Friday, November 30, 2007
Historic Duffield Street Home Saved From Eminent Domain!
Photo from Curbed
Police are looking for an escaped mental patient who was last seen in Queens.
They say Cimmie Reid, 26, escaped from the Creedmoor Mental Facility in Queens Village on Tuesday afternoon.
Reid is described as being 185 pounds, 5 feet 10 inches tall, and was last wearing a black sweatsuit.
Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call the Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS.
by patrick arden / metro new york
CITY HALL. Eminent domain was the topic du jour Thursday, as protests here over the Atlantic Yards and Columbia expansion projects were quickly followed by a hearing on the city’s Willets Point redevelopment plan.
Queens Councilman Tony Avella believes eminent domain abuse will be a big issue in the 2009 election.
“We’re talking about three neighborhoods in three different boroughs,” said Avella, one of only two declared candidates for mayor (the other is U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner).
“It’s a fundamental American right to your own piece of property and your own business,” he said. “How can the city say, ‘We need your property, not for a school or a highway but for some rich guy so he can build a project to make more money’? It’s horrendous, and the risk is becoming more evident. If it happened to them, it can happen to you.”
By popular demand:
Last Call for Cash-Grubbing Pols
The Vallone Empire Branches Out
“Yeah it is interesting,” Paul told me just now. “It’s going to be the first Vallone not in Astoria. It’s like a fish out of water.”
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Council Member Calls for Limits On Homework
Peter Vallone Jr., who represents parts of Queens, said his two daughters are routinely swamped with homework and stuck at home, slogging through it.
"As a parent, I have been unable to have fun with my kids. We can't go for bike rides. We can't go to the park. We can't go to the museum, and that's not fair," he said.
JPCA protests illegal Mazeau Street houses
JPCA and the councilman have been calling on the city to force the owner of 57-39 Mazeau Street to demolish the 4-story structure as it violates the R4-1 zoning for this area and encroaches on the lot next door. Earlier this year, the owner instead demolished the original wood frame house, located at 57-37 Mazeau Street. He continues to negotiate with the Department of Buildings, looking for a way he can legalize the house.
Meanwhile, across the street at 57-40 Mazeau Street, owner Stavros Stathakis has converted a garage into a house without permits. According to online DOB records, this house has $2,500 in unresolved building violations and no certificate of occupancy, yet it is currently on the market with a $600,000 asking price. Councilman Avella has written to Derek Lee, Queens Commissioner of Buildings, and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo about the property. “An unsuspecting homebuyer could purchase this home and be responsible for fixing the violations,” Avella said in his letters.
The Juniper Park Civic Association and Councilman Avella are calling for greater enforcement of building and zoning codes.
The four- pronged flooding fix-it plan outlined by the DEP calls for:
Tidal gates: Mechanisms called "duck bills" will help let water out during low tide, and hold the bay back during high tide. Slated completion date: Midsummer 2008. Estimated cost: "Relatively cheap," said Lloyd, if permits aren't needed.
Renovation of Calamus Ave. and 69th St: The city will expand and renovate the pipes, which are inefficient and cause bottle-necking, which was discovered after the floods. Slated completion: 2011. Estimated cost: $8million to $10 million for renovation.
Expanding pipelines: A costly second line of sewer will alleviate backup problems in the overextended area. Calamus Ave: 20 million; 48th Ave.: $2 million. Slated completion date: 2012.
Pumping station overhaul: A pumping station at the BQE and 48th Ave. helps cut down the overflow; DEP will install smaller, intermittent pumps to boost efficiency. Slated completion: Unknown. Estimated cost: Unknown.
Let's hope it doesn't rain again until 2013...
A Third Term May Glimmer for Mayor
It's possible that council members eyeing an extension would have an easier time winning popular support if they could use another four years of Mr. Bloomberg's leadership as a selling point.
Do these people not understand that no means no?
I can't answer that except to say that the city writes laws that they have no intention of following themselves. That, and they like f*cking with us.
By HASANI GITTENS, NY Post
As the nationwide mortgage crisis deepens, Queens and Brooklyn are bearing the brunt in the city.
