Saving Jamaica Bay
Local Documentary Film At The Queens World Film Festival
March 21, 2016 / Jamaica Neighborhood / NYC Environment & Health / Gotham Buzz NYC.
I attended the 6th annual Queens World Film Festival on Thursday where I had an opportunity to view a film that's been years in the making by a local filmmaker, Dan Hendrick. The film is entitled Saving Jamaica Bay and it's an hour and 16 minute documentary about the ecosystem of New York City's Jamaica Bay.
The film storyline and cinematography capture the juxtaposition and the intensifying struggle, between man and nature. The beauty of the bay is captured on film, showing us that the fair maiden is in distress. But she's being rescued, or at least fought for, by a naturalist and former manager of the National Park Service Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in tandem with a retired fireman and his son, who've taken upon themselves the mission of protecting what was shown to us to be an area of great urban abuse and refuse, but even greater beauty.
Click here to see more still photos and a review of the film entitled Saving Jamaica Bay at the Queens World Film Festival in March. The film is scheduled to be shown at other film festivals throughout the year, a few of which will be listed at the end of this report.
LaGuardia Airport - Airplane Noise
Jackson Heights, Corona & Queens Voice Concerns Regarding LGA Airplane Noise
FAA Considering Extension of LaGuardia Airport Hours & Other Changes
I attended a town hall meeting about the airplane noise coming from LaGuardia Airport at PS 69 in Jackson Heights. The town hall had been organized by NYS Senator Peralta’s office and the panel of speakers included local government officials and representatives of the Federal Aviation Administration [FAA] and the New York New Jersey Port Authority [NYNJPA].
Standing Room Only at PS 69
The auditorium was packed and there were people lined up along the walls as well as standing in the back of the auditorium. Airplane noise has emerged as a big issue for Jackson Heights due to a couple of construction projects going on at the airport – both of which will be completed at the end of November.
Cynical Audience Member's Point of View
The timing of the town hall meeting, only six weeks before the construction was to end, led one of the local pundits to cynically suggest that this was merely political theater, rather than an effort to accomplish anything substantive.
There was an earlier town hall meeting organized about two years ago by NYC City Councilmember Dromm, to tackle the problem in its early stages, and while it was happening - not after it was all over - which is what we're close to today.
But that said, these town hall meetings are not just political theater, although inevitably that is some of it, which you will see in the video. And while the immediate problem will subside, we discovered that there a number of efforts either underway or in the planning stages, in which the community has a vested stake in the outcomes.
Not Said In Meeting: Federal Register States That Consideration Is Being Given To Extending LGA's Operational Hours & Slots
In doing follow up research I found a piece on the Federal Register government website that informed me that the FAA is considering changing the operational hours and slots for LaGuardia Airport. This was not discussed at the town hall [click into story for additional detail]. We also found other things that were either scarcely touched upon or not addressed, which we included in this report.
Click here to read the rest of this report about LaGuardia Airport & Airplane Noise in NYC. The report includes video presentations, including some audience interaction, and a photo slide show and other information about FAA air traffic changes, airplane noise and what you can do about it.
NYS Medical Marijuana Law & DPA
Drug Policy Alliance Reports First Deadline For Submissions Passes
I attended a forum on medical marijuana last week. It was sponsored by the Drug Policy Alliance, a non profit group, whose mission is to promote
"drug policies that are grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights".
During the course of this forum I found that there's a lot going on in this area - not just with regard to implementing the legalized use of marijuana for medical use - but in going signficantly beyond that milestone, to making it available to the general public by regulating it in a manner, of which the options range in similarity to: pharmaceuticals, alcohol or tobacco.
To be sure, as public perceptions and policy change, there are important concerns and issues associated with these changes that must be properly managed, or the results of these changes won't be beneficial to the community as the marijuana legalization advocates suggest - but rather could be just the opposite.
We'll have more on the Drug Policy Alliance forum held last week at ABC Carpets on Broadway.
Click here for things to do in Midtown NYC.
Sterling Equities & Related Companies Lose A Court Battle
Plans to Build Shopping Mall on Flushing Meadows Corona Park Land Reversed on Appeal, but Legal Wrangling will Continue
This report is based on an Associated Press report dated July 2, 2015 and a Queens Tribune story dated August 28, 2014.
