Tag Archives: Bayside

Forest Hills residents fighting to keep local Barnes & Noble open


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Support to save the Barnes & Noble in Forest Hills is growing.

Local preservationist Michael Perlman started a petition to save the bookstore on Change.org on May 15, the same day the news broke that the Barnes & Noble may not renew its lease at 70-00 Austin St., which expires in January.

The petition has already attracted more than 2,850 signatures as of the writing of this article. It hopes to attract 5,000 signatures, which will be sent to elected officials, Barnes & Noble and Muss Development, the landlord of the building.

The troubled bookstore has already closed its Fresh Meadows branch near St. John’s University, and if the Forest Hills location is shuttered, the only Barnes & Noble in Queens will be the one in Bayside. Perlman emphasized the need to keep the Forest Hills branch open to the community in the petition.

“At the request of the community, [Barnes & Noble’s] lease needs to be renewed to the benefit of current and future generations,” Perlman said in the petition description. “This is a store where multi-generational patrons have the opportunity to explore various genres under one roof, feel as if they are traveling around the world and through time, and interact with the physical nature of books in a welcoming and friendly environment.”

Currently Muss Development and Barnes & Noble are still negotiating the lease renewal for the 22,000-square-foot space, where the bookstore has been for more than 20 years.

The problem began after the bookseller declined to extend its lease five more years. Barnes & Noble wants to remain at the location but “at rates very close to what we are currently paying,” said David Deason, vice president of development at the bookseller.

Muss Development agrees that they are hoping to find a solution, but COO Jeff Kay said he has not heard an alternate pitch from the bookstore after they declined the five-year extension, and they have been collecting interest for the space.

“We would like to retain Barnes & Noble as a long-term tenant. If they are interested, we will work with them to come up with a reasonable solution,” Kay said. “Every major national retailer in the U.S. is attending the ICSC meeting in Las Vegas right now. We are there, meeting with several of them who are interested in leasing the space.”

To sign the petition, click here.

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Forest Hills Barnes & Noble may close, leaving just one branch in Queens


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Updated 3:10 p.m.

Bookseller Barnes & Noble could shutter one of its two remaining locations in Queens if it doesn’t renew its lease.

The 22,000-square-foot location at 70-00 Austin St. in Forest Hills, which has been there for more than 20 years, may close when its lease expires in January. The bookstore declined to extend its lease five more years at the location, according to representatives of landlord Muss Development.

If it does close, the once-prominent bookstore chain will have just one location in Queens, which is in the Bay Terrace Shopping Center in Bayside. Last year, the company closed its Fresh Meadows branch near to St. John’s University.

Representatives for the firm said they are hoping to keep the Forest Hills location open.

“We’re having current discussions with the property owner regarding an extension of lease at Forest Hills,” said David Deason, vice president of development at Barnes & Noble. “We have clearly and consistently communicated to the property owner that we would extend long term, but at rents very close to what we are currently paying. We have been in business there for over 20 years, and hope that we can come to terms that are acceptable to both parties.”

However, an executive from Muss Development, which is prepared to put the space on the market, confirmed to The Courier that they have not received word from Barnes & Noble representatives that they want to sign a new long-term lease or even a one-year extension.

“I would love to keep Barnes & Noble if they have an interest in a long-term deal,” said Jeff Kay, COO of Muss Development. “We got no indication from them that they want to stay long term.”

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LIRR train fatally strikes woman near Bayside station


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

A 41-year-old woman was struck and killed by a Long Island Rail Road train just west of the Bayside station Wednesday night, according to the MTA.

The woman, who wasn’t immediately identified, was hit by an eastbound train at about 11:30 p.m. as it was about to pull into the stop near Bell Boulevard, an LIRR spokesman said.

It wasn’t immediately clear what she was doing on the tracks.

The incident suspended service on the Port Washington line until 1:45 a.m.

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Congresswoman Meng pushes for EPA action on airplane noise


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

File photo

Congresswoman Grace Meng has reached out to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to push for an increase in the agency’s efforts to control noise pollution from airplanes and helicopters.

