ST residents concerned about trees and organized play at Playground 1

Rendering provided by StuyTown Property Services shows how the playground will look once renovated.

By Susan Steinberg
President of the ST-PCV Tenants Association

About 35 Stuyvesant Town tenants attended a town hall on Monday night focusing on the reimagined Playground 1. Hosted by Rick Hayduk, general manager of StuyTown Property Services, assisted by Wes Richards, chief landscape designer and Kevin Wyatt, master arborist, the event took place at the community center.

Hayduk reviewed the need for improvements, including unsafe asphalt requiring resurfacing, parapet walls that were collapsing and trees in various states of decay.  Construction work has already begun on rebuilding the parapets, to the chagrin of the residents living around the playground, well represented at the meeting, who are trying to cope with the drilling. The worst of the noise is expected to be over in two weeks. When completed, the playground will consist of two major areas, an AstroTurf section (about one third of the total area) and a resurfaced asphalt area (two thirds) allowing for roller hockey and T-ball. A net will separate the two areas. The decaying trees will be replaced by Princeton Elms 22 feet high. These grow 4-6.5 feet a year and produce food for squirrels. The design showed 28 benches. The playground is envisioned as serving children ages 12 and under.

Several residents challenged the project. They said playground as it existed was one playground where there was no “theme,” no organized play, no schedules and where residents could site and enjoy quiet time. One resident said she had specifically moved to a building overlooking that playground because it was quiet.

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Challengers come out swinging

The Challengers, now a chartered division of the Peter Stuyvesant Little League, has 30 players and 100 buddies. (Photos by Benjy Kile)

By Sabina Mollot

On Sunday, April 22, the Peter Stuyvesant Little League’s Challenger Division for players with disabilities, kicked off the season with its first game at Con Ed Field.

The division has grown since being introduced last year and there are now 30 players with over 100 buddies. The division has players from ages 4-19 with developmental or physical disabilities and depending on ability, batters can hit off a tee or a ball is soft tossed.  Meanwhile, buddies, other members of the league, assist or just stay with players for support throughout the game so parents can watch their children from the stands. Little League fees, which include things like uniforms, are waived for Challengers.

The Challenger division was the idea of Stuyvesant Town General Manager Rick Hayduk, whose younger daughter Jamie has Down Syndrome and played Challenger ball where she used to live before the family moved to the city. Rick and his older daughter Jordan are the PSLL Challenger Division’s co-founders and co-commissioners.

Seth Coren, the PSLL’s president, recalled how when he met Rick, “The first thing he said was, ‘How come you guys don’t have a Challenger division?’ There was no reason we didn’t have it other than it was completely unfamiliar to us.”

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Crowds come out for flea market

Vendors Waltrine Cooke and Carolyn Laws-Parker both welcomed the opportunity to see neighbors at the resurrected event. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Saturday, the second flea market to take place after a hiatus of about 15 years took place in Stuyvesant Town under a mostly sunny and warm sky.

Around 530 vendors were selling their wares, a number that was slightly higher than last year’s. This time vendors had tables inside three playgrounds, instead of lining the Oval out to the loop roads. Vendors who spoke with Town & Village seemed to have mixed feelings about this, though all were nonetheless glad to see the flea market tradition living on.

At Playground 9, Marilyn Ray, who was stationed near an entrance, seemed happy with the arrangement as her table was a popular stop for those looking for vintage prints and ephemera. Asked how business was going, she answered, “Pretty good. It’s the prints that are selling better than anything else.”

Alicia Zanelli, a longtime resident selling some Peruvian-made items, was less impressed about how packed Playground 9 was with sellers. “Everyone’s getting squeezed,” she said. “We have so many beautiful areas. Open them up!”

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ST/PCV ditches security SUVs

One of three new scooters to be used by public safety officers, along with a fleet of bikes (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

The Public Safety department of Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village invested in a fleet of six new bikes and three new Segway scooters, while also saying goodbye to three of its five SUV trucks.

The shift in transportation methods has a couple of reasons, according to StuyTown Property Services.

The first is to increase visibility of a security presence as a crime deterrent. The other is to make it easier for residents to get to know public safety officers.

The department is also in the midst of instituting a program similar to one being introduced by the 13th Precinct which places officers in very specific areas to act as community liaisons. The idea is to make it easier for neighborhood residents to form relationships with local law enforcement.

