Letters to the Editor, Oct. 29

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

What about the 6,000 other apartments?

I’m writing to express my extreme displeasure with the terms of the recent sale of PCVST, which the mayor and our elected officials have been touting as a victory in the press.

I believe this “victory,” unfortunately, serves the mayor’s political agenda more than it does the PCVST community as a whole. While reserving 5,000 units for affordable housing is a good thing – and an admirable goal to strive for – it will, sadly, come at the expense of the other 6,000+ apartments, including market rate renters, the majority of whom are hard-working families who want to live in PCVST because it is a great place to raise a family and is zoned in a great public school district.

These people are struggling like any other New Yorker. There are no millionaires living here. This deal has sold out more than half of this community – and yet there was Mayor de Blasio, flanked by our trusted elected officials, boasting of how he “saved” STPCV.

The mayor had a real opportunity to effect real change in this community. Instead he took the politically convenient route: finding the easiest way to add numbers to his affordable housing quota. What he failed to take into consideration is PCVST’s uniqueness. It is a whole community, not a spreadsheet. He could have used his political clout to not only save those 5,000 units, but to work toward a plan for tenant ownership, which would have ensured a true, long-lasting, and better community – and helped the community as a whole.

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CW requests, then pulls request for wine and beer license at Oval Café

Oval Cafe may soon sell beer and wine. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Oval Cafe  (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Sabina Mollot
That was fast.
A rep for CWCapital, who’d been scheduled to request a wine and beer license for Oval Café on Thursday, pulled that request on Tuesday.
The license request for the Stuyvesant Town coffee joint had been scheduled to take place at a meeting of Community Board 6. However, by Tuesday afternoon, that application was scrapped due to a timing issue by that representative, Spencer Rothchild of Barrio Foods consulting firm, said Sandro Sherrod, the chair of CB6.
Sherrod, who’s also a resident of Stuy Town, said he didn’t want to comment on the license request until he actually heard the proposal. And the request could be made again at another time.
A spokesperson for CWCapital said the application was pulled pending consultation with community leaders.
However, this was after the plan was blasted by John Marsh, president of the ST-PCV Tenants Association, and Council Member Dan Garodnick.
Garodnick told Town & Village he’d made his feelings known to CWCapital expressing how “wholly inappropriate” he believes it is to have alcoholic drinks sold at the Oval.
“To change (the café) to a place where people congregate for beers changes the entire establishment to something different and makes it less family friendly,” said Garodnick early on Tuesday.
He added that he was annoyed about having to find out about the plan not from CW but from CB6. Still, he said he hoped management would rethink the plan.
“They were responsive when we raised concerns about the Public Safety office and I hope they will consider this as well in the community’s interest,” he said. This was in reference to management’s agreeing to remove a driveway from in front of the new Public Safety office for the officers’ vehicles in response to residents’ complaints.
Though he stressed he was speaking as an individual and not on behalf of the Tenants Association, Marsh also said he opposed a liquor license in a post on the TA’s Facebook page.
“I feel like if you want a drink go back to your apartment or to a neighborhood restaurant or bar,” he said. “The Oval is a place that was designed for peace and quiet. Coffee is one thing. Alcohol is another.”
Local blog Stuyvesant Town Report also blasted the plan, saying it would encourage rowdy behavior. CW, the author wrote, “should be thoroughly embarrassed.”
Following the news about the application being pulled, Garodnick said, “We appreciate that CompassRock has pulled this application. Selling beer and wine in the Oval Café could have very harmful consequences and we are relieved that management has taken a step back.”
Susan Steinberg, chair of the TA, added that even though the application has been pulled for the time being, tenants should still let CB6 know if they have something to say about it.
“Of course, the TA is pleased that the application was withdrawn and will be given more consideration,” she said. “There are many issues to be addressed and reasons why such a license is troubling. In the meantime, it is extremely important that residents with concerns email their comments to the CB6 (office@cbsix.org) because these comments will be held for the future should the license be reapplied for.”
Not everyone had been against the idea though.
A longtime Stuy Town resident, Kay Vota, told T&V, “I don’t have a problem with it as long as people act responsibly.”
Still, she said she guessed there would be some controversy.
“You can please some of the people some of the time but you can’t please everybody all the time, and in Stuyvesant Town you never have anything new where people don’t have something to say about it.”
Another resident, who’s lived in Stuy Town for four years, David Burstein, also said he didn’t think it would have been a problem.
“The whole neighborhood is surrounded by bars; I don’t think it would have been detrimental. I think people would be respectful and appropriate about it,” he said. Burstein added that for cafés, it’s “tough to stay afloat” without selling alcohol. “It’s the reality of the world we are living in.”
Since its opening in the summer of 2012, Oval Café has sold coffee, pastries and sandwiches and in the summer, offered a clear view of sunbathers on the lawn.
Ironically, though there was never a liquor license previously at Oval Café or the amenity space that came before it, Oval Lounge, it was once the site of a bar-style brawl. It was there where brokers for then-owner Tishman Speyer got into a fight at a private party, with one getting bashed over the head with a beer bottle.

