Author Archives: Suzi

About Suzi

No more wandering in the Hudson Valley. I have achieved my dream, it was a long time working toward it, but now I am here, living in NYC. My dream, my goal, my purpose in life.

Parents Concerned About Mercury Clean-Up Near Seaport School


Patch.com, March 18th, 2019

FULL TEXT:

FINANCIAL DISTRICT, NY — Parents at the Peck Slip School in the Financial District are fearful of their children’s safety amid a developer’s plan to clean-up mercury at a parking lot right next to the school’s play area.

Howard Hughes Corporation is in the midst of applying for a state program known as the Brownfield Cleanup Program to clean up mercury at 250 Water St., where a thermometer factory, gas station, among other facilities have been located in the past. Currently, the property, which the developer bought last summer, is a parking lot that sits across from Peck Slip School PS 343.

The cobblestone street between the lot and the school is currently the kids’ play area.

"It’s three feet from where these kids play," said Megan Malvern, co-president of the school’s parent-teacher association. "They play on the street next to this thing."

Malvern, who’s kids are 6- and 9-years-old is worried that there isn’t a precedent for mercury clean-up near a school under the Brownfield program through the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation — particularly one in which the site abuts the kids’ recess area.

"Kids are much more susceptible to any of those toxins," said Malvern. "I need to be reassured and understand how they believe it can be done safely."

A spokeswoman for the Howard Hughes Corporation said Langan Engineering & Environmental Services, the consultant for the developer, has noted a previous environmental clean-up near a school across from Hudson Yards along Tenth Ave. was remediated safely. At that site, said the spokeswoman, mercury levels were six times that of the highest concentration tested at 250 Water St.

"The safety and well-being of our community and the public is of the utmost concern to us," Howard Hughes Corporation said in a statement. "We hear and respect the concerns of local parents and are addressing them through ongoing and proactive community outreach including briefings and presentations to Peck Slip School, Manhattan Community Board 1, and other local stakeholders."

But at Community Board 1 land use committee meeting Monday night, parents and board members emphasized the community’s particular sensitivity to air quality issues — particularly after the federal government said the air was safe to breathe in the days following the September 11th attacks.

"You have to understand the sensitivity to those of us who have lived through [9/11]," said Wendy Chapman, a CB 1 member.

In January, Curbed reported that the developer announced details to Community Board 1 regarding the clean-up application — like a release of liability from the state under the Brownfield program, versus a city-level clean-up program through the Officer of Environmental Remediation. Last week, parents handed out fliers about the environmental clean-up near Peck Slip School’s entrance, Curbed wrote.

Monday night, the CB 1 committee voted to ask Howard Hughes to detail its plans for the site at 250 Water St. before going forward with any type of remediation under the Brownfield program.

CB 1 has no official word of the plans Howard Hughes has for the site, but last August, company’s executive vice president, Saul Scherl, detailed possible trade-offs the developer could make with the community to get support for a variance to change current zoning restrictions for a taller tower, Tribeca Tribune reported.

Currently, 250 Water St.’s height would be limited to 120 feet under a downzoning led by CB 1 back in the early 2000s in a historic part of the Seaport District.

The Howard Hughes Corporation declined to provide details on plans for 250 Water St., saying its current focus is the Brownfield clean-up program.

The environmental remediation would be independent from future development, the company said.

Another parent was worried both digging up toxic materials and future construction on the site could jeopardize his kids’ health and ability to focus.

"My kids are trying to study — two young kids just trying to study, and the building has windows that look outside," said Matt Cowan, who’s sons are 7- and 9-years-old. "They have a hard enough time focusing on the schoolwork as it is. To compete with the construction right across the street just feels like it could have some impact as well."

Cowan and Malvern echoed the CB 1 committee’s concerns about the lack of clarity about the future of 250 Water St.

"We just want it done safely, and if it is done safely, we want it built to scale," said Malvern, referencing current the 120-foot height limit.

A public meeting with the developer will be held next Wed., March 20 at 6:30 p.m. on the fourth floor of Pier 17.


Rockaway senator says proposed pipeline expansion would add another burden for peninsula residents


QNS.com, March 18th, 2019

FULL TEXT:

Environmental issues were the primary concern of Queens state Senator Joseph Addabbo when he decided not to support the Williams Pipeline project, also known as the Northeast Supply Enhancement Pipeline or NESE.

The 24-mile expansion of existing pipeline would cross the Rockaway Peninsula on its way to another pipeline three miles offshore.

