Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Dirtbike track of Yes

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/GLadKTCX0AArxmS?format=png&name=smallNY Post

Hundreds of freshly-planted trees have been ripped out of a Queens park by vandals to clear the greenspace for their DIY dirt bike track — and angry locals are calling on authorities to track down the “very selfish” bikers.

Some 300 shrubs and saplings, planted by volunteers last year not far from a cycling velodrome, were reported to have been uprooted at Kissena Park in Flushing on April 7, the Parks Department said.

“It makes me angry because I love this park. I have been living here for many years. It’s very selfish because this is for the public. They’re only thinking about their own pleasure,” Jane, a Flushing substitute teacher who declined to give her last name, told The Post.

The teacher, who has lived in the neighborhood for 20 years, said she was worried that reckless off-road bikers could potentially hurt her dog, who she regularly walks in the park.“It can be dangerous if they’re going to be riding their dirt bikes here. They usually ride fast. They could run over my dog,” she added.

Photos of the destruction, which will cost the city approximately $15,000 to fix, show overturned soil near paths filled with deep tire tracks. The paths, which appear to have been used by off-road bikes, are littered with broken branches from trees above and plant roots.

Officials said the vandals dug up recently planted trees and cut down portions of other, more mature trees that were part of a larger reforestation effort across 5,000 square feet of the park.

The city’s parks department is working with the NYPD to investigate the crime, Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue said in a statement.

“Trees are so essential to our city – not just for beautifying our neighborhoods but also for cleaning our air, providing much-needed shade, and absorbing stormwater. That’s why it’s so unthinkable that someone would do this,” Donoghue said.

Gobind Singh Negi, 55, a former cab driver who takes daily walks through the park, was also angered by the destruction and slammed it as selfish.

Saturday, April 13, 2024

City Council approves soccer stadium, small turnout for the team's season home opener in Citifield

 https://qns.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/IMG_6079.jpg?resize=700,525

 QNS

Willets Point’s long-awaited transformation from industrial wasteland to Queens’ newest neighborhood got the green light from the City Council Thursday.

The legislature approved on Apr. 11 a massive redevelopment that includes a brand new soccer stadium for the New York City Football Club (NYCFC), which has played home games at Yankee Stadium or Citi Field since its inception, and a 100% 2,500-unit affordable housing project that is the city’s largest in four decades.

Mayor Eric Adams called the plan “the goal of the decade” that will generate billions of dollars in new economic activity, and tens of thousands of jobs, through not only the new soccer stadium and housing, but also more than 20,000 square feet of retail and a 250-room hotel.

“We’re building a brand-new community out of the ‘Valley of Ashes’, and we couldn’t have done it without all our partners, including Councilmember [Francisco] Moya and the rest of the City Council, [Queens] Borough President [Donovan] Richards, NYCFC, Queens Development Group, our union members, and everyone living in Willets Point who made their voices heard and demanded a new future for themselves,” the mayor said on Thursday. “After today’s vote, we’re one step closer to delivering that future.”

For years, the city and the Queens community has debated the fate of Willets Point, which for decades has been home to junkyards, auto repair shops and light industry. Even as Shea Stadium rose and was eventually replaced by Citi Field, the industry in the “Valley of Ashes” persisted beyond the Mets outfield while visions for redevelopment never seemed to get off the ground.

 QNS

Thousands of New York City Football Club (NYCFC) fans packed Citi Field on Saturday, Apr. 6, for the team’s first home game in Queens this season, playing against Atlanta United FC. This match marked the beginning of a series of five straight home games, equaling the club’s all-time record for consecutive home matches.

Fans from across the five boroughs packed Citi Field to support their “Boys in Blue” for an eventful night. Kick-off was scheduled for 7 p.m., but fans, especially from NYCFC’s official supporter groups, arrived early for pregame celebrations outside the stadium.

The match started with NYCFC’s early possession of the ball to mount almost-immediate pressure, including a header from center back Thiago Martins that was parried away by the Atlanta United keeper.

NYCFC goalkeeper Matt Freese was impressive in his own right, saving multiple attempts from Atlanta. In the tenth minute, he showed the breadth of his skills, catching a header directed toward his goal comfortably.

In the 39th minute, NYCFC was awarded a penalty. Santiago Rodriguez put the hosts in front from the spot for his third goal of the season in the 42nd minute.

Tensions were rising in the second half and Atlanta pressure paid off in the 66th minute when Jamal Thiare found an equalizer that ultimately rescued a point for the visitors — the match ending in a 1-1 draw.

Rodriguez was awarded the Man of the Match honors, but NYCFC’s slow start to the season continued as they have taken just five points (1-2-4) from their first seven games of the 2024 MLS season.

Uh, oh...


Friday, April 12, 2024

Caption Mayor Adams

 https://pbs.twimg.com/media/GK9ybztWMAA6E46?format=jpg&name=small

AOC electioneers on the Late Show, her primary opponent calls for equal campaign time on the program

https://wwd.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/aoc-colbert-3.jpg 

NY Post

The Democratic primary challenger to New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez fired off a letter to CBS demanding equal time after “Late Night” host Stephen Colbert’s fawning interview with the three-term lefty incumbent on Monday.

Candidate Martin Dolan, who is squaring off against AOC in the June 25  primary for the 14th congressional district encompassing parts of Queens and The Bronx, accused CBS of giving the incumbent free air time to promote her reelection bid.

“CBS just gave $300,000 in free air time to AOC. We want equal time,” Dolan told The Post Wednesday.

 “Give us a fair fight,” Dolan, a 66-year-old former Wall Street banker and Westchester County native, said later in a letter to CBS.

Dolan claimed that under Federal Communication Commission rules covering broadcast networks, he’s entitled to equal air time.

“Section 315(a) of the FCC rules requires stations that allow candidates to use their facilities to give equal opportunities to all other candidates,” reads the letter, obtained by The Post. “There are exceptions for news, not for entertainment shows, or the result can be what you see around the world: incumbent regimes dominating their press.”

During the more than 10-minute interview, Colbert joked with AOC about the eclipse and her interest in becoming a scientist as a student.

He then gave her time to explain her positions including calling Israel’s retaliatory response in Gaza “genocide” and discuss her thoughts on Democrats who voted blank or uncommitted in the primary in protest of President Biden’s response. AOC also claimed credit for Biden’s move to cancel student loan debt

There were no hard-hitting follow-up questions.

Colbert did ask one softball question, whether the democratic socialist would back Biden’s re-election. She said she would.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Yes (not yes)

 https://www.amny.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/53640608225_f37d561d04_c.jpg 

AMNY

 

City Council members on Monday voiced several concerns over Mayor Eric Adams’ sweeping “City of Yes” zoning amendment designed to make it easier for Big Apple businesses to operate and expand.

