Residents File Class Action Suit Against MTA Over Lead Paint on 7 Train

By Matt McClure
Reported by NY1 on Monday, May 22, 2017 at 08:05 PM

Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 11.06.10 PMA group of Jackson Heights residents has filed a class action lawsuit against the MTA. They say lead paint chips falling from the elevated 7 train line pose a public health hazard. NY1’s Matt McClure filed the following report.

Standing under the elevated 7 train along Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights you can’t help but notice it: Paint chipping and falling away.

“I have two small kids,” said Dudley Stewart, a Jackson Heights resident and one of the plaintiffs in the case. “

Every day we walk through Roosevelt Avenue and I get worried because you see the dust falling from the train. We know it’s filled with lead aint.”

A recent study by a painter’s union found lead levels in paint chips here were more than 40 times the legal threshold.

Now, four Jackson Heights residents have joined together in a federal class action lawsuit against the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), calling on the agency to fix the problem.

“This is something the MTA has known about for years,” Steward said. “We want them to fix it. They refuse to fix it. Now is the time to force them to do it.”

“When all other avenues have failed, we believe that this lawsuit will then force the MTA to cure this hazard, which has existed for too long,” said attorney Dan Woodard, who represents the plaintiffs.

Among other things, the lawsuit accuses the agency of intentionally causing dangerous conditions by painting the structure with lead paint, then not maintaining it. City Council Member Daniel Dromm says it’s a public health hazard. He also believes it’s been 35 years since the structure between Woodside and Corona has received a fresh coat of paint.

“They keep telling us it’s in the budget,” Dromm said. “We’ve not seen it painted.”

Tammy Rose, an area resident involved in the lawsuit says the structural conditions of the elevated 7 line are so bad, one day as she was driving down Roosevelt Avenue, a bolt fell and hit her car.

“If a bolt falls off, imagine the amount of paint chips that are falling that we don’t see,” Rose said.

“You can see the structure is in very bad shape,” Dromm added. “I’m surprised it hasn’t fallen down!”

The MTA does not comment on pending litigation, but a spokesperson says their previous tests showed lead levels within EPA standards. The spokesperson also denies that it has been 35 years since the bridge has been painted, although they didn’t say when it happened. There is money in the agency’s current Capital Plan for the painting, but there’s no word on when it might happen.

For the residents who filed this lawsuit, it can’t come soon enough.

See more here.

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.

Dromm Delivers Safer Pedestrian Crossing for 37th Avenue

David Sargent, Joseph Ricevuto, Jacqueline Sung, and NYC Council Member Daniel Dromm cross 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights.

David Sargent, Joseph Ricevuto, Jacqueline Sung, and NYC Council Member Daniel Dromm cross 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights.

Jackson Heights, NY – NYC Council Member Daniel Dromm was successful in securing a new traffic safety measure called Leading Pedestrian Intervals, which gives walkers a head start before cars get the light to make turns across the crosswalk, along 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights. Pedestrians will now have an additional seven seconds to cross the street without any vehicular movement.

In February, more than 150 concerned residents packed the Jackson Heights Jewish Center for a pedestrian safety town hall meeting in the wake of the death of 67-year-old Henry Boimel, a resident of 35th Avenue, who was struck and killed by an Uber driver while crossing 37th Avenue at 76th Street. The meeting was organized by Dromm and featured NYPD officers from the 115th Precinct, representatives from the Queens District Attorney, and officials from the city’s Department of Transportation.

Dromm listened to his constituents about the need for a safer 37th Avenue which is burdened by tremendous congestion and conflicts between vehicles turning and residents walking. Following the event, Dromm wrote the DOT to demand the implementation of the traffic safety measure called Leading Pedestrian Intervals. In response, the NYC Department of Transportation started implementing the measure in the past two weeks. Leading Pedestrian Interval (LPI) typically gives pedestrians a 7 second head start when entering an intersection with a corresponding green signal in the same direction of travel. LPIs enhance the visibility of pedestrians in the intersection and reinforce their right-of-way over turning vehicles, especially in locations with a history of conflict.

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.

