Saturday, July 30, 2022
Skull found by abandoned Van Sicklen house last year identified as middle aged woman reported missing from Brooklyn
Human remains that were discovered in a Queens back yard have been identified as a 53-year-old Brooklyn woman — and authorities say she was murdered.
The NYPD said Thursday that the skeletal remains belonged to Gloria Lee, who was last seen alive at her home in Flatbush in May 2021.
The medical examiner has ruled Lee’s death a homicide, although the cause has not been released yet.
Around 6:40 a.m. July 26, 2021, a person walking by an abandoned home on Pine Grove Street in the Jamaica neighborhood of Queens spotted a human skull in the yard and called 911.
Investigators do not know how Lee’s remains ended up at that location, nor how long they had been there before being found.
The woman had no known ties to the home on Pine Grove Street.
Friday, July 29, 2022
With the number of families in homeless shelters on the rise,
New York City officials have once again turned to a pair of notorious
landlords closely aligned with Mayor Eric Adams’ top aide to secure
extra bed space.
Brothers Stuart and Jay Podolsky—known for profiting off of poorly-maintained housing, and recent clients of Adams’ Chief of Staff Frank Carone—are leasing at least three of their hotels to the city for use as shelters for homeless families. The sites include the Marcel in Gramercy, which reopened to homeless families earlier this month; the Apollo in Harlem, where staff said families began staying July 2; and the Ellington in Morningside Heights, where work crews began prepping for the return of homeless residents in June after the city moved families out a year earlier.
Despite the Podolskys’ sordid pasts, city officials have long leased hotels and tenement buildings from the brothers for use as temporary homeless shelters. In 2017, the property owners retained Carone, then a partner in the law firm Abrams Fensterman, to represent them in negotiations with the de Blasio administration that led to the sale two years later of 17 buildings housing homeless families in the city’s scandal-scarred “cluster site” program. Under that scheme, the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) placed families on a temporary basis in privately-owned apartments they leased at exorbitant prices. The Podolskys managed to extract $173 million from the city in the portfolio sale—$30 million more than the value assessed by an independent appraiser—after raking in millions from the cluster rentals.
Among advocates for the rights of homeless New Yorkers, the deal was seen as a key step toward finally eliminating the cluster site program that stuck families in miserable—at times fatal—conditions overseen by notoriously neglectful landlords. In the case of the Podolskys, the problems extended beyond neglect: the brothers have been convicted of harassing low-income renters in a campaign of “terror,” prosecutors said, and accused in 2019 of cheating on their taxes while renting apartments to the city.
Still, they managed to cash out with Carone—at the time, attorney for the Brooklyn Democratic Party and a key bundler for then-Mayor Bill de Blasio—at the center of the agreement.
In his first six months as Adams’ gatekeeper, Carone has faced several accusations of influence-peddling and scrutiny of his business ties. But City Hall spokesperson Fabien Levy said Carone had no hand in the latest Podolsky deals and that he sought to avoid conflicts of interest with the Department of Social Services (DSS) when he was appointed to the government post.
“He was not a part of the decision-making process of choosing this site as a shelter,” Levy said. “In fact, months ago, he proactively asked DSS’s general counsel to create a list of matters that he may have worked on or touched on in his capacity as an attorney prior to his joining this administration so that we could properly note and recuse himself from participation in any decision-making or discussion. As such, this matter was never even brought to Frank.”
City Limits submitted a Freedom of Information Law request for the shelter contracts to see how much the Podolskys are getting paid and how many Podolsky hotels are used to house homeless New Yorkers. City-contracted nonprofits rent rooms in at least two others, the Longacre and the ParkView, for homeless adults.
City Hall’s assurances have yet to assuage good government experts, who raised concerns about the latest deal with the Podolskys when contacted by City Limits. Reinvent Albany Executive Director John Kaehny said the agreements illustrate deeper problems with the way social service business gets done in New York City.
“It’s such a rich broth of conflicts of interest with all these powerful people in the city,” Kaehny said. He also criticized the Podolskys’ history of past criminal activity and allegations of tenant harassment.
“The Podolskys are a concern because of more than just their connection with Frank Carone. They seem to be not very good landlords or to be not very good vendors,” Kaehny said. “This far into being a social welfare state, we don’t have better options?”
Thursday, July 28, 2022
Mayor Eric Adams is expected to announce that he is onboard with plans for a 25,000-seat soccer stadium to be built near Citi Field that will be home to the New York City Football Club, sources close to the situation said.
“A deal is close, but negotiations are ongoing,” a source said.
Even with the mayor’s blessing the stadium would still need to be approved through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) which is not a given, sources said.
Still, a new stadium for the reigning MLS Cup Champions could be built by 2025, a source said.
The NYCFC has been nomadic playing home games this season at Yankee Stadium, Citi Field and Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. So the prospect of a permanent home would be welcome news to their loyal fan base.
It likely also would be built in time for the 2026 World Cup which is being held in New York City and New Jersey.
Media reports a few months ago said a new stadium would most likely be built in the Bronx, but that is no longer the case, sources said.
The Democratic Party’s gerrymander debacle has created an extraordinary situation: New Yorkers are allowed to switch their party affiliation at the ballot booth on Aug. 23 to vote in another party’s primary elections.
Under normal circumstances, a voter had a Feb. 14 deadline to change party affiliation for primary elections scheduled in June.
But since judges nullified the Democrats’ partisan gerrymandered district maps — which GOP critics labeled a Hochulander since Gov. Kathy Hochul signed off on them — for Congress and state Senate and ordered primary elections on Aug. 23 based on districts redrawn by a court special master, that deadline no longer applies.
Registered independent or unaffiliated voters can join a party to vote in a contested primary race and registered Republicans or Democrats could temporarily change their party affiliation and crash another party’s primary races for Congress or state Senate.
For example, Republicans or independents could decide to re-enroll in the Democratic Party to vote in the contested primary between Reps. Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney and Suraj Patel in the 12th Congressional District covering the East and West sides of Manhattan.
Or Republicans or unaffiliated voters could switch registration to Democrat to vote in the crowded 10th Congressional District primary covering lower Manhattan and brownstone Brooklyn. Candidates include Councilwoman Carlina Rivera, Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou, House impeachment lawyer Dan Goldman, Rep. Mondaire Jones, former Congresswoman and Brooklyn DA Elizabeth Holtzman and Brooklyn Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon, among others.
Tuesday, July 26, 2022
MTA coming up short on funding the subway from low ridership, but will devote 10 years to make cellphone service accessible in the tunnels.
