Tag Archives: Community Board 10

Tudor Park’s $1M upgrades ready for their close-up


| mchan@queenscourier.com


Batter up!

The city’s renovations to the Tudor Park ball field have reached completion, although residents may have to wait until spring to plant their feet on the new grounds.

“Tudor Park is always a very active area, and it’s always very full. When you have a park that people use, it needs to be upgraded,” said Frank Dardani, president of the Ozone Tudor Civic Association. “I think this is great. Any time that the city wants to do some work and upgrade things, I’m very happy about it.”

According to Dardani, the original field suffered huge draining problems along with damages from constant overuse.

“The field was not in great shape. It was pretty beat up,” Dardani said. “It was just so old that something needed to be done.”

Now, thanks to the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation, newly-planted trees and bushes line the perimeters of the new two-sport dual baseball and cricket field, which has been laid down with new and natural grass. Dardani also said the park now has three pieces of exercise equipment for seniors in place of old, concrete bleachers that have been removed from the site.

“We’re a small, tight-knit community. We want to get our seniors out of the house and give them something to do, and we want our young families to come out with their children, too,” said Dardani. “It’s very important to have a very safe environment for everyone to come to.”

Dardani said he hopes the upgrades will draw more community members to the park, ultimately cutting down neighborhood crime and gang activity.

“If more good and responsible people are in the park, just their presence alone will be a deterrent for these people. There will be eyes and ears watching,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dardani said he’s working on securing a sprinkler system in the park to make sure the $1 million spent on the project — provided by Borough President Helen Marshall — doesn’t go down the drain.

“That grass will get beat up pretty quick in the heat of the summer,” Dardani said. “We’re more than happy with what they gave us. We wanted to thank the borough president, but we also wanted to make her aware if at all possible to put in a sprinkler system to finish the job and have it last longer than it probably would without it.”

Construction on the new field began in September of 2011 and was completed this winter. It is slated to open in the late spring when the new sod properly “attaches” itself to the ground underneath, said a Parks Department spokesperson.

 

South Ozone Park speed bump should slow down speeding


| mchan@queenscourier.com


Some South Ozone Park residents are welcoming a bump in the road with open arms.

Community Board 10 recently voted unanimously in favor of installing a hump on 134th Street from Rockaway Boulevard to Sutter Avenue to curb the street’s speeding issue.

According to resident Claire Austin, 134th Street first became a danger zone close to 10 years ago when a Dunkin Donuts opened on the corner, bringing more traffic to the street.

“It’s something we’ve been trying to do for a while,” she said. “It was a long battle.”

Austin said she would watch from her 134th Street home as cars would quickly turn the corner and dangerously speed away.

“Cars were moving way too fast down a narrow, two-way street,” she said.

Now, she hopes the bump will finally put the brakes on lead-footed drivers.

“This will slow the cars down,” Austin said. “There are kids on the block. It’s not a retired community. There are a lot of young families with kids that we’re worried about.”

According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), the street has seen its fair share of injuries.

From 2006 to 2010, a DOT spokesperson said, 10 motor vehicle occupants were injured at 134th Street and Sutter Avenue, while one pedestrian, one bicyclist and 15 motor vehicle occupants were injured at 134th Street and Rockaway Boulevard.

According to Betty Braton, chair of Community Board 10, the speed bump will be installed in a few months.

Easier parking may mean better biz on Rockaway Boulevard


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The city’s lift of parking restrictions may drive business back to stores along Rockaway Boulevard.

According to Senator Joseph Addabbo, the Department of Transportation (DOT) removed “No Standing” restrictions along the busy commercial corridor in Ozone Park. The formerly designated curbside travel lane — from along the northern side of Rockaway Boulevard between Cross Bay Boulevard and Liberty Avenue — once limited customers from parking between 4 to 7 p.m.

Now, patrons can park at the meters for one-hour between 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. with more ease.

“Anytime we can help local businesses in the area, it’s a step in the right direction,” Addabbo said. “It’s been a tough time for small businesses with the economy. We cannot create non-parking areas and make it difficult for customers to shop at these stores. This little change will help.”

Wayne Zanatta, owner of Midway Cabinets, said he’s happy to see the “useless restriction” go.

“That hurt everybody’s business. It only created revenue for the city,” Zanatta said. “The removal of the ‘No Standing’ sign makes life easier for our customers, and that’s what we want.”

Zanatta said the restriction was “heavily enforced” by city agents during a busy time for his store. He said he has even tried warning customers to save them from being slapped with a $115 parking ticket.

“At five minutes to 4 o’clock, I would check to see that every customer saw and knew about the sign,” he said.

Now, the next step, Addabbo said, is to continue working with the DOT to push for re-examinations of the Liberty Avenue area.

Modifications last year converted the commercial strip to a one-way eastbound street between 93rd Street and Cross Bay Boulevard — forcing cars to circle around if they want to visit the stores on the block. A concrete barrier was also placed along Cross Bay to prevent Liberty Avenue traffic from crossing through the intersection, which businesses said also caused revenue to suffer.

