Letters to the editor, June 7

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Darth VDER is cheating NYers

Did you know that a recent decision by New York State energy regulators means that 32 percent of all New York City residents are not treated equally when it comes to accessing renewable energy as compared to other New York state residents? This affects all of us who do not pay our energy bills directly to Con Ed, including everyone living at Stuy Town, Waterside and most people living in large multifamily buildings, even though we pay the same amount as the other 68 percent of New York state residents to fund the state’s clean energy programs.

For most of us in New York City, remote renewable energy – also known as community distributed generation (CDG) – is the only option we have if we want to purchase clean renewables energy. Recently the Public Service Commission – a board of utility regulators appointed by Governor Cuomo – changed the rules for valuing clean energy generated at locations remote to where is consumed.

This new method, called VDER (Value of Distributed Energy Resources), applies to solar, wind and hydro-electric generation and is intended to succeed the current net meter value methodology. VDER differentiates between those of who pay their Con Ed bill directly to Con Ed, known as Direct Metered and those that do not, known as Master Metered or Master/Submetered, crediting Direct Metered residents almost 50 percent more value. It’s not fair.

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Waterside Plaza celebrates royal couple

British International School director Abby Greystoke (left) and Peter Davis pose with a cardboard cutout of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at Waterside Plaza’s royal wedding viewing party. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Waterside Plaza was honored with typically British weather for the occasion of the royal wedding last Saturday but the spirits of Harry and Meghan enthusiasts weren’t dampened at the community’s viewing party, hosted in a joint event by Waterside and the British International School, which is housed on the property.

Aside from the school, Waterside Plaza has another unique connection to the UK that made it an especially appropriate spot to watch the nuptials of Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle.

“We’re technically on British soil right now,” joked Michelle Glazer, who lives at Waterside Plaza and works at the school. While the school is not an embassy and not recognized as British territory, the statement is still somewhat accurate, even if just in a literal sense.

“Waterside was built on landfill that was brought back from the UK,” Glazer explained. “American ships went to bring supplies to Europe after the war but you can’t send empty ships back across the ocean, so they had to weigh the ships down with rubble that came from bombed out buildings.”

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Muggers threaten woman with hammers near Waterside: Cops

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A man and a teenager were charged with robbery on Saturday morning, soon after allegedly threatening a woman with hammers near the FDR Drive across from Waterside Plaza.

Police said that 23-year-old Thomas Blyden and a 16-year-old boy approached one of the victims at about 6 a.m. while she was walking west on East 25th Street between the FDR and First Avenue.

The victim said that Blyden and the teenager rushed her from behind, both of them allegedly wielding hammers while telling her, “Don’t say anything. Give me your money.”

The victim told police that she gave them all the cash she had before making a run for it towards First Avenue and headed north, while the suspects fled south on First Avenue. Police, however, caught up with the two suspects on First Avenue near East 22nd Street about 15 minutes later.

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Town & Village holding holiday toy drive

Gifts donated to Mount Sinai Beth Israel in last year’s drive (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Town & Village is holding a toy drive to help make the holidays brighter for children undergoing medical treatment during the holiday season as well as the children of families in outpatient programs run by Mount Sinai Beth Israel.

Gifts will be accepted for children of all ages as long as they are new. Items for older boys are especially in high demand. No toy weapons, please.

Partnering with Town & Village on this effort are:

Stuyvesant Town Property Services, accepting toys at Resident Services, 276 First Avenue on the First Avenue Loop Road
Waterside Plaza management, accepting toys at the management office, 30 Waterside Plaza, and the Swim & Health Club, 35 Waterside Plaza
M&T Bank, accepting toys at the branch at First Avenue and 23rd Street.

Deadline to donate has been extended one day to Friday, December 15. Toys should be unwrapped.

Mayor grilled on garage

Council Member Dan Garodnick and Mayor Bill de Blasio at a town hall on Tuesday (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

On Tuesday, the mayor was grilled about the proposed sanitation garage for East 25th Street by neighbors who attended a town hall.

The hotly-contested issue was the topic of discussion at numerous Community Board 6 meetings when it was first announced in 2012 but the plan has stalled in the last two years, and Mayor de Blasio said at the town hall, which was also hosted by Council Member Dan Garodnick, that the issue will be reviewed again once the next term for City Council begins.

