What’s News, Breaking: Tuesday, May 16, 2023
KIDS ‘STROKE FOR HOPE’ AT CHARITY SWIM-A-THON
CROWN HEIGHTS — Junior swimmers splashed for cash last Friday during the inaugural Imagine Swimming Stroke-For-Hope charity fundraiser at the Major Owens Community Center pool in Crown Heights, raising $26,000 for Hope Floats, which gives swim lesson scholarship assistance to underprivileged children. Special guests included three-time Olympic gold medalist Anthony Ervin and National High School Champion Roman Jones, who attended to raise awareness for water safety and drowning prevention and to advocate for increased diversity in the sport of swimming.
Children from lower-income families and marginalized communities can face greater drowning risks, due to the inaccessibility of swim lessons; a 2017 survey from the USA Swimming Foundation found that 79% of children from families earning less than $50,000 a year had little to no swimming ability — a trend Hope Floats and Imagine Swimming intend to reverse.
CONEY ISLAND CELEBRATES 100-YEAR BOARDWALK ANNIVERSARY
CONEY ISLAND — The historic Riegelmann Boardwalk on Coney Island’s shores celebrated its 100th anniversary on Monday, a beloved city fixture that was considered groundbreaking at the time for opening up the formerly restricted waterfront to the general public, according to the Coney Island History Project, which is opening an exhibit on the boardwalk’s history this weekend at its exhibition center (located, of course, on the boardwalk.) Named after a former Brooklyn BP and opened on May 15, 1923, the 80-foot wide wooden promenade initially touched the water’s edge, and was supplemented with an artificial sand beach later to enable easier bathing for visitors; while lawsuits from property owners delayed its construction by 10 years, construction took just 18 months from start to finish — a speed the Project notes is “a miraculous achievement considering that now it can take longer than that to get a single board replaced.”
Some locals were upset by the city’s lack of official celebrations of the occasion, such as the Riegelmann Boardwalk Working Group, which sent a letter to the mayor and city officials this week calling for increased funding for repairs, enforcement of anti-driving rules and the preservation of historic aspects of the structure such as its wooden boards and cast iron water fountains.
JUDGE MCPADDEN APPOINTED TO NY CRIMINAL COURT
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Judge John N. McPadden, an alumnus of St. Francis College, has been named to NYC Criminal Court. Judge McPadden, who has since 2006 been serving with the New York State Office of Court Administration and has been registered in the Second Judicial Department (seated in Brooklyn), and also as supervising court attorney to the supervising judge of New York County Criminal Court.
Judge McPadden is one of the most recent judicial appointments that Mayor Eric Adams announced on Tuesday, May 16.
MAYOR ADAMS APPOINTS KINGS COUNTY JUDGE
TO FAMILY COURT
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Judge Robert A. Markoff, who has served Kings County in the Unified Court System for more than two decades, has been named to Family Court, and is one of eight judicial appointments that Mayor Eric Adams made on Tuesday, May 16. Judge Markoff has in past roles served as a court attorney in Supreme Court, Kings County, senior court attorney in Civil Court, Kings County, and principal law clerk in Supreme Court, Kings County.
Most recently, he served as a senior principal law clerk in the Appellate Division, Second Department, on Monroe Place.
BILL WOULD ENABLE VICTIMS OF ID THEFT, ABUSE
TO RECOVER ONLINE ACCOUNTS FROM LOCKOUTS
STATEWIDE — A bill that would allow victims of identity theft to access their online accounts passed the New York State Senate on Tuesday, May 16. State Senator Kristen Gonzalez (SD59/Williamsburg/Greenpoint) is the main sponsor of this legislation, which would help victims of ID theft and domestic abuse recover their accounts by presenting an ID at a store’s in-state physical location, particularly if they cannot access multi-factor authentication because of locked out or stolen devices.
“This bill will help those whose devices have been stolen or whose accounts are compromised by giving them a chance to recover their accounts by presenting an ID at a business’s in-state location,” said Gonzalez. The bill (with corresponding index number A.7048) must next pass the state Assembly before it reaches Governor Hochul’s desk for signature.
