Thursday, February 28, 2013

Upper West Siders Want $ 700,000 For Dog Run Sprucing

Theodore Roosevelt Park

Some tony Upper West Siders think their pooches are the top dogs in town — and want big taxpayer bucks to give the precious pups the glamorous dog run they deserve, according to the New York Post.
The posh pet owners have asked their local community board to shell out $700,000 to upgrade an aging park near the American Museum of Natural History into the Taj Mahal of dog runs.
The owner’s dream run would be a veritable doggy day spa — outfitted with artificial grass to coddle canine paws and special sound-dampening to quiet the sound of animals’ “schockingly loud” barks.
“Because we are on the museum grounds, we feel we should be a showcase to represent the dog owners of New York. Right now, we are an eyesore,” sniffed Janne Appelbaum, a member of the Bull Moose Dog Run Association, at a Community Board 7 meeting this week.
In a PowerPoint presentation to the board, a member of Appelbaum’s group proposed no less than a total makeover of the run in Theodore Roosevelt Park.
The plan includes $250,000 to lay down a new AstroTurf-type surface called K9 Grass, which boasts of being easier on dogs’ feet than real grass. It also withstands dogs’ peeing and pooping better than the muddy surface now in the park, the group said.
They also called for $100,000 in soundproofing on the museum’s walls, to keep the noise of the romping dogs from the disturbing the neighborhood, which includes the Beresford building, home to Jerry Seinfeld and other celebrities.
A fancy new $200,000 chain-link fence and improved lighting would bring the total cost of the project to nearly three quarters of a million dollars.
The demands of the wealthy Upper West Side residents left people who live near more modest dog runs shocked.
“They are spoiled!” cried Becky Love, a graduate student and waitress, as she walked her Yorkie through the muddy Marcus Garvey Park dog run on West 120th Street in Harlem.
“It’s typical of the Upper West Side to want more when they have lots of things other people don’t,” said Love. “Share some of the wealth.”
Despite the extravagant doggy demands, city officials said the Bull Moose group is barking up the wrong tree if they expect much taxpayer support for the project.
Parks Department sources say the city typically spends around $100,000 to $200,000 on such projects.
Even Appelbaum admitted they might not get all they want.
“We are going to have to do some serious fund-raising of our own,” she said.
Some dog run projects have run up into big bucks, including a dog run on East 60th Street at the East River five years ago that dog owners say ran to $1.6 million because the city couldn’t put down the right surface.
Upper West Siders say their park’s gravel surface harbors germs, and complain that it is poorly drained, dogs get muddy in wet weather.
“We are going to have to do some serious draining of this dog run,” said Appelbaum. And in dry weather, she said, “the clouds of dust we have now are not healthy for us to breathe.”
Harlem dog owners say the Marcus Garvey dog run could be improved for a lot less money than the Upper West Side project.
“Half the time there are no bags for poop — they are not replenished,” said Roc Brown, an 18-year-old college student who played in the park yesterday with Hayes, his family’s purebred terrier.
“Let’s invest in some water hose so they can get a shower or have water to drink after they exercise. Let’s get some toys for them to play with,” Brown said. “Hayes is full breed. He is not a mutt. He deserves better than this.”
Read More:
New York Post -  February 28, 2013 - By Sabrina Ford, Georgett Roberts and Bill Sanderson  

New Food & Recreation Concessions Could Be Coming To Jamaica Bay

The city Parks Department and the National Park Service are putting the finishing touches on a request for proposals to place concessions at several locations around Jamaica Bay in Queens and Brooklyn. They posted a map of the area that showed several locations where concessions could be created.  (Image: via Queens Crap)


Jamaica Bay, a hidden jewel in New York City for nature lovers, could become a destination complete with food stands and rental stands for kayaks and bikes.

The Parks Department and the National Park Service are putting the finishing touches on a request for proposals to place concessions at several locations around the bay in Queens and Brooklyn, according the New York Daily News.  

The new concessions are part of a larger plan between the two agencies to cooperatively manage the 10,000-acre site, which is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area. 

“We’re excited about the future plans for Jamaica Bay,” said Dan Mundy Jr. of Jamaica Bay Eco-Watchers. “People will have greater access to the bay and we will also be able to keep up with restoration programs.” 

