Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Emergency repairs shut down Borden Ave Bridge

In case you're wondering what the emergency is, try taking the bus or driving over this bridge and experience the shelf that has been created by the western end that's sinking.
A 7-month closure sucks in a major way.

Make a wish

The Times Square Wishing Wall is back again. You can leave your wish for the upcoming year. I know what mine is - it involves term limiting a few dozen tweeders come November.

Profiles in tweeding: Eric Gioia

November 2007: ...Queens Councilman Eric Gioia stated that he was troubled by the concept of eminent domain and noted it was a slippery slope as to when it necessary and reasonable for the government to use eminent domain.

April 2008: Councilman Eric N. Gioia...of Queens said the threat of eminent domain, even as a last resort, was “like walking into a negotiation, putting a gun on the table, and saying, ‘I’d like to strike a fair deal; I’ll only use the gun if I have to.’”

Despite this, Eric voted "yes" to eminent domain abuse at Willets Point on November 13th, 2008.

From the Public Advocate candidate himself: I realize I’m living the American Dream. And anyone who is willing to work hard and do right should have access to the opportunities to make their dreams happen.* That’s the city I want to live in: a true city of opportunity...where the middle class can thrive, and where those working to get to the middle class can succeed.” (*except at Willets Point)

Read the rest of Team Gioia's propaganda and see if you can find ridding the City of eminent domain abuse mentioned anywhere as a priority.

On the other hand, Public Advocate candidate Norm Siegel has the issue at the top of his no-no list:

When the State/City uses eminent domain to take New Yorkers’ homes and businesses for private sports arenas, private universities’ expansion plans and private developers - a Siegel Public Advocate’s office would fight to stop that.

Mike to us: "You need me!"

If the debate over extending term limits didn't make the point clear enough, Mayor Bloomberg wants us as New Yorkers to look at ourselves in the mirror during this time of crisis and ask ourselves, "Can we as a city survive without him?"

He got quite testy as the week unfolded and Gothamist has video.

Does Mayor Mike Think He's Our Knight in Shining Armor?

Frank wins, but Gennaro won't concede

The New York City Board of Elections (BOE) may have set the stage to declare that state Senator Frank Padavan has been re-elected to his 11th District seat.

In a seven-to-three vote at a meeting on Tuesday, December 30, Democrats from the Bronx and Staten Island joined five Republican Borough Commissioners in adopting a "final determination" on approximately 1,750 invalid ballots which have been at the center of a legal dispute in the race.

After a count of nearly 91,000 votes, Padavan leads Gennaro by 580, with 252 disputed ballots set aside for judicial review.

Board of Elections rejects ballots in Padavan vs. Gennaro

However, the Gennaro-Stavisky-Shafran B.S. brigade marches on... and their shameful shenanigans may leave the 11th SD without a State Senator come January 7th, when a new majority leader is chosen. (Because dragging this out in court until that date has passed is what this is really about, not who actually won the seat.)

RIP Our Lady of Loreto Church

It’s hard to find much evidence of the Italian-American atmosphere that was once dominant in the Ocean Hill-Brownsville section of Brooklyn.

Only one significant landmark of the old Italian community still stands: Our Lady of Loreto Roman Catholic Church, at the corner of Sackman and Pacific Streets. Its cornerstone was laid in 1906 and work was completed two years later by the firm of Armezzani, Federici and Sons, of Paterson, N.J., according to a Catholic directory published in 1914.

But that doesn’t tell the whole story. Local legend says that poor Italian immigrants, many of whom worked in the building trades, devoted nights and weekends to finishing the project.

In recent years the parish has fallen on hard times. With the number of churchgoers dwindling to fewer than 20 on most Sundays, the Diocese of Brooklyn announced in August that it would shutter the church and merge the parish with Our Lady of Presentation, in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Now a plan is moving forward to raze the church — along with an unused convent and rectory — to make room for 88 units of housing for low-income residents of the struggling neighborhood. (The parish school has already been demolished.)

Construction of the housing, which will include 11 four-story buildings, is expected to begin in late 2009 with opening slated for 2011, Father Harrington said.

Mary Beth Betts, the research director of the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, told Ms. Lepak that landmark status of the church building’s exterior was under review.

A Church That Held the Neighborhood’s Heart

Since this church stands in the way of a development project in an unwealthy section of Brooklyn, it will not be designated.

Stay off the trains at night

The subways of Queens are already seeing an uptick in crime - but they're about to get scarier.

An NYPD unit that patrols the borough's trains at night is on the verge of closing, the Post has learned - a move critics fear will make Queens subway travel still more dangerous.

The Queens Transit Task Force is to be shuttered on Jan. 5, with its 48 officers merged into the borough's two Transit Districts, sources said.

