Texas girl battling cancer travels to New York to meet NYPD

Seven-year-old Abigail Arias, pictured with her family, Gramercy Park Block Association President Arlene Harrison and members of the 13th precinct and the NYPD (Photos courtesy of Blue Lives Matter NYC)

Last week, the Gramercy Park Block Association welcomed 7-year-old Freeport, TX Honorary Police Chief Abigail Arias (badge# 758), her father Rueben, mother Eileen, brother Ethan and Freeport Police Chief Raymond A. Garivey to Gramercy Park.

Blue Lives Matter NYC co-founders Sgt. Joseph Imperatrice, Det. Carlos Delgado and PO Chris Brinkley organized a trip to New York City for Arias, who dreams of becoming a police officer, but suffers from a incurable form of kidney cancer.

To welcome Arias to Gramercy Park, GPBA President Arlene Harrison and Kathleen Scupp organized a pizza party, and invited local NYPD, including Manhattan South Chief Salvatore Comodo, Det. Greg Welch and Emergency Service Truck 1, and 13th Precinct Neighborhood Coordinating Officers. The party was co-hosted by the Gramercy Park Hotel and Maialino Restaurant.

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GPBA honors cops killed in the line of duty

Family members and colleagues of fallen officers at the memorial event (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Gramercy Park Block Association honored the members of the NYPD that have been killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 6. The memorial event at the National Arts Club has become an annual tradition that the organization has been carrying on since 2015.

The event stemmed from the Blue Lives Matter NYC movement started by three members of the NYPD after the murders of Detectives Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu in December 2014. The goal was to help families of the slain offers in their time of need and GPBA president Arlene Harrison joined with the organization the following year.

“It has now become a nationwide movement, and I have done everything I can to spread the word, by organizing a social media network of over 150 police groups around the country,” Harrison said of Blue Lives Matter.

Harrison explained that the GPBA was formed in 1993 after her 15-year-old son was beaten in Gramercy Park with a mission of protecting the neighborhood by working closely with the police department. The GPBA also organized a relief effort within the 13th Precinct for a number of months after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

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‘Landmarks Lion’ Jack Taylor dies

June21 SPNA Jack Taylor and Rosalee Isaly

Jack Taylor with Rosalee Isaly, then-president of the Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association, who presented him with an award for his preservation work in the neighborhood last year (also now deceased) (Photo by Andrew Garn)

By Sabina Mollot

Jack Taylor, a historic preservationist and resident of East 18th Street in Gramercy, died last Thursday, February 7, in his sleep. He was 94, and had suffered some health problems, including with his leg in recent months, making it hard for him to get around.
For decades Taylor was known for his efforts to save buildings slated for the wrecking ball in the Gramercy, Stuyvesant Square and Union Square neighborhoods and to get them landmarked.

He was involved in numerous civic groups, including the Gramercy Park Block Association, the Union Square Community Coalition, the Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association and the Historic Districts Council.

He’d been retired since the 1980s, when he served as managing editor for Family Circle for several years. After retiring, he still did some freelance editing work.
His legacy of preservation began when he was inspired by the loss of Luchow’s restaurant, according to a transcript of a 2004 forum he participated in held by the New York Preservation Archive Project. The place was over a century old when Taylor learned it was at risk and got involved with an informal group aimed at saving it, headed by the USCC. The “born and bred” Manhattanite noted he had been born in Greenwich Village, not far from Luchow’s.

“Was it an architectural landmark? Was it a cultural landmark? Just what was it?” Taylor had mused at the forum. “It didn’t matter to me then, because I didn’t know the ropes very much. But it just seemed to be something that the city of New York would be the worse without. Regardless of the food, which had plummeted in the meantime. It was the philosophy of the thing.”

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Former Calvary rector Rev. Pike celebrates 80th birthday

Rev. Tom Pike with Gramercy Park Block Association President Arlene Harrison and and Gramercy Park executive assistant Alex Nguyen (Photos by Ira Fox)

The Rev. Dr. Thomas Pike, formerly the rector of Calvary-St. George’s, celebrated his 80th birthday on Wednesday, January 10 at the parish house.

