Letter to the editor, Oct. 25

Oct25 Toon Cuomo

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

How we can help save the planet

To the Editor,

The election on Tuesday, November 6 comes with environmental issues like climate change that have both immediate and longterm consequences for everyone on Earth and the Earth itself.

Scientists have made dire predictions about increased temperatures and both the melting of sea ice and the increase of storms and forest fires. On September 28, 2018 the Washington Post reporters Ellperin, Dennis and Mooney let it be known that the present administration in Washington foresees and assumes in its 500-page environmental impact statement that the planet will warm a disastrous “7 degrees rise in global temperature by 2100.”

The present administration, according to Michael MacCracken, a senior scientist at the Global Change Research Program from 1993 to 2002, says that “human activities are going to lead to this rise of carbon dioxide that is disastrous for the environment and society.” And then MacCracken says that the present administration “is not going to do anything about it.” Continue reading

The pretty flower that’s strangling Stuyvesant Cove Park

July19 Bindweed flower

Growth of the vine-sprouting weed has exploded in the warm weather. (Photos by Emily Curtis-Murphy)

By Sabina Mollot

Though the blooming of a large, stinky flower at the New York Botanical Garden has been getting all the attention lately, there’s another plant in this city that’s starting to sound even more sinister than the aforementioned corpse flower.

A white-petaled menace that grows on vines has been described by the gardeners at Stuyvesant Cove Park as “an invader from far-off lands and nothing short of pernicious.”

That would be the field bindweed (also known as Convolvulus arvensis), a trumpet-shaped flower that looks very similar to a morning glory and has been growing like what it actually is — a weed – in green spaces across New York City. Along with parks and gardens, the hardy plant has also been sprouting up on traffic medians and vacant lots.

Environmental education center Solar One, which is located at Stuyvesant Cove Park’s north end, sent neighbors an email about the bindweed on Monday, while also making a plea for help in keeping its beastly growth at bay.

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Solar 2 design released

This rendering, by Bjark Ingels Group (BIG), shows how the replacement building for Solar One will look, complete with a kayak launch accessible at Stuyvesant Cove Park.

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Project architects have released renderings for Solar One’s new building that will be replacing the environmental organization’s original structure along the East River across from Peter Cooper Village within the next two years. The Economic Development Corporation, the city agency overseeing the project, presented the plan to Community Board 6’s land use and waterfront committee on January 22.

Although the project has been referred to as “Solar 2,” the new building will fully replace the organization’s original structure and the renderings show a “Solar One” sign on the building’s western face. According to the presentation, construction on Solar 2 is expected to be completed before the start of 2019 and construction on the additional flood protection in Stuyvesant Cove Park, which is part of the East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) project, won’t begin until 2021 or 2022. The ESCR project includes a combination of berms and flood walls to protect the nearby neighborhoods from a possible flood event, and since Solar One’s building is expected to be operational before construction begins for the ESCR, that flood protection will be built around the new structure.

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Soapbox: Stuyvesant Cove Park going strong thanks to support from neighbors

Children planting flowers at the park

By Liza Mindemann, park manager at Stuyvesant Cove Park

Saturday, November 18 was the last community volunteer Day of 2017 at Stuyvesant Cove Park, and there couldn’t have been any better way to celebrate. A first in many years, the event was a partnership between Stuyvesant Town and Solar One — the rekindling of the collaboration between neighbors that will grow into next season. New York Cares, a strong partner of the park for quite some time, also joined for a healthy turnout of almost fifty people of all ages.

As part of Stuyvesant Town’s Good Neighbors Program, residents and employees joined the event to volunteer, and the group included several kids.

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Solar One replacement building breaks ground

City Council Dan Garodnick, Solar One Executive Director Chris Collins and Manhattan Borough Preident Gale Brewer hold hard hats at a ceremony for Solar 2 on Tuesday. (Brewer’s forehead bandage was due to a recent car collision, though she said it looked worse than it was.) (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

After 10 years of planning, environmental non-profit Solar One announced a timeline for the construction of the new, replacement educational center known as Solar 2 on Tuesday, ideally to be completed by the end of next year.

Dina Elkan, communications director for Solar One, said that the incentive to finish within that time frame is partially because city budget is fixed so the funding from elected officials needs to be used by then. One of the challenges will be the overlapping East Side Coastal Resiliency project but Elkan said that since it’s the same architectural firm working on both, the two projects will be coordinating throughout the process.

