Tuesday, July 31, 2012

City Hall Park Hammer Attacker Held Without Bail After Brutalizing Spanish Tourist


A crazed Brooklyn man was ordered held without bail on Tuesday for allegedly trying to kill a Spanish tourist with a hammer in a rant-filled attack near City Hall Park, according to the New York Daily News.

John Yoos, 43, was arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court on attempted murder charges for beating down Hugo Alejandre, of Barcelona, with the claw of a hammer about 3 p.m. Monday.

Alejandre, 31, was eating lunch with his girlfriend on a bench near Murray St. and Broadway when a suit-clad Yoos suddenly approached and bashed him in the head, striking Alejandre near his left eye, authorities said.

Yoos began ranting about President Obama and the Clintons as he savagely attacked Alejandre, sources said. “It’s a complete random act of brutal violence on a total stranger,” said Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Alison Altmann.

“It was a cold-blooded attack on a defenseless unarmed man. It was a heinous act.”

Alejandre’s girlfriend tried, but failed, to fend off the attacker. A group of Good Samaritans were able to pull the bloody hammer from the thug’s hand and hold him down for police, prosecutors said.

Cops soon arrived and cuffed Yoos, who also had a five-inch steak knife in his jacket pocket, prosecutors said. He was later booked on a slew of charges that included attempted murder, assault and weapons possession.

Alejandre was taken to Bellevue Hospital, where he was treated for a fractured spine and lacerations to his chest and head. He checked out of his room at The Dylan Hotel in midtown and declined to speak to reporters when he left the District Attorney’s office Tuesday.

Yoos — who spent several years abroad in the United Kingdom and Canada — has only a minor criminal record, but neighbors in Crown Heights, Brooklyn said he was known for his violent outbursts.

“Sometimes he screams really loud in the apartment the word ‘n-----,’” said Ezekiel Williams, 25, adding that he was still shocked to hear of the wild attack in lower Manhattan.

“I didn’t know he was that crazy, so I was surprised,” he said. Yoos was arrested in 2008 in Honolulu, Hawaii, for criminal contempt after he failed to pay a fine.

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Hammer attacker held without bail after brutalizing Spanish tourist
New York Daily News - July 31, 2012 - By Joe Kemp, Dan McCarthy and Janon Fisher

A Walk In the Park - July 31, 2012

City Hall Park Hammer Attack - Spanish Tourist's Head Fractured

The scene where a hammer attack occured near City Hall on Monday, July 30, 2012.
A Spanish tourist was hit in the head with a hammer in City Hall Park yesterday. The alleged attacker, John Yoos, 43, of Brooklyn, was arrested. July was a particularly violent month in city parks. (Photo: Ellis Washington)


A Spanish tourist was bashed in the head with a hammer by a well-dressed Brooklyn man inside Manhattan’s City Hall Park Monday afternoon, police sources said, according to the New York Daily News.

Hugo Alejandre, 31, who is from Barcelona, was sitting on a bench in the downtown park near Murray Street and Broadway when he was targeted him in an unprovoked attack shortly after 3 p.m., the sources said.

Clad in a suit, John Yoos, 43, of Crown Heights, struck Alejandre with the claw part of the hammer on the left side of his head, just above his eye, police said. The blow fractured his skull.

Alejandre also suffered defensive wounds to his arms and hands, police said. He was taken to Bellevue Hospital Center and later listed in stable condition, officials said.

Witnesses to the horrifying assault held Yoos until police officers arrived to place him under arrest, cops said.

Police recovered the hammer and charged Yoos with first-degree assault, criminal possession of a weapon and reckless endangerment, authorities said.

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New York Daily News - July 30, 2012 - By Sarah Armaghan

EDC Willets Point Mall Development Project Plans To Take Parkland Without Alienating It

Sorry, image not available
The new Willets Point plan includes development on both sides of Citi Field: to the east, in the area known as the "iron triangle," and to the west, on city parkland currently being used as a parking lot for City Field where a shopping mall would be developted by the Related Companies according to the proposel. (Image: Courtesy Office of the Mayor/City Limits)


A new version of the Willets Point redevelopment plan envisions a shopping mall in what is now a parking lot—on what is technically parkland. The city and some advocates disagree on whether a Robert Moses-era law paves the way for the project, according to City Limits.

