Friday, February 29, 2008

It's Fedders Friday!

Miss Heather is in Bushwick at Stockholm and Evercrap.

Introducing Fedders Fridays

Throgs Neck Bridge may not be safe

Watch Channel 7's report on the Throgs Neck Bridge.

Thank you to the person who sent this in. He commented, "I thought everybody here would enjoy this article from regarding the upcoming collapse of the Throgs Neck Bridge. If you take that bridge you better learn to swim, or fly."

Condo market not doing well

In certain projects, developers are contemplating price reductions or conversion to rental. One senior development director told me, "Sales have dried up in Long Island City even for products in the best locations. Since October, we have only sold five units."

The Divide Between Manhattan, Other Boroughs

One prominent industry leader who requested anonymity said: "Condos in general are clearly not selling at the pace they were a year ago. There has been massive overbuilding in the entire borough of Brooklyn. It is like the Wild West, and if you don't control growth, then at some point it's going to get out of hand."

"Developers have been offering incentives and have been negotiating more," the source added. "Buyers are taking longer to make decisions to purchase for a couple of reasons: (a) They are nervous about purchasing when they may believe if they wait they could buy the same or similar product for less later, and there is a lot of product in the market to look at; and (b) there is no fear that if they don't buy the unit today, the guy in line behind them will buy it, because in general there are no lines anymore."

The president of W Financial, Gregg Winter, said: "Mediocre projects — uninspired designs thrown up in ho-hum locations — are now justifiably suffering and selling at a pace akin to Chinese water torture. For years these projects would somehow manage to get financed, built, and slide though the system buoyed by a rising tide that caused amateur developers to believe they actually knew what they were doing..."

Developers want 421-A regs to go away

...a complicated set of restrictions creating exclusion zones where developers have to include affordable housing to get the tax break were put in place. The new rules don't even take effect until summer and have set off a scramble to beat the deadline by starting buildings before they're subject to the restriction. Now, the development community is saying the issue needs to be revisited when the city reviews the "impact" of the changes in December. The early indication is they're going to push hard to kill the changes.

Developers to Push Killing Tax Break Restrictions

Photo from Curbed

Developers eye Ravenswood

This is a tremendous investment opportunity and a much closer, safer, slightly less attractive artist enclave than Bushwick. Since there are no yuppies or hipsters, Ravenswood has an urban edge with its old-timers,creative newcomers, lunch counters and factory feel. For renters with a little guts, rock bands who need to jam loud or artists welding late into the night, it's perfect.

A power plant, homes and industry share valuable land in Long Island City

Buyer beware: It is five to 10 years from being a completely different place. The IBZ can't last forever. This area will have to become more residential than it is now. Nothing this close to Manhattan can remain factory land forever. Ask the folks in Jersey City or Greenpoint.

Photo from Daily News

Flushing pool opens

In an era of private grandeur, New York City has built a temple for the public in Queens: the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Natatorium and Ice Rink — it does not even have a corporate name — which is to open on Friday.

Modern Pool for Public Is Opening in Flushing

The Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Natatorium and Ice Rink is opening Friday. It is the costliest recreation building ever erected in a city park, but Commissioner Adrian Benepe is delighted.

It is the largest and, at $66.3 million, the costliest recreation building ever constructed in a city park, said Adrian Benepe, commissioner of the Department of Parks and Recreation. Mr. Benepe, who recalled running on dismal public tracks with “swampy locker rooms” as a youth in the 1970s, said the new pool gave him goose bumps.

“This is an international, competition-level pool,” he said. And one that can be used free by youths 18 and under. Adults under 55 will pay $75 annually. Anyone older will pay $10 a year.

Next to the pool, but not yet open, is an 85-by-200-foot hockey rink. The city has constructed the rink, including the network of copper brine piping needed to make ice. The finishing work will be done by a concessionaire, which has not yet been chosen. The pool is operated under contract to the city by USA Pools of Roswell, Ga.

Turf concerns

Unlike grass fields, which cool the surrounding air by reflecting sunlight and evaporating water, artificial fields absorb and reradiate the sun's heat. Synthetic turf fields are some of the hottest places in the city, said Dr. Stuart Gaffin, associate research scientist at the Center for Climate Systems Research at Columbia University, who discovered this from NASA satellite maps when doing research on the urban heat island effect.

Concerns grow but the grass doesn't

Over the last two summers, researchers visited the hot spots identified in the maps and measured just how hot the city's synthetic turf fields can get: as high as 130 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Synthetic turf is hotter than asphalt, said Gaffin.

