Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bloomberg’s Girlfriend Breaks Ankle in Central Park Pothole

BAD BREAK: Diana Taylor, with crutches, broke her ankle in a Central Park pothole.
BAD BREAK: Diana Taylor, with crutches at a Hudson River Park gala on Tuesday night - broke her ankle in a Central Park pothole while walking her dogs. She was out with her two yellow Labrador retrievers, Bonnie and Clyde, in the park not far from Hizzoner’s East 79th Street home. How fast did that pothole get fixed? The hole was filled — quickly — by park maintenance crews.

Last week Ms. Taylor, her dogs and the Mayor were in the news when footage was released showing the couple had been illegally using the East 34th Street heliport repeatedly which had been long closed on the weekends via a court order. The Mayor insisted the heliport was in fact open on the weekends, contrary to FAA information that is available on websites. Even the heliport's own chart given to pilots shows it is clearly closed, something Mayor Bloomberg, as a pilot should have known. (Photo: D Dipasupil/Filmmagic)


Memo to the Parks Department: You put the First Girlfriend of New York on crutches.

Diana Taylor, Mayor Bloomberg’s squeeze, suffered a broken ankle, courtesy of a pothole — in Central Park, according to the New York Post.

Taylor was hobbling through the Hudson River Park gala at Pier 26 Tuesday night sporting a fresh cast.

She told The Post she was walking her two yellow Labrador retrievers, Bonnie and Clyde, in the park not far from Hizzoner’s East 79th Street home.

“I’d love to tell you I did something really amazing,” she said. “But I was walking in the park not looking where I was going with our dogs in the morning, and I stepped in a pothole. And I broke my ankle.”

A pothole in a park?

Yes, Taylor tripped into a hole, underneath a tree, that had been dug up by one of the park’s resident animals, sources said.

The hole was filled — quickly — by park maintenance crews. That happens when your boyfriend has the big office at City Hall.

Taylor, who suffered the injury last week, took it in stride. At the gala she accessorized a summery sleeveless floral-print dress with a pair of gray crutches and a hearty smile.

“I’m great!” the former state superintendent of banks said as she stood at the fund-raiser for the beautification of Hudson River Park along the West Side Highway.

She co-hosted the gala, along with “CBS This Morning’s” Gayle King. The VIP guests included Christy Turlington Burns, Ed Burns and restaurateur Danny Meyer.

Later in the evening, Bloomberg joked about the mishap.

“I actually didn’t count on her stepping into a hole in Central Park and breaking her ankle . . . You have no idea how long it took her to climb up the steps at Madison Square Garden for our seats at the hockey game.”

Read More:

New York Post - May 31, 2012 - By Stephanie Smith

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

GooseWatch NYC Will be Watching/Documenting USDA Agents Removing Geese In City Parks

Robert Guadagna took this photo of USDA agents rounding up geese on Randall's Island on June 17, 2009.


Federal agents, if you come back to city parks to kill more geese, they will be ready.

Armed with digital cameras and cell phones, more than 500 New Yorkers are members of GooseWatch NYC, at the ready to photograph if and when the city’s geese will be culled this summer, according to Metro NY.

GooseWatch NYC was started last year by Brooklynite David Karopkin. Karopkin, 27, said he started the group after nearly 400 Prospect Park geese were killed in 2009. Agents with the U.S. Department of Agriculture started killing geese in city parks that year, after two geese brought down Flight 1549, the “Miracle on the Hudson” landing in January 2009.

“I made a decision I wasn’t going to be in my bed when the USDA came back to Prospect Park,” said Karopkin.

Karopkin sends his members a text message, voicemail and e-mail letting them know where the agents are when they are spotted. He instructs members of GooseWatch not to interfere with the roundup.

“The only thing we would like to do is capture footage,” he said. “So when the USDA claims what they are doing is humane, we can show what they’re doing.”

USDA agents removed geese from at least 13 city parks last year, ranging from Flushing Meadows Park in Queens to Inwood Hill Park at the tip of Manhattan.

