Monday, March 31, 2008

Criminal invokes sanctuary city policy

An unlicensed cab driver will seek to show a federal jury this week that the police department is failing to abide by Mayor Bloomberg's pledge that the city won't alert immigration authorities to illegal aliens who otherwise obey the law.

Alien Sues, Saying NYPD Called in Feds

The case of the cab driver, Waheed Saleh of Jenin in the West Bank, indicates that a New York City police lieutenant casually tipped off a federal immigration officer about Mr. Saleh's immigration status, court documents in the case show.

Mr. Saleh's civil trial against the lieutenant and another police officer is expected to begin tomorrow. It may be the first time that the city has been called to account in connection with Mr. Bloomberg's Executive Order 41. Issued in 2003, that order was intended to encourage illegal immigrants to seek out help from the police department and other agencies and allay fears that the city would turn their names over to federal immigration officials.

Court records show that police officers considered Mr. Saleh to be a troublemaker who could turn violent when confronted by the minor annoyances of big-city life, such as a dispute over a parking spot or the high price of cigarettes. In one instance, officers responded to a 911 call from a bodega employee who claimed Mr. Saleh threw a pack of cigarettes at him after a dispute over its price, according to court documents. In another instance, police officers broke up a fistfight between Mr. Saleh and another man over a parking spot, according to depositions. Police believed that Mr. Saleh, earlier in the fight, had tried to use his vehicle to ram a person standing in the street, the documents say.

The city's policy for not sharing information with the federal government about illegal immigrants contains an exception for immigrants suspected of crimes. Given Mr. Saleh's trouble with the law, he appears to fall under that exception. Police policy in effect at the time, but no longer, required communications between the NYPD and federal immigration officials to begin with a written report that went through the NYPD's Intelligence Division.

Boom goes bust

More than $20 billion worth of high-profile developments across the city - many designed by world-renowned architects and touted by top officials - are dead or at risk of never getting off the drawing board.

More than $20B in developments dead or at risk of never seeing light of day

The crumbling economy has forced developers to scale back their grand visions and has endangered projects that range from architectural marvels like Frank Gehry's Atlantic Yards towers in Brooklyn to crucial pieces of thecity's infrastructure, like Manhattan's Moynihan rail hub in midtown.

"It really was an amazing run for cities and particularly for New York," said Elliott Sclar, an urban planning professor at Columbia University. "But it appears that it may be over now.

"The obvious fear now is that these projects won't materialize and the revenues the city expected to get from them won't materialize, either."

"All of these projects have been driven by a form of planning called fiscal planning, where the city is not concerned with the physical structure of spaces but only maximizing real estate values or tax revenues," Sclar said. "That's not the right way to promote healthy development."

Same losers, different offices

Pink slips are on the horizon for more than 40 of the city's elected officials, and many are scrambling to keep them at a distance.

Musical Chairs: Shuffling Seats in City Government

To do so, some officials are playing a session of musical chairs, hoping to land seats -- possibly with larger constituencies -- when the music stops in November 2009. Others are shuffling their political decks a little sooner, fishing for possible employment in Albany, where the entire Senate and Assembly will be up for reelection this November.

While the public clearly passed term limits twice, some question whether the eight-year restrictions breed good policy and if it has bolstered the democratic process and public participation. Others wonder whether term limits perpetuate a system of backroom politics where a stagnant staff controls the reins in City Hall and politicians shuffle between the city and Albany or vice versa.

City's gone to pot(holes)

The Department of Buildings has six staffers making life-or-death decisions on about 220 cranes operating in the Big Apple, while an obscure mayoral unit employs nearly triple the number of inspectors, earning a lot more money, to police potholes.

As the Street Conditions Observation Unit's army of 15 inspectors goes about its important business of reporting rough streets and graffiti, the understaffed DOB Cranes and Derricks Unit continues to struggle in the wake of a March 15 crane collapse that killed seven people.


