Tag Archives: Ed Wendell

New historical research group started in Woodhaven


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Woodhaven is known for its history, but there was no central repository for the trove of information about it — until now.

The Woodhaven History Research Group was recently started by Ed Wendell as part of the Woodhaven Cultural and Historical Society.

The new group’s mission is to perform methodical searches of archives of the neighborhood to record names, addresses and any interesting pieces of information it finds about the town into a database, something that Wendell said would connect residents to the history of Woodhaven.

“There is all this great history about Woodhaven that many of us don’t even know yet,” he said. “My hope is to build a database that will outline the hyper-local history of the neighborhood.”

Wendell came up with the idea for the research group by chance.

He was invited by a local resident to a house where the man’s parents once lived. As they were checking out some of the home’s antiques, Wendell came across a flyer from the early 1900s with a man’s name on it who had a dog training service at the time. When Wendell plugged the name into the computer, he found “an incredible amount of history on the guy.”

He then wanted to have a place where he could archive such history, which is how the group began.

Wendell found a website that has archived The Lead Observer, Woodhaven’s newspaper, dating back to the early 1900s. He said he would like to split up the members of the group by giving them specific research areas.

After the research is completed, Wendell said he hopes that all members of the group will meet up and put together the pieces of history until “the puzzle is filled.”

The first meeting will be on Oct. 28 at the Avenue Diner, located at 91-06 Jamaica Ave., at 7 p.m. Wendell encourages all those who are interested in doing some local research and even those who would just like to learn more about Woodhaven to come down.

“I want people to be interested in their hyper-local history,” Wendell said. “Once you start searching, you never know what you’re going to find.”

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Sinkhole in Forest Park addressed by city


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Ed Wendell

The long-ignored sinkhole in Forest Park, which for two years has taken up the sidewalk where pedestrians enter the park from Woodhaven Boulevard, has at last seen some action by the Parks Department.

When The Courier first broke the story last month, the only protection for passersby were metal barricades and caution tape, reducing the size of the walkway and making it a hazard for pedestrians.

This week, a large portion of the sidewalk around the gaping hole has been fenced in by the Parks Department, limiting the risk of injury for parkgoers.

Now, pedestrians must walk across the street when they enter or leave the park, reducing the risk of injury.

The sinkhole was most likely caused by erosion and storm water runoff, according to a Parks Department official, and the agency mobilized a contractor to fix it.

THE COURIER/ Photo by Salvatore Licata

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

“We have designed a solution, which will include clearing and upgrading existing drainage structures, filling the sinkhole, reconstructing the sidewalk and stabilizing the adjacent slope,” the official said. “A contractor has already begun work.”

Ed Wendell, president of Project Woodhaven and a frequent visitor to Forest Park, said he was glad initial steps have been taken but wants to see the repairs completed swiftly.

“I’m glad the first step has been taken and they have closed the sidewalk to take the immediate danger out of the way,” Wendell said. “Now, let’s get it fixed.”

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Gaping sinkhole in Forest Park worries locals


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Forest Park is home to an 18-hole golf course, but a 19th hole in the park is cause for some concern.

For about two years now, there has been a gaping sinkhole along the entrance path to the park from Woodhaven Boulevard. It was most likely caused by runoff into or deterioration of a catch basin beneath the roadway, according to a representative from the Parks Department.
Locals say it is a major hazard because of where it is situated.

“The sinkhole is right across the street from the carousel, which is a major attraction for children,” said Ed Wendell, a frequent visitor of Forest Park. “It is only a matter of time before someone gets seriously injured and everyone starts saying, ‘Why wasn’t this fixed already?’”

The hole is currently barricaded off and has caution tape around it. It takes up almost the whole sidewalk, forcing people to walk in a single-file line to get past it.

The Parks Department is working on plans to fix it.

“Parks is currently assessing the extent of work that will be required to repair this sinkhole and fix its underlying cause,” the representative said. “Once this assessment has been completed, we will procure a contractor to complete this work.”

