Sunday, November 19, 2017

Van Wyck revamp in the works

From the Queens Chronicle:

Plans call for widening the Van Wyck one lane in each direction. Fink said there is enough space available so that the state can avoid any private property. He did say that in some cases, where there is not enough room on a shoulder, the new lanes might have to run up against retaining walls for the service roads.

Fink said one of the challenges is that there are 20 bridges crossing the Van Wyck in that corridor, including four belonging to the Long Island Rail Road.

“We would have to reach out to them,” he said, as any widening of the roadway almost certainly would require work on railroad trestles. Fink said a federal environmental impact study should be completed by next September, with construction slated to run from August 2019 to the end of 2023.

NYPD crackdown on drones

From CBS 2:

More than 600,000 drones were registered with the Federal Aviation Administration last year alone.

As they grow in popularity, so do the number of accidents involving some of the amateur aircraft.

To see how the NYPD is cracking down on rogue drones, CBS2’s Maurice Dubois took to the sky with the department’s aviation unit.

Although this report states that drones are illegal in NYC except at 5 city parks, in reality there are no local ordinances pertaining to drones. The FAA requires that drone operation happen at least 5 miles away from airports, which prohibits drone operation in most of Queens.

BDB looking to hire Rikers closure consultants

From Metro:

Mayor Bill de Blasio officially began the process of shuttering Rikers Island on Thursday by issuing a request for proposal to develop an action plan to close the controversial jail complex and find alternate solutions.

“We have a moral obligation to close down Rikers Island and transition to a smaller, safer and fairer jail system,” the mayor said. “To make that a reality, we’ll be looking at where we can create more off-island space by expanding existing buildings or finding new sites and maintaining an honest dialogue with communities and elected officials.

“We’re moving aggressively on the long road to closing Rikers Island, and this is a crucial step forward,” he added.

The consultant will work with the city’s goal to operate detention facilities that go beyond confinement by providing behavioral, health, developmental and re-entry support for inmates, as well as offer improved access for service providers, lawyers, visitation and transportation to court.

Proposals will be due in mid-December with the consultant chosen in early January, the mayor’s office said, adding that “there will be robust community consultation workshops and engagement with neighborhood residents.”

Saturday, November 18, 2017

What goes on near Creedmoor

From Crains:

Fully 70% of Creedmoor patients are now managed by the various nonprofit organizations operating on the Creedmoor grounds. These nonprofits have been absent from each of the three Creedmoor meetings, although their presence had been requested. They shield themselves from accountability, and tout HIPAA patient confidentiality laws to keep neighboring communities in the dark.

Surprisingly, there is no requirement that wandering patients take their daily medications and there is no behavioral code of conduct protocol conveyed to them. The general lack of accountability by the nonprofits is stunning. Their managers enter the facility gates in the morning and leave at night, rarely stepping foot outside of Creedmoor to see what their patients have wrought on nearby communities.

The aggressive panhandling is rampant. Unsuspecting pedestrians are accosted daily and disheveled individuals often follow them into a Dunkin’ Donuts or wait outside an ATM to demand money. Recently, a woman sitting at McDonald’s in Queens Village was assaulted by a Creedmoor resident. A middle-aged worker in Creedmoor was sucker-punched by a patient as she bent down to pick up a food tray. She is now recuperating with 3 steel rods in her neck.

Public defecation, substance abuse and other quality-of-life infractions are now commonplace in residential communities around Creedmoor. Unfortunately, the police are discouraged from enforcing certain laws now that Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council have decriminalized some low-level infractions. Creedmoor officials acknowledge that well-meaning individuals should neither give money nor endure menacing shakedowns by patients who live rent-free, receive three meals per day including snacks, plus a weekly monetary stipend paid in part by the very same individuals that are being accosted daily.

Civic leaders who sought to identify why these problems have dramatically worsened over the past year were repeatedly told by Creedmoor administrators that nothing has changed. But recently, writer and former City Council candidate Dennis Saffran, who investigated Creedmoor for another story, revealed some interesting facts. It turns out that much has changed. Governor Andrew Cuomo prioritized deinstitutionalizing the mentally ill and moving them out of wards and into so-called “transitional housing.” To accomplish this, OMH simply rebranded its wards as “transitional housing” and redesignated inpatients as “outpatients” although their living arrangements never changed.

Both sides heard at Queens hearing on monuments

From PIX11:

The future of New York City’s controversial monuments was the topic of conversation Friday at Queens Borough Hall where for the first time, New Yorkers had a chance to give their two cents.

As many as 800 pieces of art across the five boroughs including a statue of Christopher Columbus in Midtown, are at the center of the debate.

