This main post will deal with some of these issues....
We kinda laugh at the warning "For Residents and Their Guests," but nowadays even that warning or post (take your pick) is being ignored. Management has no one to go around and check that this notice is up, so either it doesn't care or just doesn't know. (It should have someone going around, period.) It is an amusing notice in a lot of ways, but necessary for this place to be properly zoned. It is missing from, say, Five Stuy Cafe, which should have that notice visible, unless the ruling has been dismissed.
This is a post from November 3rd, 2011:
An ice-skating rink is a pretty big straw, but it seems it has had the effect of mobilizing tenants and making both residents and politicians hyper aware of zoning and the commercialization occurring inside Stuyvesant Town. This week's Town & Village carries a front page article, "Garodnick Questions Legality of Commercial Activity in ST/PCV." Though commercial activities have been happening inside the complex since Tishman Speyer took over as owner and manager, though we've seen the Farmer's Market, Food Trucks, tables for Verizon and Zip Car, charges for the Oval "Essentials," etc, make their way into Stuy Town with some push-back from tenants, this ice-skating rink may just have tipped the balance into getting residents finally fed up with the commercialization inside this property. Or perhaps not. To be seen.
The T & V article carries quotes from councilman Garodnick and management's Adam Rose. Garodnick: "People want to make sure it is legal and I am currently exploring that question. There's a lot of concern over the variety of commercial activities, including the food trucks and now an ice rink and the paid storage facilities." Rose contends that "We believe the minor commercial activity in Stuy town such as food trucks and the ice rink are completely legal, and provide additional amenities and attractions to the vast majority of our residents, especially families." While the legality of commercial activities is yet to be determined by the Department of City Planning (I'm not holding my breath), it has to be stated that the "vast majority" of residents are not using any of the amenities being offered at Stuyvesant Town. We're talking about a resident population of anywhere from 25K to 30K, and certainly you don't even see a tenth of that number using the Oval Essentials, the food trucks, etc, or attending the summer concerts and events, which, at best and on rarer occasions, can draw in a few hundred people.
It can't be stressed enough in these discussions (even T & V skips this point) that these amenities are being used to sell the place to prospective renters, and it must be admitted that some amenities are directed at prospective renters with families, which is a good thing, as we'd like to increase a more stable population rather than the transient student one we see continually growing.
The T & V article reveals more of what Garodnick asked of the Department of City Planning: "Does zoning allow for food trucks to be positioned within the Stuyvesant Town Oval? Management recently announced that they would be installing and opening an ice rink in a Stuyvesant Town Playground. Does the present zoning allow for an ice rink on the property? And if so, would charging for admission or equipment change that?" These are pivotal questions.
Garodnick also stated to T & V that he believes the ice-rink should be complimentary to residents. "An hour a day in a playground that is normally open and free is not a good policy and it will not have a good outcome." Dan must be really hopping mad now, as the updated schedule for free use of the ice-rink allows for just two hours of free use to residents per week, not the previously publicized seven hours per week. (Perhaps I'm wrong, but I smell a slight set-up here, with a "generous" gesture forthcoming that will go back to the one free hour a day schedule.)
A bulging letters column in T & V contains responses from tenants. A couple of tenants are for it, including a familiar voice who calls the rink's detractors "cranky" and "better suited to a gated community in Florida than apartment living in a dense urban environment."
Other letter writers share their concerns, which have also been addressed repeatedly on this blog and Lux's website and Facebook.
The heart-warming surprise comes from an opinion piece by Steven Sanders, who had been our state assemblyman for 28 years. As someone who grew up in Stuy Town, Sanders takes a nostalgic journey in his piece, writing about Playground 10.... "Every kid growing up in Stuy Town or Peter Cooper had 'their' playround and #10 was mine." His article is well worth reading as giving insight into what that playground means and meant. He begins to finish it off this way:
"There are just some places, which are just really special, that corporate America, in such a hurry to make a buck, just does not really get." And: "I may be entirely wrong but I am not sure that there has been an outcry from the residents demanding an ice skating rink which is a very specialized activity that only a relatively few will participate in." Finally:
"When Tishman Speyer bought this community five years ago and over spent literally billions of dollars, they did so in the belief that they could make big changes to our already successful and iconic community that would make it more profitable. In hindsight I am sure they wish that they would have just let well enough alone. So a word to CW Capital and Rose management... 'If it ain't broke don't fix it.'"
From November 8th, 2011:
STATEMENT FROM COUNCIL MEMBER DAN GARODNICK
Re: Commercial Activity in Stuyvesant Town
The Department of City Planning (DCP) has responded to the questions I posed to them about commercial activities in Stuyvesant Town.
With regard to the planned ice skating rink, DCP has advised that, due to “the unusualness of this circumstance,” we should seek the review of the Department of Buildings (DOB), which enforces zoning regulations. My office has already reached out to the DOB for a final word on whether an ice skating rink, for a fee, conforms to the R7-2 zoning regulation applicable in Stuyvesant Town.
Further, I have asked the DOB for a complete review of the construction permits and the work that is actively being performed – including the electrical wires being strung through trees – to ensure that any construction activity is being conducted without risk to residents or workers, and within appropriate hours of the day. We expect the appropriate enforcement of any violations.
I have also asked the Department of Environmental Protection to conduct a test of the sound that will be emitted from various ice machines in order to ensure compliance with the noise code, and to confirm the safety of chemicals that appear to be used in connection with the rink.
With regard to other commercial activities – such as food trucks and greenmarkets – that are not permitted in an R7-2 residential zone, we expect CW Capital/Rose Associates to bring themselves into compliance with the law. I am happy to offer the assistance of my office in helping to relocate the Stuyvesant Town Greenmarket to an area around the property that would be both legal and convenient for the many residents who enjoy making use of it.
Residents who want to know what you can do to expedite enforcement on the ice rink or any other issue are advised to call 311 and to contact my office with your 311 reference number which will be helpful to us in following up. Residents should also feel free to contact my office at (212) 818-0580 with questions or concerns on any of these matters.