PINKSTER, ORIGINALLY MARKING CHRISTIAN PENTECOST,
EVOLVED INTO FESTIVAL OF AFRICAN CULTURE
PROSPECT PARK — The Prospect Park Alliance is hosting a Pinkster celebration in the yard of Lefferts Historic House, an 18th-century Flatbush farmhouse, now the park’s historic house museum, to coincide with the completion of a multi-year restoration. Chief Baba Neil Clarke, the Pinkster Players, and friends, including long-time Lefferts storyteller Tammy Hall, will lead this free, family-friendly event which will feature music, history, performances, storytelling, demonstrations, games, and food connected to this historic celebration of Africans in New York.
Pinkster is the Dutch word for Pentecost, a spring festival that celebrates the birth of Christianity, and it marked the only time each year that Africans enslaved in New York were legally allowed to gather with their families, play music, dance in public, and trade goods. In the early 19th century, white landowners in New York outlawed the celebration of Pinkster, which was finally revived in the 1970s.
LEFFERTS HISTORIC HOUSE GETS RIBBON-CUTTING
WITH COMPLETED $2.5M RESTORATION
PROSPECT PARK — The Lefferts Historic House, within the Prospect Park grounds, will be at the center of a ribbon cutting at noon on Friday, May 19, following a $2.5 million restoration that the City Council’s Brooklyn delegation helped underwrite. The Prospect Park Alliance, NYC Parks, elected officials, and civic leaders will cut the ribbon on Lefferts Historic House, at an event marking a rare occasion when four tribal chiefs will gather together to celebrate the reopening of the house, and which will incorporate moments by Indigenous tribal leaders and African cultural bearers.
Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and City Councilmembers representing Brooklyn helped fund the restoration, which will also be feted on Sunday, May 21, with a Pinkster celebration.
ATTORNEYS GENERAL SUPPORT PROPOSED RULE
ON PROTECTING RIGHTS OF TRANSGENDER STUDENT ATHLETES
NATIONWIDE — Transgender athletes should be afforded anti-discrimination protections, say NY Attorney General Letitia James and a coalition of 12 of her counterparts in other states, who have submitted documents in response to a rule that the U.S. Department of Education has proposed. The rule would clarify how schools receiving federal funding can remain in compliance with Title IX, a federal civil rights statute, when determining a transgender student’s eligibility to participate on school athletic teams. The letter that Attorney General James and her colleagues sent to U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona expressed support for aspects of a proposed national rule that would prohibit institutions that receive federal funding from excluding transgender students from school sports.
Moreover, the attorneys generals’ letter recommends revisions to the rule that would guarantee the inclusion of all transgender students in school sports, including due process protections at the college level.
BILL WOULD SAFEGUARD SOCIAL SECURITY CREDITS
FOR PEOPLE LEAVING WORKFORCE TO BE FAMILY CAREGIVERS
NATIONWIDE — Taxpayers who leave the workforce to become caregivers for loved ones would benefit from legislation that U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), a member of the Senate Aging Committee, reintroduced on Tuesday, May 16. Gillibrand’s Social Security Caregiver Credit Act would provide retirement credits to unpaid caregivers who spend at least 80 hours a month providing care to a dependent relative under the age of 12 or to a chronically dependent individual, defined as a person who cannot perform basic activities without assistance. Social Security credits are “units” the Social Security Administration uses to determine whether an individual has qualified for retirement, disability, and other benefits.
Gillibrand’s legislation would make sure that retirement funding would not be jeopardized for millions of Americans as a consequence of having to leave the workforce to become unpaid caregivers for sick, disabled, or elderly loved ones.
CONSUMER REPORTS STORY CHRONICLES POLLUTION MONITORING AS AMAZON WAREHOUSES INCREASE
RED HOOK — The expansion of e-warehouses in Red Hook, and their impact on the neighborhood is the focus of an extensive investigative report that the magazine Consumer Reports published on Tuesday, May 16. Consumer Reports, which has joined The Guardian to track the hidden costs of e-commerce, tracked the increase of respiratory illness congestion on Red Hook streets, particularly since the opening of two large Amazon warehouses directly across from a large housing project, and the expected opening of a third facility later this year. They purchased camera-based sensors from Numina — a Brooklyn-based company — placing these in Red Hook for data charting of vehicle types. Other devices were utilized to monitor the impact of e-commerce delivery traffic, such as particulate pollution, and sound (decibel) levels.
