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.