Sunday, June 30, 2013

Union plasters strike warnings all over Grand Avenue

Took another stroll along Grand Avenue this weekend and here's what I found:

Signs warning the members of Local 79 that a strike is coming Monday morning.

I don't know why they are taped to telephone poles and parking meters along Grand Avenue.

We have telephones, faxes and e-mail these days, which certainly are better ways to communicate with members.

Term limits and temper come back to bite Quinn in the ass

From the NY Times:

In the Bayside section of Queens, a volunteer had barely begun her sales pitch for Christine C. Quinn’s mayoral campaign when the middle-aged man who answered the door cut her off. “She was the one responsible, in the City Council, for giving Bloomberg a third term,” he barked. “I hold that against her.”

The volunteer calmly countered that it was New Yorkers, not Ms. Quinn, who “voted the mayor back in.”

In Astoria, Queens, a woman in her 30s told another Quinn volunteer that the candidate’s sometimes brash personality had rubbed her the wrong way.

The volunteer gamely explained that Ms. Quinn’s flashes of temper “come from a place of love and passion.”

For all its financial might and political firepower, Ms. Quinn’s once high-flying bid for mayor has suddenly plummeted back to earth, shedding its coveted front-runner status and foreclosing the possibility of a painless path to City Hall. So with two months left in an increasingly unpredictable Democratic primary, she is dispatching a volunteer army unlike any in the race to every corner of New York City, determined not just to promote her campaign, but also to systematically ferret out and rebut voters’ reservations and resentments toward her.

Losers, all

From the Daily News:

Unleashing passions that still burn today, the City Council voted in 2008 to allow New York officials to run for three terms in office, rather than just the two terms that voters have repeatedly commanded.

This history has placed 10 incumbents in position to run for third terms this November. They are doing so in clear violation of the public will. Worse, five of the defiant 10 are members who actually voted against allowing officials to seek three terms.

The five members who voted for the extension and are defying the subsequent will of the voters are: Maria del Carmen Arroyo and Jimmy Vacca of the Bronx; Brooklynites Sara Gonzalez and Darlene Mealy, and Inez Dickens of Manhattan.

The five hypocrites who voted against allowing members to run three times but are doing so now are: Dan Garodnick, Melissa Mark-Viverito and Rosie Mendez of Manhattan; Vincent Gentile of Brooklyn, and Annabel Palma from the Bronx.

Once, they told their constituents that the city was best served by injecting fresh blood after eight years. Now, breaking their bond, they serve only political ambition.

Developer malfeasance causes restaurant to close

From WPIX:

Nom Wah Tea Parlor — a famous tea parlor in Chinatown — has been closed down for the past two weeks.

The owners say it’s because of a disagreement between them and the owner of another building.

Guess who’s in the middle of this one?

There was a time when a hand shake was all you needed to seal a deal. Yes, but today it’s wise to have a lawyer draw up a legal document so there is no room for misinterpretation.

This is what Wilson Tang was thinking. And unfortunately, that is why is restaurant is closed.

Mr. Noguchi, meet Mr. Crap

From Brownstoner Queens, we find out that the finishing touches are being put on this 3-family baby across the street from the Noguchi Museum.

The post says that Gerald Caliendo is the architect, but someone else is taking credit for it.

It's Frank Lloyd Crap! Welcome back!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Paul Vallone: Animal Advocate and Environmentalist?


How we decided which candidates to endorse:

NYCLASS staff and volunteers interviewed more than 60 candidates. All candidates were selected based on their support of animal protection issues such as:

Banning horse drawn carriages and/or replacing them with vintage electric cars
Reforming NYC Animal Care & Control (the city's shelter system)
Building animal shelters in the Bronx and Queens (which currently have none)
Banning puppy mills
Requiring all pet stores to install fire sprinklers
Protecting a senior citizens' right to have a companion animal

Peter Vallone, Sr. wanted to expand the area in which horse carriages could operate.
But I'm sure his son is not a chip off the old block, even though he can't stop mentioning how proud he is of his pop's record of service. And his brother wants to ban pit bulls but I'm sure Paul thinks that's a terrible idea as well.

Glad to hear Paul is against puppy mills. I wonder which shelter he got that Bichon Frisé from...

