The first Republican candidate has thrown his hat in the ring to replace federally-indicted Councilmember Dan Halloran.
Dennis Saffran, 57, said he is running in the 19th Council District to restore “the tradition of integrity and honesty in government.”
The attorney from Douglaston ran for the seat in 2001 and narrowly lost to then-Councilmember Tony Avella.
“I’m the strongest Republican candidate,” Saffran said. “I have a record of citywide and community involvement.
I’ve been active in issues that turned New York City around.”
Saffran is the vice president of the Douglaston Civic Association and works for the Nassau County Attorney’s office.
Halloran faces conspiracy, bribery and wire fraud charges over allegations he helped State Senator Malcolm Smith try to buy his way to the Republican mayoral nomination. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has charged a number of other state and city officials in the case as well.
“He and I have never seen eye to eye on a lot of issues,” Saffran said of Halloran. “Given his arrest and indictment, he’s presumably not running, as far as I know. Nobody’s going to support him if he does. There’s essentially an open council seat.”
There are also reports a former election foe of Halloran will seek his council spot. All City Council seats along with the mayor’s office will be on the ballot in November. Halloran’s office could be up for special election before then, although Halloran has made no indication he will resign.
The Korea Daily reports Democrat Kevin Kim, who lost a 2009 bid for the district seat to Halloran, has been mulling a run.
Insiders say Republican Rudy S. Giuliani, second cousin to ex-mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and current chief of staff to Councilmember Eric Ulrich, might also be a candidate. Neither he nor Kim have made any official announcements about Halloran’s seat.
Democratic candidates who announced bids for Halloran’s seat prior to his arrest include ex-Assemblymember John Duane, attorney Paul Vallone, former governor’s aide Austin Shafran and urban planner Paul Graziano.
Jack Kirrane took a five year break from the FDNY’s Bravest Boxing team.
From 2007 to 2012, the Queens-born firefighter focused on being a father and doing his normal duty at Ladder 38 in Harlem.
Over the last year, however, Kirrane, 37, has been staging a comeback into the sport he started in as a kid growing up in Douglaston.
“It’s actually probably the best it’s been so far,” Kirrane said of his fighting and conditioning. “Now, being older, I stick more to my training regimen, instead of before when I was younger.”
Kirrane, who joined Bravest Boxing 10 years ago, faced off against John Butler of the London Metro Police department in the latest installment of the “Battle of the Badges” on Friday, April 12 at Resorts World Casino New York City.
Kirrane and Butler, both fighting with a similar orthodox style in the 178 master class, battled for all three of their two-minute rounds. When Kirrane swung, Butler swung. Butler threw a right, Kirrane, expectedly, blocked.
Facing off against a style similar to his own, Kirrane said was “fun when you win. That style can be very punishing at the other end too.”
In the end, the referees deemed Kirrane the winner, giving him a 5-0 record against the Brits, making it three victories stateside; two across the pond.
It was, Kirrane said, a good way to continue his record since coming back last year: 3-0.
Aside from meeting with teammates every Tuesday and Thursday to spar in Brooklyn, Kirrane, like many other firefighters, has to train on his own free time – something that’s a precious commodity.
Because cardio is more important that weight lifting when getting ready for a fight, Kirrane said he’s mapped out a three-and-a-half mile course to run around his Nassau neighborhood. When he’s off, taking care of his children, he will normally put them in a double stroller and bring them along.
“It’s very difficult to find the time to train. Especially [when] you’re getting close to a fight, you’ve got to train more.”
Spending the first 33 years of his life in Queens, Kirrane and his brother were introduced to boxing at a young age by their father, who was a member of the New York Athletic Club in Manhattan. The brothers Kirrane, now both firefighters, trained in the club’s Saturday morning youth program.
But what Kirrane said drove him to shake the rust off relatively quickly was the causes Bravest Boxing fights for.
All monies raised at the April 12 fight, which featured six other men’s bouts and two women’s, went to Building Homes for Heroes, which builds houses for disabled Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Along with this charity, Bravest Boxing in the past has helped other veterans’ charities such as Wounded Warriors.
“Whenever we’re fighting over here it’s for charity,” he said. “It’s definitely very rewarding when you’re boxing for charity. It [training and fighting] makes it a lot easier when you’re doing it for a good cause.”
The newlywed owners of a historic Douglaston house say they have no plans to harm the 19th century remnant after neighbors rallied outside their home last week, The Courier has learned.
