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July 2009 (R'side Accident)

I don't want to sound unappreciative for what the DOT has done in response to our letters, but they clearly stated that the sign was going to be '20MPH';
"Due to the danger posed to the hawks in the area, we have issued orders to install “20 MPH Speed Limit” signs for the ramp exiting the southbound Henry Hudson Parkway at West 79th Street."


When a fellow Hawk Watcher Dominique first suggested that I ask the DOT to install signs back in June soon after the first tragic accident with our first baby hawk I thought it was a ridiculous idea. In a place easy to call 'No York City' I couldn't imagine that the DOT would even respond to our request.
When at last they agreed to install the signs they offered the least possible action...a '20MPH' sign on only one side of the Parkway at the 79th Street exit ramp. But today when I saw the actual sign which they installed it appears even that small offering was too much to give.
However it is a start and sooner or later we must all come to realize that we are sharing this planet with other life forms all of whom are equally, if not more, worthy of existence alongside Man. I'm pretty sure that when that time comes speed limits will come naturally without the need for special signs like these.


Mail about Highway traffic. -- -- Balloons on the Great Lawn.
Monday July 13, 2009 archive.



7/21/2009:
To All;


Due to the danger posed to the hawks in the area, we have issued orders to install “20 MPH Speed Limit” signs for the ramp exiting the southbound Henry Hudson Parkway at West 79th Street. We are trying to get these installed as soon as possible. It is important to note that the enforcement of this speed limit is the jurisdiction of the NYC Police Department.


Thank you for your concern regarding this serious condition.


Josh Orzeck
Community Coordinator
Office of the Manhattan Borough Commissioner
212-487-3085


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7/16/09 10:16 AM:
I had a discussion with Margaret Forgione (DOT -Manhattan Borough Commissioner) this morning.
She asked if she could call me regarding my email to her requesting signs on the parkway near were the hawks have been traversing. She was most sympathetic and has seen the hawks and thought they are beautiful... she travels the HH Parkway.
She said they had held meetings on what to do... A "Watch-out for Wildlife" sign with a silhouette of a hawk on it was proposed. However she explained that these types of signs on fast moving highways generally cause more harm then good as some drivers will suddenly slow down to look for said wildlife... causing a possible read-ending.
The good news...The action Commissioner Forgione said they will take is to post "20 MPH Speed Limit" signs before the exit ramps which will hopefully effect a generally slowdown.
Will help save the last hawk? Who knows... but it just may and that's something. Murray If interest you can read about who she is and what she does... impressive I think; Margaret Forgione

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Dear Lincoln,

I talked with you briefly in person last week and I hope you don't mind my touching base again with this long message which includes two emails that I sent to one of the Yahoo group that I own and moderate.


I live on West 79 Street near Riverside Drive, and am the woman with the little black dog (a Schipperke) who told you that I believe I may have been a partial witness to the tragic end of the first hawk fledging. It was in mid to late Saturday morning (sometime between 10 and 11, I believe) when I was near the 78 Street exit of the park when I heard a loud bang on the highway. I and the person that I was talking to immediately turned to look at the highway. The traffic did not slow down, and we saw a car driving in the south lane with large plume around it that shot up quickly and just as quickly came down. As I told you, I do not believe that the sound we heard was of a tire blow-out, or that the plume was smoke. It may have been the sound of the baby being hit around 80 street and within seconds the car that hit it was at 78 Street with a large plume of water that came from the impact of a water-logged bird after the drenching rains earlier that morning. A true tragedy in any case!


I have lived on this block for over 40 years and can tell you that the highway and street intersections at this corner and also West End Avenue have always been dangerous to pedestrians. The 79 Street access ramps were not designed to take either the speed or volume of traffic that we were getting even before the 72 Street closure made it incrementally worse in a neighborhood that has also experienced a population explosion (of both humans and rodents) in recent years. Therefore, I feel that your requests for added signs are more than valid not only to protect our precious baby hawks, but also for the safety of animal life in general, humans included.


