Saturday, September 20, 2014

DEP ignores reported water leak

"Hi, I live on 170 street between Union Turnpike and 81st ave in Jamaica. Across the street from St Johns campus. It was first noticed that the new water main was broken. A neighbor put in a service request with 311 they closed it stating they couldn't find the leak. I noticed the leak on Wed 9/17 and put in a service request with 311 which as of tonight is still pending. I feel this is just total incompetence of the DEP to leave a water main broken and leaking for at least 4 days that we know of. Attaching a video of the leak. Maybe you could shame these incompetent people at the DEP into doing their jobs. The indifference of this department is beyond belief.

Thought this might be of interest to you." - anonymous

CB5 rejects liquor license for hipster party venue

From the Queens Chronicle:

Community Board 5 has had it with former factories looking to open as alcohol-serving event halls.

At last Wednesday’s meeting, all 35 board members voted in opposition to a 600-plus person liquor license for a yet-to-be-named establishment at 56-06 Cooper Ave. in Ridgewood.

CB 5 Chairman Vinny Arcuri and various board members worried that the site is too similar to the Knockdown Center, a former Maspeth factory-turned controversial arts and entertainment venue that battled the board for much of the last year over its unsuccessful attempt to garner a liquor license.

Like the Knockdown Center, the Ridgewood building has a large outdoor space capable of hosting packed events featuring hundreds of people and would like to host live musical acts as well.

“It’s another warehouse, another oversized operation without proper experience in management,” Arcuri said. “We’ve got to be alert to all of these.”

Arcuri expanded on the proposed liquor license in front of the board to discuss all alcohol permits for establishments looking to serve more than 600 people, specifically asking the Land Use and Public Safety committees to study the option of automatically opposing all such sizable liquor permits.

For decades, certain members of CB5 were salivating over the possibility that Ridgewood might be poised for gentrification. Now it's arrived and brought with it "seasonal" hipster party-fests in factories that used to actually provide year-round jobs. This is a classic case of "be careful what you wish for" and "reap what you sow". And this is just the beginning! The applicant is Justin Carter.

The parrots of Queens

From the NY Times:

Queens is not the only place the tropical green birds have become firmly entrenched. Fifty years after exotic bird importers began carting them here from their native South America, the parrots have nestled into other neighborhoods in the city and beyond.

The best guess on their citywide population is around 550, though biologists say bird counts often capture just a tenth of their true totals. The parrots have set up colonies in at least 10 states, including Florida, Texas, Illinois and Oregon. They dappled European skies, breeding in England and Spain.

Today in Brooklyn, their pile-of-twig nests are built in the iron gates of Green-Wood Cemetery. They have made homes in Upper Manhattan and amid the trees in Riverside Park. They are in Whitestone and Flushing, Queens. They have built nests in Edgewater, N.J., in the slopes along River Road, an undulating bicycle path in the shadow of the George Washington Bridge, said Corey Finger, of Forest Hills, Queens, a co-owner of the birding blog 10,000 Birds.

But Queens has extended the birds perhaps the biggest welcome.

State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr., who can see one of their nests from the windows of his district office in Howard Beach, is pushing two bills he introduced in 2010 to protect the parrots (also known as parakeets), though neither has passed. One would put them in a protected category. The other would require their nests be handled with care if they have to be moved. The senator says seeing the “green, rather large, rather unique-sounding parakeet” among pigeons fascinates New Yorkers.

Illegal conversions left uninspected

From Brooklyn Daily:

Ridgites and politicians are scrambling to stop greedy property owners from illegally dicing up one-family homes into multi-family flophouses, but holes in legislation and enforcement mean there is no silver bullet.

“We have to chip away at this piece by piece,” said Community Board 10 district manager Josephine Beckmann.

The board’s Land Use Committee met twice about the growing problem over the summer recess and is finalizing a list of recommendations to the city for quashing illegal conversions. Chief among them is a request for the Department of Buildings to focus enforcement on “hot spots” where residents log the most 311 complaints about conversions.

