Sunday, February 25, 2018

Problem Whitestone lot padlocked

From the Queens Tribune:

The city’s Department of Buildings (DOB) has padlocked a residential lot on 24th Avenue between 149th Street and 150th Street in Whitestone that was being illegally used for commercial storage.

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) had been petitioning multiple city agencies for nearly three years to have the lot closed. The site had been an area of concern for neighbors, who complained about a multitude of hazards emanating from the tract of land.

“I was very happy to learn that this nuisance was finally padlocked after years of requests from myself and neighbors who wanted to see something done,” Avella said. “Padlocking certainly does not completely eliminate the problems created by the illegal commercial use of the lot, but this will certainly protect the community from a number of hazardous conditions created by the illegal storage.”

The lot is owned by Whitestone contractor Salvatore Valenza and was being used to store trucks, construction equipment and debris, despite being located in a residential zone and situated directly between two residential properties.

Nearby residents complained about the loud, early-morning growls of truck engines and the unsanitary conditions of the lot’s strewn construction debris.

Disgraceful dealings at Willets Point

There's a really great photoessay on Curbed by Nathan Kensinger. Definitely worth a look.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Private Sunnyside park to become public

From Sunnyside Post:

The city is at last starting up the acquisition process for the former Phipps playground, part of the Sunnyside Gardens Historic District.

The Department of Parks and Recreation is putting forth an application with the city to ultimately turn 50-02 39th Ave., the corner lot at 39th Avenue and 50th Street, into a community park. The site, measuring 10,000 square feet, is currently owned by DBH Associates, a private developer.

The application to the Department of City Planning will be jointly filed with the Department of Citywide Administrative Services for the site selection and acquisition of the parcel of land, a NYC Parks representative said at last night’s CB2 Land Use meeting.

The project must go through public review by way of the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, where it will be reviewed by the community board, the Queens Borough president, and make its way to the city council, which could take until next year.

6-year old tweeding effort exposed

From the Daily News:

State Sen. Kevin Parker’s mother got a $32,150 taxpayer-funded grant to fix up the Flatbush home he owns with her — money that was funneled to her by a nonprofit group pervy pol Vito Lopez founded and controlled.

Georgie Parker got the money in 2012 to fix the roof and replace the windows and gutters in the four-bedroom home she co-owned with her son, who also lived there.

Records show the grant came from the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council, which in turn got the money from the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal’s Main Street Program.

Ridgewood was founded by Lopez, the longtime state assemblyman and Brooklyn Democratic party boss who was accused of sexually harassing legislative employees. Lopez died in 2015. The nonprofit is now called RiseBoro Community Partnership.

Georgie Parker signed the paperwork for the $32,150 grant on Aug. 28, 2012, just a few days after the state Assembly voted to censure Lopez and strip him of his powerful housing committee chairmanship over the harassment allegations.

Lopez ultimately resigned in 2013 after reports surfaced that the state had paid confidential settlements to two of his accusers.

Lopez and Kevin Parker supported one another during their rocky political careers.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Western Beef will not become hotel

From the Queens Gazette:

The developer of a massive hotel at the site of a former Western Beef Supermarket in Long Island City has scrapped plans for the project.

The site at the northwest corner of Northern Boulevard and Steinway Street includes the former supermarket property and four adjacent parcels formerly controlled by the food retailer. JMH Development leased the Western Beef supermarket and the four parcels from Western Beef in 2014 for $19.6 million.

Plans for the hotel included 119,722-sauare-feet of commercial space, a bar and a breakfast room on the ground floor of the 60-foot-tall building, along woth14 hotel rooms in the cellar level of the hotel, 28 rooms on the ground floor, 67 room on the second floor, 66 rooms on each of the third and fourth floors, and 49 rooms on the fifth floor, for a total of. 289 rooms.

Plans for the new development feature a six-story rental building with 140 residential units, 40,000-square-feet of retail and an undetermined number of indoor parking spaces.

The developers “re-thought” plans for the hotel and decided to scrap the project due to an overabundance on similar hotels located in Manhattan and Long Island City, according to a spokesperson for JMH Development.

Yet another Queens Blvd hotel to become homeless shelter

From LIC Post:

The Fairfield Inn by Marriott in Long Island City is set to become a shelter for adult families.

