Art and robots will call new hospital home

A 37-foot dalmatian balancing a taxi on its nose greets patients outside the new Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On June 24, Kips Bay’s medical and science corridor will have one more hospital building, the 18-story Kimmel Pavilion at East 34th Street and First Avenue. The $1.2 billion facility, which is part of the NYU Langone Health campus, will include the Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital, the first children’s hospital to open in New York City in nearly 15 years.

While still off limits to anyone but construction crews and some hospital brass on Monday, the site was opened briefly for press and others who wanted a tour of the building, which has been in the works for the past 10 years.

The hospital will be unique for a few reasons, one of which is the attention paid to art. “Spot,” a 37-foot sculpture of a Dalmatian balancing a real New York City taxi on its noise, designed by artist Donald Lipski, greets patients at the entrance to the children’s hospital. There are also a number of other sculptures throughout the facility, designed to reflect the light under high ceilings. Others, like a rooftop waffle cone and oversized tennis ball, were clearly designed with underage critics in mind.

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Gore and Cuomo get down and clean in energy talk

Governor Andrew Cuomo and former Vice President Al Gore (Photo by Michelle Deal Winfield)

By Michelle Deal Winfield

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore along with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo both rolled out their vision of how to provide clean energy throughout New York State at a discussion hosted by New York University.

Hundreds attended the event on Friday, which was held at NYU’s Washington Square South Kimmel Center.

Gore, who received thundering applause upon stepping up to the podium, described how New York can help reclaim its environment by reducing fossil fuels. In 2011, 143 countries became involved in Gore’s Climate Reality Project which educates and advocates for climate change. He reiterated how scientifically, it’s known that the use of fossil fuels disrupts the water cycles. The North Pole and Artic regions are spilling out due to increased temperatures. The recent hurricanes are increasing every six months. Gore listed the following suggestions: 1) adding solar panels, 2) wind turbines and 3) the use of electric vehicles.

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Young physical rehab patients at NYU get a little ballet therapy

Ballet dancer Savannah Lowery gives a demonstration of how ballet steps can be adapted to upper body movements to children at NYU’s Rusk Rehabilitation Center.

Ballet dancer Savannah Lowery gives a demonstration of how ballet steps can be adapted to upper body movements to children at NYU’s Rusk Rehabilitation Center. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

For the young patients undergoing treatment at the pediatric unit at NYU’s Rusk Rehabilitation Center, the opportunity to experience “The Nutcracker” is a new one. That is, experience by learning some of the steps from a dancer from the New York City Ballet, as opposed to being merely an audience member.

For the young patients undergoing treatment at the pediatric unit at NYU’s Rusk Rehabilitation Center, the opportunity to experience “The Nutcracker” is a new one. That is, experience by learning some of the steps from a dancer from the New York City Ballet, as opposed to being merely an audience member.

As part of a program hosted by the NYC Ballet, soloist Savannah Lowery visited a small group of patients at the East 17th Street center earlier this month, going over the story of the timeless ballet and helping the kids adapt the steps into upper body movements since many are confined to wheelchairs.

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Man who sexually assaulted 3 women sentenced to 14 years

Juan Scott plead guilty on Wednesday for sexual assaults committed in 2014.

Juan Scott plead guilty on Wednesday for sexual assaults committed in 2014.

By Sabina Mollot

On Monday, a man who sexually assaulted two women in the East Village and another in a Stuyvesant Town elevator was sentenced to 14 years behind bars.

Juan Scott, who’s the cousin of actress Rosario Dawson, pleaded guilty in June to the three attacks. One of the victims was a woman he was dating but the others, including the one from Stuyvesant Town, were women he followed home.

Prosecutors had hoped for a 20-year sentence for Scott, who assaulted the three women over a period of several months in 2014.

He was arrested on October 19, 2014, two days after attacking a 20-year-old NYU student in Stuyvesant Town.

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Artist looking for ST residents to interview for art/history project

Walis Johnson, a filmmaker, artist and teacher at Parsons School of Design, is looking to interview residents of Stuyvesant Town who have lived in the neighborhood for 30 years or longer. The conversations will aid in her production of “The Red Line Archive,” a mobile art piece aimed at igniting public dialogue about the political, social and personal impacts of the 1938 Red Line Maps. The project will be part of the Art in Odd Places festival that takes place every October along the length of 14th Street.