This article was updated to include an additional comment from Council Member Garodnick, a comment from Susan Steinberg and information from Sandro Sherrod and CWCapital.

CompassRock sends alert: Some buildings won’t have gas service until after Thanksgiving, Bikes and trunks to be removed from buildings, Guards stationed at some PCV buildings

On Friday evening, management sent out the following email alert to residents with updates on many of the different issues of concern to residents since the hurricane. To sum up, topics include utility services (all buildings have power except for 6 Peter Cooper Road which is still on a generator) and heat (all buildings have it restored though due to ongoing repairs, some residents may experience excessive heat. As for Amenity spaces, Oval Fitness is not expected to reopen for another six months. Additionally, American Leisure is no longer involved. Various management departments are still stationed in the other Amenities spaces on the Oval. In other topics, bikes are being removed from flooded basements as are trunks from the trunk rooms wherever possible, and in both cases, residents will have 30 days to claim their property. On Quik Park-related matters, management has been pushing the company to communicate more with residents.

Read on for the full communication:

RESIDENT NOTICE – WEEK OF NOVEMBER 12

We are writing to provide a comprehensive update on the status of repairs and services at the property.  Since our last update we have made significant additional progress including:

  • Restoring  gas service to two buildings ahead of schedule
  • Restoring elevator and  handicap lift service in all  Peter Cooper Village buildings
  • Opening garages for insurance adjusters and encouraging Quik Park to increase communications with its customers
  • Repairing the electronic heat regulation system in Stuyvesant Town
  • Restoring four water pumps in Peter Cooper Village to increase water pressure
  • Relocating management staff so normal work orders and other resident business can continue

Restoring services to our property as safely and quickly as possible remains our top priority.   We have made a lot of progress in restoring services since the storm and are keenly aware that our job is not yet complete.   Critical priorities going forward include: Restoring gas service to all buildings,  returning utility fed power to 6 PCR, fixing key card access and intercom systems in impacted buildings, repairing the electronics that control and monitor our heat distribution system in PCV, repairing the damaged water pumps in PCV and helping residents gain access to their personal property located in basements.   At the same time, we are also working hard to return a sense of normalcy to our community, particularly around the holiday season.  While life at PCVST will go on, please understand that this work is being done separately with separate resources from the restoration efforts.  Restoring services to our property as safely and quickly as possible remains our top priority.

In the update below, we have tried to provide the most up-to-date and complete information that is available.  In some cases, we are still not yet able to provide estimates due to the extent of damage and complexity of the required repairs, but we are aware of these issues and are working to resolve them. We continue to work through the challenges the storm has caused and will provide updated information and timelines as they become available.

We want to extend our continued thanks for your patience, understanding, and support during the last few weeks.   We have all been faced with a difficult set of circumstances as a result of the storm and we are incredibly proud of how our entire community pulled together to support one another.

UTILITY SERVICES

Electricity:  All 110 buildings have had full power restored. 6 Peter Cooper Road is the only building currently running on generator power due to the damage sustained by the manhole explosions.

Unfortunately, Con Ed has found that the damage to their systems was worse than anticipated and as a result, 6 PCR will remain on generator power for an additional week.  As a preventative measure, we have taken the following additional steps to ensure consistent electricity from the generator:  we are manning the generator 24 hours a day; we have increased fuel delivery to maintain the generator and are keeping back-up fuel available at all times; and we are keeping an additional backup generator onsite in the event of any malfunction with the current generator. We ask residents to be mindful and conserve energy wherever possible, especially during morning and evening peak times, in order not to overload the temporary generator.