In August of 2014, New York State Supreme Court Judge Manuel Mendez decided in favor of Related Companies / Sterling Equities by throwing out a lawsuit filed by the City Club of New York and NYS Senator Tony Avella.
The plaintiffs alleged that billionaire Stephen Ross's Related Companies, the real estate developers of Hunters Point South and the Hudson Yards, and the Sterling Equities which was co-founded by the NY Mets owners, mega-millionaires Saul B. Katz and Fred Wilpon, had not gone through the NYS legislature for the approval of the transfer of the parkland as required by law.
The lawsuit, filed in February 2014, alleged that the transfer of 47 acres of Flushing Meadows Corona Park land that currently represents the western part of the Mets parking lot, was done without following the procedure for a proper public review [see photo above right]. The City had proposed transferring the 47 acres to Related Companies / Sterling Equities who had planned to build a 1.4 million square foot shopping mall next to Citifield.
The NY City Council and the billionaire former Mayor Bloomberg approved the project in October 2013, but the proposal never went to Albany for a vote. According to the Queens Tribune report one of the plaintiffs said that the Judge Manuel Mendez's ruling goes against the Public Trust Doctrine, ignores longstanding case law history, and bestows too much power that was formerly the purview of the Board of Estimate in one person: the NYC Mayor.
On Thursday, July 2nd, 2015, the four-judge Appellate Court overturned Judge Mendez's decision and ruled that the Willets West Mall Project was illegal because the land is a part of Flushing Meadows Corona Park, in spite of its current paved over status as a parking lot [see 2009 photo above].
And because it is a part of the public parkland of the people, it may not be turned over to the real estate developers without approval of the NY State Legislature. The judges rejected the ruling in favor of the mall development made by Judge Manuel Mendez, wherein Mendez sided with the wealthy real estate developers who argued that the 54 year old, 1961 law authorizing the construction of Shea Stadium, also included a mall.
The photo above shows the Citifield parking lot in 2009, as it was being paved over following the demolition of Shea Stadium which was authorized in 1961. The new Citifield stadium built to replace Shea, is smaller.
According to the Associated Press report, a spokesman for the real estate developers said that they would appeal the decision.
Affordable Care Act Review
Obamacare Check Up One Year Out
October 20, 2014 / NYC Neighborhoods / NYC Healthcare / Gotham Buzz. I rarely leave Manhattan for a story, but last week I had an opportunity to attend an NPR forum on the Affordable Care Act at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. The program was designed to look back on the promise, disappointment and possibilities of Obamacare one year since the program was rolled out.
Brian Lehrer of NPR was the moderator of the forum which included a panel of experts representing different groups involved in the administration of the Affordable Care Act. There were representatives from a local hospital, an insurance group, a journalist who's been tracking the Affordable Care Act for NPR, a documentary filmmaker and the Director for State Health Policy from Rutgers University.
I arrived by train from Penn Station. The train ride took less than twenty minutes and the walk to the New Jersey Performing Arts Center took less than ten minutes. I had never been to the NJPAC and was impressed by its sparkling beauty on both the inside and out. Its a modern glass and steel structure and the windows provided views of the New York City skyline in the distance. But I digress.
Click here for our full story about the Affordable Care Act NYC. This includes delving a bit into doctor participation, patient behavior, costs, breadth and depth of coverage, where the program is meeting / not meeting its objectives and an outlook of the future.
People's Climate March Photos
Over 300,000 People March / Interesting Signage / Creative Costumes / Jazzy Music / Important Message / By The People & For The People / We Are One World / We Are One People / We Must Learn To Live In Harmony With Each Other & With Our Ecosystem
September 22, 2014 / Midtown Neighborhood / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.
I came up the subway stairs at Times Square Sunday, September 21, 2014 shortly before 1 pm. I had hoped to cover the People's Climate March story beginning at 11.30 am at Columbus Circle which was when the parade was to start; but I was detained and rushed to cover what I had thought might be the END of the parade. Boy, was I wrong. I ran head on into the BEGINNING of the parade, although I had missed the very front of it.
