Monday, August 31, 2015

Is CB2 violating the law?

This guy seems to think so. Read the whole sordid tale and let me know what you think.

Former council member Al Stabile passed away

From the Queens Chronicle:

Former South Queens Councilman Alfonso Stabile died on Saturday morning of natural causes, Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) said. He was 68.

"Al Stabile was a passionate and dedicated public servant who always put the community first. I grew up watching and admiring his career in politics," Ulrich said. "Al was a great councilman as well as a loyal and loving friend. Our city is a better place today because of him."

Stabile, a Republican, served as the city representative for the 32nd Council district, the same seat Ulrich holds today, from 1994 to 2001. He was born in East New York, but his family later moved to Ozone Park. He is an alumnus of John Adams High School.

His wake will be held at James Romanelli Funeral Home, located at 133-18 Cross Bay Blvd. in Ozone Park on Tuesday and Wednesday from 3 to 9 p.m. A funeral mass will be held at the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church, located at 101-41 91st St. in Ozone Park, on Thursday at 10:30 a.m.

Forest Hills mystery accident

From Edge of the City. Anyone know what happened here? Looks like a doozy.

Not a smart move

From the Queens Courier:

A man attempting to cross the Long Island Expressway Saturday night was struck and killed by a car, police said.

The 34-year-old man was hit near exit 24 in Flushing at about 9:45 p.m. as he was trying to cross from south to north in the vicinity of 169th Street.

According to authorities, the pedestrian ran from the center wall of the expressway into the left travel lane and was struck by a Toyota Suburban. The driver attempted to brake and swerve to the right to avoid him.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Shulman's pet project up for review

From the Times Ledger:

The Department of City Planning said it will release preliminary recommendations this fall for a project to revitalize the Flushing waterfront and bring affordable housing to the area.

In 2011, the Flushing-Willets Point-Corona Local Development Corporation got a $1.5 million state Brownfield Opportunity Grant to finance its Flushing Riverfront Project, which would clean up and rezone 60 acres on the Flushing waterfront. The project would create a planned community with waterfront access and housing and commercial space.

City Planning decided to integrate the corporation’s project with its study of Flushing West, part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 10-year affordable housing plan.

The agency plans to conduct outreach events in September, make some recommendations in October and start the environmental review process in November.

The review process would entail looking at a variety of environmental issues, including noise, air quality and the potential for any hazardous materials in the areas the agency rezones.

DeBlasio thinks he's doing a great job

From the Daily News:

The mayor attributed growing concerns about a surge in homelessness in part to “hyperbolic pundits and right-wing politicians with an ideological ax to grind.”

But he did acknowledge the sight of more homeless people this summer.

To reverse the trend, de Blasio said he would allocate $1 billion in additional money over the next four years to address homelessness.

Under his administration, nearly 15,000 people have left the shelter system and 20,000 people have avoided homelessness with city help, he wrote.

De Blasio’s commitment to tackle the problem head-on comes less than a week after his chief spokeswoman, Karen Hinton, tweeted that homelessness was a challenge inherited from former Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

“Who was mayor during time when NYC homeless numbered 25,000 in 2002 and jumped to 53,000 by 2013. Not @BilldeBlasio,” Hinton tweeted.

De Blasio touted his accomplishments in office — including universal pre-K and paid sick leave — while conceding there is “a sense that, despite the record-low crime statistics, the city is not as safe as it truly is.”

Affordable housing won't be affordable when it's done

From the Daily News:

When Mayor de Blasio held a press conference in May 2014 to debut his new affordable housing plan, his full-color presentation touted a project called Spring Creek in Brooklyn.

Spring Creek was flagged as a “case study” partnership between the city and developers to “create a strong, vibrant and self-sustaining neighborhood.”

But on Friday, the bulk of that project remained a big, ugly vacant field of weeds and abandoned roadway in East New York. More than 1,500 of 1,803 planned affordable units are now in a bureaucratic Twilight Zone — and may become less affordable as a result.

“There is no progress from the progressive mayor,” said the Rev. David Brawley, a leader of East Brooklyn Congregations, one of the groups sponsoring Spring Creek.

Brawley said the delays to Spring Creek caused by the de Blasio administration are particularly ironic given that the mayor cited the project in his promise to build or preserve 200,000 affordable units over 10 years.

The builders note the city knew all along the site was a former dump, and say the sewer changes were minor.

As a result, they now fear they’ll have to charge more for the houses and apartments they’re trying to build for low- and moderate-income families.

The income restrictions for a family of four, for instance, range from $25,900 to $112,190. The prices are lower due to taxpayer help. A single-family home that would go for $427,688 is reduced to $235,250, while a full price $616,000 two-family is cut to $415,000.

Because of delays, the builders say they’ll have to begin paying off the mortgage before selling a single unit. That will drive up the cost of the homes and apartments to homeowners.

