Tag Archives: Department of Citywide Administrative Services

Mayor de Blasio reveals details of Vision Zero plan to put end to traffic fatalities


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@NYCMayorsOffice

The success of Vision Zero is in the hands of the city’s pedestrians and drivers, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Last month, de Blasio, together with the NYPD, Department of Transportation, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Taxi & Limousine Commission, and Department of Citywide Administrative Services, launched an interagency task force to implement his Vision Zero plan to prevent traffic related deaths.

The initiative aims to reduce traffic fatalities to zero within the next 10 years.

After the interagency group spent the past month developing new strategies to make city streets safer, de Blasio released his administration’s “Vision Zero Action Plan” Tuesday at P.S. 75 in Manhattan. A student from the school was struck by a vehicle two years ago and still suffers complications from the accident.

“We don’t accept a status quo in this town that leads to so many people losing their lives that we could have saved,” de Blasio said. “As a parent I know that particularly in this crowded dense city, the danger is lurking at all times for our children. That’s why we have to act, we have to act aggressively. We won’t wait to act because we have to protect our children; we have to protect all New Yorkers now.”

Since the beginning of the year more than 20 lives have been lost on city streets and last year there were 286 traffic fatalities compared to 333 homicides in the city, according to de Blasio.

The initiatives within the “Vision Zero Action Plan” include increasing enforcement against speeding, reducing the citywide “default” speed limit from 30 to 25 mph, and expanding the use of speed and red light enforcement cameras.

The plan will continue to develop borough-specific street safety plans, redesigning 50 locations each year, expand neighborhood “slow zones,” and enforce stiffer penalties on taxi and livery operators who drive dangerously. The interagency group is expected to continue overseeing and coordinating all the changes.

“A life lost is a life lost – and it is our job to protect New Yorkers, whether it is from violent crime or from a fatal collision on our streets,” NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said. “We are going to use every tool we have – and push to get the additional tools we need – to prevent the needless loss of life.”

Bratton also said the NYPD would focus efforts on speeding and failure to yield violations, which make up 70 percent of pedestrian fatalities in the city.

“But it’s about much more than speed bumps and issuing violations, it’s about all of us taking more responsibilities,” de Blasio said. “Our lives are literally in each other’s hands, our children’s lives are in each other’s hands. Today we begin the work to living up to that responsibility.”

 

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Borough Board casts vote in first meeting of the year


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The Queens Borough Board approved the $1.5 million sale of a vacant Flushing lot Monday, during its first meeting of the year.

Board members unanimously voted to allow the city’s Department of Citywide Administrative Services to dispose of a 2,500-square-foot parcel in the heart of Flushing to an entity of the city’s Economic Development Corp.

The property at 135-15 40th Rd. will then be sold to developer Success 88, to be built into a six-story building with commercial and office space. It will also have a community facility, which includes a school for English learners.

“This is a very good project,” said Councilmember Peter Koo, who represents the area. “It will bring prosperity and jobs to the community.”

Then-Borough President Helen Marshall approved the city’s ULURP plans in October.

The $4.5 million project is expected to begin construction in 2015 and end in late 2016, officials said.

Voting members of Monday’s board included Borough President Melinda Katz, the borough’s City Council delegation and Community Board 7 Chair Gene Kelty.

“Even though it’s my first meeting as the borough president, it’s not everybody else’s first meeting,” Katz said. “You guys have been doing great work, and I look forward to continuing that.”

“I look forward to having a very active borough board,” Katz said. “It’s an exciting time for us.”

Developers of the long-delayed Flushing Commons project also updated the board on changes to its $850 million plan, including a parking strategy that would keep the lot’s 1,144 spaces during construction.

“This will have a softer impact on the community,” said Michael Meyer, president of F&T Group. “I think it’s a win-win-win. We’re excited we’re finally getting started.”

The two-phase upscale complex, when complete, will include a total of more than 600 residential units, 500,000 square feet of retail space, a 62,000-square-foot YMCA and a 1.5-acre space with a fountain plaza and amphitheater.

