Skating Rink Spurs Residents’ Latest Fight With Management

In the eyes of some longtime residents of Stuyvesant Town in Manhattan, the ruin of their apartment complex has come in stages. First, the development’s former managers, Tishman Speyer, opened a green market in 2008, which drew large crowds of nonresidents, and they scheduled noisy music concerts afterward.

They allowed vendor carts onto the property: neon-colored trucks that sell tacos, Greek food and desserts on the tree-shaded paths.

And in August, Stuyvesant Town’s new managers, Rose Associates sent notice that all residents who kept property in the free storage spaces in the basements of the buildings would have 30 days to remove their belongings, a decision that provoked so much ire it was soon reversed.

Now, a seasonal ice-skating rink that Rose opened at the end of November has again put management and many residents on a collision course.

A number of residents view the rink as another amenity that Rose Associates is using to try to lure new tenants who are willing to pay higher rents and who have no sense of the role the complex has played in providing low-cost housing to middle-class residents.

Some who live near the rink, which also has a cafe, complain about noise and music and the $7 fee to skate. (Renting skates is another $7.)

“When the rink started to take shape, people became concerned,” Alvin Doyle, the president of the Stuyvesant Town tenants’ association, said as he walked around the rink on a recent windy morning.

Rose Associates, which manages the apartments for CW Capital, a group of lenders that took over Stuyvesant Town and the neighboring Peter Cooper Village in 2010, said it would provide residents free use of the rink for a few hours on Wednesday afternoons and Sunday mornings. The rink, which was erected over a playground, is open 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends and school holidays.

“The quiet enjoyment of our homes has just become collateral damage, and we resent it,” said Arlynne Miller, 61, a professional organizer who has lived in Stuyvesant Town for 35 years. “All of these things are marketing schemes to bring in new tenants, who will not stay here very long, who have no vested interest in the community.”

The tenants’ association has enlisted Councilman Daniel R. Garodnick, who lives in Peter Cooper Village, in the campaign to halt the rink’s operation.

“They wanted me to find out the legality of having an ice rink that you need to pay for in a playground that is ordinarily free for resident use,’’ Mr. Garodnick said. “They also asked me to investigate the many other commercial activities that have been taking place in Stuyvesant Town.”

Mr. Garodnick has sent several letters to the city’s Department of Buildings, Department of City Planning and Department of Environmental Protection to find out if a pay-for-use rink can be placed within a residential zone and if the electrical wires and noise comply with city codes. The Department of Buildings found that the rink was legal but cited noise concerns. In response, Rose Associates put sound buffers on the machinery and agreed to end the music by 7 p.m.

Mr. Garodnick also exchanged letters with Adam Rose, co-president of Rose Associates, to alert him to residents’ worries. Mr. Rose assured him that the music coming from the rink would not be overly loud.

Despite the contention, some residents welcome the rink. On a recent Monday night, a cluster of children and a few parents skated in the rink or gathered around tables in the cafe.

“The rink is right outside of my apartment door, so I’ve been coming and skating for an hour or so every day,” said Mary Sue Lundy, 50, who works for a company that provides business news. She said she had no noise complaints.

Kamini Darson, 41, a financial analyst who has lived in Stuyvesant Town for 11 years, said: “No other community has this, where you can come home after work and then go and skate with the children and it’s safe and not crowded. In New York, you rarely get to do outdoor things.”

Her daughter, Nadia, 8, a student at the Immaculate Conception School, summed up the sentiment of the young skaters: “The rink is awesome; I wish it could stay here longer.”

In the rink’s first two weeks, Rose Associates said, about 4,000 people used it.

While rents at Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village are still relatively affordable compared with the prices at newer rentals in Manhattan, efforts by successive managers to raise them to market rates have been an uphill battle. The city opened Stuyvesant Town as moderate-income housing in 1947, and several of its original families still live there.

“Residents have been working hard to preserve housing that’s affordable, and there has been an effort made by management, right or wrong, to improve the property and to raise the rents,” said John McIlwain, a senior resident fellow at the Urban Land Institute. “We’re at a time now when incomes, for most people, are pretty flat, and people are very sensitive to costs going up. Residents are perhaps understandably suspicious.”

Jim Roth, a retired government worker who has lived in Stuyvesant Town since it opened, has his own hunch about the property manager’s agenda. “The new tenants will probably be charged illegal rents,” he said. “And then what will they do here next?”

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