New York could become the first state to hold warehouse operators accountable for air and noise pollution, as the state legislature is considering the Clean Deliveries Act, with co-sponsors in each house being: Andrew Gounardes (D-26) and Zellnor Myrie (D-20), and Assemblymembers Robert Carroll (D-44) and Jo Anne Simon (D-52), whose district includes Red Hook.
POLICE ASK PUBLIC’S HELP IN FINDING
MAN REPORTED MISSING LAST MONTH
BUSHWICK — The NYPD asks the public to help locate a man who was reportedly last seen in August 2022 but just reported as missing just six weeks ago. Police, who may have had reasons to withhold information until now, indicate that 47-year-old Kareem Alvarez of Knickerbocker Ave. in Bushwick (83rd Precinct) was reported missing on Tuesday, April 4.
The NYPD report indicated also that Alvarez was last seen on Friday, August 26, 2022, around 7 p.m., leaving 9 West 8th St., but did not specify whether this was in Brooklyn’s Gravesend section or in the West Village, Manhattan. Google Maps shows only four-digit addresses for West 8th St. in Brooklyn.
GOLDMAN CO-SPONSORS BLACK MATERNAL HEALTH BILLS
WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Dan Goldman this week joined other congressmembers in introducing the “Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act,” a package of 12 individual bills addressing the nation’s high maternal mortality rates, with a focus on racial and ethnic disparities. The bills would significantly extend WIC food funds eligibility time for postpartum and breastfeeding mothers, implement local initiatives alongside community groups to address maternal mental health conditions and substance abuse, and guide and fund training sessions for health workers on antiracism, cultural communication and trauma-informed maternity care.
“Black women are disproportionately impacted by the growing maternal health care crisis. Systemic inequities create barriers to Black women seeking care, and the care they do receive is too often inadequate… I am committed to elevating the voices of Black women in the fight for equal health care access and treatment,” wrote Goldman in a press statement.
ART INSTALLATION DEBUT AT EMPIRE STATE PARK
DUMBO — A new public sculpture by Alaskan indigenous artist Nicholas Galanin, titled “In every language there is Land / En cada lengua hay una Tierra,” is set to be unveiled on Tuesday in Brooklyn Bridge Park; the monumental 30-foot Pop-Art sculpture’s airily placed steel beams, designed for the US-Mexico border fence, spell out the word “LAND.” The piece by Galanin, who uses his heritage and connection with the land to create culturally relevant projects, is a comment on colonization’s impact on migration and human relationships with the earth; by repurposing wall materials, it “questions the concept of border walls, which are designed to cut across land and water, restricting access to the migratory routes necessary for various life forms,” turning a former barrier to entry into an embodiment of respect for life.
The sculpture will be on display from May 16 through Nov. 12, 2023, on Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Empire Fulton Ferry Lawn.
POLICE WARN OF G TRAIN GROPE CREEP
BED-STUY — Police are warning subway riders to be on the lookout for a male suspect who on the morning of Monday, May 15, approached a 51-year-old female victim on the G train near the Myrtle-Willoughby station and asked her a question about the train route, before touching the victim’s genital area over her clothing against her will. The man fled at the Flushing Avenue station and is described as approximately 60 to 65 years old with a light complexion, and was last seen wearing what police called ”traditional Jewish garb”: a black hat, black coat, black pants and white shirt.
Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at crimestoppers.nypdonline.org, on Twitter @NYPDTips.
