Friday, June 23, 2017

Replacing Rikers

From Crains:

The most feasible location to boost flights is LaGuardia Airport, by building a new runway on Rikers Island in place of the jail complex that the city hopes to close within 10 years. The plan, a recommendation of the Rikers Commission, would involve laying another strip of tarmac on the reclaimed isle and connecting it to a new terminal next to the existing airport. Because Rikers is more than 400 acres, other infrastructure uses often loathed by residential neighborhoods could be sited there with 
little fuss. A waste treatment, composting or waste-to-energy plant could help the city make serious strides toward its environmental goals, Torres Springer said, and a solar energy farm could produce and store hundreds of megawatts of power.

From DNA Info:

A plan to close Rikers Island unveiled Thursday won't happen without the support of local city council members willing to clear the way for local jails in their districts, the mayor said on WNYC's Brian Lehrer's show.

The 85-year-old jail has been plagued by concerns for inmate mistreatment and deaths, security issues and mismanagement, won't close without new satellite jails, Mayor Bill de Blasio, said Thursday morning.

While de Blasio's ten-year-plan included a combination of criminal justice reforms to drive down the city's inmate population by making it easier to pay bail, investing more in mental health programs and decreasing crime rates, details of the satellite jails are conspicuously absent.

The mayor put the onus squarely on neighborhood NIMBYs.

"We're going keep driving [the inmate population] down with every tool we have, but we can't get off Rikers, unless there are specific places where the local leadership accept a jail facility," he said. "It just cannot happen without a vote of the City Council."

In March of 2016, DNAinfo exclusively reported that the city was quietly eyeing several sites for new satellite jails including locations in Hunts Point in the Bronx, in College Point in Queens, at 287 Maspeth Ave. on a vacant lot owned by National Grid in East Williamsburg, at 803 Forbell St. in East New York and at two sites on Staten Island.

Water's Edge mystery

From LIC Talk:

In February of 2016 the City decided to develop the land in and around the former Water’s Edge Restaurant on 44th Drive by the East River. Given the prospective zoning variance the city was offering, a pair of 60-story towers were possible on this choice piece of property, so the proposed project is massive. RFP’s from developers were due that May and were required to include a new school, some affordable housing, and a few other stipulations most notably a set aside for light manufacturing.

After submission the proposals would be reviewed by the NYCEDC (Economic Development Corp) and I was under the belief that shortly after the New Year they would pick 2-3 of those they deem viable for a bake-off, during which time there would be some community review and recommendations and then a winner would be chosen. Now I’m hearing grumblings that the city is going to bypass the middle step and just render a final decision.

Which is really a shame because in addition to ignoring those who are in the best position to determine local needs, it will also completely cut-off the possibility of what could be a fully integrated grand master plan for the entire northern riverfront section of Long Island City. The most obvious piece of this puzzle, the large lot just north of the Water’s Edge, is already ‘in-play,’ and the group controlling it has submitted a proposal incorporating this piece of land. This group had previously been shopping a plan just for their property that would have included a pedestrian bridge to the Cornell Technion campus on Roosevelt Island.

I don’t know anything about the rest of their plan, but that bridge alone might be worth its weight in gold to Long Island City. As an interested resident I would very much want to see how their plan stacks up to whatever other proposals the NYCEDC chooses.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Joe Crowley has a Dem challenger

From the Village Voice:

Before Crowley can get on with his ladder climbing, he needs to do something somewhat unfamiliar: run a campaign. For the first time since at least 2004, he will be forced to compete in a primary in the overwhelmingly Democratic district spanning northern Queens and a chunk of the eastern Bronx. Since Republican victories are all but impossible, the primary is where the action is — and where Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 27-year-old former organizer for the Bernie Sanders campaign, hopes to pull off her historic upset.

“What Joe Crowley represents is the floodgate between Wall Street and the United States government. He’s the clearing house, he takes millions and millions of dollars in funding from them,” Ocasio-Cortez told the Voice. “We see how he’s come to power locally — it’s totally undemocratic, machine-run, dynastic. He’s trying to spread this same model on the federal level.”

Ocasio-Cortez, attacking Crowley from the left, is just one of about a dozen candidates running on the slate of Brand New Congress, a political action committee founded by former Sanders staffers to elect more progressive members of Congress. She is the only member of Brand New Congress running from New York. A resident of the Bronx neighborhood of Parkchester, Ocasio-Cortez organized Sanders’s campaign in the South Bronx — Hillary Clinton, heavily favored in New York City, won the Bronx handily — and started thinking seriously about running for Congress after Donald Trump’s election. She learned quickly that people usually didn’t even contemplate running against Crowley, let alone start an actual campaign.

“A lot of progressive groups are coming out of the woodwork. They’ve been trying to find a challenger to Crowley for years,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “It’s literally political suicide for anyone with a semblance of a political career.”

Injured construction workers face multiple surgeries

From NBC:

Three construction workers are expected to survive after a building collapsed on top of them in Astoria, Queens. Marc Santia reports.

OSHA is investigating.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Unintentionally funny typo may reveal the future

A progressive hotel? Uh oh! We know what that means.

Bulk trash piling up

From Brooklyn Daily:

The Department of Sanitation must switch over to an appointment system to pick up large junk piling up on Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights streets, say angry locals.

New garbage trucks rolled out into the area last fall as part of the city’s organics program, but the waste haulers’ separate compactors for recyclables and garbage mean less room for bulky items — which are accumulating on curbs. And the city’s lack of response is turning the area into a garbage obstacle course.

From October 2016 to mid-June, 311 has logged more than 760 missed pick up complaints for “bulk” trash — anything bigger than four feet by three feet — on top of nearly 200 calls to Community Board 10’s office from residents grousing about garbage.

But the city could nip the situation in the bud if it implemented an appointment system where residents could request curbside bulk pickup, similar to the department’s electronic waste pilot program, which at the moment is only available in Staten Island.

