Friday, August 31, 2012

OWS Man Attacked In Union Sq. Park - Then Hit By Car

Violence and lawlessness has returned to the southern end of Union Square Park. Gothamist posted a number of disturbing videos of recent fights including one from the other night. According to sources the park supervisor (above in light shirt ) tried to intervene before the fight began and called 911 during the altercation between a menacing shirtless 6'6 male (r) and an Occupy Wall Street regular.

An unshielded PEP officer - with no arrest powers - can be seen in the video (l) on his radio calling for help.

"Every police department has a field training program. PEP has no field training program," fumed one PEP officer. "He's dumped out there alone without proper field training in a very high profile park where they know things happen on an hourly basis. He has no authority to get involved. The public needs to be protected, as does the officer, but the administration doesn't care. Also he shouldn't have a baton or pepper stray which he is unauthorized to have under state law. He's not a Special Patrolman."

The City has repeatedly refused to address the various conditions in the park and to make matters worse sources say the Parks Department's current plan is not to replace the one officer assigned there after the pool season ends in a few days which would leave no dedicated officers in one of the City's most heavily used parks.

When gothamist asked the Parks Department's press office whether park employees were expected to intervene in such situations, they refused to answer and bizarrely referred "all questions" to the Police Department.

"It shows a lack of concern for people's safety in New York City parks and a denial of their responsibly," said Joe Puleo, vice president of local 983 which represents PEP. "They are putting people in harms way. They are incompetent and Bloomberg let's them get away with it. If you ask them when they're going to plant the next tree they'll have the answer."

- Geoffrey Croft


Yesterday, we posted a video of a shirtless man beating another man in Union Square right in front of what appeared to be security guards, according to gothamist.

We've spoken to several Union Square regulars and locals who have identified the attacker as one "Tyrone"—and they say he's been causing trouble around the park all month, and that he claims to be a member of the Crips. It seems that this punching incident was the result of tensions between Tyrone's group, known as "The Fountain Gang," and the Occupy Wall Street activists and homeless people who spend their days in the park.

We're told The Fountain Gang is angry because OWS folks have brought greater attention onto Union Square, which led to the park being closed at night—as well as more trouble for them when they've wanted to drink and smoke pot there. Sources tell us that the victim in the video above is a panhandler who identifies as a member of OWS; before the video began, Tyrone allegedly stole the victim's hat.

The two other men in the video aren't cops—one is a park manager (the man with the badge around his neck), and the other is an unshielded peace officer who has no arrest powers. The park manager repeatedly talked to Tyrone and the victim before the fight escalated to try to calm them down, to no avail. Tyrone, who is 6'6", ended up punching and beating the victim; as the video ends, the victim staggers onto the street and is hit by a car. Afterwards, police arrived and handcuffed Tyrone—but when they found the victim inside the nearby Duane Reade, he refused to press charges, and Tyrone was released.

"The park is deteriorating, because the city refuses to assign enforcement and NYPD around the clock," NYC Park Advocates' Geoffrey Croft told us. "The park is a heavily-used public space, and should be welcoming to everyone, but this criminal element is preventing the general public from enjoying it."Recently, City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. and local unions complained that there has been a drastic reduction in the amount of Parks Enforcement Patrol (PEP) officers: “There are more rovers on Mars than there are PEP officers in Queens,” Vallone told the News.

Croft echoed that sentiment, saying that was what led to an unshielded peace officer sitting on the sidelines during a violent, and what could have been deadly, situation. "Some of these guys have one or two days of training, then they're dumped out there," Croft said. "That guy was almost killed. Something has to be done before someone is killed."

Joey Boots told us Tyrone and his crew are new to Union Square: "I've seen him around this summer, he hangs around the fountain and the Gandhi statue. He hangs out with a lot of young kids from school, smokes pot, kicks the soccer ball around," Boots said, adding, "He's an asshole."