“Parking conditions are always an issue, and it’s always a good thing when the DOT responds to community request for changes,” said Betty Braton, chair of Community Board 10. “We’re glad that they’ve done them, and hopefully this will improve the situation. We’re hopeful that there will be some changes that will be made to the benefit of businesses on the Liberty Avenue lot.”

 

Board discusses convention center, elevator


| dbeltran@queenscourier.com


Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plans to build the country’s largest convention center in Queens overshadowed any previous items on Community Board 10’s agenda.

During the board’s first monthly meeting of the year, officials cited current problems with traffic near the Racino and said it would only get worse without any direct transportation to the proposed convention center.

However, Betty Braton, chair of Community Board 10, said the community has to consider the jobs the site may bring, “especially in this economy.” She added that the community has had “an excellent relationship” so far with Genting America — the company that brought the Resorts World casino to South Ozone Park and will develop the convention center.

“We’re going to continue to listen and talk,” Braton said.

Patrick Jenkins, a representative for Genting, reassured Board members that their input would be taken into consideration. He reminded them of their year-long relationship with Getting and said the Racino was built with public input.

Shortly after, attention turned to the building of an elevator for the disabled at the Lefferts Boulevard train station.

Joseph Raskin, an MTA representative, presented the Board with design plans for the elevator and acknowledged that several stations needed to have work done. Raskin said the MTA will be using federally-mandated money to make any necessary repairs, as well as redesign the platform at Lefferts Boulevard to accommodate the elevator.

Plans for the elevator are already underway, and the MTA is 30 percent done with the design, Raskin said, after he presented the board with a layout of the area where the elevator will be built.

But Board members complained there currently isn’t much space between storefronts and the sidewalk. They said placing an elevator there will limit walking space.

Raskin reassured them by saying the MTA measured the sidewalks adjacent to the station and found only one side had enough space to fit an elevator. While there will be limited space on the sidewalk, he said the MTA can’t change the size of the elevator because it must meet the Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines.

According to Raskin, the final design will be determined in August, while the contract for the elevator will be awarded in December.

Howard Beach has come ‘a long way’ since racial incident


| mchan@queenscourier.com


Twenty-five years after escalating racial tensions in Howard Beach thrust the neighborhood into infamy, residents and local leaders alike say the “tight community” has changed for the better.

On December 20, 1986, Howard Beach emerged into the spotlight when a gang of white teens — waving bats and bellowing racial slurs — brutally beat three black men who chanced upon the neighborhood after their car broke down. According to reports, one of the three — 23-year-old Michael Griffith — was chased onto oncoming traffic on Shore Parkway, where he was hit by a car and killed after attempting to escape the mob.

Four of the assailants were charged with murder, manslaughter and assault, and the incident was deemed one of the most explosive racial crimes in the city in recent years by multiple reports — eventually making Howard Beach synonymous with hate, residents said.

“For people who are not from the area, it’ll trigger something when they hear the words ‘Howard Beach,’” said Margaret, a resident who did not want to give her last name. “That was one incident. It was a very unfortunate incident, but it shouldn’t define an entire neighborhood.”

Elected officials and community leaders shared the same sentiment, saying the infamous incident has stained the neighborhood’s name.

“There are people in every community of which race relations are what it shouldn’t be,” said Betty Braton, chairperson of Community Board 10. “We’re tarnished for something the community did not do or condone.”

Even still, Senator Joseph Addabbo said he’s “very happy” with where the community stands 25 years later.

“It’s always an effort to get Howard Beach out of that limelight,” he said. “We have come so far since then. It took a while to get to this point and I’m very happy where we are now. Howard Beach is a great community, made up of great, hardworking people. I think they do well promoting the good will of Howard Beach, where there are so many more positive things going on.”

According to the 2010 census, the vast majority of Howard Beach residents — close to 77 percent — are white, only about 2 percent are black and close to 17 percent are Hispanic.

“We’re a lot more diverse than in the past,” said Christina Gold, president of the Lindenwood Alliance. “We’ve become bonded. We’re one family. What happened 25 years ago… I don’t think we have that issue now, and we’re going to continue to be that way.”

Still, some residents said 25 years isn’t enough time for people to outgrow such “deep-rooted” feelings of hate.

“To say that it’s vanished — it’d be wonderful to say that, but I don’t think so,” said Meybol Geramita. “Unfortunately, people don’t change that quickly.”

This March, a noose — long a symbol of hatred and intolerance — was discovered hanging on a tree near Lindenwood’s P.S. 232, much to the disgust and dismay of the neighborhood. However, elected officials deemed it an “isolated incident,” pointing to the diversity of the neighborhood as proof.

“Unfortunately, no area of our great city is immune to hate crimes. We’re seeing it in Queens and also in Brooklyn, but nowhere should it be tolerated,” Addabbo said. “I think there are still remnants of [racism], but we have come a long way, and as the years go on, it’ll keep diminishing.”