As for environmentalism, Paul's CB7 record includes voting yes on a variance for a hotel in the middle of a river, not showing up to vote on the USTA expansion (which includes a power plant), and being part of a lobbying firm that represented a toxic soil dumping developer. Rumor has it that his buddies are eyeing the old Whitestone CYO site for development as well, where the community wants a park.

Kind of perplexing why NYCLASS would pick Vallone considering all this. Oh.....wait! I forgot something from the NYCLASS website:

We also considered each candidates' leadership potential and winability.

Ah, in other words, if you were endorsed by County, NYCLASS will say that you're an animal advocate and an environmentalist. Even when you aren't.

Yet another fake advocacy group.

At this point, I'd rather trust the Dilluvios than NYCLASS. They took down their Vallone signs.

Soccer stadium coming to Queens-Nassau border?

From CBS New York:

The Islanders are moving to Brooklyn, but will Long Island soon gain a professional soccer team?

The New York Cosmos have big plans for a soccer stadium on the Queens/Nassau County border.

But as CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Wednesday, not everyone’s a fan of the idea.

In the shadow of Belmont racetrack, sits a specific parking lot. However, soon, weeds could be replaced with stadium grass, and parking stalls with sidelines.

The Cosmos, a world famous franchise that was reborn recently following three decades of dormancy, has proposed a 25,000-seat privately funded soccer stadium for the site. Proponents say it’s just what Long Island needs to generate jobs and tax revenue.

“The whole idea of taking a weed-infested parking lot and replacing that with a state-of-the-art $400 million stadium, I think, just makes all the sense in the world,” said state Sen. Jack Martins (R-7th District)

The local soccer club president welcomed community fields.

But not everyone in Belmont’s backyard is cheering. Critics are going door to door gathering signatures against the stadium.

“Selling hot dogs just does not translate into sustainable economic development for any community,” Elmont community activist Aubrey Phillips said.

“We know crime will come up and we also know that traffic will be a nuisance, and we don’t want our property values to go down any further,” added Milagros Vicentre of the North Valley Stream Neighborhood Association.

At least he didn't take it to a drive-thru

From the NY Post:

This guy’s taking the lunch break to new heights.

A grinning La Guardia Airport worker took a lunchtime joyride in a terminal stair car — even though such vehicles aren’t allowed on city streets.

The driver, a regular at a pizza joint near the airport, was spotted cruising in the Southwest Airlines vehicle on 19th Avenue at Hazen Street in Queens at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.

But as much as the joker enjoyed his unusual wheels, he’d better leave them on the runway next time.

“It is not legal to drive on a public street,” a DMV spokeswoman said.

Huge Rego Park apartment building sold again

From Crains:

Teaneck, N.J.-based Treetop Development, which three years ago began snapping up residential buildings across the Hudson River in northern Manhattan, has now jumped across a second river, the East.

The developer has acquired Saxon Hall, a 16-story rental apartment building located at 62-60 99th Street in Rego Park, Queens, for $85.25 million.

The purchase is Treetop's first in the borough. It's all part of a strategy to acquire "rental properties in emerging and undervalued New York City neighborhoods," according to a press release.

"Some of the strengths Queens has over Manhattan and Brooklyn is that tenants can get a significantly cheaper apartment, oftentimes a larger apartment, in a nicer building," said Adam Mermelstein, general partner at Treetop. "There's strong value in Queens."

Saxon Hall currently has 417 apartments ranging in size from studios to three-bedrooms and penthouse units, all of which have balconies.

It was last sold in 2008 for $74M.

Someone is suing to get Fat Boy back

From the Daily News:

A Queens-based filmmaker has sued the city over its hastily-enacted plan to pluck a deteriorating statue off Queens Blvd. and move it to Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

Robert LoScalzo claims the city has refused to turn over emails and other communications involving the removal of the Triumph of Civic Virtue from its longtime perch outside Queens Borough Hall.

“There are still too many unanswered questions,” said Jon Torodash, a Kew Gardens resident who led a campaign to keep the statue in Queens and is working with LoScalzo on the legal action. “How was a heavy construction project like this done in quick secrecy?”

