Jack Taylor with Rosalee Isaly, then-president of the Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association, who presented him with an award for his preservation work in the neighborhood last year (also now deceased) (Photo by Andrew Garn)
By Sabina Mollot
Jack Taylor, a historic preservationist and resident of East 18th Street in Gramercy, died last Thursday, February 7, in his sleep. He was 94, and had suffered some health problems, including with his leg in recent months, making it hard for him to get around.
For decades Taylor was known for his efforts to save buildings slated for the wrecking ball in the Gramercy, Stuyvesant Square and Union Square neighborhoods and to get them landmarked.
He was involved in numerous civic groups, including the Gramercy Park Block Association, the Union Square Community Coalition, the Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association and the Historic Districts Council.
He’d been retired since the 1980s, when he served as managing editor for Family Circle for several years. After retiring, he still did some freelance editing work.
His legacy of preservation began when he was inspired by the loss of Luchow’s restaurant, according to a transcript of a 2004 forum he participated in held by the New York Preservation Archive Project. The place was over a century old when Taylor learned it was at risk and got involved with an informal group aimed at saving it, headed by the USCC. The “born and bred” Manhattanite noted he had been born in Greenwich Village, not far from Luchow’s.
“Was it an architectural landmark? Was it a cultural landmark? Just what was it?” Taylor had mused at the forum. “It didn’t matter to me then, because I didn’t know the ropes very much. But it just seemed to be something that the city of New York would be the worse without. Regardless of the food, which had plummeted in the meantime. It was the philosophy of the thing.”
Rosalee Isaly with a plaque from Dvorak’s former home
By Sabina Mollot
Rosalee Isaly, the longtime president of the Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association, died at the age of 81 on July 24.
Isaly, who’d been involved with the civic group for nearly as long as it’s been around, recently hosted a 50th anniversary gala for the SPNA at the historic church overlooking the park.
However, less than a month after the event, she learned she had pancreatic cancer, and according to her son Jason, Isaly died 16 days later. She died while staying with family members in Chicago, where she was born and lived before moving to New York City’s Stuyvesant Square neighborhood. Her family held a funeral service for Isaly at the St. Barnabas Church in Chicago and she was buried in Interment Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.
Under Isaly’s leadership, the SPNA worked to preserve local historic properties as well as revitalize Stuyvesant Square Park after a period of decline. This included implementing free summer programming like tango classes and jazz concerts and pushing for years to see a multi-million project to restore the park’s historic wrought-iron fence restored. When Isaly joined the group, it was to protest razing of neighborhood brownstones by Beth Israel, which was then scooping up properties to expand the hospital’s footprint. Continue reading →
Stuyvesant Square Park these days is sitting pretty, in no small part due to the work of the Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
When the Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association was formed half a century ago, it began as many civic organizations do — as a response to a perceived threat to the community that the residents were willing to fight. In this case, the interloper was Beth Israel, which was expanding its footprint at the time, buying up brownstones in the Stuyvesant Square neighborhood to raze and turn into larger buildings.
Rosalee Isaly, the president of the Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association, who’s been involved in the group’s efforts since 1970, said neighbors were concerned about the expansion impacting their quality of life, especially when the hospital received a federal grant to turn an empty lot at the corner of Second Avenue and 17th Street to build a 40-story building to house its staff. The group, initially just three couples (including husbands who worked as attorneys), fought this tooth and nail.
Eventually that street corner became home to the significantly smaller Hospital for Joint Diseases, and Beth Israel built the 24-story Gilman Hall on First Avenue across from Stuyvesant Town to house its residents. (Gilman has since been emptied and sold to a California-based developer as part of the hospital’s downsizing plan.)
As for the three couples from Stuyvesant Square who made up the founding members of the SPNA, they were John and Mary Tommaney, Adrian and Marisa Zorgniotti and James and Carvel Moore. Isaly, who now owns and manages a couple of local properties and is also an artist, joined the SPNA upon moving to the neighborhood when she was a newlywed. She’s lived there since then with the exception of a few years in the 1970s when she and her family lived in Paris.
