Thursday, April 17, 2014

DOT workers have nothing but time

Another from my inbox:

On April 7th, we posted a story on QC about deBlasio's, Liz Crowleys, and Community Board 5's inability or unwillingness to implement a one way conversion of 70 Street in Maspeth to a one way northbound that was recommended over 2 years ago !!!


One of the stories we have gotten from the NYC DOT is that this is a budgetary concern. BULLS&#%!!! We are talking about 6 or 7 corners - Not all of Maspeth, NOT all of Queens and NOT all of NYC.


We have found the money !!!!

Take a look at the pictures of some of the dozen plus DOT trucks parked illegally along Grand Ave in Maspeth (above) while the workers are enjoying breakfast at 8:30.....truly an hour and an a half after their shift starts. THIS IS EVERYDAY !!!!

Look a little further, and notice the trucks parked around Juniper Park. These pictures were taken at 2:30 to 3 PM one recent afternoon. The workers were enjoying the sunshine waiting for their shift to end. This is less than 1/2 mile from Crowley's office....duh !!! Notice the meter maintenance truck. There are no meters within a mile of this location.

We have redacted the vehicle and plate #' s as it is not and was never our intention to get the workers into trouble, but rather to draw attention to the lies and stories we are being told.

There are enough man hours wasted here, that this conversion could be done on a daily basis !!!

Packin' them in at Bayside High

Received in my inbox:

The DOE is not responding to parent demands that it not further overcrowd Bayside High School, a school that already has 1,000 more students than it was built to house.

The DOE is planning to overcrowd the already packed popular Queens high school that services students from all parts of Queens, the Bronx and Brooklyn to clear space for new schools co-locating at the downsizing Flushing and Martin Van Buren High Schools - schools that do accommodate far fewer students - according to Bayside PTA Co-President Edward Tang.

Bayside High School, rated "A" by the DOE for three years in a row, is bracing for over 1,000 new students this Fall, expected to bring its enrollment to over 3,600 - 170% of the building's capacity.

"Bayside is a victim of its own success and of the DOE's unresponsiveness to this community," said Alex Lee, a Bayside parent and member of the Citywide Council on High Schools. “The school received 14,000 applications due to the great results it produces for families and now the DOE wants to bury it to accommodate Bloomberg's leftover plans to downsize Van Buren and Flushing. The school already has students from all parts of Queens as well as the Bronx and Brooklyn!"

"If this goes through, Bayside would be second only to Forest Hills High School's in percent overcrowded while more than half of Queens’ high schools operate below 100% capacity," echoed Bayside parent Judy Rossman.

“Here’s the thing, overcrowding is not good for students or administrators. It forces a school to reduce support services, increase class sizes, and reduce safety measures. We have reached out to the Chancellor and our local elected officials demanding that no more than 750 new students be admitted. We will still be way overcrowded but not as bad as the DOE is planning," added parent Jaya Sarkar.

"No response from the DOE to the parents has been forthcoming. Our position is logical. We will not stand idly by if the Chancellor turns a blind eye to our situation and undermines the very success that we have worked so hard to achieve. Increasing Bayside’s enrollment to over 170% capacity is not logical and would not be a good decision for quality education or for our children’s futures.”

Partially collapsed Woodhaven building to be demolished

From the Daily News:

The city is set to tear down a partially collapsed Woodhaven building, more than a year after bricks from the neglected eyesore cascaded onto the sidewalk and created major problems for a pair of bedrock neighborhood institutions.

The former furniture store at 78-19 Jamaica Ave. forced out the senior center and, more recently, temporarily shut down the ambulance corps housed next door.

The city Buildings Department has been trying to force George Kochabe, the head officer of 78-19 Jamaica Ave. LLC, to make repairs. When he failed to show up in court last week, the Buildings Department decided it was time to take action.

Demolition will be handled by a contractor hired by the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, which will then bill the owner for the work.

If he fails to pay, the city will place a lien on his property, according to an agency spokesman.

The pros and cons of gentrification in Astoria

From NY1:

There has always been a mix of cultures in Astoria, but an influx of new residents is changing the face of the neighborhood once again. NY1's Ruschell Boone filed the following report.

If you've been to Astoria lately, you may have noticed that a lot has changed here. People no longer call it a Greek area. Many ethnic groups have carved out a section for themselves. It's known as diverse neighborhood, but census numbers show that whites are moving here in larger numbers than any other group.