"Of course they say that it'll be the same manpower that way, but that's b.s.," one police source told the Post. "It's the equivalent of closing a station house."


Photo from Wikipedia

Claire Shulman: preservationist

The Historic Districts Council posted an article from the NY Times from February 1993. Check this out:

The City Council Speaker, Peter F. Vallone, said Mr. Manes simply reflected the views of constituents, especially developers and middle-class homeowners, who feared the legal restrictions and rejected the value of landmark status.

“He was typical of most in Queens,” Mr. Vallone said. “He viewed it as another intrusion from Manhattan to the outer boroughs.”

“Donald Manes had his own views on landmarking, but he’s not here anymore,” said Peter Magnani, the deputy to Borough President Claire Shulman, who has strongly favored landmarks. “This is a new era.”

I hope you all get to see 2009 before dying from laughter.

Return to the Elmhurst Half-House

I got this in the e-mail recently, with the question, "Where's the rest of the house on the left?"

So I thought I would explain to those of you who don't go back to the beginnings of this site that this very house was one of the inspirations for Queens Crap. Because even the most oblivious of us can't walk past this spot and not come to the realization that the borough's gone to hell.

And it figures that it's a Frank Lloyd Crap design.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

When will these folks just go away?



Bill and Hillary Clinton will push the ceremonial button to signal the lowering of the giant illuminated ball in New York's Times Square this New Year.

The former president and his wife -- a U.S. senator from New York and President-elect Barack Obama's choice for Secretary of State -- will join New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in this year's festivities, event organizers said in a statement Tuesday.

They will push a button at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday night, starting the 60-second countdown that is part of the annual celebration in New York City's signature square.

Proof that money talks

“As a woman, I am here to empower women who are victims of domestic violence, but I am also here to empower a man who has always stood by my side on the issue of domestic violence,” Martha Flores-Vazquez, director of Community Prevention Alternatives for Families in Crisis, said.

Vasquez, whose group received $37,500 through a City Council grant sponsored by Monserrate, claimed she had spoken Giraldo’s family after the arrest during Monday’s emotional rally. The family insisted the injuries were accidental, according to Vasquez.

“Hiram Monserrate has an innate sense of nonviolence,” Vasquez said. “His demeanor does not constitute violence. He is an advocate for women who are victims of domestic violence.”

Groups Weigh In On Monserrate Arrest

“This case is playing out as so many domestic violence cases do, the one charged with the crime says the stabbing was an accident and the person who was injured refuses to cooperate with prosecutors,” Sonia Ossorio, president of the National Organization for Women in New York City, said. “Regardless of whether he ends up with a felony conviction or a misdemeanor, he is unfit to hold office.”

College Point Pepsi plant a power producer

Survivalists are not the only ones eager to live off the electrical grid. Many manufacturers would prefer to produce their own power as a way to cut costs.

PepsiCo, for example, received $1 million from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to cover about half of a $2.35 million combined heat and power system that it installed last year in its 160,000-square-foot bottling plant in College Point, Queens. It is one of at least 45 companies, including The New York Times, that have received such grants in the last half decade.

To slash its electric consumption, Pepsi installed four 400-kilowatt generators powered by natural gas that produce about 80 percent of the electricity needed to run the filling, packaging and processing machines. The price of natural gas, which was already being used to run the plant’s boilers, is relatively stable, unlike electricity, which shoots up during peak times, like summer days.

Not coincidentally, summer days are when the bottling plant is busiest.

By producing its own energy, the company is also eligible for a New York City program that pays Pepsi about 4 cents for every kilowatt-hour that it produces on-site.

In Queens, Pepsi Is Bottling Soda Under Its Own Steam

Bloomberg begins vote-buying process

Two of Mayor Bloomberg's crucial voting bases got some transit-related relief this month, just as his controversial campaign for a third term heats up.

The city agreed to change the headache-causing alternate-side parking rules for Riverdale residents, cutting the number of street-sweeping days in half. And Staten Island express-bus riders found out that a possible $2.50 fare hike will be, at most, $1.25, compliments of the mayor.

Both Riverdale and Staten Island heavily favored Bloomberg in his contentious 2005 race against Fernando Ferrer.

"He needs to be sure people aren't angry at city government in this current economic climate with an election upcoming," said Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause, New York. "He doesn't want to tick people off."


Too late. I guess he hasn't finished formulating his strategy for Queens yet.

Americans competing with illegals for work

For the first time in a decade, unskilled immigrants are competing with Americans for work. And evidence is emerging that tens of thousands of Hispanic immigrants are withdrawing from the labor market as U.S. workers crowd them out of potential jobs. At least some of the foreigners are returning home.

