Sunday, November 29, 2009
A few important questions arise: If passed how will these funds be prioritized and spent. NYC has come under intense criticism for its lack of community based planning and consultation in its park and open space projects. Also will the final Bill contain provisions which would protect these investments and if so how.
Text of Bill:
"To authorize the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to establish and carry out an urban revitalization and livable communities program to provide Federal grants to urban areas for the rehabilitation of critically needed recreational areas and facilities and development of improved recreation programs, and for other purposes. "
Two Federal programs — The Urban Park and Recreation Recovery (UPARR) and the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) — have provided tens of millions of dollars to NY City parks over more than three decades .
The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) program provides matching grants to States and local governments for the acquisition and development of public outdoor recreation areas and facilities. The program is intended to create and maintain a nationwide legacy of high quality recreation areas and facilities and to stimulate non-federal investments in the protection and maintenance of recreation resources across the United States.
LWCF came under fire for its handling of Macombs Dam Park in the Bronx as part of the Yankee stadium development project. The feds allowed public parkland improved with LWCF funds in the 70's to be given to the NY Yankees to build thier new stadium. By law, any park receiving money from the LWCF must remain a park in perpetuity, unless the National Park Service decides that new replacement park land is of equal (or greater) value, usefulness and location. Proposed projects must also consider "all practical alternatives" before parks are seized.
But rather than conducting its mandated review, the National Park Service issued a "Finding of No Significant Impact" based purely on the state's and the city's flawed analysis and project "goals and objectives." Evidence came out that they had conspired with both the city and State parks. NYC Park Advocates and Metro learned that for more than a year, National Park Service officials were exchanging e-mails not only with the city and the state but with the New York Yankees.
The Urban Park and Recreation Recovery (UPARR) program was established in November 1978 by Public Law 95-625, authorizing $725 million to provide matching grants and technical assistance to economically distressed urban communities. The purpose of the program is to provide direct Federal assistance to urban localities for rehabilitation of critically needed recreation facilities. The law also encourages systematic local planning and commitment to continuing operation and maintenance of recreation programs, sites, and facilities. The program's funding was stopped in 2002.
Washington Considers Funding Parks to Rebuild Cities
gothamgazette - November 30, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Wallace’s DNA was found to match that of a 29-year-old woman who was raped on Sept. 24 at around 3 a.m., according to the Queens District Attorney’s Office. The victim was reportedly dragged at knifepoint to a wooded area near the intersection of Woodhaven Boulevard and Park Lane South, where the defendant allegedly raped and threatened to stab her if she screamed. After the attack, the man stole cash, an iPod and identification from the victim’s bag before fleeing.
Forest Park rape suspect in custody
Queens Chronicle - November 25, 2009 - by Lisa Fogarty
The problem is particularly acute every Tuesday when a mobile food service truck from St John’s Bread of Life dispenses food outside of the park, residents said. Police were told that 250 people show up for a meal and then disperse all over the playground. They said half naked men could be found in the bathroom– bathing and washing their clothes. The plumbing is often backed up, resulting in a urine-soaked floor.
Woodside Residents Want to Reclaim Park
Sunnyside Post - November 25, 2009
"Veterans Day is over. They've stopped waving their flags and now it's back to screwing the vet," Rossi, 69, said moments before he was arrested.
"If this were a law, they'd have been nailing us for it every day before this. They made this up this morning."
Police and Parks Department officials would not say why Rossi and others have been allowed to sell there for months without incident.
Veteran Vendor bust Met beef
New York Post - November 25, 2009
A Prominent Collection at the Met: Food Carts
New York Times - August 21, 2009
A Pushcart Vendor Defies a City, With Persistence and Hot Dogs
New York Times - December 19, 2007
Citing financial difficulties, Boy Scouts looking to sell Pouch Camp On SI - Seeking Conservation Easement For 124 acre Property
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Citing financial turmoil, the Boy Scouts of America is exploring the full or partial sale of Pouch Camp.
If a transaction materializes, however, the organization is hoping to secure an arrangement that would still allow Scouts and the community to use the wooded parkland in Sea View.
In discussions with the Staten Island Greenbelt Conservancy and city, state, and federal elected and appointed officials, the Boy Scouts have sought a "conservation easement" at Pouch Scout Camp, which would preserve the camp land as green space.
Through the easement, the Scouts would relinquish their rights to develop the property but it would permanently preserve the land as open space and prevent the potential of housing or commercial development. It would allow Scouts and the community to continue to use the property.
