Archive | Manhattan

Police Fingered in Harlem Cycle Smash

by Tracy Chimming, Emily Feldman, Joel Schectman, and Tim Persinko

Bicyclist hit on 125 Street, Harlem

Bicyclist hit on 125 Street, Harlem

WHAT

A speeding unmarked police vehicle driving in the wrong lane on 125 Street in Harlem hit a man on a bicycle and then continued driving.  The black police sedan appeared to be chasing a man on foot running west on 125 Street toward Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard around noon on April 22, witnesses said.  Employees of nearby businesses rushed to the aid of the fallen cyclist, who laid grimacing in pain in the east bound lane of 125 Street next to his mangled bicycle.  The bicyclist sustained leg injuries, according to witnesses.  The bicyclist was described as a black man age 30 or older.

Within minutes of the bike strike, dozens of police lights lit up the intersection.  Police radio activity indicated multiple police units were involved in the pursuit of the running suspect, who was apprehended around the corner from the hit and run in front of Greater Refuge Temple Church at 7th Avenue and 124 Street.  At least a pair of officers waited with the bicyclist for an ambulance to arrive, but the unmarked vehicle involved in the accident did not return.  Both the NYPD’s 32nd Precinct in Harlem and NYPD Headquarters declined comment on the operation and the incident.  The current status of the bicyclist remains unknown.

WHERE

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WITNESSES

Terry Sweeny, 28, was offering free pedi-cab rides for Earth Day on 125th Street directly across the street from where the accident occurred.


Terry Sweeny from Emily Feldman on Vimeo.

The hit and run took place in front of Dr. Jay’s clothing store on 125 Street.  Andre Holman, 42, a security guard there, watched the accident through the store window.


Andre Holman from Emily Feldman on Vimeo.

Jack Bicough, 23, from Astoria Queens, was a bystander at the scene.


Jack Bicough from Tracy Chimming on Vimeo.

Alassane Yanoga 33, sells clothes on the street in Harlem everyday. Police officers ran past his table.


Alassane Yanoga from Tracy Chimming on Vimeo.

 

Posted in Manhattan, Multimedia, Video

Subway MTA Workers Protest Planned Layoffs and Silent Union

By Amber Benham, Jacqueline Linge and Heather Chin

Update (May 11, 2009): Following approval from the New York State Legislature for a $2.26 billion bailout of the Metropolitan Transit Authority, the agency’s board voted today to raise subway fares and road tolls by 10 percent instead of the proposed 23 to 30 percent. The commuter and subways/bus hikes will take effect on June 17 and June 28, respectively. The compromise also reduces service and staff cuts to only those coming from retirement and workers quitting.

Hundreds of transit workers – train conductors, bus drivers, track inspectors and station agents – joined average New Yorkers outside the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s Midtown headquarters last Thursday to protest everything from transit layoffs and budget cuts to fare and tuition hikes. Their massive presence and loud cries punctuated a campaign that began over six months ago when the MTA announced a budget shortfall of 1.2 billion dollars. Since then, the deficit has ballooned as tax revenues fall.

Proposals for closing the budget gap include a 23 to 30 percent fare hike effective June 1, the reduction of commuter bus, subway and train service, and the elimination of up to 3,000 jobs, 1,100 through immediate layoffs and the rest after workers retire or quit, according to the MTA. Transit Workers Union Local 100 estimates the removal of at least 819 bus operators, over 700 station attendants and 317 managerial administrators.

The proposed hike would mean one-way subway fares of $2.50 from the current $2. A 30-day unlimited Metrocard would cost $103, up from $81.

Protesters said that these cuts would negatively affect service on all levels, the fewer number of station attendants and conductors reducing response times for commuter problems and potentially increasing safety risks.  They said that in addition to saving their own jobs, they want to also ensure there are enough workers and financial support to safeguard public safety, as Lance Hill, a station cleaner, stated. “We want the safety for the public,” Hill said. “We don’t want them to cut back, taking clerks out of booths and things like that.”

At an emergency MTA board meeting in March, MTA Chairman Dale Hemmerdinger called the situation “dire” and maintained that negotiations with union leaders were ongoing.  Besides trying to alleviate a huge budget deficit, the MTA is also selling the MTA Dedicated Tax Fund and various bonds for over $1.25 billion in order to finance existing transit and capital projects.