At a ceremonial groundbreaking on Tuesday, Solar One also acknowledged outgoing Councilmember Dan Garodnick’s commitment to the project from the beginning of his tenure at City Hall.

“When he was elected 12 years ago, he came here with his campaign manager and asked how he could help,” Solar One Executive Director Chris Collins said. “His vision and willingness to examine thorny problems makes him unique to the community.”

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3 local organizations holding food festivals as fundraising events

At a previous Harvest in the Square, guests sit outside the tent. (Photo by Liz Ligon/courtesy of Union Square Partnership)

At a previous Harvest in the Square, guests sit outside the tent. (Photo by Liz Ligon/courtesy of Union Square Partnership)

By Sabina Mollot

Supporting neighborhood organizations is about to get very tasty.

This is because three local organizations are holding food tasting events this month bypassing more traditional kinds of fundraising events. The hosts are, respectively, the Union Square Partnership, hosting the 21st annual Harvest in the Square festival on September 22, Gramercy Neighborhood Associates, holding the fourth annual Taste of Gramercy Neighborhood on September 24, and Solar One, holding an Oktoberfest event on September 27.

Details for each event are as follows:

Harvest in the Square benefits its host’s efforts to maintain and beautify Union Square Park as well as fund summer programming. Over 50 local restaurants will participate at this event, held under a giant tent at the park’s North Plaza.

A handful of those include Croque Monsieur, Gramercy Tavern, Ngam, Rosa Mexicano, Strip House, Flats Fix, Black Barn, The Pavilion, The Poke Spot, Union Fare and Hill Country Chicken. There will also be tastings from a dozen regional wineries.

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The summer that was – A look back at community events

By Maria Rocha Buschel

Summer is quickly drawing to a close, with an autumn chill in the early morning air and school starting up again soon. And with the last unofficial day of the season, Labor Day, occurring yesterday, we thought we would share a look back at some of the summer activities that took place in the community.

This summer saw the return of the popular concert series on the Solar One stage at Stuyvesant Cove Park, with the only complaint some Town & Village readers had being that the series was too short. Performers also got in the summer spirit at Madison Square Park underneath the Fata Morgana canopy installation in an Afro-Cuban dance workshop and performance in July. In what is becoming an annual tradition, area residents were also able to enjoy the waterfront through the free kayaking events, hosted in Stuyvesant Cove Park for the final time for the season last weekend.

Click through for photos.

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Pols announce upcoming workshops on East Side Coastal Resiliency Project

Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez; Chris Collins, executive director of Solar One; Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Council Member Dan Garodnick at Solar One (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez; Chris Collins, executive director of Solar One; Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Council Member Dan Garodnick at Solar One (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney gathered with local politicians and community residents at Solar One last Friday to encourage participation at upcoming workshops that will help design the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project, a plan that was designed in response to the damage wrought on Lower Manhattan as a result of Hurricane Sandy.

“Sandy demonstrated that the time for complacency is over,” Maloney said on Friday. “Sea levels are rising. That suggests that we’re going to be seeing a lot more flooding, but now we have an opportunity to seize the moment and remake Manhattan’s East River coastline from Montgomery to 23rd Street into something that protects us from future storm surges.”

President Obama’s Hurricane Sandy rebuilding task force created the Rebuild by Design initiative in August 2013 and held a design competition for coastal resiliency projects. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development selected the BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) Team and their project that will protect the Manhattan waterfront from West 57th Street, around the tip of Manhattan up to East 42nd Street. The first phase of the project will focus on the area in Manhattan from Montgomery Street to East 23rd Street.

HUD awarded $335 million in federal funds in June, 2014 for that specific phase of the project, to create a protective system for that area of Manhattan. The project is meant to shield the area from flooding as well as provide more access to the waterfront, more open space and other environmental benefits for the community.

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Letters to the editor, May 29

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Time to stand up against predatory equity

On Friday, June 13, after CWCapital forecloses on the mezzanine (junior) debt for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, there is a very real threat that Fortress, the parent company of CWCapital, could use a questionable contract clause to instantly become the owner of our two complexes.

What happens on that day will affect us all. It could be Tishman Speyer redux. The financial press is speculating, full of scenarios providing detailed financial road maps to our demise.

Fortress is seeking to bid $4.7 billion for a property valued at $3.2 billion. Possibly adding nearly 50 percent more debt to the property in ​yet another overleveraged buyout will lead to problems for every one of us. These problems will assuredly be worse than what we have faced since 2006.