Parks officials unveiled the plan at the Community Board 14 Parks Committee meeting last Thursday. They posted a map of the area that showed several locations where concessions could be created. But the agency declined to discuss the proposal until the RFP is released next week. 

Dan Hendrick, who is making a film about Jamaica Bay, said the area has been a “Rorschach test” of sorts for each generation. 

“In the 1930s, they talked about making it the world’s largest port,” he said.

“People are still trying to figure out what the bay should be.” 

Hendrick said he thinks the concessions should include amenities that would both lure in visitors and serve local residents. The large area surrounding Jamaica Bay includes Rockaway and Broad Channel as well as Bergen Beach, Canarsie and the massive Floyd Bennett Field. 

Birdlovers have long appreciated the varied wildlife that lives and travels through the different portions of the bay. 

But Hendrick said many area residents have a “disconnect” with the bay because they consider it polluted. He hopes by opening it up to different kinds of recreation — such as camping in areas such as Floyd Bennett Field — they will develop a connection. Mundy said the plan, accompanied with the existing or additional ferry service, could also help bring more people to Rockaway. 

Food concessions and surfing beaches sparked a resurgence in Rockaway in recent years. But the damage caused by Superstorm Sandy has left many people wondering what this summer will bring.

“People could take a ferry down, rent a kayak or surfboard and stay for dinner,” Mundy said. 

“Maybe these are baby steps.”  

Read More:

New York Daily News - February 26, 2013 -  By Lisa L. Colangelo    

MLS's Don Garber Trying To Put Pressure On The City To Secure Park Land Grab For New Stadium

Don Garber, Commissioner at Major League Soccer at the NYDN editorial meeting, Tuesday, October 23, 2012. (Shawn Inglima/ for New York Daily News)
Feeling The Heat.  After failing to secure a home for a 20th team in the league in Hudson River Park MLS's commissioner Don Graber (above) set his sights on Flushing Meadows-Corona Park and is depending on Queens elected officials to deliver it by handing over public parkland -which apparently he does not consider "public support."  (Photo: Shawn Inglima/NY Daily News)  

In an effort to try and contain the mounting community opposition to the building of a 35,000 seat soccer stadium and concert venue on Wednesday Mr. Garber tried to put public pressure on the City by threatening to make a deal soon or else they would go elsewhere - a common tactic used by corporations trying extract government subsidies.  

In November Mr. Graber famiously said the league was “at the finish line” in negotiations with the city. Yesterday however he said "The deal is not near final that would provide us with the ability to have a team that would be successful."

MLS's plan would seize 13 acres of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Critics have repeatedly pointed out is it hard to take the proposal seriously when the league has yet to find an owner for the new team, figure out how to pay for the stadium, locate replacement park site, or develop a parking plan.    - Geoffrey Croft 


Don Garber says the proposed $350 million soccer complex is a 'great deal' for New York City      

Don Garber, commissioner of MLS, warned the city on Wednesday that his soccer league will look elsewhere to expand if it can't cut a deal with officials for a new Corona Park stadium in a relatively short period, according to the New York Daily News.

"If we're not successful we'll throw our hands up, and it'll be far sooner than three years we throw our hands up," Garber said, after his opening season address.

"Then we'd take a step back and see if there's another market. Three years is too long. I don't want to put a year limit on it. But if it's not making progress, the time will come. There's a lot of activity in other markets."

Orlando has been mentioned as a possible alternative site for a 20th MLS team, though Garber sounded committed for now to Flushing Meadows.

"It's the biggest challenge we've ever faced," Garber said. "But you ask Bruce Ratner, Jim Dolan, Charles Wang of the Islanders or Jeff Vanderbeek of the Devils, they'll tell you this is an incredibly valuable market. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere, so it's worth the effort." 

Garber said negotiations continued with several private investors, and that the project would be built exclusively with private financing, for a relatively modest $350 million, including the replacement of parkland and soccer fields. 

Garber said he thought the league deserved some public monetary support, but "we get that's not going to happen." 

"The deal is not near final that would provide us with the ability to have a team that would be successful," Garber said. 