Property owner Xiu Jun Zhai and his wife received a partial job permit by the city’s Department of Buildings (DOB) on March 4 to change the number of stories in their 38-60 Douglaston Parkway house, according to an application.
The proposal angered neighboring residents, who said construction would destroy the character of the community and ruin a relic.
Plans were not specific but called for “vertical and horizontal enlargement” of the 1,800-square-foot structure and partial demolition that “affects the exterior building envelope,” the application said.
The house dates back to the 1860s, according to preservationists. It is located within the proposed Douglaston Historic District Extension, which was calendared for landmark designation in 2008.
But the couple, who tied the knot last April and purchased the home in September, said they only plan on demolishing two structures in the backyard that were built without permits after 1952. They include a wood deck with a roof and a separate smaller residence to the rear left of the house.
According to a close friend to the property owners, Zhai does not plan on altering the exterior of the main house on the 9,000-square-feet of land.
“The owner is not taking down the house,” the source said. “They want to start family there.”
The DOB did not confirm the plans in time for press.
Zhai bought the property for $660,000, according to State Senator Tony Avella. The building has been vacant for five years.
Women’s History Month marks my third month as an assemblymember. It is a time to recognize the women who have come before to make this world a better place. While we have many great women to celebrate, we have more work ahead. At a time when polarization is defining many of today’s headlines, it is more important than ever to discuss how women’s voices alter the conversation. How can we work together to make our voices stronger? To borrow a phrase from Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, how do we make sure that we are all getting off the sidelines? How do we make sure we are not waiting in a never-ending queue or that we are equal partners in the policy and decision making process?
We have made progress in the number of women holding elected office, but women remain severely underrepresented in our political institutions. Women still only make up 21 percent of the New York State Legislature and 18 percent of Congress, so it is clear that something is missing. That gap will be filled by the next generation of female leaders, and we must do what we can to encourage them to get involved.
Women are underrepresented not because we cannot raise the money or talk to voters, but because we are less likely to even run in the first place. On average, a woman is asked to run for office seven times before she decides to run. More role models like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are needed to show young women they can aim high. There have been shining examples of this locally, particularly Congressmember Grace Meng’s historic victory this past November — a huge victory for Queens women!
I ran for office to show young women that they can do it too — that women could wake up every day, look in the mirror and know they can run and win. Mothers, aunts, sisters and daughters are good for our government and our nation.
The fight for equality will not be won simply by having more female legislators. While New York has passed many laws to ensure women’s equality, we still have many steps to take. The Women’s Equality Act proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo will shine a light on many of the problems faced by New York women and take a big step forward on issues of pay equality and reproductive rights. The Women’s Equality Act is an effort that I will continue fighting for, as it is clear that women’s perspectives lead to better understanding, better conversation, and eventually better laws.
There are also many times when women’s issues, such as reproductive rights, are discussed without input from female legislators or a discussion of how women are actually impacted. This scenario played out in Congress as House Republicans attempted to restrict access to birth control under President Barack Obama’s health care reform. Hormonal contraceptives are only available for women, yet there was not one woman on the panel invited to discuss the impact of the legislation. Underrepresentation is not always that obvious, however. The imbalance of women in public office creates a lack of female voices at times they are most needed. The simple act of more women running for office will change this dynamic, and it is important that we encourage young women to run.
Women’s History Month is about empowerment, and nothing is more empowering than knowing that no office is off limits. Politics has long been a field in which women could not imagine themselves participating, and thankfully it is changing. As the youngest female legislator in the New York State Assembly, I see firsthand the contributions that women are making in government.
I also know that as long as we continue to do good work and advocate for common sense policy, young women will play a significant role in helping our communities prosper.
Assemblymember Nily Rozic was elected to the 25th Assembly District in November 2012, representing neighborhoods in northeast Queens, including Flushing, Queensboro Hill, Hillcrest, Fresh Meadows, Oakland Gardens, Bayside and Douglaston.
Neighboring residents of a historic Douglaston house rallied last Friday to save the 19th century remnant from proposed changes.
The new owner of the 38-60 Douglaston Parkway site has submitted plans to the city’s Department of Buildings (DOB) to significantly alter the house. The department issued a “partial job” permit to property owner Xiu Jun Zhai on March 4 to change the number of stories in the building, according to an application the DOB approved in February.
The plans were not specific but called for “vertical and horizontal enlargement” of the 1,800-square-foot structure and partial demolition that “affects the exterior building envelope,” the application said.