Redlining refers to a federal map officially drawn in 1935 that selectively denied financing for housing mortgages, insurance and other services in neighborhoods demarcated by red shading on a map. Redlined neighborhoods became zones of disinvestment and urban neglect where services (both financial and human) were systematically denied to people of color and ethnic working class citizens.

For this years’ AiOP festival, themed “Race,” Johnson is working with photographer Murray Cox and NYU professor Aimee vonBokel to add information to the site specific exhibition about the area of 14th Street from First Avenue to Avenue C.

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Letters to the Editor, May 5

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

The graying of Peter Cooper Village

As in many buildings in Peter Cooper and Stuyvesant Town, mine houses its share of young people from NYU grad programs and professional schools plus a lot of recent grads from around the country starting their new jobs or families, many doubling into a single apartment seeking to ameliorate our ridiculous market rate rentals.

For me, now a longterm rent stabilized tenant, most of these people are a welcome and ebullient contrast to the way things used to be. In those olden days Peter Cooper seems to have been populated predominantly by an overdose of somber and lugubrious graybeards who mostly got their leases by knowing an insider at Met Life, whose children (if they had any) had long ago flown far from the parental nest, and whose notion of liberalism was to tolerate blacks in the development only if they were judges, commissioners or squirrels.

Now the place abounds with young professionals, young parents, young children and young dogs — all liberally sprinkled amongst us lucky traditionals holding out in our stabilized homesteads. For me, despite occasional rare bouts of overenthusiasm emanating from the newcomers’ apartments, this new mix is a delight. The “kids” are great. It’s as if my own kids and grandchildren were (thankfully) not living with me but were (thankfully) nearby.

So what’s all this about the place graying? Well, it seems one of the last major “improvements” undertaken by the last owner, CWCapital, was to paint all the apartment and stairway doors gray, install new gray baseboards in the hallways, and replace the existing hallway carpeting with matching gray-ish wall-to-walls. This project was accomplished right after management completed installation of two gigantic illuminated “EXIT” signs on every floor, pointing to the stairwell a few feet away from each. Considering large stains on the carpet immediately facing the elevators (recently caused by hurried workmen renovating the apartment opposite mine) and another sizeable stain down the hall caused by the resident doggie’s premature expulsion — both nicely offset against the carpet’s two-tone gray — these improvements, now including a few gashes of black that have mysteriously appeared on the wall near one of the stairwells, have created an institutional-like décor, somewhat of a dreary cross between a prison and a hospital. The couple in the just-renovated one-bedroom apartment is paying north of $4,000 a month (for their first year).

My respectful suggestions to this development’s new owner are as follows: 1) Get rid of any holdover decoration and design personnel, 2) put a little color and imagination into the next makeover, 3) as chaotic as this would be, form a tenants’ committee to get input from some of the people who live here.

Joe Lobenthal, PCV

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Sperm donations from ST trickle in

This mailing was sent last month to homes in three neighborhoods known for having large NYU student populations.

This mailing was sent last month to homes in three neighborhoods known for having large NYU student populations.

By Sabina Mollot

Two months ago, a midtown sperm bank raised some eyebrows in Stuyvesant Town when it sent out mailings to every apartment in the hope of recruiting NYU graduate and undergraduate donors.

“Go on spring break,” read postcards delivered to every apartment. “Pay for it by donating sperm.”

But despite all the controversy and some initial interest, the company, Manhattan Cryobank, isn’t exactly swimming in donations as a result.

Ty Kaliski, Cryobank CEO, said it had gotten applications from a “couple of handfuls” of young men in the community, but then not much in the way of followup. This will sometimes happen if a donor gets cold feet or just chooses not to follow through for other reasons.

“They sound great on paper, we contact them, but then we never hear from them,” said Kaliski. “We also contact them via phone.” As for the Stuy Town applicants, “Some of those guys were phenomenal. You can never tell if they’re geniuses, but there are extra-curricular activities. I wish we could get them through the door.”

