Category: News (page 1 of 45)

All the news you need to have to inform opinions and create action, both interesting and informative.

Less parking, more bike lanes set for Shore Front Parkway

The unused land on Shore Front Parkway will be used not for parking, but for more bike lanes, after CB 14 voted on the DOT plan on Tuesday night.

A large group of locals showed up at the meeting to support more bike lanes and oppose more parking.

Civic association president John Cori was the prime mover against the parking plan.

Board members Ozzie Edwards (left) and Ed Williams argued that their communities were not in on the input prior to the vote and that many in their communities do not even know what community board is.

The focus was on Shore Front Parkway and a city proposal to place metered parking on the south side of the busy road and the debate got contentious at the monthly meeting of Community Board 14 at the Knights of Columbus Hall on Tuesday night.

After several committee and civic association meetings, the community board decided to turn down the parking plan, but accept a plan for more bike lanes to complement those on the boardwalk adjacent to the parkway.

There were actually four recommendations that came from the board’s own transportation committee.

The first was to turn down the city’s parking plan. That vote was carried with 27 yes votes to one opposed and four abstentions.

The second resolution was to reject the proposal for two bike lanes. A “yes “vote actually was in opposition to the bike lanes. There were 9 yes votes, 16 no votes and one abstention, rejecting the motion and approving the increased bike lanes.

The third was to clearly mark the bike lanes that already exist on the boardwalk. That vote carried with only five no votes.

The final resolution was to place speed cameras on the parkway nearby St. Camillus School on Beach 100 Street and St. Rose of Lime School on Beach 84 Street. That vote carried unanimously, although a number of members had left the meeting by the time the vote came up.

There was an early motion to table all of the other motions for more discussion, but it failed to get a second and died without a vote.

Even though the vote opposed the parking plan, there is still a chance that it will happen.

The city’s Department of Transportation says that Shore Front Parkway has become a “speedway,” with the majority of motorists driving 5 to 10 miles above the 25-mile-per-hour speed limit on the road.

The need, the city agency says, is to “calm” the road before placing enhanced crosswalks and new curb-cuts on the road.

Devices such as speed bumps, bike lanes and even parking calm the road, the agency says.

If the bike lanes do not do the job, they the agency will revisit the question,” DOT officials say.

John Cori, the president of the Rockaway Beach Civic Association, was the prime mover against the parking plan, which was supported by some in the community.

His organization took the lead in defeating the plan, which angered some other board members who live in proximity to Shore Front Parkway.

Both Ozzie Edwards and Ed Williams, officials in Arverne-by-the-Sea homeowners associations, say that their members were not asked about the plan and therefore had no input. They argued that many of their members are new to the peninsula and do not know about the Community Board.

There were more than 30 speakers, most of them opposed to the parking plan and in favor of more bike lanes.

The Dot will monitor the traffic during the summer months to see whether the new plans will sufficiently calm the speeding traffic.

Ferry draws 11,000 first-week riders, about 1/3 of capacity

First ferry leaves Rockaway terminal for run back to city on May 1.  Total ridership for ferry during first week was 11,000, about 1/3 of capacity.

The Beach 108 Street terminal as seen from Jamaica Bay.

While there was a large crowd on the first 5:30 a.m. ferry, the number of riders has reportedly dropped since the first run on May 1.

The Rockaway commuter ferry service is a start-up and nobody really knows what the ridership will look like going forward, including the Rockaway “experts” who predicted that the ferry would be overcrowded from its first week and the city’s experts at the Economic Development Corporation, who predict that eventually the city’s ferry service will eventually carry 4.6 million riders annually.

How many riders is enough? That’s a question that nobody is ready to answer.

It’s clear that some runs from Rockaway to Manhattan are grossly underused. On the first day, the 5:30 a.m. run, the first ever for the service, was mobbed, but the numbers included dozens of media types, politicians and city officials. The next day, the run reportedly included a dozen or so riders.

In all, according to DEC numbers, the ferry service from Rockaway carried 11,000 riders in its first week of operation.

What does that mean? There are 149 seats on the boat, a number that many locals decried as being too small, predicting that boats would quickly become overwhelmed by riders. Except for one of two runs during that week, that turned out not to be the case.