Workers present were part of MTA Transit Workers Union Local 100, which is led by Acting President Curtis Tate, who is working with union arbiter Roger Touissant on negotiations and the penning of a new collective bargaining agreement with the MTA.

“It seems like every year the contract is up, transit is losing money. And the other three years before that they’re making billion dollar profits. So we just find it strange that every time it comes to us there’s nothing for the workers,” said bus driver Hiram Vidal, who works on the M4 bus line. “Ridership for the buses are up 500 percent, but yet … they say they’re losing money. I don’t know what sector of the transit is losing money, but it’s not the working class.”

While New Yorkers are fed up with the union leadership, calling for more member input and influence in contract negotiations, Touissant, as arbiter, and Local 100 are holding out hope for the city, state and federal governments to provide financial support.  In a statement on the union’s website, Touissant says he hopes President Obama will “address pressing national and international issues in a manner that offers longer term solutions rather than short term or knee-jerk reactions to just cut cut cut,” and that Albany do the same and secure long-term funding. However, how they are to do that is not addressed.

Posted in City Proposals, Manhattan, Multimedia, Politics

Chelsea Piers Leads NYC in Wind Power

These windmills in Fenner, New York provide power to facilities in NYC

By Valerie Lapinski, Colin Orcutt, Maureen Sullivan, Nicole Turso, and Brian Winkowski

New York: The New Windy City?

City officials on Thursday honored Chelsea Piers, the country’s biggest sports and entertainment complex, for converting to 100% wind power. Chelsea Piers made the switch in October, making it the biggest business in NYC to use wind energy – equal to taking 2800 cars off of the road, or offsetting the generation of 13,600 tons of green house gas emissions.

But although Chelsea Piers is perched on the breezy west side of the city, the windmill in front of the building is merely decorative. Instead of spending money in attempt to harness wind itself, the facility buys wind credits, which act as a pre-order on wind power being generated somewhere else.

“This is energy that has no supply line around the world, it’s generated here at home. It has no emissions, no climate change impact, and once the investment is made it has no fuel costs,” said Jorge J. Lopez, CEO of ConEdison Solutions at Thursday’s event.

NYC Honors Chelsea Piers for Wind Power

Do-It-Yourself Wind Power

Some people don’t want to wait through this process–from wind farm to energy supplier–to get their energy, but still want to harness the power of the wind.

Energy2Green touts the idea that wind and solar power systems can be built right at home.

Gotwind.org also has a step-by-step guide on how to build your own wind turbine.

It turns out the city isn’t opposed to a little DIY engineering – last summer Mayor Michael Bloomberg voiced support of windpower on skyscrapers, a sentiment consistent with his 25-year sustainability initiative, PlaNYC.

This recent piece in the New York Times profiles several buildings in the city that operate at least partially on windpower from installed turbines.

How Wind Credit Works

Wind power is the second most successful renewable source of energy after hydroelectric, or water-fueled turbines that create energy.

Companies like Chelsea Piers buy wind power credits from energy suppliers, including ConEdison Solutions, Accent Energy and Energetix, who buy power from wind farms located throughout the United States. Since some days are windier than others, it’s the suppliers’ job to make sure that their clients are getting the amount of power they’re paying for.

Jorge J. Lopez, CEO of ConEdison Solutions, explains wind credit:

These farms send wind-generated power to the electricity grid that is then verified by an independent audit system and directed to homes and businesses. Customers can choose whether they will receive wind power, standard power, or a combination of the two. Here’s a handy graphic from the BBC that illustrates how wind energy gets to the power grid.

Wind power, however, does come at a premium cost—about two and a half more cents per kilowatt. In addition, customers can choose which wind they will receive—either nationally produced or regional, though regionally produced wind power is more expensive.

As for Chelsea Piers, facility directors think the environmental benefit is worth the extra investment.

“We were surprised to learn that the incremental cost of purchasing 100 percent green power was actually quite small,” Chairman Roland W. Betts said in a press statment. “We believe it will pay for itself in a few years.”

