Wednesday, January 23, 2013

This week's Riverdale Review and Bronx Press

Here are the stories in this week's issue (January 24 - 30) of the Riverdale Review:

* Stanton campaign raises conflict of interest > The editor of the PS 24 parents association bulletin has been placed on City Council candidate Cliff Stanton's campaign payroll. The Riverdale Review can reveal that Jennifer Firestone is receiving $1,000 a month from Stanton's campaign committee for political consulting. Because Firestone is also the editor of the PS 24 PA's Sounding Board and has the opportunity to include publicity for the City Council candidate in the public school's newsletter, her campaign role presents a possible conflict of interest. Firestone does not disclose her ties to the Stanton campaign in the PA bulletins, which she edits on a volunteer basis.
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz hands
Riverdale resident Helene Afon a check
for $5,000. She lost her husband of 52 years
in a fire which destroyed her home.
* Stella D'oro shopping mall on track for fall opening > Parts of Riverdale Crossing, the $80 million shopping mall located at the former Stella D'oro cookie factory, could open it doors by as early as October. Metropolitan Realty Associates president Joseph A. Farkas said the two-story mall would most likely be unveiled in two stages--the north building will open first, with BJ's Wholesale Club set to follow suit a month later.
* Hebrew Home expansion plan bound for a rocky road > Homeowners near the Hebrew Home at Riverdale will soon have a chance to present their case regarding the home's ambitious plan to build a new senior residence on its recently purchased riverfront property. Hebrew Home CEO Daniel Reingold reached out to the Riverdale Nature Preservancy, a group that protects Riverdale's natural beauty and character, to facilitate community discussion before starting the arduous process of submitting the plan for official approval.
* Court case against accused iPhone killers move forward > The two men charged with murdering Hwang Bum Yang, the local chef who was shot and killed for his iPhone last year, could soon have a trial date. During a brief hearing at Bronx Supreme Court on January 15, Alejandro Campos, 21, stood next to attorney Richard Williams and received a new hearing date when a possible trial date could be set. Williams was filling in for Campos' regular attorney, Martin Galvin. Campos' co-accused, Dominick Davis, 20, was also slated to appear, but his case was not heard because his attorney, Kyle Watters, was not in attendance.
* Man jumps from apartment window > A man jumped to his death by leaping out the window of his North Riverdale apartment, according to authorities. Police said Robert Tavon, 54, jumped from his sixth-floor apartment at 5424 Netherland Avenue just before 2 pm last Thursday.
* No surprises as Ben Franklin club endorses Andrew Cohen > The Benjamin Franklin Reform Democratic Club voted to support Andrew Cohen in his bid to replace Councilman G. Oliver Koppell in this year's citywide elections. The club's predicted endorsement for Cohen came after nearly 100 members heard from all three announced candidates during a meeting at Tibbett Towers on January 16. According to a breakdown of the 99 ballots cast, Cohen secured 84 votes, track coach Cheryl Keeling won five votes and Van Cortlandt Village resident Cliff Stanton, three votes. Six members made no endorsements and one voted for Community Board 8 candidate Robert Press as a write-in candidate.
* ConEd addresses chronic power outages in Spuyten Duyvil > Con Ediso has vowed to provide Spuyten Duyvil with additional power to stem the frequency and duration of electrical outages. The utility company agreed to the service improvement during a meeting with Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and affected neighborhood residents on January 11. An extra power supply, to be installed by December, is designed to address the problem of continual blackouts on parts of Independence Avenue, Kappock Street and Palisade Avenue.
* Proposal to introduce ID scanners at PS 24 > Members of PS 24's parents association are asking for more security in the school, and City Council candidate Cliff Stanton may have a solution involving ID scanners. The former PA co-president flagged the idea of placing a scanner to track adults entering and exiting the school during the PA meeting on January 15. Under Stanton's proposal, IDs would not be issued to children but to adults wishing to enter the building on a regular basis, including Kindergarten parents who enter the school to drop off or pick up their child. The proposal, which Stanton estimated would cost $16,000, is still in its early stages. As of press time, no formal proposals have been filed for the scanners or any other school safety funding at PS 24.

And, in the Bronx Press:
Mayor Michael Bloomberg joins Councilman Ydanis
Rodriguez and Deputy Bronx Borough President Aurelia
Greene to break ground for improvements to
the High Bridge. Photo by Kristen Artz
* City begins restoration work on High Bridge > Mayor Michael Bloomberg has broken ground on the restoration of New York City's oldest bridge, the High Bridge, as part of the city's long-term plan for a "greener, greater New York." The $61 million project will reopen the bridge for pedestrians and bicyclists by 2014 and provide a link between Manhattan and The Bronx over the Harlem River. The bridge was closed to the public in 1970. The reconstruction of the bridge will include safety and structural improvements such as renovated stairways, railings and lighting.
* Bronx police respond to three taxi-related crimes in six hours > A bizarre morning for taxi drivers in The Bronx ended with one driver shot, one bitten and robbed and a third awe-struck as police officers lifted his cab off a pedestrian.
* Could more music be destined for Bronx venues? > The Bronx isn't getting its fair share of music from Carnegie Hall, according to a recent audit by the city comptroller's office. The city has charged Carnegie Hall with a contractural obligation to provide free music programming for diverse groups throughout the five boroughs. But the comptroller's office concluded that The Bronx and Staten Island have been neglected as performance venues and that the Department of Cultural Affairs' failure to attract large audiences with free tickets to neighborhood concerts could mean that programming selections aren't "properly designed for the neighborhood."
* Two wounded in Co-op City shooting > Two people were wounded when gunfire erupted on the grounds of 140 Einstein Loop in Co-op City on Sunday, January 13. Paramedics and emergency services personnel were called to the scene at 12:08pm following reports of gunfire and rushed two victims to Jacobi Hospital.
* Woman injured in bizarre fall > Paramedics transported a young woman who was injured when a piece of plywood reportedly collapsed into a construction trench at an apartment building in University Heights. EMS were dispatched to the front of the building at 2321 Andrews Avenue, where they discovered a 33-year-old woman had fallen in the trench, located in the alley leading to the building's courtyard and basement.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

