Tag Archives: Little Bay Park

Parks Department postpones decade-long Whitestone project


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Parks Department

The completion of Little Bay Park’s comfort station is being postponed yet again, officials said.

The Parks Department said the most recent delay was due to a harsh winter and an unusually high amount of soil that had to be removed from the construction site.

The new deadline for completion is set for next spring and, once finished, it will end a project that has sputtered along for a decade.

State Sen. Tony Avella and former U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman secured millions of dollars in 2004 to install bathrooms and expand the parking lot.

As of now, visitors to the park and Fort Totten must use portable toilets.

The department finally broke ground last year and announced that the whole project would be finished this fall.

But that deadline is going to be missed, according to a spokesman for the Parks Department.

While the bathrooms won’t be completed until next year, the Parks Department plans to complete a 100-space parking lot and install bioswales to absorb stormwater runoff this fall.

The current budget for everything is $6.659 million, a higher amount than Avella and Ackerman collected in 2004.

As construction continues, the majority of the park, which is named after the bay it faces, is fenced off.

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Body found in Little Bay Park


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Benjamin Fang

Updated 4:05 p.m.

The body of an unidentified woman was discovered in a wooded area of a Whitestone park Tuesday morning, cops said.

A park employee found the badly decomposed remains around 10 a.m. in Little Bay Park near 14th Road and Utopia Parkway, according to authorities.

The medical examiner will determine the cause of death.

-With additional reporting by Paulina Tam

 

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MTA cancels plans to re-route northeast Queens buses


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Construction at Little Bay Park will no longer affect local bus routes, officials said.

The MTA had plans last month to re-route buses traveling from Fort Totten to Flushing for a year due to ongoing joint projects at the park.

Work from building a comfort station, expanding the parking lot and repaving the bus turnaround terminal at Little Bay Park prevented the Q13 and Q16 from making normal stops, the MTA said in a May 7 letter to elected officials.

The transit agency originally wanted to redirect the Q13 up 212th Street, passing local schools and homes before it gets back on track to Bell Boulevard, according to correspondence. It also proposed ending the Q16 at a new stop on Willets Point Boulevard.

“We did not want the buses going through residential areas,” said Assemblymember Ed Braunstein. “It’s dangerous. It’s noisy. It’s not right.”

Braunstein said the MTA and local leaders were able to quickly come up with a less intrusive route.

The buses will instead enter and briefly drive through Fort Totten before leaving and continuing on normal routes. Regular stops will not be impacted, the MTA said.

“This way nobody is inconvenienced,” said Warren Schreiber, president of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance. “This agreement proves that when people make a good faith effort to find solutions to difficult problems, exceptional things can happen.”

 

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City Council strips Dan Halloran of funding power


| mchan@queenscourier.com

DAN HALLORAN

The City Council has voted to strip disgraced Councilmember Dan Halloran of his committee assignments and power to allocate funding.

Halloran faces federal charges for allegedly playing a key role in a conspiracy and bribery scheme to rig the mayoral election, authorities said.

Power to distribute funds in the 19th District now falls to Speaker Christine Quinn’s office and the Council’s entire Queens Delegation, according to Councilmember Leroy Comrie, the delegation’s chair.

“The entire delegation will be working closely, regarding funding, in consultation with his staff and all of the groups,” Comrie said. “It will be a delegation collaborative effort, working with the community and all the groups that have requested funding.”

Bayside and College Point residents in Halloran’s district recently voted to create kayak and canoe launches in Little Bay Park and restore a cultural institute as part of the city’s participatory budgeting process.

Halloran’s spokesperson Kevin Ryan said the Council will “most likely honor” the votes despite the funding freeze. But sources said the $1 million initiative could be in jeopardy.

“We’ll try to do as much as we can to keep the participatory budgeting,” said Comrie.

Meanwhile, a handful of state elected officials are fighting for a hand in allocating the district’s city funds.