DSNY and Goldfeder update Community Board 10


| nkarimi@queenscourier.com


Bring on the snow.

During the last meeting of the year for Community Board 10, the New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) said they were ready for the winter weather and any blizzard it may bring.

According to DSNY Deputy Commissioner Vito Turso, last year’s snow storm on December 26 stopped the city for about 24 hours. There were 2,000 trucks on the streets, he said, but the DSNY was only able to communicate with 365 of them because two-way radios weren’t enabled on the rest.

“We let folks down,” Turso said. “With the help of other city agencies and the New York City Council, we developed a very comprehensive plan that we believe will prevent something like that to occur in the future.”

According to Turso, the plan includes putting GPS systems in city snow removal vehicles and phones to say where and how long they have been in that location. He also said there is now better communication with other city agencies, such as the Parks Department, the Department of Transportation, the police department and the MTA.

The snow plan also includes online services that locate whether people are on primary, secondary or tertiary streets. With six inches of snow or more, the DSNY will hire private contractors to plow the tertiary, small and narrow streets, Turso said.

Later on in the meeting, Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder addressed his ongoing project — a petition to end the Cross Bay Boulevard toll.

“It’s only $1.40, but if you rely on that to go to work every day or take your kids to school, that adds up. I was talking to a senior in Lindenwood and she said that she breaks her pills in half when she gets her prescription because she can only afford to get it every other month. A round of trip of $2.80 is a lot of money for people who are on a fixed income and budget,” Goldfeder said, urging residents to sign the petition.

“The more signatures, the better it looks,” he said. “[Governor Andrew Cuomo] will see the tremendous will of the community.”

Patrick Jenkins, a representative of Resorts World Casino, also spoke at the meeting, telling residents that the second and third floor of the Racino would open in a couple of weeks, as well as a new seafood and steakhouse restaurant.

“We had a great month so far, so we thank the people in this room and community. We’re excited,” he said.

Year later, traffic patterns hurt Liberty Avenue businesses


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Melissa Chan

New traffic patterns along Liberty Avenue may be driving businesses and customers away.

A year after the Department of Transportation (DOT) installed new traffic patterns at the intersection of Liberty Avenue and Cross Bay Boulevard, stores along Liberty say their business has suffered.

“Whenever you make a change, there is an expectation that there will be some growing pains, but people will learn the new configurations,” said Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder. “But it has been a year since the changes, and for the businesses along Liberty Avenue, it’s harder and harder for cars and pedestrians to get to their stores.”

Among the modifications was converting Liberty Avenue to a one-way eastbound street between 93rd Street and Cross Bay Boulevard — forcing cars to circle around if they want to visit the stores on the block. A concrete barrier was also placed along Cross Bay to prevent Liberty Avenue traffic from crossing through the intersection.

The newly sworn in assemblymember sent a letter to the DOT requesting the agency to review the changes that have adversely affected the stores.
“The new traffic patterns have really hurt the businesses,” said Goldfeder. “We want to make the streets safe, but we don’t want to affect businesses.”

Goldfeder said he spoke with several business owners in the area — many of whom have had to shut their doors or reduce staff.

Kimberly Liverpool, manager of Tommy’s Pizza and Restaurant, said she had to reduce her staff by one, while the manager of Kalish Pharmacy, Joseph Bruno, reduced employee hours.

“[Customers] have difficulty getting to us,” Bruno said. “Sales have dropped tremendously.”

Jimmy Jobah, manager of Fine Food Market and Deli Grocery on Liberty Avenue, started a petition that has received at least 100 signatures in the store to get the changes reversed. Jobah said sales have almost been cut in half in the past year.

The plans were implemented to ease traffic and make the area more pedestrian friendly. From 2004 to 2008, the area averaged over 14 pedestrian injuries a year.

Though businesses have been affected, the changes have made the once-dangerous intersection safer, according to local officials.

“[The changes] have resulted in increased safety in that intersection, and fewer accidents have occurred since the changes were implemented,” said Community Board 10 Chairperson Betty Braton. “On one hand, you’ve got the greater good. On the other hand, you have some individual impact. I don’t want to see merchants impacted, but I don’t want to see pedestrians killed.”

Crashes have declined more than 50 percent at the location since these changes were made, according to the DOT.

“I would say there has been a vast decrease in collisions,” said Lyn, an area resident who often walks to the stores along Liberty Avenue. “It keeps people safer in the neighborhood.”

DOT officials said they will continue to update Goldfeder and work with the community.  Since the changes were implemented the DOT has monitored the area and will continue to as they determine if any adjustments are needed, a spokersperson said.

Goldfeder, who hopes to get a full review from the DOT, said safety and thriving business do not have to be mutually exclusive.

“We can accomplish both,” he said. “If we include more people in the conversation, we’ll come up with a result that really improves the situation.”

– Additional Reporting By Melissa Chan