Kris Gounden. Photo: Nate Adams
New York City is using a phony map to justify an arrest for blocking an alleged public street. Ironically, the action provides the arrested individual an opportunity to expose the fact that the map is being used in an attempt by the City to rob him of his private property.
Block 14228 in Howard Beach, Queens, has approximately 70 lots on it.
In 2006 Mr. Kris Gounden, a Black East Indian of Guyanese origin, bought one of those lots in Howard Beach and attempted to fence off his property.
Joseph Addabbo Jr., then a City Council member, now a State Senator, showed up and claimed there was a “public street,” later called Broadway, running through Gounden’s newly-acquired property. Addabbo is a licensed attorney who is a member of the bar.
A few weeks later Addabbo showed up with the consulting Borough Engineer, Thomas Campagna, who produced a map and flashed it at Gounden attempting to convince him that a proposed sewer project gave the City a public street through Goundens property.
When Gounden asked for a copy of the map, Campagna falsely claimed he was not authorized to provide Gounden with a copy. The flashing of the map was the legislative version of three card monte: Now you see it, now you won’t; first you did, now you don’t.
After nine years of persistence Gounden, through Herculean research, finally has a copy, obtained from the City, of Campagna’s map — the one he had claimed showed that Broadway ran through Gounden’s property. The map –a copy now in Gounden’s possession– shows that Broadway never ran through Gounden’s property.
Gounden also obtained from the City through research official city alteration maps #4979 and #3651, and the official city Final Section Map 177; they show that there hasnt been a public street in the entire Block since 1915.
Alteration maps track City changes to City streets. Official Alteration Map #3651 was signed on May 29, 1953. Alteration Map # 4979 was signed with a final revision on April 20, 2005.
The 1953 alteration map shows no public land in Block 14228.
Fifty-five years later the 2005 alteration still shows no public land in Block 14228; yet, the Law Department of the City of New York claims there is public land in Block 14228, Gounden’s property.
In a 1963 case Di Biasi v City of New York, the court quoted L.1962, ch. 998 § 202 of the Charter of the City of New York: “No street, avenue, highway or public place, the layout of which has not been approved as provided in this section shall be deemed to have been accepted by the city of New York as a street, avenue, highway or public place, unless, such street…highway [etc.] shall lie within the ….the duly adopted and filed final maps of the city of New York.”
In Gounden’s nine years in the courts fighting this case, the city has never cited any case that disputes Di Biasi.
Further the Di Biasi court had held: Since 1916, ultimate approval of changes and additions [to the Final City Map] has remained vested in the Board of Estimate.”
The Official Final Section map 177 was created in 1915 and shows no public land in Block 14228. In nine years in court the City has never produced a map approved by the Board of Estimate that shows a public anything in Block 14228.
Background: In 1889 Jacob Ryder made a map of his land that he divided into 10 Boathouse lots. The map was called Map No. 1 of the Boathouse Lots.” All the lots and all the boardwalks in the southern peninsula in the Block were privately owned by Jacob Ryder who sold the lots to private individuals as time passed.
Because there were no public streets on Ryders private land, Ryder created deeds with a system of private walkways through each lot so each Boathouse lot owner could reach a public street or his/her or any other individual boathouse lot owner.
These walkways were like private streets in a gated community.
On Feb 3, 1938 and on Dec. 19, 1993 City surveyor James F. Deehan created official city surveys depicting the private boardwalk Broadway running straight through property that is not Goundens. Certified pictures by Sister Sonia Duthoit in the archives of the Queens Public Library confirm the three-foot wide private boardwalk, Broadway, in the pictures taken in 1965.
The City surveyor, Deehan, printed the words Property on Map No. 1 of the Boathouse Maps at West Ramblersville” on his 1938 survey. Deehan printed the words Lot # 4 refers to Map # 1 of the Boathouse Lots at West Ramblersville on his official 1939 city survey.
Fastforward to Gounden’s case. Recently when Gounden asked Al Clarke of the Queens Borough Topographical Unit for Map # 1 of the Boathouse Lots at West Ramblersville he produced a map that looked nothing like Deehans surveys.
