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May 31, 2008

Letter to John Liu - Re: Gang Violence

Dear Councilmember John liu,

Please look into this and keep me informed of whatever action you can take to help us resolve this dangerous situation. Your intervention will be greatly appreciated.

Joe Amoroso



14323 Poplar Avenue. – Major problem since home is under new ownership.

Poplar Avenue, Flushing has always been known as a quiet and peaceful neighborhood composed primarily of people that care about their neighborhood and are willing to get involved to keep it a good family oriented area. The Kissena Park Civic Association worked hard to have the area rezoned from R3-2 to R2 on May 11, 2005 to help discourage excessive building and to preserve its quite single-family residential character. The home at 14323 Poplar Avenue was recently sold and the new owner has made extensive changes to the interior and also added a separate external rear entrance to the basement. See DOB permit # Work Permit Data .

On Friday, May 30, 2008 a group of unlawful young adults residents living in the recently renovated basement, which is possibly being used as an SRO, gathered outside the house and were confronted by another group of hoodlums evolving into a fight where both groups had knives in hand. Some threw a neighbor’s flower pot into the street while others damaged a nearby car belonging to a long time resident on the other side of the street. This incident started about 5 A.M. One of the neighbors called the Police but the gang members scattered as the Police arrived.

On Saturday, May 31, 2008 I called 311 to file the following complaints:

1.) New owner is illegally renting basement to possible gang members and yesterday’s incident of street fighting with knives in hand posed a threat to the safety of lives and property of local residents. Police report has been sent to local precinct via 311 with the following complaint number:


2.) New owner has illegally converted basement to living quarters which is presently

being occupied by a large group of young adults. I was given the following DOB

complaint number for illegal conversion:


I hope that swift action is taken to help insure the safety and quality of life of all the residents of Poplar Avenue and our entire Kissena Park community. This type of activity will not be tolerated in this community!

Joe Amoroso, KPCA Zoning Chair

QCC Zoning and Code Enforcement Co-Chair

May 21, 2008

LIRR Neighbors Can Rest Easy

Hush hour on LIRR as horns KOd

Long Island Rail Road officials announced a plan last week to hush the blaring horns of commuter trains traveling throughQueens and on Lo

"I have heard the complaints of our neighbors along the LIRR's right-of-way loud and clear," said LIRR President Helena Williams.

"Now, we are doing something about it."

But local activists said the plan falls short.

Prior to the rule change, which went into effect this month, engineers were told to honk every time they passed through a station, even if it was not a stop on the route. Now, they do not.

Heh I think the train itself makes the most noise but thats just me.

May 20, 2008

A Stop Work Order Comes Just In Time

Thanks Joe For Keeping Us Updated!

A STOP WORK ORDER is in effect at 147-10 Jasmine Ave. because the alterations do not conform to the new Zoning Text. ( Including the 6 foot high barricade type 'fence' and destruction of City Owned street trees and several other issues.)

If anyone should see any construction activity please call 311.

Property Profile Overview

Overview for Complaint #:4350482 = RESOLVED

In addition one of the two newly built houses on the corner of 45th Avenue and 149th Street also has a stop work order due to a non-conforming lot size. ( 149-08 45th Avenue) resulting from the break up of the original tax lot.
This is preventing them from getting a C of O and selling this house. According to the original application both houses were built on a single tax lot under special provisions of the zoning resolution because the lot was not large enough to create two new legal building lots. This resolution requires that both houses must remain under a single ownership.

Property Profile Overview

I understand that both of these STOP WORK ORDERS are the result of our (KPCA) recent correspondence with both the City and Borough Building Commissioners and the Parks Department (Forestry).

Thank you,
Joe A

May 19, 2008

Willets Point Gets An Official Status

Official Status for Willets Point Project

Now that the Uniformed Land Use Review Procedure) (ULURP) has been issued by the City, the Willets Point project has an official status.

Therefore, I again talk about the development because of its importance to Queens and the City of New York.

The 60 acres in question are extremely polluted, mostly with the number 3 oil. The Feds will dredge the creek and the bay once the pollution is removed.

After the remediation, the City proposes 5000 units of housing - some affordable - a convention center, hotel, a school, some commercial and retail space and a park.

