Saturday, January 30, 2010

City Reneges on Deal for Historic Wyckoff-Bennett 1766 Homestead


WITH a spinning wheel in the attic, flintlock rifles on the walls, foot warmers at the hearth and a horse-drawn sleigh in the barn, Annette and Stuart Mont are well-equipped for 18th-century colonial farm life, according to the New York Times.

Except they are living in Brooklyn in 2010.

Home is an antiques-crammed pre-Revolutionary white Dutch farmhouse and barn that rise like ghostly apparitions amid apartment clusters and buzzing traffic on East 22nd Street and Avenue P in the Madison section. The Monts, who bought the place fully equipped for $160,000 in 1983, are only the third family to occupy what is known as the Wyckoff-Bennett Homestead since it was built around 1766.

“It’s a living museum,” said Mrs. Mont, 69, a retired psychotherapist and teacher.

But a plan for the city to acquire the 4,000-square-foot home, which was designated as a landmark by the city in 1968 and put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, has broken down in acrimony.

The Monts say that starting a decade ago, city officials offered to buy the house and its contents for $2 million while letting them stay on rent-free as caretakers, but that the officials reneged on the deal last year. Franklin Vagnone, executive director of the Historic House Trust, which helps the parks department preserve historic houses located in city parks, called the place “a wonderful artifact” but said the city “was unfortunately not able to negotiate terms with the current owners.”

Read More:

New York Times - January 29, 2010 - By Ralph Blumenthal 

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Washington Park Dog Owners In Egg Attacks


Barking is no yolk in Brooklyn.

Petrified pooches and their owners have been walking on eggshells -- and ducking them too -- in the past month at a Park Slope dog run, according to the New York Post.

Pet owners say an angry tenant in a luxury condominium next to Washington Park has been hurling eggs at clamorous canines that use the Fido-friendly exercise area in the evening.

"Before I knew it -- 'whack' on my shoulder and 'splat' on the ground," said Ilene Cohen, 55, who was hit by an egg three weeks ago. "I looked up, but I didn't see anybody. They're not going to stand there waving at me and say, 'I'm the jerk who threw it.' "

Cohen regularly brings her black Labrador, Ace, to the dog run, which is open 24 hours a day. She said her dog wasn't making any noise but other pooches around her were barking, apparently infuriating the egg-slinger.

Kimberly Maier, the executive director of the Old Stone House, a historic center inside the recently renovated park, said Cohen's egging was the second of three aerial assaults, which were first reported by the Web site

Read More:

New York Post - January 26, 2010 - By James Fanelli - January 19, 2010

Next Step Approved For Future Acquisition Of High Line Above 30th Street


The Department of City Planning announced that it has certified the City's application for approval of future acquisition of the High Line above 30th Street according to The Friends of the High Line.  This is a crucial step in realizing the group's dream of fully preserving the High Line at the West Side Rail Yards.

This certification kicks off the seven-month Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), during which there will be several opportunities for public input. The group encourages the public to come out and show your support for the High Line's preservation, as you have so many times before. They are pushing for the City to take ownership of the High Line and ensure that its future is determined by the public. 

Though today's announcement does not guarantee preservation of the High Line, the City's move toward High Line acquisition is a major positive step towards achieving our ultimate goals: full preservation of the historic structure north of 30th Street, including the 10th Avenue Spur, and completion of the High Line project all the way to 34th Street. 

Read More:

January 27, 2010 - The


Press Release 



Friends of the High Line 
Katie Lorah – (212) 206-9922 / 
  JANUARY 27, 2010             FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 


Department of City Planning kicks off public review process to authorize City acquisition of the 
High Line’s remaining section. 


Supporters of the High Line celebrated today as the Department of City Planning certified an 
application to begin the public review process to allow the City acquire the final section of the 
elevated structure. This announcement marks the beginning of the City’s Uniform Land Use 
Review Procedure (ULURP), a seven-month process of community and government review. After 
the ULURP is complete, the City will be authorized to move forward with acquisition of the historic 
High Line structure as it runs the perimeter of the West Side Rail Yards. 