Residents from Bayside, Flushing and surrounding neighborhoods have reported daily disruption from roaring, low-flying planes since the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved a route change in December 2012 that affected departing LaGuardia Airport traffic.

The new routes adhere to a required three-mile separation between planes coming into John F. Kennedy International Airport and planes taking off from LaGuardia Airport while using a new, precise navigation method.

Meng appealed to the EPA because the agency has the authority to investigate and study noise and its effect and respond to inquiries on matters related to noise under the federal Noise Control Act of 1972. The congresswoman charged that the FAA did not have the resources to properly improve the situation in north Queens, and that a lack of coordination between the aviation authority and airport operators is detrimental to any possible progress.

“[In] order to properly protect human health and the environment from excessive noise, the EPA must fully include flight noise in its jurisdiction,” Meng said. “I have no doubt that its involvement is the best way forward to coordinate the efforts of air carriers, the FAA and airport operators.”

In response to the outcry from the community after the route change, in March 2014, Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to double its sound monitors and create an office to address soaring noise complaints.

As part of the ongoing study, the Port Authority has since collected reports in an online noise complaint management system powered by PlaneNoise, an aviation noise consultancy specializing in airport noise complaint management solutions.

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Bayside’s P.S. 46 finds success with traffic safety initiative


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Alina Suriel

There won’t be any more morning road rage for parents at Bayside’s P.S. 46.

The School Leadership Team of P.S. 46 began restricting street access for non-residents on 218th Street between 64th and 67th avenues in an effort to reduce dangerous traffic congestion. Cones are placed between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m. to only allow one-way traffic from 67th Avenue, and the street is blocked on both sides from 1:45 to 2:45 p.m., and parents must find parking in surrounding areas and walk to the school after student dismissal.

On Tuesday, the second day of the school partially blocking street access for morning drop-off, not even one parent seemed to mind the potential inconveniences of the safety initiative.

Parents lined up patiently down the street as school staff, parent volunteers and student council members escorted children from their family vehicles into the school for early morning breakfast.

“This is what happens when the community gets together and makes a decision,” said P.S. 46 principal Stamo Karalazarides. “It’s nice to see that it’s a very collaborative effort.”

Everyone agreed that the new system was better than the previous one, with parents sometimes triple-parking in a row and the 111th Precinct regularly called to issue citations. Children no more than 10 years old would often have to navigate the traffic alone as their caretakers rushed to quickly find space for their cars.

“This is the best situation out of this whole ordeal because it was a nightmare coming to school,” said Linda Ray, who was dropping off her grandchildren. “They don’t even look, they just pull out. It was just chaotic.”

Jeremy Hilaire, a fourth-grader in the student council, took part in the safety initiative to reduce the risk of accidents and prevent younger children from running into the street as before.

“I’m helping out by causing less traffic so that kids will be safer,” said Hilaire.

Fifth-grader Emmi Lu, president of the student council, said that helping out with community safety was a fun way to set a good example for other children.

“You can help them shape into leaders and they can make a change in the world,” said Lu.

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Bayside Little League team continues hot streak


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy Team Duce

The big bats of Team Duce showed up as they continued their unbeaten streak with a big interleague win over E2 on Saturday.

Charlie Blair, Team Duce’s starting pitcher, not only earned his sixth victory of the season, but also had a three-run homerun and drove in four runs. Tanner Fried continued his hot hitting, going 4-4 on the afternoon with a three-run homerun and a grand slam.

George Diamantopoulos, the cleanup hitter in the lineup, had a double, a single and drove in three runs. Rafael Rufrano and Aris Catehis got on base all six times they got up.

David Castracane got on base in a different way. He reached base twice, both times by getting hit with pitches. Castracane brushed off the pain by scoring a run for his team. The catcher, Bobby Fretwell, threw out a runner who was trying to leg a double into a triple. Fretwell also had a big double in the fourth inning.

Costa Bournias came in to relieve Blair, and was brilliant, striking out five out of the six batters he faced.  Derek McCreesh relieved Bournias and was lights out – striking out the two only batters he opposed. Tino Famiglietti relieved McCreesh in the last inning and recorded the save, pitching a scoreless sixth inning.

