Friday, December 31, 2021

Blaz hides and flees in final hours at City Hall

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Meet the new mandates, same as the old mandates


 Eyewitness News

 Mayor-elect Eric Adams held COVID news conference unveiling his plans to combat COVID in New York City as he prepares to take office this weekend.

He was joined by current Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi and incoming Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan.

Adams said the plan is to, "Keep our city open. That's the goal. We can't shut down our city again."

As for existing mandates regarding vaccines and masks, they will stay in place with a few changes and adjustments.

The private-sector employee vaccine mandate will stay in place with a focus on compliance, not punishment. A dedicated unit will work with small businesses, stakeholders, and the mayor's corporate engagement committee to help implement the mandate, foregoing fines if employers engage with the city to help get their workers vaccinated.

The city will study the need for an "up to date" mandate program to require booster shots for all New Yorkers currently covered by the vaccine mandates and engage with unions, the business community, and other shareholders. The data shows that booster shots are extremely effective against Delta and earlier COVID strains, but the city says it does not yet have definitive data on omicron.

The city will set a deadline of this spring for a decision on whether or not there should be a vaccine mandate in schools for the fall of 2022. The decision will be based on expected COVID risk in city schools and vaccination rates among students.

All other current mandates stay in place, including for masks.

"We are going to get through this," Adams said. "New York will lead the way for this entire country to follow."

As for New York City Schools, they will fully reopen on January 3, and they will implement the Stay Safe, Stay Open plan.

It includes doubling surveillance testing and adjusting the Situation Room and quarantine protocols. Sending home millions of rapid at-home tests for students and educators.
They will also strengthen mitigation measures including higher quality masks and better ventilation.

 Incoming-Mayor Adams says they will surge resources to the Health + Hospitals system to ensure enough capacity to address new hospitalizations from omicron. Ambulatory care will be shifted to virtual when possible to shore up nurse staffing levels and other measures.

He also plans to improve safety in congregate settings like jails, shelters, and nursing homes at high risk by supporting rapid isolation and quarantine. They will also provide ready access to vaccination and testing.

As far as COVID testing efforts for the city, the Adams administration plans to increase testing with more sites and mass-access to rapid tests.

The city says it will provide clear testing protocols for specific settings, including in the private sector.

The city will also surge resources to the Health Department, including more than 250 staff, to keep the public health infrastructure strong and at adequate capacity.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Governor Kathy opens bridges for biking

 NY Post

 MTA officials will be required to plan for and encourage bicycle and pedestrian access on its bridges and trains, according to legislation signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday.

The new law mandates officials “develop a strategic action plan to improve bicycle and pedestrian access at bridges, stations and other facilities operated by the authority,” and requires bicycle expertise on the MTA’s advisory commuter councils.

“Public transit in New York should be welcoming, safe and accessible for cyclists and pedestrians,” Hochul said in a statement. “I’m proud to sign legislation that will expand access to public transit, no matter how you choose to get around.”

Cycling advocates hope the bill injects some zeal into the MTA’s approach to bike policy. It is currently illegal to pedal over any of the seven MTA bridges within New York City limits, and cyclists who disregard the rules risk getting ticketed by cops.

Vaccinated and masked NYPD bounce a child out of Applebee's

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

QPL Omicron shutdowns

 Update from Larry, your friendly neighborhood retired federal transit man:


Add the Douglaston Little Neck Library to the list of closed branches.  They had a sign posted this past Monday that they were closed to further notice.  I wonder how many more branches are also closed in addition to the list you  provided.

During my previous visits, all staff and patrons wore masks.  If you didn't have a mask, one was available at the door staffed by an elderly guard probably being paid a little more than minimum wage.  He probably needed the income to supplement his social security and meager savings.
Perhaps they should just publish a list of which branches are still open.
A covid case just shut down the Elmhurst branch.-JQ LLC

Monday, December 27, 2021

Springfield Gardens civic condemns arriving luxury tower

Queens Chronicle

Several civic association leaders and members have banned together in opposition to the development of an apartment complex in Springfield Gardens that would change the zoning for the area and it could also have larger implications on other Southeast Queens neighborhoods.

“When this item popped up here, putting a seven-to-eight story apartment building here, we were like that is not the character of this neighborhood,” said Bill Perkins, the project manager of the Southeastern Queens Zoning Preservation Task Force. “That is not the character of this neighborhood and that’s not why people have moved to this community.”

The proposal is for an eight-story mixed-use building at 146-93 Guy R. Brewer Blvd. of 42 units (13 would be income-restricted) studios to two-bedrooms within 33,500; square feet, with 46 parking spaces and 4,000 square feet of commercial space, according to Mark McMillan, the district manager of CB 13. Springfield Gardens and the surrounding neighborhoods of Laurelton, Brookville and Rosedale do not having apartment buildings that high and tend to have mostly one-to-two family homes.

“This is the biggest issue in the community,” said McMillan. “I’ve never seen this much opposition to something.”

CB 13 voted down the proposal 32-0 with zero abstentions, according to McMillan, earlier this week.

“We stay connected through our civic associations,” said Perkins. “We want to make sure our communities’ voices are heard.”

The Springfield/Rosedale Community Action Association, the SpringJam Block Association, the Spring-Gar Community Civic Association, the Eastern Queens Alliance, the Rosedale Civic Association and the Federated Blocks of Laurelton are all against the proposal from developer Ranbir LLC.

“The tallest facility that exists in this community board is Saratoga Shelter right on Rockaway between Guy R. Brewer and Farmers,” said Lonnie Glover, president of Spring-Gar. “This is a very heavy intersection between 147th Avenue and Guy R. Brewer.”

The area was only built for one-to-two family homes and when sewer projects were initiated in the 1990s to alleviate flooding in the area, apartment buildings were not taken into consideration, according to Glover, who has lived in Springfield Gardens for more than two decades. The area already has high traffic and overcrowded schools.