“I have a real problem with someone from outside the district placing money,” said State Senator Tony Avella. “We know the district better than anyone else. We want to make sure the groups that deserve the funding in this district get the proper funding. That would be terribly unfair if the groups are disenfranchised.”

Avella and three assemblymembers who represent parts of the district have placed calls to the Speaker to be part of the decision making process.

“That’s not okay in my opinion,” Avella said. “None of them know the groups in this district.”

 

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Comfort station coming to Little Bay Park


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of State Senator Tony Avella

Local leaders broke ground on a comfort station at Little Bay Park, marking the start of construction to a long-awaited project.

“A comfort station at a great park like Little Bay Park has been long overdue,” said State Senator Tony Avella.

Residents have urged the city’s Parks Department for about seven years to put public restrooms in the Bayside park. There are only three port-a-potties currently stationed there.

Plans were stalled when funding provided by the state’s Department of Transportation required additional review and time for comments, a Parks spokesperson said.

The site’s coastal wetland location and the need for new sewer connections also called for the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation and city’s Department of Environmental Protection to provide approvals on design and construction documents.

But now plans are back on track, officials said at the April 2 groundbreaking ceremony.

“The community has waited a long time for this groundbreaking,” said Warren Schreiber, president of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance. “[We are] pleased that it is finally becoming a reality — a facility that will make a visit to Little Bay Park more pleasant for everyone.”

Construction is expected to last one year, officials said.

 

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Council districts to get vote on city-funded community projects


| mchan@queenscourier.com

A million dollar decision is in the hands of some Queens residents.

Three City Council districts in the borough have a week, starting April 1, to vote on community projects they want the city to fund.

Part of an initiative called “Participatory Budgeting,” residents are allowed to develop ideas and then choose five physical infrastructure projects they want to see in their neighborhood. The total $10 million budget is composed of discretionary capital public money to be split between eight districts in the city.

“Participatory Budgeting gives the community an unprecedented opportunity to make decisions on how city dollars get spent in our community,” said Councilmember Mark Weprin.

Weprin and Councilmembers Dan Halloran and Eric Ulrich have each allocated $1 million to their respective districts.

Project items to be voted on include upgrading technology at schools and libraries, installing police and security cameras in high crime areas, and upgrading community facilities like the Poppenhusen Institute and Queens County Farm Museum.

Residents in Halloran’s district have proposed adding a dog run canopy and kayak launch at Little Bay Park and a bird watching platform at Parsons Beach.

“These projects are all worthwhile, especially because they came from the people,” Halloran said.

This is the second year of the city’s participatory budgeting.

The process was derailed by Sandy in the 32nd District, according to Councilmember Eric Ulrich’s office, since some ballot items involving the boardwalk and parks have become ineligible after the storm.

A vote was still scheduled for the first week of April as of press time.

Last year, residents in Ulrich’s district voted to build a bandstand space on Shore Front Parkway, install a library vending machine in Breezy Point and upgrade technology at local schools.

For ballots and voting locations in all three Queens districts, visit pbnyc.org.

 

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What to do with the kids this weekend


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

QUEENS

Saturday, September 8

12 p.m. – 5 p.m., This first-ever LIC Block Party will feature artist-led activity tents, a stage with live music, interactive performances and a community-built, large-scale temporary sculpture. Guests will also find the Artist Market with a selection of the best affordable and functional art and objects and a family-friendly food court with goodies from local restaurants. Activity tents include Tarot readings, pom-pom making, Cubist face painting, carnival games, “discover your inner child,” balloon activities, ask a lawyer, neighborhood walks, wondrous disguises and costumes

12 p.m. – 5 p.m., The Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning will celebrate its 40th anniversary with workshop previews, face painting, a DJ, arts and crafts, on-site workshop registration and one-day-only discounts.

12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m., Come to the Back to School festival at Little Bay Park for an afternoon full of fun activities including inflatable rides, arts and crafts projects, and free giveaways.

