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Poor oversight on park renovations has cost taxpayers $5M

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The city Parks Department’s shoddy oversight over how private contractors handle department construction projects has cost taxpayers nearly $5 million, including nearly $800,000 at President Trump’s fancy golf course in The Bronx, city Comptroller Scott Stringer said.

“The weaknesses we found in [the department’s] controls over” construction managers “were evidenced by missing and incomplete construction records, flawed designs, delays in obtaining required permits, and instances in which coordination with other agencies and utilities was neglected or ineffective,” Stringer’s office said after conducting a two-year audit ending June 30, 2016.

“Given these deficiencies, [Parks] cannot consistently ensure that [construction managers] are fulfilling their contractual responsibilities to properly monitor construction contractors’ activities and communicate results to [the department].”

Two high-profile, problem-plagued projects are the $237 million Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point and the $54 million restoration of McCarren Park’s pool and bathhouse in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Problems with construction oversight led to 962 days of delays and $785,410 in cost overruns at the public 18-hole golf course, which opened in 2015 and is managed by the Trump Organization, Stringer’s audit found.

Poor oversight also led to 902 days of delays and $932,227 in cost overruns at McCarren Park’s historic Olympic-size pool and bathhouse, it determined.

The Post last year reported that the department is enmeshed in a legal battle with lead contractor Commodore Construction Corp. and other parties who oversaw the rehab of what is widely considered the city’s “crown jewel” pool.

The restoration has turned into a money pit after the pool and bathhouse began falling apart following its 2012 grand reopening.

The city has set aside $14 million for a future project it hopes will fix the existing structural problems.

Other agency projects that allegedly drained taxpayers through shoddy management included construction of a carousel and a bikeway in Battery Park.

The carousel project, overseen by the LiRo Group, saw an additional 208 percent increase in projected costs.

Following 1,199 days of construction delays, costs rose by $928,575, to $1,374,975.

Some reasons for the delays included problems contractors had obtaining a building permit and incomplete designs.

The bikeway project saw a hike of $814,304 in projected costs following 599 days of delays.

The audit covered 69 projects, 27 of which were not completed on schedule.

The department said it “disagrees with the report and many of its findings and conclusions.”

It also said the sampled projects accounted for just 6 percent of the its projects in the audit period.

Source: https://nypost.com/2018/06/25/poor-oversight-on-park-renovations-have-cost-taxpayers-5m/

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Couple arrested in fatal 2016 attack on Long Island woman

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A former New York City correction officer and his 21-year-old girlfriend have been charged in the fatal beating of the woman’s mother on Long Island.

Nassau County police say 27-year-old Ralph Keppler and 21-year-old Francesca Kiel, both of Lynbrook, were arrested Sunday on murder charges.

Police say the victim, 56-year-old Theresa Kiel, was brutally attacked and struck in the face with a metal barbell at her apartment in Long Beach in December of 2016. She lost and eye and remained in a vegetative state until she died this Saturday.
Prosecutors had alleged the motive to be a business dispute.

Keppler had been charged back in January with attempted murder and assault and was out on bail. His lawyer says he’s innocent.

Information on Francesca Kiel’s lawyer wasn’t immediately available. Both Defendants were scheduled to be arraigned on Monday in First District Court in Hempstead.

Source: http://www.fox5ny.com/news/couple-arrested-in-2016-attack

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Woman Beaten in Subway Station by Man Yelling Racially Charged Words: Family, Police

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A woman was punched and stabbed when she got off the subway in Brooklyn by a man yelling racially charged words, her family and police said.

The victim, 57-year-old Ann Marie Washington, was hospitalized Sunday after having surgery for a collapsed lung due to the stabbing, her family told NBC 4 New York.

Washington, a mother of two, was on her way home from work Friday evening and had just stepped off the subway at the Church Avenue stop in Brooklyn when she was attacked, advocates said.

The man, who was white, punched her in the mouth and stabbed her in the chest while calling her a “black b—-,” advocates said. Washington, who is black, is a native of Trinidad.
The attacker fled on a Q train, police said. The victim said he appeared to be in his early 30s, about 5-feet, 3-inches tall, and wearing grey and black sweatpants and a black hooded sweatshirt.

Police didn’t initially call the attack a hate crime, leading to outrage from neighborhood advocates who held a news conference Sunday.

“If this was a white resident, a new gentrifier to this neighborhood, there would be swarms of cops here,” said Imani Henry of Equality for Flatbush. “But when it is a black person who is attacked by a white racist, there isn’t anything.”
Afterward, the NYPD said its Hate Crimes Taskforce would look into it. Police said they didn’t have all the details at the time the crime was reported.

Washington didn’t realize she had been stabbed until she got home, advocates said. Even then, she thought she had been scratched in the chest until she woke up the next morning, said Kenzia Bernard Nau, a witness and a neighborhood advocate.

Advocates said witnesses shot video and there should be surveillance video of the suspect, but police haven’t released it.
“The fact that the video isn’t out right now, this is completely insane,” Bernard Nau said. “This is going to keep happening.”

Source: https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Woman-Beaten-in-Subway-Station-by-Man-Yelling-Racially-Charged-Words-Family-500238922.html

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It’s back: NYC’s rare Mandarin duck makes grand return to Central Park

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The Mandarin duck that has caused crowds of people from around the world to flock to Central Park has made its grand return after a brief disappearance.

The duck, native to Asia, was first spotted in the Central Park Pond at 60th Street and 5th Avenue on Oct. 10. Tourists and New Yorkers alike couldn’t resist the urge to see the bird for themselves and headed to the park in search of the rare bird.

After making appearances at multiple bodies of water in the area, some cried “fowl play” when the bird seemed to suddenly disappear earlier this week.

The NYC Parks Department released the following statement:

“While we are not tracking the Mandarin duck, we’ve noted that he’s appeared healthy and has regularly moved between water bodies in Central Park. We don’t know his exact location at this time. Almost all ducks migrate seasonally. While we’re happy to have had him visit our parks, it’s important to remember that at some point he may leave New York for warmer temperatures.”

As long as the duck doesn’t appear injured or in need of care, rangers will not make an attempt to capture it.

“While it’s exciting to spot such a rare bird in NYC’s backyard, like every other celebrity sighting, New Yorkers should know to give him space and not to disturb him,” Deputy Director of the Urban Park Rangers John McCoy said.

It remains a mystery how exactly the duck ended up in Central Park. There has been some speculation he may have formerly been a pet, but he has since effortlessly been adopted into the park’s urban flock.

By Thursday afternoon, social media was abuzz with the bird’s return to its home base in the park.

Source: https://abc7ny.com/pets-animals/its-back-mandarin-duck-makes-grand-return-to-central-park/4648131/

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