Thursday, October 18, 2018

Say “NO” to the Mayor’s neighborhood jail proposal

Voice your positions using the contact information and link listed at the end of this newsletter.

Deadline for public comments is October 29th
, an email link and pdf form are attached below – please act now. This is urgent. Here’s what you need to know . . .


On August 15, 2018 Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office announced a plan to close the Rikers Island jail, replacing it with four gargantuan "jail" micro-cities in Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, the Bronx, each borough except for Staten Island. The proposed Queens jail would be constructed adjacent to Borough Hall, at the junction of Kew Gardens, Forest Hills and Briarwood.
Urgent Call to Action:
We must not allow this to happen – join us!

Public comments on the Mayor’s Borough Based Based Jail System proposal are due to the City by October 29th, 2018. Only emails or mailed comments will be considered.

Send emails expressing your views to:

Howard Judd Fiedler, A.I.A. 
Director of Design Unit, NYC Department of Corrections

Click this email link provided
to contact Mr Fiedler. A compose-email window to his office, will automatically open for you to easily compose and send your message.

To compound your effort, we suggest cc'ing or forwarding your email after you have sent it, to the below representatives as well:

Borough President Melinda Katz:
Council Member Karen Koslowitz:
State Senator Joseph Addabbo, Jr.: 
State Senator Leroy Comrie:
Assemblyman Daniel Rosenthal:
Kew Gardens, Richmond Hill - Community Board 9:
Forest Hills, Rego Park - Community Board 6: 
BriarwoodKew Gardens Hills - Community Board 8: 

If you prefer to print the comment form, please click this link for the pdf and post to:
Howard Judd Fiedler, A.I.A. 

Director of Design Unit, NYC Department of Correction
75-20 Astoria Boulevard, Suite 160
East Elmhurst, NY 11370  
Sign our petition, follow us on social media & more:

If you haven’t already signed our online petition please click here.

To join our email list for updates and future actions, 
click here.

Targeting Long Island's gang problem

From CBS 2:

Retired Suffolk County Police detective John Oliva specialized in gangs.

So why are gang members recruiting children as young as 10 or 11?

“It’s the age where can start getting into these kids’ heads,” Oliva said. “The recruitment sometimes occurs at home also. We’ve had it where three, four brothers in the same family part of the MS-13 street gang.”

Feride Castillo of the Empowerment Collaborative of Long Island works with young children in poverty.

“When we are talking about gangs, the dynamics are so complicated,” Castillo said. “We are talking about children sometimes even being born into families that are already involved in gangs.”

“It’s kind of hard dealing with the struggle and stuff like that, because, you know, you come from a gang-related home,” 13-year-old “Maria” said. “Like, oh I want to be popular, so I am going to be in the gang.”

Some females but mostly males make up Long Island’s estimated 1,000 gang members. Protection from bullying, a desperate need to belong and a yearning for respect are all reasons why Sergio Argueta joined at age 13 and led a gang for five years in Hempstead.

“A mode of survival is fight or flight, right? And oftentimes, kids are getting tired of being bullied, of getting picked on,” Argueta said.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

One community's zoning victory

From the NY Post:

A state appeals panel has yanked the permit to build an Upper West Side nursing home, a controversial project with the mayor’s support.

Neighbors of the 20-story Jewish Home Lifecare project at 125 W. 97th St. had sued to block construction, arguing the area is already too densely populated.

In 2016, the mayor’s ­Office of Sustainability greenlit the project, even though a state environmental review had expressed concern about noise and hazardous material related to planned construction.

But on Tuesday the Appellate Division put the kibosh on the plan, saying it violated zoning regulations about open space.

Teenage inmates were safer at Rikers

From PIX11:

Teens were transferred out of the Rikers Island jail complex to the Horizon Juvenile Facility in the Bronx, but the mom of one teen now at Horizon believes her son was better off at Rikers.

The mother spoke with PIX11 on the condition of anonymity, she doesn't want anyone inside Horizon to retaliate against her 17-year-old son. His teen years have been spent in and out of courts and jail. She believes on Rikers Island he had access to more libraries and programs. The mom also said visits have been difficult at Horizon after several miscommunications.

"Nobody wants their child to be locked away, but what you want most of all, is that if they are, that they are being treated as a person," she said.

She isn't the only worried parent. Jimmey DeMoss, a single father from Queens, also has a 17-year-old son at Horizon.

“He’s in there to learn a lesson, but the lesson I think he's learning is the wrong lesson,” DeMoss told PIX11 News.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Bus shelters being inspected after collapse

From AMNY:

About 1,400 bus shelters across the city have been shut down for safety inspections after one collapsed earlier this month in Staten Island.

JCDecaux, which operates all of the city’s 3,500 bus shelters, discovered bolts in the Staten Island shelter that appeared to be corroded, according to company spokesperson George Arzt. No one was injured when the glass and metal shelter collapsed on Oct. 5, Arzt said.

About 3 percent of the first 1,000 shelters inspected revealed corrosion in bolts. He said those have been repaired and reopened.

Back in 2005, the city selected Cemusa to build and maintain street furniture including bus shelters and newsstands. JCDecaux acquired Cemusa several years ago.

The company is initially focusing on the first generation of shelters, but all 3,500 will be reviewed.

Hotel oversaturation about to hit its peak

From the NY Post:

New York City’s hotel-building boom has led to an oversupply of rooms — and enticing deals for aggressive acquirers who believe prices have finally hit a bottom.

In 2007, there were a mere 73,692 hotel rooms and just 357 hotels. By 2017, that number had jumped to 115,532 rooms and 632 hotels, according to NYC & Co. Another 18,960 rooms will join the already oversaturated market by 2020.