This could have a particularly negative impact on temperatures in communities where a significant amount of natural surface is replaced by synthetic turf. One such example is the area around the new Yankee Stadium. The stadium occupies the site of Macombs Dam Park, a 20-acre rectangle that formerly contained well-worn soccer and baseball fields and a running track and was bordered by hundreds of mature trees. To replace some of that park's facilities, the city will build an artificial turf soccer field and track on top of a parking garage.

Another consideration is the impact of artificial turf on the city's combined sewage overflows. In most of the city's sewer system, storm runoff combines with household sewage. During huge downpours, sewage treatment plants cannot handle the added rainwater, and untreated waste overflows into the harbor and rivers. Grass and dirt soak up rain, but synthetic turf fields, which are designed to drain quickly, very efficiently funnel rainwater into the sewage system.

Replacing natural fields with synthetic turf runs counter to the city's goal of increasing natural areas and permeable surfaces as a way to reduce stormwater runoff. This strategy is part of Mayor Bloomberg's sustainability blueprint, and likely to be included in the stormwater management plan the city is required to adopt by the end of the year.

From the NY Times: Groups Urge a Moratorium on City Use of Artificial Turf

In a letter to the city’s parks and health commissioners, dated Thursday, the groups say the installation of such fields should be suspended pending the results of a review of health risks being conducted by the health department.

The letter was signed by Betsy Gotbaum, the public advocate, who is a former city parks commissioner; Christian DiPalermo, the executive director of New Yorkers for Parks; and members of the Natural Resources Defense Council and New York Lawyers for the Public Interest.

Adrian Benepe, the parks commissioner, is an advocate for turf fields. He has said the surface is safe and cheaper and more durable than grass.

Crap be gone - 1914

There is often a feeling of resignation that once crappy architecture is built, it cannot be erased. The 1914 book "Modern City Planning and Maintenance" by Frank Koester shows that crap can be defeated. Attached is a photo of 23rd Street in Manhattan, with stoops and porches encroaching onto the sidewalk. After the city Board of Estimate voted to restore standard width to sidewalks, the encroachments were gone. See- crap can be defeated!


Thursday, February 28, 2008

DEP shuts St. Saviour's demo down

The Department of Environmental Protection has temporarily shut down the worksite while they test for asbestos a police source has told Queens Crap.

In other news, a $100,000 grant from Senator Serf Maltese may enable All Faiths to preserve and relocate "part" of the building.

Further details will be posted as they become available.

Pinky in plea talks

The Queens district attorney has offered a new plea deal to embattled City Councilman and accused rapist Dennis Gallagher that would keep him out of jail and off the sex-offender registry - but force him to resign from office, The Post has learned.


It's not clear if Gallagher, who maintains his innocence, will accept the last-ditch deal before DA Richard Brown seeks a new indictment next week on charges the politician raped and assaulted a woman he had met in a bar last June 8, sources said yesterday.

Among the differences in this new round of negotiations is reducing the assault charge from a serious felony to a misdemeanor and giving Gallagher a conditional discharge, which means no jail time or probation if he stays out of trouble, sources said.

It's unclear whether the misdemeanor charge would be assault or sexual misconduct, although he would not be required to register as a sex offender.

Sources said prosecutors want it to be part of the record that his 52-year-old alleged victim, who says he picked her up in a Middle Village bar, was under the influence and unable to consent to sex.

Prosecutors have maintained that Gallagher, a father of two, offered to drive the woman home, but instead brought her to his campaign office, forced her to have sex and injured her knees.

Gallagher, free on $200,000 bail, has maintained the sex was consensual.

But a source said he has engaged in plea talks to avoid the "embarrassment" of a trial.

I'm sure he wants to keep the details under wraps. If a woman cannot consent to sex because she is under the influence of alcohol, that's RAPE. No jail time? No sex offender status? That's just crap.

Developer breaks promise to HDC

Maspeth Development, LLC agreed to donate the 50th anniversary bell that hung in the tower of St. Saviour's to the Historic Districts Council. I'll let my friends take it from here:

...but when the volunteers who were going to get the bell got to the church, there was no bell to be found.

Saint Savior's Being Demolished; Salvage Efforts Thwarted

St. Saviour's rally tomorrow

Dumpster company raises questions

Check this out:

"BIC regulates over 1,100 active licensees and registrants who operate waste removal businesses or conduct waste removal activities in the City of New York. Licensed carters are those carters who are legally permitted to collect and remove all types of waste, such as regular waste, recyclable materials, medical waste, and waste materials waste materials resulting from building demolition, construction, alteration, or excavation. Carters who solely remove waste materials resulting from building demolition, construction, alteration or excavation can obtain a registration from BIC. Businesses that remove their own waste and dispose at private transfer stations can also register with BIC as a self-hauler. Before conducting a waste removal business, the person or business must first apply for and obtain a license or registration from BIC."

