Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Superstorm Sandy leaves trail of disaster in Riverdale (UPDATE)

UPDATE: The severe gasoline shortage gripping the New York metro area is forcing locals to endure epic-long lines to secure fuel for their cars and generators.
Gas pumps at the Sunoco station, located on 5914 Riverdale Avenue, and the Prime station, at Broadway and Mosholu Avenue, were completely dry as of Friday lunchtime. 
However, the Gulf station on Riverdale Avenue, just north of West 263rd Street, was open and filling the near-empty tanks of hundreds of motorists.
Some drivers told us they had been waiting in line for over 40 minutes and that the queue even stretched for seven blocks--back to West 256th Street--at one point.

Northbound traffic on Riverdale Avenue was reduced to one lane on Friday afternoon as motorists queued for gas.
This line stretched from West 259th Street to the city line, with some drivers reporting waits of around 40 minutes.


More than 3,000 local homes were left without power after superstorm Sandy ripped through Riverdale and left a path of mass destruction.
These two trees, located at the corner of Fieldston Road and
Waldo Avenue, brought down power lines in the area  
The unprecedented storm swept through the region last night, bruising Riverdale with its relentless near-hurricane-force wind gusts and sporadic rain.
Dozens of trees were uprooted, widespread power outages were reported, Internet and cable service was disrupted and several homes in Fieldston were damaged.
As of noon Tuesday, Con Edison said 46,805 Bronx customers were without power, including 3,489 in Riverdale. Citywide, more than 613,237 were left in the dark, including much of lower Manhattan.
Locally, early indications suggest the leafy enclave of Fieldston bore the brunt of Sandy’s wrath. Half of its residents were left without power and its usually pristine streets were littered with leaves, branches and other debris while several roads were blocked by fallen trees.
On Waldo Avenue between West 246th and West 250th streets, two trees fell onto the attic of a two-story house, while four blocks away on Delafield Avenue, several trees toppled over and brought down utility wires.
Further south, Palisade Avenue was rendered impassable after a tree came crashing down in front of 2521 Palisade Avenue. Another tree on West 232nd Street between Independence and Palisade avenues was also upended from its roots, blocking both lanes of traffic.
This tree on West 232nd Street blocked two-way traffic
Despite the destruction, commanding officer of the 50th Precinct Kevin Burke said there have been no reports of local fatalities or injuries.
He said the five-oh operated at full capacity during the storm and that around 150 officers—each working 12-hour shifts—answered the deluge of 911 calls.
“Most of the emergencies were in regards to downed power lines and trees falling onto cars,” he said.
“I think most people heeded the warnings and understood that it was a once-in-a-lifetime storm.
“What we found out is that a large majority, if not everyone, stayed indoors, which prevented the loss of life.”
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz said Riverdale fared remarkably well compared to the rest of the city, thanks in part to the neighborhood’s high elevation.
“I think that under the circumstances, we can consider ourselves fortunate—we’re not flooded, and our homes didn’t burn down,” he said, referring to the devastating blaze that destroyed more than 50 homes in Breezy Point, Queens.
However, Dinowitz said residents in Fieldston suffered a battering.
“In Fieldston, there wasn’t just a downed tree here or there. You really had to know where you were going because there was blocked street after blocked street,” he said.
In fact, Councilman G. Oliver Koppell likened the situation outside his Fieldston 
house to a war zone.
The elected official sought refuge in a Manhattan hotel on Monday night because his house is surrounded by a slew of old trees. “My yard looks like a battleground. It really is amazing,” he said on Tuesday.
This tree on West 250th Street in Fieldston came perilously
close to hitting the private house on the left
“A tremendous number of branches—probably around 50—came down around my house, and it confirms that I was wise not to sleep here. We were very worried because we have very large trees.”
Fieldston Property Owners Association president Stephen Boatti said at least half of Fieldston descended into darkness after strong winds toppled power lines. He estimated at least 12 trees were uprooted in the area.
“We had a tornado two years ago and another hurricane last year, but this is much worse as far as the number of trees and the damage,” he said.
Boatti said private crews were methodically traversing each block in Fieldston and clearing streets of debris.
As city agencies scramble to deal with the aftermath and begin the massive cleanup, local community organizations are also doing their part.
The Riverdale YM-YWHA opened its bathrooms and showers to those without power on Tuesday night, while the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale and Conservative Synagogue Adath Israel of Riverdale notified congregants of changes in prayer service schedules due to safety concerns.
Meanwhile, the Riverdale Review understands just two people checked into the city-run evacuation shelter at M.S./H.S. 141. However, sources claim both individuals were homeless and not residents in the area.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

New apartments planned for Henry Hudson Parkway

Three houses will be demolished and could be replaced
with a seven-story apartment building