The ULURP will run for 180 days during which time everyone who wishes to testify will have the opportunity.

There is no question that the development of Willets Point will have a positive and profound impact on the communities of Flushing and Corona as well as the rest of the City.
That last line is key.

The School Built On A Toxic Wasteland

Mother claims school made daughter sick

Thanks Steven for sending this in!

For 12 years, the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has known about a potentially deadly chemical in the soil on a city-owned site less than two blocks from an Ozone Park public school - but cleanup plans have been snagged by red tape.

Now, the mother of a former student of Public School 65 is suing the city.

“I had no idea that the school was sitting on a toxic plume,” said Katie Acton, who believes her daughter developed chronic asthma while attending the 99th Street school, beginning in 1999.

“If I had known, I would have removed her long before the three years,” added Acton, whose daughter, Kaylyn is now 15. “When I did remove her, it made a big difference.”

“Back in 2002, we became aware of concerns from the school community about the soil and air,” said Marge Feinberg, a DOE spokesperson. “This has not been an issue since the indoor air was tested and found to be acceptable.”

Exposure to large amounts of TCE could cause asphyxiation, chronic health problems like cancer and long-term neurological disorders, according to The Risk Assessment Information System, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.

“I don’t want another child to go through what my child went through,” she said.

This kinda scenario seems awfully familiar, Love Canal anyone?

NYPIRG - 10 Plagues Of The Subway

List compiles '10 plagues of the subway'

The New York Public Interest Research Group's Straphangers Campaign has released a "10 plagues of the subway" list to document problems faced by commuters.

The list, which includes overcrowding, flooding and dirty seats, documents common complaints from riders of the city's subway system, New York Newsday reported Friday.

"I've already been chastised for leaving out rats, cockroaches and subway preachers," said Gene Russianoff, a senior attorney for the Straphangers Campaign.

Russianoff said the perils of traveling with an infant also made it onto the list.

"It's dangerous to have a stroller with people running up and down the stairs," said subway rider and mother-of-four Rosa Lopez, 28. "And elevators are out all the time."

New York transit officials questioned about the list said they are always working to improve the subway.

"We have been, and continue to, work hard to provide the type of mass transit experience that the greatest city in the world deserves," said Charles Seaton, a transit spokesman.

Scattered Shots Kill Little Girl In Queens

Girl Is Killed in Queens as Shots Scatter Dancers

The teenagers were dancing before the squat backdrop of a housing project Saturday night in Far Rockaway, Queens, when the gunfire began. They all ran, until someone turned and saw that one girl was not running. She had dropped to the ground without a sound, a bullet hole in her temple.

As of Sunday evening, no one had been arrested in the shooting. Neighbors said two groups of young men — boys, even — from two different sections of buildings in the Redfern Houses complex had been feuding for so long that no one really remembered what the fight was about.

“It’s the front versus the back,” said Sonya Smith, 37. “These are babies, 12 years and up. They never say anything. They just start shooting.” Another woman, Keisha Brown, 20, said, “It’s just stupid.”

What a sad story, The New York Time also has a picture included. I was actually considering not blogging this story due to the sadness and the poor reflection of Queens would get from outside readers (if there are any). Overall I wish there could be something done about things like this that would bring some real change to certain areas where drugs and violence are everyday occurrences. I think its up to the elders of the community to speak out against this and perhaps talk to those involved especially the youth some of which may actually listen. There is no real answer to fix situations like this today, but with the right determination this doesn't have to be the future either.

May 18, 2008

Councilman Speaks Up For Queens Against Con Ed

Councilman Calls On Con Ed To Sell Queens Property, Not Hike Rates

A Queens City Councilman called on Con Edison Sunday to sell what he says is an expensive piece of waterfront property, instead of having customers foot the bill for rising costs.

In the wake of a five percent rate hike and another increase potentially on the way, Councilman Eric Gioia said the company should sell its 11-acre property in Long Island City, estimated to be worth a half-billion dollars.

"New Yorkers right now are tightening their belts, trying desperately to make ends meet, the price of food has gone up, the price of gas, and now the price of our utilities,” said Gioia. “Con Edison should be asked to make to run their company more efficiency before they look to New Yorkers to ask us once again to pay more for really lousy service."