In Queens, foreclosures were up a whopping 120 percent last month compared with last year, based on figures from RealtyTrac, which follows default notices, auction-sale notices and bank repossessions around the country.
The number of houses lost in Queens spiked from 688 for the month last year to 1,514 this year.
Brooklyn fared better, but still saw an increase of 50 percent this October over last. Property foreclosures were up to 1,277 versus 815 a year ago, the data showed.
Manhattan and The Bronx both remained steady, while Staten Island's foreclosure numbers dipped slightly.
Statewide, foreclosures were up 51 percent, with a total of 6,519.
Across the country, foreclosures were up 94 percent from October 2006, the RealtyTrac numbers show. With a total of 224,451 filings, the national rate for the month was one foreclosure for every 555 households.
Bicycles That Carry Powerful Beats, and Even a Rider or Two
“This one puts out 5,000 watts and cost about $4,000,” said Nick Ragbir, 18, tinkering with his two-wheeled sound system, with its powerful amplifier, two 15-inch bass woofers and four midrange speakers. It plays music from his iPod and is powered by car batteries mounted on a sturdy motocross bike.
The riders are of Guyanese and Trinidadian background. In those countries, turning bicycles into rolling outdoor sound systems is a popular hobby.
Usually, the stereos crank out heavy Caribbean beats, but Mr. Ragbir cranked up the new system, which was playing a 1980s hit by the Outfield — “I Don’t Want to Lose Your Love Tonight” — and the near-deafening music had his friends bobbing their heads as they worked on their bikes.
“We measured it at a car show,” he said. “It’s 150 decibels.”
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
After experiencing a number of catastrophic floods, the MTA is looking into building an underground reservoir in Queens to help keep the system dry.
The MTA is considering buying land near the flood-prone Parsons Boulevard station in Jamaica. Underground holding tanks would store water diverted from the subway tunnels.
Floods on the F line can effect trains on the E, R and V lines along Queens Boulevard. Those lines were among many that were crippled back in August by heavy rains.
NYC Transit spokesman Paul Fleuranges says the water storage plan is still in its early stages and the agency is still working to identify available property.
Photo from Gothamist
By CHARLES V. BAGLI, NY Times
After years of delay and political squabbling, state officials have selected Danforth Development Partners to redevelop the long-vacant Victoria Theater on 125th Street, once Harlem’s largest and most elegant theater. Danforth plans to transform the Victoria into a cultural center, with two live theaters, space for the Jazz Museum of Harlem, a 200-room hotel and 91 condominiums. The theaters would be used primarily by the Classical Theater of Harlem and the Harlem Arts Alliance. Danforth, a Harlem-based developer, said it would restore the Victoria’s Ionic columns, terra cotta rosettes and other historic elements.
Photo from Wired New York
Community board opposed to plan for dorm, tower in Hunters Point
This month, the land use committee of Queens Community Board 2 unanimously voted to reject a Board of Standards and Appeals variance application for the dorm, which would house 220 CUNY Graduate School students, and the apartment tower, with a planned 169 units and ground floor retail.
"Dormitory housing in itself is transient housing at its best and offers no stability to the community. We believe that it is a detriment to the growth of Hunters Point," said Board 2 Chairman Joseph Conley in a letter to the BSA.
Try Community Board 1. They won't say no.
Clubbed to Death
That means they want to take it.
Photo from Village Voice
So why did the Glasers suddenly drop almost $30,000 into Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion's campaign war chest in May and July?
Could it have anything to do with the fact that the city had just agreed to pay the Glasers a whopping $5 million for "air rights" over their East 153rd Street property to make way for the renovation of an old pedestrian bridge to the new Yankee Stadium?
The thing that makes the timing of their contribution even more intriguing is that the same politically connected lawyer involved in the air-rights deal also acted as the middleman in raising those contributions for Carrion.
Photo from Village Voice
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Jahn's is no more
Last Jahn's Standing Isn't in Richmond Hill
A sad day for Richmond Hill and all of Queens.
