Monday, November 30, 2015

500 Bags Of Heroin Found In Bronx Park

More than five hundred glassine bags or "decks," of heroin were found inside University Woods Park.   The drugs, along with phones and a box cutter were collected by law enforcement at the scene.  (Click on images to enlarge)


By Geoffrey Croft

Park workers cleaning up a Bronx park made a startling discovery, NYC Park Advocates has learned.

Employees found more than 500 glassine bags filled with heroin hidden under tree branches, leaves and covered over with rice according to law enforcement sources.  The rice is used to keep the heroin powder free of moisture.  Two cell phones, most likly "burner" phones, and a box cutter were also recovered.

The narcotics stash was discovered in University Woods Park in the University Heights neighborhood yesterday afternoon.       

The notorious three acre woodland park located between Cedar & Sedgwick Avenues has long been a dumping ground due to a lack of dedicated maintenance and staffing from the city.

Police from the 52 Pct. took possession of the alleged narcotics. 

The narcotics were found hidden under rice. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

21-Year-Old Stabbed In Bronx Playground


A 21-year-old male was stabbed in the back on the handball courts of a Bronx playground NYC Park Advocates has learned.  

Two people were seen arguing when the assailant displayed a knife and stabbed the victim, according to police.  

EMS transported the victim to Jacobi Medical Center in stable condition.

The incident occurred yesterday in Colucci Playground at Mulford & Wilkinson Avenues at approximately 2:15pm within the confines of the 45th Pct.  

The suspect is known to the victim.

No arrests have made. 

- Geoffrey Croft

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Jogger, 26 Raped & Robbed In East River Park


Police are investigating the reported rape of a 26-year-old woman in a lower East Side park near the Williamsburg Bridge on Wednesday night.

The woman was jogging in East River Park when she was acosted by a man and dragged to the amphitheater in the park near Jackson Street, around 7:30 pm.  The woman told police she was raped, and robbed of her cell phone and credit cards, according to law enforcement sources.

The assailant fled on a bicycle.

On July 28th, a 41-year-old woman was raped in the park. 

- Geoffrey Croft

Parks Worker Assaults Park Officer Over Illegal Vendor Arrest

Royan Mitchell, 36 under arrest at Pier 15 at the South Street Seaport under the East River Drive.  Moments later a parks M & O worker got involved with the PEP officers.  Mitchell has been arrested at least 32 times.


By Geoffrey Croft

Parks Department maintenance workers attempted to prevent Parks Enforcement Patrol officers from arresting a violent career criminal NYC Park Advocates has learned.

The bizarre incident occurred yesterday at 1:45 pm. at Pier 15 at the South Street Seaport.
On November 11th, Royan Mitchell, 36, was observed by attempting to sell tickets to the Hornblower Cruises,  when park police approached him he fled.  

Yesterday, officers observed him again illegally soliciting at the same location.  While attempting to make an arrest, he resisted, at which time approximately six parks department M & O maintenance workers from Pier 15 surrounded the officers and tried to prevent them from arresting the vendor.  

Parks Department Maintaincence & Operation worker Sandra Knight, 53,  was suspended and issued three Criminal Court summons for her involvement in interfering in the arrest of career criminal Royan Mitchell at Pier 15 for illegal vending. 

"They were trying to fight us off," said an officer at the scene.  

"They were cursing at us, and trying to prevent him from being locked up. They were acting like animals." 

Officers said one park worker in particular, Sandra Knight, 53, became aggressive. They say she pushed the officers several times, yelling and screaming.

"She came out of nowhere fighting us,"  an officer said.

Officers say Knight was repeatedly told to back away from the vendor who officers eventually managed to put in handcuffs. Video shows her rushing towards the officers getting within inches, saying, "You got me, you got me." 

Officers can be heard telling her to back away.


Knight elbowed officer Ingrid Sanchez in the face, breaking her glasses when officers attempted to move her away from Mitchell who was still on the floor.  

Officers told her she would be placed under arrest. 

"Don't touch me, don't touch me," she yells over and over. 