The MTA needs billions in new funding by 2025 to avoid dire cuts to mass transit service in and around New York City, agency officials said Monday.
Before the pandemic, rider fares and driver tolls covered about 40% of the agency’s roughly $18 billion in annual operating expenses. But new ridership projections show that model is no longer sustainable.
New projections now show that the MTA faces a $2.5 billion funding shortfall come 2025, giving lawmakers precious little time to find new funding sources to prevent service cuts and layoffs that would hamper New Yorkers’ ability to move in and around the city.
“The new dedicated funding is necessary to avoid what we’re all trying to avoid,” said Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chief Financial Officer Kevin Willens. “Large fare increases, service cuts and layoffs.”
The MTA previously estimated ridership on the the agency’s subways, buses and railroads would reach 77% of prepandemic levels in 2022, bumping up to 86% in 2023. But the spread of the omicron variant over the winter halted many companies’ plans to return to in-person work, tanking those estimates.
The MTA now projects just 61% of those riders will be back on trains and buses this year — with just 69% of them returning in 2023.
Transit officials on Monday did not lay out what new funding sources they seek, but said planned fare hikes for 2023 and 2025 wouldn’t be enough to cover the shortfall.
Cell service is coming to New York City's subway tunnels.
On Monday, MTA CEO Janno Lieber told CBS2 the agency is rolling out a 10-year plan to install equipment that will let riders use cellphones in all underground tunnels.
Lieber said the $1 billion investment also includes installing Wi-Fi service at all above-ground stations.
Transit Wireless CEO Melinda White said in a statement, "Expansion of the riders' connectivity through the tunnels and across the above ground stations shows the MTA's ongoing commitment to the rider experience."
The upgrade comes as the MTA is strapped for cash. The agency is moving what it calls its "fiscal cliff" up one year sooner, since outside projections of ridership returns fell short.
The MTA is turning to the federal government for more money, saying the pandemic relief funding will now run out in 2024.
The agency says a full return to ridership may not come until 2035 or later. No doubt, officials hope advancements, like adding Wi-Fi, get more people underground sooner.
Respectfully, she ran on breathing our air. I do see the other neighboring congressional representatives quite often. I’ve met w Meng and others. Seems there’s different standards for folks. We’ve been through some bad crises and never a phone call. I’ve tried many times.— Jessica Ramos (@jessicaramos) July 25, 2022
A progressive state lawmaker from Queens took a shot at Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for being “absent” and out of touch — accusing the left-wing icon of blowing off a meeting.
Sen. Jessica Ramos, whose western and central Queens district overlaps with AOC’s congressional district and who has been an ally, unloaded on the congresswoman after a med student complained about her canceling a health care forum.
“A couple of the most highly respected health policy academics recently set up a meeting with AOC’s office to discuss NHS-style healthcare reform,” said the medical student, who uses the Twitter handle @jai_lies.
“They were told bluntly by AOC’s staff, ‘we’re not doing healthcare right now.'”
The health activist added: “So while she’s doing performative resistance art for the cameras she’s ‘not doing healthcare right now. We are in the middle of two pandemics & people are still dying because they lack healthcare. this is not fighting.”
He was referring to AOC getting arrested during an abortion protest and faking that her hands were handcuffed behind her back.
Ramos then began a series of attack tweets on the congresswoman.
“Maybe if you spent more time in your office and with your team you’d know what goes on. Just saying it would be nice if you breathed our air,” Ramos, who chairs the Senate Labor Committee and is backed by the left-leaning Working Families Party, said in a tweet.
“So, as an employer, what happens with the staffer who said this?”
Monday, July 25, 2022
Four years ago, a socialist bartender named Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shocked the political world by unseating Congressman Joe Crowley, Queens’ longtime Democratic party boss.
Now, the Crowley clan has a chance to get revenge.
Former City Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, Joe’s cousin, is running for State Senate, and one of her primary opponents is Kristin Gonzalez, a Democratic Socialist backed by Ocasio-Cortez.
Campaign finance records show an ideologically heterodox coalition lining up to support Crowley, who has a big fundraising lead in the race, including at least $80,000 from registered Republicans, lobbyists, and people in the real estate industry.
Bradley Tusk, a former campaign manager for Republican Mayor Mike Bloomberg turned venture capitalist and political “fixer,” gave Crowley $7,500 (Tusk is a donor to THE CITY). Alfonse D’Amato, a pro-Trump Republican and the founder of Park Strategies LLC, a lobbying firm gave $2,500 to Crowley.
“I’ve known her personally and professionally for a long time,” D’Amato said in a statement. “We worked together on a television program. She is a good person.”
Crowley, a self-described “tenant advocate” who has pledged not to take money from “big real estate developers,” has, in fact, received a handful of contributions from big developers in addition to tens of thousands in donations from landlords and other real estate industry professionals.
James Pi, founder of Pi Capital Partners, one of New York City’s largest private real estate companies with over two billion dollars in assets it manages, controls or owns, contributed $5,000 to Crowley. H. Dale Hemmerdinger, chairman of Atco Properties & Management, which owns and manages more than 20 buildings and has previously been accused of “slumlord” tactics, gave $1,000 to Crowley.
Crowley did not respond to questions about whether she would return the money she received from the big real estate developers.
One Brooklyn landlord, who gave $2,000 to Crowley, said he hopes she “takes into account everybody, and not just [the] populist movement.”
“I think [there’s] an unfair picture being painted of bleeding, blood-sucking capitalists when 99 percent are just trying to do the right thing and give back to their communities,” he said, referring to real estate owners.
In a statement, Crowley, who has raised more than $500,000, said she is proud to have built a “strong coalition” of donors, volunteers, and labor unions, many of which have both contributed to and endorsed her campaign.
“As a single mom who has battled the hardships so many of our families are currently facing, I have the experience and will fight for a more affordable New York with better access to housing, transit and childcare,” said Crowley, a former union painter and the daughter of a big Irish family.
Asked for her response to other campaigns accusing her of breaking her pledge not to take big real estate money, Crowley continued: “It is clear that my opponent wants to only focus on the inside political track. Despite that—I’m not playing that game. The stakes are too high and voters at every door I visit are deeply concerned how we will improve their quality of life. That’s why I am running.”
Sunday, July 24, 2022
The NYC Housing Preservation & Development launched a lottery Tuesday for 14 income-restricted units in a 12-story luxury building on Jackson Avenue in Long Island City.
