Friday, November 30, 2007

Time Out From Testing - Protest the School Report Card Grades Now! -- Time Out From Testing

Time Out From Testing website

Protest the School Report Card Grades Now!

You can Sign the petition online now!

Please also download the fact sheet to hand out to people and get as many signatures as possible on the petition. Anyone can sign: colleagues, friends, neighbors, etc. We want to gather thousands!

A Spanish version of the petition is now available!

The Petition Against School Report Cards

We, the undersigned, are deeply committed to providing a high quality education for all our students. We support the need for school accountability and the Department of Education's efforts to recognize schools that make progress with struggling students. However, we are deeply disturbed by the new DOE school progress reports.

By awarding a school a grade from A to F, the progress report trivializes the complexity of teaching and learning. It is a punitive system that ultimately hurts, not helps, schools. Some of our major concerns are that the report card:

  • overemphasizes testing.
  • will potentially drive schools into doing even more test prep at the expense of real learning.
  • is based on an unfairly narrow definition of progress.
  • is based on a curve so that there will always be losers.
  • ignores actual student growth from one grade to the next as measured by a variety of assessments.
  • uses an extremely complicated formula that prevents transparency.
  • constructs peer groups that are inherently unfair to many schools.
  • ignores the myriad aspects that make a great school, e.g., individualized instruction, cooperative learning, and community building.
  • ignores classroom subjects such as art, music, languages and physical education, and extracurricular activities and clubs.
  • demoralizes whole school communities that have worked hard for the success of their schools.

We support an annual school report that is transparent, accessible, comprehensive, and non-punitive.


Please return any signed petitions as soon as possible to:
Jane Hirschmann, Time Out From Testing
175 W. 93rd St.
NYC, NY 10025
Thanks for doing your part to fight the DOE School Report Cards!

The Worlds Best Country to Live in - Left Out of the Michel Moore Film -SICKO

This is a video clip teaser from the bonus material on the DVD-version of Michel Moore' movie Sicko.

This clip was left out of the original movie because it was said to be "unbelievable" and "people wouldn't believe it" because it was too good to be true.

The movie "Sicko" is know for its critique of the US health care system and it praised systems in Canada, UK and France. This praise reaped a storm of protests through the media and big corporations but as you will see in this video, those countries who were told to be "not as good as Michael Moore told them to be", is nothing compared to the legal system and state welfare we have in Norway.

Times Newsweekly: Mad About Fee on Tree Board Members Oppose Proposed Ruling By Dept. Of City Planning by Ralph Mancini

Read original...

Board Members Oppose Proposed
Ruling By Dept. Of City Planning

story and photo by Ralph Mancini
Word of a proposed text amendment requiring homeowners to pay for the placement of trees for new developments and home alterations met some opposition on the part of local residents at the Thursday, Nov. 1 Community Board 10 meeting held at the Knights of Columbus Hall in South Ozone Park.

Tree debate

Deputy Director Deborah Carney of the Department of City Planning introduced a city text amendment—certified on Sept. 17 for a 60-day period of public review—mandating that one new tree be added for every 25 feet of frontage in which there’s a 20 percent increase of floor area or a conversion that involves that same 20 percent increase in coverage.

Deborah Carney of the Department of City Planning pores over two proposed zoning text amendments dealing with yard regulations and street planting requirements.

This proposed ruling will reportedly be exempt in cases where industrial developments are built in manufacturing districts.

In unique areas where there isn’t enough sidewalk space or where there may be sight constraints, the Parks Department would be responsible for finding an alternate site for the planting of a street tree.

Carney detailed that the trees would have to be purchased by the property owner, while the Parks Department would be entrusted with the task of maintaining them.

“Why is this burden falling on the home owner?,” asked on resident. “Shouldn’t the Parks Department plant these trees and make sure that the roots go down?”

Legal counsel for Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer Larry Love also weighed in by inquiring if Parks would be accountable for tree-induced sidewalk damage as well as basic tree maintenance.

“I don’t have an answer for you on that one,” replied Carney. “There are a few bumpy areas and that could be one of them.”

Board member John Fazio voiced his disapproval on having homeowners foot the bill for new trees citing the fact that city residents are already being gouged by a variety of tax hikes.

“People here know I’m not against trees—I planted 38,000 myself—but I am against paying for these trees in front of my house if I have to pay $500 for a [home] alteration, $1,000, $1500, or whatever it is.”

“[The city] raised our taxes by 18 percent in one shot, DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) is raising our water taxes...I’m against trees if that’s the way it’s going to come out. I’m for trees if the city wants to pay for them.”

Carney did confirm that proprietors of existing homes not undergoing alterations exceeding a 20 percent increase in floor area would still be eligible to receive free trees if requested.

Yard amendment

The agency representative also broached the city’s efforts in promoting sufficient yard and green space in front of residences to ensure a minimal amount of planting area for every dwelling.

“Just driving down here today, I saw a lot of paved front yards and most of that was for parking...Under this text amendment, that will be no longer possible.”

The agencies behind this proposed measure will be asking people to dedicate 20 to 50 percent of their front yard area to planting. The percentage will reportedly be dependent upon on the width of the lot area.

The legal revision will apply to the lower density areas in R1 to R5 zoning districts.

To that end, front yard parking will be prohibited under this zoning amendment in order to encourage people to park their vehicles in their rear yards or in their detached garages.

In addition, outdoor staircases going up two floors above the basement will not be permitted.

Homeowners will also be disallowed from having steep driveways on their property. The city will reportedly be looking to establish an 11 percent maximum pitch regulation for all driveways.

In relation to corner lots which currently have no backyard requirements, Carney said that under new legislation these properties would require 30 foot backyards. This would apply to all interior lots regardless of whether they are within 100 feet of an intersection.

Chairperson Elizabeth Braton informed board members that a vote would not be taken at the present time to endorse or disapprove of the text amendments presented by the DCP.

Oz. Park sewer reconstruction

In her monthly report, District Manager Karyn Petersen announced that the Department of Environmental Protection has notified Board 10 of upcoming catch basin repairs at 93rd Street and Liberty Avenue and at 94th Street and Liberty Avenue in Ozone Park.

City prepares for the worst

Council Member Joseph Addabbo attended the meeting to fill the public in on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s recent decision to instruct agencies to “hold off on any extra new hires.”

Bloomberg’s new directive, said the council member, is to help the city prepare for “tough times ahead.”

“We are doing better financially as a city, but the gravy train doesn’t last forever.”

Topics broached by Council Member Joseph Addabbo included decisions being made at a city level to curb spending and improvements being discussed for crossing guards and school safety agents.

Next year’s fiscal budget, according to Addabbo, will start off roughly at a $4 billion deficit , which is a far cry from the $6 billion deficit of a few years ago, he said.

