Sunday, September 30, 2007

Two things really sucked at Shea today

Councilwoman Melinda Katz sang "God Bless America" at Shea Stadium today and it wasn't a good day for either the Mets or Katz.

The Mets trailed 8-1 when Katz took the field in the bottom of the 7th and her off-key rendition of the song, made famous by Kate Smith, certainly did not help the home team who lost a chance to make the playoffs in the most monumental collapse in baseball history.

If anyone has video of this post it on YouTube and send us a link.

Queens delegation united: LET'S GO METS!

Queens politician Melinda Katz will sing at Shea

Saving an old tree in Douglaston

To Jamie Sutherland, a 130-year-old European weeping beech near the Long Island Rail Road ticket station in Douglaston is more than a tree. It's a neighborhood icon.

The rare, 50-foot tree - in need of special care because of its age and condition - stands in a traffic circle where it shades a memorial to World War I veterans. Its branches hang down in a near circle, touching the ground.

"There's a lot of pride in Douglaston about that tree," said Sutherland.

The city's Landmarks Preservation Commission determined that "the tree does not rise to the level of an individual New York City landmark," spokeswoman Kate Daly said.

A tree movement takes root in Douglaston

Sutherland said, "We need to do anything we can to save that tree. It's like a person. It distinguishes our community and represents a lot of history. It isn't just any tree."

A flood of complaints

Almost 200 Queens homeowners have inundated the city with more than $4 million in claims for summer flood damage they say the city should have prevented.


The residents blame old, insufficient sewers for the mess on Aug. 8, when three inches of rain fell in an hour, crippling the subway system and flooding homes.

Fighting to save the Elmhurst Library

The Elmhurst Community Library, a Georgian Revival building on Broadway and 51st Avenue in Queens, lacks the architectural splendor of New York’s more famous libraries. No stone lions guard its steps; no fluted columns bolster its facade.

Seeking Protection for a Library With a Fabled Past

But some buildings are prized for their heritage more than their looks. That may partly explain a recent wave of enthusiasm for protecting the Elmhurst building and 56 others known collectively as the Carnegie Libraries.

Photo from NY Times

Long-time homeowners at a loss

The Johnson sisters thought they were safe; their father paid off the house before he died in 1995. But hard times began five years later, when their mother, who had only limited health insurance, took out a loan on the house to help pay for her double-bypass surgery. She died the next year, and three years ago, in 2004, Lisa Johnson decided to refinance the mortgage.

To this day, she does not understand exactly what happened, but somehow the refinanced mortgage ended up costing the family $2,700 a month. With Chantée’s pay as a bus driver and Lisa’s as a data-entry clerk and a production assistant for a clothing firm, the sisters could not handle the payments. They defaulted on the mortgage last fall.

“Sometimes,” Lisa Johnson said ruefully, “ignorance can get you in a lot of trouble.”

Stranger at the Door

“They often just don’t understand the financial transaction they got involved with,” Ms. Morris said of the borrowers in the area. “They’re not digging their own graves; the brokers, the attorneys and the banks weren’t giving them the correct information.”


In Queens, 130 to 150 homes a week enter foreclosure, said Jessica Davis, president of Profiles Publications, which lists foreclosed properties.

"Last year at this time, you were seeing 60, maybe 70 max," she said. "It's troubling, and we have no way of knowing when that's going to start slowing down."

Foreclosure 'rescuer' is your best pal - and then he cons you out of home

Photo from NY Times

Teardowns a disaster

The problem is teardowns — the practice of buying a house just to demolish it and put up a larger one in its place. Sounds innocuous enough, but in an older neighborhood, teardowns can be a disaster. This pattern of replacing architecturally distinctive homes with large new structures that loom over their neighbors ultimately destroys the very qualities that make the neighborhood appealing to newcomers and longtime residents alike.

That Old House

Sadly, the New York metropolitan area is at the center of this epidemic...teardowns destroy more than houses. Neighborhood livability is diminished as trees are removed, backyards are eliminated and sunlight is blocked by bulky new structures built right up to the property lines. Economic and social diversity are reduced as costly new houses replace more affordable ones, including the modest “starter homes” that our parents knew and that first-time homebuyers still search for today. As teardowns proliferate and once-quiet streets turn into construction zones, residents find themselves pitted against developers and begin to feel they’ve lost control of the place they call home.

