DEC: Contaminant recovery wells won’t be intrusive

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New York State Department of Conservation project managers Gardiner Cross and Doug MacNeal at a public meeting last Wednesday (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel 

With a contaminant recovery plan having been proposed for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, representatives from the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) addressed concerns of residents last week at a public meeting.

This included making assurances that wells the DEC and Con Edison plan to build in ST/PCV to collect the leftover chemicals so they can be disposed of wouldn’t be intrusive. Con Ed has been working with DEC on what’s been referred to as a “remediation” for the site, which was once home to a manufactured gas plant (MGP).

The DEC had actually directed Con Edison to begin remediation for this project back in 2011. However, DEC project manager Doug MacNeal said during the meeting that the process was delayed for the last five years because of the changes in ownership at ST/PCV.

MacNeal said that exact locations haven’t been determined for the wells yet, but Council Member Dan Garodnick, who was also at the meeting, which held at Beth Israel last Wednesday, said that he would push DEC to site them as far away as possible from doors, windows and playgrounds.

One possible location for the wells, of which there will be 10 in Peter Cooper and six in Stuy Town, would be inside the garages. Meeting attendees burst into laughter when geologist and DEC project manager Gardiner Cross said that this was because the garages already have good ventilation. However, MacNeal backed up his statement, explaining that to be up to code, a garage has to have a functional ventilation system. If it doesn’t, he added, residents should contact DEC.

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Stuyvesant Town going solar

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Rendering of Stuyvesant Town as it would appear following installation of solar panels (Photo courtesy of StuyTown Property Services)

 

By Sabina Mollot

On Wednesday, Stuyvesant Town’s owners, Blackstone and Ivanhoé Cambridge, announced plans to install solar panels on all of the roofs in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. Additionally, they said, it will be the largest private, multi-family residential solar project in the country.

The 3.8 Megawatt (DC) solar energy system will span across the property’s 22 acres of rooftops.

According to the owners, once the project is completed, StuyTown will have tripled Manhattan’s capacity to generate solar power. Renewable energy developer Onyx Renewable Partners is the project developer for the installation, which is expected to begin this winter and be completed in 2019.

The installation will consist of 9,671 high efficiency solar panels and will generate enough energy to power over 1,000 New York City apartments annually. The project is expected to offset approximately 63,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, which is comparable to removing 12,000 cars from the road for a year.

“We are incredibly proud of the long-term partnership we are building with the StuyTown community,” said Nadeem Meghji, head of Real Estate Americas at Blackstone. “In 2015 we made a commitment to preserve StuyTown’s unique heritage and be responsible stewards of its future. This innovative solar project is one of many initiatives we designed and implemented to make the community more sustainable and environmentally friendly.”

A spokesperson for Blackstone added that there will be no major capital improvement rent increase for the project, and that early on in the new ownership, environmentally friendly projects were actually suggested by residents in response to surveys issued by management. According to the Wall Street Journal, the project will cost $10 million.

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Powers and Rivera win big in City Council race

 

Council Member-elect Keith Powers, pictured outside Peter Cooper Village on Tuesday morning with his mother Barbara and Council Member Dan Garodnick (Photo courtesy of Dan Garodnick)

Council Member-elect Carlina Rivera (center) with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer on Tuesday (Photo courtesy of Gale Brewer)

By Sabina Mollot

After a citywide general election that proved to be hotly contested in local City Council races but somewhat lackluster in the mayoral department, the results were in on Tuesday night, with all sought after positions remaining solidly Democrat.

Based on unofficial results provided by the New York City Board of Elections, Keith Powers and Carlina Rivera will be the next City Council members, replacing the term-limited Dan Garodnick and Rosie Mendez, respectively.

Democrat Rivera won with wide margins in District 2, receiving 82.86 percent of the vote. Republican and Rent is 2 Damn High Party’s Jimmy McMillan got 11.58 percent of the vote. Liberal Party’s Jasmin Sanchez got 2.02 percent. Libertarian Party’s Don Garrity got 1.73 percent. Green Party’s Manny Cavaco got 1.56 percent. There were also 59 write-ins (0.26 percent) out of 23,047 people voting in the race.

