Monday, April 21, 2014

Still No Permanent Home For Yankee's New York City Football Club

The proposed field configuration for NYC Foottball Club which is 25% owned by the NY Yankees. The team has their sites on a nearby parking garage operated by the Parks Department to build the  $ 350 million stadium. 

No conversations yet however regarding replacing the public parkland permmanently lost to build Yankee Stadium.


By Geoffrey Croft

Are negotiations to acquire the Parks Department-run parking lot near Yankee Stadium to build the
$ 350 million,  25,000 -30,000 seat soccer stadium going well?

From the looks of the faces of team officials earlier today maybe not well enough.  

In a somber press conference this morning the Yankees and New York City Football Club announced that Yankee Stadium will be the team's home for the foreseeable future. 

Last week the NY Times reported that the first three seasons of the fledgling new soccer club will be played at Yankee stadium.

Officials refused to confirm or commit to a timeline.

With no permanent home in site officials were peppered with questions about securing a permanent new home.

"This is the one thing missing from all these announcements is how long do you think this particular arrangement is going to last at Yankee Stadium. At Least three years,"  asked a reporter addressing the elephant in the room.
"It's gonna last for as long as it doesn't last," said Yankee President Randy Levine speaking as if he was at a funeral. 

"We're not going to put any timetables on it. This is the home of the New York City football club and if there's a change we'll let you know."

New York City FC Chief Business Officer Tim Pernetti also addressed the issue several times.

"We're not going to put a time line on it, said Mr. Pernetti.  "I think  that our goal will be to find the right relationship, the right community to build a soccer specific stadium and to be in that stadium as soon as possible."

He said they are still pursuing a goal that would build a soccer specific stadium in the five boroughs but they will not create an artificial deadline.

Officials also asked if they were "absolutely committed" to the notion of finding a stadium within the five boroughs and if finding one in Westchester or Long Island would be "a deal breaker."

"We are going to build a soccer specific stadium in New York City," Mr. Pernetti said later.  

"We are going to take what ever time is necessary to get it right."  he said.

The Parks Department run garage on E. 153rd Street & River Avenue, the proposed site of a $ 350 million, 28,000 seat soccer stadium is located 80 feet away from residents.   (Photo: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on images to enlarge. 

Scheduling Conflicts?

With the MLS schedule running through October and the playoffs in November, the overlap with the Yankees post season play is high.

A reporter sensibly asked the Yankees if it was safe to assume that October would be off-limits for soccer dates in order to accommodate the Yankees. 

"I think its pretty clear we are not going to do anything that affects the Yankee schedule,"   said Randy Levine, who was barely audible during the press conference. 

Levine said they didn't expect any scheduling conflicts,  he just didn't specifically say how that was going to be accomplished. 

Read More:

Gothamist - April 21, 2014 - Dan Dickinson

NYC Soccer Team To Play At Yankee Stadium For First Three Years
A Walk In The Park - April 15,  2014

NY Yankees Looking to Seize More Bronx Parkland To Build Major League Soccer Stadium
A Walk In The Park -  December 11, 2013 - By Geoffrey Croft

3 Teens Nabbed In Central Park Attacks


Police have caught three teens wanted in connection for several Central Park robberies early this morning.

Police say the children - ages 12, 13 and 14,  first approached a 32-year-old man at 5th Avenue and East 95th Street outside the park at 5:15 a.m. this morning. One of the teens was wielding a stick. The group demanded the man's property,  he hesitated and one of the teens punched him in the face. The attackers then fled into the park at 96th Street.

Inside the park, approximately fifteen minutes later the teens approached two women, 48 and 46, near the reservoir.  The assailants approached the woman and demanded their property.  The 48 year-old handed over and iphone and the 46-year-old handed over an ipod and the perps fled.

Police searched the park and found three attackers at 96th Street and Fifth Avenue and remain in custody. 

Cops are also interviewing two more suspects.

- Geoffrey Croft

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

NYC Soccer Team To Play At Yankee Stadium For First Three Years

The Yankees are attempting to seize  a nine-acre parcel between the Major Deegan Expressway and East 153rd Street that could accommodate a 25,000-to-30,000-seat stadium with connections to subways and rail lines. 


New York City F.C., a team that will enter Major League Soccer next year, will play its first three seasons at Yankee Stadium, according to two people familiar with the team’s plans,

The team, which is jointly owned by the Yankees and Manchester City of the Premier League, is expected to make the announcement next week.  

