Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Girl, 10 Attempted Abduction In Brooklyn Park

The 10-year-old Brooklyn girl told police she was walking through a basketball court at Betsy Head Memorial Playground about 7:30 a.m. when a man came up and complimented her hair and backpack, and then tried to grab her. Pictured is a police sketch of the suspect.

Police released a sketch of the suspect wanted in this morning's scary incident involving a ten-year-old girl in Besty Head Park.   (image: DCPI)


By Geoffrey Croft

A 10 year-old-girl reported to police that she was walking alone through a Brooklyn Park on her way to school at 7:25 this morning when a man tried to grab her.

The girl was cutting through the basketball courts in Besty Head Park on Bristol Street between Blake & Dumont Avenues when the reported attack occurred.   

She told police she screamed and ran towards her home where her mother called police. 

The assailant ran in the opposite direction. 

The attacker is described as a male black, 35, short dreadlocks, bulging eyes, blue shirt, blue jacket and dark colored pants. 

The girl was not physically hurt.

The alleged incident occurred within the confines of the 73 Pct.

Read More:

Brooklyn girl, 10, flees would-be abductor on way to school: cops
New York Daily News - March 24, 2015 - By Rocco Parascandola

Eyewitness News -  March 24, 2015 - By Jim Dolan

CBS - March 24, 2015

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Stolen Verdi Square Dog Sculpture Not Likely To Be Reinstalled After Recovery

View this content on artnet's website
Tony Matelli's Stray Dog (2000) was stolen on Sunday from Verdi Square at 72nd street and Broadway and was found abandoned in Riverside Park at few hours later.  (Photo: ArtNews)


By Geoffrey Croft

A sculpture depicting a lost labrador seeing-eye dog with a harness that was stolen on Sunday from Verdi Square will not likely be reinstalled, NYC Park Advocates has learned.

Tony Matelli's "Stray Dog" bronze sculpture was installed in December  adjacent to the subway station at 72nd & Amsterdam/Broadway as part of the temporary group exhibition entitled Broadway Morey Boogie. The 100 + pound sculpture was stolen on Sunday, but recovered hours later by the NYPD after it was discovered next to a tree in Riverside Park near 72nd Street. 

The re-sited canine piece is in Parks Department custody and is awaiting return to the Marlborough Gallery which sponsored the show.

Broadway Morey Boogie  was originally intended to be on view until February. It is now slated to stay up until early April to make way for the next Broadway Malls public art exhibition.

The Parks Department says it is "unlikely" that Matelli's work will be reinstalled at Verdi Square, "given the short duration until the conclusion of the show," a parks official stated.

Embedded image permalink

Read More:

Tony Matelli's Stray Dog Sculpture Stolen From New York Subway Station
Artnews - March 16, 2015 - By Eileen Kinsella

ArtNews - March 16, 2015 - By Hannah Ghorashi

Sky-High Graffiti Bust: Teens Caught On Top Of Flushing Meadows Corona Park Worlds Fair Towers

Five teens were caught by park police after they broke into and climbed 226 feet to the top of the observation deck of the abandoned and severely deteriorated Worlds Fair Astro Towers. The iconic structure closed in 1965.   (Photos: © Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates)  Click on images to enlarge


By Geoffrey Croft

Five knuckle-headed teens were busted hanging out and doing graffiti 226 feet in the air on the observation deck of the Worlds Fair's iconic Astro Towers NYC Park Advocates has learned. 

Two girls and three boys broke into the towers and made their way to the very top, spray painting tags along the way.  

Two eagle-eyed park cops on patrol in Flushing Meadows Corona Park spotted several figures from about a half mile away walking around the rusted flying saucer-like structures at approximately at 3:30pm on Sunday. 

 Death Staircase.  One the severely deteriorated staircases is missing entire sections of stairs. 

When Park Enforcement Patrol Officers arrived they found a hole in the perimeter fence.   At the base of the circular concrete tower they found the rusty door leading to staircase wide open and a pair of pliers and a broken lock tossed on the ground. 

The KEEP OUT sign on the door had fresh graffiti.