Performance artist Matthew Silver—aka the Man In The White Dress—told us Tyrone attacked him during a performance recently, and it was caught on camera (watch the video below):

Tyrone has been harassing me at Union Square, I'm a street performance artist, I do clowning and make people laugh. He has already threatened to beat me up and kill me three times. I want something to be done about it...I have footage of him kicking my props during a show, when I have a crowd. Please help me get rid of this guy from the park, he's not good for anybody. He's a bully and he's not a nice man.

Silver added in a post about the incident, "Later, he comes back and tries to offer me a puff of his joint, I say no thank you and then he communicates in a calm way that he’s on the Crips, and he’ll kill me if I wear my Speedo. There are children out here." Normal Bob, the graphic artist and Union Square anthropologist,witnessed another incident in which Tyrone disrupted Silver's performance, and got video of it:

As for that attack, Normal Bob gave Silver some advice about dealing with bullies at the square: "A Village Idiot doesn't give a flying fuck when his garbage is thrown...I mean, isn't the one glaring benefit of having a show of trash that the joke's on anyone who would come in and treat it like trash?"

We contacted the Park Department yesterday to further clarify what responsibility park security has in regards to these situations, but they referred us to the NYPD—in the process, they didn't explain that the people seen in the first video weren't actually cops. Croft said the Parks Department press office was being irresponsible, "It's completely negligent, because that is their job, and they have a legal responsibility to deal with these matters in parks."

As if to bring the problems of policing Union Square park home, here is yet ANOTHER video of a man punching a kid in broad front of (what appears to be) park security.

Read/View More:

gothamist - August 30, 2012 - By Ben Yakas

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

9-Year-Old Boy Shot In Leg Near Franz Sigel Park

TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT: Guillermo Delacruz is watched over by mom Yolanda in Harlem Hospital yesterday.

9-year-old Guillermo Delacruz was struck in the leg by a bullet Monday at the western edge of Franz Sigel Park near 157th Street and Gerard Avenue, when a man opened fire during an argument between two women in the Bronx, just blocks from Yankee Stadium. The boy is watched over by mom Yolanda (above) in Harlem Hospital yesterday. (Photo: Frank Rosario)


A 10-year-old boy was shot in the leg in the Bronx Monday evening, and the shooter is still being sought by police.

The boy was struck by a bullet at about 6:30 p.m. at the western edge of Franz Sigel Park near 157th Street and Gerard Avenue, just a few blocks from Yankee Stadium.

Witnesses said two women were arguing on the street when a man suddenly appeared with a gun and opened fire. The child was struck, and taken to Lincoln Hospital by private means.

Neighbors said the boy, who has not been identified, loves baseball and has been playing for years. Tony Melendez, a neighborhood baseball coach, was stunned hear one of his young players was hit.

"In the blink of an eye, anything can happen," he said. "Little kids always around here, playing."

Some residents in the neighborhood said the shooting made them anxious after a violent stretch of shootings across New York City. Last week, a turf war among street vendors on Gerard Avenue in the Bronx, also close to Yankee Stadium, turned violent when one of them shot two others. In July, four-year-old Lloyd Morgan was shot and killed in July after being struck by a bullet in a gun battle, one of several young children struck by bullets in the past several months.

"This is the worst summer I can remember, as far as children getting hit," said Sidney Flores, a volunteer for Community Board 4.

"Things are happening like it's an everyday thing now," said a man who only gave his first name, Jose. "It's not safe to be anywhere anymore."

Police are still searching for the shooter.

Read/View More:

WNBC - August 28, 2012 - By Andrew Siff

New York Post - August 29, 2012 - By Frank Rosario and Cynthia R. Fagen

New York Post - August 27, 2012 - By  Natasha Velez, Frank Rosario and  Larry Celona

Proposed Natural Gas Pipeline Through Federal Rockaway and Jamaica Bay Public Parks Draws Criticism

The route of the proposed Rockaway pipeline project.
The route of the proposed Rockaway natural gas pipeline. The project would run from the Atlantic Ocean under the Rockaways and Jamaica Bay including Floyd Bennett Field into southeast Brooklyn. The proposel has drawn strong opposition from environmentalists and community groups.

