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August 19, 2018

Blaze on New York's Fire Island destroys 2 well-known gay resort landmarks; firefighters hurt

By Frank Eltman, The Associated Press

MINEOLA, N.Y. – An early morning blaze on Fire Island destroyed several structures, including two well-known landmarks in a historic gay resort, and required dozens of firefighters to respond by ferry from the mainland of Long Island, fire and police officials said Friday.

The fire, which was reported at about 1:30 a.m., ruined an apartment complex known as Holly House, as well as the Grove Hotel, and left three firefighters with minor injuries, said Craig Williams, Cherry Grove assistant fire chief. A nightclub attached to the hotel called the Ice Palace avoided serious damage, Williams said.

Cherry Grove has been known since the late 1940s as a sanctuary where gay writers, actors and businesspeople from New York City and beyond escape to relax, hold hands and show affection in public.

“This is the largest fire we have had here in well over a decade,” said Williams, a volunteer who lives near Hackensack, New Jersey, and drove to Long Island early Friday to respond to the blaze.

The Suffolk County police arson squad and the town of Brookhaven’s fire marshal’s office were conducting routine investigations to determine the cause.

Two private homes were destroyed and three others also were damaged, Williams said. None of the structures or homes near the downtown business district in the primarily summer beach community was occupied.

The nearby Cherry Grove Community House and Theater, which opened in 1948 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2013, was not damaged, Williams said.

More than 100 firefighters from 22 departments responded to the blaze; some were taken by the Sayville Ferry Service across the Great South Bay to the scene on the barrier island about 60 miles east of Manhattan. It was not immediately clear whether the time to cross the bay to fight the fire contributed to the amount of damage inflicted by the blaze.

Williams and others noted that the historic Cherry Grove community, like many of the hamlets and villages along the 30-mile long barrier island 5 miles off the southern shore of Long Island, is primarily deserted this time of year.

“Thank God it wasn’t the height of the season,” Diane Romano, president of the Cherry Grove Community Association, told The Associated Press after touring the devastation Friday afternoon. “Everyone would not have gotten out of that hotel. It is devastating and will take a lot of work to build it back, but the spirit of the people in Cherry Grove is very strong and we’re all going to help each other.”

Notable Cherry Grove visitors and residents have included poet W.H. Auden; playwright Tennessee Williams; author Truman Capote; actresses Nancy Walker, Tallulah Bankhead and Hermione Gingold; comedian Kaye Ballard; and New Yorker journalist Janet Flanner.

Source article – 

Blaze on New York's Fire Island destroys 2 well-known gay resort landmarks; firefighters hurt

LaGuardia Airport Could Be A Lot Easier To Get To If This $450 Million Plan For A New AirTrain Goes Through

JFK AirTrain Getty/Spencer Platt The JFK AirTrain putters along its three-mile track. Long maligned as the New York City airport least accessible by mass transit, LaGuardia may finally be getting the transportation options it needs.

In a speech that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave Tuesday morning, he loosely laid out a plan for an AirTrain to connect LaGuardia Airport with the 7 train of the New York City subway and the Port Washington Branch of the Long Island Rail Road, via the Grand Central Parkway.

“You can’t get to LaGuardia by train there and that really is inexcusable,” Cuomo said, according to the New York Observer. “And that we’re going to change over the next several years.”

The point of connection would be at Mets-Willets Point Station, about a mile and a half from the airport via the top of Grand Central Parkway. It would be a 30-minute ride on the subway from Grand Central Station in midtown Manhattan.

Cuomo’s administration has been quoted as saying the project will cost roughly $450 million to build and take about five years to construct. However, those figures have been criticized by transit advocates as optimistic considering the ballooning price of capital projects in New York City.

Another point of criticism is the proposed route. The 7 train is already notoriously crowded, the trains are narrower the ones that connect to the AirTrain to JFK Airport, and using Willets Point Station as the terminal for the AirTrain would necessitate a circular route from Manhattan — one that would take an estimated 50 minutes, transit advocates note.

AirTrainSkitch2 Google Maps

The question remains how Cuomo will be able to finance the $450 million construction of an AirTrain for LaGuardia when he still hasn’t figured out what to do with the MTA’s $15 billion budget gap.

Another concern is that Cuomo declined to put a timeline on the construction of the new train, saying he “would not venture a guess as to timing.”

7 train Flickr/Tim Adams Under Cuomo’s plan, the AirTrain would connect to the 7 train of the subway at Willets Point.

The Global Gateway Alliance, a group of business leaders interested in airport improvements, praised the plan but chastised Cuomo for his failure to set a timeline.

“We do not need words or speeches; we need action — both on the state and federal level — to provide a budget and timeline quickly,” GGA said in a statement.

We’ll have to wait and see if the dream can become reality.

NOW WATCH: The New Mercedes Driverless Car Even Has The Driver’s Seat Facing Away From The Road

 

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LaGuardia Airport Could Be A Lot Easier To Get To If This $450 Million Plan For A New AirTrain Goes Through

NBA commissioner, ex-stars in NYC Marathon relay

NEW YORK (AP) — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will run the first three miles of the New York City Marathon on Sunday as part of a 24-person relay of basketball luminaries.

Dikembe Mutombo will cross the finish line for the group, which is trying to encourage kids to exercise.

Silver said Monday that he will run over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge from Staten Island to Brooklyn then pass a baton to Chris Mullin, the Brooklyn native who starred at St. John’s in Queens before a Hall of Fame NBA career.

Mullin, now an executive with the Sacramento Kings, will be followed by a long list of big-name players to cover the 26.2 miles.