It's funny, I looked at both the licensed list and the registered list and did not see KFIR Dumpster listed. Although I know I saw their name on one of the lists at one point. KFIR is owned by the developer and has a shady past and even left their dumpsters full of crap in the street. Yet the mayor's office is sending police to protect them when they should be sending someone to investigate them.

Illegals want protection

To stress even more the urgent need for those demands to be met, several community members shared moving personal stories of mistreatment and discrimination. One of them was Alejandro Carreras, who came from Ecuador six years ago and joined Make the Road by Walking two years ago.

Immigrants rally to demand fair treatment

"Due to my immigration status, it has been difficult for me to find a dignified job in this country," he told the audience. "I have to do very hard jobs, but I have no choice because I have to support my family and myself."

Carreras went on to recount a terrible experience of exploitation and abuse by an employer who took advantage of his undocumented status.

"Some time ago, I worked with a cement contractor. I worked for him two weeks, under the sun. And when the job was finished, he did not pay me one single cent," he said.

Then he added something that many others in the audience already had learned the hard way.

"Unfortunately," Carreras said, "these experiences are all too frequent. Thousands of workers in New York have had similar experiences," he said.

And, addressing the elected officials directly, he added, "That's why I am asking you to help pass stronger laws in New York to protect immigrant workers."

Immigrant workers we should protect. Illegal aliens we should help find their way back home. Why does Mayor Bloomberg invite undocumented people here and allow them to be exploited?

East vs. west: LPC & Marshall's double standard

Push to preserve early 19th century farmhouse on the hill gets big backer
By John Lauinger

The Civil War was nearly four decades in the future when the Cornell family built a farmhouse on a hillside in the vast breadbasket of Queens.

The farmhouse still sits atop the hill today, but its sweeping view of a once-bucolic countryside is now dominated by strip malls, several modern houses and the Long Island Expressway.

As unrelenting development threatens to bulldoze all vestiges of the area's agricultural past, the small farmhouse has recently become the subject of an intensifying preservation push.

Last week, previously stalled efforts to save the farmhouse from possible development were resurrected by the Queens County Farm Museum - and backed by a top Queens elected official.

The Farm Museum - keeper of 47 mostly agricultural acres in nearby Bellerose - is interested in buying the 1.7 acre property, once part of a massive Colonial dominion deeded to the Cornell family by the British crown.

Farm Museum president James Trent made a request for $5.8 million - the property's current price tag - at a Queens budget meeting on Tuesday.

Trent's pitch - to buy the property and use it as a Farm Museum annex - won over Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, who has included the proposal in the borough's list of budget priorities, said Marshall's spokeswoman Alexandra Rosa.

Because a portion of the property lies in Nassau County, Marshall's office said it would soon initiate discussions with its neighbor about Nassau acquiring the other half, Rosa said.

Marshall's support of the Farm Museum was praised by local preservationists.

"It's an amazing, amazing piece of history," said Kevin Wolfe, president of the Douglaston-Little Neck Historical Society. Wolfe marveled at the rarity of an 1820s farmhouse in 21st century New York City.

"There are a handful of farmhouses from that era that have survived - most of them are museums," he said.

The farmhouse, now owned by the Patrey family, is flanked by a stone wall and a cobblestone driveway that climbs up the windswept hill. The white paint covering the house's weathered, wooden shingles is flaking heavily with age, and two rotting wagon wheels lean against a pair of maples guarding oppposite sides of the driveway.

Ken Patrey, 43, said his family decided to sell the property after his father, who married into the Cornell family and ran a nursery business on the property, died in 2003.

The city Landmarks Commission wrote to Patrey last fall in an effort to designate the circa 1826 farmhouse a landmark, but he bristled at the agency's overture, noting that the house has received multiple additions over time and is in poor condition.

Though he has received several offers for the property, Patrey said he was interested in the Farm Museum's proposal.

"We would absolutely be interested in that," he told the Daily News. "I would hate to see the place go. I love the place."

Trent, hopeful that the deal will get done, said the Farm Museum's plan is to preserve the farmhouse, along with its 1870s barn and a greenhouse dating to the turn of last century.

Yet that is not all.

"It might be possible," Trent said, "to take a piece of that land - maybe half an acre - and grow some crops there - return it back to its historical purpose.

Some questions to ponder:

Helen wants $5.3 million to prevent development of HALF of the Cornell farm, but wouldn't entertain $10 million for a full-sized 1.5 acre property which is entirely within the confines of Queens? At St. Saviour's, remember, Helen thought housing was a great idea. Why not "compromise" by allowing condos around the Cornell farmhouse, Helen?