There was no timeline given on how long it will take to start the work, but Wendell said he is encouraged that something may finally be done about this ongoing safety issue.

“I’m glad they are aware of the problem and looking into it,” Wendell said. “But we will only be relieved when it is finally taken care of.”

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Joe Abbracciamento Restaurant set to close after nearly 70 years


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A beloved Queens eatery that has fed generations for nearly 70 years will soon be serving up its last course.

Joe Abbracciamento Restaurant, a neighborhood fixture at 62-96 Woodhaven Boulevard, will close March 2, as longtime owners prepare for retirement.

“We just want to sit back for a little while, relax and breathe the fresh air,” said owner John Abbracciamento, 60 . “It’s bittersweet. But, basically, it’s time.”

The Italian eatery opened in 1948 under Abbracciamento’s father, Joe. Over time, it became a staple in the borough.

“We’ve taken care of people from the day they were born,” Abbracciamento said. “It’s a wonderful treat to be a part of their lives and some of the most important occasions that they would celebrate. We will sadly miss that part of it.”

Abbracciamento has known the restaurant life since he was 13.

It was not an easy decision to put it to rest after the baton was passed down to him from his late father, Abbracciamento said. But it was a necessary one.

“It was my father’s dream,” he said. “My brother and I kept it going. But I’ve just come to the point in my life where I just need some time to clear my head and move forward.”

“We had a nice, long run — a very successful run,” Abbracciamento said. “It’s just time to just relax a little bit.”

Longtime patrons said the loss of the local icon is a blow to the Queens dining scene and to the community.

“I’m sad. I’ve known them for 30 years,” said Leon Sorin. “They’ve been working hard for many years. Maybe it’s time.”

John Harrington, 73, has been coming for the “out of this world” lasagna for 38 years.

“I was shocked when I heard it was closing,” he said. “It’s a shame because you don’t have any good restaurants around.”

Ed Wendell, a lifelong Queens resident, called the restaurant “the go-to place” for Italian cuisine.

“It’s one of those places where a lot of people are going to look back now and say, ‘Man, I wish I had gone more,’” he said. “It will be missed.”

 

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Woodhaven QueensWay forum brings in new ideas


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

File Photo

New ideas are flowing in for the abandoned Rockaway Beach rail line.

The Woodhaven Residents Block Assocation (WRBA) hosted what attendees are calling the truest, open public forum held thus far regarding the QueensWay and Rockaway Beach line.

Advocates for the proposed 3.5-mile QueensWay park along the abandoned rail line addressed those with reservations about the project and vice versa on Monday in Woodhaven.

Ed Wendell, WRBA president, brought a new idea to the table. He said the Brooklyn-Queens Greenway that currently runs through Forest Park has been “a problem for 20 years,” and QueensWay officials should use this space as their “lab experiment.”

“Why don’t we focus on cleaning up the existing greenway,” he said. “Show us what you can do, and the community will be much more receptive.”

Alexander Blenkinsopp, a WRBA member, called this idea “brilliant,” and offered an additional option for “each community to decide what they want done with their stretch of the tracks.”

The old rail line runs up 98th Street from the Rockaways to Manhattan.

“If the people of Forest Hills really want the QueensWay, let them have it in their neighborhood,” he said. “And if it’s so wonderful, the residents of Woodhaven will see how great it is in Forest Hills and will eventually welcome it into their community as well.”

Wendell echoed many people when he said one main concern to address before moving forward with building a new park is security in existing greenspaces such as Forest Park.

“We see women jogging in the morning using flashlights,” Wendell said. “How terrifying is that? That they have to do this.”

He said that park officials as well as cops in the 102nd Precinct should be given proper resources to patrol the park before more acres are added via the QueensWay, which would connect to Forest Park.

A feasibility study to determine the possibility of creating the new park is currently underway, and QueensWay supporters noted it is “just a study” and “there really is no plan yet.”

However, residents doubt a QueensWay study would show the QueensWay is not feasible.