Paterson cutting MTA budget

Gov. Paterson is taking an ax to the MTA's operating budget, leaving straphangers vulnerable to fare hikes or service cuts in the near future, officials claimed yesterday.

The new governor has proposed cutting $60 million from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's $10 billion budget - leaving a hole in the agency's financial plan big enough to drive a train through, according to lawmakers.


City shafting Willets Point businesses

A set of land owners at Willets Point said the city has been disingenuous in negotiations for the purchase of their land and argued that the city Economic Development Corporation is only keeping contact to rebuild support among local City Council members.

Willets Pt. biz calls city offer a sham

The owners of Bono Sawdust Supply and Crown Container said the city, which is hoping to get approval from the City Council in the near future for a more than $3 billion redevelopment of Willets Point, has done little more than pay lip service to the 250 existing businesses and landowners that currently reside in the area.

"They want to get everyone here to sign a piece of paper that says we negotiated with the city," said Jack Bono, whose family has owned Bono Sawdust Supply for more than 70 years. "Then they can take that paper to the City Council and say, 'Look, we talked to them, they were unreasonable, we have to use eminent domain.'"

Avella announces mayoral candidacy

Longshot mayoral candidate Tony Avella, a maverick City Council Member from Northeast Queens, officially launched his candidacy yesterday afternoon at a City Hall press conference. Seeking to distinguish himself from the highly-scripted typical politicians, Avella declared that he hadn't written a speech but instead would speak about three main issues.

Indeed, two of Avella's issues barely registered with the crowd of supporters behind him: lowered taxes and a revamped education system. Rather, they applauded heartily when he condemned overdevelopment, asserting that the real estate industry has too much power and "the city has done very little to preserve quality of life."

"Overdevelopment," he said, "is destroying the character of every community. That absolutely must stop."

Sunday in NYC: Avella denounces overdevelopment

Want affordable housing? Win a lottery

Brothers John and Michael Ceriello Jr. wanted to buy houses in Brooklyn, but prices were out of their reach. Their solution: a two-family home.

Both make good money, but found they were priced out of the city's real estate market.

Pratt Area Community Council, a Brooklyn nonprofit, was gut-renovating nine houses for middle-income purchasers.

Michael was taken with a two-family Clinton Hill rowhouse built in the 1880s. The price was right: $455,000 after more than $200,000 in government subsidies. He liked its location on a sunny block near Gates Ave. and its brownstone exterior. "It looked robust," he said.

Out of 705 lottery applications, his was drawn second. The house he most wanted was available. And he was a good match for its income requirement — the purchaser would be allowed to earn no more than $88,698 a year.

The Borden Avenue blues

I have often wondered three things about this part of Queens.
1) Why City Scrap Metal is allowed to block a lane of traffic on Borden Avenue during rush hour every evening
2) Why a guy is allowed to sell hot dogs on Borden Avenue by Calvary Cemetery (the hubcap guy seems to have disappeared) where it turns into the LIE, causing traffic backups
3) Why this disgusting eyesore at 34-20 Borden Avenue is not addressed by the city's scooter patrol. Dumping and failure to maintain are still infractions subject to summonses, are they not?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Up in arms over Ozone Park motel

Several dozen Ozone Park residents were met with defeat two weeks ago at a Community Board 10 meeting where they were told there is no way to prevent a Comfort Inn motel from moving into the neighborhood.

It’s as of right, board members told them. The three lots on which the motel will be built, at 137-30 Redding St., are zoned C8-1 for commercial use.

Although residents who live further down the block, which is zoned R4 for residential dwellings, accepted the auto body shop that previously occupied the lot, they are against a C8-1 designation that allows the construction of a two-story motel.

Redding Street Protests Comfort Inn Construction

Fighting prostitution in Corona

Within one weekend, Yonel Letellier Sosa collected more than 100 business cards from men, hawking their “goods” near Roosevelt Avenue and 104th Street in Corona.