"We think the city is getting a great deal." 

A recent architectural rendering of a Queens stadium was leaked to the public, but the league has distanced itself from those blueprints and says that nothing is finalized. 

Garber also distanced himself on Wednesday from the Cosmos of the North American Soccer League and their proposed stadium in Belmont. 

"They had a choice to make, vie for an MLS New York City team or go into the second division," he said about the Cosmos. "They decided to go into the second division."   

Read More:

New York Daily News -  February 27, 2013 - By Filip Bondy

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

NYU/City In Court Over Attempted Illegal Parkland Swipe

Judge Grants Expedited Discovery Against NYU and City In Attempted Park Land Grab Case

NYU 2031 Plan
NYU 2031 Massive Two Million Square Foot $ 6 Billion Expansion Project.  The plaintiff's lawsuit contends that the Bloomberg administration gave NYU rights over public parkland, in violation of state law, which requires, under the Public Trust Doctrine, that parkland cannot be given away without the approval of the State Legislature.


By Geoffrey Croft

A Manhattan State Supreme Court judge this afternoon granted an expedited discovery motion request in favor of plaintiffs suing NYU and City in an attempted park land grab case which has erupted in the West Village.

At issue is whether or not NYU can proceed in building its massive two million square foot expansion project without first getting State Alienation approval to remove 4 parks - some of which have been used for more than three decades - in order to build its enormous NYU 2031 project.   

The suit contends that the Bloomberg administration gave NYU rights over public parkland, in violation of state law, which requires, under the Public Trust Doctrine, that parkland cannot be given away without the approval of the State Legislature.

The City and NYU are attempting to argue that because the four parks in question were never officially, "mapped" they are in fact not legal parkland and as a result they do not require State Alienation approval.

Former NYC Deputy Mayor Randy Mastro presented the plaintiff's argument before the Honorable Donna Mills at 111 centre street this afternoon. 

Mr. Mastro argued that the parkland had been used for decades and the absence of official mapping does not afford the parks any less legal rights for protection under state law. 

"You can't take that precious parkland away without prior State approval under state law,"  he said.

He said they needed this discovery based on "misrepresentations by the City and NYU."

More than a 100 people attended today's hearing - many of which wore stickers distributed by Andrew Berman, Executive Director of Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.

The City, represented by Christopher Reo stated that because the four parks were never de-mapped from the Department of Transportation they were not parks in the legal sense no matter how long they have been used as parkland.

This is position that is not consistent with other park and open space policies stated by the Bloomberg administration.   

In September lawyers filed suit in Manhattan State Supreme Court on behalf of 11 Greenwich Village groups trying to stop NYU's city-approved expansion.     

On Friday plaintiffs filed a blistering affidavit from former NYC Parks Commissioner Henry Stern which called out NYU's and the Bloomberg Administration's contention that four parcels of parkland are not actually City parks.  

The four parks involved with the proposed NYU expansion-Mercer Playground, LaGuardia Park, LaGuardia Corner Gardens,  and Mercer-Houston Dog Run range from 13 to more than 32 years of continuous public use.

Assemblymember Deborah Glick also wrote an affidavit supporting the contention that the City’s approval of the NYU expansion plan amounted to an illegal giveaway of public parkland and that any move to turn City parkland over to a private entity, like NYU, must have the approval of the State legislature under the Public Trust Doctrine.

Actor Matthew Broderick speaks with reporters after the hearing.

Actor Matthew Broderick was among more than 100 people who attended today's hearing many of which wore stickers saying, PLEASE SAVE OUR PARKS. 

"This issue is personal. I live in the village, I use the parks," Broderick, a life-long Greenwich Village resident said after the hearing. 

"It's not just my children.  I grew up on Washington Square and NYU is taking up more and more."

Matthew Broderick testified at the NYU expansion hearings at City Hall on June 29, 2012.  

"Parks they make the city livable, It's hard enough. There's only one Greenwich Village, its great if any parkland is preserved."

Broderick was accompanied by fellow Village native and parent Kenneth Lonergan, a noted playwright and screenwriter, and New York University alumni.

