Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Jackson Heights wants Mayor's Task Force


The “environmental Mayor” rejects meeting with residents looking to improve environmental conditions in Jackson Heights.

(Jackson Heights, New York) New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has touted his Plan2030 for creating a more environmentally friendly, less congested city, is coming to Jackson Heights, Queens tonight, but refuses to met with area residents who have been working to improve living conditions in the area.

Jackson Heights has struggled with vehicular traffic, pollution and congestion, sanitation chaos and around-the-clock disruption and degradation of quality-of-life issues for decades. Mayor Bloomberg has refused to meet with these residents and has disinvited them from a so-called Town Hall open only to merchants, most of whom don't live in the area.

The residents of Jackson Heights will still greet Mayor Bloomberg at his scheduled meeting tonight with a local merchants group at the Jackson Diner on 74th Street between 37th Ave. and 37th Rd. — not with open arms but with signs, street protest, and pent-up expressions of outrage.

Jackson Heights residents for years have been bedeviled by choking traffic congestion, constant horn honking, illegal double-parking, foul emissions from delivery truck double-parking and idling, a history of pedestrian accidents that are increasing at an alarming rate, overflowing and illegal trash dumping, illegal street vendors and a marked aesthetic degradation.

This isn't happening in 2030. It's happening now. And Mayor Bloomberg, fresh from promoting his congestion-pricing plan, isn't acknowledging the current problem, or the residents he purports to serve.

The ‘sustainability Mayor’ will be one block away from 73rd Street and 37th Ave. -- an intersection that has been termed “a canyon of death,” “a disaster in the making,” and “one of the three worst in Queens." One of the members of the group he is meeting is a commercial developer whose wanton disregard for civil and environmental law, code enforcement and the concerns of the wider residential community has resulted in a mockery of Jackson Heights' multicultural reputation -- instead transforming the area with an environmental degradation not often experienced outside the Third World.

Now the city has approved an initial plan to build a 4-story addition over a one-story retail operation right on the corner of this already dysfunctional crossroads. Not only would this construction be a crushing blow to any solution of ongoing environmental problems, it would sabotage two current ongoing sustainability studies specific to the western portion of Jackson Heights, one federally funded ($640k, with an additional $160k provided by City Planning, to be administered by Congressman Joseph Crowley) and one undertaken by City Councilwoman Helen Sears.

We cannot understand why the City would issue any permits or approve any plans whose implementation kills the viability of these studies and wastes a million dollars’ worth of City and Federal money. Add to that as well: The application is being pushed by a commercial developer who is associated with a self-certifying architect now under investigation for fraud by a City Councilman’s office and who has already far exceeded any reasonable interpretation of an outdated 1961 mixed-use zoning code (C 4-3) for this street by doing away with two-family residential units on 73rd Street south of 37th Avenue and replacing them with five-story commercial units—each of which have longstanding, double-digit outstanding violations.

The Western Jackson Heights Alliance, on behalf of its 500+ membership of local residents, appealed to the Mayor to form a Task Force that would gather the various city agencies that could make a difference in saving this neighborhood from its precipitous decline. Instead, the only civic group representing residential interests in Jackson Heights was pointedly and specifically dis-invited from the meeting and told that any further insistence would result in the cancellation of any discussion of a Task Force. Who is the Mayor punishing?

We asked the Mayor to lend suffering residents a hand. . .and he has responded by giving us the finger.

Tuesday, July 31st 2007 7pm
Jackson Diner
37-47 74th Street (between 37th Ave & 37th Rd)

New photo regs could cause trouble

Artists fight proposed filming restrictions

Proposed rules for film permits:

-Film or photography activity involving 5 or more people at one site for 10 or minutes or involving two people at one site for 30 or more minutes require a permit and insurance.

-Press and those filming political demonstrations are exempt.

-If insurance cost is more than 25 percent of total filming budget, the city may issue a waiver.

-Public comment period continues through Friday.

A broad coalition of artists and filmmakers is pressuring the NYC Mayor's Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting to amend the rules, arguing they infringe on constitutional rights, don't make sense and give authorities legal cover for arbitrary enforcement.

Photo from AM-NY

We live in Queens, and we read!

The city must think that we don't read books over here:

Boro comes up short on library funds

The Queens Library last year received $5.09 for each library patron visit, about two-thirds of the amount received by the Brooklyn Public Library and the New York Public Library, which serves Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island, says the report, "Library Funding: Subsidies Rebound, Disparities Remain."

Per-user visit funding for the Brooklyn Public Library was $7.42, and for the NYPL it was $7.95.