The question of where the team would play its home games has hovered since it was announced last May that the club would join the league, delaying plans for everything from marketing and advertising to season ticket sales. The team has frequently promised a decision — it told the league in January that it would have a plan in 30 days — but has consistently missed even those self-imposed deadlines, to the frustration of M.L.S. officials and prospective fans.  

The Yankee Stadium solution is a temporary reprieve; the team must find a site for a permanent home and construct it, and the three-year commitment at Yankee Stadium could be a hint at how difficult that might be. 

After community opposition derailed plans for a stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park last year, the Yankees turned their attention to a site near Yankee Stadium. In August, the Yankees’ president, Randy Levine, said the team was in negotiations for a nine-acre parcel between the Major Deegan Expressway and East 153rd Street that could accommodate a 25,000-to-30,000-seat stadium with connections to subways and rail lines. 

But the team has announced no progress since then, and with the 2015 season less a year away, the announcement of a temporary home will buy the club some time. 

The practical considerations of the Yankees and New York City F.C. sharing the same stadium are unclear; M.L.S. and Major League Baseball play March-to-October schedules. When Manchester City and Chelsea played an exhibition at the Stadium in 2013, temporary grass was installed over the infield dirt for the soccer game. 

But that game was a single match played during an eight-game Yankees trip, not a full schedule — currently 34 games for M.L.S. teams — that would require repeated installation and removal of the grass, and result in far more wear and tear on the rest of the playing surface.  

A Yankees executive emphasized to reporters earlier this year that a potential shared space was not a concern, saying the Yankees “realized what we were getting into” when they went into their M.L.S. partnership with Manchester City. 

At an event in February to announce a summer exhibition game between Manchester City and Liverpool, Mark Holtzman, the Yankees’ executive director of nonbaseball events, said the team generally required several days to prepare for events and then several more to repair the playing surface for baseball. But he also noted that since its opening in 2009, the stadium has hosted soccer games as well as a schedule of summer concerts. 

“Technology has gotten to the point where I think we can turn it around pretty quickly,” Holtzman said. 

“Baseball is clearly the No. 1 priority,” he added. “We wouldn’t do anything to put anyone at any risk; there’s a major investment here in the players. At the end of the day, we look at these opportunities very carefully, and we wouldn’t get into these opportunities unless we were confident in the end result.”  

Ken Belson contributed reporting.

Read More:

New York City F.C. to Play at Yankee Stadium for Three Years
New York Times - April 14, 2014 - By Andrew Das and David Waldstein 

NY Yankees Looking to Seize More Bronx Parkland To Build Major League Soccer Stadium
A Walk In The Park -  December 11, 2013 - By Geoffrey Croft

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Park Disparity Funding Solution According To Daniel Squadron - Have Central Park Foot the Bill

Heckscher Ballfields - Central Park.  Do Your Fields Look Like This? Central Park is meticulously maintained by the Conservancy. Unlike in municipally maintained parks the playing fields are lush and well cared for. Dedicated personnel are assigned to maintain the park's 28 ballfields.  Central Park's annual operating budget is now up to $ 58 million dollars.  However unlike the city they protect the money they invest into the park. (Photo: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates)


By Geoffrey Croft

Legislation introduced last year by New York State Senator Daniel Squadron and supported by Mayor Bill de blasio would have the government deciding where your private donations to parks can be spent. 

As most people are acutely aware our park system is enormously underfunded.  The policy of allowing public parks in wealthy areas to be paid for by private donations while most languish due to a lack of public funds has further compounded the problem, it has created a wildly disparate, separate and decidedly unequal park system.

And although these are city-wide problems that affect virtually every segment of the population, it is no secret that a disproportionate amount of the most severe issues exist in poor neighborhoods, among the city’s underserved communities—namely, the working class, the poor and the disenfranchised, and in areas populated by people predominantly of color. The City’s increasing reliance on public/private partnerships has resulted in a vastly inequitable distribution of services. It has become “a tale of two cities.”

Outfield Burnt Grass.  Fr. Macris Park - Staten Island. The city does not have a single dedicated ball field maintenance crew for more than 600 natural turf fields.  

The further fostering of what is already an ad hoc system premised on noblesse oblige, with all the neglect to the working class and poor that implies and has wrought, should be challenged, and not embraced as Sen. Squadron suggests.

