Friday, September 19, 2014

City taking its sweet time to fix Bayside curb

From the Queens Chronicle:

Members of All Saints Episcopal Church in Bayside have been waiting two years for the city to repair their damaged curbs, but Department of Transportation officials say if they’re unhappy to sue the city.

It all started about two years ago, according to member and community activist Jack Oshier, during the winter when Department of Sanitation trucks plowing snow got too close to the curbs and damaged them.

There is no parking around the church, located at 214-35 40 Ave., allowing the plows closer access to the curbs than usual. Oshier said further damage was inflicted last winter.

He has reached out to city agencies and elected officials with little success. “We finallly sent a letter to the city comptroller putting in a claim but that could take years,” Oshier said.

Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside), who used to live across the street from the church, also got involved and was last told by the DOT that the curbs would be repaired, but the agency was unable to say how long that would take.

A spokesman for the DOT told the Chronicle there is no outstanding Notice of Violation or sidewalk conditions at the property, although the agency did receive notification of this condition, which cited snow plow-related damage to the curb.

Problem corner kept clean

"Residents are very pleased and continue to comment on the clear side walk. The location is Merrick Boulevard between 108 & 109 avenues.

Just to remind supporters, this is a result of The Untouchables diligent work. Officer Cedillo and his team from the 103 rd. precinct, did what local leaders said was impossible. They simply interpret and enforced the law on behalf of residents.

The Untouchables removed a vast amount of abandoned vehicles (eyesores), throughout their jurisdiction and warned chop shop owners, that they cannot leave their cars on the sidewalk for an extended time. They even gave chop shop owners 24-hours notice.

For years, local leaders said they were working on a strategy, but nothing was done. Needless to say, they were operating under the same law.

However, a few months ago, The Untouchables set out to assist with the abandoned vehicles' epidemic. Well, well, well, the once don't-give-a-damn chop shop owners have a new status ( law abiding citizens).

Team P/J is still working on the garbage situation at the bus stop. Cameras have to be installed. Sooner or later, the cave people will become law abiders too.

Thanks again to the Untouchables, your presence has a lasting effect.

Photos were taken 9/14/14.

Side walk is made for walking, and that's just what we'll do.

Garbage dump violators will soon be caught." - Pamela Hazel

Benefits associated with city ID card


Today, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the City’s Municipal ID, which will launch in January 2015, will give all ID card holders access to one-year free membership packages at 33 of the City’s leading cultural institutions, including world class museums, performing arts centers, concert halls, botanical gardens, and zoos in all five boroughs. The Municipal ID/CIG one-year membership will be comparable to each institution’s standard one-year individual or family membership package, depending on the institution, and will give ID card holders a range of benefits including free admission, and access to special events, and discounts to museum shops.

The 33 institutions belong to the Cultural Institutions Group (CIG) which is comprised of private nonprofit cultural organizations located on City owned property. The first member of the CIG, the American Museum of Natural History, was created in 1869 and the group has grown to include a diverse cross section of institutions in each of the boroughs. The City provides capital, operating and energy support to CIG members and in turn each institution is charged with providing access to cultural services and programming to all New Yorkers.

“The Municipal ID Program is one that has the potential to transform lives, and to help ensure its success the cultural community, and in particular the Cultural Institutions Group’s members, have stepped up to the plate,” said City Council Majority Leader and Chair of Libraries & International Intergroup Relations Committee Jimmy Van Bramer. “Culture is always important in our City and with this announcement we are reminded of the centrality of the arts to our City. Access to the arts for all and a more just City is being accomplished with the help of these great institutions. It is a great day.”

“I am grateful to the Cultural Institutions Group for teaming up to make New York’s municipal ID program the envy of other cities,” said Municipal ID Bill Sponsor Council Member Daniel Dromm. “This world-class ID will make our city’s world-class cultural institutions accessible to every New Yorker, from recent immigrant families to students and young professionals. With all of the fun and exciting options that this card will provide, New Yorkers will have no excuse to fail to get a card or to stay at home.”

