Tag Archives: Ditmars Boulevard

Councilman starts petition for traffic safety improvements surrounding Astoria Park


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Katrina Medoff

After the life of a 21-year-old woman was cut short last month on her way home, one local politician is putting his foot down and asking Astoria residents to join the fight to bring safety improvements in and around Astoria Park.

Councilman Costa Constantinides started a petition Monday calling for improvements to be made on streets such as Shore Boulevard, Ditmars Boulevard, 19th Street and Hoyt Avenue South.

“The streets surrounding Astoria Park are a dangerous stretch for pedestrians. The corridor is used by many families and children on the way to the park. All the while, many motorists race to and from the park at high rates of speed. A recent hit-and-run death that occurred in the area shows that we need better traffic safety,” Constantinides said. “We have made great strides recently in calming traffic in Astoria through safety improvements on 21st Street south of Hoyt Avenue and through the upcoming slow zone south of Astoria Boulevard. That’s why I have started a petition to support traffic improvements on the streets in and around Astoria Park. I look forward to working with DOT to make Astoria a safer place to live.”

The petition comes after Betty DiBiasio was struck on June 28 by a car as she was crossing a marked crosswalk at the intersection of Ditmars Boulevard and 19th Street, just blocks from her home.

The car, which was being driven by 24-year-old Astoria resident Nicholas Colleran, drove through a stop sign and then struck DiBiasio, according to officials.

Colleran allegedly called 911 about an hour after the accident to report that his car had been stolen and in his vehicle theft investigation report claimed it had been taken from a parking lot in the back of his residence. The vehicle was discovered in another location in Astoria with a broken windshield and driver’s side-view mirror, and a damaged driver’s side front fender.

There also appeared to be blood and hair in the driver’s side windshield, where it was broken, and, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, was consistent with a vehicle striking a pedestrian and the pedestrian hitting the windshield.

Colleran then turned himself into the police where he admitted that he had two beers before driving and striking DiBiasio and then leaving the scene.

He was charged with leaving the scene of an incident without reporting a death, third-degree falsely reporting an incident, failure to stop for a stop sign, driving by an unlicensed operator, failure to exercise due care and a violation of the city’s administrative code.

To sign Constantinides’ petition, click here.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Arrest in deadly Astoria hit-and-run


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Image via Google Maps

An unlicensed driver has been arrested for blowing through a stop sign before fatally striking a young woman in Astoria Saturday and fleeing the scene, prosecutors announced.

Nicholas Colleran, 24, of Astoria, was charged with leaving the scene of an incident without reporting a death, third-degree falsely reporting an incident, failure to stop for a stop sign, driving by an unlicensed operator, failure to exercise due care and a violation of the city’s administrative code – right of way, according to District Attorney Richard Brown.

The victim, Betty DiBiasio, 21, was crossing a marked crosswalk at the intersection of Ditmars Boulevard and 19th Street, just blocks from her home, at about 12:30 a.m. on Saturday, when Colleran drove through a stop sign in his 2002 Chevy Impala without stopping and struck DiBiasio, according to officials.

Witnesses allegedly said that DiBiasio hit the driver’s side windshield before falling to the ground and the car drove off without stopping. She was taken to Elmhurst Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Meanwhile, Colleran allegedly called 911 about an hour after the accident to report his Chevy stolen and in a vehicle theft investigation report claimed it had been taken from a parking lot in the back of his residence. But later that morning, it was discovered in another location in Astoria with a broken windshield and driver’s side-view mirror, and a damaged driver’s side front fender.

There also appeared to be blood and hair in the driver’s side windshield, where it was broken, and, according to the district attorney’s office, was consistent with a vehicle striking a pedestrian and the pedestrian hitting the windshield.

On Sunday, Colleran turned himself in at the 114th Precinct in Astoria, where he allegedly admitted to police that he had two beers before driving and had struck DiBiasio. Colleran, who was unable to produce a valid driver’s license, also said that he panicked after hitting DiBiasio and fled the scene. He then called the police and falsely reported his vehicle stolen.

If convicted Colleran faces up to seven years in prison.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

Astoria woman killed in hit-and-run on Ditmars Boulevard


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

An Astoria woman was struck and killed by a vehicle Saturday in an early morning collision.