NYC, Communist China a lot alike

To house the new arrivals, the government is increasingly slapping eviction notices on low-rise apartment buildings and small houses in the central areas, with the goal of freeing up land that can be used for high-rise apartment blocks.

Meanwhile, the ancient neighborhoods of Beijing, including the old courtyard houses in the hutongs, or narrow cobbled alleys, radiating outward from the Forbidden City, are rapidly vanishing. Residents mention rumors that those who refuse to sell old homes are evicted or beaten by the agents of property developers. The official newspaper, called People's Daily, has reported that courts have begun to refuse to hear cases brought by evicted residents. According to the newspaper, court officials feel their calendars are too crowded.

"The soul of this city is diminished when little features like the Spirit Screen Wall … are torn down to make room for some generic apartment complex," mourned a columnist in That's Beijing, a monthly English-language magazine. The erasure of old Beijing, he argues, "represents … a sort of myopic megalomania."

'4 Manhattans a year'

Photo from MSN

Know your 2009 mayoral candidates

While Mr. Ferrer often attacked Mr. Bloomberg, Mr. Carrion has aligned himself with the mayor, particularly on big development projects. He did not, however, shy away from criticizing the so-called pay to play legislation Mr. Bloomberg and Ms. Quinn joined together to pass, which caps campaign contributions from those who do business with the city.

"If I were a billionaire 13 times over, I would be able to easily say what he says," Mr. Carrion said. "I have great respect for Mike Bloomberg. I think he's been a great mayor, but the suggestion and the implication that political contributions corrupt the process flies in the face of American history from the beginning."

Carrion: ‘Gracie Mansion Is Ready for Family Life Again'

The Bronx president said that while he believes the attempts to improve the system were sincere he took the politically conservative position that "the free market" should not limit anybody's participation in the political process.

"It essentially implies that all political contributions and all political activity, unless it's giving from their household budget, is fundamentally, I don't want to say corrupt, fundamentally corruptible, and that's insulting," he said.

Mr. Carrion has taken some criticism for accepting campaign contributions from developers and for backing projects that faced community opposition, including the Gateway Center, which critics said was a sweetheart deal. Last year, he drew ire when he replaced several community board members after they voted against the Yankee Stadium plan.

SHPO jokes keep on coming

Amsterdam Houses, a cluster of 13 public housing buildings behind Lincoln Center on Manhattan's Upper West Side, marked its 60th anniversary with a three days of celebration that included a moonlight Circle Line cruise on Friday and an entertainment-packed afternoon program yesterday.

Amsterdam Houses Celebrate 60 Years

According to the preservation group, Landmark West!, which in 2005 added Amsterdam Houses to its list of buildings that merit landmark protection, the state of New York has determined that the complex is eligible to be placed on the state and national registers of historic places.

Amsterdam Houses Celebrates 60th Anniversary

Enough with the housing projects already! Are these the landmarks that best represent this city? Don't enough of our tax dollars already go toward the maintenance of these ugly structures? Why would we celebrate this part of the legacy of Robert Moses who may possibly be the king tweeder of all time?

Let the spraying begin!


Application to Take Place Thursday, August 2, Friday, August 3, and Monday, August 6, 2007 between the Hours of 6:00 A.M. and 9:00 P.M., Weather Permitting

To control mosquitoes, the Health Department will apply larvicide by helicopter to marsh and other non-residential areas of Queens. Weather permitting, larvicide will be applied on Thursday, August 2, Friday, August 3, and Monday, August 6, 2007 from 6:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M. each day. In case of bad weather, the Health Department will begin the morning of Friday, August 3 or the next possible day. While three days are allotted for this activity, the application may be completed in less time.

The areas to be treated appear below. These are marshy, natural areas, which are common breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Due to their size and difficulty to reach by ground vehicles, these areas will be treated with larvicide from a low-flying helicopter.

Douglaston/Oakland Gardens - Alley Pond Park Marsh
Areas inside Alley Pond Park
11361, 11363, 11362, 11364

Linden Hill/College Point - Abandoned Flushing Airport
Marsh areas bounded by 20th Avenue to the North; 130th Ave and Ulmer Street to the West; Ulmer street and 28th Street to the South, and Whitestone Expressway to the East
11691, 11692

Edgemere/Somerville - Dubos Point and Edgemere Park
Marsh areas bounded by Norton basin to the East, Mott Point to the North, Grass Hassock Channel to the West, and Beach 65th Street, Decosta Avenue and Almeda Avenue to the South
11691, 11692

During West Nile Virus season, New Yorkers can report dead birds or standing water online at http://www.nyc.gov/health/wnv. For more information about West Nile virus, call 311 or visit http://www.nyc.gov/health/wnv.