Letter from an Auburndale resident

"So now trees are being cut down, we can hear the trains all the way down by PS107 now, what happens without the noise buffer! Can’t we just be a little more intelligent with the city’s decisions!!!!

Please help!! Anyone!!!! Bueller… Bueller…"

- T.

Slip-Sliding Away

Assault & Battery Tunnel

"Replacing an 82-year-old home that stood on the site, this McMansion on Annandale Lane in Little Neck is being built on an angle to make it face Little Neck Parkway so passing motorists will be able to feast their eyes on the brown-bricked pile of poop. Taking up every square inch of property and nearly projecting out into the street motorists may wind up driving their cars though its expansive arched entranceway in the mistaken impression that it’s a tunnel. Capitalizing on the opportunity the construction worker out front might collect fares in the wheelbarrow he’s pushing."

- Ken Klinger
Queens Crap ensign

And here's the "before" shot:

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Comptroller: What's Pinky renting??

According to the city Comptroller, Councilman Dennis Gallagher has submitted at least one highly questionable expense for the good taxpayers of New York to cover on his pink behalf. Gallagher apparently asked for $8,100 in rent expenses without any evidence of a lease.

Gallagher, Sanders Hit In New Audit

Note to Dennis: Hotels with hourly rates don't come with leases.

DEP & flooding is a topic borough wide


Immediately after the rezoning was approved, the city's Buildings Department required that any new manufacturing and residential buildings within the rezoned areas must be reviewed by the Department of Environmental Protection for certification of their sewage and storm systems, according to a spokeswoman for the DOB.

Jamaica residents grill CB over new sewer inspections

"If the developer does not get certification by the DEP, then they cannot develop the property," Robert Holbrook, the city's Department of Planning liaison, explained to the board.

Residents had complaints that the rezoning was moving too quickly and that not enough was being done to improve the less-than-adequate infrastructure in the community. Many residents blamed the poor sewage and street construction for the floods unleashed by summer storms on July 18 and Aug. 8.

Let me guess, they can self-certify their DEP plans too, right?

Middle Village:

“We need a new system,” said Juniper Civic President Robert Holden at his group’s bi-monthly meeting last Thursday. “We’re the backbone of the city, we pay taxes and we want better services for it. “But we’re not going to wait in line while they keep sending (services) to Manhattan.”

Flooded Locals Demand Sewer Fix

...civic members argue that infrastructure upgrades would only do so much to stem future flooding problems. Holden believes rapid overdevelopment is also contributing to the flooding, as the spread of multi-family homes increasingly overwhelms the area’s drainage systems. Still, with a 2005 proposal to downzone portions of northern Middle Village awaiting certification from city planners, relief may be a long way coming.

City hall hearing:

"I don't want to get into why this happened, whether it's from poor sewage infrastructure or poor infrastructure management or global warming," Gennaro said. "I want solutions because, to be perfectly frank, the status quo is unacceptable."

Gennaro grills DEP on boro floods

What to do about it:

If Mayor Mike Bloomberg looked to London’s congestion pricing as a model for how to handle New York City’s traffic problem, perhaps Queens elected officials could turn to another one of the 722 communities nationwide operating on a combined sewer system for an approach to flood management.

A Rising Tide: Solutions Sought To Handle Overflow

You mean they should do work? HA!

Where 7 trains go to die

Believe it or not, New Jersey...

Retired subway cars make a splash

Orange Jewel house

The house at the intersection on Jewel Avenue and 112th Street in Forest Hills stands out from its neighbors not only because of its orange facade, but also for its size.

House plans irk residents of Jewel Ave

The house at 69-67 112th St. sits on a double lot at the corner and is zoned R1-2, but dwarfs the houses next to it on the Jewel Avenue side of the block. There are multiple complaints lodged with the Department of Buildings about the structure, the most recent of which was called in to 311 in January 2007 and stated that the building did not conform to zoning. An R1-2 zoning designation governs single-family detached houses on lots at least 60 feet wide or at least 5,700 square feet.