June and July are the prime months for when the geese can be corralled.

“They come in June and July because that’s when the geese are molting,” said Karopkin. “They have goslings, they are vulnerable."

The geese can’t fly away during their molting season, so they are basically grounded.

“It’s when their new flight feathers are coming in and they can’t fly,” said Edita Birnkrant, director of Friends of Animals. “Both baby geese and adults are stuffed into crates, transported long distances in high heat and slaughtered.”

In the past two years, the geese were gassed to death. But last year, after complaints, the geese were butchered and pounds of meat were given to food banks in Pennsylvania.

But Karopkin said there has to be a better way to keep planes safe, and birds alive.

“Unless the plan is literally to kill every single birds you’re never going to reduce the air strikes to zero,” he said. “We’re just killing birds and crossing our fingers.”

Robert Guadagna took this close-up shot of geese in crates after the USDA agents who rounded them up at Randall's Island took an hour-long breakfast, according Karopkin.

A history of geese killing

For the past three summers, the USDA has been killing geese within a seven-mile radius of the city’s three airports, JFK , LaGuardia and Newark.

2009: 1,235 geese were killed, 368 alone from Prospect Park.

2010: USDA agents killed 1,509 Canada geese in parks throughout the city and 167 more in Long Island.

2011: 575 Canada geese removed and killed from New York City

2012: The USDA did not answer when Metro asked if officials are coming back this summer. “Dates and locations for removal of resident Canada geese have not been developed, are dependent on numerous variables, and would not be shared in advance,” USDA spokesman Lee Humberg wrote in an email exchange with Karopkin, posted on his website.

Read More:

Metro NY - May 29, 2012 - Carly Baldwin

A Walk In The Park - May 20, 2011

A Walk In The Park - November 19, 2010

A Walk In The Park - October 5, 2010

A Walk In The Park - September 23, 2010

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

A Walk In The Park - July 23, 2010

A Walk In The Park - July 13, 2010

State Suspends Smoking Restrictions In Parks, Pools, Beaches Until Public Comment Peroid Is Concluded

In April 2012, New York State banned smoking in all of its State Parks. The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation operates 178 parks and 35 historic sites including 8 parks in NYC.

The State's enforcement suspension does not impact city parks.

State Wide

The Cuomo administration is suspending its restrictions on smoking in parks, pools, beaches and historic sites after a smokers' rights groups objected, according to the Associated Press.

Instead, the administration says Tuesday the measures will be voluntary for at least two months while a full rule-making process including public comment is concluded.

The state parks department issued its order in April after the Legislature failed to approve laws that would restrict smoking to some areas of the public facilities this summer. Failure to obey could have resulted in a disorderly conduct arrest.

Smokers' rights advocate Audrey Silk had threatened to sue the state, saying the administrative action tried to overrule the Legislature and failed to consider opposing views.

Signs prohibiting smoking have already been posted.

Read More:

AP via: WABC News- May 29, 2012

gothamist - May 29, 2012 - By Garth Johnston

A Walk In The Park - April 19, 2012

A Walk In The Park - April 11, 2012

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Man Injured By Falling Branch In Bryant Park - Park Closed


  This tree branch (on wall) fell from a tree in Bryant Park striking an unidentified male park goer who was seated at a table (on side against pail). The victim was removed to Bellevue Hospitol in stable condition.
This tree branch (on wall) fell from a tree in Bryant Park striking an unidentified male park goer who was seated at a table (on side against pail). The victim was removed to Bellevue Hospital in stable condition. (Sam Costanza /for New York Daily News)


Geoffrey Croft

A man suffered lacerations to his head in Bryant Park when a branch fell on him this evening while sitting in the park. Sixty- year old Queens resident David Cooper was transported to Bellevue Hospital where he received a dozen stitches. The incident occurred at approx. 6:20pm.

The park was closed this evening so officials could test for the structural integrity of the trees.

