Thursday, January 31, 2008

DOB damage control

Commissioner Delivers Scaffold Safety Progress Report

Photo op posted front and center on their website (it wasn't there yesterday) in response to this: Wind knocks construction worker off 13th-story Brooklyn scaffold

Photo from DOB.

Building up and bringing down Briarwood

"Been meaning to do this for a while. Some pics I took in my neighborhood (Briarwood) along 84th Drive near Burden Crescent. Feel free to post them, use them, create your own commentary, etc."

- CJ

CorrieCJ's Briarwood photos

These photos speak for themselves.

Fencing in Astoria

Here we have fake grass where the fence should be and where there should be grass we find some oddly-angled concrete. We're not really sure why this is the way it is. But we do know that it's around the corner from Astoria Park and looks really ghetto.

Law to make contractors show worker status

Freshman Legis. Brian Beedenbender, a close ally and protege of Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, will announce a proposal Thursday to require all 15,000 licensed contractors in the county to prove their employees' legal working status.

Proposal: Contractors must prove workers' status

The measure, if successful, would be the first of its kind in the state, officials said. Contractors would risk losing their licenses if found in violation.

The resolution, to be co-sponsored by Legis. Jack Eddington (WF-Medford), would apply to new and renewal licenses for electricians, plumbers and home contractors, according to Beedenbender (D-Selden).

Levy supports the proposal, which follows a highly controversial 2006 Levy-backed law that requires contractors doing business with the county to confirm the legal status of their employees.

"I can do nothing about who does or does not come across the border," Beedenbender said. "But I think it is my responsibility to make sure that people who do business in Suffolk County have a fair and equal shot."

The great Queens mosaic on Jamaica Avenue

These two photos are from the corner of 165th Street and Jamaica Avenue, where a gang of "Black Israelites" preach hate and heckle against white and Jewish pedestrians. As a white shopper, this gang makes my shopping experience feel uncomfortable. Queens is the home of John Bowne, the father of religious tolerance, so it's sad to see bigotry on display in such a public fashion.
Here are four reasons why the Black Israelites are a fraud:
1. There's a good chance their right to free speech is defended by a liberal white Jewish lawyer.
2. One of them is wearing an earring. Judaism strictly forbids piercings for men.
3. They're reading the King James version, which was written by a white English king.
4. They believe in Jesus.

Would we allow the Klan to hold hate rallies on our streets? Why are black supremacists given a pass to preach hate?


Answer: Because they are a tweeded group who is taught that screaming about being a victimized race is the easiest way to get their way in this city. And everyone else is afraid of them.

The first amendment says that we must allow the Klan to hold a hate rally on our streets, just as black supremacists may.

Wake for cemetery caretaker's house

If I have the story right, this house on 58th Avenue in Maspeth was built in the 1800s and once housed the Mount Olivet Cemetery caretaker. It's been abandoned for awhile, with a "for sale" sign on it, and now is probably headed for the crap pile.

It was featured recently on Craigslist with this heading:


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

DOB wind advisory

For Immediate Release
January 30, 2008



The National Weather Service forecasts high wind between 20 to 30 mph and wind gusts up to 50 mph for the New York City area from 9am this morning through 5pm this afternoon. In preparation for the windy weather, the Buildings Department is reminding all builders, contractors, developers and property owners to secure their construction sites and buildings.

Property owners must consider the safety of their buildings and construction sites, cranes, suspended and supported scaffolding, and any other building appurtenances that may come loose from exposure to high winds. Structures that have been subject to deferred maintenance or in delicate condition could be at greater risk.

To secure construction sites, builders, contractors and developers should take all precautionary measures including but not limited to the following:

Tie down and secure material and loose debris at construction sites.
Cover electrical equipment from exposure to the weather.
Store loose tools, oil cans and extra fuses in a tool box.
Secure netting and scaffolding.
Suspend crane operations and secure crane equipment.
Secure exterior construction elevators.
Brace and secure construction fences.
Call 911 if there is an emergency on a construction site.
To secure a building, property owners should take all precautionary measures including but not limited to the following:

Bring inside loose, lightweight objects such as lawn furniture, potted plants, garbage cans, garden tools and toys.
Anchor objects that would be unsafe inside, such as gas grills or propane tanks.
Close up and secure patio umbrellas.
Secure retractable awnings.
Remove aerial antennas and satellite television dishes.
New Yorkers are encouraged to call 3-1-1 to report non-compliant conditions or 9-1-1 to report emergencies at construction sites or buildings. New Yorkers who suspect a building or property has been structurally compromised should call 9-1-1.