Thank you to Queens Civic Congress for passing along this info.

Bob on congestion pricing

Johnny's loo in appropriately-named Flushing

Come September, pedestrians in downtown Flushing with the urge and two bits will be able to answer the call of nature in the borough's first public outhouse.

The outdoor unit - one of 20 such models to be placed around the city - will feature a self-flushing toilet, a sink, soap dispenser and a unique cleaning system.

It will be located in Lippman Plaza and will cost a quarter to use.

New toilets a Flushing success

"With [automatic public toilets], there are more urgent considerations than aesthetics," Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) said. "If the city can provide us with a handsome looking toilet, then all the better."

"I just hope that people don't call this one the 'Auto-John' or 'Auto-Loo,'" the councilman quipped.

Pre-war vs. Pre-fab on Astoria Blvd

"Here is another brick "box" at 27-10 Astoria Boulevard. Notice how much it protrudes past the neighboring house, the architecture is an absolute embarrassment when compared to the surrounding architecture.

Here is an example of the existing prewar archi- tecture.

Compare the two structures:

The old building: Notice the elegant use of arches, intricate brickwork, and charming touches such as Mediterranean roof tiles on the parapet and the hedge which fully surrounds the building. The best architecture has a theme this building was designed to resemble, a Romanesque castle.

The new building: The white molding, cornices, and window keystones are a good start. In this case the architect/developer failed to use any more appealing elements (probably) to save cash, such as the contrasting brickwork, delicate arches, or subtle touches on the parapet present in the old building to complement the molding. In this case the white molding and the bright puke colored brick make an unsightly combination. This building has no apparent theme.

Also, notice how many new developments have the first floor covered in white concrete with the horizontal stripes running across, this scheme is typical of Manhattan buildings and is quite rare in Queens architecture, its a hint as to whom the developers are catering to, the exiled Manhattan crowd.

My point is that architecture does not have to be ugly, simple things such choosing a brick color scheme that complements surrounding structures, a hedge, or the patterned brickwork on the old building would allow many of the new buildings to properly complement their surroundings." - anonymous

Monday, July 30, 2007

'Fat Boy' gets no respect

That the statue is in disrepair is above dispute: It's dirty, and its marble is crumbling. The argument is over whether to do anything about it.

The district manager of Queens Community Board 9, Mary Ann Carey, wants the statue restored. In June, she sent letters to Mayor Bloomberg and Deputy Mayor Patricia Harris, as well as figures in the New York art world, asking for support. At their June meeting, the members of the Kew Gardens Civic Association voted overwhelmingly in support of restoring the statue. In recent weeks, the president of the Fine Arts Federation of New York — a consortium of arts groups including the National Sculpture Society, the Municipal Art Society, and the Architectural League of New York — Tomas Rossant, sent letters to the New York City Parks Commissioner, Adrian Benepe, and Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, advocating that the sculpture be conserved.

‘Fat Boy' Vs. Feminists

Ms. Marshall, however, is no fan of "Fat Boy," as the statue's detractors call it. She has called the statue sexist and said she has no interest in restoring it — in fact, she wishes it were somewhere else. Mr. Benepe, meanwhile, says that he would like to see the statue restored but that the Parks Department doesn't have the money — between $1 million and $2 million, according to a Department estimate — required to both restore the marble and make its fountain function again.

Please go back and reread the post about the Staten Island diner so you can see how Benepe and Marshall managed to prove our last point...

Photo from NYC Parks Department

Essay on California (could be about NYC)

Thanks to George the Atheist for submitting this:

EDITORIAL OBSERVER; Trying Times Ahead: The Prospect of 60 Million Californians
Published: July 18, 2007, NY Times

Recently, the California Department of Finance projected that there will be some 60 million people living in the state by 2050. At present there are 36 million. The numbers in themselves are frightening enough, but what I find terrifying is the bland assumption that a two-thirds increase in population is inevitable and that the main problem will be creating the infrastructure necessary to house, feed, educate, transport and govern all those people. To me, the main problem is how to keep them from showing up in the first place.

Somehow the numbers in themselves don't really suggest the sobering weight of this projection. To say that for every three Californians now there will be five in 2050 doesn't capture the scale of change. If you said that for every three houses now there will be five in 2050, or for every three cars, ditto, you might be getting a little closer to the visceral feel of the thing. But when it comes to houses and cars, California is a land of loaves and fishes, always multiplying in the most unexpected ways. To live in the state is to live with unrelenting change, whether you like it or not, and it has been that way for decades.

