Tag Archives: Eric Ulrich

Ulrich: Take Trump name off Jamaica Hospital nursing center


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Property Shark/Christopher Bride

Updated 1:31 p.m.

City Councilman Eric Ulrich wants the name of a certain presidential candidate with a knack for controversial statements removed from a rehabilitation facility at Jamaica Hospital.

Ulrich called on the hospital Tuesday morning to rename the Trump Pavilion for Nursing and Rehabilitation in light of billionaire celebrity Donald Trump’s recent claim that U.S. Senator John McCain wasn’t a hero because he was captured in combat during the Vietnam War.

“Donald Trump’s offensive rhetoric is a slap in the face to New York City’s veterans and their families, especially those who had been ‘captured’ as former POWs,” Ulrich said in a statement Tuesday. “His recent attack on Senator John McCain is downright despicable. He is not suited to be president of the United States, and does not deserve to have a hospital facility named after him.”

The Trump Pavilion opened on the Jamaica Hospital campus in 1975 and was named for Mary Trump, Donald’s mother. An Ulrich spokesperson, however, indicated removing the Trump name from the pavilion is appropriate because “it’s his namesake, and that’s not representative of what the hospital would want to stand for in terms of serving veterans.”

Jamaica Hospital replaced the original Trump Pavilion in 2009 with a $44 million, state-of-the-art facility featuring 224 beds and facilities to accommodate patients requiring both short- and long-term rehabilitation.

Since launching his candidacy for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination in June, Donald Trump has made a number of controversial, attention-grabbing public statements, including claims that the Mexican government was sending “rapists” into the U.S. Though his provocative soundbites caused businesses to cut ties with him and evoked condemnation from his opponents, Trump has resisted calls to apologize.

Even so, recent polls suggest that Trump has a substantial lead in the wide-open Republican field of more than a dozen candidates. The Iowa caucus — the first big test on the 2016 campaign trail — is six months away.

A Jamaica Hospital spokesperson said on Tuesday that the medical center has no comment at this time.

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Retired NYPD captain to launch bid for open City Council seat as Republican


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Facebook/ Joseph Concannon

When he first campaigned for City Council two years ago, retired NYPD Capt. Joseph Concannon ran on the Reform Party line and was trounced at the polls on Election Day by the incumbent, Councilman Mark Weprin.

Now that Weprin is out of the City Council and in with the Cuomo administration, Concannon is going for the now-vacant 23rd Council District seat again, but this time as a Republican.

Concannon is scheduled to formally announce his campaign on Monday, alongside Queens GOP leaders and supporters in front of the 105th Precinct stationhouse in Queens Village.

“Over the past few weeks and months, my close friends and family have been encouraging me to take my zeal for public service and community activism to the next level,” Concannon said in a press release issued Thursday. “Many of my friends as well as the people I meet every day express their dismay with the current leadership in the City Council, our mayor and the direction this city is headed in as a whole.”

While five Democrats are seeking the party’s nomination in the September primary, the Republicans appear to be unifying early around Concannon. Sources with the Queens GOP indicated earlier this week that he is the only Republican seeking the seat.

More evidence of GOP unity was noted in Concannon’s press release, which listed Queens GOP Chairman Bob Turner, Councilman Eric Ulrich — the lone Queens Republican in the city legislature — and Queens Conservative Party Chairman Tom Long as guests scheduled to attend the campaign launch.

In August 2013, Concannon launched a challenge to then-Councilman Weprin after the City Council passed into law the Community Safety Act, two bills bringing greater oversight to the NYPD and aiming to end “bias-based profiling.” Concannon opposed the act, claiming the regulations would impede police officers in their service, and received the support of numerous unions representing members of the NYPD.

Even so, Weprin was re-elected in November with 84 percent of the vote in the district covering all or parts of Bayside Hills, Bellerose, Douglaston, Floral Park, Fresh Meadows, Glen Oaks, Hollis, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, Oakland Gardens and Queens Village.

Since then, Concannon has remained politically active in holding rallies calling for public support of the NYPD, most recently following the murders of Police Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu in Brooklyn last December, and P.O. Brian Moore in Queens Village in May.