This week's Riverdale Review and Bronx Press

Here are the stories from this week's issue (January 17 - 23) of the Riverdale Review:

* Stanton strikes out with fundraising debacle > Local City Council candidate Andrew Cohen has raised more than $66,000 since announcing his intention to run for citywide office. The latest campaign disclosure report shows Cohen's fundraising total, collected in less than 80 days, already exceeds what rival Cliff Stanton has managed to rack up in an entire year.
Police seized this impressive haul from a group of armed
robbers during a sting DEA operation.
* Attempt to turn Riverdale into a drug battleground thwarted by cops > A daring group of armed robbers allegedly masqueraded as police to steal more than 20 kilograms of heroin and cash from a narcotics distribution ring in Riverdale. The 16-member crew, including alleged ringleader Javion "King Kong" Camacho, 26, was busted near the intersection of West 253rd Street and Post Road during the Drug Enforcement Agency sting operation around 9:45 p.m. on January 9.
* Neighborhood watch not sanctioned by NYPD > City Council candidate Cliff Stanton has yet to register his neighborhood watch program with the New York Police Department--two months after members began patrolling the streets. Commanding officer of the 50th Precinct Deputy Inspector Kevin Burke said officials do not recognize Stanton's 4 Wheels for Good Neighborhood Watch group because it is not officially registered with the NYPD's Block Watcher program.
* Obama names Riverdalian Jack Lew as new Treasury Secretary > President Barack Obama has nominated Riverdale resident and longtime Washington insider Jacob "Jack" Lew to be the next treasury secretary. Lew, who currently serves as White Housec chief of staff, was formally announced as Obama's preferred pick during a press conference on January 10. If confirmed by the Senate, Lew will succeed Timothy F. Geithner, who is stepping down from the high-pressure post at the end of January.
* Political club in odd early endorsement > One of the city's most prominent political clubs has been accused of operating against its founding principles after announcing it would consider endorsements for the City Council District 11 race this week. The Benjamin Franklin Reform Democratic Club is scheduled to hold an endorsement meeting and will hear from candidates vying for the open Council seat on Wednesday, January 16--eight months before the scheduled Democratic Primary.
* Dr Ruth documented by the BBC > A film screening and talk by Dr. Ruth Westheimer at the Conservative Synagogue Adath Israel of Riverdale last week commanded such a large turnout that more and more chairs had to be brought into the sizable social hall to accommodate the ever-growing audience before the program could begin. Westheimer's unusual life story is now chronicled as one segment of a 12-part documentary series called "Extraordinary Women," produuced by the British Broadcasting Company.
* Palisade Avenue retaining wall project nears completion > It may not be as charming, but the new Palisade Avenue retaining wall will do a more reliable job than the 75-year-old masonry structure it just replaced. The city started inspecting the nearly 700 retaining wall it owns since a privately owned wall collapsed on the Henry Hudson Parkway in 2005. Those in the worst condition got first priority for repair or replacement by the Department of Design and Construction.
* Co-op tax break likely to be voted this month > A cote to retain the cooperative and condominium tax abatement, which expired in June 2012, will likely take place in the very near future. "The restoration of this important abatement is a priority of mine and I will fight to have it put through," Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz said. "We should be voting by the end of the month."
* Safety now a local issue > Shaken by recent robberies and violence close to home, locals flocked to the 50th Precinct's monthly community council meeting last week to ask for some visible police presence in what used to be a crime-free neighborhood.

And, in the Bronx Press:
* Residents demand more from elected officials during redistricting hearing > Residents in Pelham Parkway North and the Parkside Housing Projects are sick of being ignored by the 11th City Council District. During a public hearing held last Wednesday by the NYC Redistricting Commission at Hostos Community College, Bronx residents voiced their opinions on the newly drawn district lines. Though most grievances brought up at the hearing involved the South Bronx, residents of a tiny piece of Pelham Parkway North and Parkside Housing Projects have their reservations with the redistricting as well.
* DOT unveils further details for Webster Avenue Select Bus Service > An updated select bus service plan along Webster Avenue was debuted at an open house hosted by the Department of Transportation and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority at the NYC Business Solutions Center last week.
* City looks to close more schools > The Department of Education has placed nine more schools on the chopping block, bringing the total to 26 schools, including Herbert H. Lehman High School, slated for closure. The newest additions include three elementary schools, two middle schools, one high school and three K-8 schools.
* Bronxites united with Newtown shooting victims > A Christmas tree was the backdrop as a few dozen Bronxites stood on the courthouse steps, omurning the senseless massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, and demanding an end to the carnage caused by gun violence--right here in New York City's five boroughs.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Live grenade removed from Riverdale apartment building