At the event, a video tribute in Pike’s honor was shown, made by Alex Nguyen, Matt Veligdan and Kamel Boutros. Gramercy Park Block Association President Arlene Harrison also made some remarks cheering Pike’s accomplishments as a religious leader and a community one.

“Our community has always counted on you for your wisdom, compassion and support,” she said. “We can’t thank you for all you have done for us and meant to us. We look forward to many more years of leadership and friendship.”

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Street re-dedicated to fallen cop

Officers of the 13th Precinct attend a ceremony in honor of P.O. Anthony Sanchez who was gunned down in the line of duty. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Officers from the 13th Precinct joined friends and family members of slain Police Officer Anthony Sanchez on Friday for a ceremony to rededicate the section of East 20th Street between Second and Third Avenue named in his honor on the 20th anniversary of his death.

Sanchez had worked at the precinct for 10 years with his partner, now-retired Detective Roy Ruland, who attended the ceremony last week, in addition to Sanchez’s widow, Elizabeth, and mother, Loretta.

Sanchez’s son John couldn’t make it to the ceremony but Elizabeth read a statement he had prepared, where he expressed the pride he felt whenever he came across the part of East 21st Street that had been co-named in honor of his father.

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‘Cave’ at St. George’s becomes home to the arts

Program organizers Alex Nguyen, Dusty Brown, Arlene Harrison and Rev. Dr. Tom Pike (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Program organizers Alex Nguyen, Dusty Brown, Arlene Harrison and Rev. Dr. Tom Pike (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

An old furnace room in St. George’s Church on East 16th Street in the past year has become gathering place for New Yorkers to experience the arts on a budget. Known as the Cave, the space has played host to jazz concerts, literary readings and plays, and until recently the programming operated parallel to each other but separately. But the three organizers have now come together to create the Olmsted Salon with the combined goal of getting the community more involved in the arts.

“That’s the core of the program,” said Arlene Harrison, president of the Gramercy Park Block Association, which has been working with organizers Alex Nguyen, Dusty Brown and Maria Bowler. “There are underserved populations and we want to connect people through art, culture and conversation.”

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Civic groups oppose city proposal for half of street fair vendors to be community-based

Carol Schachter, vice president of the 13th Precinct Community Council, pictured at right at a recent street fair that the Community Council sponsored, with a member, Pat Sallin, and its president, Frank Scala (Photo by Mary Mahoney)

Carol Schachter, vice president of the 13th Precinct Community Council, pictured at right at a recent street fair that the Community Council sponsored, with a member, Pat Sallin, and its president, Frank Scala (Photo by Mary Mahoney)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Community organizers are worried that proposed new rules requiring participation from local businesses in street festivals will affect their revenue because they feel there won’t be enough participation from neighborhood vendors.

The Mayor’s Office of Citywide Events Coordination and Management (OCECM), which oversees the Street Activity Permit Office (SAPO), proposed new rules for street festivals, including a requirement that 50 percent of participating vendors have a business or local presence within the same community board as the festival, as well as a limit on how many are allowed per community board every year, decreasing the number from 18 to 10.

Carol Schachter, who’s the vice president of the 13th Precinct Community Council, said that a number of groups depend on revenue from local street fairs to fund programming for the neighborhood. Schachter attempted to provide testimony about the issue at the public hearing held last Thursday but noted that the hearing was held in a small room without enough space to accommodate all those who wanted to speak.

“Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association hosts events like tangos in the park. They rely on street fair revenue,” she said. “We don’t have money as community organizations to pay for these things otherwise. We need that money for National Night Out: the giveaways, ice cream truck, they all have to be paid for and it’s paid for by revenue from street fairs.”

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13th Precinct remembers 9/11 on 15th anniversary

Officers of Emergency Service Truck #1, the 13th Precinct, the K9 unit and NYPD retirees who returned for the WTC Remembrance Ceremony along with Gramercy Park Block Association President Arlene Harrison in front of the 13th Precinct on East 21st Street (Photo by William Baker/Courtesy of the PBA of the NYPD)

Officers of Emergency Service Truck #1, the 13th Precinct, the K9 unit and NYPD retirees who returned for the WTC Remembrance Ceremony along with Gramercy Park Block Association President Arlene Harrison in front of the 13th Precinct on East 21st Street (Photo by William Baker/Courtesy of the PBA of the NYPD)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Officers of the 13th Precinct and residents of Gramercy commemorated the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center this past Sunday.