The series of events are for dog owners with questions or concerns about their local dog runs. (Pictured) Dogs and an owner at the Bellevue South Park Dog Run (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Sabina Mollot
Got a question or concern about Fido’s dog run? The New York City Parks Department is holding a series of four dog run town halls with the next one scheduled in Manhattan on April 14 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
The series, according to a spokesperson for the department Meghan Lalor, was inspired by similar public dog forums the department held in 2007 while finalizing an off-leash policy as well as a forum in 2010 when Assistant Commissioner Michael Dockett was named the agency’s “dog czar.”
Now, the department is “refreshing” the concept with the hopes of getting dog owners more involved in their local runs and to inform them about available resources. The first in the series on dog runs took place in Queens last weekend without about 40 people in attendance. The Manhattan venue will be the Tony Dapolito Recreation Center at 3 Clarkson Street, and dog owners should note that the event is for humans only.
ST-PCV Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Around a dozen leaders of neighborhood groups, who’d been stunned to learn late last month that the city planned to open a “Safe Haven” shelter in Stuyvesant Square, finally got to hear from the shelter’s operator, BRC, at a meeting last week.
Those attending the meeting, which was specifically held for representatives of local organizations, seemed wary but open-minded about the new 28-bed facility that is supposed to open in a former Beth Israel AIDS hospice building at 327 East 17th Street. The meeting was held at Mount Sinai Beth Israel last Wednesday evening.
Representatives from the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association, the Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association and the Kips Bay Neighborhood Association were at the meeting and all wanted to know how the BRC, which runs the Safe Haven pilot program, would address safety concerns around the new shelter, especially because Safe Havens don’t have curfew requirements.
A ribbon cutting ceremony was attended by Community Board 6 chair Rick Eggers, Ana Maria Moore of the Stuyvesant Square Park Neighborhood Association, CB6 Parks, Landmarks and Cultural Affairs committee member Gary Papush, City Councilmember Rosie Mendez, Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver and Eliza Fish, eight-time granddaughter of Peter Stuyvesant. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
After waiting for decades, community residents and activists finally got to witness the completion of a newly restored fence along the eastern end of Stuyvesant Square Park.
Neighborhood residents and local elected officials had been working to fully restore the historical structure since at least the late 1980s, when the 170-year-old fence was first partially restored. Reasons for the various delays included problems finding a contractor to do the job of restoring a landmarked but badly rotted fence as well as having money that had been allocated for the $5.5 million project get steered towards other priorities of the city.
So a ribbon cutting ceremony held by a section of fence facing Nathan Perlman Place was well-attended on June 15.
The city is planning to open a new “Safe Haven” facility to house chronically homeless individuals in a Stuyvesant Square building that’s owned by Mount Sinai.
The building was previously used by Beth Israel as an HIV/AIDS hospice/residential treatment center. It is currently empty, located at 327 East 17th Street between First and Second Avenues. At one time, the site was a home rented by the Czech composer Antonin Dvorak, though it was later demolished.
Word of the proposal, which is aimed at housing 28 homeless people and helping them transition to regular housing, got out on Tuesday with an email from Community Board 6 to various community organizations.
According to the email, CB6 has plenty of questions about the plan, including why it’s coming to the area when there’s already an 850-bed shelter on East 30th Street and other, local smaller shelters, and concern over the location’s proximity to neighborhood schools. The email also noted there was no guarantee the homeless individuals would be people from the district.
Carol Schachter, vice president of the 13th Precinct Community Council, pictured at right at a recent street fair that the Community Council sponsored, with a member, Pat Sallin, and its president, Frank Scala (Photo by Mary Mahoney)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Community organizers are worried that proposed new rules requiring participation from local businesses in street festivals will affect their revenue because they feel there won’t be enough participation from neighborhood vendors.
