L train neighbors slam MTA over noise, debris and mysterious goo

Dec13 L train Epstein

Assembly Member Harvey Epstein with L train construction zone neighbors and disability advocates in front of the MTA’s headquarters (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

While most New Yorkers are approaching April with a sense of dread because of the start to the 15-month L-pocalypse, for those who live around the East 14th Street construction site, the nightmare has been going on already for quite some time.

Recently, local elected officials were able to secure some concessions from the MTA in response to neighbor concerns like additional lighting along the sidewalks where views of the street are obstructed by construction barriers, a commitment to install air quality monitors along the street and reopening of the sidewalk on the East Village side of the street, where stores have been cut off from foot traffic.

However, many concerns have remained, such as noisy work that goes on from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., as well as on weekends, clouds of debris that have caused some neighbors to fear for their respiratory health and equipment-packed streets that have led to an obstacle course for the disabled. Residents have also been left to wonder about the presence of an unidentified, glowing green substance in one of the many dumpsters that regularly get trucked in and out of the site.

On Tuesday, Assembly Member Harvey Epstein joined a few residents whose apartments overlook the construction zone for a press conference in front of MTA’s downtown Broadway headquarters. The protesters held signs that indicated MTA stands for “Making Tenants Angry” and one that showed a photo of the goo-filled dumpster at the site.

“We respect the need to upgrade the L train,” said Epstein. “But at what cost? At what consequences? We ask the MTA to do more.”

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Tiny owl spotted in Stuyvesant Town

Northern Saw-whet owl in Stuyvesant Town

By Sabina Mollot and Maria Rocha-Buschel

Guess whooooo recently visited Stuyvesant Town?

A resident spotted this brown and white owl on Monday as it perched on a railing by the mezzanine of 525 East 14th Street. He told Town & Village that he’s seen lots of different birds in the neighborhood but the owl was an unusual find in the city. The resident, Mario, who didn’t want his last name mentioned, also noted that he wasn’t expecting to capture this little guy on camera in broad daylight but pulled out his phone and managed to get some shots of the obliging raptor.

Upon seeing the photos, Anne Lazarus, a longtime birder who leads bird watching tours in Stuyvesant Town and Stuyvesant Cove, identified this visitor as a Northern Saw-whet Owl, noting the lack of ear tufts.

“The Northern Saw-whet Owls have been showing up this year,” said Lazarus, adding that a few have been spotted in Central Park. Additionally, despite its size, the owl seen in Stuy Town is not a baby, but an adult, with Northern Saw-whets being one of the smallest owl species in North America. They are comparable, size-wise, to robins.

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Teen mugged in Peter Cooper Village building

Dec6 Robbery suspects

Robbery suspects

By  Sabina Mollot

Cops are on the lookout for two muggers who held a resident of Peter Cooper Village up at gunpoint on Tuesday night.

Police said the victim, who is 16 years old, was walking home at about 11:10 p.m. when he was confronted by the pair in the vestibule of 510 East 23rd Street.

One of the robbers pulled out what appeared to be a real gun while demanding his property. The victim then turned over $90 in cash and his iPhone and the muggers fled towards the FDR Drive.

The suspects were described as male and black, one wearing a blue hoodie and black sweatpants and the other wearing grey shoes gray sweatpants and a black coat.

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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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Robber threatens First Avenue CVS employee with needle

Robbery suspect

By Sabina Mollot

Police are looking for a man who, when caught shoplifting at the CVS store across from Stuyvesant Town, threatened an employee with a hypodermic needle.

The man strolled into the store, located at 253 First Avenue, on Wednesday, November 14 at 8 p.m. and began throwing items from the shelves into a garbage bag. When an employee confronted him in the aisle, the man pulled out the needle and told the worker to “step back.”

The man then fled with about $170 in merchandise.

The suspect, who is being sought for robbery, is described as black, in his 30s, about 5 ft. 8 ins. and 180 lbs. At the time of the incident, he was wearing a white sweatshirt, a black jogging jacket, a black skull cap and black sneakers.

The day I almost dumped water on JFK

Rosemary Heath at work during the September primary

Confessions of a Stuy Town kid turned local poll worker 

By Sabina Mollot

Rosemary Heath, Town & Village’s advertising representative, is also a Stuyvesant Town lifer and for the past three years, has been a poll worker at local elections.

Prior to Election Day today, Heath spoke with Town & Village about what it’s like to work at the polls, and how she got her first taste of politics at a young age. She was four when President Dwight Eisenhower campaigned in Stuyvesant Town in 1956 and eight when then-presidential candidate John F. Kennedy did the same — and almost got a pot of water dumped on his head from Heath’s window.

When JFK came to campaign in 1960, it was at the corner of First Avenue and 20th Street in front of what is now Hane restaurant (then Plymouth, a women’s clothing store).

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Stuy Town Halloween events for residents

Halloween display in Stuyvesant Town (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

StuyTown property Services presents the following free Halloween events for residents. Guests are asked to bring their resident IDs.

