Tag Archives: aqueduct

Mom Throws Baby Out Window to Escape Suspicious Fire in Jamaica


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Mom Throws Baby Out Window to Escape Suspicious Fire in Jamaica

A desperate mother threw her baby out the second-floor window of a Queens home that was engulfed by a suspicious blaze early Thursday, fire authorities and witnesses said. The child, who couldn’t have been more than 2 or 3 years old, landed safely in the arms of civilians who gathered on the sidewalk next to the flaming building, said Dan Delargy, one of the first FDNY responders with Ladder 155. Delargy said the baby came flying out the window as he was walking in the front door of the Jamaica home. The cause of the fire is unknown at this time, but officials are considering it suspicious. Captain Anthony Varriale said the blaze appears to be intentionally set. Read More: NBC News

 

Feds Arrest Fugitive “Folk Nation” Gang Leader

Federal authorities on Wednesday announced the arrest of a fugitive leader of a violent Brooklyn and Queens street gang. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Brooklyn says Devon Rodney is in custody and is awaiting arraignment. He and eight other accused members of the “Folk Nation” gang were indicted last month for murder and racketeering. One of the men is still on the loose and the rest have already been arraigned. Authorities believe the crew is behind four murders, three attempted murders, and a string of assaults and robberies. Read More: NY1

 

Ray Kelly ‘threat’ man makes bail

A Brooklyn man busted for allegedly making threatening comments online about Police Commissioner Ray Kelly was freed on $10,000 bail yesterday and ordered to stay away from the top cop. Richard Strauss, 49, had railed against Kelly in the comments section of Gothamist.com, where, using the handle Ladder157, he called the commissioner “an enemy of the people.” “A well-placed round of 7.62 ammo to his thick skull would work quite well to eliminate the threat he poses. All New Yorkers should aim their sights (both figuratively and literally) on this piece of excrement,” the comment read. Read More: New York Post

Racino ‘scam’

Two Aqueduct racino employees were charged yesterday with giving phony “high roller” comp cards to gamblers in exchange for a cut of their winnings. Moises Jones, 29, of The Bronx, and Rolanda Roberts, 33, of Brooklyn, allegedly earned several thousand dollars by distributing nearly 200 fake cards. Read More: New York Post

Bronx woman arrested for stabbing a 3-month-old girl during a wild argument with the baby’s mother

A Bronx woman has been arrested for stabbing a 3-month-old baby in the head amid an argument with the child’s mother, prosecutors said. “I hope that f—ing baby dies!” Candie Hailey-Means, 28, shouted as she plunged a blade into little Hazel Haliburton’s head, court papers show. The toddler suffered a fractured skull, a black eye and other injuries during the attack on Friday. She remains hospitalized at Lincoln Medical Center, but doctors expect she will survive, sources told the Daily News Wednesday. Read More: Daily News

If you build it, they will come


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Last week’s State of the State address by Governor Andrew Cuomo promised big things for Queens, chief among them building the country’s largest convention center on the former site of the Aqueduct Racino.

The 3.8 million-square-foot convention center would accommodate the nation’s largest events, up to 3,000 hotel rooms and many restaurants, and create new tourism revenues. The project would be a $4 billion investment financed by Resorts World that the governor said is estimated to generate 10,000 construction jobs and 10,000 direct, permanent jobs and thus create new economic activity throughout the state, especially in our own backyards.

The project would be headed by Genting America, the same company that conceived and constructed the Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct.

We say bravo to Cuomo, to Genting, the elected officials in support and to the project as a whole.

The New York International Convention and Exhibition Center will put Queens on the map and make us a “destination location.”

The first phase, 2.6 million square feet, is set to be completed at the earliest, in November 2014.

But before that can happen, certain improvements must be in place.

Traffic and road conditions need to be ameliorated on the Belt Parkway and local streets need to be studied and prepared for the additional traffic, including extra parking spaces.

The good news is that Resorts World and the state have already agreed to work alongside the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to help fund and introduce uninterrupted subway service between Midtown Manhattan and the center.

Our borough is bustling and bourgeoning, and a convention center will be the perfect way for Queens to hit the jackpot!