Growers across the country are reporting that farmhands are plentiful; in fact, they are turning down potential field workers. "For the first time since 9/11, we have applicants in excess of our requirements," says Bob Gray, chief executive of Duda Farm Fresh Foods Inc., a grower, packer and shipper based in Salinas, Calif.

In particular, Mr. Gray has observed an influx of U.S.-born Latinos and other workers who previously shunned field work. "These are domestic workers who appear to be displacing immigrants," says Mr. Gray.

A similar situation has emerged in U.S. cities from New York to Los Angeles, where unemployed, nonimmigrant laborers are seeking informal work that typically has been performed by low-skilled immigrants that once commanded a 50% premium over the hourly minimum wage.

U.S. Workers Crowding Out Immigrant Laborers

Dozens of Willets Point owners fighting to stay

"You cannot have a situation where one building owner sits there and sticks it to the whole city." - Mayor Michael Bloomberg in reference to the use of eminent domain at Willets Point, April 2008.

Okay, how about more than one building owner?

Attorneys and organizers from the Institute of Justice met with dozens of property owners from Willets Point in Flushing last week in hopes of hashing out a plan to halt the project or the potential use of eminent domain, which would transform the 60-acre area into a sprawling commercial and residential neighborhood.

The collection of property owners formed a new group, Willets Point United Against Eminent Domain, which hope to lobby Gov. David Paterson next month to block the project.

Willets Point property owners regroup

The Art of the Flip-Flop

November 13, 2008: "Everybody wins on this project," said City Councilman Hiram Monserrate (D-Queens), who represents Willets Point and helped negotiate the breakthrough pact.

Still unsettled, however, is forging agreements with dozens of still-balking private property owners without using the mandatory acquisition process known as eminent domain. - by bivmvideo

Flushing gets Muss-ed up

Queens Chronicle interview with Muss Development Vice President Jason A. Muss

Q. How has the economic situation affected your operations? Has it impacted Sky View Parc, the big condo and retail complex you’re building in Flushing?

A. The economic situation is affecting every aspect of our operations. There’s no hiding from the fact that things are just not as flush as they were. ... It’s simply not the days of year-over-year increases and overwhelmingly wonderful things happening all the time. Sky View Parc is ... a project that can’t be duplicated anywhere in New York City, based on the fact that you will not find another 15-acre parcel located smack in the middle of Queens, in the middle of two airports, [with] a subway, a Long Island Rail Road station and the biggest bus terminal in Queens, all within two blocks of the site.

Actually, there is a nearby 64-acre parcel located smack in the middle of Queens, in the middle of two airports, [with] a subway, a Long Island Rail Road station and the biggest bus terminal in Queens, all within two blocks of the site. Sounds like
Muss doesn't plan to bid on that one. Hmmm...we're narrowing the contenders down even further. NY1 also did an ad/story about this project.

P.S. Thank you Jason...we don't have enough people in Flushing now.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Schools are suffering

Principals and parents complained of cramped, poorly ventilated conditions at northeastern Queens schools last week during Community District Education Council 26’s monthly meeting.

The meeting’s attendees told the council and city School Construction Authority representatives that children in the district suffer in overheated classrooms that are operating over capacity. Council members said that at least 20 regional schools needed to have their electrical systems upgraded.

Parents air school complaints

That's really too bad and an expensive, hard problem to have to tackle. So let's build the City's next great neighborhood at Willets Point instead...

Hiram's heir apparent

An aide to City Council candidate Julissa Ferraras emailed to say she’s having several fund-raisers between now and January 11th, with a few notable hosts, including State Assemblyman Jose Peralta and City Council members Leroy Comrie, Diana Reyna and Letitia James.

The name-dropping shows some continuity of support among other elected officials despite the now-unhelpful qualification that was once perceived to be Ferraras' biggest strength: her job as chief of staff to Councilman Hiram Monserrate, who is supposed to be leaving the Council for the State Senate.

Before that, Ferraras was tied to a non-profit group whose financial relationship with Monserrate has been questioned.

Friends of Julissa Ferraras

Excellent! Sounds like just the right person to fill Hiram's shoes!

LIJ gives gifts to vets on their payroll

The North Shore−Long Island Jewish Health System surprised six of its employees who had served in the military since 2003 during an intimate luncheon Tuesday by giving each of them a check that made up the difference between their military pay and the salary they would have earned with the hospital had they been home.

“The purpose of this is to basically say ‘Thank you,’ ” said Michael Dowling, chief executive officer of North Shore−LIJ. “We do know that this is an extraordinary commitment that you make. This is just a brief recognition to say, ‘Thanks.’ ”

The health system handed out more than $182,000 combined to the employees.

North Shore−LIJ is the largest employer on Long Island and among the largest in the city. It has 25 employees who have served in the military within the last five years, including 10 who are still in service.

