Councilmember Keith Powers and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson at the town hall on Tuesday. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Top priority for residents at a City Council District 4 town hall this week was affordable housing and transportation issues, in addition to addressing homelessness.
The town hall, hosted by Councilmember Keith Powers and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson this Tuesday, was held at CUNY’s Graduate Center and was attended by more than 300 residents.
Susan Steinberg, president of the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association, brought up the issue of affordable housing and the new rent laws for the first question of the night.
“Right away landlords went into a tailspin,” she said of the strengthened rent laws. “Blackstone who are the owners of Stuyvesant Town, have decided that they had to regroup and re-strategize because their business model no longer worked. And the way they did this was to hit the pause button on renovating vacant apartments and making them unavailable, so it’s tantamount to warehousing. And we were very concerned about that.”
Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman, commanding officer of the 13th Precinct (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
While the topic of scofflaw cyclists normally dominates meetings with local police officers, on Tuesday night, those in attendance at the most recent gathering of the 13th Precinct Community Council told officers homelessness has them concerned.
A Union Square resident noted that there have been homeless encampments in the park recently, despite him having raised the issue at the meeting last month. Executive Officer Ernesto Castro said that the precinct has been to the park to break up the encampment but the problem is recurring.
“We have gone over there and taken it down but they’re just coming back,” he said.
“It is a tough situation but one point of leverage we do have is that you can’t have a mattress on the street so we can keep going back there to break it up,” Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman, the precinct’s commanding officer, added. “It’s not illegal to have a sign or just to be on the street but mattresses are definitely not allowed.”
Many homeless people choose to stay away from shelters, instead opting to spend the night in places like bank vestibules or, in better weather, on park benches. Loitering in bank ATM areas and being in parks after hours are arrestable offenses.
Our questions for readers on this issue are: Is seeing a homeless person doing either of these things enough to prompt you to call the police? Additionally, is the presence of a homeless person in the aforementioned places enough to make you avoid doing business at a bank or enjoying a park?
Council Member Carlina Rivera speaks about a “21st century” version of the SBJSA as well as other issues at an event at Almond in Flatiron, hosted by the Union Square and Flatiron BIDs. (Pictured) Rivera with NY1 reporter Michael Scotto (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
New Councilmember Carlina Rivera spoke with NY1 reporter Michael Scotto in an event at Almond Restaurant in Flatiron at the end of March, focusing on small businesses, the upcoming L train shutdown, homelessness and the planned tech hub for Union Square.
The event was a community breakfast hosted by two neighborhood BIDs, the Union Square Partnership and the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership.
As she previously mentioned in a roundtable with Town & Village, Rivera said that she supports a “21st-century version” of the Small Business Jobs and Survival Act, clarifying further at the recent breakfast that she partially meant taking online shopping into consideration.
“We need to consider how we shop, but we also need to consider that the piece of legislation we introduce, as of last term, was 20 years old,” she said. “The way we’ve shopped has changed dramatically in 20 years so I think giving the small business owner the ability to negotiate is important. (The 21st-century version) is taking into consideration mixed-use buildings, and making sure that Small Business Services does a better job at marketing the resources they have available, along with the Department of Consumer Affairs.”
As you drive into New York City across the George Washington Bridge and then south down the West Side Highway you can see huge cranes and glittering new buildings being built. You can be sure that these constructions are for the very well off and not middle income residents.
A tale of two cities indeed.
In part, Bill de Blasio was elected mayor because he promised to do better than his recent predecessors on the matter of decent affordable housing. During his 2013 campaign de Blasio vowed to create some 200,000 units during his two terms. He is way behind schedule. In fact when one calculates the loss of rent-regulated housing each year at about 10,000 units, NYC has made little progress during the mayor’s entire first term of office.
And then there is the New York City federally funded Housing Authority.
Across from 495 First Avenue (Photo via Google Maps)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Police arrested an 83-year-old homeless man, Henry German, after he allegedly stabbed a man with an ice pick, causing his lung to collapse, and strangled a woman on First Avenue last Saturday around 3:20 p.m. German was additionally charged in connection with an assault in 2016 that also resulted in the victim’s lung collapsing. He was arrested at the corner of Peter Cooper Road and First Avenue but police said the incidents happened near 495 First Avenue at East 29th Street.
He allegedly first approached a woman, grabbed her throat and choked her.
Re: “Neighbors demand answers on planned E. 17th St. shelter,” T&V, July 27
I welcome any facility and program that helps the homeless. I welcome the day that there is a home for every person. And was also happy to learn that the topic of housing our local homeless was raised at the BRC community meeting.