Meanwhile, on the other end of the borough, 13 acres of waterfront property — the single largest building site in the borough — is now for sale in Whitestone.

According to Massey Knakal Realty Services, the site has already been approved for the construction of 52 single-family homes by the City Planning Commission.

The area, according to locals, is one of the most desirable in the borough, with houses selling for $2 million. And the development of the 52 homes, according to one local official, would “set a precedent for future development.”

And in Astoria, the Lincoln Equities Group, a real estate company based in New Jersey, hopes to build seven residential towers, dubbed Hallets Point, a supermarket and a waterfront park along the East River.

This would create roughly 2,200 units of housing. Approximately 1,800 of the units would be market rate, with 400 to 500 – or 20 percent – reserved for affordable housing. The privately-financed project, which is expected to create 1,400 construction jobs and 300 permanent jobs, has an estimated cost of over $1 billion.

With all these development projects, it’s clear that Queens is the place to be!

 

Prosecutors and defense disclose plea talks in Jose Pimentel bomb plot case


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Prosecutors and defense disclose plea talks in Jose Pimentel bomb plot case

Prosecutors and defense lawyers say they’re in plea negotiations in a rare state-level terror case against a New York City man. He’s charged with building a homemade bomb to try to attack soldiers, police and other government targets. The Manhattan district attorney’s office disclosed the plea talks during a court date Monday in Jose Pimentel’s case. Defense lawyer Lori Cohen says prosecutors haven’t made any firm offer yet. Pimentel didn’t have to appear for the brief session. He’s due back in court March 1. The 27-year-old is being held without bail on charges including weapons possession and conspiracy as terror crimes. Read More: New York Post

 

Man killed in Bx. shooting previously injured in August shootout

A gun-toting thug fatally shot a man in the Bronx yesterday, police said. The victim, Ricky Rodriguez-Recio, 20, was believed to be the intended target of a shooting in August that left a 2-year-old critically injured, sources said. The victim was outside of his home on East 181st Street in Bronx Park South at 6:17 p.m. when an unknown gunman opened fire striking him in the chest and hitting another man in the hand, cops said. Rodriguez-Recio was previously shot in the lower back on August 29 when Luis More, 23, opened fire at him, striking two children playing outside. Read More: New York Post

 

Report: Aqueduct Racino Pulled In $90M During Year’s Final Stretch

The money is reportedly flowing at the new Aqueduct racetrack casino in Queens. The Daily News says the racino brought in close to $90 million in revenue in November and December — more than five other gambling operations in New York made all last year. Only locations in Yonkers, Saratoga, and the Finger Lakes took in more money in 2011, but those are open year-round. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver pinned Aqueduct’s success on the number of video slots, table games, and its proximity to the city. Read More: NY1

 

Trial on tap in Giants Stadium escalator accident

Opening arguments are under way in a trial brought by eight people who were injured when a Giants Stadium escalator malfunctioned four years. The trial started Monday in state Superior Court in Hackensack in a lawsuit brought against the company that maintained the escalator and the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which operated Giants Stadium. The escalator malfunctioned as fans were leaving a New York Giants game against the New England Patriots on Dec. 29, 2007. An attorney for the plaintiffs says one person lost a leg and another has had more than a dozen operations on his foot. Read More: New York Post

 

 

Blue Ivy Carter an instant Twitter sensation: Jay-Z and Beyonce’s baby garners celebrity attention

Beyonce and Jay-Z’s baby was trending on Twitter at birth. The social media site was aflutter Sunday with celebrity pals and relatives of the hip-hop royal couple posting messages of 140 characters or less. “The most beautiful girl in the world,” Beyoncé’s sis, Solange Knowles, tweeted of her newborn niece, Blue Ivy Carter. Within hours of entering the world at Lenox Hill Hospital on the upper East Side Saturday night, the infant boasting the lineage of the R&B princess and the rap impresario caused a stir in the Twittersphere. Read More: Daily News

 

No Pants Subway Ride hits New York City for 11th year 

It’s like commuting, but without the pants. Straphangers throughout New York City nonchalantly stripped to their underwear from the waist down Sunday afternoon as part of a global practical joke coordinated by prankster outfit Improv Everywhere. To participate in the 11th annual No Pants Subway Ride, the only requirements were people had to be “willing to take pants off on subway” and “able to keep a straight face about it,” organizers said in a post on their website. Read More: Daily News

