Sunday, January 31, 2016

Wondering what will replace Monahan & Fitzgerald

Hi Crappy,

I wanted to let you know of an development that may be of some concern to Bayside residents. One of the Irish restaurants just off Bell Boulevard has been sold....and I am told that it will be redeveloped as "Mixed Use". The new owners, paid $2.5 million dollars which is fine, but I am wondering about zoning and what they can actually build there.

I am just concerned that the new owners plan something that is out of character. Hoping that someone out there can review the zoning maps and identify what zoning this parcel is under.

Thanks,

A concerned Baysider

According to zoning consultant Paul Graziano, "This parcel is in an R6B zone with a C1-2 commercial overlay. 40 x 100 lot - expect a 4,000+ square foot building with underground parking and community facility use."

Big project to replace Flushing supermarket

From QNS.com:

The site of a former Met Food supermarket in Flushing at 41-62 Bowne St. is now unrecognizable with the 30-year-old supermarket demolished to make way for a new 14-story mixed use building.

The incoming structure is tentatively named the “Epic Tower” and will contain 84 residential units and two floors of retail or commercial space, one of which will contain a 11,400 square-foot school or daycare facility.

On-site parking will be provided in the form of a two-level underground parking garage planned to have around 90 spaces.

Civics find Vallone covenant bill's requirements cumbersome

Vallone Ltr Re DOF Covenant Form


DOF Restrictive Covenant Form-final

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Legislation to stop DOB from penalizing disaster victims

From Sheepshead Bites:

City Councilman Mark Treyger has introduced a bill to block the Department of Buildings from penalizing homeowners and tenants who are trying to recover from natural disasters.

“Nobody should be left worse off by the recovery process than if they never participated in it at all, and the onus should be on the city and contractors to comply with rules and regulations related to Sandy Recovery work, not residents,” Treyger said in a press release. ” It undermines the public’s trust, faith and willingness to participate in recovery programs.”

Treyger cited several examples of Sandy victims being penalized by the DOB while awaiting long-overdue assistance from storm recovery programs. He highlighted the story of a Brooklyn resident received a $500 penalty for failing to repair his Sandy-damaged property. The man testified at a hearing that Build it Back had investigated the damage and he was “was waiting for promised financial relief and advised not to make any repairs until he received it.”

Infill is coming to NYCHA, like it or not

From Curbed:

Between 30-40 New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) sites across the city are being considered for the agency's infill program — adding mixed-income developments to underused NYCHA sites, the agency's CEO, Shola Olatoye announced at a heated City Council hearing last night. At the moment, this particular program is moving forward at two sites - the Holmes Towers at 403 East 93rd Street on the Upper East Side, and at Wyckoff Gardens at 185 Nevins Street in Boerum Hill. But what the meeting revealed last night was the fact that while residents at both developments will have input on what the final new development might look like, the project will move forward — regardless of community opposition.

A typical new building at a NYCHA site will have 50 percent market rate units, and the other half will be affordable. Of these affordable units, 25 percent will be set aside for NYCHA residents to apply to. And the affordable units will be open to those who make about 60 percent of the area median income, which NYCHA estimated to be $46,600 for a family of three.

The major concern for residents however, that City Councilman Ritchie Torres, who heads the public housing committee, made clear to NYCHA officials was that residents have been mostly cut out of the process — yes they can provide opinions, but the development is moving forward anyway.

Residents who spoke at the meeting stressed that the agency should find alternative means for funding repairs at existing NYCHA buildings.

"How can the government find $4 billion to fund a Penn Station renovation but find no money for public housing?" Darnell Brown, a resident at Holmes Towers, pointedly asked the officials.

DOB asked to audit Bayside's attached McMansion

You may recall Bayside's attached McMansion
Notation at bottom of Schedule "A" says ONE-FAMILY DWELLING
Zoning Diagram says Dwelling Units: 3
Now there's a call for an audit by DOB from Senator Avella.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Hamilton Beach votes to downzone

From the Queens Chronicle:

Hamilton Beach residents last Wednesday overwhelmingly voted in favor of a zoning proposal that would only allow for detached one- or two-family homes to be built in the neighborhood and prohibit the future construction of multifamily semi-detached buildings — houses that many said don’t fit in with the character of the area.

“We’ve heard that the semi-detached homes are not desirable in this neighborhood,” Melissa Herlitz, a planner with the city Department of City Planning, said at a community meeting hosted by the New Hamilton Beach Civic Association.