We will notify you in advance of the conversion from generator to permanent utility power which will necessitate a temporary power shut-down of several hours. Elevators will be checked and shut down prior to shutting down power for the conversion.

Gas Service: We remain on or ahead of our previously published schedule to restore gas service.  We are happy to report that gas service in 7 Peter Cooper Road and 531 East 20th Street has been restored.  In the event there are any delays in restoring gas to the remaining buildings, we will notify you immediately.

Please note that in order to complete the restoration of gas service, it is necessary for our staff to access all of the impacted apartment homes throughout the coming two weeks (except Thanksgiving) between the hours of 9AM and 7PM.  Unfortunately, it is difficult to provide advance notice as we are dependent on ConEd.  Access to apartments in the impacted buildings is necessary to complete service restoration and your cooperation in the matter is essential to the restoration of gas service. A security guard and locksmith assist with entry into all apartments.  If you have installed your own top lock, please be sure to leave it unlocked daily during these times until gas service is restored in your building.  If we need to access your apartment and the top lock is locked, we will have no choice but to drill through it.

We continue to expect gas service to be restored by Saturday, November 24th for the following buildings:  309, 315, 319, and 321 Avenue C; 400 and 410 E20th Street; 330 First Avenue.  At this point, our assessment indicates that gas service will not be restored for these buildings in time for Thanksgiving and we apologize for that inconvenience.  However, we remain on track for the restoration schedule published on November 3 and we will continue to update you as new information becomes available.

Unfortunately, we also experienced new gas service interruptions earlier this week in two Stuyvesant Town buildings, 285 and 287 Avenue C, due to shut downs required by ConEd as a result of pressure issues in their systems offsite. Initial assessments indicate that gas will be restored to these buildings within three weeks. We will continue to keep you informed as we get additional updates from ConEd.

Regarding buildings which sustained damage to gas meters and were flagged for a “Potential Shut-Down,” our assessments thus far lead us to believe that the shut-down will not be necessary. We continue to monitor these affected buildings: 441, 511, 541, and 601 E 20th St; 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8 Peter Cooper Road. We will alert you in case of any change in status.

Heat Service: Heat service has been restored to all 110 buildings. The electronic system which controls the distribution of heat, and therefore regulates apartment temperature, was damaged by the storm. The system which supports Stuyvesant Town has been repaired; the system which supports PCV remains under repair.  As a result, in PCV, valves must be opened and closed manually by our engineers, which means that for the time being, some apartments may experience excessive heat.

Water Service: Hot water service has been restored property-wide, though the motors for the water pumps which support water distribution to all of PCV are still undergoing repair. Of the 12 pumps in PCV, only two functioned after the storm. We now have six pumps working but the additional six remain out of service. We continue to procure the necessary parts to fix the motors and restore all 12 pumps.  In the meantime, these six pumps have been providing increased water pressure, nonetheless we ask everyone to continue to be mindful and conserve water, particularly during peak hours in the mornings and evenings.

Elevator Service: Elevator service has been restored property-wide, with only three PCV buildings, 7 and 8 Peter Cooper Road and 440 E23rd Street, still undergoing elevator repairs to one passenger elevator. 6 Peter Cooper Road has one elevator in service while it remains on temporary generator power. We remain on schedule to have these elevators fixed by November 21st.   In PCV buildings affected by flooding, the elevators will not go to the lower levels until the basements are fully restored.

Handicap Lifts:  All handicap lifts in affected Peter Cooper Village buildings have been restored and were operational as of last night.

Cable Service: If you are still experiencing outages for cable service, please contact your provider directly. Below is information we have received regarding specific providers –

–          RCN completed repairs to their on-site to equipment damaged by the storm.

–          Verizon crews are on-site working on repairs to their equipment damaged by the storm.

–          Time Warner Cable has not contacted us since the storm concerning any repairs.

 

 

PCVST MANAGEMENT OFFICE & SERVICES

Due to the extent of the damage to the PCVST Management Office, we have relocated most of the staff to various locations throughout the property, as well as certain functions such as Accounting and Legal to temporary offices off-site. We have restored access to our IT systems; continue to repair the phone system, and to provide staff with supplies and equipment so that they can resume full business operations.