This Sunday, September 2nd, the Coalition Against the Rockaway Pipeline (CARP) are holding a rally on the beach at Jacob Riis Park between 11am-3pm. (Image Courtesy of: Williams Companies via NY Times)


“Having a pipeline and metering station going through a national park is absurd,” said Karen Mascolo. "If you let industry come in, you’re opening up the door to allow industry into any national park.”(Photo: Sheepsheadbites)

Updated, 5:01 p.m. | New York City needs cleaner, cheaper energy. That’s the only thing everyone following a proposed natural gas pipeline in the Rockaways agrees upon. But the project — running pipeline from the Atlantic Ocean under the Rockaways and Jamaica Bay into southeast Brooklyn — has drawn concern and outright opposition since it became public earlier this year, according to the New York Times.

Natural gas saves customers money, eases dependence on foreign oil and is cleaner than other fossil fuels (though extracting it by hydraulic fracturing raises other issues). But in light of recent pipeline leaks and explosions, environmental advocates and Brooklynites worry that the pipeline could damage fragile ecosystems, create safety hazards and compromise Brooklyn’s biggest piece of national parkland, Floyd Bennett Field. And the planning process itself has drawn criticism from community groups who say it has not been open enough to public review.

National Grid, the utility that delivers gas to Brooklyn, says that as the need for natural gas grows, the system must be expanded. “Brooklyn hasn’t seen a new delivery point in 50 years,” said John Stavarakas, National Grid’s director of long-term planning and project development. “We are at capacity.”

Until environmental impact studies are done, though — especially on the ocean, where the pipeline calls for more invasive digging than on the bay side — many environmentalists are withholding support.

“If we don’t reduce greenhouse gases, then the Jamaica Bay marshes will end up under water anyway,” said Glenn Phillips, executive director of New York City Audubon. “But the temporary disturbances could be very damaging to this place, which is critically important for birds, horseshoe crabs and fish.”

On Sunday, opponents of the pipeline, led by a group called Coalition Against the Rockaway Pipeline, plan to hold a rally on the beach at Jacob Riis Park in the Rockaways.

The $265 million pipeline project, which would take about a year to complete, consists of three pieces:

  • a three-mile connector, built by the Williams Companies, from its existing Transco pipeline in the Atlantic Ocean to the Rockaways;
  • a one-and-a-half-mile line from the Rockaways under Jamaica Bay and Gateway National Recreation Area land to Floyd Bennett Field, the decommissioned airport that is part of Gateway;
  • and a metering station built in an unused hangar at Floyd Bennett Field.

Supporters say that the construction would generate 300 jobs and that the finished station would bring the city $8 million annually in property taxes.

Part of the pipeline proposal requires its developer, the Williams Companies, to restore abandoned aircraft hangars at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, like this one.
Part of the pipeline proposal requires its developer, the Williams Companies, to restore abandoned aircraft hangars at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, like this one. (Photo:
Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times)

The plan was endorsed by the Bloomberg administration, which calls forexpanding the use of natural gas in its PlaNYC 2030 initiative. The city encouraged Representatives Gregory W. Meeks of Queens and Michael Grimm of Staten Island to co-sponsor the federal bill, passed in February, that authorizes the use of national parkland for the project.

The Regional Plan Association, a nonprofit group that studies and comments on local development issues, supports the pipeline. “The city needs natural gas to replace oil for heating, an important environmental goal,” said Robert Pirani, the association’s vice president for environmental programs.