The minutes, degrees and boardwalks clearly depicted on city surveyor Deehans maps did not appear on the purported “Map # 1 of the Boathouse Lots… that Al Clarke produced.
When Mr. Clarke was asked to certify the ”Map # 1 of the Boathouse Lots…” in the Topographical Units possession, Mr. Clarke said he could do so because he did not possess the original.
When asked where his copy of what he purports to be “Map # 1…” came from he said he did not know. There is also another question. What kind of an borough engineer would have a city surveyors maps in a project folder and not check the map that the surveyors survey came from?
While Mr. Gounden was checking the deed for lot 771 in Block 14228 Department of Finance, he observed the deed which referred to ”Map No. 1 of the Boathouse Lots.” Gounden asked to see the map but was told the original map was in the Queens Borough Presidents Office. The Queens Borough Presidents Office claims the original Map No. 1 is not in the Queens Borough Presidents Office.
Unless there is another Map # 1…” somewhere, the “Map # 1…” in the Queens Borough Presidents Office is not a true representation of the map city surveyor Deehan got his information from.
In plain language, it appears as if the ”Map # 1…” in the Queens Borough Presidents Office is fake.
When Campagna and Addabbo told Gounden there was a “public street” on Goundens property in 2006 they both must have known there couldnt legally have been a public street in the entire Block — the City Charter prevents the city from considering any land public unless and until the land exists as public land on the citys Official Final Map.
Mr. John Cicciariello of the Queen’s Topographical unit testified in federal court in the City’s case against Gounden and he said that the public street process starts with the City Planning Commission. Yet, nine years after taking control of Goundens land the City Law Department has not claimed that the City Planning Commission has even received an application.
So how did Deputy Inspector Anthony Pascale, formerly of the 106 precinct, now of Internal Affairs Bureau, justify arresting Gounden for unlawfully “imprisoning” a Con Edison worker when Gounden parked his van, on his own private property, for the purpose of preventing Con Ed from trespassing onto his private land?
What’s more, allegedly in 1996 the City Law Department issued a so-called Opinion of Dedication” claiming that some unknown owner before Gounden had dedicated the land to the City of New York.
The Law Departments opinion was based on a sworn affidavit by Michael DiVierniero of the Department of Transportation. DiViernieros affidavit claimed that for 10 years DiVierniero had “observed” the public use Goundens land and that DiVierniero had observed the city providing services to the land for 10 years.
In a pre-hearing deposition, DiVierniero admitted, under oath, that from his desk job he had not observed for 10 years what he swore he had observed in the field some ten miles away. DiVierniero’s affidavit became perjured testimony.
In spite of Gounden’s land not having been placed on the city’s official final map, and in spite of DiVierniero’s perjured affidavit, a lawyer from the City Law Department, William H. Vidal, called DiVierniero’s perjured testimony to the witness stand and then claimed that Town Highway law § 189 authorized Goundens land as a public street in 1996.
However Town Highway law § 189 reads: the town superintendent shall open all such highways…. Town Superintendents are elected positions in towns. The City of New York is not a town.
The City Charter does not authorize the election of town superintendents. No one has ever voted for a Town Superintendent in the City of New York. As a result, there is no official in the City of New York who is authorized to execute Town Highway law § 189 and you would think a lawyer for the City Law Department would know that the City of New York is: not a town; and, has no elected Town Superintendent of Highways.
In addition to no elected Town Superintendent of Highways, since 1978 the New York States Eminent Domain Procedure law [EDPL] requires all local governments, like the City of New York, to comply with the notice, hearing, appraisal and payment provisions of the EDPL before a public street can appear on the citys Official Final Map.
The City has never complied with the EDPL to acquire Goundens land.
On Jan 12, 2016 Gounden is set to appear in court to prosecute his false arrest case, against Deputy Inspector Pascale, and the City of New York.
Federal Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom has ordered the city to explain the legality of its claim to have legally acquired Gounden’s land.
The City controls Gounden’s land; not by any visible law, but by the law of the gun.
Note To Readers: If you know of any cases that need investigation and you have documentation contact [email protected]