Plans to move the statue were unveiled during a little-known Design Commission meeting in November, when most civic leaders and lawmakers were focused on recovery efforts after Superstorm Sandy.

One month later, the statue was moved to Green-Wood.

Cemetery officials said all of the conservation work on the statue has been completed and it is awaiting a new granite base.

Great, now you can bring it back to where it belongs.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Illegal stickers have ties to mafia and fake charity


Residents of Ridgewood and Bushwick likely have noticed the multitude of new “Cash for Cars" stickers that have appeared on signs and telephone poles throughout the neighborhood in recent weeks. These ads promise “300 & up" but provide no information about the entity behind them, just a phone number - 347-246-1637.

Seeking more information I recently called that number. A woman answered - "Cash for cars!" - and offered $200 and a tax receipt for $500 in exchange for my (fictitious) 20-year-old sedan. Asked if the tax receipt meant they were a non-profit, she replied that they worked with several non-profit organizations and that the money raised went “to the troops and the kids." Pressed for more information she said the tax receipt would be from the “Foundation of Dreams."

An internet search for the Foundation of Dreams turned up no such organization registered in New York State. Some websites suggested that a North Carolina-based Foundation of Dreams was associated with an address in Queens, but I found nothing definitive.

A search for the Cash for Cars telephone number turns up dozens of similar ads online, many in local newspapers’ classifieds. Most are as vague as the recent stickers but a few refer to a “Troops Relief Fund".

State records show that a Troops Relief Fund Inc was registered in 2008 by John Lomonaco of Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. The not-for-profit’s 2009 IRS filing (available on states “This organions [SIC] mission is to help the US Armed Forces by soliciting donation [SIC] and distributing these assets to organization [SIC] that help the US Armed Forces."

IRS filings from 2009 to 2012 show revenue of almost $150,000, with most of that spent on salaries, rent, utilities, advertising, and other expenses. Just $2,900 (or 2%) was spent on “donations" by the organization (the nature of these donations is not explained).

Further research finds that the organization’s secretary - an Ozone Park resident - is also secretary for Bless the Kids Fund Inc, a Hewlett NY not-for-profit which in 2009 reported revenue of $549,491 from “car sales" with 7% of that going to charity.

According to IRS filings the vice president of Bless the Kids Fund is a Mark Lomonaco, whose Facebook page features a photo of a Troops Relief Fund tow truck and a post from November 2012 promoting Foundation of Dreams, Bless the Kids and Troops Relief Fund, and with the same phone number as the recent sticker ads.

Mark Lomonaco turns out to be a former associate of Carmine Agnello (one-time Gambino Family soldier and John Gotti son-in-law). In 2000 Agnello, Lomonaco and five others were arrested and charged as the result of an investigation into organized crime in the scrap metal industry, during which an undercover police-run scrap yard in Queens was firebombed.

A 2001 press release by the Department of Justice stated that Lomonaco and the other defendants plead guilty to racketeering, extortion, arson, income tax fraud, and obliteration of vehicle identification numbers.

This is the best blog post I have read in a long time. GO GET 'EM!

FMCP mosaics won't be repaired this time

From the Queens Chronicle:

The mosaic tile discs encircling Flushing Meadows Corona Park’s Dinkins Circle are falling to bits — and in some cases they may not return.

The Parks Department has cordoned off the tile disks, which commemorate the park’s two World’s Fairs, to keep pedestrians from continuing to trample on them.

“Some areas that cannot be repaired will be replaced with hex block pavers,” said a Parks Department spokesman. “Cars are not allowed into David Dinkins Circle to prevent further damage to the mosaics.”

Tenants of foreclosed buildings want fixes

From the Queens Courier:

Hany Taha is afraid that his ceiling will collapse on him.

He has lived in the same apartment for 26 years, but now the ceiling is sinking. Although he has complained about it for seven months, nothing has happened.

Taha is a resident of one of six low-income apartment buildings in Ridgewood owned by Ridgewood Realty of L.I. The structures have accumulated a total of nearly 550 violations, according to the Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

At a rally on June 19 outside Manhattan’s bankruptcy court, residents and officials demanded to meet with the company that owns the mortgages — an investment firm called Stabilis Capital Management — to discuss finding a “new, responsible owner.”