Some promotions boasted “free delivery,” while others offered flowers and food as a bonus to their seedy services, what vendors described as “chicas, chicas, chicas,” or girls, girls, girls.

However, all of the cards were similar in that they featured scantily clad or nude women, enticing viewers to call and request a prostitute.

Leaders target prostitution promotion in Corona

Cell tower surprises Bayside

“Danger -ous, attractive nuisance, it’s a legal term and if you want to know how it came about, just look at that,” said Community Board 11 member Jerry Iannece.

He pointed to a T-Mobile cell phone tower that suddenly appeared in the parking lot behind the minimart on 35th Avenue, between the Clearview Expressway and 205th Street, in Bayside last week.

Janet McEneaney, president of the Northwest Clearview Civic Association, is furious. The tower has a Department of Buildings’ permit, but is freestanding. “What’s going on? The community board heard nothing, and they’re very upset, too,” she said.

Iannece and McEneaney are surprised that permission was given for this tower without any community review or input. “It’s freestanding. As I understood it, that requires scrutiny from the community,” Iannece said

The land is owned by Donald Anzlome, of Glen Head, L. I., but when contacted, he had no comment, either on how the structure came to be, or whether he was receiving rent for it. “I can’t take this call at this time,” he said.

McEneaney has been contacted by residents and civic leaders from hers and nearby civic associations. “These are going up all over. We will be T-mobile Land,” she said, adding her concern about the long- term impact of these towers. “Our children are being used as guinea pigs.”

Cell Tower’s Location Questioned In Bayside

Polk Theatre gone

A vintage movie theater dating back to the Great Depression has been torn down in Jackson Heights and the plans for a new mixed-used building to fill the vacant lot are in limbo.

The Polk Theatre, located at the corner of 93rd Street and 37th Avenue, had become an adult theater before closing in 2006.

The building was demolished sometime in February. Property owner Henry Zheng now hopes to construct a six-story, mixed-use building on the site, but his plans have been challenged by the city.

According to a Village Voice article published shortly before the Polk closed, the theater was run down, but many of its art deco features were intact.

Jax Heights' Polk Theatre razed

Photo from Forgotten NY

Cineplex Odeon site to finally get cleanup

When it comes to environmental cleanup, sometimes the wheels of change grind slowly.

Take the case of such a location at 183-15 Horace Harding Expressway in Fresh Meadows, a 1.6-acre site which formerly housed a strip mall and was demolished three years ago under the state’s voluntary Brownfield Cleanup Program.

The purpose of the program is to encourage land owners to clean up toxic materials. The state offers owners incentives such as liability relief and tax credits.

Three years later, the location remains untouched. The temporary plywood fence is full of graffiti and posters and parts of it have fallen down. But after years of false starts and promises, preliminary action is expected to begin later this spring.

Cleanup On Slow Track At Cineplex Odeon Site

Some think new pool is uncool

Rumors about the pool are rife with patrons often getting upset on the basis of secondhand information. Bertuccio explained that the scheduled programming had just started and classes run by the company managing the pool, USA Pools, aren’t free to members. She said that a lot of the confusion is due to the newness of the schedule.

Information coming from the management is not always reliable. Bertuccio was first told that members would be charged $10 for lap swimming until 11 a.m., and after 7 p.m. However she was later able to confirm that lap swimming is free to members at all times during operating hours.

When asked about the schedule, pool management directed the Queens Chronicle to its Web site When told that the page was not available, they said to go to the Parks Department Web site, which is hard to navigate and didn’t appear to have the schedule listed.

USA Pools charges $80 for six lessons to be used over two weeks on activities like water aerobics and swimming lessons. The Parks Department, which owns the complex, also runs classes, but theirs are free.

Flushing resident John Tandana, cancelled his membership the day he joined. He decided he’d rather spend more and go to a private gym. His complaints included, lack of a dry place for his towel and glasses, the water being too cold, tiny lockers and the shower water being too hot.