The player of the game was John Archbold, who got two huge hits, drove in the winning run and struck out three in a middle relief appearance.

Team Duce is now 6-0 on the season. Their next games are Thursday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 4:30 p.m. Both are at Valle West, which is part of Crocheron Park in Bayside.

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Bayside Jewish Center to be converted to high school


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

File photo

The School Construction Authority (SCA) plans to purchase the Bayside Jewish Center and transform it into a new public high school, according to Councilman Paul Vallone.

The new school will go a long way toward solving the issue of overcrowding in District 26 schools, which are at 130 percent capacity and currently short more than 3,400 seats. The new school is set to alleviate around 25 percent of that gap.

Vallone said that he is going to work with residents to lessen the impact that a new school would have on their everyday lives, including potential effects on parking availability and local traffic concerns.

“What is critical now is making sure that the community and community board are involved in every step of the way and that we work closely with the SCA to minimize the impact to the surrounding neighborhood,” Vallone said.

The SCA has stated that an Environmental Impact Study will soon begin at the site. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, an Environmental Impact Study is done to assess significant environmental impacts and reasonable alternatives which would avoid or minimize adverse impacts or enhance the quality of the human environment.

A public review process will be conducted after the study is completed, and then it will come to a vote before the entire City Council.

The Bayside Jewish Center has been at its current location at 32nd Avenue since 1960 and has seen the number of members in its congregation sharply drop in recent years. The center had an estimated congregation of 150 people in 2012 from 250 families a little over a decade before.

The proportion of Jewish households in northeast Queens plummeted by half from 1991 to 2001, from 44 percent of the population down to 22 percent a decade later, according to the UJA-Federation of New York’s Jewish Community Study.

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Bayside’s P.S. 46 beginning measures to reduce local traffic


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

File photo

The P.S. 46 school community in Bayside is literally putting up a roadblock during arrival and dismissal times to make it safer for children traveling to and from class.

The School Leadership Team of P.S. 46 will begin to block access for non-residents on 218th Street between 64th and 67th avenues in an effort to reduce dangerous traffic congestion.

Cones will be placed on 218th Street between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m. to only allow one-way traffic from 67th Avenue, and parent volunteers and P.S. 46 staff will be waiting during this hour to escort children from each car. Traffic will again be blocked off to non-residents from 1:45 to 2:45 p.m., but parents will need to find parking in surrounding areas to walk to the school after student dismissal.

The street safety initiative is the first effort in P.S. 46’s Project Lifesaver, a collaboration from the school leadership team of staff and parents to make sure children stay safe.

“They didn’t want to wait for an accident,” said P.S. 46 Principal Stamo Karalazarides. “We wanted to be proactive and not reactive, and ensure the safety of our children.”

The 111th Precinct required the school to notify residents of their plan in order to legally block off the street to drivers. The proposal was well received by the community anticipating an alleviation of traffic, according to Karalazarides.

People living on the two-way street had regularly complained of P.S. 46Q parents blocking their entranceways and sometimes even parking inside private driveways while they wait for students to be dismissed.

According to Karalazarides, there are no additional steps planned for Project Lifesaver yet but the school would be open to expanding the initiative if other safety concerns arise.

“If this takes on a life of it’s own we’re open to that, because safety is our first priority,” Karalazarides said.

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Potential for development and commercial property values rising in Bayside


| stephen.preuss@cushwake.com

Photo courtesy Christopher Bride/PropertyShark

Stephen Preuss is a vice president at Cushman & Wakefield who focuses on the Queens market.

Last year, we discussed the Flushing market driving expansion outwards to the surrounding areas of Flushing.

Not only retail but also development potential has been slowly making its way to other territories. The lack of inventory and constant high demand in the Flushing area has forced investors to expand their area of interest. Since 2012, the cost of retail and commercial property has been gradually rising throughout Queens, most recently in the highly trafficked areas of Bayside.

