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

Aug16 garage

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

Aug10 Citibike rack empty

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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Cops looking for man who duped elderly woman out of $2G for ‘bail’

Scam suspect

By Sabina Mollot

Police are looking for a man who duped an elderly Peter Cooper Village resident out of $2,000, claiming it was bail she’d need to pay to free a friend who was arrested.

The man called the victim, a 93-year-old woman, at home on Friday, May 26 to say that a friend of hers was arrested and at Rikers Island. He then informed her the bail would cost her $6,500. When the victim said she only had $2,000, the scammer then arrived at her home to collect the cash. Afterwards, the victim got suspicious and called her friend, who, it turned out, had not been arrested.

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Injured bat found in Peter Cooper released in East River Park

Bat-hilda, prior to being released, hangs upside down from the edge of a cardboard box. What appears to be the bottom of the box to the viewer of this photo is actually its side. (Photo courtesy of Good Samaritan and StuyTown Property Services)

As Town & Village reported on May 11, an injured bat was found by a resident in Peter Cooper Village, and subsequently passed on to a Good Samaritan recruited by management who then began nursing the winged mammal back to health.

That bat, believed to be an Eastern Red bat, has since been nicknamed Bat-hilda, and has been released into an East Village park.

Marynia Kruk, Stuyvesant Town’s community affairs manager, told T&V this happened on the night of Saturday, May 13.

“He put her on a tree inside East River Park, at East 10th Street and FDR Drive,” said Kruk of the Good Samaritan, who has asked to remain anonymous.

“She soon took off and he lost sight of her.”

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Mom, son tried to get ST apt. with fake ID, cops say

Stuyvesant Town leasing office (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police busted a woman and her son for attempting to lease an apartment in Peter Cooper Village and in Murray Hill with an allegedly stolen identity last Tuesday. Christine Thompson, 48, and 19-year-old Christopher Vlado were arrested inside the Stuyvesant Town leasing office at 252 First Avenue after the pair went through the application process for apartments at 370 First Avenue in Peter Cooper and at 12 East 37th Street in April.

Thompson and Vlado allegedly toured the apartment in Peter Cooper Village on April 14.

The DA’s office said that Thompson went into the Stuy Town leasing office on April 22 and applied for the Peter Cooper apartment, allegedly presenting herself as the victim whose ID was being used. She reportedly signed the application that day and returned to the leasing office last Tuesday to sign the lease agreement. According to the DA’s office, Vlado sat with Thompson while she went through the application and pointed out where she needed to sign the victim’s name. She allegedly signed the victim’s name 33 times on the lease agreement and provided management with 12 money orders, each with the victim’s name in the signature.

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Third round of ‘Roberts’ checks may be on the way

ST buildingsBy Sabina Mollot

Last October, residents of Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village who were represented in the “Roberts v. Tishman Speyer” class action lawsuit saw a second wave of payouts from the initial $68.75 million pool.

Now it’s likely that there will be a third round of checks, according to Michael Liskow, who’s one of the attorneys representing tenants from the firm Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz.

As a condition of the second payout, if there was more than $100,000 left after a deadline for checks to be deposited passed, then there would be another distribution. If there was less than $100,000 left, then the remaining funds would be split among two local nonprofits, the ST-PCV Tenants Association and the Peter Stuyvesant Little League.

The 120-day deadline has already passed for most of the recipients but attorneys won’t know the exact amount that’s left in the pool until around March 15. This is when the deadline will have passed for all eligible class suit members. However, as of this week, there was over $150,000 left, Liskow said.

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TA says: More boots on the ground needed, better interior lighting

Susan Steinberg

ST-PCV Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Following StuyTown Property Services announcing new efforts to make the complex safer, Susan Steinberg, president of the ST-PCV Tenants Association, responded with the TA’s own view, which is that equipment is nice, but live patrols are better. The TA also recommended more interior lighting. Read on for the association’s statements.

In the wake of the sexual attack on a young Stuy Town resident in her building vestibule in the early morning of February 19, The Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association is once again speaking up for two vital safety measures we have been requesting for years: More foot patrols, especially at night, and far better lighting of interior paths.

General Manager Rick Hayduk’s follow-up communication to residents was a timely reminder of the emergency equipment already available: blue-lighted stanchions throughout the community, “security” buttons on lobby intercoms, the manned central video security screen system, and foot and car patrols 24/7.

Addressing future improvements, he cited plans to work with security consultants to identify where “new and additional equipment can be placed to enhance coverage.”

We at the TA insist that far more important than additional electronic wonders is a seriously enlarged force of on-foot public safety personnel and more small vehicles always on the move. It was just such a band of visible, on-foot and on-wheels security personnel constantly patrolling the property and checking the stairwells of each building every day that once made this community the lowest crime area in the city.

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