Saturday, April 30, 2011

LI not as eager to approve overdevelopment

From the NY Times:

In the last five years, 33 projects with 4,000 residential units adjacent to transit have been approved across the Island, said Eric Alexander, the executive director of Vision Long Island, a nonprofit planning group. “Half are either built or under construction.”

Not surprisingly, they are the less grandiose ones. Mr. Wang also had a plan for the area around the Nassau Coliseum, a $3.74 billion project on 77 acres, with 2,300 residential units, two 35- to 40-story office towers, a 300-room hotel, restaurants and shops. The Town of Hempstead scrapped the plan last year.

Prospects similarly fizzled for Suffolk County’s $400 million Legacy Village project on 250 acres in Yaphank, which envisioned 1,000 affordable units, shops, and a solar-powered high-tech industrial park.

Also, after nine years and an infusion of $70 million cash, approval still eludes the developer Jerry Wolkoff’s proposed Heartland, a $4 billion, 452-acre town center with 9,000 residences on the site of the Pilgrim State Psychiatric Center in Brentwood.

Could the census be correct?

From Gotham Gazette:

The 2010 census poured cold water on Mayor Michael Bloomberg's rosy view that New York City would hit 9 million long before 2030. The census found that, instead of growing to 8,421,789 residents as the census estimated just a few days before the official numbers were released, New York City had only 8,175,153 residents, some 246,636 less than expected.

The estimated brisk growth pace of 5.2 percent since 2000, suddenly became a phlegmatic 2.1 percent. Indeed, if present trends continue New York City will not make it to 9 million until sometime in the decade of 2050. In short, the growth rate, if correct, means that many of the enthusiastic proclamations about the city's unique growth and its attractiveness as a place to live are simply wrong.

Predictably, the mayor, who made his fortune purveying presumably accurate financial information, is not willing to believe that the census's careful enumeration of New York’s population could be correct. He is planning to challenge it, and other officials are supporting that challenge. However, instead of taking the issue to court, they plan to invoke the Census Bureau's own Count Resolution process. This is a technical procedure that generally corrects blatantly wrong counts. After 2000, for example, the Census Bureau placed a number of prisons and college dorms in the wrong cities, counties and towns. When these mistakes were brought to the Census Bureau’s attention, it corrected such obvious errors.

New York's argument for an adjustment is much more complex relying as it does upon the increase in vacancies and the undercounting of immigrants. Indeed, there are at least four reasons to have confidence in the census count.

Unfunded mandates killing school districts

From the NY Times:

Facing the threat of layoffs and program cuts, financially ailing districts across New York State are re-examining expenditures and increasingly challenging those mandated by state laws and regulations they find burdensome, costly or unnecessary.

By their count, these officials say, they are forced to abide by more than 250 unfunded state mandates a year, many of which can no longer be sustained.

School officials have been complaining about these imposed costs for years, but their protests are now resonating with parents and voters seeking ways to cut school spending. In response, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo convened a statewide mandate-relief committee, and the Board of Regents has identified laws it considers outdated.

But the clamor for mandate relief has been heightened by the March 31 adoption of a $132.5 billion state budget, one of the leanest in years. The budget reduces education aid by nearly $1.3 billion.

As a result, superintendents and school board members who once focused on big-ticket expenses like pensions and health care are now analyzing smaller mandates, like a 2007 law requiring districts to give employees paid leave for breast cancer and prostate screenings. The mandate cost one district, Croton-Harmon in Westchester County, $3,500 for substitutes for 20 teachers and staff members, and the cost is expected to rise as more staff members learn about the law, district officials say.

Just think how much NYC paid for this stupidity. Paid leave for cancer screenings? Can't you get screened on your days off? During summer break? Why is this the school district's responsibility?

The epitome of crapitecture

This photo from Brownstoner kind of sums up construction in the outer borough under Bloomberg:

How contextual!

National Guard wants to junk Admirals' Row

From Brownstoner:

Here's the latest in depressing Admiral's Row news: According to Fort Greene-Clinton Hill Patch, last week the National Guard sent a letter to local politicians telling them Building B has been deemed beyond repair, which means the Guard has washed its hands of one of only two buildings on the row that were supposed to be preserved. In February, the National Guard said the other building that was supposed to be salvaged, the Timber Shed, was also too far gone to be preserved. According to last week's letter, one of Building B's walls has partially collapsed and is unstable. Thus, the Navy Guard is not going to make any moves to preserve either building while it has custodianship of the row; as noted last week, it's unclear when the Navy Yard Development Corporation will be able to take control of the row and, in the meantime, the Development Corp. is not allowed to access the buildings in order to try and preserve them.

Friday, April 29, 2011

'Spite wall' comes down

From Beehive Hairdresser:

We counted seven full layers of cinderblock removed from the right side, with portions of more layers in the front, as well as a good chunk of the entire left wall gone. A blue tarp hides much of the activity of the site, with five evergreens now planted along the sidewalk. The evergreens currently mask a fairly steep and unsafe slope that drops into the construction pit – the construction fence has been moved back about ten feet down into the construction pit and as such is clearly far away from the sidewalk.

Is this the half-assed sign of the Cunningham’s coming to the reality that building the structure partially on and attaching it to his neighbors property was a poor choice? Or is it all part of some bigger mind game that he has up his sleeves?