The city receives an average of 20,000 illegal conversion complaints a year. Since 2012, the city received more than 1,100 such complaints in Community Board 10 alone, and it has followed up on less than half, our analysis of city data shows.

The city sent inspectors to verify fewer than 300 of the complaints. And in half of those cases, inspectors never got into the building. When the department receives a 311 complaint, it dispatches inspectors to see if the complaint is warranted. But they only make two attempts to enter a questionable building. If nobody lets them in either time, the department just closes the complaint.

Of 282 inspections the department mounted since 2012, 76 resulted in no violation, 29 resulted in some kind of punitive measure by the city, and the other 177 cases were closed because inspectors were turned away at the door or residents were not home, according to city data.

But if the city can send more inspectors to Bay Ridge, it may have better luck getting into suspected conversions, board members said.

Friday, September 19, 2014

City taking its sweet time to fix Bayside curb

From the Queens Chronicle:

Members of All Saints Episcopal Church in Bayside have been waiting two years for the city to repair their damaged curbs, but Department of Transportation officials say if they’re unhappy to sue the city.

It all started about two years ago, according to member and community activist Jack Oshier, during the winter when Department of Sanitation trucks plowing snow got too close to the curbs and damaged them.

There is no parking around the church, located at 214-35 40 Ave., allowing the plows closer access to the curbs than usual. Oshier said further damage was inflicted last winter.

He has reached out to city agencies and elected officials with little success. “We finallly sent a letter to the city comptroller putting in a claim but that could take years,” Oshier said.

Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside), who used to live across the street from the church, also got involved and was last told by the DOT that the curbs would be repaired, but the agency was unable to say how long that would take.

A spokesman for the DOT told the Chronicle there is no outstanding Notice of Violation or sidewalk conditions at the property, although the agency did receive notification of this condition, which cited snow plow-related damage to the curb.

Problem corner kept clean

"Residents are very pleased and continue to comment on the clear side walk. The location is Merrick Boulevard between 108 & 109 avenues.

Just to remind supporters, this is a result of The Untouchables diligent work. Officer Cedillo and his team from the 103 rd. precinct, did what local leaders said was impossible. They simply interpret and enforced the law on behalf of residents.

The Untouchables removed a vast amount of abandoned vehicles (eyesores), throughout their jurisdiction and warned chop shop owners, that they cannot leave their cars on the sidewalk for an extended time. They even gave chop shop owners 24-hours notice.

For years, local leaders said they were working on a strategy, but nothing was done. Needless to say, they were operating under the same law.

However, a few months ago, The Untouchables set out to assist with the abandoned vehicles' epidemic. Well, well, well, the once don't-give-a-damn chop shop owners have a new status ( law abiding citizens).

Team P/J is still working on the garbage situation at the bus stop. Cameras have to be installed. Sooner or later, the cave people will become law abiders too.

Thanks again to the Untouchables, your presence has a lasting effect.

Photos were taken 9/14/14.

Side walk is made for walking, and that's just what we'll do.

Garbage dump violators will soon be caught." - Pamela Hazel

Benefits associated with city ID card


Today, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the City’s Municipal ID, which will launch in January 2015, will give all ID card holders access to one-year free membership packages at 33 of the City’s leading cultural institutions, including world class museums, performing arts centers, concert halls, botanical gardens, and zoos in all five boroughs. The Municipal ID/CIG one-year membership will be comparable to each institution’s standard one-year individual or family membership package, depending on the institution, and will give ID card holders a range of benefits including free admission, and access to special events, and discounts to museum shops.

The 33 institutions belong to the Cultural Institutions Group (CIG) which is comprised of private nonprofit cultural organizations located on City owned property. The first member of the CIG, the American Museum of Natural History, was created in 1869 and the group has grown to include a diverse cross section of institutions in each of the boroughs. The City provides capital, operating and energy support to CIG members and in turn each institution is charged with providing access to cultural services and programming to all New Yorkers.