With only a handful dissenting, the vote was cast by about 30 people — a fact that some said should have stopped it from taking place until more people could have their say.

Residents who attended the meeting were given three choices by planning officials: Leave the zoning as it is, allow only one-family homes to be built and the one they approved. The vast majority of
Hamilton Beach residents did not want to go for the first option, citing semi-detached houses in the neighborhood that are “out of character” and bring more cars onto a block than there are parking spots.

The second option wasn’t desirable because it would stop anyone with a large enough lot from building a two-family structure — minimum lot size for new construction will be determined at a later date.

DeBlasio absolutely opposed to tax cap

From the Daily News:

Mayor de Blasio said a property tax cap for New York City is a "non-starter" and state lawmakers' focus on it took away from pressing budget issues.

"Honestly, it's a non-starter," de Blasio said of imposing the 2% cap on tax levies, which other municipalities in the state are forced to abide by, on the city. "That cap would be very dangerous for New York City."

When de Blasio traveled to Albany this week to testify about the state budget, legislator after legislator pressed him about property taxes. De Blasio had hoped to push back against possible cuts to Medicaid and CUNY funding, in addition to talking about mayoral control of education and affordable housing.

"There were issues that probably didn't get the time they deserved," he said Thursday.

A measure to force the city to adopt the cap has passed the state Senate, but has virtually no chance in the Democrat-dominated Assembly.

Staten Island homeowner has pipe problem that DEP won't fix


From CBS 2:

A Staten Island man said a sinkhole caused by a broken pipe is threatening his home, but the city said it is not their problem.

The man, Morris Indig, has been left fighting to figure out who is going to fix the sinkhole, and CBS2’s Tracee Carrasco was demanding answers Thursday night.

Water has been gushing through Indig’s backyard in the Grasmere section of Staten Island. It has caused the pavement to crumble and has created a sinkhole nearly 15 feet long – creeping dangerously close to his home.

“It’s eroding the soil all around here, including near my foundation wall,” Indig said. “This slab is starting to tip towards the hole already, and I’m really nervous that something is going to happen to the house.”

The problem started weeks ago after heavy rain. Indig believes the pipe carrying water from nearby Brady’s Pond to Cameron Lake, located next to his house, caused the massive hole.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Lined up at the trough

From the NY Post:

In a stunning move, City Council members are mulling even fatter raises for themselves than the 23 percent boost recommended by a mayor-appointed panel, sources told The Post Wednesday.

The 51-member council on Feb. 5 is expected to push through a hefty raise package for all elected city officials that could include boosting council members’ salaries to as high as $150,000, the sources said. The council is also expected to approve Mayor de Blasio’s controversial plan to shrink the carriage-horse industry and move its entire operation within Central Park.

A three-member panel convened by Blasio last month recommended council members’ salaries rise from $112,500 to $138,315 and that Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito get a 37-percent pay hike to $154,375.

But some council members have privately griped about wanting higher raises — which would be their first since 2006 — because they’re being forced to give up annual “lulu” bonuses of $8,000 to $25,000 each for chairing committees.

DeBlasio grilled over lack of tax cap

From Crains:

Mayor Bill de Blasio traveled to Albany Tuesday to ask state legislators to fund housing and homelessness programs. Instead, he faced intense questioning about the city's tax policy and why the state's 2% annual property-tax cap does not apply in the five boroughs, The New York Times reported.

The mayor pushed back against repeated suggestions that the city adopt the cap, insisting that the Big Apple's situation was unique and that the city funds services that others in the state do not.

We were victims of "sectoring"

From the NY Times:

Well before the blizzard of 2016 descended on New York, city officials had prepared a new blueprint to tackle the accumulating snow, creating new plow routes and a different hierarchy of roadways.

The plan was called sectoring, an approach that would replace the city’s pecking order of primary, secondary and tertiary roads — a ranking that came into focus after a blizzard paralyzed parts of the city in December 2010 — with a two-tier system.

The Sanitation Department’s new plowing hierarchy began as a pilot program that was expanded across all of Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island, according to the city’s published snow plan. (The new approach was also used in two small sections of the Bronx and Brooklyn.)

Under the new approach, which had been tested in areas of the Bronx and Staten Island in the last two years, the department replaced the old three-tier system with two levels: critical and sector. The critical streets correspond roughly to primary streets in the old classification, still used on the city’s PlowNYC map; the sector streets include both secondary and tertiary roadways.