“I’m not saying libraries are closing and we’re not picking up garbage anymore, but I think we need to be mindful of these [being] good financial times, but that doesn’t last forever.”

Addabbo on school personnel

Meeting attendees were further briefed on a joint hearing between City Council’s public safety and labor committees regarding crossing guards and school safety agents.

On crossing guards, Addabbo acknowledged that there aren’t enough of them.

“The last thing any parent or family member should ever worry about is their child going to school.”

Also addressed during the conference was the lack of communication between the Department of Transportation and crossing guards in relation to being aware of dangerous intersections to ensure that those areas are well protected.

Addabbo also touched upon the plight of school safety agents that are in need of better safety vests.

These same agents, he went on on to say, are also underpaid.

When asked by Board member Frank Dardani what City Council can do to address the 50 percent turnover rate among them, Addabbo said that the city will have to look into offering better a benefits package to entice them to stay.

Maltese updates on Aqueduct

State Senator Serphin Maltese clarified that both he and other local elected officials, such as Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, are committed to have racing continue at Aqueduct.

The senator briefly commented on recent reports of a Shinnecock Indian group proposing to bring a casino to the Aqueduct site by saying that their offer wasn’t considered to be realistic.

“That’s not expected to happen,” he said. “Quite honestly, there was a great deal of opposition [to that]. Nobody knew what it would do. We were very apprehensive about the fact that other casinos [in] the surrounding areas have deteriorated [because of] their problems with prostitution, homelessness, vagrancy and vandalism.”

State Sen. Serphin Maltese expressed his commitment to maintain racing at Aqueduct.

Maltese expressed his wish that a casino group in good financial standing step forth to offer their services to run Video Lottery Terminal operations.

He admitted that both he and other state politicians were “very, very wary” of the New York Racing Association due to their unstable financial base which led them to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

“When you start selling the paintings off the wall, you end up really scraping the bottom right into bankruptcy.”

Nevertheless, NYRA and the state have recently agreed upon a memorandum of understanding for the embattled race track operator to continue conducting the racing side of business at Aqueduct. The agreement must be approved by Dec. 31 in order for deal to be finalized.

On NYRA, he added: “If something could be worked out and it’s determined by the courts that they do have a right to the land underlying the race track, then there will have to be some recompense.”

He further stated his optimism that Aqueduct would ultimately become a destination venue, but also stressed that the group or groups selected to carry on racing and VLT operations, must consider community people for positions both in construction and permanent jobs that may be available down the line.

Lancman drops in

Assemblyman Rory Lancman introduced himself to board members and residents at the meeting to apprise them of the fact that his assembly district overlaps a small area along the Ozone Park/South Richmond Hill border from 103rd to 107th avenues and between 114th and 124th streets.

NYC Comptroller rep. addresses crowd

Community Coordinator Martha Ayon from the office of New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson was on hand to tell those in attendance to file a claim with her office at 1-212-669-4600 should anyone experience any flooding caused by heavy rainstorms.

Marshall notice

Liaison to Borough President Helen Marshall Jerry LaMura communicated that Non-profit Day will be held Friday, Nov. 9 in Long Island City.

The objective of the event is to build and strengthen the capacity of non-profit organizations that serve the communities and neighborhoods of Queens.

The borough president will reportedly deliver the keynote address which will be followed by a series of afternoon workshops.

For information on the location and time of Non-profit Day , call 1-718-286-3000.

Community Board 10 regularly convenes on the first Thursday of the month at the Knights of Columbus Hall located at 135-45 Lefferts Blvd. in South Ozone Park.

Queens Chronicle - Queens Democrats Line Up For Top Borough Office by Matt Hampton

Read original...

The fight over the Democratic nomination for Queens Borough President is starting to gain momentum, as several interested parties have stepped forward to declare their intentions for 2009.

A recently published item in a New York City daily cited an inside source saying that the Queens County Democratic Organization is leaning towards Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, a Democrat of Ozone Park and the Rockaways, as their choice for the nomination.

That news runs contrary to recent speculation that Councilman Leroy Comrie of St. Albans was the front-runner for the endorsement and the office, which in recent history has been more or less handed to the Democratic nominee.

A source close to the organization said that despite any exterior grumblings, the Queens County Democratic Organization still considers it extremely early to be settling on any one candidate for an endorsement.

Astoria Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr. has been vocal about his intention to run for borough president, and has been quoted as saying that his desire to run won’t be tempered by other politicians throwing their hat in the ring.

Vallone held a fundraising event every week in September, and according to the campaign finance board, as of July 2007 had raised nearly $300,000 in anticipation of the race for the office.

Pheffer is the only candidate who has filed her intention to run with the state campaign finance board.

It’s important to note that Pheffer, as the only one currently in the conversation who is not a City Council member, could conceivably keep her state position while running for the office, while Comrie and Vallone would both be left out due to term limits.

A source also said that any number of candidates who are far along in the fundraising process for other positions in the city could have a change of heart and decide to take a shot at the borough president’s office as a consolation prize in the event that their citywide choice becomes unattainable.

Press release: Governor Announces $25.3 Million in Environmental Protection Fund Grants for Projects Across New York State...

November 29, 2007

CONTACT: Christine Anderson
Governor Eliot Spitzer today announced $25.3 million in Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) grants awarded to local communities and organizations across New York State to assist with waterfront revitalization projects, historic preservation efforts, expanding open space, and increasing access to public lands.

The EPF, created in 1993, is primarily funded through the real estate transfer tax and provides a dedicated source of funding for a variety of environmental projects and programs administered by the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the Department of Environmental Conservation, and the Department of Agriculture and Markets.

"This vital funding helps make cultural and recreational opportunities available to all New Yorkers and countless visitors, and contributes to the economic revitalization of our state," said Governor Spitzer. "Funding for local communities and organizations to undertake these important environmental projects will preserve and protect our valuable natural resources and promote New York’s rich historic and cultural tradition."

Senator Carl Marcellino, Chair of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee said: "The Environmental Protection Fund is the engine which drives a myriad of programs which improve the air, water, and quality of life for all New Yorkers. Whether it is protecting open space, or revitalizing waterfronts, the EPF gets it done. These projects are examples of our commitment to protecting our ecosystems while maintaining the quality of life we have all come to expect in New York State."