The development, called The Green House, is located at 10-25 Jackson Ave. —between 50th and 51st Avenues—and consists of 46 units. The building is striking since it is covered by three large murals that each measure about nine stories tall.
The 14 income-restricted units are for prospective tenants who earn up to 130 percent of the area median income. The units are far from inexpensive and are by no means for low-income workers. The most low-cost studio—at $2,431 per month—is for an individual who earns between $83,349 and $121,420.
Two-bedroom units will rent for $3,090, with applicants required to earn a household income of between $105,943 and $187,330 in order to apply.
There are 3 studios, 4 one-bedrooms and 7 two-bedrooms up for grabs.
The building includes an expansive amenity package, ground-floor retail space, and 40 parking spots.
The murals have been painted by Faile. The developer, Charney Companies, commissioned Faile to paint the murals as a means of enhancing the building and the neighborhood. Faile is known for blending fine art, street art, and popular culture together.
Charney is a Long Island City-based firm — headquartered on 46th Avenue—that also built The Jackson, a 53-unit condo building at 13-33 Jackson Ave.
Saturday, July 23, 2022
The New York City Districting Commission voted last Friday to make public its preliminary proposal for the city’s reapportioned City Council districts, which poses potential changes for parts of Astoria, South Ozone Park, South Richmond Hill and more.
The proposal comes after weeks of public hearings throughout the city, and accounts for a 7.7 population percent increase citywide and a 7.8 percent increase in Queens since 2010.
Perhaps the most significant change in the borough isn’t even in the borough at all: Should the finished maps resemble the preliminary ones, District 26, which is represented by Councilmember Julie Won (D-Sunnyside) and includes Long Island City, Sunnyside and parts of Woodside, would shift westward to include Roosevelt Island and parts of the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
Won was particularly concerned about the map’s implications for Woodside.
“Looking at the preliminary Council maps, it is painfully clear that no one on the NYC Districting Commission has read the City Charter. The commission chose to separate our communities of color in Long Island City, while also disenfranchising our immigrant communities by splitting Woodside into four council districts,” Won said in a statement.
“While it would be an honor to represent New Yorkers wherever they live, I cannot stay silent while the Districting Commission erases the progress made by immigrants and people of color in my own neighborhood.”
She added that the commission “must be held accountable for violating every single requirement mandated by the City Charter,” and that she would fight it on the proposal.
The councilmember’s office did not comment on her district’s potential inclusion of the Upper East Side, nor did it elaborate on which measures of the City Charter she believes the commission violated. When asked about both, Won’s office said it could not comment further, citing a staff vacancy.
Chapter 2-A, Section 52 of the City Charter says, “District lines shall keep intact neighborhoods and communities with established ties of common interest and association, whether historical, racial, economic, ethnic, religious or other.”
After a tumultuous couple of years, it appears that drivers in Downtown Flushing may be in for some relief.
As of last week, the Main Street busway will no longer operate 24/7, and will instead run from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Since it was initially proposed over two years ago, the 0.6-mile stretch between Northern Boulevard and Sanford Avenue has been a source of controversy in Downtown Flushing, especially among business owners, who were concerned about the busway’s potential impact on foot traffic. In November 2020, some filed a lawsuit to halt the project. Ultimately, the group lost the suit, and the busway began as a one-year pilot program in January 2021, and has remained in place ever since.
Asked about the decision to reduce the hours of operation, Vin Barone, a spokesperson for the Department of Transportation, wrote in an email to the Chronicle, “The Main Street busway has made commutes faster and more reliable for 155,000 daily bus riders and DOT is committed to its continued success. DOT determined the hours could be adjusted to better balance with the requests made by the local business community.”
The change also comes after Councilmember Sandra Ung (D-Flushing) took a walking tour of Downtown Flushing with Ydanis Rodriguez, commissioner of the DOT, at the beginning of April. As the Chronicle previously reported, she had requested at the time that the busway’s hours be scaled back.
Ung also had pushed for the street to have additional, clearer signage marking the busway and its accompanying traffic patterns. Last week’s installation of those signs along Main Street — northbound at Sanford Avenue and southbound at 37th Avenue — and on Kissena Boulevard at Sanford Avenue northbound marked the official change in hours.
“I want to thank the Department of Transportation for listening to our community, who repeatedly raised concerns about the impact the busway would have if implemented, and agreeing to a compromise to reduce the hours of operation to begin to address the issues they raised,” Ung said in a statement. “This will give businesses some respite after 7 p.m. to welcome customers and arrange for deliveries. The new schedule will also provide tangible information on the impact on local businesses when the busway is in operation and when it is not, which can be used in the future to balance the city’s desire for faster and more reliable bus service while also meeting the needs of the local community. I look forward to an ongoing dialogue between the interested stakeholders and DOT to address any other concerns that might arise.”
Momentum seems to be moving toward adjusted rules for the busway along Jamaica Avenue. In the meantime, businesses in the area continue to suffer.
Last week, the Chronicle obtained a letter on the letterhead of Borough President Donovan Richards calling for an end to a Department of Transportation study on the effect of the lanes on business in the area. In the letter, Richards and other city and state officials, who co-signed at the bottom, made it clear that they support improved bus service, but that the rules regarding the busway on Jamaica Avenue were having “a signficant and damaging effect on the businesses along the corridor,” a sentiment he doubled down on this week.
“Adjusting the Jamaica Avenue busway has been a focus of the Downtown Jamaica Improvement Council, and we’ve heard from numerous area small business owners about the impact the busway has had on their businesses,” he said in a statement to the Chronicle.
“Conversations between area elected officials and other stakeholders are ongoing about how the Jamaica Avenue busway should be altered to best serve the community, allowing for efficient public transit through the corridor at peak hours and ensuring that local businesses have the opportunity to thrive,” he added.
As the rules currently stand, passenger vehicles are allowed on the busway corridor, located between Sutphin Boulevard and 168th Street, only for a block at a time. They are required to take the first right-hand turn off Jamaica Avenue.
Passenger vehicle parking is limited, with many curbside areas that had once been used as a bus lane during peak hours now designated truck loading and unloading zones, active from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day but Sunday. Parking is allowed in those zones during all other hours.
“The vast majority of Jamaica Avenue shoppers take transit to the corridor and the majority of bus riders have noticed faster, more reliable service thanks to our busways,” DOT spokesperson Vin Barone told the Chronicle via email.
“We will continue to work with the business community on possible adjustments,” he added.
Several business owners along Jamaica Avenue expressed their concerns about the busway to the Chronicle last week. While some haven’t noticed a change, most were concerned about the long-term effects on business and the city’s neglect for the interests of small businesses in the area.