Flushing Meadows Pool Disappoints Some Users

Miss Heather in Bushwick

Miss Heather has a wonderful collection of Bushwick crap for us entitled Bushwick Barf-O-Rama!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

A museum-worthy crap

The Queens Chronicle alerts us that the Italian American Museum Found a New Home at Mulberry and Grand Streets in Little Italy. Unsatisfied with the current quaint design, they plan to top it off with a King Kong-sized dung pile that spans the three buildings:
Notice how the crap oozes over the sides, replacing a column of windows. Just one example of how Italians are leaving their architectural mark on NYC.

Where to go to be in it to win it

All you need is a dollar and a dream - and to buy your lottery ticket in Queens.

Five stores in Queens were among the Top 10 to dole out the largest amounts of cash to bettors who bought lottery tickets and scratch-off cards in the city over the past three years, officials said.

Taking the top spot as the luckiest location in the city to buy tickets is The Magazine Store on 31st Street in Astoria.


This cook from Flushing recently won a million, but bought his ticket in Garden City.

Doorman does good: moves to remove turf

Legislation Would Erect Fence To Artificial Turf
Special to the Sun
March 26, 2008

City parks would not be allowed to install artificial turf for at least six months under legislation being introduced today by three City Council members.

The bill, sponsored by council members Eric Gioia of Queens, Letitia James of Brooklyn, and Maria Baez of the Bronx, would also ban the use of rubber pellets derived from old tires, known as "infill," in turf, and require that the city remove all existing rubber infill from any artificial turf used for recreational purposes within a year of its passage.

Environmental groups say the rubber infill may be a health hazard, containing chemicals that could possibly cause cancer and exacerbate respiratory illnesses such as asthma.

"This isn't an area where we can afford to take risks," Mr. Gioia said yesterday via e-mail. "The recycled tires used for the crumb rubber infill contain everything from heavy metals to carcinogens. We shouldn't be waiting around until someone's child gets sick before we act, especially when there are alternatives."

The city's Department of Parks and Recreation has installed 78 artificial turf fields in the last decade.

See also:
Council members push for removal of pulverized tires from city parks

Block Con Ed Land Sale


Word of our plight must get to the readers of your publication!

We, the people of Northwest Queens, have a story to tell and we want your paper to tell it.

The story is about the sale of Con Edison land to a private entity (Steel Equities) who will then lease to Federal Express.

Steel Equities is currently negotiating with Con Edison to purchase and develop a 21-acre vacant Con Edison parcel of land located at 31-01 20th Ave. in Astoria to be developed as a Federal Express ground facility.

If this project were to go forward, approximately 200 trucks per day would be using the local streets. This is in addition to the vehicles of the people who will work at the new facility proposed to be built on this site. Already hundreds of trucks from the industrial area in the vicinity use our local streets, often disregarding the truck routes. They include the trucks of the telephone company and Charmer Industries, as well as oil and construction trucks. In addition, we have Rikers Island prison with over 13,000 detainees who bring daily visitors and approximately 7,000 employees, most of whom drive to and from work, LaGuardia Airport traffic, two bridges, the Grand Central Parkway, Con Edison and the Astoria energy plants and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, which all add to the congestion in our neighborhood.

Little consideration has been given to our community suffering from the fumes of the constant traffic flow and energy-producing polluters.

Federal Express offers no benefit to the residents of Northwest Queens. In fact, the presence of the proposed Federal Express facility would only exacerbate the health, safety and congestion problems experienced by the residents of this community.

Only Con Edison would profit from its plan to sell this property, and at the expense of residents of Northwestern Queens. We have grown weary of Con Edison's disregard for the quality of life of its host community.

It is time for Con Edison to be a good neighbor.

The Con Edison property on 20th Avenue must not be made available for sale or lease.

Why not create a first class recreational facility for our children and seniors to enjoy? It could be a park area with benches, athletic fields and hundreds of trees that would help reduce the pollution problem. This could be a place for neighbors to meet, talk, read, and play with their children.