About thirty families rent at the buildings in question, which have six units each. The rent ranges from $900 to $1,050 a month. Tenants make payments to a court-appointed receiver.

Residents want to continue living in the buildings, but fear that Stabilis will sell them to a group that wants to build luxury apartments.

“We are trying to resolve it, but we don’t own the buildings. We don’t have control over them,” a representative from Stabilis said. “We are prevented from taking action because of the bankruptcy that was taken by the owner.”

Residents’ complaints include no heat in the winter, leaks from ceilings, rat infestations, mold and cracked walls. The front doors to some of the buildings are missing knobs, and a number of locks are broken.

Flushing & Whitestone parking hogs

"As street parking is becoming increasingly difficult in this part of the neighborhood some tenants don't have any regard for their neighbor’s needs, they bring boats, trucks, schools buses and also big RV's to be stored permanently on the streets in front (or not) of their houses taking valuable parking space from their respective neighbors.

Others park cars for years and although is not against the law there should be an ordinance that help remove from the streets vehicles that have been there for more than an specified amount of time, also, not to allow vehicles bigger than a certain size to be stored not only preventing neighbors from parking but preventing the view, sunlight and breeze to reach certain dwelling units besides being eyesores.

In front of 21-17 147th Street in Whitestone there's what appears to be a huge covered RV permanently parked taking some two or three parking spaces.

Near the corner of Union Street and 26th Avenue in Flushing in front of the Mitchell Gardens #1 coop building 142-15 26th Avenue there's another RV type of truck color brown with license plates FCR-3579 that has been parked there for months now. It’s near the water hydrant in front of the playground

In front of 146-16 25th Rd in Flushing there's a black BMW parked on the street for years, I’ve been walking this block at least once a week for a long time now and this car has always been there in the same position, you can see the marks of time on the car’s body and tires. License plates AXM-9464.

In front of 144-13 26th Avenue in Flushing there’s a very long limousine belonging to Royal Way Limousine Inc with license plates T621443C that barely moves from this place, the owner could park blocking his/her own driveway in order to save someone else some space.

All these vehicles are taking someone else's parking space, most people in these parts need the street parking space because most tenants in the neighborhood rent and don't have the right to use the driveway since landlords store their property in the garage of the house they rent to other people." - anonymous

Quinn not being as bitchy as last year

From The Politicker:

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has long been accused of using the Council’s budget as a tool to punish those who cross her and keep members in line. But, as member item allocations have come under increased scrutiny in light of the mayor’s race, Ms. Quinn appears to have changed course.

Sources familiar with the camps of three of Ms. Quinn’s most vocal critics in recent months told Politicker Tuesday that their member allocations–which fund local community non-profits, including senior centers and after-school programs–will either remain steady or tick up slightly, according to preliminary numbers shared with their offices this week.

Queens Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., who has repeatedly accused Ms. Quinn of slashing his funding back in 2011 after he vocally opposed her plan to re-name the Queensboro Bridge after former Mayor Ed Koch, said he was informed in a meeting with Council staff on Sunday that his funding would remain about the same as last year–marking the first time in three years, he said, that his total has not been cut.

Another frequent critic, City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, who appeared on a CNN broadcast in March criticizing Ms. Quinn’s decision to slash her funding because of a mis-timed press release, as well as in a New York Times story on the subject, also appears to have been spared.

It was the same for Bronx Councilman Fernando Cabrera, who said Tuesday he was told his allocation would be the same as the last two years–despite his public threats to bypass Ms. Quinn and force two bills to vote.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Worker falls into basement of demo project

From NY1:

Fire crews on Thursday responded to a construction site in Queens after a worker fell into the basement of a home that's being demolished.

It happened around 8:30 a.m. at a property located at 181-14 Kildare Road in Jamaica Estates.

Officials say the worker, who is said to be in his 30's, suffered a head injury during the fall.

He was transported to Queens Hospital Center.

The Department of Buildings ordered the work stopped until the fall can be investigated.

Here's what it used to look like:

What's coming?


Uh huh.

