Poisonous lead paint is raining down from the 7 train

By Danielle Furfaro

Originally published by the New York Post on April 23, 2017

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

Poisonous lead-paint chips are raining down on several Queens neighborhoods from elevated subway tracks, threatening the health of passersby, especially children, officials told The Post.

The decrepit No. 7 train trestle — which runs through Jackson Heights, Elmhurst and Woodside — hasn’t been repainted in more than three decades, said City Councilman Daniel Dromm, leaving the flaking lead-based paint exposed.

“I’m surprised it’s still standing, that’s how rusted and bad the chipping of the paint is and the lead dust particles are flying through the air,” said Dromm, who grew up in the area.

The amount of lead in the paint is 224,000 parts per million — or 44 times more than what is considered safe, according to the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, which tested the falling paint chips at the behest of residents, Dromm and others.

Dr. Morri Markowitz, director of the Lead Poisoning Treatment and Prevention Program at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center, was aghast to learn about the “extremely toxic” levels falling from the elevated tracks.

“I think the Department of Health or the city environmental agencies should get involved,” the concerned doctor said. “The lead paint could potentially be falling off of every elevated track throughout the city, not just on the 7 [line].”

Davon Lomax, director of the union, noted how heavily populated the area is.

“There are food carts, restaurants and schools under there, and the dust is getting everywhere, and it’s all breathable,’’ he said.

“This poses a threat to people who work and are passing underneath there every day.”

The dilapidated sections of the overhead tracks run from the 52nd street station to Junction Boulevard.

“It’s a poison, and kids shouldn’t be exposed to it,” said resident Samuel Rivera, 62, who lives in Jackson Heights. “The MTA should have repainted this by now, but they take their sweet time doing everything.”

Father-of-two Md Lokman Hossain said he is particularly worried about his 17-month-old son, noting that the tot could mistake a paint chip for food if it fell into his lap as they walked along Roosevelt Avenue.

“He could think it’s candy or something and swallow it, and it could lead to a big problem,’’ Hossain said.

Dromm said he has repeatedly pressed the MTA to take better care of the trestles, especially the area around the 74th Street/Broadway station.

“It has not been painted for at least 35 years that I can remember,” he said.

MTA officials said it has painted the trestles more recently than that, but they couldn’t say exactly when.

“No station on the 7 line, or the connecting infrastructure, has gone 35 years without being painted,” said agency spokeswoman Beth DeFalco. “We do annual joint inspections with NYCDEP of NYC Parks that are adjacent to our subway structures and quarterly inspections of other locations”

Markowitz called lead-based paints “indestructible, and recommended that those who live close to the tracks are at highest risk, and should seek out testing — as should MTA workers and commuters who spend time in the station.

Lead poisoning can cause developmental delays, learning disabilities, hearing loss and seizures in children, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Read more here.

Those ice cream truck jingles are keeping New Yorkers up at night

By Rich Calder and Natalie O’Neill

Originally published by the NY Post on June 27, 2016

Photo: Christopher Sadowski

Photo: Christopher Sadowski

The city isn’t sweet on late-night ice cream truck jingles.

Vendors shouldn’t be allowed to blast the dizzying ditties between 9 pm and 9 am, the Department of Environmental Protection said at a hearing Monday.

New Yorkers have lodged a brain-freezing 1,013 noise complaints about the trucks so far in 2016 — and summer has only just begun.

Despite hundreds of complaints, only one jingle-blasting jerk has been ticketed for playing music too loudly this year, city officials said.

“Something is not working when you have violations at such low of a level. C’mon only one? Give me a break!” said City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Queens), who introduced a bill to mute the tinkly tunes last year.

“Ice cream jingles are among the most annoying noises assaulting New Yorkers’ ears every day.”

Micheal Hearst — who composed “Songs for Ice Cream Trucks,” used by vendors across the Big Apple — begs to differ.

“I love the sound of an ice cream truck jingle— it’s nostalgic. I would vote for ban on Harley Davidson volume before ice cream truck jingles. It’s unfair to single-out jingles,” Hearst, 43, said when asked about the bill.

Right now, it’s hard for the city to issue summonses because inspectors have to catch vendors in the act. Officials are pushing to change that.

Dromm also also wants to amend the city’s noise code to give inspectors more leeway in issuing summonses. The law now allows jingles to be played at a low decibel level.

Residents— especially ones in the Bronx and Brooklyn — have griped for years that the music keeps them awake and jangles their nerves.

Hearst, a Brooklyn resident, even admitted, “It can be annoying hearing one song over and over.”

Read more here.

StreetsBlog: Ped Plazas in Low-Income Neighborhoods Get $800,000 Boost From Chase

Under cloudy skies this morning at Corona Plaza, elected officials and community members gathered to announce an $800,000 contribution from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation to help fund the upkeep of pedestrian plazas in low-income communities. The funds are going to the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership (NPP), a program of the Horticultural Society of New York that works with merchant associations and non-profits to maintain plazas in neighborhoods including Corona, Jackson Heights, East New York, and Ridgewood.

Noting that JPMorgan Chase chairman Jamie Dimon grew up in Jackson Heights, Dromm said creating plaza space in all of the city’s neighborhoods is a social justice and economic justice issue. “Our communities deserve to have plazas just as much as the communities where there are large corporate sponsors,” he said. Dromm’s staff is already working with merchants around Diversity Plaza to raise money. ”We need to add to the $800,000 for each of the plazas,” he said. “We want people to literally get to buy in to this program.”