We are also working on more suitable, long-term plans for the relocation of the Management Office staff throughout the property. We appreciate your understanding while we work under these constraints. Below you will find updates about various departments from which you may require assistance.

Resident Services: Resident Services has been relocated to Oval Study from Oval Kids due to a building-specific flooding issue. Operating hours are Monday through Friday from 8am to 8pm and Saturdays and Sundays from 8:30am to 6pm. Contact information for Resident Services is provided below, as well as how to reach PCVST staff members concerning accounting, legal or leasing matters.

In addition to responding to emergency Work Orders (toilet/drain stoppages and non-functioning refrigerators and stoves), we have also resumed servicing normal work order requests. Residents may request maintenance repairs either via the PCVST Resident Portal, accessible viapcvst.com or by calling (888) 885-8490 and leaving a voice message with detailed contact information and the nature of the issue. While we continue to restore our normal operations, we are limited in our ability to complete repairs when residents are not home, even if they provide permission to enter. To address this issue, we are working to expand service capacity during evening hours when more residents are at home. We will notify you once this is in effect.

Public Safety: The new headquarters for Public Safety can be found at Oval Studio. We will continue to supplement our security team as necessary over the coming months as we complete restoration efforts. Security cameras have been restored and the property key room remains secure and has been relocated.

Management Office Contact Information: While we work to repair our phone system, we have set up email addresses in order to make it easier and faster to reach the appropriate PCVST staff member.  When sending emails, please include your name, contact information, and the nature of your inquiry.    We will respond to email submissions within 24 hours between the hours of 9am to 5pm.

Resident Services:                 living@pcvst.com

Accounting:                           accounting@pcvst.com

Legal:                                    legal@pcvst.com

Leasing:                                lease@pcvst.com

You may also call (888) 885-8490 to leave a voice message with your contact information and the nature of your call. A staff member will get back to you within 24 hours between 9am to 5pm.  We continue to work on complex phone system repairs required due to the damage caused by the storm to the Verizon equipment. We hope to restore our phone lines in the next week.

For Public Safety, please continue to call (347) 680-2212. In case of emergency, please call 911.

Access Cards & Keys: All Stuyvesant Town Card readers are operational at this time. In PCV, card readers are currently out of service in a number of buildings due to damage to the card reader control panels located in the basements caused by the flood. In the meantime, security guards are posted at these doors checking IDs and controlling access. The buildings affected include the main entrances to 511, 531, 541 and 601 E 20th Street; 440, 510, and 530 E 23rd Street; 7 and 8 Peter Cooper Road; and the basement entrances to 441 E 20th Street; 420 E 23rd Street; and 3, 4, 5 and 6 Peter Cooper Road.  We are working with our third-party security contractors to restore the system as quickly as possible and will keep you informed of progress on these repairs.

As an interim solution, all buildings with damaged card key access will have new cylinders installed on the entrance doors which can be unlocked using the carriage room key for that address. We will provide keys, free of charge, to any resident who may require a key.

We are now able to provide new building access cards, which can be requested at the Public Safety office in Oval Studio. Residents may also request to have keys made by contacting Resident Services and picking up the keys at Oval Study. Please do not share access cards or keys with others.

Intercoms: The intercom systems at Stuyvesant Town are operational, except that at this time they cannot reach Security through the intercom due to the flooding of the Security office on Avenue C. We are working to re-route the security lines to the new security office and expect that to be completed by early next week.

The system which supports intercom service in several of the buildings in PCV has been damaged by the storm. We continue to work with the intercom system manufacturer to repair the service.  We expect intercom service to be repaired by the week of November 26th for the following buildings:  431 and 441 East 20th Street, 2, 3, 4, and 5 Peter Cooper Road, and 350, 360, 370 and 390 First Avenue.  Other intercom systems in Peter Cooper Village sustained greater damage and will take longer to repair.   The intercom company is working to expedite those repairs but is not yet able to provide an estimated timeline.  These buildings are:  420, 440, 510 and 530 East 23rd Street, 511, 531, 541 and 601 East 20th Street and 6, 7 and 8 Peter Cooper Road.  We will provide an estimated timeline as soon as it is available.

