Tag Archives: Fresh Pond Road

Celebrate festival season in Ridgewood this September

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com


Get ready to party in the streets of Ridgewood this September as the community gears up for two annual street fairs, the Fresh Pond Road Street Festival and the Myrtle Avenue Fall Street Festival.

The four-day Fresh Pond Road Street Festival, sponsored by the Federazione Italo-Americana di Brooklyn and Queens, will take place from Sept. 3 to 6 along a five-block stretch of Fresh Pond Road, between Menahan and Woodbine streets.

One of the newest attractions for this year’s Fresh Pond Road Street Festival is the first poetry and art contest, hosted by the Federazione Italo-Americana di Brooklyn and Queens. This contest allows schoolchildren who are enrolled in a New York City public or private grammar, intermediate or high school to submit their art on the topic, “Growing up ______ American in Queens,” (i.e. Growing up Italian-American in Queens), with an alternate topic of “What community means to you.”

Prizes adding up to $1,200 will be divided among the winners of the contest.

“This contest is going to add a new dimension to the festival and the people who visit Ridgewood,” said Michael Conigliaro, managing director-adviser of the festival for the Federazione Italo-Americana di Brooklyn and Queens.

The Myrtle Avenue Fall Street Festival, sponsored by the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID) in conjunction with Clearview Festival Productions, will host more than 200 merchant and vendor displays along Myrtle Avenue from Wyckoff Avenue to Fresh Pond Road on Sept. 13 from noon to 6 p.m.

The street festival is designed to showcase the community and attract more than 20,000 shoppers to Myrtle Avenue with children’s rides, game booths, health providers, local nonprofit and civic organizations and local artists.

Antique and custom cars will be on display from East Coast Car Association and Riviera Owners Association. Joe Fuoco’s Music Center and Ridgewood Dance Studio will provide entertainment at the 71st Avenue Plaza from noon to 5 p.m.

Representatives from the Department of Transportation’s Go Smart NYC Program will be on hand to register people for the program and inform them on how to get rewards at participating local businesses.


PHOTOS: ‘Shades of Blue’ with Jennifer Lopez and Ray Liotta films in Maspeth, Middle Village

| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photos by Kelly Marie Mancuso


Jennifer Lopez and Ray Liotta hit the streets of Maspeth and Middle Village on Wednesday to film scenes for the new NBC police procedural “Shades of Blue.”

The series features Lopez in the lead role as Detective Harlee Santos, a single mother forced to snitch on her corrupt colleagues by the FBI after she is caught accepting a bribe. Liotta of “Goodfellas” fame also stars as Lieutenant Bill Wozniak. Lopez and Liotta also star opposite “Sopranos” actress Drea de Matteo as Detective Tess Nazario.

The series is set in Brooklyn and is based on the novel “Shades of Blue: 30 Years of (Un)ethical Policing” by Michael Rudolph. Executive producers of the series include Adi Hasak of “3 Days to Kill,” American Idol’s Ryan Seacrest, director Barry Levinson of “Wag the Dog” and “Homicide: Life on the Street,” as well as Lopez herself.

Both Lopez and Liotta filmed interior scenes for the series inside the Maspeth home of Claribel Vera on 58th Place and 57th Drive.

“This is so exciting,” Vera exclaimed. After shooting at the Vera home wrapped, Lopez emerged and posed for photos with fans, including Vera’s daughters Veronica and Annette, before leaving the set for the day.

Liotta and the rest of the crew then relocated to Middle Village where they dined on traditional Latin fare at Tropical 3 Restaurant, located at 62-27 Fresh Pond Rd. After enjoying an authentic Ecuadorian meal from owners Jimmy Illescas and Steven Vinas, Liotta resumed filming an exterior shot in a car outside the restaurant. Scores of locals gathered on 62nd Road to watch the shoot, many cheering when Liotta walked by. The actor appeared on set in special effects make-up, with fake bruises and a black eye.