The new system was an outgrowth of the problems faced by the city in 2010, when many Brooklyn streets became buried in snow and took days to clear. The idea, sanitation officials said, was to devise routes that would keep drivers, as much as possible, on roadways that they are assigned to plow. Many of the old routes forced drivers to spend part of their time along streets they were not assigned to plow so they could reach their appointed streets.

The union representing sanitation workers said that while sectoring appeared to work in most areas of the city, the new routes might have been too long in Queens.

In previous years, the city used a contractor, CSB Contractors, to plow minor side streets in those areas. This year, the Sanitation Department assumed responsibility for all streets in those neighborhoods, as well as about 50 miles of tertiary roadways in Brooklyn formerly handled by the company.

The city kept a different contactor, Natural Landscapes, for areas in southern and eastern Queens, including Flushing and Jamaica. Those areas generated fewer complaints, according to the borough president’s office, which heard from many irate Queens residents.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Katz declines comment on snow situation


John Schiumo on NY1 said tonight that he had invited Melinda Katz to give the “First Word” about the snow plow conditions in Queens.

But she declined.

This came up, because a caller complained about the poor snow plow conditions, and the caller complained that de Blasio had complained that people in Queens were responsible for the unplowed streets, because we were cleaning snow off our cars back into the streets. Then, the caller asked, “Where is the Queens Borough President ?” That’s when John Schiumo dropped the bomb about Melinda Katz.

MTA snow complaints take 15 days to resolve

From Cleanup Jamaica Queens:

Don’t you just love this response from the MTA in regards to a compliant I filed about a snow covered sidewalk at the top of the subway stairs at the F train 179th Street subway stop at Hillside Ave & 178th on the south side this morning, a couple of days AFTER the snow storm.
First the Mayor fucks over Queens, then the mayor keeps schools opened on Monday even though many streets and sidewalks have not been plowed in Queens, then the Mayor blames the residents, then the MTA states in regard to a complaint of a snow covered sidewalk at the entrance to one of the subway stops, then they make a statement of “do not reply to this email, as it will go to an unattended email box.”

Where are the rest of the Queens pols?

City Hall rally against Hollis homeless shelter


From DNA Info:

Jamaica residents and elected officials will rally outside City Hall Wednesday, hoping to apply pressure on the city to stop building homeless shelters in the neighborhood.

Twelve out of about two dozen shelters in Queens are located within Community Board 12, which covers Jamaica, Hollis, St. Albans and Springfield Gardens, according to Yvonne Reddick, the board's district manager.

The rally is being organized as homeless veterans have just started moving into a controversial complex on Hollis Avenue, between 202nd and 204th streets, according to CB12.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

School buses get stuck in snow


From PIX11:

Multiple school buses became stuck in the snow Monday as they tried to traverse snowy streets in Queens, the borough hardest hit by the weekend's blizzard.

Residents were furious over unplowed streets and the mayor's move to keep schools open despite the record-breaking storm.

"We make one decision for a school system of 1.1 million kids," Mayor Bill de Blasio said, defending the move to keep class in session, during a midday news conference.

PIX11 News viewers in Middle Village and Woodhaven reported seeing school buses getting bogged down in the slushy mess that still coated the roadways during the morning commute.

Requests for comment from the city's Department of Education were not returned by the time of publication.

Sidewalk sheds - an epidemic eyesore

From Crains:

Across the city, sidewalk sheds and scaffolding spread like kudzu. They devour precious sidewalk space, cut off sunlight, create safety hazards and hurt businesses. There are now nearly 9,000 sheds entombing city streets, according to the Department of Buildings, up from about 3,500 in 2003. That's 190 miles worth of sheds, or 1 million linear feet—equal to the distance between Gansevoort Street in the West Village and the hamlet of Gansevoort in upstate Saratoga County.

The unprecedented demand is driven in part by the new wave of construction fueled by the city's robust economy. But there's another, more important reason: Thirty-six years ago, the city passed a law requiring regular inspections of older buildings to ensure concrete and bricks don't fall on pedestrians. And since then, the City Council has strengthened the law while adding new ones, giving rise to an industry that generates $1 billion a year—$200 million of that is for the street-level sheds, and the rest pays for the scaffolding and the workers who repair the fa├žades.

