Sunday, July 19, 2015

And the latest from the Steinway Mansion...


Courtesy of George the Atheist


Anonymous said...

It's been a relatively dry summer.
One good storm like a minor hurricane or even a tropical storm (tis the season) that building is going to be gone.

JQ said...

It looks like a zombie house in the desert

this is what urban blight means these days. Replace mindless over and hyper development with the graffiti and tenements of the 80's

it also remind's me of the movie up, any balloons in the attic?

This house doesn't count on our lonely planet does it Ms Katz and Mr. Van Bramer? But neither did 5 pointz.

georgetheatheist said...

And folks be sure to tune into Part II (03:38) of this retaining wall video study and note the editorial commentary at that video's end.

Anonymous said...

Why would a storm now obliterate the building? It has withstood even the horrific 1938 hurricane. It is more likely that the vibrations from the construction might affect the structure.

Anonymous said...

Somebody had a good idea about seismographs being used on site.
What's the latest on QHS and GAHS demanding vibration monitoring devices being placed in the mansion?
What's the latest on the LPC doing an interior inspection to determine if the structure has been affected by the construction going on?
Shouldn't riding the LPC's ass to make sure they are doing their job , be the job of GAHS and QHS?
It should be but will they make the calls and write the letters and certified letters?
Excuses are easier . In this hot summer weather, hysterical societies love to remain in the shade and nor break a sweat doing much.
A protest rally is completely out of their thought processes.
Tell me, WTF do we need these collectors of historical materials for? Turn over your stuff to the Long Island room at the Jamaica library.
They have far better facilities for storing ephemera.

Jerry Rotondi said...

Thank you , George!

Someday in the future, people will look at the great job of documentation that you are doing, and ask some questions as to why Queens politicians did nothing to find a good alternative use for the landmark Steinway mansion. I only wish they would be addressing their politicians right now. The electeds have got to be held responsible for what is going on.

These self serving politicians have no vision beyond their own political advancement.
The voters of Queens keep on electing these mediocre crooks.

Is there anyone left who has any pride in their borough?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps GAHS should mount a show on Lost Astoria, highlighting George's videos and photos.
How about publishing a picture calendar, "Steinway On The Way Down"?
Do something besides bemoaning the loss and boasting about the little you've done that was too late.

Look out below! said...

Why would a storm now obliterate the building? It has withstood even the horrific 1938 hurricane. It is more likely that the vibrations from the construction might affect the structure.

Because all the supporting hill, the ground, the dirt, is now gone. No more "terra firma"-just man-made bracing.

And the guy that lives in the property next door shares a similar potentially disastrous fate.

Is this true? said...

Rumor has it that the saved remnants, the wooden boards, of Maspeth's St. Saviour's Historical Church, now resting in a cemetery, will be transferred to and stored in one of these Caliendo-designed Steinway warehouses.

georgetheatheist said...

Steinway & Sons owner John Paulson, billionaire benefactor and philanthropist, born and bred in Queens, prominently featured and photographed in today's Sunday New York Times.

Mr. Paulson, have your received and read our letter to you dated June 28?

R├ępondez, s'il vous plait.

Anonymous said...

And the people that live in the property next door share a similar potentially disastrous fate.

You can see that property in George's Part I video at 00:58-01:03 and 01:56-to 02:09 (end) as well as in the Part II video at 00:09-0025.

The property, a small house, is at the far left of the screen.

I wonder if the owner has hired a lawyer.

The Ghost of Ronald Reagan said...

Now if Bob Turner, the Chairman of the Queens County Republican Party, has the head on his shoulders that I think he does, he'd make an outreach to, as you can see from above, the prominent Republican donor, Queens-bred, John Paulson to step in and lend a hand here.

A golden opportunity for the Queens GOP to wrest borough control from the Dems.

Anonymous said...

I guess we need to ask the electeds what is going on here - how are the warehouses to be connected to the mansion? what is the fate of the mansion's fireplaces-doors etc.

What is the long term plan do you have for the mansion - we know its entertainment and we know many of the details. We also know a lot of people will not be happy.

Now it might be a smart thing to start to tip off the public and soften them up on your plans before you have the pitchfork and torch set at your door.

There have been enough antics around that building long enough.

Anonymous said...

They actually lost the skylight in 38. I am more concerned about lighting now that the building is exposed.

