Monday, December 21, 2015

Police Catch Man With Two Loaded Hand Guns In Queens Park


By Geoffrey Croft

Police made a disturbing discovery yesterday in a Queens park, NYC Park Advocates has learned.  

Yesterday police spotted Oscar Mendez 25, acting suspiciously inside Maple Playground near Maple Avenue and Kissenna Blvd around 4:30pm.

They stopped and questioned him.  While searching the Queens resident they discovered he was carrying a concealed Jennings .22 caliber semi-automatic handgun and a Bursar 9 mm semi-automatic handgun, both loaded.

He was charged with two counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon,  a Class "C" felony.

UPDATE: Man Shot Inside Devoe Park Apparently Drug Related

Police have identified the man who was fatally shot inside of Devoe Park on Sunday as Albendris Nunez, 21,  a Manhattan resident who was murdered in an apparent drug related incident. On Sunday the NYPD's Crime Scene Unit worked in Devoe Park.  (Photos:Geofrey Croft/NYC PArk Advocates) 


By Geoffrey Croft

Additional details are emerging from yesterday's homicide in Devoe Park.

Police now say that the victim was shot inside the park in what appears to be a drug related incident.

Manhattan resident Albendris Nunez, 21 was found face down on the sidewalk adjacent to the park on University Avenue yesterday morning at approximately 9:20am.

Video shows the victim running out of the park southbound on University Avenue towards E. Fordham Road and collapsing on the sidewalk according to a law enforcement source. 

The victim was carrying four sandwich bags of what appeared to be marijuana according to the source.

EMS responded to a 911 call and found the man face down, unconscious with a bullet wound to the lower back.  They transported Nunez to St. Barnabas Hospital where he was pronounced dead twenty-five minutes later.

According to authorities he was arrested for drug-dealing in August 2013 and again on December 11th for Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance, a felony drug charge.  He also has a number of arrests that are sealed.   

The incident occured within the confines of the 52nd Precinct.

The victim's blood on the sidewalk. 

Read More:

Man found Shot Dead Outside Dovoe Park In The Bronx
A Walk In The Park - December 20, 2015 - By Geoffrey Croft

Man found Shot Dead Outside Dovoe Park In The Bronx

THE NYPD's Crime Scene Unit Sunday in Devoe Park.  (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on images to enlarge


By Geoffrey Croft

The body of a 21-year-old hispanic male was discovered Sunday morning on the sidewalk outside of Devoe Park on University Avenue near E. Fordham Road. 

Police arrived to the find the male unconscious with a gunshot wound to his back.

EMS transported the man to St. Barnabas Hospital where he was pronounced dead.  

Police have not yet released his name.  No arrests have been made.

The victim's blood on the sidewalk. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Woman Raped In Highbridge Park


A female Hispanic 35, reported she was raped by two unknown male Hispanics inside Highbridge Park last night, NYC Park Advocates has learned. 

The woman reported the incident occured inside the park near West 177th Street and Amsterdam Avenue at 10:00pm within the confines of the 33 Pct.

Manhattan Special Victims is investigating. 

- Geoffrey Croft

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Park Crime: 541 People Victims Of Violent Crimes Over Twelve Month Period

Violent Spaces.   Five hundred and thirteen people were robbed or assaulted in city parks over the last twelve months.   Another  21 people were raped or murdered.  There were 991 reported park crimes in total.  The NYPD is now compiling crime data from 1,155 park properties, up from 31 parks.   (Photo: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on images to enlarge


By Geoffrey Croft

More than 540 people were victims of violent crimes in city parks over the last twelve months NYC Park Advocates has learned.

Seven people were murdered, 14 were raped, 313 people were robbed, and 195 were victims of felony assaults.  A total of 912 crimes were reported in the seven Major Crime Complaints category according to the latest city-wide park crime figures compiled by the NYPD and analyzed by NYC Park Advocates.

The statistics cover a twelve month period from October 1, 2014 through September 30, 2015. 

The newly released figures do not include reported crimes in Central Park which are recorded under its own patrol precinct.   Central Park reported two rapes, 27 robberies,  four felony assaults among the 79  recorded crimes during the same twelve month period.   When Central Park figures are combined there were 16 rapes, 340 robberies,  and 199 felony assaults city-wide. 

In total there were 991crimes recorded in city parks over the last twelve months.