Kevin Jiang, owner of Jamaica Liquors between 149th and 150th streets, says he is busiest on Fridays and Saturdays. Before the busways, he typically made between $3,500 and $4,500 on weekends. Now, he says that number is closer to $2,500.
“My landlord, he doesn’t want to hear that I can’t make it because of the lanes,” he said. “So it’s hard to pay the rent right now.”
Friday, July 22, 2022
Elected officials and local leaders held a rally in Long Island City Friday calling on the city and state to repair a badly damaged section of the Newtown Creek.
The rally took place in front of the Dutch Kills Tributary near 29th Street, where large chunks of a retaining wall surrounding the creek have collapsed, causing concrete and debris to spill into the waterway.
The demonstrators say that the damaged bulkhead has polluted the waterway with dumped tires, concrete blocks, and other historic fill. The collapse, campaigners say, has also created dangerous instability in the adjacent roadway – located just three feet away from the unstable shoreline.
They demanded the three governmental agencies — the state Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), the city Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) which owns the adjacent land — immediately address the deteriorating containment walls.
The campaigners presented renderings of redesign proposals showing how the agencies could create a new shoreline around the Dutch Kills Tributary that adds a public access point to the waterfront. It also incorporates native species and habitat restoration.
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Councilmember Julie Won, members of the volunteer group the Newtown Creek Alliance and LaGuardia Community College President Kenneth Adams attended the rally. Juan Ardila, who won the Democratic primary for the Assembly District 37 seat in June, also participated in the event along with a number of environmental activists.
“This shoreline is in need of investment if it’s going to reach its full potential,” Richards said.
“It needs to be restored… to be made accessible for everyone to enjoy, helping families in our community thrive for generations to come. We are calling on our agencies to get their act together, now is not a time for bureaucracy, now is the time for the cure.”
Thursday, July 21, 2022
One New York City family, led by entrepreneur Charlie Tebele, has donated nearly $300,000 to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s campaign.
Records also show that since December, Tebele's company was paid $637 million in taxpayer funds to provide the state Department of Health — an agency controlled by Hochul — with at-home COVID-19 test kits. The huge expenditure was made without the agency conducting competitive bidding.
Tebele is the longtime owner of Digital Gadgets LLC, a New Jersey-based wholesaler of hoverboards and other electronic devices that sells its wares to companies like the home shopping network QVC. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020, the company pivoted to supplying medical equipment, and began landing major government contracts in New York. Though Digital Gadgets has not always delivered as promised, it has continued to reap major government payments, while the family has kept donating heavily to select politicians.
The $637 million from the Department of Health began on Dec. 30, and the agency made 239 separate payments through March 25 to Tebele's company, according to state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli's OpenBookNY website.
The website, however, provides no record of a formal contract being signed between Digital Gadgets and the Department of Health. Jennifer Freeman, a spokeswoman for DiNapoli's office, said that no such contract existed: The Department of Health entered into "purchase orders" instead with the company, she said.
"These purchase orders did not come to (DiNapoli's office) for review and approval," Freeman said.
On Nov. 26, Hochul had signed an executive order declaring a new COVID-19 state of emergency and suspending certain aspects of state finance law. The order suspended competitive bidding for certain contracts as well as the normal contract review and approval process conducted by DiNapoli's office, which oversees state government spending.
As the pandemic has subsided and surged, Hochul has
extended the executive order on a monthly basis; its current expiration
date is Aug. 13.
Tuesday, July 19, 2022
A white woman riding a Queens MTA bus was bashed in the head during a confrontation with three Black passengers who told her they “hate white people,” police sources Thursday.
The incident is being investigated by the NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force.
The 57-year-old victim was riding a Q53 bus in Woodhaven when she got into an argument with three Black women or girls about 6:50 p.m. Saturday.
As the exchange heated up, one of the women hit the victim over the head with a blunt object, leaving her bleeding from the head, police said.
“I hate white people...the way they talk,” the victim recalled her attackers saying, police sources said.
The assailants rushed off the bus at Woodhaven Blvd. and Jamaica Ave.. They ran off and have not been caught.
Former Mayor Bill de Blasio is done running.
In a Tuesday tweet, the Park Slope resident — who represented the neighborhood on the City Council and served as the city public advocate before moving into Gracie Mansion — announced he was dropping out of a crowded congressional race to represent Lower Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn.
The move, he noted, also marked his end in electoral politics. De Blasio ran for president in 2019 and more recently toyed with a run for governor before launching a bid for the 10th Congressional District, an open seat created this year in the state’s chaotic redistricting process.
“It’s clear the people of #NY10 are looking for another option and I respect that,” de Blasio tweeted. “Time for me to leave electoral politics and focus on other ways to serve. I am really grateful for all the people I met, the stories I heard and the many good souls who helped out.”
Campaign adviser Neal Kwatra said in an interview that while the former mayor received great feedback while interacting with voters, public polls and internal research showed a narrow path for de Blasio to win.
“There was a cognitive dissonance with what we were seeing on the campaign trail and in the streets and what we were finding in the research,” he said.
De Blasio ended his eighth-year tenure in City Hall with low polling numbers, especially among the type of white liberals in brownstone Brooklyn that represent a key voting bloc within the 10th District.
The former mayor raised nearly $500,000 during his short-lived congressional run — with many former staffers chipping in — and as of the end of June had spent just over $60,000, leaving him sitting on a serious pot of cash. The former mayor and some of the past campaign committees he is associated with have outstanding tabs, though it was unclear if he could use any of the federal contributions to pay off those bills.
Monday, July 18, 2022
A funding agreement was reached for the multibillion-dollar redevelopment of New York’s aging Penn Station, the country’s busiest rail hub.
Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams announced details of the deal Monday.
The plan would create new commercial and residential buildings around the station, with those building’s developers getting to make payments in lieu of taxes for a period of 40 to 45 years. The amount collected in excess of existing property taxes would be applied to the project.
That money would contribute more than $1 billion to pay for improvements to streets, sidewalks and other public spaces, as well as 50% of the improvements to transit infrastructure including underground concourses and subway entrances.
“This agreement brings us one step closer to a beautiful, modern station worthy of New York with vibrant open space, lively streetscapes, and better, more seamless connections to local transit,” Hochul said in a statement.
The reconstruction of the station and the first phase of the improvements to public spaces is expected to cost roughly $8 billion. Hochul’s vision is a scaled-down version of earlier plans announced by her predecessor, fellow Democrat Andrew Cuomo.