I agree, its time the politicians stop playing with the community and level with us on what their plans are. We know why its not a park, and we know why the Friends don't have it.

I think the first thing we need to do is to have them stop this bullshit about private property. This building is a NYC Designated Landmark and on the National Register. They could perhaps invoke eminent domain over something like that.

Lets call on the electeds to work with the owner and make public a safety plan for the property, to express an interest that the building be restored to its former glory, and to work with the Friends on securing the Mansion's future.

Anonymous said...

Call on the electeds? Picket their district offices to get their attention. Maybe Tony Avella might help out.
There needs to be a series of press conferences held on LPC's doorstep...maybe Paulson's home.
Time to think out of the box to do something...because it will all be over soon, and not for the better.
Shouldn't it be up to the Queens Historical Society to be directing all of the borough's preservation groups to form an army of protest?
Yawn...what a navel gazing, self absorbed , generally useles organization they are.
C'mon GAHS, pick up the ball and run with it. Astorians have more back bone then that eastern anemic QHS!

Jerry Rotondi said...

If the LPC has decided to turn a deaf ear, possibly the only option left open is to file an Article 78 action against them in court.

Yes, you need a lawyer. So get off the pot and on the stick. Put the internet to good use in raising some money to pay for one...
or find a civic minded attorney to do it gratis. What about that, Friends of Steinway...anyone else?

This is a crime in progress and all need to be united in this crime fighting battle. If this were Manhattan, this would not be happening. Queens is known as a soft spot...easily destroyed.

It is ironic how the LPC has always said that Queens needs to speak up. Yes, but when we do we are ignored by them anyway.
What a dilemma we face. The LPC is the major perpetrator here. They are not doing their job!

Even if an Article 78 fails to push the LPC into taking action, launching one will bring about a news media blitz that would serve to shine a bright light on the LPC's lethargic position regarding Steinway. Isn't that worth it? I'll contribute towards hiring a lawyer. How many others
will join me?

The Astoria Avenger said...

I have grown sick of seeing all of this wasted energy spent on posting.
Grab a pitchfork. Light your torches. Tar and feather a few officials with bad press and demonstrations.
Do not become easy pickings in this. You will all regret it later.
Nobody asks you to risk your lives , only sweat a little.
Surely then you can tell your grandchildren that you sweated to save the Steinway mansion!

Anonymous said...

There is no Zorro. There is no Robin Hood to save the day. There is no justice. There is only just us!
And that is enough if all unite in this fight. Stop the blame game and name calling. Serve your cause.
Call, write...swamp the pol's' offices with complaints. The squeaky wheel gets oiled.
The alpha male gets the cream. Complacency gets you nothing. Blind complaining gets you even less.
Time to act up...and loud!

Anonymous said...

Joan of Arc couldn't win this one with the lazy uninspired citizen army of Queens.
It's too hot...too rainy. I have my lawn to take care of. Northeast Queens will watch in amusement.
This is too far west of us to affect our quality of life in Douglaston.

Hmmmm....Ya think so, eh? Your turn in the barrel will come, if it has not begun already.
Lullaby and goodnight. Sleep tight. Wake up to a future nightmare!
Wah...wah...wah, Where's mamma?

J.S Mosby's ghost said...

Make all the guilty ones pay for every blade of grass...every rock and hill.
If this battle be lost...let those who defile the mansion pay a heavy price for what they've done!

Anonymous said...

Maybe you can't blame Paulson, born and bred in Queens.
Why should he have any respect for Queens when Queens residents have no respect for it either?
They prove it by electing and re-electing the same breed of crooked politicians who take money from developers who piss on our history.
Many times I find myself being ashamed of being a Queensite myself.

Jerry Rotondi said...

I am now asking the Queens Historical Society, where I once served as a trustee, to take some action beyond issuing statements regarding the Steinway mansion. That is not enough.

You are named for our borough, and should be offering more than apologies about caring , followed by saying there is nothing else you can do. You are supposed to be the stewards of Queens' history , which should include strongly advocating for the protection of historical sites.

QHS once had a preservation committee, which I was a key member of. Does that committee still exist? If so, get cracking! At the very least you should be strong arming the LPC about inspecting the mansion and site. Surely taking such action won't endanger your funding stream.