 

Trial begins in murder of Laura Garza, young Brooklyn woman who went missing from a Manhattan nightclub  

A murder trial is getting under way for a registered sex offender accused of murdering an aspiring dancer from Texas whose body was found in Pennsylvania more than a year after she went missing in New York. Jury selection is set to begin Monday in Orange County Court in the murder trial of Michael Mele of Wallkill. The victim, Laura Garza, met Mele at a Manhattan nightclub in December 2008 and disappeared afterward. Her body was found in April 2010 near Scranton, Pa. Garza had moved to Brooklyn from McAllen, Texas, five months before her disappearance. Read More: Daily News

 

Long Island police investigate swastika drawn on garage door in Sea Cliff

Long Island cops are hunting the vandals who drew a swastika on a garage door in Sea Cliff. Nassau County police say the 63-year-old resident of the home discovered the Nazi symbol over the weekend. Police say it was drawn in black marker sometime between between 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. Sunday. The incident is being investigated as aggravated harassment. Police say a school, park and three homes were the targets of similar vandalism in Sea Cliff between Dec. 27 and Dec. 30. Read More: Daily News

 

Police Release Photo Of Suspected Bronx Subway Groper

Police in the Bronx are looking for a man they say groped a woman on the subway. The incident happened around 7:30 p.m. on the evening of December 14 at the East Kingsbridge Road and Grand Concourse station on the D line. Police say a 25-year-old woman was walking up the stairs when a man approached from behind, lifted her dress and touched her backside. Read More: NY1

 

[Update with pics] Cuomo wants convention center, table gaming for Aqueduct Racino


| smosco@queenscourier.com

Convention Interior 1 w

There were two major points in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State speech that everyone saw coming, both of which have a lot to do with Queens.

During his speech on Wednesday, January 4, the governor formally introduced the idea of legalizing full table gaming in New York State, which would mean big news for Resorts World Casino in South Ozone Park. He also revealed his plan to initiate the building of the country’s largest convention center on that ground, the former site of the Aqueduct Racino.

The 3.8 million-square-foot convention center would accommodate the nation’s largest events, drive demand for hotel rooms and restaurants, and create new tourism revenues. The project would be a $4 billion investment that the governor said is estimated to generate tens of thousands of jobs and create new economic activity throughout the state.

“Today is different. We are not just talking about problems, we are talking about our opportunities,” he said. “Let’s build the largest convention center in the nation, period.”

The project would be headed by Genting America, the same company that conceived and constructed the Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct.
“Genting America is extremely excited about this opportunity to partner with Governor Cuomo to build the largest convention center in the country,” said Genting America’s senior vice president of development Christian Goode. “It’s a great time to invest and grow in New York, and we are thrilled to be able to play a role in creating jobs and increasing tourism.”

On the gaming end, Cuomo said the state must develop a comprehensive approach to casino gaming because the state is losing tax revenue, tourism dollars and jobs to neighboring states. Cuomo said he will support a constitutional amendment to allow gaming in the state, which he said will generate an estimated $1 billion in economic activity in the state.

“It’s not about chips and cards, it’s about jobs,” he said. “Let’s get the jobs back in New York, and let’s take the first step this year.”

Gov. Cuomo wants Aqueduct racino to serve as 3.8 million square foot convention center


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

NYC Firebombing Suspect Charged with Hate Crime

A New York man suspected of five New York City fire bombings was arrested today and charged with a hate crime. Ray Lazier Lengend, 40, was charged with one count of arson as a hate crime and four counts of arson in connection with the Sunday attacks that targeted an Islamic center, a Hindu temple, a bodega and two private homes. Lengend was arrested by cops who staked out a vehicle overnight awaiting the return of the vehicle’s owner. According to law enforcement officials, Lengend made statements that appear to implicate him in at least some of the bombings, but stopped short of a confession in the first rounds of interrogation. Detectives, relying on statements from witnesses and grainy surveillance video, determined the suspected bomber drove a late model car with Virginia license plates. Read More: ABC News

