Fed up by basketball noise, ST man aims to get rid of playground

Stuyvesant Town’s Playground 11 (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

When Stuyvesant Town management announced last year that the sports tent, which had been installed at Playground 11 for a couple of winter seasons, would not be returning, the news was sad to local sports fans but a relief to others. One of the reasons for the oversized tent’s discontinued use was that its usage didn’t justify the energy it took to heat it, but another reason was neighbors’ complaints of noise.

One of the residents who’d been affected by the noise was psychotherapist Stuart Levinson, who said his eleventh floor apartment directly overlooked it. However, even with the tent gone, according to Levinson, the noise from the playground’s basketball courts, is not.

Recently, Levinson, who was also very vocal about his dislike of the tent, started a petition to ask StuyTown Property Services to get rid of the playground as well. Instead, he suggested, the space could be used for a community garden. The petition, which he sent to Town & Village, was signed by 30 people, all in his building, 285 Avenue C.

Levinson has been living in Stuyvesant Town for two years, which is when he married his wife, a resident of 20 years. So, he acknowledged, many of his neighbors have been living in the community long enough to either not notice the noise, anymore, or not care.

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Letters to the editor, May 19

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

More money than brains

Back in the time when human beings were bought and sold to provide free labor and other perks for their owners, I imagine that slaves wore clothes that were basically old, tattered jeans handed down to others. Nowadays, people of all races, ages, genders and nationalities are wearing “shabby chic” jeans that are ripped, torn and threadbare. These jeans are extremely tight on females or too loose on males as evidenced by some men’s exposed jockey/boxer shorts or plumber’s crack. In addition, these shabby jeans now have permanent fake mud stains. In fact, I believe Nordstrom’s is selling these “filthy jeans” for $425.

Who can afford these jeans? Probably those who will benefit from Trump’s tax “plan,” which redirects our investing in clean air/water/food, health care, education, scientific research and our citizens’ pursuit of happiness to investing our taxes in corporations and the ultra-wealthy One Percent who stand to pocket hundreds of thousands so a few bucks can “trickle down” (a Trump fave) to the rest of us. He revealed a tax plan so simple it fits on a single 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper, unlike his own personal taxes, which, if he’d reveal them, would speak volumes.

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Exhibit taking residents back in time

Hours of the exhibition, taking place at Oval Studio, have been extended. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Saturday, StuyTown Property Services turned Oval Studio into a gallery space celebrating the community’s 70th anniversary.

The exhibition features various mementos from the property’s past, mostly on loan from residents. Items run from artwork showcasing the complex’s landscaping to photos of local businesses from days gone by to letters showing interaction between tenants and management. In one stern, type-written letter, a resident is informed that his child’s use of water gun on the grounds is a no-no.

The exhibition mostly steered clear of the property’s past major controversies, though, focusing on nostalgia, with a few exceptions. One could be the first year’s issues of this newspaper, which was displayed in a bound volume. (In the early years, an ongoing story involved Met Life’s policy of barring black residents.) There was also some other Stuy Town-focused reading material included.

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Signs on squirrel feeding appear outside playgrounds

A sign outside Peter Cooper Village’s Playground 2 (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Sabina Mollot

Aw nuts! Squirrel feeding is now being actively discouraged in Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village playgrounds.

Following a few reported incidents of squirrel bites on the grounds nearly a year ago, a number of parents pushed the owner to install some signage indicating that people shouldn’t feed the local wildlife. This week, that signage finally appeared — although it only asks people not to feed the squirrels near the playground as opposed to not at all on the property.

The sign, which features a silhouette of a squirrel as well as management’s “Good Neighbors” campaign logo of a blue heart, reads: “Please do not feed the squirrels within 50 feet of this playground.”

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Letters to the editor, Mar. 2

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Here’s where you can go

To the Editor,

I entered the First Avenue Loop at 16th Street on Sunday January 29 at around 9:30 p.m. carrying a jug of water and an Artichoke Pizza box. Walking north to south by the benches at the west end of Playground 9, I spotted a dog anxiously jumping at its master.

As I got closer I saw that the master was speaking with a young woman who, for all I knew, was his companion. But when they parted ways, the woman approached me, “Excuse me. Do you know were 20 Stuyvesant Oval is?”

I said, “You’re going the wrong way.”

She’d walked full tilt toward the Senior Center. I pondered leaving her to her own devices but realized I wasn’t the most articulate and she could have gotten lost for a month.

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Stuy Town woman: Handy cleaner stole from my apartment

Jennifer Kops (pictured in 2013 at a Peter Stuyvesant Little League Parade) (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Jennifer Kops (pictured in 2013 at a Peter Stuyvesant Little League Parade) (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Earlier this month, the NYPD sent out an email blast, noting that police had become aware of 50 complaints of theft that were traced back to Handy, an app that allows users to hire people who clean their apartments and do handyman type work. The cops added that there has been one arrest within the past month related to such an incident.