It truly was a People's Parade as there were few government officials were in attendance. According to one report I read after the parade, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon joined the head of the parade around 12.45 pm, which wasabout the time I had arrived, so I missed them.
There were also a few NY City Council Members who marched, versus an NYT report that indicated a third or more planned to march. I recognized three of about five NY City Councilmembers that were there: NY City Council Speaker Viverito, UWS CCM Rosenthal and Astoria Queens CCM Costa Constantinides.
Green Companies Missed Big Marketing Opportunity To Reach Their Passionate Audience
Click here later today to read our full report of the People's Climate March including hundreds of photos, and a number of parade marchers' views of what's really going on, as well as what can practically be done by regular folks about it.
Click here to read our report and view photos of the UN organized People's Climate March in NYC. Story and photos by Michael Wood.
Affordable Care Act Insurance Deadline
Deadline To Complete Enrollment Extended To February 28th
But February 15th Is Final Day To Begin NYS Insurance Enrollment
New Enrollments For ACA Health Insurance Ends February 15, 2015. Those who have begun the enrollment process by February 15th will have until February 28th to complete them. The deadline is February 15th to begin an enrollment. We received reports that many folks were having difficulty in getting through to a telephone operator, so it looks like there was a spike in demand near the deadline, which also happened in 2014.
On Saturday, NY State of Health extended the enrollment deadline by two weeks to enable those who do not complete their enrollments by Sunday, February 15th. Hence, enrollees now have until February 28th to complete enrollments in the New York State health insurance plans associated with the Affordable Care Act. It's worth mentioning that the NY State Of Health does not have operators available on Sunday and that they are only available Saturday from 9 am - 1 pm.
Enrollment On Target With Government Incentives. According to recent national news services, there were already 9.5 million enrollees in the Affordable Care Act plan as of a few weeks ago [mid / late January 2015]. The total enrollment target nationally for this year is 10.5 million. Last year the New York State of Health - which runs the NYS Affordable Care Act enrollments - signed up nearly 371,000 people. There were reports in January 2015 that the number of NY State of Health enrollees has grown this year. We also understand that the folks who enrolled last year and are currently participants in a plan will be automatically renewed in their Affordable Care Act Health insurance, so they are not required to update their enrollment with the state. But that said, they must renew their status with their health insurance provider around the time of the anniversary of their enrollment.
One news site recommended that folks already enrolled in the plan ought to review and update their enrollment to make sure they want to stay with their present insurer, and that they fully understand the tax consequences of their healthcare choices.
Tax Penalties 2015. One report noted that the majority of Affordable Care Act enrollees get some measure of monetary incentive to enroll in the plan. In 2014 the tax penalty for not having health insurance was $95 per adult or 1% of household income. In 2015 the penalty rises to $325 per adult or 2% of income.
Click here to view the New York State of Health website.
Obamacare Comes To NYC, NYS & America
NYC Prepares For The Affordable Healthcare Act
Update - Over 197,000 New Yorkers Have Completed Applications of which over 48,000 have already selected and enrolled in a plan. Over 142,000 people were helped by the New York State of Health which runs the health plan marketplace for New York State. Note that open enrollment for the tax year 2014 ends on March 31, 2014.
November 7, 2013 / Gotham Buzz NYC.
I just returned from the United Civic Community Association [UCCA] sponsored forum on Obamacare at the Museum of the Moving Image. The forum did a nice job of providing what appeared to be a good summary look into what the federal government’s Affordable Healthcare Act [also known as Obamacare] is really all about.
The forum was moderated by Rose Marie Poveromo, President of the United Community Civic Association of Astoria and included a panel of experts. The panel included U.S. Congressman Joseph Crowley, Rebecca Jackson, a NY State of Health Project Coordinator, Caryn Schwab Executive Director of Mount Sinai Queens, Judy Trilivas Chief Operating Officer of Mount Sinai Queens and Minna Elias Congresswoman Maloney’s Chief of Staff. They are shown seated from left to right in the photo above, at the UCCA hosted Obamacare Forum at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria.
Click here to read more about Obamacare comes to America NYC NYS.
