Thursday, October 23, 2014

Central Park: Body Of Missing 95-Year-Old UES Resident Found































Police at the scene. (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on images to enlarge.


Manhattan

By Geoffrey Croft

The body of a 95-year-old missing person was found today in Central Park.

Robert Porter was found this morning approximately 9:25 a.m. under some bushes btw. 96/97th Street near Fifth Avenue not far from the Albert Bertel Thorvaldsen sculpture 

His pants were down and their was no obvious sign of trauma, according to law enforcement sources.  

The medical examiner will determine the cause of death.

The man was last seen leaving his E. 90th St  residence between York & East End Avenue on October 14th at 2:30pm. 

On October 18th, police began seeking the public's assistance concerning whereabouts of the missing 5'6" tall, 140 pound person and to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS.

A police officer guards the path leading to the area of the park where the body was found.

The body was found under some bushes not far from the Albert Bertel Thorvaldsen sculpture.  



Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Central Park: Cyclists Hit Pedestrians 35 Times This Year So Far




Last month police officers stationed near the crash site in Central Park handed out safety pamphlets and urged cyclists to slow down and obey traffic rules.  (Photo: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) 


Pedestrians in Central Park have been hit 35 times by cyclists so far this year.  The NYPD dramatically beefed up bicycle enforcement in the park after recent accidents. More than 200 tickets have been issued to cyclists in the park since Jill Tarlov was fatally struck on September 19th.  Officers have given out 810 summonses this year as of Sunday,  police wrote just 195 summonses for the same period last year. 

According to NYPD stats 52 percent more pedestrians were struck in 2014 than the 25 who were hit in 2013.  


Manhattan
Central Park bicyclists have hit 35 people so far this year while only one person was hit by a car, a top police official said, according to DNAinfo. 
The lone car crash occurred on May 12 about 8 a.m. at West Drive and West 67th Street and the pedestrian suffered only a minor foot injury, according to Deputy Inspector Jessica Corey, commanding officer of the Central Park precinct.
In the 35 bike collisions, however, the crashes between pedestrians and cyclists led to two pedestrian deaths and three fractured skulls, Corey told Community Board 7 members Monday night at a meeting about Central Park street safety.
In recent months, a 59-year-old mother was killed by a cyclist along West Drive near West 62nd Street and a 75-year-old male jogger was killed by a cyclist near the East Drive Loop at East 72nd Street, sparking concern among residents about the safety of pedestrians and runners using the park's roadways.
Corey would not go into more detail about this year's crashes, nor the injuries sustained by cyclists, but she said they happened at all times of the day.
Several crashes happened in the early morning, about 6 a.m., when there's a perception that there are fewer walkers in the park, she added.
The precinct is trying to curb crashes by educating cyclists and pedestrians about the park's traffic lights and by handing out summonses to cyclists, Corey said. Officers are particularly focused on cyclists who fail to yield to pedestrians and run red lights, she said.
"We've issued more than 800 summonses [to cyclists] for the year," she said. 
But police typically don't know if a bike is speeding because judging cycle speed is difficult unless someone is recorded with a radar gun, Corey explained.
The hot spots for cyclist-pedestrian crashes include West Drive in the West 70s and near East 72nd Street along East Drive, she noted. 
Though only one car has been involved in a collision this year, Community Board 7 members said they see a car-less Central Park as a potential solution to the crashes because it would give cyclists and pedestrians each more space in their respective lanes.
"I like the idea of trying to introduce more of a separation between the users," said board member Meisha Hunter.
City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal has proposed a bill calling for a trial car-free Central Park from June through September next year, followed by a DOT study of how that affected surrounding traffic patterns.