Gov. Cuomo wants Aqueduct racino to serve as 3.8 million square foot convention center

Governor Cuomo wants to up the ante on the future of the Aqueduct racino in Queens and make it home to the country’s largest convention center, the Daily News has learned. The planned project will be highlighted as part of the economic development agenda Cuomo will outline in his State of the State address Wednesday, two sources told The News. “The notion is that (Cuomo) is going to put the project on the fast-track to get it done,” one source said. “They need a couple of big economic development initiatives to announce.” Read More: Daily News

Pol, residents demand DOT repair broken curbs

Queens residents have had their hopes for safe sidewalks curbed by the Department of Transportation (DOT). Senator Tony Avella recently united with perturbed residents from northern and eastern Queens – who have suffered with broken curbs in front of their homes for years – to demand the DOT “accelerate” their sidewalk repair program. Read More: Queens Courier

Transit advocates oppose plan to turn defunct railroad into QueensWay park 

A plan to transform an abandoned rail line into a park in southern Queens is generating a lot of buzz, but a group of transit advocates has another vision. They believe the tracks, which have sat idle for five decades, should be reactivated to give southern Queens residents an easier commute to Manhattan. The Long Island Rail Road operated the line, which once ran from Rockaway, up through Ozone Park and Forest Park to Rego Park. It was discontinued in the early 1960s and the property is currently owned by the city. A growing group of supporters is pushing for a High Line-type park to be known as the QueensWay. Read More: Daily News

Lobbyist Is Expected to Plead Guilty in Corruption Case

Richard J. Lipsky, a prominent New York lobbyist who was charged in the bribery conspiracy case that also ensnared State Senator Carl Kruger, is expected to plead guilty on Wednesday in Federal District Court in Manhattan, a person briefed on the matter said Tuesday. Mr. Lipsky’s plea would come just two weeks after Kruger resigned from the Senate and pleaded guilty to corruption charges in the broad conspiracy case that has been seen as reflecting corruption in Albany. Mr. Kruger faces up to 50 years in prison when he is sentenced in April by Judge Jed S. Rakoff. Read More: New York Times

Officials Condemn Queens Firebomb Attacks

Mayor Michael Bloomberg met with religious leaders Tuesday morning in a strong show of support after Molotov cocktails hit an Islamic cultural center, a Hindu house of worship, and two other locations in Queens this weekend. “Whether it was senseless violence or a hate crime will be determined down the road. But in either case we’re just not going to tolerate it in this city. And fortunately the number of incidents like this are very low, but one is one too many,” Bloomberg said. Read More: NY1

TSA: Pre-Check Screenings Coming To JFK

The screening process is getting faster and easier for some passengers at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Federal officials announced Tuesday that the Transportation Security Administration’s Pre-Check Program will be enacted at the airport early this year. Eligible American Airlines passengers as well as members of the Customs and Border Protection’s Trusted Traveler programs will go through an expedited screening process which does not require taking off shoes, a jacket or belt. Read More: NY1

 

Slay-suicide horror in Maspeth


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Slay-suicide horror in Maspeth

A woman died yesterday after her boyfriend slashed her throat in their Maspeth apartment, stabbed her stepson, then jumped in front of an LIRR train, authorities said. Maureen Biermann, 43, died at Wyckoff Heights Hospital. Her attacker, James Peck, 33, died on the tracks. Biermann’s stepson, 22, was in stable condition. Read More: Daily News

No deals for cop ‘killers

Brooklyn’s top prosecutor yesterday said he won’t even think about cutting plea deals with the five thugs accused of murdering cop Peter Figoski. “There will be a trial,” District Attorney Charles Hynes vowed. “We want the public to understand that the murder of a police officer is as serious as any crime we’ve ever had. In cases like this, there’s no indication of a plea deal — ever.” Read More: New York Post