Cyclists Rights In Manhattan NYC
Knowing Your Rights & Responsibilities As An NYC Cyclist
November 7, 2013 / NYC Cylists Rights In Manhattan / Gotham Buzz NYC. By Philip Papas. The introduction to the Cyclists' Rights Forum was given by Christina Vassallo, Executive Director, Flux Factory. She told us that the event came about after she and a friend were stopped for cycling violations, which they thought were not illegal, or had erroneously been applied as violation points to their motor vehicle driver’s license. As a result she saw the need for a forum to clarify laws, rights and proper procedures for cyclists to follow.
Click here to read our full report about NYC Bike Laws / NYC Biking Rules Forum in Queens at the Flux Factory across from Midtown Manhattan in LIC.
|F Scott Fitzgerald Great Gatsby Pile of Aches 1939 Worlds Fair|
Battle for the Heart of a Park … and the Soul of a Borough
The NYC World's Fair: 1939 - 1940 in Flushing Queens
PART ONE - Out of the Ashes Rises the Phoenix
Over the past six months we’ve been watching with interest as events have been unfolding regarding the building of a 25,000 seat soccer stadium right in the heart of Flushing Meadows Corona Park. There are also a number of other proposals working their way through the political process / local government, which calls for the cessation of public lands to build private enterprises on various sections of Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
Currently four separate proposals are in process for planned developments in Flushing Meadow Corona Park. They include: 1) a chain store shopping mall / complex in the southwest corner of the Citifield parking lot [pink], 2) a housing / condominium / hotel complex on the lands the city acquired in its use of eminent domain to develop Willets Point [blue], 3) the expansion of the USTA facilities in the northwest section of the USTA franchise in the park [orange] and 4) the erection of a thirteen plus acre stadium / sports complex in the middle of Flushing Meadows Corona Park [yellowish green].
The graphic above was provided by one of the community groups opposed to the Flushing Meadow Corona Park developments. It's worth noting that most of the colored areas already have pavement or structures covering the land. The exception is that of the proposed Stadium & Concert venue [yellowish green], which would be a completely new development, replacing water vessels which were created for the Worlds Fair. See the map in the header of this series [top of page] where the dark red square represents the approximate acreage and location of the proposed stadium / concert venue.
Queens Buzz has put together a series of reports, which we will run in the coming days about the proposed developments in Flushing Meadow Corona Park. This report starts with a bit of the history of the park, which began around the turn of the last century when Flushing Meadows Corona Park was just an ashpile.
The focus of this report is the 1939 NYC World's Fair which was held in Flushing Meadow Park as it was then called.
NYC World's Fair 1964: Battle for the Heart of a Park … and the Soul of a Borough
PART II - NYC Stadiums: Battle of the Titans
The NYC World's Fair: 1964 - 1965 in Flushing Queens
Click here for Part I of our report series on Developments in Flushing Meadows Corona Park where we journeyed back to the Corona Ash Dump, immortalized in the Great Gatsby, and later transformed into a World’s Fair utopia by Robert Moses, Fiorello LaGuardia and the 1939 World’s Fair committee.
The 1939 World’s Fair attracted over 40 million people, but lost over $100 million, as it opened the year Nazi Germany beganinvading its European neighbors, and while Japan was busy invading China. Nonetheless, in spite of a financial failure for the 1939 World’s Fair bondholders, the fair had enabled NYC and Robert Moses to complete phase one of his vision to transform the Corona Ash Dump into NYC’s premier city park, and build a whole new network of highways around it.
Ebbets Field in Brooklyn & The Brooklyn Dodgers
We resume our story, after WWII, as a young lawyer in Brooklyn began working for the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Dodgers played at Ebbets Field just east of Prospect Park in what is the now Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn. The year is 1943 as a 40 year-old lawyer, Walter O’Malley, leaves the Brooklyn Trust Company where he had oversight responsibilities for troubled companies, including the Brooklyn Dodgers.
You can click here to read Part II of our report on proposed developments in Flushing Meadows Corona Park entitled NYC Stadiums: Battle of the Titans.
Or click this link in the meantime to view Part I of our report series entitled - Out of the Ashes Rises the Phoenix - about the beginnings of Flushing Meadows Corona Park and the 1939 World's Fair.