Why couldn't the Queens County Farm Museum have an annex at St. Saviour's? Plenty of room for corn growing there.

And LPC felt that St. Saviour's, which was designed by a famous architect, was altered beyond recognition, but a worn down house with multiple additions must be calendared immediately?

Is this the Queens version of the caste system - east on top, west on the bottom?


The city's biggest bureaucrats live in eastern Queens, while the laborers live in western Queens. Western Queens is the home of second-class citizens who are not afforded equal protection. So why not have one standard and leave everyone open to having their neighborhood and historic structures bulldozed? Either that or protect them all.

Photo from Forgotten NY

Transit delays

Rising Costs Push Back NYC Transit Megaprojects

Rising construction costs have caused New York City's transit agency to push back the dates of several major transit projects.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority says the first leg of a subway planned for decades on Manhattan's East Side will be put off until 2015; so will the connection of some Long Island Rail Road lines from Queens to Grand Central Terminal.

A renovated downtown Manhattan subway station will open next year -- a year later than planned -- and there is no completion date for a planned transit hub near ground zero.

The MTA said Wednesday that delaying some completion dates would allow it to save money by signing smaller contracts for the job. It also added $1.5 billion to the cost estimates for the expansion projects, saying the cost of materials have skyrocketed.

World safe for now

Finally, he has gotten off the pot:

I’m Not Running for President, but ...

Well, hallelujah! And to make himself more irrelevant, Bloomberg Says He Will Not Endorse Anyone for Mayor in the 2009 Democratic Primary

Call to name promenade after Oats

Seek To Name Unisphere Walkway David Oats Promenade

City and borough officials have been asked to honor recently deceased parks activist David Oats by naming a significant piece of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Oats' memory. Requests to name the circular promenade around the Unisphere, currently nameless, for the late park activist have been made to Borough President Helen Marshall, the city Department of Parks and Recreation and the City Council. Oats' wife, Corinne Oats, said she is thrilled with the proposal and hopeful that borough and city officials will give it their nod of approval.

"If it were possible, I would have chosen a spot at the edge of the Unisphere as David's gravesite," said Corinne Oats. "He loved it so."

A spokesperson for Parks Commissioner Adrienne Benepe said the agency is unable to comment until it receives a written request or proposal on the matter.

David Oats, 58, died on February 6.

- Liz Goff, Queens Gazette

Mom and kids evicted from foreclosed home

Queens mom Lynn Manning had been living with her three children in a homeless shelter for far too long.

So when the real estate agent from a city-approved list agreed to take her public assistance rental payments for a shabby Jamaica apartment, she wasn't about to turn him down.

A year later, Manning, 35, is being evicted from the tiny two-bedroom dwelling at 138-31 91st Ave. When she went to Housing Court this month, she found out she had unwittingly been renting a foreclosed home.

Worse still, she may have to return to the city agency that placed her there - the Department of Homeless Services.

Realtor OKd by city signed mom up for foreclosed home

New Queens By 2030

To The Editor (Queens Gazette):

I attended the Auburndale Improvement Association's meeting on Tuesday, February 19 in order to show support for the rezoning effort taking place there, which, like our Maspeth-Middle Village rezoning study, has been going on since 2005. What I heard was both disheartening and familiar.

Auburndale was apparently told that they were at the top of the list to be rezoned just prior to the 2005 election. Their community was given false dates for study completion and was pushed to the bottom of [the Department of] City Planning's priority list because the massive upzoning of Jamaica, the taking on of the Willets Point project and closed-door meetings with private developers were made priorities. This is the exact same scenario that we have experienced in our neighborhood.

I heard one attendee suggest that members of the Auburndale civic organization assist [City Planning] with the surveying work that needs to be done. The Juniper Park Civic Association did just that in 2005- every house in the zone was surveyed and the data was handed over to city planning. All of that effort was wasted because it didn't expedite things one bit and we are still waiting for our rezoning plan to be certified. During this time, teardowns of one-family homes and the erection of multifamily dwellings have been epidemic.

This leads me to conclude that City Planning has a standard set of excuses for communities redlined for overdevelopment. They keep stringing us along with empty promises hoping we'll finally get fed up and either stop asking or move out. Somehow I doubt that Queens Director of City Planning John Young lives in a community that is plagued with oversized McMansions or multi-unit Fedders houses. Neither do City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden or Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Why should they care about solving our problems? There's no election coming up and it's much more fun to talk about the fantasy land that they envision NYC being in the year 2030 with a million more people. Unless something is done to stop the rampant destruction of our neighborhoods, there won't be a livable Queens to look forward to in 22 years.