Queens pair sentenced in Virginia for bank fraud

Two New York residents have been sentenced in Virginia for their roles in a scheme to fraudulently tap into home equity lines of credit and credit card accounts. U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride says 41-year old Joan Marsh of Queens was sentenced Monday to eight years in prison. Thirty-year-old Ayodele Adewale Onasanya of Queens was sentenced to seven years and three months in prison. A federal jury convicted Marsh in September on a dozen conspiracy, bank fraud and money laundering counts. Onasanya pleaded guilty in September to conspiracy to commit bank fraud.  Read More: Wall Street Journal

A mission born from a cause

Fifteen-year-old Carly Rose Nieves is turning ordinary people into heroes, one pint of blood at a time. For the second year in a row, the Middle Village teen — and her team of family members and friends — organized a blood drive and bone marrow registry at Christ the King (CTK) Regional High School. The December 17 event brought in 75 pints of blood and 10 new bone marrow donors for the New York Blood Center. Read More: Queens Courier

After Resigning, Tearful Senator Pleads Guilty to Accepting Bribes

In the annals of municipal corruption in New York City, the themes of graft, greed and betrayal have been familiar running mates from one century to the next, accompanying the fall of the Tammany boss William Tweed in the 1870s, the resignation of the popular mayor James J. Walker in 1932, and the bribes, appetites and suicide of Donald R. Manes, a former Queens borough president, in 1986. But the denouement of the political career of State Senator Carl Kruger, who pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges on Tuesday, goes beyond that story line, encompassing tales of romance and perhaps even sacrifice, and laying bare one of the more bizarre domestic tableaux — even by New York standards — ever uncovered by F.B.I. wiretaps. Read More: New York Times

Aqueduct racino construction workers exposed to hazards including lead, feds say

Construction workers toiled virtually around the clock to get Queens’ glitzy gaming hub operational, but federal officials are now charging that contractors cut corners when it came to safety. Five companies skirted regulations during construction of the Aqueduct racino this summer and exposed employees to hazardous conditions, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration said Monday. Read More: Daily News

Five Remaining MLB Free Agents Who Can Help the New York Mets: Fan’s Take

The New York Mets need all the help they can get. Unfortunately, they aren’t willing to pay much to get it. All indications are that the financially-challenged Mets will stay away from free agent solutions for 2012 as they look to cut payroll. However, these five overlooked free agents may come at a discount, tempting Mets general manager Sandy Alderson to give them a call. It may be worth it. Read More: Yahoo Sports

Deal Struck to Broaden Taxi Service in the City

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo struck a deal with the Bloomberg administration on Tuesday that would expand taxi service in New York by allowing livery cabs to be hailed on the street in parts of the city traditionally underserved by yellow cabs. The agreement, which Cuomo is poised to sign into law on Wednesday and which ends months of fractious negotiations, would also create 2,000 more wheelchair-accessible yellow cabs. The auction of those medallions is expected to raise at least $1 billion for the city. Read More: New York Times

4 more suspects collared in slaying of NYPD cop Peter Figoski


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

4 more suspects collared in slaying of NYPD cop Peter Figoski

The accomplice who fled from cops after his low-life pal shot and killed Officer Peter Figoski has been caught, police said Tuesday. Three other suspects were also taken into custody overnight — two neighbors who live across the street and the alleged getaway driver. The accomplice was arrested at 2 a.m. and will be charged with murder in the slaying of Figoski, a decorated 22-year NYPD veteran and father of four daughters, officials said. Read More: Daily News

Violent ex-con arrested for shooting NYPD cop dead was wanted for shooting in North Carolina in August

The violent ex-con accused of gunning down a hero cop in Brooklyn Monday should have been locked up weeks ago for shooting a man in North Carolina, the Daily News has learned. Despite being arrested twice in New York since September, a series of legal snafus allowed Lamont Pride to roam the streets of the city free to kill. Read More: Daily News

Aqueduct racino set to open exclusive, luxury gaming floor 

The final touches are being put on another floor of gaming at the Aqueduct racino — but you’ll need be a high roller to wager and enjoy the amenities. The media got a sneak peek on Monday at the second floor — set to open Friday — which racino officials hope will lure out-of-state gamblers to the South Ozone Park attraction. Read More: Daily News

Woodside Residents Reach Out To Fire Victims

NY1′s Lisa McDivitt looks into how a Woodside community is helping those affected by a fire that occurred in their neighborhood one month ago. Watch the video: NY1