Senator Mary Lou Rath, Chair of the Senate Tourism, Recreation and Sports Development Committee said: "I am pleased to see that the NYS Departments of Parks and Agriculture and Markets will be providing $25.3 Million to the Environmental Protection Fund in order to provide and expand open space and public lands. It is wonderful that so many of Western New York’s treasures, such as Graycliff and the Roycroft Campus, will be able to benefit from this funding, creating more opportunities for tourists and state residents to enjoy them."
Assemblyman Bob Sweeney, Chair of the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee said: "Perhaps the most important accomplishment of the 2007 Legislative Session was the enactment of legislation to increase the EPF to $300 million. The additional funding for the EPF will fuel substantial increases in EPF programs such as municipal parks, waterfront revitalization, municipal recycling, open space land acquisition, farmland protection, as well as wastewater treatment projects, invasive species management and Ocean and Great Lakes initiatives."
Assemblyman Steven Englebright, chair of the Assembly Tourism Committee said: "The natural and cultural landscapes of New York are endowed with powerful beauty and character. These funds will help to maintain, enhance, protect and preserve the natural, cultural and historic resources that define communities across our great state."

Carol Ash, Commissioner of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, said: "The EPF provides valuable resources for local communities across the state to enhance parkland, protect historic resources and expand open space available to the public. The grants enhance the character of local communities and provide long term benefits to the environment."

Pete Grannis, Commissioner of Environmental Conservation, said: "For years, the Environmental Protection Fund has provided critical aid for important tasks such as protecting open space, closing landfills and funding recycling programs. Its success is one of the state's best story lines of the last 14 years."

Patrick Hooker, Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets, said: "New York is a beautiful place to live. We have a scenic and productive landscape, an abundance of natural resources and a history rich in culture and folklore. The EPF has been instrumental in preserving this rich heritage, and these grants will help continue the legacy throughout New York State."

The EPF’s parks program provides for 50 percent matching funds in several program areas including parks development, open space acquisition, historic preservation and the State’s Heritage Area system. Funds may be awarded to indoor and outdoor projects and must reflect priorities established in the New York State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan.

New York City's Share of the Pie


Region Total $3,909,575

City of New York Dept of Parks & Recreation (Bronx)

The City of New York Department of Parks and Recreation will renovate the Crotona Park Nature Center at Crotona Park in the Morrisania section of the Bronx. The Nature Center provides educational programs to schools, after school programs and functions as a museum and information center for the park. Upgrades to the facility include lighting, ventilation and construction of additional space that will allow the nature center to increase its capacity to attract and accommodate more visitors.

City of New York Dept of Parks & Recreation (Bronx)

The City of New York Department of Parks and Recreation and the Bronx River Alliance have developed plans for the Bronx River Greenway, a linear system of parks along the Bronx River that will provide access to open space and recreation. This project will include construction of an environmentally-friendly River House at Starlight Park, which is part of the greenway, with facilities for boat storage, launching, environmental educational classrooms, multi-purpose space for community events and a comfort station.

East Midwood Jewish Center (Kings)

The East Midwood Jewish Center, one of the last remaining American multi-use synagogue/community centers architecturally unchanged from the 1920s, will restore features of the sanctuary including stained glass windows, stained glass dome and skylight.

Prospect Park Alliance (Kings)

The Prospect Park Alliance restores, develops and operates Prospect Park in partnership with the City of New York. The Prospect Park Alliance will undertake the Southeast Lake Edge Restoration project at Prospect Park to restore eroded shoreline, rebuild the Lake's edges, remove invasive plants, secure the shoreline with plantings and clear the Lake's drainage.

Sons of the Revolution of the State of New York (New York)

The Sons of the Revolution of the State of New York will undertake a rehabilitation project at the Fraunces Tavern Museum complex, which contains one of the oldest buildings in Manhattan and is the site where George Washington gave a farewell speech to his officers in 1783.

SS Columbia Project (New York)

The SS Columbia Project is dedicated to restoring, operating and interpreting the SS Columbia, the oldest surviving excursion steamer in the United States (built in 1902). The project includes ensuring the vessel's preservation by restoring bulkheads, staircases and exterior features.

St. Bartholomew's Church (New York)

This project involves the restoration of the dome and support structure at St. Bartholomew's Church, constructed in 1918.

Greater Jamaica Development Corporation (Queens)

The Greater Jamaica Development Corporation will undertake a project to revitalize the Prospect Cemetery, which contains approximately 3,000 gravestones and markers and is the oldest family burial site in Queens. The Greater Jamaica Development Corporation has partnered with the City of New York Department of Parks and Recreation, the New York Landmarks Conservancy and the Prospect Cemetery Association on the final stages of the multi-phased revitalization initiative.

City of New York Dept of Parks & Recreation (Queens)

The City of New York Department of Parks and Recreation will restore the Lanett Playground in Far Rockaway, the only playground in the West Lawrence section of the community. The project includes the addition of an ADA accessible comfort station, water play feature, playground equipment for toddlers, improved lighting, fencing and a basketball court.

Read entire state-wide listing...

Monday, November 26, 2007

City Dept of Parks Plans for Pal's Oval Fields Reconstruction with Synthetic Turf in Ozone Park...

(click pic to enlarge)
Here's another example of the City's greening of our neighborhoods by replacing natural grass fields with carcinogenic laced synthetic fields...

These fields reach temperatures of over 150 degrees on a summer day...they contain pellets made from used rubber tires and contain cancer-causing substances according to scientists...

Is this really what we want our kids to be playing on..?

That is the few kids who aren't inside the house playing some inane video game...

Queens Courier Online - Historical Society Gala by Nick Brown...

Read original...

Richmond Hill Historical Society President Nancy Cataldi (left) poses with State Senator Serphin Maltese at the Historical Society’s Masked Gala. Cataldi was the guest of honor at the event for her decade of work to maintain and promote the history of Richmond Hill.

For one night, Russo’s on the Bay became the site of a Victorian ball.

The Richmond Hill Historical Society held its 10th Annual Dinner Dance at the famous catering hall on Cross Bay Boulevard in Howard Beach. This year’s theme: a masked gala.

Sporting feathered masks and formal, flowing dresses, women in attendance seemed to enjoy the chance to dress up.

“My daughter left this mask when she moved out,” said Historical Society Board Member Rita Werner of her green, peacock mask. “It’s old, but very nice.”

Andrea Crawford, Chair of Community Board 9, wore a black mask and veil, and completed the theme by wearing a black dress. She said she found the mask at Ricky’s Emporium on Jamaica Avenue “and loved it.”

Crawford added that the turnout for the gala - 113 people, according to Historical Society President Nancy Cataldi - was “fabulous.”

“An event like this brings in people from all over,” said Crawford.

With some exceptions, men in attendance chose to forego the mask, but didn’t hesitate to offer solid excuses for their decisions.

“I had to walk up the stairs and didn’t want to fall on my face,” said Simcha Waisman, President of the Richmond Hill Block Association.

Senator Serphin Maltese quipped that his wife told him he “looked so good I didn’t need a mask.”

