Tag Archives: Cross Bay Boulevard

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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Cross Bay biz: Coming back from the storm


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Maggie Hayes

The record-breaking winter brought on two different fates for two iconic Cross Bay Boulevard businesses.

Giovanni Malinconico has experienced what he calls “life’s punches” when it comes to his bakery La Torre, a Howard Beach staple for nearly three decades.

When you walk into Malinconico’s pasticceria, you’re greeted with the sweet smell of fresh pastries and desserts.

But the dough hasn’t risen for Malinconico, known in Howard Beach as “John da Baker,” thanks to repeated snowstorms over several weekends.

“This is a weekend business,” he said. “I’ve lost about 10 percent. January and February aren’t strong months to begin with, so this made it even worse.”

This is the second straight slow season for the baker, who said he lost 60 percent of “normal income” in the year following Sandy.

The superstorm hit three weeks before Thanksgiving, Malinconico’s “number two holiday” in sales, he said. The first, Christmas, was “just pathetic.”

“Nobody was thinking about buying things, nobody had their homes to celebrate in,” he said. “The hammer just keeps nailing you down. These are what they call ‘life’s punches.’”

However, a few blocks up Cross Bay, Ragtime Dairy, a gourmet supermarket, has maintained its steady stream of customers despite Mother Nature posing a threat.

“The store is never closed,” said Anthony Ribaudo, store manager. “When snowstorms come, people like to load up on their goodies in case they’re stuck at home.”

But, like La Torre, January and February are slow months for the 30-year-old neighborhood market, and the manager is looking forward to altering the menu to compliment warmer weather by bringing in fresh salads and wraps.

Other Cross Bay businesses have made their way back after Sandy, and a strip that had dozens of vacancies now has only a few. “We will always be open for our customers,” Ribaudo said. “With that, we’ll never have a problem.”

 

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New Park Pizza in Howard Beach vandalized


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo via mrsquinn1118/Instagram

The iconic Howard Beach pizzeria, New Park Pizza, was reportedly vandalized early Friday morning.

An angry customer tagged “worst service ever” on the pizza spot’s front windows for all of Cross Bay Boulevard to see, according to an Instagram picture posted Friday morning.

An employee said the graffiti was washed away by the time he came into work.

New Park Pizza was the site of a 1986 hate crime in which a black man, Michael Griffith, was killed.

 

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Howard Beach helps ‘Stuff the Bus’ for charity


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

After being knocked out by Sandy last year, the Rotary Club of Southwest Queens once again collected dozens of grocery bags filled with Thanksgiving food for the needy.

“People are being very generous,” said Joseph DiBlasi of the Rotary Club. “Some people come out with big bags.”
DiBlasi and other volunteers camped out by the Waldbaum’s on Cross Bay Boulevard on Saturday. They handed out flyers to passersby and collected item after item of donated food.

Excited donors handed over food items they bought while others contributed money and pre-wrapped gift baskets to the cause. All of the donations went to the Our Lady of Grace food pantry.

“They can only do so much over there,” DiBlasi said. “Sometimes their shelves are empty.”

While the Rotarians worked to stuff the bus, a group of young children and their parents walked up, each carrying a $1 donation.

“It was really nice,” DiBlasi said. “I don’t see a difference this year. People have always been willing to help.”

The group also put a donation bin in the Citibank right next to Waldbaum’s. That bin will stay in the Cross Bay bank branch until Thanksgiving.

DiBlasi said he and the Rotary crew could have stayed at the Waldbaum’s all day long, collecting more and more food. He estimated they stuffed the bus with about 50 filled grocery bags, and delivered the donations to Our Lady of Grace on Monday morning.

“They were thrilled. We did very well,” DiBlasi said. “You don’t realize how much you’re getting as you’re taking two or three bags [into the bus] at a time.”

 

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SANDY ONE YEAR LATER: Cross Bay businesses make a comeback


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Liam La Guerre

After opening her two-floor hair salon and spa on Cross Bay Boulevard in July last year, Kimberly Langona was devastated when months later, it was partially destroyed.

Superstorm Sandy wiped out the entire first floor of Explosion Hair Styling, destroying equipment including hair dryers, electrical wiring, furniture and computers.

“Everything was lost,” said Langona, who rebuilt the entire salon and replaced all the equipment, which cost an estimated $150,000. “I couldn’t even tell you how hard it was to turn people away.”

