Hunters Point civic group calls on community board to compromise on backyard space

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32 Responses to Hunters Point civic group calls on community board to compromise on backyard space

  1. Cool Your Jets

    Actually, the majority of the signatures do have names. One of the key people involved in helping the restaurants acquire the use of their rear space lives right on Vernon. The petitioner lives right off Vernon and behind a restaurant with a rear yard. So there goes that argument.

    FYI, I was one of the anonymous signatures.

    And as long as we're talking about numbers, the NIMBY's counter petition only has 55 signatures. Some of those signatures are from people out of the country....

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  2. LIC

    I think that as a member of CB2 Patrick O’Brien, the chairman of the Community Board 2’s City Service/Public Safety Committee that oversees liquor licenses should revisit and look at currently outside patios and consider an investigation when business owners pay a lot of money for licenses and play by the rules when 1 local business owner isn't looked out to be playing by the rules. All the new places that have opened places to dine work with each other in a beautiful community that is growing. Sadly there is the 1 location who abuses the system and hurts those businesses within LIC.

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  3. Gillmoli

    Cool Your Jets, are you a member of the Facebook group, "Free The Yards"? If not, please join so you can stay up to date on all the news regarding this movement along with info for upcoming CB2 and Hunters Point Civic Association meetings.

    It looks like change is in the works and the rest of the community is finally being heard over the grossly over-amplified voices of that very small minority.

    Hopefully Mr. Van Bramer's visit to L'Inizio during the LIC Spring Stroll last weekend will help convince him to vote in favor of changing the rules and also gain the support of the rest of the board so we can all finally put this issue to bed.

    It would be an absolute shame to see this backyard space in particular go unused...they are growing their own tomatoes, red bell peppers, zucchini, and basil, just to name a few.

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  4. Cool Your Jets

    Thanks Gillmoli! Will do!

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  5. LittleBearNYC

    I will repeat this one more time- after the obnoxious, loud, rude behavior of the staff and owners of I'inzio at a local restaurant last Saturday night (3 tables asked them to keep it down, which prompted a ton of nasty cursing and yelling of "NO F%^KEN RESPECT" - the restaurant gave us half our meal for free due to these "cafione") I would be hesitant to have any of L'Inzio's neighbors subjected to what we went through for two hours.

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  6. Sonny L.

    While optimism is wonderful:

    - the SLA meeting was moved last minute
    - Mr. O'Brien (to whom I've personally written) ignored opening these back yards at that meeting and snidely dismissed the petition for the open space use in LIC as folly
    - YET prior to that, HAD welcomed revisiting opening back yards personally at the previous CB2 meeting before the community
    - there is a backroom correspondence between some restaurant owners and board members scrambling to make certain nothing opens (perhaps the competition would be too great? who knows?)

    LET'S FACE IT
    This situation must be hashed out together as a community. The neighbors are restless, and by neighbors, I include those who live ALL OVER the neighborhood near or far from the Vernon Moratorium.

    This trite situation is pathetic and a reflection of the cogs that stop the machine of progress and growth for our community.

    The more the CB2 fights to oppose growth in our community, the more parochial and antiquated their persona becomes, which undermines both the direction of our growing and changing demographic and ultimately will result in Van Bramer's term limits going into effect (as other CBs seek to do so with limits on whether politically seated folks can recommend Board members).

    It is simple, close the yards, lose business and revenues, cut job creation, and create general dissent among the LIC population. Economics 101 says it is the fast track to killing growth ~ i ask you, is that what the CB2 is about? or will their egos move aside to make way for some prosperity our neighborhood so desires and deserves?

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  7. Sonny L.

    Dear LIC - don't speak in tongues. It undermines your credibility. Say what you mean. It is a pay to play system for sure. That is what has been created by the referendum.

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  8. Nevermind The Haters

    ^^^cool story bro^^^

    It's a good thing decisions aren't made based on rumors and tall tales.

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  9. Sonny L.

    I am a neighbor of L'inzio. Please do not speak for me.

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  10. Nevermind The Haters

    my comment was to LittleBear NYC

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  11. Sonny L.

    I am a neighbor of all those restaurants but William Garrett has spoken for me. I did not ask that of him.

    My voice and those of most of the rest of LIC, are being silenced by a few people claiming they have more of a right, are more entitled as a neighbor than the rest of us. I did not ask them to speak for me. We who wish to be heard are being silenced by the few.

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  12. Ajloehxn

    Who elected the community board? Or are those positions appointed? How do we the community that is interested in developing the neighborhood join or apply to be apart of the community board?

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  13. BiPolar

    Two comments from someone who supports limited back yard use.

    If you go to the SLA website in the video for Alobar the owner represents that there are no residents anywhere around them. Not a great strategy to stretch and twist the truth and probably why they lost.

    They also claimed they needed a back yard to compete with other restaurants but at the same time claim that CB2 has a moratorium on back yards. So who is their competition?

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  14. Anonymous

    It's partly true. The person directly above Alobar has an apartment that doesn't stretch all the way to the back. If you walk into Alobar, the apartment ends half way into the restaurant and they have no windows facing the back.