Democrat Powers also won easily with 57.09 percent of the vote in District 4. Republican Rebecca Harary came in second with 30.75 percent. The tally also includes votes for the candidate through the other lines she ran on, Women’s Equality, Reform and Stop de Blasio. Liberal Party’s Rachel Honig got 12.06 percent. There were also 26 write-ins (0.1 percent) out of 27,511 people voting.

Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, as was widely predicted, got Daniel Squadron’s abandoned downtown Senate seat, receiving 84.86 percent of the vote. Republican candidate Analicia Alexander got 14.68 percent. This means Kavanagh’s District 74 Assembly seat, which includes Stuyvesant Town and Waterside, is now vacant. A few local Democrats have already expressed interest.

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Letters to the editor, Nov. 2

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Tenants will win with Powers

Keith Powers is the clear choice for City Council. Like me, Keith is a third-generation resident of Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village.  Keith is uniquely qualified to tackle the issues facing tenants.

His work as a member of the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association, as well as his commitment to affordability, has been demonstrated time and time again. On the campaign trail, Keith rolled out a platform that would expand affordability through opposing rent increases at the Rent Guidelines Board and permanent MCI increases, protecting and increasing access to the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) program, as well as committing to exploring legal options to protect Robert’s tenants, who are slated to lose vital ​protection in 2020.
Keith grew up in a rent-stabilized apartment, so issues of affordability hit home for him. He knows the impact that affordable housing has on people’s lives and our community. Keith doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk. He has been endorsed by organizations, like Tenants PAC, for his commitment to protecting affordable housing.

For all these reasons and more, I hope you will join me in voting for Keith Powers for City Council on November 7.

John Marsh, PCV

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UPDATED: Con Ed recommends putting wells in ST/PCV to recover contaminants from former gas plant

Mar13 Con Ed

The gas works and storage tanks of Con Ed’s predecessor company in 1890. (Photo courtesy of Con Ed)

UPDATE: Con Ed has changed the date and venue of the upcoming meeting. It will be on Wednesday, November 1 at 7 p.m. at Mount Sinai Beth Israel’s Podell Auditorium in the Bernstein Building, 10 Perlman Place, one block west of First Avenue between 15th and 16th Streets, according to an email sent to neighbors from the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association.

By Sabina Mollot

As most people who live in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village know, the property is the site of the former Gashouse District, named for the Manufactured Gas Plant (MGP) stations and facilities run by Con Ed and its predecessor companies.

In recent years, the utility has been conducting an investigation in and around ST/PCV, looking for contaminants in the ground, groundwater and air. The investigation is being coordinated with the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the State Department of Health.

According to the study’s findings from investigations in 2006 and 2008, contaminants were found, but located deep in the ground (at least five feet) with most even lower, and in groundwater beneath the site, though that water is not used for drinking. MGP residential levels tested in the air indoors were found to be typical. Outdoor air samples collected were also found to be normal for an urban area. Because of this, Con Ed said in an advisory this week that it’s unlikely people will come into contact with these contaminants, though air monitoring will continue.

Still, the company is now proposing a “remediation” (cleanup) plan for the site that involves, among other things, the placement of wells.

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Hoylman: Restaurants are taking the heat for delayed gas service

Frank’s Trattoria went without gas for eight weeks earlier this year following a gas leak at a nearby building. It is still in business, though others that have gone through lengthy periods without gas were less fortunate. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Earlier this year, Frank’s Trattoria, a pizzeria and restaurant across from Peter Cooper Village, went eight weeks without gas to cook with following a gas leak at a neighboring building. The roughly two months spent without gas was due to delays in getting inspections from Con Ed as well as getting all the necessary paperwork from Department of Buildings. The owners at the time told Town & Village they were trying to stay afloat by cooking what menu items they could using electric stoves they purchased. However, they still lost a lot of business since they couldn’t make pizza that way and because the portable stoves took longer to cook with, some customers would choose not to wait.

The owners told us they didn’t even know how much they lost, but it’s possible the amount was $140,000.

Apparently, this is the average loss to Manhattan businesses that had the same problem in recent years, who also had an average wait of 68 days for the gas to go back on. Those figures are the result of a study conducted by the office of state Senator Brad Hoylman, with owners of businesses being interviewed through a survey.

