Archive for the tag 'surf ave'

Photo by Jesse Coburn

Photo by Jesse Coburn

By Jesse Coburn

Mayor Bill de Blasio called the day “transcendent.” Senator Charles Schumer predicted “a glorious future” for the neighborhood. Shola Olatoye of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) dubbed the plans “a triumph.”

They sang these praises while announcing that $108 million in federal funding would go toward renovating a low-income Coney Island housing project severely damaged in Superstorm Sandy.

But some living in the Coney Island Houses have their doubts. “I don’t trust them,” said Judy Toro, 66, a resident since 1996. “They make a lot of promises.”

It’s been two years since Superstorm Sandy tore through New York, but many public housing tenants are still feeling its effects. The storm caused $19 billion in losses across the five boroughs, and these low-income residents were among the hardest hit. The Coney Island Houses, a five-building complex with nearly 1,400 residents at 2410 Surf Avenue, will be the first such property damaged by Sandy to undergo major repairs, and the city now hopes to acquire roughly $1 billion in additional federal funding for similar improvements in other public residences.

“My house is falling apart, little by little before my eyes, and I don’t see anything being done.”

 

–Coney Island Houses resident.

But decades of strained relations with NYCHA have left some tenants deeply suspicious of the beleaguered city agency, causing even good news to be met with wariness.

Toro’s tenth-floor apartment overlooks Coney Island’s beach and boardwalk, but the interior doesn’t quite match the view. Black mold grows in her bathroom, plaster is crumbling in the living room, and she said roaches and spiders have infested the kitchen walls. “My house is falling apart, little by little before my eyes, and I don’t see anything being done,” she said.

Problems like these have long afflicted public housing, but Toro said that they’ve only gotten worse since Sandy. A large water stain on her grandson’s bedroom floor provides a blunt reminder of the storm, which left residents of the Coney Island Houses without heat and electricity for 22 days.

The long list of outstanding repairs in Toro’s apartment is symptomatic of the ailments plaguing the housing authority, the largest such provider in the nation, with 334 developments that accommodate more than 400,000 tenants. Its 2014 projected deficit is $191 million, due largely to a steady reduction of federal funding. And though the backlog of work orders has decreased greatly in recent years, it still runs in the tens of thousands.

Superstorm Sandy only exacerbated these chronic issues. The storm affected more than 400 public housing buildings across the city and left more than 80,000 residents without basic amenities for weeks. The Coney Island Houses is one of many properties still relying on temporary boilers two years after the storm.

“The funding, design, and implementation challenges [of NYCHA's Sandy-related repairs] are unparalleled,”

 

–Nicholas Bloom, an urban historian.

As part of the renovations, NYCHA will install back-up generators, build an elevated structure to house new boilers, and replace numerous mechanical, electrical and architectural features damaged by the storm. It also will install new surveillance cameras to provide everyday security and to allow authorities to monitor the property in the event of another storm. The funding will not, however, cover repairs for storm-related damages in apartments like Toro’s that are above the first floor.

A NYCHA spokesperson said work should begin next summer. If successful, this approach to implementing Sandy repairs, which relies on funding from FEMA, may serve as a model for renovations in at least 15 other public housing developments that sustained heavy damage in the storm.

According to Nicholas Bloom, an urban historian and professor at the New York Institute of Technology, the sheer magnitude of damage at some properties has made it uniquely difficult for the authority to carry out repairs. “The funding, design, and implementation challenges are unparalleled,” he said. As for the two-year wait for extensive Sandy-related renovations, Bloom praised the city agency for not “rushing a fix.”

An authority spokesperson echoed the need for patience: “Very early on in the aftermath of the storm, once we made temporary repairs to restore critical utilities, we made a determination that it would be irresponsible to simply repair in place and rebuild for short-term expediency instead of long-term sustainability, which could potentially compromise our infrastructure and leave our residents vulnerable.”

But this protracted wait has left some residents skeptical of the authority’s ability to care for its aging buildings. “When I see it, I’ll believe it,” said Carmen Gonzalez, 61, of the planned renovations. “They’re always promising.”

