Saturday, August 18, 2018

Kew Gardens jail requires zoning change

From the Forest Hills Post:

The mayor’s office has released the first details about plans for four borough-based jails, which includes the redevelopment and expansion of the former Queens Detention Complex in Kew Gardens.

The overhaul would significantly expand the size of the facility at 126-01 82nd Ave., which closed in 2002. The existing building is 497,600 square feet and housed about 500 inmates; the new facility would be 1,910,000 square feet and house 1,510 inmates.

The jail reopening is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to close the troubled Rikers Island jail facility and shift the city’s jail inmates to smaller jail facilities. The mayor’s office plans for the four facilities to offer 6,040 beds, which would accommodate the roughly 5,000 people in detention daily.

The mayor’s office says that the smaller facilities would be safer and enable inmates to maintain contact with their families and communities, and to have better access to their legal representatives and the court system. The new facilities would also give inmates increased access to rehabilitative and reentry services, as well as to more sunlight and outdoor space.

The Kew Gardens facility would also offer a centralized care area for inmates with an infirmary and a maternity ward.

The new development would offer parking for visitors to the jail and for the general public. A total of 429 parking spaces would be available within the detention facility, and the public would have access to an adjacent above-ground parking lot with 676 public spaces at the northwest of the property.

A community space would also be constructed along 126th Street, the mayor’s office said.

The city has not yet an anticipated a completion date or an estimate of the length of the construction period, but it would need to seek zoning changes in order to expand the existing facility.

The mayor’s office said that the city would need to make an amendment to the zoning text to modify the “requirements for bulk” such as the floor area, height and setback, as well as the parking requirement. The city would seek a special permit to de-map 82nd Ave. between 126th Street and 132nd Street.

City allocates additional $8M for Middle Village sewer project

From the NY Post:

The city has finally earmarked $8 million to fix ­aging sewer lines in Middle Village, Queens, that have caused fecal flooding in residents’ basements — a day ­after The Post revealed how the repairs had been promised for a decade.

“My God, I can’t believe it,” said longtime resident Vito Cascione, 60, whose 1985 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham was flooded with sewer water during a recent heavy storm.

“The Post’s article really raised eyebrows and a lot of questions, so hopefully we can get this resolved once and for all,” Cascione said.

The 74th Street and Penelope Avenue sewer project, which was first proposed in 2007, sat unfinished for nine months after contractors dug up contaminated soil at the site and needed the extra dough to safely excavate it.

City Hall confirmed to The Post Friday afternoon the money has been allocated and will be processed through the comptroller’s office “soon.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Design and Construction expects work to resume “by the end of the year.” The contractor in charge of the project said about another year of work is still needed.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Queens has good tax value (whatever that means)

From the Times Ledger:

SmartAsset, a financial technology company, released a study last week comparing counties across the United States by measuring local crime rates and school quality relative to their effective property tax rates. Among the city’s five boroughs Queens homeowners fared the best in terms of value.

Queens ranked ninth out of New York state’s 62 counties and was one of two counties within the city to make it in the top 10 in terms of value.

With its 0.84 percent property tax rate, it received an eight out of 10 school rating, and had 1,734 crimes per 100,000 people, according to the July 27 study.

In comparison, the statewide average rate for property taxes is 1.65 percent, according to SmartAsset. Outside the city, tax rates in New York counties exceed 2.5 percent.

Queens had a better school rating then Richmond County (Staten Island), which had a seven out of 10 school rating, 1,531 crimes per 100,000 people and .87 percent in property taxes, according to the study. Kings County (Brooklyn) had a .65 percent property tax, a nine out of 10 school rating, but 2,2276 crimes per 100,000 crimes were committed there.

Well, it certainly seems we get what we pay for, doesn't it? (end sarcasm)

Dragon boat race experience was crappy

"Hi Crappy,

I attended the races in Flushing Meadow and want to report the crappie conditions I witnessed on Sunday.

First of all the north end area of the lake is getting a much needed makeover and large sections are fenced off where trees are being planted and roads resurfaced. Many people had problems including me trying to figure out how to get to lake area where the races were. There were no signs set up to direct people thus people had to walk down a path only to find they could not get thru. I ran into two DEC officers and wanted to complain to them but they were having the same problem and said, "don't complain to us, call Parks Dept."
When I finally got to the lake I saw that our Park's Dept. did nothing to spruce up the viewing area which was on both sides of the boathouse. People lined up along the shore got to view a lake full of algae, a 10' long board, a sunken barrel a dead turtle and along the shore a rotting pigeon.

There was also an inadequate amount of litter baskets and people were just leaving trash on the ground. There were many corporate sponsors that gave away free stuff for the kids and that added to the trash.

I attended the races last year and saw the same conditions and even wrote to the Park's Dept but I guess they think it's not a problem.
One would think that for a big event like this the Park's Dept. would at least try and spruce up the area ,no I saw the same conditions I see in my bike rides around the park. This really is a tale of two parks. The area by the Unisphere, the theater, the museum and the tennis stadium gets all the attention. Hopefully the upgrades by the lake area will keep coming." - Rich

Thursday, August 16, 2018

DOT admits they made a mistake with Clear Curbs

From the NY Post:

The de Blasio administration is putting the brakes on a controversial pilot program aimed at limiting deliveries along some of the Big Apple’s busiest commercial corridors following complaints it was killing local businesses.

City officials confirmed Monday they are halting the “Clear Curbs” program along affected zones in Queens and are working with community stakeholders to “adjust” the program along parts of Flatbush Avenue and other bustling sections of Brooklyn.

The six-month program, which began in March, won’t be altered in any way along its remaining, most traffic-heavy zones in Midtown.

Middle Village basements fill up with crap after heavy rain

From the NY Post:

Residents in Middle Village are up to their knees in their own waste any time there’s heavy rain — thanks to aging sewer lines the city hasn’t fixed despite a decade of promises, The Post has learned.