The property is currently used as a parking lot, office space, and a training center for Con Ed workers.
Finally a Councilman doing what he/she is supposed to be doing.

Queens Mourns The Loss of Bowling Alley

Queens Bowling Alley Will Not Be Spared

Bowlers gathered at a landmark Queens alley Sunday for one final roll after a last-ditch effort to save the neighborhood fixture failed.

Woodhaven Lanes in Forest Hills closed for good Sunday after nearly 50 years.

Brunswick Bowling, the company which leased the lanes, wanted a rent cut but building management said mortgage costs were too high.

Rallies over the last couple of months to save the bowling alley struck out.

Efforts to keep the lanes open fell through when negotiations broke down on Friday.

"It's bittersweet. I'm sad you know," said bowler Donna Fazio."The owner is so greedy and he thinks he's going to make money in another way, but he's got a steady customer base here. This bowling alley was always so packed," said bowler Louis Molina.

Queens College Contractors Have A Bad Rep

Queens College hired dangerous developer

By YOAV GONEN, Education Reporter, NY Post

University of Connecticut dormitories built by the contractor tapped to erect a $72 million residence hall at Queens College have been plagued with costly fire and safety violations, The Post has learned.

Seven years after two of its dorms were built by the contractor, Alabama-based Capstone Development Corp., UConn is still bringing the buildings up to code, a university spokeswoman said.

She would not further discuss the trouble-plagued dorms, which were built in 2001 at a cost of nearly $55 million.

UConn was paid at least $1 million under the agreement.

Published records show that engineering consultants hired by UConn in 2004 identified dozens of building and safety-code violations at the dorms.

Queens College officials insisted yesterday that they operated with "due diligence" in selecting Capstone for the 506-bed residence, which is slated to open in August 2009.
Additional reporting by Angela Montefinise and Post Wire Services

May 17, 2008

Huge Drug Raid in Queens

Drug Raid in Queens

Prosecutors have charged 41 people, including several members of the Crips street gang, with selling crack and other crimes at a Queens housing project.

The Queens district attorney, and Police Commissioner announced the charges against the suspects, mostly men in their late teens or early 20s, on Friday.During a six-month investigation, undercover officers made 150 purchases of crack, powder cocaine, heroin and marijuana at the Woodside Houses, the authorities said.

May 11, 2008

Illegal Construction on Jasmine and Parsons

Dear Acting Commissioner LiMandri,
The ongoing construction and destruction of the once beautiful corner house at Jasmine and Parsons Ave.
(147-10 Jasmine Ave.) is presently undergoing the installation of the foundation for a 6 foot high concrete barricade that is intended to surround the entire property and has already caused the destruction of valuable City owned public street trees. Its completion will further allow degradation of the esthetic beauty of our neighborhood and the infringement on our quality of life and property values.
Upon studying the recently passed new laws regarding restrictions on fences:
The following is a modification added on March 24, 2008 to the now adopted 'Side Yards' zoning law taken directly from the City Planning web site:

New Fence height restrictions

Reduce allowable front yard fence and wall height in R1- R5 districts from 8 feet to 4 feet, except that on corner lots, permit a height of 6 feet where a front yard overlaps a side yard

Section 23-44 was clarified so that fence and wall height is measured from the adjoining grade and that on corner lots, a six foot high fence is only permitted in the area where a front yard overlaps with a side yard.

The 6 foot wall that the developer is presently installing around the entire property is clearly illegal. Note that clarification of Section 23-44 restricts the portion of the property where a 6 foot fence is permitted. The developer is now installing the foundation for a 6 foot barricade type concrete wall to extend along the entire perimeter of the property including both the entire side and front yards.

Strict enforcement of this new New York City regulation by the Department of Buildings is imperative and expected to help preserve our residential communities.

Joe Amoroso, KPCA Zoning Chair

QCC Zoning & Code Enforcement Co-Chair

May 9, 2008

The Dance Songs That Are Moving New York

Well its Friday and quite frankly today I couldn't give a crap about what is going on in the local news papers. It may be pouring outside, but here are the current beats you can hear on Pulse 87 (87.7).