A witness in Bryant Park told WCBS that tree limbs had been falling all afternoon.

Bryant Park Resporation Corp's Dan Biederman said the trees are 78-years-old and have recenly been pruned "a lot and there's very little dead wood up there left, but it happeneds."

Read/View More:

New York Daily News- May 29, 2012 - By Michael J. Feeney

Tree limb nails stroller
New York Post - May 30, 2012 - By Helen Freund

gothamist - May 30, 2012 - By Garth Johnston

WCBS - May 29, 2012 - By Derricke Dennis

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day 2012

Memorial Day 2012 - The 107th Infantry Memorial by Karl Lllava in Central Park at 67th street and Fifth Avenue is adorned with wreaths. The memorial is dedicated to the men who served in the 107th New York Infantry Regiment during World War I. The memorial depicts seven larger-than-life-sized men; the one to the far right carrying two Mill bombs, while supporting the wounded soldier next to him. To his right another infantryman rushes towards the enemy positions, while the helmetless squad leader and another soldier are approaching the enemy with bayonets fixed. To the far left, one soldier is holding a mortally wounded soldier, keeping him on his feet. (Photo: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on image to enlarge.

The sculpture - made of bronze with a granite base - was dedicated on September 29, 1927. Sculptor Karl Illava (1889 - 1954) served as a sergeant in the 107th during WW I. He used his own hands as models for the soldiers' hands.

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. - Geoffrey Croft

Read More:

USDA Bird-Strike Prevention Killing Plan Could Wipe-Out Half-Dozen Species In Jamaica Bay

Under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s proposal, Wildlife Services staffers at the Kennedy Airport would be authorized to kill a half-dozen birds within a 5-mile radius. The intent is to reduce the number of bird strikes on planes. The plan has heavily criticized by environmentalists and animal rights groups who say the plan is mis-guided as the plan targets resident birds which are generally not involved in the aviation accidents here. Public comments on the plan will be accepted until June 13. (Photo: Christie M. Farriella for the New York Daily News)


The new plan to control bird strikes near Kennedy Airport flies in the face of a multimillion dollar federal effort to restore nearby wetland habitats for migratory birds, critics say.

Under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s proposal, Wildlife Services staffers at the Queens airport would be authorized to kill a half-dozen birds within a five-mile radius of JFK, according to the New York Daily News.

The program, proposed to combat the growing number of potentially deadly bird strikes, has drawn the ire of conservationists and animal rights groups, who say it’s uncertain how culling the population will effect other species in the sensitive area.

“Would someone say we were going to kill every bear in Yellowstone?” asked Ida Sanoff, chair of the conservation group consortium Natural Resources Protective Association.

The plan would enable Wildlife Services at JFK to enter the Gateway National Recreation Area and kill all Canada geese, mute swans, double-crested cormorants, blackbirds, crows, rock pigeons and European starlings.

Proponents of the culling point to Federal Aviation Administration statistics that show 257 bird strikes at JFK last year compared with only 127 in 2005.

Critics Protest JFK Bird-Kill Plan

The most recent bird strike forced an emergency landing in Westchester April 24th. Environmentalists and animal rights groups have repeatedly pointed out that these plans target resident birds and not migratory ones which are generally involved in area aviation accidents. (Image: NBC New York)

Environmentalists say while there’s a need for safety at the massive airport, they think the measures outlined need to be examined more carefully.

“I understand the need to manage some of these species, but I would like to see an equal amount of effort put into preservation,” said Don Riepe, director of the local chapter of American Littoral Society and a member of the airport’s bird taskforce.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has proposed legislation that would bypass the environmental impact review process for the plan and allow the USDA to kill all Canada geese within a 5-mile radius of the airport during their molting season this summer.

Gillibrand, the USDA and Gateway, which helped craft the plan, have all said such measures are needed to ensure safe airways.

“We can take steps necessary to protect millions of air passengers every day while preserving the natural beauty of this national park for future generations,” the senator said in a statement.