“Not since the violence and division this city faced decades ago have people felt so disconnected from their government,” Concannon said in Thursday’s press release. “I am running to restore some respect and common sense to our local government, the kind of common sense that is embarrassingly lacking in the NYC Council.”

Concannon added that he plans “to spend the next few weeks and months earning the right to be their voice and champion.”

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Rash of violent crimes raises concerns at Woodhaven meeting


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Woodhaven residents and elected officials expressed concern and outrage during Thursday night’s Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) meeting over the recent rash of high-profile crimes to hit the area.

Two recent shootings rocked the area. The first occurred roughly three weeks ago around 4 a.m. outside the Port O’Call nightclub near Atlantic Avenue and Woodhaven Boulevard. The more recent shooting was on the night of June 6 at the corner of Jamaica Avenue and 89th Street.

Then the community was stunned by the June 10 discovery of a dead body near Victory Field in Forest Park now being investigated as a homicide.

“It’s just a bad wave right now … but it’s not just us. It could happen anywhere in the city,” P.O. Jose Severino of the 102nd Precinct Community Affairs Unit told WRBA members during the session at American Legion Post 118. “We have leads in most of these crimes … but both shooting victims are being uncooperative, so it’s making our investigation difficult.”

One resident expressed fear over personal safety in light of the shootings. “I could stop by Jamaica Avenue to get a container of milk and be caught in a shootout,” she said.

In an attempt to calm concerns, Severino explained that several safety measures have been implemented in the wake of the shootings, including outside help from Central Command.

“Right now, we have multiple shooting posts to help increase visibility in multiple locations where those crimes happened,” he said. “We have an automatic shooting initiative in place and will be there for 24 to 72 hours after.”

Regarding the Forest Park homicide, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley called the murder “unsettling” and shared in the community’s concerns.

“Safety in Forest Park is so important,” she said. “I myself often run in the park. We’ve been on top of the 102nd Precinct to make sure they have patrols there.”

Another resident raised the question about security cameras in the park. “About two weeks ago, we noticed a security camera mounted on a light post,” she said. “But last weekend, that camera was gone. Ironically, it would have been in the same spot where the murder was.”

Angel Vazquez, Assemblyman Mike Miller’s chief of staff, explained that he was working to get the NYPD to sign off on an agreement allowing for the installation of cameras at specific locations within the park.

According to Vazquez, the first part of the six-stage process of approval was just completed. Going forward, the camera plans would require three-way approval from the Assembly, Dormitory Authority and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Greg Mitchell of Councilman Eric Ulrich’s office echoed Crowley’s concerns.

“Safety is our number one priority,” he said. “Through our budgeting, we did approve those emergency call boxes that will be going into Forest Park.”

Mitchell said he has been in touch with the capital department of the NYPD and expects the call boxes to be installed as soon as the upcoming budget passes.

WRBA President Martin Colberg urged residents to remain vigilant: “The biggest thing we can do is to call 311 or 911. Let’s get some kind of response out there and try to help each other as much as we can.”

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Civic fumes over a trashy situation in Woodhaven


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Frustrations aimed at the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) over their overnight enforcement policies came to a head during the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) meeting on May 16 at the Emanuel United Church of Christ.

The WRBA has repeatedly petitioned the DSNY to change its practice of issuing pricey overnight summonses to business owners along Jamaica Avenue for illegally dumped trash. In recent months, the WRBA has received numerous summonses over garbage found in front of the group’s headquarters, located at 84-20 Jamaica Ave.

“They ticket overnight because that’s when people bring their bags to the curb for pickup,” explained Gregory Mitchell of City Councilman Eric Ulrich’s office. “Unfortunately, there’s an issue that if people dump garbage in front of somebody’s business, the property owner can get a ticket themselves.”

The WRBA held a recent closed-door meeting with board members, elected officials and DSNY supervisors. According to WRBA Communications Director Alex Blenkinsopp, the DSNY officials explained that if they wanted a change in policy, they would need to petition their local city council member to change the regulations.

