Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Rat Protest: A Rat Farm, Fire Hazards, and Environmental Problems for Residents

On Tuesday, March 31st, tenants of several buildings owned by Arthur Cornfeld who has created a rat farm in the alleyway between 2020 Broadway and 143 West 69 Street decided to bring a rat of their own to tackle the growing number of potentially deadly hazards our landlord exposes us to on a daily basis.

Arthur Cornfeld, landlord, at a family gathering.

Garbage from the three restaurants is thrown out with the residential garbage from the two buildings. 
This is a typical sight in front of 143 West 69 Street.

Where there was once just one restaurant, formerly known as the West Side Diner now renamed WestSide Restaurant, Cornfeld added 2 additional restaurants into a cramped area. Noi Due occupies what used to be the basement at 143 West 69th Street, and Barcibo Enoteca is on the ground level of 2020 Broadway.

Ian DeFronze, property manager, pacing in front of 143 West 69th Street 
while giant rat is being inflated

Cornfeld rents out the alleyway to all three restaurants -- where of course -- he charges them even more money than the already inflated rents they fork over for their spaces. However, Cornfeld has done this illegally, without permits, and with absolutely no regard for the residents who live in his buildings or even for the commercial tenants.

The illegal use of the alleyway for food deliveries has had undesirable side effects. A rat infestation among them. And there is the issue of pipes crossing from one building to the next connecting gas and steam and who knows what else into these restaurants. Will we be the next East Village? 

Pipes run across 2020 Broadway to 143 West 69 running gas and steam into restaurants.
No permits were obtained to perform this potentially life threatening work.

As if this wasn't enough to worry about, the fire escapes are continually blocked for residents who live in the rear of both buildings. With Noi Due occupying not one, but 2 illegal sheds, no one would be able to escape if there were ever a fire.

Noi Due owner, Golan Chitrit, and his brother Mati who is the chef in front of their 2 sheds (alleyway) where they block the fire escapes of both buildings every time they have a delivery. Or, when they want to sort out their laundry (which can't be clean after laying on rat droppings).

Kirby Sommers, President Cornfeld Tenants Association with our good friend and supporter Lenny 
who was kind enough to lend us his rat for the day.

One of the pics taken by an attender (who sat in her car). White van with arrow was surveillance the Cornfelds set up for the day. That truck does work in the buildings, but no work was done that day.

Our message was and is simple: get rid of the rats, the fire hazards, and start using permits so that we don't become the next tragedy. Prevention saves lives. 

Arthur Cornfeld, if you are reading this: get rid of the multitude of hazards in the alley and please start getting DOB permits whenever the urge to "renovate," blast into the basement, or the roof (where you have built illegal duplexes) strikes you again. 

Oh, and lest I forget: Nati, chef at Noi Due harassed me relentlessly during our peaceful protest. His veiled threat: "You live here, remember that" is not taken lightly. Is he planning to hurt me, burglarize me, murder me? I don't know, but the people who were with me also commented that it was a not so veiled threat. My response: "You work here and you go home and you don't live with rats. So please don't come to where I live and create a rat infestation."

One of the reporters who toured the 2 buildings and who I showed the "renovated" lobbies to, said: "It's obvious, he's a slumlord." A tenant retorted: "No, he's a psychopath."

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