Attendees kept busy at the raffle table, salivating over a plethora of prizes, including an autographed Paul Lo Duca baseball, facials, massages, pedicures, and a $40 gift certificate to Once Upon a Time Antiques.

Cataldi was the honoree for the event, and no one in attendance argued against the impact she has had on the Richmond Hill community.

“It’s good to know we have someone who cares about our history,” said Waisman. His Block Association, he said, works closely with the Historical Society on certain issues. “She’s well-known, and she’s a go-getter.”

In ten years with the Historical Society, Cataldi has spearheaded an ongoing campaign to get parts of Richmond Hill declared historical landmarks. She is currently attempting to preserve the Republican Club building on Lefferts Boulevard between Jamaica and Hillside Avenues, a landmark which, she says, has not been well-maintained.

“Any group believing in saving tradition is important, and especially Nancy, who’s a real sparkplug,” said Maltese. “Richmond Hill is unique with its many old homes and buildings, and Nancy is an absolute necessity.”

Cataldi received proclamations from Maltese and Councilmember Dennis Gallagher. Historical Society Vice President Diane Freel presented Cataldi with a glass plate engraved with a picture of her Victorian home.

“It was very touching,” Cataldi said. “Really wonderful. It’s always nice to be honored for something like this. I’ve worked really hard and it’s nice to see that it’s appreciated.”

The evening culminated with hours of “very lively” dancing, said Werner. The event lasted until around midnight.

“The whole evening was just as wonderful as Nancy hoped it would be,” Werner said.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Courier-Life Publications - Floyd Bennett Makeover - Ryan Center to Get $4.8M Facelift, on Uncle Sam's Tab...

Read original...

An historic passenger terminal will be transformed into a multi-million visitor center, a federal lawmaker announced last week.

Rep. Anthony Weiner recently allocated $4.8 million to restore and refurbish Floyd Bennett Field’s Ryan Center into a “world class” facility for Gateway National Park’s Jamaica Bay Unit.

“We want the building to be as majestic as its history,” Weiner said.

The Ryan Center once served as the passenger terminal to New York City’s first municipal airport.

Built in 1931, it is the original building behind which famed aviator Howard Hughes took off and landed after completing a round-the-world record flight in 1938.

Floyd Bennett’s airfield was later used as an aerial hub for fighter planes during World War II and is currently home to a marine reserve unit, Weiner said.

“This funding will continue to fuel an ongoing renaissance at Gateway that will allow even more New Yorkers to enjoy the outdoors without leaving the Big Apple,” he added.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the former passenger terminal will include meeting spaces, exhibits of the unique history of Floyd Bennett Field and offer complete visitor information for the attractions and facilities inside the park.

The restoration of the center will also turn the building’s vintage control tower, which was originally built by the Navy on the eve of World War II, into a unique panoramic view deck, with views out into Jamaica Bay and towards the New York City skyline.

The funding for the center comes by way of the 2008 Defense Appropriations Bill.

Weiner said the center will act as the entry point for the national park’s wealth of attractions, including bird watching, biking, golfing, boating, a multi-use sports and a recreation facility.

Since 1998, Weiner has allocated over $70 million worth of renovations at Gateway, work he said protects and improves the park’s wetlands, wildlife refuge, nature trails, historic sites, playgrounds, and recreation areas.

Gateway National Recreation Area encompasses some 19,000 acres, more acreage than all of New York City’s parks combined. Last year, the park was visited by 4.1 million people, making it the fourth most visited national park in the nation, Weiner noted.

The park can use all the attention it receives.

According to a May report by the National Parks Conservation Association, Gateway was in the poorest condition of any national park surveyed.

Despite some “inspiring elements such as Sandy Hook, Jamaica Bay’s Wildlife Refuge, and the remnant maritime forest at Fort Tilden, the park’s surrounding waters are still polluted, visitor services are limited, and the loss of native species is widespread,” the report stated.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

As Old Reservoir Becomes a Park, a Camper Gets an Eviction Notice - New York Times

Read original...

After reading the previous article...Here's what Commissioner Benepe had to say back in July, 2004 when the Reservoir was turned over from DEP to the Parks Dept (below in blue)... I believe the entire Reservoir should be maintained and set aside as a natural area and a nature interpretation program be instituted for educating the youth of Brooklyn and Queens in environmental matters, not unlike the Alley Park facility...

The city's parks commissioner, Adrian Benepe, called the handover of parkland ''one of the largest acquisitions of urban parkland in recent memory.''

''Today is Christmas in July,'' he said. He said that the property would remain ''an informal nature sanctuary'' for now, and that department officials would evaluate it and seek community comment and was likely to consider possible uses like ball fields, recreational areas and bike and jogging paths.

''Probably some of it should remain in its natural state,'' he said.

Mornings are usually quiet, bucolic times for Luis Rodriguez, 31, who lives in a small tent in Basin No. 1 of the Ridgewood Reservoir on the Brooklyn-Queens border.

For 45 years, most of the reservoir has been dry and it is usually a quiet place, enjoyed primarily by joggers and cyclists on the paved pathway encircling three overgrown basins.

But yesterday morning, the old reservoir was buzzing with city workers preparing the grounds for a ceremony to announce that the 50 acres of overgrown land, one of the last wildernesses of New York City, was to become a city park.

For three years, through blistering summers and frozen winters, Mr. Rodriguez said, he has camped under the tall trees, in a $175 tent bought at Macy's and pitched on the forest floor, the bottom of a reservoir reclaimed by nature during the decades that most of it has sat idle.

''It's totally different living here,'' he said, standing in front of his tent, which he has fortified with tree limbs and a heavy tarp. ''You're in the city, but you're far away from it.''

If Mr. Rodriguez is a modern-day Thoreau, it seems that he will soon lose his Walden. The land was handed over to the Parks and Recreation Department by the city's Department of Environmental Protection, which maintains and oversees the city's water supply.

City officials said yesterday that anyone living on reservoir property was there illegally. A Parks Department spokeswoman said that the area would remain closed until the department determined new uses for the property and completed renovations.

While city officials could not confirm all the details of Mr. Rodriguez's story, they said they had no reason to believe it was not true.

Mr. Rodriguez was napping yesterday on reservoir property, on a piece of cardboard near the chain-link fence that encompasses the property.

Awoken by a reporter, he agreed to give a tour of his forest domain, including his tent and several former encampments that include an abandoned reservoir gatehouse and a cave running under a section of the jogging path.

He lowered himself by rope down the steep stony slope into the woodsy basin and showed his backpack full of clothing, his bottles of water around his encampment and a large overturned milk crate for keeping his belongings off the ground.