Photo courtesy Kimberly Langona

Explosions Hair Styling was completely reconstructed after receiving massive damage from Sandy. (THE COURIER/ Photo by Liam La Guerre)

Full power was not restored to the building until December of last year, but Langona kept the salon and spa partially open by utilizing generators on the second floor, which is called Serenity Day Spa.

Now, a year later, business is buzzing at full capacity in the salon, much like other businesses on Cross Bay Boulevard.

The Howard Beach commercial strip was under water after Sandy struck on October 29, and many businesses were forced to close. Some never reopened and others endured months of rebuilding before making a comeback.

“It was a mess,” said Joe De Candia, owner of Lenny’s Clam Bar. “You couldn’t fathom that much water.”

About four feet of water rushed into the restaurant, a 40-year staple in the community which is famous for serving numerous celebrities. The force of the flooding tossed tables and chairs outside the eatery and the garbage compactor was moved four blocks away. All the electrical equipment and wiring on the first floor was destroyed and the walls were soaked with water.

The restaurant lost power for about three weeks, but De Candia said they immediately started making repairs, which were paid for out-of-pocket. After the power returned it took another two weeks before they had a partial reopening.

“We were limping but we were able to reopen,” De Candia said.

But because of Sandy, Lenny’s was able to come back bigger and better. The gym next door, Better Bodies Fitness for Women, wasn’t able to rebuild so De Candia bought the property and expanded the restaurant and added a party room. He also shifted the bar to make it bigger.

Lenny’s wasn’t the only business that improved following the storm.
Scott Baron & Associates PC completely rebuilt the first floor, making it more functional and adding state of-the-art-technology.

The law office, which has been known as a community champion for nearly 20 years, finally held its grand reopening in June. Before the Howard Beach office reopened though, Scott Baron, the owner, said they moved operations to their office in Yonkers.

Baron is happy that the commercial strip is back again and said it’s a testament to the community sticking together.

“I saw a lot of store owners helping store owners and neighbors helping neighbors, because everyone was in the same boat,” Baron said. “The community really came together.”

 

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Howard Beach gets new senior housing location


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Howard Beach is home to a new senior housing location, providing more than 80 units of affordable housing for the elderly.

Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development and Management Corporation, a century-old organization, has various housing sites through Brooklyn and Queens and recently completed renovations at the Cross Bay Boulevard location, formerly the Fineson Center.

“The opening of the Catholic Charities’ senior housing residence is a huge victory for the Howard Beach community and all of the residents in Queens,” said Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder. “Our growing senior population can finally achieve the quality housing they deserve.”

All resident applications have already been accepted, and the applying period is closed, said a Catholic Charities official.

The Fineson Center, constructed as a private hospital in the 1960s, closed in the summer of 2009 to begin the conversion into a senior housing facility.

Catholic Charities additionally provides accommodations for the developmentally disabled, mentally ill and the isolated, according to its website. The official said this Howard Beach spot has additional units designated for people with disabilities.

Goldfeder said the new housing will also allow residents to keep “financial and economic independence” and remain “in their own backyard.”

“This building will finally provide a centralized location for our diverse senior community to meet under one roof,” he added.

The new facility, outside of housing units, will also have laundry facilities, resident lounges and offices. State Senator Joseph Addabbo also recently secured the return of a U.S. Mail collection box in front of the building.

There is not yet a set occupancy date for the new residents.

 

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DEP fixing pipe that led to flooding in Howard Beach


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo via Facebook

A flood-prone intersection in Howard Beach will finally see relief. Cross Bay Boulevard and 165th Avenue was long the site of collected storm water, creating a potentially dangerous situation for patrons at nearby Russo’s on the Bay.

“It wasn’t safe,” said Frank Russo, the catering hall’s owner. “In the winter time, that section would ice over. Other times, it was a puddle of water. It actually went over the sidewalk.”

Crews from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) were performing regular cleaning of the neighborhood sewer system when they found the pipe that connects the intersection’s catch basin to the sewer line was broken, according to a spokesperson.

They could not determine for how long the pipe had been broken. Repairs are currently underway and will be completed this week.

“There definitely was an issue there,” Russo said, adding that local elected officials helped push the project. “But they’re fixing the problem.”

 

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