Tag Archives: Cross Bay Boulevard

Select Bus Service lanes to speed up travel along Woodhaven Boulevard


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of MTA

Transit officials unveiled three potential designs for Woodhaven Boulevard’s new Select Bus Service (SBS), slated to be the first rapid transit lane in the city physically separated from traffic.

The MTA and Department of Transportation (DOT) have to choose whether to either quickly create designated lanes off-set from the curb with room for parking; extend sidewalks that would meet the off-set lanes; or dig up medians and build main road bus lanes.

Whichever design is chosen, the route will run from Queens Boulevard to the Rockaways and will allow for three lanes of traffic on both sides of the corridor.

In the first option, the off-set bus lanes would be one lane out from the curb, leaving space for parking along the boulevard. This option would warrant the least construction out of the three proposed routes.

Additionally, the DOT would build out the sidewalk at designated “SBS bus bulb stations.” In that case, the sidewalk would be extended out to the off-set bus lanes to allow more room for passengers waiting to get on the bus.

The second proposal would create main road bus lanes in the right lane throughout the designated area. From Union Turnpike to Myrtle Avenue and Park Lane South to Rockaway Boulevard, it would run in the right lane of the main road corridor. Then, it would take the right lane from Rockaway Boulevard south to the Rockaways.

If main road bus lanes were put in, the DOT would come in and rip up much of the medians separating the main roads from the service roads and widen them so that people waiting for the bus have at least 7 to 10 feet of curb space to stand on.

They would also be building new medians in certain designated areas that have not all been determined yet.

For the final proposal, the red painted lanes would run through the middle of each corridor where the left lanes currently are.

To do this type of project, the DOT would come in and rip up the corridors that separate north- and south-bound traffic and expand them where necessary.

Furthermore, for the median lanes, north- and south-bound buses will travel right next to each other. For north-bound stops, the median for people to stand on will be on the east side of the bus, and for south-bound stops, travelers will wait on the west side.

All plans at this point are still being studied by the agencies. They will continue to work in more detail on every section of the boulevard for each proposal and will also have more community outreach, according to a representative who is working on the project.

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Pair suspected in second travel agency robbery


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

Two suspects who tied up the employees of a Howard Beach travel agency during an armed robbery last week are likely connected to a second travel agency robbery in Queens just days later, authorities said.

In both incidents, the suspects tied up the business’s employees at gunpoint before trying to take money from the safe.

The suspects, both armed with guns, entered Liberty Travel on Cross Bay Boulevard about 9:40 a.m. on Nov. 7, and ordered its six employees to the back of the agency, police said. They then zip-tied the employees and asked for the location of the safe. The suspects then took an undetermined amount of money from the safe and the employees’ cell phones before fleeing.

Police believe the same two men robbed the Crown Travel Agency in South Richmond Hill on Wednesday morning.

Two men, one armed with a gun, entered the 118th Street business about 11 a.m. and zip-tied the employees. They then demanded that the employees open the safe. When they could not open it, the suspects took an undetermined amount of money from a cash tin in the office as well as jewelry and cash from the two employees and then fled.

Photos of the suspects captured during the robbery at Crown Travel Agency.

Photos of the suspects captured during the robbery at Crown Travel Agency.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

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NY Sun Club to replace Beach Bum Tanning on Cross Bay Boulevard


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

When the door of one tanning salon closes, another one will open.

After the closure of Beach Bum Tanning on Cross Bay Boulevard in Howard Beach, signs were recently put up for NY Sun Club Tanning and Airbrush.

The new tanning salon at 156-40C Cross Bay Blvd. plans to open in the next three weeks, according to an owner of the property, who didn’t clarify why Beach Bum left the location.

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Photos released of suspects in armed robbery at Howard Beach travel agency


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

The search continues for two suspects who tied up the employees of a Howard Beach travel agency during an armed robbery Friday morning.