“We are also oversaturated when it comes to parking,” said Glover. “When you add 36-plus units, some of these people are probably going to have more than one car. In fact, this used to be an empty lot. It was an unofficial parking space for people going to JFK Airport.”

If the zoning changes on the Springfield Gardens site it will have a domino effect on other neighborhoods in Southeastern Queens, according to Perkins, who lives in nearby Rosedale.

“We didn’t move here for that,” said Perkins. “Also, it depreciates the home values here.

Community board rejects luxury public housing building to replace tower diner

Queens Post  

Queens Community Board 6 rejected a developer’s rezoning application that seeks to replace a popular Rego Park diner and synagogue on Queens Boulevard with a 15-story mixed-use building.

The board, which represents the neighborhoods of Rego Park and Forest Hills, voted 20 to 19 against the plan during a virtual meeting on Dec. 8.

The plan calls for the demolition of several buildings on a large triangular block — occupied by the Tower Diner, Ohr Natan Synagogue and various small businesses — to make way for apartments and retail space.

The application, submitted by RJ Capital Holdings, proposes constructing a 153,400-square-foot building at 98-81 Queens Blvd that would include 17,400 square feet of retail space and 144 units — 44 of which would be “affordable” pursuant to the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing requirement. The plan requires the site to be rezoned and therefore must be approved by the city before it can move forward.

However, neither the community board nor the city can stop RJ Capital from demolishing the buildings — and putting up a new development — since the property is not landmarked. The community board is only able to provide a yes or no recommendation on the developer’s upzoning plans, not its demolition plans.

RJ Capital can build an apartment complex — albeit smaller — as of right. In fact, the company said it would construct a 103-unit building with zero affordable apartments if its rezoning application were to be rejected.

The local community board is the first to review and vote on the plan in the process used by the city to assess rezoning applications — the Uniform Land Use Review Process.

Next, it goes to the borough president, who offers his own recommendation on the plan.

Both Community Board 6’s vote and Richards’ future recommendation are only advisory. The City Council has the ultimate say as to whether RJ Capital’s rezoning application gets approved.

The advisory recommendations, however, do influence how the city council votes.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Emergency At The Umbrella Hotel


Impunity City 

This is the Umbrella Hotel, where the first homicide of departing mayor and lying lowlife Bill de Blasio last year in office took place, after a fight broke out from a hotel room where another raucous party was being held and spilled outside  in front of the building’s entrance and three men got shot during a rumble between two groups of men, one of them fatally. 

 The 19-year-old killer was actually already in custody for another homicide in Queens when he shot a man to death at a karaoke bar in Flushing over a fight about a gold chain the victim was wearing.

 The Umbrella Hotel is actually a mixed use building featuring once touted luxury residences on the higher floors. But the hotel itself had persistent trouble filling vacancies, so the management decided to let a homeless service provider fill the rooms with homeless people, which the city would pay around $2,000 to $3,000 a month to shelter them.

Curiosity beckons to ask why was a NYPD patrol van standing guard idling on the common area of egress for the remaining residents of this "luxury" building? Was there a fugitive they trapped in there? Couldn't be because the freight entrance was opened. Closer inspection found that this excessive exhibition of authority probably didn't warrant this much excess.

Or did it?...


Crappy Christmas Caption Dr. Dave's successor


Friday, December 24, 2021

Contractors got the vaccine bribe and got paid for the wait to get their kids jabbed

The NYC Luxury Public Housing Connection, Part II


New York YIMBY 

 The affordable housing lottery has launched for Rockaway Village Apartments, three residential buildings at 1701, 1721, and 1725 Village Lane in Far Rockaway, Queens. Designed by Marvel Architects and developed by Phipps Houses, the structures yield a total 1,693 residences. Available on NYC Housing Connect are 550 units for residents at 30 to 100 percent of the area median income (AMI), ranging in eligible income from $15,806 to $148,000.

 At 30 percent of the AMI, there are 21 units with a monthly rent ranging from $388 to $662 for incomes ranging from $15,806 to $44,400. At 40 percent of the AMI, there are 54 units with a monthly rent ranging from $558 to $957 for incomes ranging from $21,635 to $59,200. At 50 percent of the AMI, there are 140 units with a monthly rent ranging from $729 to $1,253 for incomes ranging from $27,498 to $74,000. At 60 percent of the AMI, there are 143 units with a monthly rent ranging from $900 to $1,549 for incomes ranging from $33,360 to $88,800. At 80 percent of the AMI, there are 106 units with a monthly rent ranging from $1,075 to $1,885 for incomes ranging from $39,360 to $118,400. At 100 percent of the AMI, there are 86 units with a monthly rent ranging from $1,040 to $1,824 for incomes ranging from $38,160 to $148,000.

That's about 1,143 units that will be market rate. The lottery results are going to look interesting when they are advertising rooms like this.


That bedroom is tight, in the literal sense. And I bet the lucky lottery winner is sure going to love that dickhead bunny picture. Who does Phipps and NYC Housing expect to live here, Donnie Darko?


Thursday, December 23, 2021

The NYC Luxury Public Housing Connection


Impunity City 

 With a month to go until the eviction moratorium expires on January 15th (Martin Luther King’s birthday, SMDFH), hundreds of thousands of city residents will either repay their debts to their landlords or probably get evicted from their apartment aka homes. As this crisis gets closer with each passing second and as the weather gets colder, the other and brighter side of life in New York Fucking City should not got unacknowledged…

Good news every tenant in New York City, THE RENT IS TOO DAMN HIGH AGAIN!. Truly a monumental event and a sign that the recovery for all of us that Mayor de Blasio has been repetitively been talking about is about to come to fruition, at least for those that count. Meaning those that are able to count what little savings they have. Because if the rents are going up again, surely this trend will trickle down to the perpetually housing insecure via the city’s Housing New York program to build and preserve affordable housing for the city’s desperate and downtrodden who pay 1/3 of their check in rent right?