Contact: Kate Lindquist/Caroline Sullivan, Buildings Department (212) 566-3473

Too little, too late for these guys: One worker dead, one seriously injured in Brooklyn scaffold collapse

Adios a Los Estados Unidos

Although there is no formal tally, Mexican consular sources say a growing number of illegal immigrants across the United States are starting to pack their bags and return home.

Immigrants hit hard by U.S. slowdown and subprime crisis

Illegal immigrants were able to buy U.S. homes during the boom years, either by showing evidence that they pay taxes or by simply presenting false documents.

Many of them took out high interest fixed-rate loans or subprime mortgages with a low entry rate that later rose sharply. Experts say language difficulties made them more vulnerable to being offered, and taking, bad deals.

And almost half of the mortgage loans in the hands of Hispanics are subprime, making them especially vulnerable to the housing downturn.

Open letter to Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr.


I am a life-long resident of Astoria, New York. It was a place I used to be proud to tell people I was from. Under your control, however, this neighborhood has been converted into a dirty, crowded and unhealthy place to live.

As residents of this neighborhood, we now deal with the worst of the city. First there is the huge Con Edison factory down by Astoria Park. Next there is LaGuardia airport, which riddles the air with both air and noise pollution. Then there's Riker's Island and the constant flow of traffic that results from having to transport both inmates and workers to and from the island. Lastly, we are forced to live with a water treatment plant that spews sewage into the air we breathe, creating a feces smell that can last for hours.

But on top of all this, an enormous smokestack appears one day on 37th street and 19th avenue. Did you think that we weren't going to notice a random power plant showing up in our neighborhood? Did you think we wouldn't discover that it was built outside the country and quickly assembled here so that no one could have the time to argue its arrival? Did you think that we would not realize that it only emits toxic air on cloudy days so that no one notices? This means that, all day and night, we get the privilege of listening to the rumbling of a smokestack whose purpose is unknown.

On top of all this, you are now allowing residents to build up to 6 stories high on residential blocks. The beautiful brick row houses that defined the neighborhood are being replaced by makeshift apartment buildings. And while the rest of the neighborhood hopes that the power doesn't go out for another 6 days in the middle of the summer, you're allowing absentee landlords to build more apartments and further drain the energy supply.

Your family has been leading Astoria for years and I am ashamed to have you as a leader. A few weeks ago when the smokestack emitted a deafening noise for forty minutes on a Saturday, where were you? I bet you were in a neighborhood that doesn't have the garbage that you and your family have allowed into Astoria. You just sit in your office on filthy 31st street doing nothing except dodge numerous phone calls from life-long residents.

You ought to be ashamed of yourself and what you and your family have done to a once beautiful neighborhood. Any resident with a shred of common sense is moving out and I think you can see the shift if you would open your eyes. Ask yourself what the neighborhood will be left with once these people are gone? You are slowly turning the area into a ghetto. I am spreading the word in the hopes that you will not be reelected simply because you show up to do nothing every day. Congratulations Vallone; you have done a wonderful job keeping your belly fat at the expense of the neighborhood. At least you're keeping the tradition alive.

- Grant Brandeis

The good news is that Vallone can't be re-elected to the Council. The bad news is that he's running for borough president, and apparently hopes to do for the rest of the borough all that he's done for Astoria. (Oh yeah, and his bro is running for Tony Avella's seat.)

Now here's a house!

From the latest Forgotten New York page, Navy Secrets

Pete wants to secede from New York State

Emboldened by Mayor Bloomberg's testimony in Albany this week that the city's taxpayers pay the state $11 billion a year more than they get back, a City Council member is offering legislation that would begin the process of having New York City secede from New York State.

A Secession Plan Is Floated for New York City

Peter Vallone Jr., a Democrat who represents Queens, is pushing the idea, and the Council plans to hold a hearing on the possibility of making New York City the 51st state.

"I think secession's time has definitely come again," Mr. Vallone, who spearheaded a similar push in 2003, told The New York Sun yesterday. "If not secession, somebody please tell me what other options we have if the state is going to continue to take billions from us and give us back pennies. Should we raise taxes some more? Should we cut services some more? Or should we consider seriously going out on our own?"

He's also limiting homework.