Sunday, September 9

10 a.m. – 6 p.m., The Richmond Hill Block Association will be hosting its 39th Annual Park Fair  at the Buddy Monument in Forest Park. There will be food, crafts, live entertainment, raffles for prizes, a pet adoption event and much more.

1:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m., The whole family can come to the Queens Museum of Art for tours and hands-on art making workshops connected to the exhibition Tiffany: The Glass. The exhibit explores the colors, patterns, textures and types of glass made for and used by Tiffany Studios. With the transition from summer to fall, this Sunday attendees can look at the change of the seasons depicted in Tiffany Glass.

 

AROUND QUEENS

Saturday, September 8

Explore the movement in New York City at the Center for Architecture. Children and parents can come and watch video examples of dance on city streets and in buildings, then learn how to create simple dances together as a family. Each family will receive a recording of their dance as a keepsake of their kinetic design.

Saturday, September 8 – Sunday September 9

11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., At the 32nd Annual Brookhaven Country Fair there will be fun activities and entertainment the whole family, including traditional crafts, primitive cooking, Irish step dancing, Revolutionary War and Civil War re-enactments, pony rides, live music and more. Admission to the fair is $2 for adults and children under 12 are free. Parking is free.

Sunday, September 9

12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m., Watch the epic story of New York City’s drinking water supply unfold in an original production by Arm-of-the-Sea Theater in Central Park‘s natural playground, the Peter J. Sharp Children’s Glade, through puppets, music and poetry.

2:00 p.m. (Doors: 1:30 p.m.), Come to the Hip Tot Music Fest, family-friendly live music series in Brooklyn. There will also be arts and crafts, face painting, local food and giveaways.

 

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Tuesday: Overcast in the morning, then mostly cloudy. High of 81. Winds from the NW at 5 to 10 mph. Tuesday night: Mostly cloudy in the evening, then partly cloudy. Low of 68. Winds less than 5 mph. Chance of rain 20%.

EVENT of the DAY: “The Adventures of Tintin”

Come to the Little Bay Park outdoor amphitheater for a free family movie overlooking the Long Island Sound. Tonight’s feature is “The Adventures of Tintin,”based on the beloved series of children’s books. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

City to begin $70 million plan to alleviate flooding in Springfield Gardens

A basement water pump is a necessity for many residents in Springfield Gardens and other deluge-prone areas of southeastern Queens. Read more: New York Daily News

Authorities offer $45K reward for alleged gunman who shot policeman

Authorities have increased a reward to $45,000 for information leading to the arrest of a man who allegedly shot a police officer in Jamaica, Queens earlier this month. Read more: NY1

Bones found near LaGuardia Airport

Police are investigating a set of remains that were found in a marshy area near LaGuardia Airport Monday night. Read more: NBC New York

B’klyn man loading cement onto truck struck and killed by school bus

A beloved married father and grandfather from Brooklyn was killed early today when he was struck and killed by a school bus carrying mentally disabled children in Queens, cops and witnesses said. Read more: New York Post

Majority in city see police as favoring whites, poll finds

A significant majority of New Yorkers say the Police Department favors whites over blacks, according to a new poll by The New York Times. Read more: New York Times

Mayor: City budget hole from stalled taxi program could result in layoffs

Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to expand taxi service to all five boroughs would not just have been a boon for riders. It also would have put an extra $1.4 billion in the city’s coffers. Read more: NY1

10 MTA workers charged for alleged false reports

Prosecutors charged 10 Metropolitan Transit Authority employees with falsifying reports to suggest they had completed or supervised safety inspections in the New York subway system, District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said Monday. Read more: Wall Street Journal

Little Bay Park comfort station back on track


| mchan@queenscourier.com

DSC_0089w

Long-delayed plans to construct a comfort station at Bayside’s Little Bay Park are back on track after seven years of derailment, officials said.

The bidding process for the capital project has begun and will last until July 31, said a spokesperson for the city’s Parks Department. While the spokesperson said a construction time line will only be available after all bids are received and evaluated, State Senator Tony Avella said he expects shovels to hit the ground by the end of the year.

