Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Another pol arrested...

From WPIX:

New York State assemblyman William Scarborough was arrested by investigators from the attorney general’s office Wednesday morning.

Scarborough, who represents the 29th Assembly District in Southeast Queens, is expected to appear in NYS Court in Albany Wednesday.

In late March, investigators from Attorney General Schneiderman and the FBI raided his Queens district office and Queens home, as well as his Capital office.

Scarborough admitted himself to media that investigators were probing whether he abuses the state’s travel voucher system, which reimburses elected officials for certain work-related expenses.

The attorney general and state comptroller will discuss the developments at 2 p.m.

Glendale homeless shelter meeting tonight

From the Daily News:

A coalition of fuming community activists opposed to the city’s plan to place a homeless shelter in Glendale has raised more than $25,000 over the last month to help them mount a legal battle.

“We have been meeting weekly since the middle of August,” said group member Robert Holden, who is also part of the Juniper Park Civic Association. “We feel this is not an appropriate site. It’s an industrial site.”

The city’s Department of Homeless Services is poised to sign off on a contract with Samaritan Village to operate a shelter for more than 100 families at the location of an old factory at 78-16 Cooper Ave.

City officials say they are pressed to find places for the growing number of homeless families who need shelter.

But Holden and others say the location would be bad for both shelter residents and local homeowners.

They also questioned the city’s environmental review of the site, saying it was not thorough.

Toilet seat accurately represents Jamaica garbage problem

From Cleanup Jamaica Queens:

I did not have to go very far for this Jamaica ghetto garbage mess, in fact this is just in one block, the block of 90th Avenue between 169th St and 170th, Councilman I. Daneek Miller’s district.

Garbage, toilet seats, tires, bottles and other assorted shit plus the “cash for cars” signs plastered on telephone poles.

As usual, the extremely low-class residents of Jamaica, lack of enforcement and useless leaders all contribute to Jamaica being in the ghetto toilet. So how appropriate we start with the first photo. Yes, something to be really proud of.

BSA grants St. Albans variance

From the Times Ledger:

The community opposition was not enough to prevent developers, which includes the church that owns the land, from erecting an affordable housing five-story building on Farmers Boulevard in St. Albans.

The city Board of Standards and Appeals approved Tuesday the zoning variances the developers were seeking to build the complex that will also house a community center in the ground floor.

The project had three votes in favor and one abstention. The board member who abstained explained she did not know enough about the proposed plan.

“The board seemed to be supportive of the plan,” said a source familiar with the BSA hearings about the construction plans.

“I believe this is wrong,” said Karen Plummer, president of the St. Albans Civic Improvement Association. “Too many people will move in and the neighborhood can’t sustain it.”

The developers, including the St. Albans Presbyterian Church, needed variances involving maximum building height, maximum dwelling unit and minimum parking.

The project consists of a 67-unit structure of one- and two-bedroom apartments that will be built in two empty lots located on Farmers Boulevard between 118th and 119th avenues.

“This is just too much for us,” Plummer said.

Once the decision becomes public, the people in the community who opposes the project will have 30 days to appeal.

Avella lead increased dramatically after paper ballots counted

"The election results are now final and can be found on the NY State Elections Site.

New York State Board of Elections 2014 Election Results Page

Total votes cast 14,898

Avella 7896 53%
Liu 7002 46%

So in other words Avella's lead INCREASED with the final votes counted." - anonymous

It went from +400 to +900? Wow.

I got a chuckle out of this:
I suppose he's improving ethics in government by endorsing the likes of John Liu?

Grand Ave still has too many trucks

From the Queens Courier:

Trucks hurtling down Grand Avenue are hurting businesses and the quality of life in the neighborhood, said Anthony Nunziato, a resident of Maspeth and the owner of a Grand Avenue business.
“These trucks coming through cause numerous amounts of problems for us,” Nunziato said. “People are afraid to cross the street, traffic is constantly backed up, there is unnecessary noise and truck fumes are all over. It’s a real quality-of-life problem.”