New Initiative Aids Small Businesses In Flushing

NY1′s Angela Chen looks at some small businesses in Flushing that are getting a helping hand from a new initiative. Watch the video: NY1

Queens graveyard worker sues over alleged abuse  in workplace at Cypress Hills Cemetery

A Queens graveyard worker says he was driven to drink and despair by cruel bosses at the Cypress Hills Cemetery and that his union did nothing to help him. Jozef Klaper, a 63-year-old Polish immigrant, claims in a lawsuit that foreman John Nicastro got into his head by calling him “Eddie Mouser” — the name of a dead cemetery worker. Read more: Daily News

Queens’ Morning Roundup – 11/09/2011: Queens Landlord Kills Tenant Before Committing Suicide


| jlane@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

No parole again for killer of NYC’s Kitty Genovese

The man who killed Kitty Genovese has been denied parole for the 15th time in a case that became notorious after reports that neighbors in her quiet New York City neighborhood failed to act as they heard the victim’s screams. Read More: Wall Street Journal

 

Queens Landlord Kills Tenant Before Committing Suicide

Neighbors widely knew that the owner of 111-11 143rd Street in South Jamaica, Queens wanted the tenants on the top floor and basement out of his house, due to a long-running dispute over rent. But on Tuesday, it became bloody in an apparent murder-suicide. Police said the home owner, 62-year-old Eulith Reid, chopped his 48-year-old basement tenant Hettie Patterson in the head with a machete, killing her. He then stabbed himself in the neck and also died. They were pronounced dead in Jamaica Hospital. Read More: NY1

 

Aqueduct Racino Pulls In $15M During First Stretch

The new casino at Aqueduct Racetrack is on a big winning streak, but not without some small bumps along the way. Watch the video: NY1

 

Queens group builds housing and new lives for former inmates  

For women leaving prison, one of the greatest challenges is finding a stable place to live. That’s why nonprofit group Hour Children is creating affordable housing in Long Island City for formerly incarcerated women trying to rebuild their lives. Read More: Daily News

 

Long Island City housing complex plagued by shootings

Constant fear caused by frequent shootings has left the residents of Astoria Houses in a frenzy. The housing development, located at 4-20 Astoria Boulevard in Long Island City, has been plagued by gun violence for years, according to the people who call the houses home. Read More: Queens Courier

Resorts World New York will enhance New York’s thoroughbred racing and breeding stature


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

New York State Racing and Wagering Board Chair John Sabini

By John Sabini

New York’s storied history of horse racing is unparalleled anywhere in the world, and with the opening of Genting’s Resorts World New York at Aqueduct, we’re already seeing an enhancement of our state’s leading position.

Revenue generated at Resorts World New York is expected to drive hundreds of millions of dollars into our education coffers. Additionally, a small but vital portion of the money wagered at the Video Lottery Terminals is designated for New York’s equine industry.

A snapshot of the potential: In Fiscal Year 2010-2011, revenue generated from New York’s video gaming – which did not include Resorts World New York – totaled $547 million for education and $111 million for racing purses and breeders fund contributions. The largest contributing facility was Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway, which was responsible for $318 million of the education revenue. Some have estimated Resorts World New York’s education contribution could top $400 million next year.

From increased purse money to guarantee the best horses race in New York, to money to improve living conditions for the often-forgotten backstretch personnel and their families, to incentives for local breeders; there are benefits to all 62 Empire State counties.

Just 11 months ago, things looked bleak for New York’s racing industry. When New York City Off Track Betting (NYCOTB) closed, it meant an immediate 45 percent drop in annual handle for The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA), our franchise partner at Aqueduct, Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course. Additionally, the New York State Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund (NYSTBDF) lost a third of its funding stream. This sent shockwaves throughout the industry.

Through a few regulatory changes, we were able to ease the blow for everyone, but the real tonic will be the cash flow from Resorts World New York. NYRA has already upped its purse schedule for the Aqueduct winter meet and the NYSTBDF has increased breeders and stallion awards based on projections for the new Aqueduct facility. Those projections, at this point, frankly look conservative.

