Homeless hogging Gramercy wi-fi kiosks, say business owners

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

When the new wi-fi towers on Third Avenue arrived at the beginning of this year to replace defunct payphones in the neighborhood, Orbit News manager Ali Siddiqui thought it would be helpful for the occasional tourist that came into his shop looking for a map. But he said that it didn’t take long for the spots to get taken over day and night by various homeless people.

When a reporter was in the neighborhood last Friday, there was a man with his own rolling desk chair hooked up to the kiosk in front of the newsstand on the east side of the Avenue near East 20th Street and Siddiqui said that he had been in the same spot for three straight days.

“He brought his own chair and he just stays there, sitting and eating,” Siddiqui said.

He added that there are occasionally multiple people at the kiosk at once, usually streaming content through YouTube, and the men occasionally get aggressive when the sidewalk gets more crowded.

“Tourists want to use it but no one can because the same people are always there,” he said. “Customers complain about this to me all the time. This is a good neighborhood but since this started, it’s a nuisance.”

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Paddy Maguire’s bar turning 20

Patrick Maguire inside his horse racing themed bar in Gramercy (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Patrick Maguire inside his horse racing themed bar in Gramercy (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

When Paddy Maguire’s owner Patrick Maguire originally came to New York when he was 21 it was only supposed to be for three weeks, but he liked it so much he ended up staying. Since then, Maguire opened up the bar at 237 Third Avenue and the spot is celebrating its 20th anniversary this weekend.

Although he did have prior bartending experience before opening Paddy Maguire’s Ale House at the Water Club, his career change was more drastic than that of most bar owners.

“I was an apprentice jockey for about five years,” he said, explaining that he moved from his native Kilmallock, Ireland to England for the experience. “But I started growing my legs and soon they were three feet longer than they should’ve been, so I said the hell with it. You can only be so tall as a jockey. You either hurt yourself trying or you get out.”

Out of his 12 other siblings, it had been Maguire whose father singled out as the one son who would be involved in horses. But it wasn’t pushed on him. Maguire said that he genuinely enjoyed the experience.

“I loved every minute of it,” he said. “And it was good discipline. They were very strict. It was like being in a convent, to be honest.”

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THANK YOU: Generous T&V readers donate toys for the holidays

Bonnie Robbins, coordinator of children and family services at Beth Israel, with some of the toys at her Second Avenue office (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Bonnie Robbins, coordinator of children and family services at Beth Israel, with some of the toys at her Second Avenue office (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

At Town & Village, holding a toy drive around the holidays to raise money for kids undergoing treatment at a local hospital is a tradition that’s spanned decades.

This year, thanks to the generosity of our readers, nearly 100 toys were collected to benefit Beth Israel Medical Center. The toys will be distributed to kids spending their Christmas at the pediatric department as well as to families who whose members are patients of the hospital’s outpatient clinics, who in many cases, could not afford gifts for their children.

Among the haul were gifts suitable for kids of all ages from babies to tweens, including dolls, action figures, games, books and a few gadgets.

Bonnie Robbins, coordinator of children and family services at Beth Israel, said the toys were especially needed this year.

Following Sandy, she noted, more families have been utilizing the hospital’s clinics. This has been in an addition to an uptick in families since the recession began.

“People have had to focus on their basic needs,” said Robbins, “so it’s especially necessary for us to be able to provide something. No parent wants to feel like they can’t give their kid something to celebrate the holidays and we help parents who would have a tough time doing that.”

Robbins as well as the staff at Town & Village would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to those who donated as well as those who offered space as toy dropoff points. This year’s dropoff points were the Waterside Plaza management office, the Waterside Swim & Health Club, M&T Bank on First Avenue, Paddy Maguire’s Ale House and the Stuyvesant Town Community Center.