See previously: Mr. C still not cooperating

Break the rules, get a waiver

From the Daily News:

A Marine Park developer who broke building rules and left unfinished apartments on a residential block has triggered a battle with neighbors by restarting the project.

Kimball Group developers stunned Kimball St. residents by applying for a waiver on April 8 to finish the stalled six-story building even though the company ignored city orders in 2008 that said the building was too tall.

Buildings Department officials ordered the Kimball Group to remove the top floor from the building in 2008.

But the company is trying to overturn that ruling in front of the Board of Standards and Appeals later this summer.

The developers were also required to build 11 parking spaces, but want permission to provide none.

The other homes on the block are three-stories tall.

Since 2009, the developers owe the city $10,800 in fines for a broken fence around the abandoned construction site.

Buildings Department officials took the developers to criminal court to force them to downsize the building, but a judge on April 11 allowed Kimball Group officials to seek the waiver.

Here comes the toll proposal again

From Bayside Patch:

Almost exactly two years after the plan to charge drivers over four spans connecting Brooklyn and Queens with Manhattan died in the State Legislature's upper chamber, GOP state senators are giving the idea another try.

A group of five Republicans introduced a bill last week that would eliminate a controversial payroll tax levied on businesses in seven suburban counties — a key part of a 2009 bailout plan engineered by Richard Ravitch to help balance the MTA's books.

In order to make up for the lost revenue on the state transportation agency's budget, the legislators revived an idea many Queens drivers hoped was dead: East River tolls.

And with no GOP members currently serving in the state Senate from Queens, the task of opposing the toll plan this time around fell entirely to minority Democrats.

Noisy AC unit makes for bad neighbors

From the Daily News:

A Rego Park man is dreading the start of allergy season, but it's not the pollen or ragweed that torments Kang Yuen, a 63-year-old real estate agent.

It's the noise from the massive heating, ventilating and air-conditioning system perched above his neighbor's home.

"It's so loud, we can't sleep," said Yuen, who lives with his wife and two children in the rowhouse.

But neighbor Leonard Shirman said his family needs the system to properly ventilate the house and ease his asthma.

"We have five people living in this house and we would like to keep different zones at different temperatures," said Shirman, a businessman, who dismissed Yuen's noise complaints. "It's not a commercial unit. It's a regular unit."

Buildings Department inspections have not given Yuen any relief. After some initial violations, city officials said the unit conforms to building codes.

Yuen's case highlights a citywide issue of the Buildings Department sometimes sanctioning construction plans that it originally deemed problematic.

Bloomberg introduces city to Ben Dover

From the NY Post:

After weeks of issuing dire warnings that large-scale layoffs are coming, Mayor Bloomberg declared yesterday that when the numbers are finally released next week they'll be "very painful."

He offered no specifics, but indicated there's not much hope of a reprieve once his $65.6 billion executive budget for fiscal 2012 is made public May 5.

The mayor laid the blame on Albany and Washington, which he asserted had left the city with about $3 billion less in aid than it needs and was counting on.

He suggested that demonstrators planning a massive rally on Wall Street May 12 to protest his budgets cuts would be better suited directing their anger at the state and federal governments.

"New York City has to balance its budget by law," he said. "We will go ahead and do that, you can rest assured. And it will be very painful because we have a lot less money, which means a lot fewer people."

Hizzoner added, "What we have to do is decide will it be fewer cops, fewer firefighters, fewer teachers, fewer this, fewer that."

How about fewer tax breaks for developers? Why are people up in arms about GE not paying taxes, but seemingly have no problem with Forest City Ratner or the Related Company getting free land and sweetheart tax deals like this one?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Buy a fake, go to jail

From the NY Post:

Buyers could face a year in jail or a $,1000 fine under a proposed bill by a city councilwoman fed up with cheapskate tourists and Big Apple residents flooding her district in search of fake designer merchandise.

"We don't want to be known as the place to come to get counterfeit goods," said Councilwoman Margaret Chin, whose Chinatown district is ground zero for counterfeiters.

Under Chin's bill, which is being introduced Thursday, shoppers caught buying any counterfeit product could be jailed or slapped with a fine of $1,000 -- a little less than the price of Marc Jacobs' frequently copied Baroque Quilting Mini Stam bag, which retails for $1,250.

"It's a very big problem," Chin said of the counterfeit market. "People are still coming, and the industry is growing, and we have to stop the demand. We need people to know that they are feeding this demand."

Several of Chin's colleagues have expressed support for the bill, and she already has five co-sponsors.

The punishment might seem draconian, but it's necessary to curb the growing problem, she said.

She pointed out that the money that counterfeiters rake in often funds other nefarious activities, such as terrorism and unsafe child-labor practices.

Build first, worry about the rest later

From GlobeSt:

With new developments expected to bring 50,000 residents to Long Island City in the coming years according to the NYCEDC, more retail is soon to follow. King says as the density increases in the neighborhood, the core business districts and surrounding areas will have more shopping options. Currently, Jackson Avenue serves as the main thoroughfare. “When the rezoning went into place and the first projects were built, it was all commercial office space,” he says, describing that little consideration was given to retail because of the area’s largely industrial nature. King adds that other services, such as institutions and schools, are likely to appear as momentum builds.

The Bloomberg City Planning doctrine: Build first, worry about important details later.