A recent study commissioned by Reinvent Albany, a state government watchdog group, estimated that the payments in lieu of taxes would amount to about $4 billion, a number that assumed a southern expansion of the station to accommodate more tracks when a new Hudson River tunnel is built several years from now. That expansion, which is in initial discussions, is projected to cost an additional $13 billion.
The plan has provoked criticism from neighborhood groups who contend it will destroy a vibrant area and displace residents and businesses.
Samuel Turvey, chairperson of RethinkNYC, a transportation and land use advocacy group, said the plan is misguided because it fails to turn Penn Station into a through-running facility where trains would pass through to other areas of the city, rather than turning around and returning to their origin or sitting in rail yards.
Turvey called the plan “a very ugly replacement theory where local residents, small businesses and historic structures are being cast to the winds with the help of the state and city.”
City and state officials have come to terms on paying for the renovation and expansion of Penn Station — some of it, anyway.
Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams announced on Monday an agreement over how the city will collect property taxes from the 18 million square feet of construction planned on sites surrounding the station.
As expected, the city will continue to collect the property taxes it receives now on the development sites, increasing by 3 percent each year. It will also get payments in lieu of taxes, or PILOTs, from the developers of each of the 10 future towers; the mechanism allows money to be directed to a specific purpose, in this case Penn Station work, rather than go into the general fund.
The property owners will not pay traditional property taxes on the increased value of the land for an extended period of time. The city will not collect the full property taxes on these sites until the agreed-upon contributions to the project are met or after 80 years, at the latest.
The PILOTs will cover 12.5 percent of the estimated $7 billion cost of renovating Penn, and of the possible expansion of the station, reportedly a $12 billion project. The payments will fully offset the cost of public realm improvements, such as street and sidewalk work, and will take care of 50 percent of the expense of transit work, including underground concourses and new subway entrances.
Adams called the deal a “win-win” for New Yorkers.
The announcement does not include many details on the expected value of the PILOTs, nor how they will be distributed between the renovation and expansion. It also does not specify how much the state expects to make from the sale of development rights in the neighborhood.
State officials released a copy of the financial framework late Monday afternoon. Opponents have complained that the project’s finances lack transparency.
Elizabeth Marcello, a research analyst with Reinvent Albany, a watchdog group that has been critical of the state’s plans for Penn, said the announcement further blurs the lines between the expansion and renovation of the station.
“There’s still a lot of glaring questions we don’t have answers to,” she said.
Sunday, July 17, 2022
Simply put, the rents are too damn high,” said Jason Hairston, explaining on Thursday why he’d closed his popular 14th St. eatery, The Nugget Spot, in September of 2020.
“I was on the way,” Hairston recalled. “I had spent money on a logo and redesigning my store. I was getting ready to open another location in Columbus Circle [in the new Turnstyle Underground Market] and to be in Citifield for the 2020 season. I’d been open for seven years and I was getting ready, getting my sauce made, my flour made — things were lining up and falling into place and then we had to shut our doors.”
In a business with thin margins to begin with — and uncertainty about how long the pandemic, and the city’s shutdown, would last — “there was no way I was going to make money,” said Hairston, a lifelong New Yorker who’s now living in New Jersey while consulting for a Korean hot dog franchise.
“The only reason I would be there would be to support my landlord,” he added.
The Nugget Spot was one of the 4,040 private establishments the city lost between the fourth quarter of 2019 and the fourth quarter of 2021, according to a new report from New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, as huge losses in Manhattan wiped out gains in Brooklyn. Over the same two-year pandemic stretch, “jobs in New York City fell by approximately 295,000, or 7 percent,” as THE CITY previously reported.
he rare citywide drop in the number of private establishments since 2019 — including a loss of 2,023 retail locations along with 2,482 private household employers, as families let go of on-the-books nannies and maids during the pandemic — was easily the biggest recorded at least since the feds implemented their current counting system in 1990.
Since then, the number had steadily gone up except during the recession in the early 1990s and the years just after the 9/11 attacks.
share of the city’s private establishments dropped below 50% for the
first time, according to Lander’s report, as Brooklyn gained 1,267 over
the same period — continuing a 30-year growth trend in which the borough
has surged from 17.8% of the city’s total in 1990 to 24.4% in 2021.
(The Bronx gained 109 private establishments and Staten Island eight
between 2019 and 2021, while Queens lost 158.)
New York City public schools are on track to lose close to 30,000 students by this fall, according to new city data.
Projections from the Office of Student Enrollment, shared with The Post Friday, showed the city Department of Education expects to enroll roughly 28,100 fewer students this fall, and another 2,300 students by the end of the school year.
The figures account for students in all geographic district schools — but do not include those enrolled in charter schools, schools for kids with disabilities, and other nontraditional public programs.
“Here’s what’s happening with the Department of Education,” Mayor Eric Adams said at an unrelated event this week.
“We have a massive hemorrhaging of students — massive hemorrhaging. We’re in a very dangerous place in the number of students that we are dropping,” he said.
By the end of next school year, the largest school district in the nation expects to serve a student population of just 760,439 children, the data show.
The second largest public school system — the Los Angeles Unified School District — enrolls over 600,000 students in kindergarten through twelfth grade, according to its website.
The DOE on Friday doubled down on School Chancellor David Banks’ focus on responding to students’ needs and making families feel heard to stem the tide.
Roughly 120,000 students have fled the public school system over the last five years, according to the DOE.
Officials also pointed to national trends of decreased enrollment, attributing that to diminished birthrates, a lack of affordability, and relocations during the pandemic.
Adding that those problems can’t be solved in half of a year, they were optimistic about plans so far and in the works to lure families back to the public school system.
The City Council voted Thursday to rezone a 166-acre swath of Edgemere,
approving a plan first proposed by the de Blasio administration that
could add more than 1,200 new housing units and improve resiliency in a
Queens neighborhood at severe risk of flooding.
The land use plan, part of a broader initiative known as Resilient Edgemere, encompasses the area bound by Beach 35th Street and Beach 50th Street and will change zoning rules to increase density in some areas, limit development in others and raise the shoreline along Jamaica Bay. Resilient Edgemere also includes efforts to develop housing on city-owned parcels, elevate homes, improve parks and infrastructure and designate 16 acres as open space to be used for coastal protection.
The Council specifically approved five applications submitted by the city’s Department of Housing and Preservation and Development (HPD) to amend the zoning and allow for new development with mandatory inclusionary housing (MIH) affordability rules, which force developers to cap rents on a portion of their units for low- and middle-income New Yorkers. Around 530 new units will be affordable under MIH, according to HPD, and 35 percent of those affordable units will be up for sale, not rent. The plan would further a Community Land Trust on up to eight acres of city-owned land.