Of course not. As I pointed out last year of an apartment building in west Soho (which is called Hudson Square now to make it even nichier), The Blaz’s affordable housing program is a fucking ruse and a hoax. And now after 8 years of “affordable housing”development usually sprouting in establish gentrification colonizer Brooklyn nabes like Williamsburg, Bushwick and Greenpoint and even in Queens enclaves like Astoria, Rockaway, Long Island City and quasi/pseudo-Brooklyn nabe Ridgewood, this inequitable farce and impossible to win lottery city program has sprouted in the most unlikeliest of towns in Southside Queens, Ozone Park.

When the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced the debut and opened the lottery for this building this year in March, it was quite a surprised to see it still looked like this three months later.



Now why would the owners and management of this “affordable housing” building advertise it with an private agency contact when it’s on the city government’s Housing Connect website? And what’s more outlandishly egregious is why it’s being advertised as “Luxury” which is not only misleading but wholly antithetical to de Blasio’s and his housing and preservation department lackeys intent to bring housing equity to the long suffering housing insecure, homeless, rent burdened citizens and gentrification refugees of New York City?

But since this is so eye catching, lets take a look at what kind of luxury the developers are peddling here with this.

Nothing defines luxury than a balcony, even if there is barely room for two people to stand on.

 Now I’m not an architect, but placing these HVAC’s on the pavement really looks like a massive shit idea and makes me wonder what the developers were thinking when they gave this the o.k. or even if they were in the board room when this was designed. I also wonder if the LLC even visited this site or even this state or country as this was being built.


Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Three more months of Dr. Chokshi

 NBC New York


Dr. Dave Chokshi, the commissioner of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, will stay on in that role through mid-March, Mayor-elect Eric Adams said Wednesday.

Chokshi will then be replaced by Dr. Ashwin Vasan, a primary care physician and mental health expert.

Chokshi, often referred to as "the city's doctor," became health commissioner in Aug. 2020. He also remains a practicing primary care physician at Bellevue.

Mayor-elect Adams hires Ydanis Rodriguez to run D.O.T.


New York City will replace half of its plastic-protected bike lanes with “sturdier” barriers during the first 100 days of the incoming Adams administration, soon-to-be Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez announced Tuesday, Dec. 21.

The move would mean reworking hundreds of miles of protected green paths across the Five Boroughs that currently separate car from bike traffic with frail one-foot sticks known as flex posts.

“We are going to commit to replacing 50% of all plastic protected bike lanes with sturdier and more permanent structures within the first 100 days,” said Rodriguez at a joint press conference with Mayor-elect Eric Adams officially announcing his appointment.

The uptown councilman wouldn’t say where he planned to put the stronger barriers or with what he wants to replace the plastic flappers, but said that federal dollars from President Joe Biden’s infrastructure package could help fund the scheme.

“Day one, we’re gonna be going to the agency and listening from the experts that we have there, people that have decades of experience, and we’ll be looking at where in the city should we get started,” Rodriguez said. “What we know is that there’s now funding at the federal level that is part of the infrastructure plan.”

Adams on Monday tapped Rodriguez — who chairs the Council’s Transportation Committee — to head DOT and replace Commissioner Hank Gutman come Jan. 1. 

The city had 546 miles of protected bike lanes as of 2020 and the agency planned to add another 30 miles in 2021, but it is unclear how many of the roughly 576 miles are bordered by flex posts.

DOT’s definition of “protected” covers a wide range of ways cyclists are separated from car traffic, including completely detached paths on bridges or raised sidewalks, or lanes level with the rest of the road but shielded by concrete jersey barriers, flex posts, or a row of parked cars.

The plastic posts are easy to drive over for motorists and block the lanes, and cycling advocates have long called on the city to use more hard materials like concrete to keep pedalers safe, but DOT has continued to add them to new projects, such as Queens Boulevard.


Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Urbanish parasite

Anna Doré and Isaac Goldberg have lived in three of the eight apartments on the fifth floor of their building. “I still catch myself making a right out of the elevator when I need to be making a left,” Mr. Goldberg said. 

NY Times

Isaac Goldberg was working on the 2014 re-election campaign of Representative Steve Israel, Democrat of Huntington, N.Y., when he decided to have a party in his Astoria, Queens, apartment. He sent out a mass invite to everyone working on campaigns for Democrats on Long Island.

Anna Doré didn’t know Mr. Goldberg, but she was helping out with another campaign, heard about the party and decided to go. Ms. Doré, who works in public relations, has spent only five months of the last seven years working in politics. But that short window of time just happened to coincide with Mr. Goldberg’s party. “It was very much kismet,” she said.

It was also 90 degrees when she arrived, and most of the partygoers were circled around the air-conditioning unit, nursing Jell-O shots to keep cool. Campaign posters, an American flag and a 1996 Yankees championship poster adorned the walls. “The décor was definitely in need of some love and affection,” Ms. Doré said.

Surrounded by a mix of memorabilia, election talk and spiked refreshment, she and Mr. Goldberg found each other. One spark led to another and, seven years later, they are married and living in the same building where they met.

“We joke that Anna came to a party at my apartment and hasn’t left since,” Mr. Goldberg said. The joke is only partially true: While the couple has stayed in the building, they are living in their third apartment there — all on the same floor.

It was just a few months into their relationship when Ms. Doré moved in with Mr. Goldberg. She had been living on the Upper East Side, but fate forced her hand when a 4 a.m. fire broke out in her building. “Isaac raced over and came to the rescue,” she said, “even though we were just newly dating.”

She stayed with him that night, and the next day her building was condemned. Sharing the one-bedroom with Mr. Goldberg quickly evolved from a short-term fix to a long-term commitment.

“I didn’t want to be burned into living together,” Ms. Doré said. “But it worked out.”

In 2019, after the couple married at the Queens Museum, they envisioned themselves remaining in the second apartment for years to come. But then, Covid.