Legislators grilled Department of City Planning (DCP) officials over certain components of the 18-point plan, known as the “City of Yes for Economic Opportunity,” during a Monday hearing. The proceeding followed the City Planning Commission’s (CPC) approving the measure last month.

Dan Garodnick, who serves as both DCP commissioner and CPC chair, said the proposal is aimed at modernizing zoning rules that were written over 60 years ago, which he described as “too complex, restricted and outdated.” It seeks to fill the nearly 17,000 storefronts across the five boroughs, while allowing businesses to open and expand into spaces where they are not currently permitted.

“It will help revitalize commercial corridors, fill vacant storefronts and boost our economic recovery across the board,” the mayor said at a rally preceding the hearing.

Bronx City Council Member Kevin Riley, chair of the council’s Zoning and Franchises Subcommittee, said he is concerned the plan does not address the concentration of “last mile” large package distribution warehouses — utilized by e-commerce companies like Amazon — in some corners of the city. The problem is particularly acute in areas like Red Hook, Brooklyn, and Hunts Point in the Bronx, Riley said.

“The city needs to rethink comprehensively how packages are being delivered to our homes and the concentration of large packaging warehouses in certain neighborhoods,” Riley said. 

The council member also raised the alarm about the city Department of Buildings’ (DOB) ability to enforce the rule changes with its current resources and staffing levels.

“The Department of Buildings does not have the needed staff or resources to address violations of the zoning resolution,” he added. “The administration needs to pledge to increase DOB’s resources so that our quality of life concerns that our communities are rightfully raising are fully addressed.”

The plan would allow “clean manufacturing” — like 3-D printers and jewelry makers — to operate in commercial districts, make it so more businesses can operate on upper floors of buildings and authorize new corner businesses like bodegas to open in residential zones. Additionally, the changes would clear the way for life sciences labs to open near hospitals and allow for activities like dancing that are currently barred in some commercial zones.

Council Member Alexa Aviles (D-Brooklyn) who represents Red Hook, said there was a “full omission” of proposals to address the concentration of last mile facilities in the plan.

“We know the climate impacts, the polluting impacts, the thousands of additional diesel trucks in our community and yet no portion of this has addressed that in earnest,” Aviles said, referring to the pollution from trucks picking up packages from the facilities.

Garodnick said regulating the facilities is a “challenging topic,” but noted that zoning changes might not be the best way to address what is partially a transportation issue.

“We can certainly commit to turning over all land use possibilities [and] working with our partners at the city and state,” he said. “You have my commitment to continue to work with you on that.”

City Hall spokesperson William Fowler later insisted, in a statement, that adding a requirement for companies to seek a “special permit” for citing last-mile warehouses, as Aviles seeks to do, would be out of the legal scope of the plan.

“While we urge the City Council to adopt ‘City of Yes for Economic Opportunity’ as we continue to craft policy for last-mile warehouses and logistics in New York City more broadly, a special permit is not legally allowed to be added to the proposal,” Fowler said.

In a separate line of questioning, Council Member Lynn Schulmann (D-Queens), asked how DOB will manage enforcing the zoning changes with limited staff and resources. Garodnick insisted that the zoning changes will actually lighten the workload for DOB enforcers by “clarifying” the rules.

“This proposal is designed to make it easier for them to read, respond to and enforce the rules that we’re putting on the books,” Garodnick said. 

 

Squatters rejoice!

 https://qns.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/Q1-2024-Queens-Foreclosures.png

 

QNS 

Queens accounted for the most foreclosures among the New York City boroughs in the first quarter of 2024, with 191, according to a report by the real estate agency PropertyShark.

These 191 foreclosures accounted for 45% of the 424 cases that occurred in New York City this quarter. Its volume was equivalent to the amount of first-time filings in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Staten Island combined. This amount of foreclosures also marked the most in Queens since there were 294 in the first quarter of 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began.

The 11377 zip code, which covers parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Sunnyside and South Astoria, earned the designation as the foreclosure epicenter of New York City. There were a total of 31 foreclosures that occurred within that zip code for the first quarter this year.


 

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Judge orders squatters to GTFO

 

  NY Post

A judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by a pair of alleged squatters who sued the owners of a $930,000 Queens home after cops escorted them off the property last month.

“The case is over,” the couple’s attorney Rizpah Morrow told reporters outside Queens Civil Court Friday, shortly after Judge Vijay Kitson discontinued the case with prejudice, meaning the claim cannot be refiled.

“The landlords, the owners, own the house, they have possession. The people who said they were locked out have walked away from the situation. They are no longer requesting to be restored to possession and we still have their stuff,” she said.

The two men did not show up for their scheduled court appearance.

One of the home’s owners, Juliya Fulman, told reporters that although they prevailed in the case, the systemic issues it highlights remain, making it a hollow victory.

“Right now, there is a very big problem with these criminals and these squatters. Lawmakers need to make laws in order to protect the people, the citizens,” she told The Post outside the courtroom.

“These criminals are trying to drive people out of New York, and that is not going to happen,” she continued.

“I still don’t feel like I have the full justice in this case because there are people who broke into my house. They claimed they had property there. I would like to know how they got property there.”

The couple had spent over half a million dollars renovating the Jamaica residence as an investment property. Fulman told The Post last week that she incurred thousands of dollars in legal fees defending the ownership of her home.

“I want justice. I want these people to come forward. I want them to say how they got into the house, how their belongings got there, and yeah, it would be very good for them to reimburse us for all of our time and legal fees, so coming here today I don’t know if we accomplished much,” she said.

The suit, filed March 14, had claimed the men were unlawfully removed from the residence, which they said they were legally renting from Fulman and her partner Denis Kurlyand since January.


City of Yes this plan sucks

https://qns.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/IMG_9475.jpg?w=1200

QNS

A resounding NO for the “City of Yes” echoed throughout the halls of the Ridgewood Presbyterian Church during a Ridgewood property owners meeting early last month, as urban planner Paul Graziano presented his argument against Mayor Eric Adams’ initiative.

The Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association, comprised of dozens of Ridgewood denizens, expressed concerns about the economic and housing aspects of the plan. They are worried about how these changes could affect a neighborhood known for its rich city history and numerous small businesses, especially given the existing challenges related to multi-family housing.

Graziano, who continues to present his findings on the City of Yes to civic groups across the city, gave Ridgewood natives a unique look at how the potential changes to zoning text amendments across the city could specifically impact Ridgewood’s quality-of-life.

Dozens of property owners at the civic meeting each took pen and paper to share their concerns in letters to the Mayor and City Council, motivated by Graziano’s presentation.

Ahead of a detailed report specifically looking at Ridgewood neighborhoods, Graziano said the impact of the City of Yes could change the neighborhood more than expected.

“This is an apocalypse, a nuclear bomb, whatever you want to call it,” said Graziano, while emphasizing that if this is approved in any form, communities will become unrecognizable.

The City of Yes plans to modernize and update the city’s zoning regulations to support small businesses, create affordable housing, and promote sustainability, as it’s written on the New York City Department of City Planning website.