"The university doesn't own Greenwich Village, and the part they do own they're destroying. And it's not for the students, it's for money," Lonergan said.  

Both Broderick and Lonergan noted the dearth of available parkland in the community. 

The case contests the City Planning Commission's and the City Council's decision to approve a massive building plan by NYU, which would radically impact the area-  turning the heart of Greenwich Village into a jam-packed construction site for over 20 years, The plan would also permanently destroy two of the four parks. 

Various groups, including NYU Faculty Against the Sexton Plan (NYUFASP), the Historic Districts Council, and the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, filed suit because the approved construction plan, among many other illegalities, gave NYU rights over public parkland.

At the end of the hour hearing Alan Levine argued strenuously on behalf of NYU to no avail.

Judge Mills signed an order show cause granting the plaintiffs permission to argue for discovery before the April 29th hearing.

“We are deeply gratified by the judge’s ruling today," said Andrew Berman Executive Director Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.

"It’s only one small step, but an important one towards ensuring that New Yorker’s parks, light and air, and control over the fate of their communities are preserved, and not simply sold off to the highest or most politically well-connected bidder.”   

Besides Mr. Mastro plaintiffs are also represented by Jim Walden, both partners of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

Read More:

New York Daily News - February 26, 2013 - By Barbara Ross 

NYU gotta be kidding! Matthew Broderick rips $6B expansion
New York Post -  By Julia March February 27, 2013

NYU Local - By ZoĆ« Schlanger  February 26, 2013 

DNAinfo - February 26, 2013 - By Andrea Swalec

Monday, February 25, 2013

First Images Of Massive Soccer Stadium Revealed For Flushing Meadows Park


Flushing Stadium Exterior

Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Under-Siege.  SHoP Architects revealed its secret designs for a massive Major League Soccer stadium and concert venue being proposed for the middle of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.  Major League Soccer (MLS) is pushing to build a 35,000 seat stadium on 13 acres of public parkland.  The plan calls for filling in the former Pool of Industry from the 1964 Worlds Fair and building on the Flushing River.   (Images: screen captures from presentation)

The plan would destroy additional parkland (bottom right) including dozens of trees by installing artificial turf fields to replace fields eliminated to build the stadium.  MLS had also been pushing to build a stadium on another swath of parkland - Hudson River Park in Manhattan.


By Geoffrey Croft

The first images of the controversial soccer stadium being proposed in the middle of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park were leaked.

The secret plans were revealed on February 1st by SHoP's Gregg Pasquarelli while the architect was giving a lecture to students at his alma mater at the Columbia Graduate School of Architecture. His hour-long plus presentation focused mainly on the Barclays Center in Brooklyn but diverted for two minutes to discuss other projects including the 35,000 seat soccer stadium. 

The video of the presentation entitled The design of Barclays Center ... How it happened   included details of the soccer design but it was pulled hours after it became available this morning on Empire of Soccer New York,  a two-year old site.

Pasquarelli provided the most detailed discussion of the project's design to date. 

During the presentation he noted the secrecy involved with the project and refused to name the project or the obvious location. 

“The project I’m not supposed to show (you) so I am not going to tell you where it is or what it is but it’s a new stadium that should be announced in the next couple of months,” he revealed.

Flushing Stadium Negative (Displays See-Through Skeleton)


Pasquarelli delineates how the park “folds up into the concourse” while revealing another unique detail to the stadium’s construction.  “It’s all about making a new kind of stadium that has no walls, that’s completely open at all times,” he says.

"Flushing Meadow Stadium consists of a tighter, rigid skeleton to create it’s top. That type of solidity could help explain Commissioner Don Garber’s claim that the 25k seat arena could grow to accommodate 35k without further expansion into the park," Empire of Soccer New York  writes.  "The skeleton would already be there for that purpose."

MLS To Queens Stadium Rendition (Upper Deck reveals Unisphere)

THE PARK WITHIN THE STADIUM - The landmark location of the arena won’t be lost in it’s construction. Working with the contours of the landscape, the stadium’s upper level “folds down” as described by Pasquarelli, giving full view of Flushing’s most iconic symbol – The Unisphere.

MLS spokesperson Risa Heller insisted that “this is not what the stadium is going to look like."  