“Any proposals that come back are going to have to take into account a lot of people’s concerns,” Wendell said. “There are a whole lot of emotions and feelings on it.”

 

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Woodhaven graffiti surges


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Terence M. Cullen

Tag, you’re it.

About 60 percent of mailboxes in Woodhaven are tagged right now, according to Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) president Ed Wendell. By the end of last summer, nearly, if not all, mailboxes and fire poles in the neighborhood were graffiti-free, he said.

But during the winter, when Wendell said it’s harder to do cleanups, the vandals went back to make their mark on their favorite “canvas,” USPS mailboxes.

“It’s not really good painting weather,” he said. “You just do your best. When the springtime comes, you just do it all again over.”

Captain Elwood Selover, head of the Citywide Vandals Task Force, spoke to the 102nd Precinct Community Council on Tuesday, March 19 about how the NYPD combats graffiti.

While it’s considered a relatively minor crime, Selover said graffiti in a neighborhood can give a certain feel of lawlessness. By tracking certain marks, the division has been able to arrest taggers for up to 100 charges, he said, across several boroughs.

Captain Elwood Selover at the 102nd Precinct Community Council meeting about graffiti. 

“The little things take care of the big things,” Selover said. “People are doing jail time for it.”

Because vandals traditionally like to have their own tags, the unit has been able to track handwriting, and determine which are gang related.

Wendell said he hopes to have Selover or someone from the unit speak at a WRBA meeting soon so residents can get an idea of how the NYPD tracks taggers. He said he and other WRBA members will start going out and repainting mailboxes when the weather gets warmer.

“When you leave it alone,” he said, “You’re telling the people who did this ‘We’re not serious about enforcing it.’”

 

 

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Woodhaven residents upset over slow response to sewage issue


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Ed Wendell

Woodhaven residents want to know why it took so long to stop the sewage that was spewing into the streets of their neighborhood.

At the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) March 16 meeting, several members inquired why the feces-ridden puddle continued to be a problem, considering how close it was to a nursery school.

“When there’s a fire, the Fire Department can rush into a house,” said WRBA President Ed Wendell. “They don’t need to ring the doorbell and get permission – there’s a fire. In this case here, this to me was every bit as bad as a fire, because you had human waste spilling out into a street right next to a nursery school.”

The Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) put out an emergency bid to finally fix the lingering problem. Until then, agencies could only slap the landlord with fines, officials said. There’s a $20,000 lien against the house because of fines racking up since 2005, according to Assemblymember Michael Miller’s office.

Children from neighboring St. Luke’s Nursery School had to walk into the street to get out of the waste-filled puddle coming from the house, Wendell said, and the block was never closed off or a crossing guard installed at the site.

“That sidewalk should have been closed, it should have been a hazmat situation,” he said. “Something should have been done.”

The situation with this house was unique because it dealt with tenants, according to Rudy S. Giuliani, chief of staff for Councilmember Eric Ulrich. In normal circumstances, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) would shut the water off, he said. But since the city did not want to make the tenants suffer for an absentee landlord, the city looked to take other options such as sending in HPD.

Giuliani said Ulrich’s office is working on finding out what took so long to fix the problem.

 

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Broken sewage pipe soils Woodhaven street


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Ed Wendell

A broken pipe in Woodhaven has residents concerned about public safety after gushing water, rife with human waste, has soiled the corner of 85th Street and 88th Avenue.

“It’s disgusting,” said Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) president Ed Wendell, who’s been tracking the problem for a few weeks now. Wendell and other WRBA members have contacted city agencies about the problem, but most agencies cannot interfere with a private residence.

Wendell said he drove past the house a few weeks ago and water had been pouring into the street. When he went back two days later, during a bad cold snap, he said the water had frozen with bits of toilet paper and other unmentionables solidified. A snow storm a few days later covered the ice, leading people to think there was nothing but sidewalk underneath. As a result, Wendell said, people were slipping and sliding on the feces-infested ice.

