Tag Archives: College Point

Alleged coverup of contaminated College Point soil brought to light

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Tony Avella's office

Officials and College Point residents are looking for answers after fuel-contaminated soil was found and left unreported at the Linden Place Project of the College Point Industrial Park.

Dr. James Cervino—a College Point marine pathologist and Community Board 7 (CB 7) member working as a consultant on the project—uncovered the contamination on a recent trip to the site.

A dug-up portion of a runway previously used by the former Flushing Airport revealed visible pools of fuel in the soil underneath. Workers in the area were wearing face masks for protection, and Cervino said that several of them had reported feeling ill.

Cervino then alerted the contractor and on-site engineer for the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) of his findings.

“I did what I was supposed to do, thank God, and I reported it,” Cervino said. “The engineer was very upset and said, ‘You’re going to stop this project if you report this.’”

According to Cervino, CB 7 and local civic groups had received multiple reports from College Point residents regarding a smell of petroleum believed to be related to the ongoing projects in the College Point Corporate Park.

When he contacted the community board to follow up on the issue, he was alarmed to find that the contaminated soil had still not been reported. It was at this time that he contacted state Senator Tony Avella for his help in calling attention to the issue.

“It was pretty crazy, and it’s unfolding as we speak,” Cervino said at a community board meeting Monday.

Avella held a press conference on Monday near the site to address the issue, and said public safety should not depend upon the conscience of a lone whistleblower. He demanded that the EDC halt their project pending an investigation and answer the allegations.

“To knowingly conceal petroleum-contaminated soil and repurpose it use throughout the city is utterly disgraceful and borders criminality,” Avella said. “EDC has shown that it is willing to expose people to a substantial health hazard, if it means preventing a delay on their project in College Point Corporate Park.”

In a statement released to The Courier, an EDC spokesman said that the organization was investigating the claims of contamination.

“We are working closely with the Department of Environment Conservation to assess the area and determine if additional needs must be addressed in our mitigation efforts. In the meantime, no work is ongoing on this portion of the site.”

The NYCEDC manages the College Point Corporate Park on behalf of the City of New York.

According to the EDC website, the College Point Corporate Park contains more than 200 companies and 6,000 employees in various industries. These include The New York Times’ printing plant and other firms involved in office operations, light and heavy manufacturing, construction equipment suppliers, printing, distribution and retail.

The reconstruction of Linden Place began in spring of 2009 and the street is currently open to traffic today. Portions of the area at 132nd street are still under construction.

Linden Place road connects from 28th Avenue to 23rd Avenue, providing direct access to the Whitestone Expressway and will alleviate traffic flow within the park. The planned extension of 132nd Street will connect 20th Avenue and Linden Place and will also help to alleviate traffic.


Nineteen rescued from East River after dragon boat capsizes in College Point

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

The FDNY helped pull 19 people out of the East River near College Point on Sunday after a dragon boat overturned, according to reports.

The people in the boat were all taken to take to the College Point Yacht Club after the rescue at 1:43 p.m. There were no injuries.

According to multiple reports, the people on the boat were members of a team that races in Flushing‘s annual two-day Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival.

The rowers reportedly started practice that day by rowing out from the World’s Fair Marina near Citi Field. All were wearing life jackets which helped to keep them afloat after the accident. 

One of the team members reportedly proposed to his girlfriend during the outing, and she had just accepted his offer before the accident occurred.


Man dies in College Point truck crash

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Image via Google Maps

A 56-year-old truck driver died behind the wheel Tuesday morning after reportedly suffering a heart attack causing him to crash into three parked cars, according to authorities.

At about 10:45 a.m. police officers of the 109th Precinct responded to a 911 call of a vehicle collision at 15th Avenue by 117th Street in College Point. Upon arriving, they found the driver of a tractor trailer truck – whose identity was withheld pending family notification – unresponsive and unconscious, police said.

Emergency personnel responded and took the driver to NewYork-Presbyterian/Queens where he was pronounced dead.

A preliminary investigation determined that the driver was traveling eastbound on 15th Avenue when it struck three unoccupied parked vehicles before coming to a stop, cops said.