“We’re talking about saving a tiny bit of history,” said Paul Di Benedetto, president of the Bayside Historical Society. “Once it’s gone, it never ever will be replaced. If you erase the history of an area, then you take away its character and its soul.”
The house, which sits on about 9,000-square-feet of land, dates back to the 1860s. It is located within the proposed Douglaston Historic District Extension, which was calendared for landmark designation in 2008. The approximate 20 homes in the extension mark the area’s transition from its rural origins to smaller farms and suburban estates, preservationists said.
Elisabeth de Bourbon, spokesperson for the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), said the agency is still “actively considering” giving landmark designation to the extension.
Zhai bought the property last October for $660,000, according to State Senator Tony Avella. The building has been vacant for five years.
According to a source who did not want to be named, the property owner plans on making changes only to the inside of the home to make it “livable.” He does not want to alter the building’s exterior, the source said.
But the city allowing the new homeowner to alter the historic home sets a precedent, Avella said.
“It’s like a domino effect,” the legislator said. Before you know it, you’ve lost the character and the historic nature of this very wonderful neighborhood.”
Community Involvement: Three years ago, the building that once was known as St. Anastasia’s School in Douglaston reopened as the Divine Wisdom Catholic Academy. The chairperson of the board of directors for the academy, Suzanne Karl, talked about how she was devastated when she first heard the school was closing.
“My two sons went to St. Anastasia’s and when I heard it was closing it broke my heart,” she said. “I wanted to find a way to keep the school open. It had to close and if it was to reopen it would be as an academy.”
Now, Karl says the academy is growing strong with around 400 students attending and a second campus to reopen in Bayside where St. Robert Bellarmine once held classes.
As chairperson, Karl heads all the financial activities for the academy, such as marketing, advertising and fundraising. “Right now we’re working with Catholic Schools Week and we did all the marketing and advertisements for that,” she said. “We also held open houses and meet with prospective parents and answered any questions they may have.”
Karl also sits on the advisory committee for Preserving the Vision, a program geared to expanding the outreach of Catholic schools in the Brooklyn Diocese, as well as preserving their religious identity. Karl says she is entering her sixth and last year on the committee as members are only allowed two three-year terms.
Personal Background: Karl grew up in Middle Village and has been living in Douglaston for the past 19 years. “I’m a Queens girl.”
Inspiration: Karl says her inspiration came after the tragic events of 9/11, “My brother-in-law was a firefighter who died that day,” she said. “The community embraced my sister and niece and nephew and the caring that came out of that made me want to give back. That taught me how important it is to give back.”
Favorite memory: “In 2009, in September, when the school opened for the first time. Watching the kids coming in and smiling and knowing they didn’t have to go to another Catholic school or a public school. That was the happiest moment of my life, besides the birth of my children.”
Biggest Challenges: “Finances. We’ve put in so many enrichment programs that we always have to find sources to fund them. We have Spanish that starts in kindergarten and we also do art and so we have to hire teachers for that. We’re always looking to raise funds and looking for donors.”
Maria Gentile has driven a school bus for more than 34 years. She knows the name of every student she carries along her route, through Bayside, Douglaston and Oakland Gardens. She’s witnessed the first and last days of school for countless families. When she drops a child off at home, she doesn’t drive away until they’ve made it safely inside.
“Safety is first with the children,” said Gentile, who gathered with dozens of other striking drivers outside a bus depot in Jamaica. Two weeks into the citywide school bus strike, drivers remain firmly behind their demands, calling specifically for job security.
“We just want to keep our jobs. That’s it,” said bus driver Jessica Saltos of Queens Village. “We’re not looking for a raise, healthcare, a pension, nothing at all. We want to keep working. That’s it.”
According to Gentile, drivers are fighting to retain the Employee Protection Provision (EPP), an amendment added in 1979 that guarantees drivers will retain routes, regardless of which company oversees the bid.
Strikers believe Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to instate makeshift drivers could be hazardous for the thousands of children who take buses to school. Certification, which normally takes roughly a year and includes drug testing, fingerprinting and hours of training, will take less than 24 hours for fill-in drivers.
“If the mayor wants to put a child in a vehicle with a driver who has no experience, what does that say?” said Gentile. “They’re going to rush to the school and throw the kid off the bus because they don’t care.”
The substitute bus drivers are set to make $14 an hour, a wage many drivers agreed doesn’t promote job longevity or dedication.