Yes, we know

The NY Times is obsessed with the new US Open facilities:

Things were noticeably coming together. Promotional banners with big fuzzy tennis balls were hung on every post along the wooden-planked bridge from the subway stop to the tennis center. Construction workers were putting together a baggage-check area, and inside the grounds, larger banners, featuring tennis champions, past and present, had gone up. (It takes eight people to install the banners, Mr. Zausner said.)

Inside Ashe Stadium, Ashley Devolder, 26, from nearby Astoria, painted a fresh coat of blue on a wall near the players’ entrance and media center. Before this task, she said, she had been part of a team of 20 who freshened up the 34,000 armrests on the stadium’s seats. “We had to sand them, clean them, and paint them,” she said. “It took a week.”

Outside Ashe, rubble was removed and replaced by either grass or smooth asphalt. Lights were strung at the patio of Mojito, one of the Open’s sit-down restaurants, and a new bar had been built around one of eight hard-to-miss bright blue bases that support the new roof structure (Mr. Zausner’s idea). The main plaza was cleaned up, trees were replanted and colorful flowers were in place at the entrance.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

34th Street 7 train stop to open next month

From LIC Post:

The MTA has announced that it will be opening its highly-anticipated 34th Street/Hudson Yards stop on September 13.

The stop is about a mile from the Times Square-42nd Street station and is located at 34th Street and 11th Avenue.

The station has been built where the giant residential and commercial development–Hudson Yards–is going up.

“We want more people to be taking the train around that area, so that area can develop,” according to an MTA spokeswoman.

Despite the addition of a new stop, the MTA does not expect that it will lead to any additional congestion on the train.

“We believe the 7-line has the capacity [to handle the new riders],” said a MTA spokeswoman.

The MTA said that the new stop will not affect current service, and that the added ridership will not lead to delays.

However, State Senator Michael Gianaris said that the additional ridership may cause problems in western Queens.

Gianaris said western Queens is already in need of increased service. He said that the No. 7 train needs to run more frequently and that there are already too many delays.


It's nice that the MTA is more into helping out developers than helping riders.

Now that's a man cave...

Courtesy of Curbed

Police finally arresting panhandlers


From NBC:

A woman panhandling with a newborn near Grand Central Station was arrested yesterday and charged with endangering the welfare of a child and aggressive panhandling, authorities said.

The arrest is the first after the I-Team aired a series of exclusive reports that found the woman and others may be involved in a coordinated scheme to exploit their children -- and state officials vowed to take action.

MTA police arrested the woman, Caselina Margel, after a city outreach worker pointed her out as she begged for money on the street while holding her two-month-old son.

Flushing pigeon house is a big problem


From CBS2:

Residents of a Queens neighborhood said they’ve had enough of the pigeon problem that’s left their street a disgusting mess, but they don’t know who to ask for help.

As CBS2’s Steve Langford reported, residents turned to CBS2’s Facebook Page, saying the pigeons have taken over a house with droppings covering the sidewalk, forcing people to walk on the street, and stinking up the neighborhood.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Bay Terrace Barnes and Noble loses lease

From DNA Info:

It’s a tough time for booklovers in Queens.

The Bayside Barnes & Noble, at 23-80 Bell Blvd., might close down soon, as the bookstore chain said it was not able to reach an agreement with the landlord over its lease.

The news comes on the heels of an announcement that the Forest Hills location, which opened in 1995, will close in January next year and will be replaced in July by Target.

Funding provided to buy Brinckerhoff Cemetery

From the Queens Chronicle:

Details still need to be worked out but it looks like the historic Brinckerhoff Cemetery in Fresh Meadows will be purchased through the efforts of the Borough President’s Office.

Borough President Melinda Katz recently announced that she has allocated $150,000 to buy the burial ground that dates back to 1730. That was the asking price of its owner, Le Dan Cai, who cannot build on the property because it was landmarked in 2012.

Once the landmarking was in place, there was little the owner could do with the property.

Jim Gallagher, president of the Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association, who has been fighting for years to save the neglected site, said Monday that he and members of Friends of the Brinckerhoff Colonial Cemetery have to meet with Katz to discuss a plan.

The nonprofit Friends group was organized after the city designated the site a landmark in an attempt to raise funds to purchase it. The group is headed by Yolanda Dela Cruz-Gallagher, the civic president’s wife, but fundraising has been difficult.

The belief is the land could go to the Parks Department as that agency does handle several other burial grounds, but most are located in larger park facilities. More than likely the city will retain ownership and the Friends group would maintain the property.

City Council District 23 candidates appear on NY1

Click photos to watch debates:
Errol Louis hosted a forum for the six democrats running to fill the vacant 23rd district City Council seat, located in eastern Queens. Above is Part 1, featuring candidates Ali Najmi, Bob Friedrich & Rebecca Lynch.
Above is part 2, featuring candidates Satnam Singh Parhar, Barry Grodenchik and Celia Dosamantes.