Citing financial difficulties, Boy Scouts looking to sell Pouch Camp
Staten Island Advance - December 2, 2009
According to vendor Dan Rossi, the NYPD said the area in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art between 79th street and 84th street was no longer city parkland but instead a city street. According to Mr. Rossi, this is the second time since August that the Bloomberg administration and the NYPD have made this charge. By law, any change of parkland ownership would require an act of State Legislation, with permission from the City Council - to alienate the land. A Walk In The Park checked, but was told that no such legislation has even been presented.
Mr. Rossi was arrested on Tuesday for the first time after battling the city for more than fifteen years. By his account the city violated the First, Fourth Amendments and section 1983 of the Civil Right Act. More on this story to come.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Regarding Greenpoint/Williamsburg rezoning:
"Certainly one lesson," he told the NY Observer, "One lesson of that is: whatever neighborhood improvements are supposed to go with a big development plan should be done up front--should be done before it's passed. The commitment should be made enforceable in some way. And if not, then don't bank on it." It took him eight years to figure that out? Many communities, including those around Yankee Stadium, certainly could have told him that...
And on artificial turf? According to the article:
"The Astroturf was very green and slippery, like a field made out of plastic leis. It didn’t seem ideal for any use, though Yassky told me the city parks department has been using it for years, because real grass is hard to maintain and gets muddy."
The Parks Department couldn't have said it better themselves. Adrian -um, David- forgot to inform the Observer reporter that grass is extremely hard to maintain especially when elected officials refuse to allocate funds to do so.
Yassky's Bargain: A Departing Councilman in Search of a Quo for His Quid
New York Observer - November 23, 2009
The 67 year-old group sent a lettter to Adrian Benepe on November 18. In the letter the group put the blame for future accidents squarely on the shoulders of the city agency and was written after the group was advised that it would make the city accountable in future lawsuits.
The group, with the help of Community Board 15, has spent the better part of two years fighting the tall concrete planters, which they say blocks the view of oncoming traffic for turning vehicles and can be attributed to several accidents, including one recent death. Parks Department officials agreed earlier this year to move the planters by the end of September, but later ditched the plans by saying they’re “too heavy.”
"The removal of the planters that were placed by the Parks Department on the center median on Oriental Boulevard in Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn is imperative. The enclosed photographs taken from inside a car on November 7, 2009, confirm the extremely dangerous condition for drivers who cannot see oncoming vehicles when turning. There was a recent death as well as multiple accidents attributed to the height and the location of these planters.
In your September 2009 letter to our organization, you stated that the planters would be removed from the mall by the end of September. To date, no action has been taken."
MBCG Puts Parks Dept. “On Notice”
Sheepshead Bites - November 23, 2009
Manhattan Beach Community Group
Monday, November 23, 2009
Yes, a renovation is on its way — but the repairs will skip the much-used baseball fields in the busy park between Vinegar Hill and Fort Greene.
Indeed, the shoddy condition of the ballfields is why Councilwoman Letitia James (D-Fort Greene) asked for $2.3 million to allocated in the first place, she said.
But the Parks Department said much more money would be needed — $5.7 million more, in fact — so the project now only consists of laying new grass, planting flowers and trees, and adding lights and an amphitheater in the park’s eastern end along North Elliott Place between Flushing and Park avenues.
Commodore sunk! Park repairs to skip the ballfields in favor of front lawn
The Brooklyn Paper - November 23, 2009
Wait till next year.
A large section of Brooklyn Bridge Park - with a playground, beach volleyball courts and a dog run - that was scheduled to open by the end of the year won't be ready until spring, the Daily News has learned.
"That's outrageous," said Atlantic Avenue Betterment Association President Sandy Balboza. "The winters are mild. I would go there with my dog. People are always visiting the waterfront."
Merchants on Atlantic Ave. want Pier 6 opened, because it would attract more shoppers to the area, Balboza said.
Officials from the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corp., a state agency, said they delayed the opening of Pier 6, near the foot of Atlantic Ave., because a harsh winter could wreak havoc on the sandy playground and volleyball courts, and few people are expected to use them when the temperature drops.
Plan to open Pier 6 area at Brooklyn Bridge Park put on ice until spring
New York Daily News - November 23, 2009 - By Mike McLaughlin
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Robert Lederman, president of the street artists rights group A.R.T.I.S.T. (Artists Response To Illegal State Tactics) was arrested for selling art at the High Line esplanade from the display (left). The High Line is located in the heart of the city's art community.