“[Bloomberg] is putting the almighty dollar above children’s safety,” said a driver.
On Monday, January 28, representatives from Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181 met with a mediator, Justice Milton Mollen, to discuss drivers’ concerns. While city officials did not attend the meeting, Local 1181 President Michael Cordiello said Bloomberg’s involvement in arbitration is “necessary to move towards a resolution and end this strike.”
The Courier tagged along on a bus trip to Washington, D. C. as the 113th Congress was sworn in.
It’s five in the morning, and over 100 people gathered outside in Flushing, anxiously waiting to board buses making the trek down to our nation’s capital to watch the 113th Congress — and the first Asian-American from New York — be sworn in.
Community leaders and constituents journeyed to Washington, D.C. on Thursday, January 3 to witness her, along with Hakeem Jeffries, Gregory Meeks and Steve Israel, officially become members of the 113th Congress.
“We are very proud today,” said Councilmember Peter Koo. “It’s very historic. I hope that she [Meng] will be a role model and a trailblazer for the new generation.”
After the drive to D.C., supporters were able to watch the newly minted Congressmembers cast their first vote for House Speaker, and then be officially sworn in to the new session.
Hakeem Jeffries, Meng’s former colleague in the Assembly, was also sworn in to represent the 8th Congressional District — which includes Howard Beach, Ozone Park and Lindenwood. Jeffries faced a comparatively lighter general election than Meng, after the Brooklyn-based legislator beat Councilmember Charles Barron in a June primary election.
Incumbent members of Congress Joseph Crowley of the 14th District, Gregory Meeks of the 5th District, and Steve Israel of the 3rd held onto their positions in the House and were also sworn into the new session.
After the swearing in ceremony, Meng joined her constituents and spoke about upcoming plans in her new position. Gun control legislation, immigration reform and passing the Sandy aid bill are at the forefront.
“There are a lot of issues that we need to work on, and I look forward to working with you,” Meng said. “And you all are the eyes and ears of our community.”
Two Catholic schools in northeast Queens will merge and operate under one name in September 2013.
St. Robert Bellarmine School, located at 56-10 214th Street in Bayside, will reopen under Divine Wisdom Catholic Academy in the next school year after board of directors at both schools unanimously approved the expansion this month.
The Bayside school will be called the Divine Wisdom Catholic Academy at St. Robert Bellarmine campus. It will join Divine Wisdom’s current campus at St. Anastasia, located at 45-11 245th Street in Douglaston.
“In an age when Catholic schools are being closed in our city and in the whole nation, this is a strong and confident step in the other direction,” said Monsignor Martin Geraghty of St. Robert’s.
The change will have no effect on students, who will continue attending their respective campuses, Geraghty said.
But while existing administration, staff and faculty at Divine Wisdom will stay in place, employment at St. Robert’s will cease when the school year ends, said officials.
Geraghty said staff members could reapply for jobs at Divine Wisdom.
Some St. Robert’s community members, including Geraghty, are expected to be added to Divine Wisdom’s board of directors.
“We’re confident that we will be able to grow stronger by combining our assets and growing together as a larger community dedicated to excellence,” Geraghty said. “We will be able to take what are already two very good schools and make them superior.”
The Aqueduct Resorts World “racino” in Queens is celebrating its one-year anniversary — amid positive reviews from state officials and community leaders that the facility has boosted jobs and swelled Albany’s coffers in a fragile economy. Read more: New York Post
More express buses flying to La Guardia
If only they checked bags.
The city announced yesterday that it’s adding Select Bus Service routes to and from La Guardia Airport — complete with dedicated transit lanes — that will shave 10 to 40 minutes off trips. Read more: New York Post
Noel Polanco, the unarmed Queens National Guardsman killed by a cop, promoted to sergeant at his funeral
In life, he held the rank of specialist in the National Guard. In death, he is a sergeant.
Noel Polanco, the unarmed Queens man killed last week by a cop, was posthumously promoted Friday at his funeral.
“This is a promotion for outstanding accomplishments and service,” First Sgt. Gregory Sinclair said as the hundreds of mourners jammed inside the Eternal Love Baptist Church in Corona, Queens rose and applauded. Read more: Daily News
EXCLUSIVE: Strawberry’s to shutter suddenly Sunday
A New York baseball legend’s sports bar will shutter Sunday after poor management ran the popular Douglaston dive to the ground, the Courier has learned.