Family Halloween Fun-Fest

On Tuesday, October 30 from 3:30 to 6 p.m. on the Oval, families are invited to come in costume to the annual fair, which this year will feature five bounce houses for various ages, carnival snacks, a craft area with rubbed art, buttons, crowns, puppets, murals, a balloon-filled pumpkin patch with mini pumpkins for decorating, live music and guest entertainers with magic and mayhem.

Editor’s note: This event has been rescheduled from October 27 due to a predicted nor’easter.

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Singer Garland Jeffreys’ tips for aspiring musicians

Dec28 Garland Jeffreys

Stuyvesant Town rock singer Garland Jeffreys (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Monday, October 22, Stuyvesant Town rock singer Garland Jeffreys will be performing a concert at a fundraiser for the 14th Street Y, where he, his wife Claire and daughter Savannah are longtime members.

It will be the first of a few local concerts coming up for the singer, following a recent tour through Europe to promote his last album, “14 Steps to Harlem.”
Now in the early writing stages for his next album, to be called, “Dash of Soul,” and fundraising for a documentary about his career, Jeffreys, 75, spoke with Town & Village to share tips for new and aspiring musicians.

“I’m always happy to talk to people who are starting out,” he said, adding that starting out means picking a musical direction to take.

“What kinds of songs do they want to write? Love songs, protest songs or a Dylan-esque area?” he asked. “They should work and work and work on the music and not take it for granted. I tell stories about different things, like race, like my childhood, my passions.”
In recent years, Jeffreys has been known to do many concerts in people’s homes, which he recommends doing as well as finding local venues like bars.

“If you’re starting out, anywhere is a good place to start,” said Jeffreys. “Just get your guitar and get your keyboard and get to practicing and that’s how your songwriting evolves.”

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(UPDATED: Suspect arrested) Man chokes, sexually assaults woman in Stuy Town

Update: Police have arrested a man who was staying at the Armory Men’s Shelter on Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn. Melvin Collins, 36, was arrested Tuesday afternoon and charged with burglary, sexual abuse, criminal obstruction of breathing, forcible touching and assault.

By Sabina Mollot

Police are looking for a man who followed a woman into a building in Stuyvesant Town on Monday morning.

The victim, a 42-year-old woman, had entered 315 Avenue C when a man followed her inside at about 8:10 a.m.

Once inside an elevator, the man started groping and kissing her, police said. The woman then ran out of the elevator and the man chased her, and tried to pull her into a stairwell. The attacker then got on top of the woman and choked her. He took off however, fleeing down the stairs when the victim started screaming.

The victim suffered scratches to her neck and was taken to Bellevue Hospital in stable condition.

The suspect is described as being black, 30-35 years old and about 5’7″ to 5’9″, with a slim build. He was last seen wearing a dark long sleeve shirt, dark sneakers with white soles, and a baseball hat.

Neither he nor the victim are residents of Stuyvesant Town, according to management, and security has been beefed up in response to the incident.

“StuyTown Property Services has provided NYPD with video and is fully cooperating in the apprehension of the suspect,” said Rick Hayduk, general manager of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. “Public Safety presence has been heightened around the two communities. Our thoughts are with the victim and her family.”

Woman last seen at Beth Israel after making suicidal statements: Cops

Oct11 Victoria Chavez

Victoria Chavez

By Sabina Mollot

Police are looking for a woman who they say had made suicidal statements and then disappeared from Mount Sinai Beth Israel, where she was undergoing a psychiatric evaluation.

Victoria Chavez, 26, a resident of Brooklyn, was last seen on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. leaving the hospital located at 281 First Avenue across from Stuyvesant Town. Police said she left on her own accord.

She is described as being approximately 5’4″ tall, weighing 125 lbs., with a thin build, brown eyes and black hair. She was last seen wearing a white dress and gray socks.

Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the CrimeStoppers website at http://www.nypdcrimestoppers.com, on Twitter @NYPDTips or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

This week in history: Recalling before Stuyvesant Town was built

In the September 23, 1948 issue of Town & Village, Harry Delman, who was the very last person to leave the area that was getting razed to make way for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, along with his wife and 10-year-old son spoke about the day they moved out.

Delman, who owned a shoe store at 233 First Avenue, recalled how in May of 1945, cranes lifted huge planks of wood and pile drivers banged away while he and his family lugged suitcases through a dust cloud as they walked out of 441 East 15th Street, never to return. However, the Delmans ended up moving to Stuyvesant Town, not far from the address they had vacated.

Delman said the ongoing construction noise of ripping and tearing didn’t bother him since most of time he was out during the day. He recalled how his apartment faced the East River, offering a view of ships coming and going up and down the river. “There was no activity on the streets and it was like a country atmosphere,” Delman said.

ST/PCV apartment lottery reopening

ST buildings

By Sabina Mollot

The last time the Stuyvesant Town apartment lottery opened was in January, with slots only being made available for applicants in the upper tier of income levels, meaning those who earn a maximum of 165 percent of the area median income. As part of owner Blackstone’s deal with the city in 2015, as apartments have become available in the complex, half become market rate while the other half become available to lottery tenants. Of the lottery apartments, 90 percent of them go to tenants earning up to 165 percent of the AMI, the other 10 percent going to those earning a maximum of 80 percent of the AMI.