But the Coalition Against the Rockaway Pipeline and other critics point toWilliams’s safety record and worry about an explosion in a national park or in a densely packed neighborhood. Since 2008, the company’s pipelines have had accidents — including leaks, ruptures and explosions – in at least seven states. The company and its subsidiaries have faced “corrective action orders” from the government in two cases, including a pipeline explosion in Alabama last year, and fines in two others. A company spokesman said that all the issues raised in the incidents have been addressed.

Brian O’Higgins, director of engineering for Williams, said much of the pipeline would be laid using a relatively noninvasive method involving a horizontal directional drill, which drills a small hole, bores underground, then gradually widens the hole. This would avoid digging up Rockaway beaches or Jamaica Bay. But 2.23 miles of pipeline in the ocean will be laid by traditional methods, requiring extensive digging, the company said. A Williams spokesman, Chris Stockton, said the planned route avoided “sensitive habitat.”

Two environmental advocates — Don Riepe, the American Littoral Society’s Jamaica Bay Guardian, and Dan Mundy Jr., co-founder of the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers – said they were concerned about the ocean connector.

“It’s digging a huge hole in an extremely critical area,” Mr. Mundy said. “There’s a lot of life out there — fluke, flounder, lobster.”

Community Boards 14 in Queens and 18 in Brooklyn have also raised objections to the project. For the Brooklyn board, the deal-breaker was the proposal to build the meter and regulator station at Floyd Bennett Field.

At a meeting on Aug. 15 organized by the Coalition Against the Rockaway Pipeline, several speakers said that turning public park land over to private industry set a worrisome precedent.

Some environmental advocates want any revenue raised by the pipeline, which would run beneath Jamaica Bay, to go toward restoring marshland in the bay.
Some environmental advocates want any revenue raised by the pipeline, which would run beneath Jamaica Bay, to go toward restoring marshland in the bay. (Photo:
Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times

The planning process itself has been a sticking point, too. In February, after Congress authorized the National Park Service to pursue the project, outrage and conspiracy theories ricocheted around local blogs, listservs and newspapers.

Mr. Stockton of Williams said that using national parkland required Congressional and presidential backing simply to start the process.

“This is an early, early, early step,” Mr. O’Higgins added, with many steps still required, including environmental impact studies, and approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Activists and environmentalists complained that the plan seemed a fait accompli and that the park service had been secretive, never mentioning the proposal during public meetings discussing Floyd Bennett Field’s future. The revelation that Mr. Grimm received a total of $3,000 from National Grid and Williams for his re-election campaign after co-sponsoring the bill also fed the controversy. Mr. Grimm said there was no quid pro quo.

If the project goes forward, another fight looms, over money; everyone involved seemingly has a different idea about how much revenue may be generated and where it would go. Local advocates say that if they have to live with the pipeline, the money should go to Jamaica Bay, not disappear into the National Park Service’s general budget.

“This should at least provide some good money to the park,” Mr. Riepe said, adding that money was badly needed for marsh restoration. “That’s the lifeblood of Jamaica Bay.”

Read More:

New York Times - August 29, 2012 - By Stuart Miller

Sheepshead Bites - August 7, 2012 - by Ned Berke

New York Times - June 19, 2009 - By Jim Rutenberg

Manhattan's Low Line Park Gets Addtional Funding

A rendering of Delancey Underground, with sunlight streaming through remote skylights. Fiber optic technology would be used to light and power the space. An above ground collector dish would reflect and gather light, then direct it via fiber optic cable underground, where a distributor dish would spread it throughout the space. The system would transmit the wavelengths necessary for photosynthesis, enabling trees, plants and grass to grow. The project has raised $150,000. Part of the funding will be used to build a model of the park. (Rendering: Courtesy of Raad Studio)


In the 11 months since the plans for a Low Line under Delancey Street on the Lower East Side were first made public, the project has garnered a ton of press and overwhelming support from the community and city politicians, including Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Now, the project also has an additional $150,000 to its name, according to the Real Deal.