Photo from Ed's Mobile Blog
"In 1984, Parks established the Natural Resources Group (NRG) with a mandate to acquire, restore and manage natural areas in New York City. The wetlands, forests, meadows, and shorelines under NRG’s jurisdiction provide valuable habitat for hundreds of species, from rare wildflowers to endangered birds of prey. In addition to the goals mentioned above, NRG serves as a clearinghouse for technical research to aid in the protection and restoration of the city's natural resources. This inventory of Ridgewood Reservoir was conducted in 2005 as part of NRG’s commitment to improving the natural areas of New York City parks.
Today, the reservoir’s outer basins are filled and completely vegetated, while the middle basin contains a freshwater pond skirted by reeds. Habitats in the vegetated areas include closed forest, scrub, woodland, and vineland. Ridgewood Reservoir is located along the Atlantic flyway, one of the four main bird migration routes in America. Millions of birds (as well as bats, butterflies and dragonflies) travel the flyway each fall and spring. Natural areas along the flyway, such as Ridgewood Reservoir, provide these animals with food and shelter. A popular pedestrian and bike path around the reservoir offers views of the neighboring landscape as well as glimpses into the reservoir.
To facilitate the protection, management and restoration of Ridgewood Reservoir, NRG completed an inventory of the area using entitation, a process of identifying and describing ecologically distinct plant communities. Using aerial photographs and field reconnaissance, Parks staff delineated distinct ecological entities, known as entitation units, based on cover type, understory structure, species composition, and topography."
In 2005, NRG was preserving the reservoir. In 2007, we are preparing to cut down all the trees and pave it over. The graphic is also from the Parks Department.
Info from Save Ridgewood Reservoir and NYC Parks Department.
The developers of Flushing Commons — which community leaders promoted in 2005 based on a rosy early proposal for the 5-acre city property — are revising their most recent plans following a burst of outrage from local leaders.
Flushing Commons changes spur outrage by local leaders
"The project is at a standstill right now, at best; at worst, [it's] dead in the water," Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) said this week.
Since February, Liu and other leaders have criticized the developers, TDC Development and the Rockefeller Group, for tossing out plans for a 50,000-square-foot community center on the site to be run by the YMCA.
The original plan called for the site to include 2,000 city-subsidized parking spots.
The developers, citing spiraling costs, have since approached the YMCA about revising plans. The parking subsidy was jettisoned, and new plans call for 1,600 spots, but without a subsidy.
Borough residents have so far filed $1.6 billion in claims against the city for damages caused by flooding on July 17, according to the city controller's office.
2007 floods spur $1.6 billion in claims from Queens residents
On Aug. 9, Mayor Bloomberg acknowledged that spending several billion dollars was necessary "if we ever want to make sure that our sewers can handle it," he said.
But aside from assembling a multiagency task force, no steps have been taken.
State Sen. Serphin Maltese unwittingly honored a Mafia soldier at the reopening of the reputed gangster's Queens bakery, the Daily News has learned.
Politician unwittingly honors reputed gangster at bakery reopening
Maltese issued a proclamation and posed for pictures with Vito Grimaldi last week outside Grimaldi's House of Bread on Menahan St. in Ridgewood in the senator's district. The photo op was also posted on Maltese's Web site.
Federal prosecutors identified Grimaldi as a made member of the Bonanno crime family in a 2002 indictment. He later pleaded guilty to racketeering and was sentenced to two years in prison.
Maltese was unapologetic yesterday about publicizing the Bonanno baker.
"I am very pleased to present him with a proclamation on the enlargement of his business that I know will continue to give back to our community," he said. "I am unaware of any of the allegations brought up by the Daily News."
The former Family Court House on Parsons Blvd. is currently undergoing demolition and Jamaica's architectural marvel has been tossed to the side to make room for more plain and boring glass and steel. It is very apparent that the grandiose Jamaica Plan is intended to move Jamaica into the future by eliminating all vestiges of classical Queens history. With big money interests and the little momentum that CB 12 has shown for putting up a fight and preserving its community, its no wonder that this is occurring. Remember Penn Station. Where are the preservationists?