The three step plan listed on the DCP’s website, and as part of the Mayor’s initiative, is to turn the city into a modern hub for businesses- allowing for a growing push for renewable energy, providing legislative changes for more building spaces, and focusing on building housing in a seamless way.

Within the city’s plans, Graziano claims that there are greater changes to what Ridgewood natives know as city life if the City of Yes is approved without further considerations. One particular change involves the conversion of multi-family dwellings into apartment style complexes on residential neighborhoods.

“The department of city planning and the Mayor have stated publicly that lower density neighborhoods are the cause of the housing crisis and therefore must be eliminated,” Graziano said, adding that the purpose of the zoning changes are to allow developers to build without limitations.

Graziano states that the construction of additional apartment complexes would be particularly noticeable in areas of Ridgewood characterized by multi-family homes that stand alone, not attached to other buildings. Furthermore, the City of Yes initiative aims to allow the creation of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) — small, separate living spaces — which could be constructed in a property owner’s backyard.

Graziano has estimated that, if the City of Yes proposal is approved without any modifications, a site that currently has two detached singe family homes could be replaced by an apartment complex with 43 units. In his presentation, Graziano says the two houses make up slightly under 40,000 square feet, which could make space for a 43 unit building.

“Why would you want to allow this in residential areas?” Graziano asked.

More rejection blowback to the bus routes of yes

https://qns.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/Screenshot-2024-04-04-at-11.20.43-AM.png?resize=1053,1200

QNS 

 With the MTA’s Queens Bus Network Redesign project in its final stages, Community Board 11 in Northeast Queens voted down a motion endorsing the proposal as it currently stands.

At their meeting on Monday, Apr. 1, board members and local residents said their main problem is with the changes to the Q13 and Q31 bus routes in Bayside. In particular, Bell Boulevard, a popular commercial corridor for shopping and dining which is part of the bus routes, would see a significant reduction in bus service if the plan goes into effect as is. 

Despite the concerns, the board’s transportation committee decided to approve the plan given the vast improvements that the MTA made based on community input from initial drafts. 

But at the end of the meeting, where issues with the bus redesign plan were one of the main topics of discussion, the motion to recommend the plan failed to pass in a vote of 19-14. 

The MTA’s initiative to rehaul the city’s largest bus system first launched in 2019 with the goal of providing faster and more convenient service to see an increase in ridership. The process was paused due to the pandemic until it was restarted in 2021. After rounds of drafts based on community input, the final plan was published in Dec. 2023. 

Throughout the review process, community boards have analyzed the proposed route adjustments within their districts, attended detailed presentations by MTA representatives, and voiced their concerns.

“We’ve been working on this… for years,” said CB11 Transportation Committee Chair Victor Dadras. “I will say that we had lots of issues. The MTA to their credit, did extensive work based upon the comments they received, not just from us, but from the community.”

However, the board members were unable to overlook their two primary concerns and thus could not align their vote with the transportation committee’s recommendation. Their concerns were reinforced by members of the Bayside Village Business Improvement District, local civic groups and transportation advocates.

They collectively cited their disapproval with the reduction in service along Bell Boulevard, which could hurt both local businesses and the consumers. They also cite the proposed increase in distance between stops as a major drawback of the plan overall. 

The existing Q31 runs between Bay Terrace and Jamaica along Utopia Parkway. And under the new plan, 84 stops will be removed along Bell Boulevard, 47th Avenue, 48th Avenue. While the route will be extended by slightly more than a mile, the average distance between stops is increasing from 762 feet to 1,224 feet. 

Increased spacing between stops under that new plan has been a chief concern among critics of the plan who say it would be a burden for those with mobility issues such as elderly and disabled riders. But the MTA says that it will allow them to speed up service by cutting out stops they say are underutilized. 

The Q13, which goes from Fort Totten to Flushing, will still run along Bell Boulevard but 6 stops in each direction will be removed. Along the entire route, the average distance between stops will almost double from 688 feet to 1,146 feet under the new proposal. 

“We’ll have no way to get to the shopping and restaurants on Bell,” said board member Jena Lanzetta, who is also President of the Northwest Bayside Civic Association. “We need to go back to the drawing board and I will not be voting for this.”


Thursday, April 4, 2024

NYC Crapbot

  https://dims.apnews.com/dims4/default/6efa269/2147483647/strip/true/crop/5760x3838+0+1/resize/980x653!/format/webp/quality/90/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fassets.apnews.com%2F33%2F02%2F7427a99c25a983899edb6ffbdf88%2F280c4d10ba4446028e53f84ac24ff5a5

 

Associated Press

 An artificial intelligence-powered chatbot created by New York City to help small business owners is under criticism for dispensing bizarre advice that misstates local policies and advises companies to violate the law.

But days after the issues were first reported last week by tech news outlet The Markup, the city has opted to leave the tool on its official government website. Mayor Eric Adams defended the decision this week even as he acknowledged the chatbot’s answers were “wrong in some areas.”

Launched in October as a “one-stop shop” for business owners, the chatbot offers users algorithmically generated text responses to questions about navigating the city’s bureaucratic maze.

It includes a disclaimer that it may “occasionally produce incorrect, harmful or biased” information and the caveat, since-strengthened, that its answers are not legal advice.

It continues to dole out false guidance, troubling experts who say the buggy system highlights the dangers of governments embracing AI-powered systems without sufficient guardrails.

“They’re rolling out software that is unproven without oversight,” said Julia Stoyanovich, a computer science professor and director of the Center for Responsible AI at New York University. “It’s clear they have no intention of doing what’s responsible.”

In responses to questions posed Wednesday, the chatbot falsely suggested it is legal for an employer to fire a worker who complains about sexual harassment, doesn’t disclose a pregnancy or refuses to cut their dreadlocks. Contradicting two of the city’s signature waste initiatives, it claimed that businesses can put their trash in black garbage bags and are not required to compost.

At times, the bot’s answers veered into the absurd. Asked if a restaurant could serve cheese nibbled on by a rodent, it responded: “Yes, you can still serve the cheese to customers if it has rat bites,” before adding that it was important to assess the “the extent of the damage caused by the rat” and to “inform customers about the situation.”

A spokesperson for Microsoft, which powers the bot through its Azure AI services, said the company was working with city employees “to improve the service and ensure the outputs are accurate and grounded on the city’s official documentation.”

At a press conference Tuesday, Adams, a Democrat, suggested that allowing users to find issues is just part of ironing out kinks in new technology.

“Anyone that knows technology knows this is how it’s done,” he said. “Only those who are fearful sit down and say, ‘Oh, it is not working the way we want, now we have to run away from it all together.’ I don’t live that way.”

Stoyanovich called that approach “reckless and irresponsible.”An artificial intelligence-powered chatbot created by New York City to help small business owners is under criticism for dispensing bizarre advice that misstates local policies and advises companies to violate the law.