However, despite the memo being picked up by a few news outlets, including this one, thefts from apartments have apparently continued. Handy, like Uber, is a platform connecting workers to those in need of service, with customers listing dates and times they would like the work done and contractors responding to accept the job.

And, as one resident of Stuyvesant Town who utilized the company’s services on five occasions told us, she was definitely cleaned out when an estimated $5,000 in cash and jewelry went missing from her apartment.

The resident, Jennifer Kops, a mom of two, said after the first cleaner came and did a “fantastic job,” she didn’t have a problem letting in future cleaners (there were two others) into her home while she was at work.

“To me it seemed like a great plan; I come home to a nice smelling house.”

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StuyTown to offer self-defense classes after attempted rape

Stuyvesant Town (photo by Sabina Mollot)

Stuyvesant Town (photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

StuyTown Property Services will be offering self-defense courses to residents in the wake of the sexual assault in Stuyvesant Town early last Sunday morning, and the management has installed new lighting along the 14th Street corridor. General Manager Rick Hayduk made the announcements in an emailed newsletter to residents on Thursday night.

In addition to new lighting, Hayduk noted that perimeter lighting, particular along Avenue C, as well as interior lighting, is currently being reviewed. SPS will also be working with security consultants to identify areas where new and additional equipment should be placed, including improvements to the configuration of the surveillance system, since the assault on Sunday was not fully visible to the property’s security cameras.

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What ST/PCV lottery winners can expect in their apartments

The renovated units have a dishwasher and light wood finishes on the cabinets. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

The renovated units have a dishwasher and light wood finishes on the cabinets. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

The apartments allocated as “affordable” in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village are, as Blackstone, has promised, renovated, which would be expected given the only somewhat reduced price.
However, unlike market units, they can’t be toured by prospective renters until they’re contacted because an apartment has become available. Would-be tenants won’t encounter any surprises though since all the available one and two-bedroom units are similar in layout and in the fixtures.

What’s to be expected is an included air conditioner in the living room window and in each bedroom, though like all other tenants, they’ll be paying extra surcharges to keep cool. The ACs will be either GE or Friedrich. At this time, monthly surcharges are $26.65 per unit, a rate set by the Division of Housing and Community Renewal for all tenants.

Kitchens will come with a dishwasher, which like the other kitchen appliances like the fridge and microwave, are manufactured by GE.

All kitchen cabinets have wood finish with white appliances and granite or Corian surface countertops.

All apartments have the classic blond wood parquet floor that will ultimately have to be 80 percent covered.

Bathrooms are white-tiled.

All apartments will have at least four closets, including a linen closet, though they won’t necessarily all be laid out the same way.

Additionally, like all other residents, lottery winners will have their utility fees included in their rents, which are determined by area median income.

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Garodnick asks city to investigate Quik Park rate increases in ST

Garage customers began complaining about the increases last September. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Garage customers began complaining about the increases last September. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Several months ago, drivers who parked their cars at any of the garages located in Stuyvesant Town found themselves socked with a $20 monthly increase in rent, without prior warning.

Now, Council Member Dan Garodnick is looking to the Department of Consumer Affairs to see if those increases, issued by garage operator Icon/Quik Park, are actually legit. In a letter to the DCA commissioner, Lorelai Salas, late last month, Garodnick wrote about the increases, which he started hearing about from garage customers last September.

“These increases have come without any notice,” he said. “The increases have been unaccompanied by any explanation; garage customers have simply received monthly bills higher than what they have paid previously. Since local law requires a 60 day prior notice of rate changes, it would appear that all of these increases are invalid, and should be reversed.”

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Stuy Town apartment lottery reopening

feb9-screenshot

The lottery website, stuytownlottery.com, is live.

By Sabina Mollot

The lottery for below-market apartments in Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village is reopening.

On Monday, Blackstone announced that those who missed out the first time could try again during a one-month window.

This reopening is specifically for applicants in the higher-income bracket for one and two-bedroom apartments since those are the unit sizes that are most common throughout the property. However, the original waiting list is still active for unit types not included in the current lottery as well as one and two-bedrooms.

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Editorial: Squirrels: To feed or not to feed?

We definitely don’t recommend doing this. (Illustration by Sabina Mollot)

We definitely don’t recommend doing this. (Illustration by Sabina Mollot)

In mid-July, Town & Village published a story detailing recent complaints made by three parents on a neighborhood Facebook group, claiming that their children had been bitten by squirrels in Stuyvesant Town. While the squirrels in the complex are known for being overly-friendly, this was the first time we’d heard of a child getting bitten by one, let alone three. So we asked around for more opinions, which, as usual, were mixed, though most people we interviewed seemed to agree the resident squirrels were aggressive in their begging habits.