This list is courtesy of Original Hot 97 .com

Lucas Prata—I Think I’m Falling In Love

Jennifer Lopez—Que Hiciste

September—Cry For You (Radio Mix)

Kat Deluna—Whine Up (album version)

Eric Prydz vs. Floyd—Proper Education (Radio Edit)

Cascada—Truly Madly Deeply (UK Club Mix)

Booty Luv—Boogie 2Nite (Seamus Haji Big Love Edit)

Get Far—Shining Star (Gianluca Motta Radio Edit)

David Guetta—The World Is Mine (F**K Me I’m Famous Edit)

Erasure—I Could Fall In Love With You (Monteverde Radio Edit)

Yardi Don vs. Frank Ti-Ana—One Love One World (Radio Edit)

Leonid Rudenko—Summerfish (Vocal Mix)

Edun—Put ’em Up (Radio Edit)

The Chemical Brothers—Do It Again

Bass Hunters - Now Your Gone

No other radio station keeps your work day or car trip moving as well as Pulse 87.

On a side note Star and Buck Wild are also pretty entertaining in the morning.

Queens College Signs Dorn Deal

Queens College signs dorm deal

Queens College (QC) will become the third member of the City University of New York (CUNY) to offer on-campus dormitory housing under a deal signed with Capstone Development Corporation recently.

The residence hall, which Capstone will also manage, will have 506 beds, and occupy the land currently used for outdoor tennis courts, which will have to be relocated.

The project is being financed by $72 million in tax-exempt bonds issued by the New York City Housing Development Corporation, and supported by a Letter of Credit issued by RBS Citizens National Association. RBC Capital Markets is underwriting the bond issue.

According to QC, both the bonds and Letter of Credit are secured by project revenues only - no public funds are supporting the project, which is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2009.

To ease community concerns about an already-difficult parking situation, 200 hundred parking spaces will be created, 89 below and adjacent to the building and the remainder elsewhere on campus, according to QC.
So it is finally official, it's nice to see something finally put into the works after hearing and talking about it for a little over a year now. This will finally bring a social life to QC, one that the consensus agrees is lacking.

May 5, 2008

The Lost Supermarket: The Quest For Fresh Foods

The Lost Supermarket: A Breed in Need of Replenishment

A continuing decline in the number of neighborhood supermarkets has made it harder for millions of New Yorkers to find fresh and affordable food within walking distance of their homes, according to a recent city study. The dearth of nearby supermarkets is most severe in minority and poor neighborhoods already beset by obesity, diabetes and and heart disease.

The supermarket closings — not confined to poor neighborhoods — result from rising rents and slim profit margins, among other causes. They have forced residents to take buses or cabs to the closest supermarkets in some areas. Those with cars can drive, but the price of gasoline is making some think twice about that option. In many places, residents said the lack of competition has led to rising prices in the remaining stores.

“Many people in low-income neighborhoods are spending their food budget at discount stores or pharmacies where there is no fresh produce,” said Amanda Burden, the city’s planning director. “In our study, a significant percentage of them reported that in the day before our survey, they had not eaten fresh fruit or vegetables. Not one. That really is a health crisis in the city.”
This is a much larger problem than it appears, there is already a health crisis of the poor urban neighborhoods as they are already at higher risk for disease due to living conditions, but now the removal of fresh foods completely from one's diet could be devastating. A supermarket closes down and another two fast food restaurants open up. This is just another subtle affect that the dependence of foreign oil and inflation is causing.

May 4, 2008

Can't Beat Queen's Meat

Queens Meat Company Recalls Fresh And Frozen Meat Products

For the second time in three months, a Queens company is at the center of a meat recall.

Gourmet Boutique of Jamaica is voluntarily recalling more than 286,000 pounds of fresh and frozen beef, pork and poultry because of possible listeria contamination.

The potentially affected products -- 35 in all -- are sold under the names Gourmet Boutique, Jan's and Archer Farms.

The 'sell by' dates range from May 3rd through October 23rd.

The fresh food was produced last month, while the frozen food was produced between last October and last month.

So far there have been no reports of illnesses.
I've never even heard of this brand, but I'm glad they are doing the right thing rather than letting people get sick.

