Peter’s Field on East 20th Street at Second Avenue (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
The Parks Department will be installing turf surfaces at three asphalt playgrounds in Community District 6 to provide alternative spaces for Little Leagues along the East River during construction for the East Side Coastal Resiliency project.
The mitigation project, which representatives from Parks announced at a joint Land Use and Parks Committee meeting for Community Board 6 on Monday night, includes installing turf and painting lines for baseball, softball and soccer. The changes are planned for Peter’s Field at Second Avenue and East 20th Street, as well as St. Vartan’s at First Avenue and East 35th Street and Robert Moses playground at First Avenue and East 41st Street.
The Peter’s Field playground space is connected to Simon Baruch JHS on East 20th Street and Sarah Neilson from the Parks Department said at the CB6 meeting that the agency talked to the principal of the school, who approved of the plan. The basketball hoops will still be available on the playground, although in response to a question about replacing the nets on the hoops, Nielson said that is unlikely since the nets often get vandalized and the hoops often get damaged because kids hang from the nets and pull them down.
This wouldn’t be the first time we’ve devoted this column space to the ever-divisive debate on squirrel feeding, but since the rules have just been changed in a big way it seems like an appropriate time to weigh in again.
Firstly we would like to recognize the Parks Department and the management of Stuyvesant Town for waiting until the warmer months to implement a wildlife feeding ban when at least it is easier for squirrels and birds to tap into their natural food sources. After all, Squirrel Appreciation Day on January 21 came about because an advocate for the critters felt they had a tougher time finding food on their own in the dead of winter.
The conclusions are mixed even among experts on whether squirrel and bird feeding is helpful or harmful in the long run. And we understand the arguments for a ban as well as for human supplementing of urban animals’ sustenance, too.
Our view on the bans is that they should at least be given a chance to accomplish their goals. In the case of parks, to discourage the proliferation of rats and in the case of Stuy Town and Peter Cooper to truly to end the pattern of aggressive begging that has led to a few children getting bitten or scratched (though we doubt intentionally) by squirrels looking for a meal. As for whether these animals can be expected to break this habit after many decades of domestication we… well we truly don’t know. And we won’t know until we at least give them a chance to remember it’s their instinct to climb trees and collect nuts, not climb through strollers and garbage cans and collect leftover McDonald’s.
By this summer, there’ll be no such thing as a free lunch for squirrels and birds at city parks, even sooner in Stuyvesant Town Peter Cooper Village, at least not from a human benefactor. (Pictured) A squirrel noshes on a park goer’s leftovers at Madison Square Park. (Photo by Madison Square Park Conservancy)
By Sabina Mollot
Animal lovers who enjoy feeding the squirrels and birds in this city should do so quickly, because soon it won’t be allowed in the places where the aforementioned animals congregate.
As for the Stuy Town policy, this new rule comes after management conducted a resident survey on the subject (as well as dog-related policies for pet owners) last summer. Then, last Thursday, StuyTown Property Services made sure to remind tenants of the soon to come ban in its weekly e-blast, and the reason for it.
This was “due to several incidents involving resident children being bitten by squirrels.”
Light posts were left on while being tested on Monday in the park’s east section. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
After two months of darkness, over a dozen lampposts in Stuyvesant Square Park that had stopped working some time in November finally saw some repairs on Monday morning though the work is apparently still ongoing.
The lamps being out of order were reported to the city early on by the Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association as well as another park watchdog, Michael Alcamo and his Friends of Stuyvesant Square Park organization. Six of the lamp posts were in the park’s east section, with another four on Second Avenue, where the park is divided.
However, as Phyllis Mangels, a board member of the SPNA, explained it, while the association had reported the matter to Parks, Parks had to refer the matter to the Department of Transportation and as of Monday morning, Parks hadn’t gotten any feedback on when the lights would be fixed.
This meant the park had remained completely dark after dusk in some sections each night until shortly after Town & Village reached out to the DOT as well as Parks on Monday morning, which also coincided with some additional email nudging from SPNA and Friends.