    And the person living at the top floor is the landlord of the entire building and supports Alobar's quest to open their rear yard.

    There is a moratorium on outdoor seating from El Ay Si all the way to Alobar as well as any restaurant that has a rear yard opening in the post-Lounge 47 age. The exception is for those bars/restaurants that were able to obtain the liquor license with outdoor seating privileges BEFORE William Garrett cried a river about it (i.e. LIC Bar).

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  15. Gillmoli

    Anonymous, I wonder if Riverview will eventually end up like Rebar in Dumbo...not paying rent is definitely a sign of something fishy going on...

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  16. Anthony D

    CB2 "sound engineer" wasn't happy with the music on Vernon for the block party. I can't believe he had the nerve to approach some of the volunteers and complain. Enough is enough already!

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  17. Anonymous

    WG did whine about music?
    Let's open the yards. If L'inzio is rude, it speaks for them.
    Also the immediate neighbour shouldn't have more right than all of the community, especially if it's WG. Let him live in a bar deserted land where he needs to drive to everywhere to get something.

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  18. LIC Res

    Litigate this.

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  19. Bipolar

    Thoughts of the day:

    To point at one person as the lone opponent to back yard seating is a foolish idea because one person cannot have that much influence and power.

    But more important it marginalizes and diminishes the importance of the many neighbors who either oppose or just want reasonable limits.

    How about some respect for all sides of the debate?

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  20. LIC Resident2

    @Bipolar
    While I agree and I think you have a solid point to keep both sides respectful, the truth of the situation is that this one particular person really does have MUCH more influence than one person should have in this matter. The truth is there IS something shady going on with how much pull he has had in the past. So naturally people tend to emphasize this point more than the larger debate at hand.

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  21. DDD

    Sonny L.

    Hope you enjoyed the Block Party.

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  22. Bipolar

    Today's thought:

    Maybe personal accusations or innuendos by anonymous posters who do not furnish any proof, should not be accepted as fact. People say they want fair representation. Doesn't that include being fair to those you disagree with?

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  23. Townie

    Maybe we don't accept the "accusations and innuendos...as fact." This is the internet. Maybe we're not morons.

    And
    we're not just SAYING we want fair representation. We actually do want it, duh.

    What's tomorrow's thought?

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  24. BiPolar

    Tomorrow's thought for Townie. Wow! Relax!

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  25. Vernon2

    A compromise can, and will, be achieved if both parties stop with the zero sum game. Lounge 47 was a late night disaster with no respect for the neighborhood and screwed it for those that followed. Alobar and L'Inizio seemed to have some bad advice regarding how to appeal to CB2 ( show up at meeting, don't lie about 1,300 petition, don't lie about no neighbors). Try something different. Demonize the guy Garrett who complained all you want. He's working within the system and achieved his desired outcome. Try it for yourself and you'll be surprised how quickly something will happen.

    See you at L'Inizio for a slice and a beer when it finally opens.

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  26. Townie

    uh, snap.
    zzzzzz

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  27. Tanya

    Hey, is there a link for that Facebook group? Like Facebook.com/whatever...Maybe I'm daft, but I couldn't find it while searching. Thanks!

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  28. Gillmoli

    Hi Tanya, it's called "Free The Yards" on Facebook. Just type that into your FB search tab and it should come up. I look forward to "meeting" you online and hopefully at the next CB2 meeting!

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  29. Pizza

    L'inizio is open!?

    #psyched

    #yardstil11pm
    #communitycompromise

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Latest News

Borough President Katz a big supporter of building over the Yards, despite western Queens leaders’ trepidation

SunnysideYardsmap

Feb. 27, By Christian Murray

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz has been a strong advocate for decking over the Sunnyside Yard for months—despite the cool reception it has received from western Queens leaders.

Katz began advocating for developing the yards in September, when she announced that they have the “potential for extraordinary development.”

Katz plays an important role in what ultimately happens to the Yards since the area would need to be rezoned before construction could begin. The community board and the borough president would get to weigh in on a rezoning—before it is shuffled along to the City Planning Commission for review and then the city council.

At the council level, Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer would have the ultimate say.

Borough President Melinda Katz

Borough President Melinda Katz

In September, Katz released a 138-page strategic policy statement where she said that the “partial or complete decking of the Sunnyside Rail Yards has the potential for extraordinary development.” She added that it is the largest parcel of ‘vacant’ land remaining in the city.

At the October community board meeting, Queens residents became more aware of Katz’ position when former CB2 chairman Joe Conley said that he had been in discussions with her about building over the Yards. He then called on the board to write a letter to Katz calling for a feasibility study.

While many members of the board were caught off guard by Conley’s request, they were eventually swayed by him and voted in favor of sending Katz the letter.

Conley was then subject to heavy criticism for requesting the letter.

These letters are often used by public officials and city planners to move ahead with studies—allowing them to claim they have the community’s support. For example, Conley’s letter last year calling for affordable housing in Queens Plaza was cited as a reason why city planners are studying the area for a potential up zoning.