The government says that while the overall population declined between 2000 and 2012, the percentage of white residents increased from 45 percent to 51 percent. Latinos make up 28 percent, Asians 14 percent and blacks 5 percent. The population is 75,000.

So what's the attraction? Well, many said it's got a small town vibe in a big city. It's also a quick train ride to Manhattan, and the real estate prices here are a lot cheaper than in that borough.

However, there's also a downside, according to some people. The new residents have increased the demand for newer housing, parking spaces, restaurants, stores and other amenities.

"Then, you see all the Starbucks and all the Victoria Secrets and all the big box stores," said one person. "That's the part that we don't like."

Mount Manresa trees sent to wood chipper

From DNA Info:

Workers started to cut down the nearly 400-year-old trees at the former Jesuit retreat house Mount Manresa on Tuesday morning, a day after a temporary restraining order stopping development of the site was lifted.

The Savo Brothers were slapped with a week-long temporary stop work order by Judge Moulton on April 8 to keep the site whole while protestors argued in court that the 15-acre site should be landmarked and that environmental studies are needed.

However, on Monday the judge denied the injunction to continue the stop on work until court hearings finish.

The $15 million sale of the site — which has historic buildings and 400-year-old trees — to the Savo Brothers from the Jesuits was finalized in February. Protesters have unsuccessfully campaigned to reverse the sale.

The developers plan to build 250 housing units at the site, the Staten Island Advance reported, but the Committee to Save Mount Manresa hoped the city would landmark it and turn it into a park.

Boy, doesn't this sound familiar?

Where is the LPC?

Where are the elected officials?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Possible parkland usurpation in Astoria

"There's some city property near the BQE...not sure, but it may be parkland. As a kid, some of us locals used to play softball there, but it is now being used by contractors that are storing demo containers filled with debris and construction materials. They also are parking commercial vans and pickups there." - Anonymous
That's a sturdy-looking structure!
Looks like the remnants of a grassy field.
The 1951 map above shows the outline of what appears to be the contributor's ballfield.
I tried to look up this property, but according to the NYC Tax Map, this property doesn't exist. Which is probably why local businesses did what they did with it.

More problems with AirBnB

From the NY Post:

Hookers are using the controversial Airbnb home-sharing Web site to turn prime Manhattan apartments into temporary brothels, The Post has learned.

One escort service is even saving a bundle by renting Airbnb apartments instead of hotel rooms for clients’ quickies, says a 21-year-old call girl who works for the illicit business.

“It’s more discreet and much cheaper than The Waldorf,” said the sex worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“Hotels have doormen and cameras. They ask questions. Apartments are usually buzz-in.”

The prostitute, a buxom brunette who charges up to $500 an hour, said her escort service generally rents an Airbnb apartment in the Financial District or Midtown West for up to a week at a time — then cycles numerous hookers through the place for trysts around-the-clock.

The agency flies under the radar by having its workers secure the apartments through their own Airbnb profiles, then has them pay the rent with prepaid debit cards. The apartments usually cost between $200 and $400 a day.

Smoker joker

This guy was shamelessly spitting and smoking inside the 7 in Corona.

I told the operator when I got off but I don't know if they did anything.

Anyway I wish there was a way to publicly shame these people.

East Elmhurst

Steinway Street eyesore

Hey Crappy,

Spotted this gem on Steinway Street on a Sunday afternoon stroll.

Love it! The vinyl covers the entire facade outside of the storefront, and just for good measure, they put perforated / one-way window ads in too... in case we couldn't see the rest.

Anywho, thought you'd appreciate it more than most. At least it's not John Ciafone!

And P.S.: 311 definitely got a phone call... the complaint is already logged.

Keep up the muckraking!


Questions for Katz

From Crains:

What kind of development would you like to see in Queens?

For things that are already happening, we have a task force for the Willets Point area; we have a task force for Flushing Commons. I'd love to see more retail and hotels in Jamaica. One of my goals is also to have much more affordable housing there, to utilize the zoning that we put in place five years ago, to build hotels for economic development. In Long Island City, we have a great opportunity to leverage the Cornell tech school that's coming to Roosevelt Island. And for people in their 20s, we want them to stay in Queens.

What's it like working with the de Blasio administration?

For someone like me, who's been in elected office 20 years, I spent the whole time with a Republican administration. So it's a different atmosphere. What I find now from most of the commissioners and the deputy mayors is the openness to other elected officials—our ideas, what we think is best for our constituents. There seems to be a team effort, more than there has been with the other administrations.

Do you think you'll be more active than your predecessor, Helen Marshall, who was known as being low-key?