Injuries, violations up as bikers make Central Park dangerous
A police officer writes a cyclist a summons in Central Park on Tuesday — near where Jill Tarlov died after being hit by a speeding biker. (Photo: Robert Miller/NY Post)

Read More:

DNAinfo - October 22, 2014 - By Emily Frost


New York Post - October 22, 2014 - By Rebecca Harshbarger, Kirstan Conley and Daniel Prendergast  


Central Park Bike Summonses Explode By 260%
A Walk In The Park - September 23, 2014 - By Geoffrey Croft



Friday, October 17, 2014

Child Bitten By Pit Bull In Brooklyn Playground


Brooklyn

By Geoffrey Croft 

A 23-month-old boy was bitten by pit bull in a Brooklyn park according to police,  NYC Park Advocates has learned. 

The toddler was in a playground in Herbert Von King Park at Lafayette and Marcy Avenues when a leashed pit bull bit the child in the stomach causing a puncture wound.

The owner of the pit bull fled the scene.

EMS treated and transported the patient to Long Island College Hospital Pediatrics for a non-critical injury.

The incident occurred on Tuesday at approximately 12:10pm.

Man Found Dead - Stabbed 9 Times In Bronx Playground



Bronx

By Geoffrey Croft

An unidentified 50-year-old man was found stabbed nine times inside Lozada Playground in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx Thursday morning. 

Police officers responded to the scene just after 9am and found the victim with multiple stab wounds to the back of the head and chest. EMS transported the male to Lincoln Hospital, while en-route the victim was pronounced dead.

The victim's identification will be released after family notification.

Park workers said the playground opened at 7 a.m., but the victim wasn’t seen.  A parkgoer discovered the body two hours later, officials said.

The playground is located on E. 135th Street between Alexander Avenue and Willis Avenue adjacent to P.S. 154, the Jonathan D. Hyatt Elementary School which was temporarily locked down.

Read More: 

New York Daily News -  October 17, 2014 - By Rocco Parascandola, Thomas Tracy 


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Union Square Park Restaurant: High-End Eatery Not Returning To Children's Pavilion


(Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates)  Click on images to enlarge

An empty Pavilion Market Cafe in Union Square Park at lunch time. Is the controversial restaurant faltering? The restaurant was forced to eliminate breakfast service months ago due to poor business.  "The staff have left in droves,"  said an employee.  "Its hard to staff a seasonal restaurant and it doesn't help when the business is not there."    

The City is allowing the restaurant to remain open until October 31, past yesterday's "on or about" October 15 deadline.

A Park Experience? The concessioner was required to install up to a seven foot high barrier to separate the playground from the restaurant which is on the other side of the faux grass on the wall (above). 

Manhattan

By Geoffrey Croft

The controversial restaurant will not be returning to the historic Woman's & Children's pavilion in Union Square Park NYC Park Advocates has learned.  

Administration officials are currently working out the details which would move the high-end eatery out of the pavilion building and into the north end of the plaza.

One of the sticking points left is how much of the north end would the restaurant take up and whether or not the indoor space which is currently being utilized by the restaurant's kitchen would be removed and instead be used for community and neighborhood uses. 


The de Blasio administration had initially rebuffed the community,  and the local elected officials who have been unanimous in their opposition.



In January in one of the first court appearances under the new administration  city lawyers argued before the New York Court of Appeals that luxury restaurants belong in public parks – and it doesn’t matter how much they charge to eat there,  how many people can't afford it or how much land they take away.  In fact,  the city said,  these eateries can take up to “98 percent” of a park. 



The de Blasio administration shockingly argued in the State's highest court that there is virtually is no limit in the amount of space a restaurant can occupy in a public park. The city also argued that didn't matter how high the prices were even if the vast majority of people would be prohibited from affording it  - a restaurant would qualify as a "park purpose" under the law.  




No More Breakfast. The cheapest food item is a single piece of shrimp for $ 4 dollars.



The City’s Law Department also vigorously argued that it retains the legal right in the license granted to the restaurant concessionaire to freely terminate the contract “at will” at any time, citing the agreement.  

The Court of Appeals decision came at a critical time as parkland alienation,  the sale,  lease or use of parkland for non-park purposes without State legislative authorization,  was routinely exploited under the Bloomberg administration.  Increasingly the city has allowed parkland to be taken from communities and used as cash cows or as free real estate for commercial or industrial purposes in flagrant disregard of the law critics charge.