Res Ipsaloquitur said...

Jerry, how about the QHS attorney Paul Kerson? He's also the new President of the Queens County Bar Association.

Maybe he's the legal eagle who might step in here or know of one who might.

Jerry Rotondi said...

I would not think that Paul Kerson would do it.
Being president of the Queens County Bar Association puts him in a rather conservative position, doesn't it?
When Judge William D. Friedman was president of QHS, I remember him being more gung ho on such matters.
He would have taken action. He did with Flushing Town Hall.

Marginally appropriate...I have a surprising bit of information to convey.
The convicted former councilman Halleran, did at least one good thing.
He set up the New York State not for profit corporation for the Friends of The RKO Keith's, and for free!
Poor Dan. He could have been somebody. Now he's in jail.

Anonymous said...

RU kidding?
Paul Kerson won't do squat! He is now part of the county system.
Maybe he represents some developers. We'd like to see his client list.
You might as well ask Paul Vallone, the developers' lobbyist, to go to bat for historic preservation.

I Truly Believe That Queens Historical Preservation Is Just One Big Jerk-off Session said...

If Kerson won't do "squat", why the hell is he listed as QHS attorney on their Board page? What does he DO for them?

Jerry Rotondi said...

There are some people at GAHS who may not like what I am about to say, but it will be said, openly. I sign my posts.
Maybe this is GAHS's prime responsibility at this point in time.

Let's all look for a lawyer....together. When lawyers step in, people take notice that you are very serious.
Otherwise all other efforts remain a shot in the dark. Filing against the LPC is the best move. Their attorney, Mark Silberman, hates going to court. He's a wimp. A good litigator will turn him into hamburger meat.

I will join GAHS in any move they make regarding this. As I've already said, I will contribute what I can afford to hiring a legal eagle.

In my past experience with QHS, they do not have the stomach for this. Do I blame them? Yes and no. They are what they are. The blame game serves no purpose here anymore.

Everytime I listen to my historic Vladimir Horrowitz recordings , from his return to Carnegie Hall...performed on a Steinway piano of his choice...I cringe at the low life we have as politicians in Queens. They should have done their best in preventing what's going on in the Steinway mansion's front yard years ago. They allowed another one of Queens' prizes to be desecrated.

Borough President Katz is a weak blow hard. I say this openly. She already knows my opinion of borough hall. Her "Katz Concerts" are a self promoting sham...a bone tossed to a starving dog. I will not be bought for ice cream money. That is what she is doing to Queens residents. She throws favors to the crowd, like cheap Mardi Gras beads,with one hand and supports overdevelopment with the other. In my book we call that two faced! Borough hall is the epicenter for destruction of your quality of life in your neighborhood. It's time to wake up to that fact.

Then comes borough hall's forever ready excuse, "...the site is privately owned...".
I heard the same excuse from Claire Shulman and deputy Magnanni regarding the Keith's Flushing Theatre, when both refused to take action against the criminal developer , Tommy Huang.
Shulman's own words, "Hasn't he (Huang) suffered enough? He hasn't been able to build on the site".
I think that sums it all up. There are no friends at borough hall. Become a developer, then you can befriend the beep.

Anonymous said...

All of the years that Paul Kerson has been associated with QHS, has he ever stepped into the fray to soil his clothes or reputation?
How many violations of landmark sites have occurred while he took no real action?
QHS must remain mute or be declared an enemy of county politics. Then their funding will be capped.
As long as QHS can be bought cheap, it is to the benefit of shady pols to support them.
Then it can be said of these pol's that they are advocates of historic preservation.
QHS takes its alms and publishes the names of politicians who support their programs. Voters read campaign materials, mistaking the meager support that a savvy pol gives to them, as real substantial support.
End result, the voters are made dummies of, once again.

Anonymous said...

Is this all getting too "deep" to follow?
Perhaps. Queens is the borough of Archie Bunker.
And he ain't too swift.

Leaders rarely come from Queens. Sheep are more easily bred here.
People are sheeple. They follow, not lead. Why question your politician when he
delivers bocce courts to Bowne Park?

Has anyone looked to see the developers's cash that lines his pocket?
Oh, no!
A pol like Paul Vallone , for example,
is such a nice guy , a church attender, soccer coach , and family man.

Jerry Rotondi said...