It seems we're going to have a major hotel-to-shelter conversion happening come 2020 when the city decides to bailout this industry. How many of these projects got zoning changes and variances for something the city doesn't need?

Monday, October 15, 2018

Joe Crowley trying to get back in the game

From the NY Post:

Veteran Rep. Joseph Crowley, defeated by newcomer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in a primary election that shocked the political world, is laying the groundwork for a comeback.

Crowley has formed a state campaign committee “Joe for NY,” and is holding a fundraiser Oct. 29 at the Fitzpatrick Grand Central Hotel in Manhattan, where the maximum suggested donation is $10,000.

According to an email sent to “Irish Americans & Friends Crowley” by Walter Swett of the firm Dynamic SRG, who is the Crowley committee’s campaign treasurer, the group was “established to position Joe for future opportunities in public service.”

Latest shelter news from Glendale, Ozone Park, Maspeth & Ridgewood

From the Queens Chronicle:

No one is saying for certain, but it appears that the on-again, off-again proposal to build a men’s homeless shelter at a vacant factory building on Cooper Avenue in Glendale is on hold, according to Councilman Bob Holden (D-Middle Village), who addressed a packed house at the Juniper Park Civic Association’s meeting on Sept. 20.

Holden said he received confirmation in July that negotiations were underway for a plan to erect a shelter at 78-16 Cooper Ave. The facility could house up to 200 beds, he said, the maximum number permitted by the city’s Department of Homeless Services.

At the time, according to Holden, DHS Commissioner Steven Banks told him that no contracts had been signed.

As things stand, Holden said Banks is open to discussing other possible locations for the shelter, leaving the Cooper Avenue site available for other purposes.

“I’m confident,” he told the estimated 150 concerned area residents in attendance. But, he added, “It’s not a definite. We have people who are ready to protest.”

He promised to “work out the political end on my part.”

“We’re getting close” to making a school happen, Holden said. “They just have to go through the [Department of Education]; they have to talk to other people.”

A school, he said, “seems more likely now, it’s safe to say, than a homeless shelter.” The comment elicited widespread applause from the crowd.

From QNS:

Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan said that rumors about a new homeless shelter in Maspeth has been confirmed to her office from an unknown source.

Nolan told QNS on Friday afternoon that the shelter could be placed at P.S. 9 on 57th Street — but other activists and politicians are holding their tongues. The assemblywoman also declined to disclose the identity of the source.

Although city officials have yet to confirm this, Nolan worries the de Blasio administration could act fast to divert students – many of whom are bused in – and place “hundreds” of homeless people in the building.

“I don’t want to see a homeless shelter on 57th Street, it’s an absolutely terrible location,” Nolan said. “The city hasn’t [followed through] on anything they said and we have homeless people in all the hotels in Long Island City on a small rotating basis. How many more area we going to take? I want to work with Councilman Holden, Assemblymen Barnwell and Miller… and I’m hoping we can all work together.”

In Maspeth, 57th Street only runs for about a block and a half between Flushing and Grand Avenues and is mostly lined with warehouses, about five row-houses as well as P.S. 9.

“When the city moves, it moves very quickly, and I don’t want to wake up next week and find beds in P. 9,” Nolan continued.

Nolan also spoke of concern about a potential shelter at Summerfield Street and Wyckoff Avenue in Ridgewood.

From the Queens Chronicle:

Ozone Park activist Sam Esposito made a Facebook post on Sunday evening in which he claimed a tentative victory in the Ozone Park Block Association’s crusade against the homeless shelter being constructed at the former Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church on 101st Avenue and 86th street. The shelter is being constructed to house 113 men with mental illness.

Esposito claimed that major work had stopped and that a change in plans by the city will be made public soon.

“In closing, nothing official has been announced yet, but all indications point to the fact that we are NOT getting the 113 men, and the whole idea of a shelter, in that location, right now, is up in the air,” the post says in part. “I sent out 2 letters, again, to the owners’ wives this week and I hope they will find it in their hearts to convince their husbands, to do something else with this site.”

Isaac McGinn of the Department of Homeless Services, however, said the city is going ahead with its plans to turn the church into a homeless shelter.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Rally against Belmont proposal today

Hi Queens Crap,

Could you please write something on the proposed Belmont Arena project. This very large project is in Nassau County within walking distance to Queens will affect every surrounding community within miles of the arena. What they don’t tell you in this article is in addition to the 19,000 seat arena there is a 250 room hotel, a very large Retail Village (Mega mall) and NYRA is planning on making major renovations and changes to the race track. The project is to large, will create gridlock for miles, turn our residential streets into parking lots and devastate all the surrounding communities.

I am not a Islander fan but this project has very little to do with bringing the team back to Long Island. The Islanders will only use the arena 40-50 days a year. Between other events at the arena, racing at Belmont, seven days a week shopping at the mall we can expect easily an additional 30,000-40,000 people a day. Belmont Stakes day every day. Our communities are not against development at Belmont we are just asking for smart development.

There is a rally against the proposed arena on Sunday October 14th at 2:00PM on Hempstead Turnpike in front of the proposed site.



168-unit building to replace Astoria warehouse

From Queens Beans:

David Kronman of Astoria West LLC is working on a new Astoria project. The building will be addressed at 11-37 31st Avenue and it will be 91-feet tall and it will span over 110,000 square feet once completed. The designer for the project is Christopher Fogarty of Fogarty Finger Architecture. The development is a ground-up project set to replace an existing two-story building. There will be 168 residential units on site.

More affordable housing but less affordability

From Crains:

The city is building and preserving more affordable housing than ever, but federal programs remain the most effective tool for supporting the poorest households, according to a report released Thursday.

The Citizens Budget Commission analyzed a recent housing survey and found that around 44% of households pay more than 30% of their income in rent—after accounting for government subsidies such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Section 8 housing vouchers.