A show of our strength starts at 10 a.m. on June 13, when members of our community will assemble at City Hall to demonstrate our backing of the elected representatives who right now are working to try to save us from a predatory takeover. Let’s show Mayor de Blasio that we are a community worth saving, and show the hedge funds and real estate moguls that we are a community to be reckoned with. It’s worth making a serious effort to swell the group that will be bused to City Hall and back.
The two core groups that make up our community must stay united.

The first group — the young families and responsible singles and couples — I like to call the “New Stabilizers.”

The New Stabilizers have held on, many by their fingernails, so they can convert their high rents into more affordable long-term equity as apartment owners. Members of this group are the most vulnerable to losing their homes via exorbitant rent increases. The point will come when large numbers of New Stabilizers will be driven from a community that has suited their needs. More instability for everyone.

It’s heartbreaking that New Stabilizers will have to uproot their children from our fantastic local schools that I and others here got the opportunity to go to. These parents will have the painful task of explaining to their kids why they have to make new friends as they are forced to find another home. For this group, a takeover by anyone other than the tenants is their tipping point.

The second group — long-term traditionally rent-stabilized tenants — has a target on their backs too. They’re not as easy to hit, but a predatory owner will try, using the same tactics so ferociously applied by Tishman Speyer to challenge the legality of tenants’ stabilized status. Demolition of buildings is also a possible — and perfectly lawful — means for eviction. Tearing down our aging structures and “developing” our green spaces with shiny new towers is one sure way to pay down the debt.

For all of us, a tenant-led purchase is the only defense against a new predatory landlord. If you’re a long-term rent-stabilized tenant, you’ll be able to stay in your home and enjoy the same rent-stabilized protections you’ve always had with neighbors as your owners rather than hedge funds or dynastic New York real estate families.

For all of us, a new predatory landlord means more bad leasing policies that expand the number of “converted” apartments, which create higher concentrations of roommates in dorm-like occupancy, accompanied by more of the inevitable noise and bad neighbor behavior.

Churn, transients and predatory speculation are the problems. The answers are the young stabilizing families and responsible couples and singles vesting in their community and standing shoulder to shoulder with their longer-term neighbors who may wish to remain as renters living peacefully in their homes.

We all share the desire for our children and our neighbors’ children to grow up in the same safe, unique, extraordinary city setting many longer-term tenants have had. We need to carry on that tradition.

If ever there was a time to be vocal and visible, that time is now. If we just accept what might happen on June 13, we and our children will have to face the consequences.

Don’t let Friday, June 13, be the final chapter. Join us and fill the steps of City Hall to show the world we are organized and that we are a community, not a commodity. For more information about the rally and to RSVP for transportation, visit http://stpcvta.org/june13 or call (866) 290-9036.

John H. Marsh III,
Stuyvesant Town-
Peter Cooper Village
Tenants Association​

Answers on local effects of climate change

To the Editor:

I’d like to bring to the attention of our neighbors who were affected by Hurricane Sandy but who may still be questioning whether climate change is happening due to human continued use of fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas (methane) that the Sierra Club has some answers.

Their monthly meetings take place in the Seafarers & International House located at 123 East 15th Street on the northeast corner of Irving Place on the third Wednesday of the month. On May 21, I attended the third in their sustainability series called “Photovoltaics.” To my surprise and delight the first speaker was Chris Neidl recently back from India and at work again with Solar One. Chris was followed by Marlene Brown from the New Mexico Department of Energy. Both speakers answered many questions from the packed audience about solar energy for New York City.

Many of us remember how when Hurricane Sandy hit, the Solar One building in Stuyvesant Cove Park was the only place in our neighborhood that had electricity due to solar energy stored in its generator and people were coming to power their cell phones and medical apparatus. Solar One staff and volunteers brought solar panels and apparatus to the hard hit areas of the Rockaways and other coastal areas of NYC to help out.

On Wednesday, June 11, Solar One will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a boat trip from the East 23rd Street pier at 6 p.m. followed by a picnic supper and dancing under a big tent at the Cove until 10 p.m.  For more information and other events go to http://www.solar1.org.

The last in the Sierra Club Spring series takes place on Wednesday, June 18 on President Obama’s climate action plan with the Judith Enck, Head of Region 2 EPA (NY, NJ and Puerto Rico) as the speaker. There have been many ideas suggested for how hard hit coastal areas like ours can be protected from future storms. This would be a good time to ask our questions and hopefully get some answers. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for socializing and refreshments. Programs start at 7 p.m. $10 suggested donation; $3 for students.

Who knows? Maybe it’s a dream, but perhaps sometime in the future Stuyvesant Town could become an Eco Village and resilient.