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Garodnick questions Blackstone about crowded apartments

Councilmember Dan Garodnick (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Councilmember Dan Garodnick (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Following years of Stuyvesant Town residents complaining of dorm-style apartments, or more specifically, young people packing into apartments with pressurized walls, Council Member Dan Garodnick asked Blackstone to address the issue before taking over the property.

Garodnick made the request via a letter to Jonathan Gray, the Blackstone Group’s Global Head of Real Estate, that was sent on Monday.

In it, he noted the “persistent and troubling issue for many tenants: overcapacity apartments.”

“The city’s Housing Maintenance Code restricts a single dwelling to ‘not more than three unrelated persons,’” Garodnick said. “It is clear the number of unrelated residents may exceed that number in many apartments throughout the complex.”

He went on to note that it’s often students from New York University and other schools moving into these apartments, and because they aren’t staying in the complex long term, tend to be the source of noise complaints from neighbors. “This behavior is especially common when there are more individuals in an apartment than the law allows,” Garodnick said. “As you take ownership of the property, I am hoping you will take immediate action to correct this situation — including additional steps to keep apartments from being blocked off as dorm rooms — throughout Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village.”

Garodnick told T&V he thought this issue “should be a top priority for Blackstone, to not only assess but also to develop a game plan to deal with it.”

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Residents sound off about noise

ST/PCV residents listen to Gerry Kelpin, the Department of Environmental Protections Environmental Compliance Unit director. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

ST/PCV residents listen to Gerry Kelpin, the Department of Environmental Protections Environmental Compliance Unit director. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Frustrations were high for Stuyvesant Town tenants attending a forum on noise while trying to come up with solutions for peace and quiet in the neighborhood. The main complaint from tenants at the meeting, held by the ST-PCV Tenants Association at the PS 40 auditorium, was the seeming lack of enforcement on the part of management about noise issues. Discussing the issue with a crowd of around 70 tenants were city experts on noise.

“People will call management then management will call public safety, but by the time public safety comes up they won’t hear the noise,” Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg said. “They say not to get involved with your neighbors so you have to wait for public safety but the next thing you know, it’s going on again.”

In response, Noise Activities Chair for GrowNYC.org Dr. Arline Bronzaft said that she disagreed that tenants shouldn’t approach their neighbors.

“You should know your neighbors,” she said. “If there’s a problem, we should be able to interact with each other.”

Other residents felt that the lack of enforcement was due to the non-compliance of many apartments on the 80/20 carpet rule, which states in Stuy Town leases that 80 percent of the floor must be covered by carpeting to mitigate noise between floors.

“Two of the last three tenants who have lived above me were not compliant with the carpeting rule,” resident Arlynne Miller said. “You have to get (management) to jump through unbelievable hoops to get them to comply.”

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Letters to the Editor, June 25

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Unanswered questions about sanitation garage

To the editor and our community,

This is an open letter prepared for comments regarding a DEIS for the sanitation garage planned for the Brookdale site in our neighborhood.

This consolidated garage will be a big industrial facility located in between to two public hospitals, the NYU Dental School and just a few blocks from at least two large middle class apartment complexes and several schools. I believe we in this community are owed detailed, scientific explanations of New York City’s plans to handle various industrial activities within and around this garage.

1) The trucks will be washed with some regularity. Assuming this will take tons of water and chemicals to disinfect, how will this be handled? Assuming it will go into the sewer system, can the existing sewers handle these copious amounts? Are you planning to dig and expand the current pipes? For how many blocks? What sewage treatment plant will receive this? Will any of this go into the East River when there are storms? Are there any VOCs (volatile organic chemicals) used in this process and how are they handled?

2) A garbage truck has many moving parts and at least one hydraulic system. They will be repaired and/or serviced in this garage.  Such processes have to use petroleum products and benzene or similar solvents. Again, how are any VOCs handled? Please describe how waste from these repairs, refittings etc. will be handled.

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ST ‘angel’ funds neighbor’s film

A scene from “But Not For Me,” produced by Stuyvesant Town resident Jason Stefaniak

A scene from “But Not For Me,” produced by Stuyvesant Town resident Jason Stefaniak

By Sabina Mollot

It was in October, 2013, when Jason Stefaniak, an NYU graduate and Stuyvesant Town resident made an appeal, through an article in this newspaper, to get neighbors interested in a musical film he was producing, or rather hoped to produce after raising the funds via Kickstarter.