The 30% rule, the federal standard for being rent-burdened, is an imperfect measurement. High earners could spend a third of their income on rent and still have money left over for luxuries; but some low-income residents, who make up the lion's share of the rent-burdened, can be hard-pressed to pay for necessities if 30% of their earnings go toward rent.

As the report notes, many of the poorest residents spend an even higher percentage of income on housing. About 22% of city households, predominantly made up of low-income senior citizens and single parents, were found to be severely rent-burdened, meaning they devote more than half of every paycheck to rent.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Lawsuit filed over rowdy group home

From PIX11:

Recording from their living room window, the Wlodys say they’re fed up with their neighbors. Right next door, sharing a wall with the Wlody’s in Howard Beach, is a group home for developmentally disabled adults, run by Birch Family Services.

Since 2013, the Wlodys say their home, once a sanctuary, turned to hell. They say thousands of photos and videos they’ve recorded themselves illustrate what occurs almost daily.

“It’s upsetting. It’s also traumatizing. The thuds, the crashes and the screaming that carries on for the longest time,” said Corinne Wlody.

The Wlodys say they have witnessed staff at the group home use abusive language and exhibit near violent behavior.

They say they’re concerned for the vulnerable residents and want the public and the families of the residents to know what is really happening behind closed doors.

Northern Blvd rework coming

From NBC:

Safety changes are on the way for a street that has been dubbed the new boulevard of death -- the Northern Boulevard in Queens.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Link NYC kiosks causing problems

From CBS 2:

More than 1,700 kiosks across the city offer free Wi-Fi calls and USB ports to charge devices.

But it turns out those ports are causing concern for some New Yorkers, who say the kiosks have become hangouts for the homeless, CBS2’s Reena Roy reported Wednesday.

Not a very good neighbor

From PIX11:

In a disturbing video posted on Facebook, a pack of dogs are seen running scared in a yard in Far Rockaway, Queens.

Their owner appears to verbally and physically abuse them on-camera, in broad daylight. It’s a scene too disturbing to show on television, but residents tell PIX11 it’s just another day at the Thursby Avenue home.

“He started beating all the dogs, I saw that the dogs were very skinny and bleeding,” Tamara Demkoff, a local animal advocate, described to PIX11.

Demkoff shot the disturbing video on her cell phone back in February. According to her, she’s one of many from the community who has pleaded with the dogs’ owner, identified as Terrance Alexis, to surrender the animals after receiving numerous complaints from neighbors.

“Everybody knows about this guy, but no one does anything about it because everybody is afraid of him,” she said.

Months after that video was taken, it appears the problems on the property have gotten worse.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Homeless woman is sick of De Blasio's BS

From PIX11:

Nathylin Flowers Adesegun says she organized the Friday protest with Vocal NYC, a homelessness advocacy group because she said they are fed up.

At 72 years old, Adesegun is herself homeless, living in a women’s shelter in Queens after being evicted from her rent stabilized apartment back in February 2015.

Adesegun said the group wants 24,000 units from new construction in our city to be used for homeless and low income people and cornering the mayor at the gym was the only way to get his attention.

Bill de Blasio was caught on camera on Thursday brushing off Adesegun, telling her “I’m in the middle of doing my workout. I’m sorry. I can’t do this now.”

The video then shows De Blasio’s security officers stepping in front of the woman as the Democratic mayor gets up and walks away, cell phone in hand.

Adesegun says it worked. She says the group received a call from city hall and was told a meeting would be arranged with the mayor.

However, when PIX11 called a city hall spokesperson to confirm those details, we were told VOCAL NYC will meet with city hall officials and not necessarily the mayor.

Adesegun said they’re not interested in being strung along any further. On October 24th the group plans to protest in front of Gracie Mansion.

Jackson Heights taxi graveyard is an eyesore

From CBS 2:

If you’re looking for a taxi ride in New York City, you may have to look elsewhere. There are a whole lot of taxis, but none of them parked at the block-long abandoned gas station have license plates or even medallions.

It’s become a makeshift taxi graveyard, and frustrated people who live and work in the area have been unable to get the city to do anything.

Political Reporter Marcia Kramer demanded answers from a number of city agencies. Officials claim many of the taxis were owned by Gene Friedman, a controversial Russian-American businessman once dubbed the “Taxi King.”

In his heyday, Friedman was a major donor to Mayor de Blasio who raised more than $70,000 for hizzoner. He partnered with President Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, who city officials believe may now own some of the abandoned vehicles.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Avella is all in

From the Wall Street Journal:

State Sen. Tony Avella, a former member of a now-defunct group of breakaway Democrats who lost to John Liu in his district’s Democratic primary in September, announced Monday that he will still run for his seat in the general election.

The Queens senator said in a video that he will run as a candidate for the Independence Party and the Women’s Equality Party.

Mr. Liu, a former New York City comptroller, beat Mr. Avella in the primary after announcing his own last-minute run. However, Mr. Avella said that he will have strong support in the general election from voters who couldn’t vote in the primary.

“Although I was disappointed in the results of the Democratic primary, I have been astounded by the level of support I have received since then from all aspects of our community,” he said.

Like Mr. Liu — who made a last-minute push to get on the Democratic ballot this summer after encouragement from a grass-roots group — Mr. Avella said residents urged him to continue his campaign.

Frank Padavan has passed away

From the Times Ledger:

Longtime state Sen. Frank Padavan died, according to an announcement from the Queens County GOP Tuesday morning. Padavan died of a heart attack at New York Presbyterian Hospital, according to a source.