The proposal follows the Madison Square Park Conservancy’s asking park goers to stop feeding the squirrels, arguing its caused more aggressive begging and damage to the park’s tree canopy. (Photo by Madison Square Park Conservancy)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Resident bird and squirrel-lovers, beware: a popular park pastime might soon be banned. The Parks Department announced last Friday that the agency will be holding hearings this March on changes to city rules that would prohibit park patrons from feeding birds and squirrels.
The Parks Department will be holding a public hearing on Friday, March 1 for a proposed amendment to the rules regarding feeding animals in parks. The current rules on wildlife feeding don’t specifically ban the feeding of birds and squirrels but under the proposed amendment, feeding all animals in city parks would be prohibited. Under the current rule, feeding all other animals in city parks, including in zoo areas, is not allowed.
The agency said that one of the main reasons for the new rule is to reduce food sources for rats and other rodents as a humane method of pest control.
“Sharing your last slice is generally good etiquette in NYC, unless you’re sharing it with a rat or a squirrel,” a representative for the Parks Department said. “Feeding wildlife in parks creates a mess and is bad for the health of our native wildlife. Through our new policy, we’ll make sure that squirrels, pigeons, and other animals don’t rely on takeout.”
“Washington 20/20/20” by artist Kenseth Armstead was installed around the monument’s pedestal. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
A new sculpture designed as a companion piece to the George Washington monument at Union Square Park was unveiled last Thursday.
The abstract, steel structure, titled “Washington 20/20/20” and created by artist Kenseth Armstead, references the 20 percent of the colonial population that were enslaved Africans, the 20,000 slaves in New York State in 1776 when Washington retreated from New York City and the 20 percent of Washington’s army that was African at Yorktown, Virginia, when he ultimately defeated the British in 1781. The piece was installed around the pedestal of the Washington monument at the park’s south end.
“This piece will spark fascinating discussions about representation, as well as racial and social justice in our country,” Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver said at the sculpture’s debut. “We are proud to count it among the thousands of public artworks exhibited in the 50-year history of Park’s public art program Art in the Parks.”
A construction worker was injured after falling at the Asser Levy Recreation Center on Thursday morning and taken to Bellevue Hospital.
The fall happened at about 8:30 a.m. and The Department of Buildings later issued a partial stop work order at the site.
Notes in the stop work order said the worker fell two stories from the roof to the sidewalk, sustaining “moderate injuries,” citing an Office of Emergency Management report. However, a spokesperson for the DOB told Town & Village the fall was from a second level of a supported scaffold to the base of the scaffold. A complaint entered on the DOB site said the worker fell 10-15 feet and had pain in his shoulder and was unable to move.
A spokesperson for the department said the workers were doing minor façade repairs, which don’t require a permit.
The series of events are for dog owners with questions or concerns about their local dog runs. (Pictured) Dogs and an owner at the Bellevue South Park Dog Run (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Sabina Mollot
Got a question or concern about Fido’s dog run? The New York City Parks Department is holding a series of four dog run town halls with the next one scheduled in Manhattan on April 14 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
The series, according to a spokesperson for the department Meghan Lalor, was inspired by similar public dog forums the department held in 2007 while finalizing an off-leash policy as well as a forum in 2010 when Assistant Commissioner Michael Dockett was named the agency’s “dog czar.”
Now, the department is “refreshing” the concept with the hopes of getting dog owners more involved in their local runs and to inform them about available resources. The first in the series on dog runs took place in Queens last weekend without about 40 people in attendance. The Manhattan venue will be the Tony Dapolito Recreation Center at 3 Clarkson Street, and dog owners should note that the event is for humans only.
Tower as seen from the west (Photos by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
A new tower has just risen in Union Square, but unlike when this normally happens, there will be no howling about zoning and affordability.
The tower is actually a sculpture made out of nearly 350 rose-colored crystals and it debuted on Friday morning at an island east of Union Square Park.
“Rose Crystal Tower” was the creation of Dale Chihuly, whose career in the arts has spanned 56 years. It was done in partnership with Marlborough Gallery, the Union Square Partnership and the Parks Department, and will remain on view through October 2018.