There are 32 runs daily back and forth from Rockaway to Pier 11 in Manhattan. That means the maximum capacity for the boats daily is 4,768 riders, or a maximum of 33,376 riders each week. The 11,000 number for the first week is about 1/3 of the boat’s capacity.

According to AM New York, the numbers were hailed by the mayor, who committed $325 million to launch the service and another $30 million annually for operations, but some experts say it’s too soon to call the endeavor a success. Mitchell Moss, a professor of urban policy and planning at New York University, told the digital publication that only time will tell.

“A ferry system for some areas of the city is going to be an acquired taste,” he said. “We have to give the service a full summer and full winter to see how the Rockaway population decides to use it.”

One Rockaway resident on the inaugural run was more succinct.

“You got the ferry back, now you have to either use it or lose it,” Joe Hartigan told reporters on that first bumpy run through the harbor.

While the ferry contract runs for five years, it is widely expected that changes and deletions to service would be made along the way. For example, locals fought for the 5:30 a.m. run (losing a run later in the day in the process) to accommodate construction workers who begin work early. It is widely expected that the early run will disappear sooner rather than later is ridership does not improve.

The mayor was upbeat.

“Thousands of New Yorkers are starting and ending their day riding NYC Ferry—and this is just the beginning,” de Blasio said in a statement. “We’re bringing people back to the water. With two more routes set to launch this summer, these numbers are only going to grow from here on out.”

A one-way ticket costs $2.75, but service is not incorporated with the MTA, a state-run agency. This means riders won’t be able to transfer freely to subways or city buses. Critics of the service have argued that this will limit ridership.

Rising costs led to the demise of an older, now-defunct Rockaway ferry service that the city supported after Superstorm Sandy badly damaged A train tracks in the area. Despite vocal support from Rockaway residents, that iteration of ferry service only served about 3,000 riders per week and was discontinued in 2013, according to the city’s Economic Development Corporation.

De Blasio and James Patchett, the commissioner of the city’s Economic Development Corporation, the agency overseeing ferry operations, have marketed NYC Ferry as an alternative to driving or taking the subway.

 Moss countered to AM New York that the ferries, each with a 150-person capacity, would at best complement—not supplement—the subway system. For instance, the Rockaway route served 11,000 riders in a week while the 11 A train subway stations in the area combined serve 16,400 riders in one day, according to MTA statistics.

“Ferries are not going to be competitive,” Moss said. “The subway system has more than 400 stations with meaningful transit connections. This is much more of a specialized mode but it’s a delightful innovation. I think over time it’s going to develop a serious following.”

Locals are looking to the summer, when ridership is expected to balloon as visitors come to the beach, to improve the ridership to the point where the service is out of danger.

It is clear, however, just an informal check, shows that locals continue to use both the subway and the more-expensive express bus service to Manhattan.

First ride on Rockaway commuter ferry draws crowds, accolades

At 5 a.m. on Monday morning, people line up at the Beach 108 Street terminal to pay for first run of the Rockaway Commuter Ferry service.

Rockaway resident Jim McHugh was the first to buy a ticket for the new ferry service.

The first ferry, the “Urban Journey.” docks in Rockaway, ready for the first run to Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Queens Clerk Audrey Pheffer (right) and her daughter, Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato, board the board at 5:30 a.m. on Monday morning.

James Patchett, the president of the city’s Economic Development Corporation, made the early run.

Rob Schwach (right) the local representative for City Councilman Eric Ulrich, speaks with Justin, a deckhand who lives in Breezy Point.

Marty Ingram (in baseball cap), the co-chair for the CB 14 transportation committee, sits in the spacious downstairs cabin.

 

The ferryboat returns to the Beach 108 Street terminal dock.

At 7:30 a.m., the boat pulled out for the third run of the morning with 130 passengers and four crew aboard.

History will little note that the first ticket for the nascent Rockaway commuter ferry service that started early Monday morning was purchased shortly after 5 a.m. by Rockaway resident Jim McHugh.

Many followed his lead, and by the time the ferryboat “Urban Legend,” left its Beach 108 Street terminal at 5:30 a.m., there were 121 passengers – including more than a dozen media representatives – and four crew members aboard.

The 57-minute trip was the culmination of years of work by dedicated local residents and electeds, many of whom were along for the ride on the drizzly, chilly morning.