But days after the issues were first reported last week by tech news outlet The Markup, the city has opted to leave the tool on its official government website. Mayor Eric Adams defended the decision this week even as he acknowledged the chatbot’s answers were “wrong in some areas.”

Launched in October as a “one-stop shop” for business owners, the chatbot offers users algorithmically generated text responses to questions about navigating the city’s bureaucratic maze.

It includes a disclaimer that it may “occasionally produce incorrect, harmful or biased” information and the caveat, since-strengthened, that its answers are not legal advice.

It continues to dole out false guidance, troubling experts who say the buggy system highlights the dangers of governments embracing AI-powered systems without sufficient guardrails.

“They’re rolling out software that is unproven without oversight,” said Julia Stoyanovich, a computer science professor and director of the Center for Responsible AI at New York University. “It’s clear they have no intention of doing what’s responsible.”

In responses to questions posed Wednesday, the chatbot falsely suggested it is legal for an employer to fire a worker who complains about sexual harassment, doesn’t disclose a pregnancy or refuses to cut their dreadlocks. Contradicting two of the city’s signature waste initiatives, it claimed that businesses can put their trash in black garbage bags and are not required to compost.

At times, the bot’s answers veered into the absurd. Asked if a restaurant could serve cheese nibbled on by a rodent, it responded: “Yes, you can still serve the cheese to customers if it has rat bites,” before adding that it was important to assess the “the extent of the damage caused by the rat” and to “inform customers about the situation.”

A spokesperson for Microsoft, which powers the bot through its Azure AI services, said the company was working with city employees “to improve the service and ensure the outputs are accurate and grounded on the city’s official documentation.”

At a press conference Tuesday, Adams, a Democrat, suggested that allowing users to find issues is just part of ironing out kinks in new technology.

“Anyone that knows technology knows this is how it’s done,” he said. “Only those who are fearful sit down and say, ‘Oh, it is not working the way we want, now we have to run away from it all together.’ I don’t live that way.”

Stoyanovich called that approach “reckless and irresponsible.”

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Anthony's Song 2024

 


NY Post 

 Four of New York City’s five boroughs have lost a higher percentage of residents since COVID than any of the 40 largest counties in the country, a startling new review of US Census data shows.

Topping the list is The Bronx — with a 7.2% drop in the past three years, according to the analysis of county-level population estimates.

“It’s been good for us — we get more work — but it’s sad,” said Manny Gomez, a 42-year-old Bronx resident and employee of Morgan and Brothers Manhattan, a storage and moving company, in the borough’s Mount Eden section.

 Rent is way higher. It’s going up. People move out of state because their apartments of 10, 20 years get too expensive,” Gomez told The Post on Monday.

“The little guy is getting screwed over. It’s not worth it to stay in the city.”

 The Bronx had 1,356,476 residents last year, according to the Census data — down from the 1,461,151 recorded in 2020.

Brooklyn’s Kings County came in at No. 2, suffering a 5.8% drop, and Queens County followed closely behind with a 5.7% decline in residents, according to the review carried out by ResiClub, a news and research outlet that covers the US housing market.

Manhattan’s New York County ranked fourth among the 40 largest counties in the US losing residents, with its population declining 4.8% since 2020, the analysis showed.

“It’s getting harder to live in New York,” said the owner of a U-Haul franchise in Sunnyside, Queens, who only gave her first name, Renna, to The Post — echoing what New Yorkers have been saying for several years.

 The cost of living in the city — whether it be soaring prices, rampant crime or the general rat race — is just too damn high for many people, while work-from-home options have made it easier to move out to cheaper, more spacious regions.

And the exodus is apparently continuing.

Frank Lloyd Crap 101




  Welcome to our newest neighbors on 101st ave.
 
This attempt at brutalism architecture is in Ozone Park on 92nd St. and it's also on the NYC Housing connect program.
 
              
I really don't know what these amenities are supposed to be. They appear to be patio lounge areas. 

   
 
The developer must have really liked the sliding door theme, the cages in front of them kind of looks like an afterthought. 








The commercial spaces would be hard to see, which makes these perfect for unlicensed and unregistered weed and ebike shops.






50 blocks away in South Jamaica, we have this stylish mixed used behemoth. It even has the checkerboard/Purina cat food design aesthetic.This previously was a building materials shop that got destroyed in a massive fire a few years ago. Still unsolved but I bet it involved a lithium ion battery being charged.
 
 

The building is more garage than residential. 

This mammoth mixed use cube annexed whatever space and natural light the next house once had.






No matter how much they deny it, the city of yes was always with us. 

Monday, April 1, 2024

More invasion of the house squatters

 

Daily Mail

These are the latest victims of New York's 'insane' housing laws that have given way to a wave of absurd squatting incidents where homeowners find themselves forced to go to court to kick out brazen would-be tenants. 

Denis and Juliya are a married couple who invested $530,000 in a property in Jamaica, Queens, several years ago. 

On March 5, a broker they were working with visited the property for a site check before allowing tenants to move in and found the locks had been changed. 

Inside the property was Lance Hunt Jr. and Rondie L. Francis, who had set up mattresses, a flat screen TV and a massage table. The men claimed to have legally leased the property months earlier and refused to leave. 

Now, the homeowners are locked in a legal battle with the pair after the alleged squatters hired an attorney to sue them. 

An emergency lockout hearing was held on Friday March 22 at Queens County Civil Court after the squatters' attorney, Dennis Harris served the couple, the realtor and the real estate company. 

During the 1pm hearing, Rizpah Morrow, who is representing the homeowners asked Judge Vijay M. Kitson for a trial on the grounds that the two men acted in an unlawful manner.

'They perpetrated a fraud,' Morrow told the judge.

The judge told her that she is entitled to a trial, and said 'let them come to court and testify.'

But when the judge asked their attorney where his clients were, Harris told the judge one of them 'had to go to work.'

At this point Ejona Bardhi, the real estate broker with Top Nest Properties, who was also representing the homeowners in court, intervened and told the judge, 'he left because he did not want to get arrested.' 

Denis and Juliya asked the judge if their new tenants could move in before the next court date. The judge agreed but warned them it may complicate the case. The next court date is April 5. 

After the hearing was adjourned and the chambers doors were closed, Lance Hunt, Sr., the father of the second alleged squatter Lance Hunt, Jr., who told DailyMail.com his name was Michael, walked into the court house. 

He tried to enter the judge's chambers but the court officers told him the session had ended for the day. 

Denis told DailyMail.com he is outraged by what is taking place. He said that he and his wife had to take off a day of work and spend $4,000 on an attorney fees.

'I'm being sued for illegal lock out, and for damages. They uploaded fake documents and they have an attorney and notary that are working with them to scam innocent homeowners in Queens,' he said.

'They are targeting empty homes especially the ones listed on the market and the home owners are not protected. 

