Sullied Surf
July 29th, 2008

The water quality at New York State’s beaches is getting worse, according to a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council. The number of water samples taken at coastal and Great Lakes beaches that exceeded state standards for bacteria reached 11 percent in 2007, up from 9 percent in 2006. New York ranks eighth worse (out of 30 coastal states ) in terms of the percent of water samples taken at beaches that exceeded health standards. And it seems New York may have snagged the council’s prize for least forthcoming state.

On that measure, at least, the city does better by providing lots of data. And the environmental group’s report applauded the city’s monitoring of its beaches and its method of issuing advisories. But in describing the city’s pollution of its water, the report paints a sickening picture (particularly if you’ve been at the beach recently) of a witch’s brew of stormwater and sewage flowing into the sound and the ocean.

(For more on efforts to keep water safe and sands clean at city beaches, click here. And for Gotham Gazette’s tour — via audio slide show — of our not so pristine shore, go here.)

Despite that, the city’s beaches are cleaner than some of those on Long Island or along the Great Lakes. Read the rest of this entry »

By on July 29, 2008, 2:42 pm
In category: Environment,Health,Waterfront | 1 Comment »

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Summer Time Blues
July 21st, 2008

An estimated 2,000 Brooklyn residents lost power on Sunday. And to repair the problem, Con Edison told residents of Sunset Park, Bay Ridge, Borough Park and Prospect Park that they needed to turn off appliances, including air conditioners. But some people are turning off their AC’s voluntarily. The New York Times reports on people who have signed up for Con Edisons time-of-use pricing service, which provides discounts for using electricity after 10 p.m.

The city faces lawsuits from parents who say their childrens’ bare feet have been scalded by playground mats. NYC Park Advocates say they have registered 166 degree readings from the black plastic mats.

Heat and jelly fish plagued the New York City triathlon. One man died in the event. The cause of death has yet to be determined.

A transformer fire cancelled horse races at Belmont and the New York Racing Association is being criticized for not calling off the day’s events earlier.

And this week, Gotham Gazette surveys the city beaches and the challenges of keeping them clean and safe.

By on July 21, 2008, 8:10 am
In category: Parks,Waterfront | Comments Off on Summer Time Blues

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Waterfalls Flip the Switch
June 26th, 2008

Photo from nydiscovery via Creative Commons

Photo by nydiscovery and used via Creative Commons. It was taken on June 20.

On a soggy morning who would have thought the city needed even more water?

Well, we got just that.

This morning, Mayor Michael Bloomberg flipped the switch on the “New York City Waterfalls” — a public art exhibit, which was privately funded, designed by Olafur Eliasson. Cascading water can be found at four East River locations, from Governors Island to Pier 35 in Manhattan. They will be on display until Oct. 13.

Similar to “The Gates” project in Central Park, the waterfalls are likely to be a tourist trap for the next several months. The city has released a brochure on the best viewing spots, and is also suggesting a ride on the Staten Island Ferry or hopping on the Circle Line for a waterfalls tour.

By on June 26, 2008, 12:21 pm
In category: Arts,Gotham City,Waterfront | 1 Comment »

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Jets President to Oversee West Side Development
June 17th, 2008

A few years ago, Jay Cross, the president of the New York Jets, spent much of his time trying to convince New Yorkers that it would be a good idea to build a new football stadium on the West Side of Manhattan. In 2005, the state legislature blocked the project, and Cross shifted his efforts to building a new stadium in the Meadowlands instead.

Now Cross is back on the West Side. According to a press release posted on the New York Observer blog, Cross has been named president of the Related Hudson Yards and “will lead Relateds development efforts of the 26-acre Hudson Yards site in collaboration with New York State, New York City, the MTA, elected officials and the community.”

By on June 17, 2008, 3:32 pm
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Ikea Mania Roundup
June 17th, 2008

TheSwedish big-box store Ikea opens its newestlocationin Red Hook, Brooklyn on Wednesday – and all of the hoopla in the city and in the press has Business Week asking: Is it an IKEA opening or a rock concert?

The New York Times looks at how the 34,600 square foot store will alter the neighborhood.

The Daily News offers a Q and A with the store manager.

Newsday interviewsNew Yorkerswho have camped out for days hoping to get a free sofa.

The New York Sun’s architecture critic blasts the store for being nothing more than a “decorated shed.”

The Brooklyn Paper reports thatIkea has hired 17 New York City police officers to handle traffic on opening day.