Read more: http://www.streetsblog.org/2013/11/26/800000-from-chase-to-help-maintain-up-to-20-plazas-over-two-years/

Queens Gazette: Dromm Joins Jackson Heights Beautification Group For Diversity Plaza Clean UP

Councilmember Daniel Dromm joined theJackson Heights Beautification Group and many community members to clean up 74th and 73rd streets and Diversity Plaza on Saturday.

About 30 residents, students and community leaders picked up trash, planted daffodil bulbs and mums in the planters and tree wells and added mulch and compost to the tree wells.

“Keeping our streets and Diversity Plaza, which has become an essential community gathering space, clean is important for insuring a high quality of life for Jackson Heights residents,” Dromm said. “I thank the Jackson HeightsBeautification Group for organizing the event.”

read more: http://www.qgazette.com/news/2013-10-23/Front_Page/Dromm_Joins_Jackson_Heights_Beautification_Group_F.html

DNAinfo: Diversity Plaza to Get More Seating and Improved Lighting

Councilman Dromm and the DOT will contribute a combined $2.5 million to improve the plaza. photo: Veronica C./Foursquare

By Katie Honan

JACKSON HEIGHTS — A local pedestrian plaza will be getting more seats, better lighting and maps — and the community will have the chance to vote on even more improvements — thanks to funding from the area’s councilman and the city.

City Councilman Daniel Dromm announced plans to allocate $500,000 from his discretionary funds to pay for improvements to Diversity Plaza, which is on 37th Road between 73rd and 74th streets in Jackson Heights.

The plaza will receive additional seating, improved lighting and community maps with directions to the plaza once it becomes permanent, he said.

“These improvements will go a long way to build out an asset that our community has come to adopt as a town square,” Dromm said.

In addition to the funds from Dromm’s office, the Department of Transportation has earmarked $2 million to make even more changes to the plaza — changes which residents will be able to discuss and vote on at a meeting later this fall.

The money could go towards things like an improved street structure and a public pay toilet, the councilman said.

“Diversity Plaza is a result of tremendous community effort, from the intensive transportation planning sessions that developed it, to the efforts of the local merchants and civic groups that are now sustaining it,” said Andy Wiley-Schwartz, an assistant commissioner at the DOT.

The street was closed and turned into a pedestrian plaza in 2011. It is currently in its temporary design phase, but the additional money will help transition it into a permanent space.

http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20131014/jackson-heights/diversity-plaza-get-more-seating-improved-lighting

 

Ny1: Touring Daniel Dromm’s District

NY1 VIDEO: The Road to City Hall’s Errol Louis visited City Councilman Daniel Dromm’s 25th city council district in Queens.

Ny1: Local Leaders Dedicate New Public Park To Queens Boy Who Died Last Year

NY1 VIDEO: Several leaders gathered on Monday to dedicate a new public park in Jackson Heights to 12-year old Rory Staunton, a Queens boy who passed away last year from septic shock.

http://www.ny1.com/content/pages/189409/local-leaders-dedicate-new-public-park-to-queens-boy-who-died-last-year

NY1: MTA Considers Reopening Elmhurst LIRR Station

NY1 VIDEO: Working with Congressman Crowley and City Council Member Dromm, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is considering reopening a shuttered Long Island Rail Road station in Elmhurst, and is seeking residents’ feedback before making a decision via Elmhurst Travel Surveys.

See more at: http://queens.ny1.com/content/top_stories/184305/mta-considers-reopening-elmhurst-lirr-station–seeks-residents–input/#sthash.Mq0IKyT8.dpuf

NY Daily News: Ice cream truck ‘turf wars’ hit sour note

From NY Daily News: By Joe Stepansky


Jackson Heights residents aren’t sweet on playground-invading ice cream trucks or their late-night rounds.

Increasingly aggressive vendors are encroaching on play places and blasting jingles deep into the night, residents said.

But the drivers say that unpermitted push-cart vendors are eating into their sales, prompting them to adopt hard-sell tactics to make ends meet.

“These ice cream truck turf wars have had a negative impact on the community because we have to deal with their negative behavior,” said City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), who asked the police to crack down on the aggressive behavior at a recent meeting with officials at the 115th Precinct.

The Parks Department forbids ice cream trucks from operating near playgrounds unless they have a permit, which is issued through a competitive bid, an agency official said.

But trucks are blatantly flouting the rule, including at Travers Park, polluting the air with emissions, residents said.

In July, a Mr. Softee truck pulled into the 78th St. play street next to Travers Park after moving a barricade, said Kabir Ahmed, 22, a play street supervisor hired by a local civic group.

“I was so frustrated,” said Ahmed, who called the cops after the truck driver refused to leave for three hours. “It’s annoying to smell all that gas. … That’s a health hazard.”

The Parks Department granted only one vending permit for Travers Park, to Mr. Softee, but it was limited to 34th Ave., an agency spokesman said.

Pushcarts often roll up into the play street, said Ahmed, prompting ice cream trucks to follow.

Increased competition is pushing drivers to the limit, said Soft Ice Cream truck driver, Marco Neira, 52, who has made the Jackson Heights rounds for 23 years.

In other years, Neira said, an average day would yield up to $800 after expenses. This summer, he has averaged $300.

“The illegal vendors plus the [Health Department] inspectors — they’re killing our business,” said Neira. “We work till 10 or 11 o’clock at night to make some money.”

But the post-dusk jingles have neighbors up in arms, said resident Dudley Stewart, 40.

“It’s woken up my kids,” he said.

Ice cream trucks are permitted to play their jingles at any time while in motion, but residents can complain to 311, a spokesman for the city Department of Environmental Protection said.

Dromm urged drivers to use more discretion.

“The competitiveness doesn’t mean people should be rude,” he said.