Officers gathered outside the precinct at 8:30 a.m. and observed a moment of silence at 8:46, the time that the first plane collided with the north tower.

Calvary Church on East 21st Street hosted one service at 11 a.m. on the day of the anniversary and invited Arlene Harrison, president of the Gramercy Park Block Association, to speak about the parish’s partnership with the community in the days and weeks following the attacks.

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Calvary-St. George’s gets a not-quite-new rector

Expansion of programs at St. George’s and beautification of church planned

Rev. Jacob Smith

Rev. Jacob Smith

By Sabina Mollot

As far as any of the parishioners are concerned, Reverend Jacob Smith, who’s been the priest-in-charge at Calvary-St. George’s for the past three years, has been the church’s leader for all that time.

However, due to certain formalities within the structure of the Episcopal Church, it wasn’t until last month that Smith, who’s been serving the double parish for the past decade, was called as its new rector. Normally, he explained, someone who began as a pastoral assistant, as he did at Calvary, wouldn’t get to become a rector at the same church, so his situation was an exception.

The city’s 199-Episcopal Church network also took the unusual step in seeking the counsel of the Diocese in calling Smith, and he’ll be assisting in the leadership of St. Ann’s, a church for the deaf. The date of his institution has not yet been set.

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Gramercy Park community activist Audrey Sisson Kasha dies at 88

A public memorial service will be held for Audrey Sisson Kasha on Thursday, June 30.

A public memorial service will be held for Audrey Sisson Kasha on Thursday, June 30.

By Sabina Mollot

Gramercy Park resident Audrey Sisson Kasha, 88, died on June 12, a month after suffering a severe stroke.

Kasha was for many years involved in her community, having been the one to suggest the formation of the Gramercy Park Block Association in 1993.

This was after another resident, Tim Harrison, was beaten by a roving gang on the street. The association, run by Tim’s mother Arlene Harrison, was formed the next year and has remained devoted to local safety and quality of life ever since. Meanwhile, Kasha also served as one Gramercy Park’s trustees, including for some time as its counsel.

Arlene Harrison said she’ll remember Kasha for her dedication and her skills as a writer and editor for much of the trustees’ and block association’s literature.

“Just when we thought our writing was in perfect shape for Audrey to review, she would find at least 15 errors,” Harrison said.

She was also a founding member of the Tilden Democratic Club, which she was very active in, both in going to meetings and petitioning.

Until her retirement over 25 years ago, Kasha, a resident of 60 Gramercy Park North, served as chief of staff for the now-deceased Democratic Assemblyman William Passanante, who represented the Greenwich Village area.

Harrison noted that Kasha was often referred to as Passanante’s “brains” by the Assemblymember himself and that they remained good friends for decades.

Kasha was also known for throwing dinner parties, where guests raved over her cooking, and for being an avid church-goer at Calvary. She also met frequently with a group of people, who, like her, had involvement in politics, called The Schleppers.

Kasha had a grown son, Matthew, who worked in the music industry, and died in 2005. She is also predeceased by her sisters Gloria and Maxine. Kasha has one remaining sibling, her brother Peter Kasha, whose five-year-old son Ethan and wife Zena Kasha was very close with.

She was buried last week in Warwick, New Jersey with a small service for family members. On June 30 at 6 p.m., there will be a public memorial service held at Calvary Church, located at 277 Park Avenue South and 21st Street. Reverend Jacob Smith will be officiating.

Gunman robs couple outside Gramercy Park

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A man and woman walking around Gramercy Park were mugged by a man who turned a gun on them before demanding they hand over cash and jewelry.

This was around at 11 p.m. on Sunday night, according to Gramercy Park Block Association President Arlene Harrison, who shared news of the robbery in an email to neighbors on Tuesday.

The couple, who Harrison said do not live in Manhattan, had just left the nearby Pete’s Tavern after a date when they decided to take a walk around the park. After walking up Irving Place and almost making a full loop around the park, they came across a man who looked lost at the corner of East 21st Street and Gramercy Park West.