MORE BROOKLYN SCHOOLS TO HOUSE ASYLUM SEEKERS
CITYWIDE — A widely criticized move to house asylum seekers in a Coney Island public school gymnasium has now expanded to involve five more Brooklyn schools, including P.S. 17/M.S. 577, P.S. 18 and P.S. 132 in Williamsburg, P.S. 172 in Sunset Park and P.S. 189 in Crown Heights, reports the New York Post, with outraged parents voicing worries over security risks and health concerns, as well as anger over potential restrictions to playground time and physical activities: M.S. 577 PTA member Virginia Vu told the Post, “The school will be under lockdown all day. The students will be trapped inside and will not be able to go outside for recess or physical education, which will be a huge detriment to their wellbeing. These kids just came through COVID, and now they’re being locked inside the classroom.” City and school officials, including Mayor Adams, have insisted that the use of the gyms will be temporary and will not have a great impact on students, as schools will be out in a month; and say that the city has run out of options for sites to handle the daily influx of asylum seekers.
CBS News filmed an overnight camp-out protest by parents at P.S. 172 on Monday against the transfer of migrants to their childrens’ school, saying they don’t feel safe with school buildings housing unknown adults; parents at other schools held similar rallies, where kids held signs calling the decision unfair – some saying that the housing situation would cause them to withdraw keep their children at home.
MTA SEES RISE IN SICK DAYS AHEAD OF CONTRACT STRUGGLE
CITYWIDE — Around 175 discontented MTA workers at the Flatbush Bus Terminal are conducting a “sick-out” strike to protest managers at the site, according to a source for the New York Daily News, calling in sick in order to work around a controversial state law that bars public-sector employees from striking and possibly contributing to bus service slow-downs. The action comes as the MTA workers’ union, TWU Local 100, is negotiating a new contract with the MTA ahead of the current contract’s expiration next week, with the union pushing for hazard pay, parental leave and coverage for mental health services, along with changes to pension plans.
A spokesperson for the MTA told the Daily News that the service slowdowns were being investigated; if the MTA and the union are unable to come to an agreement by Monday, the workers are legally required to continue under the current contract’s terms — although the transit authority has accused the union of intentional slowdowns during previous disputes.
CDC WARNS OF DRUG-RESISTANT RINGWORM IN NYC
CITYWIDE — The CDC on Friday released a report warning New Yorkers of the detection of two cases of a drug-resistant form of ringworm, previously found only in South Asia, identified in the city, reports Patch – a strain thought to be the result of overuse of topical antibiotics and antifungal creams. The report notes that although one patient had recently traveled to Bangladesh and first developed symptoms there in 2022, the other patient, who first reported symptoms in 2021, had no history of overseas travel, potentially indicating local transmission; the CDC advised area doctors to consider the possibility of this form of ringworm when treating severe cases and to contact health authorities if a case is suspected.
Both patients have been treated, with the 2021 patient’s symptoms having resolved and the 2022 patient’s mostly resolved, but both required courses of oral antibiotics that come with potential side effects; the CDC’s ringworm prevention webpage advises the public to avoid ringworm exposure by washing hands with soap frequently, making sure to keep clothes and shoes dry and free from moisture and not touching wet floors, towels or clothes that could carry the fungus.
PRATT HOLDS 122ND ANNUAL RUNWAY SHOW
RED HOOK — The 21 graduating seniors in the Pratt Institure’s Fashion Design program on Wednesday presented ready-to-wear collections of eight to ten looks apiece at the school’s 122nd annual runway show, titled “ASSEMBLAGE,” at the Pioneer Works center in Red Hook, celebrating a new generation of designers whose work centers sustainability, as well as “motifs of gender nonconformity, identity, and, crucially, interpersonal connection,” according to Pratt Fashion Chair Jennifer Minniti. Faculty congratulated the seniors, who due to the pandemic were forced to spend years of their education remotely, on overcoming that challenge to develop innovative textile techniques, alongside mastery of traditional craft methods.
The event also focused on the importance of fashion as communication, honoring Washington Post fashion critic Robin Givhan, who in 2006 became the first and only fashion journalist to win a Pulitzer Prize for her work; the school also announced the addition of a new Master of Fine Arts in Fashion Collection + Communication offering.