Joy Garland, ST


Letters to the Editor, Oct. 10

On psychotic disorders and violence

We are all aware of the seeming increase in the frequency of attacks by persons who were later diagnosed as having a serious psychotic condition (e.g., schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and…). In fact, the woman who tried to crash the gate of the White House was probably suffering from post partum depression. Most of the others we have heard about were suffering from schizophrenia –  which about 2 percent of the population has or will get.

When someone has a psychotic condition simply stated, they are “out of touch with reality.” Hallmark symptoms can include: delusions (a pattern of cognitions which are not congruent with the world); hallucinations (sensory input that, though seems real, is not – this can involve hearing voices which no one else can hear, seeing things that are not there; commands which only they can hear; even feeling that they are being touched and the sense of smell or taste…).

So, to them all these symptoms are considered to be real! Why are so few being treated? Stigmatization of mental disorders. And, the very symptoms precluded the insight that something is very wrong.

It must be remembered that when a psychotic person hears the hallucination: “Kill so and so,” it is as clear as you reading this line. It appears to be quite real.

From before a half-century ago, such people were involuntarily committed to “state hospitals” – often far away from family and friends – isolated. There were almost no viable treatments and these hospitals were more like dungeons. What to do?

President John F. Kennedy had a sister, Rosemarie, who suffered from some psychiatric condition – though it is not clear as to which diagnosis was appropriate. Her father, Joe, had her committed to a hospital and with little in the way of ameliorative efforts, she was given a lobotomy, which exacerbated her mental state. She remained there until her death about 10 years ago.

So, JFK had a keen interest in the treatment of those so afflicted. He proposed the closing of the state hospitals (see the 1948 film “The Snake Pit” for a quite realistic view of the conditions that one found in these “bedlams”). But, in part due to his assassination, the community program never went into effect, so a far worse situation has evolved: Half of those who are deemed to be psychotic are sent to jails and prisons.

However, there is at least one good development: the introduction of drugs, which helped many (they are called psychotropics and include anti-psychotics Thorazine, Haldol, Lithium, as well as antidepressants, like Prozac…).

How about violence? Actually, people with a psychotic condition commit this kind of behavior at about the same rate as “normal.” Most simply don’t have it together enough to attack anyone. The reason people believe the canard of say, schizophrenia and violence is due to the media always “highlighting” the psychiatric disorder when an event occurs.

One of the most prominent psychiatrists in the U. S. is Dr. E. Fuller Torrey. He has an especial interest in schizophrenia because his sister has suffered from this disorder since her teenage years. In his many books, articles and appearances he implores our nation to become cognizant of mental illness, lessen the stigma, and stop putting these people in prisons and revamp the system so persons so afflicted can get the available help in suitable venues and conditions.

David Chowes, PCV

David Chowes worked as a clinical psychologist at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center and taught at Baruch College/CUNY for 25 years.
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Free kayaking, Family Day at Stuyvesant Cove

Participants enjoy a kayaking event at Stuyvesant Cove Park held in June. Photo by Marisa Buxbaum/Solar One

Participants enjoy a kayaking event at Stuyvesant Cove Park held in June. Photo by Marisa Buxbaum/Solar One

Community residents are invited to a free kayaking event at Stuyvesant Cove Park on Saturday, August 17 from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Participants must know how to swim, be at least 18 years old or attend with a parent or guardian, and must sign insurance waivers. All equipment is provided free. Participation will be on a first-come, first-paddling basis. Provided by Long Island City Community Boathouse. The event is a joint project of LICCB, the New York City Water Trail Association, and Urban Swim, in conjunction with the Lower East Side Ecology Center and the Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club with the support of Solar 1 and NYCEDC.
In addition, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Solar One’s long-running series of monthly “Family Day” events for children and their parents kicks off with an Interactive Plant Fair for Wildflower Week. For Family Day: Creatures, kids can make flower costume, collages and paintings, make seed bombs and plant wildflowers they can take home, get their faces painted and much more. RSVP to dina@solar1.org.

Other upcoming events in the neighborhood:

Waterside Plaza Dance Festival on August 17

The Waterside Plaza Dance Festival will take place on August 17 starting 5 p.m., featuring talented local dance companies and choreographers performing outside on the Plaza. This year performance groups are creating original site-specific work that showcases the unique landscape of Waterside Plaza’s outdoor space. Rain date is August 18. For more information, call (212) 340-4208 or email yketzis@watersideplaza.com.

