Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Bharara investigating de Blasio link to sale of closed hospital

From the Daily News:

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is looking into Mayor de Blasio’s involvement in the sale of Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn, the Daily News has learned.

Bharara's office recently issued a subpoena to the State University of New York, which had owned the hospital, seeking all communications between the university system and City Hall regarding the sale of LICH dating to Jan. 2, 2014, when de Blasio took office, said two sources familiar with the matter.

One source close to SUNY confirmed the subpoena and said “the clear target seems to be de Blasio.” But the specifics of what Bharara is looking into were unclear.

The subpoena specifically seeks emails and other communication from de Blasio and top aides Tony Shorris, Emma Wolfe, Dominic Williams, Avi Fink and Henry Berger, the two sources said.

It also seeks all communication regarding the hospital dating to 2013 between SUNY and de Blasio’s campaign and his fundraiser Ross Offinger, as well as various groups tied to the mayor such as the Campaign For One New York, UPKNYC, and United for Affordable NYC, the sources said.

The subpoena demands emails and other communication between SUNY and de Blasio from 2013, when he was the city’s public advocate, they said.

Flushing plagued by excessive aircraft noise

From AM-NY:

Noise levels in the Flushing, Queens, neighborhood near LaGuardia Airport exceeded federal levels on one of every three days earlier this year, elected officials and community activists said Monday.

The maximum permissible Day/Night Noise Level — or DNL — of 65 decibels was exceeded on 32 out of the 92 days from March through May on a monitor on Franklin Avenue, state Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Flushing) said at a news conference.

The Federal Aviation Administration measures on a scale that averages all community noise during a 24-hour period, with a tenfold penalty for noise occurring at night and early morning.

“With this data, we now see what we’ve always known: parts of Queens are subjected to higher levels of sound than others,” Stavisky said.

She said the current DNL standards date to the 1970s and are obsolete. She and others at the news conference said the FAA should reduce the maximum allowable DNL to 55, the standard at most airports overseas.

Cameras finally installed in Forest Park

From DNA Info:

After numerous delays owing to red tape in Albany, NYPD security cameras have finally been installed around Forest Park, nearly three years after the last assault in a string of sexual attacks that terrified parkgoers.

In total, 14 cameras were placed in seven locations around the 500-acre park last week, including at the entrances to the park, near main trails used by bicyclists and joggers, and close to playgrounds, officials said.

The equipment was installed after Assemblyman Mike Miller and State Sen. Joseph Addabbo allocated $250,000 for the cameras to be placed in the park back in 2013.

Officials said they hope the cameras will serve as a deterrent to crime and that they will also help identify suspects in the future.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Flushing West seems to be permanently dead

From the Times Ledger:

The city’s abrupt decision to withdraw its plans to rezone Flushing West, which would have brought 1,600 units of housing to the downtown area, has drawn mixed reactions from the community.

Some say it was a good move due to key infrastructural problems for which the city did not have concrete solutions, while others say it was a missed opportunity for the community.

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposal sought to clean up and rezone 60 acres on the Flushing waterfront and form a planned community with waterfront access for housing and commercial space.

Although State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) was the first elected official to oppose the plan and was joined by state Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing), the project fell apart when Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) asked for it to be withdrawn in a May 27 letter to City Planning Chairman Carl Weisbrod.

Koo cited the ongoing problems with airplane noise from LaGuardia Airport and the need for remediation in Flushing Creek as the key factors motivating his shift in opinion. He alsmo mentioned other issues, such as the proposed development’s proximity to the overcrowded No. 7 train.

He said the city could decide to pursue the proposal again in a year or two if tangible solutions are made to fix the problems.

“The residents would be very unhappy if they lived there, all these airplanes coming in the morning — it would drive them crazy,” he said. “Flushing Creek is so dirty. I wouldn’t want to stay there for 10 minutes, let alone 24 hours and every day.”

City Planning said it could revisit Flushing West if those issues are resolved.

And I'm sure Flushing Creek will be cleaned up and LaGuardia Airport will close soon.

Hipster hot tub roof gets even heavier

Here's an update on the hipster hot tub from a couple of years back:
"Now these aO's have added a pool to the hot tub roof, with all them people and water the loading must be 10 times what that roof was designed to hold (a couple skylights, tarpaper and tar)."

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Will this work?

From NY1:

Some elected officials and several non-profits in Queens are taking part in a new initiative aimed at helping homeowners get out of foreclosure and increasing affordable housing.

Under the "Foreclosure Buyback Pilot Program," non-profits can buy back distressed mortgages from federal government entities such as Freddie Mae and Freddie Mac, giving families the opportunity to refinance with the organization and stay in their homes.

If that's not possible, local non-profits or municipalities can bid on the distressed properties and then convert them into affordable housing.

Previously, only private equity and hedge funds could purchase these properties.

Councilors I. Daneek Miller, Ruben Wills, and Richards are involved in the program and say it is the first of its kind in the nation.

Astoria Cove: It's not gonna happen

From Politico:

A massive waterfront housing development in Astoria that required low- to moderate-income apartments prior to a citywide mandatory affordable housing policy has been scuttled. It's a disappointment for Mayor Bill de Blasio, who had boasted that the project would be a "real game changer" in affordable housing.

From the time the 2.2-million-square-foot Astoria Cove project passed the City Council in November of 2014, developers questioned the economics of the project. Several speculated the builder, Alma Realty, would have a hard time obtaining financing for a development in which 27 percent of the 1,723 planned apartments — 459 units — would be rented to people paying less than the market rate in a neighborhood that does not command top-dollar rents.

Alma had also agreed to pay union rates for construction work, which can significantly drive up the cost of any project.

One developer who has been closely following the project said his firm repeatedly looked at the financial details of the project, only to conclude it would be nearly impossible to find a lender.