Tag Archives: Close

Queens-bound platform of Rockaway Boulevard A train station to close for months

| slicata@queenscourier.com

Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit

The MTA will temporarily close one of the most frequently used A train stations along Liberty Avenue at Rockaway Boulevard starting early next week.

The Queens-bound platform of the Rockaway Boulevard station is set to close on Feb. 9 at 5 a.m. as part of a $39 million capital project at five stations along the A train on Liberty Avenue, according to the MTA. The station is the closest stop to the bus transit hub located on the intersection of Rockaway Boulevard and Liberty Avenue.

The renewal work at Rockaway Boulevard will mean replacement of the mezzanine-to-platform stairs, mezzanine floors, doors and windows, and interior and exterior walls. It will also be painted, and canopies, windscreen panels and railings will be replaced. The work is expected to stretch from February to May, according to the MTA.

Along with these fixes, the transit agency will install new lighting in the mezzanine area and new artwork. Similar work has already been done on some A train stations on Liberty Avenue, such as 88 St.-Boyd Ave, where work was finished at the end of September.

Other stations that have and will benefit from this project are 80th Street, 104th Street.-Oxford Avenue and 111th Street-Greenwood Avenue. Work has been completed at two of the five up to this point — 104th Street and 88th Street.

The MTA said that these renewals will include “enhanced safety features, and upgraded communications, and will create significantly better travel conditions for customers.”

Following the completion of the Queens-bound side of the Rockaway train station, the MTA will move to the Manhattan-bound side and continue their work on that side. That portion of the project is expected to start in May of this year.


Joe Abbracciamento Restaurant set to close after nearly 70 years

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A beloved Queens eatery that has fed generations for nearly 70 years will soon be serving up its last course.

Joe Abbracciamento Restaurant, a neighborhood fixture at 62-96 Woodhaven Boulevard, will close March 2, as longtime owners prepare for retirement.

“We just want to sit back for a little while, relax and breathe the fresh air,” said owner John Abbracciamento, 60 . “It’s bittersweet. But, basically, it’s time.”

The Italian eatery opened in 1948 under Abbracciamento’s father, Joe. Over time, it became a staple in the borough.

“We’ve taken care of people from the day they were born,” Abbracciamento said. “It’s a wonderful treat to be a part of their lives and some of the most important occasions that they would celebrate. We will sadly miss that part of it.”

Abbracciamento has known the restaurant life since he was 13.

It was not an easy decision to put it to rest after the baton was passed down to him from his late father, Abbracciamento said. But it was a necessary one.

“It was my father’s dream,” he said. “My brother and I kept it going. But I’ve just come to the point in my life where I just need some time to clear my head and move forward.”

“We had a nice, long run — a very successful run,” Abbracciamento said. “It’s just time to just relax a little bit.”

Longtime patrons said the loss of the local icon is a blow to the Queens dining scene and to the community.

“I’m sad. I’ve known them for 30 years,” said Leon Sorin. “They’ve been working hard for many years. Maybe it’s time.”

John Harrington, 73, has been coming for the “out of this world” lasagna for 38 years.

“I was shocked when I heard it was closing,” he said. “It’s a shame because you don’t have any good restaurants around.”

Ed Wendell, a lifelong Queens resident, called the restaurant “the go-to place” for Italian cuisine.

“It’s one of those places where a lot of people are going to look back now and say, ‘Man, I wish I had gone more,’” he said. “It will be missed.”



Bell Boulevard to partially close this Sunday for “Weekend Walk”

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Parts of Bell Boulevard will be closed off to traffic this Sunday for a multi-block party, city and local officials said.

The Bayside Village Business Improvement District (BID) will hold its first ever “Weekend Walk” on September 29 from noon to 5 p.m.

There will be free fitness classes, dance performances, music acts and specials offered by businesses.

The event will be held on two blocks of the main commercial corridor from 39th Avenue to 41st Avenue.

Cars will not be allowed to park or enter from those avenues until 6 p.m.

Bell Boulevard has not been closed off for a community festival in more than 20 years, BID officials said.

A second event, the BID’s second annual “Sidewalk Sale,” will take place from Friday, September 27 to Sunday, September 29.

Officials said the two events are meant to increase foot traffic on Bell Boulevard and promote the wide variety of businesses on the popular strip.

There are more than 400 businesses and property owners from Northern Boulevard to 35th Avenue, officials said, including long established eateries, beloved bars and a host of stores and professional practices.



College Point Catholic school shutting its doors

| mchan@queenscourier.com

The final bell will soon ring for a Catholic elementary school in College Point, officials said.

St. Fidelis School, at 124-06 14th Avenue, will close its doors for good in June after more than a century of serving the community, according to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, which oversees Queens.

“St. Fidelis School will be fully operational until the last day of school, continuing to provide a quality education,” said Monsignor Denis Heron, an administrator at the school. “We place our trust in God and ask His guidance as we move into the future. We ask your understanding and cooperation.”

The nursery through eighth grade institution faced declining enrollment and increased operating costs, officials said in a statement.

Enrollment at St. Fidelis dropped to 144 students this year from 242 five years ago, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn said. Parish schools in Brooklyn and Queens, who serve kindergarten through eighth grades, are identified as “at-risk” of closing when enrollment falls below 225 students.

Diocese officials also said the parish, which opened in 1857, does not have “the financial resources to bridge the gap” between the $3,400 tuition per student and the actual $6,119 per-pupil costs.

Neighboring parishes will take in students from St. Fidelis, according to Thomas Chadzutko, superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Brooklyn.

Plans are also underway, Chadzutko said, to place faculty members seeking teaching jobs at another Catholic school in Brooklyn or Queens on priority lists.



