Archive for the tag 'waste'

It’s here, it’s here, it’s finally here!

After a decade of construction, numerous stumbles and some lessons learned about environmental infrastructure, the Carmine Carro Community Center is now open to the public. Elected officials and the Carro family snipped the ribbon Friday morning, and park officials gave tours of the facility throughout the afternoon.

“The jewel of this community, Marine Park, now has its crown,” declared Charles D’Alessandro, Carmine Carro’s son-in-law who spoke on behalf of the family.

With a few friendly jibes about the long delays, D’Alessandro and the numerous elected officials who spoke at the ribbon cutting ceremony lauded the Parks Department for completing the first city building certified as LEED – an ambitious environmental standard.

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Photo by Erica Sherman

THE COMMUTE: Several days ago, New York City Comptroller John Liu released an audit on the cleaning and maintenance of bus stop shelters by CEMUSA under its franchise agreement with the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT). Naturally, we were interested in the findings of this audit after heavily criticizing DOT and CEMUSA last May. However, many of our questions regarding CEMUSA’s responsibilities were not answered.

Liu basically looked at only three aspects of the contract:

  • Whether CEMUSA cleans the structures as per their contract;
  • Whether CEMUSA maintains these shelters in a state of good repair — replacing damaged parts as required within required time limits and
  • CEMUSA’ s response to snowstorms.

The comptroller made it publicly known that CEMUSA subcontracts all these functions with DOT’s permission. He concluded that, although the bus stop shelters were reasonably clean and well maintained, the exterior roof panels were not cleaned regularly and that, during the audit period, the subcontractor did not inspect and clean the shelters at the level required. He further concluded that insufficient resources are allocated to meet the contract requirements for cleaning the shelters, and that 93 percent of defects found are repaired within the required due dates while seven percent are repaired after the due dates.

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Why is this B49 only going so far as Church Avenue? Photo by Allan Rosen

THE COMMUTE: Although buses are scheduled at 10 minutes intervals, if you were trying to get home from Manhattan Beach on the evening of July 4, there is a good chance that you would have had to wait for an hour for a B49. Two weeks ago I reported long waits on both the B1 and B49 buses on a hot summer weeknight during the rush hour, and how service is disrupted on an entire route because the MTA does not pay attention to heavy beach loadings. I decided to return on July 4 to see if conditions would be better or worse.

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Source: MTA

THE COMMUTE: As the second anniversary of the largest service cutbacks in New York City History quietly passed on June 27th, the MTA hinted at its monthly board meeting for the first time that they were considering the restoration of some cuts. The New York Times has the story. No specific mention was made as to which cutbacks were considered for restoration, but it does not hurt to be optimistic that restoration of the B4 and B64 are being considered.

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Students walking two extra blocks to Kingsborough Community College. Photo by Allan Rosen

THE COMMUTE: Yesterday I discussed service irregularities on the B1 and B49 last Thursday afternoon, a day when the temperature reached the mid-90s and passengers were trying to get home from the beach. Today we look at other service irregularities and measures that can be taken, which the MTA resists.

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A crowd waiting 20 minutes for a bus on Falmouth Street at 5:09 p.m. Photo by Allan Rosen

THE COMMUTE: Regular readers of this column know that my favorite subject is bus service, especially in Brooklyn. I particularly like to focus on subjects that virtually no one else pays attention to such as service to the area’s beaches. I’ve written about this subject several times before. Having ridden the B49 since the 1960s to go to Manhattan Beach, and constantly witnessing service irregularities dating back to then, I first attempted to get the MTA to pay attention to this problem in 1982 when I was director of the Brooklyn Transit Service Sufficiency Study, since irregular or poor service not only affects beachgoers, but it disrupts service along the entire route for all passengers.

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Taxpayers are forking over more money this year than any other year in recent memory, thanks to an increase in the number of special elections and primaries in New York State.

The bill? $80 million – a $23 million bump over previous years, according to the Independent Budget Office.

Here’s the explanation offered by the organization:

We typically have three citywide elections in a year when the terms for state and federal officeholders are up for vote. But this year a federal judge ruled that New York State’s scheduling of its Congressional primaries in September, in conjunction with the state primaries for Assembly and Senate, would not leave enough time to get absentee ballots to military personnel overseas before the general election in November.

Albany officials could have shifted state legislative primaries to June 26 as well, but chose not to. With New York’s legislative session scheduled to run until June 21, the State Senate balked at the idea of holding an election just five days later that would leave them little time to get home and campaign. So counties across the state pony up more money to cover the cost of an additional day for voters to go to the polls. For the city this meant adding $23 million to the Board of Election’s budget. The funds cover expenditures such as printing ballots, transporting voting machines to the city’s more than 1,300 polling sites, and paying about 30,000 poll workers.

For April’s poorly attended Republican primary, the bill came out to much less than the city had anticipated: just $13.3 million. But, the IBO notes, that comes out to about $522 per vote.

Locally, the race to replace former State Senator Carl Kruger, which pitted Democrat Lew Fidler versus Republican David Storobin, the election day costs were about $750,000. No one has yet figured out the cost of the hand recount triggered by the nearly 50-50 split in the vote, or the two months of proceedings that led up it. The New York Post puts that figure at more than $1 million.

Oh, and the kicker? The cost of that special election is not included in the $80 million price tag. Neither is the overtime pay for police officers station at voting sites, which the IBO estimated at approximately $500,000 for each citywide election (and less for local specials).

It’s enough to make a fiscal conservative wonder if democracy is worth the price.

Protesters in front of the depot (Photo: Allan Rosen)

THE COMMUTE: Last week, I had to conduct some business at the courts in Downtown Brooklyn. The trip going there using a bus and train, and two trains and a bus to return home, including the two minutes I spent at the court, took me less than 90 minutes. That was fabulous, but mass transit is often not that quick in New York City, especially when the bus you used to rely on no longer operates and you need to find alternatives.

Today, bus riders are still reeling from the effects of 36 bus routes eliminated in June 2010. Last month, Sheepshead Bites held a Transit Town Hall, primarily to ask for restoration of the B4 cut. Last Saturday was Bensonhurst’s turn.

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Photo by Allan Rosen

THE COMMUTE: Anyone who drives along Emmons Avenue will tell you that the traffic setup just doesn’t work too well much of the time. I always questioned the wisdom of the angle parking, which seems to be an anachronism today, so I thought I would determine exactly how many parking spots would be lost if angle parking were converted to parallel parking. Before I tell you what I found, let us talk first about the history of Emmons Avenue and the recent traffic changes made last year.

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Kruger's office after signage was stripped in March.

Newly-sworn in State Senator David Storobin will open his district office to constituents next week, using the former 2201 Avenue U space once occupied by his disgraced predecessor Carl Kruger.

Storobin told Sheepshead Bites this week that he has obtained the keys to the office, and it will be fully staffed by Monday. Constituents can begin stopping by then to talk to staffers about legislation or problems they’re having with city or state authorities.

The office was the longtime haunt of Kruger, who served as state senator for 17 years. He surrendered to authorities on bribery charges in March 2011, resigned and pleaded guilty in December, and in April was sentenced to seven years in prison. Within hours of his resignation, his name was removed from all signage of the 2201 Avenue U office, leaving only the markings of the State Senate and not the representative. Months later, all signage was removed.

The state will now pay to replace the signage that was removed, which will need to be replaced once more in January when the district is eliminated. That intersection will sit on the border of the new District 17 and District 19.

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