In 2012, we saw commercial properties including retail and mixed-use selling for an average of $550 per square foot with prime properties on Bell Boulevard selling in the higher range of $600 and secondary areas selling in the $320 range – the same could go for 2013.

In 2014, we started to see the demand for Bayside commercial real estate rising. Prime retail sold at an average of $615 per square foot, a 12 percent increase from 2012. We sold a mixed retail and office building at 39-26 Bell Blvd. for $737 per square foot in 2014, 34 percent above the average for 2012 and 2013. We also currently have a package of mixed-use buildings under contract on Bell Boulevard at over $700 per square foot and a 4.8 percent cap rate.

We have been seeing recently that the awareness of Bayside’s potential has greatly increased with investors. Bayside offers a wide range of opportunity including tremendous development potential on Northern Boulevard as well as Bell Boulevard. Numerous sales within the past year have been transacted with the intentions of redevelopment. For example, 42-21 through 42-29 Bell Blvd., a nine-unit, mixed-use retail strip with multiple credit tenants, sold for $645 per square foot at a 3.98 percent cap with existing income. From a development standpoint, the property can be built up to 28,220 square feet which is an additional 17,510 square feet on the existing building.

We expect to see the action continue in Bayside through 2015 and the coming years.  A large amount of the territory in Bayside has been untapped and holds great potential for development and could lead to a growth in real estate investors, developers and major retail tenants.

Stephen Preuss

Stephen Preuss

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Bayside Little League’s Team Duce remains undefeated with big win


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy of Team Duce.

Team Duce, which is part of the Texas Division of Bayside Little League, continued their winning streak on Saturday and improved their record to 4-0 when they defeated team divisional rival W7.

Tanner Fried hit for the cycle, drove in eight RBIs and earned his nickname “The Sandman” by closing the game with a scoreless sixth inning. He was named the player of the game for his stellar performance.

Charlie Blair, the starting pitcher, earned the win and brought his record to a perfect 4-0. Derek McCreesh came in to relieve Blair and struck out five batters in the relief effort. Bobby Fretwell came in for McCreesh and earned his first strikeout of the season.

Tino Famiglietti made a tremendous play in the outfield by throwing out a runner at second. George Diamantopoulos played great at first base and hit for two doubles.

John Archbold and Rafael Rufrano both played catcher and got on base a combined six times. Costa Bournias got on base three times and also scored three runs.

Duce looks to remain undefeated when they take the field this Saturday at 11:30 a.m. at Valley West Field, located in Crocheron Park.

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First Independence Day fireworks show coming to Fort Totten


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo via Jon Sullivan/ Wikimedia Commons 

Bayside residents can skip the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks this year, because fireworks are coming to Fort Totten.

The Bayside Historical Society and Councilman Paul Vallone have organized the first official fireworks show at Fort Totten, which will be on July 1 ahead of Independence Day weekend.

The 15-minute pyrotechnic show by Long Island-based Fireworks by Grucci will commence following a three-hour concert by local bands. People will be able to see the colorful explosions from as far as Whitestone, Douglaston and even The Bronx, Vallone said. The entire event is free and will run from 5 to 9 p.m.

“My idea is for it to become a really great annual event,” Vallone said. “For me, doing things outside, like we do with the Children’s Holiday Parade, really are the things that start to define how great this community is.”

People will be instructed to bring seats and picnic blankets for the show. The fireworks will shoot up from a soccer field at Fort Totten, and guests will be directed to the area near the pool, which will be able to fit more than 2,000 people, according to Vallone. However, there will be other places around Fort Totten for people to view the show.

Vallone said they are also expecting to bring tall ships around Fort Totten for children to watch.

The Bayside Historical Society is covering the event costs — more than $20,000 for the fireworks — through grant money it received for events from the Department of Cultural Affairs.

Advertising for the event will begin around mid-May and maps will be printed so people know where to watch the show and to park their vehicles.

The Bayside Historical Society usually holds a concert around the end of June, but after speaking with Vallone, they decided to mesh the two events. Depending on the event’s success, it could become an annual tradition for Independence Day, according to Alison McKay, executive director of the Bayside Historical Society.