The campaign for the film, titled “But Not for Me,” which was about the millennial experience of making the rent in New York while also pursuing happiness, wound up raising an impressive $30,000. However, since that amount was far short of Stefaniak and the film director Ryan Carmichael’s goal of $100,000, under Kickstarter’s policy, this meant they ended up with none of the cash.

Not long after the Kickstarter deadline ended, however, Stefaniak got an email from a neighbor, which, after skimming it, he saw mentioned that its author wanted to make a contribution. Since he was busy at the moment, he figured he’d get back to her later to let her know the deadline had passed.

Then, later, Stefaniak took a closer look at the email and what she was offering. The woman, who said she’d read about the project in Town & Village, “wanted to help us cross the finish line,” he said.

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Letters to the Editor, Apr. 9

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Thanks, TA for speaking up for neighbors

Re: ST-PCV Tenants Association’s Al Doyle gives testimony at rent regulation extension signing,” T&V, Apr. 2

We are very fortunate to have such well-spoken leaders in our Tenants Association as Alvin Doyle and Susan Steinberg to voice our concerns to our representatives in the City Council and those in Albany.

Having had lived in Stuyvesant Town during my entire married life and now as a widow, I am grateful for the community spirit and have appreciated the warm neighborliness that PCVST has provided. It is all well and good to strive to provide for new affordable housing as this city was built by and maintained by a strong middle class. It would be tragic to lose PCVST, which has served this city so remarkably, while politicians are promising and possibly not delivering new affordable housing. A little common sense should prevail please!

And why should Albany, who takes so much from NYC, have anything to do with our homes! We should have home rule!

I once invited Bruno to tea…no, he did not come but I wanted to have a little sit-down with him! Look where he is now. Why is he not in jail? Why did he have anything to do with trying to get me out of my home? And I’m still here…

I am thankful to the leaders of our Tenants Association, Dan Garodnick, Mark Thompson, (State Senator) Brad Hoylman and his predecessor Tom Duane, (Assembly Member) Brian Kavanagh, District Leader Louise Dankberg and others who have fought for the rights of the middle class! I know I have left many out but you know who you are. All politics are local and we all need to continue to fight for what is right.

Finally I am grateful for Town & Village who has covered our community since day one and helps keep us all informed and provides a mouthpiece for our concerns.

Kay Vota, ST

Note: This letter was first published as a comment on the Town & Village Blog, town-village.com.

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ST author hopes book will help people mourning a loved one

Fran Alongi

Fran Alongi

By Sabina Mollot

It was nine years ago when Fran Alongi, a Stuyvesant Town resident, lost her mother to a massive stroke. Though it was hardly the first time someone close to her had died, the death, along with a months-long period in which she was ill, was one of the most painful experiences Alongi could recall going through.

Prior to her mother’s stroke, Alongi had been meaning to write a book about personal loss, but it was her death, she explained, that spurred her into actually doing it.

She’d worked on the story, the genre of which is contemporary fantasy, on weekends since then – up until recently she’d also always had a corporate day job — and finally finished it last fall.

Titled Moons of Koda, the story has since been released as an e-book, which Alongi self-published, and she’s hoping it will be as helpful for others in to read as it was for her to write.

“It’s about having hope and believing during the grieving process,” said Alongi. The death of her mother, she noted, has remained a challenge. “I still have urges to call her. It’s very hard.”

Initially, she’d intended her book to be a children’s book, but friends who’ve read it advised her that the content seemed equally — if not more — appropriate for adults. The story revolves around a mysterious, somehow unearthly character called Koda, who Alongi named after the Sioux Indian word for friend.

“She comes into the world in a dark way which makes the (other characters) think she is a threat, but she’s not,” said Alongi. “She’s essentially an angelic figure.”

Moons of Koda is set in the 1950s in a small town in Wyoming. It’s there where the title character encounters a family with three young children whose father has died. Since Koda needs a place to stay, the mother allows her to sleep in their shed.

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Letters to the Editor, Jan. 29

Jan29 Toon Silver gray

TA has been quite active in bedbug battle

Re: “Bedbugs are nothing new,” T&V letter, Jan. 22

To the Editor:

An anonymous writer in last week’s T&V made the wildly mistaken suggestion that the mention of bedbugs in a recent ST/PCV Tenants Association email regarding a City Council hearing on “short term rentals” such as Airbnb was the organization’s first acknowledgement of the serious bedbug problem in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village.