But a bigger problem is one particular neighbor: St. Luke’s Nursery School next door.

The school’s director did not want to comment on the matter.

For everyone’s safety — especially that of the children — the sidewalk either needs to be closed off, or the city needs to install a crossing guard during school hours, Wendell said.

The home’s owner, Noris Requena, according to records, could not be reached at press time, nor could the person listed as the home’s resident.

Because it’s a private home, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) cannot forcibly go inside.

Since the problem is inside the house, the city is limited on how it can intervene, said Rudy Giuliani, chief of staff for Councilmember Eric Ulrich. In a normal situation, the city would shut water supply to the home, but since the home is rented out authorities have opted to keep the water on. DEP has visited the home several times, Giuliani said, but the problem seems to be with an absentee landlord.

The next step, he said, was for the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to intervene since the city has not been able to track down the landlord.

 

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WRBA will keep up fight for unity


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

In an attempt to keep the community in one piece, members and residents of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) said they plan on attending and speaking at the January 14, 2013 hearing on redistricting at Queensborough Community College.

At the organization’s December 15 meeting, several residents voiced concern over the latest set of district lines, which have been sent back to the drawing board after several neighborhoods were chopped up.

Attendees sat at tables designated to show what City Council district they would potentially be in. Some worries included who was in which district, or what landmarks would be included in certain areas.

“These are the things that define us as a community,” said WRBA President Ed Wendell. “They are splitting it and taking it away from us, so we are not pleased with it.”

The WRBA sent letters of testimony to support earlier lines that kept Woodhaven within one district, Wendell said. The most recent update, however, backtracked on all that the neighborhood said was right about the lines.

“They decided to do the opposite of what we suggested,” said WRBA Communications Director Alex Blenkinsopp. “And that’s a little odd.”

Many Woodhaven mailboxes stay graffiti free


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

DSC_0775w

They delivered for you.

Much of the graffiti that littered the blue or green mailboxes in Woodhaven has been painted over, and the boxes have stayed clean for the most part, said Ed Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA).

On Sunday, August 26, Wendell and two other residents went out to clean about nine mailboxes that were tagged. By the end of the day, all 80 mailboxes in Woodhaven — across three zones — were cleaned.

Zone A, which spans from Woodhaven Boulevard to 98th Street, has not needed to be cleaned in nearly a month, Wendell said.

“We haven’t touched that one now in three-and-a-half weeks,” he said. “We’re definitely seeing some progress.”

After researching graffiti statistics, Wendell said the best way to fight consistent graffiti was by repainting the mailboxes as soon as they have been tagged.

The Courier reported in early August that the WRBA had been tracking tags in an effort to combat the markings throughout the neighborhood.

The Block Association has continued to give information to the 102nd Precinct to help fight the problem.

If graffiti continues in the neighborhood, Wendell said residents would be open to staking out boxes that are common targets, in conjunction with police efforts. He and other residents plan on taking the Civilian Police Course this fall that will inform them of correct legal procedures.

“We did speak to [the police] about doing stake-outs,” Wendell said. “We have got about a half dozen residents, myself included, who are going to the Civilian Police Academy.”

The neighborhood leader said if a vandal is caught, residents will work with law enforcement to make sure the proper penalty is imposed.

“Now when someone gets arrested for tagging in the neighborhood, we’re going to be following up,” he said.

Op Ed: Reclaiming our streets


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BY ED WENDELL

A recent tour of Woodhaven found that just over 50 percent of mailboxes, both the blue and green variety, were covered in graffiti vandalism.

Highly visible vandalism in a community does a couple of things. First, it contributes to a sense that the community is not secure. It tells anyone passing through the community that the rule of law is not respected here; that your property will not be safe. This lowers the value of your homes and reduces sales in your business district. Think about it – would you buy a house on a block that is covered in graffiti? Would you pull over and shop in a community with graffiti on all the gates?