“After years of bureaucratic delays, I am pleased that this project is finally moving forward,” Avella said. “It is a real shame that a great park like Little Bay Park, which has what I consider the best dog run in the entire city, does not have a comfort station.”

The senator rallied with Bayside community activists and residents last November to urge the Parks Department to begin the revitalization project. Avella, who previously allocated funding for a dog run in the park, apportioned $1.3 million for the public restrooms seven years ago at the same time Congressmember Gary Ackerman secured a $4.1 million federal transportation allocation to reconstruct and expand the Little Bay parking lot and rebuild the Cross Island Parkway bridge overpass at 212th Street.

Neither project has commenced, and three port-a-potties are currently stationed in the park.

The project came to a pause after funding provided by the state’s Department of Transportation required additional review and time for comments, a Parks spokesperson said. The site’s coastal wetland location and the need for new sewer connections also called for the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation and city’s Department of Environmental Protection to provide approvals on design and construction documents. The agency said the funding was secure and had not been reallocated.

Warren Schreiber, president of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance, suspected the project slowed to a halt after the Parks Department bundled the $5.42 million in city and federal funds together — a move he said was “not a good business procedure.”

“For some reason, everything seemed to come to a stop,” he said. “I don’t think there was any wrongdoing or corruption in handling the funds. It just wasn’t handled properly.”

But a Parks spokesperson said combining city and federal grants was not unusual when funding municipal capital projects.

Schreiber also pushed for the agency to make Requests for Proposals available to the public to see if any changes have been made to the seven-year-old plan.

“It could still be at least another 18 months before we actually get to use the comfort station at that location,” he said.

— Additional reporting by Michael Pantelidis

Quiet Aide to Liu Helped Build a Donor Base Now Under Scrutiny


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Quiet Aide to Liu Helped Build a Donor Base Now Under Scrutiny

She is an almost invisible figure in New York politics, a former insurance agent and single mother who unwinds at karaoke bars in Queens singing Taiwanese pop ballads in a gentle soprano voice. But Mei-Hua Ru quietly wields considerable power in the city, having guided Comptroller John C. Liu’s rise from an obscure councilmember 10 years ago to a major political force today. Read More: New York Times

Little Bay Park project stall is little ‘comfort’

Bayside elected officials and community leaders are campaigning for relief for visitors of Little Bay Park and hoping that millions of dollars in funding hasn’t been flushed by the Department of Parks and Recreation. Senator Tony Avella united with Warren Schreiber, president of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance, and residents of the Bayside community on November 29 to urge the Parks Department to begin the revitalization project of Little Bay Park – which includes the construction of a comfort station. Read More: Queens Courier

Recalling Days on the Run With Abducted Children

The week before they abducted their eight children from a foster carecenter in Queens, Nephra and Shanel Payne stocked up at Costco on supplies and dry goods, like graham crackers, diapers and infant formula for Nefertiti, their 11-month-old daughter. They stashed family photos and important documents in a storage facility and crammed a basketball and a football — essential for traveling with a Little League team’s worth of boys — into their car. Read More: New York Times

New York Mafia and Russian mob joined to lure women as strippers; arranged sham marriages 

The Mafia teamed up with the Russian mob to smuggle Eastern European beauties into New York to work as strippers — and even arranged sham marriages to keep them here, the feds say. Twenty suspects, including seven reputed Gambino and Bonanno mobsters, were arraigned in Manhattan Federal Court on Wednesday on charges ranging from racketeering to visa fraud. Read More: Daily News

Surveillance Video Released In Search For Queens Assault Suspect

Police are asking for help in finding a man wanted in connection with an assault in Queens. Officials say the suspect hit a 33-year-old man outside of the Nest Bar and Restaurant in South Richmond Hill shortly before 1 a.m. Sunday. The victim was treated for his injuries at Jamaica Hospital. Police say the suspect fled the scene. He is said to be about 5-feet 5-inches tall. Read More & Watch the Video: NY1

