Sunday, May 27, 2007

Foreclosure Town Hall Meeting - Tuesday, May 31st

South Jamaica residents are well aware of the major problems of predatory lending (and who they target and who usually are the victims). To say modestly, dozens of Southeast Queens homeowners will lose their home this year because they won't be able to pay their mortgage. There will be a foreclosures forum this Tuesday at York College. We want to be homeowners, but we must do our homework. Read more about this neighborhood problem in the article below, as published in the Times Ledger this week.

SE Queens foreclosures set stage for York forum
By Craig Giammona

The white piece of paper on the desk in front of state Sen. Shirley Huntley (D-Jamaica) tells a troubling story. Labeled "Foreclosure Patterns - 2006," the map is of Queens County and the dots, each representing a mortgage default, are tightly clustered in her district, which comprises a large swath of southeast Queens.

There were foreclosures throughout the borough in 2006, the map shows. But in areas of America's most diverse county, where the population is more than 50 percent black or Hispanic, the problem is particularly severe.

Outside of southeast Queens, there is dense pack of red dots in Corona on the 2006 map."People go basically and buy homes they can't afford," Huntley said. "I'm not saying they're not smart, but they're not experts in this area and they're taken advantage of."The issue of foreclosures has risen to the forefront in Queens in the last few months, shining a light on the so-called predatory mortgage brokers and real estate agents that many believe are fueling the problem.

The Website released a report in April indicating that foreclosures had skyrocketed in Queens during the first three months of 2007. In fact, the report said that more homes had been sold at auction in Queens than in the four other boroughs combined during the first quarter.In addition, PropertyShark, an online clearinghouse for real estate information, said of the 20 zip codes in New York City with the most foreclosures for January through May, 16 were in Queens and 12 were in 114, an area that includes Jamaica, Hollis, Laurelton, St. Albans, Cambria Heights and Queens Village.

Overall there were 554 foreclosures in the first three month of 2007 in New York and 319 were in Queens. "Something needs to be done," Huntley said, acknowledging that she is still working to determine the best route for lawmakers to take in combatting the problem.

The first step will be a town hall meeting at York College on May 31 that will bring together several state and city agencies for a discussion with area politicians, including Huntley and Councilmen Eric Gioia (D-Sunnyside) and Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans).The office of Queen District Attorney Richard Brown and state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo will also be represented, Huntley said.

The event will take place at York's Performing Arts Center at 94-20 Guy R. Brewer Boulevard and is scheduled to being at 6:30 p.m.Reach reporter Craig Giammona by e-mail at or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

©Times Ledger 2007

UPDATE on Development: 125th Ave & Merrill Street

What a difference a week makes! We posted pictures of this very house exactly a week ago. Roofing, windows and siding has been added. Another new two-family home to add to the South Jamaica private home renaissance.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


163-07 Baisley Blvd. (at Guy R. Brewer Blvd.)
Jamaica, NY 11434

If you're not going anywhere this Memorial Day weekend and you're in a mood to dine out, consider The Door..."An Elegant Jamaican Restaurant." This Jamaican restaurant lives up to its name. In fact, it may be the ONLY elegant Jamaican restaurant in South Jamaica. Cherry wood furnishings and contemporary lighting creates a warm and intimate atmosphere. There's also a bar area. Vegetarians and Vegans: try the stewed tofu with rice & peas. Famed Jamaican comedian Oliver Samuels has endorsed The Door in ads that has aired on Carribbean International Network (CIN).

No worries if you're not in a mood for formal dining. There's a take-out kitchen adjacent to the restaurant. BE SURE to place your order in advance.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Out of The Ashes: Rap and the Crack Era in South Jamaica, Queens

Check out this powerful exhibit, currently on display at JCAL (Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning) 161-04 Jamaica Avenue
Jamaica, NY 11432

"A Jamaica Queens Thing":*
Rap and the Crack Era in South Jamaica, Queens
Curated by Herb Tam, guest curator
*Exhibition title references “ Memory Lane ” from the CD entitled Illmatic by Queens native and rapper Nas.

April 14, 2007 through June 2, 2007
Artist Reception on Saturday, April 14, 2007, 4-7 pm.
Artists' and Curator's Talk: Saturday, June 2, 2007, 4-7 pm

In the mid 80s, crack cocaine hit the streets of America and began to devastate the landscape of inner-city communities like South Jamaica, Queens, the neighborhood adjacent to downtown Jamaica . Incorporating art with historical material, this exhibition reflects on the trauma of the crack epidemic (1986-90) and its deep influence on the course of rap music. Thus, the exhibition title references Queens native and rapper Nas' song, “ Memory Lane ”, from the CD entitled Illmatic . The art works on exhibition act as characterizations of certain elements in the narrative of South Jamaica during that period. Specifically, the works deal with police authority, hip hop culture, drug addiction and suburban desire.

Karlos Carcamo 's neon sculpture White Line – Kosuth Remix for Grandmaster Flash re-constructs minimalism into a cold symbol of the lure of drugs. Corey D'Augustine shows 1/2 Car , an unwanted car split down the middle of its long side with light effects illuminating it from underneath. Jocelin Donahue presents T-shirts that glorify some of rap's most memorable lines about crack and hostility and drawings of key characters from South Jamaica 's crack era. Joshua Abram Howard shows a new sculpture of the skeletal armature of a sports utility vehicle with “tricked out” tire rims. The piece speaks of the ultimate emptiness and wastefulness of the crack game, in spite of the fast lifestyle and shimmering materialistic gains it produced. Daragh Reeves ' video Night Moves is a compilation of passing cars in the night appropriated from films, setting a lonely, ominous tone. He will also show a selection of ink drawings that hint at the narrative arch of South Jamaica 's drug dealers. Greg Santos presents dueling mixtapes featuring songs culled from past and recent rap rivalries, including the one between South Jamaica 's 50 Cent and Hollis' Ja Rule. A selection of Sol'Sax 's sculptural and video work references hip hop culture and its inseparability from the politics of street life, personal spirituality and global history. Xaviera Simmons will be showing photographs taken in Southern California that interpret suburban desire, a powerful force in the development of South Jamaica . Nick Stillman 's columns of photographed, computer graphic ‘paintings' coated with lip gloss mirror the suffocating design of housing projects and the swift degradation of surface enticement.

Also on view will be a collection of rap music that grew out of the crack era, a timeline tracking the key events of that period in South Jamaica , newspaper articles, and other historical paraphernalia.

Visuals: A Beautiful Day in The Neighborhood

A beautiful afternoon at Baisley Pond. One observation - the lily pads are growing in nicely. They were badly scorched during last year's heat waves. Look at the sun's rays as it hits the water. The heavens declare the glory of God; the sky displays his handiwork! Across Baisley Blvd., the last picture shows the football team practicing on the August Martin High School field.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Development: 125th Ave & Merrill Street

This corner patch of land was vacant for awhile. Signs of change came last month, when the land was cleared and an excavator was on site. Location is one block over from Merrick Blvd.