According to the NY Post, the driver had suffered a cardiac arrest before swerving the truck into the cars.

The Medical Examiner will determine the exact cause of death and the investigation by the NYPD’s Highway Collision Investigation Squad is ongoing.


$575K upgrade to bring sidewalk to College Point’s MacNeil Park

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Alina Suriel

They’ll soon be walking on solid ground around College Point’s MacNeil Park.

State Senator Tony Avella allocated $575,000 for upgrades to the park, including the addition of a sidewalk around its perimeter.

Avella announced the allocation on Aug. 28 at the park, where he was joined by members of the College Point Civic and Taxpayers Association and College Point residents. In addition to a perimeter sidewalk, the funds will be also be used to create a formalized entrance to the park and plant additional foliage.

According to Avella, residents have been campaigning for the new sidewalk since he was a community activist in College Point.

“This is a great resource but it’s never been given the attention it needs,” he said. “I’m happy that I was able to get money but it really shouldn’t be up to the state. This is a city park and the city should be putting some money into this.”

While residents were happy to see incoming improvements to MacNeil Park, many complained of other issues which are long overdue for upgrades and city attention.

Ongoing complaints included unmowed grass, loiterers bringing open containers of booze and smashing glass bottles, overflow from sewers and growing potholes on a walking path deteriorating along the sea wall. Avella was able to see some of these issues firsthand in a tour of the park.

Resident Jennifer Shannon said that some of the potholes were big enough for a small child to climb inside.

“From what he’s saying, it’s going to make the front of the park beautiful, and that’s great,” Shannon said. “But it’s not going to change what’s going on inside the park. We need the other money.”


West Nile spraying to target northeast Queens

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Image courtesy of NYC Health Department

Another round of West Nile spraying is set for parts of Queens next week in an effort to reduce mosquito activity and the risk of the virus.

The treatment, which will include spraying pesticide from trucks, will take place on Monday, Aug. 24, between the hours of 8:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. the following morning. In case of bad weather, the application will be delayed until Tuesday, Aug. 25, during the same hours.

Last weekend, the Health Department reported the season’s first human case of West Nile virus in a Brooklyn man. The patient, who was hospitalized with viral meningitis and over the age of 60, has been treated and discharged.

Though no cases have reported in Queens this season, the following northeast neighborhoods are “being treated due to rising West Nile virus activity and because they have high mosquito populations”:

Parts of Auburndale, Bayside, Bay Terrace, Beechhurst, College Point, Flushing, Linden Hill, Malba, Murray Hill and Whitestone (bordered by Cross Island Parkway, Clearview Expressway and the East River to the north; Flushing Bay to the west; Northern Boulevard, 153rd Street, 35th Avenue, Utopia Parkway, 42nd Avenue, Clearview Expressway, 33rd Avenue, 215th Place and 31st Road to the south; and Cross Island Parkway to the east).

For these sprayings, the Health Department will use a very low concentration of the synthetic pesticide Anvil 10+10, which poses no significant risks to human health when properly used.

The Health Department recommends that people take the following precautions to minimize direct exposure:

  • Whenever possible, stay indoors during spraying. People with asthma or other respiratory conditions are encouraged to stay inside during spraying since direct exposure could worsen these conditions.
  •  Air conditioners may remain on; however, if you wish to reduce the possibility of indoor exposure to pesticides, set the air conditioner vent to the closed position, or choose the re-circulate function.
  • Remove children’s toys, outdoor equipment and clothes from outdoor areas during spraying. If outdoor equipment and toys are exposed to pesticides, wash them with soap and water before using again.
  • Wash skin and clothing exposed to pesticides with soap and water. Always wash your produce thoroughly with water before cooking or eating.



Students to collect data on Queens trees

| amatua@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Students from local environmental high schools will spread out across Queens to collect data on the health of New York City trees, especially in neighborhoods affected by Hurricane Sandy.