Three local residential houses will be completely demolished to make way for a new seven-story apartment residence, the Riverdale Review can reveal.
Excavation crews are slated to begin razing the row of two-story homes, located at 2727-2737 Henry Hudson Parkway, on Thursday, October 25.
According to filings with the New York City Department of Buildings, a developer plans to build a new 56-unit residential building with 45 enclosed parking spaces on site.
The project, an as-of-right development, does not require community-board approval.
The plan is still going through other approvals processes, but if given the green light, it will be the first multi-unit apartment residence to begin construction in Riverdale since the economy bottomed out.
Demolition crews began erecting a safety fence on the Henry Hudson Parkway side last Thursday, with one worker confirming the redevelopment plans.
“Once we have all the fencing up, we’ll start bringing the machinery in and start getting the work done,” he said, adding that a temporary fence will also be built at the rear of the site.
The employee said the demolition “shouldn’t take that long,” but declined to provide a more specific timeframe or estimated completion date.
Published reports indicate that HH Realty purchased the 0.47-acre lot for $2.875 million in an all-cash deal in April 2012.
As of press time, Shay Zach of Itzhaki Properties, the broker who represented both the buyer and seller, did not return a call for comment.

This week's Riverdale Review and Bronx Press

After a two-week hiatus, here are the stories in this week's issue (October 25 - October 31) of the Riverdale Review and Bronx Press.

The entrance of Delafield Estates
* New apartments planned for Henry Hudson Parkway > Three local residential houses will be completely demolished to make way for a new seven-story apartment building, the Riverdale Review can reveal. Excavation crews are slated to begin razing the row of two-story homes, located at 2727-2737 Henry Hudson Parkway, on Thursday, October 25.
* Long-delayed Delafield Estates may be back on track > The remaining 22 lots in the troubled Delafield Estates development will finally go under the hammer on Wednesday, November 7. The real estate firm marketing the estate, Brown Harris Stevens, announced news of the upcoming public auction on Monday.
* A fast look at the Riverdale Neighborhood Slow Zone > Nine new speed humps will be installed on Riverdale streets by November as part of a staggered implementation of the city's Neighborhood Slow Zone program. For the first time, officials circulated a map pinpointing the nine proposed speed hump locations, with the majority positioned in the immediate vicinity of PS 24 and MS/HS 141.
VCP's delay-prone comfort station
* Relief may be on the way in Van Cortlandt Park > After three years of delays and setbacks, the comfort station and district headquarters at Van Cortlandt Park could finally be opened by Christmas. The dilapidated single-story building, located on Broadway near West 242nd Street, has been covered in scaffolding, plywood slabs and blue tarpaulins since late 2009. But a Department of Parks spokesman said: "We are scheduled to ope the district headquarters/comfort station this fall."
* Motorists get a break from confusing ticketing on Independence Avenue > City officials have removed the confusing road markings in front of the Riverdale Jewish Center following claims that local motorists were being unfairly ticketed. Department of Transportation officials recently scarified the section outside 3700 Independence Avenue and eliminated lines that had previously indicated three legal parking spaces.
* Local student involved in presidential debate > Riverdalian Yaritza Pena, a Hofstra University student, was selected to work as a volunteer during the October 16 presidential debate held on the campus in Hempstead, New York.
* Rabbi Avi Weiss to turn over leadership of innovative yeshiva > Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, the open Orthodox rabbinical school founded by Rabbi Avi Weiss of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, has announced that the role of yeshiva president will transfer from Rabbi Weiss to Rabbi Asher Lopatin this coming July. Rabbi Weiss will continue to teach there and to serve as senior rabbi at HIR, a vibrant 850-family congregation on Henry Hudson Parkway.
* Anxious foodies get ready to Savor the Bronx during restaurant week > Move over Manhattan and Brooklyn--it's time for The Bronx to grab the dining spotlight. The second annual Bronx Restaurant Week--Savor The Bronx, which showcases the borough's diverse  delights kicks off on Monday and runs through Friday, November 9. Under the promotion, foodies will be able to score a three-course lunch for $16.41 and a bargain dinner for $20.12 from more than 25 Bronx resturants. A few establishments will even throw in a free dessert or take 15 percent off the entire tab.
* Superintendent cleared over theft charges > A North Riverdale building superintendent, who was arrested on April 16 after being accused of pocketing cash from an elderly tenant's bank account, has been cleared.
* Former governor speaks to Manhattan College students > Former New York governor David Paterson addressed Manhattan College students and faculty last Tuesday with a discussion on subjects ranging from student loan debt to MTA encounters.

Also, in the Bronx Press:
* Heartless criminals steal stereo system from Norwood church > An Episcopal church in Norwood that had overcome a devastating fire in 2009 must now deal with the damage left by an invader who got away with only a sound system worth about $1,000.
* More Bronx restaurants now have all-important Zagat listings > A record number of Bronx restaurants have landed a highly coveted mention in the 2013 Zagat dining guide. A total of 33 Bronx establishments made it into the latest version of the gastronomic bible, compared with 28 the previous year and 24 in the 2011 guide.
* Police arrest four over Pelham Parkway murder > Bronx homicide detectives have charged four individuals and are seeking a fifth in connection with a double shooting that resulted in one man's death.