Nearly two dozen residents testified before Mayor de Blasio’s advisory commission on city art, monuments and markers.

From residents who warned that erasing history would be dangerous, to others who called Columbus a “terrorist” — the opinions ran the gamut.

Outside all the talk of history, the turnout for the public testimony was noticeably low with members of the media outnumbering residents.

The midday hearing drew ire from some but the Mayor’s office insists holding a hearing like this in the middle of the day on a weekday, is standard procedure.

Legislation introduced to force junk car removal

From Brooklyn Daily:

Councilman Alan Maisel (D–Marine Park) has penned new legislation that would require the city to haul away cars abandoned without plates within one month of a do-gooder making a complaint, the local pol announced during a Community Board 18 meeting on Oct. 24.

Hundreds of derelict cars have lingered for months on his district’s streets over the years, vexing communities already strapped for parking spaces — so it’s about time the city follow its own rules and tow them away, said Maisel.

“There are a couple of hundred cars that have to be towed, and the city, for whatever reason, has chosen not to take this issue as a priority,” he said. “The legislation is putting the city on the spot to force them to do what they should be doing.”

Currently, once someone files a complaint about an abandoned vehicle without any plates, the Department of Sanitation is supposed to investigate within three days, tag it if it’s a complete wreck, and then remove it within another three days, according to a spokesman for New York’s Strongest. If it looks still in working order, then it’s up to the police department to haul it off, the spokesman said. And the police don’t have a time limit for towing away plateless cars.

The city has fallen short of its duties to address quality-of-life issues such as derelict cars dumped on the street, and it’s leaving locals fed up, said Maisel.

Friday, November 17, 2017

SBS negatively impacting local businesses

Photo from Queens Chronicle
From the Queens Chronicle:

Rose, a manager at the C-Town Supermarket on Cross Bay Blvd. in Ozone Park, is usually busy helping her customers find what they’re looking for.

But lately, she’s been talking about the bus lanes right outside her business rather than what’s on sale.

“I was speaking to a customer just now about it,” said Rose, who didn’t want her last name published. “Nobody knows what to do right now. The customers are getting confused. They don’t know when they can park or when they’re going to get a ticket.”

Not only that, but the curbside bus lanes — installed as part of the Select Bus Service project for Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards — have led to a decline in the number of people shopping at the supermarket, located at 107-66 Cross Bay Blvd.

And that’s impacting the bottom line.

Giant hotel coming to LIC

From the Queens Gazette:

The owner of two lots located at 38-22/38-26 11th Street in Long Island City has filed plans to develop a hotel a the site.

The two properties feature a combined 48,640-square-feet of commercial space for the hotel – 85 rooms that feature direct access to the hotel lobby, reception and business center.

The plans also call for seven parking spaces in an area filled with hotels, near the 21st Street/Queensbridge “F” subway station and the Queens Plaza transportation hub.

The history of often overlooked Blissville

From Brick Underground:

Blissville, a slice of Long Island City bordered by Calvary Cemetery, the Long Island Expressway, and Newtown Creek, is a rough-hewn, mostly forgotten outpost of New York City.

Once a bustling industrial hub, most of Blissville today is occupied by warehouses, auto repair shops, and yes, there are still some factories. There is also a light sprinkling of homes and storefronts, and much of the building stock dates back to the 19th century. Calvary Cemetery looms along the length of Greenpoint Avenue, the main drag of the neighborhood. The walls surrounding the cemetery, and some of the nearby streets, are littered with broken bottles and other trash, giving today's Blissville an unloved look. The gated cemetery is the only swath of green in the neighborhood—there are no parks or playgrounds.

In the neighborhood’s odoriferous glory days in the 19th century, its location on the banks of Newtown Creek is what made Blissville a place to know. By the 1850s, the creek’s banks were lined with glue factories, smelting and fat-rendering plants, refineries, foundries, and other heavy industries, connected to the rest of the country by trains that ran through the area. Now, not coincidentally, the creek is among the most polluted bodies of water in the country.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Huge project proposed for Anable Basin

From Curbed:

A longtime Long Island City property owner is seeking a waterfront rezoning that will allow it to bring a 5.8 million gross square foot mixed-use development to the area surrounding Anable Basin, just north of the Hunter’s Point South redevelopment.

Under the proposal by Plaxall Realty, 14.7 acres would be rezoned to accommodate 5,000 condos and rentals, 335,000 square feet of creative production and light manufacturing space, 3.1 acres of public waterfront esplanade, and up to 30,000 square feet of community space. It would also bring a 700-plus seat public school to the neighborhood, outside of the rezoning area.