And the problem is actually worse than city data lets on, because 311 will not accept calls about missed bulk collection until the following Sunday before a given block’s last garbage collection day of the week. This reporter was told by a 311 operator that she could not log a complaint about a sofa — that had already been on the curb for nearly two weeks — on Thursday because policy is to wait until at least 8 am on Sunday.

Horrific construction accident in Astoria

From NBC:

A crane dropped a materials load into a renovation site in Queens on Tuesday afternoon, injuring three construction workers, including two critically, fire officials said.

Dozens of firefighters descended on a two-story brownstone on 28th Road, between 31st and 33rd streets, in Astoria just before 4 p.m.

"It was just a big explosion," said Astoria resident Marianna O'Neill. "It was loud and it was long."

A 37-year-old construction worker who managed to get out of the building on his own was transported to a hospital with serious injuries.

A 40-year-old construction worker was seen being pulled from the building on a stretcher shortly after 4 p.m. He or she appeared to be conscious but had critical injuries, officials said.

Around 5:30 p.m., firefighters were still working to free a 28-year-old construction worker who was trapped under "a few thousand pounds of construction materials in the basement of the building," FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said at a press conference, adding that the man's legs were under 1,200-pound beams.

Fire officials said that neither a crane nor a crane boom collapsed. They said a load of materials that had been placed on the roof of the building for renovation collapsed, falling all the way to the ground floor or basement. A large hole could be seen in the roof of the building.

The building is in the process of being converted from a two-family house to a three-family house, according to the Dept. of Buildings database.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Could a Grenfell situation happen here?

From CBS 2:

The entire 24-hour Grenfell Tower was engulfed in flames in less than an hour, and the fire was the deadliest in Britain in more than a century.

With so many skyscrapers in New York City, could a similar thing happen? And what should people do in the event of such an emergency?

CBS2’s Elise Finch found out.

The cause of the Grenfell Tower fire is still being investigated. But early reports suggest an external building material called cladding may be to blame.

In a recent renovation, insulation sandwiched between two aluminum panels was used on the building’s façade, and it is that material that is believed to have accelerated the blaze.

Similar cladding is used on many New York buildings – including high-rises. So could a similar fire happen in New York?

The Penn Station blues

From the Wall Street Journal:

Diverted passengers who face a grueling commute this summer because of rail disruption at New York’s Penn Station deserve discounted tickets on the Long Island Rail Road, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday morning.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Suffolk County board member later suggested such a discount could be up to 15%.

As Mr. Cuomo made his suggestion, during a news conference at Penn Station, the head of the MTA, which owns the LIRR, told a committee of the agency’s board in lower Manhattan that the MTA will withhold regular payments it makes to Amtrak for use of Penn Station and that the MTA will send Amtrak a bill for costs incurred by the disruption.

Amtrak, which owns and operates the Midtown Manhattan terminal, will reduce weekday rush-hour service into and out of the station beginning July 10. The outages are needed so that Amtrak can carry out extensive repair work to rails and switches following two low-speed derailments earlier this year.

From NY1:

City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer is not mincing words when it comes to his opinion on the MTA's plan for Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) riders this summer.

“I think it is ridiculous,” he said.

This week, the agency announced it would cancel or divert close to three dozen rush hour trains into and out of Penn Station while Amtrak does emergency track work. That means more LIRR trains originating or terminating at stations in Brooklyn and Queens, including Hunterspoint Avenue in Long Island City. Passengers there would then either take a ferry or transfer to the 7 train.

“To take Long Island Rail Road users and divert them to the 7 train is stupid,” Van Bramer said. “We know the service is unreliable as it is.”

From NY1:

A State Senator from Queens says taxing the rich is how to fund repair work at Penn Station.

Senator Michael Gianaris says his bill would require millionaires in New York to pay a three-year temporary state income tax surcharge. It would apply to those living in any county where the MTA operates.

Gianaris says it would generate close to $2 billion dollars for the MTA every year.

Hotel taxes would also see a new $5 fee on top of the already existing tax in the city.

Tenants forced to use fire escape to enter building

From PIX11:

Tenants of an Upper West Side five-story walk-up were briefly forced to use the fire escape to access their apartments after their landlord told them about plans to renovate the building’s only staircase.

The Department of Buildings has since issued a stop work order on the West 83rd Street building after the tenants, some of whom are elderly, had an emergency meeting with Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal.

The situation was even worse for some tenants. They don't have access to the fire escape from their apartment.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Schumer asks for more funding for opioid enforcement

From PIX11:

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer is calling for federal help in the fight against opioid addiction in New York.

Schumer is asking the Drug Enforcement Agency to provide the state with one of four special heroin enforcement teams being formed to combat the problem. The four teams are specifically dedicated to counteracting heroin trafficking and are sent to states that report heroin as the highest drug threat.

The Democrat says New York's heroin overdose death rate increased by 30 percent in 2015. New data show there was an average of four overdose deaths a day in New York City alone last year. That was double the rate two years earlier. New York City also is a major distribution hub.

Overall, 24 New York counties are considered High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas.

Who will be housed at Ridgewood shelter? Depends who you ask

From the Queens Chronicle:
The Ridgewood Presbyterian Church is negotiating a partnership with a homeless services nonprofit to provide beds for about a dozen homeless people who frequent the area near the Forest Avenue subway station.
According to the Department of Homeless Services, the 59-14 70 Ave. house of worship recently reached out to the agency, looking to expand its existing programs geared toward the neighborhood’s undomiciled population.
While an agreement has yet to be signed between the church and street homeless outreach group Breaking Ground, the two entities are eyeing the placing of about 15 beds within the building.
Ok, so it will be an overnight refuge for local Ridgewood homeless living on the street.

From the Queens Tribune:
Reverend Victoria Moff said that the church is gearing the program, which may launch at the beginning of September, toward people who are living in a dangerous situation or have been evicted due to rent increases. Moff said that when the church has empty beds, it will be open to taking Breaking Ground’s clientele.
“We’re not even calling it a shelter,” Moff said. “A lot of the people are seniors and we know them through our senior program.”

