Saturday, April 19, 2014

An unfortunate coincidence

From The Wave:

During the last few weeks there has been some confusion about a street sign that was recently installed on the corner of Beach 28th Street behind PS 43 -- Sandy Road. As one school staffer pointed out two weeks ago -- “It had never been there before.”

After several emails the Department of Transportation explained the sign, and earlier this week the Queens Borough President’s Office explained the history of the name.

“As part of DOT’s contract to replace signage in the area in response to repairs and replacements in the wake of superstorm Sandy, the sign you’re inquiring about was installed on February 4, 2014,” said a spokesperson for the DOT. “Sandy Road is the official mapped street name. The connection to the storm is coincidental.”

Interestingly, the city's official map has no such official street name on it.

MTA looking to expand Jamaica depot

From the Times Ledger:

The MTA recently bought up a handful of properties adjacent to the South Jamaica bus depot, which it has been hoping to expand for years, but until the agency can come up with the needed capital funds, construction plans will sit as idle as the buses parked along Merrick Boulevard.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority paid $6.6 million earlier this month to the Hollywood, Fla.-based Rejtx LLC for four properties fronting Merrick Boulevard on the block just south of York College and Tuskegee Airmen Way as well as a fifth property at the block’s northwest corner.

The acquisition of the additional 50,000 square feet brings the MTA’s footprint on the block to about 221,000 square feet and represents a long-awaited milestone in the push to redevelop the aging facility.

Why Asians love Bayside

From NY1:

On Bell Boulevard, there are signs that the demographics in Bayside are changing. Whites still account for the majority of the residents, but census numbers show that the Asian population has tripled in the last two decades.

In 1990, the number of Asians living here was a little more than 5,000. Today, it's around 15,000, according to census estimates.

There are 10,000 Chinese and Korean residents here, and while their population is on the rise, the number of white residents are declining, according to Census estimates from 2008 to 2012. There were 30,000 white residents in 1990. Today, 21,000 live here. Many are not only leaving the neighborhood, but the city as well.

"Cause it's so expensive," said one resident. "It's crazy here. My day will come."

So what's the draw for many Asians? Most say it's the neighborhood's high-performing school district and the after-school programs in the area.

The other part is the beautiful homes and quiet tree-lined streets.

Wood frame houses are the first to go

This one is safe
From Brownstoner:

Now that warmer weather has set in ... the applications for demo permits have ticked up in the building department. A large number of the houses marked for demo are wood frames.

We wondered if that’s because they tend to be in worse condition or less expensive than their brick and stone counterparts. Preservationist Elizabeth Finkelstein of The Wooden House Project attributed the trend to rising real estate values in working-class neighborhoods, some of which happen to have a large concentration of frame houses.

“I think the wooden houses right now are especially vulnerable because of the trend in people moving to places like Bushwick and Greenwood Heights,” she said. “People can’t afford to buy in Brownstone Brooklyn anymore, so they’re moving to frame-heavy neighborhoods. Developers follow. While Park Slope and Cobble Hill have been expensive for a long time, homeowners in Bushwick have only recently been able to cash out. I think they’re taking advantage of the market, at the expense of some of these houses.”

Madelaine Chocolate still waiting for funds

Friday, April 18, 2014

Restaurant expansion to replace current eyesore

From the Queens Courier:

Mizumi restaurant is pumping funds into a planned expansion that will clean up the eyesore next door, a defunct gas station, The Courier has learned.

Owners of the sushi restaurant and buffet bought the former Getty gas station on 231-06 Northern Blvd., which has been tagged with graffiti for more than a year, and plan to replace it with an extension of the eatery.

Besides cleaning off the vandalism, the Chiang family, which owns Mizumi, hired Advanced Cleanup Technologies to remediate any environmental concerns caused by the gas station or expansion as it sits directly in front of Alley Pond Park.

Wills wants garbage gone

From the Times Ledger:

Southeast Queens lawmakers are taking the gloves off in order to deal with the area’s persistent trash problem.

City Councilman Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica) is backing proposed legislation that would toss litterbugs behind bars for up to a year for throwing their household refuse away in sidewalk trash baskets.

“If you are caught using these litter baskets illegally, you will be fined, and after the third subsequent fine you will be charged and locked up,” Wills said Monday morning during a news conference in South Jamaica as he announced a sweeping initiative aimed at cleaning up southeast Queens.