Tropical 3 owners Jimmy Illescas and Steven Vinas welcomed Ray Liotta and the “Shades of Blue” crew to their restaurant during filming in Middle Village. (Photo courtesy of Sandra Gonzalez)

When filming wrapped, director Dan Lerner, of “In Plain Sight” and “The Blacklist” fame, thanked Illescas and Vinas for use of their establishment, and even sat to watch an original video made by Vinas’ young daughter on her iPad.

Liotta is no stranger to filming in Queens. Many of his scenes from the 1990 hit “Goodfellas” were filmed at the former Clinton Diner in Maspeth, as well on Maurice Avenue and the streets surrounding nearby Calvary Cemetery in Woodside.

“Shades of Blue” is set to air on NBC in the fall. Check local listings or click here for updates.


Ray Liotta to be in Middle Village for new NBC show ‘Shades of Blue’ shoot

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo via Google maps/Wikimedia Commons/gdcgraphics

The stars just keep coming to Queens.

Ray Liotta, best known for his role as the mobster Henry Hill in “Goodfellas,” will be in Middle Village tomorrow for a shoot for the new NBC crime drama “Shades of Blue.”

The shoot takes place on Wednesday at Tropical Restaurant, located at 62-27 Fresh Pond Rd. where the restaurant owner, Sandra Gonzalez, confirmed that Liotta will be on set.

Liotta plays opposite Jennifer Lopez in the NBC show. Lopez plays a New York detective and single mother named Harlee Santos, who got involved with a group of dirty cops. She begins taking bribes and protection money that she uses to provide for her daughter. Lopez’s character finds herself trapped by the FBI and is forced to inform on her partners.

There’s no word yet on whether J-Lo will be on the set in Middle Village tomorrow.


Fresh Pond Road street festival to hold student poetry and art contest

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy Angelica Harris

Organizers of the Fresh Pond Road street festival in Ridgewood will present something new at this September’s fair: a poetry and art contest open to local schoolchildren.

The participants for this poetry and art contest, hosted by the Federazione Italo-Americana di Brooklyn and Queens, must be enrolled in a New York City public or private grammar, intermediate or high school. They are to present one original poem and one original artwork.

“This contest is going to add a new dimension to the festival and the people who visit Ridgewood,” said Michael Conigliaro, managing director-adviser of the festival for the Federazione Italo-Americana di Brooklyn and Queens.

The topic for the contest is “Growing up ______American in Queens,” (i.e. Growing up Italian-American in Queens), with an alternate topic of “What community means to you.”

Students from any country or ethnic background can submit a poem and piece of art about their experiences and their families’ experiences living in Queens.

“As a professional writer, poet and advocate for children, to be able to read and share the poems of these youngsters from Queens, will be a treasure to our great borough, and to bring together everyone, no matter what their background,” said Angelica Harris, president of the Excalibur Reading Program located in Glendale, and poetry contest leader.

Each participant is allowed to submit one poem and one piece of art. The contest will be divided into three categories, one for grammar school, one for intermediate school and one for high school. Poems are to be in English, five verses, up to five stanzas long, but no more than 50 verses on one sheet.

The art pieces must be a drawing or painting in oil, watercolor or any other creative medium and must not be larger than 2 feet by 2 feet.

The works of the participants will be on display during the four-day festival in a special community stand.

“We want to offer a free space to nonprofits in order to be able to allow them a chance to show what their organization offers, and to help our neighbors find resources that they may need for their families,” said Lucy Dolce, office director of the Federazione Italo-Americana di Brooklyn and Queens, and festival coordinator.

The contest will be judged by professional teachers, poets and artists. Three prizes will be given out, one for each category. Prizes will be handed out during a special ceremony to be held on Sept. 6, the final day of the four-day festival. Prizes adding up to $1,200 will be divided between the winners.

If students or parent have any questions or want submit their poetry and piece of art, they can send it to Harris’ email at info@excaliburreadingprogram.org. The deadline for all submissions is Aug. 15.