Flushing — For more than half a century New York City politicians have tried to redevelop Willets Point, the stretch of auto repair shops, factories, warehouses and scrap metal yards off the Flushing River in northern Queens. In the latest bid to revive his own plan for the area, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has unveiled a new project that would include a shopping mall on the Citi Field parking lot.

The mayor announced last month that the developers would be Sterling Equities, the real estate firm of Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, and the Related Companies, a partner in previous plans by the Bloomberg administration, notably the Gateway Center Mall on the site of the old Bronx Terminal Market.

Restaurants, stores, and a 200-room hotel would go up on the Willets Point side of 126th Street, just east of Citi Field, though the city does not entirely own the property. The proposed shopping mall west of the stadium may face a larger hurdle: The parking lot is part of Flushing Meadows Corona Park. State law requires the alienation of parkland before it can be used for non-park purposes.

To meet that requirement, Bloomberg has reached back to a law passed 51 years ago, summoning an uncertain ally in the ghost of Robert Moses. But questions surround this curious piece of legislation, setting up the latest in a string of disputes over city-sponsored developments on public parkland.

"Yes, this area is parkland," says Benjamin Branham, a spokesman for the city's Economic Development Corporation, "but development is permitted under the 1961 law that authorized the construction of Shea Stadium—known asAdministrative Code 18-118—which also allowed for additional uses to be built on the parking lot. It's important to be clear the authorization comes from this law as opposed to a contract or other agreement of some kind."

Yet, as recently as 2001, New York's highest court ruled parkland can't be taken, even for temporary use, without an explicit act of alienation passed by the state Legislature and approved by the Governor: "[O]ur courts have time and again reaffirmed the principle that parkland is impressed with a public trust, requiring legislative approval before it can be alienated or used for an extended period for non-park purposes."

The court's 2001 decision forced the city to seek approval from the state Legislature before building the Croton Water Treatment Plant in Van Cortlandt Park, and as compensation for the use of public parkland, the Bloomberg administration earmarked $240 million for park improvements throughout the Bronx. In 2005 the state Legislature alienated 25.3 acres of Macombs Dam and Mullaly parks before the building of the new Yankee Stadium, and as part of that legislation, the city was required to replace the lost parkland. Currently, the Bloomberg administration plans to ask the state Legislature to alienate 0.76 acres of Flushing Meadows Corona Park before expanding the USTA National Tennis Center, just across Roosevelt Avenue from the Citi Field site.

A power broker's pet project

In his announcement of the shopping mall at Citi Field, Bloomberg recalled the area had been described as "a valley of ashes" in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. Focusing on the pending private development, the mayor made no mention of the millions in federal, state, and local government dollars Robert Moses had marshaled to turn the Corona Ash Dumps into the site of the 1939 World's Fair. In plotting to leave behind a great park, Moses had quoted a biblical source: Isaiah’s “Give unto them beauty for ashes.”

Flushing Meadows—New York's second-largest park—was Moses' pet project. Before the building of Shea Stadium, Moses was preparing for another World's Fair at Flushing Meadows, though he ultimately viewed both Fairs as a means to build his legacy park. He even had a hand in crafting legislation that set aside Fair proceeds for Flushing Meadows. "I don't think RM really ever cared about the Fair," one aide told author Robert Caro. "What he cared about—what he was always talking about—was what the Fair could do for parks."

In 1960 Moses gave up his longtime title of Parks Commissioner, but his replacement, Newbold Morris, was selected for his "utter subservience" to Moses, according to Caro, who wrote, "Morris was Park Commissioner only in name. Robert Moses was still running the Department exactly as he had run it before—as anyone having much business with the Department soon found out."

Moses presided over the 1961 groundbreaking for Shea Stadium. He had originally offered to build the municipal arena in Flushing Meadows for the Brooklyn Dodgers and resurrected the plan when the city pushed for a new National League franchise.

The state Legislature approved his building of Shea Stadium in the park, but its 1961 legislation was primarily aimed at granting the city authority to issue bonds to finance construction. It loosely laid out the permitted uses for the stadium and grounds, listing "recreation, entertainment, amusement, education, enlightenment, cultural development or betterment, and improvement of trade and commerce." The law even allowed the city to use the site for "any business or commercial purpose," so long as this activity "aids in the financing of the construction and operation of [the] stadium, grounds, parking areas and facilities" and "does not interfere with the accomplishment of the purposes referred to" above.