Resilient Edgemere establishes two special coastal risk districts, which HPD defines as “currently at exceptional risk from flooding and may face greater risk in the future.”
Councilmember Selvena Brooks-Powers, who represents Edgemere and other neighborhoods in the eastern portion of the Rockaway Peninsula, said the changes will allow for more affordable homes in the waterfront neighborhood, while shoring up the region against rising sea levels and storm-related flooding.
“Edgemere will benefit from vital affordable homeownership opportunities, infrastructure investments and protection from a changing climate,” Brooks-Powers said. “Rockaway has seen a surge of new development in recent years, but that development has not been accompanied by a commensurate investment in local infrastructure.”
Brooks-Powers inherited the project from her predecessor, Donovan Richards, who was elected Queens borough president in 2020 and told City Limits he was pleased that the Council voted to approve the rezoning after seven years of planning and community engagement. Richards recommended the plan in his advisory role in March but urged the city to foster affordable home ownership opportunities in response to community demands.
“There is tremendous promise in the Resilient Edgemere Community Plan,” Richards said, adding that he would focus on ensuring that developers and the city adhere to local hiring and MWBE commitments.
Under the changes, which now await Mayor Eric Adams’ signature, most of the area north of Beach Channel Drive would be zoned for one- and two-family homes, while the stretch between Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Edgemere Avenue would allow for taller, mixed-used buildings. City-owned vacant land next to the Edgemere Houses would be converted to open space, as would much of the land abutting the Jamaica Bay.
In a statement following the vote, Adams hailed the plan as “an important step forward for residents of Edgemere, the Rockaways, and the entire city.”
Saturday, July 16, 2022
Tensions are running high between the campaigns of two progressive candidates who are both running to represent the District 59 seat in the state senate.
Nomiki Konst and Kristen Gonzalez—both left leaning candidates in the race to represent western Queens, north Brooklyn and parts of Manhattan—have been waging a war of words on social media.
Gonzalez has leveled claims that Konst is racist, while Konst has accused Gonzalez’s campaign of harassment, intimidation and inciting violence.
The animus between the two campaigns began the moment that Konst announced on June 1 that she was running.
Konst, a well-known progressive who ran for NYC public advocate in 2019, was criticized from the get-go since Gonzalez had announced months prior that she was running for state senate. Gonzalez had already received the backing of scores of high-profile progressives—including the NYC-DSA, the Working Families Party, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—and that there were fears that Konst would jeopardize her campaign.
Konst faced an avalanche of criticism on Twitter when she announced.
“This is so selfish and wasteful. We have a Latina socialist running in the district who has a track record in this particular community & has a winning coalition of endorsements & she’s up against a machine hack. Don’t split the vote! And for what?!” posted Elana Levin, whose tweet got 320 likes and reflected the sentiments of DSA supporters.
Many of Gonzalez’s followers—as well as DSA members–believe that Konst’s campaign will help candidates such as Elizabeth Crowley, who is also vying for the seat, win the Aug 23 primary. Other candidates in the primary include Mike Corbett and Francoise Olivas. All five candidates have a following.
The tension heated up online on July 10, when Gonzalez took to Twitter and accused Konst of racism for “twice sarcastically saying to my face Welcome to Astoria.”
Gonzalez, who was raised in Elmhurst and is the child of Puerto Rican and Colombian parents, viewed this as a “dog whistle,” implying that she was an outsider and was without community support.
Konst, who says she has lived in Astoria since 2015 but hails from Arizona, said that she was baffled by Gonzalez’ tweets saying that she welcomed Gonzalez to Astoria on two occasions–once at a candidate forum held in the Astoria and another time at a polling site in Astoria on election day.
She said that on both occasions she didn’t speak with any ill-will and noted that she has welcomed other candidates to the neighborhood without incident.
Konst, of Greek heritage, said that when candidate forums have been held in other parts of the district candidates welcomed her there.
“This was her literally just creating controversy right before the filing so she could raise money,” Konst said. “It was personally offensive, and it was also grotesque.”
Residents of a Queens co-op building told PIX11 News it’s a neverending battle against dirt and dust. The culprit — a massive mound of dirt located on an ongoing construction site.
After six years, they said they’ve had enough.
“I want my life back,” resident Collette Smith said. “My neighbors deserve their lives back. Enough is enough.”
The construction vehicles at the site, located near the Van Wyck and Grand Central parkways, kick up debris in the yard, which causes dust to travel into nearby apartments. The residue is found on multiple surfaces throughout their homes.
“I don’t need to be breathing this stuff,” Connie Hemingway said. “I want to extend my life, not shorten it.”
Friday, July 15, 2022
The base fare of the New York City Ferry will go up to $4 a ride — with new discounts for seniors and Fair Fare program participants — as the city tries to make its program financially “sustainable,” officials said.
The hike and new pricing structure comes as the city’s Economic Development Corporation had begun pumping more tax-payer money each year into the system, which launched in 2017 under then-Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The tack change also comes a week after Comptroller Brad Lander released an audit — spurred in part on THE CITY’s reporting — that found the system spent almost double the amount it originally said on subsidies to keep it afloat.
Under the new price system, set to launch Sept. 12, the base fare of $2.75 will go up to $4.
New Yorkers over the age of 65, those with disabilities, and participants in the Fair Fares program — which offers half-priced rides within the MTA system for low-income commuters — will get a discounted price of $1.35 per ticket, officials announced.
Public housing residents within a mile of a ferry dock will also get two free boat rides a month.
“Getting around New York City shouldn’t feel like you’re running a 5K. Wherever you live in the five boroughs, we want you to have choices, and our vision for the NYC Ferry helps provide New Yorkers with those choices,” Mayor Eric Adams said at the announcement near the Astoria dock on Thursday.
He said his administration’s “Ferry Forward” plan would be “built on the three pillars of equity, accessibility, and fiscal sustainability.”
The $4 base fare will “offset the cost of everyday New Yorkers who need to take the system,” Adams said.
There will also be discounted 10-pack rides at $27.50 to retain regular commuters who ride the ferry the most.
Finally, but there's still one thing they overlooked, the free Hornblower shuttle buses that the NYC Ferry provides. How about another fare for those?
The Chronicle has obtained a letter in which eight elected officials who represent Jamaica or neighboring areas call on the city Department of Transportation to end its intended year-long study of how bus lanes are affecting Jamaica Avenue.