As for the stats cited in the beginning, they are incorrect. According to the Redistricting Commission, the demographic statistics for the 23rd Council District are as follows:

Population - 152,767 - Total

48,344 White - 31.6%
17,780 Black - 11.6%
55,831 Asian - 36.5% - Note: this includes "East" and "South" Asian populations combined
9,846 Other - 6.4%
20,966 Hisp. - 13.7% - Note: Hispanics may be of any race

152,767 - 99.8% Total

As for voters, the White vote is close to double (near 60%) while the combined Asian vote is a little more than half (almost 22%) of the actual population. This is due to voting trends and enrollment statistics.

Fire damaged property left to rot with tenants inside

From DNA Info:

The city’s worst illegal hotel operator has left tenants living without gas or a roof for more than six months, residents said.

And they suspect it's a tactic employed by Highpoint Associates to force them to abandon their rent-stabilized homes.

The lack of gas followed a fire on Feb. 4 at 412 W. 46th St., which the FDNY concluded was sparked accidentally by electrical wires and tore through the building's roof.

Nearly seven months later, the landlord still has not completed repairs.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Out-of-state murder suspect caught in Jamaica

From the Daily News:

Queens cops have collared a man wanted in a triple murder in Ohio, police sources said Wednesday.

Ohio police had tipped off the NYPD that the suspect, Daveron Minnis, might be in Jamaica, Queens, and provided the license plate number for his white Dodge Charger, sources said.

An NYPD electronic license plate reader went off after it detected the tag near 177th St. and 106th Ave. Two 103rd Precinct officers, Caroline Arias and Brendan McGurran, transmitted the information over their radio and Officers Christopher Yonick and Robert Koehler responded, sources said.

The four cops followed the Charger, then boxed it in at 175th St. and 105th Ave. before taking Minnis into custody.

Target replacing Forest Hills B&N

From the Daily News:

A new Target store is slated to take over the space formerly occupied by Barnes & Noble at 7000 Austin St., in Forest Hills, the Daily News has learned. The store will be the first flexible-sized location in Queens for Target, which has recently been offering more compact shopping experiences for city-dwellers.

Target inked a deal for a 15-year, 20,795-square-foot lease and is slated to open at the property in mid-2016.

Giant affordable housing project planned for Sunnyside Gardens

From Sunnyside Post:

The developer that plans to construct a 10-story, 220-unit residential building on Barnett Avenue (near 52nd Street) is about to face some heavy resistance from Sunnyside residents who are dead-set against the project.

Phipps Houses, which announced its plan to develop the site at Community Board 2’s Land Use meeting in June, said that it would be seeking a zoning change in order to build the apartment complex on the site, which is currently zoned for manufacturing.

The site, which is next to the Phipps Garden Apartments, is currently used as a parking lot by local businesses and residents, and has about 225 spaces.

All 220-units would be classified as “affordable.” More than half would be two or three bedrooms. Only 5% of the units would be studio apartments.

Since the Land Use meeting, many residents have come together and joined forces with the Sunnyside Gardens Preservation Alliance, a group dedicated to the preservation of the district, in opposition to the developer’s plan.

They have put together a petition calling on Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and Community Board 2 to block the plan. The group has already gathered about 500 signatures on paper—going door-to-door– and has launched an online campaign via change.org, which in two days has generated 130 signatures. (click for petition)

Plan to clean up stink of Flushing Bay

From DNA Info:

The Department of Environmental Protection will begin dredging sediment from the bottom of Flushing Bay in 2016, according to a city official, at a cost of $47 million.

Sediment has formed over years due to Combined Sewer Overflow, or CSO, from nearby roads and highways.

It hasn't helped that a runway at nearby LaGuardia Airport partially blocks the water from "flushing," according to DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd, who testified about the funded project at a May city council hearing.

Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, who lead the testimony as the Council's finance chair, told Lloyd the smells are compared to rotten eggs and has plagued her district for years.

The project, scheduled to be completed in 2019, will remove most of the gunk at the bottom and make a "significant" difference, Lloyd said.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The history of Jamaica High School

From the New Yorker:

As late as 1998, Jamaica held a respectable standing among the city’s large high schools. Though it was no longer the √©lite institution of earlier years, more than seventy-five per cent of the students graduated on time. But, by 2009, the graduation rate had tumbled to thirty-nine per cent. A confluence of events brought about the decline. In that period, talented students in northern Queens were given the option of attending two other high schools, both based on college campuses. In 1995, Townsend Harris, a magnet high school on Parsons Boulevard, moved onto the campus of Queens College. With roughly half the number of students as Jamaica, Townsend Harris had graduation rates that fluctuated between ninety-nine and a hundred per cent. During the eighties and nineties, Jamaica allowed students to enroll in courses at York College, a liberal-arts institution about a mile south of the high school. In 2002, York became the location of Queens High School for the Sciences, which granted admission based solely on standardized-test scores.