The fact that Central Park receives large private donations while 99.9% parks do not is not the problem.  The Central Park Conservancy exists solely because of a failed city policy i.e. our elected officials refusal to take care of all of our parks so the wealthiest people per capita in the world took matters into their own hands.  This is hardy a sustainable model, nor should it be.

Each year our elected officials allocate approximately one-third of the desperately needed  funds required to properly operate our public parks. This year is no different.  The Mayor's preliminary budget allocates just $301.2 million in city-funds - just .52 % of the overall city budget in city funds for an agency responsible for 14 % of the city's land.  Up until the 1960's parks received up to 1.4 % of the city budget or greater. An astonishing decrease.  

For decades the public has been told the expense funding needed to hire the employees that are so desperately needed are not available.  Increasingly these basic services are being paid for privately in wealthy neighborhoods.

Central Park.

What this means in practical terms is that those chosen few have dedicated staff assigned to individual parks while the vast majority of the rest have to make due with the deplorable and unequal conditions found throughout the city.

Senator Squadron introduced the controversial legislation as a means he says to help address the inequity.

Squadron's  "Neighborhood Parks Alliance," would form partnerships between a "well-financed" conservancy and less fortunate parks. 

Under the plan a poor park would perform tasks like gathering signatures from local residents, establishing their own conservancy group, and receiving a city commitment, from the Parks Department and local council members, to maintain current government financing levels.

The issue of seizing money from organizations is a non starter for a number of reasons the first one being the legality of such a ridiculous proposal. 

A clue to the fundamental flaw in Sen. Squadron’s well-intentioned but deeply misguided law is the lack of the government’s role and responsibility in addressing  and preventing these issues.

In a May 24th Op-ED published in the New York Times announcing his proposal Senator Squadron asked, "Can A Tree Grow In The Bronx"  when a park like Central receives large private donations while most parks do not. 

Mr. Squadron spent just 32 words out 746 acknowledging the responsibility of the government.

"One solution," he writes,  "is to provide more financing for parks in the annual city and state budgets." 

No, that is THE solution.

And while he does admit his plan "is not a comprehensive solution" to the problem of open-space equity, his idea is fundamentally flawed non-the-less and sends the wrong priority.

Sen. Squadron says John A. Paulson's $ 100 million donation to the well-heeled Central Park Conservancy, "invites a question: where is the political will, and the money, for the millions of New Yorkers who depend on the 1,700 other parks, playgrounds and recreational facilities managed by the city?” 

The political will to do what? To get the people who live around Central Park to donate to other less fortunate parks? He is asking the wrong question.  

Instead of addressing the issues and attacking the very system that allows and encourages this enormous disparity and discrimination in the first place, he is inviting more.  The political will necessary to provide funding for safe, well-maintained parks, and public recreation programs that every neighborhood deserves, simply does not exist. It is not a priority. 

All New Yorkers deserve this, not just those who can to afford to pay "extra."  This is a basic quality-of-life issue.

“A Neighborhood Parks Alliance is one simple way for more New Yorkers to have decent open space,  so that more families,  in more communities,  can make a life in the city," he wrote. 

"Like good schools and safe streets,  decent parks must not be reserved for those who can most afford them.”  

His plan unfortunately accomplishes exactly that. 

Creating this Alliance is simply another way to further discriminate against the haves and the have nots while continuing to allow the city, state and feds off the hook.

"But the conservancies would still be the best way for donors to support their park of choice," he writes.  

Encouraging the public to discriminate against who is worthy of receive funding and who is not is certainly not the solution. 

As history has proved time and time again leaving the decision of  "who gets saved"  in the hands of the wealthy and influential is not good policy to say the least.

It is the government's legal responsibility to properly fund our public parks,  not private citizens or businesses.  Elected officials constantly say how important parks are but they refuse to fund them. It is not a priority. 

And to be sure Mr. Squadron is not alone his misguided solution.  

Over the last 40 years no other city agency has lost a greater percentage of its workforce than the Parks Department.  This happens year after because the public does NOT demand accountability.

Legislating Public Donations?

A few weeks after his May Op-Ed Mr. Squadron introduced the pass-the-buck legislation.

When asked if the 20 percent under his proposal would be voluntary or mandated by law  Squadron replied, " Our hope is that….. folks would step up and be interested in being a part of this voluntarily but my legislation would require it. "

And while Mr. Squadron admits that city and state have cut funding for parks "in ways that are unacceptable"  I could find no evidence of him truly fighting to correct this cronic budget shortfall including authoring legislation to address this pressing issue.