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Stuy Town garage customers won’t get expected refunds

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Stuyvesant Town’s garages are run by Quik Park. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

For the Stuyvesant Town residents who are customers of the complex’s six garages, which are run by Quik Park, the wait for a refund for $60 in rate increases that came without notice last year is finally over. This is because there will be no refunds issued to these customers after all.

In July, Councilman Dan Garodnick said he was told by the Department of Consumer Affairs that refunds were on the way for customers of Quik Park (parent company Citizens Icon Holdings) who’d been issued an improperly implemented increase. This was accurate, but apparently the Stuy Town garage customers were not included in that pool of motorists. The only refunds that will come through are for customers who’d gotten a notice that the rate hikes they were being charged were for a “Living Wage Assessment,” which happened elsewhere in the city.

Asked if there was still a possibility that the Stuy Town customers could see their money back as well, a spokesperson for the DCA didn’t have a response, but did say the department was working with the garage company (and others in the industry) to ensure customers will receive proper notice of increases in the future.

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Woman arrested in connection with fatal butt injection on East 21st Street

Aug3 Fatal butt injection

LATESHA BYNUM

By Sabina Mollot 

Police have arrested a Queens woman believed to have been involved in the death of a woman who received a fatal cosmetic butt injection last summer in an unmarked building near Peter Cooper Village.

Allison Spence, 44, has been arrested on charges of manslaughter and unauthorized practice of profession for the injection. Spence, who police said turned herself in, allegedly acted as a nurse during the procedure, for which the suspected doctor has still not been arrested. Police said they have identified the man but haven’t disclosed his name. That man is not a real doctor, according to a story in CBS New York, but police told Town & Village they couldn’t confirm that at this time.

The procedure was performed at a third floor apartment at 319 East 21st Street, between First and Second Avenues on July 15. Later police were summoned in response to Bynum complaining of dizziness and chest pains. She was taken to St. Luke’s Hospital, but 12 days later was taken off life support after being pronounced brain dead.

The medical examiner has deemed the death of 31-year-old mother Latesha Bynum, a Harlem resident, a homicide.

A lawyer for Bynum’s family told CBS New York the doctor is a phony who used a Dunkin Donuts as his waiting room, and that a fake nurse greeted her. The attorney also said the doctor had a pattern of injecting unsuspecting women with “silicone poison into his patients’ buttocks and/or thighs.”

Meanwhile, Spence’s sister told the Daily News her sister denied giving any injection, saying she only prepped the patient by massaging her muscles.

 

ST/PCV residents list their demands for next council member

Al Ng and Lillian Hsu want to see more affordability for mere mortals. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

A day before the primary, we asked around in Stuyvesant Town for voters’ opinions on what the newly elected City Council member, who’ll be determined in the general election, should focus on.

In response, they gave answers that wouldn’t shock anyone in this city, stressing a need to prioritize affordability, saving small businesses, transit improvements and improvements to public education.

Read on for more on the aforementioned issues that need fixing in District 4, which covers Stuyvesant Town, Peter Cooper Village, Waterside, East Midtown, part of Times Square and the Upper East Side.

Sue Kershbaumer, while strolling through the Oval with her daughter, said her biggest concern was schools — specifically lack of resources and classroom seats for kids with special needs like hers.

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Renovation work stops in four PCV apartments due to lack of permits

Peter Cooper Village

By Sabina Mollot

This week, the city issued stop work orders on four apartments in Peter Cooper Village that had been undergoing renovations, due to a lack of permits. The four units were among the 115 apartments in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village that are being reconfigured to add an additional bedroom in each, and management is currently in the process of applying for the permits for the work.

The Department of Buildings issued the stop work orders after inspecting the apartments on Friday morning, the ST-PCV Tenants Association said. In five apartments, they found three violations in each, all related to work without a permit. Stop work orders were issued on only four, though, since management was able to immediately get a permit for one of the units.

Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg said it was the TA who tipped off the city to the problem as well as alerting management, who had been unaware of the lack of permits. The TA was initially only looking into the situation after hearing from several tenants in neighboring apartments to the ones being renovated, who were complaining about noise, vibrations and even walls cracking. While management has been responsive to requests for repairs that Steinberg’s aware of, a few eagle-eyed residents also noticed that permits weren’t posted in buildings.