Public comments will be accepted until June 13.

CANADA GEESE: The largest of the native waterfowl in Jamaica Bay, Canada geese are considered one of the biggest threats to planes landing and embarking from nearby Kennedy Airport. They feed mostly on grass and can be seen grazing on lawns and golf courses. They are both large — male geese can weigh up to 10 pounds — and abundant.

MUTE SWANS: A nonnative species, mute swans were first introduced to the Northeast coast from Europe in the 1800s. They are beautiful but aggressive birds that can cause damage to local ecosystems. A male swan can weigh up to 25 pounds.

DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS: This black fish-eating bird nests on islands in the New York harbor. The population of the native species has remained relatively small and stable in New York. They can grow to almost three feet tall.

BLACKBIRDS: The red-winged blackbird is one of the most common small birds that nest in marshes. A single blackbird would likely not do much damage to an airplane, though they tend to congregate in flocks during the winter. The tiny bird can weigh just a few ounces.

EUROPEAN STARLING: This bird was first introduced to America in Central Park in the 1800s. They are urban birds that are found in just about every city habitat and are most abundant in city parks. Most grow to between 7.5 and 9 inches tall and weigh between 2 and 3.5 ounces.

CROWS: These native New York birds can flock in large numbers. Their numbers are recovering after the population declined due to West Nile virus in the 1990s.

ROCK PIGEONS: The familiar pigeon, rock pigeons pose a risk to planes because they can form large flocks. They tend to congregate in places where they are fed by people.

Read More:

WNBC - May 27, 2012

10-Year-Old Rescued In Spring Creek Park After Being Stuck In Mud

  10-year-old Anthony Picciano with the cell phone he used to call 911 when he got stuck in a patch of quicksand while trying to watch fisherman along the beach at Spring Creek Park in Howard Beach. (Christie M. Farriella for New York Daily News)
Anthony Picciano, 10, used his cellphone to call 911 on Friday night when he got stuck in mud in Spring Creek Park in Jamaica Bay. (Photos: Christie M. Farriella for the New York Daily News)


A 10-year-old Queens boy had a sinking feeling that he had better dial 911.

Anthony Picciano was terrified when he found himself stuck in the mud Friday night after wandering into a Jamaica Bay marsh. The Howard Beach boy said it felt like he was in quicksand, according to the New York Daily News.

“I was walking on a path of sticks and then the sticks ended and I fell off into the mud,” the buzz-cut, freckled boy said. “When I tried to get out of the mud I just kept sinking deeper. I was afraid. I was scared.”

Suddenly, he found himself stuck in thick, brown oozing mud around 7 p.m.

The frightened boy screamed for help, but no one came, he recalled. Eventually, he gave up on shouting and reached into his pocket for his cell phone, he said.

The stretch of beach at Spring Creek Park in Howard Beach where 10-year-old Anthony Picciano got stuck in a patch of mud while trying to watch fishermen.

“I yelled and then called 911,” the still-shaken boy told the Daily News. “The mud was past my knees and going up my legs. I thought I was going to sink.”

Police arrived about 10 minutes later, and so did his dad.

“I felt relieved,” Anthony said. “I couldn’t get out by myself. I was happy they came.”

Anthony had been on his way home from boxing lessons when he stopped by the beach in Spring Lake Park to see what the fishermen were catching. That’s when he got into trouble.

Cops pulled the boy out of the muck and took him to Jamaica Hospital where he was treated for leg pain.

Doctors gave Anthony the all-clear and released him just after midnight. The boy, scared and tired, went home with his parents.

Anthony was still shaken a day later, as he relaxed with his father on their front porch.

The fourth-grader has a message to kids who are thinking of wandering off the main beach at Spring Lake Park: “Don’t go there.”

His father, Anthony Picciano Sr., 40, was terrified when he got a call from police saying they were on their way to get the boy out of the marsh.