In the same interview he also bizarrely claimed that, "for large parts of the city they don't see the effects of those cuts if you live near Central Park or if you live near Prospect Park whatever your lifestyle is you don't experience the injustice of these parks cuts. "

That is simply not true. 

The interview got off to a bad start Squadron cited statistics that left out almost half of our parkland - State and Federal facilities - that reside in our city. (He's a NY State Senator)

Queens City Council Member Peter Vallone -  who was  then running for Queens Borough President  followed suit.  

He sent out a press release entitled, GRASS SHOULDN'T BE GREENER ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COUNTY FENCE!” announcing he would be introducing legislation mandating that all park conservancies with more than $5 million in the bank would be legally required to donate 20 percent of their funds to maintain parks that have received a grade of unsatisfactory for two consecutive years. 

At a City Council hearing last May Mr. Vallone said he had lunch with Senator Squadron and discussed the idea.

This  well-intentioned but deeply misguided law  shows clear lack of understanding of the enormous problems facing our vast but severely under-resourced park system.  Relying on what in reality are a few conservancies to deliver the tens of billions of dollars in capital needs and another three quarter of a billion dollars annually for maintenance and operation is deeply misguided. 

On Thursday at a City Council hearing Mr. Squadron testified that he thought his proposal could generate approximately $ 15 million dollars annually -  in other words enough to build a few bathrooms.  Another unfortunate consequence of this conversation is that it is detracting from the real issue - that our elect officials refuse to fund parks as an essential city service.

The city itself has already created a number of non-profits with the expressed mission to encourage donors to contribute to less fortunate parks city-wide. They have had to put it mildly an extremely limited impact city-wide on the deplorable and unequal conditions found throughout the city.

The solution to the inequality issue is not a secret:  The administration needs to take responsibility by dramatically increasing the parks budget and ensure they are distributed based on need and not on politics or private interests, while also demanding accountability from an agency that is in desperate need of reform. 

But first a detailed and honest assessment of our park system's is required,  something multiple administrations have refused to do. 

Unfortunately the political will necessary to provide funding for safe, well-maintained parks, and public recreation programs that every neighborhood deserves, simply does not exist. It is not a priority. 

Experience with public/private partnerships over the last 30 years has proven that the private subsidization of individual parks, however well intentioned, has created an enormous gap between the haves and the have-nots, while ignoring the real problem—that our parks are not funded as an essential government service. 

All New Yorkers deserve this, not just those who can to afford to pay "extra."  This is a basic quality-of-life issue.

Early last summer then mayoral candidate Bill de blasio announced his support for Squadron's initiative as well as the irresponsible Flushing Meadow Park Alliance being created by Council Member Julissa Ferreras and a Parks Department partner group New Yorkers For Parks.   

We do not need another Alliance,  a funding model dependent on businesses exploiting and  destroying our parklands - we need the government to do its job and adequately fund our public parks.

We sincerely hoped Mr. de blasio's support for these irresponsible ideas were simply early mis-steps.  

Compounding the problem are the remarks of consecutive Parks Commissioners. 

"We have a great operating budget,"  Veronica White embarrassingly testified at a City Council hearing,  a view consistently shared by Adrain Benepe who was fond of the calling the funding  "robust."

These are irresponsible and dangerous statements that harm communities and the city as a whole.

While working under Michael Bloomberg over the last decade Mr. Benepe had a tough time publicly admitting the poor conditions that plague the park system - and no amount of "surveys" from his current employer will be able to change that reality.  

Mr. Benepe called the disparity a "phony premise"  in one of many embarrassing moments caught during an interview on NY 1 in 2013.   

"I think they are nothing but positive,"  he said of the conservancy model in a typical Benepe see-no-evil defensive moment. 

"The beauty of that is that it allows the city to take its public dollars and allocate them to the vast majority of parks that don't get  any private support,"  he said in a claim that is clearly not supported by the city's continued lack of underfunding.

The City - including Mr. Benepe - claim that $ 165 million dollars is now being brought in annually from private funds to parks however less than half of that amount is accounted for in a reporting mechanism created to monitor such funds. A 2008 law specifically meant to expose city parks'  inequalities by tracking private allocations is not being adequately enforced.   A staple of the Bloomberg administration - the lack of accountability. 