Click on graphs to enlarge

The striking figures come from the latest crime data tracked by the NYPD under a 2014 law.    The NYPD is now compiling crime data from 1,155 park properties, up from just 31 parks police began tracking in 2008. 

Violent crimes in parks city-wide increased over the same third quarter period compared to last year.
Excluding Central Park,  Murder was up 300 percent,  Robberies up 17.82 percent, and Felony Assaults increased by 29.17 percent.

Manhattan parks had the greatest number of recorded crimes with a total of 331,  followed by Brooklyn, 246,  Bronx 228, Queens 174,  followed by a distant Staten Island with 12 crimes. 

The top five parks accounted for more than twenty-two percent of total crime in parks over the last twelve months.   

Crime has remained a persistent problem in several parks, including Central and Riverside in Manhattan, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, and Crotona in the Bronx since police began tracking crime data on a limited basis almost a decade ago.   This year St. Nicholas Park in upper Manhattan rounded out the top five most violent parks in the city with 16 incidents.  

As usual Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens led the city in total crime outside of Central Park.  The park reported 48 total crimes, including 2 rapes, 6 robberies, 10 felony assaults, 5 burglaries, 44 grand larcenies, and 1 grand larceny of a motor vehicle. 

Four of the seven people murdered were in Bronx parks.  Several Bronx parklands were crime hot spots including Crotona Park with 25 crimes including 6 robberies and 4 felony assaults.  Claremont Park had 17 total crimes including 4 robberies and 10 felony assaults,  Williamsbridge Oval had 9 robberies and 5 felony assaults,  and Mullaly Park had 14 total crimes including 7 robberies and 1 felony assault.

3rd Quarter Park Crime Comparisons

2014 (3rd Quarter)   Murder - 0  Rape - 5 Robbery - 101  Felony Assault - 72  Burglary-15 Grand Larceny - 236 Grand Larceny Of Motor Vehicle  3 
2015 (3rd Quarter)   Murder - 3  Rape - 4 Robbery - 119  Felony Assault - 93  Burglary - 6  Grand Larceny -164 Grand Larceny Of Motor Vehicle  2

* Excluding Central Park

Click on graphs to enlarge

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Central Park: Teens Rob Two Women At Gunpoint At Reservoir


By Geoffrey Croft

Two woman walking along the reservoir were robbed at gunpoint last night.

The victims, a Manhattan resident age 45, and a friend visiting from out-of-town, 26,  were walking northbound on the jogging path near W. 90st Street at around 11:45pm when they were approached by four black males who began talking to them.   

Moments later two of the assailants pulled out handguns and demanded their purses.

The suspects grabbed the purses and fled southbound along the jogging path. 

The victims exited the park and asked a doorman on Central Park West to call 911. 

Police searched the area with a helicopter and canines according to authorities. 

The four suspects are described between the ages of 14 and 17-years old. 

Friday, December 4, 2015

Michael Van Valkenburgh Sued For "Malpractice" Over Dangerous Brooklyn Bridge Park Lighting Design

"MVVA was careless, failed to use reasonable and customary care, departed from accepted practice, and failed to perform services in accordance with professional standards, and therefore committed professional malpractice in its design and in its construction supervision of the Shade Sail Structures"   - Lawsuit

 Brooklyn Bridge Park is suing two firms it says designed faulty shade devices and light poles at Pier 5.

Endangering The Public. Brooklyn Bridge Park designer Michael Van Valkenburgh (MVVA) is being sued again by the City this time over faulty designed light poles and shade sails installed at Pier 5’s soccer field in December 2012.  The items were designed to withstand 100 mph winds or more but they were destroyed eight days after the field’s opening by less strong winds, "as a result of defective design and construction supervision by MVVA," according to the lawsuit.  This is at least the second time Van Valkenburgh has been named in a suit by the City involving dangerous Brooklyn Bridge Park designs.  (Image: DNAinfo)


By Geoffrey Croft

The honeymoon is apparently over between the  Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation and the park's private designer, Michael Van Valkenburgh Landscape Architects, (MVVA).
The City, on behalf of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation (BBP) is suing the firm  over faulty designed light poles and shade sails installed at Pier 5’s soccer field in December 2012.      The suit was first reported by DNAinfo. 

The light poles and shade devices were supposedly designed to withstand 100 mile per hour winds or more, but they were destroyed eight days after the field’s opening by 75 mph winds,  "as a result of defective design and construction supervision by MVVA," according to the lawsuit. 

