Community Concerns


How your dues and donations saved a major problem.

On a one-block strip of First Avenue, between 54th And 55th Streets, rats had taken over.   The tree beds were riddled with rat holes and the creatures could be seen at night boldly scurrying between their holes and nearby garbage bags and cans.  Tree roots were endangered and one local retail merchant put up a sign on a tree warning about the rat problem.  Not only did the rat infestation pose a threat to health, but it was impossible to beautify the tree beds with the rats present; the rodents would promptly dig up the plants and toss them and their dirt on the sidewalk.


     Along came Sutton Area Community and its Pied Piper Beautification Community Chair, Vangeli Kaseluris.  The rats are gone!  Early attempts by Vangeli and SAC president Dr. Charles Coutinho to enlist the aid of local politicians were unsuccessful.  Communications were either ignored or there was no follow-up after initial contact.  State Senator Liz Kruegar's office, however, was very helpful and responsive.  We learned prior complaints to the Department of Health were noted but no violations were ever issued so there was no action taken.  The Department of Sanitation, with the help of Kruegar's office, visited the local merchants and educated them on proper trash procedures, but no action was taken to rid us of the rats. 


     It was time to make things happen.  It is generally known that if you need New York City to take action, like to replace a dead tree, you're talking about a year or more before it's done.  Our problem could not wait.  We hired a pest control company and at a cost of $1,800 and the rats were exterminated.  Looking to the future, the Department of Health has promised to keep in touch with local merchants to discuss pre-emptive action. 


     Where else does your money go?  


     Tree beds in the Sutton area are framed with wrought iron fencing, purchased and maintained by SAC.  We found many of them to be missing, broken, or bent -- perhaps by cars and trucks backing into them.  We have hired an iron works company to repair existing fencing and we paid $3,850. Replacement of missing fences will be a future SAC project. 


     Flowers for the tree beds in our area are our largest expense.  SAC will pay $10,120 to have plantings dome dragon begonias.  As for missing trees, and there are 15 missing, New York City will provide them free of cost, but as previously noted, it will take some time.  We hope our councilpersons and politicos will expedite tree replacement. 


     You now have some idea of how we spend your money and we encourage all to continue donations to replenish our coffers.  We also welcome volunteers to join the Beautification Committee.  If you are interested, please contact  On a daily basis, you can help us maintain the beauty of Sutton Area by disposing garbage properly and curbing your dogs.  As our chairperson, Vangeli, shouted out as he completed his job and rode off into the sunset, Let no one say, and say it to your shame, that all was beauty here, until we came.


(Or Woman!)

 A vacant First Avenue store, formerly a short-lived business called E-Shave, was recently attacked by a graffiti "artist." The spray paint handwriting was illegible so we could not learn the identity of the culprit. One thing is certain, though - he or she did poorly in penmanship in school. The unsightly mess was called to the attention of SAC board member Gracia Kelly by a Chase Bank representative; Chase is located directly across from the E-Shave store and apparently did not appreciate the artistic efforts of the culprit.


     Gracia advised SAC counsel and former president Bernie Dworkin of the situation and he determined the identity of the management agent of the attacked building.  A call got immediate results and E-Shave was cleaned within 48 hours. We encourage Sutton area residents to let us know of problems like graffiti and we will act. A number of merchants and residents on the block which benefited from efforts were not members of SAC, so if you see a store there which does not display in their window SAC's membership emblem, we would appreciate your encouraging that merchant to join SAC so that we can continue to do our job of maintaining the beauty of Sutton Area.

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