LIJ employees who served in military get holiday surprise

Time to stick a fork in Ratner

From Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn:

Right about now, in the midst of an historic fiscal and budget crisis, leaders in New York State and City really need to be considering what is best for all New Yorkers and how to spread and share sacrifice.

There is plenty waste and wishful, head-in-sand thinking going on with the Atlantic Yards development proposal, and if our political leaders finally get tired of Forest City Ratner's baloney (the observant public has been tired of it for years) they have plenty of ways to terminate the project and start over in an appropriate, public-minded manner.

Noticing New York blogger Michael D. D. White lays out a few termination sugggestions and asks you for your input.

Inspector once worked for cranes' owner

A top city inspector who pushed to keep using two unsafe cranes that collapsed onto Manhattan streets once worked for the cranes' owner, the Daily News has learned.

Former chief crane inspector Michael Carbone worked for James Lomma, owner of the two doomed cranes, for five years before joining the Buildings Department in 1999.

They served together on the department's influential Cranes and Derricks Advisory Council, and Carbone approved permits for both Lomma-owned cranes before they toppled at East Side construction sites.

The approvals came even after a key Buildings Department supervisor and outside experts warned of potential dangers involving both cranes.

Carbone resigned in July, after Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri accused him of "neglect of duty."

LiMandri refused to provide details, saying the case was part of an "ongoing internal investigation." Criminal probes of both collapses are underway.

Top city crane inspector worked for company in two fatal collapses

Checking our health stats

The state Department of Health created a tool that allows New Yorkers to check whether 12 preventable conditions -- like diabetes, asthma and high blood pressure -- are predominant in their zip code.

The system will let health officials and local health lobbyists identify gaps in services to specific communities, and target them for the most needed improvements. It's part of the state Health Department's larger goal of getting more New Yorkers covered under primary care -- instead of waiting until serious illness sets in, requiring expensive long-term treatment.

Despite being among the top three states in per capita health care spending, New York ranks 39th among states for hospital admissions for preventable conditions, according to the health department.

N.Y. Develops New System for Tracking Health Risk

(Click photo to go to interactive map)

Who have we heard this from before?

A defiant Caroline Kennedy says she "wouldn't be beholden to anybody" - including Mayor Bloomberg - if she's picked to become New York's next U.S. senator.

"I'm really coming into this as somebody who isn't, you know, part of the system, who obviously, you know, stands for the values of, you know, the Democratic Party," Kennedy told the Daily News Saturday during a wide-ranging interview.

"I know how important it is to, you know, to be my own person. And, you know, and that would be obviously true with my relationship with the mayor."

Kennedy, sipping on peppermint tea at an upper East Side diner, was responding to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who said she could be more beholden to Bloomberg than Gov. Paterson, who will make the Senate appointment.

JFK's daughter has been helped behind the scenes by the mayor's top aide, Kevin Sheekey. She has also hired a political consulting firm with ties to Bloomberg.

Caroline Kennedy tells Daily News: I wouldn't be beholden to anybody

And you're rich so you can't be bought by anyone, right?

Why you should take mass transit

By the time the bus got to 125th Street at Lexington Avenue, frustration had hit fever pitch.

Passengers on the M60 bus who had already been forced to stand were pressed against the doors. Others, trapped by tall suitcases, could not get up from their seats. Two dozen people with yet more bags tried to board, but a wave of exiting riders, shouting loudly, pushed them right back off. The same scene was replayed at the next stop, Third Avenue.

“They pack us in like cattle,” said Clay Crawford, 40, who lives in Harlem and was commuting to his job as a security guard in Queens. “Who wants this?”

Flo Lyle, 60, an Upper West Side resident, nodded. “If there’s one line in the city calling out for more buses, it’s this one,” she said.

Or, given that the M60 is the only public-transit option directly from Manhattan to La Guardia Airport, at least increased service at travel-heavy times like Christmas, suggested other sardine-packed riders this week as the bus inched its way along 125th Street.

Catching a Full-Up Plane? Take This Overstuffed Bus

Cash-poor undergraduates...flock to the M60, whose $2 fare is far cheaper than the $12 charged by New York Airport Service, a private company that runs buses to La Guardia from Grand Central Terminal, the Port Authority Bus Terminal and other Midtown locations — never mind a taxi ride that can easily top $30, including tolls and tips.

Ridership on the M60, a route that was begun in 1992, has grown by 263 percent in the last 10 years, according to Charles Seaton, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

And the M60 is not the only bus getting more crowded.

¿Que pasa en la Casa Antigua?

Let me know how my Spanish translation skills are 'cause I'm a bit rusty...

"Inviting all for days and nights of happiness.


See a live singer dance with your partner and if you're a good dancer win cash prizes or free drinks.