With both of them working from home, Ms. Doré set up a makeshift office in the bedroom. “I was sharing a wall with Isaac in his office,” she said. “As a political consultant, Isaac tends to talk on the phone all day.”

Investing in noise-canceling headphones helped “preserve our sanity,” she said, but it soon became clear that they needed a more permanent fix.

They thought the day had finally come when they would move into another building. Over a couple of months, they looked at 10 apartments in 10 buildings, sticking to Astoria for their search.

They are, by Mr. Goldberg’s admission, “Astoria obsessed.” For more than two years, Ms. Doré ran a locally focused Instagram account, WeHeartAstoria.

“I started to love the neighborhood through that lens,” she said. “We knew we didn’t want to leave.”

For his part, Mr. Goldberg is attracted to Astoria’s livability and working-class feel: “There’s the joke that the two hardest things to find in Astoria are doormen and dishwashers.”

 Might as well leave this here. Mr. Goldberg happens to work for Berlin Rosen, the consultant lobby that donated robustly to Bill de Blasio's campaign and his illegal 501c4 PAC "Campaign for One New York" as "agents of the city"


The Blaz allocates 40 million dollars for his backyard park



The Prospect Park Alliance and Mayor Bill de Blasio are announcing today that the city will allocate $40 million in the city budget to Prospect Park. This is the largest single allocation of funding from the city in the park's history and will be used to make much-needed upgrades and restorations in its northeast corner, known as the Vale. 

“Prospect Park is Brooklyn’s backyard,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement to Gothamist. “It’s where I got married and raised my family, and where New Yorkers of all backgrounds come to spend time in nature. This historic $40 million in funding will ensure the Vale is restored to its full glory.”

The Vale covers 27-acres and is located in the park’s northeastern edge bordering on Flatbush Avenue. Once construction begins, the hope is they won't have to close off the entire area. And while the work will not be completed until 2025 at the earliest, the planning has already begun.

There will be a restoration of the Children's Pool in the Lower Vale, a landmarked landscape built in the 1890s that has since fallen into a state of disrepair. And the Upper Vale (which was formerly the Rose Garden) will include three major new landscapes: a sensory garden/rustic arbor, a nature play area, and a combined amphitheater and community building.


Monday, December 20, 2021

Omicron panic shuts down hipster eateries

 The sign outside a restaurant informing visitors they must be vaccinated to enter the business.


A new winter COVID-19 surge in New York City has temporarily shuttered more than two dozen restaurants, battering an industry that had only begun to claw its way back from a nearly two-year pandemic ordeal.

Almost all the restaurants that have closed have put up statements on Instagram explaining there are confirmed COVID-19 exposures among their staff, as the delta and omicron variants tear through the city. On Thursday, Eater compiled a list of a dozen of the restaurants, some of which have since reopened and some of which said they won't reopen for several days.

That number ballooned to at least 30 by Friday morning.

"It's a bummer to limp into the holiday break on such a difficult week for everyone," said Chef Dennis Ngo, who runs Greenpoint's Di An Di, which shut down Wednesday after one positive case on their team.

"We take this stuff very seriously," Ngo told Gothamist. "That necessitated us closing, and then we required everyone to go out and get tested. We were asking all of our team members to either get two rapid tests back-to-back on consecutive days, or one PCR test. And based on that, we would have felt comfortable opening if we had all of those results in for today, but we experienced a lot of testing challenges."

He said his 30 employees were met with long lines at testing locations around Greenpoint, and many sites ended up running out of rapid tests.

"Even the ones that got PCRs, they were promised results by the end of the day yesterday, and they still haven't seen results yet," he noted Thursday. Some tried to get home tests, but they "had to go to three or four pharmacies to get it. It became kind of a game yesterday of trying to find what was the fastest place or easiest way to get them rapid tests."

Ngo estimated the restaurant loses around $7,000-$9,000 each night it's closed. On top of that, they were already planning to close for two weeks at the end of the month starting next week to give their team a break from such a challenging year, so it's unclear whether they'll have the chance to reopen before then.

 So far, there are more than ten restaurants in the Williamsburg/Greenpoint area that have shut down:Bernie's, Cozy Royale, Di An Di, We Got Company, Winonas, Thief, Frankel's Delicatessen, Pheasant, L'industrie Pizzeria, Misi, Lilia, Five Leaves, Four Horsemen. There were several more in other Brooklyn neighborhoods: LaLou, Love, Nelly, Nite Nite, Oxalis, Rialto Grande, Otway, Bar Meridian. Grand Army Bar and Ugly Baby both announced they would stay closed until the end of the year.

The surge has also hit places in Ridgewood, including The Acre (who recommended that anyone who went there this week get tested), Porcelain, and I Like Food (who said they would remain closed until after Christmas). Other restaurants that have shut down in various parts of the city include Temperance Wine Bar in the West Village, Bessou in the Lower East Side and Top Quality in Long Island City.

The Grinch that killed a pizzeria


A longtime Bay Terrace pizza shop is closing its doors after nearly 50 years in business.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Jack’s Pizza and Pasta would be going out of business amid a dispute between the restaurant’s owners and Cord Meyer, the development company that owns the Bay Terrace Shopping Center where Jack’s is located.

The owners of Jack’s Pizza posted a sign outside of the establishment at the shopping center claiming that Cord Meyer’s CEO Matthew Whalen refused to renew the restaurant’s lease, effectively forcing them out after decades of business. The sign also stated that Jack’s had stayed open “at the height of the COVID pandemic.”

But Cord Meyer issued a statement saying that the restaurant’s lease had expired in September 2020 and they had failed to renew it.

“Their lease expired in September 2020, but in acknowledgment of their long history, we agreed to let them stay until the end of 2021 and offered them generous rent concessions. We are disappointed that our relationship with Jack’s has been mischaracterized. If a tenant refuses to meet agreed-upon obligations, we need to focus on ensuring that the Bay Terrace remains a vibrant shopping center,” said a Cord Meyer spokesperson.