"The bill reads like a Robert Moses special," says Geoffrey Croft of the watchdog group NYC Park Advocates. The broad powers it conferred were a hallmark of the Power Broker, who was so well-practiced in the black art of political legislating that Al Smith once called him "the best bill-drafter I know." The Parks Commissioner could enter into agreements to use part or all of the stadium grounds, but any agreements lasting for more than a year had to be approved by the Board of Estimate, which included the mayor, the comptroller, the City Council president, and all of the borough presidents.

In 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court found the Board of Estimate unconstitutional, because it violated the “one man, one vote” rule—for example, the borough president of Brooklyn (the city’s most populous county) had no more power than the borough president of Staten Island (the least populous county). With the elimination of the Board of Estimate, the city's Law Department says, the power of site approval under the 1961 Shea Stadium law now rests solely with the mayor. A shopping mall may not offer the "enlightenment" referenced in the text, but a Bloomberg administration spokesperson describes the new project as a "retail/entertainment complex" benefiting “trade and commerce.”

A dispute over uses

The city cites the law in apparently contradictory ways. On one hand, it argues the 1961 legislation authorizes alienation of the parkland, thereby dismissing all of the public’s claims to the land or for compensation. But the law never mentions alienation. Indeed, it describes the land as "being a part of Flushing Meadow park."

When asked about that omission, the city responds with a different interpretation: The law authorizes the placement of a shopping mall on the land, which, the city responded, would still be in the park. The city denied requests to speak directly to its lawyers about the shopping mall project, but Seth Pinsky, president of the city’s Economic Development Corporation, recently assured the Queens Chronicle, "We are confident it’s legal.” Parkland alienation legislation must be explicit, according to state Assembly guidelines. Alienation bills should specify the number of acres and require that land be sold at fair market value, "with proceeds from the sale dedicated for the purchase of replacement parkland of equal or greater fair market value or for capital improvement of existing parkland." The 2005 legislation that alienated Macombs Dam and Mullaly parks gave away the use of public land for free to the developers of the new Yankee Stadium—a similar transaction to this proposed shopping-mall deal at Citi Field—but it detailed the specific acreage and described the project at length. It also stipulated that the city assemble new parkland and recreational facilities "of equal or greater value than the fair market value of the parkland being alienated."

While the 1961 Shea Stadium law defined the permitted uses of the land as "public purposes," courts have ruled a public purpose is not good enough for the use of parkland—it needs to have a park purpose. The state's Handbook on the Alienation and Conversion of Municipal Parkland makes clear that alienation is required whenever parkland is used "for a non-park purpose even though the use may be public in nature," citing the example of a museum. "The water treatment plant in Van Cortlandt Park certainly had a public purpose, but the park still had to be alienated," notes environmental attorney Michael Gerrard, who has represented business owners on Willets Point. After his first look at the 1961 law, Gerrard was willing to say it might allow for the shopping mall on the stadium lot, "but the way I read it is, this would have to be a city-built and -owned project," just like Shea Stadium, not one run by private developers. The legislation is not clear, says lawyer Reed Super, an expert on parkland alienation who is not involved in the Willets Point case. It may allow the city to use this parkland for the listed non-park purposes. "Whether the mall they are now planning fits within those purposes is another question,” Super explains. "Someone could challenge the current plan to put a shopping mall there."

Croft says his group is considering a lawsuit: "Bloomberg and [Related Companies'] Steven Ross won't be shopping at that mall unless the state and City Council say so. Clearly the law's intention was not to alienate the parkland, because no restitution was provided, which is required under state law. You can alienate parkland, but you have to replace it."

Another attorney for Willets Point property owners agrees. The 1961 law “authorizes the Parks Commissioner to enter into a lease transaction with the owners of the Mets,” says lawyer Michael Rikon, “but it has nothing to do with the new plan. The law is very clear on this—they can't use parkland for a retail mall unless they obtain specific approval from the state Legislature and agree to provide some kind of compensation for taking it.”