The NYPD's bomb squad removes the improvised
explosive device from the scene
Members of the NYPD’s bomb squad removed a live hand grenade from the basement of the Majestic building in Riverdale—more than five years after it was placed there.
Commanding officer of the 50th Precinct Deputy Inspector Kevin Burke said police were called to the 87-unit building located at 3660 Waldo Avenue just after 1 p.m. last Friday.
He said detectives were led to the improvised explosive device, reportedly a small pineapple grenade, after gathering intelligence from a man currently in custody and charged with murder.
Authorities said the grenade was discovered during a drug search and is part of an ongoing investigation by a task force comprised of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents and NYPD officers.

Hebrew Home unveils plans for 300 units of senior housing at Retreat site


The Hebrew Home at Riverdale plans to construct a new 300-unit independent living senior residence complex on the 14-acre plot they purchased from the Passionist Fathers of Riverdale.
When built, the facility will be the first in New York City to offer a continuing care retirement community.
Officials from the geriatric center unveiled their preliminary design and development plans for the sprawling site at Monday night’s Community Board 8 land use committee meeting.
It is the first time the facility’s authorities have spoken publicly about their vision for the land, which they acquired from the Passionists for $16 million in November 2011.
Hebrew Home president and CEO Daniel Reingold said the 300 units will be a combination of one- and two-bedroom apartments. The residences will be divided into four mid-rise towers ranging from four to eight stories.
“The main philosophy of the concepts that we’re developing have to do with what the older adults want today, which is more independent living with supported services available as needed, rather than an institutionalized environment,” he said.

This week's Riverdale Review and Bronx Press

Here are the stories from this week's issue (January 10 -16) of the Riverdale Review:

* 300 units of senior housing planned for Retreat site > The Hebrew Home at Riverdale plans to construct a new 300-unit independent living senior residence complex on the 14-acre plot they purchased from the Passionist Fathers of Riverdale. When built, the facility will be the first in New York City to offer a continuing care retirement community. Officials from the geriatric center unveiled their preliminary design and development plans for the sprawling site at Monday night's Community Board 8 land use committee meeting. It is the first time the facility's authorities have spoken publicly about their vision for the land, which they acquired from the Passionists for $16 million in November 2011.
Police and firefighters were called to remove a grenade
from the Majestic building on January 4.
* Live grenade removed from Riverdale apartment building > Members of the NYPD's bomb squad removed a live hand grenade from the basement of the Majestic building in Riverdale--more than five years after it was placed there. Commanding officer of the 50th Precinct Deputy Inspector Kevin Burke said police were called to the 87-unit building located at 3660 Waldo Avenue just after 1pm on January 4.
* City officials refuse to enforce open meetings law at PS 24 > City officials deny that PS 24 principal Donna Connelly violated the state's open meetngs law when she shut the press out of last month's school leadership team meeting. After two weeks of phone calls and emails seeking a comment from the Department of Education, the Riverdale Review was informed by agency spokesman David Pena that the school's SLT meeting on December 18 might have contained private information.
* Large North Riverdale land parcel is back on the market > A 25,000-square-foot parcel of prime developable land appears to have hit the real estate market again for a whopping $9 million. The Riverdale Review can reveal that the t-shaped vacant site in North Riverdale located at 5278 Post Road and extending back to Broadway has been relisted for sale online. The property was taken off the market six months ago due to a lack of buyer interest.
* Commuter rail service set to expand on Metro-North line > The Metropolitan Transportation Authority will beef up Metro-North service on the Hudson Line beginning in April, adding trains during non-peak travel times to accommodate a growing ridership. Authorities last week unveiled details about the service enhancements ahead of a historic public hearing on the issue. Under the proposed changes, rail commuters at the Spuyten Duyvil and Riverdale Metro-North stations will see a total of 73 new train services each week--the Hudson Line is set to run 11 more trains on weekdays, 12 more on Saturdays and six more on Sundays. The changes will take effect beginning Sunday, April 7, with the implementation of the new spring timetable.
* City bungles gifted and talented testing site for local student > After a month long struggle with the Department of Education, young Riverdale resident Jacob Moglia will now be able to sit for the gifted and talented exam at PS 24. Set to enter Kindergarten this fall, the four-year-old was inexplicably assigned to take the test at PS/IS 54 on Webster Avenue, although his parents, Louis Moglia and Shira Atzmon, registered him to take the exam at PS 24, located just a 10-minute walk from their home.
* Focus on Business > i) Pure Energy Organic Cafe in North Riverdale has officially closed after just six months in business. According to a sign posted outside the store, located at 5802 Mosholu Avenue, tenants are currently being sought to lease the now-vacant 900-square-foot space; ii) River Delight, a glatt kosher restaurant with a varied menu that include middle-eastern cuisine as well as deli sandwiches, has closed for business. A board of health restaurant inspection in December found 38 violation points at the 3534 Johnson Avenue establishment, but the reason for closing is unclear; iii) Menchie's, a California-based frozen yoghurt chain, will expand and open their long-awaited store in Riverdale later this year. Menchie's will lease 1,400 square feet of space at 3555 Johnson Avenue, a site that formerly housed Washington Mutual Bank; iv) Could the ongoing construction next to Garden Gourmet at 5665 Broadway be a site for possible expansion of th  thriving produce and specialty foods emporium? According to filings submitted with the Department of Buildings and posted at the construction site, the space at 5675 Broadway is being converted from a clothing store to a food store. Further details are expected to filter through in the spring. Watch this space.