Avella vs. Stavisky on FMCP parkland alienation

Watch Senator Avella denounce the USTA's alienation of parkland at 8:10:41 followed by Senator Stavisky urging her colleagues to vote in favor of it at 8:13:30.

Stop butchering street trees

From CBS New York:

Residents of certain sections of Queens have said their beautiful, tree-lined streets are being massacred, and the storms of the past year are not to blame.

Rather, as CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, the residents of Auburndale and Bayside blame Con Edison.

Con Edison contractors have been making the rounds trimming trees around power lines. But the odd-looking end results are not aesthetically acceptable for the many neighbors.

Con Ed officials said, “Overgrown and fallen tree limbs are the leading cause of power outages during storms, and their tree maintenance program is critical in keeping the lights on.

But some residents argued there has to be a better option.

“The ultimate solution is to put the wires underground, because this way it’s for safety reasons,” said Henry Euler of the Auburndale Civic Association. “And it’s less likely to lose power during storms and it just looks better in the neighborhood.”

Whitestone Cinemas to become mall

From Jeremiah's Vanishing New York:

The Whitestone multiplex cinema has shuttered after 30 years in business. It was purchased for $30 million last year by real estate development company the Lightstone Group, who will be turning the site into New York City's first outlet mall.

The Lightstone Group is best known these days for its massive luxury development of Gowanus, but they have developed a number of outlet malls--full of typical mall chain stores. The one at Whitestone will be a chain itself--in the Paragon Outlets chain of outlets--and will "feature an open-air racetrack design and showcase over 100 global brands."

Whitestone Cinemas opened in 1983, when its owner, media magnate Sumner Redstone, decided that an indoor cinema, with lots of screens, would be more lucrative than his father's old drive-in. Mr. Redstone credits himself with inventing the word "multiplex," which he trademarked it in 1973.

Jamaica High School landmarked

From DNA Info:

The building that once housed Jamaica High School, designed by prominent Brooklyn architect William Tubby in the Dutch Revival style, was granted New York City landmark status, the Landmarks Preservation Commission announced Tuesday.

The three-story building on Hillside Avenue, constructed in 1896, housed Jamaica High School until 1927.

Tubby, known for his historical revival style projects, also designed the Pratt Institute Library in Brooklyn.

He chose the Dutch Revival style for Jamaica to acknowledge the area’s earliest European settlers, according to information provided by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Contrasting decorative details, stepped gables, arched windows and a tall roof with high chimneys are typical elements of the style, according to the commission.

5Pointz doesn't want to move to MOMA

From DNA Info:

With 5Pointz facing the threat of demolition, one Long Island City resident has been publicly offering up his own solution to save the Queens graffiti mecca: move it to MoMA PS1 across the street — an idea that was met with skepticism by the art group.

Kris Schrey, who lives nearby and runs a local parents group, thinks MoMA PS1 could offer up the gray walls outside the museum's exterior as a canvas for graffiti artists, who are likely to be displaced by a plan to tear down 5Pointz to build two luxury apartment towers.

But Marie Cecile Flageul, an event planner who serves as a 5Pointz spokesperson, said the group thought the idea was well-intentioned but impractical.

"I love that people have ideas and they talk about it, but it's obviously coming from someone who doesn’t know anything about the building," she said, referring to the 200,000-square-foot factory space at 45-46 Davis St. that 5Pointz currently calls home.

"We're certainly not going to compromise and take two cement walls across the street," she added, saying 5Pointz artists produce over a thousand pieces a year and that dozens of artists work at the space every weekend.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Forest Park Carousel landmarked

From CBS New York:

A 1910 carousel featuring 46 hand-carved horses, a lion, tiger and deer has been declared a New York City landmark.

The Forest Park Carousel in Woodhaven, Queens, is the city’s first carousel to get the designation.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously approved it Tuesday.

The two-tiered, three-row carousel was manufactured by the celebrated Philadelphia carousel maker D.C. Muller & Brother.

It was originally made for Lakeview Park in Dracut, Mass.

The carousel began operating in the 500-acre Forest Park in 1973. It also has an ornate band organ manufactured by the A. Ruth & Sohn Organ Company in Waldkirch, Germany.

It doesn't stand in the way of development and will add to the LPC's Queens tally, so it was designated.