Happy Sunday Everyone Go Catch Some Rays

May 2, 2008

Queens: The Melting Pot Is Hotter Than Ever

The melting pot on a high boil in Flushing

Along Main and Union Streets many of the signs and the conversations are in Chinese, Korean or Vietnamese. A street vendor blasted Chinese pop music. At a sidewalk counter you can buy Peking duck to go. I passed under the wide window of a tea shop where high school kids sat people-watching and text-messaging as they sipped bubble tea, the sweet Chinese tea with pearls of tapioca in it. At a Chinese grocery tiny grandmas elbowed me aside, the better to haggle with the grocers over vegetables and fruit.

I was walking with John Liu, the city councilman for District 20, which includes Flushing. Liu was born in Taiwan and has lived in Flushing since his family moved there in 1972, when he was 5. In 2002 he became the first Asian-American on the New York City Council. He was happy to play tour guide on the crowded streets.

Indians, Pakistanis and Afghans also make their homes in Flushing, alongside growing groups of Mexicans and Central Americans. They have all followed previous waves of Russians, Greeks, Italians, Irish and African-Americans.

If America really is a melting pot, Flushing seems one place where it's on a high boil.

Great article that captures a great deal about Flushing, I recommend checking out the following link above.

May 1, 2008

Padavan Gets A School

Glen Oaks School Campus Renamed For New York State Senator
The Department of Education has renamed the Glen Oaks school campus on Commonwealth Boulevard in Bellerose, Queens after New York State Senator Frank Padavan.

DOE officials say the city wanted to recognize Padavan's efforts to have the schools built, at a time when there was a shortage of space.

"It's a great feeling that people are acknowledging, most importantly the people in this community are all here today, acknowledging that we did something for their children in the community and something will be here forever," said Padavan. "You have to take a certain sense of pride about that."

Sorry Buddy No More Placards

Mayor Slashes Number Of Parking Placards For City Employees

Finding parking in Manhattan can be like trying to find a needle in a hay stack.

"It’s annoying. Actually I had to pay $20 to find parking ‘cause I thought I was going to get a ticket and it's a $115 ticket. It's not fun at all,” said one driver.

The situation is made worse thanks to the tens of thousands of city employees who enjoy the perks of city-issued placards to park at will, while everyone else circles the block in desperation.

It's gotten so bad in Lower Manhattan, according to a recent study, that there are now three times as many drivers without placards as there are parking spots available.

No more says City Hall, which announced Wednesday it's slashing the number of placards by more than one third.

Heh, welcome to the club of can't find parking. Mass Transit for the win?

Astoria Can Feel The Power, And They Are Not Happy

Authority Approves Power Plant for New York City
The state authority has selected Astoria Energy LLC to build a new gas-fueled plant in Queens under a 20-year contract. The decision will help make up for the loss of the Charles Poletti Power Project in Queens, which is due to close in 2010.
Here is some back ground on the Charles Poletti Power Project, it's a good read.

The 885-megawatt (mw) Poletti project, and a new 500-mw combined-cycle power plant built directly next door, enable the Power Authority to meet the electricity requirements of its large government customers in New York City, who save hundreds of millions of dollars a year in lower energy costs by using NYPA-generated electricity. They include tax-supported schools, hospitals, municipal buildings, and the metropolitan region’s subways and commuter trains.

Astoria Residents Unhappy With Plans For Area's Sixth Power Plant

With five power plants already in his neighborhood, Douglas Sanchez is fuming over plans to build a new one here in Astoria.

“I’d like them to find someplace else. I really don't want it here,” said Sanchez.

The plan, selected by the New York Power Authority out of 30 proposals, will allow Astoria Energy to build a natural gas-fueled plant that would supply 500 megawatts of power under a 20-year contract to some of the city's schools, subways, and public housing.

“The city might need it, but you know why don't they put it on Fifth Avenue?” said Sanchez.

Car Crashes into Queens Storefront

Car Crashes into Queens Storefront

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- A car crashed into a storefront in Queens early Tuesday, leaving one woman hospitalized with minor injuries, police said.

The incident happened at the Mohawk Cleaners on Myrtle Avenue.

A woman sustained minor injuries and was taken to Elmhurst Hospital, police said.