MTA SWITCH WORK AT WEST 4TH TO CAUSE MAJOR CHANGES
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — The MTA has issued a travel reminder about switch replacement work on the 6th Avenue line near West 4th Street beginning on Monday, May 15 at 5 a.m and continuing through July 3 that will cause significant service changes: customers should expect their uptown B/D/F/M commutes to take an additional two minutes, as fewer trains will be in service on those lines and express trains between Church Ave. and Jay St. will operate local during this period. Further changes include weekend periods in which D, F, A and C trains will have reduced or no service in Manhattan, the Bronx and Queens; on weeknights, the A, B, C, D, E and F trains will all experience service changes and reroutes, and a significant period of work-related changes between June 5 and June 15, during which the D train will run on the A and F line and the F train will run on the D line.
The MTA encourages customers to stay informed about unannounced changes and to find more information about these planned changes by heading to its information website, new.mta.info, by signing up for its MTA Weekender newsletter, by chatting with NYC Transit on WhatsApp or by downloading its MYmta smartphone app.
ATLANTIC ART WALK THIS WEEKEND AND NEXT WEEK
BOERUM HILL — The annual Atlantic Avenue ArtWalk will be on display beginning this weekend and lasting through next week, a popular self-guided tour of an exciting range of artworks along a 1.5-mile stretch of the avenue, displayed in shops, galleries and eateries, as well as in the open spring air. Works range across a variety of styles, including photorealism, spiritual abstraction, indigenous art and more, expressed through watercolors, photographs, paintings, ceramics and collages, among others; special exhibitions will be held throughout the event, including a weekend Endangered Species conservation mini-festival at the YWCA featuring dance performances, storytelling and kids’ art workshops; and a large group exhibit at 535 Atlantic Avenue, a currently vacant storefront donated to the ArtWalk by Thor Equities.
The ArtWalk will run along Atlantic Avenue from Fourth Avenue to the waterfront from May 20 through May 28 from 12 to 6 p.m.; more information, exhibit details and event times can be found online on event organizer the Atlantic Avenue Local Development Corporation’s website.
SENSORY TOUR AT BOTANIC GARDEN FOR THOSE WITH MEMORY LOSS
PROSPECT HEIGHTS — The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is hosting a free 90-minute guided tour of its seasonal displays and blooms this Thursday, designed for individuals with memory loss and their caregivers. The walk is leisurely, peaceful and wheelchair-accessible, and will feature opportunities to stop and interact with flora, as well as a hands-on activity that will allow participants to take home a memento of their visit; guests are invited to “reminisce about the scents and sights of the many special plants that we all enjoy.”
The tour will take place on Wednesday, May 18, from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.; it’s free, but space is limited, so pre-registration is required — to sign up, contact Garden representative Joanne D’Auria at [email protected].
MENTAL HEALTH MUSIC FEST: IRON & WINE, LANGHORNE SLIM, HOUSE OF YES
BUSHWICK — The annual Sound Mind Music Festival for Mental Health, a free, all-day street festival in Bushwick, is set to rock out this Saturday, with the goal of starting conversations about and reducing the stigma around mental health issues. Catch full-length sets from folk artists Iron & Wine, Hiss Golden Messenger and Langhorne Slim, rapper/singer KAMAUU and indie-rock band Pom Pom Squad, alongside dance parties and DJ sets curated by nightclub House of Yes; the festival will also host panel discussions on mental health in the music industry and in marginalized communities, as well as holistic activities like yoga and mindfulness and breathwork sessions; food and drinks for hungry dancers will be curated by Smorgasburg.
Festivities will kick off at noon on Saturday, May 20, outside House of Yes, between Irving and Wyckoff avenues, and run into the evening. Free tickets, which include a complimentary month of e-therapy service BetterHelp, can be reserved online on Eventbrite; VIP tickets can also be bought for $150 and include merch and a premium viewing area, with proceeds going to support community mental health initiatives.