At a ceremony unveiling the sculpture, which will be lit up at night through 16 lighting fixtures, Parks Commissioner Bill Castro noted the installation was part of the 50th anniversary for the city’s program of putting art in public spaces. At this time, over 1,300 artists have had their work on display through the program in 2,000 installations.
The following is an open letter to William T. Castro, Manhattan Borough Commissioner of Parks, from Michael Alcamo, executive director of friends of Stuyvesant Square Park: Alcamo sent the letter a day after an oversized tree fell in Central Park, injuring a woman and her three children.
Dear Commissioner Castro:
We are writing to ask for a review of the tree safety and lighting conditions in Stuyvesant Square Park. Due to the wet weather this spring, and the recent hot, sunny days, trees in the western park are flourishing. We normally view this laudable; however, several trees are now obscuring lamp posts in the western park fountain plaza.
Neighbors have recently remarked how dark the park can be after sunset. With the shorter days approaching, we wish to bring this to your attention and ask for your assistance proactively.
At a Community Board 6 meeting, delays on getting the funding for the dog run for Bellevue South Park were explained. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Dog owners in Kips Bay are pushing the Parks Department to consider a temporary solution for the lack of a dog run in Bellevue South Park. Members of multiple neighborhood groups made their case at a recent Parks Committee meeting of Community Board 6, arguing that a temporary run near the basketball courts would give residents an immediate place to play with Fido instead of having to wait at least five years while the Parks Department completes additional renovations on the park.
Kips Bay Neighborhood Association member Karen Lee said at the meeting that there is an area north of the basketball courts that is already fenced in and the group has submitted an application for a grant for $280,000 from Borough President Gale Brewer’s office to make changes to the space, such as an access ramp, a nonskid surface and automatic openers for the entrance gates. Lee said that the funding is mainly necessary to make the space accessible for residents with disabilities, which she said is one of the main motivations for pushing for the dog run in the first place.
“Dog runs in the city aren’t ADA compliant,” she explained prior to the meeting. “This would be the first dog run in the city that is ADA compliant. Hospital row is right there and there’s a huge community of disabled people in this neighborhood who already use this park.”
Murphy’s Brother’s Playground (Photo courtesy of Parks NYC)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Community residents voiced their concerns about a plan to redesign two local playgrounds around a floodwall that’s part of the coastal resiliency project planned for the East Side.
They got a chance to provide input on changes for Asser Levy and Murphy’s Brothers playgrounds in a meeting last Thursday. This was the second public meeting on the subject.
Meanwhile, some residents were frustrated that the proposals from the mayor’s officer were the same as those presented at the previous meeting, held last November. Carrie Grassi, deputy director for planning at the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency, explained that this meeting was primarily scheduled to give residents a second chance to provide input at a more convenient location, since some had complained the previous meeting was held too far from the actual project area. The most recent meeting was held directly adjacent to the affected area at the VA Medical Center, while the previous meeting was held at Washington Irving High School.
“We wanted to give more people the opportunity to see the presentation with fresh eyes so they were unbiased in their feedback,” she said.
This plaque was recently installed in memory of a Kips Bay resident. (Photo by Claude L. Winfield)
By Michelle Deal Winfield
Several floral beds along tree pits near Peter Cooper Village and along East 24th Street were planted over the summer thanks to neighborhood volunteers.
Anthony “Tony” Jacoma, affectionately known as the Mayor of 24th Street, had requested a tree guard to prevent dogs from digging and soiling a tree he watered weekly.
On April 27, 2016 at the age of 93, Jacoma died. However, a coalition consisting of the Kips Bay Neighborhood Alliance, KBNA, Community Board Six, Manhattan, Amalgamated Bank and the New York City Parks Department later joined forces to erect a tree guard, plant seasonal flowers and install a plaque which is dedicated to the memory of Jacoma. The tree is located on 24th Street between Second and Third Avenues.
Meanwhile, across from Peter Cooper Village, four of the pits surrounding trees next to the bike lanes from 20th to 22nd Street have also gotten a facelift thanks to Vivian Dearie, a PCV resident.