But this population increase will mean more than filling up San Bernardino, Riverside and Kern Counties and paving the entire midsection of the state and creating impromptu day-schools and conference centers in stopped traffic. We tend to talk about humans as if they were interchangeable -- as if the Californian of 1957 were somehow equivalent to the Californian of 2007. But today's Californian consumes far more, if you consider consumption in its broadest sense. Draw pictures of those two Californians to the scale of their consumption, and the present-day resident would dwarf his ancestor.

There's a chance that a mid-21st-century Californian will look back in horror at the enormous consumption footprint of someone living in the state right now. That sense of horror would be good news -- a sign that the coming generations had taken to heart that the way we live now, even in its current dimensions, is unsustainable. The trouble, of course, is that a population projection like this one more or less takes it for granted that not much will have changed by 2050. Otherwise, there wouldn't be 60 million people in the state.

The point of thinking about the future is to help us think about the present. This population forecast is a vivid reminder of the assumptions that make meaningful change so hard. We can't help believing in growth. We can't help believing that the way to create change is simply to buy different stuff, so growth doesn't stop. And we refuse to think seriously about the number of human beings on this planet, a kind of growth that somehow seems ''natural'' to us. It makes no difference how little each of those 60 million Californians will consume in 2050. The number cannot be negative. It's nearly impossible to imagine how they could meet their water needs alone.

And then there is the impact of all those people on the other species with which they might have shared the Golden State. In 2007, we remain blindly impervious to the life-claims of almost all other forms of life -- to the moral stipulation that their right to life is equivalent to ours. How it will be then I do not know, but if there are indeed 60 million people living in California in 2050, there will be nothing meaningful to be said on the matter, except as a subject of nostalgia.

We like to take it for granted that we're moving ahead in environmental consciousness. We like to hope that the curve of our environmental awareness will catch up to the curve of our economic growth and things will somehow come into balance. But faith in our progressive enlightenment seems a little misplaced to me, especially when I remember a speech that James Madison gave to his local agricultural society nearly 190 years ago.

Madison said, simply, that we have no reason to suppose that all of Earth's resources, which support so much living diversity, can rightfully be commandeered to support mankind alone. It seems incredible to me, in 2007, that a former president could articulate such an environmentally sound principle of conscience. But it's a principle that should move to the very center of our thinking. It should cause us to re-examine not just how we shop and what we drive and who we elect but also how our species reproduces. It should cause us to re-imagine that once and future California, which lies only 43 years away, and make sure that it isn't barren of all but us humans.

"Klinkenborg MUST have been reading Queens Crap where I previously mentioned:


- George

Penny pinching

I was reading the article "Every Penny Counts" in the NYT's Real Estate section this weekend and came across this interesting quote:

"About 15 percent of the Manhattan apartments currently listed by the Corcoran Group and Citi Habitats, and about 30 percent of those in Brooklyn, are less than $450,000. In the Bronx, 38 percent of the listings are under $450,000, according to the Bronx-Manhattan North Association of Realtors; on Staten Island, the figure is 43 percent, according to the local Board of Realtors; and in Queens, 17 percent, according to the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island."

So statistically, Queens is not *that* much cheaper than Manhattan! No wonder we have such a high foreclosure rate.


Yet another bus route change for Atlas Park

Guess two buses to the mall isn't enough...

More traffic woes may await dozens of Glendale residents still fuming over a transit reroute that, for weeks now, has brought the Q54 bus down their traffic-clogged street on its way to Atlas Park mall. Now, the mall’s development director, Damon Hemmerdinger, is seeking another reroute — this time to the Q23 — in hopes of luring more customers from Forest Hills.

Developer Seeks Q23 Reroute, But Locals Poised To Oppose

Since taking effect in July, the reroute has infuriated homeowners along Cooper Avenue, who insisted that they had been left out of the decision-making process. The change, they asserted, has brought more unwelcome noise, air pollution and congestion to an area already plagued by daily traffic snags. And another rerouted bus, they say, will only make matters worse.

"These buses are pulling down tree branches, traffic is a disaster, driveways are blocked, horns are honking for three minutes at a time," said Glendale dad Marcos Pagan. "Q54 is creating a traffic hell — so to hear that they want to add another bus to this mess comes as a slap in the face."

Thought that everyone was going to take the bus to the mall, so why is there so much traffic? Oh, wait...

...if greening the city were such a high priority for mall developers, their decision to install two parking garages at Atlas Park with 1,400 spaces seems “questionable,” Pagan said.