While I served on QHS's board along with Paul Kerson, I cannot recall him offering his services in regard to defending the RKO Keith's Flushing theatre. I suppose there were reasons for that. I didn't push it. I was a novice then...and wet behind the ears....politically speaking.

I no longer have any "juice" with QHS. Let someone else contact Paul Kerson, if they really think he's the right one to reach out to now.

Laissez les bontemps rouler said...

Re Katz ("Gimme some beads, Melinda!"):

Borough President Katz is a weak blow hard. I say this openly. She already knows my opinion of borough hall. Her "Katz Concerts" are a self promoting sham...a bone tossed to a starving dog. I will not be bought for ice cream money. That is what she is doing to Queens residents. She throws favors to the crowd, like cheap Mardi Gras beads,with one hand and supports overdevelopment with the other. In my book we call that two faced! Borough hall is the epicenter for destruction of your quality of life in your neighborhood. It's time to wake up to that fact.

Absolutely brilliant description! A cheap Mardi Gras queen throwing cheap Mardi Gras beads to the peasants.

georgetheatheist said...

Jerry, listen to your phone's answering machine. Someone wants to talk to you about this Steinway matter.

Jerry Rotondi said...

Thank you , George, I have. Just returned from vacationing
Can Robert Singleton speak for himself?
Does he need an able advocate, like yourself, to be his mouthpiece?
Could you be one in the same person?
Nah! I'm only kidding.

Jerry Rotondi said...

P.S. George...
Bob, or any other GAHS member, can always contact me via Queens Crap.
I carry my I pad , whereas when I'm on holiday I do not jump to answer my phone.. except for emergencies.
Caller ID determines what constitutes an emergency.
Bob WILL get a call as soon as he wakes up.
I woke up,at 5:30 AM, and just heard his message.
Thanks for the info. After my coffee I'll be more lucid and less snappy.

Jerry Rotondi said...

Thank you, " let the good times roll" poster.
I love New Orleans' French motto.
Claire Shulman was our first Mardi Gras queen (ugh)!
Katz is our second (better looking).
Helen Marshal? Well....let's not even discuss her.
BUT....remember this...nobody has a friend at borough hall ,unless if you are a developer!
All else is just smoke and mirrors.

Anonymous said...

You hit the nail dead on!
Queens voters can be bought for ice cream money.
Every pol knows this.
There is one sleazy real estate broker , in northeast Queens,
who holds her annual free ice cream party
as an ad gimmick to promote the use of her services.
Meanwhile, politicians get bigger bribes from developers.
Some enough to by a Porsche.
We voters settle for a ticket to the movies,
if a pol feels more generous.
In our "Democracy" , votes are bought!
The Democratic machine runs Queens.
Hence we have, the Great Democratic Dictatorship of Queens.
County rules! We obey! Paul Vallone is my shepard. I shall not want,
as long as I behave. Otherwise, no candy money this week.
Queens voters gotta be the dumbest of the lot!
The machine loves sheep but a black sheep is not tolerated.

Jerry Rotondi said...

Just to let you readers know that I'm sincere, I made two calls to GAHS' Robert Singleton this morning regarding Steinway.
I got his answering machine. I guess that's my tit for tat, or tat for tit...since It took so long for me to answer his message.

Relax Bob, I was only joking about that last remark. I couldn't resist a good opportunity to zing it to you. We need some comic relief here.

Bob and I go way back. We are OK with each other, but sometimes we don't get each other's cryptic humor.
I admit that I can be sarcastic and irritating when I put a little effort into it.

I'll catch up with you tomorrow, Bob. We'll talk. Something has got to be done. Queens can no longer sustain these kind of loses.

Jerry Rotondi said...

I tried phoning Bob Singleton again last night RE Steinway. I'll try again in the A.M.
We are both busy. That is understandable. Playing telephone tag is the last thing we need at this time.
In case we don't hook up soon, here is my humble suggestion for Friends of Steinway, GAHS, QHS.
Anyone else can participate if they wish. The more, the merrier.

Call LPC. See if they intend to inspect the site. Find out if they are going to be monitoring the site for any harmful vibrations which could compromise the mansion's stability. Have seismographs been installed inside the building? Will , or has, LPC required it?

Then follow up the phone call with a letter confirming the phone call.