Weiner first in polling

From NBC:

Democratic mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner has surged ahead of his opponents in a new NBC 4 New York/Wall Street Journal poll, transforming himself in just a few weeks from disgraced has-been to mayoral front-runner.

Weiner, who entered the race two years after resigning his congressional seat amid a sexting scandal, now leads City Council Speaker Christine Quinn in the crowded Democratic primary, setting up a new phase in what could end up being a remarkable political comeback.

Weiner leads Quinn 25 percent to 20 percent among registered Democrats, the poll by Marist found. That's a flip-flop from the last survey in May, when Quinn, the longtime front-runner, led Weiner 24 percent to 19 percent.

Just as telling is the number of registered New York voters who said they might vote for Weiner. Forty-nine percent said they’d consider it, up from 40 percent two months ago, before Weiner entered the race. Those who said they wouldn’t consider voting for him dropped from 52 percent to 45 percent.

The next closest contender in the Democratic primary is former Comptroller Bill Thompson, with 13 percent of registered Democrats saying they'd vote for him, up 2 percentage points from May. Public Advocate Bill de Blasio follows with 10 percent, who dropped 2 points. Then comes current Comptroller John Liu at 8 percent, Staten Island minister Erick Salgado at 2 percent and former City Councilman Sal Albanese at 1 percent.

Legislators helping out developers

From the NY Times:

Seven years ago, the New York State Legislature ruled out tax breaks for Midtown Manhattan developments unless they included affordable units; reformers noted reasonably that there was no shortage of construction cranes and fortunes to be had in that neighborhood. In all, 150,000 units in New York City receive the 421-a property tax abatements, for $1.1 billion in lost revenue for the city.

Whatever. A subsidy is like catnip for a developer; the more difficult the pursuit, the more glorious the catch.

State Senator Liz Krueger watches such unneeded tax subsidies — for energy, insurance, tobacco and luxury development — slip like barges down a darkened canal. She notes that the housing bill “was held hostage so a few well-connected developers could rob taxpayers to the tune of millions.”

Perhaps we should admire the gumption of our developers. They often argue that without tax breaks, the city would be a desert.

But in this case, the property tax exemption arrives as the Extell tower, a dull sheath of blue glass that spirals above the skyline like an exercise in ego architecture, is near completion. Mr. Barnett has been blessed with a retroactive tax break. “A tax incentive given retroactively is the stupidest thing in the world,” notes Senator Krueger, with a tone suggesting that she’s becoming expert in the stupidest things.

Assemblyman Wright, who represents Harlem, did not return a phone call. Several of his fellow legislators occupied themselves last week trying to pass another such tax break.

Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol, Democrat of Brooklyn, sponsored a bill to retroactively extend tax breaks to developers who had converted old factories into luxury lofts. That bill passed the State Senate. Alas, it foundered in the Assembly. And that, he noted, broke the hearts of a few developers.

Judge's wife abuses parking placard

From the Daily News:

For weeks, a green Honda Accord has been parked nearly every day on Queens Blvd. near 83rd Ave. in Kew Gardens in Queens, N.Y., neighbors say, but its driver never feeds the meter.
She never moves for alternate-side parking. And she never seems to get a ticket.

That’s because Ellen Raffaele — a mid-level Queens Board of Elections employee with deep ties to the borough’s Democratic machine — is improperly using the official parking placard issued to her husband, a judge.

Queens Supreme Court Justice Thomas Raffaele is entitled to a state-issued parking placard as a sitting jurist — but only if he’s using the car for official court business.

Letting his wife use the placard — which says “POLICE” beside the seal of the State of New York’s judicial branch — is a blatant abuse of the perk and one that infuriated people desperately seeking parking in the busy municipal district near the main Queens courthouse, borough hall and other city offices.

FMCP to gets new volleyball courts - but still looks like crap

From Forest Hills Patch:

Flushing Meadow Corona Park will get some new volleyball courts this summer, and they're opening Tuesday!

Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowsi will join Borough President Helen Marshall in the park Tuesday morning to celebrate the opening of the volleyball courts, which are the first on the Corona side of the park.