She added that Breaking Ground will help the guests find permanent affordable housing.

“The ones [from their senior program] I know are retired and not working,” Moff said. “As long as they meet our criteria—no one violent and no one with substance abuse problems.
So it's not the people living in the streets near the subway but people from the church's senior program? Hmmm....

From QNS:
According to Christopher Winter, the lead consultant on the project with Ridgewood Presbyterian Church, no one will be bussed into Ridgewood to use the services. It is for the local residents who are having housing issues.
Ok, so it's definitely for neighborhood people. Got it.

From the Glendale Register:
The Glendale Register has learned in an exclusive interview with the Department of Homeless Services that a Ridgewood church is considering providing overnight beds to homeless individuals living on the streets. 
Existing space in Ridgewood Presbyterian Church, located at the intersection of Forest and 70th avenues, would be utilized for up to 15 beds. Needy individuals would be referred to the church on a nightly basis by Breaking Ground, the city’s largest supportive housing provider...a spokesperson stressed the site is not technically a homeless shelter, drop-in center or safe haven.
Well then what is it? This is all very confusing. They seem to morph from street homeless to seniors depending on who is being interviewed. Sounds like they all got caught off guard and couldn't get their stories straight. Whatever the real version is, let's hope it's not these folks:
“I have an obligation to my 4-year-olds and their parents that they are going to be safe, but I can’t guarantee that with some of the guys there,” Monahan continued. “Some are very violent. And after renovating the space, it will be a shame that no one wants to go to pre-K there because of the homeless there.”
“We have a quandary,” Monahan said. “These people don’t want to go to a shelter of any kind. They drink at all hours of the day. They pee out in public. It really is a terrible situation. I know they don’t have any place to go, but my parents can’t walk down the block without being somewhat harassed.”
This is some city we live in.

Worker falls of scaffold and dies

From the Daily News:

A worker took a fatal three-story plunge from a scaffolding outside a Brooklyn building Sunday afternoon, authorities said.

The 58-year-old man was on a platform at the building on Nostrand Ave. near Linden Blvd. in East Flatbush at 12:45 p.m. when he fell , police said.

He suffered severe head trauma and died at Kings County Hospital, according to police. His name was not released.

The city Buildings Department website shows the FDNY requesting an inspection after finding a “loose scaffold” after the fall Sunday. A Buildings Department spokesman said the tragic incident remains under investigation.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Band of cell phone thieves in Ozone Park area

From CBS2:

A Queens father is calling for action Saturday after his son was robbed of his cellphone as he walked home from school, and police say it’s part of a growing trend in the area.

“It is very, very important to get them off the street,” Anthony Pedraza told CBS2’s Dave Carlin in an exclusive interview.

Pedraza says his mission is to let other parents in Ozone Park, Queens know that cellphone thieves are brazenly finding their victims in the daytime and heartlessly picking on youngsters. The latest victim was his 12-year-old son, Greysen.

The seventh grader said the man who robbed him, along with three accomplices, confronted him Wednesday after school. Greysen had gotten off a city bus and was in a shopping center that fronts South Conduit Avenue.

The robbers made their move as he was walking on a dirt path to get to his house.

“I went to walk away and when I was crossing over the conduit, they came up to me and said they had a gun in a book bag and give me your phone,” he said.

They took his iPhone, and nothing else. Greysen tried the “find my phone” feature, but had no luck.

Giving a leg up to local wildlife

From QNS:

Ten ducklings that were trapped in a storm drain at a Howard Beach park caught a lucky break when they were rescued by officers of the U.S. Park Police and the NYPD.

On Thursday, June 15, U.S. Park Police Officers Cobaj and McGarry were patrolling in the park when a park visitor flagged them down and told them about some ducks that were stuck in a storm drain, which was located near the North Channel Bridge.

Upon their arrival, Officers Cobaj and McGarry saw ten ducklings stuck inside the drain. Officers from the 100th precinct and the emergency service unit helped Cobaj and McGarry lift the metal gate so they could get inside the gate.

Officer McGarry climbed down into the storm drain and was able to retrieve nine of the ten ducklings. The tenth duckling wandered further down the storm drain, but would later be coaxed out by 100th Precinct Sergeant Quwella Brown.

All of the ducks are said to be healthy and will most likely survive the experience. The ducks will be cared for by National Park Service Biologist Bill Parker until they are old enough to return to the park.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Do we really need an ambassador of nightlife?

From the Daily News:

Mayor de Blasio wants to hire a “nightlife ambassador” as part of the jobs plan he announced Thursday, to serve as a liaison between city government and local music spots and clubs.

“We want to have an office that’s really going to work with the various music venues, with the nightclubs, with bars and restaurants and also take into account the community perspective,” Julie Menin, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, said.

The idea for the new gig comes from the “night mayor” concept used in London and Amsterdam — “only the coolest,” de Blasio noted in listing the cities.

Earlier this year, Menin’s office put out a study that found jobs and wages in the city’s music industry were growing faster than the city average.

“This is an area of tremendous growth for New York,” she said.

But for the live music fans who have mourned the loss of small music venues — especially “DIY” or do-it-yourself venues sometimes hit with city fines — it may feel more like the industry is shrinking. According to Economic Development Corporation President James Patchett, that’s not just hipster nostalgia talking: Another study from Menin’s office had found a 20% decline in smaller music venues over the last 15 years.

But whoever takes on the job won’t just be cheerleading for Baby’s All Right and The Bell House — they’ll also have to balance community concerns about things like noise, Menin said.

Questions about new construction on Jericho Turnpike

From the Queens Chronicle:

Richard Hellenbrecht loves Bellerose. And he warns a four-story building going up at Jericho Turnpike and Little Neck Parkway could be a nightmare for drivers in the neighborhood.

“We were asking for the [Department of Transportation] to do a study or at least a review on it,” Hellenbrecht, the executive vice president of the Queens Civic Congress, told the Chronicle. “Because that particular point on Little Neck Parkway is very busy.”

