Thursday, December 30, 2010

Park Terrace West Mugging

Inwood Mugging Concerns Neighbors Again
A 44-year old man was mugged on December 28th by by three teenage boys on Park Terrace West, adjacent to Inwood Hill Park to Isham Park. The assault has raised further concerns about a lack of security cameras, lights and patrols in Inwood. (DNAinfo/Carla Zanoni)


The recent mugging of a 44-year-old man, who was allegedly attacked by three teenage boys on Park Terrace West, is pushing some to ask for increased security, new lighting and cameras on the quiet and desolate stretch between Isham Park and Inwood Hill Park, according to DNAinfo.

The victim told police he was attacked on Tuesday, Dec. 28, at approximately 7 p.m., when he was approached from behind and knocked to the ground by the teenagers, who then took money from his pants pocket and fled on foot.

Police said the victim had minor bruises and cuts, but did not request medical attention.

Before the alleged attack, a resident who lives nearby said he had called 911 to report three suspicious looking teens who were wearing ski masks covering their noses and mouths standing near the corner where the assault took place.

Shortly after making the call, a 911 operator called him back to ask for details, the resident said, because a robbery had just taken place with suspects matching his reported description.

"The only way to keep the criminals out is if they fear getting caught, and that means calling in suspicious behavior to 911," the resident wrote in an e-mail, requesting that his name be withheld. "Better lights, security cameras and other measures would help, but ultimately it's a combination of Jane Jacobs eyes-on-the-street and squeaky-wheel-gets-the-oil that protects and enhances a neighborhood."

Twitter user Linnie_Inwood also warned residents that a neighbor had encountered three teens fitting the same description in Isham Park, but said his dog scared the young men away.

Residents in Inwood have been on high alert throughout the year after several flare ups of car break-ins and vandalism, assaults and muggings.

Read More:

DNAinfo - December 30, 2010 - By Carla Zanoni

A Walk In The Park - November 13, 2010

Updated: Three Tennis Bubbles In Parks Collapse Due To Snow


Collapsed Tennis Bubble - Prospect Park - December 31, 2010. Photos by Rob Jett. (Click on Images to enlarge)

A collapsed door from an entrance lies on the ground in the snow.

Collapsed Tennis Bubble - Randall's Island. December 29, 2010. Photos: © Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates (Click on Images to enlarge)

Three tennis bubbles located in City parks collapsed under the weight of snow from the storm that blanked the area on Monday.

One bubble, housing five courts at the controversial $ 19 million dollar Sportime Randall's Island caved in. On Wednesday workers were seen removing snow by a small front-end loader and clearing away debris. Personnel were also seen reviewing blue prints of the bubbles.

The facility is home to the John McEnroe Tennis Academy for Elite players and is managed by John's brother Mark. The enormous project was ushered through by the Randall's Island Sports Foundation and bypassed ULURP and appropriate environmental reviews.

All indoor tennis in Prospect Park in Brooklyn were suspended after its two bubbles at the Prospect Park Tennis Center collapsed Monday.

"The Prospect Park Tennis Center is currently closed," a message on the Prospect Park Alliance tennis center voice mail says. "Both bubbles collapsed due to heavy snow. We are making a concerted effort to remove the snow and re-inflate the bubbles. We plan to be open on Sunday, January 2nd."

A message on the website stated: "The severe storm conditions caused the Tennis Center bubbles to come down. The Tennis Center may be closed for the week. Please check our website or give the Center a call at (718) 436 2500 for updates.

No one was hurt in the accidents.

The city's Parks Department said Tuesday it had inspected all tennis bubbles on its property and had found no other problems, according to the Associated Press via The Wall Street Journal.

January 2, 2011

By Saturday evening the bubble on Randall's Island had been put back up and a Sportstime employee said they hoped to have it operational by Tuesday. One of the two bubbles at Prospect Park was operational over the weekend and according to the Prospect Park Alliance they hoped to have the second one working later today - Geoffrey Croft

A collapsed door from an entrance lies on the ground in the snow on Randall's Island on Wednesday afternoon.

Another entrance.

Tennis Ball.

Removing snow.

Read More:

The Brooklyn Blog - New York Post - December By Rich Calder

1010 Wins - December 31, 2010
WOR - December 31, 2010

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2 Ticketed Chess Players Opt For Trial

Yacahudah "YA" Harrison (l) and Chris Perlata (r) rejected a plea deal from a Manhattan Criminal Court judge. They along with five others were issued tickets for playing chess in Emerson Playground in Inwood Hill Park in October. "They want to go to trial," said their lawyer, civil rights attorney Norman Siegel. "They feel the charges against them should be dismissed outright." They will be back in court on January 4th. (Photo: Carla Zononi/DNAinfo)


Two of the men ticketed for playing chess in Inwood Hill Park refused a plea deal from a Manhattan Criminal Court judge Tuesday morning, opting to take their case to trial, according to DNAinfo.