Night of big surprises - win a "surprise girl" to dance with the purchase of 75 dollars of mixed drinks or pina coladas or margaritas.


Have your favorite sexy nurse cure your ills and with your consent more and many more gifts.


We already have a police doll that wants to punish you for your arrest you deserve to get everything you want and dream.

Friday & Saturday

Live music with the groups that you know and if you want to celebrate your birthday, divorce or bachelor party just call, we are preparing everything to bring your partner or find one here.

Hot Sunday

Sexy girls and a surprise gift to the first key persons - shirts and other surprises but with the new name. We have billiards, foosball, ATM and other things. Open 7 days.

New administration is to see the law."

Apparently, a woman with fake boobs is waiting to paddle you (and God knows what else) at the Casa Antigua.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Boat-dwelling hipsters trying to keep it secret

The ship is owned by a 29-year-old real estate investor named Jonathan, who spoke on the condition that his last name not be published and the precise location of the ship and its name not be mentioned because its status is legally murky. Jonathan, who lives on the ship, said it is registered as required, but, tied up to some steel pegs embedded in a concrete wall, it does not pay docking fees to a private marina or the city. He said he found the ferry on and bought it in 2007 for a price he would not disclose except to say, “All of my friends spend more on their tiny studio apartments than I do on this.”

Originally, Jonathan hired workers to remove benches, with dreams of turning the ferry into a proper residence or a floating playground, complete with helipad, and of mooring it in a more proper location. But those plans were scrapped as the economy soured this summer. The ship’s five residents have a Christmas tree, a full-size refrigerator and even a drum set on the ship, but generally brush their teeth and use the toilets at local cafes and shower at friends’ apartments.

"Summer is better than winter," he said. "But even that gets too hot. And you can smell the sewage from the sewage outflow sometimes."

The Urban Pirate Life: Making a Ferry a Home in NYC

Let's see... it smells like sewage and has the Pulaski Bridge in the background. Can't imagine where this is.

More reading news online than in print

NEW YORK -- It was destined to happen -- it was just a matter of when.

The internet has reportedly surpassed the newspaper as the primary source of national and international news for Americans.

A study by "The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press," says that 40 percent of people now turn to the internet versus 35 percent who turn to newspapers for their information and news.

Click here for more information on the study by The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

City kicks Broad Channel fire squad in the ass

FOR a century, the Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department has occupied a small red firehouse about 400 feet from the waters of Jamaica Bay, Queens. The building, with one garage door, barely accommodates the department’s fleet of two ambulances and two fire trucks, one of which bears the volunteers’ nom de guerre, “Renegade Warriors.”

In the mid-1990s, the group bought a plot of land on Cross Bay Boulevard, the island’s main thoroughfare, with the goal of constructing a new building that would be part firehouse and part community center.

The volunteers raised a good deal of money for the building, and things began to look especially promising in 2005, when, with the support of Representative Anthony Weiner and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, $2 million in federal transportation money was earmarked for the project.

Since then, the leaders of the volunteer firehouse have been navigating the serpentine process of acquiring approvals for the project from state and city agencies. But they say their plans have been blocked for several months by the city.

The Little Engines That Couldn’t

Yeah, the City says it's too expensive. God forbid we should spend tax money on protecting the lives of the public. Much better to concentrate on priorities like this: Res 1686-2008.

The party's over for developers

Nearly $5 billion in development projects in New York City have been delayed or canceled because of the economic crisis, an extraordinary body blow to an industry that last year provided 130,000 unionized jobs, according to numbers tracked by a local trade group.

The setbacks for development — perhaps the single greatest economic force in the city over the last two decades — are likely to mean, in the words of one researcher, that the landscape of New York will be virtually unchanged for two years.

Downturn Ends Building Boom in New York

New York’s development world is rife with such stories as developers who have been busy for years are killing projects or scrambling to avoid default because of the credit crunch.

Group: Term limits vote violated human rights

On Dec. 10, Manhattan’s Human Rights Project released its annual human rights report, which analyzed which City Council members proposed the most legislation on environmental issues, health, housing, workers’ rights, democracy and advancing equality.

The study found that the Council has passed legislation during the past year that advanced the human rights of women, youth, immigrants, members of the city’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, the elderly and people of color.

But the Council scored lower on its record of advancing democracy and protecting workers’ rights, the study found.

The study cited Council members’ votes on term limits as one of its most defining in 2008. The report card gave 29 Council members an F grade for their vote in favor of extending term limits after city residents had voted in two previous elections to keep a two−term limit.