Photo from Queens Chronicle

Queens is no Staten Island

Turns out Staten Islanders can't bear to lose their Victory Diner. That was the consensus of the Parks Department, a bank foundation, the Staten Island Advance and borough leaders who've come up with cash and a plan for buying and moving the classic chrome-and-neon restaurant from Dongan Hills to the Ocean Breeze waterfront.

Molinaro has set aside $6 million for the future construction of a "kiddie" amusement park in that area. When Paulo approached him about relocating the diner there, he said it made perfect sense.

Hey, Helen Marshall, how about $6 million towards the purchase of St. Saviour's?

The Richmond County Savings Foundation had the same enthusiastic response.

Hey, Maspeth Federal Savings, how about the same enthusiastic support for a landmark in your own backyard ... oh, wait, you sold the mortgage to St. Saviour's owners because your president thinks the "decrepit" buildings on the site are "not worthy of landmarking".

"The Parks Department has long been a repository for historic structures," said [Commissioner Adrian] Benepe. "We thought we could combine historic preservation with an opportunity to provide amenities to the park."

Oh, fantastic, Adrian! How about pushing to get more parks funding so you can do the same for St. Saviour's?

A vintage diner, saved

This was just a week before:

Borough President Molinaro has built a well-deserved reputation for "thinking outside the box" to improve our quality of life. Here's an extraordinary chance to demonstrate that talent at a relatively small cost to the city.

We urge him and Staten Island's City Council members to get in touch with Parks Department officials and his friends in the mayor's office to seize this fleeting opportunity before it's too late.

Save the Victory

These same officeholders and institutions in Queens can't come together to save a piece of our history the way the SI guys are coming together to save a greasy spoon. All they do here is say how much they would like historical sites in Queens to be saved while they make excuses as to why what is being asked for can't be done. Speaks volumes about who is in control here and whose bidding they are doing, doesn't it? Inaction speaks louder than words.

Photo from Forgotten-NY

St. Saviour's: before and after

April 2007:

New York City, the Big Apple, is going green.

In a green vision extravaganza on Earth Day in New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg laid out a blindingly ambitious 25-year plan to turn New York into America's urban green giant by 2030.

A million new trees, green rooftops, new parks...

"If not now, when?" asked the mayor.

On behalf of the people of Maspeth, the Crapper would like to thank you so much for looking out for us, Mr. Mayor! The following photos show just how committed you are to the greening of our neighborhood.

Photo 1: June 2005
Photo 2: July 2007
Photo 3: June 2006
Photo 4: July 2007

Here are more hugs and kisses from the 'hood:

Neighbor decries St. Saviour's tree destruction

Photos from Juniper Park Civic Association

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Brooklyn brownstoners go ballistic

The people of Clinton Hill went cuckoo for cocoa brown after they saw some primer being painted on a brownstone in an historic district.

Turns out it was just primer, says the Daily News.

Imagine how great Queens would look like if people here cared as much.

The Courier & overdevelopment

Isn't all this building just great!

Here's a special issue of the Queens Courier dedicated to promoting the overdevelopment of our borough.

Queens Is Booming
Building for the future of Queens

Notice how there are no people telling the "other side" of the story - those asking for downzoning, infrastructure improvements, questioning the availability of affordable housing or the wisdom of building on the waterfront when we are one Category 4 hurricane away from disaster.

The other QC likes Atlas Park and Queens West so much, they printed them twice!

Check out these other "news" stories:

Luxurious living at Novo 64 in Forest Hills
Luxurious townhomes nestled along the Waterfront
Skyline Commons - a life-care community
Riverview’s artistic apartments
Vantage Properties - Quality housing at affordable prices

Great work, Vick & company.

2 wacky murders in Queens yesterday


Police made a stunningly gruesome discovery in Queens yesterday: the body of a bound and murdered man who had his penis sliced off.

The emasculated victim was found at about 1:15 p.m. in the living room of the top floor at 436 Beach 69th St. in the Rockaways, cops said.


A Queens man brutally beat his own mother to death with a barbell last night, police said.

Cops received a 911 call of a woman assaulted at 65-82 160th Street in Fresh Meadows at about 11:15 p.m.


You noticed the almost-full moon last night, right? Well tonight's the fully-full moon.

From space.com:

July 29, 8:48 p.m. EDT - The Full Buck Moon, when the new antlers of buck deer push out from their foreheads in coatings of velvety fur. It was also often called the Full Thunder Moon, thunderstorms being now most frequent. Sometimes also called the Full Hay Moon.