The group behind Delancey Underground said yesterday it was successful in raising $75,000 in 75 days and triggered a matching donation from an unidentified donor, Bowery Boogie reported. Part of the funding will be used to build a model of the park in the vacant Essex Street Market building south of Delancey Street, which should be open to the public by the one-year anniversary of the project’s launch last September.

The project calls for green space on two acres of Metropolitan Transportation Authority owned-space underneath Delancey Street that served as a trolley terminal 60 years ago. Bowery Boogie noted Delancey Underground is one of two major construction projects in the area, as the Seward Park redevelopment plan was just approved. [Bowery Boogie]Adam Fusfeld

Read More:

The Real Deal - August 28, 2012

Huffington Post - July 24, 2012 - By Johanna Barr

A Walk In The Park - September 18, 2011

Monday, August 27, 2012

City Not Complying With Park Private Funding Reporting Law


Four years ago, the City Council passed a law to shed light on how much money was flowing into different parks across the city. Advocates were concerned that the parks system was splitting in two: in wealthy areas of the city, gleaming, innovative green spaces, buttressed by private financing sources; elsewhere, ailing parks with far fewer resources at their disposal.

The legislation required the Department of Parks and Recreation of New York City to prepare an annual report that would detail, park by park, the contributions of nonprofits and other private donors.
“We wanted to see just how large the disparity is,” said Geoffrey Croft, the president of NYC Park Advocates, which supported the legislation. The City Council agreed, and after the measure was approved by a vote of 48-0, the new reporting requirements became Local Law 28 of 2008.
Yet the reports from the parks department fall far short of the law’s requirements, according to The New York Times. 
A report on the 2010 fiscal year fails to list the city’s largest parks nonprofit, the Central Park Conservancy, which spent $28 million during that period. Other major parks groups, including the Union Square Partnership, the Madison Square Park Conservancy and the Friends of Washington Square Park, are also missing.
“It doesn’t reflect a real effort to comply with the law,” Alan J. Gerson, a former councilman who sat on the parks committee in 2008, said.
“Whether it’s for schools, or parks or any public place, the public should know where the private money is coming from and what it’s buying. It’s basic good government,” Mr. Gerson, a Manhattan Democrat, said.
“That’s what we wanted to establish,” he said.
In 2008, the law was praised by council members and the parks department during public hearings. Liam Kavanagh, the first deputy commissioner for parks, said at the time that the legislation was in sync with the Bloomberg administration’s efforts to increase government transparency, adding, “I want to reiterate our shared commitment to full disclosure.”
The reports, however, were never posted on the Web sites of the City Council or the parks department.
Of the over three dozen park conservancy groups listed in a 2007 study by the Citizens Budget Commission as having expenditures high enough to meet the law’s reporting thresholds, the parks department included only seven in its 2010 report.
Dozens of other donors are also missing from that report, including Columbia University, Cabot Creamery, and real estate and construction firms that do business with the city. At least 40 such donors contributed to the parks department during fiscal year 2010, according to filings at the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board, but the 2010 report lists only six of them. Columbia and Cabot were listed on the latest report encompassing the 2011 fiscal year.
Many organizations that are listed on the reports appear without the precise dollar amounts of their contributions. The Prospect Park Alliance, for example, is listed on the 2010 report, but its expenditures of $10 million are not. Instead, the group appears with a code indicating expenditures of “$1 million or more.” The codes are borrowed from the Conflicts of Interest Board, where they are used to protect donors’ privacy.
“It’s clearly not the most illuminating,” said Doug Turetsky, chief of staff at the city’s Independent Budget Office, referring to the 2010 report. “You’d want to see more detail in terms of specific amounts.”
The parks department initially defended the reports. But after receiving detailed questions about their content, a department spokeswoman, Vickie Karp, wrote in an e-mail that “questions about who should be reporting through this document are fair and deserve further review.” The department did not offer an explanation for the missing data and declined to make a parks official available for an interview.
The current chairwoman of the parks committee, Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito, a Manhattan Democrat, declined to comment.
A spokesman for Councilwoman Helen D. Foster, a Bronx Democrat who was a co-sponsor of the bill in 2008 and shepherded it through the parks committee, which she led at the time, said Ms. Foster “did not feel she remembered the legislation.”
The disparities are evident in Pelham Bay Park, which sprawls over 2,700 acres in the northeast Bronx. It is the city’s largest green space — three times the size of Central Park — but its budget is far smaller, and clearly strained, despite the efforts of parks employees and an active volunteer group.
“The staff is passionately committed to the park,” said Lizbeth González, the president of the Friends of Pelham Bay Park. “But we need more resources.”
Along the park’s eastern edge, the waters of the Long Island Sound lap up against a crumbling retaining wall. A quiet beach alcove is strewed with meteor-size chunks of brick and mortar, and piles of trash in decay.
“We would collect all the trash and burn it,” said Aníbal Lugo, a retired handyman who was angling for bluefish along the shore. “Then the police gave me a ticket.”
He produced the citation, which he carries in his wallet, and explained that now, they let the trash be.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: September 14, 2012
An article on Aug. 27 about the compliance of the Department of Parks and Recreation of New York City with a law requiring annual reports on nongovernmental support of its parks included several errors.
A report covering the 2010 fiscal year is not the most recent report. A report encompassing the 2011 fiscal year has indeed been submitted by the parks department; it is not the case that the 2011 report, due in December, is still incomplete. (The 2011 report was not made available to the reporter until after the article was published.)
While the 2010 report did not include information on the city’s largest parks nonprofit, Central Park Conservancy, or donations from Columbia University and Cabot Creamery to the parks department, some of that information was included in the 2011 report.
And Pelham Bay Park is about three times the size of Central Park, not four. That error, introduced during the editing process, was repeated in a picture caption.
Read More: 