Also, in the Bronx Press:
* City plans to close 17 struggling schools > Robert Powell,  the newest addition to the Panel for Educational Policy, will be forced to sign off on a number of school closures--one of which could be for his own son's high school. Powell, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.'s selection to replace Wilfredo Pagan in the PEP, begins serving on the board this week, and the first order of business will be voting on school closures. In November, the Department of Education named 60 schools that are in danger of being closed this year. Since then, the list has dwindled down to 17 schools the DOE feels are too late to save at this point.
* Officials challenge software developers to create math app > Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott launched a software development competition to help middle school students excel in math. The Gap App Challenge encourages programmers and developers to create new innovative apps, programs and games that can be used by parents, teachers or students as a tool for learning math.
* Bronx man holds daughter hostage > A 31-year-old Bronx father allegedly held his infant daughter hostage for two hours and dangled her from his fourth-floor Mott Haven apartment window. Police allege that the man, whose name has yet to be released, locked himself inside the East 141st Street apartment near Cypress Avenue in the early hours of Thursday, January 3, and held his child hostage.

Friday, January 4, 2013

PS 24 in violation of state law and city regulations


P.S. 24 principal Donna Connelly allegedly violated both the state’s open meeting law and the school chancellor’s regulations when a reporter was asked to leave last month’s school leadership team meeting.
The school leadership team, made up of parents, school administrators and faculty, meets monthly with the primary goal, according to the chancellor’s regulations, of developing the school’s Comprehensive Educational Plan and ensuring it is aligned with the school-based budget.
Another Riverdale Review reporter was present at previous SLT meetings after presenting sections of the chancellor’s regulations to prove that the public was allowed to observe proceedings.
However, during the December 18 meeting, Connelly and P.S. 24 interim acting assistant principal Emanuele “Manny” Verdi would not allow the media to stay.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

This week's Riverdale Review and Bronx Press

Here are the stories in this week's issue (January 3 - 9) of the Riverdale Review:

Contractors were spotted putting the finishing touches on
the district headquarters and comfort station at VCP. The
building has been under renovation since late 2009.
* PS 24 in violation of state law and city regulations > PS 24 principal Donna Connelly allegedly violated both the state's open meetings law and the school chancellor's regulations when a reporter was asked to leave last month's school leadership team meeting. The school leaddership team, made up of parents, school administrators and faculty, meets monthly with the primary goal, according to the chancellor's regulations, of developing the school's Comprehensive Educational Plan and ensuring it is aligned with the school-based budget. Another Riverdale Review reporter was present at previous SLT meetings after presenting sections of the chancellor's regulations to prove that the public was allowed to observe proceedings. However, during the December 18 meeting, Connelly and PS 24 interim acting assistant principal Emanuele 'Manny' Verdi would not allow the media to stay.
* New technology allows commuters to track subway arrival times > Local straphangers can track the arrival times of all trains on the No. 1 subway line, thanks to a new smartphone application released by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. MTA officials unveiled the much-anticipated MTA Subway Time app during a press conference last Friday. Under the free app, riders can access the real-time subway arrival times at 156 stations on seven of the city's 24 routes--the No. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6, as well as the 42nd Street shuttle.
* Commander of 50th Precinct receives promotion > If history is any indication, Kevin Burke's days as a commanding officer at the 50th Precinct may be numbered and he could soon be transferred to another post. Burke, a 15-year veteran with the NYPD, was promoted from captain to deputy inspector during a ceremony at police headquarters on December 21. Deputy Inspector Burke said he was pleasantly surprised when he received news of the promotion. He has been at the helm of the 50th Precinct since June 1, 2011.
* Hoffnung lands bigger role in comptroller's office > Riverdale resident Ari Hoffnung is set to play a larger role in the city's financial affairs following his promotion to deputy comptroller for budget. City Comptroller John C. Liu announced that Hoffnung, 39, would assume oversight of the comptroller's Bureau of Fiscal and Budget Studies as of January 1. Hoffnung replaces Simcha Fedler, the Brooklyn Democratic state senator-elect who ruffled feathers last month after he decided to caucus with the Republican conference. Under his enhanced role, Hoffnung will oversee the publication of a wide range of fiscal reports on the city's economy and budgetary outlook. He will continue to serve as the deputy comptroller of public affairs--a role he was promoted to in December 2009.  Hoffnung was quick to stress that the promotion would not influence his decision over whether to jump into the hotly anticipated City Council District 11 race.
* Man charged over cold case murder > A 60-year-old Westchester man has been indicted for the 1993 murder of a prostitute whose body was found in North Riverdale. Lucius Crawford of Mount Vernon was indicted by a Bronx grand jury on a second degree murder charge on December 18. According to the indictment, Crawford acted with intent and caused the death of Nella West, 38, by "blunt force trauma and sharp injuries to the head, face and abdomen." According to police, West's body was discovered by a cab driver near 5815 Liebig Avenue in Riverdale just after 3 a.m. on October 20, 1993.
* Local resdient Irving Ladimer produces patriotic play > Community Board 8 member Irving Ladimer, a lifelong expert on the interface of law and iboethics and a relentless activist for seniors, has decided to break into show business. Ladimer, pushing 97, thought it would be a good idea to celebrate the 225th birthday of the U.S. Constitution. So he wrote a brief comedic play named "We the People."
* Corlear Avenue gets more signage > City officials will install additional alternate-side parking signs on Corlear Avenue after several residents lodged complaints about insufficient signage in the area. The east side of Corlear Avenue between West 230th and 231st streets is cleaned every Wednesday between 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., but just one sign located on the south end of the block details the alternate-side parking regulations for the entire block. Department of Transportation officials have agreed to install additional signs in the area. Authorities have committed to completing the installation by the end of next month.
* Schervier launches 'Come Mend With Your Friend' > Caring for Fluffy and Fido may help in the healing process, research has found. Starting this month, Schervier Nursing Care Center will harness the power of pets with its Come Mend with Your Friend program, offering on-site room and board for pets whose companion humans are undergoing short-term rehabilitation at the facility. Schervier has been given a $58,400 two-year grant from the Amie's Place Foundation to create a pet-friendly temporary home on its Independence Avenue campus. The animals will be cared for by a veterinary technician, who will ensure that the beloved beasts are themselves in good health and are properly vaccinated before they take up residence.
* City extends deadline on sulfur limit on heating oil > The New York City Department of Environmental Protection has extended a temporary waiver of the .15 percent sulfur limit set for No. 4 heating oil, giving New Yorkers until January 18 to make the switch to cleaner oil. DEP reported that the destruction caused by superstorm Sandy has left fuel oil producers and distributors in a bind as they struggle to meet the new city requirements.