'I intend to pursue them criminally as well as start a class action lawsuit against the city for failing to protect us.' 

He added: 'This has to be stopped.'

Denis on the phone waiting for the court hearing to start as Rondie L. Francis, one of the alleged squatters, stands behind him 

Bardhi said she first noticed that one of the locks had been changed on the doors on March 1. At first she assumed it may have been done by the former management company, until they told her they did not touch the locks,

When Bardhi went back to the property on March 4, she noticed the other set of door locks had also been changed, and then saw a dark figure in the window.

'I saw a man wearing a black hoodie holding a drill in his hand,' Bardhi recalled.

Alarmed she called police and the homeowners and waited in her car for officers to arrive. While she waited, she noticed more men emerge. She said they started circling her car that was parked in front of the Lakewood Avenue property.

‘They were trying to intimidate me,' she said. 'It was bizarre.'

When police arrived the men told them it was their property and they had been living there since January. Bardhi disputed their claims and said she was just at the home a day prior with a housing inspector.

When officers asked the men for proof of residency, they did not have anything to show, but told the cops they were YouTubers, and left peacefully.

Once they were out, Bardhi and the homeowners were going to place new locks on the door, but the officers told them if they do they will get arrested. 

Upon learning that Bardhi and the homeowners said they were 'enraged' 

She told DailyMail.com: 'The police tells us that they have rights that was the ridiculous part.'


 

Man kills woman inside bar where she worked at.

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AMNY 

A man fatally stabbed a woman to death at a Queens bar on Saturday night before turning the knife on himself in an apparent domestic assault, police sources said.

The shocking incident unfolded at The Ceili House, located at 69-56 Grand Ave. in Maspeth, at around 6:34 p.m. on March 30, authorities said.

Officers from the 104th Precinct rushed to the bar after they received a 911 call describing a brutal assault.

Upon arrival, the cops found 41-year-old Sarah Mcnally with a knife wound to her neck, and the male suspect nearby with wounds to his neck and back. Following a preliminary investigation, police believe the male’s wounds were self-inflicted.

EMS rushed both individuals to Elmhurst Hospital in critical condition Mcnally later died of her injuries.

The pair are known to one another, and the attack is believed to be domestic in nature, according to police sources.

 

Saturday, March 30, 2024

You will take the train and you'll like it

  


Queens Eagle

After years of debate over one of New York City’s most controversial political topics, the MTA officially passed its final congestion pricing plan on Wednesday morning.

Initially passed by the state legislature in 2019, congestion pricing will add a toll for drivers heading into lower Manhattan south of 60th Street. The MTA, Mayor Eric Adams, Governor Kathy Hochul and other advocates hope the program will inject funding into the MTA’s public transit services and cut down on emission-emitting congestion in the busy borough.

But even with the MTA’s final vote, ongoing legal challenges from the governor of New Jersey, the teacher’s union and outer borough officials remain in the courts. Additionally, a handful of elected officials, including many in Eastern and Central Queens, remain frustrated with the program they claim will unfairly tax their car-dependent constituents.

The MTA board passed congestion pricing by an 11-1 vote on Wednesday – the only downvote coming from Long Island representative David Mack – and is the final stop on the plan’s path to implementation, which the MTA expects to happen in mid-June.

“Today’s vote is one of the most significant the board has ever undertaken, and the MTA is ready,” said MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber. “New York has more traffic than any place in the United States and now we're doing something about it.”

According to the MTA, passenger vehicles and small commercial vehicles – sedans, SUVs, pick-up trucks and small vans – paying with a valid E-ZPass will be charged $15 during the day and $3.75 at night, when there is less congestion, to enter the “congestion relief zone.” They will be charged once a day, regardless of how many times they enter or exit the area.

Trucks and some buses will be charged a toll of $24 or $36 during the day to enter the area, depending on their size and function, and $6 or $9 at night. Motorcycles will pay $7.50 during the day and $1.75 at night.

With congestion pricing’s implementation almost guaranteed, recent debates over the program have revolved around who would receive discounts or exemptions from the toll.

Yellow taxi, green cab and black car passengers will pay a $1.25 toll for every trip to, from, within or through the zone, and people taking ride-shares like Uber or Lyft will have $2.50 tacked on to their fee.

Qualifying emergency vehicles and qualifying vehicles carrying people with disabilities will be totally exempt, as will school buses, buses providing scheduled commuter services open to the public, commuter vans licensed with the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission and specialized government vehicles.

Several officials and electeds celebrated the MTA board’s vote on the plan that many hope will bring help to the city’s transit riders, the environment and those who do need to drive to the city with less traffic in lower Manhattan.

“After nearly five years of gridlock, the MTA board finally paved the way for congestion pricing in New York City,” said city Comptroller Brad Lander. “Congestion pricing will ease traffic, cut carbon emissions and provide our beleaguered transit system with the resources it needs to modernize signals, boost accessibility, and serve more riders.”

Local Queens officials, like Western Queens Assemblymember Zohran Mamdani also celebrated the toll’s passage, but said he wanted to see the MTA meet the goals of bettering transit service for outer borough residents.

“The promise of congestion pricing has long been to transform our city’s public transit,” Mamdani said in a statement. “Congestion pricing cannot just make it more expensive for New Yorkers to drive: instead, we must deliver on this promise for New Yorkers by making public transit more frequent, reliable, and affordable from the very first day of the toll.”

Mamdani is currently pushing for his “Get Congestion Pricing Right” plan, which includes a $90 million infusion for buses to get into the final state budget next week.

On Wednesday when asked about the legislator’s plan, Lieber said the MTA is “always happy to increase service.”

However, not everyone is ready to pay the fare, including some Queens officials who argue the toll will be at the disadvantage of drivers in the World’s Borough who will have to routinely pay the toll to get to work.

"The MTA Board's approval of congestion pricing is a blatant assault on every New Yorker who's already struggling to get by,” Councilmember Bob Holden said in a statement. “It's a disgusting cash grab that punishes our most vulnerable — those with no choice but to commute from transit deserts.”

Although Holden’s office did not reply to follow-up questions, the Common Sense Caucus co-chair said that more legal challenges for congestion pricing could be on the horizon.

“This isn't just a policy failure; it's an act of war on the working class,” he said. “Mark my words: we're taking this fight straight to the courts. See you there."

Holden, who is already signed onto a lawsuit against congestion pricing, argued that the MTA pushed the plan through without conducting an environmental review or public input processes.

“They control this whole process,” Holden said. “The MTA is a fraudulent authority, and they wanted to do this so they rubber stamped it through and again, we're going to blame anybody that was for this, including the governor, we're gonna blame them and they might have a tough time next time when they're running for office.”

Queens Assemblymember David Weprin has long been a challenger of congestion pricing, and is a co-plaintiff on one of the two lawsuits looking to slow its implementation.