Sheds themselves can be safety hazards. Last year, Mayor Bill de Blasio described sheds as "great for criminals as a place to hide" and "great for folks who want to throw their trash on top." On Jan. 8, his administration announced a "shed safety sweep" in which inspectors will examine sheds to ensure they're well-lit and code-compliant. In 2007, a New York police officer chasing a suspect slammed into a poorly lit shed at the corner of Riverside Drive and West 109th Street, and was injured. "I never saw the pole ... the light was--it was black, dark," the officer later testified. Small-business owners complain that sheds obscure signs and shop windows and drive potential clients across the street. Last month, the Upper West Side's Ocean Grill shut down after a shed and construction noise drove away customers, according to a lawsuit the owners filed against their landlord. BLT Fish in the Flatiron district called a shed outside its restaurant a "kiss of death" in a 2013 lawsuit against its landlord that was settled a few months ago.

Residents loathe sheds because some never go away.

Queens' stuck-in-snow humor

See any more? Send them in!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Sanitation vehicles get stuck, fail to clean streets boroughwide


Woodhaven

Bayside

Corona

Ozone Park

Then there were problems in Maspeth, Ridgewood and Briarwood.

Katz called out at her own speech

From Cleanup Jamaica Queens:

At Thursdays “State of the Borough” by Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, a reader of my blog who was at the event, wrote a comment “When she (Katz) went on and on, some female voice in the audience cried out “When are you going to mention Jamaica”. Right away, I said, has to be friend and comrade-in-arms, Pamela Hazel, since I knew she was going to be in attendance.

My comrade-in-arms, Jamaica resident and community activist Pamela Hazel, is a force to reckon with when it comes to elected officials ignoring and not addressing Jamaica’s quality of life issues, I should know, I have worked with her on several issues over the years. Now Queens Borough President, Melinda Katz, felt that force on Thursday, January 21st at her bullshit “State of the Borough” address, where Ms. Hazel interrupted Katz’s bullshit and hollow speech on Queens, not once but two times on her ignoring Jamaica’s issues.

Considering that the audience was filled with Katz's lackeys and assorted asshole elected officials, here was a fresh dose of reality thrown at Katz and the audience. I am sure she had no idea what hit her since she was expecting accolades from many of the assholes in attendance.


And then there's this tidbit:
"See the guy in the blue jacket with the official Borough President notice to Pamela’s left? That’s Bruce Adler who also doubles as the photographer for the Queens Tribune, Nussbaum’s rag. Seems to me a conflict of interest here, no? Working for a politician and then reporting on them? Visual proof that one hand in Queens washes the other." - George the Atheist

How Queens electeds handled the snow debacle

Well folks, this is what represents you.

Koslowitz thinks there's 20 feet of snow.
Crowley can't form a grammatically correct sentence.
Dromm is too upset about the cancellation of a gay pride event than the fact that his district got hit the hardest.
Van Bramer wants you to know that he didn't miss brunch.
Vallone managed to turn his constituents' grief into a commercial for himself.
The rest of them can't seem to agree on whether the response by the city was fantastic or sucked ass.



Sunday, January 24, 2016

DeBlasio realizes he left Queens buried in snow


From PIX11:

Mayor Bill de Blasio acknowledged at a news conference Sunday morning that more needs to be done — and fast — to dig out the borough of Queens, where large swaths of road are still buried in snow from the historic blizzard.

De Blasio, who visited Queens Sunday morning, said the goal is to have streets cleared by Monday morning in time for the commute and the rolling of buses in a borough where they are so important. Schools will be open.

"Queens is a very big borough," and each storm is different, the mayor said, but what is being done differently this time is a new "agile strategy" to respond to problems in Queens, where 850 plows are now at work.

De Blasio said resources are being funneled from Manhattan, the Bronx and Brooklyn into Queens, where residents have been complaining about lagging cleanup efforts. Queens has historically posed a challenge to the Sanitation Department and City Hall after major snowstorms, and famously hurt Mayor John V. Lindsay's reputation in 1969 and Mayor Michael Bloomberg's in 2010.

Queens saw more snow than any other borough in this weekend's storm, with Kennedy Airport getting more than 30 inches. Queens also has more roads to clear than any other borough.

3 people have died shoveling snow


Be careful out there.

Eagles have landed at FMCP

From NY1:

If you take a walk through Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, you can find a variety of species. But a pair of bald eagles are definitely getting a lot of attention.

"This year, we finally confirmed that we have two adults again," said Jeffrey Kollbrunner, a local wildlife and nature photographer. "It looks like they are a pair or trying to become a pair, which is exciting for our area."

