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Monday, August 25, 2008
It's 10 pm. Do you know where your security is? It's 10 am. Do you know where your security is? Pick any time of day, and you can ask the same question and probably get the same answer: I don't know.
Over the past several months, there's been a noticeable decline in the visible presence of security, of "boots on the ground," particularly in the Oval where such a presence is desperately needed. Thankfully, there's been no major crime committed on the grounds (as yet).
There have been numerous reports of bicycle thefts, however, and such Stuy Town rules as no bicycle riding in the complex and no dog walking through the Oval lawn are being flagrantly ignored. Though on a very minor scale when compared with armed robbery or rape, these breeches have bred a sense of lawlessness in Stuy Town. When added to the miserable condition of the Oval lawn and its immediate surrounding landscaping, residents are talking and complaining about a breakdown in the management and maintenance of Stuyvesant Town.
In ye olden days (not that far distant actually), there was a brick security booth, of good size, at the southern tip of the fountain area. One would always find a security person inside, and he was able to monitor much of the Oval grounds from that vantage point. Then when the fountain was redone, a smaller booth, made of wood, appeared to the east of the fountain. Then, that disappeared, and a security office was crafted out of the building that will now be housing Oval Study. The new placement caused a reduction in the ability of a security officer to monitor most of the Oval because of distance and tree and plant growth that blocked the view. With the construction of Oval Study, a new wooden security booth appeared (see photo above) not far away, but still woefully positioned in terms of viewable access to the entire area of the Oval or even the smaller fountain area. Now, anyone can do anything they want around the fountain and not be seen by security, even if the booth is manned, which frequently it is not. (And to think that the rent deposit box is there, too! Hey, want some checks?)
What's going on? Posts on the PCVST tenants message board have addressed the issue, with a couple of facts emerging: Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town used to have about 80 security officers, but now that number is down to 50--a 40% reduction, as noted by board member nospinzone. This number, as an indication of what is out there at any one time, is cut down dramatically when shifts are taken into account. Apparently, also, a cadre of security officers left for other jobs, and Tishman Speyer has not been keen on hiring new security officers, putting many of its security hopes into electronic surveillance, which cannot help anyone at the moment a crime is being committed, of course.
From my experience, there's been a slight increase in the presence of security personnel of late.* I suspect it's directly related to the complaints emerging from the tenants message board over the lack of boots on the ground. But this is not enough. There has to be at least one security officer present in the Oval area, always. Just the way it used to be. And he has to be making the rounds of the Oval, rather than sitting in that dreary wooden box that is supposed to house him during his shift and from where he can see almost nothing.
[*8-29-08: Since this post, I've unfortunately seen a return to the sorry state of a security presence in Stuy Town. For three days in a row, whenever I walk through the Oval, I do not see any security. Pitiful.]