We are happy this administration, and others have finally begun to embrace our decade-old park Tale of Two Cities inequity campaign, a disparity it is important to note that the Bloomberg administration including the Parks Department partner group New Yorkers For Parks absurdly pretended did not exist. 

We expect the city's new leadership who were elected on a  "progressive" agenda to tackle the policies that have resulted in our Tale Of Two Cities park system have clearly existed for far too long.

We need to attack the very system that allows and encourages this enormous disparity and discrimination in the first place, not invite more.   

Until these things happen nothing will change. 

Geoffrey Croft - is the founder and president of NYC Park Advocates, a city-wide watchdog group.

An excerpt of this post will appear in Sunday's Daily News.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Central Park: Police Arrest 3 Tourists For Falsely Reporting Robberies


By Geoffrey Croft

Police have arrested three tourists - two from Finland and one from Australia - in less than two weeks in two separate incidents -  for reporting crimes that did not occur NYC Park Advocates has learned. 

On Tuesday March 25, Pinja Pesonen, 27,  and Antti Vuorisalo, 34, of Suomi, Finland, were arrested on charges of filing a false police report.

According to police, the couple walked into the Central Park precinct a little before 1p.m. and claimed that two white men had grabbed the women's handbag with undisclosed valuables while they walked along East Drive near East 74th Street inside Central Park.

The couple filed a written report with police and officers drive them around canvassing the park and surrounding area.

Police found no witnesses and no camera footage of anyone leaving the park with the bag. 

When pressed by investigators they recanted within an hour of reporting the incident and admitted they lied.

Both were arrested and charged with filing a false police report. 

They were ordered back in court today. (Doc # 2014NY023046)

Nine days earlier on Sunday March 16th, a female tourist visiting from Victoria Australia claimed she was robbed by a black man in Central Park.

Larisa Ryan, 41, walked into the Transit District 1 police headquarters in Columbus Circle at around 6 p.m. and claimed she had been robbed of her Ipad and iphone at 72nd Street and West Drive, inside the park.

The white tourist told police her attacker was a black, about 6-ft-4 tall.  

Police searched for the attacker with her and reviewed camera footage for several hours. After finding no evidence of the robbery, Ryan finally confessed she had lied about the robbery with the plan to collect an insurance payment according to a police source.

She was arrested and charged with filling a false written statement to police.

She appeared in Manhattan criminal court where she pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and was fined $250 and released.

"These people do this all the time," said a Central Park officer speaking on the condition of anonymity.  

"They must see us on tv and say,  'this will be easy' but more often than not they get caught. They just don't think it through." 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Electric Zoo Lobbying Mayor de Blasio Aides For Randall's Island Return After Fiascle

Two officers stand watch at the Ward's Island footbridge  the day the city finally cancelled the event in the wake of two deaths, a rape, and after nineteen people were treated for drugs,  and  31 people were arrested.   (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) 

The NYPD blanketed Randall's Island after the Electric Zoo event was abruptly cancelled. 

Organizers of the concert have hired high-powered lobbyist Mike McKeon and Patrick Jenkins to lobby Mayor de Blasio's aides in an attempt to make a 2014 return.

Randall's Island

By Geoffrey Croft

The organizers of the controversial Electric Zoo rave event have been quietly lobbying Mayor de blasio's top aids in an effort to be allowed back on Randall's Island.

Organizers hired high-powered lobbyist Mike McKeon, whose firm, Mercury Public Affairs, raised $32,520 for Mayor de Blasio’s campaign and inauguration to secure a permit after last years debacle according to the New York Daily News.

Two concertgoers died from overdoses, nineteen other attendees were treated,  a 16-year-old girl was raped,   and thirty-one people were arrested including two felonies over two days of the planned three-day dance music rave festival.

Arrest charges ranged from drug sales, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and possession of controlled substances.   A lack of security and screening for under age concert goers also came under fire from several sources working at the event.

Electric Zoo area after the cancellation. Randall's Island's largest unprogrammed area of the park has been allowed to be converted into commercial uses for up to five months a year by the Randall's Island Park Alliance in cooperation with the city.

The 16-year-old teen woke up on the first day of the three day event under a van in a parking lot with her pants undone and bruises and scratches on her legs.  Medical personnel at Cornell Medical Hospital later determined she was sexually assaulted.