The letter to DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez and Queens Borough Commissioner Nicole Garcia, dated July 8, says businesses are being harmed and that residents are complaining about a lack of accessibility along the popular commercial and retail shopping corridor.
It was sent on the letterhead of Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, but also was signed by Council Speaker Adrienne Adams (D-Jamaica), Councilmembers Selvena Brooks-Powers (D-Laurelton) and Nantasha Williams (D-St. Albans); state Sens. Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) and James Sanders Jr. (D-South Ozone Park); and Assemblymembers Alicia Hyndman (D-Springfield Gardens) and Khaleel Anderson (South Ozone Park).
“The DOT has expressed to the community the need for a year-long study to best determine the impact of the bus lanes on Jamaica Avenue,” the letter states. “However, we believe a six-month study is enough to give the DOT sufficient ability to understand the impact these bus lanes have had on businesses and everyday residents in Jamaica.”
The elected officials want the study to be concluded and the results published by the end of summer.
Numerous businesses have complained to the Chronicle since the start of the year about how the bus lanes and lack of traffic have hammered their bottom lines.
The July 8 letter’s language on that topic was diplomatic but unmistakably clear.
“Downtown Jamaica has been subject to a major transportation shift as the community has continued to grow and revitalize,” it states. “While we understand the need for improved bus service, the Jamaica Avenue bus lanes have had a significant and damaging effect on businesses along the corridor. Our offices have also received several complaints from local residents about a lack of accessibility along Jamaica Avenue.”
The signatories also would like the DOT to install signs along Jamaica Avenue with more clear and concise language to help individuals better understand the rules for things like parking, loading areas and standing zones.
This is one of the funniest embarrassing moments of @NYCMayor so far. Illegal ATVs and dirt bike riders disrupting the announcement of the first @LinkNYC sentinel tower in the Bronx.— JQ LLC: The Impunity City (@ImpunityCity) July 11, 2022
Now that's what swagger looks like pic.twitter.com/M0xoqcHHOS
Despite a push from Mayor Adams to address the ongoing issue of ATVs, dirt bikes and other unlicensed vehicles taking over the streets in packs, videos have continued to circulate and complaints to be aired, especially after this past weekend, as traffic again was thwarted by the brigades.
Councilwoman Joann Ariola (R-Ozone Park) said it has been “three Sundays of absolute terror,” as the collection of unlicensed off-roaders bombard the streets of Rockaway, Broad Channel, Howard Beach, Woodhaven, Ozone Park and even the boardwalks.
She said a combination of 300 to 500 motorcycles, ATVs, dirt bikes and more fly through at high speeds, jump curbs and terrorize neighborhoods.
And the problem, she said, affects the greater Queens County.
Their route, she said, seems to be from the Marine Parkway Bridge, along the Rockaway Peninsula, over the Cross Bay and Addabbo bridges and through Howard Beach and Woodhaven.
Videos shared to social media show the packs blatantly disregarding traffic rules and halting the flow.
Some even take to Facebook to warn others, like one user who posted in the Howard Beach Dads group on Sunday warning Howard Beach residents to stay off Cross Bay Boulevard at that time because what she said looked like over 100 ATVs and dirt bikes were “flying through and driving recklessly” in Broad Channel. She called the scene “unnerving.”
Phyllis Inserillo, co-president of the Howard Beach Lindenwood Civic Association and Ariola’s chief of staff, said she was caught in the middle of it on Sunday while trying to turn onto Cross Bay.
“I had the green light to go,” she said. “They had no care in the world. They were giving me the finger ... cursing me out like I was doing something wrong. I could not believe it.”
Then she watched as a woman leaving Cold Stone Creamery got knocked right over on the sidewalk by the motorists, launching ice cream everywhere.
At the end of June, the NYPD and Adams announced in a press conference that nearly 100 of the vehicles had been seized and were crushed and he laid out a summer plan that included appointing patrol borough inspectors to map motorbike ride-outs, hosting weekly strategy sessions, utilizing field intelligence officers to identify storage and meeting spots and analyzing 311 complaints.
Wednesday, July 13, 2022
The average price paid to nab a studio in Queens in June was over $2,000 per month, with the average for a one bedroom hitting $2,500 for the first time on record, according to a new report by the real estate firm M.N.S.
The average price paid for a studio was $2,045, up 12 percent from June 2021, according to the report. The average for a one bedroom was $2,500, up 16 percent from a year earlier, and the average cost of a two bedroom was $3,322, representing a 23 percent jump year-over-year.
Rental prices increased across the borough, although they skyrocketed in Astoria, Long Island City, Forest Hills and Jamaica, the report revealed. The report did not provide a breakdown for Sunnyside or Woodside.
The average price paid to snag an apartment in Astoria last month was up 32 percent compared to June 2021. In Long Island City, the average rent was up 28 percent from 12 months prior, while in Jamaica and Forest Hills it was up 21 percent and 16 percent respectively.
In Astoria apartments of all sizes saw lofty increases — although it was most notable with the bigger units.
The average rent for a studio apartment in Astoria in June was $2,211. This figure was up 26 percent — from $1,760 — one year prior.
One-bedroom apartments in the neighborhood saw a 28 increase — with the June average being $2,553, up from $1,989 in June 2021.
The average rent to get into a two-bedroom apartment in Astoria was $3,249, up a whopping 41 percent from 12 months prior. The average two-bedroom went for $2,307 in June 2021.
The red-hot Long Island City rental market shows no signs of cooling down.
The average price paid for a studio apartment in Long Island City in June 2022 was $3,144, up 24 percent from a year ago; a one-bedroom fetched $3,970, up 31 percent from 12 months earlier; while a two-bedroom went for $5,463, up 28 percent.
Members of the Bloods gang took over a Brooklyn-based fire clean-up company, using violence and extortion to profit off damaged buildings and inferno victims, federal prosecutors allege.
Their targets included a Queens apartment building where a 2021 blaze displaced nearly 500 people in Jackson Heights. Dozens of former tenants at that address have asserted their belongings were burglarized, as reported by THE CITY in March.
In an indictment late last month, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York alleged gang members first gained control of First Response Cleaning Corp. in 2019, and then used the company — which secures and cleans up buildings after blazes — to extort competitors and muscle the industry with violence and threats.
The fire company has worked on buildings across New York City.
Tenants there told THE CITY that residents had been barred from entering the building but later found jewelry, money and other valuables missing from their apartments when they were allowed a virtual tour via video conference.