Most also have local ties, including Bronx native and fellow Hall of Famer Nate “Tiny” Archibald; Knicks greats Charles Oakley, Bernard King and Allan Houston; the Nets’ Darryl Dawkins; Brooklyn native Sam Perkins; and New York City high school legends Felipe Lopez and Albert King.

Also running is Jason Collins, who made history last season with the Nets as the first openly gay player in the four major North American pro sports leagues.

WNBA stars Swin Cash, Teresa Edwards, Ruth Riley and Katie Smith are on the relay along with players-turned-NBA TV analysts Greg Anthony and Steve Smith.

Rounding out the group are executives from the league, Knicks and Nets and broadcaster Mike Breen.

Each celebrity will be joined on his or her one-mile leg with a local student who takes part in marathon organizer New York Road Runners’ youth programs. Silver will run alongside Lauren Pitarresi, a 14 year-old from Staten Island, “who I’m concerned is going to smoke me,” he joked.

Silver is an avid runner who has twice completed the NYC Marathon, finishing in just under four hours in both 2002 and 2010. He competed in track and cross country — and not basketball — in high school in Rye, New York, where he was a quarter- and half-miler.

The 52-year-old Silver hasn’t been running as much since he became commissioner in February. He still gets in four or five workouts a week, often taking two laps around the reservoir in Central Park for just over three miles.

He’s not in good enough shape to do the full race Sunday, though it’s a strange sensation as a marathoner to stop after only a few miles.

“I felt awkward running only a leg of the marathon and not the entire marathon, having remembered some famous New York stories of people who started and didn’t necessarily finish,” Silver said.

Plans for the relay began in the early spring. New York is home to this season’s NBA All-Star weekend, with events at the Nets’ Brooklyn arena and the game at Madison Square Garden.

The league is seeking to reach a half-million youngsters in the five boroughs through fitness programs in conjunction with hosting the festivities.

Silver will start just after Wave 1 on Sunday. He needs to be ready to leave his home on Manhattan’s West Side at 6 a.m. to get to Staten Island, though he said he’s “negotiating” a later pick-up.

Other participants will gather at a hotel in Manhattan or another in Brooklyn to be ferried to their baton-passing points, which will take place at mile-markers.

Twenty-seven vehicles will be required to get everybody to the proper places, with coordination from the New York Police Department to ensure they can be transported through the crowded streets.

Marathon officials expect the relay to take more than five hours.

Source – 

NBA commissioner, ex-stars in NYC Marathon relay

Where retreating from rising seas is the only option

By Deborah J. Nelson and Duff Wilson

SAXIS, Virginia (Reuters) – This town on Chesapeake Bay is losing three to five feet (1 to 1.5 meters) of shoreline a year and suffered damage during hurricane Sandy. But like hundreds of rural communities along the coast, it is competing with much larger, more powerful neighbors for public funds to bankroll a response to rising seas.

Coastal engineers say communities have three options for dealing with rising water levels and increased flooding: defend the shoreline with natural or man-made barriers; adapt, such as by raising roads and buildings; or retreat.

New York City is planning a $20 billion mix of defense and adaptation measures – most notably, construction of “The Big U,” a 10-mile (16-km) fortress of berms and movable walls around lower Manhattan. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office says three-quarters of the money needed over the next decade is already in hand from federal, state and local sources.

For places like Saxis, population 240, the options are more stark:  retreat now or retreat later.

Many Saxis residents – watermen who harvest oysters, crabs and fish, and seafood industry workers – trace their ancestry to settlers in the 1600s and speak a language peppered with Elizabethan inflections. Some don’t hold out much hope for the future.

“Little places like us, there’s not going to be any help for us because whatever resources are available will be sucked up by the big cities to try to defend them,” said Grayson Chesser, a decoy carver, hunting guide and Accomack County supervisor.

Belinda, a nearby village where his grandfather was born, is one of several he cites that no longer exist, abandoned when frequent flooding made them uninhabitable. Families relocated to higher ground, where he resides today, but now it’s flooding, too.

A decade ago, Saxis managed to get federal approval for a $3.2 million U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project to build eight breakwaters that would slow the sea’s advance. But the town couldn’t scrape together its required contribution of nearly $1 million, so the plan was killed.

The 700 residents of Tangier Island, a better-known historic Chesapeake enclave, waited nearly two decades for $4.2 million in state and federal money to build a 430-foot-long seawall, jetty and stone revetment. The project is scheduled to be finished by 2017.

“It’s becoming more and more competitive for federal funds in terms of protecting communities,” said Curtis Smith, a planner with the Accomack-Northampton Planning District. So Saxis is “competing with Miami and New York and Virginia Beach.”

Virginia Beach, with a population of 438,000, has been the recipient of a federally funded seawall and two major sand projects totaling more than $150 million since 1996.

Some Saxis residents have raised their houses to reduce the risk of flood damage. But that’s only a partial solution if the roads that connect them to grocery stores, hospitals and schools become impassable, Smith said.

There, too, rural areas compete for funding with more heavily trafficked urban areas.

Accomack County has more miles of road in jeopardy from rising sea levels than anywhere else in Virginia, a state study found. On the harder hit Chesapeake Bay side, some spots now flood nearly every full moon.

The Virginia Department of Transportation is struggling with the question of how to combat increased flooding in “low-volume, low-population areas,” said Chris Isdell, the department’s representative in Accomack County. “You’re trying to fight back Mother Nature. … How do you do that in a roadway that sits at sea level?”

Saxis residents may eventually have to face up to the same hard fate Chesser’s grandfather’s community did and abandon their homes.

“I wish I could say I thought Saxis would be saved, but there’s no way. It costs so much money,” Chesser said. “And even if you spend the money, I don’t’ think you can do it. I mean you just can’t beat the ocean. You’re going to lose every time.”

(Edited by John Blanton)

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Where retreating from rising seas is the only option