As part of The Nature Conservancy’s Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future (LEAF) program in conjunction with the NYC Trees Count! initiative, 12 interns will count street trees and inspect flooded and non-flooded trees in the northern and southern borders of Queens. Many of the interns, who are also surveying trees in Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx for this internship, are from Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School in Forest Hills.

Students will also collect data for a U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and NYC Parks study of trees directly impacted by Hurricane Sandy. The NYC Parks Department estimates that Hurricane Sandy flooded 47,900 street trees in the city. As a result of the storm, almost 20,000 public trees in New York city were completely destroyed. The data collected by LEAF interns will help environmental groups better understand the long-term impacts of hurricanes and other interruptions on urban forests and coastal areas.

The program will take place throughout Queens on Aug. 21 and students will visit Astoria on Aug. 12 for data collection.

“The main goal of the LEAF program is to expose urban youth to nature and conservation careers at a young age to nurture a passion for the environment which will stick with them both personally and professionally for the rest of their lives,” said Brigitte Griswold, director of youth programs for The Nature Conservancy.  “Providing students with the opportunity to participate in actual conservation projects is a great complement to their environmental classroom learning and gives them hands-on experience they may not otherwise get during the school year.”


Curbside pickup app coming to College Point Target

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Stephen Vrattos

Updated Saturday, Aug. 8

A mobile phone application enabling shoppers to pre-order from nearby stores and pick up items is soon to be available at the Target in College Point.

Curbside, an iPhone and Android application that launched in San Francisco in 2014, allows consumers to create a shopping list of products available in partnering stores and pay for them electronically before arriving. The goods will be available for either in-store or curbside pickup depending on the location.

The free app will be available on Aug. 11 and does not charge any additional fees for the service or mark up prices for products sold. Curbside currently has a promotional deal in place that allows users to share a code with friends so both parties can save $10 off a $20 purchase.

Curbside founder Jaron Waldman is a former Apple executive who has previous experience with startup ventures. He sold his last company, an online mapping service dubbed Placebase, to the tech mega-giant in 2009.

While Curbside will so far only expand to the one Queens location at 135-05 20th Ave., the service will also be available at other Target stores in the city at Gateway Center Shopping Mall in Brooklyn’s East New York and in the Throggs Neck area of the Bronx. The startup is looking to expand its reach in the New York and New Jersey area and announced $25 million in new funding in June to fuel its growth.


Alleged Queens gang members busted in undercover gun, drug sale operation

| ctumola@queenscourier.com


Eight purported street gang members from Queens have been charged after peddling guns and drugs during undercover buys, prosecutors announced.

“Illegal firearms that flood our streets pose a serious and deadly threat to public safety and the distribution of illegal drugs is a plague on our society. For those arrested, the message could not be clearer: law enforcement has no tolerance for those involved in the weapons and drug trade,” District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement Tuesday.

According to prosecutors, seven of those arrested were alleged members of the Trinitarios, “a violent New York-based Dominican street gang,” and the eighth defendant is a reputed member of MS-13, another “violent street gang primarily composed of Central Americans.”

The buys, which took place in Queens between November 2012 and June 2014, included a total of 14 guns, with ammunition in some cases, and cocaine, MDPV and marijuana, according to the district attorney’s office. During that time, the members were unknowingly selling to NYPD operatives.

In one case, Lucas Singh, 30, of College Point, allegedly sold an undercover agent a defaced cut-down rifle along with 50 rounds of ammunition on July 30, 2013, for $850. He is also accused of selling another undercover operative a defaced .357 magnum revolver and a .32-caliber semi-automatic Kel-Tec pistol with ammunition for $1,200 on June 4. A week later, Singh sold the same operative a .38-caliber Smith and Wesson revolver, and a .380 semi-automatic Kel-Tec pistol with 12 rounds of ammunition for $1,200.

The remaining defendants were identified as Eddie Cruz, 28 and Clase Wellington, 26, both of Glendale; Marcello Esquival, 26, of Jackson Heights; Francisco Gil, 25, Carlos Rosario-Mejia, 30, and Reginald Rosa, 25, all of Jamaica; and Angel Sanchez, 23, of Woodhaven.

