Stuy Fitness gym opens on 14th St., 20th St. gym to be upgraded soon

Stuy Fitness on East 14th Street had a soft opening over the weekend and opened officially last Monday. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Monday, Stuyvesant Town’s second gym for residents, Stuy Fitness, opened officially following a soft opening over the weekend.

Rick Hayduk, Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village’s general manager, said the gym is 90 percent complete at this time, with final touches to depend on feedback from residents. Hayduk also said that the 20th Street gym, Oval Fitness, which has been open for the past decade, will be seeing upgrades and a refurbishment within the year.

As for the new gym, the gleaming white and blue space is in sharp contrast with the chaotic scene that is now East 14th Street. As the L train work on the Avenue A entrance and the construction related to the looming L shutdown ensues, Hayduk said he felt Stuyvesant Town had a responsibility to at least make part of the street appear presentable. The 8,500-square-foot facility, which cost $3.5 million to build, is located in what was previously a Citi Bike storage space and prior to that, a daycare center that was flooded during hurricane Sandy. The daycare center is now on Avenue C and management is currently looking for a suitable replacement storage area for Citi Bike.

Meanwhile, the gym came about from demand from residents, specifically those who didn’t live on or near 20th Street and indicated that they would join a gym if it were more convenient.

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Citi Bike seeking larger storage space

City Council Member Keith Powers, pictured with representatives from Citi Bike, helped facilitate the arrival of two valet stations in Stuyvesant Town. (Photo courtesy of Council Member Keith Powers)

By Sabina Mollot

As Town & Village reported last month, two new Citi Bike valet stations have arrived at Stuyvesant Town. Together, the two docks, one on First Avenue and 16th Street and the other on East 20th Street, increased the number of bikes available to residents by 160.

The new bikes came at the request of Council Member Keith Powers, who’d been hearing from residents that there were never any bikes at the docks in the morning.

As it turns out, this may be due in part to the fact that a space in Stuyvesant Town that was leased to Citi Bike for the storage of about 500 bikes, was reutilized to become a new gym. Since then, Citi Bike has leased a smaller space on the property, but according to Rick Hayduk, general manager of Stuyvesant Town, management is trying to find a larger space onsite for the bikes’ storage, possibly on Avenue C.

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Letters to the editor, Aug. 23

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Leave the squirrels alone

This squirrel thing is the straw that is breaking my back.  In this time of national hatefulness and disunity, Stuyvesant Town now has to be roiled by a few disgruntled people who probably have never seen much that they don’t complain about. Right off the bat, let me ask where are the mothers, fathers, nannies when these little kids are being mauled by the complex’s predators?

For 27 years, I have had very young nieces, nephews and children of friends feed the squirrels. It has always been the highlight of their visit – and I monitor how close squirrels get to each kid. Are you telling me that squirrels are just singling out young kids and pouncing on them before a watching adult can intervene? The creatures have been here since 1948 and coexisted with myriad of children brought up in Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village. And now this has all been happening just in the past two years?

I request that Town & Village search its archives and see how often and when there have been like complaints about squirrels. The less said the better about the older citizens who can’t bear to have a squirrel within three feet of them.

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To feed or not to feed the squirrels

That is one of the questions asked by SPS after another child gets attacked by squirrel in Stuy Town

A squirrel forages for food in a garbage can in this photo taken last year. (Photo by Brian P. Loesch)

By Sabina Mollot

This one’s a hard nut to crack.

After yet another child was injured by a squirrel in Stuyvesant Town (in this case scratched), Blackstone is asking for residents’ thoughts on what to do with the property’s unofficial mascots.

Nearly a year ago, a child was scratched in the face while playing in a Stuy Town playground, and in the more recent incident, another child was scratched. Two summers ago, three different mothers reported that their children were bitten by squirrels. According to Rick Hayduk, general manager of Stuyvesant Town and CEO of StuyTown Property Services, there was another scratch incident this year in April as well.

In the most recent incident, about two weeks ago, Hayduk said the child was behind a playset at Playground 8 near First Avenue, also known as the train playground, when it happened. While the area where the young resident was at the time isn’t seen by a security camera, both parents later told Hayduk that a squirrel had been looking for food inside the child’s stroller. Upon seeing the stroller’s owner, the squirrel jumped out, clawing the child in its bid for freedom. Hayduk said he doesn’t know the child’s gender or where he or she was scratched, but does know that the child was promptly whisked off to a doctor. Asked if the injury was serious, Hayduk indicated he didn’t think it was appropriate to decide if it was or wasn’t, adding, “I don’t want to understate it.”

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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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