Con Edison substation on Avenue C (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
A minor fire broke out in an office space on the second floor of the East River substation inside the Con Edison facility at 230 Avenue C earlier this morning. Multiple nearby residents posted video on the crime reporting app Citizen of FDNY vehicles responding to the scene around 8:40 a.m.
A spokesperson for the fire department told Town & Village that a call about the blaze at the facility near East 14th Street came in at 8:26 a.m. and 12 units, including 60 firefighters and EMS personnel, responded to the scene. No injuries were reported as a result of the fire.
Con Edison spokesperson Allan Drury told Town & Village that personnel were evacuated from the building at the time of the fire but were able to reenter the control room below the office where the fire had occurred by 9:19 a.m.
The FDNY said that the cause of the fire is under investigation.
On Monday, December 10, a man was found dead at the shoreline of the East River and 20th Street.
Police found the man, who hasn’t been identified and was in his 40s, at around 7 a.m. after responding to a call about an unconscious person. He’d appeared to have been in the water and was taken to Bellevue Hospital, but he couldn’t be saved.
The medical examiner will determine the cause of death and the investigation is ongoing. A spokesperson for the medical examiner didn’t have further information about the individual.
Police are asking that anyone who might have information about the man or the circumstances surrounding his death to call 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).
As part of the settlement with the Department of Environmental Conservation for violating of New York State Environmental Conservation Law, Con Ed will also be required to continue the cleanup effort. The company will also be expected to assess the petroleum containment compliance at its 13 waterfront substations located throughout the boroughs.
The May 7, 2017 incident happened at the utility company’s Farragut Substation in Brooklyn, with the DEC and the U.S. Coast Guard quickly descending on the scene in Manhattan and Brooklyn to try to minimize the contamination of the river. While the substance, dielectric fluid is similar to mineral oil, as opposed to petroleum, it was still foreign to the East River. Following the leak, booms were placed in the water and absorbent pads were placed along the shorelines where much of the fluid had seeped.
The settlement payout will go towards funding for local environmental and restoration efforts. Out of the $636,015, $100,100 will go to the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy for its water-based environmental education and kayaking programs, and $71,000 in natural resource damages to New York City Audubon for its Governors Island common terns nesting project. The remaining $464,915 will go to the New York State Environmental Protection and Spill Compensation Fund (Oil Spill Fund), New York State Conservation Fund, and the State General Fund.
“At Governor Cuomo’s direction, New York continues to prioritize improving and protecting the State’s waters,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “The funding that came out of DEC’s enforcement action and penalty against Con Edison highlights the positive investments that can be made after an unfortunate event. Settlement investments through DEC’s Environmental Benefit Projects Policy will improve and restore the environment and natural resource damages funding serves to make the public whole.”
In response to the settlement, which the DEC announced on Wednesday, Allan Drury, a spokesperson for Con Ed said, “We are pleased to have resolved issues stemming from this incident and to support valuable environmental programs.”
Drury added that there was “no long-term impact” to the East River as a result of the spill. “The cleanup process mentioned in DEC’s announcement relates only to what is left of the spill on Con Ed’s substation property, not in the river,” he said.
The Ocean Queen Rock Star, part of the fleet of NYC Ferry’s Lower East Side route, arrives at Stuyvesant Cove at 6:45 a.m. on Wednesday. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
Despite temperatures climbing high enough to warrant an official heat advisory from the city, cool winds prevailed along the East River on Wednesday for those aboard the new ferries along the Lower East Side route that launched that morning. The ferry that made the maiden voyage took off from Long Island City at around 6:30, arriving at Stuyvesant Cove at exactly 6:45 a.m. as the sun rose, carrying a mix of Stuyvesant Town residents and reporters.
The ferry, named the Ocean Queen Rock Star, then proceeded — at around 26 miles per hour — to downtown landing Corlears Hook, named, like Stuyvesant Cove, after a park on the waterfront. There, Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Member Keith Powers cheered the new route, which made its debut months ahead of the dreaded L train shutdown.
De Blasio mentioned that the city has been getting many requests from New Yorkers who want a ferry stop in their neighborhoods and said that by the end of the year, decisions will be made on where else they would go. As of Wednesday, there were already six active ferry routes in the city, all operated by Hornblower. According to the mayor, there have also already been six million riders so far on NYC Ferry.
“We know how crowded the subways are. We know the streets are congested,” he said. “We know we need new ways to get around the city. We will not be the city we were meant to be if we don’t have better options.”