“This is a new life for Rockaway,” said Community Board 14 Chair Dolores Orr. “Many of us did not believe that this day would come, but here we are on our way to Manhattan on our new commuter ferry.”

James Patchett, the president of the city’s Economic Development Corporation, which is running the NYC Ferry Program, was on board for the maiden voyage.

He looked around the crowded ferryboat.

“What stands out in my mind is the level of enthusiasm,” he told onrockaway.com. “Everybody here is excited that this is finally happening, that they now have more than the A-Train and buses as transportation alternatives.”

Justin, a Breezy Point resident and deckhand on the “Urban Legend,” is a graduate of SUNY Maritime College. His job is to handle both lines and tickets. He even does his time monitoring the engine room.

He sees the service as a great thing for Rockaway residents.

“A nice comfortable ride in less than an hour from Rockaway to Manhattan is what the peninsula has needed for a long time,” he said.

The man who many call “Mr. Rockaway Ferry,” — Joe Hartigan, was on board.

For years, Hartigan pursued a commuter ferry for Rockaway at any meeting that would hear him – often a lonely quest – and on Monday morning he was beaming from ear to ear as he received congratulations from many of those aboard.

“I’m happy that the mayor kept his word,” Hartigan said. “We have to give him his due and thank him for the service. Now, it’s up to Rockaway residents to use the ferry and show that it really is needed and profitable.”

“And, Rockaway it first, not last as it usually does,” Hartigan added.

The ferry travels at about 25 miles per hour and the ride sometimes gets a little rough when the specially-built catamaran runs into the open ocean for about ten or fifteen minutes, but otherwise, the ride is smooth and calm. Riders can sit either inside for inclement weather or on the upper deck when the weather is nice.

There is a snack bar, with both non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks available, although there was no beer in sight during the 5:30 a.m. run.

Marty Ingram is the vice-chair for CB 14’s transportation committee. Sitting in a comfortable seat on the bottom deck, Ingram said, “This is terrific, and I’m glad that it has finally come to fruition. There was a groundswell in Rockaway for this service and lots of local and elected worked hard to make it a reality.”

Riders can get free transfers to the East River ferries that dock a short walk from Pier 11, where the Rockaway ferry comes into Manhattan.

When the ferry pulled back into the Rockaway terminal at 7:30 a.m., there were 130 people waiting to board. The boat seats 149 passengers.

Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato, sat with her mom, Queens Clerk Audrey Pheffer and State Senator Joe Addabbo and representative of other politicians, including City Councilman Eric Ulrich.

“I am beyond thrilled,” she said as she looked out at the crowd waiting to board the boat. “This is just what Rockaway needs.”

A single ride costs $2.75, but there are discounts for a monthly pass and even deeper discounts for seniors who purchase the monthly pass. In addition, parking at the Beach 108 Street site costs $8, but there are monthly discounts as well. Free shuttle buses are available throughout the west end and to Beach 35 Street on the eastern end of the peninsula. See the ferry website for information.

Channel 4 News sent a producer on a subway ride from Rockaway, starting at the Beach 116 Street station. It took the producer 62 minutes to get to the Fulton Street station, the closest station to Pier 11. It took the ferry 58 minutes, a four-minute difference. Riders of the ferry would tell you, however, that they had a lot more fun and that the ferry ride was much more comfortable that being underground for nearly an hour.

 

 

Murder at Bayswater Park

After a Shotspotter machine reported shots fired nearby Bayswater Park (top left), police found an unidentified dead man.

On Saturday, April 22, at 11:15 p.m., police responded to a call from a shotspotter in Bayswater Park at Bay 32 Street and Beach Channel Drive in Bayswater,

Responding officers found an unidentified man, unconscious and unresponsive with gunshot wounds to his head and torso.

EMS responded and declared the man dead on the scene. A level one mobilization was called, bringing police officers  from the department’s Strategic Response Unit as well as other specialized units to the scene.

This was the second homicide in the 101 Precinct this year, up from one at this time last year. The victim is the third shooting victim of the year, down from six at this time last year. Police statistics show that crime is down by 14 percent in the 101 Precinct this year.

Detectives from the 101 Precinct Squad and the Queens Major Crime Squad are investigating.

 

 

Far Rockaway rabbi pleads guilty to $5 mil education fraud

District Attorney Richard Brown said that the fraud was committed at this building at 1854 Cornaga Avenue in Far Rockaway.