Web series to be filmed in Ridgewood’s Valentino Food Market on Thursday

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy of Property Shark/Nicholas Strini

Four locations in Ridgewood, including Valentino Food Market on Fresh Pond Road, will be in the spotlight as the web series “Sounds of Enjoyment” is scheduled to film in the neighborhood on Thursday.

The filming is set to begin at 1924 Gates Ave. from 8 to 10 a.m., where Ben and Ben, the main focuses of the series, are seen entering and exiting the building, and they answer interview questions and show their apartment.

Filming then moves to Valentino Fruit Market, located at 66-64 Fresh Pond Rd., from 10 a.m. to noon, where Ben and Ben are shot browsing the fruit market.

Myrtle Avenue between Stephen Street and Forest Avenue is the next filming site. From noon to 2 p.m., Ben and Ben will be walking down the street answering questions about their experiences while living in Queens.

The final stop for “Sounds of Enjoyment” will be Delight Donuts located at 66-91 Fresh Pond Rd., from 2 to 4 p.m. For this scene, Ben and Ben enter the donut shop, sit and answer more questions.

The filming permit has a parking request for no parking on half of the south side of Gates Avenue between Woodward and Fairview avenues for June 25.


Four-day Ridgewood street festival back on the calendar

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com


Despite Community Board 5’s disapproval, the four-day Fresh Pond Road Street Festival will happen this September.

Lucy Dolce of the Federazione Italo-Americana di Brooklyn and Queens, which sponsors the annual fair, said Thursday that the Street Activity Permits Office (SAPO) granted approval of its application.

The festival will occur on four consecutive nights, Sept. 3 to 6, along a five-block stretch of Fresh Pond Road between Menahan and Woodbine streets. Back in March, Board 5 voted to recommend denial of a street fair permit for the festival over concerns regarding traffic and various quality-of-life issues.

Following the board’s vote, the organizers appealed their case to the SAPO, which makes the final determination on all street permits citywide. The Fresh Pond Road festival has been a late summer fixture in the neighborhood for more than 20 years, featuring a variety of games, rides, vendors and other attractions.

But the festival’s presence garnered stiff opposition from residents for myriad reasons, from traffic congestion and lost parking spots related to the road’s closure, to reports of disorderly behavior among patrons and refuse left behind on the roadway.

Board 5 District Manager Gary Giordano confirmed the SAPO approval, noting that the office indicated the reasons the board gave for the license’s denial weren’t enough to shelve a festival that has occurred regularly since the mid-1990s.

Dolce charged that the allegations of unruly behavior at the fair were exaggerated and that the organizers worked to make sure Fresh Pond Road was swept clean immediately after each night’s festivities.

“We didn’t want any problems with the festival,” Dolce said. “But no matter what we did, it wasn’t right. No matter what I said or what we did to prove ourselves, it was never enough.”

As for parking and traffic concerns, Dolce sympathized with the situation but remarked that the four-day inconvenience was a small price to pay for a festival that helps support the community.

“They should be proud that in our community we can put together a four-day festival without any major incidents happening,” she said. “Do you think the police department would let us go forward if they thought something would go wrong?”

Giordano said the festival itself “has been a benefit in some ways, but members of the Ridgewood community who live near there have difficulties with the fair.”

“The fair, while it is enjoyable for many people, does — in the opinion of many community board members — put strains on the community” with regard to traffic, Giordano said. He noted that Fresh Pond Road, as one of the area’s main north-south arteries, is “a tougher block” to close than most other locations where street fairs are held, such as Myrtle Avenue in Ridgewood and Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village.

“At the same time, the federazione, to my knowledge, has used the funds they have earned for some good purposes,” he added.


Ridgewood civic focuses on bike lanes and local businesses

| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso


Transit, tenants and trees took center stage during a three-part presentation hosted by the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association (RPOCA) on Thursday at the Ridgewood Older Adult Center.