The Lower East Side ferry route will launch on August 29. (Photo by Thomas Rochford)
The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and NYC Ferry operated by Hornblower have announced details regarding the launch of the Lower East Side ferry route on August 29 as well as the Soundview ferry route on August 15.
The Lower East Side route, which will run from Wall Street/Pier 11, to Corlears Hook, to Stuyvesant Cove, East 34th Street, and end at Long Island City, Queens, will be a 32-minute trip from start to finish.
The Soundview route will run from the Soundview section of the Bronx (Clason Point Park), to East 90th Street in Manhattan, to East 34th Street, ending its run at Wall Street/Pier 11, and will take about 54 minutes from start to finish.
Schedules for the new routes are available on the NYC Ferry website, ferry.nyc and will also be accessible on the NYC Ferry app prior to the launch.
“We’re excited to launch NYC Ferry service in the Bronx, the Upper East Side and the Lower East Side, which have historically been transit deserts,” said NYCEDC President James Patchett. “For the same cost of a subway ride, New Yorkers that live and work in these communities will now have a fast, affordable and convenient way to get around the city.”
“With the launch of the 2018 routes, NYC Ferry is excited to expand across New York Harbor and continue to build neighborhood connections to the Bronx, Upper East Side and the Lower East Side,” said Cameron Clark, SVP of NYC Ferry operated by Hornblower. “We encourage everyone to hop on board and explore these new, affordable routes that will enhance commutes and shorten travel times for thousands of New Yorkers.”
NYC Ferry has already employed over 325 people as captains, deckhands, customer service agents, operations and more. New Yorkers can still apply at ferry.nyc.
Costumed dancers from the Artichoke dance company perform as part of the procession that made 20 stops along the East Village and Lower East Side. (Photos by Kristin Reimer for Earth Celebrations’ Ecological City-Procession for Climate Solutions)
By Sabina Mollot
On Saturday, hundreds of costumed revelers walked, marched and danced their way through the East Village and the Lower East Side for a day-long event aimed at celebrating local green spaces, the East River and sustainability efforts.
The event was organized by Lower East Sider, artist and activist Felicia Young, who has a long history of similar events aimed at (successfully) saving community gardens, through her organization Earth Celebrations. Participants in the event, which was modeled after pageants in India, where hundreds of celebrants from multiple communities take part, made 20 stops throughout the neighborhood.
A few included Campos Garden on East 12th Street between Avenues B and C, El Sol Brilliante Garden an avenue to the west, the Earth School on East 6th Street and by the day’s end, East River Park for oyster planting and a river cleansing dance.
A dog who’d been stranded in the water is rescued by the NYPD’s Emergency Service Unit. (Photo by Ed Dwyer)
By Sabina Mollot
On Monday morning, police rescued a dog that had somehow gotten stranded on a submerged rock in the East River near Stuyvesant Town.
A woman who’d been strolling through Stuyvesant Cove Park with her own dog was the one to alert police after spotting the frightened pooch. Cops said the call came in at around 7 a.m. and officers from the nearby 13th Precinct responded. They then called in the Emergency Service Unit (located at a neighboring building on East 21st Street) and a wet suit wearing officer soon arrived to retrieve the dog.
Stuyvesant Town resident Ed Dwyer was walking his dog as the rescue unfolded at around 20th Street. Surprisingly though the stranded dog, a 20-25 lb. part-hound mutt, wasn’t barking before help arrived.
“I didn’t notice the dog at all,” Dwyer said, admitting he only discovered what was going on from the woman who’d called 911. “He was just really quiet. Unless you were really looking you wouldn’t have seen him.”
Men work at the sinkhole on the bike lane at 23rd Street and the East River on Tuesday. (Photo by Janet Handal)
By Sabina Mollot
A sinkhole that’s been on the bike lane at 23rd Street along the East River for weeks now has grown from being a few feet across to a ten-foot-wide gurgling geyser. It has also been an active worksite manned by a plumbing crew from the Economic Development Corporation, which manages the nearby city-owned Skyport garage. It’s a broken, leaking pipe underneath the garage that has been blamed for the problem.
Town & Village first reported on the sinkhole last week, when a then two-week-old 311 complaint had yet to spur any action from the city. The relevant city agencies finally arrived at the scene last Wednesday evening (following T&V’s press time) to barricade off the area. Additionally, at that time, a spokesperson for the DEP told us the Skyport garage had been ordered to fix the pipe as well as well as the sinkhole.