The message board on the Brownstoner blog offers a host of eulogies for the pre-Ikea Red Hook.

And New York Magazine provides a simple comparison of New Jersey and Brooklynlocations (including access by public transportation and delivery fees).

By on June 17, 2008, 7:59 am
In category: Community Development,Waterfront | 1 Comment »

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Who Has the Power to Develop the West Side?
May 20th, 2008

Last week, the New York Observer unveiled its list of “the 100 most powerful people in New York real estate” – and gave the top spot to Jerry Speyer of the firm Tishman Speyer. Tishman Speyer owns the MetLife building, the Chrysler building, Rockefeller Center, and as the Observer wrote “nearly won the right to develop the West Side rail yards” until the deal with the MTA fell apart.

Today, there is news that the MTA has made an agreement with the Observer’s #3 man on the list Stephen Ross of Related Companies, which keeps the West Side rail yards project alive for now. (Number 2 on the list is Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is still hoping the West Side development can be part of his legacy.)

Despite an agreement with a new developer, critics say there are still many obstacles for the projectincluding environmental and land use reviews, competition with other big projects like the World Trade Center site, andan uncertain economy which could take a toll on the amount of money private companies and the governmentwant to pour into theproject. State Assemblymember Richard Brodsky, who chairs the Committee on Corporations, Authorities, and Commissions and is #89 on the Observer’s list,told the New York Times, “Until we get a handle on the level of subsidies involved, theres no way to determine whether this is a good deal or a bad deal.”

By on May 20, 2008, 3:42 pm
In category: Community Development,Housing,Transportation,Waterfront | Comments Off on Who Has the Power to Develop the West Side?

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Hudson Yards Plan Derailed
May 13th, 2008

Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s efforts to salvage the latest version of the Hudson Yards development planfor the West Side of Manhattan have failed. TheMetropolitan Transportation Authority officials and developer Tishman Speyer have been unable to work out their differences, and today, the MTA released a brief statement:
“The MTA met today with Tishman Speyer. Despite the best efforts of both sides, a final agreement could not be reached. The MTA has now re-entered discussions with other interested developers and remains committed to timely development of these unique and valuable parcels of land on Manhattan’s Far West Side.”

By on May 13, 2008, 3:49 pm
In category: Community Development,Transportation,Waterfront | Comments Off on Hudson Yards Plan Derailed

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Brooklyn Bridge Birthday Bash
May 13th, 2008

Yesterday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitzannounced a five-day celebration to mark the 125th birthday of the Brooklyn Bridge. The event will run from May 22 through May 26 and include a bridge lighting, concerts, lectures, children’s readings, dance performances, and a bike tour. The New York Observer notes that the $15 million birthday bash will cost roughly as much as it did to build the bridgeover a century ago (not counting inflation).But there may be at least one lastingresult of the event: an upgraded pedestrian bridge entrance, which officials promise is getting “newly designed signage and energy efficient lighting.”

By on May 13, 2008, 8:33 am
In category: Gotham City,Transportation,Waterfront | 1 Comment »

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Spreading Ferry Service
May 5th, 2008

Staten Island aqua travel shouldnt seem so unique for that much longer.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced the start of expanded ferry service to the outer boroughs this morning — a pillar of Quinn’s State of the City address in February — which will start with service in the Rockaways then expand to North Williamsburg and Greenpoint.

The two-year pilot project for the Rockaways is funded by $1.1 million from Councilmember Joseph Addabbo’s discretionary funds.

Forget about the obnoxious waits of the infamous G line or the shadowy subterranean travel of the subway system, because the service could spread even more.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on May 5, 2008, 12:41 pm
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The Gowanus of the Future
February 26th, 2008

Curbed has the details of the two new proposals for the development of the Carroll Gardens/Gowanus area in Brooklyn. Each plan calls for 700 new apartments, retail stores and nearly 90,000 square feet of parkland on what is now a toxic, trash-strewn canal bank. The clean-up is scheduled to begin next summer, and planners hope to have people living in the newly constructed (and better smelling) neighborhood by 2012.

(For more on the possible pitfalls to the develoment, including environmental hazards, see “The Race to Develop a Toxic Waterway” by Tom Angotti.)

