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Feb 13, 2014
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BRONX NEWS: Bad weather delays opening of Bronx’s new Marriott hotel


COMMUNITY leaders, the borough president, the city and even the MTA jumped on board to support the development of the borough’s first brand-name hotel to be built in decades.


Mother Nature, however, missed the memo.


Construction of a Marriott Residence Inn at the Hutchinson Metro Center — the Bronx’s first major hotel in decades — has been delayed by bad weather.


The builders — who boasted last June that their project was on schedule — are now shooting to have the 125-room hotel online in September, said Joseph Kelleher, president and COO of the center.


“In our original schedule, we were going to open in May of this year,” Kelleher told the Daily News. “But with Sandy and the cold weather, there’s been a lot of delays.”


The city’s Department of Buildings bans construction on excessively windy days, and concrete doesn’t set well in the below-average temperatures that New York City has experienced this winter, Kelleher said.


“And then (with) Sandy, the utility companies, they’ve have been very busy in trying to beef up our system,” Kelleher said. “By September 1st, this hotel will be open for business.”


Once completed, the Residence Inn will sit atop a mixed-use complex called The Atrium, which will also be home to LA Fitness, a conference center and 200,000 square feet of medical and office space. Dunkin’ Donuts has snapped up space in the complex, and the developer is in talks with Applebee’s as well, Kelleher said.


The project is expected to bring about 1,800 permanent jobs to the Bronx, officials said.


Officials and civic leaders across the borough touted the need for a lodging in an area that’s close to three hospitals and loses many would-be guests to Westchester and other northern suburbs.


Metro North broached the possibility of adding a new train station at the site, and economic development bigwigs predicted the project could entice other hotels to open up in the Bronx.


“This is a really special project,” Kelleher said. “This really puts the finishing touches on everything else we’ve created in our office complex. We needed a hotel.”


jcunningham@nydailynews.com

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Feb 7, 2014
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BRONX NEWS: Parks Department to spend $19G to track deer in city parks


The Parks Department is spending thousands of dollars to count deer prancing through city parks.


The ,000 census — the first of its kind — will monitor deer at four parks in the Bronx and 12 in Staten Island.


“This survey is the first step in developing a management plan for NYC’s deer population,” department spokeswoman Tara Kiernan said in a statement.


“The results will be used to establish a baseline population number, which can then be monitored over time to see how populations are changing,” she said.


The deer population has grown in several regions of central and western New York in recent years.


There are no statistics on how many deer roam the five boroughs. Two years ago, a skittish doe was spotted running wild outside a Bronx housing project.


Some parks advocates were left scratching their heads about why the city would spend thousands of dollars on deer tracking.


“Occasionally, you’ll find a deer, but we’ve certainly never heard of it being an issue,” said Geoffrey Croft of NYC Park Advocates. “That just seems like a bizarre thing to spend money on with all the problems we have in our parks.”


But Christina Taylor, executive director of the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, said the animals frequently travel down from Westchester County’s bucolic suburbs and cross the border into the Bronx.


“This is something (the city) needs to start keeping an eye on,” she said.


An independent contractor will conduct the aerial survey, which is expected to take place as early as Saturday. The spokeswoman did not say which group had been awarded the contract to do the work.


The contractor will use an infrared camera mounted to a small, low-flying plane to detect the deer, according to Kiernan. The NYPD put out an advisory alerting residents that the plane will fly at about 1,000 feet high.


The ,000 tab includes the survey design, the flights, crew support, mapping and data analysis, she said.


clestch@nydailynews.com

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Feb 6, 2014
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BRONX NEWS: Bronx men who threw snowball at cop reach deal with city

Five young men in the Bronx who filed a million false arrest suit against the NYPD after a cop claimed they bombarded him with snowballs settled their case Thursday.

The terms of the settlement in Bronx Supreme Court weren’t released.

Sgt. Adonis Ramirez, who pulled his gun on the group after just one snowball struck him in February 2010, had the group arrested.

The charges against the five, who were between the ages of 15 and 22 when they were arrested, were later dropped by the Bronx district attorney’s office after video surfaced contradicting Ramirez’ account.

“We wanted to bring the bad cop to light,” said snowball plaintiff Manuel Rondon, 22.

“I’m just going to be saving,” he said when asked what he planned to do with the money. “And keep goign to school and working.”

Attorney Neil Wollerstein said he was thrilled about the settlement.

“It was an excellent resolution to the case,” he said.

Anthony Aquino, 19, said he was relieved over the settlement.

RELATED: ‘SNOWBALL FIVE’ LAWSUIT: NYPD OFFICER ADMITS SHE DIDN’T WRITE DOWN ‘SNOWBALL’ AS WEAPON.