The certification of this application, submitted by the Department of Parks & Recreation, is a 
critical step by the Bloomberg administration toward the preservation of the historic High Line 
structure, and the extension of the popular elevated park north of 30th Street.  


Today’s announcement follows another major step for the High Line at the Rail Yards, taken in 
December, 2009, when the City approved the Western Rail Yards Rezoning. The rezoning 
contains requirements that the High Line west of 11th Avenue be used for public open space, as 
well as stipulations for the ways in which future buildings can interact with the High Line. Taken 
together, these two actions pave the way for integrating the historic structure into the future 
development at the Rail Yards. 


The non-profit Friends of the High Line has been advocating for full preservation of the historic 
High Line structure north of 30th Street since the planning process for the redevelopment of this 
site began several years ago. The group has worked along with the administration of Mayor 
Michael R. Bloomberg, the MTA and the Empire State Development Corporation, the state 
agencies that own the underlying land, and The Related Companies, the site’s developer, to 
ensure that the High Line is included in plans for the site. 


The High Line south of 30th Street is already owned by the City of New York, and is under the 
jurisdiction of the Department of Parks & Recreation. This section was donated by CSX 
Transportation, Inc. in 2005, following a public review process similar to the one beginning today. 
The southernmost part of the structure opened in June, 2009 as a public park.   


Once the ULURP process is complete, the City will be authorized to acquire the High Line north 
of 30th Street.  


On receiving word of the announcement, Friends of the High Line’s Chairman John Alschuler 
said, “We are extremely pleased that the City is taking this important first step towards ownership 
of the High Line’s iconic Rail Yards section. Through continued community advocacy, and 
continued collaboration with the City, the MTA, and the Related Companies, we are confident that 
this historic structure will be transformed into a great public space to be treasured by generations 
to come.” 


About the High Line 
The High Line is a public park built on a 1.5-mile elevated freight rail structure. Originally 
constructed in the 1930s to deliver meat and agricultural goods to the industrial West Side, the 
High Line connects the west side neighborhoods of the Meatpacking District, West Chelsea, and 
Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen. The section below 30th Street is owned by the City of New York, and is 
operated under the jurisdiction of the Department of Parks & Recreation, in partnership with the 
non-profit Friends of the High Line. 



Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Two Dead Bodies Found In Rockaway Park


Police responding to an anonymous call at about 6 a.m. yesterday discovered the body of a nude man in his 30s on the beach near Beach 93rd Street in Rockaway Park, according to the New York Post. While searching under the boardwalk for his clothes, they found another body, this one a man in his 40's.

There were no apparent signs of foul play.

Read More: 

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Melissa Mark-Viverito Named New Parks Chair

Melissa Mark-Viverito has been named Chair of the City Council's Parks Committee, A Walk in the Park has confirmed.  

Viverito's appointment was voted out of committee this morning and will be made official at the Council's full Stated meeting this afternoon. Viverito replaces Helen Diane Foster who will now chair the General Welfare Committee.

Viverito represents the 8th Council District in Manhattan which includes the controversial Randall's Island project.  Two separate judges have now ruled the massive project must go through ULURP. 

A Walk in the Park wishes to extend its congratulations to Council member Viverito.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Harris Field Contamination Debacle Continues

The Big Cover Up.  Blue tarps cover some of the contaminated soil at the much delayed and severely over budget Harris Park field reconstruction site in the Bronx. For months the DPR has refused to answer specific questions about the contamination or to provide details on the clean up despite finding high levels of lead and other heavy metals. 
(photo: NYC Park Advocates)


A city plan to rebuild one of The Bronx's biggest sports fields has morphed into a money pit for taxpayers, according to the New York Post.