Movies at Waterside continue through August 26

Waterside Plaza presents RCN Monday Night Movies on August 19 and 26. Films will start at dusk (usually around 8:15 p.m.) outside on the Plaza. Co-sponsored by RCN, admission is free and open to the public. For more information, call (212) 340-4208 or email: yketzis@watersideplaza.com.

Stuyvesant Strolls on Wed., Aug. 21

On Wednesday, August 21 from 6-7 p.m., Solar One will host Stuyvesant Strolls, a guided,  sunset tour through Stuyvesant Cove Park. This is a great opportunity to discover the wide variety of plants and wildlife native to New York City.

Kids Summerfest in Stuyvesant Town on August 25

The next scheduled event for young residents of Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village and their guests is Kids Summerfest II, which will feature The Airborne Comedians, mini golf, and more on Sunday, August 25 at 3 p.m. on the Oval.

See listings for more local events, including theater, concerts, comedy, kids’ events and more on the Town & Village Blog Around & About page.

Up the river, with paddles and kayaks

A kayaking event held at Stuyvesant Cove Park last Saturday was a hit with neighborhood residents. Photo by Wendy-Lynn McClean/Urban Swim

A kayaking event held at Stuyvesant Cove Park last Saturday was a hit with neighborhood residents.
Photo by Wendy-Lynn McClean/Urban Swim

By Sabina Mollot

Who needs the beach when you have the East River?

Last Saturday, neighborhood residents headed out to Stuyvesant Cove Park for a free kayaking event on the river, the second such event to take place since planning of the East River Blueway project got underway. Though this recreational event was unaffiliated with that plan, Deanne Draeger of the East 13th Street based organization Urban Swim said the goal is essentially the same, which is to get New Yorkers out onto a clean, safe waterway.

The first kayaking event at Stuyvesant Cove took place last August, and like this one, was a hit, with neighborhood residents of all ages, many of whom had never gone boating before, lining up to use the kayaks. According to Solar One’s figures, there were around 200 participants.

“For a lot of people it was their first time ever, so it was a very interesting thing to be able to do,” said Draeger. “You don’t need experience and we provided all the safety equipment. Some people were nervous, but when you get on the water it’s incredible and you’re paddling around in the New York Harbor.”

Along with Urban Swim, the afternoon activity was also made possible by the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, NYCEDC and Long Island City Community Boat Club. The organization has also fostered relationships with other organizations that have supported its efforts including Solar One, the Lower East Side Ecology Center and the NY Water Trail Association.

In addition to hosting events aimed at getting people into the water, including the occasional swim between Stuyvesant Cove and Coney Island, Urban Swim also does weekly testing of the water to determine its cleanliness. Fortunately, according to Draeger, most of the time, the water’s fine, at least for swimming and other activities.

“It’s definitely a lot cleaner than it has been,” she said, noting that the practice of dumping into rivers by many companies “has been curtailed.”

The only exception tends to be after heavy rainfalls, thanks to an antiquated sewer system. (At that time, the river can see what’s known as combined sewage overflow, which is extra storm water that can’t be treated fast enough by sewage plants.)

Draeger said Urban Swim tests at around 30 sites in Manhattan and then publishes its results.

“We’re very grassroots about it,” she said. “A bunch of us test in different locations.”

Urban Swim has been around since 2010, having gotten started after Draeger organized a swim for herself from Stuyvesant Cove Park to Steeple Chase in Coney Island, Brooklyn. When she did it again the following year and then the next, she invited others to join her and has since been organizing other events on the water.

If anyone thinks they can handle a similar swim, the next opportunity will be on August 10, when the group once again heads from Stuy Cove to Coney Island. Another swim, from the Statue of Liberty to One World Trade Center, is scheduled for September 14. There will also be another kayaking day at the Cove set for August 17. For more information about upcoming events, visit the “Urban Swim” Facebook page.








Solar One’s website quaratined

Solar One’s website, solar1.org, has been hacked into, and the clean energy advocate has quarantined the site until further notice. This note was sent out via email this morning:

Dear Friends,

Unfortunately the Solar1.org website has been thoroughly hacked, and it’s going to take a little while to fix. I will be working on it overnight to the best of my ability, and I’ll try and get everything up and running as soon as I can. 

In the meantime, please DON’T visit solar1.org, cleanecnyc.org or gdl.solar1.org. However you can still register for March 22nd’s Clean Energy Connections panel discussion Power in Numbers: Capitalizing on the Data of Cleantech safely and securely by clicking HERE.

Thanks for your patience and support!