“I’m just happy that we got justice,” he said.

His mother, Clemencia Aquino, added in Spanish: “I wanted justice more than money.”

The plaintiffs were apparently wise to settle.

Juror Keith Davis, 50, said four of the six on the panel were leaning towards the city.

But he said he was in the minority and wanted to rule in favor of the five plaintiffs. Although he thought they hit the cop.

“I thought he should have had more patience,” Davis said of Ramirez.

He said a majority of the jurors thought the kids were causing trouble throwing snowballs at people and cars.

“Some didn’t want to give anything,” he said. “Our numbers were way low.”

He said they were on the verge of reaching a verdict when the settlement was reached.

mfeeney@nydailynews.com

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Feb 5, 2014
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BRONX NEWS: A Bronx bar has not taken a day off in 45 years

Here’s a Bronx milestone that would make the great Lou Gehrig proud. Babe Ruth would be pretty buzzed, too.

The Jolly Tinker in Bedford Park is about to celebrate its 45th birthday.

Gehrig, it will be recalled, played in 2,130 consecutive games for the Bronx Bombers. That makes the Jolly Tinker the Iron Horse of Irish pubs.

The proud Prendergast family, which has owned the watering hole the entire time, says it has been open 16,433 consecutive days — and counting.

That includes Christmases, blackouts, blizzards, births, deaths, riots and more.

“We had a fire in 1985 and even then we were able to reopen half a day later,” said Michael Prendergast Jr., 48, who claims the Tinker is also the only bar in the Bronx to be owned by a single family for all these years.

With the exception of the Yankee Tavern, which opened in 1928, it’s also the oldest bar, period.

Since opening its doors on Feb. 8, 1969, beer and spirits have flowed every single day without fail, seven days a week, from 8 a.m. until 4 a.m.

And the bar doesn’t shy away from its age.

The wood and stone walls are seemingly held up by relics of Bronx and Irish history, police and fire fighter memorabilia, and photographs from earlier times.

“It doesn’t look like the ritziest place in the world,” said second generation regular Cunningham McKillop, 42. “But it’s the people that make it what it is.”

And, McKillop said, the Prendergasts have made the bar a home away from home for so many faithful patrons.

Michael Prendergast Sr., a retired firefighter who emigrated from County Waterford in Ireland, opened the bar at 2875 Webster Ave. back when the Bedford area was ripe with many of his thirsty fellow countrymen.

His wife, Mary, decided the place should be named after one of her favorite Clancy Brothers tunes.

The bar quickly became a meeting place for transplants from the Emerald Isle in an area that was so saturated with the Irish in the 1980s that it was often called “Little Belfast.”

While many of the blue collar bars in the Bedford and Norwood areas — such as Gorman’s and McMahon’s — have shuttered, the Tinker has held on.

“It’s a family business and that’s a dying breed,” the younger Prendergast said.

And the kegs won’t be running dry any time soon.

Fordham students, cops and firefighters from the nearby stations, and a bevy of local characters, still call the corner bar home.

“We see the sons and daughters of our original customers mixing with students from Fordham,” Prendergast said. “It’s been quite an achievement.”

The second generation publican said the bar will host a birthday bash this Saturday featuring a mix of live music, drink specials and a special Bronx trivia game with prizes.

“All are welcome,” Prendergast said. “We’re going to get together and pay tribute to those who have made this place what it is.”

dslattery@nydailynews.com

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Feb 2, 2014
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BRONX NEWS: Happy birthday: St. Lucia’s turns 35

The plans are out for the official New York celebration of St. Lucia’s 35th anniversary of independence.

Of course, there will be independent commemorations held throughout the metropolitan to the island nation’s 1979 independence from Britain, but the St. Lucia Consulate and St. Lucia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations has worked to create a series of affairs with input from New York community organizations and institutions.

Menissa Rambally, St. Lucia’s ambassador to the United Nations, and Consul General Julian DuBois proudly disclosed the independence schedule of events in a Jan. 29 gathering at their Manhattan offices.

The celebratory affairs, which peak with the “Independence 35 Gala” on March 2 in Brooklyn, include a flag-raising, art exhibition and movie screening and special church services.

Happenings begin with the “Independence 35 Gospel Fest,” a free musical concert, at the Advent Fellowship of Brooklyn, 1666 Bergen St. on Feb. 8 at 6 p.m. And an Inaugural Independence Lecture will take place on Feb. 13 at Manhattan Community College, 199 Chambers St., at 6:30 p.m. in the Richard Harris Terrace

The New York premiere of the film “Poetry is An Island,” about the life and work of Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott. The screening will be held on Feb. 16 at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Theater, 1 E. 4nd St. in Manhattan at 3 p.m. Admission is free, but patrons must RSVP.