Posted in Business, Earth Day, Featured, Manhattan, Multimedia

Opening of new South Ferry Station

by Xiomara Martinez-White and Sergey Kadinsky

One of the last 1 trains passes through the old South Ferry station. This station first opened in 1905.

One of the last 1 trains passes through the old South Ferry station. This station first opened in 1905.

The South Ferry loop on the 1 train opened in 1905, allowing a one-seat ride between the Staten Island ferry and Harlem. By 1946, subway trains were expanded to 8 cars, and the station became obsolete. Without room for growth, its tight loop forced passengers to move to the first four cars, in order to access the station. Gap fillers moved the platforms closer to the train doors.


Platform gap fillers from Sergey Kadinsky on Vimeo.

Curvy and crowded, the old station was a source of frustration for commuters rushing for the ferry.

Century-old Artworks

An original 1905 station relief by architects Heins and LaFarge

An original 1905 station relief by architects Heins and LaFarge

Each station on the early 20th century IRT lines had its own theme artworks. For example, the Wall Street station had reliefs of the namesake wooden wall from the New Amsterdam period.

In 1990, the Arts for Transit Program commissioned a modern adaptation of the theme. Its artist, Sandra Bloodworth, is the current director of the program.


Sail artwork by Sandra Bloodworth from Sergey Kadinsky on Vimeo.

As of today, both of the above artworks are no longer accessible to the public. In their place, the new South Ferry station boats of more ambitious designs.

New Artworks
Artists Doug and Mike Starn of Red Hook, Brooklyn, designed the installation for the new South Ferry station, entitled “See it split, see it change.” The Starn brother say the nature motif represents interconnection between the train’s riders: riders begin at the South Ferry and “branch out” all over the city.

One of the highlights is a mosaic map of Manhattan, pointing upward on the wall. The map shows Manhattan’s landscape in 1640 and today.

Pictures of branches on the wall look over the escalators at the new station. Many of the branch pictures were taken in nearby Battery Park.

A maple leaf watches over the stairs leading to the new station.

Through a silver leaf gate, the station displays an original piece of wall from New Amsterdam. The wall was discovered during excavation for the new station.

Artist Mike Starn looks over at his work as the first passengers enter the station.

Scenes of the Station
The new station didn’t open until noon, but people started showing up early.

Once the Transit Authority gave the word, passengers began running in, attempting to be the first passengers to ride from the new station.

Scott Sandefur, a tourist from Washington, D.C., holds up the first MetroCard bought at the new station.

David Spectra of Manhattan wanted to be the first musician to play the new South Ferry…


David Spectra from Sergey Kadinsky on Vimeo.

but he was edged out by official “first musician to play the new South Ferry” Sean Grissom, known as “The Cajun Cellist.”


Subway musician Sean Grissom from Sergey Kadinsky on Vimeo.

He serenaded train riders with an instrumental version of Pink Floyd’s “Money.”

photo credits: X. Martinez-White, video credits: S. Kadinsky

Posted in Manhattan, Multimedia, Video

Real Estate Fears in NYC

By Lois DeSocio, Jacqueline Linge, Maureen Sullivan, and Brian Winkowski.

The New York City real estate market is no longer immune to the real estate drop that is hitting the rest of the country. Home values and sales have decreased throughout the metropolitan area, according to the Real Estate Board of New York. As a result, there is increasing anxiety among buyers and sellers, who are forced to navigate through news about plunging financial markets and shady mortgage lenders.

Jenny Laden is one of those sellers who is feeling the collective anxiety. She’s a single mom and an artist in Brooklyn who has lived in a Park Slope co-op in for ten years.

“All bets are off in this market and that’s very destabilizing and nerve-wrecking,” says Laden, whose home has been on the market for months. She has lowered the price twice already, and expects to have to lower it even more.

Home sales in Park Slope have decreased by 2.9 percent in the last year, with the average price per square foot for a co-op decreasing by 5.1 percent. And as noted above, it’s not just Park Slope that’s being hit with lower sales and home values – all of New York is feeling the effects of a declining real estate market, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island.

Okay – so while the reasons for fear and anxiety among sellers is real and palpable, what about the buyers? How could they possibly have anxiety when the market is in their favor?

