approximately 20-27 years of age, 5’4″, 150 lbs., brown eyes, black hair, last seen wearing a black baseball hat, black sneakers, white shirt and blue jeans.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS or for Spanish 1-888-57-PISTA (74782)

The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Website at http://www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or texting their tips to 274637(CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

Associated will get a lease extension, how long unclear

Stuyvesant Town’s Associated Supermarket (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Stuyvesant Town’s Associated Supermarket will be getting a lease extension, the property’s management said on Friday, although it isn’t clear how long this arrangement will last.

Associated’s owners have hoped to remain open once the 14th street store’s lease expires at the end of the year, even with a Trader Joe’s expected to move across the street.

“We are reassured by this agreement that the residents of PCVST will have uninterrupted access to a grocer as the retail food landscape is expected to change on 14th Street,” said Rick Hayduk, CEO and general manager of StuyTown Property Services. “The owners of Associated have been long-term partners of the community and we’re grateful for their cooperation through this process,” he added.

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Letters to the Editor

June8 Toon Mr Met

Save our supermarket

The following is an open letter to Stuyvesant Town Property Services CEO/Stuy Town General Manager Rick Hayduk,

As a 41-year long resident of Stuyvesant Town, I am writing to ask you to reconsider Blackstone’s determination to raise the rent against the Associated Supermarket on 14 th Street, causing them to leave our neighborhood.

It is most distressing that almighty profit once again outweighs the value that that market has had in our neighborhood for 25 years.

When I first learned that the store would open there, I was dubious. However, they have been able to run the store and the multiple complications connected with that with a minimum of disruption to us… despite the load in of product, the removal of garbage and the acceptance of bottles from street collectors.

The store’s employees are like family to us… we have seen them get their first job, pay for college, get married, take maternity leave and return, and have a decent job for these many years.

That has been an invaluable commitment on the store owners’ parts, creating a special feeling for those of us who have shopped there.

I know this letter won’t change your mind or the direction your negotiations take.

But I hope it makes you a little less able to look yourself in the mirror.

Sincerely, 

Lynne Hayden-Findlay, ST

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Police Watch: Slashing outside Stuy Town, Two arrested for assaulting cab driver

MAN BUSTED FOR SLASHING VICTIM OUTSIDE STUYVESANT TOWN
Nineteen-year-old Shukija Winns was arrested for assault after he allegedly slashed another person in the face with a razor blade at the northeast corner of First Avenue and East 14th Street.
The incident took place on April 2 at 5 p.m. but Williams wasn’t arrested until last Wednesday at 9:05 a.m. inside the 13th Precinct.

TWO ARRESTED FOR ASSAULTING CAB DRIVER
Police arrested 34-year-old Ndeh Tawah and 25-year-old Sean Glynn for theft of services and assault in front of 307 East 14th Street last Sunday at 4:41 a.m. Police said that Glynn and Tawah were in the victim’s cab and both refused to pay the fare. The driver attempted to stop them from leaving but Tawah and Glynn allegedly both punched the driver in the face, causing a cut and swelling, and ripping the driver’s shirt. The victim was treated at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital.

MAN BUSTED FOR BREAKING INTO CAR ON EAST 14TH
Police arrested 51-year-old Patrice Steed for petit larceny and possession of stolen property in front of 7 East 14th Street last Tuesday at 11:04 a.m. Police said that the victim saw Steed inside his car without permission to be there. Steed allegedly tried to take the victim’s cell phone and loose change, which were inside the vehicle. The victim confronted Steed when he saw him inside his car and he held the suspect there until police responded.

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Letters to the editor, May 25

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Bad old days are back on E. 14th St.

The following is an open letter to City Council Members Dan Garodnick and Rosie Mendez whose districts share a border along East 14th Street.

I would like to point out the present poor condition of street crossing on 14th Street and First Avenue.

A homeless man sleeps at a street corner.

Please note:
Southeast corner:
Homeless people on the corner in front of T-Mobile and McDonald’s
Garbage cans overflowing, papers spread out from First Avenue to half of the block
Grease and dirt underneath the garbage cans
Streetlight missing in bus station, stump is still there, but light was removed 20 years ago
Nonfunctioning emergency pole – an eyesore
Bus station not long enough, stopped buses block pedestrian walk

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Stuyvesant Town Associated is still waiting for answer on lease renewal

Stuyvesant Town’s Associated Supermarket (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Last week, following an op-ed being published in the newspaper The Villager in support of the Small Business Jobs and Survival Act, many Stuyvesant Town residents became alarmed after reading a sentence that mentioned the owner of the complex’s Associated supermarket was told he would not get a lease renewal.

Town & Village since reached out to Blackstone, and a spokesperson for the landlord, Paula Chirhart, said a final decision on whether to renew or not has not yet been made. Joseph Falzon, a co-owner of The Associated, confirmed this when we called although he added he wasn’t feeling confident that he’d get a renewal. He added that he was “99 percent sure” he wouldn’t.

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