The pair, both armed with guns, entered Liberty Travel, located at 156-40 Cross Bay Blvd., about 9:40 a.m. and ordered its six employees to the back of the agency, police said. They then zip-tied the employees and asked for the location of the safe.

The suspects took an undetermined amount of money from the safe and the employee’s cell phones before fleeing, authorities said.

No one was injured in the robbery.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

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Dunkin’ Donuts, Japanese restaurant coming to new Ozone Park shopping center


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of Platinum Realty Associates 

new shopping plaza in Ozone Park will have a wide variety of retailers and restaurants, including national brands, according to a representative for Queens-based Platinum Realty Associates, which owns the center.

Dunkin’ Donuts and Domino’s Pizza have already signed on as tenants, as well as a “high-class Japanese restaurant” and a phone carrier, said David Koptiev, vice president of Platinum.

Koptiev added that they are also wrapping up negotiations with a medical office for a spot in the building, which is located where Cross Bay Boulevard and North Conduit Avenue meet.

“I’m excited. I think it’s going to be very, very nice,” Koptiev said. “It’s more jobs, it’s more stores, it’s bringing a lot to the community.”

The one-story building should be completed by the end of the year, and retailers and tenants will begin moving in by early next year.

Koptiev said they are looking to add three or four more retailers to the mix, but only tenants that “aren’t going to hurt the community or compete with businesses that are already there.”

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New ‘Welcome to Howard Beach’ sign donated by local organization


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Paul Ohana/ ADP USA

It’s a welcoming message.

The old and beaten up Howard Beach welcome sign, located in the welcome triangle on Cross Bay Boulevard and 155th Avenue, will soon be replaced by a brand-new one, thanks to a donation by the Howard Beach Memorial Services.

“We put the original sign up and realized that now it needs replacing,” said Ray York, a founder of the Howard Beach Memorial Services.

The original sign has seen its better days. The paint is chipped, the bricks around it are out of place and there is a large hole in the bottom corner of it.

The new sign will have a different look to it.

Instead of being green with gold letters, it will have a white trim with a blue body and gold lettering along with the picture of a seagull on the top.

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

The sign has been completed as of Oct. 7 and was created by ADP USA, located at 190 Beach 116th St.

It will be installed within the next two weeks.

The project for the new sign was part of the Howard Beach/Lindenwood Civic Association’s summer beautification list.

The association was originally just looking for a person to come in and paint the sign, but York and the organization went a step further.

The Howard Beach Memorial Services was set up by York and Ed Murray about two decades ago.

The service has donated signs and flag poles all around the neighborhood, such as the ones in the welcome triangle, Wetzel Square and Charles Park.

Replacing the beaten up welcome sign was something that just made sense for York and the organization.

“The sign needed to be replaced,” York said. “People ask us if we can help them out and if we can do it, we do it.”

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Storefront counseling center to open in Howard Beach


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

The New Horizon Counseling Center is getting ready to open up its newest location on Cross Bay Boulevard.

The center, located at 156-28 Cross Bay Blvd., is set to have its grand opening on Oct. 1, according to Herrick Lipton, the administrative and financial director for the center. A staple in southern Queens for over 20 years, the Howard Beach center will be its third location in the area, with the other two in Far Rockaway and Ozone Park.

“Empowering individuals and strengthening the community is our motto,” Lipton said. “We cover all different types of needs the community might have.”

New Horizon is a nonprofit behavioral health organization, servicing people of all ages and covering every type of behavioral health need. It also hosts programs around the community, including neighborhood events and after-school programs.

Unlike many counseling centers, New Horizon uses a storefront approach because it likes to immerse itself in the neighborhood and be a part of it, Lipton said.

New Horizon will have staff available for walk-ins and have psychiatrists and social workers on site. It will also provide individual, group and psychotherapy counseling.

“Reception has been very good,” Lipton said. “We are here to aid the communities that we are in. ”

To learn more about New Horizon Counseling Center, visit www.nhcc.us.