Big and Rich = oversized and cheap

How would you like to be the owner of that house sandwiched between the big steaming piles of crap?
Or, you could live on the other side. Not only is the streetscape being plundered, so are the street trees. This one has been severely butchered. Notice how the sidewalk shed goes right through the tree and an entire limb has been lopped off. Also notice how the sign says "hard hat needed" yet no one working is wearing one. Partial stop work order, here, folks. The Big and Rich (country music fans take note) Development Company is building "14 FAMILY RESIDENCES, AMBULATORY DIAGNOSTIC TREATMENT HEALTH CARE FACILITY WITH 7 PARKING SPACES" where there was once a 1-family home.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Pullout without penalty


Bruce Ratner can pull out of his $4 billion Atlantic Yards project for Brooklyn without penalty, The Post has learned.

That's because the developer never signed binding contracts for the controversial state-approved project or drew on hundreds of millions in government subsidies, officials confirmed yesterday.

The news comes a day after The Post, citing court papers filed by Ratner's firm, reported that dragging litigation and a drooping credit market jeopardize the developer's ability to secure financing to build an NBA arena for his Nets basketball team and 16 skyscrapers with residential and retail space in Prospect Heights.

The Spitzer administration said yesterday it was still committed to supporting a project that critics say was rushed through in the final days of the Pataki administration.

And despite the fiscal concerns over financing expressed in the court papers, Bruce Bender, a vice president for Ratner's firm insisted, "Atlantic Yards will be become a reality."

Councilwoman Letitia James, a vocal opponent of the Ratner plan, said the news of the developer's financial problems should convince all parties to return to the drawing board and try to find a way to develop the 22-acre site without taking private property through eminent domain.

Joe vs. Serf (and Albert): The battle begins

The line in the sand for state Senate supremacy this year runs right through Queens County.

Race to seal fate of State Senate?

With Senate Republicans clinging to a razor-thin two-seat majority, pundits said the Maltese-Addabbo race could be the linchpin that determines who calls the shots in the upper house.

Addabbo slammed Maltese for flooding the district since shortly after the 2006 campaign with office newsletters that he says are really thinly veiled campaign ads.

Maltese blasted Addabbo for taking three donations, totaling nearly $30,000, from billionaire George Soros and his family.

...Addabbo faces a primary against Baldeo, who boasts $400,000 in campaign funds.)

Meanwhile the slim Republican majority is further threatened upstate: Republican Senator to Retire

Photo from Daily News

Talented go-getters at borough hall?

When Helen Marshall steps down as Queens borough president on Dec.31, 2009, political sources believe she will leave behind an office full of talented go-getters - with nowhere to go.

Helen Marshall's staff faces uncertainty

"She has a very bright, talented office - there's no question about it," said Michael Reich, executive secretary of the Queens County Democratic Party. "That's why Helen Marshall has been so successful as borough president."

Tito Luna, 37, Marshall's youth services director, said he's planning on moving on when the borough president leaves. "By the time she's out, I'm looking to leave New York City altogether," he said.

Hub snub

The complex that could have been like a downtown Grand Central Terminal just got a lot less grand.

MTA shatters Fulton Street dome plan

The glass dome building set to gloriously top the Fulton Street Transit Center might be replaced with merely a street-level plaza because of booming construction costs, the MTA said Monday.

Running more than $400 million over budget, the long-awaited transit hub -- that a full side of a city block was cleared to make way for -- will now open in 2010 instead of 2009, without the dome that could have become a city icon. The MTA had already scaled back the size of the hub after delays and cost overruns.


Is it me or does that thing look like a glass egg surrounded by a scaffold?

Photo from NY Post

Blackwell's Island 1903

Footage shot from a moving boat by Thomas Edison. Notice the bases of the towers of the QB bridge being built.

Cool post office

I stole this photo from Splitting Hairs in Forest Hills. Just wanted to say I never realized how cool this building was before I saw it on their blog.

What's left of the real College Point

Monday, January 28, 2008

Bloomberg has hired the Parkside Group

For months, we have been criticizing Mayor Bloomberg for not stepping in to save St. Saviour's. Well, now we know why he hasn't. He sent his former CAU Commissioner, Patrick Brennan, to the Parkside Group (which represents the St. Saviour's developers) so that he may work on his presidential campaign. It all came out yesterday in NY Magazine:

[Patrick] Brennan now works at the Parkside Group, a political consulting firm on Nassau Street. For most of the past year, he’s traveled the country researching ballot requirements in each state. In mid-December, Brennan met for three hours in an Austin hotel with a partner in a major ballot-access firm, a company with broad experience in gathering thousands of petition signatures in a hurry.

