Tag Archives: Arverne

Borough president secures millions for south Queens library renovations

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Queens Library

Three public libraries in southern Queens will receive much-needed improvements through $9.5 million in funding that Queens Borough President Melinda Katz secured, it was announced on Monday morning.

Katz agreed to allocate $3.8 million to expand the Arverne branch in the Rockaways as well as another $3.5 million toward interior renovations at the Baisley Park location. The borough president will also provide $2.2 million for facade and multipurpose renovations at the St. Albans branch.

Each project, however, is in the design phase, and the start of actual work remains many months away, according to a Queens Library spokesperson. The expansion at Arverne “will begin in approximately 2.5 years” and construction will be completed “approximately four years from now.”

Queens Library will add more than 2,000 square feet at the Arverne location (312 Beach 54th St.) to create an expanded teen area and computer center as well as providing additional program space. The extension will be erected in a side yard on the site of a modular building the library has used since the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

The project at Baisley Park (117-11 Sutphin Blvd. in Jamaica) will be “a total interior renovation,” including revamped adult and children’s areas, a new teen and computer center and a new public space in the library’s interior atrium, according to the library. Construction is scheduled to take place “in approximately 18 months” and wrap up “2.5 years from now,” with the branch closed to the public for much of that period.

At St. Albans (191-05 Linden Blvd.), Queens Library will repair the exterior masonry and create a new entrance while also reconfiguring the circulation area, installing self checkout equipment, renovating the multipurpose room and upgrading technology. Construction will start “in about 18 months to two years,” depending on the completion of designs, and renovations will end “approximately three months from now.”

As with the Baisley Park branch, the St. Albans location will also be closed for a period during construction. Queens Library will create “interim service plans” to accommodate customers affected by the closures at each location.

Funding for the three projects make up more than two-thirds of the combined $14 million that Katz allocated to Queens Library for capital improvements. Other projects that the borough president is financially supporting include the installation of a second elevator at the Flushing library ($2.75 million), roof replacement at the Ozone Park branch ($800,000) and new security cameras at the Bay Terrace, Douglaston/Little Neck, East Flushing, Rosedale, South Ozone Park, Steinway and Woodhaven locations (a combined $618,000).

“The millions of families who rely on the Queens Library services deserve nothing less than a world-class system,” Katz said in a press release on Monday. “This capital allocation will help ensure the Queens Library branches remain up-to-date and better able to serve its educational purpose as a community hub of learning, literacy and culture.”

In thanking Katz for the allocation, Queens Library board of trustees Chairman Carl S. Koerner said the funding “will allow the library to substantially upgrade its infrastructure, providing a better environment for library customers.”


Rockaway pair convicted on murder and kidnapping charges

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


Two 29-year-old Queens men have been convicted of second-degree murder and other charges in the brutal April 2012 stabbing death of a man who had begun a relationship with the estranged wife of one of the defendants.

Michael B. Cunningham, 29, of Dickens Street in Far Rockaway, and Damian Husain, also 29, of Beach 64th Street in Arverne, were convicted on July 28 of second-degree murder, second-degree felony murder, first-degree kidnapping and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon. Cunningham was additionally convicted of aggravated criminal contempt for violating an order of protection.

Sentencing has been set for Sept. 23. If convicted, both defendants face 25 years to life in prison.

“This was a particularly brutal attack,” District Attorney Richard A. Brown said. “The 27-year-old victim had gashes and puncture wounds all over his body. A jury has spoken and found the two defendants guilty of murder and other charges. A lengthy prison term is more than warranted.”

According to trial testimony, the victim, Albert Robinson, had for six months been in a relationship with a woman who was married to but separated from Cunningham. After Cunningham rammed his car into Robinson’s on Dec. 28, 2011, an order of protection was issued requiring Cunningham to stay away from Robinson. However, Robinson still received a death threat on his cellphone from Cunningham.