“My first concern is for the people who live in the Rockaways and who have valid concerns regarding the project,” Addabbo said. “This pipeline would provide no clear, direct benefits to my constituents, and may actually impact their quality of life. After suffering from Superstorm Sandy, with hundreds of people still not back in their homes more than six years later, I cannot support an initiative that may burden them even further.”

Addabbo believes that companies should retreat from pumping climate-changing gases into the atmosphere and that construction of the pipeline also has the potential to disrupt marine life, in addition to the number of toxins that would be exposed and possibly released into the waters where residents and visitors swim. Also of concern is the $926 million cost of the project, money Addabbo feels would be better spent on renewable and clean energy initiatives.

The senator also pointed to New York’s Clean Energy Standard, which mandates the state receive 50 percent of its electricity from renewable energy by 2030 and a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by the same time frame.

”While I understand that natural gas is a bridge energy source before we fully integrate to cleaner energy forms, it does not mean we have to spend close to a billion dollars on advancing natural gas projects. It seems to me we are moving backwards instead on moving forward environmentally.”

In 2010, Addabbo was a major opponent of fracking in New York and the process of hydraulic fracturing of gas, which he believed to be dangerous and a contributor to climate change.

“I know of the need for different sources of energy, but I do not believe fracking gas is the answer,” Addabbo said. “The Rockaways are already leading the way in renewable energy with an offshore wind farm project, as New York State aims to power 1.2 million homes with these wind farms by 2030.”

Williams, a Tulsa, Oklahoma energy company that operates the Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company had hoped to have the project finished by 2020.

“In the end, after reviewing the many aspects of the NESE pipeline project, I have determined that the negative impacts, cost and environmental direction outweigh any benefits the pipeline may bring,” Addabbo said. “It is because of these reasons that I stand with my constituents in Rockaway in opposing the construction of the NESE pipeline and will continue to work towards addressing the energy needs and efficient practices of our state.”


3 MTA workers hospitalized as noxious L train stench lingers


New York Daily News, February 7th, 2019

FULL TEXT:

L train riders and transit workers continued to be canaries in the MTA’s coal mine Wednesday.

Three MTA workers had to be hospitalized after hours spent inhaling the same sickening stench that caused a brief shutdown the day before.

The workers fell ill from the heavy fumes — and later on, Transport Workers Union Local 100 officials began distributing masks to station agents.

“They’re telling them the smell is still here. Some guys are saying, I’m starting to feel a little lightheaded,” a subway source said. “Another person is saying, ‘It’s making me nauseous.’”

State Department of Environmental Conservation officials Wednesday found water with “sheens” that seeped into the subway, giving off a smell an agency spokeswoman called “aged petroleum odors.” MTA officials believe it’s heating oil.

The gas smell seemed to hit riders the hardest between the Graham Ave. and Grand St. stops, lingering through to the Bedford Ave. station.

Despite the all-clear to start service back up Tuesday, riders and transit workers were still being affected by the stink overnight and through Wednesday.

“It’s scary,” said Joe Vincent, 55, a bartender from Williamsburg, Brooklyn. “Gas like this, you don’t know what it’s going to do to you.”

Gillian Lavictoire, 33, who was with her 5-year-old daughter at the Graham Ave. station, said it was an awful smell, though it’s dissipated over the previous couple of days.

“If it’s a health and safety matter, they should shut it down,” she said.

Ralph Russo, who lives across the street from the Graham Ave. station entrance, said he was unable to sleep in his street-facing bedroom. He thought the gasoline-like smell was unsafe.

“I had to lock the doors and sleep in the living room,” Russo, 77, said. “It was terrible.I couldn’t deal with the smell.”

One TWU station agent working at Graham Ave. bought his own mask after he began to feel ill on duty, a Local 100 source said.

A train conductor was also witnessed wearing a paper mask while on duty.

“It’s terrible,” he said.” I got a headache.”

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Fans air out subway station as workers and riders complain for a second day about smell


WPIX TV, February 7th, 2019

FULL TEXT:

Fans are clearing the air at the Graham Avenue station in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and MTA officials are explaining what’s going on.

On Tuesday morning, a strange odor was reported at the station. FDNY, NY Department of Environmental Conservation and NYC Department of Environmental Protection have been at the scene.

Officials believe it is a non-toxic and non-flammable hearing oil that could be seeping into the station tunnel. Crews have treated the area in question which is between Graham and Grand Avenues.

Two transit employees were treated for nausea and riders say the smell could be detected. Some believed it was not as strong.

“As always, safety is our first priority," said MTA Chief Safety Officer Pat Warren who visited the Graham station Wednesday.