Slave labor in Corona

An Indian man who claims he was kept as a slave in Queens for years says he was repeatedly told "this is what happens to people with brown skin" and shown news clippings of terrorists jailed at Guantanamo Bay.


The lawsuit levels a host of charges at the Sharmas, including human trafficking, false imprisonment, forced labor, involuntary servitude, breach of contract and fraud, and seeks at least $1.2 million in lost wages.

More SHPO hypocrisy

Maybe someone from the State Historic Preser- vation Office can explain why the Hubbard House in Brooklyn (seen in before and after photos here) was deemed eligible for National Register status despite having been drastically altered, yet St. Saviour's Church in Queens, which basically suffered limited fire damage and was later clad in aluminum siding, was rejected for not being "intact" enough. Waiting with bated breath....
Photos from Brooklyn Museum

Bob on water rate increase

Farewell to Broadway Station

Recently, as you may or may not know, the MTA has been renovating our Broadway station of the LIRR... supposedly to make it handicap accessible.
While the 93-year old platforms were in a state of disrepair, I'm quite upset at the fact that they were unceremoniously bulldozed.

The platform and surrounding bridges etc were built in 1913. Most of the platforms etc have been demolished, except for one staircase which was repaired (with new stairs on the old foundation) and a couple other areas of foundation... as well as the underground passage.


Kevin from Forgotten -NY offers his own take on the situation (and photos):
"...the city let it go to hell for decades till it had deter- iorated so much they had no choice but to re-do it.

Some main- tenance over the years, and it wouldn't have been necessary but, that's how it's done here.

The same design can be found at Hollis."

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Judge rejects civic's suit vs. DOB

A Queens judge recently ruled against a Glendale Civic Association lawsuit which accused the city Buildings Department of not enforcing its own rules, a lawyer for the civic said.

Queens Supreme Court Justice Marguerite Grays decided that the suit was without merit because the association had no standing as a civic group...

Judge tosses Glendale Civic DOB suit

Glendale elected officials and residents have long been critical of the DOB, accusing the agency of failing to prevent the illegal conversion of buildings and overdevelopment in the neighborhood and not punishing developers for violating building codes.

If the people who live in a community don't have standing on city issues, then who the hell does?

Queens masses starting to revolt!

Samuel Henderson Sr. moved to Queens 40 years ago for its "light, the air, the space in front of the house to park the car," but said the family neighborhoods are changing as developers buy up properties.

"The downzoning [in residential areas] doesn't go far enough, and the city agencies have admitted to [CB 12's] ad hoc committee that they're not prepared for the proposed growth," he said.

City Council hears views on rezoning

Community members and civic leaders are so irate over the proposed Jamaica rezoning that they are calling on city politicians to fix parts of the plan targeting residential areas.

Residents irate over rezoning

Joining the Jamaica Estates Civic Association and the Briarwood Community Organization, the Community Board 12 Committee has called on the city to remove the Hillside Avenue corridor from the zoning proposal. The associations opposed to this part of the plan say it will promote too much growth in an area whose infrastructure cannot handle it.

Why don't these people recognize "progress" when they see it?

Photo from Queens Courier

No Parking On The Grass

Dear Editor (of the Queens Chronicle):

Re: “No Parking On The Grass,” Queens Chronicle, July 19.

The claim by the Parks and Recreation manager of Flushing Meadows Park, William Gilbert, that parking on the grass in Flushing Meadows will no longer be tolerated is to be taken with some degree of skepticism given the lackluster history of the Parks Department in the management of the park. The notion that parking on the grass would be permitted during so-called “overlapping special events” is unacceptable.

At a time when Mayor Michael Bloomberg is pushing for congestion pricing to cut down on vehicular traffic into Manhattan, Gilbert ignores the fact that public transportation for both Shea Stadium and the United States Tennis Association exists adjacent to the park. Parking for Mets and USTA fans should be restricted to stadium parking lots. If overflow fans of both the Mets and the USTA are unwilling to use public transportation, let them stay home.

If Gilbert and other Parks officials do not understand that parks are for park users and do not stand up to the Mets and USTA management — which is what this is all about — and that under no circumstances will fan parking be allowed anywhere in the park, grassland or asphalt, then they are not doing their job as protector of parkland and they should seek other employment.

Benjamin Haber
Civic Association of Kew Garden Hills

Ben, you surely are familiar with the human clusterf*ck that happens on the way into the Shea Stadium subway/LIRR stations after Mets games. This is why people drive to the game. Maybe if the MTA solves that problem and runs better public transportation after games (not everyone lives along the 7 train or Port Washington line and most buses run like crap at night), more people will leave their cars home. But why would they do that? The city and the Mets are making more money this way.