A LOOK BACK AT BROOKLYN’S WOODSTOCK
MIDWOOD — Eagle editor emeritus Ranaan Geberer offers a retrospective history in the Red Hook Star-Revue this week of a piece of Brooklyn history mostly lost to time — the annual Brooklyn Woodstock festival, begun by WFMU sound engineer Gil Shuster in 1988 as a fundraiser for AIDS research in memory of his brother Jonathan, hosted in his stately Midwood Victorian through 1994. Shuster’s band Kenny Young and the Eggplants played alongside underground acts like Yo La Tengo, Elliott Smith, King Missile (known for their notorious single “Detachable Penis,” a performance of which was personally witnessed by a younger Ranaan) and other Knitting Factory regulars from the home’s porch to a packed-full backyard — musical pioneers in a time before Brooklyn was officially cool.
With north Brooklyn not yet having been discovered by the city’s artistic scene, many who played the event recall being surprised by Midwood’s historic charm: Brooklyn bass player George Rush wrote, “I lived in pre-gentrified Cobble Hill/Carroll Gardens, and when I first went out there, I said, `Where the hell is this place?’ I was in the audience star-struck, and a few years later, I was friends with some of those guys.”
WINNERS OF SCANDINAVIAN MUSEUM’S ESSAY CONTEST BOTH HAIL FROM LUTHERAN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
BAY RIDGE — Victoria Hofmo, president of the Scandinavian East Coast Museum, announced this year’s essay contest winners, in time for the celebration of Norway Independence Day. The winners, Sebastian Schultz Domingo and Clayton Tam, are both 5th-grade students in Ms. Perez’s English class at Lutheran Elementary School in Bay Ridge. Ms. Hofmo was pleased that eight students from this class took on the challenge of a very complex subject, Remembering Norwegian Resistance. The winners will be reading their essays at this year’s Viking Fest on May 20th and be part of this year’s Syttende Mai – Norwegian Day Parade on May 21, which kicks off at 1:30 pm.
The winners, whose essays will be published in this year’s parade journal, each received a book about Norway’s most decorated war hero, Gunnar Sonste, titled “Report from #24,” a Wild Viking t-shirt and a pin from this year’s parade which reads Remembering Norwegian Resistance.
‘BROOKLYN MADE STORE’ OPENS FRIDAY, SHOWCASING PRODUCTS BY BOROUGH’S ENTREPRENEURS
INDUSTRY CITY — “BROOKLYN IS THE BRAND” and a new store opens this Friday to celebrate the borough’s creative entrepreneurial spirit. The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce will present the grand opening this Friday, May 19, of The Brooklyn Made Store, representing the rich diversity of “Brooklyn,” as represented by products and brands that have been conceived and made here. The mission of the Brooklyn Made Store, according to the announcement of Friday’s event, “is to identify and promote designers, makers, and entrepreneurs, mostly from communities of color, who embody the essence of what it means to be Brooklyn, as represented through their unique products.” The Grand Opening party takes place at the Brooklyn Chamber’s home in Industry City, Building 5, starting at 5 p.m. No RSVP is needed.
The Brooklyn Made Store has sponsorship from Wells Fargo and endorsement from the Brooklyn Community Foundation.
RENOVATION PLANS FOR THREE HEIGHTS RESIDENCES ON COMMUNITY BOARD 2 LAND USE COMMITTEE’S AGENDA
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — Proposed renovations for three Brooklyn Heights houses — including restorations to historical appearances, are on the agenda for Community Board 2 Land Use Committee’s next meeting on Wednesday, May 17. The committee will hear presentations for Certificates of Appropriateness on work to be done on 158 Clinton Street, 1 Sidney Place and 30 College Place. Application for 158 Clinton St., near Aitken Place, is to replace non-historic front door and surround to match the 1940 historic door; scrape and remove all front façade paint and repoint the newly exposed brick; repair stucco brownstone base and refinish brownstone stoop; and, a new front façade window at the attic. The application for 1 Sidney Place is to replace the slate shingles on the mansard roof with synthetic slate shingles. The application for 30 College Place involves several projects, including the installation of a new full-width rooftop bulkhead addition repair and repainting of the existing cornice, replacement of the existing garage door and transom to match the 1941 historical photo; and, replacement of the front Juliet balcony door with double door to match the adjacent building.
Community Board 2’s Land Use Committee meeting is a public meeting according to its agenda, and will immediately follow a public hearing on expansions to the parking lot on Schermerhorn St. between Hoyt and Smith Streets in Downtown Brooklyn. Both meetings are fully remote via Zoom.