A Republican, Padavan went to Albany in 1972 as the state Senator from the 11th District, a seat he would hold for 38 years representing a wide swath of Queens, including Bayside, Bay Terrace, Queens Village, Bellerose, Flushing, Whitestone, Little Neck, College Point and Jamaica Estates.

Padavan fought hard for mental health patient rights, education, and fairness in the criminal justice system before losing to state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) in the November 2010 general election.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Controversial McDonald's closes

From the Queens Chronicle:

A company representative forwarded the Chronicle a statement from owner/operator Jack Bert, who thanked the community for its patronage over the years, as well as his employees, “all of whom have been offered the opportunity to work in our other restaurants,” a number believed to be between 20 and 25. Most if not all have accepted the jobs, a McDonald’s spokeswoman said.

The company would not give a reason for the abrupt shutdown, though Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing) and John Choe, the executive director of the Flushing Chamber of Commerce, offered their takes.

Kim said in the big picture that new restaurants and eateries — many of them well-financed by conglomerates — are springing up in Flushing all the time with access to marketing money, technology and social media expertise.

He said Flushing’s economic success has driven up property values, with commercial rent on Main Street “now higher than what is found in Midtown Manhattan.”

But he also said this particular McDonald’s had a strained relationship with the neighborhood’s Korean community going back more than five years when the owner attempted to keep elderly Korean residents from taking up tables for hours at a time to socialize while he was trying to keep customers flowing.

DeBlasio unfairly seizing properties

From Kings County Politics:

Mayor Bill de Blasio today defended the city’s taking of more than 60 properties in Brooklyn – including those of at least three fully paid off African American owned properties worth millions of dollars – and transferring their ownership for “re-development” to non-profit and for profit companies.

But New York State Attorney General Candidate Keith Wofford took de Blasio and the entire city government to task for incompetence at best, and illegal political corruption at worst, in seizing the properties.

“What’s happening here is disgraceful and likely illegal. Mayor De Blasio lives nearby and sleeps securely at night, while his administration creates anxiety and fear among vulnerable citizens whose largest asset is ripped away without compensation or due process,” said Wofford.

Wofford went so far as to call the foreclosure proceedings “unconstitutional,” and urged the Mayor to act immediately in stopping anymore transfers under the program.

The program that the city’s Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD) utilizes in taking properties is called the Third Party Transfer (TPT) program, which goes back to the 1980s when New York City had many blighted and burned out properties. The program designates qualified sponsors to purchase and rehabilitate distressed vacant and occupied multi-family properties in order to improve and preserve affordable housing for low-to moderate-income households.

Over the years the program has been amended in its definition of distressed properties, most recently in 2016, in which the City Council approved an expansion of the program to include buildings which are subject to Environmental Control Board (ECB) judgments as a result of building code violations in the amount of a lien to value ratio equal to or greater than 25%.

In order for HPD to obtain the foreclosure judgments, the agency sought, needed and received city council approval – an approval that some city council members now say they approved because HPD misled them.

The story came to light, when KCP learned the city foreclosed on Marlene Saunders, 74, a retired nurse, who nearly lost her paid-off and in pristine condition brownstone at 1217 Dean Street on a rapidly gentrifying block in Crown Heights.

The three-story brownstone had been in the Saunders family for 30 years and has been appraised at over $2.2 million. Saunders son showed KCP copies of checks paid and cashed by the city for property and water taxes, but were never applied to the property. He also stated the family knew nothing about the court proceeding, in which a foreclosure judgement was issued and only learned the family no longer owned the property through a flyer delivered to the brownstone months after they lost the deed.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Meetings happening about soccer team

From the Queens Eagle:

A caption crafted by the press office and sent to media outlets for publication said that Moya, Katz and Villa met to “discuss the future of ‘The Beautiful Game’ in ‘The World’s Borough.’”

“One option that was discussed is a proposal to build a 10,000 to 25,000-seat soccer stadium in the Willets Point redevelopment area that would serve as home for the Queensboro Football Club, a proposed new team that would play in the United Soccer League, a second division professional league,” the statement said.

The proposal for a soccer-specific stadium in Willets Point is nothing new. Katz and Moya even formed a task force to study Willets Point stadium proposals in 2017 and Katz reiterated her support earlier this year.

“I have not made it a secret that I support a stadium there,” Katz told Crain’s in February. “I think it would be a great thing for the constituents of the borough of Queens.”

But the press statement generated significant attention among die-hard soccer fans who had never heard of a proposed “Queensboro Football Club” that would play in the United Soccer League, a 33-team professional league that is considered the second-tier of the American soccer pyramid after Major League Soccer.

The proposed club name was first reported by the website (full disclosure: the site is operated by Eagle managing editor David Brand).

Soccer writer Chris Kivlehan saw the post about the proposed Queensboro Football Club on and dug deeper into the proposal.

As of press time, Katz’ office did not respond to request for comment. On Tuesday, a spokesperson for Moya said he would get back to the Eagle with more information about the meeting.

On Tuesday night, Kivlehan shared more about what he had heard about the soccer club proposal in a post on the NYCFC subreddit.

“I made contact with a person at DV7 soccer who confirmed to me that it was something they looked at but said it was not currently an active project,” Kivlehan wrote. “This chat was in early Sept. Clearly with Villa, Katz and Moya meeting it indeed appears to be active. I heard stadium was more like 10k. I can’t see them building more than 15k for anything but NYCFC.”

State: Columbus statue is historic

From the NY Post:

The state is designating the Columbus monument at Columbus Circle as a landmark — in case the city tries to move it in the future.

The New York State Board of Historic Preservation voted unanimously on Sept. 20 to place the statue in the state and national registers for its historic and cultural significance.

The action was not publicized.

Gov. Cuomo is expected to announce the designation at the Columbus Citizens Foundation dinner Saturday night and the news will be celebrated at the monument on Sunday — ahead of Monday’s Columbus Day Parade.