According to a DOT spokesperson, the agency did not analyze the intersection — which has a traffic light — for the impacts of the development.

The Bellerose resident, who is a member of Community Board 13, is also concerned about what the future of the community facility planned at the site will be.

“The big question is, will they maintain the community facility?” he added. “Even if they start with the community facility, will they maintain it or replace it with regular offices?”

Seventy-eight parking spots are planned, according to the website of AB Capstone, the site’s developer.

Hellenbrecht said the firm developing the property has repeatedly ignored requests from CB 13 to meet with board members. However, he said that the board’s Land Use Committee did speak with the real estate broker for the site.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Spike strips cause controversy in Kew Gardens

From CBS 2:

As CBS2’s Jessica Layton reported, residents want to know why spike strips have been installed leading up to their front door.

The six-story building in a pleasant Kew Gardens neighborhood seemed like the perfect place for Katerina Masheeva to raise her kids. But now, the strips of spikes have raised serious concerns for her family and others in the building.

“It’s sharp, yes; it’s dangerous, yes,” Masheeva said.

There is now a double line of spike strips, each several feet long, just installed on both concrete ledges leading up to the apartments on 118th Street.

“I’ve seen a lot of, you know, hostile architecture over the last 20 years or so that it pops up more and more frequently, and this is just the most vile type that I’ve seen,” said Dan Irving.

“The woman that was just passing by said it looks very prison-like,” said Jessica Gomez.

(Check out the thug that slapped the camera.)

Trump home to be a rental

From Curbed:

The modest Jamaica Estates home where President Donald Trump lived for his early childhood is about to become available once again—this time as a rental unit. According to Mansion Global, the 2,000-square-foot home will be listed with Jason Friedman, a broker who primarily works on Long Island, for “somewhere between $3,500 and $4,000 a month.”

The two-story brick and stucco house dates back to the mid-century, and the Trump family lived there when Donald was still a baby. They moved by the time he was four years old, but that was long enough to give it some cachet.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Parker Towers demolishing fountain

From Forest Hills Post:

Parker Towers, the large 1960s development sandwiched between Queens Blvd and Yellowstone Boulevard, has long been known for the giant fountain in the middle of the courtyard.

The fountain has traditionally been a focal point since it is surrounded by the three 22-story high-rises that make up the complex.

The fountain, however, is now being demolished. According to a spokesman for the Parker Towers, the demolition began yesterday and will be complete in two weeks.

The plan is to replace it with greenspace. Construction will begin in a few weeks and is estimated to be finished in a few months.

However, according to local historian and Forest Hills resident Michael Perlman, residents are not pleased with this decision and neither is he.

City Hall wants you to paint your roof white

From AM-NY:

City Hall will be painting the city white this summer to protect people from the risks of high heat.

City officials, and other private and nonprofit partners launched The Cool Neighborhoods program Wednesday with paint brushes in hand. Under the initiative, the city will be working to lower building temperatures by painting their roofs a reflective white paint, planting trees to provide more shade and urging neighbors to check in on the elderly, poor and disabled when temperatures spike.

Daniel Zarrilli, the city’s chief resiliency officer, said the $106 million initiative is imperative because studies show the number of days New York City thermometers hit at least 90 degrees will double by 2020. Such hot conditions can lead to dehydration, heat stroke and other ill health effects.

“We need to be better prepared for that,” Zarrilli said.

One of the program’s largest components is the expansion of the city’s CoolRoofs service, where roofs are covered with the heat-reducing paint, at no cost to the owner.

Crapper cost is astronomical

From Crains:

A 400-square-foot public bathroom in City Councilman David Greenfield's Brooklyn district has cost $2 million to renovate, and after more than 7½ years of work is still not completed, the lawmaker told a Crain's real estate conference today. Greenfield used the project to make the case that more private-sector engagement is needed to rein in the cost of building municipal infrastructure.

"We have to be frank," said Greenfield, who heads the city's land-use committee. "Government sucks at development."

Many high-profile municipal projects are either missing benchmarks or simply costing taxpayers too much. The Second Avenue subway extension cost about $800 million per mile, yet a similar project in London cost around $125 million per mile. And the East Side Access project, which could have alleviated some of the current Penn Station woes, is now 10 years behind schedule and nearly $4 billion over budget. But as Greenfield made clear, even small development projects suffer under the weight of bureaucracy.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

MTA seriously needs to upgrade signals

From the Daily News:

The MTA has got a problem with delays when it comes to repairing critical signal equipment, according to an analysis the city’s Independent Budget Office released Tuesday.

Projects that keep signals in good working order can be months, even years, behind schedule, according to the budget office’s analysis of three Metropolitan Transportation Authority capital plans, from 2004 to 2019.

From 2005 to 2014, 19 out of 33 signal projects were completed late or will wrap up behind schedule. Meanwhile, nearly a third of projects begun over that time are still underway.

Signal malfunctions can be devastating, creating a ripple effect from line to line that can last for hours. The problems the malfunctions cause are complicated by the age of the equipment. Much of the signal work involves painstakingly repairing ancient parts that can date to the 1930s. An upgrade to a signal and track system on the Queens Blvd. lines at 71st. Ave. and Union Turnpike that should have been done in April was pushed back a whopping 14 months.

And this is the problem with our electeds. They like making headlines with splashy proposals for new transit systems, like BQX and light rail while the current system is allowed to go to pot.

Police upset over parking placard ticket quota

From CBS 2:

Stunning charges Tuesday night claimed that the city is establishing a new parking ticket quota system going after drivers with government-issued permits.

As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, city cash registers are apparently going to take in an estimated $6 million more from tickets issued to city workers who abuse their parking privileges and park illegally.

De Blasio made it clear that when he said he would hire 100 new traffic agents and establish a new 16-member NYPD permit abuse squad, it would be paid for with ticket revenue.