Where the futuristic yellow steel-and-glass enclosed Sky Streak capsule elevators once whisked visitors in seconds to its observation decks high above the World's Fair officers now had to risk their lives going up the severely rusted staircase in order to bring the kids back down to safety. 

When PEP officers arrived at the base of the tower they saw the door leading inside wide open and a pair of pliers and a clipped lock tossed on the ground. 

Numerous fresh pink, teal and black-colored graffiti tags were found in numerous locations as the officers ascended to the top. 

Officers had to use a make-shift ladder made of electrical cords in order to reach the highest peak of observation deck to reach the teens. 

Some of the sky-high graffiti seen on the obsevation deck. 

And at the base. 

Rusted Staircase.

The surprised group were caught red handed with two book bags filled with spray paint,  markers and a camera that contained photos of tags at various locations. 

Park Enforcement Patrol Officers arrested two males, a 14 & 15-year old.

The two were charged with trespassing and possession of a graffiti instrument.  The 14-year-old was busted a few weeks ago for pot possession and had rolling papers on him on Sunday according to law enforcement sources.   

The two were transported to the 110 Pct., given juvenile reports and released to their parents who were not happy.

"Safety is always first," a PEP officer at the scene commented. 

"It's an old building that's falling apart. It is really not safe to be up there, they are putting their lives in danger and if they are partying it makes it a lot worse." 

Breathtaking Views. 

March 7, 2015

Park officers found the front gate of the New York State Pavilion wide open and the lock missing.  They also discovered a hole in another fence on the inside. 

New York State Pavilion.    (Photos: © Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates)  Click on images to enlarge

February 23, 2015

PEP officers caught a vandal wanted by police.  

While on patrol PEP officers caught Bagner Jara, 16, literally red handed spray-painting the tag "zero"  with red paint on the outside of a park bathroom near the Playground for All Children in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. 

When officers approached he jumped on his bike and took off, peddling away.  He was captured by the New York State Pavilion. He had a knapsack with a red spray can and a bag containing nearly 4 grams of marijuanna. 

He is known to tag "Zero" and "Zion" which are prevalent in and around the park. 

Jara was charged with unlawful possession of marijuana and possession of a graffiti instrument.

At the 110 Pct.  His name came up when police ran his name in the NYPD vandal unit data base.   Police charged with a second crime for spray painting the word "zero" on the rear of an abandoned building at 97-05 Alstayne Ave also in the 110 Pct. 

These are Jara's only two arrests. 

Read More:

CBS - March 20, 2015 - By Sonia Rincon

Eyewitness News - March 20, 2015

5 teens busted after climbing tower at New York State Pavilion in Queens with spray paint: officials  
New York Daily News - March 19, 2015 -  By Lisa L. Colangelo   

NY1 -  March 19, 2015 

New York Post - March 19, 2015  - By Kirstan Conley

Gothamist - March 19, 2015 -  Ben Yakas  

Friday, March 13, 2015

Boy, 14, Attacked By Group With Baseball Bat In Queens Park


By Geoffrey Croft

A 14-year-old male hispanic was attacked by three other male hispanic teens in Equity Park yesterday evening at approximately 5:50pm.

The victim was stuck in the head with a baseball bat according to police.

The teen was taken to Jamaica Hospital and suffered head trauma injuries. 

The 1.6 acre park is located between 88/89th Avenues & 91st Street in Woodhaven, Queens adjacent to P.S. 60. 

The three assailants  fled southbound on 90th Street. They are described as 14, and 15-years-old, between 5'6 & 5'7.

One of the suspects is known to the victim.

No arrests have been made. The investigation is ongoing. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Court Rules Citi-Bike In Petrosino Square Can Stay

Admirers photograph Carole Feuerman’s Survival of Serena an exhibition in the artist space located at the northern part of Petrosino Square on Lafayette Street and Cleveland Pl. between Kenmare & Spring Streets at the intersection of SoHo, Little Italy, and Chinatown.  (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Adovcates) 

The City surreptitiously installed a 32-dock Citi-Bike docking station (below) in April 2013 which replaced park space that had been dedicated to art installations since 1985, and even though there is an alternative location fro the bikes directly across the street. 