Katz is well versed in city real estate matters. She had worked at the law firm Greenberg Traurig from 2009-2012, where she was a land use adviser for real estate companies. She took that position after being a city council member from 2002-2009, where she chaired the land use committee.

On Feb. 10, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in his State of the City address that he wanted to build 11,250 units above Sunnyside Yards, which received a frosty reception from western Queens leaders.

Katz, meanwhile, was publicly advocating for it. At the Queens Chamber of Commerce annual breakfast meeting Feb. 17, she said:

“We need to figure out how to utilize the property in a good way and I think housing is a great way,” reported the Queens Chronicle that covered the event. “Figuring out how to pay for it is the follow-up. … But it needs to be done carefully and it needs to be done in tandem with the community.”

De Blasio then announced last week that the city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC) sought a consulting firm to undertake a one-year study to determine whether building over the Yards is feasible. The administration is seeking requests for proposal from firms that would essentially provide recommendations.

“This is the first step in understanding whether development of the Sunnyside Yards is possible, and what it can contribute to the city and surrounding communities,” de Blasio said in a statement.

Katz’ spokeswoman, in an e-mail Tuesday wrote: “This feasibility study is a step in the right direction, and Borough President Katz looks forward to engaging community input.”

The e-mail also said: “Borough President Katz recognizes that potential development above the Sunnyside Rail Yards is attractive given the current growth and development throughout Long Island City and western Queens.”

However, western Queens leaders have been alarmed by the plan.

CatherineNolan-250x250Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan was quick to announce that she had ‘grave concerns ’ about the plans. State Sen. Mike Gianaris was essentially against it—by saying only if it had community support, while Van Bramer continued to argue that the infrastructure would not be able to cope with it.

Nolan also said in a statement that such development would have “the potential to tremendously damage the middle class quality of life of our western Queens communities.”

Nolan then announced that she had hired local attorney Ira Greenberg on a part time basis to monitor de Blasio’s plan and to work with agencies, residents and other parties to make sure the community’s voice is heard.

State Sen. Mike Gianaris sent out a mailing to his constituents recently, which said that the building of new housing units should be secondary to meeting the community’s existing infrastructure needs.

Van Bramer, who has told the mayor that he supports the concept of affordable housing, has expressed doubts as to whether it should be in western Queens. He has consistently been saying that area is already in need of schools and parks—and continues to discuss the poor performing No. 7 train.

He said the Queensboro Plaza/Court Square area is likely to be rezoned that will bring affordable housing as well an influx of people.

“We have are a lot of challenges that we face today,” Van Bramer said at a recent civic association meeting, “let alone with a 100,000 more people.”

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Health food store –offering nature’s prescriptions– to open on 50th Avenue

pharmacy

Feb. 27, Staff Report

A health food store—offering nature’s prescriptions—is opening at 5-29 50th Avenue, where Dog Island City was located for about five years.

There are few details on the 600 sqf. health food store– such as when the owners plan to open it.

Dog Island City operated out of that location until June 2014, before moving into a larger space on 44th Drive, by Jackson Avenue.

Dog-Island-city-348x465

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Design of Jackson Ave. sculpture still being worked on, likely to up for approval later this year
Early rendering

Early rendering

Feb. 27, By Christian Murray

The $515,000 sculpture that is expected to go up on Jackson Avenue will be going before the Public Design Commission later this year for approval.

The sculpture, which was initially designed to be an 8 ½ feet high pink figure, is still being worked on and the changes are not likely to be revealed until closer to the time that it goes before the commission.

The artwork—called The Sunbather– will be permanently placed on the median at Jackson Ave and 43rd Avenue and will be paid for by taxpayers.

The initial rendering was criticized at Community Board 2’s December meeting, largely over its size and color.

“The proposed design for the ‘The Sunbather’ is still under development,” said Ryan Max, a spokesman for the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in an e-mail.

“The design presented to the community board last year was preliminary; a more detailed proposal…will be presented to the Public Design Commission later this year,” Max said. “When that presentation is scheduled, a notification will be sent to the community board in advance.”

Community Board 2 Chair Pat O’Brien said that he was unsure how the sculpture will change. However, he said, the city agency “got the message about our concern over its size, color and substance.”

He said that follow-up phone calls also took place after the meeting to make it clear. However, he said, the board’s concerns would unlikely change the artist’s overall vision.

He said the department assured him that it would keep the board in the loop.

“We want meaningful input…we are not asking for veto power,” O’Brien said.

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New CB2 chair to roll out updated website, will provide access to public documents

Community-Board-21

Feb. 25, By Christian Murray

Community Board 2 is in the midst of overhauling its website, as it aims provide residents with greater access to public documents.

The updated website will be much more comprehensive and is expected to be ready by spring. The public will have access to documents that deal with land use matters among others.

Pat O’Brien, the newly elected Community Board chair, said that he intends to upload as many documents as possible so the public is better informed.

“Any document that is public, we aim to put it out there,” O’Brien said. “I want people to know the facts so we can have a more informed discussion.”