We have had our blackouts and pollution problems. It is time to create a greener environment. Con Edison must be a responsible neighbor!

Rodolfo Sarchese is president of The Astoria Homeowners, Tenants and Business Civic Association.

Hamilton Grange: a moving experience

And speaking of moving historic structures... Hamilton Grange in Upper Manhattan is slated to be moved to the more pastoral setting of St. Nicholas Park. Currently, as you can see, it's jammed in between 2 buildings on Convent Avenue. Here is a little bit of background: Streetscapes: Hamilton Grange; A Move to Move A Historic House and an update from what about the plastic animals. How the heck are they gonna get it OUT of there? It looks pretty boxed in...

More murders this year

Queens, Bronx Drive Up City Murder Rate

With the year's first quarter nearly in the books, the murder rate in the city has increased by 20.7% compared with the same period last year, a spike chiefly due to an increase in killings in Southern Queens and the Bronx. The number of murders has increased to 17 from eight within Patrol Borough Queens South, a command that patrols neighborhoods such as Jamaica, Ozone Park, and Far Rockaway, a 112.5% jump compared to the same time last year, according to the most recent police statistics. In the Bronx, murders have spiked by 42.8%: There have been 30 homicides recorded this year, compared with 21 during the same period last year.

Pinky's modus operandus

Agreeing to the ride, Ms A. says she was barely in the car for one minute when something triggered inside her head. “I can still hear the sound of the four door locks clicking shut — I don’t know why, but I felt uneasy right from then.” According to the victim, her night of terror began as soon as Gallagher pulled the car away from the curb. “What’s a bitch like you doing in a bar?” he demanded.

Gallagher’s Victim: “I Thought I was Going to Die”

When a construction fence is an art exhibit

They're building something at Queens College, but in the meantime, passersby may enjoy the scientific stencils!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Babs now singing a different tune

Barbara Corcoran's latest:
5 things to do before you hold an open house

Number 1 -

GREEN: Nothing makes a better first impression than pulling up to a home for sale that has one of the nicest yards on the block. Creating a beautiful yard is inexpensive, but it does require a bit of dirt under the fingernails. A green lawn that's just been mowed, with trimmed bushes and a pretty flower border or potted flowers on the porch, tells buyers the inside will be as neat and tidy as the outside.

This is quite a flip from her previous advice to "get a cement truck over there fast". Bravo, Ms. Corcoran.

St. Saviour's press conference Monday

St. Saviour's to be moved; press conference Monday
by Christina Wilkinson, Juniper Park Civic Association

There will be a press conference Monday, March 31st at 1pm to announce the tentative agreement between Maspeth Development, LLC and JPCA to move St. Saviour's to All Faiths Cemetery. It will take place at the St. Saviour's site, located at 57-40 58th Street in Maspeth. We expect to be able to provide access to the building for photography, etc.

Expected to attend are Councilman Tony Avella, representatives of Maspeth Development, LLC, the Historic Districts Council, Queens Civic Congress, Sano Demolition, McLoughlin Brothers and All Faiths Cemetery.

Any questions, please call Robert Holden, President of JPCA at 718-651-5865.

We do anticipate needing additional donations to make this a reality. Please send donations to:
Newtown Historical Society
c/o Juniper Park Civic Association
P.O. Box 790275
Middle Village, NY 11379
(Indicate "St. Saviour's" on memo line)

The Newtown Historical Society is a tax exempt 501(c)3 organization and your donation is tax deductible. You may also donate online here.

Please also e-mail Christine Quinn, Speaker of the New York City Council, and ask her to expedite the release of $1 million in funds earmarked for the preservation of St. Saviour's in the 2008 budget.

More coverage at Urbanite, Historic Districts Council and

(Also see page 5 of today's print edition of AM-NY.)

Chinatown's been redlined

Dozens of protesters stood inside and out of a Community Board 3 meeting yesterday, claiming that a proposed rezoning plan was racist and could result in the displacement of minority community members.