Still no response? Write certified return receipt letter to LPC, borough hall, Mayor De Blasio, etc.
Or, you can skip the regular letter, and jump to the certified mail first.

Still left out in the cold? Find an attorney to contact them.

If required, as a last measure, have the lawyer file
an article 78 action against the LPC
for not doing their job properly. That will create headlines and get public notice all around.

This has been my personal experience with RKO Keith's. It can be a tedious path to follow. There are no guarantees of success.
Yet, we must all try to do what we can, with no stone left unturned.

It is far too late to undue the building that's in progress on the front lawn.
It is not too late to protect the Steinway mansion itself, from any serious damage which migh occur.

Petitions, alone, are useless. Without other measures taken, they get filed in the waste basket.

An afterthought:
Contact Greg Mocker, channel 11. He does neighborhood news and local trouble shooting.
He will come to the site. He has turned out for similar stuff before. We are still a TV screen culture. "Breaking news at ten...historic Steinway legacy is under attack"!

If they would air George's great graphic videos, there would be no need for network TV cameras to roll.

Jerry Rotondi said...

To be fair....Bob called me first yesterday morning. We had a good talk.
We all agree something needs to be done about insisting that the LPC inspect and monitor the Steinway mansion for any developing cracks in the walls or foundation due to the construction going on in the old front yard.

Now....let us all contact the LPC , en masse!
Afterwards, the additional steps I've outlined, need to be implemented.
I hope that GAHS will take the lead on this, followed, or in tandem, with QHS.

Squeezing the LPC to do its job should not upset any politician and endanger any historical society's funding from them.
I await your actions, this direction.
Good luck to all. The site has been destroyed. Now it's a salvage job to protect the landmark mansion itself.

Anonymous said...

Bob emailed me a good week or so ago but i just missed it. i sent him a reply today.

i don't know about article 78, but if that (or threats thereof) compel LPC to act under tppn 10/88, they have no obligation to perform the monitoring or inspections for you/us. technically, under TPPN 10/88 the developer doesn't even have an obligation to disclose any results to anyone including LPC until 30 days after the excavation, but obviously that's still a conflict of interest, and if LPC is going to try and keep this out of court then they're going to do the full monty.

but like i said, compelling LPC to collect and disclose this information doesn't mean much, and it certainly doesn't mean they will do ANYTHING more than that. my advice to Bob was start looking for an engineer who can work within GAHS's resources. IF, IF LPC can be coerced into compelling the developer to cooperate, and IF the developer is willing to do so.... there's two choices from there. either the developer will show up at a table with GAHS's technical representation to hash out an arrangement (with LPC standing in the corner, most likely), or they will do whatever the fuck they want, forward the results to LPC whenever they want, and LPC will turn around and forward them to GAHS whenever they can be bothered to do so. presumably, GAHS is not equipped to interpret seismograph data, and LPC's track record with this has been abysmal (not with re to parceling the land, apparently GAHS has been stonewalled since then, and i believe them). that will need to happen fast if agreed to because LPC will not want to be solely liable for time the developer is losing.

start looking for an engineer who can do this. you do not want to have it all blow up because there's no one representing the community interests... because then this is really sunk as you will lose what's probably a reasonable avenue for an article 78 claim. LPC will say they did it at the request of the community and they have the data they're obligated to collect, and as an agency they aren't there to handhold in interpretation. that's a losing battle for the good guys.

Jerry Rotondi said...

That sounds like some thickly sliced Baloney! Correct me if I'm wrong.

LPC fears the smell of a lawsuit like the plague. You keep on missing the point over and over again.
Their attorney, Mark Silberman will do anything to avoid going to court.
Even a hint of legal action will make him take a bathroom break.

"We don't want to go to court", he once told a NYC council member's chief of staff.
His reply to Mark was, "Why, aren't you good at it"?
The truth is that Silberman is not a good litigator. He is a fearful wimp, unlike their previous attorney, the late Dorothy Miner.
The purpose of filing against the LPC , or hinting to file, is to achieve a press coupe.
Put them on the grill!

I am not a lawyer , but this continuing attitude to "work with" everybody has proved futile,
and you have much evidence for that.
Now it is time to act up a little.
Begin by signing your name to your posts here, like I have done.