“When we were told by our city agencies to go to our City Council member because they’re not going to do anything about it, we realized this is a screwed up situation,” he said. “What are we supposed to do?”

Ulrich was considering changes in legislation back in October 2014 in the form of an “LS request” to investigate the feasibility of the proposed policy change.

“There’s really no way for us to legislate our way out of that problem,” Mitchell said. “We can change the law, but that’s not going to stop people from dumping garbage in the street.”

Blenkinsopp voiced his frustration over the situation to Mitchell. “It sounds like it took an awfully long time to find out we wouldn’t get any results from that process,” he said.

Assemblyman Mike Miller also voiced his displeasure over the situation.

“They don’t care,” said Miller, who participated in the aforementioned closed-door meeting with DSNY officials. “When we challenged them, they said, ‘That’s the way it is. This is the process. This is how we do it.’ It has to be changed.”

Miller explained that he has introduced legislation calling for a Citizen Review Board to deal with and discuss incidents such as wrongly issued summonses.

Mitchell proposed a follow-up meeting between WRBA board members and DSNY officials. He also mentioned that he would try to bring a DSNY supervisor to the next public WRBA meeting to address these concerns. In addition, he advised WRBA members to keep reporting incidents of illegal dumping to 311.

However, according to WRBA President Martin Colberg, the group once reported an illegally dumped mattress in front of their office, only to be hit with a pricey summons while sitting inside. Colberg said that he was considering installing security cameras outside WRBA’s Jamaica Avenue office to not only catch violators in the act, but to prove the group’s innocence to DSNY.

When asked if they could take their fight beyond City Council, Blenkinsopp explained that they have yet to receive a reply from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office regarding the matter.

“Back when he was public advocate, Bill De Blasio wrote a letter supporting a change in this law, but now that he’s mayor, he’s no longer responding to our reminders,” he said. “We can’t get the mayor to respond to his own previous policy decisions and to be consistent in his stance on this.”

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Civic group helps Woodhaven fire victims pick up the pieces


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Last week’s arson fire in Woodhaven that gutted eight attached homes dominated the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) meeting on Saturday, as civic members looked to help displaced families get back on their feet.

One of the victims displaced in the March 18 fire on 90th Street spoke at Saturday’s WRBA meeting. Jhadran Rojas and his wife Patricia were tenants in one of the neighboring homes destroyed by the fire. In addition to losing their home and possessions, the Rojas’ grief was compounded by the fact that their apartment was looted twice in one day. Thieves made off with the Rojas’ electronics and remaining valuables not lost in the blaze.

According to Deputy Inspector Deodat Urprasad, the new commanding officer of the 102nd Precinct, the precinct received numerous complaints over the years regarding drug use at the location where the fire started. Urprasad revealed that the alleged arsonist — identified as Luis Lopez — was arrested on March 15 on an unrelated charge, three days prior to setting the blaze. In addition, Urprasad said that officers at the precinct told him that numerous summonses for drug use have been issued at the location in the past.

“We have a special narcotics module in the 102 that handles these types of assignments,” Urprasad said. “They’re doing various search warrants. You may not see it, but they are effective.”

WRBA President Martin Colberg asked residents to remain vigilant and share information regarding ongoing complaints with each other and the board: “We have to pass information on to the 102 and make sure that we’re following up with these locations that we think are issues. We have to make sure to stay on top of it and that things don’t escalate.”

City Councilman Eric Ulrich thanked the WRBA for helping to coordinate the relief effort for the families displaced by the fire. He also thanked the first responders whose efforts prevented a larger tragedy and loss of life: “We really have the best of the best and we owe them a debt of gratitude.”

Ulrich was on the scene during the fire and helped the Red Cross relocate tenants displaced by the blaze to P.S. 210. He also opened his office to relief workers so they could access the Internet, register the victims and obtain vouchers for local hotels.

According to Ulrich, the Buildings Department and FDNY marshals entered the homes the day following the blaze and found numerous housing code violations. A total of six buildings violations were issued for illegal conversions. A representative from Ulrich’s office reportedly saw remnants of about seven bunk beds in one basement.

“That’s a fire trap,” Ulrich said. “Those people should be criminally prosecuted for putting people’s lives in danger. We have fire codes for a reason. People’s lives come first.”

Ulrich called for stiffer penalties and crackdowns on illegal conversions.

“It should not take a tragedy like what happened here in Woodhaven for the city to wake up and realize that however they’re doing it now is not working,” he said. “We need to be more proactive and less reactive.”

Both Ulrich and Assemblyman Mike Miller have partnered with Catholic Charities to create a special fund where tax-deductible donations can be made for the Woodhaven Fire Victims. The funds will go toward purchasing furniture and gift cards to Pathmark and Target. In addition, the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty agreed to pay tenants’ first month’s rent if they decide to relocate within Woodhaven.

WRBA members also collected bags of clothing and supplies for the victims at Saturday’s meeting. The donations were large enough to fill up two commercial vans.

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Councilman Ulrich ups graffiti removal funds by $10K


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Councilman Eric Ulrich

Graffiti removal has been a priority every year that Councilman Eric Ulrich has been in office, but this year he has added more funds than ever to combat the problem in his district.

Ulrich announced on Monday that he added $10,000 to his graffiti removal effort; he previously allocated $25,000 to the program back in August via his expense funding for fiscal year 2015.

The funding will go to the Queens Economic Development Corporation (QEDC), primarily its Neighborhood Development Division, which promotes economic growth by supporting community businesses. They have been working with Magic Touch Cleaning to carry out the anti-vandalism mandate.

“Graffiti is not art, it’s an eyesore that impacts property values and adversely affects our quality of life,” said Ulrich. “This allocation will strengthen efforts to remove graffiti from our neighborhoods and revitalize local small businesses corridors.”

The initiative will continue to target graffiti at six major corridors — Woodhaven Boulevard, Jamaica Avenue, Atlantic Avenue, 101st Avenue, Liberty Avenue and Rockaway Boulevard. In these areas, graffiti can be seen up and down the corridor on garages, fences and businesses, among other places.

To date, Magic Touch Cleaning has removed graffiti from roughly 100 area locations.

“Graffiti is a scourge that gives a retail area the appearance of disorder in a way that discourages shoppers while encouraging the bad element,” said QEDC Deputy Director Ricardi Calixte. “We are extremely happy to work with Council member Ulrich and Magic Touch to eliminate graffiti in commercial corridors throughout Queens.”

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Water main break fixed in Hamilton Beach after long wait


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Salvatore Licata

Updated Feb. 24, 2:20 p.m.

A continuous stream of water that had been flowing onto one Hamilton Beach street for over six days due to a water main break — causing flooding along the thoroughfare that turned into sheets of ice when temperatures dipped below freezing — has finally been fixed by the Department of Environmental Protection.

On Feb. 24, a day after The Courier wrote about the water main break, which is located directly in the middle of First Street in Hamilton Beach, the DEP sent crews to the site to fix the problem.

Before the fix, water was gushing from cracks in the asphalt down toward 104th Street and into a catch basin. And as temperatures were plunging well below freezing on Monday night, Roger Gendron, president of the Hamilton Beach Civic Association, said the water was creating very dangerous and slippery conditions for residents and motorists.

“I was out there at 12:15 last night and the road was very slippery,” said Gendron on Tuesday. “I’m glad they came in and finally fixed it.”

DSC_0067

The break was first noticed on Feb. 17 by Joe Thompson of the Howard Beach Civilian Observation Patrol during his nightly tour. He observed the water coming out of the ground and turning into ice due to the cold weather that night. He immediately filed a 311 report but the only response before Feb. 24 from the city was a sanitation truck dispatched on Feb. 18 to salt the road in order to break up some of the ice.

 

Photo courtesy of Joe Thompson

Photo courtesy of Joe Thompson

Another water main break happened on the same block about a month ago which was also fixed by the Department of Environmental Protection.

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Rally held in Rockaway to show support for the NYPD


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Salvatore Licata

Rockaway residents gathered together on Monday to show their support for the men and women in blue.

“We want to show our support for the NYPD,” Councilman Eric Ulrich said. “We are there for them today, we were there for them before the tragedy happened and we will be there for them in the future.”

The rally took place at the 100th Precinct, located at 92-24 Rockaway Beach Blvd. Over 50 residents joined police officers and elected officials to show their solidarity and the respect they have for the NYPD, in particular the precinct that keeps watch over the peninsula.

“We are thankful for the brave men and women who protect and serve us, especially those down here in the 100th Precinct,” Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder said. “These officers wake up every day and all they look to do is help.”

The ceremony started off with a prayer for slain Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, who were targeted by a deranged gunman simply because they were police officers. They also said a prayer for four officers who were killed in the line of duty in the 100th Precinct in years past and lit a blue candle for each.

“These officers put on their badge each and every day to protect each and every one of us,” state Sen. Joe Addabbo said. “I’m glad we have a moment to gather and say thank you.”

police rally 4

Toward the end of the meeting, Joseph Concannon, a former NYPD captain, announced that he is holding a rally at Queens Borough Hall on Tuesday, Jan. 13, at noon. The event is titled “Support Your Local Police,” and is meant to raise awareness that there are many people who do support the NYPD.

“Come out and show your support for the men and women of the NYPD,” the rally flier reads. “Stand together with the law enforcement community and your Queens neighbors.”

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Thanksgiving food drive benefits veterans in Queens


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilman Eric Ulrich's office

Elected officials and veteran organizations are giving thanks this Thanksgiving by serving those who have served the country.

In Queens, Councilman Eric Ulrich, chair of the veterans committee, opened his doors to collect goods for a food drive for veterans that has been taking place citywide since Nov. 10.

The Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter #32, located in Whitestone, joined the councilman in helping those less fortunate who’ve served the country. They have donated hundreds of dollars’ worth of food to the drive and have done their own collection for veteran food pantries and kitchens.

“If you served our country in any shape or form and need help we want to do so,” said Paul Narson, president of the chapter.

All of the food that has been collected by the chapter will be given to Ulrich to then distribute as part of the food drive. Most of the food collected by the organization has been donated from its 252 members in Queens, said Narson.

Moreover, the chapter has also donated 16 turkeys to food pantries around Middle Village and Glendale.

It’s the least they can do for those brave men and women who sacrifice their lives to protect America’s freedom, noted Narson, who has been a member of the chapter for 25 years.

“We try to do all sorts of things for veterans,” he said. “We help out whenever we can.”

Close to 30 percent of New York City’s veterans and their families rely on emergency food to get by, according to the New York City Food Bank.

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Op-ed: Honoring our city’s veterans


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BY COUNCILMAN ERIC ULRICH, CHAIR OF THE COUNCIL VETERANS COMMITTEE 

On Veterans Day, we recognize the many contributions veterans have made and continue to make to the American way of life. It’s also important to take stock of the unique challenges facing veterans and identify meaningful solutions to help those here at home and the thousands of men and women already on their way back from service.

After World War II, American GIs returned from overseas battle scared and in need, but were welcomed with open arms and robust programs to help with college tuition, health care and housing. We invested in our veterans then and their hard work contributed to an economic boom that lasted decades. Caring for our veterans was a top priority — it was good for them, good for the nation and simply the right thing to do.

But today’s soldiers face a daunting reality much different than their grandparents’ time — the VA is failing, jobs are limited, and new and unique challenges push back against their successful transition to civilian life. Given these realities, a far more aggressive and wide-ranging approach is needed to assist our men and women in uniform.

Smart policy starts with connecting vets to high-quality health care and well-paying jobs. Our GIs put their lives on the line every day to defend our freedom. When they come home, we owe them and their families the peace of mind that comes from knowing they have access to quality medical care.

This issue is largely the responsibility of the Veterans Administration, and Congress must be the watchdog, but locally, we can leverage and empower hospitals and direct providers to bridge the gap in care when VA services fall short.

While the civilian unemployment rate continues to decrease, recent research shows that close to 12 percent of New York City’s veterans are unemployed. This is a sad scenario faced by many who cannot find job opportunities commensurate with their talents and military experiences.

Despite these obstacles, we can incentivize businesses with tax credits to hire veterans and by strengthening vet preferences in the city’s hiring process. Creating a pipeline with the city’s trade unions can also place veterans in lucrative apprenticeships that pique their interests and speak to their skills.

Equally important, we need to help those veterans living on the street. Although numbers are improving, the veterans’ homelessness rate is still inexcusably high and something we all see on a daily basis walking the streets of this city. In 2009, the VA pledged to end veteran homelessness, but there are local polices we can pursue to achieve this goal. For instance, reinstating a priority for veterans in the NYCHA selection progress would provide housing for those in immediate need.

Carving out a minimum percentage for veterans’ units in current inclusionary housing mandates would also help combat homelessness.

In January, I was appointed chair of the New York City Council Veterans Committee. My thoughts immediately turned to my grandfather and great-grandfather, who both served in the military, and to the thousands of my constituents who also answered the call of duty. As a nation, we have no higher responsibility than to honor their service and sacrifice. New York City once led the nation on this important issue and we can lead again, and it starts with not only our words but also with our deeds.

Let us recommit ourselves to serving those who served and helping those who protect our freedoms that we so often take for granted.

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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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Locals want to beautify Howard Beach


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Salvatore Licata

SALVATORE LICATA

Howard Beach wants a makeover — and members of the Howard Beach Lindenwood Civic Association are calling for three different spots in the neighborhood to get a facelift.

The “Welcome to Howard Beach” triangle on Cross Bay Boulevard, the overpass of the Belt Parkway on 156th Avenue and 84th Stree, and the fencing in Lindenwood along 156th Avenue between 84th and 88th streets are all part of the “Summer Beautification Project,” said Joanna Ariola, chair of the civic association.

“We want some of the messier areas in the community cleaned up,” said Ariola, who has asked for volunteers with some construction skills to aid the project. “We have gotten a lot of positive feedback from residents and also some people who were interested in helping out.”

For the welcome triangle, the association is looking to repaint the sign and upgrade its surroundings. Ariola said the sign hasn’t been changed for a significant amount of time and the brickwork around the sign needs to be redone.

The Belt Parkway overpass is graffiti-ridden with several shades of blue paint covering past vandalism. And the fencing along the parkway is covered with overgrown eyesore foliage.

Ariola said she is working with Councilman Eric Ulrich in hopes to get the DOT to repaint the overpass and cut the weeds off the fence.

The civic association expects to have a meeting to address these problem areas within the next couple of weeks.

Ariola said the group is hoping to gain more support from residents and acquire more volunteers to help.

To find out more, visit the Howard Beach Lindenwood Civic Association on Facebook or follow @hblcivic on Twitter.

 

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Hamilton Beach residents stuck with ruined road


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Roger Gendron

In Hamilton Beach, residents say they witness new potholes and sink holes form right before their eyes.

On 104th Street, a main artery for cars, buses and pedestrian traffic coming in and out of the neighborhood, a new problem developed over just a few days.

“On Monday there was a slight indentation [on 104th Street] and by Thursday it had become a fully developed sink hole,” said Roger Gendron, president of the Hamilton Beach Civic Association.

Residents trace the problem to 10 years ago when new homes were built in one section and the street was gouged in several places for sewer piping. Aside from the newly formed hole in the road, Hamilton Beach’s main road is pocked with numerous holes that span over 200 feet.

The daily task of driving along 104th Street is fraught with indentations of all kinds that often force drivers to drive on the wrong side of the road to save their axles the abuse. The road also has a bus stop for the Q11 but there is no sidewalk for people to wait on, making them another obstacle that drivers have to look out for.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen the city do any work on these roads to fix these problems,” life-long resident Marie Persans said. “We see Howard Beach getting paved a lot but all we get is patches that wear out in no time.” Persans is also the vice-president of the civic association.

Residents ultimately want the Department of Transportation (DOT) to put in a completely new roadbed that would elevate the road, preventing pools of water from collecting in the holes during rainstorms. They also want a waiting area for people using the bus.

DOT Spokesman Nicholas Mosquera said that the department doesn’t have the resources to make these long-term changes.

“While DOT will look to include 104th Street in a future reconstruction schedule, the agency will continue to monitor the roadway, which was assessed last month, and repair potholes and perform any other short-term maintenance needs,” he said.

Councilman Eric Ulrich’s office has been working with the community to get the transportation department to get the resources need for long-term changes, according to Sal Simonetti, a representative for the councilman.

“These conditions are horrible,” Gendron said. “This is a very dangerous situation for everybody.”

 

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Residents in three Queens council districts to vote on community projects


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Residents of three Queens City Council districts will soon have a chance to decide what projects they want funded in their communities.

Launched in 2011 in four Council districts, participatory budgeting allows locals to determine how to spend at least $1 million of their councilmembers’ capital discretionary funds.

This year’s round of projects is up for a vote from March 29 to April 6 in eight districts, including Councilmember Mark Weprin’s District 23, Councilmember Donovan Richards District 31 and Eric Ulrich’s District 32.

The process begins in the fall at public meetings where residents can suggest ideas and choose budget delegates. Those selected volunteers then come up with proposals based on those suggestions, which are presented to the public ahead of the vote.

Last spring, approximately 13,000 people voted, an increase of about 7,000 from the previous year. Each voter can chose up to five projects.

“I am excited to make full use of the Democratic process and offer our district the opportunity to decide where $1 million of my budget should be spent,” said Councilmember Richards, who is participating in the process for the first time. “It’s important that we all understand how our local government can and should improve our communities.”

Among his district’s projects are education, youth, public safety and recreation related improvements. They include upgrades to the Far Rockaway Campus High School, Farm Rockaway and the installation of Argus surveillance cameras in various areas of Far Rockaway.

Residents in Weprin’s district will be able to vote on $1 million in projects ranging from library security upgrades, park improvements, school technology needs and $100,000 in portable security cameras in the community.

Projects in the Rockaway portion of Ulrich’s district include $320,00 in upgrades and improvements to local schools, resurfacing of Broad Channel Park and community information boards in the Rockaways and Broad Channel. The project list for the rest of the councilmember’s district is still being finalized.

For more information on the projects and how to vote, click here.

 

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City officials split on marching in St. Patrick’s Day parades


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo by Spencer Scott Nelson

St. Patrick’s Day parades citywide are creating a stir.

City officials are divided on the decision to march in this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Manhattan. But the annual Queens County St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the Rockaways brought in a slew of pols including Borough President Melinda Katz, State Senator Joseph Addabbo and Councilmember Eric Ulrich.

Last year, after the superstorm hit the Peninsula, then-mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio attended the parade. This year, the mayor did not participate.

Reports surfaced claiming de Blasio said the Rockaway parade excluded some groups, but a spokesperson clarified and cited scheduling conflicts. He participated in Sunnyside’s parade, “St. Pat’s for All.”

Last weekend’s spectacle in the borough’s “Irish Riviera” brought in iconic curly-haired dancers, marching bands, bagpipes, drummers and more.

In early February, de Blasio announced he would break tradition and additionally boycott the annual Irish celebration in Manhattan after parade officials prohibited marchers from carrying gay-pride banners.

Ulrich reacted by saying the mayor’s decision was “truly unfortunate and disappointing.”

Parade planners have said gays are not banned from joining the procession on March 17, just from declaring any sexual orientation.

Following de Blasio’s announcement, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito hopped on the boycott bandwagon and pledged to not march, but said individual councilmembers can make their own decision. Ulrich plans on marching “rain or shine.”

“The parade is a time to honor the Patron Saint of Ireland and the many contributions Irish Americans have made to our city, not anything else,” he said. “While I respect the mayor’s decision to not participate, I plan on marching rain or shine.”

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who has said he supports gay rights, said he, too, will join the march through the city, which is reportedly expected to bring in about 1 million people.

Former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a gay Irish-Catholic, did not participate in the parade during her time in office. This year, City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Majority Leader Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer are among those who are also opting out.

 

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