Kollbrunner has two decades of experience documenting birds in Queens. He has spotted immature bald eagles in the area over the past seven years but says the mature eagles have been sighted more recently, in the past two years.

"Having these birds of prey are phenomenal for the region, and you know, people can enjoy them from a distance," Kollbrunner said.

That's exactly what we did. We spotted one of the eagles sitting on ice in the lake. Twenty minutes later, he had company.

Kollbrunner says the state's conservancy efforts have proven successful.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Should we lighten up on minor offenses?

From DNA Info:

Penalties for drinking alcohol and urinating in public could be reduced under a package of bills being discussed by the city council next week.

Under the Criminal Justice Reform Act of 2016, drinking alcohol in public, littering, public urination, unreasonable noise and violating parks rules would largely be considered civil offenses punishable with summonses, according to a city council memo on the plan.

The legislation would remove the possibility of a permanent criminal record for urinating in public and violating park rules. Instead, police would create public guidelines about when those violations are civil or criminal offenses.

The city has used the "broken windows" theory of policing for years which holds that smaller offenses are predictors for larger crimes. Both Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton have remained strong defenders of the strategy in the face of criticism that the theory unjustly targets minorities and the poor.

Will new massage parlor bills make a difference?

From the Queens Chronicle:

After months of banging the drum for legislative help when it comes to cracking down on illegal massage parlors, Capt. Mark Wachter, commanding officer of the 104th Precinct, may finally get his wish.

A package of five bills aimed at hampering the ability of such entities to operate illegally was introduced jointly by Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven) and state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) this week, with Wachter saying it will no longer be easier to close a bagel store than it will be a massage parlor in New York City should the legislation pass.

After months of receiving complaints from southwest Queens residents of parlors opening on Myrtle and Metropolitan avenues either without licenses or with a specialty in illicit sexual services, Wachter took action late last year.

A handful of establishments closed after he assigned an officer to sit outside their front door in a police cruiser for days at a time, but Wachter said it wasn’t unusual to see them reopen in another location a short time later.

Other areas especially plagued by illegal massage parlors include Corona, Flushing and Bayside.

But according to Addabbo, the legislation he introduced requiring landlords to verify the license of a prospective massage therapist tenant before entering into a lease agreement — with a violation resulting in a $1,000 fine for the former — could curb the practice.

Other pieces of legislation introduced would require all massage parlors to not obstruct the view into the building’s lobby from the sidewalk; require the licensee of such a venue to be on the premises at all times during business hours and require that landlords evict any parlor proven to have promoted prostitution or operated without a license.

The final bill provides the city Department of Consumer Affairs the full authority to both enforce the provisions and impose fines on problematic locations.

2 huge Astoria projects may never happen

From the Queens Tribune:

But was this really done right? No less than a week after the ground breaking of Hallets Point affordable housing, the developer said that most of the project is effectively on hold because of the expiration of the tax break known as 421-a, according to reports.

Jonathan Durst, the president of The Durst Organization, was quoted in a NY1 article saying, “We’re cleared with 421-a on the first phase, but if 421-a becomes unavailable, those remaining four or five phases won’t be built.”

The 421-a tax break creates a real estate tax break and property tax break in exchange for providing a significant amount of affordable housing.

Jordan Barowitz, vice president and director of external affairs for The Durst Organization, confirmed Durst’s statement saying that the first phase of the project is under an old 80/20 housing program, which the Housing Finance Agency offers as a tax exempt financing to multi-family rental developments in which at least 20 percent of the units are set aside for very low-income residents by using funds raised through the sale of bonds.

Barowitz explained that the project can not go through until this issue is fixed because there is currently no plan covering the next few phases.

Another affordable housing project that was supposed to be under the 421-a tax break is Astoria Cove. While there have been rumors that the Astoria Cove project is no longer in the works, Alma Realty – the developers of the project – say that the project is still moving forward and the land will continue to be used for Astoria Cove. There is still no date on when the project will be completed.

Fenceless parks: good or bad idea?


From the Queens Tribune:

The Parks Department wants to ditch the high chain-link fences and metal bars that surround many parks in a new initiative called “Parks Without Borders.”

The vision is to create a more porous boundary between the green spaces and the neighborhoods they belong to, so that the parks will be more inviting to nearby residents. Additionally, the thinking goes, the parks’ beauty will not be unnecessarily hidden when they could contribute to the aesthetic of the surrounding blocks. Of special attention are park edges, park-adjacent spaces and entrances.

