Saturday, August 29, 2009
Mr. Poll and Loeb Boathouse were the subject of a lengthy 2007 audit by Comptroller Thompson which found they shortchanged the taxpayers $381,070 by under-reporting more than two million dollars in gross receipts. The report received front page coverage when it was released on March 28, 2007. The apparent shoddy bookkeeping did not play into the city's decision in awarding the concession to Poll nor did it prevent the Parks Commissioner from heaping praise upon him in the press release: "We are pleased to select Dean Poll as the new operator of this world-famous location in Central Park. He has done an outstanding job for eight years at the Loeb Boathouse... "
One curious note: According to Crain's, Mr. Poll has no investors but he said he had secured a bank loan to fund the work. Banks don't usually lend money to businesses who have license agreements with the city because they can be terminated at the discretion of the city, in this case, the Parks Commissioner.
No word on whether Poll paid back the city's taxpayers. Only NY Post columnist Steve Cuozzo reminded the public of Poll's recent past in bilking the tax payers.
Boathouse Operator to Run Tavern on the Green, and Changes Are Planned
New York Times - August 28, 2009
Gaining Entree: Boathouse Guy Takes Tavern
New York Post - September 2, 2009
City picks new Tavern on the Green leaseholder
Crains New York - August 28, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
A problem-plagued $22.4 million scheme to transform a 222-acre former Bronx landfill into a spectacular PGA-regulation golf course has not only missed its deadline by eight years, it will now cost an additional $100 million, The Post has learned.
And it'll be on the taxpayers' dime.
In 1998, when then-Mayor Giuliani unveiled plans to build the Jack Nicklaus-designed Ferry Point golf course near the Whitestone Bridge in Throgs Neck, the tab was supposed to be picked up by a private developer he chose, and golfers were supposed to tee off by 2001.
But eight years later, little work has been done besides mob-connected truckers dumping mounds of dirt over the old landfill.
Records show the city has already spent $43 million on Ferry Point and is budgeted to borrow at least another $80 million at a time when many other park projects are being gutted citywide because of the fiscal crisis.
"This is a boondoggle," said Geoffrey Croft of the watchdog group New York City Park Advocates. "Instead of building a park the community can use, the city is flushing money down the toilet."
Thursday, August 6, 2009
While protecting the Great Lawn is important, allowing a single protest would have resulted in minimal damage. There also would have been financial safeguards in place in the form a of a bond in the unlikely event the lawn was damaged. The Mayor was simply trying to prevent embarrassment on a national stage.
Metro NY - August 5, 2009
The battle was reignited this week by an independent review supporting the city’s 2004 lawn limit of 55,000 people. The report draws on an assessment by a former city official, Robert Russo, deputy Parks commissioner from 1981 to ’89."
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
NY Post - August 3, 2009
High Line Eyes Tax On Its Neighbors
NY Post - July 29, 2009
Gothamist - July 9, 2009
"It almost appears to be some sort of back-room deal." Founders of the Friends of the High Line have already given endorsements to Mayor Bloomberg and board members have contributed over $100,000 to Speaker Christine Quinn."
Monday, August 3, 2009
Another hard-hitting expose of Parks by the Post's Rich Calder; this time the High Line is in the spotlight. The article looks into the cost per acre to maintain the brand new $172 million promenade complete with extremely high compensated salaries of employees. The piece also publishes an amount of Parks Enforcement Patrol (PEP) at the High Line and for the first time accurately compares it to the number of PEP available in the Bronx and Queens. The disparity is enormous. No wonder why Bloomberg supports this. Friends of the High Line (a private management group) is also pursuing three dedicated sources of funding: A park tax - (High Line Improvement District), revenue from concessions, and an endowment. This while 99% of the city's other parks must rely on municipal funding. One City, One Standard?
Showdown on the High Line
To The Editor:
Re “Rainforest activists: High Line wood a ‘pour’ choice” (news article, July 8):
Rainforests of New York (www.rainforestsofnewyork.org), the long-term campaign to end the use of rainforest wood in New York City government-funded projects, has challenged the much-touted “eco-park,” the High Line, for using it. While passing out fliers to Chelsea residents and tourists there a week ago, the campaign met Ricardo Scofidio, a principal partner of the team of Diller Scofidio + Renfro that designed the High Line park. We discussed the firm’s ecologically insensitive decision to use ipê wood from the Amazon.
During our conversation, Mr. Scofidio repeatedly claimed that the city’s Design Commission “insisted” the High Line use ipê trees, although his firm proffered thoughtful eco-designs that would salvage the old High Line rail ties or use recycled plastic lumber or regionally sourced hardwood from black locust trees. He also claimed that the Parks Department had provided specifications requiring ipê be used — despite the fact that Mayor Bloomberg has declared he would end, where possible, the city’s use of rainforest wood because of its significant contribution to global climate change.
Last week, we wrote to the Design Commission to ask them about Mr. Scofidio’s assertion. They refuted his claim, stating that “[W]hile the Commission reviewed the design of the High Line, it did not request that a particular type of wood be used.”
Read more: The Villager - July 29, 2009 - Letter to the Editor (fourth letter down)
Saturday, August 1, 2009
"Prospect Park's Monday morning trash problem is worse than ever because of record-high attendance and cuts to the cleanup crew, a park official said.
To handle the mounds of garbage that pile up over busy weekends this summer, officials have resorted to planting a mammoth Dumpster in the middle of the park and are now hoping Saturday and Sunday picnickers will use it.
"It's cheaper to have a commitment to more garbage cans than human beings," said Prospect Park administrator Tupper Thomas. "If I had lots of money, the top thing I'd do is hire more people. But we've taken significant cuts."
Because of city budget cuts, the Parks Department was only able to hire nine seasonal summer workers instead of its usual 13. Combined with full-time workers, there are now only 19 members on the park's cleanup crew.
Tupper said there are four to five workers cleaning up the park Sunday night, and that all 19 report to work on Monday morning - but parkgoers said the workers can't keep up with the trash."