“The anxiety with the buyer right now is very different than it used to be,” says Michael Palka, the president and COO of White Cat Media, an online media company which owns SheFinds.com and MomFinds.com. Palka owns an apartment in Manhattan and is currently looking for a bigger place.

“It used to be I’m going to get priced out and shut out of the market place and I’m going to have to move somewhere that I don’t want to move to,” continued Palka. He states that now the anxiety stems from buying an apartment prematurely, before the market bottoms out.

“I’ve seen several things already that, you know, if I would seen these a year ago, I would of jumped on them. Now it feels just the opposite. We shouldn’t go for it, because we can do even better in another six months,” says Palka.

Real estate agents are well aware of buyers freezing with indecision. There’s even a new catchphrase among some realtors—analysis paralysis. Clients get lost in the numbers and can’t make a decision. This “anxiety overload,” according to a recent study published in Realtor Magazine Online, by the National Board of Realtors, has given realtors much to fret about. They have fewer clients, so their incomes are shrinking. Many clients hesitate to drop their prices, so homes don’t sell and buyers aren’t buying in the hopes that prices will drop even more.

Christopher Ressa is a sales associate for the Corcoran Group in Manhattan. He says while it took a little longer for the recession to impact real estate in New York City, the effects are now being felt. Housing prices have fallen by 20 percent and will most likely keep falling. And despite the lowering numbers, buyers are still holding out for those bottom numbers. However, Ressa sees a silver lining behind the dark real estate clouds. He believes the declining trend will not last for long, as interest rates for home mortgages are at an all time low.

“It’s never been so cheap to borrow money,” says Ressa. “People need to readjust the way they think about lending and borrowing… if you can do it now, and still get a really good deal, the housing market in NYC, I believe, will bounce back fairly quickly.”

Posted in Manhattan, Multimedia, Video

AIDS Activists Flunk New York City Health Care Services

D. D-minus. F.

Those are the grades that HIV and AIDS advocates gave to New York City’s health care services.

To mark President Obama’s 50th day in office on Wednesday, March 11, AIDS and HIV prevention advocates from around the country issued a health care report card grading the nation’s progress in finding a cure for the epidemic. The “End AIDS Report Card,” compiled by the activist organization Campaign To End AIDS, failed the city across the board on the services such as housing and medication distribution.


Housing Works Rally Video
Harlem, New York

“We need a national strategy to end AIDS,” said Charles King, CEO of Housing Works. “Twenty five years into the epidemic and we still don’t have a coherent national strategy on prevention or on treatment services and care. There has to be a strategy that involves every single state and every single locality doing its fare share.”

According to a Housing Works representative, the “End AIDS Report Card” was based upon information provided by various AIDS advocacy groups that lobby for AIDS-related funding and services at city, state and federal level.

Activists and supporters, like local entities Housing Works and Harlem United Community AIDS Center, gathered at various locations across the country, such as New York and Washington D.C..

Protesters staged a rousing, speech-filled rally. They displayed large, color billboard report cards detailing their negative assessment of the city’s health care missteps. And they distributed educational pamphlets, orange stickers and free contraceptives – – all in an effort to bring awareness to the issue.

In Harlem, King singled out Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York City Council speaker Christine Quinn because of proposed cuts to city services. “The City has received close to 2 billion dollars in new money as a part of the stimulus package,” King said. “There is absolutely no excuse for the City to be cutting vital service to the health care of those with AIDS and HIV.”

Without commenting on the city’s future funding for HIV-related services, a spokesperson for the city’s health department cited their recent AIDS prevention efforts through condom distribution, syringe exchanges and voluntary testing. The City Council is currently holding hearings on the proposed budget for fiscal year 2010, which at this time includes cuts of nearly $2 million in case management staff for HIV/AIDS, among other related reductions.

King said, however, the Mayor must employ new fiscal strategies in order to remedy this situation. “Frankly, I don’t think this notion that all cuts are somehow equal and that everyone has to take their share of the pain even makes sense,” King said. “I have to run an organization and I have to administer a budget. And one of the things I know is that some cuts actually cost you more to make. This is one of those cuts that will cost the city in the long run.”

