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Thread: Randall's Island

  1. #16
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    Randall’s Island redistricting deal is alleged

    by Chris Bragg

    Randall’s Island, a tract of less than a square mile in the East River, is part of the borough of Manhattan.

    Yet a panel that recently drew New York City Council district lines, which are set to stand for the next decade, moved the sparsely populated island from its current Manhattan council district into a district that is otherwise entirely in Queens. That’s even though Queens is geographically farther from the island than Manhattan and the Bronx are.

    The move may violate the New York City Charter, according to one good-government group.

    And East Harlem and South Bronx community activists call the move politically motivated, arguing that Randall’s Island was corralled into Queens because the island’s current council member, Melissa-Mark Viverito of Manhattan, and local activists have emerged as thorns in the side of city officials who are pushing private development on Randall’s Island.

    For years, community activists in the South Bronx and East Harlem have argued that the island should be the public backyard for their communities, where quality parkland is scarce. Instead, they argue, the Bloomberg administration has attempted to turn Randall’s Island into a country club for the rich, full of golf courses and tennis courts.

    The 15-member Districting Commission was appointed by the City Council and Mayor Michael Bloomberg. At public hearings, South Bronx and East Harlem activists argued for the island to remain in a Manhattan-based district. There was little public support for moving it to Queens.

    “I think it was an effort to get Viverito out of there,” said Harry Bubbins of Friends of Brook Park, a South Bronx community group. “People in Queens are going to feel less connected to it and pay less attention to what’s happening [than Manhattan and Bronx groups].”

    Common Cause New York released a statement arguing that the new lines likely violate the charter.

    “The New York City Charter is very clear that districts should not cross borough borders unless absolutely necessary,” the good-government group wrote. “There is no question that Randall’s Island has a much closer association with the community of East Harlem than with Astoria, sharing a borough, community board, and current Council District 8.”

    Under the new district maps, Randall’s Island would be represented by whoever wins a 2013 race for the seat currently held by term-limited Queens Councilman Peter Vallone Jr.

    A Districting Commission spokeswoman said Randall’s Island was grouped with Queens in order to make Ms. Mark-Viverito’s district more Hispanic.

    “The commission decided that in order for the proposed District 8 to become more of a Latino district and to reflect the Hispanic population growth in the Bronx, they decided to include more of the borough and had to remove Randall’s Island from the proposed map,” she said.

    Randall’s Island has a population of only about 1,600 (largely made up of homeless people and residents of a psychiatric ward), so it’s unlikely that its population numbers played a major role in its move from Manhattan to Queens. (However, a supporter of Ms. Mark-Viverito noted after this article was initially posted that the population shift actually could have made a difference in controversially making her seat narrowly majority-Bronx.)

    Since 2003, the Bloomberg administration has given $155 million for 65 new ballfields, new bike and hiking paths, comfort stations, and shoreline reconstruction to the Randall’s Island Sports Foundation, a public-private group that manages the parkland, the Daily News has reported. A number of controversies have erupted, including over a 2006 deal between the city and Upper East Side private schools in which the schools were to pay $52.6 million for their construction and refurbishment in exchange for exclusive use. (The deal was struck down in court.) A deal for a controversial water park was also scuttled in 2007 amid opposition. More recently, a swanky tennis center with high court fees run by tennis star John McEnroe was opened amid rancor from East Harlem park advocates, who noted the project did not go through the normal city land use process. Mr. McEnroe is now seeking to add new courts.

    “All of this has been pay-to-play. It’s public land being given to private developers,” charged Geoffrey Croft, of New York City Park Advocates. “If Bloomberg wants to give his own land to private developers, that’s his choice.”

    Mr. Bubbins and other advocates say bringing litigation charging that the new district violates the charter is an option. But they’re hopeful that the furor over the Brooklyn Council district that could help Assemblyman Vito Lopez run for a council seat will lead to the council’s rejection of new district lines by a Dec. 7 deadline. Mr. Lopez has been embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal.

    If the City Council rejects the new lines, district lines would go back to the commission for further revision.

    http://mycrains.crainsnewyork.com/bl...tricting-deal/

  2. #17
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    A Long-Delayed Path from The Bronx to Randall's Island May Soon Be Built

    By Patrick Wall









    PORT MORRIS — Construction could soon start on a long-delayed path and pedestrian bridge between the South Bronx and Randall’s Island that has stalled while the city haggled with private property owners over building rights, officials said Thursday.

    A bridge frame already crosses the narrow Bronx Kill under an elevated Amtrak line, but the city had to wait to fully construct the bridge and to pave a path from it to 132nd Street in Port Morris until it had the rights to build on that state-owned but privately controlled property it runs through.

    Now, seven years after plans for the so-called Randall’s Island Connector were first announced, the city’s Economic Development Corporation has obtained the necessary easements and is calling for contractors to submit bids and begin building by early next year.

    “It is great to see this long-awaited project moving forward,” Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said in a statement Thursday.

    The quarter-mile bicycle and pedestrian pathway will connect Bronxites to 330 acres of Randall’s Island parkland, the city promises.

    The path cuts through the Harlem River Yards, a 96-acre waterfront zone owned by the state Transportation Department and leased to the developer Harlem River Yard Ventures, which subleases it to several companies.

    The EDC obtained the easements from Harlem River Yard Ventures, Dow Jones & Company and the New York Post.

    Construction bids are due Oct. 8. Work is slated to begin early 2014 and finish by early 2015.

    The connector is part of the city’s plan for a network of paths that connect South Bronx residents to parks and the waterfront.

    “The Randall’s Island Connector will complete phase one of the plan and will make the active recreation, health programs and other amenities of Randall’s Island accessible to even more people of The Bronx,” said EDC President Kyle Kimball.

    http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/2013...-soon-be-built
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  3. #18
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    The bridge is built, will open later this summer:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/29/ny...l?ref=nyregion

    You can see some older images on Google Maps at Randall's Island:

    https://goo.gl/maps/xaxZ0

    and at 132nd street in the Bronx next to the New York Post printing facility:

    https://goo.gl/maps/PkE7y

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