He said that he plans to upload older documents in order to build archives. However, he said that will take time and resources are limited.

The board plans to create a Facebook page later this year that will be used to inform people of public meetings and events.

O’Brien said that his first priority, however, is getting the site ready.

 

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Waterfront parks group signs up new members, outlines 2015 plans
(Left to Right) Abe King, Rob Basch - President Hunters Point Park Conservancy, Mark Christie-Vice President Hunters Point Park Conservancy and Frank Raffaele-CEO Coffeed (LIC Landing)

(Left to Right) Abe King, Rob Basch – President Hunters Point Park Conservancy, Mark Christie-Vice President Hunters Point Park Conservancy and Frank Raffaele-CEO Coffeed (LIC Landing)

Feb. 25, By Christian Murray

More than 75 people turned out last night at SHI restaurant for the 2015 launch party of the waterfront parks group.

The Hunters Point Parks Conservancy, which organizes events and helps maintain the waterfront parks, also held the event to recruit new members.  The event was a success with more than 20 new people signing up.

Rob Basch, the president of the Conservancy, told attendees that the organization has an ambitious schedule of events planned this year.

These events, he said, include an outdoor movie series debuting with the movie Frozen, a weekly Eats and Arts Festival that would take place on the waterfront on Fridays (in summer), a music series, yoga and other family-based events featuring several local businesses.

The Conservancy, Basch said, is also working with the Mayor’s office to install WIFI in the park and is working on a proposal for a seasonal ice skating rink in the park next winter.

The Conservancy was also presented with a $15,000 check from LIC Landing—the cafe/restaurant located in Hunters Point South Park.

LIC Landing donates a percentage of its revenue to the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy. This money is used for events and park maintenance.

The Conservancy also honored its long-time past President and one of its founders, Bill Bylewski, who passed away last week.

Bylewski, Basch said, was an early champion of the parks in Hunters Point and worked tirelessly to make the parks and the community a better place.

 

 

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NYTimes: Citigroup looks to sell Court Square development site, high-rise residential building likely

Citicorp_Building_by_David_ShankboneFeb. 24, By Michael Florio

Citigroup is selling a site north of One Court Square that is most likely to become a luxury apartment complex, according to The Real Deal.

The site is nearly once acre and is bound by 44th Road, 23rd Street and 44th Drive in Court Square, the New York Times reports. The bank may get up to $150 million for the development site.

The zoning allows for residential, office, retail and hotel use—and a 40 story building could be built there.

The city aims to spur housing in the neighborhood and is likely to rezone Long Island City to promote affordable housing.

A Citigroup spokesman told the Times: “Given the direction of our real estate footprint and the city’s need for housing, we believe that this site has great potential that can be unlocked.”

The sale marks a shift in the neighborhood from commercial to residential development.

Citigroup had originally planned to build an office building on the property..

Citigroup also plans to sell its remaining stake in Two Court Square, according to the Times. As for the iconic 50-story tower, Citigroup told its employees on Monday that its lease at One Court Square comes to an end in 2020, and that it will continue to operate to occupy the building at least until then.

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Poll: Residents may face hefty toll to use Queensboro Bridge, along with others

QueensboroFeb. 23, By Michael Florio

A proposed plan that would charge commuters a toll for using the Queensboro bridge—and three other New York City bridges–was put forward last week by an advocacy group that includes the former NYC traffic commissioner.

MoveNY, a group comprised of traffic experts, research planners and eco-friendly non-profit firms, claims the tolls would lower traffic congestion and raise funds for the MTA.

Under the proposal, workers who commute to Manhattan via the Queensboro Bridge each day would have to pay about $60 a week.

The tolls would also be placed on the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges.

The toll on these four bridges would cost $5.54 each way if paid by E-ZPass and $8 each way for other drivers.

There wouldn’t be a toll booth. Instead there would be a sensor that would charge E-ZPass drivers as they go over the bridge. For those without E-ZPass, a camera would take a photo of people’s license plates and they would receive a bill in the mail, according to Bart Robbett, Communications Advisor with MoveNY.

The tolls on other MTA bridges—such as the Triborough and Whitestone– would be lowered $2.50 each way.

However, there are benefits for having a toll on the Queensboro Bridge for western Queens residents, Robbett said.

For one, there would be fewer vehicles exiting the Grand Central Parkway and driving through residential neighborhoods to get to the bridge.

“There would be fewer people going out of their way to get on the free bridge,” Robbett said. “These people are causing problems for [Western Queens] neighborhoods, by adding to the traffic.”

“There would be less traffic at places such as Queens Plaza,” he said, where people start jockeying for position to get over the bridge.

“They will have to pay, but they will see benefits,” he said.

Samuel Schwartz, a former New York City Traffic Commissioner, developed the proposal after his research found that the streets near the free bridges were congested. The bridges with tolls, he found, had far less congestion.

In addition to easing traffic congestion, MoveNY claims the new plan would generate $1.5 billion in revenue per year, which would go toward maintaining, expanding and modernizing the transit system and improving city bridges and roads.