The self-certified plans were checked by two plan examiners, and were determined to adhere to zoning, according to a source at the Department of Buildings. But in August 2006 the agency issued a stop work order at the site for construction that did not match plans filed with the Department of Buildings - specifically, a 400-square-foot dormer where the plans called for a gabled roof and a cellar entrance - which was rescinded in November of that year after the plans were amended, the Department of Buildings said.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Sabini charged with D.W.I.

Albany: State Senator Accused of D.W.I.

State Sen. John D. Sabini was arrested early yesterday and charged with driving while intoxicated after he failed to signal a turn and drove down the center of an Albany street, the police said. Mr. Sabini, 50, a Queens Democrat, was pulled over shortly after 1 a.m. after an officer saw his car make the turn, a police spokesman, Detective James Miller, said. Mr. Sabini failed several field sobriety tests and twice refused to take a breath test, Detective Miller said. Calls to Mr. Sabini’s office were not immediately returned last night.

From the NY Post:

"He had an odor of alcohol beverage on him, had slurred speech, had glassy and red eyes and impaired motor skills," Miller said.

Sabini, a former city councilman, represents parts of Corona, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights and Woodside. He was given an Oct. 4 arraignment date in Albany City Court.

Glad to see he's continuing a proud Queens tradition.

Speaking out against Queens stupidity

Now if government officials have the hard working, tax paying public at heart (as we are often told), they should stop the inappropriate overbuilding in this city, especially here in Queens. We are sick of developers and their allies being allowed to threaten property owners and to steal homes and our hopes for some contentment in these very troubled times...Remember, (those of you who want to keep expanding the population and the infrastructures here inordinately), when a lifeboat is full, one more can destroy all. Stop trying to sink our little community ships.

Neighbor to Neighbor: Boro needs protection from overdevelopment

We know that there is a lack of affordable housing in New York City. It should be evident that many illegals-and others-are living under conditions that are at best sub-standard. Every once in awhile we hear of a loss of life in a fire that broke out in a building housing far too many people in too many chopped-up rooms.

I Sit And Look Out: Queens firms profiteer on illegal immigrants

They have managed to suck out the charm of the neighborhood. I wonder if there is anything in the zoning laws to stop this carnage of greenery and beauty.

Forest Hills area denuded

To me, cutting the trees down to prevent leaves from falling on the tracks is like detonating an atomic bomb to kill a few flies. Total overkill! And who is to say that the wind will not blow leaves from other nearby trees onto the tracks? Will the railroad try to destroy these trees as well? And in order to install security fencing, would not pruning existing trees be adequate? Why the need to destroy so many trees? The railroad should be considering other viable alternatives to address their issues.

Stop LIRR from cutting trees on Port Washington line

Cartoon from Queens Courier

Fire smokes out illegal tenants

Four families were left homeless after a four-alarm blaze tore through two two-family houses on 128th Street in Whitestone last Thursday night, injuring four civilians and 11 firefighters.

Fire wrecks 2 homes in Whitestone

According to Fire Department officials, the blaze began in the basement of either 22-43 or 22-47 128th St. and spread quickly through all three stories of both buildings. As of presstime, fire officials declined to comment on a cause for the fire and said they were still investigating the cause.

Jennifer Cordero, who lives at 22-47 128th St., carried away a stack of waterlogged and smoke-damaged framed pictures from her home. She said the fire had started in the basement when a boiler exploded and that if the two basement tenants had been home when the explosion occurred, they would have been killed.

Looks like it was more than 4 families left homeless...

More parkland for eastern Queens

Acquiring Udalls Cove "has been a top priority of funding for the Parks Department," Rosa said of the application, which called in part for "an amendment to the city map involving the establishment of a Park addition" and the elimination of 43rd Avenue between 246th and 247th streets. "You have the unqualified support of the borough president on this."

Save Udalls Cove: Civics

The men have pressed the city to acquire more of the 14-acre ravine in light of recent developers' interest in building single-family homes at the site. Joseph Atarian of the Queens Village-based Atarian Realty, who in February expressed a desire to build three two-family homes and one-family home, has opposed Parks' acquisitions, but has been outflanked by civic groups, Community Board 11 and state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose).