A very visible display of St. Lucian independence pride will be seen on Feb. 21 when a St. Lucian flag-raising ceremony takes place at Brooklyn Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon St., at 10 a.m.

Another church service, the “Interfaith Celebration” and reception, will be hosted at St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church, 4301 Avenue D, in Brooklyn on Feb. 22 at 5:30 p.m.

The St. Lucia Consulate will host “The Exhibition: St. Lucian Art Collection” from Feb. 24 to 28, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.” The Exhibition” includes an opening reception on Feb. 24 at 6 p.m. and a “Night of Poetry on Feb. 27 at 6 p.m. Admission is free. The consulate is at 800 Second Ave. (between 42nd and 43rd Sts.) in Manhattan.

The celebratory affairs end with the “Independence 35 Gala” on March 2 in Brooklyn at the El Caribe catering hall, 5945 Strickland Ave. Tickets for the event at 5.

A similar program of independence anniversary events, kicked off with a Jan. 24 with a “Christmas Eve Storm Recovery Effort Fundraiser for flood victims in the island nation, being held in in and around Hartford, Connecticut.

For information on the New York or Connecticut events, contact the St. Lucia Consulate at (212) 697-9360 or by email at sluconsulateny@govt.lc.

Affordable rates

Westin St. Maarten Dawn Beach Resort & Spa has a solution to wintery madness thrashing the U.S. – its current “Pays To Stays” offer, which makes it easy for travelers to enjoy prime time, high-season travel at affordable great rates.

Here’s how the deal works: For every night a guest pays regular rate, there’s a 40% savings on the next night. The offer at the 317-room hotel is good through April 30, 2014 and requires a minimum two night stay.

Book online at www.westinstmaaarten.com or call (866) 716-8108 and mention rate plan ZB4. Rates start at 9 per room/double occupancy.

The Westin St. Maarten Dawn Beach Resort & Spa boasts dozens of ocean front, ocean view and island view rooms, luxury condos, and six upscale suites. There’s also full-service European-style Hibiscus spa, fitness room, and on-site casino, the largest infinity pool on the island and a host of water sports activities

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Feb 1, 2014
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BRONX NEWS: Ray of ‘Sunshine’ in Hunts Point

Here’s a ray of entrepreneurial sunshine in a neighborhood that really needed it.

A city-sponsored hub is pedaling promise in Hunts Point, a district that used to be better known for prostitution rings and pushers.

There are no Googles and Facebooks yet, but the New York Economic Development Corp.-sponsored Sunshine Bronx Business Incubator — housed in the landmarked Banknote building on Garrison Ave. — has already registered an impact.

RELATED: MEAT MARKET NEEDS UPGRADE

“The Bronx is fertile ground,” said Joe Carrano, the community manager for Sunshine, adding that in only two years, the 11,000-square-foot space went from nine businesses to 72 startups and 120 workers.

Among the fledgling stars: A Bronx-based wine and rum distributor, a 3D animation and media company and a developer whose tablet-based accounting app got the green light from Apple last fall.

Miguel Sanchez, the founder of 3D animation company Mass Ideation, said the incubator — which resembles a hip SoHo loft — is helping to change the neighborhood for the better.

RELATED: MEAT MARKET NEEDS UPGRADE

“It’s removing the fear of the Bronx,” the 35-year-old Throgs Neck resident said. As one of the first people at Sunshine, he remembers a time when clients were scared to attend meetings in the Bronx.

“Now, it’s cool to come up here,” he said.

Even cooler? His company had a hand in a top-secret ad that will debut during the Super Bowl.

RELATED: STARTUPS THRIVING AT SUNSHINE BRONX BUSINESS INCUBATOR

These start-ups have also benefited from their ready access to Start Small Think Big, a nonprofit group embedded in Sunshine that offers legal and financial advice to inner-city businesses.

In a nod to the palpable sense of community that seems to hold sway here, many of the incubator’s businesses use Workbox Software’s .99 per month iPad accounting app to track their finances. The developer, Bruce Glass, is their neighbor.

Glass, 60, said he found Hunts Point after a fruitless search for office space in his Westchester neighborhood.

“I have no plans to leave,” he said.

bstebner@nydailynews.com

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Feb 1, 2014
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BRONX NEWS: Man gunned down, another wounded by three in Bronx

A 25-year-old man suffering from spina bifida was shot and killed Friday night after three gunmen ambushed him in a Bronx apartment building, officials and witnesses said.