Amelia Riviera has called the Houses home for more than three decades, and the 57-year-old said the problems facing the buildings predate Sandy. “We had to wait for a storm to get help like this?” she asked, mentioning longtime issues like faulty elevators, broken security cameras, and trash on the facility’s grounds. “The buildings were already corrupt.”

Photo by Jesse Coburn

Photo by Jesse Coburn

The Coney Island Houses consist of five 14-story towers that accommodate 1,398 low-income residents. The buildings were completed in 1957—one of many high-rise, low-income developments built on the outskirts of the city.

Cheap land, low population density, and preexisting poor communities made places like Coney Island and the Rockaways seem like logical places to put these new housing blocks. Since then, however, these beachside locations have proven a mixed blessing, as residents are isolated both geographically and economically from the rest of the city. Crime continues to trouble the neighborhood, although it has significantly improved in recent decades. And the area’s median household incomeremains among the city’s lowest.

But as the 2012 storm made painfully clear, natural phenomena count among the most serious threats to the neighborhood and its almost 10,000 public housing residents.

The city has received pointed criticism for its response to public housing impacted by Sandy. In “Weathering the Storm,” an independent report by a group of community advocacy and research organizations from 2013, the authors wrote: “The City’s response to Superstorm Sandy was slow and communication to residents before, during and after the storm was inadequate.”

But the report saw promise in the wave of progressive politicians and officials who have arrived in local public office in recent years. Chief among them is Mayor de Blasio, for whom housing is a central concern. And according to Judy Toro, the authority’s response time to work orders has improved in the past few months. Recently she received a new refrigerator, three years after submitting her request.

For residents like Toro, however, such developments will have to become the norm rather than the exception if perceptions of the authority are to improve. The upcoming renovations could represent such a sea change. But Toro is less than certain: “I’m not holding my breath.”

homeless

Police have arrested Elliot Baez, a homeless man they say is responsible for vandalizing the September 11 Wall of Remembrance in Coney Island on Friday.

A surveillance camera caught a person authorities believe is Baez, 58, smearing white paint over the memorial and encircling the image of Police Officer Moira Smith at approximately 2:38am Friday.

After video was released, a tipster led authorities to Baez on Saturday afternoon even though initial descriptions suggested the vandal was a woman. Baez was charged with criminal mischief after making self-incriminating statements to police, according to reports.

The Wall of Remembrance, located at MCU Park, honors first responders killed on September 11, and has an image of each of the fallen heroes. Smith’s image appears to have been targeted, but cops told her husband Baez was “deranged” and had no apparent motive or agenda against Smith or her surviving family, according to the Daily News.

Smith was the only female first responder who perished during the terrorist attack. A survivor who worked at the World Trade Center was one of the last people to see her alive, and he has built a website detailing her courage as she helped conduct the evacuation, and has called for a public statue in her honor.

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries praised the NYPD’s quick apprehension of the vandal.

“The heroes who laid down their lives to save others on September 11 deserve our reverence and respect for the sacrifice they made that day,” said  Jeffries. “The Memorial at MCU Park in Coney Island stands as an important reminder of the courage and valor displayed by American patriots in the face of unspeakable terror. The officers from the 60th precinct who tracked down this suspect should be commended for their thorough work, and the perpetrator should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

shoe-thiefA creep has been sneaking up behind women at the West 8th Street subway station near Surf Avenue and snatching their shoes, according to police.

Cops released video of the grand larceny suspect in hopes the public will help identify the man, who they describe as a white male in his 30s.

The man made his first heel heist on September 11 at 3:14pm. As his female victim walked up the stairs to the Q tracks, the suspect approahced her from behind, snatched her right shoe – a black Adidas sneaker – and ran off.

He struck again three weeks later, on October 2, at 8:18am. Again, as the victim climbed the stairs to the platform, the suspect yanked at her right foot and made off with a Nike sneaker.