“I know we can do better — better with traffic flow, reducing traffic crashes and fatalities, and being fairer to drivers [who use other MTA bridges], especially in the outer parts of the city,” Schwartz said.

State legislators would have to pass the proposal, since the state oversees the MTA.

 

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Street to be co-named after Tony Mazzarella
Crab House

Crab House

Feb 23 By Christian Murray

Community Board 2 has started the process to name a street after Tony Mazzarella, the long-time owner of the Waterfront Crabhouse who passed away late last month.

Former Community Board chair Joe Conley suggested co-naming 2nd Street and Borden Ave. after Mazzarella who was actively involved in community service in Long Island City and elsewhere.

The street would be co-named Anthony Mazzarella Way and would be adjacent to the Crabhouse that closed last week.

Conley said that the family reached out to CB2 for the street co-naming so it could honor his life and legacy.

Mazzarella was an active supporter of cancer-fighting causes. He served as a member of the board of directors for the Queens division of the American Cancer Society, where he raised tens of thousands of dollars for the organization.

Furthermore, he would donate at least $1,000 each year to the 108 Precinct community group that would buy Christmas gifts for underprivileged children each year.

The community board is expected to approve the street co-naming at its March meeting.

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Residents can express their view on public art, as new art piece will record feedback
rendering

rendering

Feb. 22, By Christian Murray

Long Island City residents are going to able to express their opinion on public art—when a temporary art piece goes up outside PS 1 on Jackson Avenue.

The new installation will be a 19th Century rotary phone that will go up for just two weeks starting March 29.

Residents will be able to pick up the phone and be able to express their views on public art in New York as well as Long Island City. The phone will prompt them to answer a series of questions dealing with public art.

The piece will be called ‘The Utterance Machine” and will be 8 feet tall and bolted into the ground. The artist is Rebecca Hackemann.

The responses will be recorded and all opinions kept anonymous.

“The goal is to engage the community and find out their opinion on public art,” said Jennifer Lantzas, a representative of the Parks Department, a recent community board committee meeting.

The responses will then be on posted online. However, the website and web address is still being created. Not all responses will go online.

“The ones that are thoughtful and thought-provoking will go up on the website,” Lantzas said.

The art piece is part of the city’s temporary public art program that permits artists to place their work in a park for up to a year. However, most go up for 3 to 6 months, Lantzas said

Ironically, while the utterance machine asks people for their opinion of public art—the community had little say on whether the art piece should have been placed there in the first place. This is true of many temporary art pieces—although those larger in scope typically require the approval of the community board.

The parks department is working on placing temporary art pieces in many parks throughout the city. It is currently working on a booklet where it lists parks throughout the city and determines where public art would have a positive impact.

“Technically any park can be considered,” Lantzas said.

The artwork that is selected is chosen by the parks dept based on its artistic merit. The parks department will then work with a designated park manager to determine whether it would be logistically possible. From there, the borough commissioner signs off on it.

Lisa Deller, chairwoman of the Land Use Committee, asked Lantzas what would happen if the public didn’t like the artwork.

Lantzas said that none of these pieces are permanent, noting that the Utterance piece will only be up for two weeks.

The parks department’s temporary art program is separate from Percent for Arts. That program is run by the Department of Cultural Affairs and is likely to place a pink “ Sunbather” on Jackson Avenue, by the grass median near 43rd Avenue, on a permanent basis.

.

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Poll: Residents may face hefty toll to use Queensboro Bridge, along with others
QueensboroFeb. 23, By Michael Florio A proposed plan that would charge commuters a toll for using the Queensboro bridge—and three other New York City bridges--was put forward last week by an advocacy group that includes the former NYC traffic commissioner. MoveNY, a group comprised of traffic experts, research planners and eco-friendly non-profit firms, claims the tolls would lower traffic congestion and raise funds for the MTA. Under the proposal, workers who commute to Manhattan via the Queensboro Bridge each day would have to pay about $60 a week. The tolls would also be placed on the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges. The toll on these four bridges would cost $5.54 each way if paid by E-ZPass and $8 each way for other drivers. There wouldn’t be a toll booth. Instead there would be a sensor that would charge E-ZPass drivers as they go over the bridge. For those without E-ZPass, a camera would take a photo of people’s license plates and they would receive a bill in the mail, according to Bart Robbett, Communications Advisor with MoveNY. The tolls on other MTA bridges—such as the Triborough and Whitestone-- would be lowered $2.50 each way. However, there are benefits for having a toll on the Queensboro Bridge for western Queens residents, Robbett said. For one, there would be fewer vehicles exiting the Grand Central Parkway and driving through residential neighborhoods to get to the bridge. “There would be fewer people going out of their way to get on the free bridge,” Robbett said. “These people are causing problems for [Western Queens] neighborhoods, by adding to the traffic.” “There would be less traffic at places such as Queens Plaza,” he said, where people start jockeying for position to get over the bridge. “They will have to pay, but they will see benefits,” he said. Samuel Schwartz, a former New York City Traffic Commissioner, developed the proposal after his research found that the streets near the free bridges were congested. The bridges with tolls, he found, had far less congestion. In addition to easing traffic congestion, MoveNY claims the new plan would generate $1.5 billion in revenue per year, which would go toward maintaining, expanding and modernizing the transit system and improving city bridges and roads. “I know we can do better — better with traffic flow, reducing traffic crashes and fatalities, and being fairer to drivers [who use other MTA bridges], especially in the outer parts of the city,” Schwartz said. State legislators would have to pass the proposal, since the state oversees the MTA.  
Street to be co-named after Tony Mazzarella
Crab House