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Residents grieve for downed trees

Tree stumps line the south end of the playground on Friday. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

SPS says removals were for resident safety

By Sabina Mollot

Though it did come with warning, a number of Stuyvesant Town residents were nonetheless unprepared for the moment when trees that were nearly as old and as tall as nearby buildings began getting sawed down and carted away.

The old oaks’ removal was explained by management in an email on Friday (and in a prior email blast) as being necessary due to disease and decay. Additionally, StuyTown Property Services CEO Rick Hayduk added in the Friday email to tenants, they’d be replaced in June by Princeton elms and the remains of the oaks would be mulched. Still, for some residents whose windows overlook Playground 1, the removal of the 18 mature trees around it hit home as hard as the loss of an old friend.

“As I speak I hear a chainsaw cutting down a 70-year-old tree,” Stuart Strong, a resident of 330 First Avenue told Town & Village on Friday. Strong, who was horrified, added, “They’re sturdy as anything. We’re looking at stumps that used to be oak trees. I don’t see any decay. They provide environment and enjoyment.”

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Opinion: Some improvements in ST service

By Kenneth Chanko

Landlord stories superabound in our city. So do we really need another one?

Well, this particular tale might hit closer to home for T&V readers than most. As a Stuy Town resident for the past 31 years, having lived in a two-bedroom on Avenue C before moving to a three-bedroom on 20th Street — and having been born and raised through secondary school in Stuy Town and Peter Cooper, then raising my own two kids here (and a dog!) — I have a pretty expansive yet highly personal perspective on the succeeding iterations of Stuy Town management and how they’ve treated tenants throughout the decades.

After its Stuy Town experiment went belly-up, Tishman Speyer thankfully departed the premises. There followed too many years of receivership, which saw a further erosion of services and upkeep. A new landlord, Blackstone partnered with Ivanhoé Cambridge, purchased the development. Last month marked the two-year anniversary of the new management being fully in place, and that’s enough time to get a sense of what’s going on.

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Letters to the editor, Jan. 25

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Remembering a talented neighbor

To all our friends and neighbors, it saddens me to tell you that last month we lost Phoebe Hoss, a longtime resident of Stuyvesant Town.  Phoebe died on December 13, 2017 at the age of 91. A memorial for her was held earlier this month at All Souls Unitarian church where she was a longtime member.

We lived in the same building and shared a love of poetry that resulted in the publication in 2006 of River Voices, original poems by Stuyvesant and Peter Cooper poets that included Rose Bernal, Esse Casnoff, Esther B. Cohen, Marilyn Driscoll, Mary Fordham, Joy Garland, Barbara Gurman, Phoebe Hoss, Anne Lazarus, Pamela Machado, David Mayer, Eve Nethercott, Judy Schermer, Alison Carb Sussman, and Peggy Unsworth. It was Phoebe who gave countless hours to helping the poets by proofreading our work and giving suggestions.

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Residents celebrate Stuyvesant Town Christmas tree lighting

Dickensian Carolers stroll through Stuy Town. (Photo by David DuPuy)

On Friday evening, residents of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village gathered for the annual Christmas tree lighting on the Oval. Highlights from the event included Dickensian Carolers singing as well as General Manager Rick Hayduk reading ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. Prior to the lighting, cookies and hot beverages were served.

In addition, Santa Claus will soon make his annual appearance on Monday, December 11 and Wednesday, December 13 from 5-7 p.m. for residents who wish to take pics with St. Nick. The venue is the ice rink (no rink admission required for photos).

The Hanukkah menorah lighting will take place on Tuesday, December 12. Rav Shoshana Mitrani Knapp will lead the blessings at 6 p.m. The menorah lighting will be followed by dancing, music, donuts and hot beverages until 7:30 p.m.

Click through for more photos

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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.

 

 

Squirrel scratches kid in ST

Management has tried to deal with the issue through signage, but the squirrels have continued their M.O. of approaching people anyway, and looking at you like this. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Just when you thought it was safe to unwrap your Snickers bar in Stuyvesant Town, reports have surfaced of another child getting attacked by a squirrel. Last Thursday, in its weekly newsletter to residents, StuyTown Property Services stated that a child was scratched when a squirrel leapt out of a garbage can.

Because of this, management is asking residents not to feed the local wildlife anywhere on the property. SPS also not so subtly alluded to the fact that residents have been ignoring its rule about not feeding squirrels within 50 feet of the playgrounds specifically for children’s use.

Now, along with the signs, if a resident is spotted by a public safety officer feeding the critters near any of those five children’s playgrounds, he or she will be told to stop, a spokesperson for management told us. The rep added that the scratch received by the child wasn’t serious.