Phasing out dirty oil to take a long time

From Metro:

Black smoke will still billow out of apartment buildings and into the city’s air — even with new laws phasing out pollutants.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg passed regulations for the city’s buildings Thursday, requiring owners to switch to cleaner heating oils.

But the ban on the two worst heating oils — which health experts say cause pollution and health problems like asthma — will not completely take effect until 2030.

Starting immediately, owners will be denied a permit to heat their building unless they use natural gas, or step down to a less sulfuric heating oil, such as No. 2.

Building owners will have until 2015 to stop using the most noxious heating oil, No. 6.

But building owners still have until 2030 to keep burning No. 4.

Time to change the signs

Chinese gambling parlors getting robbed

From the NY Times:

Clad in black and speaking Chinese, the three men entered a mah-jongg parlor hidden in a building on Hester Street in Chinatown. They pulled out a pistol and a knife and stripped gamblers of more than $5,600, the police said.

A newspaper article about a police raid was posted in the entrance of a building in Flushing, Queens, where a gambling parlor was recently robbed.

Over the next seven weeks, from late February to early April, three more parlors were robbed: one in Chinatown and two in Flushing, Queens. Each was hit by a small group of Chinese-speaking men with firearms — in one case, an assault rifle.

The robbers may have counted on the silence that has long kept these places in the shadows: The gambling is illegal, so owners and bettors are unlikely to report crimes. But in these cases, victims did, opening a peephole into the busy world of underground Chinese gambling and rattling many of those who work and play in it.

Several gamblers in Flushing said two more parlors were robbed this month, though the attacks were not reported to the police. “We’re really scared now,” one player said as he emerged from a secret den. “Now we have to be especially careful.”

The parlors are tucked in basements or upstairs in warrenlike office buildings, places where a steady stream of players can go unnoticed in the commotion of everyday traffic, say gamblers and others in the Chinese community. Some games take place in private apartments, with paper covering the windows or shades pulled tight, or in the backrooms of community associations.

Because operators frequently shift locations to avoid police detection, it is unclear — to the authorities as well as to those who work there — how many parlors there are.

But the police, familiar with the business for generations, said they were surprised by the sudden rash of armed invasions.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

2 rapists still on the loose

From NBC:

Police have released surveillance video of a man believed to be targeting women in a series of sexual assaults in Flushing, Queens -- and the latest attack was just this week.

The assaults, dating back to September 2010, have become a pattern, police say. In each incident, the man approaches the victim from behind and sexually assaults them, then flees.

In the latest incident on Tuesday, the suspect attacked a 24-year-old Asian woman at about 11:30 p.m. at 44-35 Colden St., according to police.

The suspect is described as a Hispanic male in his 30s, about 5'5" and 140 pounds, with black hair.

From Eyewitness News:

Police in Queens are searching for a man who attempted to sexually assault two women.

In each case, the suspect approached the victims, physically assaulted them and then attempted to sexually assault them.

On Saturday, March 26th a 20-year-old woman was attacked around 9:30 p.m. on Rockaway Boulevard and 158th Street in Springfield Gardens.

In the second attack, a 24-year-old woman was targeted on Friday, April 22nd at 1:50 a.m. at 135th Avenue and 220th Street in Laurelton.

Police say the suspect is believed to be a black man between the ages of 18 and 22.

Pick up your dog's crap!

From the NY Post:

Department of Sanitation officials are going easy on New Yorkers who neglect to scoop up after their dogs, according to new figures obtained by The Post.

The agency has slacked off in the number of tickets issued to dog-walkers who fail to clean up after their pets, prompting one city lawmaker to bark in protest.

City Councilman James Vacca (D-Bronx) -- usually a critic of Mayor Bloomberg's zealous ticket agents -- fired off a letter to Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty yesterday demanding he put his staff on a shorter leash when it comes to enforcing the law.

"This issue has absolutely hit the fan," Vacca wrote. "I get complaints on a regular basis about sidewalks and park areas that have become completely impassable because of dog waste."

During fiscal year 2011, which ends June 30, Sanitation Department enforcement agents have issued only 250 violations of the law that requires dog owners to clean up after their pets -- that's a little more than half of the 510 tickets written in fiscal year 2010.

But the enforcement record has really gone into a tailspin compared with 2008, when 909 tickets were issued. City officials claim that the drop is due to better compliance with the law that followed a hike in the fine from $100 to $250 in November 2008.

Don't let bedbugs bite you twice!

From the Queens Gazette:

The city Department of Sanitation (DOS) inspectors have handed out more than 4,500 violations so far this year involving new rules regulating disposal of bedding within the five boroughs, DOS officials said.

Under the regulations that went into effect on January 5, all bedding, including mattresses, box springs, sofa beds, sheets, blankets, pillows are required to be wrapped in sealed plastic when left curbside for collection by DOS workers.
The new rule calls for all bedding to be wrapped whether or not it is infested with bed bugs.

A recent agency report shows that DOS inspectors have issued 4,345 violations, including 701 in Queens, to homeowners, superintendents and landlords who placed unwrapped bedding curbside for collection in the first three months of 2011. Violators get a $100 fine for ignoring the rules.

Where the game was played in 1956

Taken around 1956 at Forest Hills, NY Little League field on Queens Blvd.
on what is now Parker Towers.

Do you recognize any landmarks in the background?

Where were they 4 months ago?