Rabbi Samuel Hiller is walked out of court by a detective from the DA’s Squad after his arraignment. If he pays the court-mandated restitution, he will serve only a short sentence.

A Far Rockaway Orthodox Rabbi has pled guilty to stealing $5 million in city and state funding that was intended for special needs students between the ages of three and five.

 Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, joined by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, has announced that Rabbi Samuel Hiller, the former assistant director of Island Child Development Center, once one of the City’s largest providers of special education services to preschoolers with disabilities pled guilty to the charges in Queens Criminal Court on Thursday.

Island Child Development Center (ICDC), a private not-for-profit company that is now defunct, was located at 1854 Cornaga Avenue in Far Rockaway, and primarily provided services to pre-school children in the Orthodox Jewish communities of Far Rockaway in Queens and Williamsburg and Borough Park in Brooklyn.

     District Attorney Brown said, “The public funds provided to Island Child Development Center were earmarked for special needs preschoolers with disabilities.  Instead, the defendant chose to divert millions of these funds for his own purposes.  While it is disheartening to see a betrayal of the public trust of such magnitude as exposed here, those who engage in frauds of this nature will be brought to justice and held accountable for their actions.”

     Comptroller DiNapoli said, “Stealing from the public is bad enough, but exploiting small children to pay your plumber and support your for-profit camps, is reprehensible. I thank District Attorney Brown for partnering with my office in the fight to end special education fraud in New York State.”

Brown identified the defendant as Rabbi Samuel Hiller, 59, of Far Rockaway. Hiller appeared before Queens Supreme Court Justice Joseph Zayas and pleaded guilty to first-degree grand larceny.  Additionally, Hiller will forfeit approximately $1 million in seized assets, sign a confession of judgment for an additional $3 million, pay an additional $1 million in restitution at the time of sentencing, June 15, 2017, and make a full and truthful completion of a “Statement of Financial Condition.”

     District Attorney Brown said that Hiller is expected to be sentenced to one to three years in prison. However, if he fails to pay the full additional $1 million in restitution at sentencing, he will be immediately sentenced to two to six years in prison. Similarly, if any falsehood is found on his Statement of Financial Condition, he will be immediately sentenced to two to six years of incarceration.

     Hiller and his three co-defendants – Ira Kurman, 54, of Hewlett, Roy Hoffmann, 53, of Woodmere, and Daniel Laniado, 44, of Brooklyn – were indicted on the alleged thefts in 2014. All were accused of illegally diverting more than $12 million of the $27 million ICDC received in state funding to their relatives, their for-profit businesses and for personal expenses including jewelry, a family wedding and home renovations. 

     Kurman had been the former Executive Director of ICDC; Roy Hoffmann had been hired by ICDC to serve as its independent auditor as required by the State; and Daniel Laniado, while not employed by ICDC, was a self-described “investor” in ICDC.

     Kurman and Hoffman, who previously pleaded guilty to first-degree grand larceny for their roles in the scheme, are awaiting sentencing, which will include making restitution.  The case against Laniado is presently pending in court.

     District Attorney Brown pointed out that New York State’s Education Law requires that the State Education Department meet the physical and educational needs of children with disabilities. Additionally, within the City of New York, the Department of Education contracts with private service providers to deliver services for those who require them, including Special Education Itinerant Teachers (SEIT) who provide education services in children’s homes and other venues.

     The thefts were discovered after the Office of New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli notified ICDC and specifically, Ira Kurman, that it planned to conduct a routine audit of SEIT funds provided to ICDC. When state auditors arrived for the meeting, in July 2012, they were informed that Kurman had left his position and had taken his books and records with him. After further investigation, the auditors referred the case to the Queens District Attorney’s Office.

The contentious issue of parking in Rockaway once again rears its ugly head

One of the slides from the DOT’s presentation to the community board shows the availability of increased parking on Shore Front Parkway, but many locals are opposed to the new plan.

Albert Silvestri, the Queens Deputy Commissioner for the DOT, explains the new plan to the community board and about 50 locals who attended the meeting. Most of those present oppose the plan for increased parking on Shore Front Parkway.

John Cori, the president of the Rockaway Beach Civic Association, detailed his opposition to the plan and called for a public hearing on the issue.

About 50 locals listened to the debate about increased parking on Shore Front Parkway.