The money for the parks came from the discretionary budget of the borough president's office, and the courts cost a reported $450,000 to construct.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Concerts coming to Forest Hills Tennis Stadium

From the NY Times:

After decades of languishing in obscurity and disrepair, one of the most famous sports and concert sites in New York will again reverberate with the sound of live music.

The Forest Hills Tennis Stadium in Queens, which opened in 1923 and has played host to Jimmy Connors and John Lennon, sits next to an expanse of grass and clay tennis courts at the West Side Tennis Club, the stadium’s owner. Club officials and a promoter have an agreement to hold 19 concerts over the next three years.

The stadium is still in shoddy condition, and after an accelerated renovation to make it ready, one concert is planned there this summer — an Aug. 28 show by Mumford & Sons — followed by six in each of the next three summers.

This summer’s concert will serve as something of a pilot, to convince residents of Forest Hills Gardens, the exclusive neighborhood of elegant Tudor homes around the stadium, that the concerts will not be a nuisance, said the club’s president, Roland Meier. Concerts have not been welcomed in the neighborhood in the past.

Mr. Meier said he hoped the concerts — which will begin as the club celebrates its 100th anniversary in Queens, and the stadium turns 90 — would finance the refurbishing of the stadium and lead to the return of tennis and other top events.

Rape at Flushing massage parlor

From the Daily News:

Cops are investigating a rape at a Queens massage parlor Saturday.

Sources said the victim was attacked inside the Union St. shop near Northern Blvd. in Flushing at about 5:30 p.m.

Paramedics rushed the woman to Queens General Hospital in stable condition, officials said. Her attacker remained at large Saturday night.

Police sources said they don't know exactly what transpired at the massage parlor, noting there's a "language barrier" between investigators and the Asian victim.

Cops were seen entering and leaving the second-floor business - its windows covered by a neon "Open" sign and pictures of men and women getting massages - for most of the night.

The attack occurred at a time when communities are complaining about the proliferation of massage parlors and spas that stay open late and where workers provide more than just rubdowns.

Yeah, by the way, there's a website where you can find out what's "on the menu" at each massage parlor. Nice, eh?

Smokin' power plant

From NBC:

Firefighters are looking into what caused heavy black smoke to billow from a smokestack at a power plant near the East River in Queens Monday.

Firefighters were called to TransCanada's Ravenswood power plant at Vernon Boulevard and 37th Avenue in Long Island City about 4:30 p.m. Neighbors from both the west side of Queens and the east side of Manhattan reported seeing thick smoke coming from one of the four red and white smokestacks.

According to the energy company, a boiler combustion fan lost power, causing the inside of the smoke stack to overheat and produce black smoke.

Everything you wanted to know about illegal front-yard driveways

Photo from Daily News
From the Times Newsweekly:

Is it really too much to expect fellow Woodhaven residents to follow the law, and for New York City agencies to enforce the law?

When it comes to illegal front-yard parking, it seems so.

Across the neighborhood, some residents and homeowners have paved over their front yards and started to park cars there, although it’s against the law.

The result is that concrete has often replaced grass, drivers have been steering their cars over sidewalks even when there are no curb cuts (or, worse still, have been illegally cutting the curbs themselves), and some of these law-breaking drivers have even tried to prevent others from parking in legal street spots that block their illegal parking pads.

Turning a front-yard lawn or garden into a concrete patch is unsightly and might lead to street flooding when rainwater can’t escape into soil. Driving a car up and over a curb where there’s no driveway is dangerous and contributes to a sense of disorder in the neighborhood. Disallowing others to park in legal spots is selfish and reduces the amount of legitimate parking in the neighborhood. Most importantly, all these actions violate the law.

I’m familiar with the objections from those who believe they should be able to do whatever they want with their homes. That, however, is not the way it works in New York City. With so many people living in proximity to each other, what one person does can have a big impact on neighbors or even the community as a whole.

When you pave over your yard, you contribute to the destruction of the character of your block. You hurt the values of nearby properties. And you worsen the problems I mentioned above. The United States might be the land of the free, but that doesn’t mean you’re free to do whatever you want without regard for your community or the law.