There were King Cobra malt liquor cans strewn about the encampment and nearby there was another shelter shaped like an oversize coffin, crudely fashioned from corrugated metal and plastic sheathing.

''That's where my friend Colombia lived,'' Mr. Rodriguez said. ''He lives in Prospect Park now, in Brooklyn.''

By 1 p.m., he followed a reporter over to a news conference presided over by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who called the handover the largest single acquisition of parkland in Queens since 1981, and one that would add 50 acres to the 140 acres of Highland Park, which is adjacent to the reservoir.

The city's parks commissioner, Adrian Benepe, called the handover of parkland ''one of the largest acquisitions of urban parkland in recent memory.''

''Today is Christmas in July,'' he said. He said that the property would remain ''an informal nature sanctuary'' for now, and that department officials would evaluate it and seek community comment and was likely to consider possible uses like ball fields, recreational areas and bike and jogging paths.

''Probably some of it should remain in its natural state,'' he said.

Mr. Rodriguez watched as Mr. Benepe was handed a large paper scroll with ''Ridgewood Reservoir'' printed on it.

''I guess this means I'm evicted,'' he said.

Indeed, by the end of the day, work crews had patched his hole in the fence and removed his rope down to the reservoir. Mr. Rodriguez was nowhere to be found.

He said earlier in the day that rising rent and a growing discomfort around people drove him to the woods, where the only living things were usually small, four-legged and pestering him for food scraps.

''I'm nervous around people,'' he said. ''At first, I tried living up at Bear Mountain, but there were too many park rangers.''

Mr. Rodriguez said that he learned outdoor survival skills as a teenager while spending several months camping in the wild, under a program in West Virginia for wayward youth.

But much of his existence relied upon his proximity to civilization. He bought his food at the deli and cooked it on a campfire. He did his laundry at his parents' place in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and told them he lived in a small rental apartment, to avoid embarrassment.

Mr. Rodriguez, who said he used to receive welfare benefits and food stamps, said that he now relied on donations from family members and from park regulars. In warm weather, he rummaged for food and drinks left by people picnicking in Highland Park. But he kept his encounters with daily civilization to a minimum.

Mr. Rodriguez was dressed in clean clothes, a practice he said helped keep city employees from suspecting he lived on the property.

''I don't want to look all sloppy so they know I'm living here,'' he said, looking down at his Shaq basketball sneakers. ''It's hard to keep new sneakers white though.''

At the news conference, Mr. Bloomberg called the handover of the reservoir an example of a long successful formula in New York City of creating parkland out of decommissioned city reservoir sites, which has been done in Central Park and in Bryant Park.

In a phone interview yesterday, Christopher O. Ward, commissioner of the city's Department of Environmental Protection, called the property transfer ''another demonstration of the great transfers from D.E.P. to Parks, taking former water supply areas and creating public recreation space for New Yorkers.''

Basin 1, where Mr. Rodriguez lived, is the most overgrown of the three basins that make up the reservoir, which was built by the City of Brooklyn and first opened in 1858. The basins are roughly 40 feet deep with steep sloping sides and have a wide variety of animal and plant life.

For years, it was Brooklyn's main source of water drawing from reservoirs along the south shore of Long Island and Queens. In 1917, it was connected to the upstate Catskills-Delaware system. After two basins were decommissioned, Basin 3 remained in use, mostly to store water used to drain local fire hydrants in the summertime, until finally being decommissioned in 1990.

Mr. Rodriguez said he considered his living arrangements among the best in the city. He walked up to a plateau near the reservoir commanding breathtaking views of Brooklyn, Queens and the Manhattan skyline.

''I sleep here when it's nice out,'' he said. ''People are surprised when I tell them where I live, but I tell them: 'I don't want your pity or remorse. I want you to admire me.' Not everyone can do this, or wants to.''

Amid the Willows and Chickadees, Bird-Watchers Spot a Red Flag by Emily Brady - New York Times

Read original...

ONE recent morning, a 52-year-old computer technician and amateur naturalist named Rob Jett tucked a pair of binoculars and “The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America” into his bag and headed out of his Park Slope apartment for the F train.

His destination was the Ridgewood Reservoir, a 50-acre site on the Brooklyn-Queens border that once supplied Brooklyn with water. Two of its three water basins were drained in 1989, however, and now a dense forest has taken root there, providing a sanctuary for birds and a treat for bird-watchers.

“Look! It’s a red-tailed hawk,” Mr. Jett exclaimed upon arrival, pointing to a bird that hovered like a kite in the sky.

But the reservoir, which is nestled within Highland Park, is also one of eight areas designated for conversion to parkland under Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to have a park within 10 minutes of every New York residence by 2030.

Mr. Jett does not approve. He is part of a group of more than 50 birders and others who object to the parts of the city plan under which two of the water basins will be preserved but the third, and largest, will be transformed into an “active recreation center,” as the plan puts it. Instead, they want to preserve all the reservoir’s natural habitats and to develop a nature educational facility.

In the opinion of Mr. Jett, the plan seems “counterintuitive” for a city that also intends to plant a million trees over the next decade.

“It’s like this parcel is sitting here pleading, ‘Do something with me,’ and I don’t think that means ball fields,” he said before being distracted by a black-capped chickadee.

For his part, the parks commissioner, Adrian Benepe, said that although the city has allocated $50 million to improve Highland Park and incorporate the Ridgewood Reservoir into it, construction and design plans are not final. “The bulldozers aren’t warming up,” he said.

But Mr. Benepe did say that “some small portion” of the Ridgewood Reservoir area, probably about 30 percent, will be used for recreation. “Any time you build a park, especially in an area that is overgrown, you have to remove some trees,” he said.

Mr. Benepe also emphasized what he described as his “moral obligation” to provide New Yorkers with space for recreation, especially children who suffer from a lack of exercise, and the need to balance the needs of a community.

“People care very deeply about parks,” Mr. Benepe said. “And there are many opinions about what they should look like.”

Friday, November 23, 2007

Queens Chronicle - Met Foodmarket Reopens by Joseph Wendelken...

Read Original...

Smiles abounded last Friday at the grand reopening of a Met Foodmarkets store at 102-02 101 Ave. in Woodhaven. The store was damaged in a fire last June and had to close.
Welcoming store manager Joe Doleh, center, back to the neighborhood are Democratic District Leader Frank Gulluscio, left, and Councilman Joseph Addabbo Jr.

—Joseph Wendelken

JFK Inaugural Address - In Tribute to the 44th Anniversary of his Death..

In honor of a life too short...

I was in Miss Ruggiero's 1st grade class at PS97Q in Woodhaven, NY when I heard the sad news...

Part 2...

South Queens Democratic Club - Meeting November 28th...