Parking has been a contentious issue on the Rockaway peninsula since the first Model-T Fords hit the summer resort area.

It continues apace today. Witness the meeting of Community Board 14 at the Knights of Columbus Hall on Wednesday night.

On the agenda was a plan put forth by the city’s Department of Transportation to redo Shore Front Parkway along its entire length, from Beach 73 Street to Beach 108 Street, including new “calming” methods, new “enhanced” crosswalks, new line painting and new medians at three locations that line up with the entrances to the high-rise that came after Robert Moses originally built the road as a tie between the Belt Parkway and Southern State Parkway in Nassau.

And, it included an apparently divisive and controversial plan to place new parking spaces on the southern side of the road.

The plan, particularly the parking plan, was attacked even before a DOT presentation to the board members and about 50 locals who came out to speak about the plan – mostly in opposition.

City Councilman Eric Ulrich spoke before the presentation.

“This plan needs more community input,” the Republican councilman said. “The plan should be tabled for a few weeks so that the community can be heard and a compromise drawn that would allow for more parking while allowing for a better quality of life for those who live in proximity to Shore Front Parkway, those who live in the area. This plan should not be forced down their throats.”

John Cori, the president of the Rockaway Beach Civic Association, agreed. He presented a survey that had been taken on Tuesday night at an emergency meeting that indicated that the majority of those who live in the area are opposed to more parking on the south side of the road.

The tally against the parking plan at that meeting was 31-4, according to Cori. Of those living within a block of the parkway, the vote was 17 to 0 in opposition.

Cori charged the DOT with lying about its statistics during the presentation, which said that a number of locals indicated during an earlier focus group that they supported more parking.

 “Why didn’t you say in your presentation that more were opposed than in favor,” Cori asked.

Cori also charged that he was told by DOT officials that the community could get most of what they wanted only if parking meters were supported by the community.

“The DOT has been misleading the community,” Cori said. “They don’t understand that the restrictive parking regulations on the west end impact our community greatly. We need a public conversation on this plan – a public hearing.”

Cori made a motion to hold off the plan until such a public hearing could be made. The motion was seconded.

Eventually, after some discussion, the board voted to hold a transportation committee meeting open to the public and then bring the motion up to the board at a future meeting rather than holding a dedicated public hearing on the issue.

Albert Silvestri, the Queens Deputy Commissioner for the DOT told the meeting that a public dialogue was important and that one was taking place at the meeting.

“We have milled the parkway at your request,” he said and now it needs to be paved and marked. We need to have a marking plan and at least do some temporary marking as a safety issue. Holding it up complicates the process.”

Silvestri told the board that none of the important issues, such as redoing the critical crossings and aligning the openings in the central mall could be done until the plan is approved.

One board member told Cori that he was opening a can of worms by postponing the process.

“I know exactly what I am asking for,” Cori answered angrily.

Other board members challenged the DOT on the remainder of the presentation.

Casey Gorrell, the DOT representative who did the presentation, for example, said that the agency’s studies showed that the great majority of motorists who used the road drive above the speed limit and that called for further calming methods.

He said that many of the cars travelled at 27 to 30 miles per hour, five miles per hour above the speed limit.

Breezy Point resident Marty Ingram brought a laugh when he said that he was an aviation safety expert, and that he “could make aviation safer by keeping all of the planes on the ground,” adding that the speed test was done in the winter, when traffic is light and “everybody goes over the speed limit.”

Eddie Pastore said that he had put the question of parking on the south side of Shore Front Parkway on social media and that locals had “overwhelmingly” rejected the plan.

Phil McManus, speaking during the time for the public to present their ideas, said that Rockaway should say “no” to more bike lanes, speed bumps and reduced speed limits.

“Calming is another word for slowing us down, making it longer to get to work, to school and home,” he said. “We don’t need more bike lanes when there is a beautiful bike lane on the boardwalk adjacent to the roadway.

Another local said, “When I hear the DOT speak about speeding at 32-37 miles per hour, I am appalled.”

He got cheers from the board.

A third said that parking would be beneficial to the community.

“About 100 days a year, outsiders would use the spots,” he said. “The rest of the year, those spots would be available for locals. We can always use more parking in Rockaway.”

No date has yet been set for the transportation committee meeting.