Secondly, it contributes to the growth of anti-social tendencies of those involved in the vandalism. With each act of vandalism that goes unchecked, the excitement is diminished, therefore requiring larger and bolder acts of vandalism to achieve satisfaction in the future. Thus, the vandal moves from one act to graffiti, to a dozen, to tagging everything in his path. And, eventually, only more destructive acts of vandalism will do.

This is not art, nor is it a mere nuisance crime. It is a costly societal cancer, one that takes money directly from the pockets of homeowners, business owners and taxpayers alike.

The Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association recently took to the streets of our community with Assemblymember Mike Miller and City Councilmember Eric Ulrich to paint green and blue mailboxes as well as red fireboxes. We concentrated on one large zone of Woodhaven where 44 percent of the mailboxes were tagged. By the end of the day, the mailboxes in that zone were 100 percent clean. Within a few days, that percentage was back up at 56 percent tagged. Instead of being discouraged, we hit the streets again and within an hour we were back up at 100 percent clean.

By no means are we claiming to have won the war. But we are actively engaged in the battle and feel good about our chances. Why? Because we are able to go out and proudly paint in broad daylight, unafraid of getting arrested. When we remove criminals’ tags from public property, we are literally reclaiming our streets.

Our opponents, on the other hand, have to commit their acts of vandalism under the cover of darkness, fearful of being seen or caught by the police. And with each mailbox we clean, we force the vandal to come back and re-tag it, increasing the odds that they will be caught by the police and punished. Because with each and every act of vandalism, the law of averages dictate that they are more likely to be seen and arrested.

If you are interested in helping to rid your community of graffiti vandalism, contact your local civic group or your local Community Affairs officer and inquire as to what programs they have in place.

And if you live in Woodhaven and would like to learn more, please call us at 718-296-3735 or email us at info@woodhaven-nyc.org.

Ed Wendell is president of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association

Uphill battle in Woodhaven fight against graffiti


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

On a recent rainy Saturday afternoon, Ed Wendell stopped the car every few blocks to inspect one of the graffiti-covered mailboxes in his neighborhood.

If untagged, he and fellow Woodhaven Residents Block Association (WRBA) member Alex Blenkinsopp felt it a small victory. If retagged, Wendell rolled down the window, despite the raindrops, and snapped a picture of the graffiti on the box.

Over the past two years, the WRBA has been trying to clean up graffiti in the neighborhood, which is mainly found on mailboxes or fireboxes. In the last few months, members have gone out to repaint them — sometimes to find them retagged a few days or weeks later.

Wendell, president of the WRBA, and members have mapped out the neighborhood into three zones to keep track of common graffiti areas.

They went out to clean up “Zone A” on Saturday, July 14, where Wendell said 44 percent of the mailboxes had been tagged. By day’s end the entire zone — bordered by Park Lane South and Atlantic Avenue — was cleaned, he said. By Tuesday, July 24, however, Wendell said 56 percent of the mailboxes in Zone A were tagged again.

Residents, armed with green and blue paint courtesy of the U.S. Post Office, have not only been recording which boxes are marked, but the tags as well, in an attempt to combat consistent graffitists.

“Now what we’ve added to it is keeping track of the tags themselves,” Wendell said, noting that Zone B extends from 85th Street to Woodhaven Boulevard, and Zone C from Eldert Lane to 80th Street .

The 102nd Precinct currently has two officers who, along with regular duties, are assigned to specialize in graffiti: identifying, removing and preventing.

Wendell and Blenkinsopp said the association has been working with these officers.

“I’m sure they have a lot of information they can pass along to us,” he said.

A precinct spokesperson said officers had been in touch with the block association, which has been forwarding emails and information to the graffiti officers.

Wendell said he’s hopeful some of these taggers will be caught, noting that he would be open to those guilty helping in the clean up efforts.

“I’d love to see when they catch one of these guys,” he said.

Despite a plethora of mailboxes covered sometimes in several, varying tags, Wendell said graffiti in the neighborhood is not as bad as it was in the 1970s, when an entire subway car could be covered in spraypaint. One popular tag throughout the neighborhood back then, he said, was called “Fred board in the head.” The tag featured a man’s face with a board of wood nailed to it.