We have Gene living on 14th Street and First Avenue on and off for the past two years. And John who lives in a wheelchair on First Avenue for more years than that. Several homeless who reside on 15th Street by the Con Ed building and many more neighborhood regulars panhandling in front of our local banks and stores. Homelessness affects the person that is struggling with their life and it also affects every one of us who pass them on the street while shopping or enjoying our neighborhood. It’s sad and upsetting and lessens the daily experience of our community and our city.
Therefore I strongly encourage BRC to welcome in the homeless that inhabit this area. It makes it a win-win.
A protest for stronger rent laws spanned three days outside the governor’s midtown office. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Tenant activists, including some who are homeless, gathered in front of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s midtown office for three days last week from Wednesday evening to Saturday to demand rent reform in Albany.
A coalition of tenant groups organized the efforts, including New York Communities for Change, Tenant Power NY, Community Voices Heard and others. The groups dubbed the temporary encampment on the sidewalk “Cuomoville,” and linked the governor’s failure to enact stronger rent laws with the increase in homelessness throughout the city.
Gigi Morgan, an activist from Brooklyn who currently lives in a women’s shelter in Harlem, was at the protest on Friday morning after having slept there Thursday night and participating on Wednesday and Thursday.
Perhaps if any of our esteemed local representatives took the time to chat with some of the younger homeless, as I have, you/they would discover (as I did), that most of the people, aged 16-40, come from other states, as close as NJ and as far away as the Dakotas!
That being said, I do believe that NY State and City residents should help the homeless, but help our citizens first. There must be a law somewhere, or one that could be written and introduced that would give preferential treatment to NYC citizens out of our NYC taxes, and possibly even send these young, able-bodied (but mostly alcohol or drug-addled) men and women back to the state they came from, and let those tax payers take care of their own. You could start by asking for any kind of identification before giving them services such as food stamps, housing, etc.
The other big burden we share are the many single teenaged mothers, most of whom have live-in boyfriends, but don’t marry because the men don’t want to share the responsibility or the rent.
If any of our powers that be would walk First Avenue from 23rd Street to 32nd Street, near the men’s shelter, methadone clinics, outpatients at Bellevue or go from First Avenue to 10th Avenue, along any of the main crosstown streets, or any place where there are restaurants or storefronts on the avenues south of 50th Street, you will see hundreds of panhandlers, barely out of their teens, with signs begging for money. The cardboard signs say all kinds of things to gain sympathy, and a cup at their feet for donations.
I am a life-long Democrat, as is my entire family, some of whom were active in politics. However, I think that the Democrats, in particular Mayor De Blasio, are ruining our city. I hope he and Governor Cuomo read the above and do something about it!
Melissa Jane Kronfeld says she’s a “progressive Conservative.”
By Sabina Mollot
The race to replace term-limited City Council Member Dan Garodnick has a new candidate in the GOP-leaning Midtown East resident Melissa Jane Kronfeld.
Kronfeld, a former New York Post reporter, said she is not yet sure what party she’ll be running on, although one thing is for sure. It won’t be Democrat. The 34-year-old, a lifelong resident of the City Council District 4, which snakes its way from Stuyvesant Town to the East 90s, identifies as a “progressive Conservative.”
Asked what this means, Kronfeld, known to friends as “MJ,” said, “Being progressive and conservative are not mutually exclusive. Democrats didn’t copyright it. I checked.
“But,” she added, “we don’t bend so far to the left that it’s a free for all for everybody.”
This, she said, means support for immigrants. “There should be a process (to become legal) but I don’t want to send you anywhere because (your) parents didn’t fill out the proper paperwork,” Kronfeld said. “I’m not a conservative who will tell you don’t have the right to choose or that you don’t have the right to hold your husband’s hand if you’re a man.”
Police arrested 25-year-old Dashawn Johnson inside the 30th Street Men’s Shelter at 400 East 30th Street last Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. for an unclassified felony after he failed to register a change of address with the sex offender monitoring unit. Police said that Johnson is a level 2 sex offender after being convicted of sexual abuse in the first degree on March 6, 2007. After he was notified of his duties in 2010 and 2015, he allegedly failed to notify authorities of a change of address within 10 days as required by law. Police said that Johnson has a previous conviction for failure to register on April 25, 2016 in Kings County.