They are variously charged with criminal sale of a firearm, criminal possession of a weapon, criminal possession of a firearm, criminal sale of a controlled substance and criminal sale of marijuana.


West Nile treatment to target Queens this week

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Image courtesy of NYC Health Department

The city’s Health Department will treat parts of Queens over several days this week to help reduce the mosquito population and the risk of West Nile virus.

Though no human cases of the virus have been reported this season, high mosquito populations have been found in the marsh areas of the city, which could increase due to the hot weather and wet conditions.

The treatment, which will involve the application of larvicide from low-flying helicopters, will take place on Wednesday, Aug. 5, Thursday, Aug. 6, and Friday, Aug. 7, between the hours of 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. In case of bad weather, the application will be delayed until Thursday, Aug. 6, Friday, Aug. 7, and Monday, Aug. 10, during the same hours, and could also be completed in less time than allotted.

For this application, the Health Department will use larvicides containing naturally occurring bacteria — VectoBac GS, VectoMax FG and/or VectoLex FGG. The products are all approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.


Alley Pond Park (Marsh areas inside Alley Pond Park)

Linden Hill and College Point (Marsh areas bounded by Whitestone Expressway to the east; 20th Avenue to the north; 130th Street and Ulmer Street to the west; and Ulmer Street and 28th Avenue to the south)

Edgemere and Somerville (Marsh areas bounded by Norton Basin to the east; Mott Point to the north; Grass Hassock Channel to the west; and Beach 65th Street, De Costa Avenue and Almeda Avenue to the south)


College Point industrial and office building selling for $4.4M

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Courtesy  of PropertyShark/Scott Bintner


A 21,058-square-foot corner building located at 14-29 112th St. in College Point is selling for $4.4 million, according to an announcement by real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield.

The industrial and office building is located on a 35,060-square-foot lot and was formerly the site of a medical facility with light industrial activity. The facility will be closing up shop and leaving the premises within the year.

The site is described as ideal for an owner-user. Stephen Preuss, executive director of Cushman & Wakefield, said, “The most common buyers are owner-users — people who will purchase the property and use it for their own business. There’s a lack of usable industrial and warehouse property because a lot of land in Queens is now taken up by residential development sites. Owner-users are the most interested and the most aggressive parties looking at this property.”


Flushing Met Food Market to close after July 26

Buffalo Wild Wings to open in College Point

NYPD to sign 20-year lease for College Point tow pound

Flushing street to be co-named after 3-year-old crash victim

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of His-Pei Liao and Amy Tam-Liao

The memory of a young Flushing girl tragically killed on a local street two years ago will live on with the co-naming of a neighborhood street.

The northeast corner of Main Street and Cherry Avenue in Flushing will be known as Allison Hope Liao Way after Allison Liao, a 3-year-old girl who was fatally hit by a car on Oct. 13, 2013, while crossing the street with her grandmother.

“Allison Liao was a bright and boisterous young girl with limitless potential who had her whole life ahead of her,” said Councilman Peter Koo, who sponsored the co-naming request. “While her senseless death was devastating to our community, it has also spurred impassioned awareness campaigns on driver safety across the city.”

After her death, Liao’s parents helped to form “Families for Safe Streets,” an advocacy group of people affected by traffic violence. The Liao family was instrumental in lowering the NYC default speed limit, and the tragedy of their daughter’s death was one of the catalysts for the foundation of the Vision Zero set of traffic and street safety initiatives.

“We are deeply grateful for Councilman Koo’s assistance in the street co-naming, and more importantly, for his continued support of Vision Zero and other street safety initiatives,” the Liao family said in a statement.

Koo said that he hoped drivers who may be distracted or impatient behind the wheel will realize the potential consequences of their carelessness.

“As drivers pass Allison Hope Liao Way, it is our hope that they recall her parents’ poignant question, ‘Is it worth it?’” Koo said.

The bill also creates Ptl. Phillip Cardillo Way on 28th Avenue between College Point Boulevard and Ulmer Street in College Point. The street is outside a new NYPD academy that opened in January.