...Lawyers and accountants have been lined up to fight the inevitable legal challenges to the 1.9 million valid signatures needed nationwide; the signature drive is expected to cost between $11 million and $20 million. Brennan met a second time with a representative from the petition firm in mid-January, this time in his New York office. “We’re ready,” the ballot-access operative says. “All we need is to hear a two-letter word: Go.”

...Patrick Brennan is on his way to Florida, pouring more of the foundation for a presidential run. Assembling a campaign structure, even stealthily, is relatively easy compared with what may lie ahead. The cost to Bloomberg could be far higher than a billion dollars if he ends up playing the spoiler or, worse, appears to be running for president out of sheer vanity.

So it's no wonder that Mr. Bloomberg is allowing St. Saviour's to be sacrificed. He's in with Parkside. The church will be knocked down and then the application for the denser zoning change will be resubmitted, and Bloomberg will order city planning to push it through. Bloomberg also apparently has one of OUR deputy mayors working on HIS campaign on OUR time. How incredibly selfish, disgusting, scandalous and sad this entire thing is.

Photo from City Hall News

This is how pols-turned-lobbyists do it

Paul A. Tokasz, a former Assembly majority leader, has put his campaign war chest to work since leaving the Legislature to become a lobbyist.

Former Assemblyman Spreads the Largess as a Lobbyist

Mr. Tokasz, a Democrat from Buffalo who left the Assembly’s No. 2 post in 2006, has donated more than $57,000 from his campaign account, Friends of Paul Tokasz, to government officials — most of whom his firm has been lobbying.

While the practice is not illegal or unique, it has raised questions about weaknesses in state and federal campaign finance laws. Last year, The New York Times reported on a similar strategy employed by Robert G. Torricelli, a former United States senator from New Jersey who became a lobbyist.

Referring to campaign finance laws, Barbara Bartoletti, the legislative director of the League of Women Voters of New York State, said, “There are so few things in New York State that are illegal, and that’s exactly the problem.”

“Can’t you just see the interoffice memo? ‘Welcome Paul Tokasz,’ ” she said, adding, “ ‘By the way, he has “X” number of dollars to contribute.’ ”

Very simply:
1) Raise money, but don't run
2) Become lobbyist
3) Use money to bribe people who do run

Sounds like a great place for luxury condos

Queens: Prison-Release Party Leads to Killing

The police said they found a man dead of a gunshot wound to the forehead shortly before 5 a.m. on Sunday in Hunters Point. The man was identified as Joseph Prince, 30, of 35th Avenue in Ravenswood, the police said. At a news conference on Sunday, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said people had been throwing bottles at each other before the shooting. “The party was a celebration of someone getting out of prison,” he said. Mr. Prince was found in front of 44-3 23rd Street, the police said. There were no arrests on Sunday, the police said.

Losing an important part of our history

Throughout the city, houses of worship built in the last century for Jewish and Christian immigrants from Europe are now home to congregations with roots in Latin America, the Caribbean or the American South. Some are grand palaces that occupy a regal spot in a neighborhood, while others are modest halls nearly indistinguishable from bland storefronts. They sustain communities by helping slake spiritual and material thirsts.

Once Synagogues, Now Churches, and Ailing Quietly

Many of these buildings are under threat, crumbling from years of neglect and deferred maintenance in the case of impoverished congregations, or becoming targets for acquisition by developers in neighborhoods where choice real estate is scarce.

Preservationists have begun to sound alarms, warning that rich urban traditions of art, religion and community service are imperiled.

“You see in these buildings history and continuity, and the influence of new populations and new religions,” said Peg Breen, president of the New York Landmarks Conservancy. “The face of the city will change and an important part of our history will be lost if these buildings disappear.”

“If nothing is done, these churches could fall like dominoes,” [Julia Vitullo-Martin] said. “There is something sad about the destruction of something of great beauty. It is the ultimate in using up your capital when you destroy a church or synagogue.”

Photo from the NY Times

Stop the Q45!

Dear Crappy,

As "Stop The Q45" committee and residents of Glendale, we are staunchly opposed to the rerouting of the Q45 bus from it's current terminal location at Eliot Ave. to the quiet residential streets of Glendale.