I remember in past years that we would have an average of one accident per week on the corner of 79 Street and West End Avenue, to say nothing of Riverside Drive which I avoided until I started to use the park again. There is absolutely no justification for the police and traffic not responding to the dangers caused by the increased traffic flow on this block that was made hundreds of times worse after the close of the ramps on 72 Street! Nowadays, I see drivers are putting themselves and others in danger - speeding in and out of the highway unto the local streets, crossing over three lanes to make a turn at the corner, or jumping the traffic light, while clutching a cellphone with one hand and the steering wheel with another and paying almost no attention to the pedestrians in front of them. There is virtually no police presence to put any of the abusers in check, so the cellphone safety laws are meaningless.


How many accidents with pedestrians must there occur at these corners before the traffic department does more than add a light pole? There is an increase in accidents at the street crossings and highway accesses, including one yesterday around noon. I have had a number of close calls at the Riverside corners, myself. Just the other day, as I was crossing 79 Street and Riverside Drive, holding my dog on his leash with my left hand, and my elderly mother with the right. She walks with a cane, rather slowly. A young woman driver came racing around the corner and shouted at us: "Get out of the way, you old b....!" There were several other pedestrians who were crossing at the same time, and we all turned our heads to see where the shouting came from. "Road rage", on a local street? The woman did not come out of the highway but was turning off Riverside Drive southbound and into 79 Street, and she no road impediment to make her turn without throwing out insults at pedestrians who had the right of way but were walking to slowly for her patience. No, I don't call her conduct simple "road rage".


The two baby hawk fatalities are tragic enough, but must there be an added human fatality before the authorities begin to act responsibly with the growing dangers here? I believe the odds of such a fatality are not small. Apart from the speed of the highway traffic and the exist, no one has ever mentioned the unduly low stone walls and open fences that separate the park from a 50 miles per hour highway which are a danger to small children or pets! I think it is inexcusable for the authorities not to respond to our desperate need for added safety measures, starting with your request.


Please forgive my ramblings
Marisa.


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Once again, I go to palemale’s website to see the beauty and awe of some of my favorite animals and I am heart broken to find out that one of the Riverside Park babies has been killed. As much as I love visiting this website, it seems so many times lately I am finding out news that crushes my soul. It is heart breaking enough to see Lola sitting on her nest in vain, Palemale relentlessly adding beautiful twigs anticipating the hope that the universe will bring them only to see another spring pass and my favorite couple yet again are let down by the very force they so unyieldingly trust. With the disappointment of Palemale and Lola not having any offspring, I had at least found solace that the three Riverside Park babies were part of Palemale and Lola’s genealogy. Three healthy babies-what a magnificent job their parents did to get all three of them into the world only to be betrayed by Mother Nature. Unfortunately, that is the way I am beginning to see things. Humanity is literally raping the oceans and forests of every living, breathing, non-breathing creation; humanity is scouring the earth for gold poisoning our rivers and lakes with Mercury; testing missiles upon her beautiful skin, polluting the air; not to mention the wealthy whose insidious greed and arrogance perpetrate starvation and famine mostly upon the children of the earth. And it continues daily. I wonder what I did so wrong in my past life, that I cam here in this life to be human. Or perhaps, I came as a human to possibly make a difference. Whatever the case, I will make every effort to save animals and this precious earth that I know in my heart belongs to them. We, humanity ARE THE CANCER!!! We spread no differently than that disease does when it is in our own bodies. Why does it seem there are so few good and so many wicked? Why do the wicked always seem to come out on top?
I have never hit an animal while driving in my car. And I couldn’t possibly imagine not being able to avoid hitting a baby hawk…no matter how fast I was going. How does that happen? I am now so worried about the third Riverside Park baby. For once, I would like to see Mother Nature protect her true loves.
Peace on Earth, Lincoln.
Thank you for everything you do. God bless you and all those wonderful animals you photograph.
P.S. I would also like to personally thank you for rescuing the beautiful orange and white kitty you did last year, two years ago? Could you please post some pictures of him? He brings a smile to my face.


Lisa McDermott
Austin, TX.