Electric Zoo’s Long Island City-based organizer, Made Event, hired its own doctor and ambulances so “they wouldn’t have to call 911, which would bring the cops,’’ according to published reports. 

The city finally cancelled the event on the last day in the wake of the incidents. 

“Due to serious health risks, the Electric Zoo music festival on Randall’s Island on Sunday, September 1st has been cancelled," the city said in a statement. 

"The City recommended cancellation and the event promoters have agreed.”

Electric Zoo co-founder Mike Bindra, 44, the former manager the drug-plagued Twilo club in Chelsea,  also employed a private ambulance outside the club.   The club was shut down by the city in 2001 after unconscious patrons were found hidden by employees and several fatal ODs.  City officials charged that Twilo used its own private ambulances for overdoses to remain off the NYPD radar. A lawsuit alleged that management hid dozens of sick patrons rather than calling for help.  

After the debacle, Mayor Bloomberg praised Mr. Bindra.

In November SFX Entertainment announced it had acquired Made Event the creators of Electric Zoo Festival.

Mike Bindra (l.) was the general manager of Twilo.
(from l) Mike Bindra,  Aimee Boden - President & Park Administrator of the Randall's Island Park Alliance RIPA -  Bindra's wife - Laura Tigz De Palma, and Anne Wilson,  Director of Planning & Public Funding for RIPA.  Bindra and his wife Laura are the founders of the Electric Zoo.  RIPA reportedly received a $600,000 fee from event organizers.  (Image: NY Daily News)

Elecric Zoo came on the heels of another controversial event held a few months earlier in the same location, Governors Ball which jeopardized public safety and wreaked havoc on the field.  

City officials decided to allow the concert to go on under tropical-storm conditions and  despite a severe weather advisory. 

Twenty-eight acres of public parkland were destroyed,  turned into a mud bowl when more than 100,000 feet combined with torrential rains from Tropical Storm Andrea demolished the giant lawn after the city refused to cancel the concert.

In a rare public airing of differences between the City and the Randall's Island Park Alliance,  Manhattan Parks commissioner  Bill Castro said they regretted not canceling the Governors Ball amid such inclement weather.

"We'll consider it a learned lesson," he told the Wall Street Journal.

Organizers of the Ball however,  along with Aimee Boden,  Executive Director of the Alliance and a Parks Department employee,  disagreed with Mr. Castro.

Apparently the incessant coverage of the impending Tropical Storm Andrea the week leading up to the event was not cause enough for concern, or even a tip off to the possible storm conditions or potential public safety hazzards for the organizers or the city,  to insist the event be cancelled earlier. 

Tom Russell,  a partner in Founders Entertainment,  said heavy rain or extreme mud weren't reasons to halt the festival. 

"There's not much planning you can do for six inches of rain in 36 hours," he said.

The  Randall's Island Park Alliance received  $ 600,000 dollar fee for the event.

The field was closed to the public for months and some subsequent events were canceled. 

Bloomberg LP's annual rental of the public park land for his lavish corporate company party had to be rescheduled later later in the summer. 

The Electric Zoo music festival is lobbying to return Randalls Island after being shut down last year when two college students died of a drug overdose and a host of other incidents. 

Promoters of a Randalls Island electronic music festival — unplugged by the city last year after two drug deaths — are pressing top mayoral aides for a permit to stage the event again, according to the NY Daily News.   

Organizers of the Electric Zoo hired high-powered lobbyist Mike McKeon, whose firm, Mercury Public Affairs, raised $32,520 for Mayor de Blasio’s campaign and inauguration. 

McKeon and another Electric Zoo lobbyist, Patrick Jenkins, recently reached out to key de Blasio aides, contacting Emma Wolfe, director of intergovernmental affairs; Dominic Williams, chief of staff to First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris, and Avi Fink, Wolfe’s deputy, city lobbyist disclosure records show.  

The lobbyists are seeking a Parks Department permit so their client, EZ Festivals LLC, can operate the huge techno-music event at Randalls Island over Labor Day weekend.  Last year, the city shut down the final day of the show after college students Jeffrey Ross, 23, and Olivia Rotondo, 20, died from overdoses of a dangerous drug known as Molly.  

There were four other nonlethal overdoses during last year’s festival, and critics blasted event organizers for lax security that allowed drugs to flow freely.  