As we have attended numerous meetings with the local community board 5 and property owners over the past two months, we have observed that nothing has been done in terms of stopping the proposals dead in their tracks. Most recently, Norman Silverstein, a current MTA Bus board member, attended the transportation meeting for community board 5. He had showed the members of the board and the residents of Glendale, 6 new proposals for the bus rerouting. Attached to this e-mail are the proposals Mr. Silverstein showed at the meeting as well as the original proposals (and will be happy to forward them to anyone who writes and requests them). We have greatly opposed the 6 original proposals from the MTA back in October and every time we suggest that they turn the bus around in the Shops at Atlas Park, we are quickly cut off and ignored. Why? It is after all owned by the current MTA Chairman and has enough space to make the turn around. The fact that they want to reroute down private residential streets is going to cause numerous quality of life issues for the residents of Glendale.

Finally, we are tired of the MTA thinking that we will not "make noise" and go down without a fight. We are trying to get the word out to every blog, newspaper and television program in our area. We would appreciate you placing this information on the blog as it will help us win the fight!

To let your voice be heard, please contact us at You can remain anonymous.

The "Stop the Q45" committee

Pedicabbers win in court

Court Strikes Down Pedicab Licensing Plan


Take that, Christine Quinn!

Restoring the NYS Pavilion Texaco Map

Click on the photo to go to The Really Big Map, which now has its restoration process on exhibit at the Queens Museum.

Tall fences make bad neighbors

Dear Editor (Queens Chronicle):

Ugly obstructive fencing has become a real issue in the lower residential zones of R-1 and R-2, especially when the fence is on a corner property. Currently, homeowners in these zones can erect fences as high as 6 feet, and can surround their property with this type of fortress fencing. The city is considering new zoning text to limit fencing height to 4 feet.

Now is the perfect time for the city to include what some communities have termed a “clear-sight” corner. I can point to several corner properties with 6-foot-high solid fences. Some fences are wood or plastic; some are concrete columns, or even solid cement walls. These tall corner fences block the view of approaching vehicles at the intersection. I live on a street with two 6-foot fences on corner lots. Those corners are very dangerous, and have been the site of numerous accidents and near misses. One solid white fence is also a favorite graffiti site for local kids. Not only is it dangerous, it’s ugly because the owner doesn’t clean off the graffiti. That’s another issue.

A clear-sight corner means that corner properties would be prohibited from erecting a fence, planting a tree or bush, or erecting an obstruction that does not provide for a clear view around the corner. A community that comes to mind limits the restricted footage to 20-feet from the vortex of the two intersecting streets. This makes sense.

Tall corner fences are not just an esthetic issue, but are a real safety issue. Other front fences or hedgerows in R-1 and R-2 zones should be limited to somewhere between 3 and 3 1/2 feet. Tall side fences should not be allowed to jut out beyond the front of the house. Some homeowners have erected obstructive fences all the way down to the sidewalk, and block the view down the street. A few of these fences are grudge fences, erected just to offend a neighbor they don’t like. Sometime these fences also conceal front yards full of junk or debris, illegally stored vehicles, or hide illegal construction or illegal housing.

Some homeowners say they feel safer with a high fence. This is really a false sense of security because your best defense against a burglar, as the police will tell you, is for somebody to see them. Once over the fence, a thief is hidden from view, and can take more time to break into the home.

I encourage City Planning to incorporate the idea of clear sight corners in their new zoning text.

Tyler Cassell

No Day Care Center

Dear Editor (Queens Chronicle):

The northwest corner of Francis Lewis Boulevard and 42nd Avenue in Auburndale is the proposed site for a day care center that could service over 250 children ages two to six years. The applicant claims that 175 children will actually use this community facility. The building will be two stories high and two stories below ground with a roof top play area.

The Auburndale Improvement Association, Inc., which is a civic group that represents this area, opposes the construction of this facility in its current presentation. The applicant has applied to the Board of Standards and Appeals to build in the bed of a mapped street since part of his property lies within the boundaries of Francis Lewis Boulevard on city maps. We feel that it is a bad idea to allow any construction in a bed of a mapped street because it shows a lack of foresight for the future needs of all residents in the community. Francis Lewis Boulevard may need to be widened some time in the future since the road narrows at this location. It should be noted that Community Board 11 has rejected the application unanimously.