“It is a sham,” said Weprin. “Any testimony was all a show. We knew the foregone conclusion before the vote, and I don't think it's fair.”

 

City of God

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 Queens Eagle

Mayor Eric Adams made a trip to Queens on Friday to announce a faith-based housing initiative that would allow houses of worship to more easily build affordable housing.

Adams, alongside South Queens clergy members and other elected officials, unveiled the plan, which he says will make it easier for faith-based organizations to add new housing on their property and generate income for their organizations through zoning law changes.

The initiative is included under the mayor’s expansive City of Yes housing program, which proposes zoning changes that would add “a little more housing in every neighborhood,” but has received some pushback from suburban areas in Queens and other boroughs from residents who are resistant to building up housing density in residential neighborhoods.

Highlighting one aspect of the plan on Friday, the mayor said the zoning law changes would allow faith campuses, which are typically large lots with multiple buildings on them, to create new housing on their available land.

“We cannot let old, outdated zoning rules keep us from building new housing and our mission driven, faith-based and community organizations can play a special role in this entire process,” said Adams from Antioch Baptist Church. “So, we say, ‘Yes, in God's backyard,’ today.”

As the city deals with an ongoing affordability crisis as well as an overcrowded shelter system, the hope is that programs like the one announced on Friday can open the door to more affordable housing in New York City neighborhoods, the mayor said.

“We're throwing open the door to new solutions and new housing that would help us solve the crisis by working with our churches, our synagogues, mosques and other faith organizations to build more housing and reclaim our city,” Adams said.

In Queens, Borough President Donovan Richards called the lack of affordable housing a “state of emergency.”

“We have 40,000 migrants in our care in this borough, but let me also add that we had a compounding issue with homelessness for a long time in our city as well,” he said at the church on Friday. “So, you add those two things together, and we are in a state of emergency – but there are some great signs of progress in the borough.”

Richards spoke in support of the faith-based housing plan, as well as City of Yes proposal more generally.

“This rezoning really gives us the opportunity to not just talk about the housing crisis but to get to be a part of the solution,” he said.

“I've heard from many of our leaders who want to be a part of the solution who want to do God's work, but who are really prohibited from doing it because sometimes…we have challenges in financing,” he added. “But one way to ensure we can move many of these projects forward is to do what God has called us to do and that is to take care of the least amongst us.”

The plan also aims to help the houses of worship. as well – a group that largely supported Adams’ bid for mayor – by allowing them to make revenue from the program.

“We have to have more flexibility,” Adams said. “We have to live in the real world. The ideal cannot collide with the real, and these faith-based leaders have been talking about this over and over again. They want to deliver more housing and we want to give them the opportunity to do so.”

 

Monday, March 25, 2024

Recidivist criminal kills cop in Far Rockaway

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NY Post 

 An NYPD officer was shot and killed by a career criminal during a traffic stop in Queens on Monday evening, according to law enforcement sources.

The 34-year-old suspect, who has 21 prior arrests, shot through the window of the vehicle while seated in a passenger seat, striking the uniformed officer in the stomach around 5:50 p.m. near 19-19 Mott Avenue in Far Rockaway, the sources said.

The bullet hit the 31-year-old officer under his police vest, sources said.

Other officers returned fire, and the suspect,  a passenger in the vehicle, was struck in the back, according to sources.

The cop was rushed to Jamaica Hospital where he was later pronounced dead, sources said.

The suspect was also taken to Jamaica Hospital where police said his condition was not immediately known.

Other officers returned fire, and the suspect,  a passenger in the vehicle, was struck in the back, according to sources.

The cop was rushed to Jamaica Hospital where he was later pronounced dead, sources said.

The suspect was also taken to Jamaica Hospital where police said his condition was not immediately known.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Vanishing New York bus service

https://new.mta.info/sites/default/files/inline-images/Landing%20Page%20Map.pngCBS New York

 In December, the MTA unveiled its proposed final plan for the Queens Bus Network Redesign, part of a citywide effort to expedite bus service.

But some South Ozone Park residents say the elimination of key stops in their neighborhood is a problem, not a solution.

The Q10 bus serves as a link to JFK Airport and the subway. MTA's proposed plan would reroute riders, in some cases adding travel time.

"You're making people go from one bus to either two or three buses, for what reason? It doesn't make sense to me," South Ozone Park resident Nia Rollins said.

MTA's proposed plan would eliminate the 130th Street stop where she begins her daily commute to Midtown Manhattan, requiring her to pay double the fare for multiple bus transfers. She worries a consolidation of the Q9 and Q10 will intensify crowding on buses at rush hour.

Locals shared emotional testimony at the March monthly meeting of Community Board 10, objecting to proposed alternate routes they call unfamiliar, unsafe and unreliable. 

In a statement, a spokesperson for the MTA told CBS New York: "The proposed reroute of the Q10 is designed for a faster and more reliable riding experience by improving speed and reliability on the Lefferts Blvd corridor. We encourage members of the public to continue to provide feedback on the Plan at upcoming outreach events."

"It feels like lip service," district leader Richard David said. 

He says the neighborhood's trust in the MTA was lost last summer when a southbound bus stop at 130th Street and Sutter Avenue suddenly disappeared. Met with community outrage, the MTA vowed to reinstate the stop but has not yet done so.

David says a vague timeline for the potential bus route changes is keeping neighbors vigilant.

"To just keep an eye on the MTA and their process — and the potential that they might pull a fast one — is a full-time job," he said.

 Here's how you can keep an eye of the regulatory captured MTA and let them know how devastating their reroutes and bus stop removals will be for commuters. 

(Notice there are no pop-ups in Middle Village or Maspeth where buses are the only mass transit available. But you think they would do one by the M train on Metropolitan)
 

The Redesign team will be out in communities across Queens on the dates listed below from 4-7 p.m. In the case of extreme weather, events may be rescheduled so customers are advised to check the project webpage before heading out to an event.

 

    Monday, March 25: 165 St Bus Terminal, underneath the canopy of the bus bays
    Tuesday, March 26: Flushing-Main St ​, on the central mezzanine of the subway station
    Wednesday, March 27: Queens Center Mall, the northwest corner of Queens Blvd and Woodhaven Blvd
    Tuesday, April 2:  Jamaica-179 St ​, on the central mezzanine
    Wednesday, April 3: Myrtle-Wyckoff Pedestrian Plaza outside of ​​ subway station (between Gates Av and Palmetto St)
    Wednesday, April 3: Rockaway Park-Beach 116 St ​​(A) subway station main entrance
    Monday, April 8: Diversity Plaza near Jackson Heights 74 St-Roosevelt Av ​​​​​ (7) subway station (between Broadway & 74 St)
    Tuesday, April 9: Woodhaven Blvd southbound bus median outside the Rockaway Blvd ​ subway station (in front of PC Richard & Son)
    Monday, April 15: Queens Village LIRR Station, at the corner of Springfield Blvd and Amboy Ln  
    Tuesday, April 16: Union Tpke and Utopia Pkwy, on the southeast corner
    Wednesday, April 17: Lefferts Blvd AirTrain Station, near the Q3, Q10, and B15 bus stops
    Wednesday, April 17: Queens Plaza South and 28 St, on the southwest corner of the intersection

 

In partnership with the MTA’s Mobile Sales team, the Queens Bus Network Redesign team will be on-site at five Mobile Sales locations this spring to meet with bus customers, talk about the Proposed Final Plan and routes proposed in their neighborhood, and receive feedback.