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School sets stage for Pre-K ballerinas

The New York Theatre Ballet will present a performance of “The Nutcracker” this weekend. (Photo by Richard Termine)

The New York Theatre Ballet will present a performance of “The Nutcracker” this weekend. (Photo by Richard Termine)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Since moving to a new location at St. Mark’s Church on-the-Bowery last year after more than three decades in its old space, New York Theatre Ballet has been trying to come up with new ways to get involved with the community. To that end, the school has recently started offering pre-ballet classes for children as young as three and four years old, as well as expanding its adult program for women of all ages.

However, while NYTB founder and artistic director Diana Byer said the adult classes are held in a welcoming atmosphere for anyone who “has never put on ballet slippers,” the younger students are held to a much loftier standard.

“It’s very professional,” she said. “It’s not a play date and it involves serious training. We teach them that their behavior affects everything around them and we have real expectations for the students.”

The company’s interest in getting young children involved in dance and theater is evidenced through the classes that start at such a young age but also through the performances that are tailored specifically to kids.

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Calvary’s candlelight concert will feature Arabic music as well as caroling and jazz

Last year’s service and concert (Photo courtesy of Calvary/St. George’s)

Last year’s service and concert (Photo courtesy of Calvary/St. George’s)

By Sabina Mollot

On Sunday, December 6, Calvary-St. George’s Church will continue one of the oldest church traditions in the country with its 127th annual holiday candlelight service and concert.

The event, which will feature a broad mix of traditional and contemporary music in different styles as well as Christmas caroling, will also for the first time, include some Arabic music with Arabic instruments. This was planned by the parish’s music director, Egyptian-born Kamel Boutros, in a sign of peace between different cultures following the recent terrorist attacks.

Joshua Encinias, an executive assistant at the Episcopal parish, said the concert each year is a mix of old and new in its musical program. The candlelight is an old Anglican tradition from the United Kingdom, he explained, with Calvary’s candlelight caroling event being the first known concert of that type in the United States.

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Slain cop remembered at GPBA event at Arts Club

Arlene Harrison with guests at the event from the 13th Precinct and other precincts (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Arlene Harrison with guests at the event from the 13th Precinct and other precincts (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Gramercy Park Block Association honored slain police officer Brian Moore at the annual gala last Thursday held at the National Arts Club, which was attended by cops from the 13th Precinct, Emergency Service Unit Truck 1, 71st precinct in Brooklyn and Moore’s precinct in Queens.

GPBA president Arlene Harrison usually takes the opportunity at the event to recognize the officers of the 13th Precinct at the yearly event, emphasizing the community’s close relationship with the NYPD, and this year she paid a particular tribute to Moore.

Members of the anti-crime team at the 105th precinct, police officers Christopher D’Antonio, Jason Roemer and Nicholas Demeo, as well as Moore’s partner Officer Erik Jansen, were also in attendance.

Detective Nancy Yule, who has been with the NYPD for 33 years and on the Detective Squad for Manhattan for the last 12, has worked with Harrison in the past, since the office for the Manhattan detectives is inside the 13th precinct.

“She really outdid herself with this,” Yule said of the gathering, referring to the number of members of the NYPD at the event.

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Letters to the editor, Mar. 19

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

This one’s a job for PCV/ST Public Safety

Re: “Feeling helpless over neighbor’s noise,” T&V letter, Feb. 26

Mr. Weiner writes, “I didn’t call up security because I heard from other people they don’t do much or were told not to.” Since he has lived here for over 20 years, he should have known to seek help from our wonderful Public Safety department. These hard-working men and women are doing their best to keep everyone happy, not an easy task. We should support them and respect their efforts by trusting that they will do everything that can to keep this place safe and peaceful. They are responsible for enforcing management’s rules for maintaining a high quality of life here in our community, including management’s noise policy.

If your neighbors are not as considerate as they should be, don’t hesitate to call upon Public Safety to come to the rescue. They are here to protect us, not only from thieves, muggers and thugs, but also from each other. They have and they will. Call them.

John Cappelletti, ST

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