The suspect was caught on nearby surveillance cameras entering, and then exiting, the station during the second incident. The incidents happened less than one block away from the 60th Precinct.

Anyone with information in regards to this missing person is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).  The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

2007 Surf Avenue (Source: Google Maps)

A man was found fatally shot in the head Saturday morning in a Coney Island building with a history of recent tragedies.

Police responded to a 911 call at 8:45am of a person shot inside 2007 Surf Avenue, where they found a 43-year-old man collapsed in the 13th floor hallway. The man had a gunshot wound to his stomach and one to the head, and was pronounced dead at the scene.

No arrests were made, and the identity of the man is being withheld pending family notification.

It’s just the latest in a string of tragic incidents at that address. Most notably, on the very same floor as the shooting, a teenager allegedly set fire to a mattress in the hallway in April, sparking a blaze that ultimately took the life of the first police officer on scene, PO Dennis Guerra. His partner was critically injured and recovered, and 16-year-old Marcell Dockery has been charged with murder.

In August, 22-year-old Victor Rosado, an expectant father and community member, was shot to death in front of the building. He was believed to be an innocent bystander struck when an unknown gunman opened fire on a group of men playing chess.

In September, an officer suffered a possible heart attack at 2007 Surf Avenue, where he collapsed when responding to a call for shots fired.

missing

Authorities issued a Silver Alert for Gerald Kinnison, a 65-year-old man with dementia who went missing yesterday morning from his Coney Island home.

Kinnison is described as a 6’1″ black male, weighing 145 lbs with gray hair.

He was last seen at approximately 8am on Thursday wearing black jeans and a brown shirt near Surf Avenue and West 23rd Street.

Kinnison also went missing two weeks ago, but was later found.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) and then entering TIP577.

missing

Keep an eye out for Gerald Kinnison, a 65-year-old man who went missing in Coney Island Tuesday night.

Kinnison, who suffers from dementia, was last seen August 26 just after 11:00 p.m. at Surf Manor (2316 Surf Avenue), the assisted living facility where he lives.

He is 6’1″, 175 lbs, with salt and pepper hair and brown eyes. He wears a metal necklace with identifying information.

If you see Kinnison, please call 911 immediately.

2940 West 21st Street, where police responded to the shooting. (Source: Google Maps)

2940 West 21st Street, where police responded to the shooting. (Source: Google Maps)

Cops were called to 2940 West 21st Street last night, where they found 22-year-old Victor Rosado shot dead.

Rosado lived around the corner from where police found him crumpled on the sidewalk just after 11:30 p.m., at 2007 Surf Avenue. He was taken to Lutheran Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

According to News 12, Rosado was an active member of the Coney Island community and was an expectant father.

Witnesses told the Daily News that there was no provocation for the shooting, with Rosado just hanging out with friends and playing a game of chess when an unknown gunman opened fire on the group.

“They killed my little man,” one man, who didn’t want to be identified, said as he choked back tears.

“We was just hanging out, listening to music, playing chess, and they just started shooting. God, that was my little man.”

The man said he ran for safety when the gunshots rained down on them and couldn’t see who the shooter or shooters were.

No arrests have been made.

As of August 10, that latest date for which there are statistics, there have been 13 shootings, with 15 victims, in 2014 in the 60th Precinct, which patrols Coney Island, Brighton Beach and Gravesend. That’s a decrease from the same time period in 2013, which saw 16 shootings and 21 victims. Though shootings are down in the 60th Precinct, citywide gun violence is surging, with a 13 percent increase in incidents.

2007 Surf Avenue (Source: Google Maps)

The scene of the fire at 2007 Surf Avenue (Source: Google Maps)

The confession offered by 16-year-old Marcell Dockery was coerced by cops who “broke him the same way prisoners of war are broken,” according to the teen’s lawyer.

Dockery (Source: Facebook)

Dockery (Source: Facebook)

Dockery is facing several charges including murder, assault and robbery after the April 6 fire in Coney Island left one police officer dead and another in critical condition. Dockery is accused of setting the fire, and hours after his arrest he allegedly confessed in writing and on video that he sparked the blaze because “he was bored.”