MAN WAVES KNIFE AT STRAPHANGERS
ON Q TRAIN NEAR UNION SQUARE
Q train suspect
Police are looking for a man who allegedly pulled a knife on fellow straphangers on the Q train and waved it around in a threatening manner last Thursday. A 49-year-old woman told police that while she was riding a downtown Q from Union Square at 9:05 a.m. when she saw the man waving a knife and making threats to passengers. The man left the train at Canal Street and fled in an unknown direction. The suspect is described as a 30-year-old black man, 6’0″ tall, 180 lbs. with a bald head and dark complexion. He was last seen wearing a red shirt, gray jogging pants and black sneakers.
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 nypdcrimestoppers.com or texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are kept strictly confidential.
MAN STOPPED FROM STEALING ICE CREAM BITES INTO OFFICER INSTEAD
Thirty-year-old Thomas McKnight was arrested for robbery last Friday after trying to make off with some ice cream from the Duane Reade at 777 Sixth Avenue. Police said that McKnight took ice cream out of the freezer and put it into his shorts without paying for it. When he passed the register and attempted to leave the store, a loss prevention officer attempted to stop him, at which point McKnight allegedly punched the officer in the face, causing swelling and a scratch to his cheek. Police said that McKnight also bit the officer on the arm, causing a red mark, and allegedly stomped on the officer’s cell phone, causing it to break. McKnight was also charged with petit larceny, criminal mischief and possession of stolen property.
MAN ARRESTED AFTER FIREWORKS
HIT PEDESTRIAN ON FIRST AVENUE
Police arrested 32-year-old Joshua Hernandez for reckless endangerment and possession of fireworks on Independence Day last Monday at 10:05 p.m. inside 275 First Avenue. Police were conducting a floor-by-floor search at the building across from Stuyvesant Town because lit fireworks had been thrown onto the street and in one instance hit a passerby. Hernandez was allegedly on the building’s rooftop with a belt of fireworks and a green torch lighter. Police said he was also allegedly in possession of additional fireworks that were in his pants pocket and a transparent bag containing additional fireworks was found behind him.
PAIR ARRESTED FOR CAR BREAK-INS
Police arrested 22-year-old Shaquille King and a teenager for petit larceny in front of the Senton Hotel at 39 West 27th Street on Independence Day last Monday at 6:26 a.m. King and the teen allegedly entered the front passenger’s side and on the back driver’s side of a car. Police said that the car was unlocked but the doors were closed. The victim said he wasn’t sure if property was taken from the car, but King and the teen allegedly went into another car on the driver’s side and passenger’s side. Police said that a witness has video of the incident and saw the car break-in happen. King and the teen allegedly fled east on 27th Street before they were arrested. The teen’s name is being withheld due to his age.
CABBIE ARRESTED FOR HIT-AND-RUN
Police arrested 26-year-old Jonathan Kwok inside the 13th Precinct last Tuesday at 10:45 a.m. for leaving the scene of an accident causing personal injury. Police said that Kwok hit the victim with his cab at West 21st and Sixth Avenue on May 21, causing pain to the victim’s hip and leg. Kwok allegedly drove off before police arrived at the scene.
DUANE READE EMPLOYEE BUSTED FOR THEFT
Police arrested 41-year-old Valencia Parrish for petit larceny inside the Duane Reade at 401 Park Avenue South last Wednesday at 11:07 a.m. The store manager told police that he noticed Parrish’s cash register was short on June 15 at the end of her shift and subsequently realized that her register had been short on other shifts of hers as well. He started watching her on video surveillance last Tuesday. Around 8:44 a.m. that day, he saw Parrish receive payment for store items and she allegedly kept the cash in her right hand while giving the customer change. After the customer left the store, Parrish allegedly put the money inside her shirt near her neck. The manager said that Parrish could be seen on video surveillance taking cash on a number of different occasions.
TRESPASSER ARRESTED IN
VACANT APARTMENT IN GRAMERCY
Police arrested 32-year-old Brian Miller for criminal mischief and criminal trespass in front of 15 East 21st Street last Wednesday at 2:28 p.m. The building manager of 15 East 21st Street told police that he went to check on an apartment in the building that is currently vacant and Miller was allegedly inside the apartment without permission. Police said that Miller fled out of an apartment window down the fire escape and was stopped down the block. The building manager said that there was also damage to a ladder that was inside the apartment.
L&W OYSTER CO. EMPLOYEE
ARRESTED AFTER THEFTS
Police arrested 35-year-old Dustin Robinson inside L&W Oyster Co. at 254 Fifth Avenue last Tuesday at 5:07 p.m. for petit larceny and possession of stolen property. Robinson allegedly took money from the victim’s bag that was inside the location. The victim said that he put a camera in the office because money had gone missing after Robinson was hired the previous Saturday.