He jumped in his car and raced a couple blocks from his house to where his son had gotten stuck.

“I was concerned,” said the relieved father, a look of worry on his face.

“If he didn’t have his cell phone, God knows what could’ve happened.”

The father and son will celebrate Memorial Day by going fishing Monday on Jamaica Bay.

“This time, we’re taking a boat,” the dad said.

Read More:

Queens boy rescued after wandering into a Jamaica Bay marsh
New York Daily News - May 26, 2012 - By Ben Chapam and Tina Moore

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Forest Park Carousel Re-Opens - First Time In 4 years

The beloved carousel in Forest Park is finally open after being closed for four years. Pricing & Ticket Info: $1 per ticket - 3 tickets per ride. It is open from 11am-Sunset. (Photo courtesy Woodhaven Residents Block Association)


The Forest Park Carousel, a turn-of-the-century treasure shuttered since 2008, is ready for a whole new generation of riders.

The historic amusement opens its doors to the public on Saturday and the new operators are hoping crowds will come to savor old memories and make some new ones.

“It’s a classic and it’s an awesome ride,” said Ami Abramson, of NY Carousel, which was selected to operate both the Forest Park and Flushing Meadows-Corona Park carousels.

A group of local school kids got a sneak preview on Thursday during a kick-off event at Forest Park.

The carousel, crafted by master carver Daniel Carl Muller, was first brought to Forest Park in the 1970s to replace one that burned down in 1966.

In 1989, it underwent a meticulous restoration but has languished while under the care of previous concessionaires, who griped it generated little revenue.

In the few weeks since the Parks Department gave NY Carousel the nod to operate the site, the improvements are noticeable.

The wood floors has been buffed and a new coat of paint has brightened up the carousel’s interior. Light bulbs were replaced and a new safety gate gives visitors a closer and better view of the galloping animals.

Abramson said the company may add kiddie rides and games.

“We want to figure out what the demand is and what the kids want,” he said. “It has to be done right and done with care.”

Local civic leaders and lawmakers pressured the Parks Department to find a new operator. But Parks officials said they held out until they could find one who would give the carousel the attention it deserves.

“I have a lot of memories here,” said Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski, who grew up in nearby Glendale. “Everyone who wanted this re-opened now needs to come out and support it and not just for one day.”

Abramson said the carousel will expand from weekend to weekday hours when school ends in June. He is also planning free kids entertainment on the grounds, including music and puppet shows.

“It’s so good to have our jewel of Forest Park back,” said long-time carousel booster Maria Thomson of the Greater Woodhaven Development Corp.

Ed Wendell of the Woodhaven Residents Block Association, who started an aggressive campaign to re-open the carousel, said he is convinced the new operators will take good care of the carousel.

“Today, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief,” he said.

Central Queens: Forest Park Carousel reopens

Photo: Attiyya Anthony

Read More:

New York Daily News - May 24, 2012 - By Lisa L. Colangelo

Queens Qourier - May 25th, 2012 - By Billy Rennison

Queens Chronicle - May 25, 2012 - By Attiyya Anthony

Times Ledger - May 17, 2012 - By Steve Mosco

Boardwalk Slight - Coney-Brighton Beach Residents Demand If Rockaway Can Have Wood Why Can't We

"Research, what research. We didn't have time to do research; we had to spend the money!" - Parks Department Chief Engineer John Natoloi - November 2010

Boardwalk War: The city is using wood exclusively to repair a ten block section Rockaway Rockaway Beach boardwalk - after refusing to use wood solely to rebuild the Coney Island Boardwalk. In March the Mayoral appointed Public Design Commission unanimously approved the Parks Department's plan to use concrete on the historic Coney-Brighton Boardwalk instead of wood in what critics called a "sham" hearing. (Photo: Elizabeth Graham)

In November 2010, Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance President Rob Burstein attended a walk-through meeting on the boardwalk with politicians including Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and Parks officials to go over the numerous "pilot projects" recently done which used recycled plastic lumber or concrete instead of wood.