Detective Who Fired First Shot At Sean Bell Expected To Face Dismissal, Source Says

William Bell is hoping Detective Gescard Isnora will be removed from the police force after being found guilty of violating New York City Police Department rules in a departmental trial following the deadly shooting of his son Sean five years ago. That decision is being left up to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, but those close to the investigation say the NYPD trials commissioner recommends dismissal. Read More: NY1

Highschool ‘sext’ boot OK’d

A Queens judge has thrown out a lawsuit brought by the parents of an ex-student at Christ the King High School who was booted for allegedly showing naked pics of an ex-girlfriend on his phone. Joseph Farley was thrown out of the Catholic school this year after being ordered by Assistant Principal Carol Timpone to turn over his cell phone after the girl’s mother complained, according to the suit. After Farley refused, he was expelled. Read More: New York Post


Little Bay Park project stall is little ‘comfort’


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Michael Pantelidis

Bayside elected officials and community leaders are campaigning for relief for visitors of Little Bay Park and hoping that millions of dollars in funding hasn’t been flushed by the Department of Parks and Recreation.

Senator Tony Avella united with Warren Schreiber, president of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance, and residents of the Bayside community on November 29 to urge the Parks Department to begin the revitalization project of Little Bay Park – which includes the construction of a comfort station.

Avella, who previously allocated funding for a dog run in the park, apportioned $1.3 million for the public restrooms seven years ago – the same time Congressmember Gary Ackerman secured a $4.12 million federal transportation allocation to reconstruct and expand the Little Bay parking lot and rebuild the Cross Island Parkway Bridge overpass at 212th Street.

Neither project has commenced, and three port-a-potties are currently stationed in the park.

“This seems to be systematic of the Parks Department – getting money and then not moving ahead with the project,” said Avella, who believes usage of the park has increased by 1,000 percent in the past decade. “It is unfair to the community to have to wait seven years for something they have been asking for, and it is unfair to tax payers because each year you delay a capital project, costs go up. I would hate to even ask the Parks Department what this project would cost today.”

The senator blames the delay on a lack of communication and transparency and says he plans to introduce state legislation requiring all city agencies to provide information on their web sites about all pending capital projects, including where funding is coming from, the anticipated start and completion dates and where the projects are in the construction process.

“These were important funds that I fought hard to secure for our community,” said Ackerman. “It’s well past time for these projects to move forward. Hopefully, all agencies involved can cut through the bureaucratic red tape so that shovels can finally get into the ground as soon as possible.”

During the press conference, community leaders emphasized that there is “great fear” that the money is being used for other projects.

“It’s obvious that the planned park and traffic enhancements have somehow been derailed. It’s time to get them back on track,” said Schreiber, who called the Parks Department one of the most difficult agencies to deal with. “At some point you have to wonder if the money is still there or if it was used for another purpose.”

According to a Parks Department spokesperson, a number of outstanding issues exist that are preventing the initiation of the project, including state approval to build close to a coastal zone, state approval to handle archaeological finds – if any are discovered on site – due to the recent discovery of archaeological material within half a mile of the park, and permission from several agencies to utilize a sewer line owned by the FDNY.

“The total budget for the comfort station and parking lot is approximately $4 million,” said the spokesperson. “This includes both federal and city funds. The funding is secure and has not been reallocated. Because the project contains federal grant funds, the state is obligated to review all plans before Parks can bid or begin to build.  We’ve been working closely and actively with the State Department of Transportation (DOT) to address their comments and requests.”

After learning of the press conference on November 29, Avella says Parks Department officials and the Department of Transportation contacted him and arranged a meeting to discuss the project.

“At this point, I am optimistic that the Parks Department recognizes this is a serious issue for the community,” Avella said. “Hopefully they will realize that we need communication and transparency and we are here to work together to move this project along.”