The woman, identified by police as 21-year-old Betty Jean Dibiasio, was crossing Ditmars Boulevard near 19th Street when a car going westbound smacked into her, knocking her onto the ground and causing a serious head injury, cops said. The driver then fled the area, authorities said.

Officers responded to the scene around 12:30 a.m. and found Dibiasio unconscious with a severe head injury. She was rushed to Elmhurst Hospital, where officials pronounced her dead.

No arrests have been made and an investigation on the incident is ongoing.

The accident comes a day after local Astoria leaders unveiled safety improvements for 21st Street between Hoyt Avenue South and Queens Plaza. The two-mile stretch has had five fatalities and seven severe injuries between 2009 and 2013.

And although it’s uncertain at this time if the hit-and-run driver was speeding, starting this summer the Department of Transportation will implement a slow zone in Astoria to lessen fatal auto accidents.

The streets inside the boundaries of Astoria Boulevard to the north, Steinway Street to the east, 30th Avenue to the south and 21st Street to the west will all be included in the slow zone, which will be implemented later this summer. Those boundary streets (Astoria Boulevard, etc.) will not be part of the zone itself; only the local streets inside will be.

The current speed of the affected streets, which include a long section of Newtown Avenue, will be reduced from the current 25 mph to 20 mph, and 14 speed bumps and new signage will be added throughout to remind motorists to reduce their speeds.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

The Doe Fund to help clean more Astoria streets


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

More Astoria streets are getting cleaner thanks to the “men in blue.”

After hearing positive feedback from residents and business owners, The Doe Fund, which was initially brought to the western Queens neighborhood in April, will now expand street sweeping services to Steinway Street, Newtown Road, Ditmars Boulevard and 23rd Avenue, Councilman Costa Constantinides announced Thursday.

“This will be a boon to residents and small business owners across Astoria. The ‘men in blue’ will continue to provide reinforcements and additional resources to help keep Astoria clean,” said Constantinides, who has allocated over $130,000 for street sweeping by The Doe Fund as part of the new city-wide initiative Clean NYC.

The nonprofit organization, which employs recently homeless or formerly incarcerated people as part of its Ready, Willing, and Able transitional work program, was keeping the sidewalks clean and clearing the corner trash cans along 30th Avenue, Broadway and 31st Street.

“This program will increase the quality of life in Astoria, that’s the most important. Clean the street, find new jobs and community come together to be concerned about the quality of life,” said Ahmed Jamil, president of the Muslim American Society. “At the end of the day [before] you [saw] the garbage on the streets and you now don’t see it anymore.”

Although the Department of Sanitation collects trash from corner trash cans once per day in Astoria, the expansion of The Doe Fund helps alleviate the trash and littered streets which have previously caused problems in the neighborhood, such as sidewalk accessibility and shopping issues, according to Constantinides.

“The Doe Fund, combined with community street and graffiti clean-ups, will continue to make a difference in our district and across the city,” said Constantinides, who has also allocated $30,000 in funding for graffiti removal services. “Clean streets and buildings make our neighborhood more enjoyable and inviting—a win for everyone.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Astoria resident victim of alleged livery cab hit-and-run


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos by Rich Feloni

Even playing it safe couldn’t keep Rich Feloni from becoming another hit-and-run victim.

Feloni was walking down Ditmars Boulevard toward the Q69 bus stop on his way to work Tuesday at about 8:50 a.m. when he was allegedly struck by a black livery cab on the corner of 45th Street.

The Astoria resident said that although he had the right of way, he still leaned forward to check on any incoming traffic. The cab, which Feloni believes was speeding and driving close to the parked cars on the street, then struck him as he was looking to the right and threw him off his feet.

“Even if I had the right of way I still leaned forward as precautionary measure. Next thing I know I’m getting whipped to my left and I see this car just making contact with me,” Feloni said. “It was just very reckless driving. This guy was going much faster than any car is driving in the morning.”

While on the floor, Feloni said the traffic light remained red and he noticed the cab slowed down. However, once he stood up, with help from nearby concerned pedestrians, the cab allegedly sped away from the scene.

A man who helped Feloni to his feet was able to jot down four numbers of the driver’s license plate and shared it with police.

Feloni was then taken to Mount Sinai Queens with a fractured ankle and abrasions on his face.

“I tried to be more precautionary, with all these crazy stories you hear,” Feloni said. “I’m glad I even paused.”

Police information was pending as of Wednesday afternoon.