Sorry, image not available
Arturo Olaya's auto-trim shop lies in the path of the city's new plan for Willets Point. He says the city has provided no assistance to relocate his 17-year-old business, or even a firm clear-out date. (Photos: Patrick Arden/City Limits)

Challenges have been mounted to the improper alienation of parkland by municipalities, and there is no statute of limitations on reclaiming parks. Croft's group is trying to stop Related from using a 1983 agreement with the city to build on a Yorkville playground at the Ruppert House Apartments, and Super recently convinced a state appellate court to side with Nassau County residents against a town that had used parkland for public-works vehicles over the past 60 years. In the 1920s Robert Moses illegally paved over a sliver of New York City parkland during construction of the West Side Highway. In the late 1990s, the state planned to put new car lanes on it, but neighbors discovered the land had been a park. They sued and won. The state had to shell out more than a million dollars to rebuild Canal Street Park.

Back to the courtroom

The Bloomberg administration has faced numerous legal challenges over its plans to redevelop Willets Point. Now, under its revised scheme, the city is focusing on a “first phase,” which includes 23 acres of the 62-acre Willets Point site as well as the Citi Field parking lot.

For the past seven years, property owners in one group, Willets Point United, have opposed the mayor’s plan to take their land by eminent domain. But just before the city's suit went before an appellate judge this spring, the administration pulled the plug, withdrawing its attempt to acquire the private property. Rikon says his two-dozen clients are now due $1.1 million from the city, which, under state law, should be obligated to reimburse all expenses incurred by property owners after it abandons an eminent domain proceeding. The city says it owns 95 percent of the land needed for the new project, but Rikon claims it has not yet secured 17 properties from nine different owners. “The city has a Swiss cheese parcel,” he says.

The city has yet to contact Irene Prestigiacomo, who rents her property on Willets Point to seven small businesses. “I even complained to my Congressman [Joseph Crowley] and didn’t hear anything,” she says. “If you want my property, you should at least talk to me about it. This has been going on for years. It's made me depressed and scared to death I’m going to lose everything.”

The shopping mall announcement came just before the state Attorney General found two city-funded development agencies had illegally lobbied the City Council to approve the mayor's redevelopment scheme in 2008. The Mets' head of business operations, David Howard, later sat on the board of one of these agencies, the Flushing-Willets Point-Corona Local Development Corporation.

Both Gerrard and Rikon believe the new plan, as well as the illegal lobbying, should require the city to start from scratch and put the proposed redevelopment once again before the City Council as part of the official approval process, known as the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure. But the new project will not go through ULURP. The existing environmental impact statement will be "updated," explains a spokesman for the city’s Economic Development Corporation, and the City Council will consider only a new zoning amendment to permit the shopping mall. The local Council member, Julissa Ferreras, had said she's undecided on the project, but she lent a supporting quote to the city's press release.

Sterling and Related will have to clean up the 23 acres on Willets Point before they build their shopping mall on the Citi Field parking lot. Most of this cleaned-up parcel would then provide parking for the stadium and the mall. Environmentalists have criticized using the polluted land for a parking lot, fearing that will ensure a lax clean-up, or the mere capping of contaminated land, a practice known as "pave and wave." On non-game days and in the off-season, artificial turf will be rolled on top of the new parking lot for temporary athletic fields, though the city denies this feature is intended as replacement parkland: The fields will be the responsibility of the developers, working in conjunction with community groups. The new 20-acre parking lot may host other recreational uses, the city says, including a skate park or an ice-skating rink in the wintertime.

Two views of parks' value

Over the years, Rikon has seen numerous proposals for Willets Point, all unsuccessful. In the early 1980s, he recalls, Donald Trump even got the state to condemn the property, but he still couldn’t build his planned football stadium for the New Jersey Generals. Back when Rikon worked for the city as a condemnation lawyer during the Lindsay administration, Moses had just failed to turn Willets Point into parkland; business owners there had hired a young attorney named Mario Cuomo and defeated the park plan.

Former City Councilwoman Carol Greitzer remembers getting a call from Cuomo about Willets Point in the 1960s, just after she’d co-founded the Council for Parks and Playgrounds (later the Parks Council). Her group ended up siding with the business owners against Moses. Land is a precious commodity in New York, she notes, and the city has since shown it will even capitalize on parkland. "I had never heard of the term alienation until the 1980s, when Bryant Park had to go to the state Legislature to put a restaurant in the park," she says.

Greitzer is currently fighting the city's plan to put a high-end restaurant in the Union Square Pavilion. That pavilion has been used for public recreation in the past, but the city claims alienation isn't required before turning it into a commercial enterprise.