“We are in a financial crisis, right,” said Housing Works employee Lynan Saperstein. “So what’s happening to the people at the bottom? They’re getting ignored and they were already suffering.”

Click here to see the United States’ AIDS report card.

Click here to see New York State’s AIDS report card.

Click here to see New York City’s AIDS report card.

New Yorkers Living with HIV Speak Out

Frederick Taylor, 51 (originally from Sacramento, CA)
Frederick Taylor, 51, who works at a Housing Works thrift store, fears that cuts to funding may endanger services like public housing and non-pharmaceutical treatment offered to HIV-infected people.

Click the arrow to play.
[audio:http://cdn.journalism.cuny.edu/blogs.dir/132/files/2009/03/f_taylor_bounce.mp3]


Rodney Robinson, 45, a senior peer educator at AIDS Service Center, explained why he thinks it’s especially problematic for New York City to cut HIV/AIDS services.

Click the arrow to play.
[audio:http://cdn.journalism.cuny.edu/blogs.dir/132/files/2009/03/rodney-robinson2.mp3]

(Contributors to this report are James Flood, Valerie Lapinski, Alex Green IV, Heather Chin and Nicholas C. Martinez.)

Posted in Featured, Health Care, Manhattan, Multimedia, Politics, Video

The Big East Experience: Basketball, Fans and Scalpers

By Kate Nocera, Michael Preston, Collin Orcutt, and Maya Pope-Chappell

Big East Tournament at Madison Square Gardens

Tournament tickets are always a hot item for the Big East Tournament, but they’re harder to come by this year because there was no general public sale.

A change from previous years, tickets were reserved for only the 16 conference schools and were allocated in blocks of 500 to each team. The lack of a public sale has exponentially increased the traffic of online individual ticket sellers, street scalpers, and middleman brokers like Stubhub.com.

As throngs of fans, bands and teams packed into Madison Square Garden on March 11, many were left out in the cold, including ticket scalpers.  The sounds of buyers and sellers could be heard from 34th Street to 38th street, from 8th Avenue across town to 5th. “Buying tickets? Selling tickets? 60 bucks, 40 bucks, good seats!”

“It’s totally ridiculous,” said Jarryd Knouse, 25, a longtime Syracuse fan who has been attending the tournament for the last eight years. “There are so many people who want to go who can’t, and the ticket prices are totally inflated. I paid $30 last year for awesome seats, and $75 this year for ones that are a quarter as good.”

Knouse said that guaranteeing all the schools tickets lowered the number of seats that would have otherwise been available.

“The extra schools they invited will be out in a day, so that’s 2,000 tickets that are either going to go to waste for the remainder of the conference or are going to be sold illegally.”

Knouse was at the Blarney Rock, across the street from Madison Square Garden, drinking with a few hundred other Syracuse fans before the much- anticipated early round Syracuse and Seton Hall game. He purchased

To see a slide show of the sights on the street the days of the tournament, click on the photo.

his tickets on Craigslist, but was anticipating what would happen the following day.

“If ‘Cuse wins, I will most definitely be out there talking to some scalpers,” he said.

Scalpers huddled for hours outside the bar, attempting to broker quick ticket deals. A scalper, who would only identify himself as Dan, said the quantity of tickets drove up the prices this year.

“A face value of the ticket is around $30, so last year when there were tons of tickets we could sell them at $40 a pop for the first few rounds and still make a profit,” he said. “Now we’re trying to make more money off of fewer tickets, it’s around $60 tonight.”

Syracuse is always a hot ticket because of the large fan and alumni base in New York City, but some local fans hadn’t anticipated the extra difficulties in securing tickets for this year’s tournament.
Others like Bill Jones, made the trip down from upstate New York to Madison Square Garden, with tickets in hand.

“I’ve been a ‘Cuse fan since ’74,” Jones said. “I saw them win in 2003, and we had no problem getting tickets. I got them two weeks ago because I always come see them play, and I paid $30 bucks for them, so I don’t know what everyone is whining about.”



Big East Tournament Fans on Vimeo.