On April 4, 2012, the victim left the woman’s house some time after midnight. Video surveillance in the area showed a man exiting the woman’s home and moments later being chased by a person on foot as well as by someone driving a dark-colored car. The men became entangled in a struggle just before moving out of view of the surveillance camera.

Robinson’s body was found some time after 11 a.m. that day off the shoreline of Jamaica Bay. He had been stabbed in multiple places, including his neck and chest, and had multiple punctures in his internal organs, including his lung, diaphragm and an artery. A glove found at the scene tested positive for Robinson’s blood and Husain’s skin cells. Robinson’s blood was also found on the backseat of Cunningham’s car.



Reputed Rockaway street gang members cuffed for murder, assault plots

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Thirteen alleged members of a Far Rockaway-based street gang found themselves in handcuffs Wednesday for an indictment charging them with various violent crimes including conspiring to murder and assault rival groups, prosecutors announced.

Authorities said the suspects, reputed members of the “70Gs/G-Boyz” gang, operated in an 11 block area of Arverne between Beach 62nd and Beach 73rd streets. According to police, the gang members — some of whom were as young as 16 — obtained weapons and ordered beatings and shootings of rival gang members in an effort to expand their territory and control.

The arrests and indictments were the culmination of a lengthy investigation by the NYPD’s Queens South Violence Reduction Task Force and the Queens District Attorney’s Narcotics Investigations Bureau. Detectives monitored phone conversations and social media accounts of the suspects — in which the reputed gang members openly planned and bragged about their criminal activities — to build their case.

In one instance, alleged gang member Joshua Simon, 21, took to social media to apologize to an individual whom he accidentally hit with gunfire while shooting at rival gang members on April 13, 2014.

Detectives also learned from Simon, through phone conversations he made from Rikers Island, that he was involved in other shootings with fellow gang members Michael Motta, 23, and Matthew Robinson, 19. Motta was charged in a separate indictment for firing shots at rival gang members outside P.S. 42, then pointing a gun at an officer before eventually dropping it, on March 13 of this year.

“These indictments are another example of police and prosecutors working together to eliminate gang violence that too often plagues our neighborhoods and strikes at the heart of a unified and criminally active group of young people who threaten the lives and safety of innocent bystanders,” District Attorney Richard A. Brown said.

“The defendants are variously accused of turning the streets of Rockaway into the Wild West by acting in concert with one or more of their co-defendants to shoot and wound five individuals and firing weapons at no less than four others,” Police Commissioner Bill Bratton added. “Their alleged criminal and violent acts have no place in a civilized society.”

According to the 86-count indictment, the gang members allegedly obtained firearms and carried out violent acts against rival gang members at neighboring housing developments. In many instances, prosecutors said, the adult gang members recruited juveniles as young as 14 years of age to carry out deeds ranging from weapons smuggling to shootings and beatings.

Police also determined that the gang members used coded language in communicating with one another to avoid detection from investigators.

The other suspects named in the 86-count indictment were identified as Taedwon Lyons, 17; Dwayne Lyons, 16; Kane Motta, 16; Ashanti Brown, 18; Isaiah Boyd, 21; Brandon Fuentes, 22; Diequan Underwood, 20; Jordane Maurice Gayle, 16; and Tamar Horton, 16.

Each of the 13 reputed gang members could face up to 25 years behind bars if convicted.


Nursing home caregivers arrested for neglect of disabled resident in Far Rockaway

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Three caregivers in Far Rockaway found themselves in handcuffs Wednesday after they allegedly dragged a disabled and bleeding nursing home resident and left him bleeding on the floor for over 20 minutes last October, authorities said.

On the evening of October 23, 2014, at Peninsula Nursing and Rehabilitation Center a 51-year-old resident, who suffered from multiple debilitating conditions including mental status, fell in front of nurse Esohe Agbonkpolor while in a hallway, according to court papers. After the resident was left lying on his back on the floor for 12 minutes, certified nurse aide Emmanuel Ufot allegedly grabbed the resident by the arm and dragged him into his room.