Christina Wilkinson

Taken to the woodshed

You really gotta wonder what this Sunnyside Gardens homeowner was thinking.

Meanwhile, the Matthews flats, much less altered, remain unlandmarked.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

CAU sends cops to protect developer

The Mayor's Community Affairs Unit sent police to St. Saviour's today to make sure the developers' efforts to demolish the church were not impeded, a police source has told Queens Crap. CAU probably got a call from Parkside.

Cops will return at 8am tomorrow and Friday to protect Maspeth Development, LLC and Sano Demolition.

Just thought you would like to know where cops are deployed in the 104th precinct, by whom, and who they are being ordered to protect.

BREAKING NEWS: St. Saviour's being demolished

As reported by a neighbor of the church, workers are taking out the windows and pulling tiles off of the roof right now.

Just found out that today is the birthday of one of the preservationists who was trying to save the church... and he is at the scene watching the destruction. A very unhappy birthday, indeed.

UPDATE: DEP shuts demo down

Demo permit reissued for St. Saviour's

The owners of St. Saviour's have been reissued a demolition permit. Sano Demolition of College Point will handle the demolition. Here's a snippet of their illustrious history:

Unsafe Demolition of 72 Huron Street

Basically Developer Ofir Kahati hired SANO demolition who would show up with a cube truck filled with guys who would get out and work on demolishing the building. There was no scaffolding, no harnesses, no protection for the workers or adjacent properties.

What's that? You thought the church would be moved? Well, Pinky's money turned out to be fake.

Gallagher St. Saviour's money never existed

Well, folks, we all knew it was coming. The $1 million Dennis Gallagher claimed to have secured in the 2008 Parks budget never existed. Here are some excerpts from articles about the proposed church move where Pinky reveals himself:

"Since the money had been allocated to the Parks Department, the councilman said by process it is impossible to switch the funds to purchase the site without a budget modification, followed by a Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) hearing.

The entire process could take well over a year, and during that time span Saint Saviour's could be demolished."
- Queens Ledge, 2/21/08

"...Gallagher told the Times Newsweekly that while he supports the project "if it can be done with private money," securing public funding for the endeavor out of the city budget would be difficult.

The original $1 million procurement, which he said was allocated to the Parks Department budget, must be transferred to the city's General Services fund, a maneuver 'which normally isn't done until the adoption of the city budget in June'.

In order to acquire the church, Gallagher added, the transaction must go before the city's Uniform Land Use Review Process for approval, which he said could take up to a year to complete."
- Times Newsweekly, 2/21/08 I don't know where to begin. Let's start with the fact that the $1 million was never in the Parks Department budget. How do I know this? I have an e-mail that was forwarded to me that says so:

"While it would be desirable to have more open space in the area, we have no funding whatsoever to advance the acquisition of this site, let alone future development and maintenance funding." - Assistant Commissioner for Planning Joshua Laird, 11/2/07

Mr. Laird also reportedly said the following to Simeon Bankoff, Christabel Gough, Tony Nunziato, Mary Jablonski and Christina Wilkinson at a meeting at the Arsenal on 9/7/07:

"There is no money for St. Saviour’s in the 2008 Parks budget. If there was a million dollars in our budget for this project, I would know about it."

Now, let's move on to the ULURP smokescreen. This would not be a ULURP project, as the city would not take possession of the land the building would be on. The money would be donated to All Faiths Cemetery, a not-for-profit, as a capital grant. Kind of like the expansion of the Catalpa YMCA (a private entity) that Gallagher constantly brags about:

"Nearly $2 million in additional capital funding has been secured by local elected officials, according to Council Member Dennis Gallagher, noting that his office as well as Queens Borough President Helen Marshall had reserved money for the project in this year’s city’s budget. State Sen. Serphin Maltese and Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan have also secured state funding, Gallagher added." - Times Newsweekly, 8/3/06

You'll recall that Gallagher's original plan to buy the piece of property the church sits on and make it Parks Department property would have required a change to the city map that would definitely have had to go through the year-long ULURP process, so his excuse makes no sense.

Here's the budget. Look under "Parks" and see if you find it yourself.

"Dennis Gallagher is a lying, cheating piece of shit." - Mrs. Dennis Gallagher (as per a neighbor) to the NY Post, 7/11/07

The taking of Main Street 1-2-3

Kaufman Astoria is filming the remake of The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 on location at Woodside Station this week.
So for a little while, you may see the 6 train on the 7 line. How funky.

What expired permits and stop work order?

Miss Heather checks in from Greenpoint:

Despite a Stop Work Order* and expired permits, 48 Box Street is coming along nicely.