Posted in Featured, Manhattan

Broadway Walks: Bloomberg Plans Pedestrian-Friendly Zone

and Geneva Sands-Sadowitz, Lindsay Lazarski, Nick Loomis, Mike Reicher

Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to close stretches of Broadway favors feet over wheels, but some question if it has the legs to stand on.

[kml_flashembed movie=”http://www.kristenjoywatts.com/slideshows/Broadway/Broadway.swf” height=”427″ width=”602″ base=”.” /]
As New York City Councilman Tony Avella says, nobody drives in Manhattan for the pleasure of it. They drive there because they have to. Mayor Michael Bloomberg is adding to the aggravation of some of those drivers through his proposed changes to Broadway as part of the “Green Light for Midtown” pilot program – set to take effect on Memorial Day weekend of 2009. See more details about the plan in the fact sheet and the map of the affected areas below.

Few dispute that the traffic problems on Broadway need the attention of city government, but many skeptics question if this is the best way to resolve them. Avella, who is running against Bloomberg in the upcoming mayoral election, is one of the critics who say this trial solution isn’t worth its $1.5 million price tag.

“These changes will just push traffic to other avenues,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a good idea and it’s certainly not a good idea to carry out without consulting anyone.”

FACT SHEET

  • Close vehicle traffic on Broadway from:
    47th Street to 42nd Street
    35th Street to 33rd Street
  • East-west traffic will not be restricted
  • Closure will add over three acres of open space
  • Planters and “greenery” added at 24 location
  • Estimated cost of $1.5 million
  • Fire lane for emergency vehicle access
  • Green lights lengthened by 21 seconds on 6th Avenue (from 32 seconds today to 53 seconds)
  • Preliminary roadway improvements in April 2009
  • Traffic closed and installation of planters and pedestrian “refuge islands” beginning Memorial Day weekend
  • Public meetings from through May 2009, beginning with:

March 11 from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm – Broadway / Green Light for Midtown Open House, Radisson Martinique Broadway

March 12 from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm – Broadway / Green Light for Midtown Open House, Radisson Martinique Broadway

The Affected Areas

Click the lines on the map for a block-by-block description of Broadway.

View Larger Map

Other New Yorkers agree with Avella and say that Bloomberg is acting unilaterally in this important decision. “He just wants to go his way, as he’s trying to get reelected,” said Jack Wayne Sutton, a hawker handing out flyers for the New York Golf Center. “I don’t blame him, but he should just sit down and ask the public what they think.”

One group that would have liked to be consulted is the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. Bill Lindauer, the group’s campaign coordinator and a 30-year driver, didn’t like the idea at first but he now thinks Bloomberg’s plan could achieve its goal of reducing traffic, therein making things easier for cab drivers. But he says he’s a wait-and-see kind of guy.

“It could be a brilliant idea or hell-brained idea.”

Members of the alliance recently met with the DOT and offered recommendations, including placing taxi stands in parts of Herald Square and making at least one “taxi only” lane on Broadway from 50th Street to 44th Street.

Whether or not they accept the recommendations, the Bloomberg administration is moving forward with its basic plans, which they announced in late February.

“For Midtown traffic – Broadway is a problem hidden in plain sight,” said Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan in a statement. “We’re going to the heart of the matter and piloting a simple solution to a complex problem.” She also said that the plan “will work with the grid instead of against it.”

So why is Broadway working against the grid?

In 1811, urban planners laid out the grid New Yorkers are familiar with today, but left Broadway running diagonally across Manhattan. This configuration creates congestion problems at the points where Broadway intersects with both east-west-running streets and north-south-running avenues – namely, the areas where Bloomberg wants to cut vehicle traffic.

Whether it was the 1811 officials who made a mistake or the 2009 ones, time will tell. Either way, Bloomberg left himself a back door with the temporary plan.

“We are going to closely monitor the results to determine if this pilot works and should be extended beyond its trial period,” he said at a press conference.

Listen below to hear how local workers, commuters, and tourists will be affected by the mayor’s proposal to close traffic on Broadway:



Broadway Bikes

Reporters Lindsay Lazarski and Nick Loomis demonstrate, with the help of a helmet cam, the bicyclist’s experience on Broadway:


Posted in City Proposals, Manhattan, Politics