Monday, November 26, 2007
We got plenty of old theaters and factories here, too. Why any of the buildings mentioned in the article are more important than any of the local landmarks lost in our borough is beyond me.
Oh, that's right, they're in Manhattan, where elected officials and community boards fight to get things landmarked. Here, reading the demo permit list is the most anticipated event of the community board meeting (after liquor license renewals).
Planning Commission To Vote on Columbia Plan
The $6 billion plan's footprint currently includes some land occupied by gas stations and storage facilities that Columbia has been unable to purchase. In all, four companies or individuals have not sold their property to the university.
How, or whether, Columbia will obtain the title to those properties remains unclear. It has pledged not to ask the state to invoke eminent domain to evict tenants living in residential apartments nearby, but it has not made such a promise to the commercial property owners.
But eminent domain is not proving a sticking point with the city's planning commission, which is made up of appointees of Mayor Bloomberg and will likely approve Columbia's plan at today's hearing.
Council's Role in Private Development To Expand
The infrastructure task force, headed by Council Members Daniel Garodnick and Letitia James, would report to the council on the projected effects, in areas such as traffic, telecommunications, and energy, of large-scale plans conducted by private developers, as well as the state and federal government. The task force could examine the redevelopment of ground zero, the Atlantic Yards project, the Second Avenue subway line, and the future development of the West Side rail yards. "There is no entity today that considers the impact on city infrastructure," Mr. Garodnick said in a phone interview. "We want to take a long view and see that our infrastructure keeps pace with our development plan."
(And ensure themselves more lobbying money, too.)
• Aqueduct Racetrack – The New York Racing Authority, which operates the Aqueduct Racetrack in Ozone, Queens, filed for bankruptcy in November 2006. The DPR is interested in converting the site into park land.
• Arverne Waterfront – In 2004, the City Department of Housing and Preservation began development of property in Arverne in Queens. Part of the plan is to develop 27 acres of park land. The project is in the early design phase and is estimated to cost $42 million to build.
• Elmhurst Gas Tanks – In 2004, Keyspan sold the City a 6.1-acre plot of land in Elmhurst, Queens for $1. Since that time, the City has dedicated $16 million in capital funds to convert that plot into parkland.
• Sunnyside Yards – An Economic Development Corporation paper leaked to the press in May 2006 called for substantial development over a platform on the Sunnyside Yards in Queens. As many as 35,000 housing units would be built on the 43-acre site and parkland would also likely be constructed.
• Cresthaven Site – City Councilmember Tony Avella has called for a 6.5-acre park to be built on the Cresthaven property, formerly owned by Catholic Charities, in Whitestone, Queens. Senior housing was intended to be built on the site, but federal funding designated for the project never materialized. The DPR has not announced any plans for the site.
• Queens West – This 12-acre waterfront park is currently under design by the DPR. It is intended to complement a large middle-class housing complex being built in Long Island City.
• Silvercup West – Land adjacent to the Silvercup Studios in Long Island City is planned for development as a large housing complex. Part of the development plan, overseen by the EDC, is to build a one-acre park.
• Fort Totten – This 11-acre site, formerly owned by the US military, has recently been conveyed to the DPR for use as parkland. The site is currently under construction and will cost roughly $15 million.
• Highland Reservoir – In 2004, the City Department of Environmental Protection turned over the 50-acre Ridgewood Reservoir, located in Highland Park, to the Department of Parks and Recreation. The reservoir had not been in use since 1989. The Parks Department is currently planning to convert the acreage into parkland. Highland Park straddles Brooklyn and Queens. The site will cost $60 million to develop and will be funded with City capital funds.
Notice that Flushing Meadows makes close to what Central Park earns in revenue. Yet, CP looks like gold and FMCP looks like a shit hole. Why? Because immigrants and the working class don't deserve a nice park.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is the much talked about C Condo.
You can see evidence of its fine craftsmanship streaking down the exterior walls.
As the sign says, this is contemporary Queens. And a great representation of it, I must admit, especially with the Corcoran name attached to it.
Look at the amazing detailing on the brick!