About 25 minutes later, the resident, wearing only a backless gown pulled over his waist, came out of his room crawling on the floor on his back, bleeding profusely from a wound on the back of his head and another serious wound on his jaw, according to authorities. For the next 20 minutes, Agbonkpolor and another nurse, Funmilola Taiwo, working a few feet away, allegedly ignored the resident on the floor and did not appropriately treat his wounds or try to stop the bleeding.

Instead, Ufot allegedly grabbed the resident by his hospital gown, which was at the time twisted around his neck, and dragged him along the floor and dropped him abruptly in front of his room, authorities said.

The entire incident was caught by hallway surveillance cameras and management at the center turned the video over to authorities.

All three were either terminated or resigned from Peninsula Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

Taiwo, Agbonkpolor, and Ufot were arrested by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Unit on Wednesday.

“My office will not tolerate nurses who callously fail to treat or endanger injured patients under their care,” said New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. “Caregivers must know that we will vigorously prosecute behavior that endangers our most vulnerable citizens. New Yorkers in nursing facilities deserve quality care and their loved ones deserve to know their caregivers act like the professionals they are.”

Taiwo, 34, of Far Rockaway; Agbonkpolor, 39, of Arverne; and Ufot, 36, of Far Rockaway were each charged with endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person, and willful violation of health laws.

Each were arraigned in New York City Criminal Court and their cases were adjourned for conference on July 30.


Rockaway man charged with assaulting ex-girlfriend’s 13-month-old son

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File Photo

A Rockaway man is accused of assaulting his ex-girlfriend’s 13-month-old son while he was babysitting the child last week.

The child was abused so brutally that he was left with a fractured skull, District Attorney Richard Brown said.

The mother of the child brought her son to the Arverne home of Bishme Allah around 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 10, so he could watch him while she ran errands for about 30 minutes. As she left the child was awake and crying.

When she returned, Allah, 30, who had been left alone with the child, told her that her son was asleep, Brown said. The two then smoked marijuana and ate a sandwich.

At 9 p.m., when the woman got into bed with her son, she did not notice anything wrong with him. But when Allah joined her in bed and she moved her child, she then saw that he had marks on his face and severe swelling to his head, according to Brown. She then demanded that Allah take them to the hospital.

The child was admitted to Cohen Children’s Medical Center, where an examination showed that the boy had a severe skull fracture, hemorrhages, contusions, and bruising on the head and lower abdomen, prosecutors said. Medical personnel determined that the injuries were inconsistent with an accident and consistent with a forceful impact.

Allah was arraigned Wednesday night in Queens Criminal Court on charges of assault, attempted assault, and endangering the welfare of a child. If convicted he faces up to 15 years in prison.


MTA bus driver charged after allegedly stabbing wife’s lover in Rockaways

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


Updated Wednesday, Nov. 5, 4:45 p.m. 

A city bus driver from Richmond Hill has been arrested after he allegedly stabbed his romantic rival in Arverne Tuesday afternoon, according to District Attorney Richard Brown.

Ephraim Henry, 30, had completed his route and was driving the empty bus to the depot when he spotted the victim, Oscar Williams.

Williams, 48, was driving a Honda near Beach 67th St. and Beach Channel Drive, when Henry allegedly stopped the bus and began to argue with Williams, who is reportedly involved romantically with Henry’s wife. The two began to fight and Henry stabbed Williams in the arm, Brown said.

Williams survived the incident but had to undergo surgery at a nearby hospital.

Henry was arraigned on Wednesday on charges of assault and criminal possession of a weapon. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison.

The stabbing was within blocks of where several stray bullets hit an MTA bus on Monday night. No one aboard the bus was injured, but a 21-year-old man was hit in the leg. He was taken to the hospital, where he was listed in stable condition.


Stray bullets hit MTA bus in Rockaway shooting

| ctumola@queenscourier.com


Updated 2:53 p.m.

An MTA bus was hit by stray bullets in a shooting that injured a 21-year-old man in Arverne Monday night, according to authorities.