In 2004, in the name of greater choice, the Bloomberg administration revised the districting rules to allow students to attend any high school in the city. Given the realities of residential segregation, and of school quality as a determinant of real-estate values, there was something almost radical in that idea. It’s even possible to see the Bloomberg plan as a long-awaited response to Arthur Levitt’s claim, in 1954, that the problem in New York was not segregated schools but segregated neighborhoods. But it also meant that students whose parents—owing to language difficulties or work demands, immigration status or a generalized fear of bureaucratic authority—could not or would not pursue other educational options for their children found themselves relegated to increasingly unappealing schools.

The demographic balance that characterized Jamaica during my years became impossible to maintain. In 2011, the year that the city formally decided to close the school, fourteen per cent of the student population had disabilities and twenty-nine per cent had limited English proficiency. In the year before the school closed, it was ninety-nine per cent minority, a demographic that would not in itself be a concern were it not also the case that sixty-three per cent of the students qualified as poor.

HPD ignores fire escape safety complaints


From NBC:

More than 2,000 complaints about fire escape safety were called in to 311 over the last year and a half, resulting in nearly 500 violations, an I-Team investigation has found. Many of those problems went months before being fixed.

Data from 311 shows it takes an average of three weeks for investigators to resolve safety complaints about fire escapes. For some residents, it can take months to get a response. Some complaints are quite serious, from blocked exits to missing slats. Rust is another common violation.

Arverne development resists hipster invasion

From the NY Times:

The growing popularity of surfing in the Rockaways has created a resurgence, attracting large beach crowds, fueling new businesses and generating other economic boosts.

But it has also made the two New York City-sanctioned surfing beaches, near Beach 90th and Beach 67th Streets in Queens, packed with wave seekers.

“Surfing has completely exploded, and we’re jammed into small areas,” said Conrad Karl, a local surfer and restaurateur. “We need to spread out a little bit. It would be safer.”

Calling the crowded lineups of surfers potentially dangerous, many surfers are pushing for a new or expanded surfing area, specifically along a stretch from Beach 66th Street to Beach 60th, an area that Mr. Karl calls “basically dead, going to waste” since it is closed to both swimming and surfing.

But, as it happens, the surfers’ campaign has collided with another explosion in the area: the infusion of hundreds of new residents into the vast Arverne by the Sea development along that same stretch of beach.

Many of its residents also want those beaches opened, but for swimming. The problem is that city officials forbid swimming and surfing in the same area, because swimmers and surfers could collide.

Developers fail to register apartments with tax incentives

From the NY Times:

Developers of nearly 200 small buildings in New York City have flouted the terms of tax breaks they received by failing to place their apartments on the rent-stabilization rolls, state and city officials said.

In letters that went out Tuesday, officials from three agencies told the owners to register their units as rent-stabilized or risk a range of penalties, including being required to return the value of their tax incentives. The action affects 2,472 apartments in 194 buildings scattered across the city, but mostly in Brooklyn.

The developers received discounts on property taxes under a state program known as 421-a, which is meant to spur construction. Advocates for affordable housing and Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, had criticized the program, which led to $1 billion in forgiven taxes in New York City last year, for not producing enough low-cost housing. They persuaded the Legislature this year to modify the rules to require more units for low-income tenants in exchange for the tax breaks.

The buildings in question did not necessarily have to offer below-market rents, but if the apartments were rentals, the 421-a program required the owners to register them with the state as rent-stabilized apartments. That would entitle tenants to leases whose rents are regulated by the city and the guarantee to renew their leases every year.

The 421-a program also benefits condominiums, and in each of the 194 buildings in question, the owners had originally intended to build condos, but changed their mind, possibly because of market conditions, and decided to rent the apartments rather than sell them, officials said.

Regardless of motivation, the officials said, by avoiding rent-regulated leases the owners could give themselves flexibility to clear out tenants when they decided to go through with the sales.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Four Freedoms Park President defends Katz gift

From Roosevelt Islander:

I asked FDR Four Freedoms Park Conservancy President Sally Minard:

Do you think it appropriate for a NY State park located in the Manhattan jurisdiction on Roosevelt Island to receive funds from the Queens Borough President discretionary capital budget earmarked for Queens parks?

Will FDR Park return the money to the Queens Borough President's Office for use in Queens parks?...

Ms. Minard replied:
Less than 1% of the Borough President’s appropriation is designated for FDR Four Freedoms Park. The funds, combined with funding from Manhattan, New York State and private sources will support installation of new lighting to illuminate the exterior of the memorial park. This lighting installation will make the remarkable Louis Kahn design, a sculpture in the New York landscape, visible from the Queens and Manhattan shorelines after dark. The beauty of the illuminated Kahn design will be a new experience that will be shared equally by residents of Queens and Manhattan.