Workers renovating Harris Field in Bedford Park recently uncovered contaminated soil under the playing surfaces, helping push the anticipated cost to nearly $14 million, city officials told The Post.

The price tag for the renovation had already gone from the $6.6 million announced in 2007 to $8.7 million, records show.

Now the Parks Department is confirming that it has to add another $5.2 million for cleanup because of the high levels of lead unearthed while workers were preparing to install drainage-system tanks needed to restore the popular park's six playing fields.

The original playing fields at the park were grass, but the city plans to cover two with synthetic turf.

A Parks Department official wishing to remain anonymous said that contamination wouldn't be an issue if all the fields were going to be grass but that replacing two with turf requires digging deeper to install the drainage tanks. Karp says this is untrue.

A fiscal 2008 mayoral report showed the Parks Department topped city agencies in cost overruns with projects costing an average of 50 percent more than the original contract price. The city average was 17 percent.

Harris Field is in line to rise by more than 110 percent.

"The project shows just how poorly the city does its due diligence on parks projects," said Geoffrey Croft, of the nonprofit group New York City Park Advocates, when told of the costs.

The project's long delays are crippling a popular Little League that plays there.

Read More:

New York Post - January 19, 2010 -   By Rich Calder

The Norwood News - December 31, 2009 - By Alex Krantz

The Norwood News November 19, 2009 - Editorial 

The Norwood News - October 22, 2009 - By Megan  Taylor

Bronx News Network - October 9,  2009  -  By Megan  Taylor

Elmhurst Park Update - No Community Input


Back in September 2008, the future Elmhurst Park (former gas tanks site) was starting to look inviting according to Queens Crap.

Now phase 2 is underway.

Here's the funny thing..."phase 2" was supposed to be the result of community input after phase 1 was completed, but no one can remember any meetings or surveys held by the Parks Dept in 2008 or 2009 that asked for residents' opinions about what they wanted there. Parks just decided to put a maintenance HQ and artificial turf there.

Queens Crap - January 18, 2010

Saturday, January 16, 2010

NYPD Officer Convicted For Demanding Oral Sex To Quash Summons For Woman In Riverside Park


A city cop was convicted Friday of official misconduct for offering to rip up a summons in exchange for a sex act, according to the New York Daily News. 

Wilfredo Rosario, 41, was tossed into jail after the jury's verdict when prosecutors asked the judge to revoke his bail pending an upcoming rape trial.

"Jail is appropriate," Assistant District Attorney John McConnell said. "He is facing much more serious felony charges."

Eight years ago, Rosario issued a ticket to a 26-year-old woman for being in Riverside Park after hours with a male friend.

Read More:

New York Daily News - January 16, 2010 - By Melissa Grace  

New York Daily News -  January 13,  2010 -  BY Oren Yaniv  

New York Daily News - November 7, 2008 - By Barbara Ross And Jotham Sederstrom

New York Daily News - April 12, 2008 -  By Barbara Ross and Adam Nichols 

Friday, January 15, 2010

Raccoon Rabies Scare in Manhattan Parks


Between 2003 and 2008, only 1 rabid animal was found in all of Manhattan. In the past month and a half, city health officials have confirmed 16 rabid raccoons in the borough, according to the West Side Independent. 

The NYC Health Department first raised the alarm about rabies last month after finding four rabid raccoons in Manhattan from the beginning of the year through Dec. 3. But since that release, the virus has continued to spread, mostly in the northern part of Central Park (and many of them on the west side of the park), the health department told the Westside Independent on Tuesday. Rabid raccoons have also been found in Morningside Park. In total, 12 rabid raccoons were found in 2009 (10 in the month of December alone), and four more since the beginning of 2010.

The city is now planning to vaccinate the raccoon populations in Riverside, Central and Morningside Parks to stop the disease from spreading, the health department told us.