Queens locations:
Flushing Town Hall
Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning
Museum of the Moving Image
New York Hall of Science
Queens Botanical Garden
Queens Museum
Queens Theatre

From the Observer:

But plenty of questions about the IDs still remain — including what documentation will be required to receive them and whether financial institutions will accept them to grant bank accounts or other services that were key to the argument the cards were necessary.

Mr. de Blasio told the Observer the process of determining what would be needed to prove identity and residency had been a thorough one that involved the NYPD, and Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Nisha Agarwal said draft rules would be up for comment soon.

“There will be a public hearing in early October to discuss things like what documents you need to bring to be able to show identify, residency, and what are some of the other rules and details of this program,” Ms. Agarwal told the Observer.

As for getting banks to accept the cards, Ms. Agarwal said progress was being made there, too.

“We’re in active conversations with the financial institutions as well as with their regulators to hopefully be able to announce soon enough the commitment of financial institutions participating with the municipal ID as well,” Ms. Agarwal said.

Spectacular restoration unveiled

Curbed has a look inside the restored Loew's Kings Theater in Brooklyn, and while it looks beautiful, I can't help but be sad knowing that the RKO Keith's will never be restored that way.

Finding poetry in Queens trash

From [cutting the cord] by Matthew Kremer:

in my experience, new yorkers
seem to have an unarticulated
and unappreciated tradition
of substituting ordinary
shopping bags for
regular trash bags.
i know the process:
you make a huge stash
under the sink, which
builds day-by-day and
covers your cleaning
products, enough that
the collection discourages
the act of cleaning at all.
around once a day, you
bend half-way over
and stretch your hand
into the assortment,
feeling around for
fine distinctions
between grocery
and mall-grade plastic,
and use the one you've
settled on for the category
of needs that ensue.
i would like to
see some trash bag
statistics in the metro
region in the effort to
corroborate this hunch,
but where would i look?
but it is likely in the more
apartment-centric corridors
this thing exists--not in
communities around flushing-
corona park or the waterfronts.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Resorts World is raking in the dough

From WPIX:

There is no Roman facade. There are no Venetian gondolas. Nor do they have a volcano out front.

Yet, inside of an architecturally simple structure in Queens is the most explosive casino in all of North America, Resorts World Casino.

“From a slot operation standpoint it’s phenomenal. This is the highest grossing slot operation in really the entire world, not just North America,” said Ed Farrell, president of the casino operation.

Six months after opening in the fall of 2011, with very little fanfare, Resorts World Casino became the most productive slot operation in the nation. Its strategy was simple. To target the culturally diverse neighborhoods around it according to Farrell. “It really caters a lot to the locals. Most of our business is from Queens and Long Island, and Brooklyn and close to here, but being so close to JFK we also do get a little bit of business from those people that are coming in from out of town.”

A novel approach to NYCHA repairs

From the NY Times:

IN most of America, when the paint starts to chip or the sink starts to drip, the homeowner fixes it. In New York, a city of renters, he calls the landlord. Or, if he is one of the 400,000 people living in a building owned by the New York City Housing Authority, known as Nycha, he calls maintenance.

That worked pretty well until a few years ago, when cuts in federal subsidies pushed Nycha’s budget into a $77 million deficit. The list of needed repairs grew exponentially over the last decade. Now, according to recent reports, the city’s public housing needs $18 billion in repairs and upgrades.

This comes at the worst possible time, with unemployment among the city’s poor still unacceptably high and the number of households on the public-housing waiting list growing steadily.

Could one problem help solve another? Why couldn’t Nycha train tenants to do basic maintenance? Nycha’s professional staffs would still do the complicated work — roof repair, for example — but with some solid training, almost anyone can replaster a wall. At the same time, training for such work can be a first step toward a steady job.

Clearly, there are obstacles to such a plan. It is always hard to change ingrained customs, and Nycha and its tenants have a longstanding provider-client relationship. And of course this wouldn’t sit well with unions, which are understandably protective of their ranks and would bristle at the idea of training novices to do their work.

But the reality of the situation overwhelms such objections. Over the next four years Nycha is planning to make only $3.92 billion of the $18 billion in needed repairs and upgrades. Arguing over who will make nonexistent repairs is fruitless.