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Councilman Ulrich allocates $25K to clean up graffiti in district


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Cross Bay Boulevard can draw comparisons to 5Pointz with the amount of graffiti that has stricken its surrounding neighborhoods, but clean-up is on the way.

In his discretionary budget, Councilman Eric Ulrich has allocated $25,000 to graffiti clean-up in the district. Ulrich is teaming up with the Queens Economic Development Corporation (EDC), which will choose a company for the clean-up, for the first time and is hoping to start the job next month.

Cleaning up graffiti in these neighborhoods and all of Council District 32 is something that Ulrich has funded throughout his time as councilman, but this year he has allocated more money than ever to hit even more problem areas, according to Rudy Giuliani, a representative for the councilman.

The focus areas that Ulrich outlined are the neighborhoods of Woodhaven and Ozone Park. This is where graffiti is the biggest problem in Ulrich’s district, Giuliani said. The company that is hired by the Queens EDC will then move on to other areas in the district, which include Howard Beach, Lindenwood and the Rockaways.

 

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Op-ed: The latest attempt to improve safety and reduce aggravation on Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards


| oped@queenscourier.com

STATE SEN. JOSEPH P. ADDABBO

Metal structures hanging over sections of Woodhaven Boulevard having been popping up and I continue to hear from constituents with questions as to what they are, what will be done with them and what they can expect for the future of one of the busiest thoroughfares in the borough.

The answer is the NYC Department of Transportation’s (DOT) newly-implemented initiative, Select Bus Service. Mimicking other cities’ Bus Rapid Transit, Select Bus Service is essentially intended to make riding the bus similar to riding the subway. It incorporates dedicated bus lanes, off-board fare collection and transit signal priority to offer theoretically faster and more reliable service on high-ridership routes, such as those along Woodhaven Boulevard.

The metal poles you see on your daily drives will hold “bus lane” signs, and, according to local news sources, will be activated during peak traffic hours.

Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards collectively transport 30,000 riders each day via public transportation. However, the congestion along this route, especially during rush hour, is enough to make the average driver crazy.

That is why the DOT launched a study on about three miles of Woodhaven Boulevard from Queens Boulevard down to Rockaway Boulevard, from Rego Park, to Woodside, to Arverne, respectively. The study found not only can buses be caught in congestion, creating slow service, and the layout of the street makes bus stops difficult for riders to reach, but these factors and more make Woodhaven Boulevard one of the most dangerous corridors in the city for both drivers and pedestrians.

The study hopes to convert the existing Limited-Stop Q52 and Q53 bus routes to the Select Bus Service, ultimately improving and quickening service. The idea is, if the service is more reliable, commuters will be more willing to use buses over cars. Faster and better service could then potentially reduce traffic along the congested route.

My constituents from surrounding communities have expressed concerns about losing street-side parking, traffic stemming from confusion of the new system and whether Select Bus Service would lead to a reduction of local buses. I am also aware of business owners’ concern about delivery drop-offs and pick-ups, and whether the bus lane will hinder trucks ability to stop curbside.

Along Woodhaven Boulevard between Eliot and Metropolitan Avenue, bus lanes will be offset from the curb and not affect any parking. Curbside bus lanes will run through Plattwood and Liberty Avenues, and Rockaway Boulevard and 101st Avenue.

While there has been no time frame scheduled for the start of the program, the DOT will host its next public meeting in the fall. I will be meeting with the Steering Committee of the Bus Rapid Transit and other transportation advocates to address these concerns before the service becomes permanent.

The idea of this program and a dedicated bus lane has been mentioned numerous times in local papers and community meetings throughout the past year. In early 2013, Select Bus Service was suggested as an option for Woodhaven Boulevard to alleviate the traffic nightmare. In 2012, the DOT implemented a number of short-term enhancements on the route, but Select Bus Service is the long-term answer. The metal structures now popping up are a sign of this program moving forward. I encourage my constituents to let me know of their concerns and how they believe the new system would work. Only by working together, we will see improvement on both Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevards.