NYPD SUED OVER ‘CORPSE FLUID’ STENCH IN SEALED APARTMENT
GREENPOINT — A Greenpoint couple that own a six-unit apartment building filed a lawsuit earlier this month against the NYPD, seeking permission to clean out an apartment that police sealed last July after finding a long-time tenant deceased within it, reports Patch, alleging that the apartment is attracting vermin and emitting foul odors due to rotten food, hoarded possessions and corpse fluids. The deceased’s sister has not been able to take control over the estate owing to significant delays in the court system, meaning that the landlords need police permission to enter; the suit calls the cleanup efforts urgent, saying that tenants are deserting the building due to the terrible smell and bug infestations.
NYC’s courts have significant backlogs due to pandemic slowdowns, meaning that plaintiffs and defendants at all levels are waiting far longer for their cases to be heard than normal; lawmakers and judges have taken steps in recent months to address labor shortages and case overloads in the civil courts, criminal courts and housing courts.
LANDMARKS MULLS EASING SOME PERMITS FOR HISTORIC BUILDINGS
CITYWIDE — The Landmarks Preservation Commission will be holding a public hearing next Tuesday to discuss proposed changes to rules for modifications of historic buildings, aiming to reduce inefficiency by streamlining approvals of changes that are generally rubber-stamped. These rules address modifications that are minor and cosmetic; examples include the installation of vinyl decals and glazing on windows, new HVAC and solar technologies, expanded features for signs and lighting fixtures, and relaxed procedures regarding tree pits on historic sidewalks; the commission also intends to establish clearer and more comprehensive rules on historic codes and historic grant applications, and to expedite the review process overall.
The hearing will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, May 23, at the LPC’s conference room at 1 Centre Street in Manhattan and livestreamed via the LPC’s hearings webpage on the city’s website, where the public can sign up to speak at the hearing; comments can also be sent on the city’s NYC Rules webpage. Footage of the commission’s previous meeting, at which the proposed changes were introduced and explained, can be found on the LPC’s YouTube channel.
CITY CONSIDERS LONG LIST OF CONGESTION TOLL EXEMPTIONS
CIVIC CENTER — As NYC’s planned congestion toll system for entering Manhattan’s central business district clears the final hurdles before implementation, the MTA has released its final environmental impact report on the plan, including a long list of exemptions and fee reductions requested by various groups and individuals, reports StreetsBlog, ranging from the common-sense – emergency vehicles, buses, carpoolers and deliveries of essential goods – to the harder sells, such as carve-outs for residents of every county surrounding the city and various parts of every borough, and for a variety of professions, like pharmacists, judges, small business owners and teachers. Exemptions for artists and musicians, as well as one for “vehicles whose manufacturers participate in the ‘circular economy’”, received special scrutiny from StreetsBlog, which also noted that because the plan calls for a minimum of $1 billion in revenue from tolls every year, any exemptions granted to specific groups would lead to higher tolls on other drivers.
The release of the MTA’s report will now give federal officials a 30-day deadline to make a final decision on the plan’s approval, which is expected to be granted; vehicles could see tolls of up to $23 to enter Manhattan, with the money going to fund the transit system and other improvements.
LONG DELAYS IN PASSPORT ISSUANCE, RENEWALS
NATIONWIDE — U.S. Rep. Dan Goldman issued a reminder to hopeful travelers earlier this month warning of long processing times and service delays due to post-pandemic wanderlust and application backlogs at the national passport agency, advising vacationers to submit their applications as soon as possible, as wait times are expected to increase as summer approaches. Routine processing times are 10 to 13 weeks, while expedited service is seven to nine weeks; as renewing requires applicants to mail in their current passports, anyone renewing a passport will be without one for three to four months.
Help for emergency travel is available, Goldman’s office wrote in a press statement: “If you have urgent travel needs, my office and I are here to help. Once you are 2 weeks out from your trip and have not received your passport, reach out to our office. The sooner you reach out to us within that 2-week window the more likely our office is to be able to help.”
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