Sanitation:  The trash chutes are now operational in all 110 buildings. In PCV, bins placed outside of buildings affected by flooding should no longer be used for household trash, but rather for recyclables until further notice.

Basements:  Basements in PCV and the terrace level of Stuyvesant Town buildings were impacted by flood water and sustained significant damage. We remain focused on restoring and repairing all of the basements and will continue to work with our professional contractors, our environmental engineers and our professional restoration crews to complete the work as safely and as quickly as possible.  Residents should be comforted to know that there is no common ventilation system between basements and the upstairs residential and common areas in any of our buildings.  As a preventative measure, we are in the process of sealing off some of these basements and dehumidifying these areas to remove excess moisture from the concrete and to help us restore these basements to their original conditions.

While we have engaged professionals in large scale restoration efforts, we would also advise our residents to review the information laid out by the New York State Department of Health which addresses questions regarding flood recovery including how to handle personal property that may have been stored in flooded areas. Please refer to: http://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/emergency/weather/hurricane/faq/docs/faqs.pdf

Limited Access: In some cases we have closed basements for ongoing restoration work. We will soon begin providing controlled access to some buildings, where residents will have the opportunity to retrieve personal property from their NTT storage units and remove bicycles.  Residents will have until November 30th to retrieve their property and any items left behind will be discarded. The controlled access schedule is as follows:  Weekdays between 5:30PM and 9PM and weekends from 10AM-2PM. Controlled access begins this afternoon at 5:30PM.  Tenants wishing to access these basements should report to the tent outside of PCV Playground 1 at these times and they will then be escorted by security to the basements.  Only residents who reside in the buildings or have an NTT storage locker in the buildings will be given access.

The affected basements with limited access are as follows: 3, 4, 5, 6 Peter Cooper Road; 441, 541, and 601 and 620 East 20th Street; 420, 440, 510, and 530 East 23rd Street.

No Access: Residents may not access basements in 511 and 531 E20th Street and 7 and 8 Peter Cooper Road for the foreseeable future due to the extensive damage in these areas.

–          Storage: NTT Storage will communicate to customers with storage units in those buildings with further details by Saturday.

–          Bicycles: To the extent that we are able, we will remove bicycles and securely store them in  Playground 1 in PCV where residents can claim them over a period of 30 days, after which, unclaimed bikes will be discarded.  To claim your bicycle, please be sure to bring the key or combination to your bike lock.

Trunks: Trunk retrieval has been suspended throughout the property. We will remove all trunks located in buildings impacted by flooding. Those which are salvageable and intact will be moved to a warehouse where residents will have the opportunity to claim them over a thirty day period.  As soon as the trunks have been relocated, we will provide additional details.

Peter Cooper Road: Peter Cooper Road has been reopened following repairs completed due to the storm. The 30-minute parking rule is back in effect.

Playgrounds PCV1 and PCV2: These playgrounds are currently closed while we assess and repair the damage that may have occurred to the surface area during the storm. We will inform you once they are reopened.

Local Law 11 Project / Façade Work: Despite the on-going property wide restoration efforts, the on-going façade work in PCV and façade work planned in ST remains on schedule and in compliance with Local Law 11 which mandates the inspection and repair of all building facades every five years. In Peter Cooper Village 7 PCR and 601 E20th Street the work has been restarted and should be completed by end of January. The initial phase of work in Stuyvesant Town has commenced at 2, 4, 6, and 16 SO. Over the next couple of weeks start of work notifications be communicated to residents in the following additional building: 8, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19, 20, and 21 Stuyvesant Town Oval; 610, 620, 622, 624, 626, and 628 E20th Street; and 315, 319, and 321 Avenue C.

RENT ABATEMENT

Tenants without heat, elevator service, or electricity following the storm will not be charged rent for any day in which they were without one or more of those services. Residents will receive a communication advising of your abatement amount. Unfortunately, due to the damage of our technology equipment we will not be able to provide the credit in the December bill.  We expect to be able to offer the credit in time for the January billing cycle.