Today’s popular tags run the gamut, he said.

Blenkinsopp and Wendell also mentioned that others have argued graffiti is a form of expression or artwork, but mailboxes or other public landmarks were not the correct medium.

“This is different,” Blenkinsopp said. “They’re getting their name out there and they’re marking their territory.” He went on to mention 5pointz in Long Island City as a positive place to use graffiti, as it was designated for such.

“I’d like to hear more of a citywide effort to solve this,” Wendell said.

Finally! Forest Park Carousel reopens


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Forest Park Carousel

After nearly four years, children — and adults — were able to rush the Forest Park Carousel, choose their favorite horse and take a spin on the historic ride.

The Forest Park Carousel, shuttered since 2008, held its grand reopening on Saturday, May 26, with hundreds of visitors turning out for the sun-filled event.

More than a dozen were able to take the maiden voyage on the century-old merry-go-round.

Jeff Watkins of Woodhaven brought his son, Joshua, who was among the carousel’s first riders.

“It’s a lot of fun and a great reason to get out of the house,” Watkins said. “The park is beautiful.”

“I really liked the ride a lot,” added Joshua, 8. “It went fast.”

The carousel will be open each weekend from 11 a.m. until sunset through late June. After that, it will be open every day until Labor Day. Each Saturday the carousel will also feature clown shows.

Senator Joe Addabbo, who had a chance to hop on the carousel at a press event on May 24, said he was excited to bring his daughters, Alexis and Arianna, to the same ride he once visited with his father as a child.

“It brought back memories from when my father brought me,” he said. “It’s family memories, it’s community memories and just to see my kids smile and laugh, it beats shuttered doors and a closed carousel.”

NY Carousel, the ride’s operator, said it expects to add chairs and tables and open the food stand in the coming weeks.

Ed Wendell, who has advocated for reopening the carousel for years, twice visited the ride on its opening weekend.

“Just in that initial first couple of days, seeing a new generation coming in and having their first ride and having their first experience was wonderful,” said Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association, of the more than 100-year-old ride.

“We’re just traveling through; the carousel will hopefully be here for a very long time.”

As the carousel turns: A history of the Forest Park Carousel


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Forest Park Carousel

When the Forest Park Carousel stopped spinning in 2008, it nevertheless continued its merry-go-round cycle that had become all too familiar over its history.

For decades, the carousel stood continuously in Forest Park as one of the many jewels of the 543-acre greenspace with locals and visitors flocking to the attraction each spring and summer.

“My cousin used to come from Brooklyn to take me to the carousel,” said Leonora Lavan, former president of the Woodhaven Cultural and Historical Society, of the ride that only cost a nickel when she rode it in the 40s. “I had a favorite horse; I used to wait until it was free to get on.”

During the summers in the late 1940s, St. John’s journalism professor Frank Brady was the guardian of the famed merry-go-round. Brady operated the carousel, remembering the festive, carnival-like atmosphere.

“On a really nice Saturday or Sunday the place was packed. Sometimes we couldn’t even accommodate all the kids,” Brady, 78, remembered. “Every pony was taken.”

The carousel’s music, Johann Strauss waltzes, stuck with him through the decades, transporting him back to his days as operator.

“The music was always the big thing,” said Ed Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Cultural and Historical Society.

The music stopped in late 1966 when a fire tore through the ride, leaving behind only ashes.

“The fire started at 8:40 p.m. and was fought by 67 firemen using 26 pieces of fire apparatus, according to the Fire Department, and totally destroyed the carousel,” reported a 1966 article in the Long Island Daily Press.

The article said the carousel had been “a landmark for 50 years,” though an exact date of its opening in the park could not be confirmed.

“After the carousel burnt down, I remember my father taking me up there and seeing the ashes,” Wendell recalled.

Six years passed with no carousel replacing the original.