 

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Howard Beach restaurant hosts movie shoot


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE QUEENS COURIER/ Photo by Salvatore Licata

Howard Beach is going Hollywood.

A scene from a feature-length film named “Where Hearts Lie” was shot at Lenny’s Clam Bar on Cross Bay Boulevard on Monday.

At Lenny’s, the film crew was shooting the first date scene between the two lead characters. It took about three hours to shoot the scene, which included about 25 extras and the two main characters. It was a perfect local spot to film this scene, according to Peter Iengo, producer of the film.

“I love this location because there is so much history here,” said Iengo, who mentioned the actual clam bar may be featured in the movie. “It’s a great spot to shoot this scene.”

The movie is about a young up-and-coming real estate entrepreneur from East New York who is trying to gain support for the projects he is working on after he took over the real estate business from his father, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s.

He meets a young women while he is working on his projects, falls in love and has a child not knowing that his spouse is mentally unstable. Once he sees her instability he wants to break away and fights for the custody of his child, which becomes the main plot of the movie.

Only two scenes are filmed in Queens, one at Lenny’s and one at the Elixir Lounge in Jamaica. The rest will be filmed in Brooklyn and the total filming period is about three weeks. Hollywood stars Clifton Powell, from movies like “Next Friday” and “Ray,” and Malik Yuba, from “Cool Runnings,” make guest appearances in the film as well.

Once the post-production is finished, the film team will send the finished product to films festivals and shop it around to distribution companies.

 

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Owner of Smitty’s Hot Dog truck celebrates 25 years with $1 wieners


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

SALVATORE LICATA

During the dog days of summer, there’s one spot in Ozone Park where people can get relief—not from high temperatures but from high food prices.

The owner of Smitty’s Hot Dog and Italian Sausage truck, located on 149th Avenue and Cross Bay Boulevard in Ozone Park, is celebrating 25 years at the location by offering hot dogs at a discounted price—a buck apiece.

Don Cusumano has owned the truck since 1989 and frankfurter aficionados come from all over the tri-state area to chow down.

“You see those plates over there,” said Abdullah Muhammed, pointing at his car while waiting for his usual two hot dogs with mustard and onions. “I come all the way from New Jersey just to get Smitty’s.”

Cusumano bought the truck 25 years ago from a man named Schmidt, who had it in the same location for about 50 years.  He decided to keep the name “Smitty” because he thought people would rather have a “Smitty” dog than a “Don” dog.

He upgraded the truck by installing a drive-thru window on the street side to better accommodate customers, many of whom have been loyal for decades.

“I started coming here when I was 16 years old and now I’m 61,” said Joseph DeFeligibus, who raved about Cusumano’s homemade onions and Italian sausage. “Don’s a great man. Everyone knows about him.”

Cusumano’s anniversary special of $1.00 hot dogs will continue through Sept. 1. He said it’s a small way of thanking all those loyal customers that keep his truck going.

Aside from serving his customers, Cusumano shares a helping hand to those less fortunate in the community. He has taken part in events such as Toys for Tots, National Night Out Against Crime and even donated hot dogs to Hurricane Sandy victims.

“I enjoy what I do because I love serving this community,” Cusumano said. “Serving my customers is great. I’ve never thought about leaving this spot.”

 

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New shopping center coming to Ozone Park


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy Platinum Realty

A new shopping center is being built in a vacant lot in Ozone Park, and owners are planning to have it completed in time for Christmas.

Platinum Realty Associates plans to build a one-story center on the plot of land where Cross Bay Boulevard and North Conduit Avenue intersect. The project is scheduled to be completed by Dec. 1 and could house as many as 10 tenants.

The firm hopes to secure a supermarket as the anchor tenant, but has not confirmed one as of yet.