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I was emailing with Donegal Browne about the Riverside hawks and she suggested that instead of a plain Slow sign maybe this would get drivers' attention more: "I wonder if seasonal signs that said SLOW and had a picture of a hawk, a little like the deer signs might work better." I think it might...


Karen


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I work for DOT in another state. Contacting a politician is more likely to get results in my experience. They have far more clout than a DOT employee no matter what their position.


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My heart is broken. First there were three, then two, now one. What is wrong with people -- can't we all just slow the heck down. Never, in my wildest dreams did I think anything would happen to one of the remaining two. Now I'm worried that something is going to happen to the remaining one. I will sorely miss him and watching them play as siblings.
Tears in Atlanta have been shed today.


Marie Frank.


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Thank you for the palemale web site and for your sensitve and brilliant photos. sincerely,


Audrey C.


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From: "Forgione, Margaret"
Date: July 14, 2009 1:21:57 PM EDT
To: "Marcia XXXXXXX” Subject: RE: W. 79th St.ramps


Thanks for writing - we are working on it.


Dear Commissioner Forgione,
I wanted to add my name to the list of those who consider the wildlife in our parks a great asset to our neighborhood and to New York, and request that signs be installed cautioning drivers to slow down because there are low-flying red tailed hawk fledgings in the area. It would probably gain national notice if we actually put pictures of hawks on the signs, and instead of just saying "Slow down" to tell the reason why. It seems a pity that no one is actually enforcing the speed limit at those exits, and that two of the three fledglings have already been killed by speeders at those ramps.


I urge you to act swiftly to prevent the loss of the last of these siblings.


Sincerely,
Marcia


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I reached the operator at the Highway Safety office to see if they could enforce the speed limits so no more baby hawks would be killed, and he was very nice .... I didn't reach the safety officer but whoever answered the phone. He was sympathetic and suggested calling the local 20th precinct (212-580-6411) also, as he thought they have radar and also more manpower than they do. But he would pass word along. I talked to Detective Tiger in Community Relations at the 20th and he was unaware of the hawks, but would see if they could do some enforcement there. They don't have a radar specialist at the precinct anymore.
I'm copying this to my excellent council member as she might be able to help. (Note: Gale - check out the website: palemale.com and its day-by-day archives to see the whole unfolding story in exquisite photos, if you haven't already.)


Best,
Marcia


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Hello Ms. Forgione,


I will try to make this as concise as possible, as you no doubt have much to deal with.
I hope you can take the time to address the situation I'm about to describe.


Last year the people who visit Riverside park were given a wonderful gift..
A pair of young Red-tailed Hawks had built a nest, and in that nest 3 baby hawks were seen much to the delight of many of the people who visit the park.


The joy did not last long as the 3 baby hawks were found dead... medical examination revealed they were poisoned having eaten prey that was fed to them which was contaminated with rat poison.


About 4 months ago the pair of hawks rebuilt a more sturdy nest, protected from the winds that blow off the Hudson... they presented the world with 3 new healthy baby hawks which quickly grew to be about as big as the adults. But they had a lot to learn about surviving in an urban setting. Again crowds of park visitors watched them with much pleasure.


Then this from Lincoln Karim (A very special individual who has chronicled NYC's urban wildlife with extraordinary photography and writings.)


June 20, 2009 "If you went to Riverside Park to look for the new red-tailed hawk babies carry with you a smile and many happy thoughts. You’ll find that one of the three energetic little creatures which has blessed us for the past few weeks is no where to be found. I know where he is--he’s in my heart and will never leave me. He was determined to make it across the highway and though I discouraged him on several occasions on Saturday morning he attempted to cross the dangerous road and did not make it to the other side. He had more than a week of flying and those few thrilling days have marked the total of his beautiful life. It was a week of pure freedom--more that many of us could claim for our entire lifetime."


What transpired was an attempt to have some signs posted on the highway to alert drivers to be aware that hawks are crossing in this stretch of highway.