Here’s his statement issued by the MTA Media Office:

"I want to reassure all New Yorkers that the air on the L train and in the stations is 100 percent safe. The DEC and FDNY, globally recognized experts in this work, have made it very clear that there is absolutely no risk to the public and we are continuously monitoring the air quality for even small variations. We have removed almost all of the non-flammable heating oil near the Graham station and continue to vent the nearby stations as aggressively as possible. We want to thank our customers for their patience while the odor dissipates and we thank the MTA employees for the difficult work they do every day to keeping the city moving.”

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Please be green, only print this e-mail if absolutely necessary

“You cannot play God then wash your hands of the things that you’ve created. Sooner or later, the day comes when you can’t hide from the things that you’ve done anymore.”


MTA Workers, Riders Want To Know: What Is Mysterious L Train Odor?


WCBS TV, February 7th, 2019

FULL TEXT:

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – What is the mysterious odor that’s lingering at L train stations and where is it coming from?

That’s what MTA officials, transit workers and riders want to know.

While the investigation continues, state and city agencies stress the air is safe.

The MTA says the smell is coming from non-flammable heating oil, found near the Graham Avenue station in Williamsburg.

“We don’t really totally know what it is, but it appears to be some kind of oil that seeped up through the ground. It’s not clear exactly where it came from,” MTA Chief Safety Officer Patrick Warren said Wednesday. “It is absolutely safe for passengers and our workers to be down there.”

State and city agencies, including the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and FDNY, have echoed that the air is safe.

“I want to reassure all New Yorkers that the air on the L train and in the stations is 100 percent safe. The DEC and FDNY, globally recognized experts in this work, have made it very clear that there is absolutely no risk to the public and we are continuously monitoring the air quality for even small variations,” Warren said in a statement. “We have removed almost all of the non-flammable heating oil near the Graham station and continue to vent the nearby stations as aggressively as possible.”

L train service was temporarily suspended Tuesday after commuters started complaining about a smell like oil or gas. The Graham Ave. stop had to be evacuated because of the unsettling smell.

Trains are back up and running, but the complaints are still rolling in.

On Wednesday, station agents could be seen wearing masks, and riders posted about sore throats and headaches on Twitter. The transportation workers union, Local 100, says at least four workers have been hospitalized this week due to the fumes.

The MTA put heavy-duty fans in place to help circulate air away from the stations.

The agency encourages anyone with health concerns to see their doctor.

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Please be green, only print this e-mail if absolutely necessary

“You cannot play God then wash your hands of the things that you’ve created. Sooner or later, the day comes when you can’t hide from the things that you’ve done anymore.”


An elusive turtle is stopping a multi-million dollar development


NY Post, February 11th, 2019

FULL TEXT:

This creature sleeps most of the year, buries itself in swamp muck, fits in the palm of your hand — and can stop a $40 million, 1,400-job superstore development dead in its tracks.

Meet the 4-inch-long Eastern mud turtle, the mightiest creature on Staten Island — if it really lives there.

The state has ordered a Manhattan developer to launch a needle-in-a-haystack search for the rare reptile in a forested wetland that is ticketed to become a big-box retail center.

Its possible presence a mile from the Goethals Bridge is the latest twist in a decades-long drama pitting local conservationists against BJ’s, the big-box retailer set to anchor a 225,000-square-foot commercial complex.

“The turtles have at least bought us time,” said Tony Rose of the Natural Resources Protective Association.

Eastern mud turtles have never been seen on the property. In fact, they have been seen only twice in all of New York state since 1887.

But one of those times was in Staten Island, in a different part of the borough, in 2002, according to the state’s Natural Heritage Program, which tracks sightings of endangered species.

“Our experts did an assessment of all species on the property as part of the environmental review process,” said attorney Mitch Korbey, who represents property owner Charles Alpert. “This animal was not identified there.”

The tiny turtles can only live in marshy woods that flood in the spring, just like Alpert’s land, the conservationists argue.

“This is the same type of area where the mud turtle was seen on the island’s south shore,” Rose said. “These wetlands rim the whole island, and this is the last stand of trees on the north shore.”

Alpert has been trying to build on the property since the 1980s, when the state declared his parcels to be protected wetlands. A legal settlement in 2012 removed a chunk of his land from the state’s environmental shield.

The City Council approved his plans to construct a huge shopping center, complete with a members-only gas station and an 840-car parking lot, in 2017. The project will hire up to 1,000 construction workers and will bring in more than 400 permanent jobs, Korbey said.

But before the developer can get a final state sign-off, he now has to prove a negative: that there are no Eastern mud turtles on the site.