Wow, the city, borough president, area civic associations, the community board and local politicians united against a developer, and it looks like they're going to get their way. This is how it should be. Contrast this with Maspeth, where you have one group fighting to save a neighborhood landmark vs. everyone else on the list who either want to see it destroyed or believe there should be "compromise". Maybe if Maspeth was a wealthier community, things would be different. And that is the sad reality of Queens.

St. John's promoting overdevelopment

At least a dozen of the neighbors of St. John's University's new Henley Road dorm project addressed Community Board 8 last week during the monthly meeting, upset that the negotiations were conducted without community input and worried about its impact on the neighborhood.

Neighbors, CB 8 sound off on St. John's dormitory plan

The six-story, 485-bed dorm is to go up on a sextuple lot at 172-14 Henley Rd. among one- and two-family houses and low-rise multi-unit buildings in a neighborhood where the two sides of the street are zoned differently. The south side is zoned R5, which allows multi-unit residential buildings, and the north side of Henley Road is zoned R1-2, which permits one- and two-family detached houses. Neither zoning designation has a set maximum height if used for a community facility.

Councilman James Gennaro has written a letter to the editor about the situation.

Pictured is an aerial view of the area where they want to build the dorm.

Queens reborn: For better or for worse?

Don't know if you've seen it yet, but there is a new photoblog dedicated to the Queens McMansion:

Queens Reborn: For Better or For Worse

Needs to tweak the layout a bit, but otherwise, it showcases a fine collection of crap.

A Queens native's take on LIC condos

"Hey you want to hear about some real crap, you should check out the losers at Hunters Point Condos and Hunters View. I was at the sales center this week, and the jerk-offs trying to sell apartments there are two guys - one's an idiot the other is a sleaze... I mean I live in Queens my whole life, and everyone is talking about LIC, and I like it there, but why does it seem that all these projects have people that don't know squat about the neighborhood yet they're trying to tell me? I'm surprised they were even able to find it from Manhattan, I mean they have to cross the river and all...

Anyway, they are trying to tell me that I'm going to have Manhattan views but then I look at their web site and see this: Rooftop Gardens

I mean that rendering of the roof deck looks like you're hovering over the water, plus someone there screwed up - either the developer or architect - because now there is one side without any balconies in the Hunters Point condos. Apparently, they didn't realize that someone else is building a building next door and they had to take away those balconies. Plus, who wants to live in front of the LIRR, I read on Queens West that it's really bad. Plus, what is with the marketing "Live Like A Star, Commute Like a Rocket?" How do rockets commute? And what the hell is "Paparazzi Proof"? They have that as a section on their website and in their brochure. Are celebrities moving to Queens?

Then the other shit building that they have, is exactly the same as the first shit building, except it's off of the Pulaski Bridge, and by a major intersection. My wife and I are expecting a baby and don't think it would be safe being right there... What is Brown Harris Stevens doing in Queens anyway? Shouldn't they be selling brownstones to blue haired Upper East Side women who just got Botox? Next thing you know, Sotheby's will be selling McMansions in Astoria...

Anyway just thought I'd vent to you, I felt like the guy was trying to push his apartments too strong and didn't know what he was talking about.. We also went to go see Novo 64 in Forest Hills, what a load of crap that is, it looks like a medical center and is extremely expensive!!! The people over there are idiots also... They should think about hiring kids from Queens College or St. Johns, who are familiar with the area..."


The walls of Jericho

Here's yet another scoop from the Katz litterbox. Check out the "before" photo of 110-15 63rd Drive. Nice yard. And now, after:

This was sent in by a concerned Forest Hills resident.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Helen on tour

Today, at around 3:30pm, I happened to be passing through the intersection of 37th Ave and 73rd Street, and lo and behold, there is Councilwoman Helen Sears, surveying the strip closest to the intersection that she endorsed be used for the installation of additional parking meters. And, lo and behold, she was touring the site with her best friend, Mr. Gandhi, the chair of CB3 and senior member of the Jackson Heights Merchants Assn, which rammed through the vote on that issue without public discussion. And right in front of our eyes, a car pulled up to double-park, waiting for one of those spots to free up. . .and forced the oncoming bus on 73rd Street into the box in the intersection, setting off a traffic jam and horn-honking. What did they do when they saw me? Walked away. Nice to know that when residents let Helen Sears know that they're upset, she calls upon the merchants for counsel. Way to go!