Well, as anyone who reads this paper knows, that coverage didn’t go over too well with the community’s squirrel lovers, who interpreted the parents’ concern as hatred toward the fluffy tailed critters in letters we published. In addition, this newspaper was blasted as being irresponsible. “Malicious,” “slander” and “perverse” were some of the words used to describe the article, written by Town & Village editor Sabina Mollot. Our publisher, Chris Hagedorn, even got a call from a woman who threatened to boycott every business that advertises within our pages for our treatment of the local Eastern Grey population.

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Mount Sinai practice will open in Stuy Town

The Mount Sinai practice will open at 516-518 East 20th Street. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

The Mount Sinai practice will open at 516-518 East 20th Street. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Sabina Mollot

As part of the $500 million Beth Israel rebuild effort, including the creation of a “Mount Sinai Downtown” network, the hospital system announced that it will be opening a practice in Stuyvesant Town.

The practice, to be located at 516-518 East 20th Street, will offer primary care and specialty services. Construction is expected to be completed on the space by the fall and it is expected to open in the fall. Currently the 4,000 square foot space is vacant with its windows papered up. Formerly it was home to Berkely Sutton Cleaners, which moved elsewhere in Stuy Town, and a key control room for the complex.

According to a press release, this center will “help achieve Mount Sinai’s goal of transforming and embracing a new model of care that focuses on serving patients in the most appropriate setting.”

Mount Sinai’s planned downsizing of Beth Israel involves transitioning to a mostly outpatient model.

The practice will also offer pediatric services, and as for the specialty care services, they are to be determined “in consultation with Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village, surrounding communities and interest groups,” the hospital said, and “will also be offered on a rotating basis.”

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Three men arrested for package thefts in Stuy Town

Packages at 441 E 20

Three men were arrested for allegedly stealing packages from Stuy Town (not the ones pictured from a past pileup).

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police arrested three men for stealing packages in a Stuyvesant Town building this past Tuesday afternoon. Emicel Basurto, 29, Damon Barnes, 40, and Jemal Martin, 42, were busted inside 435 East 14th Street at 2:52 p.m. while allegedly going through packages that had been delivered to the building.

A representative for StuyTown Property Services said that a janitorial supervisor noticed a man fitting the description of an alleged package thief walking near East 14th Street and Avenue A with two other men. Management knew what the suspect looked like because of surveillance video taken at buildings where thefts had previously occurred.

According to the District Attorney’s office, Basurto could be seen on video surveillance entering 453 East 14th Street on December 27 around 4:30 p.m. He allegedly took an elevator upstairs and left shortly after, but police said that a package that had been confirmed delivered was not at her apartment when she got home.

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ST composting effort keeps 10,000 lbs. of garbage out of landfill each week

Rei Moya, the director of environmental services at Stuyvesant Town with Rick Hayduk, general manager (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Rei Moya, the director of environmental services at Stuyvesant Town with Rick Hayduk, general manager (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Last summer, Rick Hayduk, the general manager of Stuyvesant Town, announced that the new owner was looking for ways to reduce the 80-acre property’s carbon footprint. This was mentioned after a decision was made not to bring back the heated sports tent that had been in the complex for two seasons. At the time, Hayduk said it wouldn’t be returning due to all the energy it took to keep the nearly three-story tent a comfortable temperature during the winter months, as well as noise complaints from neighbors.

Since then, Blackstone and StuyTown Property Services have made good on their commitment to undertake some environmentally-friendly initiatives. One in October was the installation of a weather monitor to be used by the property’s landscapers to prevent the grounds from getting over-watered. In June, the owner planted 30 new trees around the complex to replace those that had died over time due to disease or pollution.

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Airbnb apts. still an ongoing issue in ST

By Sabina Mollot

In October, Governor Cuomo signed a law that will impose steep fines on Airbnb hosts who break local housing regulations. The short-term rental listings giant sued over the law though the company recently settled with the city of New York once it was made clear that hosts and not Airbnb were the target.

Short-term rentals in apartments were already illegal in many cases in New York City if the stay is under 30 days and the apartment’s tenant of record isn’t also staying there. Additionally, the practice also violates lease terms at some properties, including Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village, though this hasn’t stopped tenants from listing their homes on Airbnb and other sites.

In recent years, this has been a worry for tenants who are concerned about problems like the spread of bedbugs as well as safety in an environment where they don’t know who’s staying next door. Four years ago when there was an uptick of bedbug sightings in the complex, then Tenants Association President John Marsh suspected that might be the reason. At one point, representatives from the ST-PCV Tenants Association and management met with representatives from Airbnb. The meeting resulted in the company agreeing to issue a pop-up notice on its website stating that rentals are illegal if the site’s user tries to advertise a Stuy Town or Peter Cooper address.

Yet, the practice has persisted.

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