"the design proved to incapable of with standing even much lower winds," the suit contends. 

MVVA was responsible for the feasibility analysis, design, and construction support services for the Shade Sail Structures.    

A second company,  HNTB Corporation, an engineering firm is also named in the suit. 

The lawsuit states that BBP had repeated meetings and communications with MVVA and HNTB concerning the design and construction of the Shade Sail Structures. At these meetings, BBP, MVVA and HNTB repeatedly discussed the need to produce a design that was capable of withstanding foreseeable wind conditions of 100 miles per hour or more. 

The suit was filed on November 27th and seeks $1,294,931 in damages and aims to "recover damages suffered by BBP as a result of defective design and construction supervision by MVVA."

The City's Corporation Counsel is suing on behalf of the plaintiff, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation.

Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation contracted with MVVA to design the park including the construction of the Shade Sail structures at Pier 5 in the park.  MVVA subcontracted the work out to HNTB to design the structures. 

"As a result of MVVA’s and HNTB’s contractual and professional  failures, the Shade Sail Structures had to be substantially redesigned and rebuilt, at great cost to BBP." 

BBP asked MVVA to design and oversee the construction of overhead lighting and subsequently asked it to modify the design to provide shade on the Pier 5 playing field.

The suit does not mention however why they hired a landscape architecture firm for such work. 

After the malfunction of the Shade Sails, the Park conducted a Structural Peer Review of the design which concluded that there were " fundamental flaws in HNTB’s design of the Shade Sails…. Specifically, the tie rods, the light  poles, base plate and reinforced concrete foundations were each inadequate as a matter of design to withstand 100 mile per hour winds."

So basically everything. 

When the Park asked HNTB to fix the damage to the Shade Sails, "HNTB no longer stood behind its own original design," the suit states. 

This is at least the second time Van Valkenburgh Associates have been named in a suit by the City involving dangerous Brooklyn Bridge Park designs.  

Within a few weeks of the opening of the playground at Pier 1 the park was forced to remove irresponsibly designed metal orbs after they were found to be burning children including  thirteen-month-old Paula Sporlar who suffered second degree burns.   

Two years later tax payers shelled out $ 17,500 to the Sporlar family for her injuries. 

During the suit the city tried to shift blame to the playground designer by filing a third-party suit against Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates claiming that any negligence was the designer’s fault. The judge ordered the city and the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation to pay the settlement.

No word if those funds were ever recovered from MVVA.    

April 7, 2010. The controversial metal domes in Brooklyn Bridge Park's Pier 1 Playground are covered up after several children are injured including thirteen-month-old Paula Sporlar who suffered second degree burns.  The irresponsibly designed domes were soon removed. Tax payers shelled out  $ 17,500 to the Sporlar family for her injuries. (Photo: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates)

Kira Foley, 5, broke her nose and lost a tooth while playing on metal domes at Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Not Just The Heat. Kira Foley, 5½, smashed her nose and lost a tooth playing on the metal domes within five minutes of the playground's opening on March 22, 2010.

A week after the Brooklyn Bridge Park incidents the city was forced to caution off a larger version of the metal dome in the newly opened Michael Van Valkenburgh designed Evelyn's Playground Union Square Park because children were also getting burned.  The "play feature" structure was closed off for months.  A massive green awning was finally installed above the six-foot high steel climbing dome at a reported cost of $ 100,000.   Several people have been injured on the climbing orb since it opened.

Evelyn's Playground is at the top of City Comptroller Scott Stringer playground-related personal injury claims report where at least 11 children and a mother were hurt. 

Why is a landscape architect firm being allowed to design playgrounds on goverment properties?  Hadn't anyone seen the multi-million dollar disastrous Teardrop Park in Battery Park City?  

Same Designer, Same Problem.  May 1, 2010.  Evelyn's Playground.  A week after the Brooklyn Bridge Park incidents the city was forced to close off the giant silver dome in Union Square Park because children were getting burned.  A massive green awning was installed at a reported cost of $ 100,000. Several people have been injured on the Union Square climbing "play feature" structure.   (Photo: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates)

The Union Square Partnership BID hired the landscape architect firm to redesign the playground for some reason.  