Moses had hoped Flushing Meadows would be renamed after him. But no place in the city was dedicated to the creator of America's largest urban parks system until 1982, a year after his death. Murray Hill residents had defeated a proposal to put apartment towers on a block-long playground just south of the United Nations, and they decided to name the lot after Moses.

The UN now wants to build on the Robert Moses Playground, and in exchange it will pay $73 million to help fund the city's East River esplanade. But, first, last year the state Legislature had to alienate the park.

Sorry, image not available

The city says it owns 95 percent of the land needed for the first phase of the Willets Point redevelopment. It announced the new version of the redevelopment plan a day before a hearing on the city's bid to use eminent domain to facilitate the previous shape of the project.

City Limits - July 30, 2012 - By Patrick Arden

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Third Arrest Made In Murder Of Bronx Child Shot In Playground


Police have arrested a third person in connection with the deadly shooting of a 4-year-old Bronx child.

The third suspect has been identified as 19-year-old Ronald Jeffrey of the Bronx, according to Eyewitness News.

Jeffrey was arrested and charged with murder, and criminal possession of a weapon.

Earlier in the week, police charged 17-year-old Rondell Pinkerton with murder and criminal possesion of a weapon. According to authorities the suspect says he fired his gun in self defense, but it was a bullet from his gun that killed Lloyd Morgan.

Pinkerton was later arraigned and held without bail. The case will be adjourned Monday, July 30th.

On Tuesday Commissioner Ray Kelly said investigators were speaking to the suspect who admitted to not only being on the playground at the Forrest Houses, but also having a handgun.

"(He) admits to shooting rounds at that location, states that it was in self defense because he was being shot at," Kelly said.

Police also arrested 26-year-old Courtney Kelly with attempted murder and criminal possession of a weapon.

Kelly was wounded in the shootout on Sunday night.

The shooting happened before more than one hundred spectators. By the time it was over, detectives tell Eyewitness News at least four people fired at least seventeen shots.

There were so many gunshots, and we ran to the hospital. It's tragic that it had to end like that, that I couldn't bring him home," Morgan's mother, Shianne Norman said.

Norman had been watching the game and lost little Lloyd in the chaos that followed.

Two other victims, including a 27-year-old man was shot in the stomach, while another man was shot in the arm.

Others, including numerous public leaders, were calling for the shooters to surrender to police.

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Eyewitness News - July 28, 2012 - By Marcus Solis

WNBC - July 27, 2012

A walk In The Park - July 25, 2012

Friday, July 27, 2012

14-Year-Old Boy Gunned Down In Bronx Park After Playing Tennis

"My heart just fell to the ground" - Cassell Brooks, father of 14-year-old boy.

Medical Examiner personnel and police investigators at the scene this morning where 14-year-old Kemar Bryan Brooks was gunned down last night in Haffen Park in the Bronx after playing tennis. (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates)


A crime scene investigator photographs shell casings found on the adjacent basketball courts.

By Geoffrey Croft

A 14-year-old boy was shot dead last night after playing tennis in Haffen Park in the Bronx in yet another murder in a park.

Police believe a small caliber bullet penetrated the boy's head according to numerous police sources. Kemar Bryan Brooks was pronounced dead at the scene just before 6 a.m. The medical examiner's office said the teen died of a gunshot wound to the brain, and the case was being ruled a homicide.

Mr. Brooks, a cabinetmaker, went out looking for him around the neighborhood Friday evening around 12:00am after this son failed to come home. The worried father said he did not initially go into the park.

“I was going to discipline him because he didn't come home," he said.

"I thought he was safe. He played tennis two, three, seven hours a day their," said Mr. Brooks. "He was always with adults playing. It was a good influence. I thought he was safe."

After his initial search turned up empty he returned home and stayed up worrying. He slept for a few hours and then went back outside and continued looking for him. This time he searched the park.

Mr. Brooks made a horrifying discovery just before 6:oo am this morning when he saw his youngest son lying on his side under some trees less than eight feet from the courts where he had been playing hours earlier. His tennis racket and bag were by his side. The body was found less than a hundred yards from their home.

"I went outside, I went by the park and there I found him lying dead," the father said.

“He was the best kid you could ask for."

The incident occurred inside the park not far from the Burke Avenue entrance between Bruner and Wickham Avenues.