And? If you're abusing your position, you probably should be fined double.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Steinway Mansion getting an upgrade

From George the Atheist
Also from G the A

Rezoning a car wash

From the Queens Chronicle:

The city Planning Commission on May 24 cleared the way for a Jackson Heights car wash to be replaced by an eight-story commercial building by unanimously approving a rezoning measure for the site.

The matter will now go to the City Council for a vote and is expected to pass as area Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland (D-East Elmhurst) is in favor of the rezoning and proposed development.
Developer H&M LLC plans to replace Classic Car Wash, located at 74-04 Northern Blvd., with a commercial-use building, with the ground floor holding retail space.

The second and third would hold 219 parking spots, with a community space on the fourth and offices on five to eight.

To do so, the site must be rezoned from a C8-1 District to a C4-3.

H&M LLC states in its application to the Department of City Planning that construction on the site could begin sometime in 2018 and be completed in a little over a year.

And while housing is not proposed for the site at this time, the CPC also unanimously approved a request by the developer to require 25 percent of any residential units that could be built in the future to be affordable — under the controversial Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program approved by the Council last year.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Council speaker rides float with terrorist

From the NY Post:

Controversial onetime convicted terror leader Oscar Lopez Rivera may have declined the Puerto Rican Day Parade’s “National Freedom Award,” but he was still at the head of the event Sunday — with the City Council speaker right by his side.

Lopez Rivera — who did 35 years behind bars for his ties to the Puerto Rican terror group FALN — was on the first float out of the gate at the Manhattan parade, and speaker pal Melissa Mark-Viverito hopped on to join him at 62nd Street.

Landlord threatens to call ICE on tenants

From the Daily News:

A landlord who’s faced past allegations of tenant harassment has posted signs touting a Department of Homeland Security tip line in some of his Queens buildings, which have unnerved some tenants.

Between President Trump’s push to deport undocumented residents and a spike in immigration raids, the Bangladeshi tenants of a Zara Realty apartment building on 168th St. in Jamaica are on edge.

“It’s to scare the people,” said Abukhar Hossain, whose family has lived at the nine-story brick address for 15 years.

A recent visit showed the DHS placards posted prominently at 168th St. and at another Zara-managed building a block away on 88th Ave.

Tenants at 168th St. said the signs have been up since Zara arrived in 2014. Tenants at 88th Ave. didn’t know when they first went up.

Hossain said he couldn’t say whether the signs at 168th St. resulted in DHS activity, but noted that at least one undocumented family was among several tenants who’ve moved out since Zara Realty took over.

Nightlife noise complaints are way up

From AM-NY:

City nightlife is bringing the noise — and the headaches, according to a report released last week.

An audit by the state comptroller’s office found the number of 311 noise complaints related to bars, clubs and other nightlife establishments soared from 38,000 in 2010, to more than 93,000 in 2015.
Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli called on the state Liquor Authority to take action against repeat violators.

“Establishments with hundreds of complaints lodged against them faced little or no repercussions. For the sake of city residents, more action must be taken to address noisy clubs and bars,” he said.
The report showed 277 businesses each received 100 or more complaints.

DiNapoli said the state doesn’t access 311 data readily and can’t adequately assess the complaints. He recommended the state Liquor Authority design and formalize a process to go over the data themselves.

LIC Elks Lodge exists now only in photos

Untapped Cities takes us inside LIC's now-demolished Elks Lodge.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Mudanza trucks picking up mattresses

"We have an ongoing problem with the Mudanzas (moving) trucks, often not legal, picking up filthy mattresses throughout the East Elmhurst and Corona neighborhoods. We complained to buildings and even the DMV because none of the license plates are from New York state. They park these trucks (sometimes even with the mattresses stored on top) for days in residential streets. We don’t have enough parking as it is now that there is metered parking on both Astoria and Northern Boulevards. No one does anything about this. We plan to try and pursue it again with the appropriate offices, but we know that they are swamped.

We are sick of the quality of life issues in the neighborhood. The most recent thing going on is this ‘rave’ parties with over 100 young adults in attendance. No one does anything to permanently stop repeat offenders from throwing these things, which take place in the middle of the work-week. We emailed Katz’ office about that as well as spoke to the captain at the local precinct. There was property damage when one of these events took place this past Saturday and they usually end with police, fire and ambulance showing up. They were even fighting with the cops (who were outnumbered) to the point that backup had to be called in. A real mess! Thanks for listening." - anonymous

Manhattan gets new area code

From Crains:

Manhattan is getting a new area code—332—starting [today].

Residents of the borough have almost exhausted the telephone number sequences for the 646 area code, the last of the available three-digit codes for Manhattan.

The second set of digits in every phone number combination is known as the "prefix," explained John Manning, senior director at the North American Numbering Plan Administration, which administers and assigns telephone numbers in the United States. And there is a finite quantity of 800 prefixes appointed to every area code.

The newest code, 332, will serve roughly 8 million residents, meaning Manhattanites will be covered for at least 30 years, Manning said.

More crap development coming to Rockaway

Good evening,

I was heading home after checking out the completed boardwalk/sidewalk and got on the 116th station in Rockaway and heading for the shuttle train I saw some interesting new development next to the tracks. I assume this is up your alley (no pun intended) of your expertise because it looks like the header photo on your blog.
Then there is this piece in the Rockaway Times, a local newspaper passing for a real estate brochure, about some group tied to a developer involved in building some pretentious hip hotel. They are trying to beautify the development around them by painting over the green fencing and also trying to get ferry commuters to get loaded in a beer garden in a filthy construction site.
This reminds me of what Slate Properties tried to do in Ridgewood with Rockaway Brewery a year ago. Without the sand of course.
What did you say a few days ago when you posted about that terrorist conspirator that we live in a bizarro city. Well, these mental patients trying to turn these dirt yards into tourist attractions are validation of that.


Saturday, June 10, 2017

L train outage = M trains go to Upper East Side

"Here's one for you:

For the L Train Shutdown, the MTA is not planning on increasing M service to LIC/Court Square (where a huge influx of G train riders will be trying to transfer and continue to Manhattan).