Back in 2007, the DOT, along with Community Board 5, devised an alternate truck route named the Maspeth Bypass to alleviate this problem. The route, implemented in 2011, gives trucks and tractor-trailers a Brooklyn-Queens route that avoids Grand Avenue except for local deliveries.

Nunziato, who has owned Enchanted Florist on Grand Avenue for more than 28 years, said the restrictions are rarely enforced, which is why the trucks are still an outstanding issue.

“All we want is enforcement,” he said. “The alternate route was put in for a reason. There has to be something done.”

Moreover, 53-foot-long tractor-trailers, which must follow a strict traffic pattern when traveling in the city and may not make any pick-ups or deliveries when there, according to state law, roll down the avenue daily in apparent violation of state law, Nunziato said.

When asked about the enforcement of the illegal trucks on Grand Avenue, the DOT referred the question to the NYPD.

The 104th Precinct said they conduct enforcement with the state Department of Transportation, which will, after a request, set up a temporary weighing station to check for illegal trucks.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

An environmentally friendly Kew Gardens Cinema

From DNA Info:

Kew Gardens Cinemas may be eight decades old, but the theater is at the forefront of the latest environmental trend.

The art deco indie flick venue, at 81-05 Lefferts Blvd., near Austin Street, is currently installing several solar panels on its rooftop.

The solar panels will cover about 6,000 square feet of the building's roof, owner Harvey Elgart said in an email Friday.

Energy produced by the panels will be used to power lights and movie projectors at the six-screen theater, according to its representative. It was not clear how many of the projectors would be powered by the panels.

Living wage expanded

From the NY Times:

Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to sign an executive order on Tuesday significantly expanding New York City’s living wage law, covering thousands of previously exempt workers and raising the hourly wage itself, to $13.13 from $11.90, for workers who do not receive benefits.

The change is also intended to frame a looming debate in Albany, where Mr. de Blasio hopes to win the authority to set the citywide minimum wage at the same amount. If Mr. de Blasio succeeds in matching the minimum wage to the living wage, all hourly workers in the city would earn more than $15 by 2019, according to the city’s projections.

The executive order will immediately cover employees of commercial tenants on projects that receive more than $1 million in city subsidies going forward. Workers who receive benefits such as health insurance will earn $11.50 an hour, compared with $10.30 before.

While cautioning that it was “notoriously difficult to develop projections related to economic development,” the administration estimated that about 18,000 workers would be covered over the next five years, roughly 70 percent of all the jobs at businesses that will receive new financial assistance from the city’s Economic Development Corporation.

Astoria Cove approved by planning commission despite objections

From DNA Info:

The City Planning Commission approved zoning changes that will clear the way for the massive and controversial Astoria Cove housing complex.

Ten out of 13 commissioners approved the entire project proposal on Monday afternoon. The City Council now has about two months to hold a public hearing and vote on the project, which is set to be built on 26th Avenue between 4th and 9th streets.

The Astoria Cove plan, which the developers said will not involve public subsidies, features five mixed-used buildings with nearly 1,700 apartments on the waterfront of Astoria’s Hallets Point.

The project, which will be constructed over 10 years, also includes 54,000 square feet of retail space, an elementary school, a children’s play area and 84,000 square feet of public open space.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Queens Community Board 1 recently objected the project, asking the developers to include more than the 345 affordable units currently planned.

Twenty percent of the entire project is set to be affordable, according to the developers' attorney. But the community board asked that at least 35 percent of the project be allocated for affordable housing.

Local officials have also said they wanted the massive housing complex to come with more public transportation services.

Even more homeless on the streets and in shelters

From CBS 2:

More people are living on New York City’s streets now than at this time last year.

As CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, the number of homeless on the streets — 3,357 — is down by 24 percent since 2005, according to city data. But the number is up by 177 people, or 5 percent, compared to last year.

Overall, there are more than 56,000 people living in city shelters — a number that continues to grow, according to the DHS.

Brooklyn area eyed for affordable housing is already overpriced

From PIX11:

Residents and real estate agents in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn believe developers are moving in and purchasing property, dramatically raising prices.