Moreover, should Mayor Bill de Blasio find the funding to build the 200,000 units of affordable housing he has proposed, more able workers will be needed, both while the new units are under construction and after they are occupied.

The final round of skeeter spraying?

From the Queens Courier:

Another round of West Nile spraying is set for parts of Queens this week.

The spraying will take place on Thursday, Sept. 18, between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 6 a.m. the next morning. In case of bad weather, the application will be delayed until Monday, Sept. 22 during the same hours.

The following neighborhoods are being treated to help reduce the mosquito population and the risk of the disease, according to the city’s Health Department:

Parts of Arverne, Bays Water, Edgemere, Far Rockaway, Hammels and Somerville (Bordered by Jamaica Bay to the north; Cross Bay Parkway to the west; Atlantic Ocean to the south; and Nassau County Boundary to the east).

Parts of Cambria Heights, Laurelton, Saint Albans and Springfield Gardens (Bordered by 119th Avenue to the north; Farmers Boulevard to the west; Merrick Boulevard to the south; and Belt Parkway and Nassau County Line to the east).

CB1 denies liquor license to topless bar

From Astoria Post:

The owners of a proposed topless bar called ‘Racks’ claim they can’t get a fair shake.

The owners, who aim to establish a bar featuring topless waitresses at 19-26 Steinway Street, went before Community Board 1 last night in their quest for a liquor license.

The owners, who were previously denied such a license by the State Liquor Authority last year, said that they plan to offer a venue that features a sports bar, lounge bar and night club—as well as topless servers.

Last year, Racks’ application received a chilly response from nearby residents, politicians and the Community Board 1. Last night, Community Board 1’s opinion had not changed.

“We recommend it be denied by the State Liquor Authority, for the detrimental impact this applicant, if licensed, would have on the quality of life of the community,” said Community Board 1 member Joseph Risi, who is in charge of liquor license applications for the board.

The majority of the board was opposed to Racks being granted a liquor license, with only five out of the 44 board members in attendance in favor of it.

Representatives of Racks, including lobbyist Adam Clayton Powell and attorney Mark Weinstein, emphasized that the business would be located in an industrial zone, away from the residential community.

Enterovirus now in NYC

From PIX11:

Enterovirus EV-D68 has been confirmed in more than one dozen New York children — with one case in New York City — the Department of Health announced Wednesday.

The children are located in the Capitol Region, Central New York and New York City. Other regions in the state also submitted specimens for testing, which can take up to a week to confirm.

EV-D68 is causes severe respiratory illness, which sometimes results in hospitalization, especially among children with asthma. Currently there is no vaccine or treatment for the virus.

A New Jersey child was also diagnosed Wednesday with enterovirus EV-D68.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Perhaps not the city's biggest priority

From Crains:

The head of a New York City real estate data and listing site is set to propose Tuesday at the Massey Knakal Brooklyn Real Estate Summit an aerial gondola system that would run along the Brooklyn waterfront and into Manhattan.

"This would offer an incredible commute," said Daniel Levy, head of CityRealty, of his East River Skyway proposal. "You would get the best view you could imagine and a comfortable environment while avoiding the mayhem of the L train in the morning."

The system would be built in phases: the first running from the Brooklyn Navy Yard to Williamsburg, and then from Williamsburg to the Lower East Side. Subsequent phases would branch out to eventually connect Dumbo to the South Street Seaport, and Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and Long Island City, Queens, to Roosevelt Island. There, the network would meet up with the existing gondola route between Roosevelt Island and Manhattan.

New waterfront developments are on track to bring thousands of additional units to Brooklyn and Queens, and the aerial gondola system would help alleviate congestion on the subway lines, according to Mr. Levy. He estimates each phase would cost between $75 million and $125 million to build.

Soccer stadium may be built at Aqueduct instead

From Capital New York:

Developers behind a proposal to build the city’s first Major League Soccer arena are looking to develop land near the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, after plans to build near Yankee Stadium fell apart, sources told Capital.