Community Board 5 Public Transit Committee Co-Chair John Maier explained plans for new bike routes connecting Ridgewood and Glendale with other parts of Queens, including Rego Park. The RPOCA first requested the bicycle routes back in 2011. The Department of Transportation and Community Board 5 created a forum in 2013 to gather community input and feedback regarding preferred routes.

The first option for the proposed bike route plan would connect Ridgewood to Rego Park via various roadways in Middle Village. According to Maier, special road markings would be installed along Metropolitan Avenue and 69th Street. Eliot Avenue, however, is slated to receive actual designated bike lanes.

Option two would connect Glendale to Rego Park via 80th Street. Maier voiced safety concerns over the use of Dry Harbor Road for part of the proposed route and cited the narrowness of the roadway as being potentially problematic.

New pedestrian and bike passageways are also part of the Kosciusko Bridge Project, which began in 2014. Improvements also include the installation of a double suspension bridge aimed at increasing traffic flow.

Maier also announced that work may begin within the next one and a half years on long-awaited progress on the reconstruction of the bridge carrying Metropolitan Avenue and Fresh Pond Road over Long Island Rail Road tracks on the Ridgewood/Middle Village border. Originally planned in 2005 but delayed repeatedly, he told residents the project has been fully funded and is in the final design phase.

Maier also pleaded for help from the community in getting the stalled Wyckoff Avenue reconstruction moving. The project would implement much-needed street repairs and sewer/water line replacement along Wyckoff Avenue between Flushing and Cooper Avenues.  He asked community members to act as advocates for the project and request sponsorship from local elected officials.

Ted Renz, Community Board 5 member and executive director of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID), also spoke about changes and initiatives in Ridgewood’s busiest commercial district. According to Renz, the BID is experiencing an influx of new tenants and residential construction.

Renz cited ongoing residential development, including the 135-unit building slated for St. Nicholas Avenue, as well as two fully occupied 45-unit buildings on Putnam and Myrtle Avenues, as evidence of the commercial district’s popularity among a new wave of younger tenants.

“We want a balanced community,” he said. “If you don’t have young people, then you’re a dying community. Living over a store, which nobody wanted years ago, is now becoming chic and popular.”

In addition to attracting new residents to the BID, Renz also hopes to apply for a grant from the New York Main Street Program, a state-sponsored revitalization effort, in the future. Renz hopes to pursue the program once he receives a strong commitment from local retail owners.

Finally, RPOCA Director Maryellen Borello sounded the call for volunteers to help with the Parks Department tree count in a 200-block radius in Ridgewood. According to Borello, the Ridgewood tree count will take place from June through August. Those interested in volunteering can visit www.rpoca.org for details.


Irregularly shaped Ridgewood block with development potential for sale

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Greiner Maltz Investment Properties

That’s one tasty looking block for investors.

A pizza-slice-shaped block in Ridgewood with two one-story buildings is being marketed for about $5 million as the real estate market in the neighborhood continues to boom, following recent big transactions and plans to construct large developments.

The small block is a triangle formed at the intersection of Fresh Pond Road and Cypress Hills Street, with 70th Avenue to the south. Currently, the approximately 6,733-square-foot lot holds a laundromat and a café.

What may be particularly attractive to investors is that the property has a residential zoning and an extra 7,366 square feet of additional air rights, and can go up to a maximum height of 50 feet, or about five stories.

The price breaks down to nearly $360 per buildable square foot for the property, which is much higher than the average of about $220 in Ridgewood, according to broker John Gonsalves of Greiner Maltz Investment Properties. However, the property has already received many offers as that price is still relatively low compared to other parts of the city.

“We have received several full-priced offers. I thought it was a little rich for the market but apparently the market thought otherwise,” Gonsalves said. “There is definitely a lot of interest from Brooklyn and Manhattan investors. They see Ridgewood as a steal.”