“The Municipal ID Program is one that has the potential to transform lives, and to help ensure its success the cultural community, and in particular the Cultural Institutions Group’s members, have stepped up to the plate,” said City Council Majority Leader and Chair of Libraries & International Intergroup Relations Committee Jimmy Van Bramer. “Culture is always important in our City and with this announcement we are reminded of the centrality of the arts to our City. Access to the arts for all and a more just City is being accomplished with the help of these great institutions. It is a great day.”

“I am grateful to the Cultural Institutions Group for teaming up to make New York’s municipal ID program the envy of other cities,” said Municipal ID Bill Sponsor Council Member Daniel Dromm. “This world-class ID will make our city’s world-class cultural institutions accessible to every New Yorker, from recent immigrant families to students and young professionals. With all of the fun and exciting options that this card will provide, New Yorkers will have no excuse to fail to get a card or to stay at home.”

Queens locations:
Flushing Town Hall
Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning
Museum of the Moving Image
New York Hall of Science
Queens Botanical Garden
Queens Museum
Queens Theatre

From the Observer:

But plenty of questions about the IDs still remain — including what documentation will be required to receive them and whether financial institutions will accept them to grant bank accounts or other services that were key to the argument the cards were necessary.

Mr. de Blasio told the Observer the process of determining what would be needed to prove identity and residency had been a thorough one that involved the NYPD, and Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Nisha Agarwal said draft rules would be up for comment soon.

“There will be a public hearing in early October to discuss things like what documents you need to bring to be able to show identify, residency, and what are some of the other rules and details of this program,” Ms. Agarwal told the Observer.

As for getting banks to accept the cards, Ms. Agarwal said progress was being made there, too.

“We’re in active conversations with the financial institutions as well as with their regulators to hopefully be able to announce soon enough the commitment of financial institutions participating with the municipal ID as well,” Ms. Agarwal said.

Spectacular restoration unveiled

Curbed has a look inside the restored Loew's Kings Theater in Brooklyn, and while it looks beautiful, I can't help but be sad knowing that the RKO Keith's will never be restored that way.

Finding poetry in Queens trash

From [cutting the cord] by Matthew Kremer:

in my experience, new yorkers
seem to have an unarticulated
and unappreciated tradition
of substituting ordinary
shopping bags for
regular trash bags.
i know the process:
you make a huge stash
under the sink, which
builds day-by-day and
covers your cleaning
products, enough that
the collection discourages
the act of cleaning at all.
around once a day, you
bend half-way over
and stretch your hand
into the assortment,
feeling around for
fine distinctions
between grocery
and mall-grade plastic,
and use the one you've
settled on for the category
of needs that ensue.
i would like to
see some trash bag
statistics in the metro
region in the effort to
corroborate this hunch,
but where would i look?
but it is likely in the more
apartment-centric corridors
this thing exists--not in
communities around flushing-
corona park or the waterfronts.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Resorts World is raking in the dough

From WPIX:

There is no Roman facade. There are no Venetian gondolas. Nor do they have a volcano out front.

Yet, inside of an architecturally simple structure in Queens is the most explosive casino in all of North America, Resorts World Casino.

“From a slot operation standpoint it’s phenomenal. This is the highest grossing slot operation in really the entire world, not just North America,” said Ed Farrell, president of the casino operation.

Six months after opening in the fall of 2011, with very little fanfare, Resorts World Casino became the most productive slot operation in the nation. Its strategy was simple. To target the culturally diverse neighborhoods around it according to Farrell. “It really caters a lot to the locals. Most of our business is from Queens and Long Island, and Brooklyn and close to here, but being so close to JFK we also do get a little bit of business from those people that are coming in from out of town.”

A novel approach to NYCHA repairs

From the NY Times:

IN most of America, when the paint starts to chip or the sink starts to drip, the homeowner fixes it. In New York, a city of renters, he calls the landlord. Or, if he is one of the 400,000 people living in a building owned by the New York City Housing Authority, known as Nycha, he calls maintenance.