In March, numerous City, State and Federal elected officials sent a strongly worded letter to Mayor de Blasio imploring him to cancel the Bloomberg - era contract to build the controversial high-end bar/restaurant in the historic pavilion.


There is nothing progressive about displacing families, children, seniors and eliminating one of the county's most historic free speech sites in a public park. On Sunday March 9, elected officials,  community residents and representatives from more than 50 neighborhood associations came together to call on Mayor De Blasio to void the concession agreement and give back the pavilion to the people and do what is right for New York City.  


In April  at a closed-door meeting close to a dozen elected officials and representatives met with top administration officials at City Hall.

The group included  Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer,   NY State Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried,  City Council Member Corey Johnson and representatives from  NY State Assembly Member Deborah Glick, State Senators Liz KruegerBrad Hoylman, and Public Advocate Letitia James,  as well as a senior advisor to Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.   

Administration officials included Jon Paul Lupo,  director of the Office of City Legislative Affairs,   Marco CarriĆ³n, head of the mayor’s Community Affairs Unit, Emma Wolfe,  director of intergovernmental affairs and Peter Hatch, de Blasio's former chief of staff as Councilman and now senior advisor to first deputy mayor Anthony Shorris who lead the meeting.   

The elected officials presented their case and argued that the administration had the legal right to cancel the restaurant contract as the city had represented in court and won.

Administration officials were not moved. They countered by saying that canceling the contract was not so easy, a concept they were not so forthcoming about to the Court of Appeals, and was one of the major reasons why the court ruled in thier favor. 

Mayoral officials at the meeting also argued that canceling the contract would create "a bad precedent" for business.  

"They feel an obligation to the concessioner's investment, " said an elected official who attended the meeting, an account that was confirmed by several attendees.

"But what about the tens of millions in public money that was spent."    

The elected officials were not buying that excuse as both the city, and the concessioner were aware long before the business spent a dime that is was an issue.  

A few weeks after the meeting however elected officials were told by de Blasio officials that a deal had been made by the administration which would require the restaurant to move after the 2014 season which ends "on or about October 15"  according to concessionaire's license agreement with the city. 

NY State Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried, and State Senator Liz Krueger  included the news of the move in their most recent newsletters. 

As Public Advocate Bill de Blasio wrote to the New York State Liquor Authority expressing his "concern" in granting Chef Driven Market a liquor license adjacent to a public playground.  

"I urge the State Liquor Authority  to explore and weigh whether the license being sought by  Chef Driven Market, LLC is in the best interests of this community," he wrote in the October 19, 2012 letter. (below)

"In your delberations, I urge you to consider the proximity of similar businesses in the immediate area and the effect of this type of establishment will have on children using the adjacent playground," de Blasio wrote.


March 9, 2014. Assembly Member Richard Gottfried making a point.  


Is The Restaurant Faltering? 

It appears the controversial Pavilion restaurant may be not selling as many $495 bottles of Cristal champagne as they had hoped.

Several Chef Driven Market employees painted a bleak picture of restaurant fortunes.

The restaurant was forced to eliminate breakfast service months ago due to poor business and now the cheapest food item is a single piece of shrimp for $ 4 dollars.

On a recent afternoon a slight but steady drizzle left only the center tables dry from the cold damp wetness.  

"The staff have left in droves," said a The Pavilion Market Cafe employee on a recent visit.

"Its hard to staff a seasonal restaurant and it doesn't help when the business is not there."

When asked to estimate how many staff remain the employee replied,  "scant."

"They're trying to extend it to November 8th but I don't think we'll make it. Look at it," the employee said while pointing to the empty restaurant.  

"The city will evaluate The Pavilion's performance during its first season, and make adjustments as deemed necessary to their operation moving forward," the Parks Department said in a statement declining to comment on the deal.

The City is also allowing the restaurant to 
remain open until October 31, past yesterday's October 15th deadline because they opened on May 1st,  fifteen days later than thier contract specified. 