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Fourth teen nabbed for robbery near PCV

Peter Cooper Village

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police arrested a fourth teenager in connection with a robbery that took place on East 20th Street outside Peter Cooper Village in July and police are reportedly still looking for five additional suspects.

Police said that the teen was accompanied by eight other people who snatched the victim’s cell phone while hitting him with hockey sticks. Three of the teens were arrested earlier this month, as Town & Village previously reported.

Because all of the suspects so far are minors, no further information is available about where they live and their names are withheld from the public due to their young age. The most recent suspect was charged inside the 13th Precinct last Tuesday at 1:20 a.m.

Although the incident took place outside Peter Cooper Village and not on the property, StuyTown Property Services spokeswoman Paula Chirhart commented on the issue to note that management takes such incidents seriously.

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Stuy Town Citi Bike users frustrated by empty racks

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An empty Citi Bike rack on East 20th Street on Tuesday morning (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

 

By Sabina Mollot

Last week, the Department of Transportation announced that bike ridership in New York City had reached a record high. This spike in cycling is due to, in large part, the arrival of Citi Bike as well as the addition of many new miles of bike lanes during the Mayor Bloomberg administration. However, this news likely didn’t come as a surprise to residents of Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village who, for the past few months, have been finding their Citi Bike racks empty when hoping to ride to work in the mornings.

“They take (the bikes) away at night and they bring them back in the morning but they stop at a certain time,” said Christopher Simonetti, a frustrated Citi Bike member told us recently.

Simonetti, who heads straight for the rack near his Stuyvesant Town building on East 20th Street each morning, said it’s always empty from 9-10:15 a.m.

He’s been calling the bike share service regularly throughout the summer about this issue and has also asked for more racks.

“It’s the forgotten area of Citi Bikes,” he said. “This area is not being serviced.”

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Teens beat man with hockey sticks outside PCV

Mar31 Peter Cooper sign

Peter Cooper Village

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police arrested three teenagers on Monday for a robbery outside Peter Cooper Village that took place earlier this month.

A 47-year-old man told police that a group of kids with masks over their faces approached him on the sidewalk outside 531 East 20th Street on Wednesday, July 12 around 11:50 p.m. The victim said that the teens whacked him in the head and body with hockey sticks and took his cell phone before fleeing the scene.

Police said that teens were stopped and frisked shortly after the crime but the victim could not positively identify them at the time because the suspects had been wearing face masks.

According to police, the victim lives in the neighborhood but could not confirm if he is a Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village resident.

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PCV Council candidate fighting for affordable housing

Barry Shapiro in Peter Cooper Village (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

In the City Council race for the seat currently occupied by a term-limited Dan Garodnick, a Peter Cooper Village resident has recently stepped in as a candidate, with a platform of affordable housing and maintaining quality of life in the district.

Barry Shapiro, 72, who’s lived in Peter Cooper for 25 years (with another 15 in Stuyvesant Town before that), said he entered the race “quietly” in April and is now in the process of petitioning.

“I know a lot of people are concerned about rent stabilization and the continuation of the Democrats having a majority (in the State Senate),” said Shapiro.

Housing regulations, of course, are determined in Albany rather than in City Hall, but Shapiro maintained that it still helps for the local Council members to fight in the ongoing battle for tenant protections.

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Teens threaten senior at knifepoint in PCV, suspects nabbed

Mar31 Peter Cooper sign

Peter Cooper Village

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Two teenagers attempted to rob a 78-year-old Peter Cooper Village resident outside 420 East 23rd Street last Monday at 5:40 p.m.

Police said that a 14-year-old middle school student from Bethpage on Long Island threatened the resident in front of the Peter Cooper building. The teen reportedly threatened the victim with a blue knife while demanding that he give him a dollar while the other teen, a 17-year-old high school student who attends Thomas Jefferson High School in Brooklyn, was acting as a lookout.

The 14-year-old managed to get into the building’s lobby by closely following another resident and got in before the main door locked, but both teens were outside the building when the middle schooler threatened the victim.

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