An Unguarded Fort, and Neighbors Who See a Risk

Protesters also chanted, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, we say safety, they say no!”

Protesters also chanted, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, we say safety, they say no!”

New York Times

March 22, 2009
Fort Totten

An Unguarded Fort, and Neighbors Who See a Risk

FORT TOTTEN in Bayside, Queens, sits atop a hilly peninsula near the Throgs Neck Bridge, where the waters of the East River meet Long Island Sound. The fort was built during the Civil War to guard the city against attack from the East River, but it closed in 1995, and since then, much of the land, along with many of its dilapidated Victorian buildings, has been handed over to the city.

A park now covers 50 acres of Fort Totten, and the Fire and Police Departments, as well as the Army Reserve 77th Regional Readiness Command and other groups, use some of the buildings on the remaining 100 or so acres.

Since the fort closed, the Fire Department has been in charge of security there, hiring private guards to patrol the fort and to staff a security booth at its entrance. But in February, the fort’s neighbors learned that the department would eliminate that security detail starting March 1, citing budget cuts.

The move has unleashed local fears that the park and its historic buildings, some of them abandoned, will be vulnerable to vandalism, arson and other crimes. Earlier this month, a few dozen residents held a rally at the fort’s entrance, chanting, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, we say safety, they say no!”

At one point, Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. spoke on a megaphone.

“During the toughest economic times,” Mr. Vallone said, “that’s when you have to keep the community and the people the safest.”

A group of security guards who had worked at the fort watched the protest.

“There will be a lot of chaos,” predicted one guard, Alexander Bolotinskiy, as he watched a car pass the empty security booth, where the sign still read, “Please Stop and Show ID.”

Steve Ritea, a Fire Department spokesman, said the change was part of a wider cut in security expenditures that would save nearly $1.2 million annually.

The Police Department, Mr. Ritea added, will continue to include the fort in its patrols. Fire marshals stationed at the fort will also provide an element of safety, he said.

But some residents are not placated. Among them is Carol Marian, president of the Bayside Historical Society, which is housed in the fort.

“This park is not a normal park,” Ms. Marian said, pointing out the many old buildings. “We have hidden corners where people can lurk.”


Cops: Queens Man Fatally Stabs Wife, Hangs Self at Baybridge Condominium Estates


1010 WINS

Cops: Queens Man Fatally Stabs Wife, Hangs Self

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) — A Queens couple was found dead Sunday in what police believe was a murder-suicide.

The woman, 57, had been stabbed to death inside the couple’s home at the upscale Baybridge Condominium Estates in the Bayside neighborhood, police said.

The man, 64, hanged himself from the second floor balcony of the home, 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon reported.

They were discovered by their adult son.

Neighbors said they were a quiet couple and couldn’t imagine why the man would have turned violent.

Fort Totten Gate Security: An Ever Changing Story

A protest rally still remains a very real possibility.

A protest rally still remains a very real possibility.

At a meeting held on Tuesday, February 17, 2009, Fire Department Chiefs and Unit Heads decided to completely eliminate gate security at Fort Totten. This is contrary to earlier reports from official FDNY sources that the security would be provided by light duty fire fighters.

At this time attempts are being made to obtain copies of the conveyance agreement, which some interested parties believe call for FDNY to maintain gate security. As expected, FDNY is reluctant to make the documents available for review. Efforts are underway to obtain the documentation elsewhere.

A protest rally still remains a very real possibility.



Effective March 1, Fort Totten will no longer have gate security.

Effective March 1, Fort Totten will no longer have gate security.


Gate security at Fort Totten will be discontinued on Sunday, March 1, 2009. Fire Commissioner Scoppetta is taking this action in response to the Mayor’s recently announced budget cuts. Termination of the security contract will threaten Fort Totten and the surrounding community.

Both FDNY and NYPD house units on Fort Totten which have high security needs. To go into detail would be irresponsible but suffice it to say that these units deal with matters pertaining to terrorism and criminal investigation.

Without security there will be burglary and vandalism concerns at night. In addition, the abandoned old buildings, many of which are part of the Historic Monument Trust, would be prime targets for arson once it gets dark. Night time criminal activity in the Fort will spill over into Bay Terrace.

Completely removing security guards from Fort Totten’s front gate is ill-advised and will eventually cost the city more in terms of increased vandalism, burglary, arson, crimes involving violence and police services. This action poses a real threat to the safety of our community.

Bloomberg has now told us to drop dead. The Bay Terrace Cafe will send him the same good wishes when election day rolls around.

Queens Woman in JetBlue tussle grounded for 5 years

Anyone for Anger Management?

Anyone for Anger Management?

From BusinessWeek

Queens Woman in JetBlue tussle grounded for 5 years


A woman accused of punching an airline attendant who tried to stop her from smoking during a flight has been sentenced to five years of probation, during which she can’t fly on commercial airlines.

Christina Elizabeth Szele (ZELL’-ee) of Queens, N.Y., was ordered Thursday to pay $7,987 in restitution and to seek drug, alcohol and anger management counseling.

She pleaded guilty in November to interfering with a crew member.

Authorities say she shouted obscenities and racial slurs at an attendant on a JetBlue flight from New York to San Francisco in June. The FBI says crew members restrained Szele with plastic handcuffs, but she broke them and punched an attendant in the jaw.

The pilot diverted the plane to Denver, where Szele was arrested.

City accused of bias against blacks, Hispanics in ex-con jobs ban


Meet the hospital's newest employee

New York Daily News


Tuesday, January 27th 2009, 3:24 AM

A city ban on hiring ex-cons for hospital jobs is unfair to blacks and Hispanics, a city woman claimed in a complaint to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Shanae Leath, who was convicted for her role in a mugging nine years ago, lost her shot at a clerical job at Bellevue Hospital when her record came to light. Leath, 28, said the city Health and Hospitals Corp. ban discriminates.

“Years ago, I made a mistake, but my life is in order now,” Leath said. “It really hurts because Bellevue seemed to recognize that I would be a good worker.”

Leath’s attorney Justin Swartz says the Health and Hospitals Corp.’s “blanket ban” on hiring applicants with criminal convictions disproportionately affects Hispanics and African-Americans.

Victims of violent crimes will most certainly be grateful that the miscreants who attacked them, will now be part of the hospital team tending to their injuries.

Civilians, cops tag-team vs. graffiti

BTCA Graffiti Busters

BTCA Graffiti Busters

Queens has made major strides in the war on vandalism.

Graffiti complaints dropped dramatically across the borough in 2008 — including a 20% decline in Queens’ northern precincts — even as citywide totals jumped more than 10%, according to preliminary NYPD stats.

The number of graffiti complaints includes calls from the public to report vandalism to the NYPD, as well as all graffiti-related criminal charges the NYPD files against suspects after they’re arrested.

In addition, cops collared 214 fewer taggers in Queens than they had in 2007 — a 23.1% drop that contrasted with a 10% leap citywide in graffiti arrests, NYPD records show.

Skeptics warn the numbers may indicate only a lack of vigilance in reporting graffiti and catching offenders — not a true dip in the colorful crimes — but others view them as a major accomplishment.

In 2008, the 109th Precinct reported 182 graffiti complaints which resulted in 55 arrests. During that same period, the 111th Precinct received 117 graffiti reports which resulted 27 arrests.

BTCA’s Graffiti Busters can often be seen removing grafitti, stickers, illegal postings and other forms of vandalism in Bay Terrace. Any one of their regularly schedluled clean-ups will often result in the removal of 30-50 tags and markings. All of these volunteer community groups should be applauded for their efforts.

For more on this story……….