Every month, thousands of Queens residents already share the free educational and public programming, commemorative events, musical performances, and health and fitness sessions offered to visitors at FDR Four Freedoms Park. They come to enjoy the Park’s lush lawn, tree shaded allees and peaceful waterfront promenades with spectacular Queens and Manhattan skyline views.
Well I didn't expect this lady to look a gift horse in the mouth, but by her logic, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer should be allocating funding toward Gantry Park in LIC because Manhattanites can see it and on occasion take the ferry over to use it. (Somehow I don't see that happening.)

How about we just keep it simple and require that the BPs spend their pots of money in the boroughs they represent? Is that really too much to ask? Or is helping developers sell real estate now the primary function of elected officials?

Another hotel for downtown Jamaica

From DNA Info:

More hotel rooms may soon be coming to downtown Jamaica, which is already on its way to become the next lodging hub in Queens.

Pride Ventures recently filed an application with the Department of Buildings to construct a 283-room hotel at 149-03 Archer Ave., between 149th and 150th streets, as first reported by The Real Deal.

The 18-story lodging would be located only three blocks away from the Jamaica Long Island Rail Road and AirTrain station.

It would also be built nearly across the street from two other hotels — Marriott-brand Courtyard and Fairfield Inn and Suites — which are currently under construction at 147-43 Archer Ave.

Those hotels would be located in one 16-story building, and would contain a total of about 330 hotel rooms.

Legislation introduced to eliminate LPC backlog

From Curbed:

A bill making its way through the City Council would impose deadlines on the 50-year-old Landmarks Preservation Commission in regards to designating landmarks and historic districts. While its sponsor says the bill is supposed to make things more efficient and help the commission deal with its backlog, advocates are concerned that it would hamstring the LPC, and eliminate dozens of items that are being considered as landmarks.

Intro. 775, authored by Queens Councilman Member Peter Koo and Brooklyn Councilman David Greenfield, would impose deadlines on this process. For individual and interior landmarks, the commission would have 180 days to hold a public hearing once an item is calendared and then another 180 days to take action (vote to designate or vote not to designate) once the public hearing is held. For historic districts, it would be one year from calendaring to public hearing and then another year from hearing to designation vote.

The bill, which goes before the council on September 9, also aims to deal with the nearly 100 items (94 buildings and two districts) backlogged at the LPC. Eighty-five percent of these items have been calendared for more than 20 years. Earlier this year, the LPC had proposed de-calendaring all of the backlogged items, but, unsurprisingly, that was met with much public disdain. Instead, the commission backed off and devised a schedule to deal with those items at public hearings organized by borough. The bill would give the LPC 18 months to deal with the entire backlog, but any backlogged items not addressed during that time period would be automatically de-calendared.

There's one more provision in the bill. If the commission fails to designate an item, be it a landmark or a historic district, the property in question would be barred from reconsideration for five years.

Shit hits the floor in South Jamaica

From the Daily News:

A leak spilling sewage across three floors of a Queens housing complex has outraged tenants and their local city councilman.

The sewage leak at the South Jamaica Houses is the latest black eye for the problem-plagued New York City Housing Authority, which took more than 12 hours just to send somebody with a mop, frustrated residents said.

The smelly sewage spill flooded the basement and the first two floors, closing the community center and forcing the cancellation of several activities.

Residents said the flooding began Sunday evening at about 6 p.m., but has been an ongoing issue for about three years.

Fed-up tenants, dissatisfied with the city's response, reached out to Councilman Ruben Wills, who chastised the agency for the mishap.

DeBlasio defends green space-to-housing plan

From the Observer:

Speaking at a press conference celebrating the start of an $87 million roof repair project at the Queensbridge Houses—the largest public housing project in the nation, according to the administration—the mayor pushed back on attacks on his housing authority Chairwoman Shola Olatoye and the “NextGeneration NYCHA” plan she commissioned for him. Critics, including Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., have argued that NextGeneration’s development provisions could cost NYCHA residents precious green space and badly strain city resources and infrastructure.

Mr. de Blasio repeatedly emphasized that 13,500 of the new apartments would rent for below-market-rate, and that the city would plan construction in concert with residents—two things he said were missing from former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal for “infill,” which would have focused mostly upscale development on NYCHA space. The liberal mayor also stressed that new construction would create revenues that would other wise be unavailable to the authority, which currently runs deficits of hundreds of millions of dollars each year, and has a $17 billion backlog in repair work.

The mayor even promised that any parking or recreational space sacrificed to new construction would be restored in some form to residents.

“We’re going to make sure any facilities that people have, whether it’s parking, playground, whatever a development, are made whole, even if it means someplace else in the same development. We’ll make sure people have the same amenities,” he said. “We obviously will account for any infrastructure needs.”

He did not elaborate on the details of how such adjustments would work.


Of course he didn't because there's no place to put that stuff.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Resorts World bus crashes on Woodhaven Blvd


From PIX11:

A bus crashed into a building at the intersection of Woodhaven Boulevard and 63rd Avenue Monday afternoon, leaving multiple people injured.

A Resort World Casino NYC bus operated by the Trans Express Bus Company in Brooklyn demolished part of a three-floor building at 2:30 p.m. Monday.