Residents can visit nycgovparks.org/planning-and-building/planning/parks-without-borders and submit their suggestions through Feb. 28.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Up-lifting cars too close to co-op

"Good Afternoon,

I am on The Coop Board for the 129 unit building directly behind The Queens Savoy Hotel at 123-32 82nd Ave. The residents of my Coop are very concerned that they are erecting a 4 story car lift holding 44 cars (see picture attached) which is around a foot from our building with 11 motors on top which will be operating 24/7.

We searched DOB website and the board by the hotel where they are supposed to post approved permits and did not find the approved permit for this structure although we were told it was approved by DOB. We have been told and or saw:
· There was no Impact Study where my Coop Board was asked how this car lift would affect our residents.

· There is less than 10 feet between the end of our Coop and the start of any hotel structure

· Parking- Board members remember being told that the parking would be under the building where there is 10 parking spaces. However, the hotel developers are building this car lift structure which is at the height of the 2nd floor of my building and that of the residential building next door. It definitely is not under the hotel or underground.

How did DOB (if they did) approve this structure? Given the noise the residents of my Coop will be subject to by the running 24/7 of the 11 motors on top of this structure, the carbon monoxide from the cars and no impact study being perform with Board input it does not make sense that this structure was approved.

We asked DOB to review this situation and send a copy of the approved permit(s). If in fact this structure was approved, we asked that DOB put a stop to the construction and use of this structure and review this structure again with the insight of how it will affect the residents in the 129 units in our Coop. DOB needs to conduct an impact study which should include input from my Coop Board.

I appreciate any help you can give us with the car lift that will definitely have a detrimental effect on the 129 unit Coop it abuts." - anonymous

Is a restaurant being run out of this single-family home?


From the Times Ledger:

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) rallied outside a single-family rental home in Bayside Tuesday with many concerned neighbors fearing potential hazardous consequences from what they allege is a commercial food operation being conducted illegally.

Residents lodged complaints with the appropriate city agencies and called on Avella to look into the suspected business being run at 33-31 204th St. Avella said he called on both the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the city Department of Buildings to investigate.

The Health Department sent cease-and-desist orders to both the property owners and the tenants after attempting to investigate resulting only in a violation, which was paid.

But neighbors still claim they smell potent food odors and burning oil at all times of day and night. They also say they have seen a large propane tank being taken inside and many different people go in and out of the home carrying large food containers while double parking cars for pickup and drop off daily.

Forest Hills subway station to be shut down for 2 months


From the Queens Tribune:

The MTA says that the 67th Avenue station on the Rego Park/Forest Hills border will be shut down completely for as much as two months while it is revamped and brought into the 21st century.

Kevin Ortiz, an MTA Spokesperson, said it is one of the stations that will be renovated as part of the Governor’s Station Enhancement Initiative. He noted that right now, “It is too early to get into the scope and schedule of the project.”

He said that they couldn’t tell when the work will be done, but it will take between 6-12 months to complete and there is a possibility that there will be a full station closure of approximately six to eight weeks.

Some of the updates seen in this initiative will be the installation of Wi-Fi hotspots, mobile payments and ticketing to replace the MetroCard. The new station will also provide USB ports on subway trains, buses and in stations to allow customers to charge their mobile devices.

The court case that no one is talking about

From the Queens Chronicle:

The position of embattled City Councilman Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica) became even more tenuous last week when his co-defendant in a corruption case brought by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman pleaded guilty to lesser charges, and accused the councilman of hatching an elaborate scheme to steal campaign funds for personal use.

Jelani Mills said under oath that he assisted Wills in an alleged plot to take $11,500 in campaign funds between June 2009 and April 2010. The agreement with Schneiderman’s office was signed one day after Mills allegedly skipped out on a court date.

It also let Mills avoid a prison sentence by allowing him to plead guilty to a misdemeanor count of second-degree falsifying business records, with four more serious charges from his original indictment dropped.

Mills was originally charged with one count of third-degree larceny and three counts of first-degree falsifying business records when they were arrested.

The agreement stipulates that Mills will be sentenced to one year of probation and 10 days of community service. He could have faced up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine for the one remaining charge.

Schneiderman’s office declined to comment on the agreement, and no sentencing date was yet available.

The state also alleges that some of the campaign money was directed to NY 4 Life, a nonprofit concern that Wills allegedly controlled.