From Sunnyside Post:

Several members of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce are calling on the New York City Council to repeal the law that recently renamed the Queensboro Bridge the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge.

Rebecca Barker, the new president of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce, asked Van Bramer at the United 40s Civic Association recently, whether he would act on the community’s behalf to change it.

“If there is a way to reverse it I will look into it,” Van Bramer said. Van Bramer said the renaming of the bridge was “one of the dumbest things we [the council] have ever done,” adding that “Koch never lived in Queens and spent most of his life in the Village.”

Barker said the chamber will soon be selling buttons on its website that will read: “Save the Queensboro Bridge.”

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

DOB was given ample warning about firetrap

From the Daily News:

The raging Bronx inferno that killed three people highlights the city's growing failure to crack down on illegal firetrap apartments.

By the time the predawn fire erupted at 2321 Prospect Ave., the Buildings Department had fielded five complaints of illegally converted apartments there since October 2009.

The last one came 11 days before the fire, when a caller complained to the department that the third floor had been converted illegally into multiple apartments.

There is no record the department did anything in response.

The track record of inaction that preceded yesterday's tragedy is frighteningly familiar.

The city gets about 20,000 complaints of illegal apartment conversions every year. The rate of city inspectors gaining access to these buildings has steadily dropped from 60% in fiscal 2006 to 45% last fiscal year.

The drop continued in the first four months of this fiscal year, falling to an all-time low of 43%, records show.

In this case, building inspectors visited the address four times after getting complaints from the Fire Department.

Each time, they couldn't get in, records show.

Shocking news: illegal aliens can be really dangerous!

From AOL News:

Lost in the rhetoric about illegal immigration are new reports that Mexican drug cartels have moved into the United States, gaining a major foothold here that may be the start of a permanent expansion onto this side of the border. They're even growing marijuana in our national parks, one expert says.

Mexico's cartel families and their associates have moved into cities in the southwestern U.S. as part of their ongoing drug selling and distribution operations, according to an alert from the U.S. Justice Department's Drug Intelligence Center, first reported April 11 by Mexican media.

Roberta Jacobson, deputy secretary of state for Mexico and Canada, said on April 12 that Mexican drug cartels are now operating in 230 American cities. Drug trafficking "is not a crisis that affects only the border," Jacobson said. ""It's a crisis in our cities across the country."

The Los Angeles Times reported this week about a member of Mexico's powerful Sinaloa cartel who operated a cocaine operation in South Carolina and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. The report said there are similar rings run by cartel members living and working in Seattle, Minneapolis and Anchorage, Alaska.

The new warnings coincide with the discovery of mass graves in the state of Tamaulipas, just south of Texas, with at least 116 bodies in them earlier this week, and a discovery late Wednesday of 26 bodies in a mass grave in Durango.

The Mexican government says the Los Zetas drug cartel is responsible for the Tamaulipas murders. So far, about 35,000 people have died in the Mexican drug wars since 2006.

The cartel-related violence is spreading to the U.S., law enforcement officials say. And it all starts at the border.

City can't keep its own buildings up to code

From the Daily News:

Investigators hunting for building violations can start with a tour of city buildings - including the one where they work.

One Police Plaza and the Manhattan Criminal Court have about 100 infractions apiece - and the Department of Buildings headquarters is plagued with nearly two dozen, a Daily News review of municipal records shows.

Even Gracie Mansion, the mayor's ceremonial residence on the East River, has a slew of violations linked mostly to unfiled paperwork.

Although most of the violations at city buildings posed no immediate threat, they highlight a seemingly lackadaisical - and hypocritical - approach to enforcement.

Building inspectors cited their own building for 20 infractions. The open citations include cracked facades and inadequate fire-prevention measures.

Riot at Sikh temple

From the NY Post:

A holy war erupted yesterday at a Sikh temple in Queens -- where worshippers wielding swords and cricket bats interrupted a prayer session to attack their rivals in a vicious power struggle, police and witnesses said.

Rival factions at the Baba Makhan Shah Lobana Sikh Center in South Richmond Hill have been bickering for months over control, authorities and members said.

The dispute reached a bloody climax yesterday when the infighting turned violent, accompanied by screams, taunts and death threats.

The alleged attackers -- armed with at least one sword about 40 inches long, and another sword, according to a witness -- were part of the old guard that had been recently voted out of power but refused to accept the decision, even going to court to challenge the election.

Here's an update from the Daily News.

Hindu rituals threaten Jamaica Bay ecosystem

From the NY Times:

As the Hindu population has grown in Queens over the last decade, so too has the amount of ritual debris — clothing, statues, even cremation ashes — lining the banks of the bay in Gateway National Recreation Area.

But to the park rangers who patrol the beach, the holy waters are a fragile habitat, the offerings are trash and the littered shores are a federal preserve that must be kept clean for picnickers, fishermen and kayakers. Unlike the Ganges, they say, the enclosed bay does not sweep the refuse away.

The result is a standoff between two camps that regard the site as sacrosanct for very different reasons, and have spent years in a quiet tug of war between ancient traditions and modern regulations. Strenuous diplomacy on both sides has helped, but only to a point. new immigrants arrive, unaware of the rules, and others refuse to change their ways, park rangers have intermittently forsaken good-cop sensitivity for bad-cop force: installing signs, closing the parking lot at night and threatening to hand out $75 fines, to little avail.