“The fundamental problem is that the facilities are concentrated in Lower Manhattan so we need some kind of facility to serve this area and so far this seems like the most viable site,” he said. “But there should be a real conversation about what the community needs.”

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Bus service will soon be increased at Waterside Plaza

An M34A bus at Waterside Plaza (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Residents of Waterside Plaza, who for years have complained of limited access to mass transit, will soon be seeing a major increase in the number of buses coming to and leaving from the complex each day.

Normally, only M34A buses come and go directly to Waterside, but the additional service will come through the M34 Select Bus Service (SBS), starting on September 3.

On weekdays from 11 a.m.-1 a.m., the following day, there will be 22 additional trips (an increase of 44 percent). On Saturdays from 11 a.m.-1 a.m. the following day there will be 14 additional trips (an increase of 30 percent). On Sundays from noon to 1 a.m. the following day, there will also be 14 additional trips (an increase of 39 percent).

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East River sinkhole repaired

 

Repaved sink hole (Photo courtesy of Economic Development Corporation)

By Sabina Mollot

The East River bike lane sinkhole has finally been repaired.

According to Shavone Williams, a spokesperson for the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), the faulty valve causing the problem was located on Friday, and fixed, with the road repaved by midday. Workers at the scene had been looking for the damaged water line that belonged to the nearby Skyport garage since a water main shutdown on Wednesday morning, Williams admitted.  The EDC manages the Skyport, which is owned by the city.

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Sinkhole on E. 23rd turns into gurgling tub

July27 Sinkhole July25

Men work at the sinkhole on the bike lane at 23rd Street and the East River on Tuesday. (Photo by Janet Handal)

By Sabina Mollot

A sinkhole that’s been on the bike lane at 23rd Street along the East River for weeks now has grown from being a few feet across to a ten-foot-wide gurgling geyser. It has also been an active worksite manned by a plumbing crew from the Economic Development Corporation, which manages the nearby city-owned Skyport garage. It’s a broken, leaking pipe underneath the garage that has been blamed for the problem.

Town & Village first reported on the sinkhole last week, when a then two-week-old 311 complaint had yet to spur any action from the city. The relevant city agencies finally arrived at the scene last Wednesday evening (following T&V’s press time) to barricade off the area. Additionally, at that time, a spokesperson for the DEP told us the Skyport garage had been ordered to fix the pipe as well as well as the sinkhole.

But by Tuesday evening of this week, a spokesperson for the EDC, Shavone Williams, still couldn’t say exactly when the damaged water line would be fixed, although the expectation was sometime this week. Williams added that the EDC was planning with the Department of Environmental Preservation to shut down a main on Wednesday morning so contractors could repair the line and repave the surface later in the week. Until it’s repaired, Williams said, the crew would remain onsite and keep the area surrounding the water hole secured with cones and tape.

Meanwhile, water service was completely shut off at Waterside Plaza on Wednesday by 8:30 a.m., according to the management office. General Manager Peter Davis said he didn’t know if it was related to the sinkhole, since the property hadn’t gotten a notice from any agency. UPDATE at 10:54 a.m. Water service has been restored to Waterside, and a DEP representative said the agency was looking into why it happened and why residents were not notified.

Janet Handal, president of the Waterside Tenants Association, first reported the sinkhole to the city on July 5, fearing it would become a deathtrap for cyclists and the usual crowds of people headed to the party boats at the marina next to the garage.

However, there was no visible response from the city on the growing hole until Handal reached out to a number of city agencies and elected officials as well as Town & Village. Only then did teams from the DEP and the Department of Transportation arrive to completely barricade off the sinkhole, which had been only partially surrounded by tape.

As of this Tuesday, Handal said it didn’t appear the workers knew yet where the water main actually was. After stopping by the site, Handal said she was shocked by the force and sound of the gushing water in the hole, as thick cords from six water pumps snaked their way inside. The width of the hole, which had originally just been in the bike lane, had stretched across two traffic lanes by then. This may have been done intentionally to allow the workers access, however.

Based on her observations, though, the water pumps didn’t appear to be doing much. She said she was told by a worker that the EDC was waiting for the DEP to turn off the water and that the collapsed pipe was believed to be about 80 years old.

Sinkhole growing on bike lane at E. 23rd St.

Cyclists have been stopping short in front of this sinkhole, which was first reported to the city by Waterside Tenants Association President Janet Handal over two weeks ago. (Photos by Janet Handal)

By Sabina Mollot

Cyclists, beware.