If you happen to be an attorney, which I doubt, I will defer to your expertise regarding any legal standing or technicalities.
If this is just an effort to make GAHS or QHS look like they've done all they could have, it is weak.
Spend your energy where it might count, instead of expending it on damage control.

I'll keep on posting until I see some real effort spent by ALL of the historic preservation groups.
My recent cordial conversation with Mr. Singleton has nothing to do with giving ANY group, a free pass on abdicating their responsibilities.

If I can be little else here, I can certainly act as your conscience on the matter of Steinway.
When we are all sure that all of the stops have been pulled out to protect the mansion, I will cease in my criticism.

Until then, good day, and good luck.

Anonymous said...

"That sounds like some thickly sliced Baloney! Correct me if I'm wrong."

consider this your correction.

i really don't give a shit if LPC wants to go to court or not. i really dont give a shit if you or GAHS want to take them to court or not. i dont care about silberman or his spine or lackthereof, nor do i care for picking a side in the jerry v bob fight. im saying something factual, that is, TPPN 10/88 is black-letter law and LPC is the party who's most responsible for ensuring those protections are implemented.

maybe ive jumped ahead and assumed you are familiar with TPPN 10/88. if you are not i encourage you to read it. that is what specifies the vibration and survey limits and soforth governing construction adjacent to landmarks. it is an expensive program to implement and is generally used when landmark buildings are adjacent to development by a different owner. i severely doubt it is being adhered to. it is TECHNICALLY the responsibility of the architect to specify the program, but it is almost always done at the request of the LPC. ive looked at the pictures of the mansion and i have yet to see any survey prisms. those are required by the TPPN, so again, theres no evidence this is happening.

what i said in my message if you took the time to read it before jumping to the assumption that i was interested in defending GAHS, is your best bet in defending the mansion is ensuring TPPN 1088 is being implemented. the rest is behind us now.

LPC can MAYBE compel the developer to implement that, but LPC is not in the business of providing technical assistance on that data, or doing any inspections, or installing seismographs, or going to the field to look at driving/drilling equipment, or anything like that. they are referees. the rest is paid for by the developer and the community. in the event the developer decides to cooperate with LPC, at the request of GAHS (or the community at large), then the community NEEDS to have a technical representative to help with this. if they do not, then LPC will say they did what they are chartered to do, which is ensure TPPN 10/88 is being implemented, and GAHS can get fucked. THIS IS ALL YOU CAN DO. you can ensure that its happening, either by asking LPC politely, threatening to sue them, actually suing them, whatever. but if they say "ok, fine, what do you want?" then you need a technical person to answer the question. so i'll say this again:

"start looking for an engineer who can do this. you do not want to have it all blow up because there's no one representing the community interests... because then this is really sunk as you will lose what's probably a reasonable avenue for an article 78 claim. LPC will say they did it at the request of the community and they have the data they're obligated to collect, and as an agency they aren't there to handhold in interpretation. that's a losing battle for the good guys."

youre clearly a smart guy jerry, but do me a favor and don't go around questioning my motives when i took time to write it up, especially if you didn't take the time to read and comprehend what i was saying.

Jerry Rotondi said...

Previous anonymous:

A correction for you.
There is no fight between me and Bob, just that we agree to disagree. Believe me. We are friends. No sides need to be taken.
Debate is the essence of Democracy.

You are clearly not a lawyer. Your emotions betray you, regardless of you quoting TTPN 10/88, which I am having my attorney examine.

I repeat, if you sign your posts and state your area of expertise , you will gain more respect from everyone.

My fight, as you insist on referring to it, is with any unresourceful historical,society who steps in at the eleventh hour to try and save a site , when it is far too late. All stops were not pulled out to acquire Steinway early in the game.

Whether it is QHS or GAHS. or any other some creativity. Plodding along the usual paths...relying on politicians to befriend your cause has already proved ineffective many times in the past. It reveals your society has a limited tool box.

Offer an alternative to my "hare brained" suggestions...which will protect the mansion...and I'm all ears. Then go do it, not make excuses, why it cannot be done.
You need to stow your anger and learn to fight with some new skills. I admit my own deserved anger on what is being done to the mansion site.

And, P.S.
You don't need four letter words to make your point. It belittles you. The lawsuit tactic was suggested only to break the ice.
Come up with a better tactic and pursue it. As we continue to post and counter post, it will all be over before we run out of words.