Instead, they will be sending the M train to the Upper East Side late nights and weekends - cutting the service to Court Square in half.

This is also a continuation of their draconian cuts to Queens Blvd service when they killed the V train and cut the G back to Court Square.

This is purely a move born of cheapness - they can save a few pennies by not having to run the M all the way to Forest Hills.

Check out page 19 of their pdf for the proof.

No Queens representatives are doing anything about this of course. Literally no one cares about Queens commuters." - anonymous

Someone finally has a heart

From Crains:

The Canada goose has been avian enemy No. 1 since taking the blame for the engine failure that forced US Airways Flight 1549 to splash down in the Hudson on Jan. 15, 2009.

But our erstwhile feathered friends may finally be getting a reprieve.

Recently the city has lowered the cull to only a few hundred birds a year and doesn’t plan to kill any this year. Officials are opting instead for less lethal population control tactics, such as destroying nests.

BDB defends unnecessary routine

From DNA Info:

Mayor Bill de Blasio said his regular 12-mile trek from Gracie Mansion to his Park Slope gym is a reminder of his roots as he brushed off criticism Friday over his gas-guzzling routine.

De Blasio, who hails from Cambridge, Mass., and bought his home on 11th Street in 2003, said his trips to the Y on Ninth Street help him stay connected to where "I came from," he said.

"I don't want to be someone who's seeing the world through the prism of Gracie Mansion," the mayor said Friday morning. "I want to be someone who's seeing the world through the prism of the neighborhood I come from in Brooklyn, and remembers where I came from and all the people who have been part of life here."

His comments, made during his weekly call in to "The Brian Lehrer Show," came amid a barrage of bad press about his near-daily SUV trips from the Upper East Side to the Park Slope YMCA to exercise.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Does this group deserve taxpayer cash?

From the Daily News:

A scandal-scarred Queens nonprofit is getting $69,000 in taxpayer cash from City Council pols doling out member items, budget records released Monday show.

The Sports and Arts in Schools Foundation was picked for the grants as part of more than $60 million the Council is giving out to favored nonprofits in the $85.2 billion city budget set to pass later this week.

The Council’s discretionary spending adds up to $61.5 million — a $1.7 million spike since last year.

The Daily News reported the foundation — which has been represented by powerful lobbying firm Constantinople & Vallone — got $1.88 million in city contracts in the past year despite a string of criminal charges against employees, city probes and bad performance evaluations.

The group has twice been penalized for losing a child on a field trip, and is currently being investigated for payroll discrepancies and conflicts of interest.

Sports and Arts is set to receive 12 new grants, ranging from $3,000 to $10,000, from 12 different Council members, according to the budget documents.

EDC won't give up on Sunnyside Railyards

From the Queens Chronicle:

When the New York City Economic Development Corp. released a feasibility study on building over sections of the Sunnyside Yard railroad facility in February, EDC officials knew they would have a massive public outreach campaign ahead of them.

On Tuesday morning, Nate Bliss, senior vice president at the EDC, was doing just that at a breakfast hosted by the Queens Chamber of Commerce.

The 209-page study lays out the case for erecting apartment buildings, office towers, schools, commercial and open space on platforms that could be constructed above 70 acres of the 180-acre site, which has been a rail yard since 1910.

Portions of the yard are controlled by Amtrak, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and New Jersey Transit. All work would be done while allowing a fully operational rail yard to continue, and the EDC back in February estimated the cost at between $16 and $19 billion.

But the EDC, with plenty of support from City Hall, believes such a project is doable both from technical and economic aspects, and worth examining further.

“It isn’t often that you can come across 180 acres to develop in New York City,” Bliss said. He said the potential for job growth and economic development are huge.

Based on priorities, such a project could bring 14,000 to 24,000 residential units to the site over time. Bliss said the study accounts for the space and money needed for the schools, roadways and green space that would be required.

The illustrated 209-page report and a 22-page summary can be read or downloaded online at

Don't open hydrants without a cap

From the Queens Gazette:

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has launched its 21st annual crackdown on city residents who insist on opening fire hydrants without an approved “shower cap.”

DEP officials are sending teams of teens into local neighborhoods to educate New Yorkers about the dangers of illegally opening fire hydrants.

Illegally opened hydrants can release more than 1,000 gallons of water per minute, reducing water pressure and making it difficult for firefighters to battle fires, in addition to lowering water pressure to neighboring homes and buildings, DEP officials said.

Queens residents are urged to report illegally opened hydrants by calling 311 immediately, DEP officials said. Illegally opening a fire hydrant can result in a fine of $1,000, 30 days behind bars, or both, a law enforcement source said.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

BIG budget approved early

From Crains:

The City Council approved an early $85.2 billion budget for its 2018 fiscal year Tuesday, the last under term-limited Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

The council added funding for summer jobs and a property tax exemption for veterans to Mayor Bill de Blasio's fiscal agenda but for the most part avoided the elaborate "budget dance" that involved the proposed removal and subsequent restoration of certain expenditures, a practice Blasio vowed to end. It was the earliest budget the council has delivered in 20 years, according to City Councilman Fernando Cabrera, D-Bronx.

But while the mayor and speaker declined a dance, they stepped into the ring on the issue of legal help for immigrants. The council added a provision ensuring universal representation regardless of criminal history; the mayor wants certain immigrants blocked from services.

Deadly Manhattan construction accident

From the Daily News:

A construction worker plummeted more than 10 stories to his death after a wooden platform gave way underneath him by the Hudson Yards Monday night.

Roger Vail, 62, of Montgomery, N.Y., was working at 400 W. 33rd St. — which is part of the massive Manhattan West development project by Brookfield Properties — doing a survey on the 16th floor at about 6:40 p.m., when he fell through a platform, police sources said.

He dropped to a 6th floor landing, and medics pronounced him dead at the scene, cops said.