Also, in the Bronx Press:
* Bronx resident charged over Newtown shooting fundraising scam > A Bronx woman has been formally charged with lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigations after she allegedly swindled donors by posing as the aunt of a child killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Federal authorities accuse Nouel Alba, 37, from Soundview, of seeking donations on Facebook just hours after shots were fired in the suburban elementary school.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

This week's Riverdale Review and Bronx Press

UPDATE: Community Board 8 aging committee chair and City Council candidate Andrew Cohen donated festive lights and lit the Christmas tree at the Riverdale Monument earlier this afternoon.

Here are the stories in this week's issue (December 20 - 26) of the Riverdale Review.

* PS 24 music gets $19,000 boost from Klein > Local elected official and newly minted state Senator Jeffrey Klein will allocate $19,000 towards arts enrichment at PS 24. School principal Donna Connelly announced the funding injection at last Tuesday's parents association meeting. Klein, who visited the school in October, said he was happy with the educational offerings but was interested in helping to expand the school's music program.
* Community board rejects proposal for fundraising affiliate > Members of Community Board 8 have nixed controversial plans to establish an auxiliary organization that would raise money to support board operations. Members last week voted 21-13 against a proposal to create a Friends of Bronx Community Board 8 following frenzied discussion and opposition. Three members abstained from voting. Under the proposal, conceived fours years ago, the Friends of CB8 group would raise extra funds by soliciting bids from vendors to host street fairs and other public events.
* Commission approves project rejected by Board > The Landmarks Preservation Commission has voted to approve the building of a four-story mansion in the Riverdale historic district--almost a month after Community Board 8 unanimously rejected the project. Under the preliminary plans, the vacant lot at 5241 Independence Avenue would be developed into a seven-bedroom house equipped with eight and a half bathrooms, an indoor swimming pool, two laundry rooms and a maid's room. Members of the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted 10-0 on December 11 to approve the mansion after its architect proposed several modifications. Among the revisions is the elimination of a proposed tower on the side of the house. The mansion will also have a semicircular driveway and will be set back from the street to match the houses around it.
* Six new cops for 50th > Six new police officers have joined the ranks of the 50th Precinct, providing the command with a slight boost in manpower. Commanding officer of the 50th Precinct Captain Kevin Burke said the new cops have been tasked with responding to 911 calls and with patrolling high-crime areas within the precinct.
* In slap at board leadership, new rules set for street permits > Community Board 8 has overhauled its street activity permit procedures in a push to become more transparent and to maximize community input. CB8 members last week voted 23 to 13 to change the process governing how street activity permits for street fairs, block parties and farmers market are issued. One member abstained from voting. Under the changes, all street activity permit applications submitted to CB8 for review will now be directed to a committee for approval, approval with conditions, or denial.
* Dog walker slashed on Palisade Avenue > A man walking his two poodles at around 6 a.m. Tuesday on Palisade Avenue at Kappock Street was accosted by two men and was slashed across the face with a knife by one of the men. According to police, Richard Marshall, 65, of 2621 Palisade Avenue, was attacked by two black men who appeared to be in their early 20s, before the pair ran east on Kappock Street. The men demanded no property, Burke said, and ran away after inflicting the wound.
NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly breaks ground on
the new student commons building, set to open in 2014
* MC breaks ground on new student commons > Manhattan College has ceremonially broken ground on its long-awaited Raymond W. Kelly '63 Student Commons, a $48 million multipurpose complex scheduled to open in fall 2014. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly joined more than 200 people, including college officials, local politicians, faculty and students for the ground-breaking event last Thursday. The five-story complex will be located at the intersection of Manhattan College Parkway and Waldo Avenue--a site that is now a parking lot.