Critics claim that the rezoning specifically outlines the already-gentrified areas of the LES and East Village, while excluding the less affluent and more ethnically diverse areas like Chinatown. Zoning off the proposed area will supposedly push the development of high-rises and displace residents into the excluded communities.

Chinatown Residents Object to Rezoning Exclusion

Yep, that's how it works in redlined communities.

Hell Gate Bridge repairs begin

After years of its being a danger and a nuisance to the Astoria community, Amtrak was scheduled to start repairing the Hell Gate Bridge yesterday according to City Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr.

Vallone has constantly pestered Amtrak to plug the water leaks and put an end to the debris that flows from the bridge on to local streets. About a year ago, the bridge's owner erected a scaffold to start the repair job, but that was as far as the repair job got.

Now, after being pressured for several years to make extensive and needed alterations, Amtrak officials notified the lawmaker the work would start April 1.

Long Overdue Hell Gate Bridge Repairs Getting Underway

Paterson nixes state pol pay raise


March 27, 2008 -- ALBANY - Gov. Paterson yesterday gave a thumbs-down to raising state lawmakers' pay, saying the timing isn't right, given the worsening economy.

"I don't think the state can really afford to do very much for anyone, least of all legislators, right now," Paterson said.

Legislators, whose base pay is $79,500, have gone without a raise for about a decade.

Lawmakers, particularly Assembly Democrats, have been pushing for an increase since last year.

A number of Assembly Democrats expressed surprise at Paterson's comment, noting they will not be eligible for a raise until 2011, at the earliest, if it doesn't get done this year.

That's because a sitting Legislature cannot give itself a raise.

"He used to be one of us," said Assemblyman Michael Benjamin (D-Bronx), noting Paterson was a state senator for two decades.

Therefore, he knows how much you don't deserve a raise, Mike.

Hank on Katz

"Melinda Katz wants to be comptroller of the city of New York. Her credentials? Well, she was the Land Use Chair of the City Council. Here are some facts. During her Land Use [Committee] chairmanship, New Yorkers lost more affordable housing than in any other time in history. Rents skyrocketed...

She’s taken hundreds of thousands from landlords, slumlords, the worst kind of people. Those who want to jack up our rents and throw us on the street. So there you have it. Melinda Katz, for the landlords. Think she ought to be comptroller? Ha. Absolutely not."

Find out who said this here.

City shuts down two cranes

Two tower cranes, including one at a SoHo project where a worker died in January, have been shut down for safety violations following a deadly crane collapse in Midtown earlier this month.

As part of an emergency safety sweep of 30 tower cranes citywide, the Buildings Department found violations at three of 12 cranes inspected as of Tuesday. All but one of the cranes inspected were in Manhattan. The agency expects its emergency tower crane inspections to be complete by April 15, said Buildings Department spokeswoman Kate Lindquist.

Once the tower crane inspections are complete, Lindquist said, the agency will review safety at another 220 cranes citywide -- a sweep scheduled to be finished by the end of May.

Stop-work orders were issued for two lower Manhattan cranes -- at 200 Murray St. on March 19 and 123 Washington St. on March 20. Work was halted at 246 Spring St. in SoHo, the site of the Trump hotel condominium project on March 20, according to city buildings officials.

Two tower cranes shut down for safety violations

MSG passes on Moynihan Station

MSG backs out of Moynihan station project

Madison Square Garden has backed out of an ambitious $14 billion plan to move into a landmark Manhattan post office building that would have become part of a new Penn Station.

Garden spokesman Barry Watkins says the sports arena has decided to renovate its existing location rather than move into the building that the state wanted it to share in the Moynihan station project.

The project would have paired the redevelopment of the station with development of new office buildings and shops around the drab neighborhood around Penn Station.

The project has stalled with uncertain funding in recent months, and the state official in charge of it resigned.