Outside his Baychester home, the heartbroken father sat on a ledge and received a string of condolences. One of Kemar's older brothers held a photo of him next to his bowling trophies, tennis medals, and a school ID in a makeshift memorial created by the family.

"My brother. My brother," he said sobbing.

Kemar's older brother weeps while holding a photograph, next to bowling trophies, tennis medals and a school ID in a makeshift memorial created by the family outside the Brooks' home on Bruner Avenue around the corner from the senseless murder.

Shell casings were found on an adjacent basketball court. He may not have been the intended target according to a police source.

His father, neighbors and park goers spoke of his passion for tennis.

Witnesses said they saw the teen playing tennis until about 8 p.m., when the rain started and people ran for cover. Shorty thereafter the boy was gunned down.

Tony Cedeno has been playing on the park's six courts for years. He arrived this morning to play when he heard the shocking news.

"He's just a boy, just a boy," said Mr. Cedeno who saw him last night on the courts until it started to rain.

"He was a queit boy. I never even heard him curse. He was a natural player. He had a wicked high top spin.

I'm just so upset. So upset."

The office of the Medical Examiner removes the body from Haffen Park.

Area resident Marie Johnson, 70, said she heard three or four shots not long after.

"I know the difference between thunder and gun shots," she said, "It wasn't the storm."

The devastated family including Kemar's mother and four siblings moved from Jamaica two years ago.

"My heart just fell to the ground," Kemar's father Cassell Brooks, 50 said. "I knew it was him when I saw his shoes. His tennis bag was next to him.

He was on his way home. Why him," he asked.

Numerous investigators were seen canvassing the neighborhood going door-to-door looking for witnesses.

Anyone with information on the case should contact the Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS, or text CRIMES and then enter TIP577, or visit www.nypdcrimestoppers.com.

The park's swimming pool was closed for the day due to the investigation.

The incident occurred inside the park near the entrance on Burke Avenue between Bruner and Wickham Avenues.

Park and Playground Violence

Violence in the city parks and playgrounds has exploded over the last few weeks resulting in multiple deaths and injuries from shootings and stabbings.

According to figures complied by NYC Park Advocates since July 1st alone 13 people have been shot, resulting 4 deaths and 9 injuries, two people were stabbed, one fatally.

On Wednesday, five people were wounded when a gunman opened fire at a basketball tournament at Rucker Park in Harlem. A few days earlier 4-year-old, Lloyd Morgan was killed in a playground by a stray bullet shot at a basketball game in the Bronx.

Park crime is up 24% since 2009 according to the latest figures complied by the city. This number however represents only a faction of crime occurring in parks because the Police and Parks Department refuse to comply with the 2005 law which requires them to track and report crime in parks.

Shootings are up 9.6 percent city-wide and overall crime is up 4.3 percent this year according to the latest NYPD statistics. The explosion of gun violence citywide has apparently not changed the mind of Mayor Michael Bloomberg to hire more cops. Since he's been in office the NYPD has lost close to 6,000 officers since it's peak in 2001- 2002.

According to the city's latest budget, the NYPD expects to have an average of 34,800 cops in the current fiscal year, which began July 1. At its peak, it had 40,700 officers.

In another 'Bloomberg moment," the Mayor said on his weekly Friday WOR radio show that increasing the number of police was not going to make a difference in lowering the murder rate.

"If you had more cops, would you get it down even more. I don’t think so.”

Critics also point out the ranks of the only uniformed police dedicated to city parks have been decimated.

At the time of young Kemar's murder not a single Park Enforcement Patrol (PEP) officer was available to patrol the Bronx's more than 7,000 acres of parkland due to dramatic staffing cuts. Critics charge that under Bloomberg, Parks Commissioner Adrain Benepe has been methodically dismantling PEP. They have lost 42% of their officers since 2008 according to Benepe.

Several City Council members have told A Walk In The Park when they have asked the Parks Commissioner about restoring funding for PEP he discouraged it saying they weren't a priority and crime in parks was being overblown.