Click to enlarge...

Traditional ribbon cutting ceremony at the 2007 Queens Saint Patricks Day with Mayor Bloomberg, Senator Chuck Schumer and Deputy Grand Marshall's State Senator Malcolm Smith and Assemblyperson Audrey Pheffer

Alice's Restaurant (1969) - Trailer - Happy Thanksgiving...!

Happy Thanksgiving...

Listen with Real Player to the mp3

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

NY Post - Veteran Queens Pol is in the Hot Seat by Tom Liddy...


November 17, 2007 -- Danielle Brinz, a 25- year-old teacher from Howard Beach, says she is much likelier to vote for a candidate who supports gay marriage than for one who doesn't.

"I think you should allow people to live how they want to live," Brinz said.

She is represented by Sen. Serphin Maltese, a Republican who not only opposes gay marriage but is also the prime sponsor of a "defense of marriage" bill to keep gay marriage illegal.

Preparing to serve his 20th year, Maltese represents a district that is 2.5-to-1 Democrat over Republican. After a surprisingly close victory against a little-known candidate last year, Maltese is seen as vulnerable by Senate Democrats looking to recapture the house's majority, and gay marriage could play a role in his re-election contest.

NY Daily News - Despite Pay Increase, City Teachers Quitting in Record Numbers, Union Says by Erin Einhorn...

Read original...

Monday, November 19th 2007, 4:00 AM

City teachers are quitting in record numbers, according to data their union released Sunday.

Teacher pay has increased by more than 30% since 2001, giving 83,000 city teachers salaries closer to their suburban peers. Still, the union says the number of certified teachers who left classrooms jumped 81% in the same period - to 4,606 in 2006, up from 2,544 in 2001.

This does not include teachers eligible for retirement.

"People are saying, 'I give up,'" teachers union President Randi Weingarten said.

She couldn't say whether these teachers quit the profession or moved to another district. But she blamed the exodus on large class sizes, poor teacher support and an administration at the Education Department that "doesn't listen to good teachers."

Deputy Schools Chancellor Chris Cerf rejected Weingarten's numbers, saying "at first glance, they appear to be erroneous."

He called her decision to release the data on a Sunday - when it would be difficult for the city to verify it - "a stunt."

Cerf could not provide numbers for the years covered in the UFT analysis. He said more recent data shows resignations were down 1% in 2007 from 2006, with retirements down 3%.

The union's release appeared timed as a response to Chancellor Joel Klein's announcement last week that he was arming the city with $1 million for lawyers to help boot ineffective tenured teachers.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

ABC News: Prints Tie Widow's Kin to Dentist Slaying

Read original...

Police investigating the shooting death of an orthodontist at a Queens playground have arrested a relative of the victim's ex-wife.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Tuesday that Mikhail Malayev was arrested in Chamblee, Ga. and that his fingerprints matched those found on a homemade silencer used in the killing. An extradition hearing was scheduled Tuesday in Georgia, Kelly added.

The 50-year-old suspect was related to the ex-wife through her sister's husband, police said.

Dr. Daniel Malakov, 34, died Oct. 28 while taking his 5-year-old daughter to see his ex-wife. The couple had been embroiled in a bitter custody dispute.

As the child went to greet her mother, a gunman approached and fired three rounds into Malakov's chest.

On Nov. 5, Malakov's ex-wife testified in Queens Family Court that he had abused her; a divorce lawyer who represented the shooting victim said it wasn't true.

Investigators had found records of the suspect's fingerprints from a 1994 arrest for farebeating, Kelly said.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Queens Chronicle - Richmond Hill: A Story In Architecture by Joseph Wendelken

Queens Chronicle - Richmond Hill: A Story In Architecture

Click to read Queens Chronicle Article "Preservationists Mark 10 Yrs In Richmond Hill" by Noah Zuss - Not available at Queens Chronicle website...

Long before its stately Queen Anne Victorian homes turned heads, or its slew of landmarks commanded awe, or its streets became some of the world’s most diverse, the area now known as Richmond Hill boasted a rich history.

The Rockaway American Indian tribe prospered there and both American colonists and British soldiers shed blood on its fields during a pivotal battle in the Revolutionary War.

But the vision of two men—Albon Platt Man and Edward Richmond—paved the way for the Richmond Hill we know today.

The two learned of plans to lay new railroad track between Williamsburg, Brooklyn and Jamaica in the late 1860s. They purchased hundreds of acres of farmland with plans to build a modern, planned community.

While there is still debate over whether the community was named for Edward Richmond, the men succeeded in their plan. Within a few years of their purchases, 250 acres of land were prepared for housing. A restaurant, hotel, saloon, post office, schoolhouse and grocery store sprang up around the community’s train station.

“Richmond Hill, with its neat churches, gardens and summer cottages, presents a pastoral picture,” the Long Island Democrat declared in 1886.

A village developed near the intersection of Myrtle Avenue, Jamaica Avenue and Lefferts Boulevard and the community experienced two building booms: one in the early 1890s and the second between 1901 and 1906.

Brothers Henry and William Haugaard designed most of the area’s Victorian homes that went up one after another. Many included wrap-around porches, libraries, formal gardens and ornate woodwork.

“That was the style of the time,” said Nancy Cataldi, president of the Richmond Hill Historical Society. “It was the newest trend for suburban homes. They were like little mansions.”

By 1910, when a fourth train station came to the community, many started spreading out into nearby areas such as Kew Gardens. By then, many of Richmond Hill’s lasting landmarks had already been built, such as Richmond Hill High School, the Richmond Hill Republican Club and the Church of the Resurrection. RKO Keith’s movie theater and Jahn’s Ice Cream Parlor followed.

Through the 1920s and 1930s, they were, along with other businesses and municipalities, patronized largely by the German, Italian and Irish families.

The community’s notable residents included the comedians the Marx brothers, New York Yankees shortstop Phil Rizzuto, author Jack Kerouac and musician Morton Gould.

Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan visited the Republican club, located near the intersection of Hillside Avenue and Lefferts Boulevard. In 2003, the historical society worked to have the city landmark the 99-year-old Colonial Revival-style structure, which Henry Haugaard designed.

Similar efforts have been made throughout the community to preserve priceless pieces of architecture. In 1996, Richmond Hill received the Queens Historical Society’s Queensmark Award, which led to the landmarking of 10 homes, the Church of the Resurrection and the Richmond Hill Library, located on Hillside Avenue.

Many Queens historians continue trying to preserve parts of the community for its younger residents, many of them Guyanese, West Indian and Hispanic.

“Once these things are torn down, there will never be anything built like them again,” Cataldi said. “Everything in these houses was done by artisans. Now houses are built by construction workers.”