Crab House

Feb 23 By Christian Murray Community Board 2 has started the process to name a street after Tony Mazzarella, the long-time owner of the Waterfront Crabhouse who passed away late last month. Former Community Board chair Joe Conley suggested co-naming 2nd Street and Borden Ave. after Mazzarella who was actively involved in community service in Long Island City and elsewhere. The street would be co-named Anthony Mazzarella Way and would be adjacent to the Crabhouse that closed last week. Conley said that the family reached out to CB2 for the street co-naming so it could honor his life and legacy. Mazzarella was an active supporter of cancer-fighting causes. He served as a member of the board of directors for the Queens division of the American Cancer Society, where he raised tens of thousands of dollars for the organization. Furthermore, he would donate at least $1,000 each year to the 108 Precinct community group that would buy Christmas gifts for underprivileged children each year. The community board is expected to approve the street co-naming at its March meeting.
Residents can express their view on public art, as new art piece will record feedback
rendering

rendering

Feb. 22, By Christian Murray Long Island City residents are going to able to express their opinion on public art—when a temporary art piece goes up outside PS 1 on Jackson Avenue. The new installation will be a 19th Century rotary phone that will go up for just two weeks starting March 29. Residents will be able to pick up the phone and be able to express their views on public art in New York as well as Long Island City. The phone will prompt them to answer a series of questions dealing with public art. The piece will be called ‘The Utterance Machine” and will be 8 feet tall and bolted into the ground. The artist is Rebecca Hackemann. The responses will be recorded and all opinions kept anonymous. “The goal is to engage the community and find out their opinion on public art,” said Jennifer Lantzas, a representative of the Parks Department, a recent community board committee meeting. The responses will then be on posted online. However, the website and web address is still being created. Not all responses will go online. “The ones that are thoughtful and thought-provoking will go up on the website,” Lantzas said. The art piece is part of the city’s temporary public art program that permits artists to place their work in a park for up to a year. However, most go up for 3 to 6 months, Lantzas said Ironically, while the utterance machine asks people for their opinion of public art—the community had little say on whether the art piece should have been placed there in the first place. This is true of many temporary art pieces—although those larger in scope typically require the approval of the community board. The parks department is working on placing temporary art pieces in many parks throughout the city. It is currently working on a booklet where it lists parks throughout the city and determines where public art would have a positive impact. “Technically any park can be considered,” Lantzas said. The artwork that is selected is chosen by the parks dept based on its artistic merit. The parks department will then work with a designated park manager to determine whether it would be logistically possible. From there, the borough commissioner signs off on it. Lisa Deller, chairwoman of the Land Use Committee, asked Lantzas what would happen if the public didn’t like the artwork. Lantzas said that none of these pieces are permanent, noting that the Utterance piece will only be up for two weeks. The parks department’s temporary art program is separate from Percent for Arts. That program is run by the Department of Cultural Affairs and is likely to place a pink “ Sunbather” on Jackson Avenue, by the grass median near 43rd Avenue, on a permanent basis. .
Man turns himself in following fatal beating on Vernon Blvd
IMG_1910 Feb. 22. By Christian Murray The suspect involved in the fatal beating of a 32-year-old man on Vernon Blvd Friday has turned himself into police. Kaheem Addison, a 29-year-old from Huntington Station in Long Island, surrendered to detectives at the 108 police Precinct station house on Saturday. Addision, who faces manslaughter charges, beat Jose Antonio Cocuyo-Malaga near the corner of 50th Avenue and Vernon Blvd at 2:30 am Friday. The victim's head hit the pavement. The incident occurred near a bodega when the victim got into car that he believed was a livery cab. The driver who was angered by this jumped out of the car and thumped Cocuyo-Malaga, knocking him to the ground. There were witnesses who saw the event and ran to the 108 precinct station house–about a block away–to alert police, according to the NYPD. Cocuyo-Malage lay unconscious on the side walk near Vernon Wine & Liquors suffering from head trauma. He was transported to Bellevue Hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival. Addision was the sole suspect-- despite initial reports that there were two. .
Man beaten to death on Vernon Blvd
IMG_1910 Feb. 20, Staff Report A 32-year-old man was beaten to death on the corner of 50th Avenue and Vernon Boulevard this morning, according to police. The incident occurred near a bodega at about 2:30am when the victim got into an argument with two men who were in a livery cab, the police said. The victim was drinking with his friends at the time. There were witnesses who saw the event and ran to the 108 precinct station house--about a block away--to alert police, according to the NYPD. The man, whose name has not been released, lay unconscious on the side walk near Vernon Wine & Liquors suffering from head trauma. He was transported to Bellevue Hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival. The investigation is ongoing and there have been no arrests. UPDATE: Police named the 32-year-old victim as Jose Antonio Cocuyo-Malaga. He lived at 49-16 Vernon Blvd.   IMG_1915 .
Massive ‘Mad Men’ exhibit to be on display at Museum of Moving Image
Madmen1 Feb. 19, By Michael Florio To mark the final season of Mad Men, the Museum of Moving image is bringing a piece of 1950s Madison Ave. to Queens. The Museum of Moving Image (36-01 35th Ave) will be launching a Mad Men exhibit on March 14 that will include large-scale sets, costumes, props and video clips of the show. ”Mad Men is much more than a popular television series,” said Barbara Miller, the Museum’s Curator of the Collection and Exhibitions. “It has become a cultural touchstone inspiring a renewed interest in a critical time in the country’s history.”
Draper's kitchen