Another secret homeless shelter opens in Queens


From the Queens Tribune:

The Pan American Hotel in Elmhurst, an Econo Lodge in South Ozone Park, the Verve Hotel in Long Island City, and the Westway Motel in Astoria are among some of the lodging facilities in Queens that have recently been converted to homeless shelters. The Par Central Motor Inn located at 82-85 Parsons Blvd. in Jamaica has also joined this growing list of hotels.

According to the city’s Department of Homeless Services, 33 units in the hotel are currently being used to provide temporary housing for families who need it. The first families moved in last September. The hotel falls under Community Board 8’s area and board members are upset that they were not notified of the DHS’s plan nor were they given a chance to review and comment on it.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

DOE allegedly wants to build on Newtown HS athletic field

From Change.org:

The NYCDOE has proposed a plan to build a Pre-K school on one side of our Newtown Field.We cannot allow the department of education to take away a place where young people go to participate in sports and a place where young people learn the value of leadership, character, and school culture. Newtown High School is an entry point for students from all around the world. These students are entitled to use their own field. If a new Pre-K is built, we will lose our tennis courts, handball courts, part of our track field and possibly the field house. Our field is currently utilized by the PSAL for various events, Newtown students would no longer be able to participate in such events, because losing a part of our field would result in losing some of our teams and facilities. Once these facilities and teams are lost, they will not be replaced, thereby denying all future generations usage of their very own field. Please sign our petition and help us in tell the Department of Education that Newtown High School needs its field for current students and future generations.

A better plan for Queens Blvd?

From the Times Ledger:

...one 25-year resident of Woodside has a different name in mind. Community advocate and safety consultant Bill Kregler believes that if changes are not made to the boulevard’s redesign plan, it will become known as the “Road to Ruin.”

During a walking tour with DOT officials and community leaders last week, Kregler handed Trottenberg a 35-page detailed report, complete with 116 photographs, that he authored. The report documents the deterioration of the service road driving lanes that have been neglected as construction of the bike lanes became the DOT’s priority.

“In their rush to create a commuter lane for cyclists, and removing travel lanes along one of the busiest roadways in the city for the first time, they’ve created a mess with potholes, cracking asphalt and sinking and collapsing of the service utility cover, because all that traffic is being forced into one overused lane,” Kregler said. “Since its implementation, vehicles have slowed to a crawl during the morning and evening rush hours, creating bottlenecks, and motorists peel off dangerously down our side streets, creating a safety hazard for our children and seniors. Woodside is getting the shaft here and it is becoming a dangerous situation.”

Kregler said Trottenberg did not seem to be pleased to receive his report, although a DOT spokesman confirmed it was being reviewed. Kregler is a former housing cop turned firefighter who went on to become a fire marshal and current president of the Fire Marshal’s Benevolent Association. He also spent 10 years on the Community Educational Council as a representative of the borough president.

Kregler emphasized that he believes in the bike lanes, but that their location was poorly conceived and this is affecting the quality of life along the boulevard in Woodside.

AG slaps car dealerships

From NY1:

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is suing some car dealerships in Queens for allegedly illegally inflating car prices.

Wednesday, Schneiderman's office announced the lawsuit, which claims that several Koeppel dealerships throughout Queens, owned by the Koeppel family, illegally sold "after-sale" services, such as identity theft protection and credit repair, to more than 1,400 customers.

As a result, customers were overcharged without their knowledge, according to the state attorney general's office.

The suit claims that between Jan. 2013 and Nov. 2014, the dealerships collected more than a million dollars through the practices, costing some costumers up to $2,000.

AirBnB jerk cheated and harassed his own tenants, too


From PIX11:

Renter Justin Worsley describes Burak Firik, a man well known to PIX11 viewers for cheating landlords in Queens, as "aggressive .. basically a bully.”

Firik and another man, Dogan Kimilli, leased a three-bedroom apartment in Elmhurst from landlord Eddie Shiew and then illegally renovated it into small sleeping quarters they’d rent out by the night or week on airbnb.com.

Following our two reports, PIX11 was contacted by a number of tenants who say they rented rooms from Firik in properties he had converted, and the results were disastrous.

Justin Worsley rented a room on Lefferts Avenue in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Though Firik’s name is not listed as the landlord on the property records, Worsley paid him $650 a month rent and a month’s security.

Six months later, Firik texted Worsley and the four other tenants saying, “everybody has to move out," so he could “demolish the house.”