 

 

Man slashed on Beach 90 Street subway platform

Police officials check Beach 90 Street subway station for clues after a slashing incident that followed an argument.

A man was slashed while standing on the Beach 90 Street subway platform in Rockaway Beach on Tuesday afternoon.

Police say that the attack happened at the “A” train platform around 4:30 p.m.

The 31-year-old victim was taken to Jamaica Hospital in serious but stable condition.

Authorities say the man was slashed in the face, arm and thigh after a dispute on the platform with another man.

Police are looking for the man, who was wearing a blue jacket with red sleeves, and woman that fled the scene after the slashing. The male suspect is apparently around 25 years old, sources say.

Two Far Rockaway men remain in critical condition after crash with 18-wheeler

The care in which the two men were riding was pinned under a large truck going to JFK Airport. Daily News photo.

The two men were transported to Jamaica Hospital in critical condition. Police say that one of the men may be brain-dead. Daily News Photo.

Two Far Rockaway men remain in critical condition at Jamaica Hospital after a crash between a car and a tractor-trailer nearby John F. Kennedy Airport on Monday night. Police say that one of the men had a massive head injury and may be brain-dad as a result of the crash. Police declined to provide the names of any of the victims.

Police say that the incident happened just after 6:30 p.m. near the intersection of Rockaway Boulevard and Brookville Boulevard in Rosedale.

Sources said that the two locals were in a 2014 Dodge Charger that was speeding westbound on Rockaway Boulevard when their vehicle struck an eastbound tractor-trailer making a left turn into Kennedy Airport’s Logistics Center on Rockaway Boulevard.

The car was crushed beneath the truck, as emergency crews raced to save the two men inside.

“The fire department tried to extricate the people from the car,” truck driver Mike Bogdan told the Daily News. “Chaotic scene. They broke the whole truck, the whole car, and then they pulled them off.”

The 23-year-old driver of the Dodge sustained head trauma and is in critical condition at Jamaica Hospital. His passenger, a 28-year-old man, is in critical but stable condition, police sources say.

A third vehicle, a 2016 Ford Expedition, was hit by flying debris.

The driver of the tractor-trailer and the 62-year-old driver of the Ford were uninjured.

 

 

 

 

Deadline nears to place mentally ill in community ‘supportive housing’

The Belle Harbor Manor on Beach 125 Street is one of 12 local adult homes that will see its population decrease as mentally ill residents are moved into “supportive living” apartments in the community under governor’s plan.

The Park Inn Home for Adults has been problematic for the Beach 116 Street shopping area. Plan will move mentally ill residents into community housing.

Four years ago, after more than a decade of litigation and negotiation, New York State officials agreed that the system of often dismal and dangerous adult homes was no place for the mentally ill.

State officials agreed to move as many as 4,000 mentally ill residents out of their apartments and into supportive housing, a hard-fought recognition that people with disabilities should have the opportunity to live independently and participate in all aspects of community life.

But as a July deadline nears, a federal judge has found that the state seems far from meeting its commitment: Fewer than 500 people have actually been moved into supportive housing from adult homes.

Many of those adult homes that dot the Rockaway peninsula and those local facilities would be forced to lower the number of its residents with “serious psychiatric disabilities” to 25 percent of its population.

In addition, hospitals with psychiatric units, such as St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in Rockaway, would no longer be able to discharge patients to “transitional adult homes” such as the ones in Rockaway unless that home’s population of residents with serious psychiatric disabilities was under the 25 percent mandate.

A local resident intricately involved with the adult home industry in Rockaway, but who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution, said at the time that the new rules would mean a massive change for a number of Rockaway facilities because “75 to 80 percent of those in Rockaway homes fall into the category of “severely impaired.”

The new rules define a “transitional adult home” as one with more than 80 beds in which 25 percent of the residents have a psychiatric disability.”

There are 12 adult homes in Rockaway that fit that description, sources say.

Those homes were part of a lawsuit brought in 2008 by an advocacy group that argued “warehousing” the mentally ill in large adult homes violated their rights under the Constitution.

Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis agreed and ordered that residents of those 12 homes be moved into “assisted living” apartments and homes within the community.

Garaufis’ decision was overturned by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals two years ago, however,

“What the governor is doing is honoring Garaufis’ ruling even though it was overturned by the Second Circuit,” the source said. “It will move into the community people who are not ready to live independently or to care for themselves.”