Dispute over new St. Albans VA

Queens veterans are protesting plans to build a high-tech VA medical center in St. Albans - and let a developer lease nearby acres they say should remain for veterans only.

Vets hit the warpath over land plan

Plans call for the 231-bed facility at 179th St. and Linden Blvd. to be demolished and replaced by a 221-bed center, while the developer leases 25 of 55 acres at the VA-operated site, said agency spokesman Raymond Aalbue.

Veterans are outraged the VA denied their repeated requests for a hospice and women's residences, while letting a developer decide how to use the extra land.

They are set to rally against the plan on Saturday morning.

Sidewalk surprise

This is what happens when you pour a concrete sidewalk during the Fall season...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Queens Mets fans count, damn it!

New York Mets Community Dates:

North Babylon - Friday May 9
Lynbrook - Tuesday May 27
Merrick - Thursday May 29
Mineola - Friday May 30
New Hyde Park/Garden City - Tuesday June 10
Half Hallow Hills - Friday June 13
Denville - Sunday June 15
Connetquot - Tuesday June 24
Lindenhurst - Thursday September 25

Bayside, Flushing, Long Island City, New Milford, Woodhaven - TBD

Apparently the Mets think there are only 4 towns in Queens worth setting a special date for, though they haven't done so yet. But if you live out on the Island, you're all set. Maybe this is part of their community benefits agreement...

Photo of Mets Van from what about the plastic animals?

Off the track

About two dozen people are being evaluated for minor injuries following a Long Island Rail Road train derailment at Jamaica Station in Queens.

Eyewitness News is told the rear two cars of a Hempstead-bound train derailed and hit the last two cars of a Huntington-bound train shortly after 10:30 a.m.
The cause of the derailment is not known.

All eastbound service out of Penn Station, Flatbush Avenue and east of Jamaica is suspended because of the derailment.

LIRR train collision in Queens

Dutch Kills' messed up situation

The fury of the residents is generated mainly by the rise of hotels, which have been built under 5 FAR conditions in order to beat the new 2 FAR zoning before it takes effect. Just how many hotels will be built is uncertain, but in the midst of anxious uncertainty, rumor pushes numbers up, even as high as three dozen. The nearly completed building at 39th Avenue and 29th Street may stand as a model for all those built or unbuilt. Though not 15 stories high, it soars Empire State-like, given its low-level surroundings. Palatnik said he is trying to tell the residents that a middle way must be sought or Dutch Kills will have not only hotels but also a deteriorated industrial base, amidst which the residential base is not likely to survive.

No Easy Solution Seen For Dutch Kills Zoning Problems

Advertising con tax jobs is wrong: Avella

Councilman and mayoral hopeful Tony Avella put out a press release today questioning the DOT's timing of posting numerous of congestion pricing-related jobs on its own Web site and Craigslist (as reported by the Staten Island Advance's intrepid Sally Goldenberg) when the pay-to-drive plan has yet to be approved by any legislative body.

Avella Accuses DOT Of Jumping The Congestion Pricing Gun

"In a time when the City is clearly in an economic downturn and the Mayor is forcing agencies across the board to make 3% cuts in their budgets, including the Department of Education, it absurd for DOT to be advertising these employment opportunities that would clearly increase their operating expense,” Avella added. “It is also a disgrace to potentially mislead job applicants that these jobs are real.”

Charges dropped in Howard Beach case

A Queens grand jury has dropped all charges against a white Howard Beach man who allegedly threatened to torch a black neighbor's property in August 2007.

Guyanese family fears for life after jury KOs bias charges vs. white neighbor

A grand jury returned a "no true bill" this month, meaning charges against [Michael] Hussey will be dropped, said Kevin Ryan, a spokesman for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

"The case against him has been dismissed," Ryan said.

This development throws a bit of a monkeywrench into the Albert Baldeo campaign...