Stan Mieses

Having fun finding your way home

Read what happens when Manhattan children of privilege decide to spend the day slumming it in Long Island City and "Masbeth".

Looking east from the Hunters Point Bridge

They didn't even notice what is across the street from the Clinton Diner.

Photo from BlueJake

Losing the city we love

As it resumed its schedule after the summer, the Dutch Kills Civic Association welcomed Melissa Katz of the Pratt Center for Community Development as a speaker.

'Losing City We Love' Planner Tells Dutch Kills Civic Assn.

She said that while New York remains a great city, she believes it is being taken away from a solid citizenry that should be able to afford it but is being constantly priced out. While the price of everything, including housing, health care and energy, is going up, income for a good part of the working and middle classes is falling, she observed. She added that the current generation believes the next one will be forced to move out of a New York that has become unaffordable. "We're losing the city we love," Katz said.

Pete on the Spitzer ID plan

Pete's unhappy with Eliot's policy on driver licenses:

Why I Oppose Resident ID Cards

Of course, he is not necessarily against illegal immigration, either.

Photo from Queens Gazette

Should the NY Post be censored?

Oh no! Major League Baseball might threaten to never grant another interview to the New York Post until they apologize for this headline, which could be interpreted as a death threat!


Well maybe not, it was just a headline. If it were a cartoon, they'd really be in for it.

Let's go Mets!

Photo from NY Post

More Jackson Heights fun

More photos from 73rd Street and 37th Avenue. Here's a Daily News story on it: Community has a beef with grocer over Jackson Heights traffic
This truck, containing a full animal carcass, is parked in the spot where there will soon be parking meters. Where's the Department of Health when you need them?

Sears get seared by civic group

"I'd like to post a letter I've sent to Councilwoman Helen Sears, in response to her stated support for the Community Board 3's proposed addition of parking meters on 73rd Street in front of Subzi Mandi--and in the mouth of the worst (most chronically gridlocked, dangerous) intersection (73rd Street and 37th Avenue) in northern Queens, as anyone who lives near it knows.

If I may, I will preface your reading of the letter with a quick sketch of my short-term process leading up to its writing, This put-it-to-a-vote item magically appeared on the agenda of the last CB3 meeting without any discussion with, nor inclusion of, any residential groups. To be sure, most residents certainly would argue that the bus stop on that corner, which mysteriously disappeared one night not long ago, should be turned into a loading zone for trucks that otherwise double-park and create daily havoc there.

I've never appeared before a community board meeting before, but when a neighbor called me to tell me the item was printed on their upcoming agenda I felt I had to go, both as a representative of my apartment building and as a founding member of the WJHA.

There were no residents of western Jackson Heights in the audience, nor did I recognize other members of the WJHA or the attendees of its meetings at the CB3 meeting, which was testimony to the stealthy nature of this item's inclusion on the agenda. I received further proof of CB3's bias when the item was introduced as having originated from Queens DOT (the implication was, NOT the board nor commercial interests). Queens DOT's last proposal was for a revival of the one-way pass on 37th Avenue, which has been defeated several times before. They haven't had an original idea about this traffic mess in years.

Then the "transportation committee" member who offered this red herring read Helen Sears' e-mailed support for the proposal, followed by a mumbled reading of Yvonne Sumner's disparaging e-mail (she represents an enormous co-op on 73rd Street) and then e-mails from other ''residents'' that were pro-accommodation of more vehicles. The impression was given on a community divided on this insane idea.

I found the experience akin to the political process I used to read about as a kid, only the subject then was the Soviet Union.

I hope residential concerns in the western end of Jackson Heights can find a few friends before it gets cut off by the knaves of commercial development and turn into a new version of a Robert Moses-induced Bronx slum. It looks like it's already happening on 73rd St, and it makes me angry and sad, both, because I love living here and I find it bewildering that the quality-of-life issues for residents don't receive attention equal to the accommodation of visitors to the area."

Stan Mieses

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Gunman on SJU campus

Maybe all the Queens Crap drove him insane.

Man with rifle nabbed on St. John's University campus

Gunman arrested on St. John's University campus; No injuries

Photo from NY Post

Council downzones Upper West Side

The City Council unanimously passed a rezoning plan yesterday that limits the spread of high-rise buildings along 51 blocks on the Upper West Side, an area that officials say has undergone a significant increase in development.

The plan is intended to preserve the physical character of the community.

Council Approves Plan to Limit High-Rises on Upper West Side

The plan was prompted by the construction of 37- and 31-story condominium towers along Broadway near 99th Street by the Extell Development Company, said Councilwoman Melinda R. Katz, a Queens Democrat and chairwoman of the Council’s Land Use Committee.

“That basically galvanized the community to make sure” the area wasn’t overrun by large-scale development, she said.

Meanwhile, Katz couldn't care less that part of her own district hasn't been downzoned, even after waiting years longer than this Manhattan rezoning. Shows you where her term-limited priorities are.

Pictured: Katz and a Queens developer. Any Queens developer.


By KENNETH LOVETT, Post Correspondent

Critics of Gov. Spitzer's decision to grant driver's licenses to illegal aliens warned yesterday that it will make it easier for noncitizens to register to vote.

"They can vote, [and] they're not even legal," said Republican Senate Majority leader Joseph Bruno, who yesterday changed gears from Monday, when he was receptive to Spitzer's action.

Speaking on WROW-AM radio in Albany, Bruno said he believes part of Spitzer's intent in allowing driver's licenses for illegal immigrants was to get more Democratic voters.

"This is a political move on the part of the governor to get these people beholden to him," Bruno said.

Under state election law, a person registering to vote must provide only a Social Security number or a valid state driver's license as proof of identification.

A person must also sign an affidavit that he or she is a citizen of the United States, although the state Board of Elections does not ask for proof of citizenship, said board spokesman Lee Daghlian.

Spitzer spokeswoman Jennifer Givner said some noncitizens had long been able to get driver's licenses before the governor announced his change last week, and nobody raised the voting issue.

An artistic masterpiece in Queens?

I knew there had been a Macy’s in Jamaica before about 1950. And while it is true that the Elmhurst building (afterwards a Stern’s) was especially oriented to car traffic,[1] (being cylindrical with a helical ribbon of parking wrapped five times around) Macy’s Jamaica, an excellent but now forgotten building, had gained public notice almost a generation earlier for providing roof parking accessed by built-in spiraling ramps. Besides, it was an urbane and more than respectable work of art, not merely a clever solution to a problem, nor just a way-station, either, to the suburban tailgate party of the mall in the increasingly city-phobic ‘fifties.

Macy’s Jamaica (1947): An Unsung Modernist Masterwork In Queens

Photo from the Brooklyn Rail

Citywide crap slideshow

The results are in! WNYC asked listeners to submit their ugly building photos to them for a contest. Queens Crap is woefully underrepresented, although the eyesore parking garage at Queens Plaza with the phragmites growing atop did make the listeners slide show...

Photos: The Worst Buildings of NYC

Tissue box architecture

Wondering what this is?

It's a crappified Manhattan library.

ONE OF THE great things about the Morgan Library on 36th and Madison was that it used to reflect (and indeed protect) the glories of European civilization. Since its recent renovation, however, it merely expresses the post-civilization status of the mother continent. One cannot help but feel bad for poor Mr. Morgan, who would surely frown upon the vulgarity which has been thrust upon his life's achievement: one of the finest collections of manuscripts, rare books, and drawings in the entire world.

The Architects: They Really Hate Us

How incredibly sad.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Illegal apartment killed him

About 14 members of the extended family from Haiti lived in the three-story wood-frame E. 19th St. house in converted apartments with a jury-rigged electrical system, a fire source said.

"Nothing was up to code," the source said. "The apartment had been sliced into rooms, with practically every room being rented out. It was a regular hotel."