Mental Health advocates, however, said in a prepared statement, “These actions represent a major commitment to advancing the rights, choices and hopes of potentially thousands of adult home residents with psychiatric disabilities from across the state – not just in New York City – to live a full life in the community.”

The adult homes on the Rockaway peninsula that could be impacted by the new state regulations are the Belle Harbor Manor, New Gloria’s Manor Home for Adults, New Haven Manor, Park Inn Home for Adults, Rockaway Manor Home for Adults, Surfside Home for Adults, Central Assisted Living, LLC, Long Island Hebrew Living Center, Seaview Manor and Wavecrest Home for Adults

According to a recent New York Times article, judge, Nicholas G. Garaufis of the Eastern District of New York, found most troubling was the fact that the state appeared to be working with the adult home industry to undermine the settlement.

“I will not allow the kind of political, legal activity that is going on in this case behind my back and behind the backs of the plaintiffs to continue,” Judge Garaufis said at a recent hearing. “If I sound dramatic, it is because it is dramatic. It’s about them. It’s about 4,000 people.”

According to the Times, the Department of Health had quietly reached an agreement with home operators in state court that would have short-circuited the execution of the federal settlement — without ever informing the federal court.

“There’s some sort of a deal,” the judge said. “That’s how it appears. And we’re going to find out exactly what the deal is, because if there is a deal, I would consider it a fraud on the court.”

Adding to the chaos, the state attorney general’s office — the legal representative of the state — said it was unaware of the negotiations between the state and lawyers for the adult home industry “until it was well underway,” and asked last month to withdraw from the federal case, citing irreconcilable differences with its client, the state.

The highly unusual request was denied by Judge Garaufis, whose involvement in the case traces back to its beginnings.

The sprawling network of privately run and state-regulated adult homes in New York City — once considered a promising alternative to the bleak psychiatric wards that the state began closing in the 1960s — began to face increased scrutiny for a host of abuses. A 2002 investigation by The New York Times showed that many had “devolved into places of misery and neglect, just like the psychiatric institutions before them.”

Lawsuits were filed, and after years of court battles, the state reached a settlement that called for residents with mental illness to be moved out of the homes and into supportive housing and be given rental assistance and access to community-based services that promote their inclusion, independence and full participation in community life. The state was given five years to resettle 2,000 to 4,000 residents.

Last month, with the July deadline approaching, Judge Garaufis called all the parties into court for a hearing where, in blunt and caustic language, he warned that the state was “far from hitting its numbers.”

The state rejected the suggestion that it had done anything wrong.

“New York remains unequivocally committed to supporting adult home residents, which is why we are working tirelessly to meet the requirements of the settlement agreement,” the Department of Health wrote in a statement in response to a question.

Even before the hearing, however, advocates for the mentally ill said that the process for resettling residents was deeply flawed.

“The state’s system to help people move out of adult homes is not working,” Cliff Zucker, the general counsel for Disability Rights New York told the Times. “Transition to community living has moved at a snail’s pace, leaving residents confused and frustrated. This is largely because the state has insisted on an inordinately complex process.”

The state officials, however, said that the complex process was necessary in part to ensure that people who moved out of the homes were ready to live more independent lives without endangering themselves or others.

Brothers busted for swordfight at Hammel Houses

Two brothers involved in a swordfight inside a Hammel Houses apartment on Thursday were busted and treated for their wounds.

It was a swordfight worthy of the movies, but cops arrested the brothers involved in the fight for stabbing each other with the large sword, law enforcement sources say.

Cops responding to a call at an apartment in the Hammel Houses on Rockaway Beach Boulevard at Beach 84 Street at about 9:50 a.m. on Thursday morning, found the two brothers, identified in court papers as Jamel Murreld, 34 and his brother, Justin, 23 both suffering from stab wounds.

While there was no official explanation for the sword fight, some locals said that the fight started as a lark and quickly became dangerous.

Jamel was stabbed in the back and his younger brother suffered a large wound over his left eye.

Both men were transported by EMS to Jamaica Hospital. They were treated for their wounds and then transported to Queens Central Booking, where they are awaiting arraignment on charges of assault and criminal possession of a weapon.

Police officials said that they recovered the large, bloody sword in the apartment.

 

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