A sinkhole that appeared earlier in the month has grown even larger as the ground continues to ripple on the bike lane at East 23rd Street and the FDR Drive.

The sinkhole was reported to 311 on July 5 by Janet Handal, president of the Waterside Tenants Association, when she spotted it. But as of Wednesday, July 19 in the morning, it was still there, and, from what she’s observed, stretched into a yawning concrete chasm.

“A rapidly progressing collapse of the pedestrian-bike path in front of the 23rd Street Marina is happening and urgently needs to be attended to,” Handal said in an email.

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Fireworks and a message of unity on July 4th

Fireworks on the East River (Photo by Edward O’Rourke)

By Sabina Mollot

On July 4, thousands gathered at Waterside Plaza to view the fireworks from windows as well as outdoor areas on the complex. This year, with the barges centered solely on the East River from 24th to 41st Streets, the complex got an even more enviable viewpoint than usual. The roughly 25-minute display sponsored by Macy’s showcased 2,200 effects per minute from each of the five barges.

The event even drew a visit from Mayor Bill de Blasio who stopped by before the fireworks to discuss immigrant rights on Independence Day. He spoke about the travel ban and how if people are feeling disenfranchised by the Trump administration, they could fight back by remembering that New York is an immigrant-friendly place.

De Blasio, who began by saying it was his first time visiting Waterside, called it “pretty amazing. I’m seeing everything good about New York City in one place.”

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Town & Village co-hosts City Council debate at Waterside Plaza

Attendees at the debate Thursday evening (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

All eleven candidates in the District 4 City Council race gathered at Waterside Plaza on Thursday evening for a debate co-sponsored by Town & Village, the Waterside Tenants Association and Waterside management, covering issues important to the neighborhood.

Democrats Alec Hartman, Jeffrey Mailman, Keith Powers, Marti Speranza, Rachel Honig, Vanessa Aronson, Maria Castro, Bessie Schachter and Barry Shapiro and Republicans Melissa Jane (MJ) Kronfeld and Rebecca Harary discussed affordable housing, concerns for seniors, the fate of small businesses and the sanitation garage planned for the neighborhood over the course of the two-hour debate. WTA President Janet Handal and T&V editor Sabina Mollot moderated the event, each asking two questions of the nine Democrats and two Republicans on the stage, who are running to replace term-limited Councilmember Dan Garodnick.

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Town & Village co-hosts City Council debate at Waterside Plaza

On Thursday night, an evening of debate among the candidates running to replace Dan Garodnick in the City Council was held at Waterside Plaza. The event’s hosts were Town & Village newspaper, the Waterside Tenants Association and Waterside management with the event taking place outdoors. A story covering the views of the various candidates on affordable housing, small businesses, issues affecting seniors, and the sanitation garage the city plans to build at the Brookdale campus, is forthcoming. Scroll down to see some photos from the debate, where all seats on the plaza were filled with a mixed crowd of community residents and candidates’ supporters.

Richard Ravitch, owner of Waterside Plaza and former lieutenant governor, makes opening remarks. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Crowd at the debate

Waterside Tenants Association President Janet Handal, event co-host

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All candidates set to attend T&V/Waterside Council debate

Democrats Alec Hartman, Bessie Schachter, Jeffrey Mailman, Keith Powers, Marti Speranza, Rachel Honig, Vanessa Aronson and Barry Shapiro and Republicans Melissa Jane Kronfeld and Rebecca Harary (Not pictured) Maria Castro

Town & Village has partnered with the Waterside Tenants Association and the management of Waterside Plaza to present an evening of debate between the candidates running for the City Council, District 4. The event will be held on Thursday, June 22 at 6 p.m. for mingling with the candidates, with the debate beginning promptly at 6:30 p.m. This has become a hotly contested race with 11 candidates hoping to win the seat currently occupied by a term-limited Dan Garodnick. All known registered candidates of both parties have been invited and have confirmed they’ll attend.

The candidates are Democrats Keith Powers, Marti Speranza, Jeffrey Mailman, Bessie Schachter, Vanessa Aronson, Rachel Honig, Alec Hartman, Barry Shapiro and Maria Castro as well as Republicans Rebecca Harary and Melissa Jane Kronfeld.