The owners of the Jackson Heights building, Kedex Properties, hired First Response with a $24 million contract to clean up the building, the Queens Chronicle reported last year.
Kedex did not respond to calls for comment.
While the feds in their indictment called the alleged racket a “criminal enterprise,” none of the charges include burglary or theft of items from buildings.
Andrew Sokolof Diaz, is a resident of Jackson Heights building and president of the 89th Street Tenants Unidos Association, said that First Response presented themselves as both a security company and a fire restoration company, and prevented tenants from entering their homes.
“It was just a bad vibe,” he said. “It seemed like
something was going on — from the behavior with some of the tenants from
just the first night. They were very harsh and menacing with us.”
Tuesday, July 12, 2022
The Department of Transportation Alternatives commissioner promotes bike lanes during presser about car crash that killed 3 teenagers
City Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez shamelessly exploited a visit to the scene of a deadly Staten Island crash to tout unrelated local new bike lanes Monday and should apologize, a local pol says.
“Our DOT commissioner just showed up for a photo op at the site of last night’s horrific accident, which tragically claimed the lives of three teenagers, to announce that DOT will be installing bike lanes and turning lanes over a half a mile away,” City Councilman Joe Borelli (R-South Shore) fumed in a Facebook post.
Borelli blasted Rodriguez’s visit as nothing but “shameless exploitation” and accused him of staging “a photo up” over the controversial planned bike lanes on Hylan Boulevard between Satterlee Street and Page Avenue.
Borelli said the bike-lane proposal, which the city Department of Transportation unveiled in June, “was strongly opposed by the community board, elected officials, and residents in community surveys.”
He noted that there are already bike lanes at the intersection where teenage siblings Fernanda Gil and Jesie Gil and 15-year-old pal Ashley Rodriguez died when the car they were in collided with another vehicle Sunday night.
The accident had nothing to do with bicycles.
“This is the most shameless exploitation I have ever seen by a city official to push through an unpopular agenda he had long sought to see through,” Borelli wrote.
“In other words, when he heard of this accident, he decided it was a good moment to push more miles of bike lanes. He should resign.”
A hotel to become a Staybridge Suites in Long Island City now belongs to a nursing home operator who has been active in New York City dealmaking.
Centers Health Care’s Daryl Hagler bought the property at 38-59 11th Street where the unopened 240-key hotel stands for $63 million from an entity called 559 Development LLC, according to city records filed Monday.
Centers Health Care declined to comment. It wasn’t immediately clear who controls the entity that sold the property. The seller of 38-59 11th Street paid $6.2 million for the site in 2013, according to city property records.
The hotel was complete at the time of its sale, said Josh Zegen of Madison Realty Capital, which lent developer Teddy Li $46 million in 2019 to help finish the 183,000-square-foot hotel and community facility. Construction had begun in 2018.
It’s unclear when the 24-floor Staybridge Suites will open. IHG Hotels & Resorts, Staybridge’s parent company, did not comment by press time.
Hagler has been involved in several deals across New York City in recent months. In May he purchased the nearby 100,000-square-foot former DeNobili cigar factory at 35-11 9th Street in Astoria and its 6,000-square-foot parking lot for $26.4 million from real estate investor Bruce Brickman.
Sunday, July 10, 2022
NYPD officers shot and killed a Queens man who was threatening to kill the governor and other top officials, saying he was going to “blow up” the world Saturday evening, cops and sources said.
Police arrived at 205-17 116th Ave. in Cambria Heights shortly after 6 p.m. after they received multiple threatening 911 calls from the man, identified by sources as Raul Hardy.
Hardy, 60, said he would “change the government” by assassinating New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and the “PD Chief,” and also threatened to “blow up” the world, according to police and law enforcement sources.
“He clearly stated that he was going to blow the head off of the first police officers that he saw,” NYPD Chief of Patrol Jeffrey Maddrey said at a news conference at the scene.
“A short time later he made another 911 call and he basically reiterated the same thing.”
A large group of uniformed officers responded to the call, parked down the street and walked to Hardy’s house with guns drawn, Maddrey said.
Saturday, July 9, 2022
Council Member Bob Holden is calling for the firing of Queens DOT Commissioner Nicole Garcia arguing that she fails to listen to the concerns of residents and shows contempt for local civic organizations.
Holden’s call for Garcia’s ousting comes at a time when the DOT is working on installing 52 Citi Bike stations in Middle Village and Maspeth, both neighborhoods he represents.
The council member has been critical of the agency for not properly notifying his constituents about the Middle Village/Maspeth plan, and then failing to work with civic groups—such as Juniper Park Civic Association (JPCA) —in terms of where the stations should be installed.
The JPCA, which has embraced the Citi Bike expansion, has been calling on the DOT to place the stations on sidewalks—as opposed to on the street—as a means to preserve parking spaces. Christina Wilkinson, secretary of the association, put together a detailed plan as to where the proposed street stations could be moved to avoid the loss of parking.
The DOT rejected these calls last month, prompting criticism from Holden. (click for JPCA proposal and DOT response)
“Garcia’s Queens DOT shows nothing but contempt for local civic organizations in middle-class neighborhoods, particularly in their refusal to seriously consider requests regarding Citi Bike installations,” Holden said.
The councilmember argues that the Queens DOT is not sincere when it says it wants community feedback.
Holden said that many neighborhoods in Queens desperately need parking spaces and have little use for renting bicycles, including seniors, families with children and the disabled.
“Lyft’s Citi Bike agenda lacks any regard for those New Yorkers and has no interest in inclusivity. The DOT should stand up for these New Yorkers and stop doing Lyft’s bidding. One of the great things about living in New York City, particularly in Queens, is that every neighborhood has its own character. The Queens DOT denies this unique diversity by forcing a one-size fits all approach to bike stations across the city.”
He said it’s time for the Queens DOT to turn a page and advocate for its residents. He said the agency also has a history of denying requests for stop signs, speed bumps and other traffic safety measures in his district that would keep his constituents safe.
“The Queens DOT can only move our borough toward a safer future with a new commissioner who will listen to community feedback and respond swiftly to the needs of Queens taxpayers.”
“Garcia’s Queens DOT makes a dog and pony show out of asking for community input and then throws it in the gutter. Lyft’s Citi Bike program continues to gobble up parking spaces badly needed by hardworking New Yorkers, like a giant corporate PAC MAN who refuses to hear the reasonable requests of middle-class neighborhoods in favor of the fanatical anti-car movement and a corporation with a vested interest in getting New Yorkers to give up owning cars.”