New York Times  - August 26, 2012  - Jacob Hodes

Friday, August 24, 2012

Woman Sexually Attacked in Forest Park

On August 15th,  a woman reported being forcibly touched and pushed to the ground in Forest Park. Police released a sketch of the suspect. 


By Geoffrey Croft

Police are searching for a man in connection with forcible touching a woman in Forest Park on August 15. 
According to the police, a woman was pushed to the ground and forcibly touched by the suspect. 
The assailant is described as a white man between the ages of 25 and 35, between 5'8" and 6'0" tall with blonde hair.

He was wearing a black T-shirt with a black baseball cap and dark athletic shorts at the time of the incident.
If anyone has any information, they are asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips at the Crime stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then entering TIP577.
Read More:

WABC - August 24, 2012

Queens Courier - August 24, 2012 - By Billy Rennison

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

High Line - Disney World On The Hudson

(Illustration- Ana Benaroya)

By Jeremiah Moss

WHEN the first segment of the High Line, the now-famous park built atop an old elevated railway on the West Side of Manhattan, opened in 2009, I experienced a moment of excitement. I had often wondered what it would be like to climb that graffiti-marked trestle with its wild urban meadow. Of course, I’d seen the architectural renderings and knew not to expect a wilderness. Still, the idea was enticing: a public park above the hubbub, a contemplative space where nature softens the city’s abrasiveness.

Today it’s difficult to remember that initial feeling. The High Line has become a tourist-clogged catwalk and a catalyst for some of the most rapid gentrification in the city’s history.

My skepticism took root during my first visit. The designers had scrubbed the graffiti and tamed the wildflowers. Guards admonished me when my foot moved too close to a weed. Was this a park or a museum? I felt like I was in the home of a neatnik with expensive tastes, afraid I would soil the furnishings.

But the park was a hit. Fashion models strutted up and down. Shoppers from the meatpacking district boutiques commandeered the limited number of benches, surrounded by a phalanx of luxury clothing bags. I felt underdressed.