By on February 26, 2008, 11:01 am
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Coming to a Neighborhood Near You
November 1st, 2007

The Bloomberg administration has lots more to do in its plans to reshape city neighborhoods, planning commissioner Amanda Burden told a conference sponsored by the Manhattan Institute today. And one area still in its sights is Coney Island. According to Burden, the mayor soon will announce a plan to preserve the amusement park, making it a year-round attraction, and coupling it with entertainment and housing in the right location. The dispute over whether and where to put housing in Coney Island is largely credited (or blamed, depending on your point of view) for scuttling the Coney Island plan proposed by Thor Equities, which owns much of the Astroland site. (For more on planning for Coney Island, see Making Coney Island Green.)

The conference kind of a lovefest for Bloomberg administration zoning policies and efforts to promote regional business districts opened with Bloomberg hailing his own accomplishments. His administration, he said, has rezoned nearly 6,000 city blocks more than under the last six mayors combined.

And hes not done. About 25 other districts are slated for the rezoning before Bloomberg leaves office, Burden said, vowing, We will touch every neighborhood in the city.

By on November 1, 2007, 11:59 am
In category: Community Development,Land Use,Waterfront | 1 Comment »

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Floating Garden
September 28th, 2007


Inhabitat, a sustainable design blog, chose to bring our attention yesterday to the Science Barge. Currently floating off of Pier 84 in Hell’s Kitchen, the barge grows vegetables at a rate seven times more productive than crops grown in fields. It produces no waste or carbon emissions and recycles all the water it uses – which comes from whichever river it happens to be floating from. Its founder, Tom Caplow, created the barge as a way to educate people about urban farming.

By on September 28, 2007, 3:23 am
In category: Environment,Waterfront | 1 Comment »

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MTA Looks to City; City Could Look Better
September 21st, 2007

Many of the solutions offered by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority yesterday to keep storm water out of the subways follows the lead of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s PlaNYC. The city dumps about 27 billion gallons worth of sewage and waste into its waters because the sewers get overwhelmed by heavy rainstorms. To address that problem, the plan calls for piloting a series of projects to test ways to avoid the overflows and creates a mayoral task force to make the issue a priority for all city agencies.

Solar One’s Flickr Stream

These programs are what the transit authority is looking to (other than the raised subway entrances and sidewalk vents that act as street furniture), and has said it would work with the city on its diversion projects. But many environmental organizations think the city could do more.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on September 21, 2007, 12:25 pm
In category: Albany,Environment,Waterfront | 1 Comment »

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Investigating the Fire
August 20th, 2007

As the city mourns and honors firefighters Robert Beddia and Joe Graffagnino in Saturdays fire at the Deutsche Bank building, many are examining the circumstances of their death and wondering how the tragedy could have been avoided.

There is too much to mourn and too much to rage about in the deaths, the Daily News writes in an editorial today. The paper recites the litany of woes at the building: contamination with asbestos and other hazardous substances, fights over insurance and the cost of the demolition, the discovery of human remains. And then, when demolition began, workers labored behind plastic shrouding, using torches and apparently smoking, while the standpipe needed to bring water to upper floors in case of emergency sat useless with a broken valve. The News writes, The Deutsche Bank building has for too long been a symbol of official incompetence.

Read the rest of this entry »

By on August 20, 2007, 11:54 am
In category: Environment,Land Use,Waterfront | 3 Comments »

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August 9th, 2007

C'mon, the Hypoxia's Fine!
Matt Davies
By on August 9, 2007, 10:22 am
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Coney Island Roller Coaster
August 6th, 2007

The Bloomberg administration seems about to put the kibosh on plans by developer Joel Stitt and his Thor Equities to redevelop the Coney Island property where Astroland now stands. The Daily News reported yesterday that a high-ranking city official termed the controversial and glitzy proposal dead in the water (or dead along the water, to be more precise).

The city has been concerned at Stitts repeated attempts to try to sneak some residences into the plan most recently under the guise of calling them time-shares and is also concerned about Stitts shenanigans at another Brooklyn site Albee Square (see related story). Meanwhile the city reportedly has been talking with the owners of Copenhagens famed Tivoli amusement parkabout plans for Coney Island, an indication writes Gothamist that the city is trying to come up with a back-up plan.

For more on changes at Coney Island, see Coney Islands Summer of Reckoning and With Pizza, Pinball and Panache, Vendors Face Changes.

By on August 6, 2007, 11:38 am
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Coney Island Merry-Go-Round
June 18th, 2007

Joseph Sitt, the developer who bought the land in and around Coney Islands famed Astroland, has a new plan for this legendary patch of real estate. And to comply with the citys wishes, it does not include luxury condos, the Times reports today. All in all, Sitt says its a plan for everyone: Were asking for motherhood, motherhood. Apple pie, Chevrolet and Coney Island.