 

    Monday, April 8 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. in Astoria at Ditmars Blvd and 23 Av
    Tuesday, April 16 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Rochdale Village Senior Center
    Thursday, April 18 from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. in Jamaica at the Allen Community Senior Citizens Center
    Friday, May 3 from 1 p.m.-3 p.m. at the Rego Park Mall outside Marshall’s
    Monday, May 13 from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. at the Bay Terrace Shopping Center (Bell Blvd and 24 Av)


 


AOC goes from the Squad to the Biden Syndicate

Monday, March 18, 2024

Quid Blow Quo

A former police colleague of New York City Mayor Eric Adams claims in a bombshell new lawsuit alleging sexual assault that he exposed himself to her and demanded she perform oral sex on him in exchange for help with a job issue more than three decades ago.

The accuser, Lorna Beach-Mathura, first came forward in November by filing a notice of claim saying she planned to sue Adams for sexual assault. The brief November filing didn’t include specifics about the accusation.

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NY Daily News

In response to the newly filed lawsuit, Sylvia Hinds-Radix, the city government’s corporation counsel who’s representing Adams in the sexual assault case, said the mayor vehemently denies Beach-Mathura’s accusations.

“While we review the complaint, the mayor fully denies these outrageous allegations and the events described here; we expect full vindication in court,” Hinds-Radix said in a statement.

The suit, filed Monday afternoon in Manhattan Supreme Court, alleges the incident took place in 1993, when Beach-Mathura and Adams both worked for the city Transit Police Department.

In addition to being a transit cop, Adams was at the time a top official for the Guardians Association, a Black police officers’ organization. Beach-Mathura, who was also a Guardians member, alleges Adams picked her up in his car after work in Manhattan and brought her to a vacant lot near the Hudson River after he had agreed to meet with her to talk about helping her get a promotion in the Transit Police Department.

Beach-Mathura said she went to Adams with the employment issue because she found him “inspiring” and thought he could help in his capacity as a Guardians leader. She alleges she first got to know Adams from working with him years earlier.

Initially, Beach-Mathura alleges in the lawsuit Adams was going to pick her up and give her a ride home to Coney Island to talk. Once in the car, she realized instead that he was headed to an area near the Hudson River, which made her “nervous and scared,” the lawsuit says.

Once in the empty lot, Beach-Mathura alleges Adams asked her to explain her employment issue. After she did, “Adams told Plaintiff that he thought he could help her but that he ‘also needed some help’ and began rubbing his penis through his clothes with his hand,” according to the lawsuit.

Adams then told her he wanted oral sex from her in exchange for his help, the court paper says. The lawsuit says “while repeatedly cajoling, demanding, and begging Plaintiff for oral sex, Defendant Adams unzipped his pants” and exposed himself.

Beach-Mathura alleges she “repeatedly and adamantly refused” Adams’ overtures. The suit claims Adams then “assaulted” Beach-Mathura “by grabbing her hand and placing it on his exposed” genitals and told her to masturbate him.

Beach-Mathura alleges she again refused, repeatedly saying, “No,” and trying to pull her hand away. Beach-Mathura “feared that she would be raped” by Adams, but “tried to remain calm,” the lawsuit alleges.

“Plaintiff was frightened not only due to Defendant Adams’ appalling conduct, but also because she knew that he, as a police officer, had at least one loaded gun in the car,” her lawsuit charges.

Beach-Mathura claims that after several more attempts, Adams stopped trying to talk her into a sex act, and instead started masturbating. Court papers say semen from Adams landed on Beach-Mathura’s thigh and stocking.

After the alleged assault, Beach-Mathura claims in the suit that Adams told her he needed to get back to work. He then drove her to the Chambers St. subway station in Manhattan where he dropped her off, according to the suit.

She alleges Adams never helped her with the employment issue. She left city government in 1994 and currently lives in Florida, where she has worked as a public school teacher.

Beach-Mathura claims she told “numerous people” about the alleged assault, including current and former NYPD officials as well as her two daughters, according to the suit.

She said she never formally reported the incident out of fear of retaliation from Adams, the Guardians or the NYPD, all of whom are named as defendants in her lawsuit. In addition to accusing Adams of sexual assault and battery, Beach-Mathura’s suit says the Guardians and the NYPD violated anti-gender violence laws by having “enabled” his alleged behavior.

The NYPD and the Guardians did not immediately return requests for comment on Beach-Mathura’s suit, which is seeking $5 million in damages.

 

Squatter restorative justice

Soon you can make your own "City Of Yes"

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Fringe bike zealot org demands more bike lanes to Ridgewood Reservoir

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QNS

A group of residents who have formed Ridgewood Rides — an advocacy group of bicyclists that calls for safe streets — have launched a petition demanding safer access for cyclists and pedestrians to the Ridgewood Reservoir.

The Ridgewood Reservoir, located within Highland Park, is situated on the border of Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods, including Bushwick and Cypress Hills. The group has garnered approximately 800 signatures in its quest to make access to the 1.18 miles of park space safe to enjoy the neighborhood’s greenery.

Advocates of the petition are calling for protected bike lanes and wide, unobstructed sidewalks along Cypress Avenue and Vermont Avenue — citing unsafe conditions for cyclists and pedestrians. They plan to present the petition to the NYC Department of Transportation and city officials once the petition is fully signed.

Bree Mobley, speaking on behalf of Ridgewood Rides during a Community Board 5 meeting this month, said that it is unsafe for people like her who rely on bicycles and mass transit to get to the reservoir. She called on the board to write a letter of support.

“It’s one of the closest and largest greenspaces that many of our neighbors have access to and it’s primarily a place for motorists,” Mobley said. “For people like me who don’t have access to a car, it’s really unsafe and difficult.”

Ridgewood Rides argues that access to the Ridgewood Reservoir from Ridgewood, Glendale and northern parts of Brooklyn, especially from Cypress Avenue and Vermont Place, is dangerous given that drivers often speed. They also say there is not enough roadway space for cyclists.

I thought these people wanted to take the bus there?

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Resorts World wants to make their world bigger

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Queens Chronicle

Resorts World NYC last Thursday laid down its markers for the public — and the state — in its efforts to bring full casino gambling, 10,000 construction and permanent jobs and “a world-class entertainment resort” to South Ozone Park.