“Soon, generations of new officers will be able to look to the sign and know his story and legacy to the department,” said bill sponsor Councilman Paul Vallone of District 19.

Cardillo had been on the force for five years when he and his partner received a false call about an officer in distress at the Nation of Islam mosque on 116th Street on April 14, 1974. The two responding officers were attacked upon their arrival, and Cardillo, 31, was fatally shot. He has been honored with an NYPD patrol boat named after him, and a book published in 2007 by author Randy Jurgenson tells the story of his death and the case against his killer.

“May this sign forever remind us of the sacrifices that the men and women of the NYPD are too often asked to selflessly make, as well as serve as a symbol that these sacrifices are never forgotten,” Vallone said. “This recognition has been long overdue and I couldn’t be more proud to right the wrongs from 43 years ago.”

The bill also names the northeast corner of Northern Boulevard and Marathon Parkway in Little Neck as Matinecock Way.

The Matinecock Native Americans once lived in communities spanning the area of northeast Queens, but the last of the tribe was driven out of Douglaston and Little Neck in 1656 in the battle of Madnan’s Neck. Matinecock graves were discovered in the 1930s at Northern Boulevard and were re-buried in the cemetery of the Zion Episcopal Church. The Bayside Historical Society and the Udalls Cove Preservation Committee were the first to bring the issue up to the Community Board.

“I am proud to finally pay the long overdue recognition to the Matinecock descendants and their ancestors who hold an important place in our neighborhood’s history,” Vallone said.


Buffalo Wild Wings to open in College Point

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Stephen Vrattos

College Point residents will have a new sports bar to watch all the major games, as Buffalo Wild Wings prepares to open a new franchise in the neighborhood.

The new Buffalo Wild Wings will be at 134-15 20th Ave., formerly the home of a Boulder Creek Steakhouse.

According to James Bitzonis, president of the company that operates all Buffalo Wild Wings locations in the New York metro area, the wing joint will be serving beer and its signature fried cuisine to College Point locals in about three months. He declined to answer any other questions, including inquiries about how large the space is planned to be.

New York City currently has seven other Buffalo Wild Wings locations so far, two of which are situated in Queens. One of these locations can be found in Terminal 4 of JFK Airport, and the other is in Forest Hills at 107-16 71st Ave.


NYPD to sign 20-year lease for College Point tow pound

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of George Filippidis

Community Board 7 gave the NYPD its blessing Monday night to sign a 20-year lease on a tow pound previously under a temporary agreement to operate at 31-22 College Point Blvd.

After hearing both sides of the debate, the board voted overwhelmingly to recommend that the tow pound stay, with 29 votes supporting the long-term arrangement and 14 votes against.

The tow pound appeared on the lot in 2013 to the chagrin of College Point residents, who feared that the facility would increase traffic and weaken streets already riddled with potholes and deteriorating roads. The area also hosts a new police training academy which opened in January.

With an average of 40 to 50 cars towed into the facility daily, the tow pound is estimated to generate additional traffic of around 60 cars per day including cars towed and employee vehicles. The location has on-site parking for employees, and can accommodate 157 cars.

Despite area residents’ initial reservations, police say they have not received any complaints in the two years of the tow pound’s operation in College Point.

Owners Jerry and George Filippidis, brothers who are both residents of the area, assured board members that they were trying to consider the good of the neighborhood by choosing the relatively lower traffic tow pound than a big box retailer.

The area is currently zoned for retail use, so no additional approvals would be needed for a large store to occupy the building. According to Jerry Filippidis, a large retail store could generate traffic of more than 50 cars and trucks per hour coming into the site.

“I wanted to be able to look every single one of you in the eye and let you know that we made the right decision,” said Jerry Filippidis, who has lived in the community for 25 years.


Health Department to treat parts of Queens against West Nile

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Image courtesy of NYC Health Department

The city’s Health Department will treat parts of Queens over several days this week to help reduce the mosquito population and the risk of West Nile virus.