The councilman said he and his colleagues have been forced to take “drastic measures.”

“Our litter baskets are for refuse when you’re going to and from. They are not for you bringing garbage from inside of your homes, putting it on the litter baskets,” he said. “It is disgusting and it has to stop.”

The councilman said southeast Queens has been plagued by a trash problem for at least 15 years, although the issue has been thrust into the spotlight recently by Joe Moretti, a controversial community activist who documents his disgust with dirty streets — and the leaders he blames for them — on his blog

While Wills did not mention Moretti by name, he did make reference to “people always jabbing at elected officials, people always saying things that are negative about elected officials and never seeing the work that we actually do.”

What do they actually do without being pushed to do so? I mean for people other than developers and unions?

Hope for the homeless

From WNYC:

New York City is creating a new rental subsidy to help tackle its unprecedented homelessness crisis.

According to a draft of the proposal obtained by WNYC that the city sent to the Cuomo administration in March, the subsidy would be available to an estimated 1,400 to 2,800 families in which at least one member works full time, 35 hours a week. Currently 13,000 families live in the city’s shelters.

For a two-bedroom apartment that costs $1500 a month, a family could get a subsidy of $1,100. The total cost of the program could be as much as $115 million a year by the fifth year, according to the proposal. The city would have to negotiate with the state on how to split that cost.

The city said it’s still refining the proposal and refused to comment for this story. But advocates say they’re optimistic.

Deadly worksite shut down

From NY1:

The Department of Buildings has slammed a contractor with 41 violations after a construction worker fell to his death from a Midtown office building Monday.

Most of the violations against Stonehenge Restoration were related to safety.

The DOB said the worker who died was not wearing a harness before falling 12 stories onto a sidewalk shed.

Officials said there was also a lack of guardrails and no sign the scaffolding was inspected daily.

Other violations were for work without a permit, illegal signs and failure to report an accident.

The DOB immediately issued a full stop work order.

Promises broken at Astoria Cove

From the Daily News:

A developer in need of a zoning change in order to build a sleek residential complex in Astoria has quietly downgraded the number of affordable units the building would offer.

Alma Realty originally promised “a minimum” of 340 units of affordable housing at Astoria Cove, a complex of five buildings that could tower up to 32 stories high.

But that number dropped to 295 in an official application filed with the city in March.

Housing advocates worry that the reduced number could float under the radar when a city review begins this month to rezone a handful of prime waterfront blocks from industrial to residential.

But Astoria Cove, which will include space for a public school and retail use, was developed during the Bloomberg administration and therefore should be treated to the former mayor’s more development-friendly rules, the developer’s lawyer argued.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

DOT workers have nothing but time

Another from my inbox:

On April 7th, we posted a story on QC about deBlasio's, Liz Crowleys, and Community Board 5's inability or unwillingness to implement a one way conversion of 70 Street in Maspeth to a one way northbound that was recommended over 2 years ago !!!


One of the stories we have gotten from the NYC DOT is that this is a budgetary concern. BULLS&#%!!! We are talking about 6 or 7 corners - Not all of Maspeth, NOT all of Queens and NOT all of NYC.


We have found the money !!!!

Take a look at the pictures of some of the dozen plus DOT trucks parked illegally along Grand Ave in Maspeth (above) while the workers are enjoying breakfast at 8:30.....truly an hour and an a half after their shift starts. THIS IS EVERYDAY !!!!

Look a little further, and notice the trucks parked around Juniper Park. These pictures were taken at 2:30 to 3 PM one recent afternoon. The workers were enjoying the sunshine waiting for their shift to end. This is less than 1/2 mile from Crowley's office....duh !!! Notice the meter maintenance truck. There are no meters within a mile of this location.

We have redacted the vehicle and plate #' s as it is not and was never our intention to get the workers into trouble, but rather to draw attention to the lies and stories we are being told.

There are enough man hours wasted here, that this conversion could be done on a daily basis !!!

Packin' them in at Bayside High

Received in my inbox:

The DOE is not responding to parent demands that it not further overcrowd Bayside High School, a school that already has 1,000 more students than it was built to house.

The DOE is planning to overcrowd the already packed popular Queens high school that services students from all parts of Queens, the Bronx and Brooklyn to clear space for new schools co-locating at the downsizing Flushing and Martin Van Buren High Schools - schools that do accommodate far fewer students - according to Bayside PTA Co-President Edward Tang.