Unfortunately, the New York City Buildings Department—the agency with authority on this matter—has been slow to enforce the law and to take action against those who create illegal driveways, carports, or curb cuts in Woodhaven. For instance, I called in one violation and even provided photographic proof. Three months later, the Buildings Department hasn’t even gotten around to taking a look.

I know that these complaints aren’t their top priority. They should, rightly, be giving precedence to imminent public safety hazards, like the building collapse on 79th Street near Jamaica Avenue last month. That building had more than 30 outstanding construction violations.

But the fact remains that three months is an excessive wait for an initial investigation into an illegal driveway. It diminishes residents’ confidence in the authorities, it sends the message that those who violate the law will get away with it indefinitely, and it's unfair to the many residents who follow the law and take pride in maintaining their properties.

Moreover, these front-yard parking pads are often related to other, deeper problems requiring attention. For example, many homeowners create them because of a parking shortage stemming from another illicit behavior: illegal conversions that pack too many people into houses, thus straining city services as well as the stock of available parking spots. And some residents chop down street trees in front of their homes in order to make it easier to pull their cars into and out of illegal driveways, further adding to a less green, more concrete Woodhaven.

The streets of Woodhaven shouldn’t look like one big used car lot. Woodhaven residents should do the right thing, and if they don’t, the Buildings Department should step in and enforce the law.

Editor’s note: Blenkinsopp is member of Community Board 9 and director of communications for the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association. For additional information on the WRBA, visit

Sunset Park wants to stop the insanity

From the Daily News:

Sunset Park is being clouded.

For years now, builders have been breaking up century-old rows of brownstones, putting up schlocky condos in the middle of blocks where they look like they don’t belong.

The character assassination has gotten so out of control that a new group is working hard to gain landmark status for pockets that have a high density of unspoiled housing stock.

The group, Sunset Park Landmarks Committee, is hoping to convince the city to landmark up to 800 buildings — or 10% — of the neighborhood.

In an area that’s not conventionally regarded as historic, that’s not nothing.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Sealed with a kiss

From the Politicker:

For one, it marked the end of an era, his last governing document over the finances of the city he’s run for the past 12 years. For the other, it marked the start of a new chapter, her chance to celebrate the early budget she hopes to inherit come January.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his wannabe successor, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, unveiled the duo’s final budget deal Sunday evening, surrounded by fellow council members in the grand rotunda of City Hall.

With a handshake and kiss on the cheek following lots of applause and accolades, the pair announced a $70 billion deal that restores threatened cuts to libraries and childcare, prevents fire house closures, and adds an extra $58 million to the New York City Housing Authority to help plug a $200 million budget hole caused by federal sequestration cuts.

CD19 palm card poll

Just thought you might want to see the literature that is being handed out about each candidate. Some are clearly done quite professionally, and others, not so much. I'll let you vote on which is the best.

Proposal to move 5 Pointz to MOMA PS1

WPIX has the story.

Sunnysiders hoping for more restful nights

From WPIX:

Learning to live with noise is part of life in the city.

But some neighbors got out their camerasafter the noise kept them up late at night along the MTA’s East Side Access project in Sunnyside.

Hear what they heard in the video story.

The MTA got their message.

Yes, they'll "see what they can do." They just might as well buy some earplugs.

Sanitation worker dumps trash in front of restaurant

From Eyewitness News:

It doesn't get much clearer than this. A New York City sanitation worker picks up a black garbage bag, dumps it on a doorstep, and rips the bag open. When he walks away from the heap of trash, the letters "DSNY" are clearly visible on the back of his bright yellow vest.

The incident took place on the doorstep of Fast Eddies on West 47th and 10th Avenue, owned in part by Richie Winckelman. The time stamp on the surveillance video - 6:59 Saturday morning. From the angle pointed East on West 47th, you can see the large sanitation sitting in the intersection. In another shot, the worker is, in fact doing his job - dumping the trash can into the back of the truck, not onto the sidewalk.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Dunkin Donuts thinks street tree is their property

The Dunkin Donuts on Grand Avenue just east of 69th Street has been using the street tree and tree pit as advertising space for years. I have made several complaints to no avail. This is the biggest sign I have seen there so far. You'd think the Parks Department would do something about it as it should be a fairly easy situation to rectify.