“Land is starting to be speculated at 2-3 times what it was going for in just the last year,” said Kyle McCullers, a salesperson with Citi Habitats.

Last Spring Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the city would help build or sustain 200,000 affordable housing units in the five boroughs, with construction starting in East New York.

McCullers believes developers may be purchasing land hoping to benefit from an uptick in funds to build in the area.

“Once you get new development and developers have to cover their cost, what they perceive to be low rent may not be low rent for the folks who are from the neighborhood,” McCullers explained.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Why not just close LaGuardia Airport?

From Crains:

The obsolete Central Terminal building at LaGuardia Airport has drawn ridicule from business travelers. Now Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to spend $3.6 billion to build a new one.

But this cost is much higher if one includes the diminished value of the properties of the 150,000 residents who live under LGA or JFK flight paths. LGA's key advantage, its proximity to Manhattan, would be all but eliminated if the Metropolitan Transportation Authority built one-seat ride express rail to JFK. For less than $1 billion, the MTA could restore the 3.5-mile disused LIRR Rockaway Beach line in Queens, producing a world-class rail link to JFK while speeding travel to Aqueduct and the Rockaways.

With this high-speed link, a strong case could be made for closing LGA. By handling displaced LGA passengers via larger aircraft at JFK, takeoff and landing noise would be drastically reduced and airline efficiency improved.

With LGA closed, this valuable 680-acre city-owned waterfront parcel could accommodate more than 30,000 units of housing toward the mayor's goal of 200,000 affordable units.

Mr. Cuomo should insist that full consideration of closing LGA be a key part of an FAA-mandated aviation noise study now underway.

—George Haikalis
President, Institute for Rational Urban Mobility

Red fox discovered in Queens

There's a blog called Queens Coyote that tracks sightings of unusual wildlife in the borough. It caught a red fox on its camera recently. The author will not reveal where in Queens it was spotted, other than "not in Alley Pond Park".

Giant Manhattan developer takes over Astoria megaproject

From Curbed:

Earlier this week, the Durst Organization bought the long-awaited development site at Hallets Point, paying "well over $100 million" for a 90 percent stake in the Astoria megaproject.

The Hallets Point development has been in the works for years, and developer Lincoln Equities finally got the greenlight from the city last fall. All told, the project will have 1,921 apartments (plus 483 affordable units), spread across seven buildings. The plans also call for an esplanade, a school and retail space, including a supermarket. Interestingly, the New York City Housing Authority struck a deal that will allow the developer to build and operate two affordable buildings on the grounds of Astoria Houses, the nearby public housing complex.

So the affordable housing will be on the grounds of the projects and the council went for this?? ROFLMAO!!!

What Resorts World must resort to

From Crains:

The jackpot at Resorts World Casino is a little leaner these days—though not for gamblers.

The 36-month-old racino at Aqueduct Raceway in Queens has enjoyed a run of record-breaking revenue and double-digit annual growth. But during the past year, its growth has slowed, just as its owner, Malaysia-based Genting Americas, is hoping to be approved by the state for a $1.5 billion luxury resort and casino in Tuxedo.

Resorts World's revenue this fiscal year, which ends March 31, 2015, will increase by "high single digits," compared with a 14% growth rate in the previous fiscal year, said Christian Goode, senior vice president of development for Genting Americas. Last fiscal year, it generated $792 million in revenue, of which $618.2 million went to paying fees and to Albany in the form of gambling taxes.

"Double-digit growth is simply not sustainable, but whether we get [a casino upstate], our efforts are full steam ahead in Queens," he added. "There is more we can do there."

Resorts World has not been as successful tapping into the robust tourism industry in the Big Apple as it would have liked. The vast majority of its customers are locals from Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island. To attract more visitors, Mr. Goode is considering developing a hotel near John F. Kennedy International Airport—one that would offer better amenities than the existing budget airport properties—and help the casino capture international travelers, who would be shuttled directly to Aqueduct.

"Revealing money's influence on politics"

The website "Maplight" was brought to my attention recently. You can look up who contributes to congressmembers by category. Here's an example: Joe Crowley.