But now his lawyer is arguing that the confession should be tossed, and is also requesting that a specialist on coerced confessions be brought in to interview Dockery.

Daily News reports:

Defense lawyer Jesse Young said his client “at the tender age of 16″ was no match for seasoned homicide detectives who grilled him for eight to 10 hours in an interrogation room.

“They broke him the same way prisoners of war are broken,” Young said Thursday in Brooklyn Supreme Court. “It doesn’t take much to break a 16-year-old and they did it.”

Young said the detectives extracted the confession in part by falsely promising Dockery that his mother would not be evicted from her apartment if he owned up to torching the mattress.

During a brief pre-trial hearing, Justice Danny Chun authorized funds for the defense lawyer to hire Richard Ofshe, an expert on the subject of coerced confessions, to interview Dockery and review the evidence.

The article also notes that the New York City Housing Authority has kicked off eviction proceedings against Dockery’s mother.

Source: .v1ctor Casale/Flickr

A good Samaritan caught a man accused of rape, and a beating, on Sunday on the shores of Coney Island beach.

Fuat Sarieminli suffered a fractured cheekbone, several loose teeth and seven staples in his head after he grabbed a 20-year-old man attempting to flee the area as a woman accused him of sexually assaulting her.

The woman reportedly cried “rape” at approximately 11:30 p.m., pointing at the suspect.

“Her pants were ripped and her underwear was sticking out, and she was screaming, ‘Help me!’ ” Sarieminli told the Post. (Sarieminli was not identified by the paper, but a Daily News report names him).

Sarieminli continued to tell the paper that the suspect was approaching the woman, so he intervened asking “What happened, bro?” The man said he didn’t do anything and turned to flee, when Sarieminli grabbed him.

As the two struggled, the suspect pulled off his belt and wrapped it around one hand and began pummeling Sarieminli in the face.

The suspect was arrested by police at West 20th Street and Surf Avenue.

He was charged with second- and third-degree assault and criminal possession of a weapon, according to the Daily News. The woman did not press charges for rape, but prosecutors are still investigating.

Source: Alexander Rabb/Flickr

The owner of the landmarked Shore Theater has been declining all proposals to rehabilitate and reactivate the building, including one by a Manhattan restaurateur to turn it into a sprawling restaurant and culinary school.

The 1301 Surf Avenue building was inherited by Jasmine Bullard following the 2013 death of her father, Horace, a Coney Island visionary who long fought to revitalize the neighborhood during its darkest days. Although the building was on the market at the time of his death, Bullard has declined to hear out would-be buyers, Brooklyn Eagle reports.

“I have clients who are ready, willing and able to write a check for the Shore today,” broker Joe Vitacco told Eye on Real Estate.

He has tried to submit purchase offers to her, but in vain: “She won’t even look at them.”

Vitacco said he has four “solid” suitors for the Shore Theater:

* A “very well known restaurateur” from Manhattan who wants to build a cooking school downstairs and a restaurant on the top two floors.

“The view from the seventh floor is magnificent,” he said, and there’s a Juliet balcony where diners would be able to watch the Brooklyn Cyclones playing baseball at MCU Park.

* A “nationally known athlete” who would turn the Shore back into a movie theater — and no, it’s not Magic Johnson (who isn’t actively involved in Magic Johnson Theatres’ operations these days, anyway).

* A billionaire with a home in Brooklyn who “thinks it’s a beautiful building and should be restored,” Vitacco said.

This interested party made an offer when Horace Bullard was alive, but it wasn’t high enough. Now, “he’s willing to come to the table with more money,” the broker said.

* A real estate developer who is involved in Coney Island.

Vitacco marketed Horace Bullard’s properties for about a decade. When the Shore was Vitacco’s listing, the asking price was $12 million.

It is estimated that it will take approximately $35 million to renovate the 115,000-square-foot, seven-story structure.

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