The victim, identified by family members as Darin Capehart, was inside the lobby of the E. 166th St. building near Forest Ave. in the Morrisanna Section of the Bronx when three men entered and started blasting away.

“They were hanging out and three guys come in shooting,” family friend Cordell Scot, 25, told the News. “(Capehart) was shot six times, in the stomach, back, and chest.”

RELATED: BRONX MAN SHOT BOY, 9, IN THE FOOT: COPS

Riddled with bullets, Capehart stumbled outside the building, where he died.

His 26-year-old companion, was shot in the buttocks as he tried to escape the gunfire, police sources said. Paramedics rushed him to Lincoln Hospital with non life-threatening injuries.

The building is part of the Forest Houses.

RELATED: CRIME IN NYC HOUSING PROJECTS UP 7%

Shattered family members said Capehart didn’t live in the building he was murdered in and didn’t know why he was shot.

“He has spina bifida…he couldn’t run,” said one family member, who wished not to be named. “He wasn’t out in the street. He didn’t sell drugs. He just started college. He was studying medical administration.”

Family members said Capehart was very close to his 20-year-old sister, who could be heard wailing from inside the apartment.

The gunmen — one of whom was wearing a red hat and a black jacket — ran off and were still being sought early Saturday.

TTracy@nydailynews.com

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Jan 31, 2014
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BRONX NEWS: Bronx tax preparer gets 6 months for $6M tax fraud

This Mott Haven tax preparer won’t be claiming a refund anytime soon.

Joseph Barrios will serve six months behind bars for filing million in fraudulent returns.

Barrios, the owner of JB Tax, Inc. on E. 138th St., agreed to spend half a year on Rikers Island and refrain from preparing any tax returns for five years in a plea deal made in Bronx County Supreme Court last Thursday.

The state Department of Taxation and Finance audited more than 5,000 returns filed by the preparer from 2009 to 2013, and stopped or recovered more than million in fraudulent refunds claimed on behalf of his clients.

The 50-year-old, who lives in Mahwah, N.J., is due for sentencing April 3, just two weeks before tax filing day.

He also faces a ,000 fine.

“Preparers who betray that trust not only break the law, but jeopardize their clients’ finances,” said Thomas Mattox, commissioner of the state Department of Taxation and Finance, who noted that 70% of New Yorkers pay someone to prepare their returns.

According to the criminal complaint filed with the Bronx district attorney’s office, in 2007 and 2008, Barrios told several undercover investigators that by reporting lower incomes on tax forms they “would not have to pay tens of thousands of dollars in personal income tax.”

In one instance, the fraudster instructed a prospective client to claim only ,317 in income — even though they made more than 5,000.

Under terms of the plea bargain, Barrios agreed to five years’ probation during which he must refrain from preparing any tax returns.

On top of the fraud charges, Barrios and his brother William Barrios were both charged last year with failing to file their own personal and corporate income tax returns from 2005 through 2008.

dslattery@nydailynews.com

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Jan 31, 2014
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BRONX NEWS: Hasidic cop fired because of beard reinstated

The Hasidic cop fired because he said his religious beliefs prohibited him from trimming his facial hair was reinstated and has been assigned to the Bronx, his lawyer said Thursday.

Officer Fishel Litzman was fired in June 2012, a month shy of graduating from the Police Academy, because he refused to adhere to department standards limiting beards to no more than 1 millimeter in length.

RELATED: HASIDIC NYPD RECRUIT A VICTIM OF BIAS: JUDGE

Litzman, 39, a married father of five, went to work as a paramedic to support his family and filed a federal suit to get his job back.

In November, Judge Harold Baer ruled that Litzman was the victim of religious discrimination.

RELATED: YESHIVA U. AT CENTER OF JEWISH PICTURE DRAMA

In December, he ordered Litzman reinstated and billed the city 7,000 in lawyer fees.

Litzman’s first day on patrol in the 46th Precinct was last week, his lawyer Nathan Lewin said.

RELATED: NEW YORK’S STOP-AND-FRISK APPEAL IS ON HOLD

Lewin said the city shortly after the ruling filed its notice to appeal the ruling. He said he is hoping the new administration will drop the appeal.

“I’m very pleased Fishel is back on the police force,’ Lewin said. “He’s going to be a tremendous police officer.

“I have no doubt about that.”

A city Law Department spokesman said, “We are still reviewing our options.”

rparascandola@nydailynews.com

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Jan 30, 2014
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BRONX NEWS: High Bridge rehab delayed

High Bridge has become a bridge too far for the Bronx.