“I pray when I hear storms coming,” said Pat Donovan, 66, one of many local residents affected by the overflowing sewers.

Last Tuesday, a powerful storm pounded the central Queens community, causing the sewers to back up and leaving homeowners with as much as 3 feet of waste in their basements, with “actual turds” floating in the noxious waters, residents and a local official said.

“We had a waterfall just coming out of the toilet in my basement,” said Louisa Gennari, 61, who called dealing with the floods a “horrific” battle.

“Somebody came in to help us at some point and he went home and put his feet in alcohol,” she said. “It was disgusting.”

The problem goes back decades, but came to light on Aug. 8, 2007, when a flash flood left Middle Village residents with tens of thousands of dollars in damage, with many needing help from FEMA.

The city’s Department of Environmental Protection said the existing storm drains can handle only 1.5 inches of rain — and after that storm, it vowed to fix the issue with drains that can handle 1.75 inches.

It slapped a $22 million price tag on the project, but waited nine more years to break ground in May 2016. It was then halted in November 2017 when contaminated soil was discovered.

The city’s Department of Design and Construction said an additional $8 million was needed to finish the job, but those funds were never allocated.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Avella: Unsafe trees need removal, now

From PIX11:

Queens State Senator Tony Avella is calling on the Parks Department to respond to hundreds of constituent complaints about dangerous city trees in front of their homes.

Avella said he conducted a tree survey in February, and received 700 responses from homeowners claiming dead trees or damaged sidewalks. He then submitted 700 complaints to the Parks Department. Of those complaints, Avella said about 600 of them have been logged with the 311 system. He said only about 20 have resulted in tree removals.

"Homeowners said they're scared for the safety of their family and their property," said Avella.

Avella said the complaints remain largely unanswered because he said the Parks Department is understaffed and underfunded. "I know at least one homeowner is waiting over a year for a dead tree to be removed," said Avella.

St. Albans comfort station renovation delayed

From the Times Ledger:

On the eve of LL Cool J’s 14th annual basketball camp in St. Albans, elected officials from southeast Queens and Comptroller Scott Stringer blasted the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation at a news conference for failing to fix a comfort station for three years.

“It’s time to wake up and get your act together,” Stringer said. “The kids should be running through the sprinkler and they should be able to use the bathroom in the safest way possible.”

According to officials from LL Cool J’s free basketball camp, nearly 200 campers are expected to attend the camp every weekend in August.

The comfort station, which is located on Daniel O’Connell Playground at 113-01 196th St., received nearly $1.2 million from former Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) and was expected to break ground in August 2015, with the project’s estimated completion time August 2016, according to officials at the Aug. 3 news conference.

“I’m disappointed to be back here on the same issue,” said Comrie, now a state senator. “LL Cool J, who grew up in this community and played in this park – this is his 14th year providing a free program for an entire month for young people in the community — and we have to give them port-a-potties that are not maintained.”

The updated comfort station was supposed to be fully renovated and include ADA-compliant bathrooms, energy-efficient light fixtures, and a slate roof, according to the officials. Instead, there were problems with the vendor hired to do the upgrades in 2016, and in 2017 the contractor had been removed after more than $400,000 of the original contract was spent. According to NYC Park’s Capital Project Tracker, money was spent on designing a new comfort station, procuring materials and doing 38 percent of construction work.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Dems don't want de Blasio's help

From the NY Post:

Thanks, but no thanks.

That’s the message some Democrats running in competitive state Senate districts have quietly delivered to Mayor Bill de Blasio, who started a federal political committee in part to help their campaigns.

Politico-New York surveyed 15 Democrats facing stiff competition from Republicans this November and found the majority of them wouldn’t accept de Blasio’s money.

“The further you get from Park Slope, the less popular Bill de Blasio gets,” said one senior Democratic strategist. “His support would be counterproductive.”

Monday, August 13, 2018

Parking rates going up

From Sunnyside Post:

The cost of a metered parking spot is going up throughout New York City—with Queens to be hit with the increase starting Nov. 1

The new rates will see the cost of metered parking spaces in the commercial districts of Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside, Jackson Heights and Forest Hills go up from $1 per hour to $1.50. In downtown Flushing the cost will be hiked from $1 to $2 per hour.

Outside traditional commercial districts in Queens, the cost will go up from $1.00 per hour to $1.25.

The DOT in announcing the roll out, which starts in Brooklyn Sept. 4, said that this will be the first time since 2013 that rates are going up.

Abandoned Glendale site to become senior housing

From QNS:

More details have emerged about the affordable housing facility for seniors coming to Glendale after the permits for the project have been filed through the Department of Buildings (DOB).

The permits filed on Aug. 3 reveal that the structure to be built at 80-97 Cypress Ave. will rise to 57 feet tall with 45,420 square feet of residential space. The six-story building will contain the previously reported 66 living units as well as a parking lot with 19 spaces, records show.

The basement of the building will include a community room and lounge, an office, a laundry room and a bicycle room for up to five bicycles. The ground floor will house the building’s central office, another community room and four apartments. The second through fourth floors will each contain 14 apartments, while the fifth and sixth floors will contain 10 apartments each.

Ah, We're familiar with this particular pile of crap. Ten years ago, it was featured on this blog. Whatever happened to Mr. Angry?

Previous article:

Formerly known as PSCH, Inc. until a rebranding in 2017, the WellLife Network has owned the site since 2004, according to city records. The building currently on the lot, widely regarded as an eyesore in the community, was never completed because the previous contractor used bad materials that were porous and caused the building to flood every time it rained, Scott said.

The Department of Buildings (DOB) eventually issued a stop work order on the project, and WellLife Network has been formulating a new plan since then.

According to Scott, the old structure will be demolished to make way for the new building, but there is no timetable yet.

The often forgotten building on Cypress Avenue regained attention this year after the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) issued a request for community boards and elected officials to recommend possible homeless shelter sites. Not knowing the current status of the site, Councilman Robert Holden suggested the Cypress Avenue building be used as a homeless shelter, he said.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

The many sidewalk sheds of Queens

From the Queens Chronicle:

For years, residents of the city have been looking at levels of large metal-and-wood structures obstructing their views and detracting from the architecture of their workplaces. Some forms of the composition remain standing for a few weeks, while others become multiyear props that stir controversy among community members.

Often referred to as “sidewalk sheds,” the structures are erected over sidewalks to shield pedestrians from falling debris caused by building construction. According to the city Department of Buildings, the sheds are temporary structures meant to keep sidewalks open for pedestrians while structures undergo renovations.

Residents of Queens are quite familiar with them.

According to an interactive online map released in April by the DOB, the borough has 961 active sheds that stretch over 240,000 linear feet. As of Monday, it was noted that each shed is up for an average of 371 days. But many remain in place for several years.

Some note that they’re unattractive. Others cite the purpose they serve.

101-year old man swindled out of home

From the Forum:

A Queens man who took advantage of his friendship with a 101-year-old neighbor is facing up to 15 years in prison for tricking the centenarian into signing over the deed to his home.

Authorities say Ricardo Bentham, 58, of 118th Avenue, has been charged with grand larceny and other crimes for allegedly conning a neighborhood friend into transferring the deed of his long-time home into the defendant’s name in October of 2017.

According to the criminal complaint, the defendant submitted a quitclaim deed to be filed with the city on October 5, 2017. The document stated that 101 year-old Woodrow Washington was transferring ownership of his 143rd Street home which has a value in excess of $50,000 to the defendant for a sale price of $0. The victim realized something was wrong when he received a letter from the Department of Finance stating that the deed to his home had been transferred to Bentham. An inquiry was conducted and revealed the document that was filed bears the signature of the Mr. Washington along with a notary stamp and signature of a notary.

Mr. Washington stated that the signature on the form is his, however, he is adamant that he never signed any documents in front of a notary.

Mr. Theodore White, the 93-year-old notary, acknowledged knowing Bentham and would often sign documents for him because he trusted him. The document bearing his signature was missing the notary seal, which White always added to a document.

Mr. Washington identified the defendant as a neighborhood friend who offered to help him collect rent from tenants. He recalled signing documents that the defendant brought to his residence and that some were blank.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Johnny vs. Tony

From City Limits:

The two men agree on most policy issues. They both disagree, for instance, with Mayor de Blasio’s bid to change the entrance process for the city’s specialized high schools. Voters will, of course, decide what the race is about, but if the candidates have anything to say about it, the contest will come down to whether the supposed practical benefits of Avella’s having joined the IDC outweigh the allege damage that did to the chances for a Democratic senate.

Both men appeared on Max & Murphy on WBAI this Wednesday. Below are each of their interviews:

City's biggest sinkhole?

From PIX11:

Rene Rodriguez says he was dumbfounded but not surprised, when he saw a massive sinkhole open up outside his home on Manhattan Avenue near 101st Street on the Upper West Side Tuesday morning.

It’s a sinkhole he and many residents who live in the area have complained to the city about since 2013.

“It just got bigger and bigger and they would fill it up with asphalt, asphalt and more asphalt and yesterday it finally gave in,” Rodriguez told PIX11 News.

After calling 311, both ConEdison and the Department of Environmental Protection arrived to the scene. Workers assessed the damage, put up a few cones and then, according to Rodriguez, left.

“It’s what, Wednesday the eighth, 2 o’clock in the afternoon and the sinkhole is still here,” he said. “If it was Fifth Avenue or Park Avenue this matter would’ve been settled already.”

The sinkhole measures roughly 15 by 7 feet in size, and nearly 4 feet in depth, consuming an entire side of Manhattan Avenue.

The crater makes it almost impossible for traffic to get through, but it isn’t stopping some drivers from trying.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Caption contest doubleshot!

(Interesting how all the Crowley kiss assers are lining up behind someone who not only beat him but doesn't have much competition in the general election. Where were they before the primary?)

"I’m a fan of Bob’s more than anyone but it’s a great one." - Jack

How exactly does this happen?

From NBC:

Eight families have lost their homes after an apartment building in the Bronx partially collapsed, sending several tons of bricks cascading onto the ground.

Chopper 4 was overhead as firefighters responded to the Fteley Avenue building Soundview Thursday evening, with bricks and debris strewn on the sidewalk and on the street. Bricks fell with enough force to mangle the front gate and cave in the awning, with some hanging precariously over the entrance.

No one was hurt in the collapse, and the cause is under investigation. FDNY officials on scene said an occupant started some repair work but "it just looked like the age of the building, maybe weather."

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Two acres of tweeding at Willets Point

From Willets Point United:

A new video released by Willets Point United demands that the de Blasio administration act before a December 2018 contractual deadline, to protect taxpayers’ interests by reclaiming two acres of Willets Point property which the Bloomberg administration gave to Queens Development Group.

In the video (below), Willets Point property owner Irene Prestigiacomo explains the give-away of the two acres to Queens Development Group; the comprehensive development project which the property was supposed to facilitate; the court decision that effectively prevents that project from proceeding; the contractual provision that allows the City to take back the property under present circumstances; the lack of action by the de Blasio administration thus far to reclaim the property; and City officials’ fiduciary responsibility to taxpayers to do so before the deadline lapses.

Ms. Prestigiacomo asks (06:38): "As corrupt as this City sometimes can be, have we really reached the point where a developer can keep public property worth tens of millions, without delivering any of the project that was the basis for it to receive the property in the first place?"

McMansion to replace former Halloran house

Ex-Council Member Dan Halloran is still in the clink, but his former Whitestone home won't be waiting for him when he gets out.
The property was sold and is in the process of being redeveloped.
One last pagan parting gift.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Pam's Place is a hellhole

"From July 11 through July 25, 2018 the Dutch Kills community was forced to endure three completely unacceptable incidents directly related to clients at “Pam’s Place,” a shelter for homeless women at the former Verve Hotel at 40-03 29th Street in Long Island City.

• At 10:30 p.m. on July 11th, shelter client Yaremis Perdomo, 33, became enraged and set her 51-year-old roommate on fire. Perdomo has since been arrested and is being held on attempted murder and other charges related to the attack. The roommate remains in critical condition at the New York Presbyterian Hospital’s Cornell Burn Unit with third-degree burns to her face, arms and hands.

• An unidentified shelter client stood in the center of the intersection at 29th Street and 39th Avenue at about 5 p.m. on July 23rd, tossing loose change into open windows of passing vehicles – snarling traffic, alarming motorists and creating serious safety concerns for pedestrians. Eyewitnesses told police that the shelter client backed off when she spotted police pulling up to the scene, making it impossible for the officers to observe her actions. This unfortunately made it impossible for the officers to charge or summons the woman. The best they could do under current law was to tell the woman to stop, which she promptly did.

• A shelter client viciously, and without provocation, attacked a local woman who was walking on 29th Street near 40th Avenue on July 24th. The unidentified assailant approached the woman, punched her in the mouth and fled. The attack was not reported to police at the 114th Precinct, an NYPD spokesperson said.

I have requested Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer’s chief of staff, Matt Wallace, to call an Emergency Meeting of the Community Advisory Board of “Pam’s Place.”

The purpose of this meeting is to discuss ongoing violent and/or dangerous conditions that spill from the shelter into the Dutch Kills community. These conditions result in a fearful, dangerous environment that substantially affects our residents’, business and quality of life.

The Dutch Kills Civic Association has requested that this meeting to be scheduled for a Tuesday or Wednesday evening at 7:30 p.m. Mr. Wallace has assured us that such meeting will take place in the near future.

The following is a portion of our agenda for this upcoming meeting. We are requesting:

• A listing of all incidents reported to the 114th Precinct regarding Pam’s Place, both inside and outside the shelter – including a client assault on a 114th Precinct officer.

• A complete breakdown of responses by FDNY and other ambulance crews relevant clients at Pam’s Place, both inside and outside the shelter.

• A complete listing of 911 and 311 calls seeking response to conditions at Pam’s Place, both inside and outside the shelter, from October 2016 current to the date of the upcoming meeting.

• A comprehensive report of all disciplinary actions taken by the operators and managers of Pam’s Place regarding troubled or combative shelter clients, from October 2016 current to the date of the upcoming meeting.

• A complete breakdown from the Department of Homeless Services and Sena Security of all incidents related to clients at Pam’s Place, both inside and outside the shelter.

Lastly, in order to ensure an open, transparent dialogue of issues surrounding Pam’s Placer Shelter for Homeless Women, we strongly urge that members of the press be informed and invited to provide coverage of the upcoming meeting.

George L. Stamatiades,
Dutch Kills Civic Association of
Long Island City

Overdevelopment hath wrought horrible flooding

When you pave just about everything over, and fail to upgrade infrastructure, you get a foot of water flowing across streets and into basements. This isn't a hard concept to understand. Yet we continue down that road, and call it "progress".

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

One Flushing cat caught, others escape

From PIX11:

A group of felines stuck behind a wall in Queens were able to find a way out — but now their whereabouts are a mystery.

The cats were stuck behind the 15 foot wall for three days, likely thirsty and hungry when PIX11 arrived on the scene last Thursday. After the story aired, city officials, and those with Animal Care Centers of NYC and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals tried to help the cats.

They put up a ladder to look over the wall, but were surprised to see no kittens. It seems the felines had escaped through a small hole at the back part of the ally.

One of the kittens was found roaming around where the ally once was, and was captured and treated, Carol Yao, a trained animal rescuer who works with organizations Kitty Kind and Angelico, said on Sunday.

Hopes are high they will locate the rest of the kittens on the building property.

Losing their religion in Astoria

From the Queens Gazette:

The Episcopal Diocese of Long Island has filed plans to develop a five-story apartment building at 46-09 31st Avenue in Astoria, the former home of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church.

The new building will feature a ground floor community room and lobby, 6 apartments on each of the second through fourth floors, and three apartments on the fifth floor, according to the plans.

The Diocese has not announced plans for demolition of the existing building, which is no longer used for Episcopal services, a spokesperson said.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Who is lying when it comes to supply & demand?

From Crains:

New York City and the surrounding area, including northern New Jersey, the Hudson Valley and southwest Connecticut, is home to 22.8 million people working at 10.4 million jobs, the Metro Economic Snapshot released Tuesday by the Department of City Planning found. Since the last recession, the region has added around 708,000 new jobs—much more than anywhere else in the country in terms of raw numbers—but at a growth rate of just .9%, which is about half that of other metros and roughly on par with the country as a whole.

Over the same time period, the New York area added just 378,000 new housing units, far fewer than the number of jobs created and not nearly enough to meet demand. The mismatch was centered in the five boroughs and helped drive around 100,000 people to the suburbs each year between 2012 and 2016.

The metro area also lost a significant number of recent college graduates to lower-cost cities elsewhere in the country—something Glen has experienced personally.

"I just moved my daughter to Minneapolis," she said. "It was great, but it was also really sad."

From Forbes:

Researchers at the Fed found there were no "direct estimates of the rent elasticity with respect to new housing supply in the literature." No one knows how much housing you'd have to add to have any significant impact on costs. So, the researchers built a simulation to estimate, directly from data, the elasticity of rent with respect to housing supply.

They wanted to know how much rents might change if there was an influx of new housing. Given metropolitan housing crises and a lack of other data, it was an important study.

However, elasticity isn't a simple phenomenon. There are products where changing the price doesn't necessarily result in big shifts of demand. Look at the Apple iPhone X: $1,000 for the device and tens of millions purchased it.

The Fed report suggests that housing will be much the same:

The implication of this finding is that even if a city were able to ease some supply constraints to achieve a marginal increase in its housing stock, the city will not experience a meaningful reduction in rental burdens.

Add 5% more housing to the most expensive neighborhoods and the rents would drop only by 0.5%.

The reason is that people like the amenities in given neighborhoods and want to live there, so will continue to pay higher prices. Amenities can include shopping, schools, and ease of access to public transportation.

Happy Monday from Forest Hills!

From Forest Hills:

let’s take a look at the Austin St. Underpass Walkway, which after months of complaints had the graffiti finally removed only for it to reappear along with garbage and human excrement (CRAP), plus out of control weeds on a public sidewalk right along with garbage dumping. Photos don’t lie about the FILTH OF FOREST HILLS.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

City pushing through rezoning that no one has seen

From PIX11:

A rezoning plan for Inwood has been heavily protested by large groups of residents over the course of many months, but on Thursday, a scaled down version of the proposal got onto the fast track to approval.

A city council subcommittee gave the plan the green light, before residents who've long opposed change got a chance to get a good look at it.

It's a proposal that would change the look and feel of this neighborhood, one of Manhattan's last pockets of relative affordability, forever. The proposal, which will see some 5,000 new units of housing built in this northern Manhattan neighborhood -- more than 25 percent of it classified as affordable -- was revised overnight Wednesday, and then re-negotiated in closed door meetings among city councilmembers all morning on Thursday.

The resulting proposal will allow for taller buildings in the western part of the neighborhood near Manhattan's northern tip. The area west of 10th Avenue will be upscaled, but new construction will not be as tall as originally proposed, according to preliminary assessments. To the east of 10th Avenue, buildings will be allowed to be even taller. The proposal will also add new schools and other additions to the community.

At the council subcommittee hearing, which was attended by developers, building trade union members and residents alike, there was a theme: that because the proposal that was being voted on had been newly minted, there was inadequate opportunity for analysis.

Cyclists think rules don't apply to them

From CBS 2:

Surveillance video shows a child run off a bus and get run down by a person on a bike, who blew past the bus’s flashing stop sign.

“Bikers need to abide the laws,” said community activist Gary Schlesinger, who’s been leading a social media campaign that highlights bikers behaving badly in Brooklyn. “Passing a stopped school bus that’s a terrible thing, because it’s almost impossible not to hit a child.”

In May, another bicyclist sped through a bus’s stop sign and hit a child; another raced through a red light and crashed into a woman pushing a baby stroller.

“People feel frustrated at so many accidents happening,” Schlesinger said.

So frustrated, in fact, they’ve begun taking matters into their own hands. One bus nearly hit a bicyclist trying to block him from going past.

“That is absolutely dangerous,” said Schlesinger.

Parents and drivers Layton spoke with said they’re concerned that if the NYPD doesn’t step up enforcement fast, a child might get seriously hurt.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Rory gunning for Queens DA

From the Times Ledger:

Although his candidacy has not yet been declared, City Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest) is eying a run for Queens district attorney -- a title that has been held by 86-year-old Richard Brown since 1991.

Lancman, who represents Fresh Meadows, Jamaica and parts of eastern Queens, said his platform in the potential race for DA would be reshaping the criminal justice system.

“We need significant criminal justice reform here in New York City, and that includes Queens,” said Lancman, who is the chairman of the City Council’s Justice System Committee, which has jurisdiction over the city’s five DA offices, the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor and the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice.

Lancman said that as of July 16, he has more than $793,000 combined from three separate campaign finance funds in his coffers.

According to the New York City Finance Board of Campaign Elections, Lancman has $273,768 from the state committee; $354,055 remaining from his 2017 re-election campaign fund; and $165,741 donated from friends.

The lawmaker has been an advocate of pushing for cash bail reform, decriminalizing low-level offenses like smoking marijuana in public, turnstile jumping, and protecting workers’ safety and wages.

Property owner traps kittens by building a wall

From PIX11:

The clock is ticking to rescue a group of cats trapped behind a brick wall in Queens.

They’ve been stuck for three days and are likely thirsty and hungry. Animal rescue groups and concerned residents are trying to save them; they reached out to PIX11 for help.

For months, the cats had been living in a narrow alley like area between an apartment building and garage on Northern Blvd. They’ve won the hearts of people in this neighborhood who stopped by to feed them.

A wall about 15 feet high was built on either end trapping the felines inside.They’re now out of sight - and their conditions unknown.

Sadly, the one cat that did escape before the wall went up now wanders on the other side and gazes up at the wall, trying to find a way to get back with his family.

[Carol] Yao says they have offered to pay for the cost to knock down a section of the wall.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Help stop idling

From NBC:

Vehicle idling in NYC is not only bad for the environment, it's also not strictly enforced, but now you can help enforce a decades-old law and get paid for it. The I-Team's Andrew Siff reports.

Area may have been hit with a tornado

From CBS 2:

Queens residents are waking up to storm damage Friday after severe weather moved through the area.

After 10 p.m. Thursday, the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for Queens, the Bronx and northern Nassau County and some College Point residents reported seeing funnel clouds, CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis reported.

It’s still not clear if a tornado did in fact touch down, but severe thunderstorms did roll through the area, knocking down trees and power lines.

A two-mile stretch of College Point to Whitestone took the brunt of the damage, however there have reports elsewhere. In Jackson Heights, pictures of downed trees were taken near 86th Street and Roosevelt Avenue.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Z Hotel sold, may see tall building behind it

From the NY Post:

The Z NYC Hotel in Long Island City has been sold to Merchants Hospitality for $43 million.

The 7-year-old hotel at 11-01 43rd Ave. was developed in 2011 by former taxi magnate Henry Zilberman. He died in March 2014, and Merchants purchased the hotel from the estate.

The pricing was not just for the hotel but also included additional land behind the hotel that Merchants can use to add value through another building with 109 apartments.

It's not just here

From PIX11:

Nearly three dozen people were found living in a single-family home on Long Island in what police called “dangerous and hazardous conditions.”

Officers with the East Hampton Town Police Department served a search warrant at the house shortly after 6 a.m. on Monday, after the town’s Ordinance Enforcement Department issued an investigation into the property.

In all, 32 people were found to be living in the house.

Police said 18 of the inhabitants were found sleeping on mattresses in the basement near the gasoline generator and gasoline storage tank.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Rego Park teardown

From Forest Hills Post:

A standard-sized house on a standard-sized Rego Park street is going to be demolished.

A demolition permit was filed for 64-53 Ellwell Crescent on July 27, about two weeks after the home was bought for $1.4 million.

The owner is listed as NLA Realty, with Nikadam Aylyarova signing the paper work on behalf of the company. No building permits have been filed to replace the structure.

The house is located directly across the street from a new development, which features large Greek columns and a concrete yard.

Ozone Park filing lawsuit to stop shelter

From CBS 2:

Some residents in Queens say they’re going to take the New York City Department of Homeless Services to task for its plans to bring a new men’s shelter to their neighborhood.

They fear a very different kind of housing could stand in the middle of family homes on 101st Avenue near 86th Street in Ozone Park.

The department wouldn’t confirm its shelter proposal, but a document obtained by CBS2 shows a letter sent to elected officials earlier this month explaining the plan to create a transitional housing facility for 113 men facing homelessness and mental health challenges. Residents say it would be far too close to several schools.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Hunters Point library besieged with delays

From the LIC Post:

The Hunters Point Library will not open until the summer of 2019 as the project continues to be besieged by construction delays.

The city agency in charge of overseeing the construction estimates that the library will be completed by the end of the year, with the Queens Library taking an additional three to six months to get it ready for opening.

The 22,000-square foot library, which has been under construction since 2015, was expected to open in the first half of 2017. However, between the complex design and issues with the general contractor it continues to be behind schedule.

The major source of the delays can be attributed to the performance of the general contractor, Triton Structural, according to Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. “The contractor has essentially defaulted on the project.”

LIRR platforms to be widened

From the Forest Hills Post:

The Long Island Railroad train platforms at the Forest Hills and Kew Gardens stations will be lengthened to accommodate two additional train cars, LIRR President Philip Eng announced yesterday.

The project will lengthen the platforms by 50 percent to allow six cars to meet the platform instead of the current four. LIRR trains can be up to 12 cars long, the railroad said.

The plan is intended to address crowding and reduce delays by helping customers to board and exit trains more easily, the LIRR said.

Both the north and south platforms at each station will be lengthened with fiberglass decking supported by steel scaffolding.

The Forest Hills and Kew Gardens stations have an average weekday ridership of 1,967 and 1,778 passengers, respectively. In recent years, Forest Hills has become a more popular destination for Forest Hills Stadium event attendees.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Whitestone sidewalk & car damage resolved

From CBS 2:

It was a beyond welcoming sight in front of the Maddalena-Vigliotti home in Whitestone, Queens — city crews finally repairing the damaged sidewalk.

“If it wasn’t for you and your covering this story, nothing would’ve gotten done,” Queens resident Anna Maddalena told CBS2’s Andrea Grymes.

Two weeks ago, CBS2 reported multiple locations across Queens, where city-owned trees uprooted during storms back in March. The city had cleared the trees, but months later still hadn’t fixed the sidewalks.

This week, after CBS2’s reports, repairs are finally being made.

For this family, the sidewalk was not the only thing destroyed when the tree came down. They’re still looking for answers from the city about one of their cars.

The 2008 red Mazda had been parked on the street in front of the house, but when the tree collapsed, the car was totaled under the weight of the limbs.

Maddalena says they had collision insurance but not comprehensive coverage, which would’ve covered the damage.

So she filed a claim with the city comptroller’s office in May. She got a letter back saying if the office is unable to resolve the claim, “any lawsuit against the city must be started within one year and 90 from the date of occurrence.”

Maddalena says she then called numerous times, trying to figure out what she’s supposed to do with the car, as it sits in the driveway.

So on Friday, CBS2 reached out to the comptroller’s office and they quickly responded.

Maddalena says she got a call from the division chief, who apologized several times and promised someone would come out and assess the car by Monday. After that, they can finally get rid of it.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Cooper Avenue shelter, take 2

From the Queens Chronicle:

Seven months ago, the Department of Homeless Services told the Chronicle that the longstanding but dormant plan to build a homeless shelter at 78-16 Cooper Ave. in Glendale was dead.

But there's been a dramatic change of plans, according to the office of Councilman Bob Holden (D-Middle Village).

The lawmaker announced Friday that an unnamed social services provider is in negotiations with the DHS to house up to 200 homeless men at the location — a defunct, four-story factory.

"My office had received several reports from area residents over the last few days about activity at the former manufacturing building in Glendale," Holden said. "After sending numerous inquiries to various DHS officials over a 24-hour period, and speaking with Commissioner Steve Banks, these reports have validity and I am extremely concerned."

No deal has been finalized, Holden added, noting that he had provided a "more viable location" for a shelter in the district but "the DHS never responded."

Oh boy. And they were sounding so friendly a few weeks ago.

Liu not very adept at fundraising

From the NY Post:

Former City Comptroller John Liu’s state Senate campaign missed the deadline for filing its financial-disclosure statement — and no one there realized it until contacted by The Post Thursday.

The campaign said it resubmitted the documents Thursday and provided The Post with a copy, which showed Liu has just $984.80 in his kitty.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Silver gets 7 years

From PIX11:

Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has been sentenced to seven years in prison for public corruption, U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni announced Friday at a court in Manhattan.

Silver was once among Albany's most powerful Democrats until he was felled by a corruption scandal.

He was initially found guilty in 2015 of pocketing $4 million illegally by collecting fees from a cancer researcher and real estate developer.

His conviction and 12-year prison sentence were thrown out by an appeals court, but the 74-year-old fared no better at a second trial in May.

In a pre-sentence submission, Silver said he was filled with shame and feared he would die in prison.

"The People's Beach" has gone to the hipsters

If you want to see what happened to the Riis Park Bathhouse, head on over to Impunity City. But be forewarned: this crap is not for the faint of heart. G.E.N.T.R.I.F.I.C.A.T.I.O.N.

Now we're getting e-bikes

From PIX11:

On July 28, riders in some areas will be able to test E-bikes with motors that help them ride.

This is part of the expanded bikeshare program. During the month of July, the Rockaways and Coney Island will see bikes that can be rented without a docking station.

Later in the month, Staten Island's North Shore and the Fordham Section of the Bronx will also be a part of the program.

During this test time, the city says it will be evaluating "companies’ compliance with pilot requirements around data accessibility and user privacy."

JUMP Bikes, which was born in New York City, will bring the first e-bikes to Staten Island and the Bronx.

Lime Bike and Citi Bike are also participating in these test areas.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Dutch Kills wants firehouse reopened now that it's overdeveloped

From the Queens Gazette:

Neighbors, local lawmakers, union officials and local leaders are renewing their wake up call to Mayor Bill de Blasio and the FDNY, to reactivate Engine Co. 261 before it’s too late to save lives.

The engine company located at a hook and ladder firehouse at 37-20 29th Street in the Dutch Kills section of Long Island City served the community for more than a decade until May 2003, when budget cuts under the Bloomberg administration forced its shutdown.

Ladder Co. 116, which shared the firehouse with Engine Co. 261, remains in service at the 29th Street house. Firefighters, aka “truckees” assigned to Ladder Co. 116 are usually the first to respond to local fires where they force entry, search for victims and ventilate burning buildings. The firefighters also perform rescues and provide medical assistance at fires and in other emergency situations, officials at the Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA) said.

“All of a sudden, we were left with nothing but a prayer if we needed a local engine company to pour water on a fire,” Dutch Kills Civic Association President George Stamatiades said. “Fifteen years is far too long to be without adequate fire protection. The Dutch Kills community has come of age and we need the fire protection that is justified by our residential growth.

“We will continue our fight for the reactivation of Engine Co. 261 until the city is ready to acknowledge the need for increased fire protection for our booming residential community,” Stamatiades said. “Will it take a tragedy in one of the new high-rise residential or commercial buildings in Dutch Kills for the administration to wake up and smell the smoke?”

Stamatiades, one of dozens of local leaders who battled with city officials more than a decade ago to keep Engine Co. 261 activated, said Dutch Kills was a much different community in 2003.

“City officials said Engine Col. 261 had to go, because there wasn’t enough need for it,” he said. “We’re telling the city to take a new look at Dutch Kills today. Take a look at the new Dutch Kills and Long Island City communities that boast thousands of new residential units that tens of thousands of people call home.”

Rego Park tower to be pretty tall

From Curbed:

A large, corner site in Rego Park, Queens is set to welcome a 23-story residential tower, making it one of the tallest structures in the neighborhood. YIMBY first reported on the development, which will be located at 98-04 Queens Boulevard, and the construction site seems to span half a block on Queens Boulevard between 65th Road and 66th Avenue.

Plans filed with the city’s Department of Building list SLCE Architects as the architect of record. The 23-story tower will have a total of 116 apartments, which will average nearly 1,200 square feet.

Riding the subway there should be even more fun!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Another too tall tower for LIC

From LIC Post:

Yet another tower could be heading to Long Island City, with reports of a 70-story skyscraper in the works for the Queens Plaza neighborhood.

The massive development has been pegged at 42-50 24th St., according to City Realty, just one block away from the Queensboro Plaza station, meaning the tower would join several 60 to 70 story towers under development in the area.

While there have been no building permits filed for the site yet, records dating back from 2015 show that the property, a taxi dispatch garage spanning 34,000 square feet, was purchased for $69 million by Property Markets Group and Dynamic-Hakim.

Renderings posted by one of the developers show plans for a one-million square foot project, with both commercial and residential components. The site, still under development, will be a “luxury tower”, according to developers.

The property is within an M1-5/R9 zoning district, which allows for high-density, tall towers.

311 call turns into 2-year saga

From QNS:

A potentially dangerous street condition in Maspeth is finally being addressed by the Department of Transportation (DOT) more than two years after a local resident filed a complaint with the agency.

The situation was brought to light in January of 2016 by Middle Village resident David Paz, who informed the DOT that a guardrail along the south side of 56th Road between 43rd Street and Maspeth Avenue had been severely damaged and needed to be repaired.

Photos revealed that the guardrail was in fact lying on the sidewalk on many parts of that stretch, detached from the bollards that normally hold it in place.

The rail serves as a barrier between the sidewalk and the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) tracks used for freight operations, and the industrial area is frequented by large trucks that park along 56th Road.

On July 19, more than two years later, a DOT spokesperson confirmed that jersey barriers — concrete or plastic barriers typically used to separate traffic — would be installed at the site this week, weather permitting. The statement came after QNS obtained copies of letters between DOT officials and Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, who had been advocating for the guardrail to be fixed on Paz’s behalf, revealing that the agency had stalled in its response to the matter.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Is this the way to stop rampant K2 use?