WOMAN ARRESTED FOR ASSAULT
IN UNION SQUARE
Police arrested 23-year-old Ayanna Hull for assault and harassment at the corner of Union Square East and East 14th Street last Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. Hull allegedly punched and scratched the victim, causing bruising and cuts to her neck and chest. Police said that the argument was the result of a dispute over a backpack.
MAN BUSTED FOR THEFT AT WEWORK
Police arrested 37-year-old Nathan Pickett for allegedly swiping multiple paintings from the WeWork office at 115 West 18th Street. Police said that Pickett entered the location last Thursday at 10:03 a.m. using his passcard on his day off.
Community residents expressed concern about sex offenders and violent felons. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
The status of the 30th Street Men’s Shelter, and whether sex offenders are still staying there was one of the main topics discussed at a forum on homelessness, which was attended by over 100 people.
The forum, held at the Epiphany Parish Hall on Tuesday evening, was hosted by City Councilmembers Dan Garodnick and Rosie Mendez. Representatives from the NYPD, the Department of Homeless Services and various non-profit agencies dedicated to assisting the homeless also showed up to discuss street outreach programs and employment resources made available to help homeless people get back on their feet.
Mayor Bill de Blasio recently appointed Human Resources Administration Commissioner Steven Banks to do a 90-day review of homeless services throughout the city and Banks was at the forum to focus on specific issues that affect the neighborhood, primarily the 30th Street Men’s Shelter.
Lieutenant Steven Lebovic at Tuesday’s 13th Precinct Community Council meeting (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
After hearing complaints about ongoing noise from new pizzeria/cocktail bar Visana from neighbors, police said that they would step up their enforcement regarding noise infractions.
This was at the most recent 13th Precinct Community Council meeting on Tuesday when neighbors of Visana, who live above the business as well as next door complained about the noise and crowds outside the place. Visana opened at 321 First Avenue at the end of September, in the space formerly occupied by Adriatic restaurant.
“My life there has always been quiet,” said Jorge Rios, who has lived directly above the space since 1970. “Restaurants have always been quiet but now that business changed the whole picture. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday is fine but Thursday through Saturday I can’t sleep until 4 in the morning.”
Another resident at 321 said that one of the reasons for the excessive noise seemed to be the crowds of people gathered on the sidewalk outside the building.
“On Saturday, the noise was incredible and people couldn’t walk from 18th to 19th without walking into bike path,” said the resident, who didn’t want to give her name. “People were walking into the street and almost getting hit by bikes to avoid the crowds.”
Cops also address noise complaints at new First Avenue pizzeria/lounge
Deputy Inspector Brendan Timoney giving crime stats at the meeting (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Robberies and felony assaults have increased significantly in the past month in the 13th Precinct, with crime overall increasing only slightly, police said this week.
The crimes, which included bank robberies, a K2-related assault on an officer and attacks on Bellevue staffers, were discussed by Deputy Inspector Brendan Timoney at a 13th Precinct Community Council meeting this past Tuesday. Additionally, residents at the meeting expressed concern over noise at the new pizzeria and bar/lounge on First Avenue that recently replaced Adriatic.
At the meeting, Timoney also mentioned that a recent arrest made for K2, the synthetic cannabinoid that has started to be a problem for the precinct, especially around the shelters, contributed to the increase in felony assaults this month. This is after a man who was arrested for K2 managed to get his hands to the front of his body while he was handcuffed and punch an officer in the face.
There is a beautiful old tree on the south side of 24th Street, in front of 238 East 24th Street, near Second Avenue. It rises high into the sky in the shape of a crucifix.
The base of the tree is surrounded by cobblestones that fail to protect it from the dogs that are allowed to deposit their waste in the tree bed, daily.
For many years, Anthony Jacona has been affectionately called The Mayor of 24th Street. Weekly, he tends to the tree. He tosses the soil with his shovel and waters this stately gem. One day last summer, Anthony was bent over tending the soil. His shoulder was drooping. He told me he was scheduled for surgery the next day, but he had to make sure the tree was taken care of.
After a successful surgery, Anthony is still tending the tree. His one wish is that someone would install a tree guard to keep out the dogs. It is the only tree on the block without a tree guard.
Young, 91-year-old Anthony Jacona, has lived on the block for more than 50 years. He can recall when they played stickball, on Sundays, in the street when there was a Third Avenue El and no cars on the block.