Bad weather and additional construction will force the delay of the reopening of the city’s oldest elevated span for a third time, city officials told the Daily News.

“We’re obviously not happy with it, that for whatever reason this happened to get pushed back,” Jose Rodriguez, district manager of Community Board 4, which includes the High Bridge and its namesake neighborhood.

The city began the million restoration of the landmarked bridge – which straddles the Harlem River connecting Washington Heights and Highbridge – in 2012.

RELATED: HIGH BRIDGE FENCE PLAN RAISES RUCKUS

The  1,200-foot span was originally slated to re-open at the end of last year. It’s opening was rescheduled for this summer. Now, construction won’t be completed until the end of 2014. City officials said this season’s brutal winter coupled with the additional task of repairing the Manhattan Gate House as part of the .plan, is to blame.

“With reconstruction projects of this size and historic significance — the High Bridge is more than 150 years old and nearly a quarter-mile in length — unanticipated factors often affect the construction schedule,” spokesmen for the Department of Parks & Recreation and the city Department of Design & Construction said in a joint statement.

“DDC and Parks are working closely with the contractor to finish the project as quickly as possible and we look forward to the day that New Yorkers will once again walk and bicycle over our city’s oldest bridge.”

Designed after a Roman aqueduct, the High Bridge was built between 1839 and 1848, by John B. Jervis, one of the first civil engineers in the U.S.

RELATED: EDITORIAL: VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE

The 1,200-foot-high bridge carried water from the Croton Reservoir in Westchester County to New York City. The High Bridge quickly became a tourist site — with a few hotels popping up around its base and steamboats laden with day-trippers who stopped to gawk, said Lloyd Ultan, the Bronx historian. Edgar Allen Poe even walked the span before it was completed.

“It was a sight-seeing thing,” Ultan said. “It was almost complete when he lived in the Bronx.”

The bridge ceased carrying water in the late 1920s, but continued to serve as a link between Washington Heights and Highbridge. The city closed the High Bridge in the early 1970s for safety reasons after complaints of kids using the span to chuck rocks at passing boats below.

The city’s move to restore the High Bridge came after local groups lobbied for its reopening for a decade.

RELATED: THE START OF SOMETHING BIG

“It’s one of those situations where it’s been delayed,” said Chauncy Young, education organizer at the Highbridge Community Life Center, one of the community organizations that advocated for the span’s fix. “It’s a big project. Plus, the weather hasn’t been great.”

Rodriguez, Community Board 4 district manager, said he sees the bridge’s reopening as a beacon of urban renewal in Highbridge, ushering in economic development .

“It, for us, would really be a game changer,” Rodriguez said. “Not only for us, but for the entire borough.”

“And, it’s beautiful.”

jcunningham@nydailynews.com

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Jan 27, 2014
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BRONX NEWS: Bronx man, 29, stabbed to death during argument: cops

A 29-year-old man was stabbed to death after a heated argument in a Bronx apartment building Sunday, police said.

The deadly exchange occurred in a residence on Grant Ave. in the Concourse area about 3:30 p.m.

RELATED: FAIRWAY WORKER CHARGED IN FATAL STABBING OF COLLEAGUE

The victim — whose name was not immediately released — was stabbed in the chest, cops said.

Emergency responders raced to the scene and rushed the victim to Bronx-Lebanon Hospital, where he died a short time later.

RELATED: GAL STABBED TO DEATH — LOVER HELD

Investigators have not yet determined what sparked the fracas between the two hotheaded combatants.

No one has been arrested, cops said.

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Jan 26, 2014
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BRONX NEWS: Man shot and killed in Bronx apartment

A 36-year-old man was shot and killed inside his Bronx apartment, police said Saturday.

Jercar Brooks was found facedown on the floor of his E. 233rd St. home in Williamsbridge about 8:30 p.m. on Friday.

RELATED: BRONX MAN SHOT BOY, 9, IN THE FOOT: COPS

A friend made the gruesome discovery after concerned family members asked him to check on Brooks. No one had seen or heard from him in more than a day, officials said.

Brooks had been shot twice — in the leg and the chin, cops said.

RELATED: MAN, 20, SHOT DEAD IN BRONX

Investigators are searching for a motive. A building surveillance camera recorded Brooks meeting two men in a Chevy Camaro outside his building on Thursday — the last time he was seen alive — and then entering with one of them.

The unidentified man, who cops are looking to question, was next seen alone as he quickly exited the building with a package under his arm, officials said.

RELATED: MAN WOUNDED IN SHOOTING INSIDE BRONX GROCERY

jstepansky@nydailynews.com

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