A witness told PIX11 the bus driver was pinned inside and people could be seen climbing out of the vehicle.

EMS reported the bus driver in critical condition was transported to Jamaica Hospital, and is expected to survive. Part of the second floor collapsed, leaving the driver pinned under loose brick, according to the FDNY.

Six people were hurt in total, one person who was inside the building at the time of the crash, according to the FDNY.

Ferreras, Peralta not notified of shelter

From the Queens Chronicle:

When asked Monday when it was decided that the space would become a shelter, the DHS did not immediately answer.

In June, state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) said in an emailed statement to the Queens Chronicle that it would be "inconceivable" to him to learn that there would be another homeless shelter would be opened in the area without community input.

On Monday, Peralta issued a written statement saying that there is an understanding of the city's need to house homeless families, but called it a "Bloomberg or Giuliani tactic of shoving a homeless shelter down a community's throat." He called the DHS's emergency authority a "cover" for putting a shelter into a community without input.

“Here we go again, another permanent homeless shelter coming into my district, which makes it the second one under this administration,” said Peralta.

The DHS will arrange for transportation to and from school and other appointments.
Also Monday, the office of City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst), who also stressed in June the importance of community input, said the addition of the shelter brings a need for more support to the area.

"Of course she would have liked to have been told back in June when we first asked but overall, the council member and the people she's spoken to are sympathetic to the families who are moving into The Landing," a spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added that poor bus service is a constant issue and must be improved with more traffic generated by the shelter.

Kinkajou captured

From the Queens Chronicle:

The kinkajou that had been spotted in a tree in Broad Channel near the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Center was caught on Wednesday and is under the care of the Animal Care & Control of NYC, according to a National Parks Service spokeswoman.

An email forwarded to the Queens Chronicle from a member of Northeastbirding.com states that the tropical critter had wandered away from the tree it called home for close to a week and was found just south of the visitors' center.

"It was asleep when found, so the capture was easy," the email reads.

An NPS spokeswoman later confirmed the animal's capture and added that it was handed over to the city's animal control unit.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

DHS lied about opening East Elmhurst shelter

Queens Chronicle/Cristina Schreil
From the Daily News:

Struggling with a spike in the number of homeless coming into the city’s shelter system, Mayor de Blasio will open a new shelter in Queens on Monday to house struggling families.

The city’s first new shelter this year, at the site of the former Clarion Hotel in Elmhurst, will include 169 units and attempt to meet a 20% surge in demand.

In 2014, de Blasio opened a whopping 23 shelters, including 20 for families with kids. But summer brings high demand, and last week about 57,000 people a night were packed into shelters, creating a need for more space.

That is slightly down from the high in December 2014, when around 59,000 people were staying in shelters.


  • If there are 2,000 less people staying in shelters, why do we need to open more of them?
  • Why did DHS tell the Queens Chronicle in June that they had no plans to open a shelter at this location if they did?

Wyckoff wants to join North Shore-LIJ system

From the Queens Courier:

America’s health care industry is changing, and Wyckoff Heights Medical Center on the Ridgewood/Bushwick border is looking to partner with a regional health care giant to expand and enhance its services.

According to Wyckoff Heights CEO Ramon Rodriguez, the hospital is in discussions with the North Shore/LIJ Health System regarding an affiliation agreement designed to retain Wyckoff’s independence while also providing additional health care options and “support for quality of care and clinical decisions.”


Serving tens of thousands of patients annually from both sides of the Brooklyn/Queens border, Rodriguez said, the hospital needs to transform its services to keep up with the national health care trend that has seen the rise of urgent care centers and outpatient/ambulatory services along with a reduction in extended hospital stays.

To that end, the board recently authorized Rodriguez to seek out affiliations with larger medical organizations in the New York City area. In responding to a request for proposals, he noted, North Shore/LIJ offered what the board considered to be the best options for Wyckoff Heights.

Pols want airport employees to park at the airport

From the Times Ledger:

Two Queens legislators have appealed to John F. Kennedy International Airport officials and airlines to help local residents regain the ability to park in front of their own homes, which has been limited due to employees from JFK who have overrun residential parking spaces.

State Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Howard Beach) and City Councilman Eric Ulrich, (R-Ozone Park) sent letters of concern to 10 freight and passenger airlines expressing concern and announced a forthcoming meeting with officials of the federal Transportation Security Administration to consider possible solutions to the problem.

“Our middle-class families work hard and deserve to enjoy the community they invested in without having to spend their days and nights circling the block looking for parking space,” said Goldfeder. “I urge the major airlines and other employees at JFK to be good neighbors and put the brakes on this practice.”

In letters to major airlines at JFK, Ulrich and Goldfeder called on the carriers to respond to reports of employees parking in Howard Beach, Ozone Park and adjacent neighborhoods to commute to the airport via nearby AirTrain stations.