“It’s been a mounting problem for years,” said Kathy Krause, the supervisory park ranger. “The breakdown of these items is very, very harmful.”

Cremated remains are a particularly touchy subject. The scattering of ashes in water is among Hinduism’s most sacred rituals, necessary for a successful transition to the next life. The practice has drawn concern from park officials; they issue special permits for spreading ashes on a case-by-base basis, but Hindu leaders acknowledge that some bereaved families do not wait for permission.

LIC railyard is still noisy

From NY1:

For some Long Island City residents, the sound of idling train engines plow through their day.

Over the last two years, the LIRR has turned off some of the engines during the day and placed some trains in other parts of the rail yard as part of a compromise, but some residents said the noise is starting to increase again.

It is a harsh reality for new residents moving to the once-industrial area. The rail yard has been there for more than 100 years, but residents want the diesel engines turned off during the day.

LIRR spokesperson Joe Calderone said while the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has been addressing some of the community's concerns, shutting down all the trains during the day is not going to be possible.

From 2nd Avenue Sagas:

Meanwhile, as the East Side Access project moves forward, train-related noise will only increase for Long Island City residents. Within the next five years, more trains will head into Grand Central via the area and the rail yard will continue to serve as a holding pen for eastbound trains. For a century, as New Yorkers eschewed the area, the trains weren’t a problem, but with gentrification comes complaints. Unfortunately, for residents though, the train yard isn’t going anywhere.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Family dead in Bronx SRO fire

From the Daily News:

A fast-moving fire ripped through a Bronx brownstone early Monday, killing three people and injuring six, officials said.

The two-alarm fire broke out on the second floor of 2321 Prospect Ave. in Belmont about 3:30 a.m. and quickly spread to the floor above.

Neighbors said they were awakened by the smell of smoke and that flames soon engulfed the building.

Local residents said the three victims were a family of immigrants from Mexico, a mother, father and their 12-year-old son.

Let's take a look at the complaints about this house:




Looks like DOB was on top of this situation...

Here's more from WPIX:

Witnesses also said the blowing flames were blocking the fire escape.

Stephanie Marsh's family owns the other side of the property, 2319 Prospect Avenue. She heard the family on the third floor screaming.

Marsh's husband, Chancey, told PIX 11 News the property attached to his is owned by the Bank of New York. He said the family was squatting in the apartment and paid rent to a "degenerate man" who was renting units and claimed to be the building superintendent.

Residents told PIX 11 News the two-family house may have been illegally subdivided.

Eduardo Sanchez, a tenant on the second floor of 2321, says so-called landlord has not been seen in at least a month and that just last week, the power to his side of the building had been turned off. He's been using a battery-powered lantern in his apartment since then.

Big brother Bloomberg is watching

From NY1:

Mayor Michael Bloomberg says putting fingerprints on social security cards would help control the nation's borders, and give employers a way to check whether potential hires are legal citizens.

"The companies could just run it through a computer," Bloomberg said Friday morning on his weekly radio show. “And if you're an undocumented illegal, they just don't give you the job. And you're not going to come here if you cant get a job."

The mayor's remarks come on the heels of his trip to Washington on Tuesday, where he took part in a discussion on immigration policy with President Obama and other politicians.

Critics of Bloomberg's proposal say putting fingerprints on social security cards would not only be a burden for immigrants, but an imposition on all Americans.

"Once you open the door to such government intrusion what you're doing is you're allowing the Government to collect all sorts of information and we have questions about what this will mean for the future," said Jacki Eposito of the New York Immigration Coalition.

The idea of putting fingerprints on social security cards has been floated by other elected officials, including Sen. Charles Schumer.

Did you know that Bloomberg happens to manufacture a line of fingerprint readers?
Top photo from Queens Latino

Cops not interested in video of attempted rape

Cyclists get bike lanes and tickets that come with them

From SI Live:

The 65 units installed by the DOT last October go unused at the taxpayer's expense, to the tune of almost $17,000 on a busy stretch of Hylan Boulevard where locals say lack of bicycle lanes makes the rack location useless. The DOT claims the location in New Dorp was picked to provide parking options for bicyclists.

From Metro:

The city updated PlaNYC Thursday, a long-term agenda to make New York greener, including increasing bike lanes and decreasing pollution.

But some cyclists say that what the city gives with one hand, it takes away with the other.

Since 2007, the city has installed 205 miles of bike lanes for the 200,000 people that bike daily. But cyclists complain that in the same period, ticketing has increased, reaching a total of 34,054 last year. In 2011, the NYPD has given out 55 percent more tickets than at this time last year.

Why the tickets? This is why. From the NY Post:

Forty-one percent of two-wheeled travelers observed on a pair of SoHo bike lanes last week blew through red lights, pedaled the wrong way, zipped along the sidewalk or rode outside the lanes, a Post investigation found.

The lanes that intersect Lafayette and Prince streets got plenty of use -- 7,182 cyclists rode them between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. over five days last week.

But reporters saw 1,759 of those riders -- 24 percent -- running red lights, narrowly avoiding collisions with pedestrians and cars.

Another 1,111, or 15 percent, rode the wrong way and bolted in and out of the lanes, pushing fellow cyclists into traffic or nearly sending them sprawling from their bikes.