Strawberry’s Sports Grill – the brainchild of the Mets’ and Yankees’ four-time World Series champ, Darryl Strawberry – had only been open for two years before the prominent restaurant struck out, having to suddenly shut its doors for good this weekend. News of the closure came out of left field to employers and upper management, sources said. Read more: Queens Courier
A New York baseball legend’s sports bar shuttered Sunday after poor management ran the popular Douglaston dive to the ground, the Courier has learned.
Strawberry’s Sports Grill — the brainchild of the Mets’ and Yankees’ four-time World Series champ, Darryl Strawberry — had only been open for two years before the prominent restaurant struck out, having to suddenly shut its doors for good this weekend. News of the closure came out of left field to employers and upper management, sources said.
“It came out of nowhere,” said Michael Strawberry, Darryl’s brother, who helped run the Queens hotspot but did not manage its day-to-day operations. “I am very sad. Rest assured it had nothing to do with my brother and me.”
Employees at the homerun food joint — who requested to remain anonymous for fear of retribution — said they suspected the neighborhood eatery was quickly going downhill early this week when the restaurant stopped placing orders for food and paychecks were being bounced.
“They gave us checks on Friday but said we couldn’t cash them until Tuesday because they said there was no money,” the employee said. “People may not be getting paid. They owe some people $600 to $800.”
According to sources close to the situation, the main manager who was responsible for the restaurant’s downfall recently jumped the sinking ship. They claim the majority of some 30 restaurant workers, who will be left jobless, and customers, were also not told of the dining hole’s doom.
Michael Strawberry did not fully confirm the accusations but said they “could be true.”
“Some of these things, I don’t even know. It was a beautiful experience. I’m not trying to throw anyone under the bus,” he said, adding that upper management is now trying to close gracefully. “This is just something that had to be done here at this time.”
Employees said they do not hold either Strawberry brother responsible for the abrupt closure.
“Michael is a great, great man — probably one of the biggest role models I’ve ever met,” a staff member said. “It hurts him more than anybody to see that the place is closing.”
If you know a lot of people with birthdays this time of year, it’s no coincidence. September and October are two of the most popular birthday months, and, according to AnyBirthday.com, more babies are born on October 5 than any other day. To mark this birthday-packed time of year, here’s a list of places to throw great kids parties in Queens.
Alley Pond Environmental Center allows for both an indoor and outdoor experience for any kids event, specifically birthday parties from ages two to 12. The two-hour parties include a discussion about nature and handling live animals along with a nature inspired game or arts and crafts project in a classroom style space. According to the weather, the children will be taken on a nature trail with an experienced guide. With an animal room, party hosts can pick which animals, from blue tongue lizards to ring neck doves, they want to show their guests. All activities will be done within an hour-and-a-half, with 30 minutes left for food and refreshments, which will be provided by party hosts.
Architots 64-64 Dry Harbor Road, Middle Village
The art and design studio offers 18 different themed parties, including animal, High School Musical, princess, pirate and American Idol themes. The studio’s Crayola inspired décor doesn’t just influence coloring but painting and building too. All parties include invitations, a craft, face painting or tattoos, food for children and refreshments for all.
For sporty children, Astoria Sports Complex provides large indoor game areas for all ages. A soccer room, batting cages, inline skating rink, jumbo slide and bouncy room gives party hosts plenty of options to entertain their guests. The soccer rooms have built-in green astro turf and plexiglass surrounding the room for protection. The batting cages are miniature sized baseball fields to get the full playing experience. Each party includes a host, invitations, music, goody bags, food and refreshments.
Birthday Zone specializes in customized party themes, but also has eight preplanned themes available. There is a mini arcade, large playing area and dining room, all decorated according to the theme of the party. Preplanned parties include character mascots to entertain all guests. All parties include games, dancing and face painting, with the option of crafts and cotton candy. Pizza is given to children along with refreshments for all.
Bounce U Whitepoint Center, 132-25 14th Avenue, College Point
Bounce U has private children’s events and specialty birthday parties with large playing and dinning areas. Their purple and red themed areas make a fun and friendly environment. At Bounce U, children have a large room to enjoy different activities in different bouncy houses, such as an obstacle course, a safe boxing ring and basketball hoops. Bounce U gives you the option to light up any party with a glow-in-the-dark experience and flashing colorful lights. The 2-hour party includes food and refreshments for guests, along with cake and balloon decorations for the dinning room.