48 Box Street Keeps On Trucking

Mayoral aspirations

Today's WNBC/Marist poll includes a bit of a surprise: Among NYC Democrats who said they prefer a 2009 mayoral candidate, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz was the clear favorite.

Mayor Marty?

God help us.

What's up on the other side?

These days, [Casimitidis] message is that Bloomberg and Giuliani did good jobs. Let's not let the city go to the dogs, he says; let's keep it away from the "professional politicians." What the city really needs is another CEO.

Shopping for Gracie Mansion

God help us.

Council travel on our dime

Members of the City Council spent more than $28,000 on travel outside of New York City last year, an analysis by amNewYork shows.

Study: Pols drop 28K of city cash on travel

The council's biggest spender was James Sanders (D-Laurelton) who billed the city more than $6,000 for workshops in Denver, Dallas and upstate.

Sanders said his travel has helped the economic growth of his district, which includes the Rockaways, Springfield Gardens and Rosedale.

Sanders' travel only outpaced City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who got her out-of-town passport stamped 10 times at taxpayer cost of more than $5,000, including visits to Texas to visit with troops from New York City, to New Orleans to advocate for the city's tourism industry and an $800 trip to Washington. D.C. for the Human Rights Campaign Board reception and dinner.

Be Pete's BFF

For Twenty Dollars, Be Peter Vallone's Buddy

Ticket Prices:
$3,850 – BFF
$1,000 – Best Friend
$500 – Good Friend
$100 – Pal
$20 – Buddy

BFF = "best friend forever" and is the developers' rate.

From the NY Observer Politicker

Extortionist inspectors

Armed with little more than hard hats and a fancy name, two men posing as building inspectors carried out an extortion scheme that gave a sinister new twist to the idea of civic virtue, prosecutors said Tuesday.

2 Charged With Demanding Payoffs From Contractors

Preying on small contractors — many of them Asian or Middle Eastern — they toured work sites and threatened to report bogus violations unless they were given hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of dollars in payoffs.

If a contractor dared to refuse the payoff, the men would call city agencies, like the Buildings or Fire Departments, which would often find actual violations, though not necessarily the ones that had been called in, prosecutors said in announcing the indictments.

The fake inspectors even learned to mimic the language used by federal inspectors to call in complaints to agencies like the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which does not take complaints from the public, prosecutors said.

Cellular concern

Dear Queenscrap Blog:

I read a story on your website about a neighborhood blocking the installation of a cell tower. My first thought was that it may have just been an eyesore. Then I actually started reading articles on the internet (I know, a possibly dangerous thing) about these cell sites. I was shocked to find the possible negative health ramifications of being in such close proximity to these towers.

The reason I'm writing you? Well, my building is covered with large transmitters and several cell towers on the roof of my building. I have lived in Sunnyside for nearly 11 years and have never had any problems, until the installation of this mess a couple years ago. I didn't even know what they were upon installation (as the building owner NEVER notified the building that this was going to occur) and naively thought it would only disturb my Sprint cell phone service if they were ATT towers. Well, recently this installation has gone into high gear and my apartment vibrates and has a certain doppler sound traveling in the air almost 24 hours a day. Imagine if you were sitting next to a powerful vibrating chair. You feel like you're being zapped with energy non-stop.

So why my long rant? I'm hopeful that you can provide me with any information that you might have on the dangers of these cell sites and what possible rights I may have in getting these things removed (it's clear the FCC has no interest in helping). ANY help is greatly appreciated. Below are the articles that I've read and I can also send you pictures of my building if you would like. Although, if you want to see first-hand, my address is 42-15 43rd Avenue. On the southwest corner of the building you will see red transmitters and on the east side of the building you will see large silver transmitters going up the building. Also, on top of the building you will see on the southwest and southeast corners of the building have the cell towers. I am told by other people in the building that there are also HUGE transmitters on the rooftop (which I actually witnessed the crane sending up to the roof one day and had no idea what they were). It won't be hard to see the building, as it is the only one in the neighborhood to have these damn things (also suspicious).

The Radiation Poisoning Of America

The Cell Phone "Tower of Doom"

Killing Fields

Thank you in advance for any aid you can provide.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Tale of the Queens diva

Before I could code this photo essay for posting, Curbed beat me to it.

Mrs. Diva Will Park Wherever She Damn Well Pleases

FDNY to access building records

A high-tech program will soon let FDNY crews rushing to fires instantly download the layouts of burning buildings and give street cops quick access to suspects' fingerprints.