By Geoffrey Croft

In yet another strange ruling from the Supreme Court  Appellate Division First Department involving a parkland alienation case the court ruled that a controversial Citi-Bike docking station in Petrosino Square can stay.

"The trial court erred in failing to acknowledge the distinctions between recreational bicycling and bike-share commuting, which, though similar in instrumentality, serve completely different purposes," Plaintiffs argued. 

The Court did not agree.

The Appellate Division found that the bike share station served a proper park purpose of allowing members of the public to ride and dock a Citi-Bike at Petrosino Square, where they may “enjoy the Park as a respite, a spot for a meal or even as their final destination.”

In other words because the public can theoretically ride a Citi-Bike to the square where they can theoretically use the sitting area the docking station constitutes a "park purpose."  So even though that is clearly NOT the purpose of Citi-Bike nor how the bikes are used there the transportation bike sharing program can stay.

And to add insult to injury, bike riding is prohibited in Petrosino Square according to the Parks Department.    

Section §1-05 Regulated Uses states that, "No bicycle...shall be ridden or otherwise operated in a pedestrian way, park path, sitting area..."

In 2013 Plaintiffs filed suit arguing that the city ignored state "parkland alienation" law and its own regulations when they installed Citi Bike racks in tiny Petrosino Square, a Parks Department owned property on  Lafayette Street in SoHo.   The suit alleged that the Department of Transportation and the Parks Department improperly failed to get necessary approval from the state Legislature to use parkland for a non-park purpose.

During the suit Corporation Council had absurdly tried to argue that the Square belonged to the Department of Transportation. 

Several requests seeking comment from the City's Law Department were not returned.  Attempts to reach Plaintiffs and their lawyer were also unsuccessful. 

"This is not a legitimate park purpose for Petrosino Square. It's an outrageous violation of law," Plaintiff's lawyer Randy Mastro, Gibson Dunn's senior managing partner said last month.

The Citi-Bike docking station was installed in the middle of the night on April  27, 2013. 

Read More:

A Walk In The Park - February 16, 2015 - By Geoffrey Croft 

A Walk In The Park - October 15, 2013  - By Geoffrey Croft 

A Walk In The Park - May 28, 2013 - By Geoffrey Croft 

A Walk In The Park - December 3, 2012 - By Geoffey Croft 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Homeless Man In Coma After Being Attacked In Highland Park


By Geoffry Croft

Illegal drinking in a Brooklyn Park turned horribly violent on Friday night NYC Park Advocates has learned. 

A 45-year-old homeless man is in a coma after being viciously beaten by four other homeless men in Highland Park.

The victim got into a verbal altercation that turned violent according to police who say the men were intoxicated. 

The incident occured at 5:30 p.m. in the park near the northwestern corner of Essex St. & Jamiaca Avenue, 

Four hours later at approximalty 9:45,  911 received call about a person complaining of pain. 

EMS rushed the victim to Brookdale University Hospital where he fell into a coma early Saturday. 

No arrests have been made but four suspects were taken into custody for questioning.   

No charges have been filed.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Fashion Week Packs Its Bags While Community Waits For Park Restitution Plan

February 22, 2015.  Coming Soon - A Public Park.  Fashion Week, and other events like this are now prohibited from returning to Damrosch Park according to the far-reaching court ordered settlement reached in December.  The park, much of it destroyed to make way for private events, must also be restored.   The defendants however have not produced several key court mandated items required under the agreement. The Parks Department and Lincoln Center were supposed to appear on Monday night at CB 7's Parks Committee meeting but the item was removed from the agenda because the city and the arts group were not ready.  (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates)  Click on images to enlarge 

February 19, 2015. Damrosch Park Convention Center.  For years the Bloomberg administration allowed Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts (LCPA) to rent out the entire 2.4 acre Damrosch Park to various private clients including Fashion Week (above) which they did for up ten months of the year.   These actions constituted an illegal alienation of Damrosch Park in violation of the New York State Public Trust Doctrine and other laws.     