Photos from The Park Watchdog

Dangerous Signs

Dear Editor (Queens Chronicle):

Lately I have been seeing more and more portable signs put on sidewalks by realtors to advertise Open Houses. Just today, there were freestanding metal signs advertising open houses on three of four corners at the intersection of 63rd Drive and Queens Boulevard. There was also one placed on the center island between the east and westbound traffic lanes.

I find it hard to believe these signs are legal. They are not secured to anything and a sudden gust of wind could easily pick one up and throw it into the windshield of an oncoming car, truck or bus — with possible injuries or fatal consequences. Not to mention that these signs were placed right smack in the middle of pedestrian traffic areas where they could easily cause problems for the elderly, handicapped or visually impaired.

These signs are an annoyance and a visual blight on the neighborhood. The placement of these signs by realtors seems to be a growing phenomenon all over the country and there are many localized efforts taking place to crack down on the offenders and stop this practice.

If realtors want to advertise, let them do it in any of the many traditional, accepted ways, such as print, radio, TV, Internet or direct mail. If we allow realtors to place signage anywhere they wish to drum up traffic to their product — regardless of any safety or aesthetic concerns — then we have to allow anyone who wants to sell anything to do it.

This is a dangerous and ugly practice and the city needs to step in and order the police or Department of Transportation to identify and prosecute the businesses and individuals who are doing it.

Rich Trachtenberg
Rego Park

See also: Strategic placement of signs

Is diner done for good?

Once a neighborhood favorite, Carmichael’s Diner on Guy Brewer Boulevard in South Jamaica has remained dark and locked for almost two years.

Neighborhood Diner Remains In Limbo Two Years Later

...when owner King Carmichael died about two years ago, the diner shut down. Today, the front sign is fading and the inside remains empty. Scrawled in black marker, a closed sign is plastered on the front door.

Photo from Queens Chronicle

"Preservationists" OUTRAGED by news racks

This was sent to us by a member of the Municipal Art Society. Apparently, the group is rallying its members to fight a war against ugly news racks. While these things certainly are an eyesore, many Queens preservationists may become OUTRAGED that one of the leading preservation groups in the city seems more worried about this problem than the neglect, desecration and destruction of numerous Queens historic properties such at the New York State Pavilion, Hackett Building, Trylon Theater and St. Saviour's Church. We couldn't find any section of their website dedicated to these atrocities.

Perhaps MAS could sponsor an essay contest about how Manhattan-centric retiree and housewife preservationists couldn't find Queens on a map.


Photo from Municipal Art Society

Crap, Russian style

You know the old expression "money doesn't buy class." Attached is an ad in a Russian-language paper for a super luxury condo on Manhattan's West Side designed by Jean Nouvel. Notice the misspelled words on the ad. The buyers may be rich, but don't assume they're literate.



Friday, July 27, 2007

Go west, young deer!

Bambi sighted - Oh, Deer!

Apparently, the animal had run up the Long Island Expressway ramp that borders on the Little Neck Bay wetlands in the early morning hours of Wednesday, June 6. According to Douglaston resident [Dawn] Anatra, it headed west on 53rd Avenue, which leads back to a wild area bordering the wetlands.

She should not have been shocked, according to a spokesperson for the Parks Department, who told The Queens Courier, “There are deer in many of Queens’ Parks.”

And now, a more recent sighting:

The deer sighting in Douglaston, reported in The Queens Courier on June 14, was no fairy tale. There are two, probably a doe and her fawn, according to a Parks Department source, and they’re heading west.

Visions of venison

Department of Transportation workers spotted two deer moving along a green space in Kew Gardens, about three weeks ago.

Read QC's deer prediction from April 1st:

Oh, deer!

100-year old Brooklyn tree to be destroyed

Visited Curbed this morning, and saw a link to a sad post:

The board of directors at 145 Hicks is trying to take down the huge elm tree in front of the building. This is one of the most venerable and lovely of our trees, is in perfect health, and removing it would be a terrible loss to our neighborhood. lease consider doing a piece about this. Shareholders and residents on the block are in the process of having any removal action stopped.

Buh Bye Big Elm Tree

According to a comment on BHB, the deed is already done:


Virus is back

For the first time this year, the West Nile virus has been detected in mosquitoes collected in Queens and on Long Island.

Mosquitoes with West Nile Found in Queens, L.I.

However, no humans or animals have tested positive for the virus.

The Queens's sample was detected on July 17 in Flushing.