Thursday, November 15, 2007 » Blog Archive » City Plans to Bulldoze Ridgewood Reservoir » Blog Archive » City Plans to Bulldoze Ridgewood Reservoir

The Ridgewood Reservoir was a main water source for Brooklyn in the 1800s, built by entrepreneurs to keep the then-City’s booming population from dying of thirst. After consolidation with New York City, Brooklyn’s water system was mostly relegated to a back up for Brooklyn in emergencies. After 1989, it was abandoned to nature. A forest grew where it stood, providing a home for various migratory bird species. Now the City, sensing something wonderful has been created without its direction, wants to bulldoze it all in a fit of spite. Well, no, but I’m sure it has something to do with keeping someone’s cousin Vinnie in business. I mean, what good are City jobs without the ability to rake in the contracts for your relatives?

Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe says what’s the big deal? It’s just some weeds that grew in a puddle:

“These are really accidental landscapes that have grown up out of lack of maintenance and lack of use.”

Read entire post...

Queens Gazette - Letters to the Editor - Leave Reservoir Alone by Henry Euler

Letters to the Editor:

The Ridgewood Reservoir is an area on the Queens- Brooklyn border by Highland Park that the Parks Department and the city would like to develop into recreational space. The problem, however, is that it would mean that acres of trees would have to be cut down.

How ironic that would be! The city in conjunction with the Parks Department wants to plant one million trees throughout the city for health and ecological benefits. Yet in this pristine area, they are willing to sacrifice hundreds of trees to put down Astroturf and the like. In the meantime, there are many ball fields and other recreational spaces around the city that already exist and are in need of improvement. Some of those areas are even near the Ridgewood Reservoir. Shouldn't some of the money that would be allocated for this project be better used to repair what already exists?

It is not only the trees at stake at the Ridgewood Reservoir site. The area is an oasis for birds. Over one hundred types of migratory birds have been identified there. Many of those nest there as well. It is an ideal habitat for birds and other types of wildlife.

The Ridgewood Reservoir was used as a backup water supply for Queens and Brooklyn into the 1960s. It was made up of three basins. Two of those three water areas subsequently became reforested in the typical way that land changes over time in nature. That process is known as succession and this particular site is on its way to becoming a full fledged Eastern forest. Why interrupt this urban forest by cutting down trees?

My understanding is that the city and Parks Department are planning on spending anywhere from $46 million to $55 million on this project, depending on the source. That money should be spent on improving existing recreational areas and purchasing additional parcels of land to be used for open space and park uses.

In Queens, many concerned citizens urged the purchase of several parcels including the St. Saviour's church property in Maspeth, the Klein Farm in Fresh Meadows and the Iris Hill wooded property in Bellerose. Other parcels are available as well, and all of this land should be used for green areas for the public.

According to the mayor, one million more residents are expected in the city by 2030. It is difficult to figure where everyone will live, given the overdevelopment, infrastructure and flooding problems that we are already facing today. In addition, where will everyone go to relax and enjoy nature? Where will our children play? It is time to plan ahead and think of the future. We must buy open space in the city to meet those needs and we also have to preserve land that is environmentally sensitive like the Ridgewood Reservoir area.

Henry Euler

Queens Civic Congress - Joint Statement Queens Civic Congress and Queens Coalition for Parks & Green Spaces

Queens Civic Congress

Read original statement...

Joint Statement - Queens Civic Congress and Queens Coalition for Parks & Green Spaces

New York City must work to preserve its historic natural areas; these historic settings must receive much the same treatment as historical landmarks. The destruction or loss of any natural areas negatively impacts the quality of life for the surrounding communities bordering these green spaces. It flies in the face of what City Hall advocates for parks and preservation in PlaNYC.

Ridgewood Reservoir should be preserved as such and the monies (some $46 million) to destroy this green area's natural settings should be re-allocated to purchases to preserve other threatened historical natural areas which also include historical structures -- such as St. Saviour's, the Klein Farm, Iris Hill and the former Cornell Farm. What we destroy today cannot be restored tomorrow.

City Hall needs to take a hard look and re-evaluate what needs to be done to preserve natural areas before they cease to exist. This includes re-thinking any plans that threaten natural parks and historic settings such as Ridgewood Reservoir, St. Saviour's, the Klein Farm.,-73.846664&sspn=0.020961,0.036392&ie=UTF8&z=16&om=1

Queens Chronicle - Safety Officer, Aqueduct Talk At CB10 Meeting by Stephen Geffon...

Read original...

School crossing guards and safety agents play important roles in maintaining the well-being of students, but a recent City Council hearing found that the low pay and limited benefits offered to them makes their recruitment and retention challenging.

Councilman Joseph Addabbo Jr.

Councilman Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) told members of Community Board 10 at their meeting last Thursday night that at a recent joint hearing in Manhattan, it was determined that part-time crossing guards earn about $12,000 a year. The current beginning salary for a school safety agent is $26,041 a year.

NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly has testified at past council hearings that the hiring of crossing guards has always been a challenge. Several factors contribute to the difficulty, including the low wages offered and the schedule that corresponds with the arrival and dismissal of students.

As of March 2007, the number of crossing guards employed at city schools was approximately 100 less than the NYPD’s target figure. But a recent wave of applicants — 300 since June 2007 — has NYPD officials hopeful.

Statistics show that between 2002 to 2007 the turnover rate of school safety agents has been 50 percent, with approximately 40 agents leaving per month. Leaders of the union representing the safety agents point out that the large turnover rate hurts their performance as a unit.

Councilman Joe Addabbo with Jennifer Manley Queens Commissioner of the Mayor's Community Affairs Unit

At the meeting, held at the Knights of Columbus Hall in South Ozone Park, board member Frank Dardani asked Addabbo what the City Council could do to retain school safety agents. Addabbo said the pay issue had to be addressed by the mayor. However, he said the council was looking at what they could do legislatively regarding the agents’ benefits and other possible incentives.

Senator Serphin Maltese

Board members heard from state Sen. Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale) on the current status of negotiations for the control of Aqueduct Race Track. Agreeing with many of his constituents, Maltese said that “it’s the best thing for our community” for horses to continue running in Ozone Park. He added that despite speculation that American Indian tribes may run a casino at Aqueduct, “that was not realistic, and (was) not expected to happen.”

Maltese said that he hopes that a fiscally sound group comes forward and agrees to continue racing at Aqueduct. Maltese noted that both he and Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer (D-Ozone Park) have the support of senate and assembly leaders in Albany in their efforts to do what is best for South Queens.


NY State Assemblyman Rory Lancman came by to introduce himself to the Board...

Councilman Rory Lancman

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Queens Ledger - Will Autumn Be a Lot More Colorful in NYC? by Stephen Geffon...

