Notes from the Neighborhood

Written by Our Town on . Posted in Notes from the Neighborhood, Our Town.


Compiled by Megan Bungeroth & John Friia

Mirror, Mirror
The Avenue Antiques, Art & Design Show at the Armory brought out the smiles this past weekend. The event featured over 60 exhibitors offering a world-class selection of antiques, art and jewelry.

PILOT PROGRAM TO IMPROVE BUS SPEED ON EAST SIDE
The MTA announced this week that the agency is planning a pilot program of a Traffic Signal Priority (TSP) system on the M15 Select Bus Service route, which runs northbound up First Avenue and southbound down Second Avenue. The system will hold traffic signals green for the express bus, hopefully shaving time off riders’ commutes and making the bus run closer to its schedule during rush hours.

“Traffic Signal Prioritization is a vital piece in making bus travel more attractive,” said NYC Transit President Thomas Prendergast in a statement. “It is no great secret that the faster and more dependable we can make our buses, the more attractive the service will be to our riders.”

Pending approval from its board, the MTA will be contracting with Global Traffic Technologies to install TSP equipment on up to 60 buses serving the M15 route. The contract is valued at over $480,000. Once the initial installations are online by November, there will be an expansion option to bring the system to 200 additional buses.

COMMUNITY DISTRICT  WELCOMES NEW CABARET LICENSE
Earlier this year, many Upper East Siders celebrated the final closure of the Vudu Lounge, a bar and nightclub on First Avenue between East 77th and 78th streets. The club was the only place in the area with a cabaret license, which was continually in jeopardy thanks to State Liquor Authority violations and neighborhood complaints that the place attracted a rowdy and dangerous crowd that spilled over into the streets late at night. When the club’s owners finally closed up shop and took their business downtown, many community members rejoiced, asserting that a dance club doesn’t belong in a residential neighborhood.

But the community is willing to take a chance on that proclamation. At last week’s Community Board 8 meeting, the full board voted to approve the application for a new cabaret license for a bar called Saloon, on York Avenue between 83rd and 84th streets. The board had approved their liquor license last November, and since then they’ve proven good enough neighbors to warrant a cabaret license approval, which will allow the bar to host dancing. Nico Minerva, a co-chair of the street life committee, told his fellow board members, a few of whom were skeptical, that a neighbor had even written to the committee in favor of approving the license. It passed the board 38-3-0, which means it’s likely to pass the State Liquor Authority as well. Here’s hoping that the neighborhood can withstand another cabaret.

SERIAL BURGLAR SLAPPED WITH LONG SENTENCE
Residents throughout Manhattan can rest a little easier knowing that Shawn McAleese has been sentenced to at least 28 years in state prison. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance announced that the serial burglar would be serving 28 to 56 years for his crimes.

McAleese pleaded guilty Aug. 27 to eight counts of burglary in the third degree, for tunneling through the walls of residential apartments to steal money, computers and food from neighboring businesses.

Between May 3 and June 30 of this year, McAleese broke into eight residential buildings located throughout Manhattan, including the Upper East Side, the Flatiron District, Hell’s Kitchen, Murray Hill and central Harlem. He entered apartments to gain access to nearby businesses, digging through walls and entering through alleys not easily seen from the street. He repeatedly stole money from registers, and took food and liquor when cash wasn’t available.

“[McAleese] not only violated the sanctity of private homes by breaking into residences, but also used those apartments as launch pads to steal from nearby businesses,” said Vance in a statement. “Theft from a business doesn’t end at emptying the cash register—it jeopardizes the job security of those who work there because it affects the bottom line.”

HISTORIC DISTRICT WALKING TOUR
Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts is hosting a walking tour this Wednesday, Oct. 3, at 5:30 p.m. of the Hardenbergh/Rhinelander section of the neighborhood. The small historic district covers only seven row houses, designed by Henry Hardenbergh, the architect of the Plaza Hotel and the Dakota apartments, and constructed in 1889 for real estate developer William C. Rhinelander. The Rhinelander family emigrated from Germany in the late 17th century, eventually establishing an architectural legacy with buildings throughout the city.

The chair of the Friends preservation committee, Franny Eberhart, will lead the tour with education director Sarah O’Keefe, examining the architecture and exploring the surrounding neighborhood’s German roots, including “The Kaiser” and “The Rhine” as well as the site of Jacob Ruppert’s famous brewery. Tickets are $10 for members, $15 for non-members. Advance payment required; call 212-535-2526. Tour will meet at the northwest corner of Lexington Avenue and East 89th Street.

NYPD PUSHES PUBLIC TO I.D. ELECTRONICS
The NYPD offers a free program, called “Operation ID,” to engrave unique serial numbers onto portable electronics and register the owner’s information with the Police Department. The service is intended to deter thefts of items like laptops, MP3 players, tablets and smartphones by making the identification clear to would-be thieves. Items with these police-issued numbers can be more difficult to sell in illegal markets, making them less desirable targets. It could also potentially reunite a victim with stolen property if it’s ever recovered. If you’d like to participate in the program, call the 19th precinct’s crime prevention officer or contact the NYPD Community Affairs Bureau directly at 646-610-5323.

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