Eighty-one adult riders rode the sidewalk instead of the bike lanes. In one case, a female biker riding the Prince Street sidewalk skimmed a pedestrian, knocked a shopping bag out of her hand, and kept riding.

There was an average of four near-collisions per hour on each route, with errant cyclists narrowly missing each other, pedestrians or cars as they entered the intersection.

Bloomberg policies hurt the elderly

From the Times Ledger:

I am 95 years old, have lived through two world wars and economic catastrophes, outlived most of my children and am a widow on a fixed income.

I ask why it is necessary for a billionaire like Mayor Michael Bloomberg to raise every cost in the city. Since Bloomberg took office, my house tax has doubled, my water bill has doubled, my sales tax has gone up and my transportation costs have gone up. I understand tickets have doubled and the police do not take reports anymore of vandalism or break-ins.

Bloomberg does not really know anything about real suffering — otherwise, he would not be so arrogant. I have less to survive on while he has more money than ever. The city does not really do anything better than before, and the response to the Christmas blizzard shows the city does less. There is no more bang for the buck — just a fizzle.

I believe we ought to know as much as possible about a public figure. A public figure makes decisions which affect us all.

I am not pleased with our mayor for the reasons listed. I think he is out of touch.

E. Simanovich
Richmond Hill

Claire's baby put on the back burner

From the Daily News:

A proposal to tackle both transportation and housing issues in downtown Flushing with a single project is stuck in neutral.

The Flushing Willets Point Corona Local Development Corp. pitched a multifaceted plan in the fall of 2009 to upgrade the Long Island Rail Road station off Main St. and add housing units at the same time.

The city Department of Transportation and local community board gave a thumbs up for the proposal, dubbed the Flushing Transit Oriented Development Plan.

But the project is now on the back burner, city officials said, because of higher-priority developments in the area, such as Flushing Commons, the Macedonia Plaza and Willets Point.

For the plan to move forward, the city Economic Development Corp. and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development must sign off, said ex-Beep Claire Shulman, president of the Flushing Willets Point Corona LDC.

The LDC's plan calls for significant upgrades to the LIRR Flushing station, including elevators for wheelchair access, creating a canopy to shield riders from weather and a platform extension to allow up to 12 cars.

The plan also calls for building housing and commercial space on what is currently Municipal Parking Lot 3 - adjacent to the station and owned by the DOT. It also would include a multilevel parking garage.

The project's price tag in 2009 was just under $200 million.

"Transportation improvements are essential in downtown Flushing and so is affordable housing for all those folks who work in the restaurants and shops along the Main St. corridor," Shulman said, calling the project "essential for the future of Flushing."

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Here comes Crappy Cottontail...

Here's the history of the Easter egg.

Taxi spot to be decontaminated

From the Queens Gazette:

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) will begin a detailed environmental study at 21-03 44th Ave. in Long Island City. NYSDEC will also be implementing an interim remedy for a known problem in the groundwater beneath the location without having to wait for the results of the entire investigation.

The study to be done is called a Remedial Investigation, and will be performed under the New York State Superfund Program. The Remedial Investigation Work Plan Executive Summary is available for public review at

The DEC will define the nature and extent of contamination in soil, surface water, groundwater; identify the source(s) of the contamination; assess the impact of the contamination on public health and the environment and provide information to support the development of a remedy.

The NYSDEC has already identified contamination in the groundwater beneath the location and will be taking steps to treat the groundwater to remove the contaminants in late April. The decontamination process is expected to take only one week.

Douglaston's WWI dead get no respect from city

Council Republicans celebrate Easter

Vallone vs. e-cigs

A Blimp Lands In Flushing

"When I was little my grandfather told me about a "Goodyear Blimp" that floated over his house on weekends. As I had not heard the word "blimp" before, and knew from TV commercials that Goodyear made automobile tires, I could only comprehend that he was describing some kind of a giant automobile tire floating above his house. Oh, that Grandpa - he was always pulling my leg.

Goodyear at that time had started using nearby Flushing Airport to dock it's aerial-broadcast blimp during the weekend games at Shea Stadium. For many local residents the big balloon was a new major attraction, and they'd visit the airport just to watch it come and go in it's amusingly lumbering fashion. Grandpa, of course, filmed it for posterity, and his movie cleared up any confusion I had over Goodyear blimps and tires.

Flushing Airport has been out of business since the 1980's. Half of it is now a swampy mess, while the other half has been developed into - what else? - a shopping complex." - Robert Martens, April, 2011

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Expansion of tennis center causes concern

From the Daily News:

The U.S. Open is poised to expand into an additional stadium at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center - but not everyone is declaring love for the new court.

The U.S. Tennis Association hopes to break ground on the 3,000-seat stadium this summer at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, a USTA official said. The association hopes to complete the flashy new court in time for the Open in August so that matches can be televised there.

But the new stadium has raised concerns about increased traffic congestion and parking woes.

"We're not opposed to it," said Pat Dolan, president of the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Conservancy, a park advocacy group. But "there is a very, very real burden on the people who live and do business around the park."

She is worried that green spaces will be converted to temporary parking lots in the park during the Open to accommodate tennis buffs, she said.

"I would like to see there be a public review of the plan for the stadium," Dolan said.

Photo by By llee_wu on Flickr

You post the sign, you pay the fine

From the Daily News:

Mayor Bloomberg is angry about politicians who illegally slap their campaign signs all over town during election seasons - and fuming over their attempts to beat the fines.