Although The Courier cannot confirm that the cab driver was speeding when Feloni was allegedly struck, the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) announced it is currently exploring anti-speeding technology as part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero’s goal of zero traffic fatalities.

The TLC is looking at speed governors, also known as mandatory or intervention systems, and other advisory systems that alert drivers when they are going over the speed limit, driving while fatigued or driving recklessly.

A Vision Zero Town Hall meeting has also been scheduled for Wednesday, April 23, in Long Island City at LaGuardia Community College, 31-10 Thomson Ave.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Man charged for allegedly trying to lure girl off Astoria street


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Sketch courtesy of NYPD

Police have arrested a man after he allegedly attempted to lure a 12-year-old girl into his vehicle in Astoria last week.

Houshang Hakimi, 69, who has no known address, has been charged with acting in a manner injuring a child less than 17 years old and failure to report change of address as a sex offender, cops said.

The victim was near 49th Street and Ditmars Boulevard about 4:15 p.m. Wednesday when Hakimi allegedly pulled up alongside of her in an SUV, according to police.

He is accused of trying to coax the girl into his vehicle, but she refused to get inside of it. When the child’s babysitter approached, he then fled, cops said.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES 

 

Cops looking for suspect who tried to lure girl into SUV in Astoria


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Sketch courtesy of NYPD

Police have released the sketch of man who allegedly attempted to coax a 12-year-old into his vehicle as she was walking down an Astoria street.

The victim was near 49th Street and Ditmars Boulevard about 4:15 p.m. Wednesday when the suspect’s light colored SUV pulled up alongside of her, cops said.

The suspect tried to lure the girl into his vehicle, but she refused to get inside of it. He then fled when the child’s babysitter approached, police said.

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.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Man’s body found in water near Astoria


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Police are investigating a body discovered in the East River near Astoria Monday morning.

The unidentified man, who is approximately 40 to 50 years old, was found floating in the water about 7:50 a.m. in the vicinity of Shore Boulevard between Ditmars Boulevard and Astoria Park South, cops said.

He was removed from the river and pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

The cause of death has yet to be determined and the investigation is ongoing, according to the NYPD.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

The Thirsty Koala brings Queensland to Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Bradley Hawks

BY BRADLEY HAWKS

The Thirsty Koala, Astoria’s new Australian restaurant, brings Queensland to Queens. Adorned with indigenous artifacts like boomerangs and didgeridoo (a long woodwind instrument) among vibrantly lit blonde onyx and pinewood-planked walls, the new menu reads like a comestible glossary of Australian terms, from jaffles and crosti to kakadu, kumara, and even kangaroo burgers with “the lot.”

Filling a longtime gap in the Queens culinary landscape, the eatery is the collaboration of three Astoria mates, Katherine Fuchs (former FDNY chief turned executive chef), Alex Styponias (Astoria-born mixologist, raised in Greece), and Christine Chellos (Aussie native and financial advisor).

According to Fuchs, the menu features “dishes that are familiar, but with an Australian flare” which she describes as “international…often British…with some Asian influences,” including herb-crusted lamb “lollies” over caramelized pumpkin; ginger beer-battered fish ‘n chips; boomerang tacos with grilled prawns (using Nixtamal tortillas); jaffles (Australian pressed sandwiches); and a variety of “crostis” (crostini).

A must-try crosti is the kakadu, an open-faced toasted sandwich with sweet and tangy kakadu plums, prosciutto, kalamata olive tapenade, shallots, house-made goat cheese, and a drizzle of balsamic reduction. Burgers come as sliders or 8oz. monolithic sandwiches, available in either beef or kangaroo meat. Order it with “the lot” and it will arrive stacked with goat cheese, beet slaw, grilled pineapple, bacon, and a fried egg.

The hard-to-find marsupial meat is also available as a steak with pomegranate reduction over kumara mash.

The wild game meat is extremely lean, resembling a cross between bison and venison. The steak is best described as a sweeter filet mignon. On the flip side, there are several vegan and gluten-free options including an “Earth Chili,” loaded with edamame and black beans in a thick, piquant tomato stew. It has enough spice to warm you but not set you running to the fire hydrant.

Desserts include a lamington, with strawberry jam sandwiched between slices of yellow sponge cake, rolled in a dark chocolate ganache, then dusted with fine coconut shavings. The sweets menu is rounded out with palova, a Tim-Tam tiramisu, and extensive array of “flat whites” (Aussie espresso with microfoam) and other java featuring Intelligentsia Coffee.