Who wouldn't want to buy here, especially after viewing this serene setting.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
By MELISSA KLEIN and JANON FISHER, NY Post
November 25, 2007 -- Two workers at the new Mets stadium site are suing troubled contractor Bovis Lend Lease over injuries they suffered because of allegedly unsafe work conditions, according to court papers.
Daniel Gordon suffered permanent injuries to his feet, ankles, legs and back when he was hoisted 30 feet off the ground by a crane hook July 13, according to a lawsuit filed last week in Manhattan Supreme Court.
A second suit claims a malfunctioning hydraulic lift collapsed under Melvin Ramos on Oct. 2 at the new Citi Field, causing unspecified injuries.
Bovis is currently under investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office after two firefighters died in a blaze earlier this year at the Deutsche Bank building, where a standpipe that should have delivered water to firefighters was found to be inoperable.
Bovis, in a joint venture with the Hunt Construction Group, is the construction manager at Citi Field, due to open in 2009.
The city Buildings Department briefly issued a partial stop-work order to Bovis after the first accident. Another stop-work order preventing lifting operations at the site was issued after the July accident. It was unclear when that order was lifted.
"In both instances work resumed after a thorough investigation on the subsequent business day," Bovis said in a statement.
Amid the Willows and Chickadees, Bird-Watchers Spot a Red Flag
But Mr. Benepe did say that “some small portion” of the Ridgewood Reservoir area, probably about 30 percent, will be used for recreation. “Any time you build a park, especially in an area that is overgrown, you have to remove some trees,” he said.
Mr. Benepe also emphasized what he described as his “moral obligation” to provide New Yorkers with space for recreation, especially children who suffer from a lack of exercise, and the need to balance the needs of a community.
“People care very deeply about parks,” Mr. Benepe said. “And there are many opinions about what they should look like.”
God/Mother Nature has already provided the space, Adrian, and is counting on you not to mess it up. Highland Park currently has playgrounds, ball fields, tennis courts, etc. in horrible disrepair. Shouldn't your "moral obligation" as parks commissioner be to fix them up and not tear down an air-purifying forest in a city where children have high rates of asthma? And how is 30% of the reservoir considered to be a "small portion"? Jogging paths around each basin would be an inexpensive way to keep the natural setting and provide for exercise. Fix them up, install lighting, and that can constitute your "small percentage for active recreation". And save us a hell of a lot of money, to boot. Explain how children who aren't into exercising are going to be motivated to use ballfields just because you build them. No one can make kids who would rather play video games play baseball instead. Or is forced exercise another hidden part of Bloomberg's 2030 agenda?
“This community does not want this project,” said Hershel Waldner, one local resident. Noting that the developers are from outside Borough Park, he added, “If they would have proposed a project like this in their neighborhood, they would have been tarred, feathered and run out of town on a rail.”
On an Unloved Lot, a New Source of Friction
The proposal would require a zoning change because it is higher than the surrounding buildings, most of them single-family houses. It had earlier drawn attention because one of its developers was Mendel Brach, who had been accused of breaking city zoning rules on a building in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Mr. Brach had also built a structure in Williamsburg that was widely and derisively known as “the finger building” because it is much taller than its neighbors.
Mr. Hornstein argued that the building would bring needed apartments to the area. But opponents say it would do little to help ease neighborhood crowding because the area’s Orthodox Jews, many of whom avoid elevators on the Sabbath, would be unlikely to live in a tall building.
Guess what, guys - there are sabbath elevators that open on every floor without pushing buttons! Go to Mount Sinai Hospital for a demo. Besides, you'll have to explain why this proposed 8-story building is bad, but this similar 7-story building built for your community is okay. You'll have a stronger argument if you limit your protest to opposing the spot-zoning of your single-family home neighborhood.
These homes at one point must have been something. They are in Elmhurst, which was once a wealthy enclave. As they are corner properties, they are definitely on the endangered list.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
IT'S THE RIGHT TIME FOR MIDNIGHT AT AQUEDUCT
Photo from NYRA
When 38-year-old Joseph Moody moved to Woodside 20 years ago, day laborers waited for work on Roosevelt Avenue just as they do today. However, over time, the atmosphere of the neighborhood has changed, Moody said.