The treatment, which will involve the application of larvicide from low-flying helicopters, will take place on Tuesday, June 9, Wednesday, June 10, and Thursday, June 11, between the hours of 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. In case of bad weather, the application will be delayed until Wednesday, June 10, Thursday, June 11, and Friday, June 12, during the same hours, and could also be completed in less time than allotted.

For this application, the Health Department will use larvicides containing naturally occurring bacteria — VectoBac CG, VectoMax CG/FG and/or VectoLex CG/FG.


Alley Pond Park (Marsh areas inside Alley Pond Park)

Linden Hill and College Point (Marsh areas bounded by Whitestone Expressway to the east; 20th Avenue to the north; 130th Avenue and Ulmer Street to the west; and Ulmer Street and 28th Street to the south)

Edgemere and Somerville (Marsh areas bounded by Norton Basin to the east; Mott Point to the north; Grass Hassock Channel to the west; and Beach 65th Street, De Costa Avenue and Almeda Avenue to the south)

The Health Department recommends that people take the following precautions to minimize exposure to mosquitoes:

• Use an approved insect repellent containing picaridin, DEET, oil of lemon eucalyptus (not for children under three) or products that contain the active ingredient IR3535.
• Make sure windows have screens and repair or replace screens that have tears or holes.
• Eliminate any standing water from your property and dispose of containers that can collect water. Standing water is a violation of the New York City Health Code.
• Make sure roof gutters are clean and draining properly.
• Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs. Keep them empty or covered if not in use; drain water that collects in pool covers.
• Report standing water by calling 311 or visiting nyc.gov/health/wnv.



Crystal Windows celebrating 25 years in Queens

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

The ’90s was an interesting time. The era is known for a variety of weird and colorful inventions, such as slap bracelets and light-up shoes, and famous figures from basketball legend Michael Jordan to Pokemon’s Pikachu.

It was also during that time a Taiwanese immigrant named Thomas Chen decided to stop working in construction and start his own window manufacturing company in Queens.

“I always wanted to do something in manufacturing,” Chen said. “And when I came to New York City I saw a lot of windows, so I felt that I have to do windows.”

Although back then using his College Point home garage and his teenage son as his only employee was hardly enough to be called a company, Chen’s business has grown to become the largest window manufacturer in the city and among the top 40 in the country since its inception in 1990.

Crystal Windows & Door Systems, now headquartered in a sprawling 215,000-square-foot Flushing facility not far from their old garage, produces more than 400,000 windows a year, serving numerous customers around the country and in some parts of the world, such as the Caribbean and Asia.

The company is celebrating its quarter-century birthday this year and to pay homage to the era in which the company was founded, Crystal held a ’90s-themed customer appreciation party Wednesday at Terrace on the Park. The event featured vintage video games, including Street Fighter for Super Nintendo, a performance from a Madonna impersonator and free neon-colored slap bracelets. It was their way of saying thanks to the consumers who made the rags to riches story a reality, but also to remember a time when it was all but a dream in a garage.

“When the company first started we never thought it would get up to this size. We thought we would still remain in our garage and just make enough to survive,” said Steve Chen, son of Thomas and the chief operating officer. “And then over time companies found out about us and we just kept growing and growing.”

Steve said one of the reasons why they have become such a big company from humble beginnings is because of their focus on quality.

The company offers over 56 different styles of windows that feature green designs and are energy efficient, and they are always looking to improve their products. They’ve even added a 3-D printer in the facility so engineers can be more creative with designs.

Crystal employs about 500 people around the country, and that number could balloon to 600 during the window industry’s seasonal summer months.

They have four facilities around the country in Chicago, St. Louis and Riverside, California, and provide custom windows for new developments and renovations, for both commercial and residential buildings.

Crystal’s windows are even featured on A&E’s TV show “Flipping Boston,” and recently they made products for a new dormitory at Texas A&M University.

But despite the growth and the work around the country, Crystal has never forgotten where it all started.

Steve said they have no intentions of ever leaving Queens and that Crystal supports numerous arts and business organizations in the borough.

“The company prides itself as being New York City-based, Queens-based, because that’s where we started,” Chen said. “New York City, especially Queens has helped us grow the way we are and we always believe in giving back to the community. ”