Avella ranked best in Queens on human rights

Queens in black-and-white

Although Mr. Sternfeld works in color and Mr. Gohlke in black and white, they share an abiding fascination with the visible traces of everyday life on the landscape, and Queens presented them with an exciting challenge. For nearly two years, they traveled the borough, a microcosm of America’s ethnic diversity in which postwar neighborhoods have been transformed by new arrivals from every corner of the globe.

Little Boxes, Transformed by the Years

Mr. Gohlke circumnavigated the borough to examine the points at which it met the East River, Long Island and Brooklyn; he also explored its many parks. But much of the time, he said, “I drove around and let my eyes lead me.”

Walking around neighborhoods, he was often drawn to the borough’s omnipresent and seemingly nondescript single-family houses. By focusing on lovingly added modifications, such as ceremonial ironwork and geometrically cut shrubbery, Mr. Gohlke brings to the fore Queens’s more mundane architecture and the distinctive presence of its current residents.

Steinway goes solar

Steinway & Sons prides itself on sticking with old-fashioned manufacturing methods in building pianos. But installing energy-saving technology at its factory in Queens, just across Bowery Bay from La Guardia Airport? That is another story.

The wide, flat roof of one building in Steinway’s 11-acre complex in Long Island City has become a field of parabolic-mirrored solar panels.

They are the most visible sign of an $870,000 system that will soon provide cool air to dehumidify the hammers and other small moving parts that can be affected by changes in the moisture in the air.

Coming Soon at Steinway, Solar Power

Caroline supports Queens preservation

A Richmond Hill elementary school may be the first in Queens to gain landmark status after the city Landmarks Preservation Commission considered the school’s case last week.

PS 66 was constructed in 1898 and has Victorian features, including round arches and a bell tower used to notify children on farms that school was starting.

PS 66 was known as the Brooklyn Hills School when it opened in 1901, after the name of a nearby development. It was renamed the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School in 2001, Leinwand said, in part because she promoted literacy and had a passion for historic preservation.

At the Manhattan hearing last week, Leinwand said LPC Commissioner Robert Tierney read a letter of endorsement from Onassis’ daughter, Caroline Kennedy.

Rich. Hill’s PS 66 up for landmark

The Burden on Briarwood

Two of the closest streets to this location are Burden Crescent and Manton Street. With names like those, you know crap's a comin' to house the tweeded.
The exact addresses are 141-27 & 141-29 84th Drive in Briarwood. Two quaint 1-family houses are being replaced by two 10-unit shitboxes. I see that Councilman James Gennaro has been looking out for the welfare of the neighborhood in between the stuffing of his pockets with campaign cash from developers.

Flooding? So what? Power outages? So what? Kids learning in hallways and trailers? So what? There'll soon be a bike lane on Queens Blvd and all will be right with the world.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Brothers play hot potato with council seat

State Assemblymember Mark Weprin has confirmed that "if the seat opens up - and it looks like it will," he will run for the City Council 23rd District seat currently held by his brother David in November.

"David has said he is running for [city] Comptroller and Bill Thompson [the current city Comptroller] said he is running for Mayor - I take them at their word," he told The Queens Courier on Tuesday, December 23.

Mark Weprin to run for Council

Mike's double standards

I love these 2 posts from Yoda over at Room Eight. They're straight to the point and they use Bloomberg's own words to make him look like a contradictory fool.

Mike's Double Standard

Another Double Standard From Mike

Also, the "innocent until proven guilty" concept only applies when Bloomberg says it does.

Units just ain't selling

While many brokers and developers are hyping to the public that there are sales taking place, the truth, according to industry leaders, is that little or no sales activity has taken place since the fall of Lehman Brothers in September. The combination of layoffs, reduction in bonuses, the frantic stock market and the fallout of Bernie Madoff's empire is creating havoc in the fragile market.

And units that are closing, some experts say, are generally those in buildings that have made some headway in terms of construction.

Trade sources say that at least 10 percent of scheduled closings are not taking place due to purchasers' inability to secure mortgage financing. In the rare case where closings are taking place, developers are "overjoyed that closings have finally occurred," the managing director said.

Letter to Santa Claus: "Please help me sell my condo units"

Look out below!

A local City Council member is calling for tighter scrutiny of construction projects after a piece of limestone from the under-construction Laurel condominium damaged the roof of an adjacent school.

Last Thursday, the limestone tile fell from the construction site onto the roof of the school next door, said the developer of the Laurel, Izak Senbahar of the Alexico Group. The Laurel, a 30-story tower at 400 East 67th Street at First Avenue, was also the site of a construction worker's death in April.

"I'd like to see greater scrutiny on sites where children are at risk and people are dying," said City Council member Jessica Lappin, whose district includes the Laurel as well as 303 East 51st Street, the site of a May crane collapse that killed seven people.