Background

The area around Union Square Park has the lowest amount of playground space but the highest concentration of restaurants in the entire city.  Since 2004 Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Union Square Partnership — a Business Improvement District/Local Development Corporation — have attempted to seize thousands of square feet of potential recreation and neighborhood space by turning the historic pavilion into a high-end restaurant.  The BID has been allowed to dictate public land use policy aided by an eight million dollar anonymous donation.

For the past decade the community has been fighting to have the historic pavilion in Union Square Park restored to its former uses which include a sheltered,  indoor recreation center that served a variety of year-round recreation and free public uses for children,  teens,  families,  seniors,  and the greater community at large.

In 2004,  Save Union Square Park,  a grass roots,  community - based campaign was organized by NYC Park Advocates to advocate for the needs of the community. With the help and support of 57 community organizations,  elected officials and a broad-based labor coalition,  the campaign succeeded in defeating an irresponsible plan to create a year-round restaurant and greatly increased the amount of playground space,  much of it recaptured from play areas lost to the previous seasonal cafe.

Plaintiffs including the Union Square Park Community Coalition sued claiming the City violated the Public Trust Doctrine which says that municipal park land can not be used for non-park purposes without the consent of the State Legislature. 


Read More:

Union Square pavilion restaurant could be cooked, local pols say
The Villager - October 16, 2014 -  By Lincoln Anderson

A Walk In The Park - March 10,  2014 - By Geoffrey Croft

A Walk In The Park -  January 16,  2014 - By Geoffrey Croft



As Public Advocate Bill de Blasio wrote to the New York State Liquor Authority expressing concern. 









Elected officials including Rosie Mendez, Dan Garodnick and Gale Brewer also wrote to the State Liquor Authority. 



Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Bear Cub Found Dumped In Central Park

Manhattan

By Geoffrey Croft

A dead black bear cub, three feet long, was discovered this morning in Central Park under a tree.

The discovery was made by a woman walking her dog near West 69th Street and the West Drive at approximately 10:30am.

The woman notified a Central Park Conservancy worker who called  911.

The bear had lacerations to its body including a gash to the neck according to sources.

The Police Department’s Animal Cruelty Investigation unit spent the morning searching for clues trying to determine the cause of death and how the bear ended up in the park. The working hypothesis is that the bear was brought by a people in vehicle and dumped there.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s wildlife pathology unit  is determining the cause of death.

Read More:

Bear cub found dead in Central Park, police suspect death was unnatural
New York Daily News - October 6, 2014  - By Chelsia Rose Marcius , Tina Moore 

In a Mystery, a Baby Black Bear Is Found Dead in Central Park
New York Times -  October 6, 2014  - By J. David Goodman and Daniel Krieger  

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Queens Zoo Robbed At Gunpoint

Queens Zoo: entrance
The Queens Zoo in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park was robbed by an armed gunman on Sunday afternoon.

Queens

By Geoffrey Croft

The Queens Zoo in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park was robbed by an armed gunman NYC Park Advocates has learned.

The thief made off with $ 4, 873.00 in the brazen day-time robbery which occurred at 4:30 on Sunday an hour before closing time.  

The assailant pointed a black handgun at two zoo employees -  a woman, 56, and a 50-year-old male and said,  "The  money" according to the police report.

The perpetrator held a gun on one the employees while the other loaded the money into a bag and then fled of foot into the park.

The assailant is described as a 30-year-old male Hispanic, 5' 9 inches male, 150 pounds, 

Cameras at the location are not operational according to law enforcement sources. 

Flushing Meadows-Corona Park is leading the city in reported crime of the 30 parks the NYPD collects data for. 

Read More:

NYPD: Gunman robs Queens Zoo of $5,000
The Associated Press - October 2, 2014


New York Daily News - October 1, 2014  - By Eli Rosenberg  

WNBC - October 1, 2014 - By Sheldon Dutes

DNAinfo - October 1, 2014 - By Katie Honan  

Queens Courier - By Cristabelle Tumola