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BP Marshall OKs city’s plan to dispose of vacant lots too small to develop


| mchan@queenscourier.com


Borough President Helen Marshall approved the city’s plan to dispose of four vacant lots that are too small to develop.

The Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) wants to remove the properties from its inventory in order to sell in the future.

Community Board 7 gave the department the green light last month.

The tiny plots of land in Mitchell-Linden, Flushing, College Point and Whitestone were created erroneously, according to DCAS senior planner Christian Grove. Some are as small as a patch of grass in between homes, Grove said.

The four properties were all acquired by the city for free, between 1955 and 1988, through the in-rem tax foreclosure process, according to a DCAS spokesperson.

DCAS representatives said the department would offer each of the four plots to adjacent owners but did not plan to subdivide and sell in pieces. Marshall said “every effort should be made to contact” them.

The borough president also followed suit with the community board in approving a second DCAS application to disown another property at 135-15 40th Road in Flushing.

The department plans to dispose of the property to NYC Land Development Corp, an entity of the city’s Economic Development Corp, which will then sell the land to developer Success 88 for $1.5 million.

Success 88’s $3.5 million project includes building a six-story building with commercial and office space and a community facility, which includes a school for English learners.

 

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Electeds rally against relocation of Triumph of Civic Virtue to Brooklyn


| editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

BY CHRISTOPHER BARCA

The city may have won the battle regarding the relocation of the Triumph of Civic Virtue statue to a Brooklyn cemetery, but those opposed to the plan say the fight is not over.

“They’re taking one of the last pieces of fine art in Queens from us,” said Councilmember Peter Vallone. “They might as well put a bag over the statue’s head and put him in the back of a truck.”

The fence-enclosed statue, standing adjacent to Queens Borough Hall in Kew Gardens, has been the topic of bitter dialogue directed toward the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) from Community Board 9 and its constituents since July. At a November 13 public hearing, however, the NYC Design Commission ruled that the statue will be moved in the coming weeks to Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, where the family of Frederick MacMonnies, the statue’s sculptor, is buried.

To make matters worse, Vallone claims that he and other officials, who hosted a rally alongside Community Board 9 at the statue on Saturday, December 8, were kept in the dark about the meeting in order to negate their opposition to the controversial plan.

“It was clearly designed to be secretive,” Vallone said. “An email was sent out, but the message was sent six days after Sandy, when nearly everyone’s email was inaccessible.”

The statue features Hercules standing triumphantly, representing virtue, while two sirens, representing vice and corruption, are trampled underfoot. City politicians like former Congressmember Anthony Weiner have deemed the statue sexist in recent years, but CB9 district manager Mary Ann Carey scoffs at the claim.

“I don’t understand why people give this sculpture a meaning it doesn’t have,” she said. “They aren’t two women, they’re just two sirens. They have tails. I don’t know any women who have tails.”

Whether or not the statue is indeed sexist, the city sees the uprooting of Civic Virtue as a necessary measure.

“The relocation of Civic Virtue by Frederick MacMonnies to Green-Wood is part of a public-private initiative to ensure the long-term preservation of the sculpture, which will be conserved this spring,” said a spokesperson for the city. “Civic Virtue will remain fully accessible to the public, and we are working on establishing a vibrant, welcoming public space in Queens while the statue is on loan to Green-Wood.”

The statue’s preservation will be paid for by the Brooklyn cemetery, officials said, and no other option were proposed for the restoration.

When the statue is actually moved, the base will remain at its current location, as there is a preliminary plan in place to turn the area into a public sitting plaza. According to a statement from Borough President Helen Marshall, seeing the statue go is bittersweet, but Queens residents should still benefit from the Civic Virtue site, even if the statue resides elsewhere.

“I’m glad that the statue will be restored and we’ll work to see that the base of the statue and the area around it will be transformed into a public sitting area with benches and landscaping,” Marshall said. “I would like the area to pay tribute to outstanding women who have made significant contributions to our borough and city.”