Her colleagues are heard saying, "Don't do it Sandra." 

Officers can be heard saying repeatedly,  "Stop resisting Sandra, stop resisting."

Officers say Parks' Chief of Operations, Namshik Yoon, came down to the 1st Pct and intervened on the maintenance worker's behalf.  Instead of being charged with Resisting Arrest and Assault on a Peace Officer and face possible jail time,  the charges were downgraded.   

Sandra Knight was instead issued three Criminal Court summons - Disorderly Conduct, Failure to Comply with Directives of Officer, and Obstruction of Government Administration. 

The Parks Department suspended Knight.  

Royan Mitchell, 36  was charged with Resisting Arrest,  Disorderly Conduct,  Soliciting on Parks Property without a Parks' permit. 

He has been arrested at least 32 times according to law enforcement sources.  On June 18th  Mitchell arrested in a fast food restaurant in the 25 Pct. for repeatedly striking a person. Drugs were also found on his possession. 

The officer was treated at Presbyterian Hospital for minor injuries and released. 

Read More:

Parks staffer arrested after brawling with cops 
New York Post - November 27, 2015 - By Rich Calder and Tina Moore 

Parks Worker Allegedly Elbowed Parks Officer In The Face For 
Arresting Illegal Ticket Vendor
gothamist - November 27, 2015 -   By Emma Whitford

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Chinese Tree Victim Killed By Negligent Park's Dept. Contractor Laid To Rest

Jing Liu's widow breaks down outside the Wah Wing Sang Funeral home in Chinatown earlier today as she watched her husband's casket being led away. (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on images to enlarge.


By Geoffrey Croft

The beloved Chinese food delivery man killed by a negligent Park's Dept. contractor was laid to rest today.

Jing Liu's name hand written in Mandarin Chinese in the window of the hearse. 

His devastated widow broke down as she watched her husband's casket being led away to the hearse outside of the funeral home on Mulberry Street in Chinatown.

The small service was attended by close families and friends. 

Last week Jing Liu, 48, was riding through Coffey Park in Brooklyn making a delivery when a large London Plane tree suddenly came crashing down.

The Park Department contractor, Carlstadt, N.J.- based RML Construction violated basic safety protocols while working in the Redhook Brooklyn park.      Standard safety protocols require maintaining a safe work zone with cones, caution tape and workers on the ground to flag approaching pedestrians, which were not adhered to.  

The company also violated the terms of its contact with the Parks Department by only having two of the four personnel required for tree removals as per the Tree Removal Item Specifications.

The"pruner" from RML Construction speaks with an FDNY Captain at the scene of incident on November 18th.  (Photo: Todd Maisel/NY Daily News)

It is well known that Parks Forestry division contracts tree trimming workers that are not certified arborists.  The two employees were not certified arborists. The Parks Department counters that International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) certification is not a requirement for this type of work. 

The Parks Department has suspended all contracts held by RML Construction. The company began working with the Parks Department on tree removals in  2014. 

The tree that killed Mr. was deemed removable by the Parks Department in at least July 2015.  

The City's DPR's Trees and Sidewalk Program budget is a paltry $6 million a year, up from $3 million last year.  

More than a dozen people have been struck by falling trees/limbs this year alone. 

The city has paid out $21.6 million in tree related death and injury cases 
in four recent settlements.

The body of  Jing Liu leaves the funeral home this afternoon in Chinatown. 

Read More:

A Walk In The Park  November 18, 2015 - By Geoffrey Croft

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Mullaly Park: Military Weapons Stolen From Massachusetts Armory Break-in Recovered



By Geoffrey Croft

A park goer told police he found a duffle bag full of guns inside a Bronx park by Yankee Stadium, NYC Park Advocates has learned. 

The man found the weapons inside Mullaly Park near Yankee Stadium around noon on Friday according to police.

Inside the bag were two Sig Sauer P228  9mm pistols and one M-4 automatic assault rifle.

The man walked across the Macombs Dam Bridge into Manhattan into NYPD housing PSA 6 and told police that he found the bag inside the park.