The event will take place outdoors on the Plaza level with Janet Handal, the president of the Waterside Tenants Association, and Town & Village editor Sabina Mollot asking the candidates questions. Due to the number of candidates expected to participate, there will not likely be any time for additional questions from the audience.

If it rains, the event will take place inside 15 Waterside Plaza located on the Plaza. Waterside Plaza is east of the FDR Drive on the East River between 25th and 29th Streets. For directions, visit Waterside Plaza’s website. For more information about the event, contact Sabina Mollot at (212) 777-6611 x104 or editor@townvillage.net.

All candidates set to attend T&V/Waterside Council debate

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(L-R) Democrats Alec Hartman, Bessie Schachter, Jeffrey Mailman, Keith Powers, Marti Speranza, Rachel Honig, Vanessa Aronson and Barry Shapiro, and Republicans Melissa Jane Kronfeld and Rebecca Harary

Town & Village has partnered with the Waterside Tenants Association and the management of Waterside Plaza to present an evening of debate between the candidates running for the City Council, District 4. The event will be held on Thursday, June 22 at 6 p.m. for mingling with the candidates, with the debate beginning promptly at 6:30 p.m. This has become a hotly contested race with 11 candidates hoping to win the seat currently occupied by a term-limited Dan Garodnick. All known registered candidates of both parties have been invited and have confirmed they’ll attend.

The candidates are Democrats Keith Powers, Marti Speranza, Jeffrey Mailman, Bessie Schachter, Vanessa Aronson, Rachel Honig, Alec Hartman, Barry Shapiro and Maria Castro as well as Republicans Rebecca Harary and Melissa Jane Kronfeld.

The event will take place outdoors on the Plaza level with Janet Handal, the president of the Waterside Tenants Association, and Town & Village editor Sabina Mollot asking the candidates questions. Due to the number of candidates expected to participate, there will not likely be any time for additional questions from the audience.

If it rains, the event will take place inside 15 Waterside Plaza located on the Plaza. Waterside Plaza is east of the FDR Drive on the East River between 25th and 29th Streets. For directions, visit Waterside Plaza’s website. For more information about the event, contact Sabina Mollot at (212) 777-6611 x104 or editor@townvillage.net.

Police Watch: Woman nabbed for credit card theft, four arrested for cabbie assault

WOMAN ARRESTED FOR CREDIT CARD THEFTS FROM EQUINOX GYM
Police arrested 34-year-old Adrien McMaster on Friday for allegedly stealing credit cards from the Flatiron Equinox Gym at 897 Broadway and 20th Street on three different occasions and then using the cards to make purchases.
Police said that McMaster allegedly took an American Express card from a locker in the women’s locker room of the gym on October 21, 2016 without permission and used the card fraudulently in several locations. McMaster also reportedly stole two credit cards from a locker inside the gym on December 3, 2016. In a third incident on February 17, police said that McMaster stole a credit card from a locker and allegedly used it multiple times. Police said that video from the location showed McMaster entering and leaving the gym on all three dates.
She was arrested for grand larceny and possession of an anti-security item.

FOUR ARRESTED FOR ASSAULTING CABBIE ON SECOND AVENUE
Police arrested four people for assaulting a cab driver on Second Avenue last Sunday at just after 4 a.m. Police said that 21-year-old Stepfane Gilliam, 23-year-old Shawn Gilliam, 23-year-old Kenisha Thomas and 23-year-old Scott Hercules got into an argument with a cab driver because the four left the cab without paying the fare.
According to the district attorney’s office, the driver picked the suspects up at the corner of Eighth Avenue and West 25th Street and one of them told him to take them to East 51st Street and First Avenue. When they arrived, another one of the suspects allegedly asked the driver to take them to Second Avenue on the same block. When they arrived at Second Avenue, the suspects reportedly told the driver they weren’t paying because it wasn’t where they wanted to go, and to drive south on Second Avenue. The driver ultimately dropped them off at East 21st Street and Second Avenue, but they allegedly continued to refuse to pay the fare, which was $25.
The suspects knocked the driver to the ground, cops said, causing two nails on his left hand to partially rip off and causing cuts on his fingertips. Stepfane Gilliam was caught in front of 250 Second Avenue near East 15th Street at 4:25 a.m. and Shawn Gilliam was caught at East 17th Street and Rutherford Place around the same time. Hercules and Thomas were later arrested inside the 13th Precinct at 5:23 a.m. All four were charged with assault and theft of services.

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