The Newtown Pentacle

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Announcing a new walking tour, the Skillman Corridor.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Obscura Day is Atlas Obscura’s global outing, and this year I’m going to be offering a new walking tour that has been in the works for awhile now – The Skillman Avenue Corridor. This will explore the southern border of the Sunnyside Yards, descending from the heights of Sunnyside to the flood plain of the Newtown Creek’s tributary Dutch Kills.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As long time readers of this, your Newtown Pentacle, know – Skillman Avenue is one of my “happy hunting grounds” for photographic pursuits. Those of you who share the same obsessions with infrastructure and photography thereof that possess me will find this an immensely satisfying experience. Along the way, the history of Sunnyside Yards and the industrial giants which surround it will be explored.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

We will also be visiting Dutch Kills next weekend with Atlas Obscura (May 16, see the link below), on the 13 steps tour, which was actually premiered on Obscura Day several years ago. The Skillman Corridor is the first of several new tours which I’m conjuring up that aren’t directly “Newtown Creek” oriented which will occur in LIC, btw.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

May 16, 2015 –
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills with Atlas Obscura

with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for details and tickets.

May 30, 2015 –
The Skillman Corridor with Atlas Obscura

with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for details and tickets.

May 31, 2015 –
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee and Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for tickets.

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A line in the sand, at the Sunnyside Yards, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Examinations of the plans elicited by the Mayor of New York City, a self professed “progressive” who has puzzlingly embraced the dream of Michael Bloomberg’s right hand man Dan Doctoroff to deck over the Sunnyside Yards, are disturbing. The scale of the project is frankly Federal in size, and the amount of debt which would be absorbed by the municipality in pursuit of it… conservative estimates would place the cost of the deck – just the deck – at around 200 billion dollars. That’s based on the $20 billion it’s costing to deck the relatively tiny 26.17 Hudson Yards. According to documents obtained from official sources, the Sunnyside Yards project would encompass some 200 acres. Do the math.

Remember, that number you just calculated is only for the deck.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Sunnyside Yards are not connected to the City’s sewer grid. The Sunnyside Yards are not connected to the electrical, gas, or water delivery systems. The 11.2 thousand “affordable” apartments which the Mayor is using to sell this project are part of an 80/20 project. As City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer recently stated, and as reported at,

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer told members of the Hunters Point Civic Association on Tuesday that 70,000 to 80,000 units might need to be built in order to attract developers to construct the affordable units.

“To get to the 11,200-odd…the number of units could be as high as 70,000 to 80,000 on Sunnyside Yards,” Van Bramer said, since developers typically require market rate apartments to offset the cost of constructing affordable units.

This would result in “a massive, massive development on the scale we have never seen before in western Queens that will affect Long Island City, Astoria, Sunnyside and Woodside,” he said.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The thing that no one seems to be discussing, however, is infrastructure. $200 billion would build you around 175 Kosciuszko Bridges. It could also build you around 20 sewer plants. What we’re not talking about are hospital beds, nor Police, Fire, Sanitation, School desks, and all the other municipal services that would accompany a build out of this scale. City Planning works off of a formula which speculates that the lifetime of any new residential building is 35 years. Does NYC have the budget to support the municipal services for this new population over the next 35 years, and shouldn’t we be calculating that as part of the cost of this project?

80,000 apartments would bring 150-200,000 new people into our community. The population of Albany, for instance is 98,424 (as of 2013).

Governor Andrew Cuomo has stated that he’s against the Mayor’s plan. That’s because Andrew Cuomo is from Queens. Talk to anyone in Queens, and they’ll agree with him. This plan is entirely about Manhattan, and the singular question which I’m continually asking is:

How, in any way, would this be good for Queens?

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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