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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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Parents sent letters after too-young kids visit new playground

The fitness playground opened on August 1. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Since the opening of the new fitness playground in Stuyvesant Town on August 1, management has been taking the space’s age restrictions seriously, by putting some parents on notice.

Over the weekend, we heard from David Dartley, a resident who was irked to receive a letter from management he described as “creepy,” that asked him to keep his too-young kid out of the playground.

The letter, signed from Public Safety Chief William McClellan, read, in part, “As we’re of the belief that your child was observed on the Fitness Playground this past weekend, we respectfully ask that you adhere to the policies for the good of all residents who wish to work out without interference from unsupervised children.”

Dartley admitted to us that his kids were on the playground, explaining that he saw other young children there too, and figured the worst thing that could happen is for them to get kicked out. The playground is restricted to users who are 15 and up as well as 12-14 with parental supervision.

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Editorial: That’s some key (card)

Last week, Stuyvesant Town management opened a brand new fitness playground, the first of the complex’s playgrounds to be completely renovated and outfitted with a key-card entry system.

At the ribbon cutting, General Manager Rick Hayduk announced the other playgrounds would eventually follow, not only in being renovated but in becoming key-card access only. This is now Blackstone’s property and the owner can of course do what it wants to the playgrounds. However, before this plan is put into action, we hope management reconsiders completely shutting the playgrounds’ gates to outsiders.

Granted, for years, signs on each playground clearly state that Stuy Town/Peter Cooper is private property and the premises are intended for residents’ use. However, we see nothing wrong with the current system, where non-residents are still welcome to visit a playground so long as a) they’re not being rowdy, b) they haven’t confused some part of the property for a dog run and c) they’re not crowding out actual residents. A few years ago, management began having monitors check IDs at the busier playgrounds to prevent this from happening, and it seems to have worked. We realize a key-card access system is cheaper in the long run than having someone staff the playground so maybe having such a system at just the busiest playgrounds could be a good compromise. The rationale behind this key-card entry plan is to make residents feel safe. Another way to do this would be to have more boots on the ground, worn by public safety officers. The sight of more security people still seems, to us, less intimidating than gating off the community, bit by bit.

We are not knocking gates, by the way. They work well at some places, like Gramercy Park, where the space’s exclusivity is its main selling point. But ST/PCV isn’t Gramercy Park, and we’re pretty sure its accessibility — without the pressure of a guided visit by a leasing agent — has helped rent more than a few homes.

Tenants Association asks Blackstone to keep Associated in Stuy Town

Associated Supermarket in Stuyvesant Town (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

With the future of Stuyvesant Town’s Associated Supermarket once again up in the air, following Morton Williams’ decision not to sign a lease for the space, the ST-PCV Tenants Association has asked Blackstone to let the Associated stay.

The request was made over the Tenants Association’s concern that with a Trader Joe’s store as well as a Target eventually moving across the street from Stuyvesant Town, Blackstone would no longer feel obligated to keep an affordable supermarket in the complex, as the owner had committed to previously. But, the TA is arguing, Trader Joe’s, with its unusual and somewhat curated range of products, doesn’t offer a “complete grocery experience.”

The plea was made via a letter from Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg to Stuyvesant Town’s General Manager Rick Hayduk on Monday.

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City hopes to use ST composting program as model for other multi-family buildings

Stuyvesant Town Director of Environmental Services Rei Moya, Stuyvesant Town General Manager Rick Hayduk, Department of Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, David Hurd of GrowNYC and Stuy Town resident Deborah Brozina (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Stuyvesant Town management and the Department of Sanitation are trying to raise awareness about the property’s efforts to compost food waste, and hopes to use the property as an example of how larger multifamily buildings can do this successfully.

DSNY Commissioner Kathryn Garcia visited Stuy Town last Wednesday with representatives from greenmarket organizer GrowNYC and NYC Organics, the branch of DSNY that runs the compost collection program, to check on its progress.

The program officially started in Stuy Town and Peter Cooper on December 2 and director of environmental services for STPCV Rei Moya said that it took about a month to hit its stride. Moya recommended that residents who want to start composting can collect their food waste in the freezer and empty it directly into the brown bins in building recycling areas. The program will accept food scraps, food-soiled paper and plant clippings. He added that he has started composting in his own apartment and invested in a countertop container, lined with biobags that can be purchased at places like Walgreens or local supermarkets.

“Because the moisture just seeps out and dries up, there’s no smell,” Moya said.

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