But the proposal seems unlikely to mollify those concerned about Coney Islands character (and characters). As Curbed describes it, Thor has scrapped the apartment buildings in favor of three high-rise hotels, including time shares, to go along with the new water park, amusements, restaurants, shops, movie theaters and everything else that will be coming to Coney Island sometime this century.

Robert Lieber, president of the citys Economic Development Corporation (parent of the Coney Island Development Corporation), has described the new plan as a wolf dressed up as a sheep. Liebers comments cant be good news for Sitt, chief of Thor Equities, since he needs the citys rezoning and financial help to make his plan a reality.

A Coney Island blog called Kinetic Carnival also has concerns. Some of the proposed buildings, it says, look like Donald Trump style boxes with windows. The blog questions whether there will be enough business to support the three hotels called for in Sitts plan and writes, Why time-shares? Isnt that similar to condos. Theyre still residential.

But Brownstoner sees the once glittery, now somewhat seedy seaside retreat as posing a challenge to developers Thor Equities or anyone else. The key to any plan for the area is finding a way to make Coney Island a year-round destination, it writes. Unfortunately, it’s hard to see how to accomplish that while maintaining the old-school vibe for which so many New Yorkers feel nostalgia.

For more on changes at Coney Island see Coney Islands Summer of Reckoning. And to find out how some Boardwalk stalwarts see the possible changes, click here.

By on June 18, 2007, 10:56 am
In category: Gotham City,Land Use,Waterfront | 3 Comments »

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Not in My Borough
June 12th, 2007

Members of the Organization of Waterfront Neighborhoods marched in front of Assemblymember Deborah Glick’s Manhattan office this morning, claiming the state legislator was harboring NIMBY (not in my backyard) tendencies by opposing a recycling station on the Gansevoort peninsula near her district.

The marine transfer station near 14th Street is part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s solid waste management plan. It was approved by City Council, but needs an OK from the state to move forward. Glick, along with two other members of the state legislature from Manhattan, want to block a bill that would make way for the recycling station

As dozens of Brooklyn and Bronx residents chanted, “Fair share for clean air, representatives from organizations opposed to the plant said there are more suitable nearby sites for the waste facility. They denied the NIMBYism charge.

But the stations supporters accused Manhattan residents of not doing their part to help dispose of New York Citys garbage. Waving posters calling for “environmental justice,” members of the waterfront neighborhoods group claimed areas in the Bronx and Brooklyn have been overburdened by the entire city’s waste for years.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, whose district includes the peninsula, has backed the plan, and joined Bloomberg in urging Albany to approve the amendment.

By on June 12, 2007, 2:52 pm
In category: Albany,Civil Rights,Environment,Gotham City,Waterfront | Comments Off on Not in My Borough

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Fantasy Island
May 31st, 2007

New York Magazine features a look at the five finalists in a competition to remake Governors Island. Five design teams were asked to conceive a new landscape, from 25to 40 acres, for the southern end of the island, and a new 2.2-mile promenade encircling it, and to rethink the open space in the northern historic section, writes Alexandra Lange. The essential question all five teams need to answer is, Why have this park?

The magazine characterizes the five plans with its own names:
The Grid
The Necklace
The Path
The Shell
The Nest

It is still unclear what the end product will look like, but as the article notes, it seems that at least something may finally happen in the near future.

By on May 31, 2007, 1:35 pm
In category: Community Development,Land Use,Waterfront | 3 Comments »

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Waiting for Help in Greenpoint
May 24th, 2007

A colorful WNYC radio segment on how old-time Polish residents are being forced out of the Williamsburg/Greenpoint area contains a compelling piece of policy information: two years after the City Council approved the rezoning of the area and allocated $2 million to help long-time residents stay in their homes, none of money has been dispersed.

Click here to listen to the radio piece by Eva Kern-Jedrychowska of the Polish Daily News.

By on May 24, 2007, 6:50 am
In category: Community Development,Housing,Land Use,Waterfront | 2 Comments »

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Gotham Gazette is published by Citizens Union Foundation and is made possible by support from the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Altman Foundation,the Fund for the City of New York and donors to Citizens Union Foundation. Please consider supporting Citizens Union Foundation's public education programs. Critical early support to Gotham Gazette was provided by the Charles H. Revson Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

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