Mr. Burstein asked Parks Department Chief Engineer John Natoloi what research had been done that suggested that concrete was the best, or even an appropriate material to spend $15 million dollars on the boardwalk.

"Research? What research? We didn't have time to do research; we had to spend the money!"
he famously replied.

"With respect to the diligence and quality of the Parks Department's efforts to appropriately care for our Boardwalk, this statement speaks for itself," said Mr. Burstein.


A city decision to repair an outer-borough boardwalk with wood has opponents of the Coney Island Boardwalk’s upcoming concrete makeover accusing the Parks Department of turning back on its word, according to the Bay News.
Agency officials have said repeatedly that repairing city boardwalks with wood was no longer a viable option — sparking the move to replace the iconic Coney Island Boardwalk with concrete and plastic lumber.
But the city began repairing a 10-block stretch of the longer, but far less exciting, Rockaway boardwalk with lumber last week — a move that has Coney Boardwalk advocates spitting nails.
“It’s an unbelievable slap in the face to our communities,” said Rob Burstein, the president of the Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance. “It shows that it’s possible to have a wooden boardwalk.”
  Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski and Parks Department Chief Engineer John Natoli inspect the repairs being made to the boardwalk on Friday near Beach 101st St. Hurricane Irene caused extensive damage to the boardwalk in August.

Parks Department Chief Engineer John Natol seen here with Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski inspecting the repairs being made to the boardwalk last week near Beach 101st St. in Rockaway Beach. (Photo: Anthony Delmundo/for the New York Daily News)

Friends of the Boardwalk founder Todd Dobrin was also outraged.
“I’m furious,” said Dobrin, who has been fighting the city’s plans to take away the Boardwalk’s cherished planks. “Every boardwalk should be treated equally.”
But city officials say they’re not flip-flopping.
“Under a full reconstruction of the Rockaway boardwalk, we would consider using concrete,” said Parks Department spokeswoman Meghan Lalor, who said repairs on the Rockaway boardwalk, which drew 3.6 million visitors last year, will replace planks Hurricane Irene turned into kindling last year.
A one-mile section of the 5.5-mile walk has already been paved over with concrete, Lalor noted.
Councilman Eric Ulrich (R–Queens) doled out $1.6 million in taxpayer dollars to help repair the Rockaway boardwalk.
That news wasn’t lost on critics who slammed Councilman Domenic Recchia (D–Coney Island) for supporting the city’s plan to replace the Boardwalk between Coney Island Avenue and Brighton 15th Street with concrete and recycled plastic lumber.
“We need elected officials to support the Boardwalk here the way that they did in Queens,” Burstein said.
Recchia declined to comment on this story.
In 2010, the Parks Department proposed replacing the entire Boardwalk with concrete and plastic lumber — except for a four-block section in the historic amusement district between W. 15th and W. 10th streets — as part of its $30-million renovation of the aging 2.7-mile span, which opened in 1923.
The agency tested the materials on two sections of the walkway in 2011, claiming that concrete was sturdier and cheaper than using real wood.
But preservationists balked at the suggestion, claiming the plan would ruin the look and feel of the historic Boardwalk and turn the rest of the strip into a sidewalk.
The Public Design Commission gave the Parks Department the OK to tear out the Boardwalk in Brighton Beach — and install a 12-foot-wide concrete lane for emergency vehicles and a 19-foot-wide lane built out of recycled plastic boards for pedestrians — after agency officials testified that wood was no longer a viable option.
Yet residents say the current repair project in Queens proves otherwise.
“I can’t understand their reasoning,” said Brighton Beach resident Arlene Brenner. “It’s ridiculous.”

Separate and unequal: Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance President Rob Burstein is furious that the city is repairing the Queens boardwalk with wood but paving over large sections of Brooklyn’s seaside walkway with concrete in yet another "pilot" program. (Photo: Elizabeth Graham)
Read More: