Tag Archives: Elmhurst

John Messer ‘seriously considering’ another State Senate run


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

John Messer is mulling over another State Senate run, he told The Courier.

“I am dedicated to this community, which is why I have been driven towards public service and am seriously considering a run for New York State Senate,” he said.

It would be the Oakland Gardens attorney’s third try at defeating incumbent State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, who has held the seat for nearly 15 years.

Most recently, Messer lost a contentious two-way Democratic primary to Stavisky in 2012. 

The heated race was waged principally on negative campaign attacks. Stavisky won 58 percent of the vote.

But Messer said he has not lost momentum since then.

“I believe now, more than ever, that this is a community I want to represent,” said the 43-year-old small business owner. “If anything, it’s a stronger feeling.”

“There are things you to look at before you decide to run — finances, family,” Messer said. “We’ll make a decision soon.”

Mike Murphy, a Senate Democratic spokesperson, said Stavisky has been a “vocal ally” for middle class families and recalled Messer’s previous losses.

“She enjoys wide support from all corners of her diverse district and has now defeated Mr. Messer twice despite the fact that he has spent over $1 million,” Murphy said. “The voters of the district see Mr. Messer for what he is — a Republican surrogate.”

The district encompasses parts of Flushing, Fresh Meadows, Bayside, Oakland Gardens, Rego Park, Elmhurst, Forest Hills and Jackson Heights.

 

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John Bowne crushes Newtown basketball in tense game


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

John Bowne basketball added to its undefeated record after a tense game against Newtown High School, crushing the Elmhurst team by almost 20 points.

Bowne players yelled at both their opponents and teammates throughout the Tuesday night game and Newtown boys walked off the court before it was officially over, unable to stay for the defeat.

The game got a late start but Bowne (PSAL 12-0) hit the ground running with a layup in the first four seconds. It seemed the John Bowne Wildcats would stay strong, as they maintained a strong defense and the Newtown Pioneers (PSAL 5-8) fired several wild shots throughout the first quarter.

However, about halfway through the quarter, Newtown’s Leon Peprah Antwi made a three-pointer, forced a turnover after Bowne rebounded, then sunk an additional shot for a five-point play.

Bowne responded slowly and Newtown’s offense quickened. But with just a couple minutes left, Bowne forward Ethan Harris Holt stole the ball from Newtown and ran down the court, dunking the ball and getting his team back on the scoreboard.

Bowne then picked up play, ending the quarter 17-14 Bowne. The second quarter was the Wildcats’ show as they made fast, effective passes and executed shots, ending the half up 13, 43-30.

But Newtown came out swinging the second half and outscored Bowne 11-5 in the first few minutes. For the Pioneers, Peprah Antwi and Noah Patterson remained leaders on the court, sinking the majority of shots. But the streak ended after Holt caught a down-the-court pass and made an easy layup.

Bowne’s persistence in rebounds also paid off, and the quarter ended at 61-58 Bowne, the closest margin of the game.

Newtown started the last quarter strong and trailed Bowne by only a few points, and after a brief scoring run, Bowne got antsy. Players started yelling at each other and the game got physical. Peprah Antwi was pushed to the ground, and Bowne’s Luis Hernandez was pushed under the basket into the wall.

But Bowne proved stronger on rebounds, getting both their own and Newtown’s missed shots. About halfway through the quarter, Bowne maneuvered Newtown’s defense with ease and the score rose to 79-61 Bowne.

With 1.4 seconds left and Newtown’s morale visibly low, Patterson wrapped his arms around Karven Alcindor from John Bowne, prompting a foul shot to end the game. Patterson and Peprah Antwi didn’t stick around for the shot, and walked off the court.

 

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Queens Library space to open in Queens Center


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File Photo

Shoppers will soon be able to take a break in between stores and visit the library.

Queens Center, located at 90-15 Queens Blvd. in Elmhurst, has invited the Queens Library to open up a library space within the mall. It will be located adjacent to the food court and is expected to open in late spring.

“We are excited about bringing Queens Library to the Queens Center mall. It is an opportunity to reach even more people and familiarize them with everything Queens Library can do to enrich their lives,” said Queens Library’s Chief Operating Officer Bridget Quinn-Carey. “The library space at Queens Center mall will have books and reading material to engage people at the mall, or they can borrow and take books home. We will be hosting special programs as well.”

The library space, which will be Wi-Fi enabled, will include comfortable seating and offer a collection of popular books which people can sit down and read or borrow with their library cards. Laptops will be available to rent for use within the space and tablets may also be offered.

Free library card sign-up will be available at the location and there will be a schedule of promotional events in collaboration with other mall tenants  and programs, such as speakers, arts and crafts, kids’ educational entertainment and more. 

The space will also feature computer terminals to look up and request materials, order books  and research things to do in their neighborhoods. Full reference and referral services will be available by phone. 

 

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FBI looking for three suspects in robbery of armored truck guard in Elmhurst


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of the FBI

The FBI is looking for three men who attacked and robbed an armored truck guard on Friday at an Elmhurst bank.

After 12 p.m. on Friday, a GardaWorld armored truck arrived at the HSBC Bank at 82-57 Broadway. One of the armed guards went into the bank to make a regularly scheduled deposit pick-up and as he was leaving the three suspects attacked him at gunpoint inside the ATM lobby, according to the FBI.

The suspects may have used a .45 semi-automatic handgun during the robbery and as they fled they sprayed the guard with mace, according to the FBI.

The three men then fled on foot with cash from the guard and may have driven in a navy blue or black Ford Explorer described by witnesses as “dirty from the winter weather and missing a front license plate,” the FBI said.

The men are described as either Asian or Hispanic and were dressed in heavy winter clothes.

The FBI has released surveillance photos of the suspects and together with the NYPD is asking for the public’s help in identifying and finding the three armed men. GardaWorld is offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to the capture, arrest, and conviction of those responsible and the recovery of the stolen money. 

Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI at (212) 384-1000. Tipsters may remain anonymous. The suspects should be considered armed and extremely dangerous.

 

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Victims’ families, pols gather to support Vision Zero


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Many teary eyes were focused on “Vision Zero” during recent rallies in Queens.

Supporters of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s call to reduce traffic fatalities to nil gathered Sunday at a candle light vigil on the corner of Wyckoff and Myrtle Avenues in Ridgewood, where 23-year-old Ella Bandes was struck and killed by a city bus a year ago.

Politicians, advocacy groups, friends and families of victims called for safer streets and more responsible drivers during the event, which paid tribute to Bandes and many others.

“What we’ve been through in the past year is such a nightmare,” said Judy Kottick, Bandes’ mother. “Losing your child is the worst thing that could happen to anyone. We just don’t want anyone else to go through this.”

There have been nearly 20 auto-accident related fatalities in the city since the start of 2014.

People at the rally wanted drivers to be more aware of pedestrians and avoid breaking traffic laws. They also asked for support for Assemblymember Dan O’Donnell’s bill, which would lower the NYC speed limit to 20 mph from 30 mph, except where the City Council determines a different speed is appropriate.

Before the candle light vigil, supporters of “Vision Zero” rallied on Grand Avenue and 69th Place in Maspeth in honor of Angela Hurtado, who was killed at the intersection when a driver with a suspended license struck her on Jan. 18.

Transportation advocacy group Make Queens Safer called for support for State Senator Michael Gianaris’s bill, which would charge drivers who continue to drive without a valid license and are in an accident that causes serious injury or death with vehicular assault. It would be a class E felony, punishable by up to four years in prison.

“The people we are talking about have had their licenses suspended because they’re already known to be bad drivers, and the faster and easily we could make it for law enforcement to take them off the street, the better,” Gianaris said.

 

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Driver charged after fatally striking woman in Maspeth


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Grand Ave

Updated Sunday, Jan. 19, 5:55 p.m.

A driver was arrested after hitting and killing a 68-year-old woman in Maspeth Saturday morning, police said.

Angela Hurtado, an Elmhurst resident, was crossing Grand Avenue at 69th Place about 11:20 a.m. when a Mitsubishi Montero struck her as it was making a left turn onto westbound Grand Avenue from northbound 69th Place, according to the NYPD.

Hurtado was taken to Elmhurst General Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

The driver, 28-year-old Abel Tinoco, remained at the scene, and was arrested and charged with aggravated unlicensed operator, the NYPD said. Tinoco was driving with a suspended license, according to a police source.

Witnesses told the New York Post they saw him making an illegal left turn before striking Hurtado.

 

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Former St. John’s Hospital, adjacent parking garage sell for $47 million


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy Massey Knakal

The former home to St. John’s Hospital will soon be transformed into a mixed-use building.

Real-estate company Massey Knakal announced it handled the $47 million sale of the 90-02 Queens Blvd building in Elmhurst, together with a five-story parking garage located at 87-28 58th Ave.

“For the first time, Queens is beginning to see a trickle-down effect of rising rents from primary neighborhoods, like Long Island City,” said Stephen Palmese, senior executive vice president of sales for Massey Knakal, who handled the sale together with company partner Thomas A. Donovan. “This is similar to Williamsburg’s effect on Bushwick. As a result, secondary markets, like Elmhurst, which also have great transportation, are experience strong increases in residential rent.”

St. John’s Hospital closed its doors in 2009 after Caritas Health Care, which ran the hospital, filed bankruptcy. Brooklyn-based developer called 89-52 Queens LLC then purchased the property and was the most recent owner up until the sale.

Approved plans from the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals show the new owner plans to convert the about 266,322-square-foot former hospital building into a mixed-use building with ground floor and lower level retail, medical facilities on the second floor and residential units on the remaining floors, according to Massey Knakal.

The about 86,400-square-foot parking garage, located behind the building, holds a capacity of 290 parking spots.

“This property is located across the street from the Queens Center mall, which is one of the top grossing malls in the U.S.,” said Donovan.

The property is located across the street from Queens Center and Queens Place Mall and near four major expressways.

 

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NYPD, Lion Cage Shredding holds free public document shredding event at Queens Center


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

The NYPD is working to make sure residents begin the New Year on the right and safe foot.

Together with Lion Cage Shredding, located at 120-10 Queens Boulevard in Kew Gardens and Macerich Properties, owner of Queens Center in Elmhurst, the NYPD’s Crime Prevention Section held a free document shredding public event in front of the mall on Sunday to make sure personal information does not get into the wrong hands.

“We want to help people stop becoming victims of [identity theft],” said Sergeant Raymond Morales, from the NYPD Community Affairs Bureau. “It’s important that [the documents] get destroyed properly. This is a first major step on helping prevent [identity theft].”

During the event, people were able to bring in documents with personal information, dump them into two large garbage bins and watch them be destroyed inside the Lion Cage Shredding truck.

“You have to be proactive in taking steps to protect yourself,” said Sergeant Morales.

Participants were also able to bring in their computer hard drives and watch them be destroyed, as a hole was punctured into the hard drive. People were also able to have their electronic devices registered with the NYPD Operations ID Program and sign up to receive a certificate from Lion Cage confirming the destruction of all personal information from Sunday’s event.

“I just think it’s great to do this for the community,” said Regina Pluchinotta, from Ozone Park, who brought in bags of documents to be shredded and watched as her hard drive was destroyed. “You try to be precautious and safe about it all.”

Elmhurst resident Fabian Alsultany brought in two folding shopping carts filled with documents dating back to 1999 which were taking up room in his house.

“This was a real godsend,” said Alsultany. “This just makes life a lot easier. It’s a great service for the city to offer.”

The NYPD and Lion Cage Shredding will be working together with private companies and property owners in the next 10 months to hold document shredding events throughout the five boroughs. The next stop will be in the Bronx, and later dates and locations are to be determined.

For more information on the document shredding events or any other NYPD events, visit the NYPD Community Affairs Bureau website or text “NYPD” to 22828. To find out more about Lion Cage Shredding, visit its official website or Facebook page.

 

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Parents welcome city’s first New Year’s baby at Elmhurst Hospital


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation

New York City‘s first New Year cry was heard through Elmhurst Hospital as Tenzin Choetso was welcomed into the world.

Tenzin was born to parents Metok Dolma and Choegyal Dorjee one second after midnight on Jan. 1 at Elmhurst Hospital Center. The couple, both from Tibet and now living in Woodside, reportedly also has another daughter.

The baby girl, weighing 6 pounds, 11 ounces, received a name given by the Dalai Lama, according to a hospital spokesperson. The parents put in a request to the Dalai Lama for the baby’s naming while Dolma was pregnant, and the Tibetan spiritual leader responded by giving the name Tenzin, meaning “to conquer the wisdom of Buddha,” the spokesperson said.

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama was given the name Tenzin Gyatso.

“We are thrilled and excited that one of the first babies of 2014 was born at Elmhurst,” said Chris Constantino, Elmhurst Hospital Center’s executive director. “Our staff is overjoyed.”

Tenzin Choetso is not Elmhurst Hospital’s first “New Year’s baby.” In 2013, at exactly midnight, another baby was born at the hospital.

 

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NYPD to hold free public document shredding event at Queens Center Mall


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Courtesy of NYPD

Looking to help start the New Year on the right foot? The NYPD is holding a free document shredding public event to make sure personal information does not get into the wrong hands.

The NYPD’s Crime Prevention Section will be holding the event at Queens Center Mall on Sunday, Jan. 5 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the intersection of 59th Avenue and Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst under the JCPenney sign. Police will help the public shred documents containing any personal or sensitive information for free.

Participants will also be able to bring their old hard drives to the event and have them destroyed. During the event you could also have your electronic devices registered with the NYPD Operation ID Program.

 

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Elmhurst man killed in Christmas morning hit-and-run


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A man died early Wednesday morning after a car struck him in East Elmhurst before fleeing, police said.

Enrique Clemente-Ovando, 29, of Elmhurst, was crossing Astoria Boulevard, near 103rd Street, about 4:30 a.m., when the vehicle hit him, according to the NYPD.

Clemente-Ovando was taken to Elmhurst Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The car, which did not remain at the accident scene, may be a beige Toyota Camry with a Pennsylvania registration, police said.

The investigation is ongoing.

 

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Suspect squirts lighter fluid inside Elmhurst check cashing business before robbing it


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

A man was caught on video Sunday dousing an Elmhurst check cashing business in lighter fluid before displaying a lighter and demanding money from an employee, police said.

The robbery took place about 2:30 a.m. at ATN Financial Services, located at 94-72 Corona Ave., according to the NYPD.

The employee, who was not injured in the robbery, handed over the cash before the suspect fled, 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.

 

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Local advocates march for Queens Boulevard safety improvements


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Updated, 5:22 p.m

A group of local residents want to make the “Boulevard of Death” a thing of the past.

Regardless of the snow, members of Transportation Alternatives’ (T.A.) Queens Activist Committee and residents gathered Saturday to march down Queens Boulevard during the “Winter Wander” Rally to call for a safer thoroughfare.

The group of advocates, who began the event at New Life Fellowship Church in Elmhurst, spoke about the Zero on Queens Boulevard campaign, calling for a redesign of the strip with pedestrian safety improvements, dedicated lanes for Select Bus Service (SBS) and protected bike lanes.

The snowy march served as the first step in letting people know what they can do to change the busy corridor.

“We’ve been trying to build community support for the city to re-envision Queens Boulevard,” said Jessame Hannus, co-chair of T.A.’s Queens Activist Committee, who carried a sign that read “30 mph” to remind drivers of the speed limit. “We just want to make it clear that this is a neighborhood street and we are all neighbors.”

Hannus said even though many accidents happen on the boulevard, the community just ignores them because they believe it is normal.

According to a “Queens Blvd. Crash Data” map by T.A., there have been 890 pedestrian injuries, 17 pedestrian fatalities, 205 cyclist injuries and 2 cyclist fatalities between 2002 to 2011 on Queens Boulevard stretching from Jackson Avenue in Long Island City to Jamaica Avenue in Jamaica.

“The community doesn’t respond to it,” she said. “It does not have to be this way and it’s not going to change unless we make a fuss about it.”

During the march street safety advocates discussed the history of the roadway, stopping at specific spots pedestrians lost their lives. The “Winter Wander” Rally ended in Forest Hills.

The Zero on Queens Boulevard campaign,  with more than 40 coalition partners and close to 2,000 petition signatures, has a long-term goal of making sure the city allocates funding and energy to change the boulevard on a large scale saving lives and strengthening the local economy.

Councilmember Daniel Dromm, who has worked with the Department of Transportation to implement neighborhood slow zones and other pedestrian safety improvements in his district, also joined the group on the march. In his district three children have also lost their lives in traffic fatalities in the past few months.

“This is a very, very serious issue and we have to continue to stress the seriousness of this because sometimes people dismiss it as just something that doesn’t affect their lives but when you look at the statistics you see that there are more pedestrian deaths than there are murders in the city of the New York,” said Dromm. “I believe in the three E’s:  engineering, education and enforcement on these issues and that’s what we have tried to do in my council district. More needs to be done.”

According to the DOT, there have been decade-long improvements to the seven-mile strip that have re-engineered the streets for enhanced safety. Some of these improvements include pedestrian countdown signals at more than 60 intersections at Queens Boulevard from Queens Plaza South to Hillside Avenue, lowering the speed limit on Queens Boulevard from 35 to 30 mph, installing 15 electronic boards displaying the speed of passing motorists, installing 46,000 linear feet of pedestrian fencing along the entire corridor to prevent jaywalking and many more.

“Safety is DOT’s top priority, in the last ten years, traffic fatalities have fallen borough-wide by nearly 35 percent,” said DOT spokesperson Nicholas Mosquera. “Queens Boulevard saw 18 pedestrian fatalities at its height in 1997 and zero pedestrian fatalities in 2011, the first time this has been recorded, and two last year along the entire seven-mile corridor. We continue to look for ways to enhance safety both on Queens Boulevard and citywide.”