There are other issues regarding the facility that causes us to oppose this project as well. There is the issue of where and how children will be dropped off and picked up at this proposed day care center. Most of the children will have to be brought in from other areas by car or private bus. This location is very busy with P.S. 130 across the street. Parking is very difficult. Small children being dropped off have to be unbuckled from a car seat and escorted by an adult to the building. The process would be reversed when it is time to go home. We are talking about scores of children and lots of traffic. The Department of Transportation needs to examine this potentially dangerous situation very carefully.

Other issues of great concern that need to be examined by the appropriate city agency including the Department of Buildings, Department of Environmental Protection or the Fire Department include:

Only two on-site parking spaces are planned for the sizable staff. This is totally inadequate.

In the applicant’s plans, there is a classroom in a below-ground windowless sub-cellar holding up to 38 two to six-year-olds next to a kitchen. We believe this is a safety issue.

In the applicant’s plans, there are only two egresses on one side of this proposed facility for a minimum of 175 children and who knows how many staff members. Another safety concern.

In the applicant’s plans, there is a sprinkler system on the cellar and sub-cellar floors but not on the first and second floors. Safety problem?

In the applicant’s plans, a rooftop playground is planned. Safety issue for this age group?

Can the infrastructure in the neighborhood tolerate the additional stress that this facility will place on the sewer system? The area is already experiencing flooding issues.

It would seem to us that if a facility is to be constructed at this site, it must be on a scale the community can handle. There must be adequate drop off space on the property, adequate on-site parking facilities, and adequate and safe space for children to play. This facility is much too large for the site.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg in his speech on the state of the city called for a revision of the City Charter in order to update and address local concerns. If a charter revision commission is established, the issues of community facilities and appeals to BSA decisions must be addressed to reflect the concerns of the public. Legislation has already been proposed to address theses problems but little progress has been made to actually enact these changes. The City Council needs to listen and to act.

Henry Euler
Zoning and Housing Chairman
Auburndale Improvement Association

See also: Abandoned in Auburndale

Falling Star

It's great that the people of LIC marked their noteworthy structures with plaques so that the demolition guys can learn the history of the neighborhood as they tear it down.
The Star Building, which was home to the LIC Daily Star newspaper and is steps from Queens Plaza, is a-comin' down.
And guess what's replacing it? Yes, that's right. Luxury condos like the ones in this cheesy drawing. Is this Queens or the Vegas Strip?

The site has already been shut down once. The developer has submitted a plan for 180 units to further overburden our infrastructure, but so far DOB hasn't approved the plan.

First 2 photos from Forgotten-NY.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Hope you enjoyed your stay in Queens

Two teenage girls from the British countryside were searched, photographed and dumped in a group home when their mom got sick during a Christmas week shopping trip in New York City.

British mom gets sick during N.Y. trip, her kids end up in group home

Child welfare officials grabbed Gemma Bray, 15, and her sister, Katie, 13, and held them for more than 24 hours at a Manhattan shelter for children and teens, while their ailing mother scrambled frantically to find them.

Adding insult to injury, Yvonne Bray, 38, has received a letter from the Administration for Children's Services saying she is under investigation for possible child neglect.

The family's New York misadventure began when the mother became sick with pneumonia on the second night of their stay at the LaGuardia Marriott.

Her daughters rode with her in the ambulance to Elmhurst Medical Center, which was a world away from the quiet clinics they are used to in England.

She admits allowing an ACS worker to take the two girls, but she believed they would be staying with a nice family for the night.

Instead, the girls were taken to the facility on First Ave. in Manhattan, where they were given uniforms and had to pose for mug shots.

Focus on the AIA zoning text amendments

If you'd like to educate yourselves about the proposed AIA zoning text amendments, read this brief column about the subject. Understand that they plan to undo everything that most of Queens has fought for over the past few years.

The Civic Scene: Bid to change zoning bypasses boro groups

Then take a look at the graphic above and see how contradictory the AIA is.

More from the Queens Chronicle: Architects Won’t Budge On Controversial Plans

A message from the MTA

The MTA will install these electronic message boards at Queens bus shelters to keep passengers abreast of transit conditions:

a) in the next few months
b) within 5 years
c) right after they post the MTA Bus schedules (a.k.a "never")

If you answered "c" you'd be correct.

Best Buy not the best choice

After a series of hearings and continuances, the property owner of Douglaston Plaza Shopping Center has withdrawn an application to the city Board of Standards & Appeals that would have seen the Waldbaum's grocery store replaced by a Best Buy electronics store.

Douglaston Best Buy site plans withdrawn

Jeffrey Chester, an attorney represented AAC Douglaston Plaza LLC, confirmed that his client was no longer pursuing the application to change the property's designation to allow an electronics store to operate without limitations to floor space.