The 76-foot beaux arts monument was designed by Italian sculptor Gaetano Russo and it’s his only sculptural art work in America.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Cellar murder story’s twist

From NBC:

The father of two toddlers who were found seriously hurt in their Queens home last week — one of whom later died — jumped to his death from a Midtown hotel, police sources said.

Mohammad Reza Torabi, the father of the 1-year-old twins, was found dead Saturday after jumping from the Renaissance New York Hotel 57 on East 57th Street, according to police sources.

Police had been interested in questioning Torabi about the incident prior to his death, the sources said.

Where the most selfish dog owners live

From Brick Underground:

...a report from RealtyHop, which looked at 311 poop complaint data for New York City and other cities. With over 84,000 registered dogs in the city (which the city's Department of Health estimates is just 20 percent of the total dog population), there were 2,458 poop complaints logged in 2017, a decrease from the prior year.

Worst neighborhoods by borough
Average yearly complaint per 10,000 households in 2017

Soundview-Bruckner (the Bronx) 46
Ozone Park (Queens) 20.3.
Cypress Hills-City Line (Brooklyn) 19.1
Mariner’s Harbor-Arlington-Port Ivory-Graniteville (Staten Island) 18.0
Hamilton Heights (Manhattan) 11.5

Cleanest neighborhoods by borough
Average yearly complaint per 10,000 households in 2017

Stuyvesant Town-Cooper Village (Manhattan) 0.8
Brooklyn Heights-Cobble Hill (Brooklyn) 1.0
Co-op City (the Bronx) 2.1
Springfield Gardens North (Queens) 3.1
Grymes Hill-Clifton-Fox Hills (Staten Island) 6.9

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Gianaris suddenly concerned about LIC's dearth of open space

From the Times Ledger:

State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) and several Long Island City community organizations are urging the city to include park space in Court Square as the neighborhood continues to grow at an unprecedented pace.

Gianaris called on the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the Department of Transportation to renovate public land located underneath the Queensboro Bridge ramps between 23rd Street and Thompson Avenue and turn it into public space to reflect a proposal made in the 1999 Department of City Planning study.

“Long Island City is one of our fastest growing neighborhoods and we must ensure community needs are met as we grow,” Gianaris said Sept. 21. “More public park space must be part of the planning process and utilizing this parcel would be a great way to start.”

The public-owned lots are currently used by the city Department of Transportation and while the city can not build on them, it has proposed transferring air rights to The Lions Group, which plans on building two residential towers at 27-01 and 26-31 Jackson Ave. The Court Square Civic Association organized a rally against that plan last Saturday at the corner of Dutch Kills Street and Jackson Avenue.

DeBlasio's kicking the can down the road on homelessness

From City Limits:

The lie began in 2014, when Bill de Blasio campaigned for Mayor on the platform of ending the “tale of two cities.” He said he would end inequality in our City. He said he would help the most vulnerable.

The lie continued in 2017 when he was reelected, and he said he would create the “fairest big city in America.”

Meanwhile, today we still have over 61,000 people living in shelters in New York City. The impacts of this cannot be understated: homeless people’s lives are endangered, their physical and mental health deteriorates, kids miss school, working people lose their jobs, and so much more. No one should ever have to face these spiraling circumstances.

Since he took office, Mayor de Blasio has continued to praise his administration for dealing with a homelessness crisis of record proportions. He’s made half-hearted attempts to deal with the immediate crisis of homelessness by issuing rental assistance vouchers that don’t cover average rents in our city. When people are able to find housing with these below-market rent vouchers, they are relegated to few far-flung neighborhoods where the housing is often in poor conditions. Seeing this lackluster attempt to help homeless people find housing, City Councilmember Steve Levin introduced a bill in January to raise voucher values to meet fair-market rent and to guarantee that voucher recipients continue to receive the assistance as long as they meet eligibility requirements.

But beyond providing New Yorkers with subpar vouchers to find housing, de Blasio has a bigger stain on his record when it comes to housing the homeless: his Housing New York 2.0 plan. Out of the 300,000 units of affordable housing in his plan, the mayor has committed only 15,000 units—five percent—for the homeless.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Jails, jails, everywhere!

From the Times Ledger:

There was tension last week as Kew Gardens residents expressed their opposition to the city’s proposal to reopen the existing Queens Detention Center complex as part of the city’s plan to shutter the Rikers Island prison over the next 10 years.

Hundreds of Kew Gardens residents attended the Queens Scoping Hearing, held Wednesday, Sept. 26 at Queens Borough Hall, located at 120-55 Queens Blvd. City officials were unable to finish their sentences amidst the loud interruptions in the Helen Marshall Cultural Center.

Misael Syldor, of the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform — who was born and raised in Queens — delivered the testimony.

“At Rikers, people come out worse off than when they go in,” said Syldor. “The proposed facility in Queens is an opportunity for us to be closer to our loved ones, legal representation, and other services that will help them rehabilitate and become productive members of our communities.”

Audience members were divided on the closing of Rikers Island and the implementation of community-based borough jails. Residents who stood up to speak stated that there was no community involvement on the city’s plan to reopen the Queens jail complex.

In August, the de Blasio administration announced a proposal to redevelop Queens Detention Complex — located at 126-02 82nd Ave., adjacent to the Queens Criminal Courthouse — and the neighboring municipal parking lot into a corrections center with space for 1,510 prisoner beds.

“Why is $10 billion being funneled into the jail plan when that money can be used for creating affordable housing, our public schools and creating new roads,” asked Grace Wong. of Fresh Meadows.

Residents stressed the issues of overcrowding, parking availability, nearby schools, and transportation in the neighborhood.

Andrea Crawford, counsel to the Kew Gardens Improvement Association, said the city’s plan to build the jail complex will “cripple the neighborho­od,” and has no economic benefits to the community.

From CBS2:

Residents gave city representatives an earful in the Bronx Wednesday night in response to a plan to build a jail to help replace Rikers Island.

The opposition was loud and clear as families from Mott Haven spoke out angrily against the city’s plan to open a jail at an old tow pound on Concord Avenue.

“Some of us residents have made lives and raised families on Concord Avenue for over 70 years,” resident Myra Hernandez said. “We are enraged.”

Hernandez lives two blocks from the proposed site in the Bronx.

“For anyone to propose that this is going to be beneficial for these communities that are oppressed and marginalized, has no clue,” she said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to close the jails on Rikers Island and move towards a borough-based jail system. It would build facilities on the Concord Avenue property in the Bronx, Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, Centre Street in Manhattan, and 82nd Avenue in Queens.

From the NY Times:

When the city moved its youngest inmates from Rikers Island to a juvenile detention center last week, the goal was to shield them from the violence of the adult jail and place them in an age-appropriate setting, as required under a new state law.

But so far the mayhem has followed them.

Since last week, when the city’s youngest offenders began moving into Horizon Juvenile Center, there have been at least five violent episodes. These brawls among inmates have caused dozens of injuries to correction officers assigned to the center, union leaders said.

On Wednesday, 20 correction officers suffered minor injuries when a fight involving 16 inmates from two rival gangs broke out about 11:30 a.m., correction officials said. The officers’ union said the fight started when one group of teenagers, who were in school at the facility, spotted members of a rival gang in the hallway.

After the fight, unions representing correction officers and social workers, as well as two City Council members, criticized the mayor and city officials for moving the young inmates before addressing safety and security concerns.

Oh, shit!

Auburndale cellar becomes murder site

From CBS 2:

Police said they were called to a home on Ashby Avenue in the Auburndale neighborhood shortly before 10 p.m. Wednesday.

Sources told CBS2 the woman lived in the basement unit with five children, all under the age of 10. She was the only adult home at the time, sources said.

Police said officers found the little girl, identified as 1-year-old Elaina Torabi, unconscious and unresponsive and rushed her to Flushing Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Her brother was taken to Cohen Children’s Medical Center in critical condition.

The Administration for Children’s Services removed three other girls, ages 2, 4, and 5, from the home, unharmed. Sources told CBS2 there was no ACS history at the house.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Coliseum Gym gone but they left their crap behind

"How is this allowed to happen??....if I did anything remotely like this inf front of my property I could get a HUGE SUMMONS.

Coliseum Gym is now OUT OF BUSINESS...but they left a bunch of junk on sidewalk..." - anonymous

More photos of the mess here.

Foreclosure looms for Acropolis Gardens

From The Real Deal:

A Wells Fargo-managed trust is looking to foreclose on a 618-unit co-op development in Astoria after its owners failed to make a loan payment.

French bank Natixis issued a $45 million mortgage in April 2017 on Acropolis Gardens, the 16-building complex bordered by Ditmars Boulevard, and 33rd and 34th streets. The debt was pooled into a securitized trust managed by Wells Fargo, according to court documents, with monthly repayments of $13,596.

But the Wells Fargo-managed trust filed a foreclosure action on Monday, after the property’s condominium board, Acropolis Gardens Realty Corp., missed a July payment.

The failed payment followed the trust’s discovery of multiple legal actions against the condo board.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Strange College Point shooting

From NBC:

In Queens, the hunt is on for four masked men who shot and killed a driver after a fender-bender escalated in College Point. Wale Aliyu reports.

Environmentalists are concerned about LGA plan

From AM-NY

Flushing Bay, once derided for its unseemly smell and murky waters, has started to make a comeback in recent years.

Thousands of people use it to practice and race dragon boats. Families stroll along the promenade, no longer repelled by the powerful rotten-egg smell known to permeate cars driving by on the Grand Central Parkway.

But advocates worry the slow but steady progress will be wiped out by a controversial proposal to build an AirTrain that links LaGuardia Airport with the subway and the Long Island Rail Road.

The first steps in the environmental review process are slated to start later this week, and advocates for the bay are hoping they will get an opportunity to be heard.

“I think it would really take away so much of the work we have been advocating for — clean water, increasing community access,” said Hillary Exter, an avid dragon boat racer and board member of Guardians of Flushing Bay, a watchdog group. “Building the AirTrain either in the water or along the promenade really destroys what is a tremendous resource for the city.”

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Skillman Ave bike lanes questioned after fire truck incident

From Sunnyside Post:

A new video posted to a local Facebook group shows a firetruck being blocked from traveling down Skillman Avenue–raising questions about public safety following the street’s recent redesign.

The video, just over a minute long and posted to the Woodside Pride group at around 8:45 p.m. yesterday, shows an angled firetruck from the local Engine 325/Ladder 163 firehouse on 51st Street, with lights and horns ablaze, unable to turn onto Skillman Avenue.

Two firefighters are also seen on the street, seemingly trying to direct the truck.

The truck appears to be blocked by at least two cars stationed in a striped buffer zone on Skillman Avenue, part of the Department of Transportation’s reconfiguration of the avenue to make way for protected bike lanes and other safety measures.

The truck eventually reverses a couple of feet back before pulling forward into 51st Street, presumably to make a turn onto 39th Avenue.

The video has already been shared by dozens, with many worried about the prospect of a delayed firetruck.

Several, despite the cars stationed over a new buffer zone, blamed the firetruck’s holdup on the newly implemented protected bike lane design, which included the elimination of a travel lane at the site.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Woodside megaproject being negotiated

From Sunnyside Post:

The size and scope of a large project proposed along Queens Boulevard in Woodside is currently being negotiated, with discussions of a smaller development with a public school on the table.