Yacahudah "Y.A." Harrison and Chris Peralta were part of the group ticketed on Oct. 20 for playing chess at tables inside of Emerson Playground, a children's play area off limits to adults unaccompanied by minors.

They arrived at a court hearing Tuesday, accompanied by civil rights lawyer Norman Siegel, where they refused a judge's offer of an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal, or ACD, which would keep the incident off of their criminal record if they have no other criminal activity in the next six months.

Harrison said he didn't take the offer because he doesn't believe he did anything wrong, and because as a homeless man, he could get any number of minor tickets in the next six months that would nix the deal.

"I have no intention of breaking any rules. But if I have any infractions in the next six months, the burden is on me to prove my innocence, no one else," Harrison said after the hearing, which was closed to reporters.

If Harrison and Peralta are found guilty they could be sentenced up to 90 days in prison, according to the judge who heard the case.

The other five men, including an MTA worker eating his lunch in the park when he was caught up in the police raid, accepted the judge's offer.

Now Harrison and Peralta will return to Manhattan Supreme Court Jan. 4 represented by by Siegel and co-counsel Earl Ward.

Read More:

DNAinfo - Carla Zanoni - December 28, 2010

New York Post - December 28, 2010 -By Dareh Gregorian

New York Times City Room - December 29, 2010 - By Andy Newman

A Walk In The Park - November 21, 2010 - By Geoffrey Croft

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Bloomberg Rejects Proposal For The City To Pay To Maintain Brooklyn Bridge Park - Taxes Eyed

"The City does not have the money to have new parks and fund them," Mayor Bloomberg famously said at the opening of Brooklyn Bridge Park on March 22, 2010. (Photo: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates)


As expected, the Bloomberg administration has rejected a series of proposals meant to avoid building additional luxury housing to pay for maintaining Brooklyn Bridge Park, including requiring the city to pay to maintain their own park themselves, according to the New York Post.

In complying with the Bloomberg administration's mandate that parks need to pay for themselves, the consulting group hired by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation is not even allowed to consider options that involve using city funds.

The Committee on Alternatives to Housing is exploring ways to generate the more than $16-million dollars park officials say is needed annually to maintain the 61 acre park - plus water acres. The administration has also refused to consider trimming the park's bloated operating budget which many believe is a justification the city is using to build housing in the park.

The Bloomberg administration has also rejected State Senator Dan Squadron's plan to use a portion of the tax revenue from newly valuable property to fund the maintenance of Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Not surprisingly, these ideas were rejected by the committee after the public had advocated for them, some for years, including at two recently held public meetings held to discuss funding alternatives.

Last week, Deputy Mayor for economic development Robert Steel said the Bloomberg administration hopes to build "spectacular waterfront parks" that are able to pay for themselves.

"We will do our best to continue to insist that these parks be built with a self-sustaining source of revenue," Steel said, "so that today's ribbon-cuttings don't create tomorrow's fiscal challenges."

One idea being considered is establishing a Park Improvement District (PID) similar to BID's where nearby businesses and tenants would be charged an annual fee to be used for a dedicated park fund. The PID proposal was quickly rejected by Chelsea area businesses and residents last year in Manhattan when the City and the Friends of The High Line floated that idea.

One idea is capturing revenue from nearby Jehovah Witnesses buildings which are expected to be sold and converted to residential use.

Proposals being studied include fee based recreation services in the park, sponsorships or advertising, additional concessions, commercial real estate development, donations, and increased parking revenues.

Read More:

New York Post - December 21, 2010 - By Rich Calder

The Brooklyn Paper - December 21, 2010 - By Andy Campbell

Curbed - December 21, 2010 - by Sara Polsky

A Walk In The Park - December 1, 2010 - By Geoffrey Croft

A Walk In The Park - March 11, 2010

A Walk In The Park - March 9, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

City Blocked Again From Enforcing New Artist Vending Rules In Parks

Photographer, and plaintiff Diane Dua (in blue) helping customers along E. 80th Street & Fifth Ave. - October 2010. "The new TRO renewed my belief in the justice system as a New Yorker and that the Constitution will be upheld," Mrs. Dua told A Walk In The Park. "We're waiting for justice." (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on images to enlarge.


A day after a State Supreme Court Justice lifted a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the City issued on August 25, 2010, and denied plaintiffs a preliminary injunction, an appellate court justice issued a new order against the City.

