Veterans Day celebrated in Stuyvesant Town

Flags on lawn2 Kristy

Residents place flags on the Oval lawn. (Photos by Kristy Ye-Ling)

By Kristy Ye-Ling

Despite frigid temperatures, around 150 Stuyvesant Town residents gathered on the Oval on Saturday morning for a Veterans Day ceremony held by management. General Manager Rick Hayduk welcomed everyone in brief opening remarks and introduced a few veterans. Then, residents had the opportunity to place American flags on the Oval lawn. A total of 7,008 flags were planted to express gratitude towards the servicemen and women who lost their lives since September 11th, 2001. Additionally, yellow paper was tied in bands around the trees in the area where residents (eventually hundreds) wrote thank you messages to veterans.

One of the veterans in attendance was former Navy personnelman Daniel Murphy, who shared, “I was in the Mediterranean three times, the Caribbean four times.” His most memorable experience was having President Kennedy on his ship during the Cuban crisis where he led a flotilla of 86 ships as a flagship.

 

 

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Crowds come out for Halloween in Stuy Town

On Saturday afternoon, families from Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village packed the Oval for the complex’s annual kids’ event for Halloween.

At any given time around hundreds of costume-clad celebrants milled around, picking pumpkins to decorate, dancing to music by the Alex Alexander Band or getting their faces painted. There were also carnival games, two bouncy houses and a haunted house. Management estimated the total figure of guests coming through at over 3,000, even with wristband-only access for residents and their guests.

Photos by Sabina Mollot

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Residents welcome flea market’s return

Near First Ave Loop

The first Stuyvesant Town flea market to be held in 17 years was well attended by vendors and shoppers.

By Sabina Mollot

On Saturday, thousands gathered around the Oval for the long awaited Stuyvesant Town flea market, last held before 9/11.

After the attack on the Twin Towers, management cancelled the annual market, citing homeland security, but then never again held another one. This led many residents to suspect the reason had more to do with the timing as the property was going market rate and the decades-long tradition was suddenly being seen as too low brow.

However, if the event’s comeback crowd was any indication, community members welcomed the opportunity to make a few bucks cleaning out their closets.

There were 510 vendor spots around the Oval, stretching north and south towards the inside of the First Avenue and Avenue C Loop roads. There were also a handful of vendors alongside the 14th Street and 20th Street Loops and even inside Playground 11. There weren’t many no-shows for vendor spaces (two percent according to management’s count), although at least one empty spot this reporter passed by was quickly scooped up by someone with a stash of handbags. It isn’t clear how long this would-be vendor was there though since selling bags was against management’s rules. Other rules, aimed at preventing bedbugs, forbid the sale of clothing and furniture.

Jade Lee, a longtime resident who’d set up her table early, said she’d made lots of sales of books and trinkets within the first hour.

“I just wanted to get rid of things in my apartment but half of it’s gone,” said Lee, who was stationed close to First Avenue.

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Easter in Stuyvesant Town

Crafts table (Photos by Maya Rader)

By Maya Rader

On Easter Sunday, children and their families celebrated in Stuy Town with an egg hunt, potato sack races and a visit from the Easter Bunny. The annual event also included arts & crafts tables, two bouncy houses and gigantic foam building blocks to play with. The egg hunt started at 12:15 and ended pretty soon after that with no egg left behind. According to management’s figures, around 2,500 people stopped by throughout the duration of the event.

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Pols sound off over noisy Oval concerts

Better Than Ezra

Better Than Ezra

By Sabina Mollot
Following two concerts that were held in Stuyvesant Town last week, including one by alternative rock group Better Than Ezra, local elected officials are calling on CWCapital to keep the noise level down during future events.
While noise complaints from residents living in Oval buildings following concerts or other big events on the lawn are nothing new, this year there apparently were more complaints than usual.

This was noted in a letter sent to CWCapital Managing Director Andrew MacArthur, which was signed by Council Member Dan Garodnick, Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh and State Senator Brad Hoylman. The letter was dated Tuesday, July 29 and in it, the politicians noted that “people complained from as far away as 272 First Avenue and 524 East 20th Streets,” about the loud music, “despite their efforts to tune it out.”

The letter added that there didn’t seem to be a way for frustrated tenants to complain to “resident services,” and recommended that management figure out a direct way for tenants to be able to reach someone with their concerns.
“On this, and other issues, we would welcome a more user-friendly mechanism for tenants to raise a concern with management,” Hoylman, Kavanagh and Garodnick said.
A spokesperson for CWCapital didn’t respond to a request for comment by T&V’s press time.

The concerts, part of Stuy Town’s returning Music on the Oval series, were limited to just the two concerts this year. The Better Than Ezra concert attracted a crowd of 700 people, according to management’s figures. Last year, the series included a performance by Soul Asylum, known best for the 90s alternative hit “Runaway Train.”

Upcoming events in Stuyvesant Town include film screenings, which are running most Wednesday nights through August 13 for residents and their guests. The next film to be shown is “The Sound of Music” on August 6 at 6 pm. On August 13, “Lego Movie” will be shown at 5 p.m. followed by “Fast and Furious 6” at 7 p.m.

UPDATE: The Tenants Association also released a statement, via email to neighbors, about the noise concerns.