Explaining the rationale for the Jan. 17 withdrawal, which came just nine days after the last BSA hearing, Chester said "it appeared to me as though we weren't going to get the decision we were looking for."

The property owner's desire to replace Waldbaum's had raised a hue and cry among area residents, who, backed by local politicians, asserted that a grocery store would far better serve the surrounding largely elderly community than an electronics outlet.

Bless this Father, for he hath sinned

It is amazing the twists and turns that the St John's University, Henley Road dormitory has taken. I am certain the damage control firm St. John's University hired to protect their tarnished reputation has urged the developer to assume the blame for all that ails said project and cast aspersions on the community for not embracing it.

But let's not forget the real culprit, Father Donald J. Harrington, and remind readers that the point is not whether the building is legal or not. It's the ethics of using the "community facilities loophole" in the zoning code, to build a private dormitory, for a private university in the heart of a residential community, and doing so after providing assurances to the community that no off campus dorms would be built. Father Harrington went so far as to create a dialog group to appease the neighbors, all while secretly planning this massive dormitory.

The important message to take away from this unfortunate situation is that this can happen to any community at any time. The character of a neighborhood can be altered and the quality of life of its residents diminished by corporations and special interest groups especially when said communities are saddled with politicians like Jim Gennaro who claim to have the resident's best interest at heart all while accepting hefty donations from the developers, this time the Kamali Organization. Mark our words; Jamaica Estates residents will be fighting similar wars in the not too distant future when St. John's or a developer on behalf of St. John's decides to raze additional homes, perhaps this time in Surrey Place or Midland Parkway, to build another monstrous dormitory.

Don't allow Senator Padavan to become a scapegoat for the St. John's dorm fiasco. He is working on behalf of his constituents, protecting the little guy, the coop or homeowner who has invested their life savings in their home, the average tax payer whose quality of life and property values are being threatened while the laws of this great city fail to protect them. It is naive to think that 485 students can reside where perhaps 30 or 40 lived before and not affect the infrastructure of this mature community.

Maria & Louis
Jamaica Estates

Photo from St John's

Under the Triborough Bridge

The folks at the Parks Department know where people want to sit - and play basketball.
What ambiance!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Giants fan dyes dog blue

WNYW in New York is holding a "How True Blue Are You?" contest, soliciting fan submissions of photographs that show how loyal fans are to the Giants. Joe Gannascoli, the man who played Vito Spatafore on The Sopranos submitted a picture of he and his wife holding their dog, which they had, in support of the Giants, dyed blue.

Dog gets dyed blue by insane Giants fan; grants me an interview

Brian says bye-bye

From: Brian
Sent: Jan 24, 2008 10:23 AM
To: undisclosed-recipients
Subject: My Next Chapter

I will be leaving my Managing Editor post at the Queens Tribune effective Jan. 31 to become the Associate Publisher of the Long-Islander Newspaper Group, an affiliate the Tribune purchased two years ago, started by Walt Whitman in 1838. My role will be to expand the business of the four newspapers, to prepare the group for growth, to oversee the editorial content and to increase the market and circulation of our papers.

Brad Groznik, our Assistant Editor, will take over as Managing Editor effective Feb. 1. Any Queens-specific information, stories, pitches and suggestions can be made to him. He will receive all e-mails sent to

I have thoroughly enjoyed working in Queens for the last seven years, and I look forward to continuing to work with you in the future. Until I get settled in the new office, in beautiful Huntington, NY, along the Long Island's North Shore, which will not be until Feb. 5, please direct any e-mail and correspondence to my personal Gmail account. After Feb. 5 you should be able to reach me at

Thanks so much for working with me over the past few years, and I look forward to continue working with you on many upcoming projects.


Brian M. Rafferty
Managing Editor
Queens Tribune
PRESS Of Southeast Queens
174-15 Horace Harding Expressway
Fresh Meadows, NY 11365
(718) 357-7400, Ext. 121
(718) 357-9417 fax

Queens fairytale by way of Atlantic City

There are times when being whipped pays off, literally!

A Queens limo-fleet manager won an $800,000 slot jackpot in Atlantic City yesterday during an impromptu trip sparked by an argument with his girlfriend over jeans.


Sammy Zabib, 42, had been hearing it all week from his gal pal after he failed to pick up a pair of jeans she spotted last weekend in a boutique inside the Borgata Hotel & Casino.