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WABC - July 28, 2012 - By Tim Fleischer

WCBS News - July 27, 2012

The Wall Street Journal - By Sean Gardiner and Danny Gold

New York Times - July 27, 2012 - By Marc Santora and Daniel Krieger

New York Post - July 28, 2012 - By Natasha Velez, Rebecca Harshbarger and Jamie Schram

New York Daily News - By Henrick Karoliszyn, Joseph Kemp and Tracy Conner

Associated Press - July 28, 2012

NY1 - July 27, 2012 - By Dean Meminger

My Fox - July 27, 2012

gothamist - July 27, 2012 - By John Del Signore

DNAinfo - July 27, 2012 - By Murray Weiss, and Chelsia Rose Marcius

New York Post - July 28, 2012 - By David Seifman

WCBS - July 19, 2012

Fifth Person Steps On Hypodermic Needle On A City Beach - Boy-9

The needle Eileen McManus said her son, Gerard, stepped on at a beach in the Rockaways. The lifeguard told the mother that was the third incident that day. (Photo: Philip McManus via Metro NY)

Yesterday A Walk in the Park reported that four people had been stuck by hypodermic needles on NYC beaches in three weeks.


Today Metro ran a story about four people being stuck by hypodermic needles on local beaches in the past three weeks. And this morning the paper was contacted by a woman who said her son was stabbed by a needle this week as well, according to Metro NY.

Little Gerard McManus was walking in the sand on Tuesday, July 24 after enjoying an afternoon at 104th Street beach in the Rockaways. That's when he was jabbed in the foot by a syringe embedded in the sand.

“I just stepped on a needle,” the nine-year-old told his mother, Eileen McManus. Though there wasn’t any blood, his foot had been punctured by the sandy needle and needed immediate attention, Eileen told Metro today.

“I took him to the lifeguard who bandaged his foot so we could take him to the hospital,” said McManus, 52, adding that the lifeguard told her it had been the third needle stabbing that day.

Because the nearest hospital was closed McManus drove her terrified son to South Nassau Hospital, a forty-minute drive away.

There, Gerard was given an X-ray and referred to an infectious disease specialist for blood testing.

“They’re not worried about HIV so much, but we do have to worry about hepatitis all because we weren’t even aware that this was a problem,” McManus said.

Gerard is going to be on antibiotics for the next 10 days, and will need to return for follow-up tests in one month, and again in three months.

“Nobody in Rockaway knew this was happening. How come we weren’t advised of this?,” said McManus, a homemaker who lives across the street from the beach. “We’re out here every day playing in the sand, sliding around, and it scares me.”

“[The parks department] is complaining about budget cuts but I see guys riding around checking the beaches on a jeep. They should be out of the jeep, really checking the sand,” said McManus.

While the mother of three said she won’t be discouraged from returning to the beach, McManus told Metro that after hearing about all the other incidents she will start checking the sand before she lets her kids play in it.

“I thought my son was an isolated incident,” said McManus. “Obviously not.”

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Fifth person reports stepping on needle on New York City beaches
Metro NY - July 26, 2012 - By Daniella Bernal

A Walk In The Park -July 25, 2012 - By Geoffrey Croft

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Christine Quinn Visits McCarren Pool To Address Safety Concerns

Registration, ID system Eyed

Speaker Christine Quinn makes her way into a closed meeting last night at McCarren Pool to address security and public safety concerns. (Photos: By Geoffey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on image to enlarge.


By Geoffrey Croft

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn paid her first visit to McCarren Pool last night for an hour long meeting held to address security and public safety concerns at the facility and surrounding community, A Walk In The Park has learned.

Since the pool's re-opening on June 28th, there have been a number of violent incidents and a number of people have been arrested at the $ 50 million dollar facility.

The meeting was convened by the offices of City Council member Steve Levin in conjunction with Speaker Christine Quinn and State Assemblyman Joe Lento after the last incident on July 17th when three people were arrested, according to Mr. Levin.

Speaker Quinn makes her way into McCarren Pool with a small entourage.

The invitation only crowd included numerous police personnel from the 94th Precinct including Deputy Inspector Hurson and community affairs officers, representatives from the Brooklyn District Attorney's office, a rep from Councilmember Diana Reyna's office, Community Board 1 members including it's Chair and District manager, and Public Safety and Parks Chairs, First Deputy Commissioner for Parks Liam Kavanagh, Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey, lifeguard union representatives from Local 508 including president Peter Stein, and Greenpoint Youth Court. No representatives from the Open Space Alliance North attended.

One attendee characterized it as a "responsible parties" meeting.

Police officials said they would maintain the current level of NYPD presents for the remainder of the season which people said they were generally happy with the increased police presents.