Fire inspectors said wiring on the third floor sparked the blaze.

Hero boy dies trying to save 2 from fire

The Buildings Department inspected and issued citations for illegal partitions and occupancy. The department was looking into whether the building was illegally converted, said spokeswoman Kate Lindquist.

Photo from Daily News

No more paving over front yards?

I am going to have a good chuckle throughout the day after reading this:

City planning officials are mulling new rules that would prevent excessive paving of front yards by requiring that a minimum percentage of all front yards be landscaped.

The new proposal - which would apply to new developments only - would also prohibit steeply pitched driveways in front yards and encourage rear-yard garages to maximize plantings.

"Greening our neighborhood streets while curbing expansive concrete front yards will contribute to quality of life throughout the city," said Councilwoman Melinda Katz (D-Flushing), who chairs the land-use committee.

City paves way to anti-paving laws

It took the Chair of the Land Use Committee 6 years in office to finally recognize that this is a problem. Must have been the water in her basement on August 8th.

Hey, if we can convert the Queen of Queens Crap, there is hope yet for Queens!

(Sorry for the good people of Flushing who Katz was mistakenly attributed to, although Johnny is certainly no better.)

Update from the Times Ledger:

City planners want to stop residents from paving lawns

Bunkered down

A water main breaks, a re-routed bus is blamed, but all the paper wants to do is bring up Archie.

The Q54 bus was re-routed in July so it could stop at the Shops at Atlas Park, a retail complex that opened last year at 80th St. and Cooper Ave.

Atlas Park management hoped the move would attract more customers, and it wants the Q23 and Q45 re-routed so that they also pass by the mall.

Pipe break floods Archie Bunker's TV home

Simmering tensions erupted on Sept. 14 when a main at 88th St. and Cooper Ave. broke at about 3:15 p.m. Water wasn't restored for nearly 19 hours, said Mercedes Lopez, a spokeswoman for the city Environmental Protection Department.

Lopez said the agency is "not attributing" the break to bus traffic. She refused to speculate why it broke until the agency completes an analysis.

Marisa Baldeo, a spokeswoman for New York City Transit, which changed the Q54 route, also said there is "no indication" the buses caused the main break.

Up it goes again

MTA eyes fare hike, but mulls rebate on off-peak swipes


What do you do if you live in a piece of Queens Crap, you know, one that has a ramp to the basement garage as a driveway, and it looks like rain?
You sandbag it, of course! This scene was seen on Calamus Avenue in Woodside.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Queens trees cut down by government

Following community opposition, work has stopped on clear cutting of trees along the Long Island Rail Road at the Broadway-Flushing station.

LIRR Slip-Slides On Tree Clear Cutting

The sight of the 150-foot area already denuded of trees angered local residents and has LIRR officials seeking a more acceptable approach to track safety.

“In keeping with the general tenor of the day, it was hideous,” she said. “It’s hard enough for small animals and birds to survive in the city and now their habitat has been decimated.”

Subprime ghost towns

Along the streets of Far Rockaway, many recently built two- and three-family town houses sit waiting for even one family to move in. Some have boarded-up windows, while others have clumps of garbage in driveways that have never seen a car. Desperate developers hoping to cover their bets — and stem their losses — tape up both For Rent and For Sale signs inside windows that face nearly deserted streets.

Risky Loans Help Build Ghost Town of New Homes

City Councilman James Sanders Jr. talking with constituents in southeast Queens. Mr. Sanders said his district has been hit hard by a credit and foreclosure crisis.

The same blocks were once home to sprawling single-family houses with wraparound porches. But during the superheated real estate market of just a few years ago, longtime residents sold out to developers who rapidly demolished the old to build rows of plain vanilla town houses sold, it seemed, to anyone who could sign a mortgage application.

But as the market cooled and credit got tighter, many of the new homes sat empty. On a few blocks, developers have built nothing but plywood walls to hide the weed-choked lots after the old houses were torn down.

Photo from NY Times



September 24, 2007 -- Two people died and two were seriously hurt in a raging two-alarm blaze in Brooklyn last night, officials said.