Laura, the daughter of Anna and Jack Sapienza who opened the business in 1972, told Patch that finances were tight when they ran a takeout-only operation during the pandemic. During that time, Laura claimed that the Sapienzas paid Cord Meyer “as much as we could” from March through December 2020 but had their rent check returned in January 2021 followed by a 30-day eviction notice.

Several reports claimed that the owners of the pizzeria were planning to pay back Cord Meyer for the missing rent, which the company allegedly approved during COVID.

Cord Meyer said that they will allow Jack’s Pizza to stay in its current location until Jan. 15 before shutting down the operation for good.


Walking the reservoir


 Bushwick Daily

Ulises Rivera, a Bushwick resident, has been visiting the Ridgewood Reservoir, a natural gem and former water source within Highland Park, for over 40 years. On this particular morning, he rode his bike and was getting exercise by doing laps around the park’s track. Rivera, who is 76, said he’s shared his enthusiasm for nature by taking both his children and grandchildren to the park through the years. 

Highland Park’s reach is vast, with an emblematic central reservoir that makes you feel far from the city. This is surprising, given that the park is surrounded by major boulevards and highways, including the Jackie Robinson Parkway. 

To facilitate access to the park among these busy roads, the city is installing pedestrian infrastructural improvements at the intersection of Vermont Place and Highland Boulevard, a key pedestrian access point. After receiving specific complaints and support from local community boards, the Department of Transportation (DOT) is installing a series of improvements at the intersection. According to DOT’s planning report, three people were seriously injured in car accidents at the intersection between 2014 and 2018. 

These improvements include a concrete sidewalk, which DOT is finishing up by the end of the year, as well as crosswalks and adjustments to traffic signal changes, which DOT plans to install by summer 2022. According to Queens Community Board 5’s 2021 community needs statement, parks are a fundamental need for residents in a crowded city.  Given this reality, activists and government officials want to work on expanding and improving park access for all New Yorkers. Understanding that safe access to parks and nature is fundamental to the general well being of its residents, the city is taking steps to improve pedestrian access around the Ridgewood Reservoir.


Sunday, December 19, 2021

Yo, Adrienne

NY Daily News 

This time, she has receipts.

Queens City Councilwoman Adrienne Adams announced Friday she has secured support from a majority of her colleagues in her bid to become the Council’s next speaker — pushing her over the edge to victory days after she and rival Councilman Francisco Moya claimed they had both won the race.

Marking a major turning point in the race, Adams’ team released statements of support from 32 incoming and current members, making it all but certain that a majority of the 51-seat Council will back her in the internal speaker vote set for Jan. 5.

“I am honored to have earned the support and the trust of my colleagues to be their speaker. Our coalition reflects the best of our city,” said Adams, who’s set to become the first Black woman to ever lead the Council. “We are ready to come together to solve the enormous challenges we face in order to not just recover from COVID but to build a better, fairer city that works for everyone.”

Moya, who also represents a Queens district and has been Mayor-elect Eric Adams’ favored candidate for speaker, bowed out of the race shortly thereafter.

“At this point, it is clear that I do not have a path to victory,” Moya tweeted.

“I am convinced that Adrienne Adams will be the best choice to lead our City Council forward,” he tweeted. “Let me be the first to congratulate my good friend Adrienne Adams.”

Despite the well wishes, Adrienne Adams’ likely win diminishes the mayor-elect’s perceived influence over the Council just as he prepares to take office on Jan. 1.

A Council member, who recently received a call from a top Eric Adams adviser pushing for a Moya speakership, said the effort has also stoked a lot of anger.

“There’s been intense dishonesty coming from the mayor-elect’s people,” said the member. “The mayor-elect keeps saying, ‘I have nothing to do with this,’ but then why are your people telling us how to vote? A lot of people are starting to feel, ‘How can we ever trust this guy?’”

Community board slams shelter apartment building

 Queens Chronicle

A proposal to build 90 temporary apartment-style units for homeless families in Flushing was met with universal opposition Monday night during a remote meeting of Community Board 7.

But Asian Americans for Equality, which wants to build the structure at 39-03 College Point Blvd., told the Chronicle that the plan is far different from so-called “day shelters” and it is not really a shelter at all.

City officials in an email also disputed accusations that the project was approved without community notice in general and notification of CB 7 in particular.

AAFE on its website says the units are for families experiencing short-term hardships, such as those who may have just lost their homes and those who may have been living in illegal apartments.

Jennifer Sun, co-executive director of the agency, said they hope to break ground in the spring and begin operating in 2024.

Not if those in Monday’s virtual meeting have anything to say about it. Board Chairman Gene Kelty was particularly critical of the lame-duck city officials and the Department of Homeless Services.

“The problem is the city says they don’t need our approval,” said Board Chairman Gene Kelty. “They’re just coming in. They’re calling it transitional family housing and not a shelter for men or women ... And how do they do it? In December at the end of the year when everyone is leaving office.”

Kenneth Chu said volunteers collected more than 20,000 petition signatures in opposition to the plan last weekend.

They also are being backed by Tom Grech, president and CEO of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, who spoke briefly.

“We’re opposed to a shelter in this location,” Grech said. “No responsible person would deny the need for safe shelters for families. This location does not make any sense. Flushing is undergoing a renaissance. We all need to work to find a better use for that property.”

Sun told the Chronicle that the agency has been active for more than 50 years, including two decades in Flushing.

“The city is calling this a shelter, but it’s not a shelter, not like day shelters you see,” she said, adding that services on-site are aimed at getting residents into permanent housing quickly.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

City still using hotel as halfway house

Transitional hotel’s future unknown 1

Queens Chronicle

Signs for the Wyndham Garden Hotel in Fresh Meadows came down sometime in the last few months, but it will continue to serve as a transitional community for the formerly incarcerated through the end of the year.

The 61-27 186 St. hotel has been used as a home for formerly detained individuals since April 2020.