Flushing Meadows is top crime park


Central Park, Flushing Meadows Park, Prospect Park and Riverside Park top the list of large parks that had double-digit instances of crime over the past 18 months, according to a survey by New Yorkers for Parks.

Flushing Meadows Corona Park had 99 incidents, including robberies, grand larcenies and two rapes.

Prospect Park in Brooklyn recorded 57 incidents, Manhattan's Riverside Park 31, and Bronx Park 30.

Fresh Kills Park and La Tourette Park on Staten Island had no reported crimes, and Ferry Point Park in The Bronx had just one.

Central Park has its own precinct, and recorded 162 crimes in the 18-month period between April 2006 and September 2007.

Noguchi's tree was dying

A tree grew in Long Island City.

On Wednesday, they chopped it down.

A Tree That Survived a Sculptor’s Chisel Is Chopped Down

The venerable 60-foot-tall Ailanthus altissima — the same species as the one made famous by Betty Smith’s novel “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” — had for decades been the centerpiece of the sculpture garden at the Noguchi Museum in Queens.

But the tree was dying, and its imminent collapse onto the museum could have been disastrous to a new $8.2 million renovation that had its groundbreaking on Tuesday.

“It’s sad, since it was there from the beginning — a living link with Isamu Noguchi,” said Bonnie Rychlak, the museum’s curator, referring to the Japanese-American artist who helped conceive and guide the museum to its opening in 1985, three years before his death.

Upjohn's country wooden church returns

St. Saviour's is being stripped down in preparation for preservation. That's right - I said preservation, not demolition. More on this soon. What can be said and seen right now is that Richard Upjohn's 1847 classic board- and-batten structure, that preservationists have long argued was under the shingles, has been revealed. You writing this down, Mary Beth Betts?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Rallying for education, housing & work

Immigrant Rally Calls For Improved Working Conditions, Education

NEW YORK -- Immigrants and their supporters staged a march on City Hall Wednesday to call for local reforms and expanded protections for New York’s immigrant community.

Some 1200 people attended the rally, organizers said, including more than 60 various immigrant and advocacy groups. Participants launched the rally in Battery Park and then marched through lower Manhattan to City Hall.

Organizers said they want city officials to take a stronger position on issues affecting immigrants -- including working conditions, housing, and education opportunities for both adults and children.

According to rally organizers, English language learners still have one of the highest high school dropout rates.

Construction-site injuries and fatalities are on the rise, and 75% of those injured are immigrants, advocates said.

New building permits plummet

The number of new building permits issued in New York City this January and February was down about 40 percent compared to the same period last year, according to the city’s Department of Buildings.

License to Dive: City Building Permits Drop 40 Percent

Building permits, which augur future construction, are a strong indicator of how robust the real estate market is, and the drop-off indicates even New York’s strong market is feeling the effects of the subprime mortgage bust and the tremors it has sent through Wall Street.

The city issued 451 new-building permits in January and February, compared to 764 during those months last year and 859 during the period in 2006.

Controlling cranes

Today, the New York City buildings commissioner, Patricia J. Lancaster, announced changes to the Buildings Department’s inspection protocol for tower cranes, the type of crane involved in the accident at 303 East 51st Street on March 15, which killed seven people and injured dozens of others. “Until further notice,” the Buildings Department announced today, a city inspector must be present on a construction site whenever a tower crane is raised or lowered.

City Announces Changes to Crane Inspections

Starting today, before giving approval to raise or lower a tower crane, the Buildings Department will require the engineer of record to conduct a full inspection of the crane and certify to the Buildings Department that it is built according to the approved plans and to provide a written protocol for workers to “jump,” or raise, the crane. The written protocol must incorporate the manufacturing guidelines and site-specific details of installation. The department will also require the general contractor to convene a safety meeting that will include the licensed rigger, the crane operator and the jumping crew.

“Until further notice, a buildings inspector must attend these safety coordination meetings to ensure that all safety measures are being taken,” Ms. Lancaster announced.

See Where the Cranes Come Home to Roost