Experts will place up to 20 traps on the property in late spring, when the reptiles are most active, and will have to check them daily for up to 20 days for any sign of the critters, the Staten Island Advance reported.

That’s not good enough for local tree-huggers, who plan a guerilla operation to join in the hunt.

“The state is leaving it up to the builder, so we’re going to go in ourselves,” said Jack Bolembach, a member of the Coalition for Wetlands and Forests. “We’ll have an environmentalist put the right traps in, and we’ll check them with volunteers.”

“The state says this would be the perfect environment for these turtles,” Bolembach said. “Now we only have to find them.”

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Please be green, only print this e-mail if absolutely necessary

“You cannot play God then wash your hands of the things that you’ve created. Sooner or later, the day comes when you can’t hide from the things that you’ve done anymore.”


Toxic Ridgewood junkyard to transform into city-mandated animal shelter


Curbed NY, February 11th, 2019

FULL TEXT:

The 151 Woodward Avenue lot is slated for an Animal Care Centers of NYC (AAC) shelter that will become Queen’s full-service shelter mandated by a New York City Council bill passed last June. If accepted into the state’s Brownfield Cleanup Program, the lot will be the first in the state to go from a wasteland into a haven for four-legged New Yorkers, according to the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation.

A scrapyard run by Aalba Auto Salvage, Inc., currently occupies the one-acre parcel where AAC has signed a contract and is in the midst of closing a sale for the manufacturing land, said a spokesperson with the city-affiliated nonprofit.

“The full-service, state-of-the-art shelter will be designed, built, and owned by Animal Care Centers of NYC and will fulfill Mayor de Blasio’s commitment to have a fully operational animal shelter in each borough,” Katy Hansen, a spokesperson for ACC, said in a statement.

Since 1902, automotive shops, housing, and restaurants have all resided on the lot. By 1962, it was used to pick apart cars and has operated as such until 2005 when a smattering of auto parts, tire, and glass retail shops joined the mix. It’s that legacy of manufacturing that has caused environmental contamination on the land with a slew of hazardous compounds, including arsenic, barium, and mercury, according to DEC.

That is why before the site is turned into a shelter for furry locals, ACC has opted to apply for inclusion in the Brownfield program—which is meant to incentivize private-sector cleanups of toxic land—headed by DEC. Once the land has been remediated, ACC will raze the existing one-story structures and build a new 50,000-square-foot animal care center with space for 70 dogs, 110 cats, and for small critters such as guinea pigs and rabbits, according to Hansen.

Most Brownfield sites are remediated and turned into housing to help revitalize gritty, industrial areas, according to DEC. The fact that an animal shelter could rise on land that was once blighted with dangerous chemicals raised a few locals’ eyebrows, but those who live near the junkyard are mostly glad to see the dilapidated lot put to a public purpose.

“I pass by that place all the time—there’s fluid leaking from automotive uses there—it’s highly contaminated. Anyone can see that just from walking by,” said Christina Wilkerson, a Ridgewood resident whose husband helps manage the neighborhood’s stray cat population with trap-neuter-return (TNR). “I’m just glad it’ll finally be cleaned and something useful that will benefit the community will go there.”

But some skeptical animal lovers say the new shelter should be placed in a Queens neighborhood with the highest need, such as Jamaica, Rockaway, or Astoria, said one advocate who is a registered rescue partner with ACC.

“The location they’re selecting doesn’t make sense,” said Phyllis Taiano, who has run an animal rescue in Middle Village for at least 15 years. “It’s just not a convenient location for people in the outer borough of Queens and where the need is greatest.”

The shelter, which will give homeless animals on death row more time to find a home, also comes with programs and features such as behavioral training courses, groomers who often volunteer to groom pets, and vaccine clinics that Taiano fears some Queens residents could miss out on because the space isn’t centrally located in the borough.

Queens City Council member Paul Vallone office, who proposed the 2018 bill mandating full-service shelters in each borough, is in talks with ACC and will be meeting with the group in the coming weeks for an update on the project.

“Last year’s legislation finally put us on the right course and now, we are taking the final steps to seeing a full-service animal shelter in Queens become a reality,” said Vallone. “Having animal shelters in every borough reflects our belief that all animals should be protected and given the opportunity to find a home.”

New details on the shelter, which is expected to open in 2022, will be announced later this year, according to Vallone’s office. Locals have until March 1 to comment on the lot’s Brownfield application.

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Please be green, only print this e-mail if absolutely necessary

“You cannot play God then wash your hands of the things that you’ve created. Sooner or later, the day comes when you can’t hide from the things that you’ve done anymore.”