Tag Archives: Cross Bay Boulevard

Fake 911 call backfires for Howard Beach burglary suspect


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Instead of driving the police away with a fake emergency call, a suspected burglar wound up bringing more cops to his Hamilton Beach block Thursday afternoon.

Keith Kolm, 25, of 164th Road, allegedly broke into the Key Food supermarket at 163-30 Cross Bay Blvd. in Howard Beach at 6 a.m. on April 6 and stole the shop’s ATM.

Through an investigation, the 106th Precinct Detective Squad linked Kolm to the crime and “plastered the neighborhood” with wanted posters featuring his mugshot, one law enforcement source said. Plainclothes officers staked out the suspect’s home for several weeks, but he never surfaced.

At about 3:45 p.m. on Thursday, police received a 911 call regarding an officer in need of assistance at the corner of Linden Boulevard and the Van Wyck Expressway service road in South Ozone Park, authorities said.

While heading to the scene with other units, an on-duty supervisor requested the location of where the 911 call was made; police learned that the call came from a cellphone in Hamilton Beach.

Plainclothes officers stationed outside Kolm’s home activated their sirens and drove around the corner, according to authorities. After a few moments, they returned to the location and observed Kolm walking outside his home.

“That call was placed so he could get out of the house,” a law enforcement source said.

Kolm then led officers on a foot pursuit through Hamilton Beach streets and backyards, prompting additional NYPD units to respond to the area, police said. At about 4:30 p.m., officers apprehended Kolm on the rooftop of a home in the area of 104th Street and 163rd Drive.

Charges against Kolm are pending.

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Identify this place in Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

IMG_0715

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”: Cross Bay Boulevard and 157th Avenue in Howard Beach 

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Design workshops scheduled for Woodhaven/Cross Bay Select Bus Service plan


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYC DOT

The city Department of Transportation (DOT) will hold the first of four public design workshops for the planned Woodhaven/Cross Bay boulevards Select Bus Service (SBS) system next Thursday night in Woodhaven.

All are invited to attend the April 16 workshop at P.S. 306 NYC Academy for Discovery, located at 96-16 89th Ave. This workshop will focus solely on redesigning the portion of Woodhaven Boulevard between Union Turnpike in Glendale and Rockaway Boulevard in Ozone Park.

The following week, April 23, the DOT will hold a workshop at Queens Metropolitan High School, located at 91-30 Metropolitan Ave. in Forest Hills, focused on Woodhaven Boulevard between Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst and Union Turnpike.

An April 29 workshop at P.S. 146, located at 98-01 159th Ave. in Howard Beach, will center around Cross Bay Boulevard, and an April 30 workshop at P.S. 42, located at 488 Beach 66th St. in Arverne, will focus on implementing SBS in the Rockaways.

All of the workshops will take place from 6 to 8 p.m.

Representatives from the DOT will collect at each session “block-by-block feedback on street design and bus stop locations” for the Woodhaven/Cross Bay SBS. Last month, the DOT selected an SBS design that would include dedicated main-road bus lanes on Woodhaven Boulevard and offset bus lanes on Cross Bay Boulevard.

The plan, which requires the physical reconfiguration of Woodhaven Boulevard, also calls for the creation of SBS stations at major roadways that intersect the boulevard, such as Metropolitan and Jamaica avenues.

While each workshop focuses on a specific section, the DOT indicated that comments on any or all parts of the proposed SBS system will be accepted at all four sessions. Translation services are available and may be reserved in advance of the workshop by emailing brt@nyc.gov.

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Design chosen for Woodhaven/Cross Bay Select Bus Service


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by  Salvatore Licata

Updated Tuesday, March 24, 6 p.m.

Things are about to get more rapid for commuters on Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards.

The city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) unveiled Tuesday afternoon its Select Bus Service (SBS) bus rapid transit (BRT) system along the congested corridor between Elmhurst and the Rockaways. The proposal would transform the roadway into a “transit-oriented boulevard,” with designated bus lanes in the main roadway and special bus stops featuring shelters, seating and real-time bus information constructed at major intersections.