That rarefied state didn’t last, though. As the High Line’s hype grew, the tourists came clamoring. Originally meant for running freight trains, the High Line now runs people, except where those people jam together like spawning salmon crammed in a bottleneck. The park is narrow, and there are few escape routes. I’ve gotten close to a panic attack, stuck in a pool of stagnant tourists at the park’s most congested points.

Not yet four years old, the High Line has already become another stop on the must-see list for out-of-towners, another chapter in the story of New York City’s transformation into Disney World. According to the park’s Web site, 3.7 million people visited the High Line in 2011, only half of them New Yorkers. It’s this overcrowding — not just of the High Line, but of the streets around it — that’s beginning to turn the tide of sentiment.

Recently, an anonymous local set off a small media storm by posting fliers around the park that read: “Attention High Line tourists. West Chelsea is not Times Square. It is not a tourist attraction.” A local newspaper talked to a 24-year-old who reported that young people who once met for dates at the park now say, “How about doing something that doesn’t involve the High Line?”

But the problem isn’t just the crowds. It’s that the park, which will eventually snake through more than 20 blocks, is destroying neighborhoods as it grows.

And it’s doing so by design. While the park began as a grass-roots endeavor — albeit a well-heeled one — it quickly became a tool for the Bloomberg administration’s creation of a new, upscale, corporatized stretch along the West Side. As socialites and celebrities championed the designer park during its early planning stages, whipping community support into a heady froth, the city rezoned West Chelsea for luxury development in 2005.

The neighborhood has since been completely remade. Old buildings fell and mountain ranges of glassy towers with names like High Line 519 and HL23 started to swell — along with prices.

The New York City Economic Development Corporation published a study last year stating that before the High Line was redeveloped, “surrounding residential properties were valued 8 percent below the overall median for Manhattan.” Between 2003 and 2011, property values near the park increased 103 percent.

This is good news for the elite economy but not for many who have lived and worked in the area for decades. It’s easy to forget that until very recently, even with the proliferation of art galleries near the West Side Highway, West Chelsea was a mix of working-class residents and light-industrial businesses.

But the High Line is washing all that away. D&R Auto Parts saw its profits fall by more than 35 percent. Once-thriving restaurants like La Lunchonette and Hector’s diner, a local anchor since 1949, have lost their customer base.

Hardest hit have been the multigenerational businesses of “gasoline alley.” Mostly auto-related establishments that don’t fit into Michael R. Bloomberg’s luxury city vision, several vanished in mere months, like species in a meteoric mass extinction. Bear Auto Shop was out after decades; the Olympia parking garage, after 35 years, closed when its rent reportedly quintupled.

Brownfeld Auto, on West 29th Street near 10th Avenue, lost its lease after nearly a century. Today it’s another hole in the ground. Its third-generation owner, Alan Brownfeld, blamed the High Line for taking away the thriving business he’d inherited from his grandfather. “It’s for the city’s glamorous people,” he said.

Mr. Brownfeld is right, for now. But just as the High Line’s early, trendy denizens gave way to touristic hordes, Chelsea’s haute couture moment may be fleeting. As big a brand as Stella McCartney is, she can’t compete with global chains like Sephora, which are muscling into the area’s commercial space.

Within a few years, the ecosystem disrupted by the High Line will find a new equilibrium. The aquarium-like high rises will be for the elite, along with a few exclusive locales like the Standard Hotel. But the new locals will rarely be found at street level, where chain stores and tourist-friendly restaurants will cater to the crowds of passers-by and passers-through. Gone entirely will be regular New Yorkers, the people who used to call the neighborhood home. But then the High Line was never really about them.

Jeremiah Moss is the pen name of the author of the blog Vanishing New York.