"IMG Fashion Week shall vacate the premises and remove all tents and other Fashion Week equipment from the park," according to the settlement, which was ordered by Supreme Court Justice Margaret Chan.


By Geoffrey Croft

Thursday marked the last day that the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week could ever be held in Damroach Park.   

Since then crews have been dismantling the massive tents that have illegally occupied the 2.4 acre public park for the past 5 years.

The runway exodus did not come voluntarily. It is part of a settlement agreement reached with the de Blasio administration after area residents and environmental groups were forced to sue in order to get the park back.

The semiannual function was part of a series of private events that Lincoln Center For The Performing Arts (LCPA) was allowed to host in a deal it struck with the Bloomberg administration.   Lincoln Center had been renting out the park for private events for up ten months of the year.  They are also allowed to keep the money and divert it from the City's General Fund.   

On Thursday people filed into the Fashion Week tents in Damroach Park for the last time. 

By Sunday an aluminum frame was all that remained from the main entrance to Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week located at Damrosch Park's Northeast side. 

Private events in Damrosch Park will now be the exception not the rule according to the far-reaching settlement reached in December between plaintiffs. 

In May 2013 plaintiffs, including NYC Park Advocates, Committee for Environmentally Sound Development, the founder of Friends of Damrosch Park and other individual neighborhood park users were forced to sue over the illegal use of Damrosch Park for non-park purposes in an effort to restore the park and return it back to the community.

One clueless fashion designer,  Nicole Miller, speculated a few days ago that the controversy was over area residents not being able to get taxis.

While the tents are being permanently removed plaintiffs and community representatives are still waiting for the Parks Department and Lincoln Center to comply with several key issues in the stipulation agreement more than two months after it was signed in December. 

• LCPA was supposed to provide CB7 and Plaintiffs with a copy of its annual January submission to the Parks Department listing proposed special events in Damrosch Park.  To date nothing has been received. 

• Planning for the Landscape Plan was supposed to begin in January 2015 but that has not been done as Lincoln Center is still looking for a landscape contractor.   LCPA and the Parks Department  are required to consult with and solicit comments from the Community Board prior to the spring 2015 planting season. During this period, LCPA will also, as part of its overall community relations program, consult with and solicit comments from a range of community organizations in the Lincoln Center neighborhood as well as with the plaintiff organizations, CESD and NYCPA.

The Parks Department and Lincoln Center were supposed to appear at Monday night's CB7's Parks Committee meeting but the item was removed from the agenda because the city and the arts group were not ready.  The reason -  Lincoln Center is still looking for a landscape contractor - three months after the settlement agreement. 

Over the weekend crews began dismantling the massive tents that illegally occupied Damroach Park for the past 5 years. 

Neighborhood groups are supposed to have meaningful input before spring planting begins, to date this has not occurred.  The next Parks Committee meeting is on March 16th.

"I am concerned any delays will leave planters with makeshift plantings thereby allowing for ongoing abuse by trailers and tents next season,"  said plaintiff Cleo Dana of Friends of Damrosch Park.

•  Under the terms of the settlement Lincoln Center will also be required to produce the secret  "sublicense" agreement between Fashion Week and Lincoln Center which lays out the financial arrangements. Lincoln Center received a $ 17.2 million dollar payday over five years which was diverted from the City General Fund.

•  As per the Stipulation Agreement LCPA was supposed to provide a cell number of an emergency contact person who would immediately respond to complaints in Damrosch Park. That never happened either.

A Fordham University student said that sound from Fashion Week could be heard throughout the dorms.

Cleo Dana said the noise on opening day of Fashion Week on Thursday, February 12th was deafening.

"The decibel level was outrageous." she said.  "My China was rattling on my table on the 26th floor a block away.  And as usual residents had no recourse.  It makes sense that they would have provided (the contact) before the event, but they didn't. These people don't care." 

Past complaints including noise,  illegal parking,  idling trucks,  and park destruction were routinely blown off by city officials.  

"When I complained in the past I was told it was a Mayor's event, parks rules do not apply," she said. 