The building adjacent to the Laurel, owned by the Church of St. John Nepomucene, is rented by an English/Italian bilingual school, Guglielmo Marconi, La Scuola d'Italia. The school, which serves students from kindergarten through 12th grade, has its main campus at 12 East 96th Street but holds some of its classes at an annex on 67th Street, school staff said.

There was some damage to the roof of the building, a church spokesperson said, adding that students were attending classes during the incident but no one was hurt.

Laurel accident prompts more calls for construction oversight

Unions to start construction fund

New York construction unions, anxious to keep their members employed as building in the city slows, are exploring starting a fund to help finance real estate projects.

Ed Malloy, President of the Building and Construction Trades Council, says the unions may put $100 million of pension fund money into a fund that would fund various construction projects. However, he said the unions would seek matching funds from the city and the state to create a fund of $300 million. A proposal will be sent to government officials next year.

“As the days go on you hear about more projects with financial problems and we really want to do something to help,” said Mr. Malloy.

The unions are already negotiating with contractors in an effort to lower labor costs by up to 25%. Louis Coletti, chief executive of the Building Trades Employers’ Association, which represents contractors, estimated that labor accounts for 50% to 60% of a construction job’s cost. Union workers earn an average of $60 to $70 hour.

The hope is that lower labor costs will bring down the cost of total construction enough to make financing easier to obtain when banks begin lending again.

Construction unions may finance building projects

Developers play the waiting game

With lenders going into bankruptcy and the sales market disappearing, developers all over New York are facing choices about how to ride out this down cycle.

"If you go past construction sites, there are buildings with cranes that aren't moving," said Shaun Osher, CEO and founder of Core Group Marketing. "There are half-built buildings where there's no construction happening."

However, the choice of whether to "mothball" a project isn't always up to the developer — sometimes the decision is made for him by the current lack of loan availability.

Developers mothballing projects -- when they can

Chapel Farm - a wasted opportunity

From the New York Historical Society:

Chapel Farm is located in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, New York. The area is not actually a farm, but a forest. The property was originally a religious retreat for the Griscom family, the founders of the Theosophical Society. Ludlow Griscom was the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Audubon Society for many years. In 1969 Chapel Farm was bought by Manhattan College to build dormitories, but used it as an environmental research station. Due to declining enrollment, Manhattan College started seeking a buyer. Over the next three decades many development plans were put forth, but never went through. One deal did proceed and the College sold five acres at the northern end of Chapel Farm to SGD Corporation. This sale included the lease of the "mansion", which is a house built by the Griscom family, for 99 years and a 99 year renewal.

The entire parcel is 17 acres. Ideal for the City to purchase for use as a much needed park, school or just to protect the many acres of trees that help to clean our environment, right?

Wrong. A developer bought the property and is currently building 15 luxury mansions that aren't selling.

The French Provincial and colonial mansions...have been available for rent — at a price tag of $35,000 a month — for some time. An online ad boasted that the homes would be ideal for the traveling diplomat or executive, but apparently there have been no takers.

After a fight with Board 8 and the Fieldston Property Owners Association that took him as far as federal court, Mr. Fitzgerald won the right to build on his land in 2004. He then had to contend with serious drainage issues. Neighbors complained as recently as last year that despite his efforts to engineer a solution to the flooding problems, runoff from his property continued to flood their homes.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Hiram tried to destroy evidence


State Sen.-elect Hiram Monserrate flew into a rage and slashed his girlfriend in the face with a piece of broken glass because he believed the business card he spotted in her bag belonged to an ex-boyfriend, sources said.

Investigators found the card at the bottom of the garbage chute in Monserrate's Jackson Heights apartment building after he was caught on surveillance video trying to toss her bag in the trash, the sources said.

The video also captured Monserrate's girlfriend, Karla Giraldo, 30, running screaming down the hallway holding a towel to her bleeding face and pounding on neighbors' doors for help.

Monserrate, 41, a Democratic city councilman and ex-cop, is then seen pulling her back to his apartment, sources said.

He then drove her to Long Island Jewish Medical Center, nearly 15 miles from his home, where she received 20 stitches. He was arrested and charged with assaulting Giraldo, who has stopped cooperating with investigators.

And let's recall this statement: “I would like to reiterate to my constituents and community that I have absolutely nothing to hide and all facts will become known at the appropriate time.” - Hiram Monserrate

Sure sounds like you were trying to hide a few things...

The result: the air is bad everywhere

Health Department to Study NYC Air Quality

NEW YORK (AP) -- The city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is launching a study of New York City's air quality.

The New York City Community Air Survey will use air pollution monitors throughout the five boroughs to measure pollutants.

The data will be collected over the next year from 150 locations, each of which will be monitored for two-week periods.

The department said the locations are mixed in terms of building density, traffic patterns, and tree cover to reflect the variety of environments in the city.