The victim, a surveyor hired by 50 States Engineering — a firm hired by the general contractor, Tishman Construction, officials told the Daily News. He was working to raise a “cocooning system” designed to cover areas of active high-rise construction and prevent falls, officials said.

The city Buildings Department issued a full stop-work order at the building Monday, and issued a violation to the contractor for failing to safeguard the site.

Should we send more trucks to the GCP?

From DNA Info:

Elected officials are calling on the Department of Transportation to allow large trucks to drive on a portion of the Grand Central Parkway — an effort to alleviate "paralyzing" traffic the big-rigs are causing on Astoria's residential streets, they say.

Commercial vehicles are currently banned from the parkway, with the exception of the stretch between the RFK-Triborough Bridge and the western end of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Currently, that approximately 14-block area allows for smaller trucks as long as they have "no more than three axles and ten tires," according to the DOT.

Astoria officials want that same stretch open to trucks of any size, which they say would keep larger vehicles making their way to the bridge on the parkway instead of on residential streets like Astoria Boulevard, where they're causing traffic mayhem, they say.

Smaller trucks have been allowed to drive on the Grand Central between the BQE and the Triborough Bridge since 2004, when the state legislature passed a bill — sponsored by Gianaris — in an earlier effort to combat Astoria traffic.

The senator said expanding that to include larger trucks would be a "win-win" for residents as well as commercial drivers, who would have a more convenient route between the bridge and the BQE.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

City, Wilpons suffer devastating court defeat

From the Village Voice:

After eight years, two lawsuits, countless delays, & three city reversals, the plan for a mall at Willets Point has finally been defeated. And much like the Mets these days, it lost badly.

In a 5-1 decision, the Appeals Court upheld a lower court ruling that held the owners of the Mets could not build a mall on city-owned parkland. The land in question, the former site of Shea Stadium, which was demolished in 2008, is currently the Mets parking lot. A 1961 law allowed that parkland to be used for stadium purposes, a cut-out that a mall would not have satisfied, the court found.

“There is no dispute that the Willets West development is proposed to be constructed entirely on city parkland,” the judges wrote, continuing that the “public trust doctrine,” which dictates the uses for public lands “is ancient and firmly established in our precedent.” Nowhere in the Mets owners arguments, was a mall found to be in line with the public trust doctrine, the court found.

The Mets owners were arguing that by using the mall to fund the remediation of Willets Point (a parcel of land on the other side of their current stadium), and eventually the construction of both affordable housing and a school, the mall was fulfilling the public trust doctrine. The court found that too to be unconvincing, and also didn’t believe the Mets owners were actually going to build the housing or schools.

But wait...these tweeders may not yet be finished! From NY1:

Although the ruling does block the developer from moving forward, the legislature can still step in and intervene.

The legislature would have to vote to use the land for Willets West for non-park purposes. It would also have to find a replacement property to designate as parkland.

Public is subsidizing apartments for the well off

From the Daily News:

When David Sans applied for a $722-a-month two-bedroom in a luxury Manhattan apartment tower that includes taxpayer-subsidized affordable units, he claimed a full-time salary of $24,745.

At the time, however, records Sans filed as a registered stockbroker listed him working full-time for securities firms as an investment banker specializing in health care companies.

When he came up for recertification to continue living in his ninth floor low-rent aerie, he now provided a 2012 tax form showing his income had suddenly jumped to $238,000.

The next year, Sans — who added a second job as a top executive at Mount Sinai Hospital three months after snagging his low-income apartment — reported an income of $456,502.

Sans’ sweet housing deal surfaced in an audit released last week by state Controller Thomas DiNapoli that looked at how tenants with six-figure incomes are able to obtain “affordable” apartments subsidized by the public.

DiNapoli found that as of December 2015, 160 tenants living in affordable units in New York City were making $100,000 or more, with eight making $250,000 or more.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

3rd candidate joins Hiram's primary race

From the Times Ledger:

One of the borough’s foremost street safety advocates decided over the weekend to join state Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights) and former state Sen. Hiram Monserate for the seat held by City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland (D-East Elmhurst), who won’t seek re-election for a third term.

Jackson Heights resident Cristina Furlong, the co-founder of Make Queens Safer, will file the paperwork and start on petitions this week for the Democratic primary,

“After the presidential election in November showed how quickly a change of leadership could change our quality of life in the neighborhoods of the 21st District, suddenly everyone had to identify a certain way and the world suddenly got a lot angrier,” Furlong said. “District 21 is unique, even to New York City. We need smart growth of our small economies and honest and independent oversight of the major projects like Willets Point, Flushing Meadows Corona Park and LaGuardia Airport.”

Trump's boyhood home has gone to rack and ruin

From DNA Info:

When President Donald Trump’s boyhood home in Jamaica Estates sold in March for $2.14 million, locals expected property values in their neighborhood to soar.

Months-long media buzz surrounding the sale of the property at 85-15 Wareham Pl. near Henley Road — where Trump was born and lived until he was 4 — included speculations that one day it might become an official historic site.

But a little more than two months after the sale closed, the house appears to be deserted and knee-deep grass which has not been trimmed since March shelters various pests and neighborhood cats, neighbors complain.

“It’s been left unkempt and anyone who sees it is going to consider it abandoned,” said Deborah Ayala-Braun, who lives next door, and worries that properties in the area may now see a drop in value instead.

BDB now claims he really didn't want OLR honored at parade

From CBS 2:

The mayor, who is running for reelection, was asked repeatedly if he would join Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, Goya Foods, the New York Yankees, AT&T, Coca-Cola, and many others in refusing to participate. Each time, he said he would march.

“I’m going to do everything I would normally do with the parade,” de Blasio said on May 19.

But on Monday, de Blasio said he was just being “diplomatic.”

The mayor claimed he had privately voiced concerns to parade organizers about López Rivera – whose sentence for sedition, armed robbery, and conspiracy to transport explosives was commuted after 36 years by President Barack Obama.

