Some parks are still closed after snowstorm knocks limbs off trees

Nov22 gramercy park clean-up

A worker secures a tree in Gramercy Park after a snowstorm caused a still undetermined amount of damage in the park and other parks. (Photos courtesy of Gramercy Park Block Associaton)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Unexpected heavy snowfall last Thursday caused damage to trees throughout the neighborhood, resulting in park closures through this week, long after all the snow from the storm had melted.

Arlene Harrison, the president of the Gramercy Park Block Association and park trustee, sent an email to park neighbors on Friday noting that the park would be closed until further notice, and included photos of several downed tree limbs inside the park.

“Park caretakers who have been working here for decades said that it was the worst single hit to the park since they’ve worked here,” said Harrison, who made the decision to padlock the park gates for safety reasons until the debris is cleared. She said that the park could reopen by the end of the week but it had to remain closed until the crew can determine that it’s safe.

She added that the crew was pruning on the western side of the park right before the storm so there was the least amount of damage on that side, but five trees in the park were “ravaged” because of the wind and heavy snow.

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“Bomb cyclone” hits New York

Union Square on Thursday morning

By Maria Rocha-Buschel 

The city was experiencing blizzard-like conditions on Thursday morning, with four to eight inches having fallen on some parts of the city by early afternoon. A Winter Storm Warning is in effect until Friday at 1 a.m. and the mayor’s office reported that eight to 12 inches of snow are anticipated before the storm ends, with higher amounts locally. Gusty winds are expected to increase, with sustained wind from 30 to 45 miles per hour and gusts up to 50 miles per hour.

Meteorologists were calling the storm a “bomb cyclone” because of the extreme drop in pressure in a short amount of time, causing the storm to strengthen quickly. A storm is classified as a “bomb cyclone” if pressure drops 24 millibars in 24 hours and this storm dropped 53 millibars in 21 hours and 59 millibars by 24, making it one of the most intense storms the East Coast has ever experienced.

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Spring is here: The proof is in the park

Mertensia virginca buds emerge from the ice at Stuyvesant Cove.

By Liza Mindemann
Stuyvesant Cove Park Manager

Despite the recent blanket of heavy snow, we are slowly moving away from the dormancy of winter into the season of spring ephemerals at Stuyvesant Cove Park. Due to another mild winter, we had consistent signs of life all winter long in the scattered lemon-yellow blooms of Golden Alexander (Zizia aurea), much dwarfed compared to their usual summer height but present nonetheless, which bloomed just above their basal leaves throughout the coldest days.

Later in the season we will notice the taller stalks of these very same flowers and in August, the swallowtail butterflies they attract. Just within the last two weeks, peaking through the remaining patches of snow, Virginia Bluebells (Martensia virginica), have also begun their spring show of small purple buds that when fully open are more of a cobalt blue and bell-shaped.

Spring ephemerals are the earliest to bloom, woken by the shift in sunlight and longer, warmer days, but short-lived, as by early June they have moved through the entire cycle of bloom, fertilization, seed production and are ready to retreat back under the earth as other, taller plants over-shadow and the large canopy trees leaf out and change the light-landscape of the garden.

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Letters to the Editor, Mar. 23

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Stella rerouted birds into local parks

Most likely because of the snowstorm (in some areas blizzard), migrating American Woodcocks had to make forced landings. Many of them landed in the parks. Central Park had more than 50 or more counted. Many landed in backyards, odd places. I will look in Stuyvesant Town. We have seen them in the past year on migrations.Most likely because of the snowstorm (in some areas blizzard), migrating American Woodcocks had to make forced landings. Many of them landed in the parks. Central Park had more than 50 or more counted. Many landed in backyards, odd places. I will look in Stuyvesant Town. We have seen them in the past year on migrations.

Unfortunately, a number of them died, perhaps window collisions, starvation, hawk predation, exhaustion, etc. The Wild Bird Fund at 558 Columbus Ave received many American Woodcocks for rehabilitation. Some were deceased, and some did not survive.  Many have survived thus far, and they will be released in Long Island where there is less snow. American Woodcocks rely on camouflage to avoid predation. That strategy does not work when there is snow. I saw 10 American Woodcocks and one Wilson’s Snipe in Central Park yesterday.

How do you rescue a Woodcock? Carry a sturdy shopping bag. (A box is better, but not convenient.) Punch a few holes for air in the bag. Put a cloth for perching in the bag. If the bird revives (because it’s just stunned) and starts banging and moving, release away from windows if possible. If it is truly injured, bring it to the above address. Right now the males are migrating. The females will come later. The Central Park hawks were predating some of the American Woodcocks. Also, if the bird is waving its body that is a hunting method, not a sign of injury.

Thanks,

Anne Lazarus, ST

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Holiday run becomes fitness class due to snow

The fitness event moved to Oval Studio.

The fitness event moved to Oval Studio. (Photos by Maya Rader)

By Maya Rader

On Saturday morning, an outdoor holiday run that had been scheduled to take place in Stuyvesant Town wound up turning into an indoor fitness event, thanks to the arrival of the season’s first snowstorm.

Instead of running around the Oval, kids headed to Oval Studio for a fitness class and active games like tag. Free snacks and drinks were provided.

Attendees also brought gifts for a toy drive, and gave an optional $10 donation to raise money for Toys for Tots. The event was run by PopFit Kids, an organization dedicated to getting kids active and promoting healthy exercise habits.