“TSA and other airport employees should be parking their vehicles on Port Authoritry property, not in front of homes in Ozone Park and Howard Beach,” Ulrich said.“Hopefully, they will take action to alleviate this problem to free up much-needed parking for homeowners”.

Neir's Tavern seeks interior landmark status

From the Queens Chronicle:

Neir’s Tavern has 186 years of history inside it — and now Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Glendale) is endorsing a proposal to have the city officially recognize its significance by making it a city landmark.

The Woodhaven bar, located at 87-48 78 St., is the oldest bar in the city to continually operate in the same location.
Opened in 1829, it first served patrons who were on their way to watch horse races at the Union Course ractrack, formerly located a few blocks away.

Loycent Gordon, the owner of Neir’s, said he is only seeking to have the interior landmarked — but added he’d like to have the exterior done as well.
“Eventually we’d like to do the exterior,” Gordon said.

Crowley, too, would like to see the whole building preserved.

“It’s not just any other building. It’s historic and it should be kept that way,” the councilwoman said. “By landmarking it, it will stay for the enjoyment of generations to come.”

Once a structure has been designated a landmark by the city, the owner of the building must obtain the approval of the Landmarks Preservation Commission to make any changes to it.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Waterpointe site back on the market?

From the Queens Courier:

An 18-acre waterfront property in Whitestone earmarked for the development of 52 single-family homes has been listed for sale by commercial realty company Cushman & Wakefield.

The property — located at 151-45 Sixth Road in Whitestone and known as Waterpointe — is currently owned by Edgestone Group, which paid $11.3 million for it in 2012. Cushman & Wakefield broker Stephen Preuss confirmed that the agency has been exclusively retained to arrange the sale, which is marketed to buyers looking to carry on Edgestone’s plan of building 52 homes and a waterfront park.

The property is listed to be sold “as-is.” Buyers would take up the burden of arranging for environmental cleanup of soil vapor which has been recorded to have elevated concentrations of aromatic and non-aromatic chemical compounds. Additionally, new owners would be tasked with mitigating any potential threat these vapors could pose to a residential community.

According to Preuss, the sellers did not name an asking price and are requesting proposals from potential buyers.

“Like any smart property owner, they’re seeing what the market has to yield currently,” Preuss said. “We’re in a very active market and there’s not a lot of large-scale, bulk land available in the boroughs.”

When contacted by The Courier, Waterpointe architect Joe Sultana disputed that the property was for sale and implied that he believed the listing to be unauthorized by the development team. Sultana said that to his knowledge the project was continuing as planned, with a meeting to discuss details of the development scheduled for September with members of Community Board 7.

What does Bill have against meeting with people?

From Gotham Gazette:

Scott Stringer has led 16 town hall-style events since becoming Comptroller; Letitia James, the Public Advocate, hosted her 28th on Wednesday night in Brooklyn. As has been well-documented, Mayor Bill de Blasio - along with Stringer and James, one of three popularly-elected citywide officials - has not yet held a town hall event himself.

Is it time for the mayor to host one?

As de Blasio and his team wrestle with how to combat sagging public opinion poll numbers, what they see as unfair press coverage, and a perception gap that many agree leaves New Yorkers thinking de Blasio is performing worse than he actually is, it may be time for de Blasio to take his message directly to the people and hold his first town hall.

1-family house replaced with three 2-familes

Before
Henry Fabian is building "upper parts" in the attics...

Should be fun in the summer.

Waiting for care at Queens hospitals could kill you

From the Queens Tribune:

The status of hospitals in Queens has been a major topic for years, notably the care that’s given to patients. Patients being treated in hallways, wait times in the emergency care units and the short staff within the hospitals have topped the list of problems.

Emergency Room times in Queens hospitals can be anywhere from three to six hours.

Hospitals such as Flushing Hospital Medical Center, Jamaica Hospital and Elmhurst Hospital are three of the largest in Queens, especially after St. Johns Hospital closed in 2009. The vacant building is now being turned into a residential building for the surrounding community.

The total emergency room wait time for Elmhurst Hospital is on average about five hours and 57 minutes, Jamaica Hospital averages to about four hours and 48 minutes and Flushing Hospital averages to about three hours and 10 minutes, according to hospitalstats.org. These times, of course, depend upon the severity of your condition and any ambulance that was sent out during that time.

The total average wait time in an emergency room before being seen by a doctor in New York State as a whole was 27 minutes, time on average for a patient spending time in the emergency room before being sent home was two hours and 44 minutes and the average wait time for a patient to be taken to their room was two and a half hours, according to propublica.org.

Seeking peace and quiet in Whitestone


From WPIX:

Neighbors in Whitestone, Queens enjoy the peace of their community. But they’ve been tracking the flight path of helicopters and sea planes. They are asking the government to review their data.

Their civic group, We Love Whitestone, is working to gather helicopter noise complaints. Dan Aronoff created airnoisereport.com and it has logged more than 2100 incidents in 2 months.