“All hotels are under contract, and will remain open, through the end of 2021,” B. Colby Hamilton, the chief of public affairs at the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice said in an email to the Chronicle. “The City is committed to all of our transitional facilities, including those in Queens, that provide those returning from incarceration a much-needed home base of support as they work to reintegrate into our communities. The Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice and our partners inside and outside government are working tirelessly on the next phase of the program in the new year.”

Kandra Clark, the vice president of policy and strategy at Exodus, the group overseeing housing at the hotel, told the Chronicle that the group has not heard from the city about a contract extension date. The staff is working with the 116 residents to help them find permanent housing and employment.

The Fresh Meadows hotel is independently owned and operated as a franchise and hasn’t been affiliated with Wyndhman since September, according to the chain’s global communications director.

City integrates nature and upscale hotel in plan for Rockaway redevelopment

Crains New York

L+M Development Partners, the Bluestone Organization and Triangle Equities have closed on $30.3 million in financing for the first phase of Arverne East, a 116-acre oceanfront development in the Arverne and Edgemere neighborhoods of the Rockaways.

The first phase is a 35-acre nature preserve with a new building featuring a welcome center, a park ranger office, a comfort station and a community center, owned and operated by nonprofit organization Rise.

According to plans, the entire development eventually will include 1,650 units of housing—80% of which will be affordable—retail space and a beachfront hotel atop city-owned land that has been vacant and dilapidated for nearly 50 years.

 “In moving forward with this long-envisioned plan for Arverne East, we are ushering in a more resilient and inclusive future for the Rockaways community,” said Louise Carroll, commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

In the early 1970s, the city acquired and cleared most of the urban-renewal area for redevelopment to remove substandard housing and make way for new low- and moderate-income housing, but it hasn’t been redeveloped. 

The project completed the city’s arduous uniform land-use review process in March, with a push from Borough President Donovan Richards, who recommended the plans be approved. Construction on the whole project is expected to be finished by 2031.


Governor hires homeless non-profit fixer to lead rent relief agency

 City Limits

 Gov. Kathy Hochul on Wednesday nominated longtime homeless services administrator Daniel Tietz to lead the state agency tasked with overseeing New York’s tapped-out rent relief fund and administering key social service programs amid an historic homelessness crisis.

Tietz, a policy expert, nonprofit head and former top official in New York City’s Department of Social Services under Mayor Bill de Blasio, would become commissioner of the state’s Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA). He has most recently served as a fixer for two of the city’s problem-plagued service organizations.

In February, he took control of the Bronx Parent Housing Network following the arrest of the group’s CEO on corruption charges and a New York Times investigation that revealed allegations of sexual assault and coercion against residents of the group’s women’s shelters. A year earlier, a state judge appointed Tietz to steer scandal-scarred shelter provider Childrens’ Community Services after its administrators were accused of defrauding the city through a network of phony subcontractors.

Tietz’s nomination as OTDA commissioner was confirmed by Hochul’s office ahead of a formal announcement Wednesday. Tietz did not respond to multiple calls, emails and direct messages, but he describes his leadership perspective in his exhaustive LinkedIn profile.

“With me are high-performing teams and diverse constituencies whom I rally around shared goals,” Tietz wrote.

Several advocates and policy experts who spoke with City Limits ahead of Hochul’s announcement described Tietz as an effective administrator who isn’t afraid to clean house—even if that means making some enemies.

“He doesn’t suffer fools,” said one veteran advocate who has worked with Tietz and asked to remain anonymous. Another called him “abrasive” but “competent and committed to” low-income New Yorkers.

If confirmed as commissioner, Tietz would take over OTDA’s vacant leadership position. Former agency head Michael Hein resigned in October following a creaky rollout of the state’s $2.4 billion Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) and the departure of his boss, Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Tietz would oversee ERAP at an especially challenging moment: The state’s eviction protections will expire on Jan. 15, but OTDA has allocated or earmarked nearly all of its rental assistance funds. Hochul and OTDA decided to shut down the application portal last month and now face a lawsuit filed by the Legal Aid Society demanding that the state resume accepting applications.

Hochul is seeking about $1 billion in additional funds to cover unpaid landlords, and the state could soon redistribute $250 million of the existing fund that has yet to be claimed or sent to landlords.

Friday, December 17, 2021

No Jab No Toy

City Council approves luxury public housing rezoning for Soho and Noho 

Bowery Boogie

Two years of controversy was capped Wednesday as the city passed a sweeping rezoning of the SoHo and NoHo neighborhoods.

The City Council voted overwhelmingly to approve the SoHo/NoHo rezoning by a 43 – 8 margin, thereby completing the final step in ULURP. The passage happened in the nick of time, with just two weeks remaining in Mayor de Blasio’s term.

The councilmembers who voted no were Ben Kallos, Carlos Menchaca, Robert Holden, Inez Barron, and Kalman Yeager.

Next stop is de Blasio’s office for the proverbial rubber stamp.

In a gloating joint release, Councilmembers Carlina Rivera and Margaret Chin (who is leaving office) hailed the vote as a victory for housing, despite “roadblocks from from private interests, political pressure, scare tactics, and misinformation.”

“The final zoning map and text are a product of countless hours of negotiation with the Administration and in-depth discussion with community stakeholders,” Chin said. “As a City Council Member I believe it is my responsibility to create equal housing opportunities in high-opportunity neighborhoods for low-income New Yorkers, and I am confident that this rezoning accomplishes that goal.”

“This historic rezoning will create a rational framework for equitable housing generation and retail operation – one that I hope we will see replicated in neighborhoods throughout the Five Boroughs in the years to come,” Rivera echoed. “Through hard work and rigorous process, made possible only by the unwavering dedication of our teams and advocates to building a better future for all New Yorkers, we were able to balance the concerns of community stakeholders while centering our main goal: to incentivize the creation of affordable housing in a transit- and resource-rich neighborhood.”

The most vocal opponent of the rezoning, Village Preservation, wasn’t buying it, though.