A Daniel C. Muller-carved carousel that formerly spun at Lakeview Park in Dracut, Massachusetts was on sale in the early 1970s. For $30,000, according to a 1972 Daily News article, Forest Park got a new carousel.

“[The carousel] was in an interesting little park at the end of a dead-end road in nowhere Massachusetts,” said Roland Hopkins, editor of The Carousel News & Trader magazine, a monthly based in California for carousel enthusiasts.

“Muller was one of the special ones for sure; he had a distinct style,” Hopkins said. “He was a master of strong military horses — strong, but not intimidating.”

Only two of the master carver’s carousels remain in the country; Forest Park and the Midway Carousel in Sandusky, Ohio.

The park’s new carousel was built in 1903 and featured a menagerie of hand carved wooden animals.

Everyone was delighted when they brought a carousel back, Wendell said, but barely a decade passed before it again was shuttered.

It fell into disrepair after closing in 1985.

“It really hasn’t had a good history since they brought the new one in. It’s had a history of being neglected,” said Wendell, who also heads the Woodhaven Residents Block Association.

Mary Ann Carey, district manager of Community Board 9, and members of the board began to lobby for the piece of Queens history to be restored.

New operators were secured, the ride was restored and a new era was set to begin.

City dignitaries, including then-Mayor Ed Koch, attended the carousel’s 1989 grand re-opening.

Eager to enjoy the first trip on the carousel, the crowd rushed to get on.

It didn’t move.

“I guess it was the weight of all the people,” laughed Carey.

A minor tweak, and the carousel was up and running again after a four-year absence.

For the next two decades, the carousel ran with relatively few problems.

In 2008, New York One, the carousel vendor, did not renew its contract, setting off another stagnant era for the ride.

While the carousel has stood still, local officials and residents have worked behind the scenes to get the historic ride spinning again.

Facebook groups were started, T-shirts were sold and four Requests for Proposals were issued.

Good news was received in March when the Parks Department announced a new vendor was chosen and the ride would be ready by spring.

But as March and April passed, even the staunchest supporters thought another year would pass with no carousel.

Fears were erased when the Parks Department announced New York Carousel Entertainment would operate the carousel and the public would once again be able to enjoy the attraction beginning Memorial Day weekend.

“We hope now people are more appreciative. We’ve come close to losing it before,” said Wendell.

Even from across the country, carousel enthusiasts realize the attraction of the Forest Park ride.

“You guys have a nice machine there. I hope these guys pay attention,” said Hopkins. “It will be great to have it up and running; it’s a great machine.”

A new era will begin on Saturday, May 26 at 11 a.m.

Woodhaven against street changes, for rezoning


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Ed Wendell

It was a successful evening for the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association, which worked to further a vote against street changes they felt could negatively impact their neighborhood.

Community Board (CB) 9 voted unanimously against the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) proposed alterations, which could turn 84th Street into a southbound one-way street and make 89th Street one-way instead of two-way.

“It was a good feeling after two-and-a-half months of putting together e-mails, videos and flyers,” said Ed Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association. “There was a lot of community involvement.”

Wendell, ecstatic about this vote, claimed that if these changes were to occur, there would be no way to get through the area except to take Woodhaven Boulevard.

These possible modifications were brought to his attention when a resident spotted a notice on her church’s bulletin board, alerting her that several local roadways would be altered. Feeling that these changes would negatively impact her neighborhood, she contacted CB 9, which passed the message along to Wendell.

A crowd of 175 gathered on Tuesday, March 13 to watch the proceedings over this vote. According to Wendell, most of Woodhaven’s residents were very against these street changes.

A vote for rezoning was strongly voted in favor of during the evening as well. According to Wendell, the zoning laws have not been reviewed and adjusted since 1961, rules he feels need to be reassessed due to Woodhaven’s overcrowding.

“You don’t want someone knocking down a nice one-family home and building condos for six families,” said Wendell. “[Rezoning laws] put the break on development in a community so you don’t get too densely populated.”

Now that the local community board has voted for rezoning, it will be passed along to the city.