Two bullets went through the driver’s side of the Q22 bus, near Beach Channel Drive and Beach 73rd Street at about 8:20 p.m., police said.

Around 15 to 20 passengers were on the bus at the time of the shooting. No one aboard was hurt.

The 21-year-old man was found on Beach 67th Street with a gunshot wound to his leg and taken to Jamaica Hospital, where he is listed in stable condition, authorities said.

Police are still looking for the shooter.



$232M Arverne View Rockaway housing development reopens two years after Sandy

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy HDC and Kevin J. Laccone

Rockaway seems even more resilient with the return of one of its large residential complexes.

Real estate firm L+M Development Partners and the city Housing Development Corporation cut the ribbon on the $232.3 million Arverne View housing complex in Rockaway on Monday, two years after the buildings were devastated by flooding from Superstorm Sandy.

The 13-acre complex, consisting of 1,093 units throughout 11 buildings, features affordable housing for low- and moderate-income families and has a daycare center, a community center, a supermarket, more than 10,000 square feet of on-site retail space, laundry facilities, 24-hour security, management office and parking.

In October 2012, days before L+M was about to buy what was then known as the Ocean Village housing complex, which had many buildings in need of repairs, Sandy wrecked the community. L+M continued with the purchase in November and committed to rebuilding the housing development. The buildings underwent a $60 million interior and exterior rehabilitation, funded by federal, city and private partnerships, and new storm-proofing and resiliency measures were installed.

“The devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy just two years ago left many of my neighbors in the Rockaways without adequate shelter. I applaud both the public and private partnerships that came together to rebuild and restore Arverne View,” said state Sen. James Sanders Jr.

Ribbon Cutting

The ribbon cutting was only ceremonial as renovations were completed in March.

The apartments range in size from studios to five bedrooms in the buildings, which vary in height from four stories to a 19-story tower.

Originally built in 1974 for low-income families, Arverne View remained affordable housing by accepting individuals and families earning no more than 80 percent of the area median income of $66,400 annually for a family of four. And 25 percent of units in the buildings were reserved for those earning no more than 60 percent of the area median income.

“Throughout the rehabilitation of Arverne View, our goal was to provide quality homes in a great setting and at the same time preserve affordable housing for the many New Yorkers that need it,” said Ron Moelis, CEO of L+M. “Standing here on the second anniversary of Hurricane Sandy among these beautifully renovated buildings truly makes you appreciate just how much we’ve accomplished.”



Real estate roundup: Transformation of Jamaica, Brooklyn residents join Astoria Cove protests

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre 

Luxury Residence Among Buildings Changing the Face of Jamaica

Jamaica, once an overlooked and crime-ridden area in Southeast Queens, has been undergoing a transformation into a vibrant neighborhood, with a slew of new upscale apartment buildings, hotels and stores.” Read more [DNAinfo]

Battered bulkheads and seawall spell danger for some Rockaway residents

“Jamaica Bay’s crumbling seawalls are putting some Queens residents in jeopardy of flooding. City Councilman Donovan Richards and other officials called on the city to repair Hurricane Sandy-damaged bulkheads in order to protect Arverne streets and homes from the bay’s deluge.” Read more [New York Daily News]

Protesters Link a Queens Project to Brooklyn Rents

“Negotiations over the fate of Astoria Cove, the first new city development to opt into Mayor Bill de Blasio’s affordable housing program, have attracted no shortage of advocates and critics hoping to influence the process.” Read more [New York Times]

Borough Keeping Buildings Department Busy

“It seems that Queens continues to keep the city Department of Buildings very busy. That was the story Tuesday night at the Community Board 9 meeting as DOB officials detailed how active the borough is with complaints, inspections and penalties.” Read more [The Forum]



Two charged in shooting of 12-year-old girl

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of NYPD

Two teens have been charged in the shooting of a 12-year-old girl in Arverne on Saturday afternoon, officials said.