32,000 Bikers Pass Thru Queens: 5 Boro Bike Tour
This Sunday some 32,000 bicyclists rode through Astoria and LIC on their way to completing a 40 mile bike ride through all five boroughs of NYC. Photographer Abdel Berrera caught up with them at the Astoria Park rest station where many took a moment to catch their breath.
Many of the cyclists come from other countries and other states. The bikers see this as a nice way to see all of New York City, not just Manhattan.
There are two 5 Boro Bike Tour rest stops: the first in Astoria Park and the second at the Con Ed rest station along the East River. Many took some time out to make adjustments to their bikes, gear and selves; and consumed a bit of food before resuming the relaxing trip and heading on to Brooklyn and Staten Island.
Click here to see a slide show of the 5 Boro Bike Ride NYC - bike rides & bike tours NYC.
Century Bike Riders Come Through Queens
TA Queens Volunteers Work Astoria Park Rest Stop
On Sunday it was in the 70’s and low 80’s, sunny & dry. The day couldn’t have been much better for a one hundred mile bike ride through all five NYC boroughs. And so it was as I headed down to the Century Bike Ride Queens rest stop in Astoria Park.
The Century Bike Ride was started by Transportation Alternatives in 1990, long before there were any real bike lanes in NYC. The first ride attracted about 200 riders, while the ride in 2012 attracted over 6,000 riders. Since that first ride, literally hundreds of miles of bike lanes have been mapped out in NYC; and the city plans to expand NYC bike lanes by about 50 more miles in 2013 - ten of which will be laid out in Queens. This expanding network of bike lanes is due in part to the work of volunteers of the non-profit organization Transportation Alternatives.
Click here to learn more about Transportation Alternatives Queens and the Century Bike Ride NYC passing throught Queens in 2012.
East River Water Quality
LIC Kayakers Call For DEP Water Quality Investigation on the East River Affecting Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx & Manhattan
September 17, 2012 / East River Water Quality & Health Issues NYC / Gotham Buzz NYC.
I stopped by Hallets Cove to visit the LIC Boathouse kayakers to see how the season had gone.
I spoke with Victoria Olson, the LIC Boathouse Chairperson, and Ted Gruber, Chairman Emeritus about the LIC Boathouse East River kayaking season. As you can see in the photo, they were plenty busy having averaged about 200 people each summer weekend, over about a four to five hour afternoon period, during which they host free kyaking along the East River waterfront off Hallets Cove in LIC / Astoria in Queens.
As it turns out, the LIC Boathouse has identified a possible water quality issue, which it believes needs public awareness and support, in order for the Department of Environmental Protection [DEP] to take the appropriate action required to investigate and remedy what appears to be either an ongoing and possibly growing pollution problem.
Click here to read more about free kayaking along the East River in Queens and the ongoing / emerging sewage / bacteria / water quality problem along the East River in Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx and Manhattan.
Remediation Of Newtown Creek Begins In Queens & Brooklyn
After 150 Years Of Environmental Destruction, Remediation Of Newtown Creek Begins
January 21, 2012 / Queens & Brooklyn / Green NYC Environment / Gotham Buzz NYC.
Every good process begins with information gathering, so that the decision makers have all of the relevant information they need to make sound decisions. After the information gathering / research is done, and the decisions are made, then the actual execution of the [clean up] process begins.
And so it was that on October 27, 2011, I visited the Newtown Creek Superfund Public Meeting – Queens at LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City. There were more than ten representatives, largely from various departments within the EPA, on hand to answer questions and provide information to the public about how the federal government process to clean up Newtown Creek.
Click here to learn more about the history and EPA clean up of Newtown Creek in Brooklyn Queens. The creek helps shape some of the border between Queens and Brooklyn.
Real Estate In Flushing - Willets Point
April 14, 2011 / Flushing Neighborhood / Queens Buzz / Gotham Buzz NYC.
This winter I attended the State of the Borough Address given by Queens Borough president Helen Marshall and a month later I attended a speech given by NYC deputy mayor of economic development, Robert K. Steel. This report captures their brief comments about Willets Point condominium and retail development project, as well as a considerable amount of research I did following those two presentations.