“As of late, the last 10 years, it has really been a problem,” he said, referring to men who catcall to women walking by and others who stumble around drunk.
“I find them to be a nuisance,” he said.
A particular group of a dozen men, who wait at 72nd Street, have clashed with local businesses, said several shop owners and employees who spoke only with condition of anonymity.
“I’ve been begging people to do something,” said one business owner who set up shop along Roosevelt Avenue 20 years ago and now is anxiously awaiting the end of the store’s lease to move to Astoria. The owner claimed that instead of seeking work, some of the men sell drugs and fake Social Security cards, harass women, and even destroy the property of storeowners who have complained about them.
“We really feel threatened. Even when the police come, we have to keep it all anonymous,” the owner said.
Last month, a graffiti tag, which read, “I’ll kill you,” appeared on the sidewalk in front of local deli, and local shops owners blamed the men who gather on the corner.
“Now we have to walk two blocks down in the cold just to buy a coffee or a gum because we can’t go across the street,” an employee said.
“There was a threat made,” said an employee of another store. “If you put that in the newspaper, they are probably going to set the store on fire.”
At another business near the intersection of 72nd Street and Roosevelt, the manager said, “They are always loitering there, leaving our entranceway dirty with food and cans.”
Pictured: The Jeromus Lott House in Flatlands was at one point owned by Frederick Boyd Stevenson of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. He purchased the house and moved it to the northwest corner of Coleman Street and Avenue P, remodeled it and lived in it until his death. It was then demolished.
Hopefully there are now luxury condos there.
“I’ve seen pictures on the news of Baghdad, Third World countries, that have better services,” quipped one local business owner.
Willets Point Plan on the Horizon
In April 2006, Dr. Tom Angotti of the Hunter College Center for Community Planning and Development conducted a land use study of Willets Point that described the area as a “unique business incubator that provides jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities to diverse new immigrant populations.” The study recommended that the city establish a public-private planning partnership in which Willets Point businesses, workers and city agencies would be equal partners in a process that would develop plans that could accommodate existing businesses and promote new commercial and industrial development. “It’s a disgrace the city didn’t come to us first to discuss redeveloping this area—we could have worked together. We want it to change as well, nobody wants the status quo,” said Dan Scully of Tully Construction Co. Inc.
Seems as though Willets Point business owners don't have a "preferred" relationship with City and Borough Halls via the Parkside Group. Read the rest of the press release here.
The Queens Chronicle, however, thinks a private land grab is a great idea: Getting It Right At The Iron Triangle
To have an area like Willets Point even in some far corner of the borough would be embarrassing; allowing it to rust within a stone’s throw of Queens’ revenue-generating landmarks is unthinkable.
Why? The city has no problem keeping the NYS Pavilion exactly the way it is. To have a park like Flushing Meadows even in some far corner of the borough would be embarrassing; allowing it to rust within a stone’s throw of Queens’ revenue-generating landmarks is unthinkable. At least the Willets Point eyesore generates tax revenue and employs people.
Photo from the Queens Chronicle
Instead of waiting on the corner for work, these jornaleros must have a place where they can take refuge from the cold and find the tools for integration into society. They should have a job center, which should include English classes, assistance with citizenship applications and career advice.
Job center a must
We believe that the elected officials who represent this area must come up with the dollars - not just seed money, but full funding - to form a public/private partnership to make this Queens job center a reality.
Queens is the most ethnically diverse county in the country and has paved the way on a number of groundbreaking issues.
Let us continue to set the example by raising the funds necessary to create a job center for the “Ghost Workers” of 69th Street and Roosevelt Avenue.
Let's get this straight. Our tax dollars don't go far enough providing medical care and other services for illegals. Now we should also provide aid and comfort to them while their lawbreaking selves go about looking for illegal work. Instead of curbing illegal immigration and overpopulation, we should embrace it and encourage it.
Okay. The men in the white coats need to make a visit to Bell Boulevard, pronto. Notice the adoption of a term in their language to describe them - "jornaleros". How about "illegales"?
Cartoon from Queens Courier