Councilmember Steve Levin opened the meeting saying, 'We can all agree that this has been a huge success, wildly succeeding our expectations and how wonderful it was.'

But it was Assemblyman Lento," according to sources, "that was the first to change the tone of 'like it's great but there are some obvious problems - things that need to be addressed.'

"He was the one who opened with the idea of registration to use of the pool."

Police and park officials have been searching for ways to try to address the numerous safety issues at the brand new pool which has already attracted more than 70, 000 people since it's opening according to Parks Department figures. One hope is to try and weed out bad elements. The idea of requiring a registration and ID system-similar to what currently exists for the morning and evening adult swims at Parks Department pools was discussed at length and was positively received.

Council member Steve Levin greets Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey last night.

"The question is how do we address these issues long-term so you don't have to have 16 police officers stationed there at all times," Levin said.

"The subject of having some kind of of Identification system/registration system came up and that was something that was pretty positively responded to. The question is logistics on that- but they do it at rec. centers, they do it at Metropolitan Pool. That seems like something that could conceivably have a deterring effect on bad behavior."

"If you have to write down your mom's telephone number than you might be less likely to do things that will have somebody call your mom to tell them to pick you up at the 94th Pct. station house," Levin said.

"That got a really warm reception," said one community member who attended the meeting and said the idea is to work towards implementing these changes to have then ready for next Summer.

"She asked a lot of questions," said the community member speaking about Speaker Christine Quinn.

"She didn't come in with an attitude of like 'this is all great everything is perfect,' she really wanted to hear from the police.

"She wanted to know how much of this was the media putting a negative spin on things and how much of this was truth. (DI Inspector) Hurson was very firm, saying 'these are actually very serious people that are doing these infractions. These are criminals these aren't just innocent teenagers caught up in the wrong place at the wrong time.'

"This didn't come as a real surprise to her. I think she wanted to hear the truth about it. And that's good but what's to be done with that information is still though difficult and I think that's why we got right on to the idea of registering to use the pool. The idea is that might weed out the bad players."

"That was really warmly received," the attendee said.

"She's a really effective community organizer," Councilmember Steve Levin said of Christine Quinn, "She helped focus the issues and helped with concrete next steps."

Another idea being floated around is banning people who are arrested for pools incidents.

Leven said afterwards he would support such an initiative.

An informal banning system for trouble makers has long been used in Parks Department pools for years.

"The one thing that was clear - the ones that have been arrested - they have pretty serious rap sheets," said Levin. "They've been arrested for serious felonies. The guys that have been arrested have had some serious brushes with the law."

"Hurson (Deputy Inspector) went into gory details about the people arrested," said one attendee. "Every single person who's been arrested out of that pool, all have lengthy criminal histories. Even the 17-year-old who was arrested has fifteen priors."

Levin described the meeting as "positive"and "constructive."

He said they discussed, "What's working, what could use improvement. What are some ideas simple things like making sure when people are waiting on line they're getting educated on the pool."

Educating the public on pool etiquette and rules was a big topic at the meeting. New signage and audio elements were suggested that go over the rules including why they are important, for safety reasons.

"It is very disappointing they took this long to address these issues, " said the attendee after the meeting. "I felt heard, finally. There was a lot of nodding going on but the follow up will be the test."

Long-time State Assemblyman Joseph Lentol got the biggest laugh when he asked if there was an NYPD "speedo" clad unit that could intervene at a monuments notice for pool incidents. He was informed that there wasn't.

Among The Suggestions:

• Registration, ID system similar to morning and evening adult swim

• Banning Trouble makers

Interpretive Safety Signage

• Educating People On The Use Of The Pool While On Line

In Other News: The Parks Department erroneously told officials including Council member Leven and the NYPD that NYC Park Advocates was having a press conference at the location during the meeting.

• DC 37 Local 983 vice president Joe Puleo was physically prevented from attending the meeting by Deputy Inspector for Parks Enforcement Patrol, Edwin Rodriguez, on orders from Assistant Commissioner of Urban Park Services Michael Dockett, sources said while representatives from local 508 - the lifeguard union - were admitted.

Despite repeated attempts the Parks Department press office refused to comment.

Deputy Inspector for Parks Enforcement Patrol, Edwin Rodriguez, (right) physically prevented DC 37 Local 983 vice president Joe Puleo (left) - who represents PEP - from attending the meeting.

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