From CBS 2:

Neighborhoods demanding a crackdown on the dangerous synthetic drug K2 rallied today describing the way the narcotic poisons their communities.

The neighborhoods might be different but the effects are the same, reports CBS2’s Marc Liverman.

CBS2 exclusive video taken back in 2016 show people on K2 passed out on chairs in the middle of the sidewalk, seen again in 2018 all around New York City.

Others are seen leaning against buildings and nodding out as mothers pushed their strollers close by. That was in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx, and now it’s happening in Williamsbridge.

Just ask pastor Janet Hodge.

“Every morning that we arrive, we find that people have used the bathroom on our property,” she said. “Every day I come outside and I find that there are men and women loitering on our stoops and they are in a stupor.”

“We have people walking around zombie-like, in catatonic states, up and down White Plains Road,” said State Senator Jamaal Bailey.

At a rally Monday, local politicians and residents said enough is enough. King introducing new legislation that would hold landlords and area businesses accountable.

“The store will be shut down and you will not be able to reopen the same business or rent it out to the same business,” he said.

The new legislation would also slap on a $100,000 fine on any business caught selling the synthetic cannabinoid.

Rats abound at Jamaica site

From the Queens Chronicle:

What once was a private park and playground at the corner of 109th Avenue and 171st Street in Jamaica has long been an overgrown eyesore for nearby residents.

Now it has been designated as a rat-infested danger by the city, which has laid poison in traps around the property and down holes on the lot itself.

“People in the apartment building across the street tell me they don’t want to go outside at night. That’s when they come out,” said Pam Hazel, a neighborhood activist, in one of two telephone interviews with the Chronicle in the last week.

The first treatment was put down on July 7, according to both Hazel and signs posted on the chain link fence around the property by the Department of Mental Heath and Hygiene.

During a visit by the Chronicle in 2013 the property, while already fenced off, had remnants of playground equipment and dilapidated but still recognizable park benches.

A visit last Friday showed the trees to have been cleared out, but that grass, brush and smaller trees have taken over all but the concrete-and-paving stone paths inside.

A handful of residents last Saturday staged a rally outside the property in an effort to draw the attention of the owners and elected officials from the area.

Why did a developer get control of this instead of the Parks Department?

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

March 2021 is new end date for Van Wyck project

From CBS 2:

“I am a Queens boy,” the governor said right before cutting the ribbon for the newly repaired Queens Midtown Tunnel, damaged during Superstorm Sandy.

But if you want bragging rights for having Queens roots, you have to take the pain with the acclaim, Kramer reported. Right now, there are some borough residents who have a bone to pick with “Andy from Queens.”

“Construction is horrible around here. You can’t go nowhere,” one driver said.

“Very annoying,” said another.

“It’s not easy to travel everywhere,” another said.

“I’m always late,” a man added. “I have to leave an hour earlier to get on the Van Wyck.”

The work began in 2010, but that was just phase one, which, according to the state’s records, was a year and a half late and millions of dollars over budget.

They’re now working on phase two, phase three and the yet-to-be started phase four to replace six decaying overpasses, rehab four more and widen the highway from six lanes to eight – a complex and intricate project that first required widening everything else to accommodate more lanes.

As the phases have multiplied, so has the cost.

Charter changes up for discussion

This is to let you know that the city's Charter Review Commission is having a series of meetings in the boroughs next week, Queens' turn is Thursday evening, July 26 at Queens Borough Hall. The Charter is basically New York City's "constitution" that lays out the broad parameters for administration and operation of the city. Please see the attached flyer for additional information. - Jessica Douglas, Queens Borough Director of the Mayor's Community Affairs office

Community Boards:
1) Whether to place term limits for Community Board members as a method to encourage diversity.
2) How to Standardize and enhance the existing appointment process
3) Provide additional support in resources; particularly as it relates to urban planning
4) Things to adopt methods to ensure Community Boards are representative of the community they serve.

Campaign Finance:
1) The Reduction of spending limits (no amounts provided).
2) Increasing the public match ( no ratio provided).
3) Look into the timeline for implementation given that candidates are raising money under the current system.

1) Language accessibility ( providing interpreters, translation of ballots and materials, and community advisory groups)
2) Instant Runoff Voting - Look to implement within local primary elections and for citywide elections (where runoffs is provided) or to extend to all offices (Borough Presidents and City Council offices)

A Citywide Civic Engagement Program
1) how such an entity or office could support, supplement, or coordinate the City’s existing efforts in this area, including the recently announced DemocracyNYC initiative.
2) how such an entity or office could facilitate the expansion of participatory budgeting while working within legal and operational constraints
3) where such an entity or office should be situated;.
4) whether such an entity or office should be independent and non-partisan.

Redistricting for City Council Seats
1) In light of the lack of DOJ oversight, solicit testimony from experts and affected communities about the effects of districting process on racial and ethnic minorities and their voting power.
2) Look at altering the Districting Commission to promote independence, including the appointment process.
3) Studying whether there are ways to counteract effects of an undercount in the next census.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Flagship Diner forced to close to make way for apartment building

From PIX11:

Sunday was a bittersweet day for longtime customers of the Flagship Diner, which closed after decades serving up meals in Queens.

For 53 years, this 24-hour diner with a parking lot out front on Queens Boulevard was the center of so many peoples lives.

Customers would bring their children and grandchildren to the diner. They also made sure to come out to say goodbye.

For a year and a half, the diner’s owners have been battling with the landlord over a lease that was supposed to end next year so the property could be converted into a 7-story apartment building.

This day brought one of the owners to tears.

“We’re very sad, but it is relief that it is over,” Vincent Pupplo, co-owner of Flagship diner told PIX11. “There was a lot of pressure in the last year and a half so this is bittersweet.”