“I’m disappointed that the city is even considering the application considering what happened last year,” said Marina Ortiz, of E. Harlem Preservation Inc., whose neighborhood abuts the festival.   

Geoffrey Croft, of the NYC Park Advocates, said that last year the city ignored pleas to shut down the party during a wild electrical storm on the first day of the three-day event.  

“They’re back, and they’ve  not be allowed anywhere near our public parks,” Croft said.  

De Blasio’s press secretary Phil Walzak declined to comment, and Parks Department spokesman Arthur Pincus said the application “is under review.” 

Electric Zoo is already claiming online it has two “expected” dates on Randalls Island in late August. 

Mercury’s Stefan Friedman emphasized Tuesday that organizers have already taken steps “to bolster what was already an extremely robust safety apparatus.” 

Read More:

New York Daily News -  March 25, 2014 - By Greg B. Smith 

New York Daily News - September 9, 2013 - By Barbara Ross  

Wall Street Journal - June 28, 2013 - By Josh Dawsey 

A Walk In The Park - September 4, 2013

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Nine Arrested Protesting FreshDirect Relocation To South Bronx - Waterfront Access Denied

Embedded image permalink

Access Denied. A woman places a sun flower on the locked gate leading to the Harlem River Railyard along the water front in the South Bronx while protestors sit in front of the gate. The DOT  NY State-owned has been leased to the Galesi group for 99 years.
(Photos: By Leah Kozak via Twitter)

Nine people were arrested protesting the Bloomberg-era city and state subsidies being offered to relocate Fresh Direct  and the community's continued lack of waterfront access.   

The community is asking the de Blasio adminisration to drop its opposition the environmental lawsuit.


By Geoffrey Croft

The public has long been denied acess to the waterfront in the South Bronx.  Cut off by industry and pollution causing businesses. 

For years this community has organized to prevent what they feel is yet another inappropriate use of public land and tax dollars. 

The familiar BOYCOTT fresh Direct stickers can be found in many neighborhoods.  

On Saturday more than 100 people marched to the Harlem River Rail yards in the South Bronx to protest the Bloomberg-era city and state subsidies being offered to relocate FreshDirect and lack of waterfront access.

Nine South Bronx residents were arrested in the peaceful civil disobedience action when a blocked gate prevented them from entering the public brownfield land on the waterfront, the proposed location of controversial FreshDirect relocation. Their intention they say was to plant detoxifying sunflowers. 

Those arrested include faith leaders, directors of local organizations and other South Bronx community leaders.  

The movement is asking Mayor de Blasio to drop opposition to environmental lawsuit. 

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Neighborhood residents walk along E. 138th Street in the South Bronx.  The day began with a rally at  a local park which was preceded by a march down to the Harlem River rail yards at St. Anns Avenue near E. 132nd street.  "Fresh Direct no es nuestro amo, No seremos tus esclavos!" 

Last year residents filed a lawsuit to opposition to FreshDirect’s proposed relocation. The lawsuit also seeks a full environmental impact study of the proposed project.  

Residents are calling on Mayor de Blasio to drop the City’s opposition to the lawsuit and support the Mott Haven-Port Morris Waterfront Plan which would provide more than 100,000 people access to a public waterfront that, for decades, has been inaccessible.

Chanting "South Bronx Demands Respect - Boycott FreshDirect, "  and "Este es nuestro espacio,  Escucha Bill de Blasio" the group arrived at the Harlem River Yard and placed sunflowers on the locked gate. The peaceful and exuberant event included traditional Puerto Rican plena drummers, a mariachi band, giant puppets, local children playing cello, and an interfaith reflection.    

FreshDirect, if allowed to proceed, would bring 1,500 additional daily truck trips through the South Bronx.  Critics argue that the plan is a Bloomberg-era relic attempting to give the diesel-intensive on-line grocer nearly $130 million in public subsidies to move to this public waterfront land from Queens. 

Critics also point out that the community is already burdened by asthma hospitalization rates at 21 times that of other New York City neighborhoods and the land should instead be used for open space. 

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Those arrested included faith leaders, directors of local organizations and other South Bronx community leaders.   The group also chanted, "Rubencito, pobecito Amiguito del Blumbito."

Boycott FreshDirect

Read More:

South Bronx Residents March, Rally Against FreshDirect's Proposed Move
 NY 1 - March 23, 2014 -  By Erin Clarke

New York Times - March 4, 2013 -  By Winnie Hu