“This plan is a giant giveaway to real estate interests, with the promise that a tiny percentage of that enormous gift will be returned to the public in the form of new affordable housing,” executive director Andrew Berman responded in a statement. “The reality is in by far the majority of cases, it won’t. What it will do is prompt a flood of luxury condos, giant big-box chain stores and high-priced corporate offices and hotels, and generate enormous pressure and incentive to demolish hundreds of units of affordable rent-regulated housing in the area, displacing lower-income residents who are disproportionately seniors, artists, and Asian Americans.

Caption the City Council Cronies


Name this band, wrong answers only of course

Greg Meeks makes pandering power move to make ally City Council Speaker

 Rep. Gregory Meeks

NY Post 

Queens County Democratic Party boss Rep. Gregory Meeks is joining forces with socialist, anit-Israel-leaning elected officials to block Mayor-elect Eric Adams from installing Francisco Moya as City Council speaker, The Post has learned.

Meeks is in talks with far-left council members including Democratic Socialists of America darling Tiffany Cabán to push the other frontrunner, Adrienne Adams, who like Moya is from Queens, multiple sources said.

The alliance is odd as Meeks, an establishment moderate Queens Democrat, was formerly at war with Cabán and her allies over their radical positions to defund the NYPD and supports the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

“Greg Meeks has made a deal with Tiffany Cabán, Sandy Nurse and the other anti-Israel council members to back Adrienne Adams because that’s the only way they get to 26 votes. They don’t have the votes otherwise,” said one council insider.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

THRIVE for party people and nite club owners

Speaker Idiocracy


The official vote for the next City Council speaker won’t happen until January, but that didn’t stop Queens’ Adrienne Adams and Francisco Moya from declaring victory anyway on Tuesday.

Of course, they both can’t be speaker — but the two Queens reps think they’ve drummed up enough pledged support among their colleagues to win the powerful spot when the new City Council assembles next month.

Four of the remaining candidates put their support behind Council Member Adams to lead the City Council beginning in January and produced supportive quotes in an Adams press release early Tuesday afternoon.

“Today is a historic day for New York City. After much discussion and collaboration with my colleagues, I am honored to have received the necessary votes to become the next Speaker of the New York City Council,” Adams said. “The incoming City Council will be beautifully diverse and wonderfully collaborative in so many ways. As Speaker, I look forward to being a partner with every Member to help advance the needs of our communities. As a Member of the Council, I will always prioritize my colleagues, labor, and the people of New York and have an open door to every voice.”

A lifelong resident of Southeast Queens, the 61-year-old Adams was raised in Hollis and was elected to the Council in November 2017, becoming the first woman elected to represent District 28, which covers the neighborhoods of Jamaica, Rochdale Village, Richmond Hill, and South Ozone Park. She was a classmate of Mayor-elect Eric Adams at Bayside High School, but he reportedly has been pushing for Moya as the next Speaker.

That must have come as news to Moya, who also said Tuesday that he believes he’s going to be the next Speaker. 

“I am humbled to announce that our diverse coalition of Council Members and leaders from across New York City has collected a majority of votes to elect the next speaker of the Council,” Moya said in a statement. “I look forward to leading this body into a brighter future for our great city.”

Slow bus coming

 NY Daily News

Buses move slower than when Mayor de Blasio first took office in 2014, a sorry statistic that highlights his administration’s failure to rein in New York City’s notoriously congested streets during eight years in office.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority data released this week show the agency’s buses across the five boroughs averaged a speed of 8 mph last month, down from 8.2 mph in January 2015, the first month the MTA began publishing citywide bus speeds.


“The buses have gotten slower,” said Mario Rodriguez, 61, a museum security guard, as he waited for the M101 bus on Amsterdam Ave. in Harlem Tuesday. “I ride them four times a day so I’ve seen them slow down over time. It takes an hour to get from my home uptown to Midtown.”

While the MTA is responsible for operating transit buses and depots, it’s up to city agencies to ensure they have a clear path to travel.

The city Department of Transportation under de Blasio has installed 67.8 miles of the city’s 141.7 miles of active bus lanes, DOT officials said. The DOT has also installed six new “busways” — or streets where most passenger car travel is banned during certain times of the day.

MTA data show those efforts worked. A busway installed on Main St. in Flushing, Queens earlier this year correlated with bus speed increases of up to 51% during peak periods.

But the mayor’s efforts to ensure lanes aren’t blocked have been limited to a select few major thoroughfares, while most buses that carry some 1 million New Yorkers a day still crawl along their routes, said Ben Fried, a spokesman for TransitCenter, an analysis and advocacy group.

“The decline of bus speeds on the network as a whole is swamping the gains from the busways,” said Fried. “We have a few islands of good bus priority in an ocean of increasing traffic and parking violations.”

That sentiment was shared by Stacy Britton, 56 a health educator who travels all five boroughs for work.

“The bus lanes actually make things slower,” Britton said as she waiting for the crosstown Bx19 bus on W. 145th St. “They are always blocked by people.”

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

The NYPD is officially enforcing The Blaz's vaccine extortion mandate.

RTU calls out Assembly member for tenant relief.

Adams gets his police woman

 NY Daily News

Mayor-elect Eric Adams has selected a Long Island police chief to become the first female commissioner of the NYPD — opting for a backyard pick after an extensive national search for his first top cop, four sources told the Daily News late Tuesday.

Keechant Sewell, the chief of detectives for the Nassau County Police Department, was picked for the top NYPD post after doing a “fantastic” job in interviews with Adams and his team, said a police source familiar with the matter.

“She was out of this world good. They couldn’t believe how well she interviewed,” the source said.

Adams, who will formally name Sewell as his commissioner at a Queens press conference Wednesday morning, heaped praise on the 49-year-old Long Island cop, who’ll become the first female commissioner in the department’s 176-year history when she takes over early next year.