Peninsula Hospital set to close on Monday according to report

| mchan@queenscourier.com


According to published reports, Peninsula Hospital will shut its doors for good on Monday, April 9.

Hospital officials did not yet confirm, and local leaders could not verify the rumored sudden termination.

Peninsula has already submitted a closure plan to the state Department of Health (DOH), which as of April 3 was still under review, according to spokesperson Jeffrey Hammond.

While trustee Lori Lapin Jones determined on March 26 to shut down operations at the hospital, Hammond said there was no time frame yet as to when the hospital will close.

The community has held nightly rallies in protest of the hospital trustee and the DOH’s decision to close the hospital. According to Democratic Assembly District Leader Lew Simon, they plan to soon lead a mass demonstration outside the DOH’s headquarters in Manhattan.

Members of 1199 Service Employees International Union (SEIU) have also been spreading the word through their Facebook page, “Peninsula Hospital & Our 1199 Coverage Save Our Hospital.” The site reported several interested parties are looking to purchase the hospital.

The foundering Far Rockaway facility was pinned for critical deficiencies and failed state health inspections on February 23, which forced the hospital to temporarily halt its emergency care services and stop admitting new patients. Peninsula also laid off more than 240 employees last month.


Budget may force senior centers to close

| mchan@queenscourier.com


Budget slashes may force closure upon the Korean-American Senior Center, leaving hundreds of hungry, homebound Asian seniors in Queens without a hot meal.

The Corona-based senior center — along with five others in the borough — is up on the chopping block if Borough President Helen Marshall is not able to restore $1.6 million in discretionary funding to keep them up and running.

Marshall and the Borough Board — made up of the borough president, district council members and chairs of each of the borough’s 14 community boards — approved a $258.6 million budget priorities package on March 13.

“This priorities package, which will now be sent to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the City Council, is meant to build our borough,” Marshall said.

Heading the top of the list is restoring funds to save the Forest Park Senior Center, the Kew Gardens Senior Center, SAGE/Queens Senior Center, Korean-American Senior Center, Bell Park Senior Center and LeFrak Senior Center, said a spokesperson for the borough president.

“We need the funding. Without it, our center would be in jeopardy, and without the center, the seniors’ lives would be very hopeless,” said Helen Ahn, director of the Korean-American Senior Center in Corona. “It really worries me.”

Ahn said her center is currently supported by the borough president’s discretionary funds, although it has already seen up to 50 percent in cuts. The Korean-American Senior Center used to receive $215,000 in funds, but now only gets about $110,000, she said.

“Our senior center is the only one — the only unique homebound program for Chinese and Korean homebound seniors in Queens. If we cannot sustain the senior center programs, we don’t have any place to prepare these meals,” said Ahn, who added that the mobile meal program reaches close to 100 homes.

The budget cuts also mean the Forest Park Senior Center will face the ax once more, after it narrowly escaped closure last year, receiving $120,000 in funding — half from the City Council and the other half from the borough president — at the last minute.

“Every year at this time, I feel like I’m Chicken Little,” said Donna Caltabiano, the center’s executive director. “If it wasn’t for the borough president and Councilmember Eric Ulrich, we wouldn’t be open this year, and we won’t be open next year if they don’t help us again. We need them even more than ever.”

Caltabiano said the center — which has been in existence since 1979 — is home to the 40 to 45 seniors who use the center daily.

“They will not go to another place. They will not. This is their home,” she said.

Ulrich said he would try and pull through for the center again this year.

“This is déjà vu all over again. Every year, we seem to be in the same predicament,” he said. “The Forest Park Senior Center does a wonderful job of providing services to the senior population in Woodhaven and Forest Park. I’ll do everything I can to fight and keep it open.”

Meanwhile, Caltabiano said she and the seniors can only cross their fingers and hope for the best.

“I’m hoping for another miracle. I’m hoping for Christmas in June,” she said.


Flushing mail center may close

| jlane@queenscourier.com


Due to drastic declines in mail volume, state and nationwide, the Queens Processing and Distribution Center in Flushing may be closed or consolidated, according to the United States Postal Service (USPS).

The center — the only one in Queens under study — is responsible for sorting and distributing mail throughout Queens. It joins 255 other centers nationwide that are at risk of being shut down.

“We have too many processing plants that are not operating at 100 percent capacity because we have no mail,” said USPS spokesperson Darleen Reid. “It doesn’t make good business for us to continue 452 facilities when we can reduce that by half and still process the mail.”

Reid said the USPS is looking to possibly consolidate its operations into the Brooklyn New York Processing and Distribution Center or the Morgan Processing and Distribution Center in Manhattan.

As far as service, only first-class mail products would be affected, Reid said.

“Right now we can get first-class mail from Queens to Brooklyn or to Manhattan in one to two days. We’re changing that nationally to two to three days,” she said.

There will be no other changes since other mail classes already follow a two to three day delivery standard, Reid said.

According to the USPS, annual mail volume has declined by more than 43 billion pieces in the past five years and is continuing to decline. Total first-class mail has dropped 25 percent and single piece first-class mail — letters bearing postage stamps — has declined 36 percent in the same timeframe.

“Mail volumes have been going down drastically since 2006 and we anticipate that our first-class mail product is never going to return to previous peak levels,” Reid said.

The postal service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies completely on their own products and services for funding. Its main product is first-class mail, Reid said.

“As first class mail declines, so does our revenue and our revenue continues to go down. We’re facing a financial short-fall by the end of September,” she said.

USPS studies will be concluded in three months. By then, they will announce the results to the general public. At that time, mailers will be given the opportunity to comment during public meetings. Their comments will then be considered before the final decision.