“We’re so excited to bring this family-friendly event to Bayside,” McKay said. “No pun intended, if it launches well, we’ll do it again.”

Vallone and the historical society are calling for volunteers to help direct guests and coordinate the event. Contact info@baysidehistorical.org to volunteer.

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Bayside restaurant Il Vesuvio moving, expanding and changing name


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Il Vesuvio Pizzeria in Bayside is saying ciao to its small location and doubling in size just a few doors down on Bell Boulevard.

Owners are moving the restaurant to 39-28 Bell Blvd., the site of former hibachi steakhouse and sushi bar Okinawa, and expanding it to include a bar, restaurant and pizzeria.

Pat Fabiano, an owner of the restaurant, also said they are also changing the name from Il Vesuvio to Il Borgo to reflect the new start for the business. Il Borgo is expected to open in about a month and a half.

Fabiano purchased Il Vesuvio about a decade ago. The restaurateur also owns Organico in Port Washington, which is a formal sit-down organic Italian restaurant that has received high ratings.

Il Borgo will be less formal, and Fabiano envisions a sit-down eatery on Bell Boulevard where everyday families and friends can gather.

“I feel that people need that option of an easygoing place and to not be scared because they see tablecloth,” he said. “I want people to walk in with their regular T-shirts.”

The new restaurant will have an “industrial look,” with brick, metal and wood features. The expansion will allow for about 120 people, and there will be a party room. The six-person staff will more than double as well.

Fabiano said there will be a grand opening party for Il Borgo.

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Bayside man pleads guilty to sharing child porn collection online


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Title

A 32-year-old man is facing prison time after admitting to sharing his extensive child pornography collection online from his parents’ Bayside home where he lives, prosecutors announced.

Christopher DeNicola of Bell Boulevard pleaded guilty on Thursday to promoting the sexual performance of a child, and the judge indicated he will sentence him to two to six years in prison on Sept. 10.

According to the charges, on May 5, 2014, special agents from the Department of Homeland Security showed up to DeNicola’s home, which he shares with his parents, and executed a court-authorized search warrant, District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Authorities recovered 34 pieces of electronic media, including a desktop computer with 10 external hard drives connected to it. On those devices, there were more than 10,000 photographs and videos of underage children being sexually abused.

DeNicola allegedly copped to trading the child pornography on peer-to-peer networks for years.

“The defendant has admitted that he shared very disturbing pictures and videos of children. It is important to remember that these images are for all intents and purposes crime scenes — they depict real children being cruelly victimized both physically and emotionally. The memories of their abuse will be with them for the rest of their lives,” Brown said.

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Controversial Bayside elementary school to start construction this summer


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy the Department of Education 

The School Construction Authority is collecting bids to find a company to construct a controversial four-story, 468-seat elementary school in Bayside on the former Keil Brothers Garden Center and Nursery site.

The school, P.S. 332, will cost between $46.2 to $48.6 million and should be open for students from pre-K through fifth grade in September 2017, according to a Department of Education representative. Although a specific time wasn’t given, construction on the nearly 80,500-square-foot facility is expected to start in the late summer, the spokesperson said.

Dozens of residents held a rally two years ago in front of the site at 210-07 48th Ave. to protest the new school. Homeowners nearby said it would impact parking and present dangerous traffic problems for students.

The City Council gave the green light for the project in November 2013 after a vote. Councilmen Mark Weprin and Peter Vallone Jr. were the only legislators who voted against it. However, state Sen. Tony Avella, Assemblywoman Nily Rozic and Community Board 11 also opposed the project.

Supporters of the plan said it would relieve congestion from the district’s schools, which, like schools in many other parts of the borough, are suffering from overcrowding.

That could be the reason why the size of the proposed school inflated over the years. Original plans were for a 456-student institution.

Construction companies have until May 22 to submit their bids.

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Identify this place in Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

photo

Do you know where in Queens this photo was taken? Guess by commenting below! The answer will be revealed next week.

Last week’s answer to “Identify this Place”: P.S. 213 in Bayside 

DSC_0299-624x416

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