Horse racing is a business and the stakeholders are taking notice. Queens businessman Mike Repole took three horses to this year’s Breeders’ Cup, and he keeps his ponies here in New York. Vinery Stables, one of the world’s top breeding operations, has opened an outpost in upstate New York and the top stallions of Frank Stronach have been sent to stand in the state. Another positive development: there was a double-digit increase in the sale of New York-bred yearlings at this year’s Fasig-Tipton sale at Saratoga. One might say the industry is voting with its hooves, and moving toward the Empire State.

The benefits extend beyond racing and breeding. Viable farms means greenspace preservation. Higher purses mean strong tourism for Saratoga and the Capital Region. The infusion of revenue from Resorts World New York will magnify our reputation as a racing capital, keep jobs in economically-challenged upstate and subsidize education for decades to come.

Right now, New York’s equine industry, from farmhands to mutual clerks, is responsible for 40,000 jobs and $2.4 billion in economic activity. With Resorts World New York now finally in the game, the coming years should be even better.

While crowds at Aqueduct haven’t been like this for decades, the splash in South Ozone Park has sent positive ripples throughout New York state.

John D. Sabini Chairs the New York State Racing and Wagering Board and the state’s Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund. A Queens resident, he represented Jackson Heights and surrounding areas for 16 years as a legislator.

Leaders wary of businesses opening near Aqueduct Racino


| mchan@queenscourier.com

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Pawn shop and bar owners in South Ozone Park are looking to cash in on their own jackpot once the city’s first casino opens for business.

The stores have been sprouting up on Rockaway Boulevard and owners say it’s the perfect time and place to set up shop.

“Why open up a bar here? To make money. The casino’s coming up. A lot of people are going to come from everywhere and the place is going to be busy,” said Mohammad Saddique, co-owner of Johnny’s Bar and Restaurant.

The bar closed last Thanksgiving for renovations and plans to reopen late this October — just in time for the first stage of Resorts World Casino New York City to open to the public.
“It makes sense,” said pawn shop owner Amit Verma. “When somebody is a little low on their luck in the casino, they get lucky over here, especially now when the gold price is so high. They get paid a lot of money for their jewelry, and then they can try their luck again and maybe win their money back.”

Verma opened up his shop, Nassau Buyers, about a year ago. He said he signed the lease on the same day he found out the casino was coming to town.

“Right now it’s really slow. We only see a few people a day. But we expect the numbers to [multiply] by ten,” he said.

But local leaders are less than thrilled with their presence.

“These are the last types of businesses that the community wants,” said Councilmember Eric Ulrich. “I doubt very much that this was the type of job creation that people had in mind when we heard that Aqueduct was going to be turned into a racino.”

Betty Braton, chairmember of Community Board 10, said she’s concerned that the businesses will take advantage of local gamblers.

“The owners assume they’re going to get business from gamblers. We are very concerned that there are people who will try to capitalize on other peoples’ gambling needs by opening businesses that cater to problem gamblers,” she said. “You can’t say they can’t be there. They have a right to be there, but we don’t believe they are particularly an asset to the community.”

But pawn shop owner Primo Arjun said he doesn’t see his business as a “bad thing.”

“You have people who don’t have credit cards or bank accounts, and they come in to get a loan in a hurry. There’s nothing wrong with that,” he said. “The pawn shop business has changed throughout the years. You now have middle class people coming in, not just the lower class. It’s not like before where people would bring in a lot of stolen stuff. It’s mostly people who just need a loan. I’ve seen police officers, people from real estate, nurses — people from all walks of life come pawn with you.”

Arjun, owner of Primo’s Pawn Broker, said he has even been cooperating with the police.

“Everything we do gets transmitted to the precinct, and they kind of run everybody’s name through the system just to make sure. If there’s something they need to see, if they feel suspicious, we show it to them. They can come in and inspect whatever they need to,” he said.

Both pawn shop owners said they’ve been trying to erase the bad name associated with the industry.

“We’re not here to take advantage of people. There are so many locals who come out here that don’t have money for oil to heat their houses for the winter. I can’t tell you how many bills we’ve helped pay,” Verma said. “I’m a proud owner and I think that it’s a good part of the community.”