In the rendering obtained by The Courier, there are parking spaces for the stores, but a company official could not confirm the exact number of spots that will be available.

 

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Cross Bay Key Food set to open at end of summer


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE QUEENS COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

SALVATORE LICATA

Howard Beach is finally ready to open its second largest supermarket.

Key Food, located on 164th Avenue and Cross Bay Boulevard, is set to open at the “end of the summer,” according to a spokeswoman for the Key Food Corporation. It has been a long awaited opening for the building that has been out of commission since Hurricane Sandy.

There were rumors throughout the neighborhood that the store was not going to open at all. The announcement that Key Food was coming to the boulevard came more than a year ago and many theorized the store wasn’t big enough for refrigeration of its products. But with signs going up this week and workers filing in and out of the site, the opening appears imminent.

The shop will be branded as a Key Food “Fresh” location, which will compete with Waldbaum’s, the only other supermarket on the boulevard.

 

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Howard Beach Staples to close at end of May


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Roger Gendron

The only Staples in Howard Beach is closing at the end of this month.

The store put signs up announcing the closure last week but there will be none of the usual sales fanfare, according to the workers at the Cross Bay Boulevard location. Residents have noticed workers starting to pack boxes as the store nears its closing date.

“Sad how everything seems to stay here short term,” Lisa Marie, a local, wrote on the Howard Beach Civic Association Facebook page.

Superstorm Sandy hit businesses hard on the boulevard and the office supply store didn’t open back up until mid-2013. With less than a year of operating after recovering, the store will be closing its doors for good.

A photo of the Staples Howard Beach location after it reopened, taken around the one-year anniversary of Sandy. (THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre)

“Whenever a large store like that closes, it sends bad vibes through the community,” state Senator Joseph Addabbo said.

The fact that Staples was willing to reopen after Sandy, unlike the local Duane Reade, led him and other local politicians to think they were here to stay.

“We’re trying to bring back our local economy,” Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder said. “Staples was always a good neighbor but I’m hopeful. This gives us an opportunity for new entities to come in.”

A Staples worker said that the increase in online retail has made it unnecessary to keep the location open.

“As customers shift online, we are taking aggressive action to right-size our retail footprint,” a spokesperson for Staples, Kaitlyn Reardon said. Staples is also “working to provide transfer options where possible” for the workers there.

Addabbo noted that many of these workers are locals. “It’s a loss of jobs,” he said. “So now the question is post-Staples, what happens?”

 

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NYPD detective arrested in Queens for drunk driving after accidentally shooting partner


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

Updated 8:30 p.m.

A Brooklyn NYPD detective was arrested in Queens for drunk driving early Thursday morning after he accidentally shot his partner in the wrist, officials said.

Jay Poggi, 57, who, according to police is a member of the 75th Precinct, was showing the hammer of his Smith and Wesson revolver to fellow detective, Matthew Sullivan, when the gun went off, striking his partner in the right wrist, court records said.

The detectives were supposedly on their way to conduct a robbery investigation in Far Rockaway when Poggi accidentally fired the weapon, the New York Daily News reported.

Poggi then drove their unmarked police car to Jamaica Hospital where Sullivan underwent surgery, according to the criminal complaint.

At the hospital, a responding officer noticed that the front passenger seat area of their vehicle was covered in “a significant amount of blood,” court papers stated. He also said he noticed Poggi had alcohol on his breath and bloodshot eyes.

The officer then gave the detective a field sobriety test, which registered above the legal limit, at .113 percent, prosecutors said. Poggi later allegedly refused to take a Breathalyzer test at the 112th Precinct.

Poggi was arraigned Thursday in Queens Criminal Court and charged with operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, according to prosecutors. He was released on his own recognizance and is due back in court on June 16. His driver’s license has also been suspended.

The Queens District Attorney’s Office said the investigation is still ongoing and is being conducted by the chief of its Integrity Bureau.

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