Council Member Robert Holden, who represents the district where Madison Realty Capital has proposed a two-tower project at 69-02 Queens Blvd., is working with the developer to decrease the development’s density and add an elementary or middle school at the site.

“We’ve been negotiating for the past month or so,” said Daniel Kurzyna, spokesperson for Holden. “They seem open to it.”

The project as currently envisioned includes a 17 and 14 story tower with a total of 561 apartments, of which 169 would be affordable. Some ground level commercial space is also part of the proposed project.

But the project, larger than what is permitted under current zoning, can only be built as planned if its rezoning application passes a lengthy public review process. The review process, however, is soon coming to an end, with a City Council vote scheduled some time before the end of the year.

Negotiations have mainly focused on shaving off some stories from the taller building and including the school in a district with an overcrowding issue.

Iron Coffin Lady documentary airing this week

From the NY Post:

On the afternoon of Oct. 4, 2011, a backhoe dug into an excavation pit in Elmhurst, Queens, and struck iron. Construction workers assumed they had hit a pipe. But when the claws of the backhoe emerged from the ground, it was dragging a body clothed in a white gown and knee-high socks.

Scott Warnasch, then a New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner forensic archaeologist, initially viewed the finding as a recent homicide. “It was recorded as a crime scene,” Warnasch, 52, told The Post. “A buried body on an abandoned lot sounds pretty straightforward.”

It turned out to be anything but. The almost perfectly preserved body was actually that of a woman born decades before the Civil War. She had been buried in what was once the grounds of a church founded in 1830 by the first generation of free African-Americans. Now a new documentary, “The Woman in the Iron Coffin,” premiering Wednesday on PBS, provides the woman’s identity.

The Post can reveal that researchers believe her to be Martha Peterson, who worked for a local white man with abolitionist leanings.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Forest Hills is a ghost town

From the Queens Chronicle:

The recent disappearance of several Forest Hills fixtures continues an apparent trend in the neighborhood: the closing of businesses that its residents depend on.

Yellowstone Hardware & Supply Corp., founded in 1954, sold its last nuts and bolts back in November. As of Aug. 28, the venerable branch of Sterling National Bank, a cornerstone of the intersection of Continental Avenue and 108th Street, would offer no more interest or loans. This past spring, Key Food, which for decades stood at the corner of Queens and Yellowstone boulevards, closed its automatic doors forever.

A one-block stretch on Austin Street between 71st Road and 72nd Avenue reveals five deserted retail spaces, including those formerly occupied by New York & Company, a women’s clothing retailer, and a grocery store. A bridal shop is gone, too, along with the building that housed it. According to a hairdresser who declined to give his name but who indicated he has worked in the salon across the street for the past 14 years, the building was demolished about six years ago. The space remains an abandoned construction site.

Even a casual walk through the neighborhood offers plenty of other examples of properties that remain vacant. Continuing down Austin Street, one finds the window-covered remains of Sky Cafe, which served up tasty treats at the corner of 70th Road. A nearby AT&T Authorized Retailer is out of business, too, as is Barnes and Noble, one of the last remaining bookstores in the borough.

Toward the end of the street, where it meets Yellowstone Boulevard, Austin Wellness Pharmacy is but an empty shell behind a gated door.

The S&B Clothing Showroom for Men, which adjoined Key Food on Yellowstone, has been gone for years, perhaps a decade, some speculate. It was recently joined by the shuttered Aron’s Bakery, on the far side of the Long Island Rail Road trestle.

On the service road of Queens Boulevard, opposite MacDonald Park, an entire row of mom-and-pop businesses is gone: Party World, Urban Cuts & Color Salon & Spa, Yuriy’s Shoe Repair, Liz Cleaners, Worldwide Postal & Parcel Services and the corner Piu Bella restaurant.

The Queens real estate frenzy

From Brick Underground:

A new market report from StreetEasy shows that Queens continues to be the borough on the rise, in more ways than one, as buyers cast a wider net in search of more affordable housing.

The August 2018 report indicates prices for houses in the borough reached an all-time high of $536,028, with a 7.1 percent annual increase. Prices in the borough are now 23 percent higher than they were in 2013. Houses are also changing hands in Queens faster than in Manhattan; houses in Queens moved off the market a month faster than Manhattan listings.

A bright spot for buyers looking to Queens: It also experienced the highest share of price cuts in the city, growing 3.4 percentage points to 10.2 percent. And rents in the borough, while seeing the first annual increase since September 2017 with a modest .5 percent growth, reached $2,164—still significantly less than Manhattan and Brooklyn rents.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Civic punishes anti-Machine candidate

From the Times Ledger:

Oster Bryan, the former candidate who ran for an Assembly seat in southeast Queens against incumbent Clyde Vanel (D-Queens Village) in the Sept. 13 Democratic primary was asked to resign from his post as the president of the St. Albans Improvement Association.

Bryan believes that an $8,000 grant sent to the civic association before the Sept. 13 primary by Vanel was at the heart of the decision of him getting booted from organization.

“They are trying to remove as president, and they are saying it’s because I ran for public office, but that makes no sense to me,” said Bryan. “There is no such rule on our books that says I can’t.”

The eight-page bylaws from the civic association did not indicate a member or leader of the organization could not run for office; however, a letter sent to the former candidate said that he knew of the funds that were sent to the civic association before he decided to run and put the needs of the nonprofit at risk.

“It appears that you had no interest nor respect for the welfare of this organization and its members. Instead you choose to join the race for the Assembly seat after already knowing Assemblyman Clyde Vanel gave the Civic a grant,” said the letter that was sent out by the organization’s Vice President Martha Oliver.