"If elected officials don't follow the law, what hope is there for everybody else?" Hizzoner said yesterday. "I always thought that elected officials should have to be held to a higher standard."

Pols are barred from posting campaign signs on public property. The Sanitation Department issues $75 tickets for every sign it finds illegally posted around town.

"Everybody should obey the law," Bloomberg said, without naming names. "I think it is an outrage when some of them beat the law on technicalities."

What's he up to now?

From the NY Post:

Chalk up another first for Mayor Bloomberg -- he's a noncandidate who has just registered a new campaign committee at the state Board of Elections.

Each of the other 10,356 active filers at the board is running for office, thinking of running for office, supporting someone running for office, or pushing a ballot initiative.

By his own words, Bloomberg falls into none of those categories.

Mayoral aides said the sole purpose of the committee, formed on April 15 and simply and aptly named "Michael R. Bloomberg," is to report the mayor's recent spending on TV, radio and direct-mail ads.

"While not obligated to file, we chose to do so in order to disclose the expenditures," said Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson.

The filing won't be made public until July 15.

Why Bloomberg is willing to disclose the information in three months, and not now, isn't clear. In a campaign, there might be a strategic advantage to not revealing any information an opponent might put to use.

But the mayor has no campaign to worry about. He has said repeatedly that he is not running again.


More development, less public transportation

From the Daily News:

A high school senior fed up with the MTA's service in Astoria has launched a petition to restore the Manhattan-bound express bus.

"This would be a one-seat ride to lower Manhattan and the east side of Manhattan," said Ali Fadil, 17, a senior at the Academy of American Studies in Long Island City.

Fadil's petition, online at, calls for two express lines to pick up riders along Ditmars Blvd. and 21st St., with one headed into lower Manhattan and the other into midtown.

"This would help a lot of people," Fadil said.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority scrapped its Q22 express bus from Astoria to Manhattan because of low ridership, an agency official said.

"Given its low ridership, high per-passenger cost and the close proximity of local bus and subway service, it was discontinued in June 2010 and there are no plans to restore the route," said MTA spokeswoman Deirdre Parker.

Some locals said adding an express bus is more than just a good idea - it's a necessity.

Evie Hantzopoulos, 45, executive director of a nonprofit group in Manhattan, said the population boom in Astoria means straphangers need options.

Missing munimeter means tickets

From WPIX:

Store owners and residents on the Upper West Side say they are getting hefty tickets for not paying the Munimeter, but there are no meters.

"It's ridiculous really," said Nick Bazas, owner of Quality Florist on 81st street and Columbus.

Bazas says after the Department of Transportation changed the design of the street and put in new bike lanes, taking out the Munimeters, he's been ticketed for legally parking.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Feds target Flatbush Gardens

From WPIX:

Deplorable working conditions in Flatbush Gardens are now being targeted by the federal government.

The massive Foster Ave. housing complex is made up of 59 buildings and is home to 10,000 residents. After years of complaints from workers, the U.S Labor Department has finally stepped in, and Tuesday the agency issued 20 violations and 51,000 dollars worth of fines to the building management, Renaissance Equity Holdings.

"We complained and said that we need protection," said one maintenance worker.

The deplorable conditions reportedly include several 'serious violations', which, according to the Department of Labor, occur when there is substantial probability of death or serious physical injury that could result from the hazardous conditions.

Zoning code has stifled development?

From The Real Deal:

The Department of City Planning will hold a conference this fall in hopes of finding a way to simplify the 1,500-page zoning resolution, whose current complexity apparently stifles developers and architects. According to the Wall Street Journal, urban planners find the current document so confusing that they're discouraged from development, and a recent court ruling forced the city to rewrite hundreds of sections because of the imprecise meanings of the words "development" and "building."

Admirals' Row in limbo

From the NY Times:

In recent months, preservationists and some advocates in the neighborhood have embraced the Navy Yard corporation’s plan, agreeing to save the shed and just one town house — Quarters B, the oldest, but the one in the best condition — and tear down the remaining buildings. The cleared land would then make way for a supermarket that the 13,000 residents of the three nearby housing projects have long desired, a retail plaza and a new light-industry building.

The entire plan’s price tag is $70 million, with $10 million dedicated to renovating the two historic buildings, whose costs the developer would pay as part of the lease.

But the hope that the steady decay might finally be stanched has been set back by the National Guard’s resistance toward allowing any work that would stabilize the dilapidated Admiral’s Row structures as long as the Guard remains the custodian.

The property cannot be transferred to the Navy Yard corporation until a historical and environmental review is completed. How long that process will take is unclear, and until then Admiral’s Row will remain in limbo.

Bring back sponsorship

From the NY Times:

At a Haitian church in Canarsie, Brooklyn, officials from the mayor’s office spent a recent Saturday morning discussing food stamps and discrimination in the workplace, their words translated into Creole for an audience of some 50 people.

The next night, another delegation spoke to a group of Bangladeshi immigrants in the Bronx about police precincts and community boards. In recent weeks, officials have held similar meetings with Albanians, Mexicans and West Africans.

The forums are part of a new program, run by the mayor’s office, that is intended to improve the relationship between city government and immigrants who are often wary of local authorities or unaware of city services available to them.