'W' is for worst

Now here's something to be proud of:

Straphangers report says W is for worst

Subway riders in Astoria have the dubious distinction of living on the worst subway line in New York, according to the Straphangers Campaign, which ranked the W train at the bottom of its 2007 list due to overcrowding and long waits for passengers.

Stop the BS of the BSA

City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) renewed his call for the city to create an oversight board to monitor one of the city's most powerful and least-policed groups: the Board of Standards and Appeals.

Powerful BSA needs city oversight: Avella

Avella forced a hearing Tuesday on a piece of legislation he penned almost four years ago, calling on the Council to create an oversight committee for the Board of Standards and Appeals. Avella said he hopes to have a vote on the bill despite key opposition from Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan).

It's becoming clear where Clairol Christine stands on issues important to Queens and to whose interests she's beholden.

Hollis Hills retaining wall collapses

Funny...a retaining wall collapses on the Upper West Side and it's covered as though it's Armageddon. You have to dig through the local weeklies to find anything about travesties like this one here in Queens:

Neighbors Say Collapsed Wall Shows Property Danger

Photo from Queens Chronicle

Fort Totten park plan

Within three years, Queens residents will be enjoying more wide-open spaces at Fort Totten Park in Bayside.

Community Board 7’s Parks Committee unanimously approved the master plan for the park at a special meeting held in the chapel at the decommissioned fort last Thursday.

Wish List Created For Fort Totten Parkland

That's great, but there is no mention of the historic buildings that are falling apart. What is being done about them?

Row over rowhouses

The historic houses, located on the west side of 72nd Avenue between Austin Street and Queens Boule- vard, are currently selling for about $4 million, with realtors advertising four offices, 11 apartments and — most troubling for some locals — air rights that would allow future owners to modify or raze the structures.

“Why,” asked Perlman, “should properties that tell the story of the evolution of Forest Hills feed a landfill?”

Because developers want it that way and they run the city.

Commission Rejects Request To Landmark Forest Hills Site

This is cute. Katz scolding the Landmarks Commission:

The commission’s own data appear to bolster some of Perlman’s charges. According to figures obtained by Councilwoman Melinda Katz’s office, there are a total of 53 historic districts in Manhattan, in contrast to six in Queens. Additionally, there are 16 in Brooklyn, nine in the Bronx and three in Staten Island.

“The commission’s own data does reveal a stark disparity in the number of historic districts in Manhattan and throughout the rest of the city,” said James McClellan, a Katz spokesman.

Why do you think that is, James?

UWS wall collapse update

Does it surprise anyone that there had been a slew of complaints about the construction site on the Upper West Side before the wall collapse and that the company responsible had racked violations up to its eyeballs on other jobs?

Collapse of Wall Under Apartment House Exposes Neighbors’ Anger

Hey, that wall's gonna fall!

New York City wall collapse site had complaints

UWS Residents Still Waiting To Go Home After Wall Collapse

After Wall Collapse, Angry Tenants’ Rally Has Its Restraints

Photo from NY Times

Crap on Ash

Good day.

Here we have what was once a salon, shoe repair and a grocery store along Ash Avenue between Kissena Blvd. and Bowne Street. The shoe repair has been there since the 1970's. Around the corner on Bowne Street, all of the shops are closed. The building is being torn down. We can only guess what is going up.


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Hip-hop huh?

Ex-tenant DJ Kool Herc's parties in the building's rec room were hip-hop's Big Bang...

The Bronx address is now eligible for the State and National Register of Historic Places and could even, despite its tender age, squeak by as a National Historic Landmark.

Will Hip-Hop Landmark Be Saved From the Open Market?

Not sure I understand why a guy hosting hip hop parties in the 1970s makes this building eligible for listing on the national register. Over in Queens, many historical buildings have failed to "meet the eligibility criteria," meaning that they were found to not be "associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad pattern of our history" or disqualified for some other stupid reason. A Richard Upjohn church, a theater connected to the 1939 World's Fair? These things shouldn't be preserved in their twisted way of thinking.

Hip-Hop Founder Kool Herc Want His Home Declare National LandMark Status

...to be eligible for the National Register, a building normally has to be at least 50 years old. The Sedgwick building falls short of that by 12 years. Exceptions are made for extraordinary cultural significance.

“It is complicated when you try to preserve some other feature of a building besides its architecture,” said Lisa Kersavage, a preservationist at the Municipal Art Society of New York. “But this is a very important cultural touchstone for New York, and awareness should be raised.”

(Of course, Municipal Art Society is thrilled with the Bronx designation.)

Photo from Chron.com