“This was an early architectural design study that was developed to help us understand height, mass, and other issues pertaining to the land-use process,” she said. 

“When we have an owner, they will propose what the stadium will look like."

The plan calls for filling in the former Pool of Industry from the 1964 Worlds Fair (above) and building in the Flushing River.

Read More:
FIRST LOOK: MLS’s Queens Stadium Renderings
Empire of Soccer New York - February 25, 2013 - By Dave Martinez

Plans for proposed Queens soccer stadium leaked online
New York Post - February 25, 2013 - By Rich Calder 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Brooklyn Bridge Park Developers Want To Raise Building To Avoid Future Hurricane Flooding


Rendering of the Toll Brothers/Starwood Capital Group's controversial 159-apartment, 200-room hotel project  to be built in Brooklyn Bridge Park.  For years community and park advocates have fought to prevent housing developments from being built inside the park. 

The city's elected officials refuse to allocate the necessary funds required to maintain the park so the Bloomberg administration launched a funding scheme to allow this developement they say will raise $3.3 million towards the park's annual maintenance budget they claim is a massive $16 million. 


These guys want to put their Brooklyn Bridge Park plans on a pedestal.
The developers tapped to bring a hotel and residential complex to Pier 1 near Old Fulton St are planning for a future Hurricane Sandy by raising both buildings up at least three feet to avoid the massive flood damage that devastated the surrounding DUMBO neighborhood during last October’s super-storm, according to the New York Post. 
David Von Spreckelsen, a senior vice president at developer Toll Brothers, said the 159-apartment, 200-room hotel project — which would raise a $3.3 million chunk of the park’s $16 million annual maintenance budget — will now include additional steps and ramps leading to the main lobby and more masonry to ensure the building is above the site’s flood plain set by the feds.
Mechanical systems that normally are in basements will be moved to the roof. A basement will still be built but will be primarily used for parking.
“We want to make our building a structure that can survive any kind of storm,” said Von Spreckelsen, whose company is partnering with Starwood Capital Group in the development.
The development was supposed to break ground in February but is on hold until both Toll Brothers and Starwood complete the redesign.
Regina Myer, president of the city development corporation overseeing the 85-acre park’s construction, said she’s “comfortable” with the developers’ progress and confident that – despite the wrath of Sandy - the park would eventually be able to select a developer and move forward with other high-rise condo complexes planned for Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn Heights and John Street in DUMBO.
Myer said the park suffered about $1 million in damage from Sandy – mostly lighting and other electrical work – that is nearly fixed, adding “the park did very well” considering parks citywide suffered a total of $750 million in damage.
However, Cobble Hill activist Judi Francis said the storm proved just how bad a spot the waterfront park is to build more housing.
“The lesson of Sandy is it will happen again, and when it happens, it will be really bad for those residents who wind up buying condos there,” she said.
Read More:

New York Post - February 22, 2013 - By Rich Calder  

Police Arrest 3rd Teen In Connection With Child Fight In Bronx Park Posted On YouTube


Police have charged another 14-year-old girl in connection with a fight between a 6 and a 7-year-old posted on YouTube.   The NYPD had charged a 14 and 15-year-old girl earlier in the day.  (Image: gothamist)

The disturbing violence occurred in Poe Park just north of Fordham Road in the Bronx. An older teen allegedly offered up her 6-year-old sister to settle a score involving  another sister who had been been bumped by another girl while reaching for candy in a previous incident in the park in January. 


By Geoffrey Croft

Late last night police arrested a 3rd teen, a 14-year-old,  in connection to the disturbing fight between to young children in a Bronx park that was posted on YouTube.

This is the second 14-year-old arrested over the incident.

All three girls have been charged with Endangering The Welfare of a Child.  

The heartbreaking footage shows the two little girls fighting in Edgar Allan Poe Park in the Fordham section of the Bronx. The incident has been widely reported after first being covered by gothamist   

The video is believed to have first surfaced on one of the 14-year-old girl's Facebook page. 