Read More:

New York Times - OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR - August 21, 2012 - By Jeremiah Moss

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

NYPD Prohibits Soccer and Cricket Playing In Flushing Meadows Due To US Open

(Photo via EDLP)


Two months ago, we noted Honduran soccer players’ battles with the New York City Parks Department to gain access a soccer field in Crotona Park. This time, Latino soccer players — as well as Bangladeshi cricket enthusiasts — are depressed by a Parks Department decision to block the sports from Flushing Meadows Corona Park during the US Open, which starts next week, El Diario La Prensareported. The article is translated from Spanish below. 
For the first time in 40 years, soccer leagues will not be able to play at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens for three weeks in a row, according to EL Diario La Prensa -Via Voices of NY.

The New York City Parks Department temporarily suspended those sports during the US Open 2012, to be held Aug. 27-Sept. 9.
Alfonso Vargas, president of the Alianza de Ligas Latinas de Fútbol in Flushing Meadows, a consortium of 11 local organizations, said that these activities used to only be cancelled the weekend of the final.
Vargas mentioned that since March, he has been asking the new park administrator, Janice Melnick, to reconsider the ban. But this week, when the league received the permits for the second part of the season, there were no changes.
“First, they said we littered and caused problems,” he said. “Now that we hired our own security and cleaning, we just want to play among friends, and they won’t let us.”
Malik Mamoud, president of the Bangladesh Cricket Association, which is based in this park, also confirmed their cricket games had been cancelled.
The leagues asked Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras for help. She found out that the ban was ordered by the New York Police Department to prevent large crowds.
“I’m sure that both sports, soccer and tennis, can coexist in Flushing Park as they’ve done in the past,” said Ferreras via e-mail.
Zachary Feder, a spokesman for the Parks Department, explained via e-mail that no other activities will be allowed at the park, because they would coincide with the tennis matches and Mets games at Citi Field. Likewise, they have asked the Queens Museum of Art and other municipal agencies not to plan events and to stop construction in the area.
“This policy is designed to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of additional visitors the park receives during those events,” Feder said, adding that NYC Parks will work with the soccer leagues to adjust their schedules.
Minorities Impacted
(Photo by Humberto Arellano / EDLP)
On weekends, more than 20,000 residents play games in this space, but the activity in the courts and fields does not stop Monday through Friday.
“This provides fresh air and a recreational center for residents of this community,” said Vargas.
Ecuadorans Diego Rivera, 30, and Felipe García, 31, are regular visitors from Flushing Meadows.
“In previous years, they wouldn’t even let you kick a ball with your kid during the US Open, so now it will be worse,” said Rivera.
“At the same time the city asks people to exercise, here they don’t let you play,” said García.
Nearby, a Mexican team criticized the measure.
“We come every Thursday to play and some come three days a week, because they’re in three leagues at the same time,” said Jesús Aguilar, 40.
“This leaves us with the season half-finished,” said Alex Rivera, 27.
Vargas, Mamoud and community leaders denounced the measure, and called it an example of the discriminatory treatment they receive from Flushing Meadows officials.
“This is one of the few open spaces serving the residents of Jackson Heights, Corona, Elmhurst and East Elmhurst,” said Raúl García of Queens Community Board 3. “A measure like this is offensive, because the majority of those affected are Latinos who make the park part of their lives.”
Flushing Meadows is the main recreational area for thousands of immigrants.
“Seventy-five percent of the population living in this area is people of color and almost 40 percent are poor,” said Will Sweeney, a member of the Jackson Heights Green Alliance.
“NYC Parks and the US Tennis Association give a sense of taking over the park, which complicates the lives of its users,” said Sweeney.
USTA spokespersons said they did not ask for any changes to the security policy in Flushing Meadows during the tournament.
Read More:
EL Diario La Prensa -Via Voices of NY - By Carolina Ledezma - August 21, 2012 
Prohíben usar parque de Flushing en Queens durante US Open
El Diario NY La Prensa - August 17, 2012 - POR: CAROLINA LEDEZMA/EDLP