* Press can't be barred from Board meetings > The chair of Community Board 8 has conceded that executive committee meetings are subject to the state's open meetings law and are therefore open to the public. CB8 chair Robert Fanuzzi Robert Fanuzzi made the declaration at last Tuesday's board meeting after receiving an official ruling from the New York State Committee on Open Government. The determination came less than a week after a reporter for the Riverdale Review was asked to leave the Board's December 5 executive committee meeting when members objected to the media's presence. But referencing the determination from Robert J. Freeman, the executive director of the Committee on Open Government, Fanuzzi said the executive committee was required to comply with the law.
* Jewish leader concerned over missing Christmas tree > Ari Hoffnung, the community leader widely thought of as a potential candidate for the City Council seat being vacated by the term-limited G. Oliver Koppell, has expressed his personal dismay that Riverdale, for the first time in memory, will not have an official city Christmas tree. The city's Parks Department has scrubbed the annual display due to "budgetary constraints."
* Hurricane Sandy relief concert > Local storm victims will benefit from the proceeds collected at Sunday night's Hurricane Sandy Relief Concert at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, but they would also benefit from knowing that so many professionals donated their time and extraordinary talent to help out during this event. Children's choirs, a legendary a capella group, a unique rock band, and Broadway and TV stars joined Riverdale's own indigenous performers for a great evening of entertainment.
* Stringer gets Bronx support for Comptroller bid > Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer has vowed to help advance The Bronx's economic agenda if he is installed as comptroller during the 2013 citywide elections. Stringer, who last month abandoned his plans to become mayor and announced his candidacy for comptroller, committed to including The Bronx in the city's wider long-term financial plan. The popular Democrat believed his comments after enjoying breakfast with Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. at the Riverdale Diner on December 12. If elected, Stringer said, he would be fiercely independent and would work with the mayor and all borough presidents to drive change and progress--and that The Bronx would benefit from these efforts.
* Issues raised at town hall meeting > Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz held the first of four town hall meetings at the Riverdale Senior Center in a bid to answer the questions of local senior citizens. "In order to do my job, I really have to know what people are thinking," Dinowitz said to a packed room of seniors last Monday.

Also, in the Bronx Press:
* Community prays for miracle at St. Jerome school > Nearly 100 people stood at 230 Alexander Avenue in front of St. Jerome Catholic School on December 12 to protest a plan to close down the school. It was cold and classes had just let out, but parents, local politicians and students stayed to fight for their school. Many held signs written in Spanish and English, and chants of "save our school" and "don't close St. Jerome" echoed through the streets.
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr lights the menorah
during Chanukah celebrations at the Bronx County building
* FreshDirect modifies plan > Online grocer FreshDirect has bowed to community opposition and will give up three acres it had planned to use as a parking lot for trucks when it moves into its new headquarters in the South Bronx. The supermarket giant filed court papers last Thursday indicating that it would adjust its plans and integrate the trucks within its new main facility site.
* Chanukah celebration at the Bronx County building > Latkes, jelly donuts, indoor and outdoor menorah lightings, and a few Chanukah songs performed by the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale Community Choir are annual traditions now at Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.'s festive Chanukah event at the Bronx County building. Yankees broadcaster Suzyn Waldman was again mistress of ceremonies at the December 12 bash, where hundreds of community members heard the borough president express his support for Israel and his affinity for the Jewish community.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

This week's Riverdale Review and Bronx Press

Here are the stories in this week's issue (December 6 - December 12) of the Riverdale Review:

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr joins Rabbi Levi Shemtov to
light the largest menorah in the Bronx, located at Bell Tower Park.
* Engel and Klein reach for the pinnacles of power > Congessman Eliot Engel has been anointed as  the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in Washington D.C., and as such he wants to push for peace in the Middle East. The Foreign Affairs Committee has jurisdiction over bills and investigations related to foreign affairs of the United States.
* DNA evidence helps local police solve cold case murder > Detectives from the 50th Precinct finally may have cracked the 1993 murder of a prostitute in North Riverdale, thanks to DNA analysis. Police said Lucius Crawford, a 60-year-old ex-con from Mount Vernon, last week confessed to the fatal stabbing of Nella West--a crime he allegedly committed nearly two decades ago. According to police, the body of West, 38, was found by a cab driver face-up outside 5815 Liebig Avenue just after 3 a.m. on October 20, 1993. The victim, a known prostitute, suffered multiple stab wounds to the head, face and torso, a broken eye socket and a crushed skull during the brutal attack that took her life. The cold case had remained unsolved until five-og Detective Chris Boerke and Malcolm Reiman from the Bronx Homicide Squad made a breakthrough earlier this year. The pair ran biological evidence collected from the scene through the current DNA database and found a match.
* Local nursing home rocked by sex assault allegation > The distraught family of an 81-year-old female resident who was sexually assaulted at Hudson Pointe may file a lawsuit against the nursing care facility. Experienced Cheryl R. Eisberg Moin, who has been enlisted by the victim's family, accused the facility's administration of breaching their duty of care toward Gertrudis Munoz. Police allege Munoz was sexually assaulted bby a janitor in  the third-floor dementia unit of the Hudson Point at Riverdale Center of Nursing and Rehabilitation on November 29. Jorge Sarmiento, 56, of Washington Heights, has since been arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of an incompetent person and attempted sexual assault.
* Algiers still without gas > Residents of The Algiers in central Riverdale remain without gas nearly three weeks after a fire on the south side of the complex forced Con Edison to shut off gas service.
* Reporter tossed from community board meeting > The chair  of Community Board 8 allegedly violated the state's open meetings law when he tossed the media out of this month's executive committee meeting. CB8 chair Robert Fanuzzi asked a reporter from the Riverdale Review to leave last Wednesday's meeting after members spent 40 minutes discussing whether the law applied to the executive committee.
* Settlement in co-op discrimination suit > Parties involved in a housing discrimination lawsuit at 3800 Independence Avenue have reached an agreement. According to a press release from the United States Attorney's Office, Loventhal Silver Riverdale, Goodman Management and Jesus Velasco allegedly discriminated against African-American apartment seekers. The release charged that Velasco, the building's superintendent, admitted he informed prospective African-American buyers that there were no vacant units in the complex. On the very same day, he informed potential Caucasian buyers that there were available units. The United States District Court in the Southern District of New York signed a settlement and consent decree on October 16, but news of the decision only surfaced last week. Loventhal Silver Riverdale and Velasco are required to pay a $40,000 civil penalty.
* North Riverdale merchants weigh BID > Merchants in North Riverdale are in the preliminary stages of establishing a business improvement district in the neighborhood. The ambitious plan is still two to three years away, but local merchants said the BID's formation is part of a wider beautification project.
* Fuel conversion strains local buildings > Building owners and managers are already scrambling to meet their first deadline under the Clean Heat program announced by Mayor Michael Bloomberg last year. The program requires all residences to convert from No. 6 heating oil to cleaner-burning No. 4 by 2014. By 2030, all buildings must upgrade to the still-cleaner No. 2 or to natural gas. According to Con Edison's gas conversion procedures, building owners have until January 11, 2013, to submit both an acknowledgment and a load letter in order to participate in the 2013 area growth program. A load letter requires that a certified plumber examine a buildings' heating system and come up with an estimate for the conversion. But with the influx of requests, there are not enough certified plumbers to go around because many are involved with repairs in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy.
* Spellman charged with manslaughter > Riverdale resident Kevin Spellman, a now-retired NYPD detective, was convicted last Thursday of second-degree manslaughter for the death of Kingsbridge resident Drane Nikac in October 2009, Bronx district attorney Robert Johnson announced. Witnesses said Spellman drove through a red light on Kingsbridge Avenue near West 232nd Street at around 6:30 a.m. when the victim, a 66-year-old Albanian native, began crossing the avenue with a cart containing bottles and cans for recycling. Spellman, 45, faces up to 15 years in prison and is free on bail awaiting sentencing on February 15.
* Benefit concert at HIR for Sandy relief > A varied lineup of performers will offer a Hurricane Sandy Relief Concert this Sunday, December 16, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale. Admission is $36, but donations of larger amounts are welcome. Proceeds will go to a fund administered by the UJA-Federation of New York to help those still in need as a result of the October storm that wrecked several of the city's neighborhoods.
* Local workers sought for 230th Street mall construction > It will be the $54 million two-story shopping mall that Bronx workers helped to build. The developer of the Broadway Plaza shopping center has announced that the borough's tradesmen will have first crack at filling a portion of the construction jobs on offer. Equity One last week revealed they have started hiring for the project and are seeking resumes from qualified, but currently unemployed, tradesmen who live in the northwest Bronx.
* Koppell declares war on graffiti > Graffiti vandals be warned: If you plan to tag in Riverdale, it probably won't stay up for long. Councilman G. Oliver Koppell has teamed up with CitySolve, a graffiti removal business, to remove to handiwork of graffiti vandals across his district. Koppell kicked off his campaign last Friday and personally painted over defaced sections of the West 235th Street Henry Hudson Parkway pedestrian overpass during the launch.