Draper's kitchen

The exhibit will feature large scale sets of main character Don Draper’s office and kitchen. It will have over 25 iconic costumes, including Don Draper’s suit, Joan Holloway’s red dress from a holiday party and Megan Draper’s “Zou Bisou Bisou” dress. Key props from the series will be on display, including Don Draper’s box with objects that reveal his true identity. Matthew Weiner, the show’s creator, writer and executive producer, will be at the museum on March 20, to discuss the creation and production of the show. The exhibit will also give fans the opportunity to go behind the scenes, featuring key elements of the writers’ room where Weiner and his team crafted story ideas and scripts for the series. There will be index cards and white boards with story notes from the first episodes of season seven. Along with Weiner’s story notes, there will be a section of work that influenced his writing, such as a selection from his personal book collection. There will also be screenings of Weiner’s earlier work, called Required Viewing: Mad Men’s Movie Influences, which feature ten-films curated by Weiner. The Required Viewing films will be screened from March 14 to April 26. The entire exhibit runs from March 14 through June 14. Tickets: $25 public
LIC Parks group seeks new members, as it looks to screen movies & erect ice skating rink
(Rob Basch)

First movie organized by HPPC (Sept. 22)

Feb. 18, By Christian Murray The Long Island City group that oversees the waterfront parks has several plans this year--from hosting outdoor movies, organizing a music series, to even erecting an ice skating rink inside Hunters Point South Park next winter. The Hunters Point Parks Conservancy, which was formed about a year ago, is looking for new members to help develop and build upon these ideas. The group is holding a membership drive at SHI next week and is looking for new people to join. New ideas that have recently been put forward include bringing the acrobats from the Circus Warehouse, located at 53-21 Vernon Blvd, to perform at Hunters Point South Park.
Julie Powell and Rob Basch

Julie Powell and Rob Basch

“We want to get the word out that people can join,” said Rob Basch, the president of the group. He said that he wants as many people as possible to get involved in the running of the two waterfront parks. Basch said the group has plans to screen six movies at Hunters Point South Park this year starting at the end of April. The films, to be sponsored by Nest Seekers, will be shown once a month and will be movies with broad appeal. The first movie will be ‘Frozen’, with the remaining five films still to be selected. Last September, the group screened its first film Julie & Julia. The group will be holding a music series this summer although the details are still being worked out. Meanwhile, the group is making headway in its attempt to bring an ice skating rink to the park. It is working with a well-known company that constructs outdoor rinks and is looking to put together blueprints of the oval. Basch said that the rink would most likely go up for about four months—from mid November through mid-March. The rink would need to be up for a number of months to defray costs. There would be an admission fee and sponsors would be brought on to cover the cost. However, for now, the focus is on bringing on new members. In order to do so, SHI is offering a free appetizer for all new members and a free drink for both new and existing members. "We want more members and for more people to get involved," Basch said. Details of the membership drive event: Date: February 24th Time: 7 pm Location: SHI, 47-20 Center Blvd. Aim: To get residents to attend and join
Waterfront Crab House closes– after nearly 40 years in business
waterfront2
Tony Mazzarelli