Police responded to the call of shots fired at about 4:42 p.m. Saturday in the vicinity of Beach 59th Street and Shore Front Parkway, and found a 12-year-old girl shot in her left thigh by a male suspect who fled the scene, according to cops.

After speaking with witnesses, police saw the man fleeing through a parking lot and jump over a fence. After searching for the suspect, they found him on the corner of Beach 60th Street and Larkin Street together with a woman, police said. The man, identified as 18-year-old Dwight Henderson, then was seen handing over a firearm to a woman, identified as 16-year-old Geena Hill. Both were then arrested, an a load 9mm gun was recovered, according to police

The 12-year-old victim was taken to North Shore LIJ Hospital in stable condition.

Henderson was charged with attempted murder, assault, criminal use of a firearm, criminal possession of a weapon, reckless endangerment and resting arrest. Hill was charged with criminal possession of a weapon.



Free lunches for kids to be distributed at Queens libraries this summer

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Liam La Guerre


Twenty-two Queens Library locations, in partnership with the city’s Department of Education (DOE), will be distributing free summer meals to children and teens 18 years and under starting June 27 to August 29.

Bagged lunches will be served every Monday through Friday between 12:30 p.m. and 1 p.m. and each will generally include a fresh sandwich, fruit, milk and sometimes a salad, according to library spokeswoman Joanne King.

“The library is an open public space and we want to attract people to come to the library,” King said. “While they’re here they can have free access to other programs. The Queens Library also has a very robust summer reading program and we want to encourage people to get involved with that so they can be better prepared for the academic program in the fall.”

There is no application, qualification or ID necessary to receive a free meal. Children and teens are recommended to arrive early to get lunches, while supplies last. The Queens Library is just one of many agencies collaborating with the DOE, and interested parties could call 311 to get a full list of participating locations.

Listed below are the participating Queens Library locations:

312 Beach 54 St., Arverne

14-01 Astoria Blvd., Astoria

117-11 Sutphin Blvd., Baisley Park

218-13 Linden Blvd., Cambria Heights

1637 Central Ave., Far Rockaway

41-17 Main St., Flushing

202-05 Hillside Ave., Hollis

89-11 Merrick Blvd., Jamaica

134-26 225th St., Laurelton

98-30 57th Ave., Lefrak City

37-44 21st St., Long Island City

40-20 Broadway (at Steinway Street), Long Island City

92-24 Rockaway Blvd., Ozone Park

158-21 Jewel Ave., Pomonok (Flushing)

103-34 Lefferts Blvd., Richmond Hill

169-09 137th Ave., Rochdale Village

116-15 Rockaway Beach Blvd., Rockaway Park

204-01 Hollis Ave., South Hollis

108-41 Guy R. Brewer Blvd., South Jamaica

43-06 Greenpoint Ave., Sunnyside

85-41 Forest Pkwy., Woodhaven

54-22 Skillman Ave., Woodside



Prisoner caught after escaping from St. John’s Hospital: cops

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy NYPD

Updated 7:40 a.m., Sunday, May 18

Police have apprehended an Arverne man who escaped from a Far Rockaway hospital after he was charged with petit larceny and resisting arrest.

George Jordan, 36, was arrested at about 5:40 p.m. Friday and was being treated at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital for a prior condition, officials said, but was able to free himself from handcuffs at about 11 p.m. and flee from the institution.

Cops caught Jordan around 9:30 p.m. Saturday inside a home across the street from the hospital. 



Arverne library to reopen following Sandy damage

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy the Queens Library

Follow me @liamlaguerre

The Arverne branch of the Queens Library is opening a new chapter.

The library will celebrate its reopening on Friday after a $1.36 million renovation following extensive damage from Superstorm Sandy nearly two years ago.

Four feet of water surged into the library during Sandy, ruining books, computers, electrical wiring and furniture.

The rebuilding money was funded by FEMA, the library’s insurance and grants, including one from the Turkish Cultural Center Queens. The library initially reopened for public service on March 18.

The reopening ceremony will feature many Queens dignitaries and a live DJ.