 

THIRD PARTY SERVICES

Parking Garages: Quik Park has reopened garages 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 for business.  Customers whose vehicles were in Garages 2, 3, 4, or 5 during the storm will not be billed for November and for December 1-15.  Please contact Quik Park directly to work out your accommodations concerning your vehicle. The Garage Manager will be available at Garage 1, located on 20th Street. Please also note that all damaged vehicles not removed from Garages 2, 3, 4 or 5 by December 15 will be towed by Quik Park at the vehicle owner’s expense. QuikPark sent a more detailed update to all customers earlier this week.   For additional information, please see the Manager in Garage 1 or contact Quik Park at 212-832-2066.

Laundry Service: We are working with MacGray, our laundry service contractor, on a detailed plan to restore laundry rooms flooded during the storm. Buildings with laundry rooms damaged by the flood include: 441, 511, 531, 541, 601 and 620 E20th Street; 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 Peter Cooper Road; and 420, 440, 510 and 530 E23rd Street; and 319 Avenue C.  Additionally, the dryers will not work in buildings currently experiencing gas outages: 285, 287, 309, 315, 319, and 321 Avenue C; 400 and 410 E20th Street; and 330 First Avenue. We will provide a timetable for the restoration of full laundry service in those buildings as soon as we can.

In response to inquiries we have received, we cannot provide access to buildings with functioning laundry rooms at this time. In the meantime, Oval Concierge offers free pick-up and delivery for laundry service. All residents are welcome to use this service. In the buildings where laundry rooms were not affected by the flood, we are aware that laundry card machines are currently taking cash only. This is due to the damaged phone lines and hope to have the issue resolved upon the restoration of our phone system. For additional information, please call 1-800-MAC-GRAY. For a list of laundry rooms in the neighborhood, please visit the pcvst.com Alerts page.

NTT Storage: Please refer to the updates regarding basements detailed above concerning access to storage units in buildings which sustained flood damage. Billing has been suspended for customers of affected units as of Monday, October 29, 2012. NTT Storage will provide tenants with individual notifications regarding their storage units shortly. For additional information, please contact NTT Storage directly at (212) 253-2435.

Oval Fitness: The fitness facility sustained significant damage from the flood. We are working to remove equipment, clean out the space, and rebuild the facility as quickly as possible and we hope to reopen within six months, if not sooner. Members will receive individual letters in the coming weeks providing the necessary details for their accounts, including information about refunds. Also, please note that because of the extensive damage and the extended downtime for the facility, American Leisure will no longer be involved in the day-to-day operations.  They have provided us with all of their records, so please email living@pcvst.com for any questions related to Oval Fitness.

Oval Kids, Café, and Study: These amenity spaces, which are currently operated by American Leisure, are closed indefinitely. We will update you when these amenities are scheduled to be restored. All Oval Essentials memberships have been suspended indefinitely and refunds will be applied. Members will receive individual letters with details about their accounts. For additional information, please visit the Oval Essentials office adjacent to Oval Café.

Oval Concierge: The Oval Concierge remains operational with standard operating hours (Mon-Sat from 8am to 8pm) and is available for package delivery and receipt, laundry, housekeeping, and other services. Shuttle service is running on its usual route and schedule.

PCVST Ice Rink: PCVST’s seasonal ice rink, operated by Ice Rink Events, will open this Saturday, November 17th at 11am. Residents are invited to enjoy free admission all day this Saturday. For operating hours, lessons, and other details, please visit pcvst.com. For additional information, please contact icerink@pcvst.com.  The completion of the ice rink was accomplished using separate outside contractors and did not impact any of our on-going restoration efforts.

Community Center: The Community Center has resumed its standard operating hours and basic daily programming has resumed (including card and board games and Friday movie screenings), with the exception of the senior fitness classes due to the lack of available space (now that 300 First Avenue is occupied by PCVST staff).

Greenmarket: Due to the restoration efforts underway and the Local Law 11 work that has begun, the Greenmarket will not be returning to Stuyvesant Town for the remainder of this year. We will notify you if the market gets set up in a location near the property.

We thank you again for your understanding and patience throughout this restoration period. We will continue to provide you with updates and post information on pcvst.com. We also invite you to celebrate the holiday season among neighbors and friends, starting with the Tree Lighting ceremony on November 29th, followed by a number of other festive events in the coming weeks.