Manchester City Football Club owner Sheik Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan and the New York Yankees, which are partnering in the joint venture for the New York City Football Club, are now looking at a possible site “adjacent to the aqueduct racetrack in Queens,” a source told Capital.

Sources told Capital the club is now looking to develop the site near the racetrack because there is an abundance of land primed for development.

Thar she blows!

From the Times Ledger:

Whale and dolphin sightings in the Rockaways have increased over the last five years, making American Princess watch and adventure cruises that launching from Riis Landing in Breezy Point the new popular pastime.

Tom Paladino, owner and captain of American Princess Cruises, said the abundance of sightings is due to cleaner waters and an increased food chain.

“There is definitely an increase in bait food called bunker [menhaden] along with sand eels and the mammals go where the food is,” Paladino said. “A possible contributing factor can also be warmer waters and climate change.”

The most common species of whales and dolphins, which have been spotted in the Rockaways, Long Island and the Jersey shore, have been humpback and fin whales and bottlenose and common dolphins, according to Paladino.

“I have been giving four-hour tours for the last seven years to view these mammals in the wild, but the last few weeks there have been multiple whale and dolphin sightings every day and the boat has been packed — it’s amazing,” Paladino said. “Last week there were humpback whales breaching and putting on a terrific show during all our tours and dolphins have been spotted in groups.”

The cruises are scheduled Wednesdays through Sundays from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Protecting and polishing the Bloomberg legacy

From the NY Times:

When the de Blasio administration unveiled a promotional video this summer in its bid to lure the Democratic National Convention to Brooklyn in 2016, most viewers saw a slick, breezy collage of a pulsing New York City — schoolchildren and Citi Bikes, culinary wonders and brochure-worthy parks.

Veterans of the previous administration saw something else: a rare, if silent, affirmation of the Bloomberg age from the successors who have sharply criticized it.

“V impressed w #DNCNYC video,” Howard Wolfson, the former deputy mayor under Michael R. Bloomberg, wrote on Twitter last month, ticking off six Bloomberg-era changes, like green taxis and pedestrian plazas, highlighted on screen. “Lots of great selling points!”

Asked about Mr. Wolfson’s message, Peter Ragone, senior adviser to Mayor Bill de Blasio, emailed a smiley face.

The relationship between successive administrations is rarely uncomplicated. Perceived digs fester. Legacies wax and wane. And that magic date — the point at which a mayor is expected to cease criticisms of his predecessor — is never universally agreed upon.

Yet in the more than eight months since Mr. de Blasio’s inauguration — an event at which a number of speakers, though not Mr. de Blasio, assailed the former mayor — an entirely peaceful transfer of power has proved particularly elusive. After a stinging critique of Mr. Bloomberg’s tenure helped propel Mr. de Blasio to victory last year, the mayor and his surrogates have continued to issue pointed barbs at times, while appearing less eager to highlight Mr. Bloomberg’s contributions to some well-regarded policies that have been continued or expanded.

In recent weeks, as Mr. Bloomberg’s reign has faced withering criticism over the handling of disaster relief after Hurricane Sandy and oversight at Rikers Island, among other issues, former Bloomberg administration officials have increasingly moved to defend their former (and, in many cases, current) boss.

Traffic confusion in Forest Hills

From DNA Info:

On Wednesday, residents at a community board meeting complained that one change made last week — a ban on northbound traffic making left turns onto Queens Boulevard from Yellowstone Boulevard — had confused drivers and caused chaos in the area.

Community Board 6 Chairman Joe Hennessy said that the board, which covers Forest Hills and Rego Park, had questioned the DOT about the traffic “being pushed into the side streets" as a result.

Drivers who seek to turn onto Queens Boulevard must continue to drive on Yellowstone Boulevard through residential areas and look for alternative routes leading back to Queens Boulevard, according to the plan posted on the DOT's website.

There are no signs indicating which way to go.

“It’s very confusing,” said Stephen Melnick, a longtime Forest Hills resident. “I think they are just pushing the problem a few blocks away.

"They are doing the good thing on Queens Boulevard but at the same time they may be creating another problem along those side streets.”