The arrest was made on Saturday afternoon by Park Enforcement Patrol (PEP). It has long been established that selling art in NYC Parks is protected by law. Mr. Lederman has won 5 Federal lawsuits on street artists First Amendment rights for which millions of dollars has been paid out in legal fees and settlements. According to Mr. Lederman, he was repeatedly threatened with arrest by Friends of the High Line (FOHL) employees. FOHL did not return a call for comment.
Below is a Press Release from Robert Lederman and a follow up statement from the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR).
November 21, 2009
Robert Lederman, president of the street artists’ rights group A.R.T.I.S.T. (Artists’ Response To Illegal State Tactics) was arrested on the 14th Street section of the Highline Park on Saturday, at approximately 3:30 PM. Lederman was issued 5 summonses, handcuffed and taken to the 6th Precinct by PEP (Park Enforcement Patrol) officers, after employees of the Highline Park called police. This is Lederman’s 42nd arrest.
Lederman was on the Highline displaying and selling original fine art prints of his NYC scenes. Between 1994 and 2001 Lederman won 5 Federal lawsuits on street artists’ First Amendment rights. Among them was a 2001 Federal Appeals court ruling (Lederman et al v Giuliani), which established that visual artists can sell in any NYC park without a license or Parks permit, based on First Amendment freedom of speech.
Summonses were issued for the following: Vending without a Park permit; failure to comply; disorderly conduct; failure to comply with directions of officers and unauthorized vending.
Lederman was released from the 6th Precinct around 6:30 PM and made the following statement:
“The Parks Department has done a very poor job of educating their employees about the legal issues involving First Amendment rights, artists and parks. Before any of these summonses were issued or any arrest was made I repeatedly explained to Highline employees and PEP officers that a court order was in effect and that artists freely and legally sold in all NYC Parks without a license or permit. I also showed them articles from the NY Times and NY Post describing this exact court order.
The wealthy people who paid to create the Highline seem to have forgotten that it is still a public park. The US Constitution remains in effect there, as do the street artists’ rights described in numerous 2nd circuit Federal Court orders. These court orders are constantly being violated by the Parks Department. This is a blatant example of contempt of court, false arrest and chilling of free speech in the name of privatization.”
The usually press-friendly Friends of the High Line refused to comment on the incident and instead left the DPR to fend for itself.
Parks Department Statement
“The High Line is a unique public space, a thin elevated corridor at less than three acres with pathways as narrow as eight feet wide in some places. Many activities are prohibited. These include biking, skateboarding, throwing a baseball or a Frisbee, or walking a dog. The High Line can receive as many as 25,000 visitors on a busy day, walking along its long linear surface surrounded by fragile new plantings. Mr. Lederman and other vendors are able to ply their trade in hundreds of New York City parks and on hundreds of miles of city streets, where visitors can linger and enjoy their wares.” —DPR Statement issued November 23, 2009.
Our prediction - All the tickets will be dismissed and Mr. Lederman will sue for false arrest and city's taxpayers will forced to pay, again.
Judge Bars Permit Requirement for Art Vendors
NY Times - August 11, 2001
NY Times on Parks Dept artist permit ruling
NY Post on street artist Federal Court ruling
Street artist Federal court rulings
Friday, November 20, 2009
The DPR recently sent 47 letters to Queens homeowners whose property illegally encroaches Cunningham Park. The property owners were ordered to immediately remove fences and all obstructions. They have thirty days to comply. This comes almost a year and a half after (see Daily News story below) these revelations were made public. Fox 5's John Deutzman does a follow up from his story in July.
Updated: Friday, 20 Nov 2009, 2:29 PM EST
Published : Tuesday, 14 Oct 2008, 8:10 PM EDT
MYFOXNY.COM - Some homeowners are being ordered to give huge chunks of their backyards back to New York City. It's a story Fox 5's John Deutzman broke in July, and he says some people are having a hard time facing the reality that it wasn't their land in the first place. The Parks Department admits it should have noticed this problem sooner. The department received a tip and started an investigation.
Keep The Trees, Lose The Tram Parts - Roosevelt Island Blackwell Park Master Plan Work Suspended Due To Community Opposition!