The city is putting the finishing touches on a $500 million wireless network, dubbed NYCWiN, that will cover 70 percent of the Big Apple's streets by April and 95 percent by summer.


"In the future," Cosgrave added, "we will be able to provide pictures of the buildings, layout of the buildings, blueprint of the building that sort of thing."

And with all the illegal conversions and work without permits ignored by the Department of Buildings, I am sure that info will always be accurate.

Seeking Old Elmhurst info

Old Elmhurst, New York is looking for information about a beautiful spot and a futuristic looking house on Dongan Avenue.

Lame ducks seek continued employment

With 36 members of the City Council being forced out of office next year due to term limits, the election of 2009 could be the biggest and most expensive to hit New York.

At least 45 New Yorkers already are amassing campaign war chests to run for council seats and many more are expected to enter races in the coming months. One political consultant who is advising council candidates says he has identified more than 300 candidates he expects to run in 2009.

The early start to council campaigning and fund-raising efforts mirrors the early start to this year's presidential race, with local candidates saying they want to put fund raising behind them so they can focus on campaigning as the city election nears.

Scramble Set for Council - More Than 300 Seen Making Bids in 2009

The Daily News has the complete rundown:

Council lame ducks flock to new roles

Photo from Gotham Gazette

FedEx will be truckin' along in Astoria

Astoria residents railed last week against the possibility the neighborhood's traffic-choked streets could soon get hit with a major influx of FedEx trucks.

FedEx site will be a pain - residents

All told, 80 delivery trucks and 50 tractor-trailers daily would rumble to and from a $151 million distribution center FedEx is planning for the Astoria waterfront, officials from the shipping giant told a raucous crowd at a United Community Civic Association meeting last week.

The shipping center could open as early as the summer of 2010. Tractor-trailers would operate overnight while smaller delivery trucks would leave the site in staggered fashion between 6 and 10 a.m. and return between 4 and 6 p.m.

FedEx is hoping to open the sprawling 225,000 square-foot facility on 21 acres currently owned by Con Edison.

It would allow FedEx Ground - the company's business-to-business shipping arm - to move from its undersized Maspeth base.

FedEx would lease the site from Steel Equities, a Long Island-based commercial real estate firm. Con Ed and Steel are negotiating a contract.

(For the record, I like my title better than the boring one in the Daily News.)

Saving what's left of Queens

Groups working to save Queens buildings from wrecking ball

It's too late for the 19th-century parsonage at St. Saviour's Episcopal Church -- it was leveled in December -- and Long Island City's Hackett Building, a Flatiron-like structure that was built in 1884, that was torn down last year to make room for condos.

Before any more of Queens' history disappears, a group of activists and preservationists is organizing to save what's left.

The Queens Civic Congress, an umbrella organization of more than 100 civic groups, will host a workshop tonight in Glendale to build interest in landmarking in a borough whose protected sites number less than 20 percent of Manhattan's.

Good luck with that.

Here's more on St. Saviour's and Hackett Building: God save Queens (or anyone really)

Up in arms in Auburndale

Here's more on that raucous Auburndale meeting last week:

Carney noted that 32 Queens neighborhoods - roughly 3,200 blocks - have been rezoned since 2002. But the crowd booed her when she wouldn't commit to a target completion date for the rezoning that would include Auburndale.

Auburndale rezoning moving too slow

"We want protection for our neighborhood as we found it, as we like it and as we bought into it - and we want it as quickly as possible," said Terri Pouymari, president of the Auburndale Improvement Association.

Pat Dolan, planning chairwoman of the Queens Civic Congress, accused the Bloomberg administration of putting the Auburndale and North Flushing rezonings on the back burner.

"There is a decision that has been made that these neighborhoods are ripe for development," she said.

Hmm...where was Mighty John Young?

Colonial crap

With the exception of Yellowstone Boulevard and Apex Place, most of northern Forest Hills has been locked in a rectangular grid since at least the 1920s.

The third exception is the one-block Colonial Avenue. As its name shows, it is the oldest of all the local streets, dating back to 1655, when the settlers of Maspeth and Newtown extended a road to a new mill built on where Colonial Avenue crossed Horse Brook. The mill's founder was Captain Robert Coe, whose father settled Hempstead and purchased land for Jamaica.
The road was later extended across Flushing Meadows towards Flushing and points east and dubbed the North Hempstead Plank Road. Coe's Mill faithfully served the local residents with corn and wheat until it became obsolete in the 1860s. It also served as a farm and hotel. Even after the rest of Forest Hills was forced into the grid, Colonial Avenue was allowed to maintain its skew due to the Coe House.