Presently BYOB, the liquor license has been approved on its way. Coopers and Fosters will be served on tap, headlining a beverage program of Australian and New Zealand wines and craft beer. Aussie-inspired cocktails created by Styponias will include a Hooly Dooly caipirinha and the Gabba—a gin and honey blend named after the Brisbane Cricket Ground. Even without a bar, The Thirsty Koala has already proven itself a bloody fantastic addition to Ditmars Boulevard.

Thirsty Koala
35-12 Ditmars Boulevard, Astoria
(718) 626-5430
Tue-Thu 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Fri & Sat 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.
Sun 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

 

MORE DINING REVIEWS

Eye in the sky


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr.

One Astoria legislator is keeping an eye on crime – literally.

Following the violent mugging of a neighborhood deli owner in a local parking lot – which went undetected due to a broken Department of Transportation (DOT) surveillance camera – Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. has installed his own recording device overlooking the area, located at 33rd Street between 23rd Avenue and Ditmars Boulevard in Astoria.

Vallone, who is the chair of the public safety committee, was unable to convince the DOT to repair its recorder, and instead, had the NYPD’s Technical Assistance Response Unit install a camera on the side of his district office.

“When DOT admitted ownership, their first response was, ‘It doesn’t work and we are going to remove it immediately,’ instead of ‘We will fix it immediately.’ It was then removed without telling us. I decided I wasn’t going to deal with the bureaucracy, and I’d put a camera here on the side of my office. We are trying to prevent people from pulling stupid stunts, but if they insist, we will capture it on camera, they will get their 15 minutes of fame and hopefully 15 days in jail.”

To alert patrons and criminals alike that they are being taped, Vallone also installed a humorous sign next to the device which reads, “Smile You’re on Council Camera” – a reference to the television show “Candid Camera.”

The councilmember’s actions were prompted by the vicious attack on Rosario DiMarco, who owns Rosario’s Deli, located on 22-55 31st Street in Astoria.

DiMarco was beaten and mugged by two men in the municipal lot on December 21 of last year. The 54-year-old father of three was sprayed in the eyes with mace and struck multiple times with a stick. He also severely strained a ligament in his right hand when he was knocked to the ground.

“I’ve been doing physical therapy for three months,” he said. “[My hand] is at about 75 to 80 percent now.”

DiMarco was “pretty furious” upon learning that the DOT’s camera was unable to capture the criminals.

“Why do they have a camera if it doesn’t work,” he said. “The city doesn’t care about the outer boroughs like Queens – only Manhattan. If this was a camera in Manhattan it would have been working. They have money to change the signs for the names of bridges, why don’t they protect the people?”

The deli owner, who is concerned about the camera’s fate after Vallone’s council term ends, is pleased someone is now paying attention.

Vallone – who also had an NYPD recording device installed on Ditmars Boulevard and 31st Avenue – is hoping the camera will dissuade deviants from preying on people in the poorly-lit lot, which he says has an “occasional homeless population.”

 

[Watch Video] Police search for suspects in two Astoria robberies


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Police are searching for three suspects wanted in connection with two December 1 Astoria robberies.

The suspects approached two victims along Ditmars Boulevard displaying a black semi automatic handgun demanding cash and cell phone, according to police. The first incident occurred at 27th Street at approximately 7 p.m. with the second robbery taking place just after 11:30 p.m. the same night at 24th Street.  The victims, a 33-year-old woman and 25-year-old man, respectively, were unharmed.

Anyone with information in regards to these incidents is asked to call Crime stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).  The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

Two women shot in Astoria


| smosco@queenscourier.com

Cops are on the hunt for a man who allegedly shot his wife and daughter inside of a home in Astoria on Monday morning.

According to reports, the two women were shot in the head and were taken to Elmhurst Hospital and are now listed in stable condition.

The shooting happened around 8:50 a.m. at 22-49 38th Street, near Ditmars Boulevard, where the gunman’s wife works as a caregiver to a 90-year-old woman who lives there. The woman’s daughter was at the Astoria home to help her mother take care of the elderly woman.

The shooting is believed to be a domestic-related incident.

Anyone with any information is urged to call CrimeStoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS. Tipsters can also submit information at www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting CRIMES (274637) then entering TIP577. All calls are confidential.