Dromm disturbed over illegal conversion of Elmhurst apartment for listing on Airbnb

By Bill Parry

Originally published by the Times Ledger on December 17, 2015

airbnb_2015_12_18_q01_i

Photo by Bill Parry. Two residents convert their three bedroom Elmhurst apartment into 10 small units they listed on Airbnb.

City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) has an Airbnb problem in hisdistrict and he’s not happy about it.

One of his constituents, Eddie Shiew, owns a three-story home in Elmhurst. Shiew recently rented the third floor, a three-bedroom apartment to Burak Firik and Dogan Kimilli for $2,500 a month, according to WPIX. Shiew found that the two renters renovated the unit without his knowledge.

“I went in the next day and found they had turned a three-bedroom into a 10-bedroom apartment,” Shiew told WPIX. Using sheetrock, a construction crew had subdivided each bedroom and then listed the micro-rooms for rent for $35 a night on Airbnb, the house-sharing website.

Shiew brought in workmen to remove the sheetrock, changed the locks on the doors and demanded the two renters leave.

“They went to court and got a court order against me,” Shiew told WPIX. “They said I illegally locked them out.”

Once back on the third floor, the two recreated the spaces for rent on Airbnb using curtains instead of sheetrock. Shiew hired an attorney and is trying to evict them.

“I am deeply disturbed by recent allegations as reported by WPIX of the illegal conversion of a three-bedroom apartment at 88-23 53rd Ave. in Elmhurst into 10 cramped rooms, which were then listed on Airbnb’s website by the renters of the apartment,” Dromm said. “This is yet another example of how Airbnb incentivizes the depletion of affordable housing stock in New York City, exacerbating our already severe housing crisis.”Dromm called on Airbnb to immediately remove the listings for Shiew’s home and other similar listings. Then he called on the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement to launch an investigation of the owner’s complaint.

“We have suspended listings we believe are associated with this story while we investigate and we will take appropriate action,” an Airbnb spokesman said. “Situations like these are rare and we strongly oppose illegal hotels.”

Neither Firik nor Kimilli could be reached for comment.

Read more here.

Western Queens Gazette: Tour Unkempt LIRR Overpass, Demand Improvements


(L. to r.); Christian Cassagnol, district manager, Community Board 4 Queens; Councilmember Daniel Dromm; state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky; Rosemarie Daraio, president, COMET Civic Group; and Geraldine Walsh, treasurer, COMET Civic Group.

State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Flushing); Councilmember Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights); Christian Cassagnol, district manager, Community Board 4 Queens; Rosemarie Daraio, president, COMET Civic Group; and Geraldine Walsh, treasurer, COMET Civic Group, toured the 55th Avenue/Elmhurst Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) overpass with LIRR and Department of Sanitation officials to discuss the unkempt conditions and demand immediate improvements to address the situation.

“This site must be cleaned and made safe for pedestrians,” said Stavisky. “There is no substitute for an on-site visit to see conditions first-hand. Councilmember Dromm and I will continue to monitor the problem.”

“Quality of life issues are vitally important to the growth, strength and happiness of the community,” said Dromm. “Monday’s walk-through hopefully marks the start of a stronger commitment from the LIRR to keep their property clean. I thank the railroad, Senator Stavisky, the Department of Sanitation and the many community activists for working on this issue.”

TimesLedger: LaGuardia plane traffic draws hundreds as NE Queens activists speak

by Bill Parry

When City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) convened a town hall meeting to address the sudden increase in airplane noise from LaGuardia Airport, he was hoping to inform the community how best to complain to authorities.

He was pleased to see representatives of the Port Authority and the Federal Aviation Administration attend along with 100 Jackson Heights and East Elmhurst residents.

“They appeared willing to work with the community with a more transparent approach,” Dromm said.

The meeting took place Monday night at PS 69, at 72-02 37th Ave. to discuss the dramatic increase in airplane traffic since October, when the FAA rerouted flights into and out of LaGuardia without any notice to the community.

“We saw low-flying planes every 30 seconds for 12 straight hours,” Dromm said. “It became a quality-of-life problem and I wanted the community to know how they could self-advocate.”

read more: http://www.timesledger.com/stories/2013/48/drommairplanemeet_tl_2013_11_29_q.html

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/