"Neighbors are tired of calling 311and the 20th precinct with no results. I longer call 311, it's  a waste of time."

For weeks Cleo has been pressing various Parks Department officials to get answers, but those efforts have been fruitless.  

No more Mercedes-Benz allowed in the park. 

Attendees of Fashion Week in the seized parkland. 

On February 4th she wrote to Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver's Chief of staff Margaret Nelson.  Nelson represented the Parks Department at a City Hall meeting between plaintiffs and defendants in December where she identified herself as "our future liaison contact," Dana said. 

Cleo wrote Nelson saying that she attended a Community Board 7 meeting weeks ago to inquire about the status of outstanding issues regarding the settlement agreement. At the meeting CB 7’s Parks Committee Chairman , Klari Neuwelt, assured her that, as per Plaintiffs’ request,  the “Landscape Plan” will be on the Committee’s Feb. 23rd Agenda. 

She asked Silver's chief of staff to "Kindly confirm that the Plan will be presented," along with providing Lincoln Center’s proposed special events for 2015. 

A couple of days later, on February 6th  Nelson responded saying,   "I will look into these requests and get back to you next week." 

She never did. 

A few days later Steve Simon, Chief of Staff for Manhattan Parks Commissioner Bill Castro called to say that Lincoln Center was “looking” for a landscape contractor and would not be able to present at the February 23 Parks Committee meeting.  

"The Plaintiffs and the community are understandably disappointed that two months after our Settlement Agreement, Lincoln Center is still looking to hire a Landscape Consultant," Cleo wrote to Steve Simon.

"We had assumed that Lincoln Center would present the preliminary mandated “Landscape Plan” at the February Community Board 7 Parks Committee meeting so that Plaintiffs and community organizations could have meaningful “input” before the forthcoming planting season.  As Fashion Week packs up for good, we need to know that serious planting will commence this spring to cover the rubble and barren planters left behind;  temporary cosmetic ”flowering plants”  as in past summers which can then be covered over by trailers and tents later in the year are not acceptable.

May I remind you that the Community Board has not yet received a "copy of its annual January submission to the Parks Department listing proposed special events in Damrosch Park for the coming calendar year” as also stipulated in our Settlement Agreement."

Dispite several requests seeking comment the Mayor's press office refused to acknowledge the requests and the Parks Department press office said they were too busy. 

Sign of the Times. 

February 19, 2015.  The Parks Department owned parking garage that Lincoln Center keeps 100% of the proceeds from remains covered from the tents.   

February 22, 2015.

The skeleton remains of Fashion Week are revealed as crews break down the tents.

The park's lone sign provided support to a Fashion Week tent.  On Sunday a worker leaned on it while colleagues removed equipment from the event.

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

Read More:

Fashion Week Ordered To Leave Lincoln Center - Park To Be Restored In Lawsuit Settlement  
A Walk In The Park - December 18, 2014 - By Geoffrey Croft

WABC - December 18, 2014 - By Tim Fleischer 

New York Daily News - December 18, 2014 -  By Barbara Ross 

New York Post - December 18, 2014 - By Natalie O'Neill and Julia Marsh 

New York Times - December 18, 2014 - By Robin Pogrebin   

Associated Press - December 18, 2014 -  By Leanne Italie  

Crain's New York Busness - December 18, 2014 - By Adrianne Pasquarelli 

AM New York - December 18, 2014 - By Ivan Pereira 

Metro NY - December 18, 2014

CNBC -  December 18, 2014 - By Krystina Gustafson

 New York Magazine -  December 18, 2014 - By VĂ©ronique Hyland 

gothamist - December 18, 2014 - Rebecca Fishbein  

 The Hollywood Reporter - December 18, 2014 - By Stephanie Chan

 WNBC - December 18, 2014

A Walk In The Park -  May 22, 2013 - By Geoffrey Croft 

A Walk In The Park February 15, 2012 - By Geoffrey Croft

A Walk In The Park - February 6, 2012

A Walk In The Park - September 10, 2010 - By Geoffrey Croft

A Walk In The Park - September 11, 2010 - By Geoffrey Croft