That's interesting. Years ago, in order to come to this country, you had to have a sponsor who pledged that in the event that you were unable to work, they would be responsible for you to prevent you from becoming a burden on society. Now the government spends taxpayer money to get immigrants on public assistance. Gotta love tweeding. And there's more... From the Daily News:

Undocumented immigrants aren't eligible for standard Medicaid coverage, but they can get Emergency Medicaid for an urgent condition and related follow-up care.

Trouble at the South Street Seaport

From the Huffington Post:

New York City's South Street Seaport Museum is in crisis mode.

Its ships are in terrible condition and, according to the NY Times, the museum is in talks to move all its ships to another port. This is a terribly sad turn of events, at least for those who realize that South Street is more than just a collection of chain stores on a quaint cobblestoned street.

Even the most absent-minded of shoppers and tourists can't miss the tall-masted ships in the harbor. Soon enough, those ships may be gone with no money to bring them back. If that happens, South Street will truly be just an outdoor mall.

Volunteers -- the museum has always had many good volunteers -- have started a blog called and are calling on supporters to petition the mayor and other elected public officials to lend some financial support. The hope is that it's not too late. Given the tight budget and the loss of money from Albany, the city may not be in a generous mood for a museum but maybe the mayor, who gives away millions to charities each year, can come to the rescue.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Do as we say, not as we do

From CBS 2:

CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis obtained a copy of the councilman’s complaints, a long list of 944 city properties with broken or missing sidewalks. Ignizio wants the city to fix what’s on the list, while cutting homeowners a break.

In response, a city spokesman said in the last five construction seasons $5 million was spent repairing sidewalks at city-owned properties. Another $4.5 million was spent on sidewalk repairs to private properties, said to be proof the city is on the job.

But Councilman Ignizio said there are still too many areas with no sidewalk at all.

“Really the city needs to check its own inventory before it starts going after people and violating them when they don’t have sidewalks in most of their own properties in my district,” Ignizio said.

He’s demanding the city not only talk the talk, but walk the walk.

Vito is right to scowl!

From The Brooklyn Paper:

Get a load of Assemblyman Vito Lopez at Mayor Bloomberg’s announcement on Monday that the city is helping a developer convert an old gas station into a new shopping center and luxury apartments!

The Bushwick Democrat is clearly no fan of the proposal for the long-vacant Grand Street lot, thanks to the 50 units of market-rate rentals that it includes.

The triangular-shaped lot bounded by Grand Street, Keap Street and Borinquen Place, was a Shell filling station, a theater house, and an open-air market before Queens-based mall developer Meir Babaev bought the site last year, renamed it “Triangle Court,” and unveiled plans for five new businesses on the ground floor and 57 parking spaces underground.

Babaev said that he’s had interest from a pharmacy, a mobile phone store, and even an International House of Pancakes, but that both Lopez and [Diana] Reyna have lobbied him to include more below-market units.

He has refused.

Well they have a point. Why is the city using our tax money to help a private developer build luxury units and retail? Why are we holding off on hiring cops, but padding the pockets of developers?

Stop honking!

From NY1:

Honking is the anthem of New York City streets.

Noise ranks at or near the top of 311 complaints and horn blowing, when drivers are not in danger, ranks among the city's most flouted infractions.

Just 400 tickets for horn blowing are given a year on average, about as many as one hears in an hour on some blocks.

It also may be the most selfish and counterproductive infraction. Experts say the vast bulk of horn taps do nothing to speed things along.

DSNY harassing innocent citizens with bogus tickets

From the NY Post:

Levy Zelishovsky, 72, received the avalanche of summonses at his Midwood office April 5 for supposedly illegally posting fliers advertising a moving company on public lampposts throughout Brooklyn. Each summons carries a $75 fine.

The problem, Zelishovsky said, is that he is not and never has been in the moving business.

It turns out that the mix-up occurred because the Department of Sanitation had apparently only done a reverse check on the phone number on the fliers, which led them to Zelishovsky.

The DOS said it has since learned that the phone number is Zelishovsky's old number, which he hasn't used since 2006.

Zelishovsky claims he's had the same phone number for 25 years and that he never owned the phone number on the flier.

He must still appear before a judge at the Environmental Control Board hearing April 29 to officially sort things out, although the DOS says it plans to write to the judge recommending that the summonses be voided.

Marshall likes hospitals (and development)

From the Daily News:

Hopes of having the former site of St. John's Queens Hospital in Elmhurst revived as a comprehensive medical facility are flat-lining.

A developer has filed paperwork with the city Department of Buildings to convert the vacant facility into a mixed-use commercial space that features three floors of apartments and one floor for ambulatory care.

The Buildings Department rejected the company's initial proposal last week, and the owner will have to submit a corrected proposal, officials said.

Among the documents the developer must resubmit are zoning and code analyses and fire protection and materials analyses, she said.

But details are scant on what kind of medical care will be offered at what the application describes as an "ambulatory diagnostic treatment facility," proposed for the fifth floor of the former hospital.

Queens Borough President Helen Marshall said she had wanted another hospital to replace the defunct St. John's and has inquired with the company about how extensive the treatment facility would be.

"Queens is in a medical crisis. St. John's is gone and people who need emergency care don't have a place in the neighborhood that they can go to," Marshall said.

So why are you still greenlighting megadevelopment projects?