The day after State Court Justice Milton A. Tingling's decision, the artists’ lawyers, Phillips Nizer LLP, appealed that decision, and filed an emergency motion to prevent the City from enforcing the new rules until the appeal is decided. Late Thursday evening, December 16, 2010, Justice Peter Tom of the Appellate Division, heard arguments from Phillips Nizer and the City’s lawyers, and then issued an Order granting the artists’ interim relief. As a result, the artists maintain their right to display and sell their original artwork in and around the City’s parks throughout the holiday season and beyond, according to Phillips Nizer.

The lawsuit contends that the new rules created by the Bloomberg administration severely limit the rights of visual artists to display and sell their works in parks. The defendants, the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, seek to limit and restrict vending in four Manhattan parks - Central, Union Square, Battery and the High Line and along sidewalks adjacent to them. The artists contend the new rules infringe on their rights to free speech and equal protection under the New York State Constitution, violate New York State and New York City human rights laws, and contradict New York City Local Laws and the Administrative Code.

Over the last two decades the City has allocated thousands of city employee hours and paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars in civil rights settlements to plantiffis in its fight against artists selling on park land.

Two other lawsuits in Federal court are also currently pending on this issue.

The Parks Department declined a request for comment.

The city's attorney Gabriel Taussig, chief of the administrative law division, told the Wall Street Journal that the rules were initiated because of "a combination of congestion and aesthetic concerns." - Geoffrey Croft

October 3, 2010 - E. 80th Street and Fifth Ave. Original photographs by artist and plaintiff Diane Dua.

July 19, 2010. An artist's depiction of Mayor Michael Bloomberg stomping on rights protected under the the Constitution. (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on image to enlarge.

Read More:

Phillips Nizer LLP persuades appeals court to enjoin enforcement of new rules
Phillips Nizer LLP - Press release - December 17, 2010

The Wall Street Journal - December 18, 2001 - By Pia Cottan

December 17, 2010 - By Peter Walsh

A Walk In The Park - September 2, 2010

A Walk In The Park - August 30, 2010

Rockaway Surfing Accident Victim Dies

Model Charles Devoe, 20, has been identified as the surfer who died after being in a coma for more than month after a beach accident.
Model Charles Devoe, 20, has been identified as the surfer who died after being in a coma for more than month after a surfing accident in Rockaway on November 12th. The 20-year-old victim got tangled in a jetty off the boardwalk near Beach 92nd St. about 4:15p.m according to reports.


A well-known male model who was in a coma after a surfing accident in the Rockaways last month has died, sources said Monday, according to the New York Daily News.

Charles Devoe, 20, who posed for Vogue Nippon, Numero Homme, V, Anne Klein and Buffalo Jeans, had been hospitalized since the Nov. 12 incident.

FDNY divers had to cut Devoe free after his ankle tether became snagged on a wooden pole.

Rescuers pull unconscious surfer from the water after he got caught under jetty in the Rockaways Friday.

Rescuers pull unconscious surfer Charles Devoe, 20, from the water after he got caught under jetty in the Rockaways on Friday, November 12th. (Photo: Wilster for NY Daily News)

Read More:

New York Daily News - December 20th 2010 - By Joe Kemp and Lukas I. Albert

A Walk In The Park - November 14, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Dog Owners Carrying Weapons After Dog Attacks In Tompkins Square Park

John Juback, 62, an actor who lives in the East Village, has taken to carrying a serrated kitchen knife when he walks his dog, Jesse, a foxhound terrier mix, after he and his pet were attacked by a pit bull in Tompkins Square Dog Run on Oct. 27. Juback said his beloved dog was bitten on the left jowl, requiring $215 worth of medical attention. When he intervened, Juback himself was bitten on the left cheek, which resulted in a bloodied face and a painful series of rabies shots.


Some East Village dog owners have taken to carrying knives and other weapons when they visit the Tompkins Square Dog Run after a recent spate of pit bull attacks there left them fearing for the lives of their pets
, according to DNAinfo.

Users of the dog run in the northeast corner of Tompkins Square Park say there have been at least five attacks since September on both pets and humans by pit bulls — a breed known for its strength and for locking its jaws on its victims.

When asked to confirm the pit bull attacks, a Parks Department spokesman said Tuesday that his agency had met with NYPD and community groups to address the issue and added that Parks Enforcement Patrol officers and undercover units had been dispatched to patrol the area in response.

John Juback shows where he holds his kitchen knife, which he carries to protect against pit bull attacks. (Jordan Heller/DNAinfo)

Still, some East Village dog owners are on edge.

John Juback, 62, an actor who lives in the East Village, has taken to carrying a serrated kitchen knife when he walks his dog, Jesse, a foxhound terrier mix, after he and his pet were attacked by a pit bull in Tompkins Square Dog Run on Oct. 27.