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Study: ST/PCV clearest neighborhood post-blizzard

An aerial view of Stuyvesant Town’s First Avenue Loop after the storm (Photo by Mark Thompson)

An aerial view of Stuyvesant Town’s First Avenue Loop after the storm (Photo by Mark Thompson)

By Sabina Mollot

In case anyone was wondering how Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper measured up with the rest of the city in terms of snow removal during last month’s “Snowmageddon,” the answer is that the roads and sidewalks were more ice-free than anywhere else.

More specifically, it got zero 311 complaints, according to a study by apartment listings company RentHop. In contrast, the East Village was the iciest and snowiest nabe in Manhattan, according to the study. The stats came from a 311 complaint count which was then adjusted to reflect the calls per square mile so that it wasn’t simply a matter of the biggest neighborhoods automatically being the worst offenders.

Shane Leese, a “data scientist” for RentHop, explained the adjustment seemed necessary considering that some neighborhoods in Queens which were two or three square miles long dwarfed many neighborhoods in Brooklyn, which then dwarfed many in Manhattan that were just a few square blocks. Additionally, the study noted that 311 complaints were not accepted while snow was still falling.

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City digs out after blizzard

Packed 20th Street Loops after the blizzard

Packed 20th Street Loop after the blizzard (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

After last year’s fake-out for a “historic” snowstorm that dropped a mere nine inches on the city instead of the predicted three feet, the de Blasio administration was more cautious with the hyperbole preceding last week’s storm.

This time, though, the blizzard delivered: last week’s storm brought the second biggest snowfall since the city started recording the data in 1869, only a tenth of an inch less than the biggest in 2006, with 26.8 inches measured in Central Park by the time the storm dissipated on Saturday night.

The mayor issued a travel ban on all non-emergency vehicles at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday when the forecasts were predicting 20 to 25 inches of snow. While the governor shut down the subway completely in anticipation of last year’s storm, subway service remained at least partially available for the duration of the blizzard, although the MTA did ultimately shut down bus service at noon and service at aboveground subway stations at 4 p.m.

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Snapping the snowstorm: Gramercy Park in pictures

Making the best of a weekend of being snowed in, numerous residents of Gramercy Park headed outside, cameras in tow, to capture the blizzard’s beauty as well as the opportunity to enjoy the snow with their families. The neighbor photo project was organized by Arlene Harrison, president of the Gramercy Park Block Association. Here are just some of the photos. The rest (over 100) can be seen on Harrison’s Flickr.

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Letters to the Editor, Jan. 30

Cartoon by Jim Meadows (website)

Cartoon by Jim Meadows (website)

Thoughtless foreign policy will lead to war

Re: “U.S. heading to another war?,” T&V, Jan. 23

To the editor:

I begin my letter with the reminder of something said a few years back by Israel’s current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. The prime minister said, “We want to be known as the ‘Jewish State.’” My use of the term is governed by Netanyahu’s risky remark.

In his letter, J. Sicoransa wrote about a bill currently being formulated in the United States Senate, by Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), with co-sponsorship of Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). It is unfortunate that our political leaders, in particular the senior senator from New York, should place The United States of America at the service of “the Jewish State.” Israel developed its nuclear/germ warfare capacity and thereby introduced that sort of awfulness directly into the Middle East. For our part, here in the States, Israel’s possession of a nuclear capacity is something U.S. presidents, including Mr. Obama, have chosen to ignore. The demand that America support “the Jewish State” without regard to what it actually initiates runs counter to Jewish intellectual tradition. Mr. Schumer’s commitment to Israel would draw America into supporting it as a Jewish State rather than as a nation on its own merits, plain and simple.

Mr. Schumer has shown himself a hawk in matters other than those bound by his faith. In an email to me, dated Oct. 24, 2013, responding to my moral doubts about our drone practices, Senator Schumer wrote coolly, “These unmanned aircraft are most commonly known for their operations overseas in tracking down and killing suspected members of Al Qaeda and related terrorists organizations.” Here, in print, a United States Senator puts himself and our foreign policy on record that we kill over there on (mere) suspicion.

Does he imagine that if we kill people “over there,” those actions will not distort life here? To my query about the use of drones over our skies and the meaning of that action given our Constitution, the senator gave the now patented reply about the need for “balance between security and liberty in America.” How awful that we send our troops to other countries where many of them die believing they are protecting our way of life. Yet here on the home front, that way of life, that Constitution and those endowed rights, is the very life Mr. Schumer and others would reason away. “Balance” has become a symptom of severely detached reasoning.

John M. Giannone
Stuyvesant Town

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Sanitation seeks laborers for coming snow season

Sanitation Commissioner John J. Doherty today reminded New Yorkers that the Department of Sanitation is continuing to register emergency snow laborers who can be called upon to remove snow and ice citywide from bus stops, crosswalks, and from step streets in sections of the City after heavy snowfalls.  Step streets are sets of stairwells located between avenues to connect streets that have a significant height differential.  The rate of pay begins at $12 per hour and increases to $18 per hour, after completing the first 40 hours, each pay week.

“While most snow removal duties citywide are handled by the dedicated men and women of the Sanitation Department, emergency snow laborers are a vital part of our supplemental snow-fighting efforts in major snowfalls,” said Commissioner Doherty. Continue reading