Once, twice, three times the parkland is what Avella seeks
Alienated parkland would have to be replaced by three times as much new public green space in the same area under a bill just drawn up by state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside). The process of alienation, turning parkland into something else, would also undergo a stricter state review process. Alienation traditionally calls for replacement with the same amount of parkland.
Avella cited three proposals to turn over sections of Flushing Meadows Corona Park to private interests as driving his proposal. One, the United States Tennis Association’s plan to expand by two-thirds of an acre, has passed the state Legislature. The USTA is “replacing” the land with other space in the park, prompting critics to say it’s not really replacing anything at all. Another, the Willets West redevelopment project, is wending its way through the city review process. The third, Major League Soccer’s plan to build a stadium on about 13 acres in the park, is “dead,” according to City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), leader of the Council’s Queens delegation.
Avella is running for Queens borough president, as is Comrie, who made his statement on the MLS plan in a recent interview with the Queens Chronicle, before Avella announced his legislation. No one has introduced the bill in the Assembly yet, but an Avella spokesman said one assemblyman is considering it.
It’s back to the future for city voting system
Traditional lever voting machines will be used for this year’s city elections as per a law Gov. Cuomo signed Monday. The reason, media outlets said, is that the city Board of Elections would not be able to calculate votes in time for any runoff elections that may be necessary. Many political observers expect one or both major-party primaries for mayor to be followed by a runoff, which the law demands if no candidate gets at least 40 percent of the vote the first time.
The state switched to optical scanners under a federal mandate prompted by the controversy over the 2000 presidential election ballot count in Florida. Cuomo reportedly was reluctant to allow use of the old machines but had no choice because votes on the new ones take so long to tally. He also moved any runoffs back a week to Oct. 1. The primaries will be held Sept. 10.
Earlier deadline for condos, co-ops, biz
The managers of condominiums, co-ops and businesses will have to file their real property income and expense statements by June 1, three months earlier than in the past, under a new law Mayor Bloomberg signed Tuesday. The mayor said the earlier deadline for the RPIES will make it easier for the city to calculate the assessed value of properties for tax purposes.
Sharp proposed hikes in valuations in recent years — some topping 100 percent — sparked fury in areas such as Queens with a high number of condos and co-ops. The law will also force the Finance Department to reveal more about how it assesses properties, the mayor said.
City eases newsstand item price controls
The city raised the maximum price newsstands can charge for a single item to $10 under another new law the mayor signed Monday. The limit had been $5 since 2002, the last time it was increased, City Hall said.
Grand Central paving
A section of the Grand Central Parkway that challenges drivers for a number of reasons is being thoroughly repaved.
An area around the Kew Gardens interchange was milled sometime between Monday and Tuesday mornings, meaning that the repaving will not just be a surface job but a thorough application of new tarmac several inches deep.
Adjacent to the southern tip of Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the section is marked by sharp curves, changes in grade and frequent flooding. The entire interchange, where a number of highways and streets meet, is being rebuilt over the next several years.