The DOT (Mr. Orzeck) received a lot of email about this situation and informed the people who sent the email that a proposal for for warning signs being considered... but noted it could take time. He appears to have tried his best.


Monday July 13, 2009: 1:33PM: (2 Reports)
Another Riverside Park baby hawks was killed on the Henry Hudson Parkway! I received a call from Eddie who said the horrible incident occured around 1:33PM.
The Henry Hudson Parkway traffic (this time a truck) claimed another fledgling today at Riverside Park today. This leaves only one out of the original three fledglings still alive.
I received word that the police assisted in stopping traffic and the remains were retrieved and given to someone in the Parks Department.
The two fledglings had been on the same branch on a tree at the top of the stairs that leads to the underpass at 84th Street. One flew across the highway, above car height but did not fly high enough for the truck. It was then hit a few more times by other cars.
Bottom line:
If the request for the signs takes a normal course to be processed thru the system any good it might do will be too late. I ask that you expedite putting up the sinage. Will it insure the last hawk's safety? No, but at least it was tried.


Photos I took within the last week


The Two Young Hawks




One of the hundreds who watch the hawks




One remains.


If you go to Lincoln's site today... I believe you will be moved. His site's visitors from here and around the world passed the million "Hits" recently http://www.palemale.com/


Thank you,
Murray H.


Reference.


From: Murray Head
Date: Wed, 01 Jul 2009 09:16:33 -0400
To:
Subject: Henry Hudson Parkway - 79th Street. The Riverside Hawks


Dear Mr. Orzeck,


The letter (below) sent by Mr. Karim puts forth and clearly states a simple action that the DOT can implement to address
a situation that many New Yorkers feel strongly about about... that being the protection the family of Riverside Hawks.
The recent loss of a wonderful young hawk to roadway traffic has made it even more obvious that whatever is done to protect this gift of urban wildlife will be gratefully received. The cost seems minimal and the benefit to the hawks as well as drivers is significant.


Quick action is essential as the two remaining hawks are very active a have little knowledge of the danger.


Thank you in advance,
Murray H.


PS:
The "Watchout for low-flying hawks" sign seems to be reasonable... so please consider that too.


(Letter from Lincoln Karim)


I am appealing to you to install new signage on the Henry Hudson Parkway to impede speeding on this section of the roadway.


1st request:
Southbound side of the Henry Hudson Parkway at the beginning of the 79th Street exit ramp (presently there is a DOT green & white sign "79th Street Boat Basin"); A sign that says 'SLOW' or any other appropriate sign to slow down cars exiting the Parkway to enter the 79th Street Boat Basin.


2nd request:
Both Northbound and Southbound lanes:
Signs reminding vehicles that the speed limit is 50MPH (I believe this is the speed limit). Signs reminding vehicles of the speed limit on the entrance/exit ramps for both directions of the roadway.


This request is concerned with the welfare of a family of red-tailed hawks which live in the area and is habitually traversing this section of the busy roadway.
Without having any means of accurately measuring the speed of vehicular traffic on this section of the roadway (between 79th Street and 84th Street) I can reasonably gauge that cars travel way above the legal speed limit. Surely I would welcome signs that say ‘WATCHOUT FOR LOW FLYING HAWKS’ or something similar, but for now I would like to have the existing regulations enforced.


To All,


We appreciate the concern in keeping the hawks safe. We will have this investigated for the feasibility of installing signage that could facilitate a safer environment.


Please be aware, however, that the enforcement of any speed regulation falls under the jurisdiction of the Police Department.


Thank you,
Josh Orzeck


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Thank you for bringing the beauty and grandeur of these hawks to us with your photographs and for trying to help us deal with the loss of this second young hawk with your words. Like many New Yorkers who watch the hawks in Riverside park and view your website, I am grieving over this event. But, as you say, his/hers was a wonderful life, however brief, that brought joy to many people, and, thankfully, we have your photographs as a testament to it.
christina clayton.


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Another sad day in the hawk family. I have prayed so hard that they would make it. I'm pleased that the Dr. has the body this time..At least we have your wonderful photographs to remember them.


Norma H.


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