Bayside High School, rated "A" by the DOE for three years in a row, is bracing for over 1,000 new students this Fall, expected to bring its enrollment to over 3,600 - 170% of the building's capacity.

"Bayside is a victim of its own success and of the DOE's unresponsiveness to this community," said Alex Lee, a Bayside parent and member of the Citywide Council on High Schools. “The school received 14,000 applications due to the great results it produces for families and now the DOE wants to bury it to accommodate Bloomberg's leftover plans to downsize Van Buren and Flushing. The school already has students from all parts of Queens as well as the Bronx and Brooklyn!"

"If this goes through, Bayside would be second only to Forest Hills High School's in percent overcrowded while more than half of Queens’ high schools operate below 100% capacity," echoed Bayside parent Judy Rossman.

“Here’s the thing, overcrowding is not good for students or administrators. It forces a school to reduce support services, increase class sizes, and reduce safety measures. We have reached out to the Chancellor and our local elected officials demanding that no more than 750 new students be admitted. We will still be way overcrowded but not as bad as the DOE is planning," added parent Jaya Sarkar.

"No response from the DOE to the parents has been forthcoming. Our position is logical. We will not stand idly by if the Chancellor turns a blind eye to our situation and undermines the very success that we have worked so hard to achieve. Increasing Bayside’s enrollment to over 170% capacity is not logical and would not be a good decision for quality education or for our children’s futures.”

Partially collapsed Woodhaven building to be demolished

From the Daily News:

The city is set to tear down a partially collapsed Woodhaven building, more than a year after bricks from the neglected eyesore cascaded onto the sidewalk and created major problems for a pair of bedrock neighborhood institutions.

The former furniture store at 78-19 Jamaica Ave. forced out the senior center and, more recently, temporarily shut down the ambulance corps housed next door.

The city Buildings Department has been trying to force George Kochabe, the head officer of 78-19 Jamaica Ave. LLC, to make repairs. When he failed to show up in court last week, the Buildings Department decided it was time to take action.

Demolition will be handled by a contractor hired by the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, which will then bill the owner for the work.

If he fails to pay, the city will place a lien on his property, according to an agency spokesman.

The pros and cons of gentrification in Astoria

From NY1:

There has always been a mix of cultures in Astoria, but an influx of new residents is changing the face of the neighborhood once again. NY1's Ruschell Boone filed the following report.

If you've been to Astoria lately, you may have noticed that a lot has changed here. People no longer call it a Greek area. Many ethnic groups have carved out a section for themselves. It's known as diverse neighborhood, but census numbers show that whites are moving here in larger numbers than any other group.

The government says that while the overall population declined between 2000 and 2012, the percentage of white residents increased from 45 percent to 51 percent. Latinos make up 28 percent, Asians 14 percent and blacks 5 percent. The population is 75,000.

So what's the attraction? Well, many said it's got a small town vibe in a big city. It's also a quick train ride to Manhattan, and the real estate prices here are a lot cheaper than in that borough.

However, there's also a downside, according to some people. The new residents have increased the demand for newer housing, parking spaces, restaurants, stores and other amenities.

"Then, you see all the Starbucks and all the Victoria Secrets and all the big box stores," said one person. "That's the part that we don't like."

Mount Manresa trees sent to wood chipper

From DNA Info:

Workers started to cut down the nearly 400-year-old trees at the former Jesuit retreat house Mount Manresa on Tuesday morning, a day after a temporary restraining order stopping development of the site was lifted.

The Savo Brothers were slapped with a week-long temporary stop work order by Judge Moulton on April 8 to keep the site whole while protestors argued in court that the 15-acre site should be landmarked and that environmental studies are needed.

However, on Monday the judge denied the injunction to continue the stop on work until court hearings finish.

The $15 million sale of the site — which has historic buildings and 400-year-old trees — to the Savo Brothers from the Jesuits was finalized in February. Protesters have unsuccessfully campaigned to reverse the sale.

The developers plan to build 250 housing units at the site, the Staten Island Advance reported, but the Committee to Save Mount Manresa hoped the city would landmark it and turn it into a park.

Boy, doesn't this sound familiar?

Where is the LPC?

Where are the elected officials?