The guns appear to be military hardware connected to the Armory heist on Saturday at a Worcester Massachusetts army reserve center where more than a dozen military weapons were found missing after an overnight break-in. The armory's missing weapons included six M4 assault rifles, 10 pistols, and several long guns.

The FBI  took possestion of the weapons according to police and are trying to determine how the weapons ended up in the Bronx. 

A 34-year-old Bronx native and former Army reservist was arrested on Thursday on Long Island in connection with the weapons theft.  The suspect, James Walker Morales, was out on bail on a child rape charge at the time of his arrest. 

Mayor DeBlasio was a block away at Joyce Killmer park for a million tree event a half hour before the weapons discovery was made.

Read More:

Homeless hero turns in duffel bag filled with military weapons
New York Post - By Shawn Cohen and Larry Celona November 21, 2015

Friday, November 20, 2015

Taking No Questions Mayor DeBlasio Celebrates One Millionth Tree Planting

Mayor Bill de Blasio at this morning's press conferance celebrating the planting of the 1,017,634, tree in Joyce Kilmer Park in the Bronx,  as part of the MillionTreesNYC.  The Mayor was joined by, (from left) Deborah Marton, Bette Midler,  former Mayor Michael Bloomberg,  Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Council Member Mark Levine,  City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Parks Commissinor Mitchell Silver,  and Congressman Jose Serrano.

The MillionTrees initiative has been plagued by a host of issues including poor management and oversight critics say.  The Mayor refused to answer a single question at the event. (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on images to enlarge.


By Geoffrey Croft

Mayor Bill de Blasio celebrated the planting of the 1,017,634, tree this morning in Joyce Kilmer Park in the Bronx,  as part of the MillionTreesNYC.

The Mayor was joined by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York Restoration Project’s Bette Midler who launched the Million Trees program in 2007.  

"We're not stopping," the Mayor pledged.  "There will be 150,000 trees planted over the next three years to continue this tradition."

The much-maligned program has been criticized over the years for a host of reasons:  Critics question the sense of planting new trees when the elected officials allocate only a fraction of the funds needed to care for the millions of already existing trees;  the improper installation/planting of the trees;  the lack of community-based planning and consultation regarding where the trees were planted; the lack of oversight; mortality rate; as well as the adoption rate of the trees which is a major component of the program.  

The program also displaced the Parks Department's public research library at the agency's 5th Avenue headquarters.

De blasio did not stick around to answer questions however.  The Mayor made a hasty exit out of the park after the last photo-op followed by pack of media trying in vein to ask questions.  

Like many of Mayor Bloomberg's "environmental" initiatives  Million Trees was viewed by many more for its PR value for than as a viable, sustainable program.  His PlaNYC program  was flush with capital spending but funding to maintain these new projects were largely absent.

Bette Midler got a hug, and later a kiss from former Mayor Michael Bloomberg who both launched the Million Trees program in 2007.  

Bloomberg reminded the crowd that the original event scheduled for October 21 was canceled  due to the tragic murder of police officer Randolph Holder the night before.

The Parks Department planted 750, 000 of the trees - 495,000 were planted in parkland and the remaining 155, 000 going to streets.  The remaining trees were planted by New York Restoration Project.

Flanked by aids, his security detail and the media, Mayor DeBlasio, makes a hasty exit out of the park without answering a single question at the event.

A member of the Mayor's security detail keeps a close watch over the one millionth planted tree.    (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on images to enlarge.

One Million Trees: Planting Breakdown
Number of Trees Planted by Borough:
•   Bronx – 276,600
•   Brooklyn – 182,593
•   Manhattan – 80,016
•   Queens – 284,755
•   Staten Island – 173,134
•   (Borough unknown) – 2,902
Number of Trees Planted by Type:
•   Street trees: 155,000 (+ 2,020 since planting of the Millionth Tree)
•   NYC Park Trees: 595,000 (+ 15,614 since planting of the Millionth Tree)
•   Private and other open space: 250,000