Senator Charles Schumer, State Senator Tony Avella and Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz are requesting the Federal Aviation Administration consider moving the flights closer to the water’s edge.

Friday, August 21, 2015

This week's de Blasio leadership summary

He's giving up on banning horse carriages.

He's removing pedestrian plazas in Times Square to prevent bad behavior (but the one on Northern Blvd is still apparently a go).

He's sending Willets Point back to the drawing board. (Which is kinda interesting, because as public advocate, he thought the plan was just fine.)

What do you think of these decisions? Good? Bad? Spineless? Is he learning when to hold em, fold em, walk away and run?

Weird ass project proposed for LIC

From Capital New York:

A group of investors led by Rudolph Giuliani's former chief of staff is proposing a multimillion-square-foot development near the Queens waterfront — a mixed-use project that would include a pedestrian bridge connecting Long Island City to Roosevelt Island, POLITICO New York has learned.

Three sources briefed on the plan described it as the brainchild of Bruce Teitelbaum, who has quietly been presenting it to people in recent months.

Teitelbaum hopes to build a mostly residential tower comprising at least one million square feet on a vacant lot north of 44th Drive, along the north south side of the Queensboro Bridge. The site, at 44-02 Vernon Boulevard, is currently owned by Vernon Realty Holding, L.L.C. according to public records; it is zoned for residential use and takes up 128,332 square feet on one lot and 84,338 square feet on another adjoining lot.

But Teitelbaum is likely to apply for a rezoning, and possibly try to purchase an adjacent lot owned by the city, to expand the project's footprint. The more ambitious plan would entail a host of other amenities, including open space, affordable housing and possibly a public school and a hotel, the sources said.

The bridge is envisioned as something akin to the High Line — a path for pedestrians and cyclists with views of Manhattan's skyline and space to sit and unwind. On the Roosevelt Island side it would land near the site of Cornell Tech, the applied sciences school that will dominate the south end of the island.


Oh, you mean just north of Four Freedoms Park? What a coincidence that the borough president threw money at a project that people living in this luxury condo development will have a great view of!

Woodside film shoot starts too early

"I took these pics about 4:00 yesterday (Tues) on 48th ave and 43rd street in Woodside where they are doing a TV shoot today. As the notice clearly states, there is no parking as of 10:00 PM Tuesday night, yet as you can see, they were already blocking off spaces at least SIX hours (probably even earlier) before the stated deadline! They are really taking advantage!

Thanks." - Anonymous

PS: I just noticed they are parking their trucks and trailers in front of the fire hydrants again.

Something really smells rotten in Queens Village

Dear Crapper,

My family lives in Queens Village, and we truly love it here—but, perhaps, I can draw your attention to an offensive and unsettling problem in our neighborhood. There is a strong odor of putrefaction (rotting flesh) present at all times on Springfield Boulevard, near 110th Avenue. It has been there for at least a couple of YEARS. The smell is ever-present, unmistakable, and has only gotten worse with the recent high temperatures.

When we finally called 311 several weeks ago, we were instead forwarded to 911. Apparently, the aroma of death is considered a Police Emergency. The dispatcher seemed to take the matter very seriously, assuring us that NYPD would investigate forthwith.

Since then, we have worked up the courage to drive past with the car windows down. The stomach-turning funk unfortunately remains unabated.

We don’t get this at our house, but I can’t help but feel sorry for the folks living near the intersection. It seems to emanate from the side of the street where a few shops are located. Is there an illegal slaughterhouse? Voodoo sacrifice? Animal cruelty? Undead zombies?

Mighty Crapper, please help us get to the bottom of this stinking situation.

Marlon Campbell
Queens Village, New York

Dem council candidate doesn't realize 311 already exists

So this guy, who happens to live in Cedarhurst, Long Island, plans to recreate the 311 system that's already in place?

Thursday, August 20, 2015

De Blasio declares war on painted ladies

“This situation is going to change, this is what I’ll guarantee you,” Mr. de Blasio continued. “I’m not going to tolerate it, we’re going to change things. I think we have just begun to recognize all the tools available here. But, you know, this is a situation that I don’t accept, and we will deal with very aggressively.”

If you were hoping he was talking about putting an end to illegal conversions, filthy parks or something criminal, you'd be wrong. The enemy here is women in Times Square with paint on their breasts. Because a crackdown on them will make life better for all New Yorkers.

Mayor quite dense at being transparent

From ABC:

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who promised to run the most transparent administration in city history, has taken steps to have his office review any public records request of any city agency that could "reflect directly on the mayor."

That broad mandate, outlined in a May 5 email obtained by The Associated Press, could give de Blasio's office control over virtually all newsworthy Freedom of Information Law requests from journalists, watchdog groups or members of the public.

Although the ramifications of the policy are not yet clear, transparency advocates fear such control could lead to prolonged delays in responding to records requests, a criticism both President Barack Obama and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced when they instituted similar policies.