Read More:

DNAinfo - December 4, 2015 - By Alexandra Leon

City Forced To Pay Family Of 1-Year-Old Burned In Brooklyn Bridge Park Playground
A Walk In The Park - October 25, 2012 

A Walk In The Park - July 1, 2010

A Walk In The Park - May 24, 2010 - By Geoffrey Croft

A Walk In The Park - June 29, 2010

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Police Fire On Suspect In Brooklyn Park


By Geoffrey Croft

Narcotics officers working in East New York heard shots fired in a nearby park this evening. 

When they arrived at Railroad Park to investigate they saw two black males, one of them had a firearm.  

As the officers were exiting their car one of the assailants turned and pointed a gun at them, according to police.   Police fired several rounds at the suspect.

It is unknown at this time if he was shot.

It is under investigation whether the assailant discharged his weapon at the officers. 

The suspects fled into a nearby residents near E. 92nd Street and Ave B.

One of the suspects,  a 24-year-old, was taken into custody.  The gunman fled the scene.

The officers  were taken to Methodist Hospital and treated for tinnitus - a ringing or buzzing in the ears -   result of the gunshot discharges.

Christmas Tree Lighting At Ciccarone Park Canceled Due To Vagrants - Apparently Parks Dept. Resources Are Not Available To Keep Park Secure

 Vincent Ciccarone Playground, just off Arthur Avenue, is usually home to a Christmas tree.  Not this year.

Vincent Ciccarone Playground on E. 188 St bet. Arthur and Hughes Avenues is usually home to a Christmas tree. Not this year due to a lack of Parks Department resources in keeping the park secure.   Mayor De blasio said the issue was, "three homeless individuals along the Arthur Avenue strip who’ve been a problem."(Photo: Megan Cerullo/DNAinfo)


Vagrants are urinating in the street, hassling passers-by for cash — and now they’ve ruined Christmas in The Bronx, according to a front page story in the NY Post.   

The annual outdoor Christmas tree lighting in the borough’s famed Little Italy section was canceled because the soaring panhandler population forced the sponsors to spend so much on security that there was no cash left for the celebration.

“It’s unfortunate,” Frank Franz, treasurer of the Belmont Business Improvement District, told The Post.

“It was a very expensive event, so we canceled it.”  

Bums declare war on Christmas
The annual Christmas tree lighting at Ciccarone Park in The Bronx had to be canceled this year. Photo: Facebook / James Messerschmidt

The BID, he said, had to weigh the price of public safety against that of the holiday festivities, which cost about $15,000.

 “Every neighborhood should be concerned about the safety and the quality of life of their neighborhood. There’s always been homeless around, but now you’re seeing an increase all over the city,” he said about the sharp rise of aggressive panhandlers.

One business owner, Rosa Paciullo, who for 20 years has owned Tino’s Delicatessen with her husband, Giancarlo, said bums even used the Vincent Ciccarone Playground where the lighting was held as a public toilet.

“My daughter took her daughter to the [Ciccarone] park and a homeless guy peed in front of them. Some of them would come in and ask for money or food. It scared some of the customers away,” she added.

Franz said the BID had to hire added security over the summer to keep the area safe for shoppers and merchants.  The tree lighting had been celebrated in the playground on ­Arthur Avenue for at least four years, and drew hundreds to the shops and restaurants in one of the borough’s main tourist ­attractions.

Other merchants said Friday they were disappointed that the popular outdoor lighting won’t take place — even though an indoor lighting is planned for Thursday at the Arthur Avenue Retail Market, featuring Bronx-born “Sopranos” star Dominic “Junior” Chianese singing and signing autographs.

 “I think it’s terrible” the outdoor lighting was canceled, said Michael Teitel, whose father owns Teitel Brothers specialty food importers, an Arthur Avenue institution for a century.

“They started a tradition and they should keep it going. It’s heartbreaking for kids. I got kids. I’m still a kid,” he said.

Read More:

De Blasio Blames 3 Homeless People for Canceled Arthur Ave. Tree Lighting
DNAinfo - November 30, 2015 - By Jeff Mays and Eddie Small 
WABC -  By Joe Torres  November 30, 2015

Bums declare war on Christmas
New York Post - November 27, 2015 - By Kevin Fasick and Bob Fredericks 

Arthur Avenue Christmas Tree Lighting Canceled Amid Homeless Surge  
DNAinfo - November 27, 2015  - By Megan Cerullo