But by Tuesday evening of this week, a spokesperson for the EDC, Shavone Williams, still couldn’t say exactly when the damaged water line would be fixed, although the expectation was sometime this week. Williams added that the EDC was planning with the Department of Environmental Preservation to shut down a main on Wednesday morning so contractors could repair the line and repave the surface later in the week. Until it’s repaired, Williams said, the crew would remain onsite and keep the area surrounding the water hole secured with cones and tape.
Meanwhile, water service was completely shut off at Waterside Plaza on Wednesday by 8:30 a.m., according to the management office. General Manager Peter Davis said he didn’t know if it was related to the sinkhole, since the property hadn’t gotten a notice from any agency. UPDATE at 10:54 a.m. Water service has been restored to Waterside, and a DEP representative said the agency was looking into why it happened and why residents were not notified.
Janet Handal, president of the Waterside Tenants Association, first reported the sinkhole to the city on July 5, fearing it would become a deathtrap for cyclists and the usual crowds of people headed to the party boats at the marina next to the garage.
However, there was no visible response from the city on the growing hole until Handal reached out to a number of city agencies and elected officials as well as Town & Village. Only then did teams from the DEP and the Department of Transportation arrive to completely barricade off the sinkhole, which had been only partially surrounded by tape.
As of this Tuesday, Handal said it didn’t appear the workers knew yet where the water main actually was. After stopping by the site, Handal said she was shocked by the force and sound of the gushing water in the hole, as thick cords from six water pumps snaked their way inside. The width of the hole, which had originally just been in the bike lane, had stretched across two traffic lanes by then. This may have been done intentionally to allow the workers access, however.
Based on her observations, though, the water pumps didn’t appear to be doing much. She said she was told by a worker that the EDC was waiting for the DEP to turn off the water and that the collapsed pipe was believed to be about 80 years old.
Con Ed substation in Manhattan (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
A failure of equipment at a Con Ed substation in Brooklyn has led to a so far unknown amount of oil to leak into the East River.
The U.S. Coast Guard has been responding to the problem since it was reported on Sunday afternoon, though as of Tuesday afternoon, it was unclear if the substance, dielectric fluid, was still leaking into the river in Brooklyn and Manhattan.
The fluid, which is used to insulate transformer cables, is a kind of mineral oil, so “It’s not like sludge or petroleum,” said Coast Guard Public Affairs Chief Warrant Officer Allyson Conroy. However, she added, “It’s still not native to the environment it’s leeching into.”
Additionally, while the Coast Guard is not aware of just how much of the oil has been spilled so far, she referred to the failure of a Con Ed transformer that led to the incident as “catastrophic.
The East River (pictured in 2012). (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel.)
By Sabina Mollot
A man was found floating in the East River at around East 14th Street on Sunday afternoon, and as of Monday morning, police said they believe they know who it is.
While they wouldn’t release the name of the individual prior to his being officially identified by a family member, police said they are pretty certain it’s a 24-year-old homeless man with a history of depression.
A police source added that no criminality is suspected at this time. However, the investigation is ongoing and the NYC Medical Examiner is looking into the cause of death.
The man, after being pulled out of the water by the NYPD’s Marine and SCUBA Units at around 2:30 p.m., was taken to the Skyport Marina on East 23rd Street, where he was pronounced dead.
UPDATE on Tuesday: A woman who said she was the man’s mother told Town & Village her son “was a good person.”
The woman, who didn’t want to give her name, added that she last saw her son a month ago. “He was always helping everyone. I raised him to be a gentleman and he was a goodhearted person. We will all miss him.”
Fireworks as seen at Waterside Plaza (Photo by Edward O’Rourke)
By Sabina Mollot
On Monday, July 4th, New York City’s annual fireworks show dazzled viewers along The East River as Macy’s also celebrated its 40th anniversary of putting on the skyward display. This year, four fireworks barges were positioned between 23rd and 37th Streets with another double barge downtown. Despite on and off rain which turned into a downpour not long before the show began at around 9:30 p.m. the crowds came out, though their numbers were rivaled by all the police officers patrolling along the East Side. At Waterside Plaza, where residents get a front row seat to the spectacle, over a thousand people lined up outside to watch. The property, where holiday festivities also took place outdoors on the plaza, was sealed on Monday other than to residents and their guests. Many more spectators, despite the weather, gathered alongside the car-free FDR Drive for a still closeup view.