Tired of the badgering, Zabib jumped into his car at 5 a.m. and returned to the Borgata, only to see the store hadn't opened.

That's when he sat down at the Brazil Slingo slot machine and changed his life in a single pull.

More from the Daily News:

Search for jeans brought jackpot

Photo from the NY Post

Why Rudy's losing

Mr. Giuliani is tanking badly, perhaps because Dennis Gallagher has endorsed him. Actually, when Gallagher's lawyer compared him to Giuliani (Talk about hero to zero!), the slide began shortly thereafter.

His colleagues think the DA should stop picking on Pinky:

Two Republican council members, James S. Oddo, the minority leader, and Vincent Ignizio, issued a joint statement: “Dennis Gallagher has already begun to make the necessary changes in his life, and the judge’s decision this morning affords him the chance to reclaim his life.” They added that while Mr. Gallagher admitted to “morally challenged behavior, from Day 1 he has steadfastly maintained his innocence.”

Let's get this straight. The DA should drop their cases against people charged with crimes who steadfastly maintain their innocence. Let's take it a step further and say the police should not arrest anyone who says they didn't do it. Because we know that guilty people always own up to what they've done. This is the kind of reasoning that gets you disinvited from Rudy's parties.

The rising Queens water table

The summer floods can be traced to unusually high levels of rainfall – 2007 was the third wettest year on record for New York City. But some flooding in Queens is consistent and slow-moving. This is the flooding that some believe results from a rising water table.

A Flood With No Rain: Though Opinions Differ On The Cause, Rising Water Becoming An Issue In Boro

When Lt. Steven Huron of Engine 299 on Utopia Parkway found the firehouse basement flooded, he sought help from the City.

“Everybody said not me, not me, not me,” Huron said. “Nobody wanted to fix it.”

The supplies in the basement became moldy and dirty and a fire fighter hurt himself. Now they no longer use it as storage space.

Around the corner, JHS 216’s boiler room is also flooded. According to an unidentified source involved in school maintenance, Plant Operations has carried out the first phase of a “water penetration project” and is about to enter phase two.

Anyone who spends time at Ryan Junior High School knows about the flooded boiler room. And varying theories abound.

“We’re flooded all the time,” custodian Hugo Salazar said, sweeping leaves from the curb. “We’re over a lagoon.”

Astoria becoming a shantytown

From the Times Ledger:

If you looked at the median income of Astorians, you'd wonder how people of such modest means can afford the high cost of living here.

The answer to this riddle, I believe, is twofold. First, it should be obvious that not everybody who has money is making it honestly and reporting it. The other part is the trend toward "dormification," where large numbers of unrelated people are splitting the prohibitively high rents two, four, and even six different ways.

The end result is that what was once a charming community of small businesses and stable families is becoming a high-priced shantytown.

If the local politicians weren't profiting from all this, they would do something about it.

John Borrillo

Where To Go?

Dear Editor (of the Queens Chronicle):

This is in response to Helen Marshall’s comments in her talk last week at Queens College. What our borough president did not mention was how the city would address the already overcrowded schools issue. With all of these “new communities” springing up where will these families send their children to school? I know I’m busing mine out of the neighborhood for high school come September.

There is only one area in Queens (District 26) noted for their excellent schools and from what I understand these schools are overcrowded as well. With all the chancellor’s focus on education (my youngest attends a Saturday Academy which is not mandatory but has offered to help him prepare for the ELA, Math and Science standardized tests), do these people have blinders on? Where is the “quality of life” in this borough?

I used to live on a quiet, tree-lined street. In the past 2 months, three 6-family homes have replaced three 1-family homes on my block. A middle-class (if there still is such a thing), hard-working family cannot even afford to live in an environment that is not an overcrowded, noisy jungle. If there are not enough police stations, hospitals, fire departments or schools, how can there be a “quality of life?” You are just creating another future ghetto. Oh, yeah, with a $10,000,000 swimming pool.

Cristina Tiliakos
Ozone Park

I like this woman.

Chappetto Square

Chappetto Square? Never been here before. This looks interesting.
It's landscaped beautifully.
Amenities look sparse, however. Let me try to get in around the other side.
Darn. I really was interested in reading what was on the monument at the base of that flagpole. I thought maybe I'd be able to read the inscription on the Parks Department website, but they only dedicate one line to what's here and the rest to Robert Moses. Of course, this place is probably locked because hockey is not a winter sport.