De Blasio announces Sandy recovery overhaul

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo: Ed Reed for the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a major overhaul to speed up Sandy recovery Thursday, along with the release of a detailed report on the city’s response to the storm.

The report includes recommendations that are expected to provide financial relief to businesses and homeowners, and revamp current recovery programs, the mayor said, as well as details on the city’s infrastructure rebuilding and storm mitigation efforts.

“We can’t stand idly by as red tape and bureaucratic bottlenecks prevent far too many New Yorkers from getting the relief they need. That’s why, from day one, we prioritized more efficient recovery,” de Blasio said. “And now, we’ve laid out a blueprint to provide critical financial relief to homeowners and directly engage communities in the rebuilding process—all while continuing our work to ensure a stronger and more resilient New York.”

Part of the engagement process will involve appointing borough directors in Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island, who will have the authority to direct city agencies to increase community engagement and coordination, and bringing Build It Back staff directly into affected communities, according to the mayor’s administration.

“These latest announcements from the administration have brought new hope to many of our residents who have been displaced and are fighting to put their lives back together and move forward,” Borough President Melinda Katz said. “My office will continue to focus resources on the issues and challenges still outstanding for these residents, so we may collectively find solutions.”

The report additionally highlights other improvements the mayor announced last month to Build It Back, a federally-funded program to assist those whose homes, offices and other properties were damaged by Sandy.

Comptroller Scott Stringer also just announced the formation of a Sandy oversight unit and an audit of the Build It Back program.

“It is critical to have an accounting of how government has responded to this event, and what we can do to better prepare for the future,” he said.

Stringer also said that he will be holding town hall meetings in affected neighborhoods during the upcoming months to get community input on what his office should be examining as it comes up with an audit plan of issues on the city’s Sandy response.

The meetings will include the following locations in Queens, with future town halls to be announced for June:

April 30, 6-8 p.m., Bay House, 500 Bayside Dr., Breezy Point

May 20, 6-8 p.m., Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, 348 Beach 71st St., Arverne

For updates on town halls, click here.



Queens’ Morning Roundup

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup


Thursday: Sunshine and clouds mixed. High 29. Winds NNW at 10 to 15 mph. Thursday night: Some clouds. Low 18. Winds W at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: The Powerful Arts of Cameroon

The Powerful Arts of Cameroon: the Collection of Amadou Njoya is a display of artifacts of the African Tribal Arts Kingdom at the QCC Art Gallery. The potent beauty of celebratory festivals, initiations and other traditional rituals will be conveyed through masterful objects made of wood, metal and terra cotta in the exhibit. Amadou Njoya is a fourth generation Cameroonian born into a family of distinguished artisans and advisors for the royal family of the Kingdom of Bamum. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Far Rockaway mom charged in fatal beating of 2-year-old daughter  

A Far Rockaway mother has been arrested for murder after allegedly beating her 2-year-old daughter to death, District Attorney Richard Brown said Wednesday. Read more: The Queens Courier

Black ice, power outages linger after winter storm slams tri-state

Black ice and power issues are lingering after Wednesday’s winter storm dumped freezing rain and snow on the region, coating roads and sidewalks with a slush that made travel treacherous amid a shortage of salt. Read more: NBC New York

City’s workers paid nearly twice salary of private sector: report

Municipal workers made nearly twice as much as their counterparts in the private sector in former Mayor Michael Bloom­berg’s last years in office — earning a median salary of $65,300 in fiscal year 2012, a new analysis found. Read more: New York Post

Prosecutors: Men sold knockoff handbags online, defrauded customers

Five men were indicted Wednesday, on charges offering real luxury handbags at discounted prices on several websites – but actually presenting consumers with knockoffs, or even with nothing at all. Read more: CBS New York

Warning about explosives smuggled in toothpaste tubes

The Homeland Security Department is warning airlines flying to Russia that terrorists may try to smuggle explosives on board hidden in toothpaste tubes. Read more: AP