“He then threatened me," Worsley said. "Told me he was gonna cut the power and the water, which he legally can’t do. He says he does this all the time. He’ll take all my stuff and throw it out in the streets.”

When Firik demanded the tenants move out immediately, Worsley texted back “we will not be out tomorrow, so you’ll be unable to demolish, sorry.”

Firik replied.

“You’ll see your ass on the streets. We know all the bloods and crips dawg.”

Taxed to death

From the Daily News:

New York is still No. 1 when it comes to the tax burden it places on residents, a study out Wednesday revealed.

The conservative Tax Foundation, in its annual report, found that New York once again had the highest tax burden of any state in the nation, with 12.7% of income going to support state and local taxes.

New York has topped the Foundation’s list every year since 2005. The latest report comes despite Gov. Cuomo’s repeated claims to have revived the state’s economic climate.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

It's all about the incentives

From Crains:

When Cumberland Packing Corp. said it would stop production at Sweet’N Low’s Brooklyn Navy Yard factory and lay off 320 people, the de Blasio administration did nothing. Public Advocate Letitia James demanded action, but the president of the Navy Yard, saying he was speaking for City Hall, issued a statement saying it was “unfortunate the global economic conditions in their industry forced [this] difficult decision to relocate.”

What Cumberland shows is that if the de Blasio administration’s goal is to grow the city’s manufacturing sector—and that’s what the mayor said last year—it can’t be done without incentives.

A new way to report quality of life problems


From PIX11:

Abandoned cars, noise complaints, garbage and crime are problems in the city.

Neighbors report thousands of issues every month to NYC 311. The NYPD is also directly seeking community ideas.

At 6 precincts, NYPD is testing a program based on software from IdeaScale. Since the late Fall in the 113th Precinct in Southeast Queens, the site for neighborhoods in and around St. Albans has registered nearly 200 users and processed about 50 cases.

Sergeant Widy Geritano says it's similar to a social media site. Members from the community can sign up and anonymously write about issues they observe. Officers use their handheld devices to access the site.

What idiots came up with this?

From Gotham Gazette:

As New Yorkers begin a year of many voting opportunities, there are important questions that elections will help answer - like who the next U.S. President will be and which party will control the state Senate - but also concern about voter fatigue and thus, turnout.

There will be at least four chances for New Yorkers to cast votes in 2016, with three different primary election days leading up to November’s general election. There will be a presidential primary vote in April; congressional primaries in June; and state legislative primaries in September. There will also be special elections sprinkled in to fill empty seats in the state Assembly and Senate.

On April 19, New Yorkers will vote in their party primaries for president; on June 28, it will be primaries for all 27 New York members of the House of Representatives, with Senator Chuck Schumer on the ballot, too; and on September 13, primaries for all 63 seats of the State Senate and all 150 seats of the State Assembly.

No date has been set by the governor yet for special elections in the state legislature, including those to replace former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, whose 2015 corruption convictions created vacancies.

In 2015, some New York City voters cast ballots for new district attorneys, judges, and city Council members, among others. By the time New Yorkers vote for president in November, it could be their sixth trip to the polls in 14 months.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The death of Jamaica Avenue

The Death of Jamaica Avenue Queens. (From the Queens archives.)

Posted by Allen Lloyd on Monday, January 11, 2016
Came across this great well put together video by Allen Lloyd titled "The Death of Jamaica Ave", a most appropriate title for the decline of this once great avenue and community which now just represents low-class third world ghetto as is so evident as one looks at the present. His video appears on his Facebook page.

The site of seeing Jamaica Avenue from glamour back in the day to the current state of third world ghetto retail along with constant litter and trash blowing down the Ave is very sad. Even sadder in the video are some of the articles from 1965 and on claiming a "revitalization" and a "sweeping plan" that ended nowhere (Now where have I heard that recently). And seeing the inside of the beautiful Macy's back in the day and knowing that that the god awful Jamaica Colosseum Mall resembles some god awful third world ghetto flea market makes you want to scream.

Attached house in Bayside becomes McMansion

Dear Crappie,

This house has been under construction since the summer. In the pictures you can see what once was and what is there now, near the corner of 46 Av & 216 St. Of course the new construction is totally out of scale with everything else nearby.

Mike in Bayside
They took an attached house and injected steroids into it. Reminds me of the infamous Elmhurst half-house.

Does anyone really believe this will be a 4-story one family house?