Resorts World is pursuing one of three downstate casino licenses that have been approved by the state Legislature but have yet to be awarded.

Officials of the international gaming giant were joined in the lobby of their complex next to Aqueduct Race Track by government officials from Queens as well as celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson, who has agreed to bring a restaurant to the proposed project. There also was a reception hosted by hip-hop artist and Queens native Nas.

Included in what the company is calling a $5 billion investment in Southeast Queens and the city would be a 7,000-seat arena; a combined 350,000 square feet for entertainment, meeting and conference space; a 1,600-room Crockfords luxury hotel on top of the 400 existing rooms at the Hyatt Regency; and 10 acres of publicly accessible open space.

Robert DeSalvio, president and CEO of Genting Americas East, which operates Resort World NYC, said the site already has pumped billions into the state economy, particularly for education funding. Speaking with the Chronicle after the press conference, he said there would be no need for downtime between receiving a state license and breaking out the shovels and hammers.

“We could begin immediately,” DeSalvio said. “You heard me say we could have full table gaming up in six months. It could take three to four years to build it out fully, but we could start right away.”

State Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Woodhaven) is chairman of the Senate’s Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee. He also is about as staunch an advocate for a full Resorts World casino as DeSalvio.

The senator said as of now there is no hint of when decision will be made.

“That’s the frustrating thing — there’s no timeline yet,” Addabbo said. “Some of the proposals need things like zoning issues which the state would like to see cleared up. I’ve told the state they can’t wait forever.”

New York Mets owner Steve Cohen, who is seeking his own casino license for what is now the parking lot at Citi Field, did not need to be mentioned by name when Addabbo was asked if Queens could support two casinos.

“Somebody would have to make that case,” he said.

Betty Braton, chairwoman of Community Board 10, said Resorts World has proven to be an outstanding member of the community since opening; something she said the state should take into account.

“Who’d have thunk it in 2010 when we stepped outside for the groundbreaking?” Braton asked. “It was hard to envision what we would see. It was a leap of faith, as I’ve said before, and that faith was well-placed. Resorts World has been a true corporate citizen in the best way. We have a proven entity. Everywhere else where there is a proposal, it is a new thing. Our community knows what we are gonna get. The State of New York State knows what it is gonna get.”

Borough President Donovan Richards went into hard specifics.

“There’s a big difference between jobs and careers,” Richards said. “Resorts World has created careers. Sen. Addabbo and I talk about the days of Hurricane Sandy in the Rockaways when we were devastated and we needed to get food on the table for our residents. Resorts World was providing food every single day.

“Then we needed assistance with Covid-19 for testing and the vaccinations, and this institution opened its doors for the community.”

 

Stable housing in Aqueduct?

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THE CITY 

City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams laid out her annual vision for the city Wednesday, focusing on the affordability of living in the city ahead of another budget battle with the mayor.

The speaker delivered her State of the City remarks at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, praising its cultural significance before pivoting to the rising cost of living in the five boroughs. 

“For too many New Yorkers, the housing and affordability crisis has presented an impossible dilemma: you cannot afford to live in the city, so you struggle or you leave,” she said. “The situation is dire.”

Despite her enthusiasm, key initiatives from the speaker’s previous State of the City address last year remained unfulfilled or paused. As she did last year, Adams stressed the importance of hiring at understaffed agencies across the city, but many roles are still empty.

An exodus of working and middle-class residents, she said in Wednesday’s speech, points to a failure of civic leadership — and has disproportionately impacted communities of color. 

“As a government, we are not fulfilling our duty to New Yorkers,” she said. 

Adams, who has represented neighborhoods in Southeast Queens since 2018, announced initiatives to help with the cost of housing, education and child care. She focused on rebuilding a government and city hobbled by the pandemic, and stressed strengthening libraries and the City University system.

“Our economic and job recovery has been uneven, and we must provide opportunities for people at every level to succeed,” she said.

One package of bills touted Wednesday aims to tackle deed theft, which predominantly affects working-class communities of color. The legislation will require the city to inform homeowners and people who inherit property of the fair-market value of their homes, and will also provide legal assistance to help them protect their assets. The move comes in response to an investigative series from THE CITY.

“We must build a city where all New Yorkers, especially working people who make up the backbone of our communities, can build their legacy right here in our city,” Adams said. 

The speaker also discussed the possibility of transforming the Aqueduct Racetrack in South Ozone Park, saying the 172-acres of state-owned land in Queens “represents a generational opportunity” to build more housing and amenities. The land is also next to a city-owned site near the A train, which would also be a good location for housing, she said. 

“Repurposing the land for housing and other amenities can uplift this community district — which has produced the lowest amount of housing of any in Queens,” she said. 

Adams did not mention the pending proposal from the site’s operator, Resorts World Casino, to obtain a coveted state casino license and fully develop the site.

Saturday, March 9, 2024

Green life sentence

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 THE CITY

The Adams administration is adamant it’s not on track to close Rikers Island jails by a legally mandated 2027 deadline — but meanwhile it’s detailing how to turn the island into a hub for renewable energy and greener public works.

On Monday, the same day Mayor Eric Adams’ budget director, Jacques Jiha, declared to the City Council that “We know it’s not going to happen by 2027,” two city entities delivered reports ordered up by the Council declaring it feasible to build a new wastewater treatment plant on the island, along with solar, battery storage and new equipment to feed offshore wind power into the electric grid.

The reports came as a result of the Renewable Rikers Act, signed into law by former Mayor Bill de Blasio, which seeks to reinvent Rikers as a hub for renewable energy.

But for the city to realize the multi-billion-dollar green vision for Rikers Island, the jail complex on Rikers Island must shutter. That rests on the completion of four borough-based jails, at a cost that Jiha testified has now reached $12 billion. 

Another impediment to closing: the current Rikers population of more than 6,200 is significantly higher than the planned 4,160 capacity of the borough jails. Outside criminal justice experts say the Adams administration can and should do more to divert people from jails while awaiting trial.

But Adams continues to cite the size of the jail population as a reason to be skeptical Rikers will close by 2027 and has called for a “Plan B.” 

For backers of Renewable Rikers, the reports are a bright spot at a difficult time for those pressing to close the notorious jails.

The reports “reaffirm we can move forward with Renewable Rikers,” said Councilmember Sandy Nurse (D-Brooklyn), chair of the Council Committee on Criminal Justice. “Given the deplorable conditions on Rikers, the cuts to programs that get people out of Rikers and now more announced delays, it is a good thing there was something to show.”

Darren Mack, co-director of Freedom Agenda at the Urban Justice Center and an organizer of the campaign to close Rikers, described frustration at a climate of disinvestment in city communities that rely on government for services and opportunities.

He says he would like to see the Adams administration “restoring all these proposed cuts to all the city programs and agencies that vulnerable people and marginalized communities rely upon,” in addition to “making investments on top of that…with the construction of these facilities.”