Cadman Plaza Sidewalk Danger


Watch Your Step. For years walking through Cadman Plaza near Brooklyn Borough Hall has been a minefield caused by cracked and missing blue stone in the sidewalk. Hours after the 
Brooklyn Paper published an embarrassing article the DRP dispatched a crew to do some patching.

Note:  Blue stone can not be patched.  Mr. Markowitz was not happy with the shabby work. 
And no mention from the DPR's press office regarding how many years this situation has existed. And of course no apology. 

No word yet on whether Mr. Markowitz is willing to divert part of the $ 64 million set aside for his amphitheater to address this "dangerous" situation. 

Well, it’s a start.

Hours after The Brooklyn Paper went online with its world exclusive about the disastrously broken sidewalk in front of Borough Hall, someone made a fairly lame effort to fix it.

What once was an obstacle course of fractured paving stones is now an only-less-slighty dangerous walkway of half-dry mud and gravel. Even Borough President Markowitz agreed that the repairs were lousy.

Read More:

Marty not satisfied with Borough Hall repairs

The Brooklyn Paper -January 14, 2010 -  By Andy Campbell  

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Tavern on the Green: City lawyers Engaging In Unnecessary, Expensive, Frivolous Legal Battles

The donnybrook over the Wormy Chestnut Wood, a legal battle between New York City and the family of the restaurateur Warner LeRoy, is over. And just in the nick of time according to the New York Times.

A day before the three-day auction of some 25,000 items from Tavern on the Green, a federal bankruptcy judge ruled late Tuesday that a valuable 3,800-square-foot trove of rare chestnut wall paneling belongs to the LeRoys, who ran Tavern until their license from the Parks Department expired on Dec. 31. The judge said it could be sold in the three-day auction of items from Tavern that begins Wednesday in the shuttered landmark restaurant in Central Park.

Mr. Kinel added that the committee was of the opinion that the city “continues to engage in unnecessary, time consuming, expensive and largely frivolous legal battles against Tavern on the Green and its creditors,” he said.

But in court the city’s lawyers have rejected suggestions that the landlord’s claims are frivolous, saying that the city is entitled to ownership of its own park property — the restaurant — and the Tavern on the Green name, which was bestowed on the restaurant in 1934 by the parks department.

Although the city had argued in court that the removal of the paneling would irretrievably damage “the quality of the space,” Judge Gropper chided the city, noting that the parks department had solicited new Tavern operators last year who would propose a new décor for the restaurant. “Since the city seems to desire a change in the quality of the space, it is particularly inappropriate for it to claim” that removal of the paneling “would damage the old décor,” Judge Gropper ruled.

Read More:

New York Times -  January 13, 2010 -  By Glenn Collins 

Amphitheater of the Absurd: Concrete Remedy for Asser Levy "Dustbowl"


Supporters of Borough President Marty Markowitz’s plan to construct a new $64 million, 8,000-seat amphitheater inside Asser Levy Seaside Park often malign the neighborhood green space as a terrible “dustbowl”, according to The Bay News.

This week the city provided its remedy: concrete.

According to the Department of Parks & Recreation, at least part of Asser Levy Park’s existing 110-yard open field will be covered in 42,000 square feet of concrete.

“Under the current design plans, the area under the amphitheater roof is concrete, with wood decking as access paths to the theater,” Parks Department Phil Abramson said.

Space beyond the proposed seating area and the potato chip-like roof will be maintained, albeit on an elevated plane, as a natural grass lawn where additional concert-goers are expected to assemble for shows.

Critics say that, and the combination of concrete and elevated lawn, disrupts the current use of the park.

“It’s ridiculous,” NYC Park Advocates President Geoffrey Croft says. “They’re not fooling anyone. Obviously, children and the public will be prevented from using tens of thousands of square feet as they used to. That is unacceptable. It’s the only green space that community has. Plus, are they going to give kids parachutes in case they fall over the railing?”

Read More:

Bay News - January 12, 2010 - By Joe Maniscalco