 

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Op-ed: Making Silent Skies a reality


| oped@queenscourier.com

CONGRESSMEMBER JOSEPH CROWLEY

Anyone who lives here in Queens can tell you just how loud and disruptive the noise of airplanes can be. Millions of Americans throughout the country, including those who live in the communities surrounding LaGuardia and JFK Airports are impacted by constant, thunderous engine noise all day long. The sound isn’t merely a nuisance – it disrupts sleep, distracts students in our community’s schools and drowns out the joys of daily life.

The problem of excessive noise from airplanes flying over our communities has always been a hard nut to crack. Planes usually have a limited number of options for approaching and departing from runways. These flight paths can change based on many varying conditions in weather, winds and congestion. Especially in the crowded skies over our densely-populated city, there are precious few places airplanes can fly where they won’t be heard by some community.

But there’s one way to resolve this problem to the benefit of all our communities: make airplanes quieter.

In 2006, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued regulations requiring all new aircraft designs to meet Stage 4 noise standards, which is a considerably lower decibel level than those currently in use. While these new rules were a significant step toward improving the quality of life for those who live near airports, they did not go far enough. The FAA did nothing to make sure airlines would begin to phase out older, louder airplanes or retrofit them with quieter engines.

Last week, I introduced legislation to fix that.

My bill, the Silent Skies Act, will require airlines to begin stocking their fleets with newer, quieter aircraft. In order to introduce quieter planes into the market, the bill mandates that the FAA issue regulations by the end of 2015 forcing airlines to begin updating their fleets to meet Stage 4 noise standards. Fleets will have to be updated at a rate of 25 percent every five years, so that all commercial airplanes meet these quieter standards by no later than 2035.

But, we can’t stop there. We can’t just phase out today’s noisy planes and call it quits. We must push the envelope and try to develop technologies that make airplanes even quieter.

That’s why the Silent Skies Act will also create a fund to encourage research and development into these technologies. It will allow the FAA issue up to $10 million in grants for developing better ways to help meet or exceed Stage 4 noise standards. In return, companies that benefit from the program will be asked to pay the money back, using the profits they made on their new engines.

When talking with my constituents about aircraft noise pollution in our communities, I always say our airports will never be perfect neighbors, but we can certainly make them better ones. The truth is our airports are only getting busier. New York will continue to be a destination for more and more people. And that’s a good thing for our local economy. But, that doesn’t mean our communities need to sacrifice their quality of life.

The Silent Skies Act is just the kind of approach we can take to make life better not just for the residents of Queens, but also for so many other communities near airports around the country.

Crowley represents New York’s 14th Congressional District, stretching from Pelham Bay to Elmhurst.

 

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Elmhurst vigil marks one month since Typhoon Haiyan


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Councilmember Daniel Dromm's Office

A month after what is expected to be one of the most powerful typhoons ever recorded hit the Philippines, the local Filipino community is coming together to remember those lost.

Local elected officials gathered Sunday with members of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) at St. James Episcopal Church in Elmhurst to mark the one month anniversary since Typhoon Haiyan hit, during a candlelight vigil, followed by an interfaith mass.

“My heart goes out to those individuals impacted,” said Councilmember Daniel Dromm. “In the face of disaster it is encouraging to see communities pull together to lend support. Groups such as Taskforce Haiyan, which gives 100 percent of donations to the cause, are an integral step towards recovery.”

Haiyan affected many areas of Southeast Asia after making landfall on November 8 in the Samara province of the Philippines, then traveling through the central part of the country, according to reports. It then made its way into the South China Sea, striking Vietnam, but as a much weaker storm.

It is reported to be the deadliest typhoon to hit the Philippine region, affecting more than 12 million people and leaving many in need of water, food, and medical supplies. To date there are  5,924 victims who lost their lives to the storm, according to published reports.

“In light of such great tragedy, it is heartwarming to see people come together, even from halfway around the world, to dedicate their time and energy to helping those who have lost everything,” said Senator Toby Ann Stavisky. “I would like to congratulate NAFCON on their tremendous fundraising to support the relief work in the Philippines and would like to offer my continued support for the rebuilding effort.”

NAFCON is working together with grassroots organizations, consisting of church groups and students, in the Philippines to ensure the money raised will go directly to those who need it the most. Donations can be made here through the NAFCON PayPal account.

 

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