Juback said his beloved dog was bitten on the left jowl, requiring $215 worth of medical attention. When he intervened, Juback himself was bitten on the left cheek, which resulted in a bloodied face and a painful series of rabies shots.

"Now, whenever I walk Jesse, I have a kitchen knife in my pocket," said Juback. "If I was in the same situation again I would stab the pit bull in the neck or the chest as much as I could. ... I will not stand there and watch my dog potentially be killed."

Another dog owner who refused to give his name for fear of law enforcement reprisal admitted to carrying a knife into the dog run.

"You go through the list of options on how to protect your dog in the event of a pit bull attack and I felt a knife was the only option," he said. "Their jaws lock, you can't beat them and have them let go, so, yeah, I carried a knife — I just want to protect my dog."

Contrary to popular belief, pit bulls jaws do not lock, but the breed is known for holding on to its victims, and a string of recent attacks have given some East Village dog owners reason to fear.

Dr. Sally Haddock, 56, the owner of St. Marks Veterinary Hospital said a distraught couple came into her East Ninth Street practice on Sept. 8 after their Doberman pinscher was attacked by a pit bull in the dog run. The owners were also bloodied in the fight, she said — the woman claimed she was bitten on her breast and the man sustained a bite wound.

Eileen Bertin, 40, who owns a Brussels griffon named Gideon, said she knows of two people who carry knives into the run and one person who brings a 12-inch metal rod.

"Every animal is unpredictable, but with the pit bulls ... they're very strong, and a lot of them are rescue dogs, so they have a history," said Bertin. "You look at them and think, 'that dog could kill my dog in two seconds.'"

Garrett Rosso, 52, a member of Friends of First Run, a volunteer organization dedicated to the beautification and maintenance of the Tompkins Square Dog Run, said he knows of over a dozen people who have been carrying knives or hammers following the recent attacks.

While he was alarmed by recent events, he lamented hearing of owners willing to use lethal force on dogs.

"I heard two reasonable people discussing picking up a shovel and bringing it down on a dog's neck like this," said Rosso, who grabbed one of the metal pooper-scooper shovels kept inside the dog run to illustrate.

Dr. Haddock dismissed the idea that pit bulls were worse than any other breeds.

"Anytime you have a dog run you have dog bites," she said, adding that if you're going to go to a dog run you do so at your own risk.

Jack Morer, another member of Friends of First Run, a park regular and owner of an English setter named Savannah, said that while he hasn't resorted to carrying weaponry, he understands why others have.

"If a dog latches onto my dog, I will do whatever I have to do to save my dog's life — up to and including killing the dog that is trying to kill my dog," he said.

In addition to knives and hammers, Morer said he knows of one dog owner who armed himself with a billy club.

Locals blame Robert Shapiro, the owner of Social Tees Animal Rescue, an animal shelter on East Fourth Street that finds homes for unwanted dogs — including pit bulls.

While Morer believes Shapiro does good work, he said he has seen a number of the animal rescue volunteers bring rescued pit bulls to the dog run even though they don't know how to handle the animals. One pit bull from Social Tees was involved in a fight at the Tompkins Square Dog Run in the summer, prompting Morer to ask Shapiro to stop the dogs from coming to the run.

Shapiro, 54, said that after the summer incident he stopped letting volunteers walk pit bulls and warned new owners not to take them into the run. 

But once in a while, he said, people are going to walk into Tompkins Square Park with a pit bull they adopted from Social Tees.

"If I'm the primary shelter, it's gonna happen," Shapiro said. "It's their dog, it's their property, but I'm the fall guy for this. All I can do is tell them not to take the dogs into the dog run."

Shapiro defended the pit bull breed, saying, "most pit bulls are totally fine like any other breed. The dogs we get are so friendly."

But even he supported a full ban on the breed entering the Tompkins Square Dog Run in light of recent events. He said the ban would help clear pit bulls' reputation.

"The problems will still be there," he said, "but they'll have to blame somebody else for them." 

Now locals are pushing for education to prevent future incidents. Rosso invited Drayton Michaels, an expert on pit bulls, to visit the Tompkins Square Dog Run at 11 a.m. on Dec. 18 to talk to the community about the breed.

"He's going to educate people on how to spot aggression and prevent fights from happening," said Rosso. "He'll also talk about how to responsibly break up a fight when one dog has latched onto another."

Khalid Haaziq, 29, who owns two rottweilers, thinks violent tendencies in dogs are a mixture of nature and nurture.

"These dogs could be raised for evil, too," he said, gesturing to his two dogs while walking through Tompkins Square Park last week. "But you can train them — and you can breed the evil out of them, too."

Read More:

Dog Owners Carrying Knives After Pit Bull Attacks at Tompkins Square Park
DNAinfo - December 15, 2010 -By Jordan Helle