That worked pretty well until a few years ago, when cuts in federal subsidies pushed Nycha’s budget into a $77 million deficit. The list of needed repairs grew exponentially over the last decade. Now, according to recent reports, the city’s public housing needs $18 billion in repairs and upgrades.

This comes at the worst possible time, with unemployment among the city’s poor still unacceptably high and the number of households on the public-housing waiting list growing steadily.

Could one problem help solve another? Why couldn’t Nycha train tenants to do basic maintenance? Nycha’s professional staffs would still do the complicated work — roof repair, for example — but with some solid training, almost anyone can replaster a wall. At the same time, training for such work can be a first step toward a steady job.

Clearly, there are obstacles to such a plan. It is always hard to change ingrained customs, and Nycha and its tenants have a longstanding provider-client relationship. And of course this wouldn’t sit well with unions, which are understandably protective of their ranks and would bristle at the idea of training novices to do their work.

But the reality of the situation overwhelms such objections. Over the next four years Nycha is planning to make only $3.92 billion of the $18 billion in needed repairs and upgrades. Arguing over who will make nonexistent repairs is fruitless.

Moreover, should Mayor Bill de Blasio find the funding to build the 200,000 units of affordable housing he has proposed, more able workers will be needed, both while the new units are under construction and after they are occupied.

The final round of skeeter spraying?

From the Queens Courier:

Another round of West Nile spraying is set for parts of Queens this week.

The spraying will take place on Thursday, Sept. 18, between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 6 a.m. the next morning. In case of bad weather, the application will be delayed until Monday, Sept. 22 during the same hours.

The following neighborhoods are being treated to help reduce the mosquito population and the risk of the disease, according to the city’s Health Department:

Parts of Arverne, Bays Water, Edgemere, Far Rockaway, Hammels and Somerville (Bordered by Jamaica Bay to the north; Cross Bay Parkway to the west; Atlantic Ocean to the south; and Nassau County Boundary to the east).

Parts of Cambria Heights, Laurelton, Saint Albans and Springfield Gardens (Bordered by 119th Avenue to the north; Farmers Boulevard to the west; Merrick Boulevard to the south; and Belt Parkway and Nassau County Line to the east).

CB1 denies liquor license to topless bar

From Astoria Post:

The owners of a proposed topless bar called ‘Racks’ claim they can’t get a fair shake.

The owners, who aim to establish a bar featuring topless waitresses at 19-26 Steinway Street, went before Community Board 1 last night in their quest for a liquor license.

The owners, who were previously denied such a license by the State Liquor Authority last year, said that they plan to offer a venue that features a sports bar, lounge bar and night club—as well as topless servers.

Last year, Racks’ application received a chilly response from nearby residents, politicians and the Community Board 1. Last night, Community Board 1’s opinion had not changed.

“We recommend it be denied by the State Liquor Authority, for the detrimental impact this applicant, if licensed, would have on the quality of life of the community,” said Community Board 1 member Joseph Risi, who is in charge of liquor license applications for the board.

The majority of the board was opposed to Racks being granted a liquor license, with only five out of the 44 board members in attendance in favor of it.

Representatives of Racks, including lobbyist Adam Clayton Powell and attorney Mark Weinstein, emphasized that the business would be located in an industrial zone, away from the residential community.

Enterovirus now in NYC

From PIX11:

Enterovirus EV-D68 has been confirmed in more than one dozen New York children — with one case in New York City — the Department of Health announced Wednesday.

The children are located in the Capitol Region, Central New York and New York City. Other regions in the state also submitted specimens for testing, which can take up to a week to confirm.

EV-D68 is causes severe respiratory illness, which sometimes results in hospitalization, especially among children with asthma. Currently there is no vaccine or treatment for the virus.

A New Jersey child was also diagnosed Wednesday with enterovirus EV-D68.