Also, in the Bronx Press:
* Campaign to save Clinton HS gathers steam > DeWitt Clinton High School on Mosholu Parkway, labeled as a failing school for the past three years by the Department of Education, has been on the chopping block twice and has become a dumping ground for failing students. Yet students, parents and teachers poured into the school auditorium for a hearing on December 6 to show their support and to prove to the DOE that their school deserves another chance.
* Eight injured in mattress fire in Longwood > At least five residents of an apartment building, said to be a recently converted homeless shelter, are recovering after a mattress fire near the lobby entrance. Firefighters got the call at 5:30 p.m. on December 9, as the billowing black smoke climbed up into the six-story building at 941 Intervale Avenue, creating panic among the trapped residents. RMS reported at least eight injuries, including five civilian and three firefighters. 
* Norwood resident gunned down along Murder Row > A popular Norwood man was shot and killed during an early-morning dispute on Decatur Avenue, just two blocks from his home. The deadly confrontation took place outside of a three-family home at 3089 Decatur Avenue between Mosholu Parkway North and East 204th Street at 2:2 a.m. on December 9. The victim was later identified as Gary Rodriguez, 46, of 3285 Decatur Avenue.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

This week's Riverdale Review and Bronx Press

Here are the stories in this week's issue (December 6 - December 12) of the Riverdale Review:

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz demands Con Edison
bury power lines underground to prevent blackouts.
* After Sandy, pols urge Con Edison to bury power lines > Con Edison has vowed to meet with local residents to discuss the feasibility of running power lines underground--instead of overhead--to prevent future electrical outages. The Riverdale Review can reveal the utility provider has indicated it will hold a series of meetings with area residents in the coming weeks to explore the idea of burying cables. Con Edison officials agreed to meet with residents after Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz renewed his call to abolish overhead lines during a press conference in Spuyten Duyvil last Friday.
* Ari Hoffnung edges closer to possible City Council run > Riverdale resident and city deputy comptroller Ari Hoffnung is mulling a run for Councilman G. Oliver Koppell's seat in 2013 citywide elections. Koppell is currently serving his third and final term and must vacate office due to term limit rules. Hoffnung said he remains undecided about whether to jump into the much-anticipated City Council District 11 race but gave the strongest indication yet that his political aspirations were still alive.
 * George Gilbert, photographer, dies at 90 > George Gilbert, a noted photographer and former Fieldston Road resident, died last month at the age of 90. He was living at the Regency Park Assisted Living senior community in Portland, Oregon, near his daughter's home, when he succumbed to lymphoma.
* Honest commuter returns found laptop > The spirit of kindness is alive and well in Riverdale. Local resident Dana Charlton, an employee of the law firm Klein Zelman Rothermel, was on her way to work last Friday when she noticed something on top of the parking meter at the Riverdale Metr0-North station--a laptop and binder. Area commuters soon mobilized to reunite the laptop with its rightful owner.
* At VC Park, you still have to hold it in > The $1 million-plus project to renovate the comfort station and district headquarters in Van Cortlandt Park has been postponed indefinitely. Efforts to refurbish the single-story building, located on Broadway just north of West 242nd Street, were slated for completion this fall. But city officials now say the long-awaited project has been hit with another setback.
* Vinmont Park neglect hit by board > Local residents are mobilizing to establish a "Friends of Vinmont Park" group in a bid to assist city officials with parks maintenance. Community Board 8 is currently seeking volunteers and aims to have the group up and running by spring 2013.
* Sunday's South Riverdale street fair deemed a success despite iffy weather > The holidays came to Riverdale a little early this year. Hundreds turned out to the Riverdale Holiday Festival on Riverdale Avenue between West 236th and West 238th streets last Sunday. The festival featured holiday tunes, pony rides, a petting zoo, the Bronx Culture trolley and face painting.
* Engel gets funding to repair damaged roads > New York State has been granted $20 million in federal funding for the emergency repair of roads damaged by superstorm Sandy, Congressman Eliot Engel announced last Friday.
* Senior centers seek standards > The City Council is proposing that the state begin to regulate all agencies that provide social adult dat services, making Medicaid funding contingent upon compliance with state standards of care. Community Board 8 aging committee supports the Council's proposal and expressed concern at a recent hearing about the proliferation of for-profit facilities that might seek Medicare funding without meeting regulations set forth by the New York State Office for the Aging.

Also, in the Bronx Press:
* Bronx high schools improve on progress reports > Chancellor Dennis Walcott released progress reports for New York City high schools last week, and statistics show a slight uptick for the Bronx. The average letter grade for Bronx public high schools was a B, almost a full letter grade higher than last year. Out of the 116 schools in the Bronx, half received a B or C grade.
Officials unveil the newly-renovated office building
at 1775 Grand Concourse
* Renovated Grand Concourse office building opens for business > Local officials have unveiled the results of a $5 million facelift to a majestic multistory office building in the Bronx. Renovations to the 347,000-square-foot building at 1775 Grand Concourse were revealed during a ribbon-cutting ceremony last Thursday.
* Slain teen laid to rest > The young teenager who was mysteriously found dead in the hallway of a relative's home was laid to rest at St. Raymond's Cemetery on December 3. The body of Destiny Sanchez, 15, was discovered in the hallway of 632 Barretto Streets in the Hunts Point sections on November 23. Investigations are continuing, but police said the popular teen had been strangled.
* Bronx DA convicts unlicensed lawyer > A Bronx woman has been convicted for practicing law without a license. After less than a day of deliberating, the jury found Kehinde Jobi of 1407 Croyona Avenue guilty on two counts of grand larceny in the third degree, one count of grand larceny in the fourth degree and eight counts of judicially disbarred attorney practicing law. Jobi had been suspended in October 2008 for taking money from a victim with an indictment without permission. Despite the suspension, Jobi continued to represent herself as an attorney. A press release from Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson said Jobi stole more than $53,000 from 10 people.