The city is planning to expand existing ferry service on the East River and citywide, and a new ferry landing is to be built at East 20th Street. The Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association has invited officials from the NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC) to fill residents in on the project. The new landing would be part of the Lower East Side route, a stop between an existing stop at East 34th Street and another at Wall Street/Pier 11.
The Tenants Association is holding an open meeting on Thursday, January 14 from 6-7:30 p.m. at the VA Medical Center atrium conference room, 423 East 23rd Street east of First Avenue.
Questions are encouraged, such as:
What impacts will the new facility have on noise and pollution? Will ferry passengers crowd local buses? What effect will the ferry landing have on the new storm barrier design? What impact will the landing have on pedestrians and bicyclists in Stuyvesant Cove Park? What new commuting options will be available to Stuy Town and Peter Cooper residents?
Those in attendance at the meeting last Tuesday sat at tables while the pros and cons of each option for the project were discussed. (Pictured) Guests seated before the presentation began (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Neighborhood residents recently learned that the East River may be getting a new elevated park along with flood protection. The discussion about the park took place at the most recent workshop for the East Side Coastal Resiliency project, held at the Stein Senior Center last Tuesday. Representatives from the mayor’s office and BIG U, the winning design firm in the Rebuild by Design competition in 2013, said that this type of flood protection was one of the most popular with residents, according to feedback from the community at the previous workshop in May.
Carrie Grassi, senior policy adviser at the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency, also discussed the three options for flood protection in the area along the East River between 14th and 23rd Streets, which includes a berm, which would have a park on top, a flood wall or a deployable, and noted that community members saw the advantages of all three depending on the area.
The area along the river from 14th to 23rd is known as Project Area 2 and Project Area 1 extends south from 14th Street to Montgomery Street. The workshops have been split along these boundaries to focus more on the specific needs of each area.
Grassi noted that there is a need for compromise when considering different characteristics even within each designated project area and the specifics of each kind of flood protection, and they’re hoping the workshops will help find the right balance for Project Area 2.
Fireworks, as seen from Waterside, lit up the night on July 4th. (Photo by Tobias Batz)
By Sabina Mollot
On Saturday, July 4th, with four of Macy’s barges lined up from 23rd to 37th Streets over the East River, residents at Waterside Plaza enjoyed a particularly enviable view of the fireworks this year.
Throughout the evening, with access limited to residents and their guests, between 5,000 and 6,000 people lined up along the outdoor plaza.
Thousands more lined up just north of Waterside’s towers along the car-free FDR Drive. Another fireworks display took place further downtown near the Brooklyn Bridge. Before the sky filled with the familiar flash and boom though, at Waterside, festivities also included a barbecue on the plaza for residents and various kids’ activities.
During this time, Town & Village spoke with residents to ask about what July 4th has been like there over the years.
From Houston Street to midtown: Houston Street, 23rd Street, 34th Street and 42nd Street.
From Lower Manhattan: Broad Street ground level, Old Slip upper level, Pearl and Frankfort.
ADA /Special Needs Viewing Area:
FDR Drive southbound lane at 16th Street and Avenue C or 34th Street (top of ramp) and Vietnam Memorial Park
Stuy Town and Waterside alerts:
Waterside Plaza will be holding a party that’s closed to anyone who isn’t a resident or a guest with a wristband. Wristband access only times are 12 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Deadline to register for wristbands is 2 p.m. on July 2.
Additionally, the NYPD will be closing streets to traffic around Stuyvesant Town. CompassRock issued a notice to tenants saying 14th, 20th and 23rd Streets from First Avenue to Avenue C will be closed to vehicular traffic from 6 p.m. to midnight. Peter Cooper Road and Stuy Town’s Loop Roads will also be closed from 6 p.m. to midnight. Avenue C and the FDR Drive will also be closed from 5 p.m. to midnight. During this time, entrances to Stuy Town will be staffed by Public Safety officers so residents will need to have their ID ready. Gates to Peter Cooper entrances will also be closed from 6 p.m. to midnight but Public Safety officers will be on hand to allow residents access. Guests of residents will be asked which residents and apartments they are visiting. Garages will be inaccessible from 5 p.m. to midnight and playgrounds will be closed at 6 p.m.
UPDATE: We didn’t hear from anyone in time to include this in this week’s issue of Town & Village, but Stuyvesant Cove Park will also be closed during the fireworks, according to a Solar 1 staffer, except for a ticketed event held by Zum Schneider at the north end of the park.