In the following report we provide you with a history of the effort to transform the Willets Point area and an outline of the proposed plans and including a detailing of some of the issues associated with the proposed development. A graphical depiction of the Willets Point development is shown above.
Click here to read more about Sterling Equities, Saul Katz & Fred Wilpon, Stephen Ross, Related Companies, Mayor Bloomberg use eminent domain on Willets Point real estate development project - controversy in Flushing Queens.
NYC Solar Panels & Energy In NYS
LICBDC Seminar - Solar Energy Tax Incentives 2011
I just returned from a seminar detailing government incentives for installing solar on residential and commercial buildings in 2011. Based on what was presented in the seminar, anyone contemplating this sort of investment, might want to think about doing it in 2011.
The federal, state and city government are all offering tax incentives which add up to significant savings and shorten the payback period over which a building owner could recoup their investment in a solar energy system. Solar is a hedge against increases in oil prices, and demand for such systems is likely to grow. Given the tax incentives it’s possible, that as we approach the end of the year, companies selling solar energy systems might become quite busy. The photo to your left shows a roof top solar energy system.
Click here to read our report about the NYC tax incentives for solar energy in NYS in 2011.
American Meat - Unfinished Film
Documentary About Current State Of Food & Farming
I managed to obtain an invitation to a screening of American Meat, which is an unfinished documentary film, at Cafe Marlene in Sunnyside. The screening was sponsored by Queens Harvest Co-op, which is an organization working to build an organic food cooperative in Queens.
The film is a rather eye opening look into how the economics of food / meat production in this country have taken us down an unsustainable path. A path which not only has significant health implications, but possibly even more dire consequences. The film provides an intelligent, behind-the-scenes look at how economics have been driving: 1) food production methods, 2) the composition of what's in the meat being sold at the grocery store, and 3) what we're feeding our children and ourselves.
The film was envisioned and began production in the spring of 2007 and the producers are hoping to finish it in 2011. Click here to view our preview of the unfinished documentary film entitled American Meat independent film at Cafe Marlene in Sunnyside and hosted by Queens Harvest Co-op. NYC Health Issues & Food Quality in NYS & America.
Elmhurst Hospital - Jackson Heights
Queens Hospitals – Public Hospitals In Queens NYC
April 19, 2010 / Queens Borough NYC / NYC Healthcare / Gotham Buzz.
I arranged to conduct an interview and take a tour of the Elmhurst Hospital in Queens. The hospital’s Associate Executive Director of External Affairs, Dario Centorcelli made time in his schedule to accommodate my visit. I arrived mid morning and we immediately struck up a lively dialogue about Elmhurst and Queens hospitals which would last past lunchtime. During that time I found Dario had a near encyclopedic mind about the hospitals in Queens.
In the photo to your left you see surgery being performed at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens.
Click here to read the rest of the story including numerous photos of Elmhurst Hospital in Queens - Hospitals in NYC.
Organic Food & Organic Food Stores In NYC
All Natural Foods - Buying Organic Foods In NYC
NYC Neighborhoods / Shopping NYC / Gotham Buzz NYC.
I’ve been doing research on local organic / all natural food for some time. I recently had the opportunity to interview an "organic insider", Metin Mangut who is one of the managing partners of a local supermarket which is an organic / all natural food store in Long Island City. Metin shared with me some of his insights into the changing landscape of organic, all natural and conventional foods.
In this report we'll delve into some of the issues and purchase strategies for buying from organic food stores / organic foods in NYC and pretty much anywhere.
NYC Healthcare, Ecology, Parks & Sports - NYC
NYC Healthcare & Environment - New York City Parks & Sports Related Info
Click this link for promotions, discounts and coupons in New York City.
Click these links for promotions by advertisers in Manhattan.
Click this link to go to the NYC Neighborhoods section.
Site Search Tips. 1) For best results, when typing in more than one word, use quotation marks - eg "Midtown Neighborhood". 2) Also try either singular or plural words when searching for a specific item such as "gym" or "gyms".
Click this link to the Gotham Buzz front page.
Click the log in link below to create an ID and post an opinion.
Or send this story to a friend by filling in the appropriate box below.
NYC Related Links
Click for NYC Neighborhoods NYC.