Everyone brings their own characteristics, but for me, if I'm home on a Thursday night, it means someone screwed up my schedule. Although I'm not sure I've been home on a Thursday night yet.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The livin' ain't easy but the rent is free

From the NY Post:

Crafty hobos are turning the Manhattan Bridge into a veritable shantytown, complete with elaborate plywood shacks that are truly “must see to believe.”

One of the coffin-sized living spaces — which have been built into the bridge frame near the Manhattan entrance — is secured with a flimsy bike lock and bolted to a metal beam by its inhabitant.

The pods are built into the underside of the upper deck, below car traffic but above the subway and bike lanes.

To reach his makeshift studio, the bridge dweller — a stocky, neatly dressed Chinese man in his 40s — climbs a chain-link fence to a nook above the bike lane, witnesses said.

He unlocks the red bike lock with a key, slides a plank of wood back like a door and crawls in.

Several yards away, another vagrant spends his nights in a similarly rustic abode, sleeping on a roll-out mat and stashing belongings in a red tote bag.

His bathroom is a milk jug, his decor a scrap from a magazine.

The 10-by-1¹/₂-foot shacks are cramped, but the rent-free homes sure beat the cost of living legit in neighborhoods nearby — like Brooklyn’s trendy DUMBO, so named for its location “down under the Manhattan Bridge overpass.”

The owner mentioned in this article says the cops destroyed his first shanty, so he had no choice but to build here.

Fireworks returning to East River

From CBS New York:

The Macy’s 4th of July fireworks show will return to the East River this year.

The annual display will be set off from the Brooklyn Bridge and barges on the East River, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday.

As public advocate, de Blasio would join other Brooklyn leaders each year asking Macy’s and then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg to bring the fireworks back to the East River.
Now that he’s in charge, it’s happening.

Does Queens really need larger trucks on its streets?

From the Forum:

Should Congress approve a proposal to increase the size and weight limits for semi-trailer trucks, Queens residents already worn down by thousands of trucks passing through such neighborhoods as Maspeth would further see their quality of life deteriorate, borough leaders said.

“It’s crazy – we have trucks coming up residential blocks now; our streets can’t stand all this weight,” said Roe Daraio, president of the COMET – Citizens of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together – Civic Association – a group that has for years been fighting truck traffic in the Maspeth area.

Congress is now considering whether to allow bigger trucks to travel the country’s roads as it works on reauthorizing the surface transportation bill, otherwise known as MAP-21. With pressure from some of the country’s largest trucking companies and businesses pushing for increased size and weight limits – with many business owners saying it would help to significantly curb costs – a vote could come as soon as this month.

Specifically, Congress is looking at a proposal that would increase weight limits for single-trailer trucks to 97,000 pounds – 8.5 tons more than what is currently allowed.

A national nonprofit, the Coalition Against Bigger Trucks, is working to stop the plan, and it issued a release stating that Putnam County Sheriff Don Smith, a trustee and former president of the New York State Sheriff’s Association, also strongly opposes any increase to truck sizes or weights.

Worker dies in fall

From NBC:

Authorities say a construction worker died after a 10-story fall from the roof of a midtown Manhattan office building.

Authorities say the man landed on scaffolding about 25 feet above the sidewalk on the south side of West 33rd Street between Ninth and Tenth avenues. It happened about 3:30 p.m. Monday.

Police diverted traffic from the street. Detectives were investigating the cause of the fall. Some were seen peering out at the scaffolding from a second-floor window.

City contractors cheat workers out of prevailing wages

From the Daily News:

The mayor's campaign to build more affordable apartments has a dirty little underbelly: Many of the contractors who build cheaper units have been cited repeatedly for cheating workers out of a decent wage, a Daily News investigation has found.

Last week, Mayor de Blasio promised to “lift up working families” with soon-to-be built affordable apartments the city is sponsoring on a vacant lot in Brownsville, Brooklyn.

But at an affordable housing project a few blocks away, builder MDG Design and subcontractor F. Rizos, settled federal wage-cheating charges in April 2013 by agreeing to pay $960,000 in back wages.

Just one month later, MDG was hit with more wage-cheating charges on another city project, this time for $4.5 million in back wages, a city record.

Yet MDG was chosen by the former Bloomberg administration that very month to turn a city-owned warehouse in Williamsburg into 55 affordable apartments and stands to build hundreds more in the coming years.

Many taxpayer-funded developments in New York City require contractors and their subcontractors to pay “prevailing wages.” Some contractors jump through hoops to avoid this.