According to the DOT, the concept is based on the limited Q52 and Q53 bus lines that currently operate on the boulevard and shuttle 30,000 daily passengers between the Rockaway Peninsula and Elmhurst (where the Q52 terminates) or Woodside (where the Q53 ends). Studies found that 43 percent of residents in central Queens and the Rockaways do not own a car, and 60 percent of all residents rely on public transportation.

A rendering of a Select Bus Service station on Woodhaven Boulevard at Metropolitan Avenue on the Glendale/Rego Park border. (photo courtesy NYC DOT)

A rendering of a Select Bus Service station on Woodhaven Boulevard at Metropolitan Avenue on the Glendale/Rego Park border. (photo courtesy NYC DOT)

“This is the kind of ambitious overhaul new York City’s bus riders deserve,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. “It means safer streets that save lives. And it means that communities from the Rockaways to Elmhurst that have long been underserved by public transit will see real improvements in their daily commute.”

“Queens deserves better public transit and we’re excited to bring this innovative design for Bus Rapid Transit to move New Yorkers efficiently while at the same time making the streets safer for all,” added DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.

The plans were unveiled days after Sen. Charles Schumer requested up to $100 million in federal funding to get the job done. In a letter to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Schumer requested the funds through the Federal New Starts Program, claiming that the streamlined limited stop service on the corridor between Elmhurst and Ozone Park is critical toward improving both traffic flow and public safety. If approved, the request would cover half of the BRT project’s projected $200 million cost.

“The Woodhaven Boulevard corridor has long suffered from a lack of adequate transit options and the city’s innovative and exciting Woodhaven Boulevard Bus Rapid Transit plan can be just what the doctor ordered for long-suffering transit riders from the Rockaways to Howard Beach, [from] Woodhaven to Woodside,” Schumer said. “This Bus Rapid Transit plan can turn this corridor from a transportation desert to a transportation oasis for tens of thousands of Queens residents, and also be a boon for local property value and area businesses.”

Presently, more than 31,000 people each day travel on various local, express and limited-stop bus lines along the boulevards, which the DOT previously identified among the most dangerous roads in the city. Seventeen people were killed and more than 3,000 people were injured in accidents along Woodhaven Boulevard alone between 2008 and 2012, according to the DOT.

In recent years, the DOT created Select Bus Service (SBS) BRT lines in other parts of the city, such as Pelham Parkway in the Bronx. The seven SBS routes, Schumer stated, contributed to travel time reductions of between 15 and 23 percent and also sparked “significant ridership growth, customer satisfaction of over 95 percent and a 20 percent reduction in crashes.”

“The Woodhaven Boulevard Bus Rapid Transit plan has the potential to turn an arduous transit slog into a seamless, predictable and speedy ride that will get Queens transit riders from these neighborhoods to and from work, family and fun in a much more efficient way,” Schumer said.

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City installing new traffic lights along Cross Bay and Woodhaven boulevards


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Salvatore Licata

Motorists driving along Cross Bay and Woodhaven boulevards will be seeing more red, yellow and green.

As part of Mayor de Blasio’s “Vision Zero” traffic safety initiative, the city is in the process of installing new and larger traffic lights along the busy thoroughfares in hopes of giving motorists a better view of the of the red, yellow and green lights.

Currently, the Department of Transportation (DOT) is replacing the 8-inch circular signals with 12-inch circular signals going northbound and southbound on the two boulevards in Queens. These are the first to be installed in the borough.

Work will be done for the entire length of the corridor and is expected to be completed within four to six weeks, weather permitting, according to a DOT spokeswomen.

On many of the new lights being installed, there is a bit of a gap between the red top light and bottom yellow and green lights. Due to the new size of the lights, in select locations the signal must be raised to ensure that it is the correct height above the roadway. About two of the new 12-inch lights equal the length of the full three light piece that holds the old 8-inch ones.

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In the last couple of months, the city has initiated a number of safety improvements on Cross Bay and Woodhaven boulevards. In December, the DOT installed temporary pedestrian safety areas, set off by yellow cones, in order to widen the mediums on which people crossing the street could stand to create a bigger barrier between pedestrians and traffic.

The city is also in the process of creating permanent safety areas, where they will actually build out the sidewalk, in more traveled intersections such as where Queens Boulevard meets Woodhaven Boulevard.

There is also a proposal for Select Bus and Bus Rapid Transit to come to both of these corridors in the future.

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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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