Photo: Aerial View Image Of Blackwell Park From Judith's Gallery
A reader of this post from Southtown wrote:
... my husband and I are concerned about the proposals for Blackwell Park. I especially enjoy the tall trees that block the view of the power plant, and the tot park and basketball courts which bring different members of the community together. My husband plays basketball at the courts. At times we sit behind the Blackwell home and just enjoy the trees and serenity. We are disappointed that this site has been chosen for a possible historic tram center when there is so much space in Southpoint that could be utilized. Or, why not put the tram close to the current visitor's center?
There is little we can do to stop the building of new residencies where the land has already been sold, but I hope that planners are responsible enough to keep island sustainability interests in mind (as far as commercial space, population and transportation needs, etc), and that our park preservation - the trees, game fields, and existing structures - be somewhere in the forefront.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Teen's throat slashed by glass-encrusted kite string - from Flushing Meadows/Corona Park - City Sued.
According to the NY Post 12- year-old Jared Kopeloff was skateboarding outside his Flushing co-op apartment building in October 2009 when he was clotheslined by a downed kite string.
The glass-encrusted wire ripped into the boy’s throat and left him scarred from ear to ear from a wound his lawyer said took 400 to 500 stitches to close. The boy also lost two lymph nodes in the accident.
Teen's throat slashed by kite string
New York Post - November 16, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Heritage Field One Year Behind - So Far. EDC & Mayor's Press Office Continued Amnesia Over Schedules
According to the final environmental impact statement issued for the stadium project, "The demolition of the existing stadium is expected to last about 15 months beginning in the third quarter of 2008 and finishing during the third quarter of 2009."
However, according to NYC Park Advocates, the city did not even put out the request for qualifications — the first step in finding contractors to be invited to prepare bids for the deconstruction — until Fall of 2008, when the project was scheduled to begin.
The structural and mechanical demolition permits for the stadium were not issued by the Department of Permits until October 31, 2009 — more than a year after demolition was supposed to be completed.
Not to be deterred by facts, for months the Bloomberg administration has attempted to rewrite history: at a replacement park update meeting on October 7th in the Bronx, John Seaboldt, the program manager for AECOM, the engineering firm handling the demolition of the stadium, said the "project is on schedule." When told the project is more than a year behind the original schedule he responded, "It's on the schedule that I've been given."
David Lombino, a former reporter for the NY Sun and now a spokesperson for the NYC Economic Development Corporation, the agency overseeing the demolition of the old stadium, said everything is proceeding according to schedule, according to the Village Voice (August 17, 2009).
Possibly feeling left out of the deceit, City Hall got into the act:
"There has been no delay in the deconstruction schedule and none is anticipated," City Hall spokesman Andrew Brent told the Daily News on October 13, 2009.
And on November 14, EDC was at it again, this time trying to spin NY 1 (Bronx Residents Wait For Parks At Old Stadium Site.)
A particularly sad moment in the NY 1 report came when reporter Dean Meminger speaks to a hapless State Senator José M. Serrano who happened to be ambling around the track.
"I think it is important that we elected officials and the community as a whole stay very vigilant on making sure the parks department and the DOT do everything they said they were going to do." Elected official vigilance? As the neighborhood surrounding Yankee stadium and the city's taxpayers can attest, if there is a single word one would not use to describe the actions of the elected officials regarding this nightmare project, 'vigilance' would be it. And the DOT? HUH?
José M. Serrano of course should not be mistaken for his equally uniformed father, Congressman José E. Serrano, who in 2006 was stopped by security for trying to jog on the old track in Macombs Dam Park which had already been seized by the Yankees - an action his son and his colleagues dutifully secured. How's that for elected official vigilance!
Thursday, November 12, 2009
As preservationists continue to clash with the owner of the land where the 162-year-old St. Saviour’s Church once stood, the city may be making its first tentative steps toward acquiring the property, according to YourNabe.com
The land at 57-40 58th St. has been on the market since 2006 when groups like the Juniper Park Civic Association began advocating for the preservation of the wooden structure. Recently the land owner, Maspeth Development, switched to a new real estate company. Manhattan-based Berko & Associates has listed the property for $8.5 million.
Borough President Helen Marshall’s office contacted the real estate company Oct. 14, said Newtown Historical Society President Christina Wilkinson. Marshall’s office also contacted the nonprofit Land Trust Alliance about getting the land put on the list for the $60 million Environmental Protection Fund allocation the state plans for the 2009-10 fiscal year, Marshall spokesman Dan Andrews said.
City mulling acquisition of St. Saviour’s
November 12, 2009 - YourNabe.com - By Jeremy Walsh