Read/view More:

A Walk In The Park -  February 22, 2013 - By Geoffrey Croft

Friday, February 22, 2013

Two Teens Charged In Child Fight In Park Posted On YouTube - Others Being Questioned And Sought

Police are so far charging a 14 and a 15-year-old in connection with a fight between a 6 and a 7-year-old posted on YouTube.  

The disturbing violence occurred in Poe Park just north of Fordham Road in the Bronx. The 17-year-old sister allegedly offered up her 6-year-old younger sister to settle a score involving  another sister who had been been bumped by another girl while reaching for candy in a previous incident.  (Image: gothamist)


By Geoffrey Croft

Police are charging a 14 and a 15-year-old with Endangering The Welfare of a Child in connection with the disturbing fight between a 6 and a 7-year-old posted on YouTube.

A 19-year-old girl is currently being questioned and police are looking for another 19-year-old girl in connection with the incident. 

The heartbreaking incident occurred in Poe Park just north of Fordham Road on the Grand Concourse and East 192nd Street in the Bronx in the 52 Pct.

The blood curling video posted on YouTube - and first reported by gothamist - shows a 6-year-old child wearing a white jacket attacking a 7-year-old who is dressed in dark clothes.   

Read More:

CBS -  February 22,  2013 - By Hazel Sanchez 

New York Times -  February 22,  2013 - By Wendy Ruderman

WABC - February 22, 2013

New York Daily News - February 23, 2013  By Rocco Parascandola and Bill Hutchinson  

New York Post -  February 23, 2013 - By Jessica Simeone 

gothamist - February 22,  2013 - By John Del Signore

WNBC - By Pei-Sze Cheng - February 22,  2013

A Walk In The Park - February - 21, 2013 - By Geoffrey Croft

A Walk In The Park -  February - 20, 2013 - By Geoffrey Croft

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Older Sister of Child Playground Bully Initiated Attack Posted On YouTube Over "Candy Incident"- Police

The disturbing violence occurred in Poe Park just north of Fordham Road in the Bronx. The 17-year-old sister allegedly offered up her 6-year-old younger sister to settle a score involving  another sister who had been been bumped by another girl while reaching for candy in a previous incident.  (Image: gothamist)


The 17-year-old sister of the 6 year-old seen attacking another child at a park initiated the assault according to law enforcement sources.

In the sickening video she is heard ordering her 6-old-old younger sibling to attack a 7-year-old girl.

"Go, Just slap her, just slap her."  The 6-year-old girl,  referred to as "Puna" walks up to the other one , pushes her first and then slaps her across the face. 

"Slap her harder," she is ordered by her older sister.  

Police have identified the 17-year-old sister who instigated the fight and are currently searching for her. She faces possible child endangerment charges according to sources.
The blood curling video posted on YouTube - and first reported by gothamist - shows a 6-year-old child wearing a white jacket attacking a 7-year-old who is dressed in dark clothes. 

Sometime in January over the holiday school break possibly in the park - candy was thrown into the air and two people allegedly bumped into each other. Those feelings were not settled so a plan was hatched for the young girls to fight in order to settle score over a candy incident which involved their  sisters, one who was 12-years-old. 

After the video surfaced the mother of the 7-year-old victim came forward to the authorities and told them the bizarre story.

The disturbing incident occurred in Poe Park just north of Fordham Road on the Grand Concourse and East 192nd Stree in the Bronx in the 52 Pct.  

All three of the sisters were present at the fight. 

A 14, year- old and 17-year-old were also present. 

The plan was allegedly for 17-year-old to post the video to a hip hop web site.

The disturbing story was picked up widely by news outlets. 

On July 10th, in an incident also posted on YouTube three teens were girls were viciously attacked after they went swimming at the newly opened McCarren Park Pool. A 13-year-old was first hit from behind and punched in the face, requiring surgery on her nose. 

In a chilling cell phone video recorded by one of the assailants in July, you can see the attacker run after the 13-year-old and punch her in the face from behind, then laugh. (Image: via gothamist)

Read/View More:

WPIX - February 21, 2013 - By Arthur Chi’en

gothamist - February 21, 2013 - By John Del Signore 

WNBC -  February 21, 2013 - By Pei-Sze Cheng

A Walk In The Park - February 20, 2013 - By Geoffrey Croft