The mayor said to get the parade committee to sever ties with López Rivera, he privately threatened not to march.

“I made it clear to them that I was uncomfortable with the situation and I wanted them to resolve it,” de Blasio said, “but if it wasn’t resolved, I wasn’t going to be comfortable being a part of it.”

The mayor said he didn’t make his efforts public because “sometimes to get something done, you hold your tongue in public.”

Hunters Point South still waiting on sign offs

From Crains:

One of the final large-scale projects of the Bloomberg administration is languishing on the Queens waterfront despite its having been approved three and a half years ago. But there are signs that the development may finally be moving forward.

TF Cornerstone was selected in December 2013 to build a 1,197-unit apartment complex as part of the Hunters Point South complex on the Long Island City coast. Such projects typically take two or three years to complete, yet this one's design hasn't been finalized.

Sources with knowledge of the development told Crain's that delays piled up because of the tangle of utility lines and a train tunnel that run beneath the site. The complications of accommodating these subterranean obstacles was not initially apparent and led TF Cornerstone to alter its design of the building last year.

"The plan changed, and it needed to change based on what they discovered underneath the site," City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer said at the time.

But changing the blueprints was not enough. Both Amtrak, which owns the rail tunnel running beneath the East River, and the New York Power Authority, which controls underground electrical lines, must also sign off on an agreement covering the building's design and construction to ensure no harm comes to their infrastructure.

Negotiations with Amtrak began more than two years ago, a spokesman for the rail line said, and are ongoing. However, project insiders said that a resolution is nearly at hand and other aspects of the project are now moving forward rapidly, suggesting that the building may get off the ground early next year.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Here we go again...congestion pricing resurfaces

From the Wall Street Journal:

New York City could impose a congestion charge on motorists driving into Manhattan’s busiest streets—and could do it with or without state approval, an advocacy group says.

Move NY, which is making the argument, will outline a new toll proposal to the City Council’s transportation committee Monday.

Under the group’s plan, the city would impose a $2.75 fee on cars entering Manhattan’s central business district south of 60th Street. Trucks would pay a higher fee, while taxis and other for-hire vehicles would pay a congestion surcharge based on travel within the zone.

Recent congestion-charge proposals faltered in the state legislature. But Move NY says the city doesn’t need state approval to charge drivers. It cites a 1957 state law giving cities with a population of more than one million people the power to toll their own roads and bridges.

Scott Gastel, spokesman for the city’s department of transportation, said the city would analyze the legal theory. “This subject has been reviewed closely over the years and the legal experts in both the current and previous administrations determined the city does not have this authority,” he said.

Disagreement over immigrant defense fund

From the Observer:

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito failed to reach an agreement on whether the $26 million the city will set aside to provide free legal counsel to undocumented immigrants will cover those convicted of violent crimes—though the mayor emphasized that the contracting for the program will lie entirely in his hands.

The “budget handshake” at City Hall—touted as the earliest since 1992—was all smiles and self-congratulation until a reporter inquired whether the mayor and speaker, both liberal Democrats and longtime allies, had resolved their difference on the matter. New York’s “sanctuary city” statutes forbid the NYPD or Department of Corrections from honoring federal requests to detain foreign nationals lacking proper paperwork, unless those individuals have been convicted of one of roughly 170 violent offenses, such as rape, murder or terrorism.

De Blasio told the Observer at his proposed spending plan roll-out in April that, while he would meet Mark-Viverito’s request he make permanent a pilot program for attorneys for those fighting deportation, he would not allow city dollars to go toward the defense of someone found guilty of one of those 170 crimes—a stance he maintained today.

Sea level rise response in Staten Island vs Queens

There's a great photoessay on Curbed about the difference in waterfront development in Staten Island vs. Queens. Staten Island is returning to nature while in Queens the attitude is build, build, build!

We live in a strange moment, when on the one hand, the state government is paying millions of dollars to help hundreds of residents move away from the water in an orderly fashion, but on the other hand, the city and private developers are encouraging thousands of new residents to move into rapidly constructed waterfront towers that cost billions of dollars. These diametrically opposed plans for the waterfront are creating very different versions of the future, even as the city has begun to initiate its own managed retreat programs in Edgemere and beyond.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

De Blasio: "Do as I say, not as I do"

From CBS 2:

As he vows to lower emissions in the city, Mayor Bill de Blasio is defending being driven from Gracie Mansion to a Brooklyn gym in an SUV every day.

During the mayor’s weekly radio appearance Friday on WNYC, de Blasio said cities have to take the lead on following the goals of the Paris climate accord after President Donald Trump announced the United States is exiting the deal.

A caller later criticized the mayor for his motorcade rides from the Upper East Side to a YMCA in Park Slope for his daily workouts, saying he needs to “step up his game” and “lead by example.”

The caller said, “You’re not going to be able to lead when you’re sitting in your SUV being chauffeured every day, 12 miles from Gracie Mansion to Park Slope just so that you can ride an exercise bike.”

“I’m just not going to take the bait, my friend,” the mayor responded. “I have instructed folks in my government to turn our fleet into electric cars. We are moving to renewables we are retrofitting our building. We’re doing all the things, that’s the real leadership, it’s not whether or not I go to the gym.”

Police impersonator strikes in Flushing

From CBS:

Cops are still looking for a police impersonator who made a fake stop in Flushing, Queens last week.

He told an 82-year-old man he could pay him $700 to avoid a traffic violation for running a stop sign.

The suspect drove the man to a bank where he handed over the cash

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Sound familiar?

From CBS 2:

Residents of a Staten Island neighborhood say it’s a mystery who owns the cars that are showing up on their blocks.

They say the cars appear not to be abandoned, and just sit on their streets for months.

As CBS2’s Jessica Borg reports, it’s not easy to get them towed.

CBS2 has been told that it has to be determined whether the cars are legally registered, or whether out-of-state pates are part of insurance fraud before cars can be ticketed and towed.

That could take some time, especially since the cars seem to be parked legally.