Vanel implied he had nothing to do with Bryan being asked to resign and that funds were sent to the civic association long before the primary race; however, he did not have records on hand as to when exactly he offered the grant as of Wednesday night.

"For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil." - 1 Timothy 6:10

Major World seeks major rezoning

From The Real Deal:

A disgraced car dealer from Queens who recently pleaded guilty to federal tax fraud is now looking to rezone one of his auto lots in Long Island City under the city’s affordable housing program.

Bruce Bendell, a former senior manager at the Major World family of dealerships, is looking to upzone the site of a shuttered Kia dealership on Northern Boulevard to make way for an 11-story mixed-use building with 244 apartments.

But the 64-year-old is facing up to three years in prison after he pleaded guilty in July for failing to report $3.5 million in receipts and payroll expenses on Major World’s 2009 tax forms with the Internal Revenue Service.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Business owners harassed over size of signs

From AMNY:

A number of store owners along Jamaica Avenue in Woodhaven have received violations for their signs in recent months.

Others, hoping to ward off future fines, are pulling down their storefront signs.

The result is a streetscape pockmarked with blank spaces above shop fronts and merchants who said they were struggling before being hit with an unexpected fee.

“I was told there was a complaint about my sign, and I find that hard to believe,” said Vasiliadis, who heard about the violation in August. “I’ve been here nine years. Where would the complaint come from?”

Buildings Department officials confirmed they examined the sign at Avenue Diner after receiving a call about it through the 311 line.

Similarly, city personnel inspected Caridad Restaurant across the street, after the agency received a 311 call about its awning in June. Officials said owner Bruno Taveras’ 14-foot sign was illegal and anchored to the facade without a permit.

“We are here almost 20 years, and I never heard anything about the sign,” said Tavares. “They also said I need insurance. But I already have insurance for the establishment. Nobody in court wants to hear that.”

Andrew Rudansky, a spokesman for the Buildings Department, said signs under six-square-feet do not need a permit.

I'm glad to see that DOB has taken care of the illegal conversion problems and now has time to go after this menace.

Crazy big development to replace NYPD garage

From GlobeSt:

Construction has begun on the conversion of a former New York City Police Department parking garage in Jamaica, Queens into a mixed-use development that will feature more than 380 affordable housing units.

A host of city officials were on hand for the groundbreaking for the Archer Green Apartments project on Friday, including New York City Economic Development Corporation president and CEO James Patchett; Housing Development Corporation EVP of real estate Paula Roy Carethers, Department of Housing Preservation and Development; Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Councilmember I. Daneek Miller, State Senator Leroy Comrie, Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman, representatives with construction manager Omni New York LLC and community leaders.

The redevelopment of the NYPD parking garage is the first major milestone to arise from the Jamaica NOW Action Plan, a $153-million neighborhood revitalization initiative announced in 2015 by the de Blasio Administration, Queens Borough President Katz and the NYCEDC.

In addition to the 100% affordable housing units, the Archer Green Apartments will also feature approximately 15,000 square feet of community facility space and 68,800 square feet of retail and commercial space. The project is expected to create nearly 350 construction jobs and more than 300 permanent jobs upon completion.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Roof collapse in Astoria

From PIX11:

Crews are on scene after a building partially collapsed in Queens early Wednesday.

Fire officials received a call shortly after 4 a.m. about a partial roof collapse at a mixed occupancy one-story building on 48-15 25th Ave. in Astoria.

Authorities arrived to find the marble business' roof and front exterior wall partially collapsed.

City lost an awful lot of affordable housing

From The Real Deal:

More than 1 million affordable apartments have vanished from New York City since 2005, according to a new report from Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office.

The study found that the city has lost more than 1 million units that rented for $900 or less since 2005, while the number of apartments that rent for $2,700 or more has quadrupled over that same time period. Apartments going for $900 or less made up 20 percent of all rentals in 2017, down from 74 percent in 2005, while apartments going for more than $2,700 increased from 2.7 to 13.9 percent of the total market.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

JFK reno will happen without a new runway

From the Wall Street Journal:

In the coming weeks, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to announce details of a $10 billion face-lift for one of America’s busiest airports.

The plan is expected to provide upgrades to John F. Kennedy International Airport, in Queens, including new roads for motorists, improved taxiways for aircraft and a modern, more consolidated terminal layout.

But it won’t include one element that planners say is essential to handling rising demand in the coming decades: a new runway.

Bleeding hearts are actually in favor of cash bail

From the NY Times:

City officials are scrambling to prepare for a human rights organization’s mass effort to bail out 500 women and teenagers from the Rikers Island jail complex, despite strong resistance from the police and prosecutors.

Across the city, prosecutors are identifying cases that might be affected by the bailout, and calling hundreds of crime victims and witnesses in those cases to let them know that defendants who they thought were in custody might soon be released on bail.

Prosecutors in the Bronx said they were working to safeguard as many people who might be vulnerable through measures like orders of protection.

“We are doing all we can to protect our victims and witnesses in the event the defendants accused of violence against them are released from jail,” Darcel D. Clark, the Bronx district attorney, said in a statement.

The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights group is raising up to $5 million for the bailout, and will enlist 200 volunteers to help identify and free female prisoners at the Rose M. Singer Center, and 16- and 17-year-olds at the Robert N. Davoren Complex, starting Oct. 1.

Kerry Kennedy, president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, says the plan, which organizers believe could be one of the largest so-called mass bailouts in the country, will move forward despite the city’s concerns.

The bailout is designed to support an end to cash bail, which activists say discriminates against minorities and the poor, and to push the city to close the dangerous Rikers jail complex more quickly than the current 10-year timeline. Approximately 87 percent of the jail population is black and Latino.