Read original

"It's not easy being green," laments Kermit the Frog, however, if he travels to New York City his sadness will turn to joy in the company of thousands of green street trees as part of a recent proposal put forward by the Department of City Planning (DCP).

Deborah Carney, deputy director of the Queens DCP office, told the members of Community Board 10 at their meeting last Thursday evening at the Knights of Columbus Hall in South Ozone Park that the department believes that their street trees proposal will contribute to the greening of the city, the greening of the community, and ultimately improve the quality of life in the city. Mayor Bloomberg's goal is to plant one million trees in the city over the next decade.

Under the mayor's plan, the Parks Department would receive nearly $400 million over the next 10 years to plant 600,000 public trees, by reforesting 2,000 acres of existing parkland and lining streets with new trees. The plan calls for non-profit and community groups, businesses, developers, and community residents to plant the remaining 400,000 trees.

DCP has proposed zoning changes that would require the planting of street trees as a condition of new developments, major enlargements of existing projects, and some building conversions. If adopted, the proposal, now under public review, could generate roughly 10,000 new trees each year. The average street tree in New York City intercepts over 1,400 gallons of storm water each year, while reducing energy costs and air pollution.

DCP's proposed requirements for street trees for new developments, enlargements of 20 percent or more and some changes of use would be based on frontage, requiring one street tree for every 25 feet of street frontage, with a minimum requirement of one street tree. Existing street trees in front of the property could fulfill the requirement.

Carney said that although the property owner would be responsible for planting the trees, the Parks Department would be responsible for maintaining them.
The NYC Department of Parks reported that the 2005/2006 Street Tree Census found 592,130 street trees in the city - a 19 percent increase over the 1995/1996 census.

Queens remains the borough with the most trees, with just over 40 percent of the total population, or 239,882 trees. The top ten trees are the London Planetree, Norway Maple, Callery Pear, Honeylocust, Pine Oak, Littleleaf Linden, Green Ash, Red Maple, Silver Maple, and Ginkgo.

DCP officials noted that in keeping with the Bloomberg Administration's PlaNYC 2030 plan, the department is undertaking other "green" initiatives. In addition to the street tree requirements, a proposal for new regulations that would green new commercial parking lots is currently undergoing public review. City planning also recently initiated public review on a zoning change to establish landscaping requirements for yards throughout the city, and prohibit excessive paving in the front yards of homes in residential communities.

The new citywide requirements are being considered by the 59 community boards and the five borough presidents. Following their recommendations, the City Planning Commission will hold its own public hearings on the proposals, which will subsequently require approval by the City Council.

Times Newsweekly: Coalition is Fighting for Boro’s Trees - Group Demands End To Arborcide by Ralph Mancini...

Read original...

story and captioned photos by Ralph Mancini

Saving the borough’s trees from destruction by careless developers brought a broad spectrum of residents together to support initiatives planned by the Queens Coalition for Parks and Green Spaces (QCPGS).

On Thursday, Oct. 25, QCPGS president Frederick Kress announced that “it’s time to flex our muscles” to the group of tree preservationists congregated at the Overlook of Forest Park in Kew Gardens, as he referenced a host of arborcides reportedly being committed by construction companies and city agencies.

Kress specifically made mention of recent plans made by the Long Island Rail Road to clear a swath of trees at the Broadway-Flushing station which was reportedly stopped by community members.

He also touched upon another attempt by the Parks Department to denude one chamber of the Ridgewood Reservoir and turn it into an athletic field.

“We’ve been sitting back and letting things happen,” he said. “We’re strong enough to make a difference...What’s most damaging is not having the facts and looking like we don’t know what we’re talking about.”

Consulting Arborist of the Kissena Park Civic Association Carsten Glaeser, Ph.D, talks about numerous construction sites throughout Queens where trees are being irreparably damaged.

To that end, Kress introduced Consulting Arborist from the Kissena Park Civic Association Carsten Glaeser, Ph. D to provide those in attendance with a comprehensive overview of how a wave of construction has done irreparable damage to trees throughout the borough in the past 10 years.

Following a rundown of the various species of trees and their ecological benefits, Glaeser apprised people of the fact that even when trees aren’t taken down, they’re root zones aren’t being protected.

The fibrous root systems reportedly absorb moisture and are the site of vital gas exchange, which also allows for a tree to receive the proper nutrients it requires and also enables it to metabolize and ward off insects.

In most construction projects, he said, several city agencies are involved in approving the work without flagging any concerns about trees. The Department of Buildings was singled out as one of those who typically commit that oversight when issuing building permits.

The tree specialist told of how backhoes oftentimes kill root systems, as well as work done during the installation of curb cuts.

“When you compact soil irreversibly, you’re killing microorganisms that contribute to the ecosystem,” he added along with changes that are made to the soil’s pH levels.

Compacted soil, residents learned, often leads to trees drying out and eventually dying.

Glaeser was careful not to pin the entire blame on the DOB as he pointed out how a lack communication between city agencies is further contributing to the mistreatment of the largest and longest-living organisms on the face of the earth.

Throughout his slideshow, the Flushing based arborist showed a number of sites where this is happening, such as a location on Parsons Boulevard where the new home owner proceeded to tear down a healthy 100-year-old Copper Leaf Peach tree.

“We need a mechanism to fight this,” he stressed in relation to numerous contractors that are getting away with mass tree destruction with nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

Glaeser also noted that architects and engineers should also be partially blamed for what’s taking place due to the fact that they’re often assigned to evaluate whether or not a tree should be spared, but make the wrong decision to do away with it based solely on pictures and past projects instead of them actually going out on the field themselves.

Juniper Park Civic Association board member Steven Fiedler took issue with the Department of Transportation when performing street millings and repavements.

In lieu of using residential machinery to complete the work, the agency is reportedly utilizing heavy duty commercial grade equipment to save time, but this practice, said Fiedler, is also doing unnecessary harm to root systems.

While on the topic, Glaeser advocated that all Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Design and Construction crews employ air spading diagnostic tools while performing sewer improvements.

These tools, according to the arborist, exposes a tree’s root system and indentifies where it’s coming from.

“[This procedure] allows you to slip pipes underneath and keep roots intact.”

Many Queens residents came out to voice their concerns over the plight of several trees throughout the borough, including South Queens activist David M. Quintana (pictured addressing speaker).

South Queens activist David M. Quintana commented on tree root damage by making the following analogy: “It’s like having our feet cut out and standing on our ankles.”

Glaeser also opined on tree prunings by indicating that they can wound trees, which sometimes cannot heal and progressively become susceptible to pathogens as a result.,-73.846664&sspn=0.020961,0.036392&ie=UTF8&z=16&om=1