In 1930, it was unceremoniously demolished to make way for the Horace Harding Expressway. In just one swift move, three hundred years of history were gone. A charming farmhouse replaced with a ribbon of concrete. If Robert Moses could make the BQE snake around Brooklyn Heights, and the Northern State Parkway to dodge Old Westbury mansions with a 90 degee turn, why didn't he spare the Coe House by having the LIE snake around it as well? Maybe it's about money and power...

Today, all that is left of Horse Brook and the Coe House is the off-grid skew of Colonial Avenue.

Attached is a photo of the site prior to 1930 and today. Also attached are two maps showing the site then and now. Please note that the old photo of the Coe House is from Vincent Seyfried's book "Story of Corona". - mazeartist

Monday, February 25, 2008

Crappy's on the terlet

AM-NY's trying to determine what a real native NYC accent is. They skipped Queens.

In search of the true New York accent

To be sure, it's been a long time since anyone called a toilet a "terlet."

Not true. If only they had visited Queens and talked to my grandmother...

Conventional thinking

A Queens convention center would not have to contend with the congestion and rapid business development that Javits now confronts on the West Side of Manhattan. And unlike the Sunnyside Rail Yards in Queens — another large undeveloped location that could house a convention center — Willets Point would be free of complicated issues surrounding air rights development and platform construction that is required when building over the rail yards.

Javits Expansion May Decamp to Queens

Hey, you don't think we have congestion and rapid business development here? Perhaps you also missed the previous article that says the city has no money for these big projects. I like how eminent domain and extensive environmental remediation are not even considered to be complicated issues anymore, either.

West Side pipe dreams

The optimistic vision of a glittering new mini-city on Manhattan's far West Side is in danger of dying from uncertain funding, risky financing and lack of coordination, a Daily News investigation reveals.

Moynihan Station plan in jeopardy over finance & coordination

The dream - some critics call it a pipe dream - envisions a neighborhood built over the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's West Side railyards, a relocated Madison Square Garden, an elegant new rail hub to replace dingy Penn Station and a commuter rail tunnel under the Hudson River.

All of these projects are in various stages of development, but despite billions spent by the city, state and developers on studies, land acquisition and architects, no one has figured out who will pay for all of it, or how.

Photo from Daily News

Bad Tidings

Here's the before shot. Now brace yourselves...
Read about the desecration of a sacred place in Manhattan.

Hotels for tourists are now officially more important than the architecture or history of non-hotel buildings, as per the LPC. (But not if you're the Hotel Pennsylvania.)

Victorian splendor

Hey folks....this ain't Queens. See where it is.

How not to publish a newspaper, part 8

Looks like someone over at the Times Newsweekly has been getting an early start on St. Patrick's Day...

See also:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 9
Part 10

Sunnyside says "Don't fence me in"

A construction fence that has impeded sidewalk travel in Sunnyside for seven years has caught the attention of the city Department of Transportation, Community Board 2 Chairman Joe Conley announced last week.

The Department of Transportation issued a Notice of Violation Jan. 14 to the property owner, Metropolitan Management LLC, ordering the company to remove the unauthorized encroachment within 30 days. If the fence is not moved, the city may move and replace the fence at the owner's expense.

Move dangerous fence in Sunnyside, city says

The property at 46-11 Queens Blvd. has remained vacant, however, with a construction fence that blocks a portion of the heavily traveled sidewalk.

DOB records show the property owner filed plans for a four-story, 17,900-square-foot commercial building in 2004, but the plan was rejected.

A permit for the fence, applied for on June 7, 2001, was approved on April 16, 2007.

Conley said the fence is next to a bus stop. The sidewalk, he said, narrows to a point where people have to walk single file around the bus stop.

Crappification of Queensboro Hill

Queensboro Hill was once a beautiful suburb of Flushing, with lush lawns and views of the city. Gradually, crappification is reaching the neighborhood.
The Silver Pond Seafood Restaurant, a Chinese diner, has closed and slated to be replaced with apartments on a very crowded intersection of Booth Memorial Avenue and Main Street.

Across the street from the former Chinese diner, a residential house has a billboard promoting accident lawyers, and a good intersection for such an ad. Doesn't this billboard need a permit?
Across the Street, the Booth Memorial Hospital (or whatever its new name) is expanding. Having already built one parking lot on Kissena Corridor Park, its encroachment into the park is continuing. Forget about parks expansion and a million new trees, cars need parking!
Finally, a growing industry in the neighborhood is can collecting. Just look at the wealth these old ladies have accumulated!
Their shopping carts are overflowing with other people's cans! Now that's a living! Just a few more cans, and they'll be able to afford a unit in the condo being built on the site of the Chinese diner!

All of the above photos are in the district represented by John C. Liu.