The inferno broke out just after midnight in the attic of a three-story house on East 19th Street near Beverley Road in Flatbush. The names and ages of the victims were withheld, but a neighbor said a teenage boy perished.

"I've been friends with him for a long time," the anguished friend said. "He's a cool kid. It's sad that he had to go out like that."

One injured child was in critical condition at New York Community Hospital. Another youngster suffered burns and was being treated at Kings County.

Authorities are investigating whether the attic apartment, which was home to six people, had been rented illegally.

Window on art crappo architecture

Have a nicely kept modest home on a large piece of property, but want to cash in on it?
Sell it to a developer, who will replace your one-family house with 4 shiny new gaudy-looking units! Make sure it's a real shady developer too, one that receives a lot of complaints and fines. Why not stick it to your neighbors? This beaut is at 58-34 74th Street at the edge of Maspeth. The accompanying lot is 58-36 74th Street. One thing positive about it is that there's no 'stairway to heaven' here. But the dressy window pattern is a little over the top.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Things that make you go hmmm.....

The brick structure at 110-17 71st Ave. is a skeleton of its former self, having been largely demolished since 2004 in what the city Department of Buildings considers an alteration because most of the facade and some supporting walls were left intact. A stop work order, dated Sept. 12, from the DOB was posted on the construction fence outside, and according to the DOB Web site, which cited work being done at the site was undermining the adjacent property, a lack of approved plans, a defective fence and a lack of shoring at the excavation.

Yet the property's market value was determined to be $1.01 million in the 2004-05 tax year, and has climbed steadily to $1.23 million in the 2007-08 tax year, according to the Department of Finance Web site.

Property value puzzle on 71st Ave.

Several doors down, at 110-39 71st Ave., workers are shielded from view behind a corrugated aluminum fence. It is the biggest house on the block and had a stop work order issued Aug. 1 for work not conforming to plans, according to the DOB Web site. The stop work order was rescinded Sept. 14 and workers were back on the site that same day.

This property, despite being closer to completion than its neighbor, has seen a drastic reduction in its assessed value from $1.106 million for the 2006-07 tax year to $478,000 for the 2007-08 year, and was then revised down again in April 2007 to $240,000, according to the Department of Finance Web site.

A fresh pave is all the rave

If anyone ever writes a study of New York neighborhood squabbles, it may well include a chapter on the Paving Wars, the decades-old struggle between homeowners who pave over their grassy front yards and those who condemn the practice.

One More Skirmish in the Paving Wars

By many accounts, the Paving Wars began in the 1980s, after a rise in car break-ins led property owners to seek parking closer to home. But the practice of paving yards has accelerated as developers tear down old houses, and new landlords seek to skirt the costs of maintaining lawns. The concrete yards are most common in auto-centric neighborhoods with limited street parking, like Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, and Bayside, Queens.

They built a hotel where?

There are no heralded restaurants or strobe-lit nightclubs nearby. The area has no tourist attractions. Finding a yellow cab would be akin to spotting a U.F.O.

Still, a hotel is in the final stage of construction in a remote stretch of Hunts Point, wedged between the Sheridan Expressway and the Bronx River. Neighbors of the four-story, butter yellow building, which will have at least 60 rooms, include a body repair shop, a boiler repair outfit and a junkyard.

But rather than hailing the hotel as an economic boon to the gritty industrial area, community leaders wish it would simply go away.

The hotel, which is on a service road leading to the expressway, was built legally under existing zoning regulations. But Mr. Gonzalez of the community board hopes that it will never be allowed to open. “We’ve worked for too many years to change the borough’s image to allow a hotel that would detract from that,” he said.

Raised Eyebrows for a Hotel on the Outskirts

But it's just off the highway. People will stay here on airport layovers, when they visit their families or go to a wedding. There is a residential area shown in the background just a couple of blocks away. This will improve a blighted area!

Sorry, I was thinking like a Curbed commenter for a moment. Heh.

Forest Hills LIRR Station looks like crap

Wonderful maintenance on the Forest Hills LIRR Station. Here's a handrail on a handicapped ramp.
And the platform kinda looks dingy too. How about a fresh coat of paint?