However, the lottery is once again reopening, and this time, applicants in both income tiers are eligible to apply for apartments, which are available in a variety of sizes in Stuy Town as well as Peter Cooper Village. The deadline to apply is October 11 and applications can be done online at stuytownlottery.com. To request an application by mail, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village Wait List, Peter Stuyvesant Station, P.O. Box 1287, New York, NY, 10009.

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Police Watch: Naked man arrested for trespassing, Man busted for sex abuse at spa

NAKED MAN ARRESTED FOR TRESPASSING
Police arrested 35-year-old Kevin King for alleged criminal trespass inside 156 West 15th Street on Monday, September 3 at 11:57 a.m. A woman told police that she saw a naked man on the fire escape of the building entering through a broken window. Police said that King, a Queens resident, was found inside the building without permission to be there and he was allegedly inside one of the apartments with the door locked.

MAN BUSTED FOR SEX ABUSE AT SPA
Police arrested 47-year-old Pei Tian for the alleged sexual abuse of a male customer inside Living Fresh Men’s Spa at 44 East 22nd Street on Saturday, September 8 at 2:44 p.m. Police said that Tian removed the towel from the victim during a massage and used his hands to intentionally touch the victim’s buttocks and genitals without permission. The victim said that he felt uncomfortable and left the room after the incident.

SUSPECT ARRESTED FOR ASSAULT IN UNION SQUARE
Police arrested 29-year-old Gerald Mosley for alleged assault in front of 4 Union Square East on Monday, September 3 around 2:46 p.m. Police said that Mosley approached a man who was walking down the street and punched him in his arm, causing pain. He also allegedly knocked the victim’s phone out of his hand, knocking it to the ground and causing the screen to the crack. A woman also told police that Mosley allegedly punched her in the ribs, causing pain. Mosley was also charged with criminal mischief.

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LES ferry makes maiden voyage

ferry arrives at Stuy Cove2

The Ocean Queen Rock Star, part of the fleet of NYC Ferry’s Lower East Side route, arrives at Stuyvesant Cove at 6:45 a.m. on Wednesday. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Despite temperatures climbing high enough to warrant an official heat advisory from the city, cool winds prevailed along the East River on Wednesday for those aboard the new ferries along the Lower East Side route that launched that morning. The ferry that made the maiden voyage took off from Long Island City at around 6:30, arriving at Stuyvesant Cove at exactly 6:45 a.m. as the sun rose, carrying a mix of Stuyvesant Town residents and reporters.

The ferry, named the Ocean Queen Rock Star, then proceeded — at around 26 miles per hour — to downtown landing Corlears Hook, named, like Stuyvesant Cove, after a park on the waterfront. There, Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Member Keith Powers cheered the new route, which made its debut months ahead of the dreaded L train shutdown.

De Blasio mentioned that the city has been getting many requests from New Yorkers who want a ferry stop in their neighborhoods and said that by the end of the year, decisions will be made on where else they would go. As of Wednesday, there were already six active ferry routes in the city, all operated by Hornblower. According to the mayor, there have also already been six million riders so far on NYC Ferry.

“We know how crowded the subways are. We know the streets are congested,” he said. “We know we need new ways to get around the city. We will not be the city we were meant to be if we don’t have better options.”

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Police Watch: Senior arrested for ‘extortion,’ Man busted for Ainsworth burglary

SENIOR CHARGED WITH HOLDING PHONE FOR RANSOM NEAR STUY TOWN
Police arrested 71-year-old El Shaday Yova for alleged grand larceny by extortion at the corner of Avenue C and East 20th Street on Tuesday, August 14 at 5:53 p.m. The victim told police that he left his phone in a taxi and when he called his number, Yova allegedly answered and said that he wanted a reward for finding the phone. Police said that Yova agreed to meet the victim in front of 321 Avenue C to claim a reward, and prior to getting arrested, the victim said that Yova refused to give him his cell phone back until he had the money. Yova was also charged with possession of stolen property.

SUSPECT ARRESTED FOR AINSWORTH BURGLARY
Police arrested a second suspect in connection with an alleged burglary at the Ainsworth at 111 East 18th Street that took place in July. Police arrested 26-year-old Hnsel Devron for the burglary on Monday, August 13 at 3:30 p.m. inside the 13th Precinct.

Police said that Devron and one other person who wasn’t arrested pried open a side door at the bar and entered the building without permission on July 12 around 9 p.m. They reportedly walked out of the bar with two bags containing property. Police did not have further information about what property was taken. The bar was reportedly closed to the public but still contained several liquor bottles. Police also said that technicians were able to lift fingerprints from the door and matched them to Devron.

Town & Village previously reported that 34-year-old Hector Rosario was arrested for the burglary at the time of the incident. Rosario was allegedly acting as the lookout while Devron and a third suspect reportedly broke into the bar. Police caught Rosario three blocks away at the corner of Union Square East and East 15th Street and charged him with possession of stolen property.

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