When Good Government Groups go bad


While change has come to the executive branch in Washington, New York’s City and State governments are in free fall. We not only have permanent dysfunction in Albany (run by special interest lobbyists), now we have the City’s elected officials ignoring the vote and the will of the public, when they recently voted themselves an extra term in office. While not responsible for the failure of government the Good Government groups have been ineffectual in fixing its abuses. Sometime they have been too close with those in power. Before the U. S. Supreme Court overruled the lower courts to restore the Tammany style judicial convents, the Good Government groups were trying to work out a comprise by keeping the conventions and allowing candidates to go the petition route to run for Supreme Court. Since the highest court ruled to restore the party machine-controlled conventions, there has not been a peep out of the groups who say they fight for judicial reform.

Change Has Not Come to New York . . . Why?

CB1 says no to home for mentally ill

A proposed Astoria home for mentally ill homeless adults has provoked a surge of opposition from neighbors who fear it will hinder much-needed development in the isolated community.

Urban Pathways, a nonprofit social services agency, plans to establish a 50-unit supportive housing complex at 27th Ave. and Second St. If it receives state funding, it could open in about two years.

Community leaders said the location was inappropriate because recovering addicts would have easy access to illegal drugs sold at a nearby public housing complex.

[CB1 member Jean Marie] D'Alleva added the project could deter a developer interested in creating waterfront housing a block away.

The board voted 35-1 against supporting the proposed residence.

Housing for mentally ill irks Astoria

City Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., in a November 18 letter to Governor David Paterson, said he opposed the $14 million plan for the 50-unit supportive housing residence.

Board 1 Opposes Urban Pathways' Building

Here's an it next door to his house.

(Pictured is Urban Pathways Executive Director Fred Shack.)

Toxic cleanup in LIC complete

After eight months and 3,000 trucks hauling 80,000 tons of toxic materials, the remediation of a highly contaminated section of Queens West is complete, officials from cleanup subcontractor Posillico Environmental announced last week.

The removal of polluted soil and groundwater clears the way for the extension of Center Boulevard and adjacent Gantry Plaza State Park to Anable Basin on the East River, according to Queens West Development Corp. President Paul Januszewski.

Unfortunately for residents looking for a respite from the near-constant construction — the cleanup was only the beginning.

Utility trenches for the new towers are expected to be dug within the month. And Rockrose expects to .break ground on the first rental tower in March.

Clean up of toxic site at Queens West complete

Landmarking Ridgewood's Mathews flats

Historical experts are urging the city to landmark a 91-building section of Ridgewood, protecting it from being altered or destroyed in the future.

The city Landmarks Commission held a hearing Dec. 16 to consider designating the area, bounded by Forest Avenue, Woodbine Street, Fairview Avenue and Linden Avenue, as historic. Both the Historic Districts Council and the area’s councilwoman-elect gave statements supporting the proposal.

The area is important because it illustrates the development of one of the most influential and successful model tenement neighborhoods in the city. Known as the Mathews Flats, the buildings were developed by the G.X. Mathews Company and constructed between 1908 and 1911.

The Flats, designed by Louis Allmendinger, were built on wide lots and most provide two apartments on each of the three floors, totalling six apartments per unit.

Preserving Ridgewood’s history

Interesting statements regarding Hiram

[Bronx Sen. Ruth] Hassell-Thompson said she finds it "very ironic" that the "other conference" has chosen not to be quiet on the topic of Monserrate, adding: "I guess I could point to a lot of different issues that probably should have been brought against some of their members." (Hassell-Thompson is chair of the Senate's Domestic Violence Task Force)

Yes! It's always a great strategy to dismiss someone's bad behavior by pointing out the bad behavior of others.

“It seems so unreal that a person with a reputation of defending victims of domestic violence would be charged with such a crime.” - Ann Jawin, founder of the Center for Women in New York.

Yes! We all know that it could never be that those who advocate vociferously against something couldn't possibly be doing that very thing behind closed doors.

"I'd rather have Vito Fossella loving two families than Hiram Monserrate attacking, allegedly, one girlfriend." - WNYC radio host Brian Lehrer


History of MacNeil Park

St. Paul's College opened in 1839 and closed 10 years later. But the name for this area of Queens - "College Point" - stuck. After the school closed, the Chisholm family erected a stone mansion on the site.
This photo from the New York Public Library shows the mansion which was built in 1848. The city took over the property in the 1930s and created "College Point Park". Mayor LaGuardia used the mansion as his "Summer City Hall" in 1937.
In 1939, the city decided to demolish the mansion. In 1966, Mayor Lindsey renamed the park after Hermon MacNeil, a College Point sculptor who was known across the nation, mostly for designing the "Standing Liberty" quarter.