The Mayor’s Office of Citywide Events Coordination and Management (OCECM), which oversees the Street Activity Permit Office (SAPO), proposed new rules for street festivals, including a requirement that 50 percent of participating vendors have a business or local presence within the same community board as the festival, as well as a limit on how many are allowed per community board every year, decreasing the number from 18 to 10.
Carol Schachter, who’s the vice president of the 13th Precinct Community Council, said that a number of groups depend on revenue from local street fairs to fund programming for the neighborhood. Schachter attempted to provide testimony about the issue at the public hearing held last Thursday but noted that the hearing was held in a small room without enough space to accommodate all those who wanted to speak.
“Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association hosts events like tangos in the park. They rely on street fair revenue,” she said. “We don’t have money as community organizations to pay for these things otherwise. We need that money for National Night Out: the giveaways, ice cream truck, they all have to be paid for and it’s paid for by revenue from street fairs.”
The following community and entertainment events are taking place this week.
Gramercy quality of life forum on July 15
City Councilwoman Rosie Mendez (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
Manhattan Community Board Six and Gramercy Neighborhood Associates are co-hosting a community forum with representatives from NYC agencies, moderated by City Councilmember Rosie Mendez on July 15 from 6 to 8 p.m.
Agencies will include New York County District Attorney’s office, NYPD’s 13th and 17th Precincts, Department of Sanitation, Department of Transportation, Parks Department and Department of Homeless Services.
It will take place in the School of the Future at 127 East 22nd Street between Park Ave and Lexington Avenue. Panelists will address quality of life issues in the Gramercy neighborhood, including homelessness, safety, traffic and sanitation. Residents can submit questions prior to the forum or in written form during the event.
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Lectures, dance lessons, kids’ events at Stuyvesant Square Park
Tango lesson at Stuyvesant Square Park (Photo by Ute Lechmig)
The Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association presents the following upcoming events at Stuyvesant Square Park:
Lunch and Learn events take place on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Wednesday events, from 12:15-1 p.m., are hosted by NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases Horticultural Therapy and Integrative Health Programs. July 16: Mind body movement (meditation), July 23: Herbal tea party.
Thursday events, from 1:15-2 p.m. are hosted by Cornell University Cooperative Extension’s Jannie Wolff. July 24: Health and the uses of herbs.
Chair yoga Tuesdays with Birgit Nagele take place on July 15, 22 and 29 from noon-1 p.m. on the northwest lawn.
Tango Sundays with Esmerelda take place from 6-9 p.m. (beginner lessons at 6 p.m.) at the west fountain.
The NYC Parks Department presents “Play Mobile” on July 15 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
For updates and additional event information, visit spnanyc.org.
Movies on the Oval
Movies on the Oval has returned with a double-feature most Wednesdays through August 13 for ST/PCV residents and their guests. On July 16, 5 p.m. “The Croods,” 7 p.m. “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.”
Music Under the Stars
Waterside Plaza’s summer concert series, “Music Under the Stars,” has returned with Wednesday concerts at 7 p.m. each night. There will be a beer and wine bar, with snacks available at the concession stand or hardier fare at the Robbins Nest cafe. Seating is limited on the Plaza. Lawn chairs and blankets are welcome.
July 16, Kaissa will perform. Hailing from the Republic of Cameroon and its vibrant culture, singer Kaissa has become an unmistakable representative of African music. Rain date is July 17.
David Hershey-Webb and Friends at Stuyvesant Cove Park last year
David Hershey-Webb and friends will return to Stuyvesant Cove Park to perform original folk, country rock and R&B music on Monday, July 14th at 6:30 p.m. The show is part of the free summer concert series presented by The Stuyvesant Cove Park Association. In the event of rain the performance will take place on Tuesday, July 15.
For even more events going on including outdoor concerts, theater, comedy, kids’ events and more see T&V’s Around & About section.