The hotel, located at 52-34 Van Dam St., will provide shelter for up to 154 homeless families, according to the Department of Homeless Services. The shelter is expected to open in March.

The agency notified the community board and elected officials of their plans on Feb. 13.

The shelter will be a high-quality transitional housing facility under de Blasio’s “Turning the Tide” initiative put forth early 2017 to tackle homelessness. Under the mayor’s plan, cluster sites through the city will be eliminated while multi-service facilities like these are set to open. For this shelter, priority will be given to families with roots in Community Board 2.

We're also paying more for the privilege of housing the world's homeless.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

How do you help a hoarder?

From CBS:

Residents in Brooklyn are desperate to get their neighbor’s home cleaned up.

They say the historic landmark is now an eyesore with trash and junk piled high in the front yard.

It’s a beautiful tree lined block with million-dollar brownstones, but all kinds of things are piled up and pouring out of the front lawn of 253 Sterling Street.

People on Sterling Street said the woman who lives there hoards in her front yard, her backyard, and even in and on top of her car.

Neighbors say the homeowner has lived here for several decades, but the problem has gotten worse in the last few weeks.

Neighbors said they’ve called 311 and nothing has happened.

LIC leaders unhappy with development plan

From LIC Post:

The city’s current plan to bring a massive mixed-use project on public land along the Hunters Point waterfront has been rejected by Long Island City’s elected leaders.

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer and Assemblymember Cathy Nolan say that the Economic Development Corp’s plan to build 1,000 residential units (25 percent affordable) in two towers scaling over 500 feet by 44th Drive and Vernon Boulevard is simply unacceptable.

“I think it needs to be re-envisioned,” Van Bramer said of the 4.5 acre proposal, which also includes a public school, a park, and industrial and commercial space. “This project as it stands is perhaps the dream of some people in City Hall, but it is not one that I share.”

Van Bramer added that the community’s concerns over green space, recreation, the number of affordable units, and the overall density of the project are valid. “What the community is saying, and what I’m saying, too, is for too long the city has not paid attention to the infrastructure needs of LIC,” he said.

Nolan said the development is “too massive” and fails to take the repeatedly-raised needs of the community into consideration.

A better way to board up homes?

From CBS 2:

Broken, boarded windows are a telltale sign of a an abandoned zombie home. Throughout the tri-state area, they attract vandals and squatters.

In Massapequa, neighbors count as many as 50 eyesores dragging down property values.

Gaetine Hodnett lives next door to one such home. After complaining to the town of Oyster Bay, her local government responded with a first for Long Island.

The town has passed a law banning the use of plywood to cover windows and doors. Instead, owners and banks will have to use clear boards made of polycarbonate.

The clear boards, mandated elsewhere in the nation, bring light into an abandoned house and keep criminals out.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

College Point street is flooded 24/7

From the Times Ledger:

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) joined residents of Powells Cove Boulevard last Friday to call on the city to finally address a major flooding condition that residents say has plagued the community for over 20 years.

Avella and residents stood on the corner of Powells Cove Blvd. and 126th St. around a large pool of water that amassed from rainfall earlier in the week that had frozen over and showed no signs of going away.

According to residents who have dealt with this issue for years, they expect the floodwaters to stay there well into spring. Avella said he has been working with residents for the last two years to bring the issue to the attention to different city agencies.

Avella said the location has been inspected by multiple city agencies, including the Department of Transportation, which blamed the flooding on a lack of storm sewers at the location, and claimed that the Department of Environmental Protection must address that before DOT can address the road issues.

Over the summer, Avella brought the issues up to the DEP, which said it would open a 90-day investigation of the location — but to this date, neither he nor the residents have heard what that investigation concluded.

They're Building It Back badly

From PIX11:

After the tri-state area was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy back in October 2012, "Build It Back," a federally funded program supervised by New York City was created.

The goal of the program is to help people get their homes back.

We get a lot of complaints about delays in Build It Back projects and other issues, but Frank Scarantino has a new one. The Build It Back project next door is flooding his home.

“This wall — they just created it. And when it comes into the street from the high tide this gets all flooded,” Scarantino said. "And the water does not go away for a minimum of a week to two weeks.”

The program is supposed to be helping, but instead they’re causing all kinds of problems for the people next door. Scarantino and his wife fixed their home without the help of Build It Back.

Scarantino told me that the contractor said they will build a retaining wall. The only question is, when?