Tony Mazzarelli

Feb. 17, By Christian Murray The Waterfront Crab House, one of the last vestiges of Long Island City, closed for good Sunday. The closure comes just three weeks after the owner of the long-time establishment Tony Mazzarella passed away. He had owned the Crab House, located at 2-03 Borden Avenue, for decades. The Waterfront Crab House first opened its doors at in 1977 and Mazzarella quickly filled it with boxing and historic memorabilia dating back to the early 1900s. On Monday, the sporting memorabilia still hung from the walls. A sign was placed on the front door of the Crab House Sunday that read: “It is with deep regret and heavy hearts that we inform you that due to the passing of Tony Mazzarella we must close the Waterfront Crabhouse.” One of Mazzarella’s children was at the restaurant Monday but did not want to discuss what his plans are for the restaurant or the real estate. Many people have held weddings, parties and social events at the Crab House over the years. The site has a lot of history; there was a bar at 2-03 Borden Avenue back in the 1880s. waterfront1
LIC microbreweries to host a beer crawl
Rockaway-465x348 Feb. 13, By Michael Florio Three Long Island City microbreweries are teaming up for a beer crawl. Rockaway Brewing Company (46-01 5th Street), Big Alice Brewing (8-08 43rd Road) and Transmitter Brewing (53-02 11th Street) are coming together to offer a brewery crawl during beer week, which runs from Feb. 20 to March 1. Participants will receive a free brewery passport. A passport can be picked up at any of three breweries and will be stamped at each venue. After receiving a stamp from all three breweries, participants will then be entered into a raffle that will be drawn on March 1. Justine Yeung, a distributor and marketer for Rockaway Brewing, said the prizes will all be beer related, including an assortment of T-shirts, growlers and growler fillers. This is the first year that the breweries have organized a brewery crawl for beer week. Yeung said they were unable to do it last year since Transmitter had only just opened and Big Alice was in the midst of expanding. The three microbreweries decided to put on the event since they all have a common goal: to get the word out on their respective breweries and to help turn Long Island City into a beer destination. “There are so many people that are moving into LIC,” Yeung said. “This helps us connect with the local community.” The breweries are focusing on expanding their clientele and believe that the event will draw people who don’t typically frequent microbreweries, Yeung said. Yeung said if the event proves to be a success that they will put together others. “One idea is a reoccurring LIC brew weekend, like four weekends a year,” Yeung said. They would raffle off prizes at the events. Participants in the brewery crawl will have to pay for their drinks, although the breweries will be offering free samples. Rockaway, which specializes in malts, will offer customers a free sample of each beer. However, a pint will cost $5 and a flight of beers, which consists of a number of four-ounce tasters, for $7. Both Transmitter, which specializes in farmhouse ales, and Big Alice, which offers creative beers such as vanilla prune, will also offer tastings, Yeung said. tranmitterbrewing
De Blasio’s Sunnyside Yards plan might result in 70,000 units being built on top of tracks
sunnysideyard1 Feb. 12, By Christian Murray Seventy thousand units might need to be constructed over Sunnyside Yards if the Mayor’s plan to build 11,250 affordable units over the tracks is to be realized. Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer told members of the Hunters Point Civic Association on Tuesday that 70,000 to 80,000 units might need to be built in order to attract developers to construct the affordable units. “To get to the 11,200-odd…the number of units could be as high as 70,000 to 80,000 on Sunnyside Yards,” Van Bramer said, since developers typically require market rate apartments to offset the cost of constructing affordable units. This would result in “a massive, massive development on the scale we have never seen before in western Queens that will affect Long Island City, Astoria, Sunnyside and Woodside,” he said. However, he said no plan should move forward that doesn’t address the needs of the existing residents. “We can’t fit people on the 7 train today, we don’t have enough school seats for our children today, we don’t have enough green space in western Queens today [excluding Astoria Park and the waterfront in Hunters Point],” he said. “Adding 100,000 more people to our community is staggering,” he said.”The No. 7 train will not be able to house them all,” he added. “That is crazy.” In addition to the proposed Sunnyside Yards development, the city is also proposing a rezoning of the Queens Plaza, Jackson Avenue and Northern Blvd corridor. The potential up zoning would result in a significant increase in population-- as the zoning change would most likely make way for bigger buildings since the city will be mandating affordable units. Van Bramer, who represents 160,000 constituents, told the group: “I won’t go along with any plan that hurts our community. You know me I was born and raised here. I have your back and nothing is going to happen without involving everyone in this room.” Brent O’Leary, the president of the Hunters Point Civic Association who is also legal compliance counsel at Bloomberg LP, said after the meeting that he was not surprised by Van Bramer’s 70,000-unit projection for Sunnyside Yards. “The city will get a developer to build them and manage them [the affordable units]—and in return the developer will want to build as many market rate units as possible.” He said his group is opposed building on the Yards, calling for more green space. “We don’t have the infrastructure we need as it is.”
Winners of Hunters Point South lottery are starting to be notified
Hunters Point South building Feb. 11, By Christian Murray Some of the winners of the Hunters Point South affordable housing lottery have been notified and have been called in for an interview, according to the New York Housing Preservation & Development. HPD said that the tenant selection process is well on its way and that interview letters will be distributed in rounds until all the units are filled. More than 92,000 people applied for the 924 affordable affordable apartments on offer. The units are in two buildings--one at 1-50 50th Ave.; and the other at 1-55 Borden Ave. The building located at 1-50 50th Avenue will be a 37-story complex comprised of 619 permanently affordable units, 13,750 square feet of retail space, and a parking garage with approximately 220 spaces. The 1-55 Borden Ave. building will be 32-stories high comprised of 306 permanently affordable units and approximately 3,000 square feet of retail space. Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer told members of the Hunters Point Civic Association last night that some of the Hunters Point South lottery winners had been notified. He said that he had received a call from a lottery winner earlier this week who said that she had been called in for an interview. The notification period is expected to last for a number of months.

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