ST/PCV undergoing landscape renovation

Chuck Hartsell, director of horticulture and landscape for ST/PCV, standing by the cherry trees in Peter Cooper Village, said more sustainability and visibility are the goals of ongoing landscaping work. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

Chuck Hartsell, director of horticulture and landscape for ST/PCV, standing by the cherry trees in Peter Cooper Village, said more sustainability and visibility are the goals of ongoing landscaping work. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot
Following one of the more brutal winters New Yorkers have seen in recent memory, spring has finally sprung and in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, this, as always, means there’s a major landscaping project in the works.
Those who’ve strolled around the complex over the past week may have noticed trees blossoming and some colorful new flowerbeds, as well as some contrasting lawn areas that still appear to be bare dirt or partially bare.
However, they won’t be that way for long, according to Chuck Hartsell, the property’s director of horticulture and landscape.
While on a brisk walk through the grounds of Peter Cooper as well as Stuy Town, Hartsell explained that at this point every garden area has been tended to and planted with flowers or grass. It’s just that certain types of plantings take longer than others to spring up, and there are some areas that will still need to be revisited.
The planting was all part of a renovation that began shortly after CWCapital took over the property in 2010. At that time the grounds were overplanted and the Oval, which had drainage issues and swells and dips, was in a condition that could be described as fair to poor.
Since then, close to 1,000 trees have been removed with most being donated to local nonprofits devoted to greening the city while around 100 of the trees that were in poor condition were mulched.
But these days the Oval is doing much better, far better in fact than expected.
“We thought we’d have to empty it and start from scratch,” said Hartsell of the Oval, while walking by its south end, which will be used again for greenmarkets starting this Sunday. The east end of the Oval meanwhile has seen some activity this past year in terms of having some older shade trees chopped down. Not surprisingly, this thinning out of the landscape was met with some community outrage, with residents blasting the move as arborcide.

The Oval lawn will be open soon to sunbathers and starting this weekend, to the Sunday greenmarket.

The Oval lawn will be open soon to sunbathers and starting this weekend, to the Sunday greenmarket.

But, insisted Hartsell, removing every other tree in that section was necessary.
“They were growing into each other,” said Hartsell, who’s worked in ST/PCV for the past two years. He’s had the title of horticulture and landscape director since the week of Hurricane Sandy, which also made significant restoration work of the property’s gardens and courtyards required.
As for the Oval trees, Hartsell called the decision to chop them “very painful,” but said it was done only after consulting with experts. “We had three arborists come in and give opinions.” Ultimately, they figured the trees would have eventually all killed each other if a few of trees, all yellowwoods, weren’t sacrificed. “It was either make the move or in 10-15 years, they all come down.”
Additionally, some shrubs were recently removed for better visibility of the Oval fountain. Better visibility was actually one of the goals of the ongoing landscape renovation, partially due to safety concerns.
Previously, Hartsell observed, everything “was planted so densely, you couldn’t see.”
Overgrown trees is always a concern though, and to prevent incidents of residents getting clobbered by low-hanging or heavy tree branches, one staffer has the task of walking through the whole complex on a bi-weekly basis to check where pruning may be needed.
“We’re always looking up,” said Hartsell.”

Chuck Hartsell, in Peter Cooper, said temporary fencing around lawns will soon be moved inward.

Chuck Hartsell, in Peter Cooper, said temporary fencing around lawns will soon be moved inward.

Another goal of the renovation is to create a more sustainable environment.
After Sandy, more plantings were brought in that could handle damage from salt, either salt used to melt snow in the winter or from flooded river water.
“Not that they could survive being submerged for hours on end, but they can handle a little damage,” said Hartsell.
To prevent waste of plants, the grounds crew has begun planting more annuals, which get more mileage than perennials. Also in abundance on site are shrubs (currently 13 or 14 varieties), cherry trees in Peter Cooper in more than one variety (with light and dark pink blossoms) and all around, oaks in four different varieties.
Being acorn producers, the oaks, which make up 30 percent of the trees in ST/PCV, are what feed the squirrel population. That is, when the squirrels aren’t being fed nuts by residents. Despite efforts by some to be discreet, the evidence of this is often uncovered by the gardeners.
“One of the most common weeds we pull is the peanut plant,” noted Hartsell.
While squirrels can do some damage to trees, Hartsell said it doesn’t tend to be too noticeable as they make their nests in tree parts that are already decaying. A bigger challenge is presented by dogs when owners allow them to do their business in the gardens. But for the most part, he said, owners have been respectful and the temporary fencing around lawns to prevent wear and tear by pedestrians of both the human and canine variety should be moved inward soon, closer to buildings.

A recently planted area in Stuyvesant Town

A recently planted area in Stuyvesant Town

“We’re in the process of moving the fences right now,” said Hartsell. Meanwhile during the course of the interview, one fence around a courtyard in Peter Cooper was spotted with a section that had been completely pried open — and not by a gardener.
As for the gardeners who maintain the 80-acre property, the crew now consists of six full-time staffers and 10 seasonal contractors. This is up from just the six full-timers last year.
Though it doesn’t sound like much for such a large workspace, Hartsell said it’s been enough.
On May 10, the grounds crew will work with Apple Seeds, the company that runs Oval Kids, to present a gardening workshop open to all children in the community.
Also in May, the Oval lawn will be open for use of sunbathers and others, ideally by the first week of the month.

Con Ed cleanup job at Oval

By Sabina Mollot

In case anyone’s wondering what a bunch of workers have been doing at the Oval with some equipment that looks like a vacuum, it’s part of a cable oil cleanup.

The workers, subcontractors for Con Ed, have been attempting to drain some oil that was used to insulate a cable that shot a circuit and opened yesterday, a spokesperson for the utility said.

The spokesperson, Sara Banda, added that the oil does not pose “a significant environmental impact” and no one’s service has been impacted as a result of the cable breaking.

The company is hoping to finish draining the oil by Friday afternoon.

The work began yesterday, and the reason it takes a while to complete the job is that first workers have to locate the problem area before fixing it and cleaning up the area, Banda said.