2 Queens slumlords make PA's top 10 list of bad landlords

From the Queens Tribune:

Public Advocate Letitia James ranked two city landlords with properties in Ridgewood among the city’s 10 worst in her annual Worst Landlords Watchlist, which was released on Tuesday.

James’ list is a database that ranks the worst landlords in the city based on monthly updates of open violations. Silvershore Properties’ Jonathan Cohen—who owns a property at 17-08 Summerfield St. in Ridgewood, which has a total of 116 violations—was ranked as the city’s worst, while Meir Fried—who owns a property at 16-45 Summerfield St. in Ridgewood, which has a total of 28 violations—came in at number eight. Both landlords primarily own buildings in Brooklyn.

Queens properties with the most violations included Hillside House Management Co.’s site at 87-40 165th St. in Jamaica—which ranked first and had 383 violations—and Nada Gracin’s property at 150-15 Sanford Ave. in Flushing, which had 244 violations.

Holden's ballot lead stands

From NY1:

City Councilman Elizabeth Crowley acknowledged Wednesday night that her opponent's margin of victory held during a tally of absentee ballots Wednesday in a very close Queens city council race.

The Board of Elections said it will not certify the result until it certifies all the races, as it does every election.

Sources from Crowley's opponent, Republican Robert Holden, have told NY1 that he has won the race for the 30th city council district.

Holden declared victory on Election Day, even though he was ahead by only 133 votes.

It appears his lead has grown by four votes, although the total has not been confirmed.

Well this is getting very interesting. And check these quotes from Holden in the Times Ledger:
“This mayor wants a one party socialist Marxist regime and anyone who thinks differently than him is the enemy,” Holden said. “He judges people based on labels and that is something he should be against. Instead he bad mouths the Republican Party as no good and that’s the type of approach that put this country in such a divisive mess. Did I run on the Republican line? Yeah. Am I a registered Democrat? Yeah, but the bottom line is I’m apolitical. I’m a civic leader and I’m going to work with anyone that can help my community and my constituen­ts.”

Holden added the mayor was wrong to launch the 14.7 mile Select Bus Service route on Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards Monday.

“It’s such a disaster. People are sitting in traffic jams for hours. It’s just another bad policy from this administration, and one of the reasons I got so many votes,” Holden said. “He wants to take away our cars, he doesn’t understand Queens at all. The traffic is crippling all over the borough and all we get is more bike lanes and more SBS lanes. The administration is taking away one of our basic rights — the freedom of movement — you can’t just get in your car and go anymore.”

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Woodhaven Blvd at a standstill due to new bus lane

From CBS:

A new bus lane on Woodhaven Boulevard is causing a traffic nightmare.

Drivers said their rush hour commutes have nearly doubled since the change.

Cars were backed up for miles on Woodhaven Boulevard on Tuesday night, and drivers say it’s being caused by the select new bus service.

One lane of traffic is now for buses only — no cars allowed.

Trottenberg said the DOT redesigned the pinch points and corridors in the hope of creating three lanes of traffic that move. The problem is in rush hour it doesn’t.

There are people who say it has added an hour to their commute.

DOC commish made personal trips on city time

From the Daily News:

Correction Commissioner Cynthia Brann and eight top staffers have reached settlements in the wake of a damning probe that found they used city cars for personal travel.

The city Conflicts of Interest Board revealed the agreements six months after former commissioner Joseph Ponte resigned over his role in the scandal.

Brann paid a $6,000 fine after she was found to have used her city car to make 13 trips to shopping malls and three to Kennedy Airport at a time when she was a deputy commissioner.

"At the time, I erroneously believed that I was allowed to use my DOC (Department of Correction) take-home vehicle for all personal travel in case a DOC emergency required my immediate response and travel to a DOC facility,” she said, according to a disposition released Tuesday.

Brann ran afoul of the Conflicts of Interest Board again when she enlisted a subordinate to help her pay the fine.

The Queens-based Brann complained to an underling that it was difficult for her to obtain a certified check or money order because she didn’t have a New York bank account.

The pair came up with a way around the problem — she would write him a personal check for the amount of the fine, and he would obtain a cashier’s check drawn from his personal account.

But Brann later acknowledged that such an agreement violated a conflicts of interest law prohibiting public servants from using their positions to obtain a personal favor from a subordinate.

NYCHA lied about inspecting for lead paint

From PIX11:

The New York City Housing Authority failed to conduct lead paint safety inspections for four years beginning in 2013, according to a new report by the city’s Department of Investigation. The DOI further alleges NYCHA then lied about the inspections to Federal housing authorities.