This hands-on, messy but artsy party place in Long Island City has different types of birthday parties for all ages. The art center teaches how to make different creations out of clay, including plates, bowls and cups. At BrickHouse Ceramic Art Center parties include creating and glazing, though the crafts cannot be taken home right away, but can be picked up in about two to three weeks, after they are dried and fired. The two-hour party time allows for a 30 minute pottery workshop and 30 minutes for dinning.
Summer or winter, City Ice Pavilion always has an ice skating rink available for a party. It has an igloo-like atmosphere with its cooling ice and white bubble covered rink. Party attendees can skate and enjoy food and refreshment provided by City Ice Pavilion. Invitations, admission, rentals and private lockers are all included in the City Ice Pavilion party experience.
An arcade and playground with slides and a playhouse, Kids Fun House is a great place for children’s parties. You can choose from various party themes: princess, knight, fairy, pirate, character inspired or carnival. Children get to make their own goody bags with a candy table in the dinning room. All parties include crafts, tokens for the arcade, decorations, food for children and refreshments for all.
Kids n’Shape 162-26 Crossbay Boulevard, Howard Beach
Kids n’Shape includes a bounce house, slides, a full basketball court, zip lining, ball-pit, scooters and skating. The minimum two-hour parties include invitations, balloons, food and refreshments.
The Museum of the Moving Image isn’t just an educational atmosphere, but is also a place for fun birthday parties for ages eight and up. With a party room and several different exhibits, party attendees have tons to do for two-and-a-half hours. Guest will be surrounded with antique camera equipment, movie customs and pictures of famous actors. They begin with making flipbooks and animation, and dubbing their voices over famous movies. A guide gives a tour around the museum, educating guests about movies, television shows and video games. Finally, the party can watch a classic film. Children will receive goody bags. Food and beverages are optional.
New York Hall of Science allows for both an indoor and outdoor experience for birthday parties. The museum doesn’t just include interactive educational exhibits, but also an outdoor miniature gold course and a science playground. Guests will be surrounded by rockets, lights, molecules and hidden kingdoms. With eight themes to choose from, a two-hour party includes expert guided tours of the 450 hands-on exhibits as well as food, refreshments and a full day pass to the museum.
The bright colored studio welcomes children of all ages for a two-hour painting party. With 75 different ceramic objects to select as a canvas, children can express themselves in multiple ways. Children will experience a party full of music, dancing, games and face painting. Two party hosts will supervise and direct the event. Food and beverages will also be provided.
Queens Zoo 53-51 111th Street, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park
The Queens Zoo offers a full animal party experience where you’ll see creatures from all over the world. Birthday celebrations also include a large party room, located in the Wild Room, where an expert zoo guide will provide a live animal encounter, crafts and activities. Guests can even visit the petting zoo. The zoo provides three party themes to choose with admission, decorations and party goods.
At Young Chefs Academy children will learn to cook and bake from scratch. Expert chefs will help and show the guests how to crack, mix and whip up a delicious dish, along with an arts and craft activity. A two-hour party includes decorations, chef apparel, refreshments and a complimentary class pass for each guest.
A Douglaston home under renovation, ravaged last week by a three-alarm fire, had incurred a laundry list of complaints and racked up thousands of dollars in violations, according to city agencies.
The 39-12 Douglaston Parkway dwelling received 44 complaints since March 2008 from callers saying the ongoing construction work being done at the site exceeded the scope of the approved permit, according to the city’s Department of Buildings (DOB).
All complaints were listed as closed, according to the agency, but homeowner David Wei Huang was also pinned for two violations from the DOB and 17 from the Environmental Control Board (ECB). Of those violations, nine were still outstanding, according to the DOB, and were related to the ongoing construction.
Huang was issued a $2,500 fine when construction at the site was found not to be in compliance with approved plans and another $1,200 for failing to safeguard the public and his property. There were other violations for working with an expired permit, the DOB said.
Permits were first issued by the DOB to extend the building horizontally in September 2009, the department said.
The unoccupied home went up in flames last Tuesday, August 14 at around 7:30 p.m., the FDNY said. No injuries were reported.
Bystander Thomas Perrino said he heard three explosions from inside the house, which he said sounded like gas tanks exploding.
The entire building was already swallowed in flames before more than 100 firefighters from 33 units extinguished the blaze by around 9:30 p.m. The infrastructure of the home’s second floor had completely caved in at that point, said the FDNY.
The fire was deemed accidental, according to a spokesperson for the fire department, and was caused by construction work being done with pipes and torches.