To clarify the matter: In 2012, the TA established a Bedbug Registry on its website. Since then, approximately 100 residents have reported to the Registry that they have had an infestation or have had their apartments inspected in management’s “cloverleaf” inspections of apartments adjacent to an infested one. The site keeps residents informed of trouble in their buildings, warns potential renters of the problem and, in some cases, alerts management to cases that may not have been reported to them.

In August 2013, in an all-out effort to raise the alarm on the spreading bedbug problem, the Tenants Association — at enormous expense — mailed to every one of the community’s 11,227 apartments a pamphlet from the NYC Department of Health explaining how to protect against infestations and actions to take if the bugs strike. The TA’s letter that accompanied the pamphlet noted that infestations had been reported in 20 percent of ST/PCV buildings in the previous three years. Anyone confronting a bedbug problem should notify Resident Services and go online to stpcvta.org, the TA’s website, click on the Bedbug Registry at the top left of the site, and let the TA know. The Registry asks only for building address and floor number, not a resident’s name or apartment.

Soni Holman Fink, PCV​

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New business aims to find sublets for students in Stuyvesant Town

Lucas Chu of NY College Rentals

Lucas Chu of NY College Rentals

By Sabina Mollot

While many longtime residents of Stuyvesant Town would be quick to argue that there are enough college students living in the community already, one entrepreneur is hoping to become the go-to person for students seeking a sublet at the property and said he’s arranged a few sublets already.

Lucas Chu, 27, has set up a website, nycollegerentals.com, aiming to connect would be subletters with residents looking to rent out their apartments for two to six month periods throughout Manhattan. However he’s currently pushing to do more in Stuy Town and the East Village, in particular Stuy Town due to its popularity with NYU students.

“I want to make that area my focus,” Chu told Town & Village on Tuesday. He’s found the sublets there and other neighborhoods south of Harlem through online listings, but said recently tenants and would-be subletters have also begun reaching out to him. “I want to represent more apartments in Stuy Town; there’s a lot of interest from NYU students,” he said. “So far I’ve handled three. I want to do more.”

The way it usually works is, after a tenant expresses interest, “I come over and assess the apartment. I take photos, I put up a listing,” Chu said. Listings go on real estate websites like Trulia and Streeteasy.

The service is free to the tenant offering the apartment, while the student pays a fee of 13.5 percent of what the rent costs each month of the stay. In order to comply with the illegal hotels law, which says residential units can’t be rented out for stays of 30 days or less, he’s made a point to make the arrangements a minimum of two months. Sublets can be for up to two years.

Chu, in his online bio, said he used to work for the Corcoran Group but recently branched out on his own and that he learned about working in real estate, including property management, from his father.

He’s been arranging sublets over the past year, he said, noting that some people just don’t want to get locked into a one or two-year lease. He also currently runs a commercial video production company called Melty Cone. His real estate website went up about six months ago, though this week, it attracted the attention of the Stuyvesant Town Report Blog for its push to get residents to sublet.

When told by this reporter about how the growth of the student population in recent years has also coincided with an increase in quality of life complaints from longterm tenants, usually of rowdy behavior and excess noise, Chu said, “There’s always anger when change happens. I guess I’ll do my research.”

When asked for CW’s thoughts about the new subletting service, Brian Moriarty, a spokesperson for the owner, said while management had no relationship to the company, it wouldn’t be CW’s place to tell Chu not to market a legal service to residents.

On his website, Chu notes that NYU “recommends our real estate services to all their students.”

However, a spokesperson for NYU, when questioned by T&V, said that isn’t exactly correct, although NYCollege Rentals is mentioned on the university’s website on a page offering information to students to aid in their apartment searches. NYU spokesperson Philip Lentz, said, “The site is listed among other sites in our resources for students. It’s not an endorsement.”

The mention of NY College Rentals also notes that NYU students get a discount on the broker fee though the company isn’t affiliated with NYU. NYU’s website also says that there are around 250 graduate students living in Stuyvesant Town in apartments leased through the school.