“Keechant Sewell is a proven crime fighter with the experience and emotional intelligence to deliver both the safety New Yorkers need and the justice they deserve,” Adams said in a statement. “Chief Sewell will wake up every day laser-focused on keeping New Yorkers safe and improving our city, and I am thrilled to have her at the helm of the NYPD.”

The selection of Sewell, a Queens native who lives on Long Island, came after Adams and his team conducted a months-long search for the next commissioner.

Gowanus rezone approval spurs luxury public housing over-development blowback


The Real Deal 

 Developers have filed plans to build three more largely residential buildings in recently rezoned Gowanus.

Rabsky Group affiliate Galaxy Developers and Monadnock Development each submitted plans for a 22-story building with approximately 300 residential units at 395 Carroll Street and 155 3rd Street, respectively. Avery Hall Investments put in paperwork to build nearly 200 units at 653 Union Street.

A steady flow of Gowanus developments have been filed since October, when it became clear the rezoning would pass.

But that is not the only reason that project filings are piling up at the Department of Buildings. The scheduled expiration of 421a, a generous property tax break for residential construction, in June is prompting developers to get their foundations in the ground by then.

Largavista Companies filed plans to build a 46-story tower with 518 residential units at 30-05 Queens Boulevard in Long Island City. The building will span about 474,000 square feet.

Howard Hughes filed its application to build at 250 Water Street after slogging its way through the Landmarks Preservation Commission and City Council as opponents complained that the project is too tall.

The building clocks in at 26 stories with 324 residential units and 160,000 square feet of commercial space. The site, which abuts the high-rent Financial District, has been a parking lot for decades, despite several attempts to develop it.

Also in Queens, Albert Shirian’s Lions Group filed plans to build a 49-story tower with 363 residential units at 26-32 Jackson Avenue. The company secured construction financing for an adjacent residential project at 27-01 Jackson Avenue with 164 units across 27 stories, the Commercial Observer reported.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

On the first day of Christmas, de Blasio gave to NYC, a 30 foot tall LinkNYC

The Blaz found some new boondoggle to induce on the city during his last days while he's busy slaughtering trees and destroying a park for his donor overlords.


Sunday, December 12, 2021

Serpico's 50 year vindication arrives with medal of honor

  Ramsey Clark (left) with Frank Serpico as he testifies before the 1971 Knapp Commission investigating police corruption.

NY Daily News 

Mayor-elect Eric Adams wants to make sure whistleblower cop Frank Serpico gets the honor he was denied 50 years ago.

Serpico, 85, will get a Police Department Medal of Honor certificate, Adams promised Saturday night on Twitter.

Serpico, a Brooklyn native, has been waiting for formal recognition ever since he was shot in the face in February 1971, nine months before his Knapp Commission testimony.

Serpico tweeted out the News story after it was published online Saturday.

In the tweet, Serpico told his 5,000 Twitter followers that the article “neglected to mention I’ve been waiting 50+ yrs for the NYPD to issue me my authenticated Medal of Honor certificate and properly inscribed medal.”

Serpico got the medal — it was handed to him over a countertop, without any pomp or ceremony. He also never got the certificate that usually accompanies the medal.

NY Daily News

On the morning of Dec. 14, 1971, NYPD undercover detective Frank Serpico put on his only suit. The son of an immigrant cobbler then stopped to get his good pair of shoes shined.

The bearded 12-year police veteran was about to dismantle the department’s infamous “blue wall of silence,” exposing the NYPD’s systemic corruption across three hours of unprecedented testimony before the Knapp Commission and its probe of crooked cops.

A half-century later, the 85-year-old Brooklyn native remains a strident critic of police misconduct and a sounding board for fellow whistleblowers — while sharing his thoughts and concerns on a variety of topics with more than 5,000 Twitter followers.

Serpico, who survived an on-duty gunshot to the face nine months before his testimony and death threats afterward, remains unsure how he’s lasted this long.

 To use the old corny expression, somebody up there must like me, ya know?” says Serpico, his borough accent unchanged by the years. “This is what people don’t understand: You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

“But people are afraid of the truth.”


Drawing settlement cash from a gravestone

 Former Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

 NY Daily News

The ghost of Queens District Attorney Richard Brown has cost city taxpayers $17.25 million in the past five months.

The money is being paid to settle three lawsuits alleging prosecutorial misconduct during Brown’s tenure leading the office from 1991 to his death in 2019 — and comes amid growing scrutiny of some New York prosecutors’ pursuit of criminal convictions at all costs.

Brown seems to have been aware of his office’s alleged misconduct, which imprisoned people for years for crimes they were later found not to have committed.

At one point, Brown wrote to a top aide, Jack Ryan: “Jack, I think we’ve been getting away with this sort of thing for a long time.”

That quote comes from a document uncovered by Joel Rudin, a lawyer who represents the three men who won the $17.25 million in legal settlements.

“The issue has been percolating for many years and is suddenly capturing public attention more than it ever has before,” said Bennett Gershman, a Pace University law professor who has studied prosecutorial misconduct for nearly 40 years.

The latest previously undisclosed settlement involving the Queens DA’s office was for Kareem Bellamy, who in July reached an $8 million settlement in a lawsuit that claimed he was wrongly arrested for a 1994 murder and sent to prison for 14 years.

Bellamy’s suit alleged that Queens prosecutors withheld key evidence in the case that might have led a jury to exonerate him.

And late in November, school custodian Julio Negron settled for $6.25 million after he was convicted of a 2005 shooting and spent 10 years behind bars. He alleged Queens prosecutors withheld evidence that would have pointed to another suspect.

Increased scrutiny of city district attorneys’ offices has come from a group of law professors, who are trying to use the state’s courts grievance committees to highlight prosecutorial misconduct cases. The professors are fighting an uphill battle.

The group has filed complaints against 21 current and former Queens prosecutors. The city Law Department countered with a complaint to the grievance committees that says by going public with their complaints about prosecutors, the professors are “misus[ing] and indeed abus[ing] the grievance process to promote a political agenda” in a way that “should not be countenanced.”