Photo courtesy of Nicholas Strini/PropertyShark 

Photo courtesy of Nicholas Strini/PropertyShark

Another reason for the $5 million price tag is that the buildings are already fully leased with retail tenants, and those properties tend to trade at higher prices, Gonsalves said.

He added that one interested real estate investor is a developer who has had projects in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and sees the opportunity with this property to collect rent from the retail tenants for a few years before developing it when values in the neighborhood increase.

The laundromat, which has a three-year lease, and the café combine to give possible owners a net income of more than $200,000 annually.

The building is a few blocks away from the Fresh Pond Road M train subway station to the north, and not far from the Myrtle Avenue commercial strip to the south, making it attractive for possible future residents.


Ridgewood travel agent allegedly ran immigration fraud scam

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

A Ridgewood-based travel agent allegedly stole thousands of dollars from an undocumented immigrant in return for procuring legal immigration status for the individual, who was actually working as an informant, prosecutors announced Wednesday.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown identified the travel agent as Dariusz Buczynski, 44, of 65th Place in Maspeth, who owns Anka Travel and Consulting Services located at 65-14 Fresh Pond Rd. and formerly at 71-20 Fresh Pond Rd., both in Ridgewood.

“In this particular case, the defendant is accused of being a con man who unscrupulously exploited an individual looking for help in achieving his American dream but ultimately found only an American nightmare,” Brown said. “Anyone who believes that he or she may have been a victim of the defendant’s alleged scheme is asked to contact my Office of Immigration Affairs at 1-718-286-6690 or my Integrity Unit at 1-718-286-6524.”

Buczynski was arraigned on Tuesday before Queens Criminal Court Judge Bruna DiBiase on a criminal complaint charging him with third-degree grand larceny and second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument.

According to the criminal charges, the informant working with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations went to Anka Travel and Consulting Services on July 27, 2012, met with Buczynski and asked for help in securing government documents granting legal status, including work documents and legal resident status. Buczynski told the informant that he would charge $12,000 for the process.

Between Oct. 25, 2012, and Oct. 9, 2013, the informant allegedly met with Buczynski at both of his office locations and supplied him with the documentation Buczynski requested. The informant also signed numerous documents regarding his immigration application and work authorization request.

During the Oct. 9, 2013 meeting, the informant was allegedly given four purported government forms that were printed out by Buczynski. Prosecutors said the suspect then told the informant that he should receive paperwork from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service in two to four weeks.

During the meetings, the informant allegedly paid Buczynski various amounts of money, including $6,000 in cash to begin the paperwork and $1,650 in cash for application fees and the informant’s working permit card.

Official U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services records indicate that Buczynski never actually provided any applications or forms on the informant’s behalf. An examination of the illegitimate forms that Buczynski provided the informant allegedly revealed false barcodes.


New Ridgewood bar entices customers with Belgian beer selection

| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Salvatore Licata

Ridgewood just got a little more Belgian.

The Monk bar, located at 68-67 Fresh Pond Rd., opened on Dec. 6, and owner Joe Figliolia is looking to expand the tastes of customers who may not be familiar with the uncommon names and styles of beers and ales they serve.

“Ever since I tried my first Belgian beer, I fell in love,” said Figliolia. “They aren’t the types you chug. It’s more like a fine wine you sip and enjoy.”

The bar had eight varieties on tap and over 25 types of bottled beers. Figliolia and co-owner Dan Berkery handpicked each beer themselves based on which brand they think tastes best for whichever style it is representing.

Moreover, The Monk has designated each of their eight taps to a different style of beer. Berkery said the names on the taps will change from time to time but that he wants his patrons to have a chance to always have their favorite style of beer on draft.

“Sometimes you walk into a regular bar and they have three of four of the same style of beer on tap,” said Berkery. “We wanted to make sure we had a mix here so everyone can enjoy their beer freshly tapped.”

Figliolia and Berkery chose to go with strictly Belgian types of beer because they feel it is the best type out there. They said the Trappist monks were known for making the best beer and that each is made with natural yeast, not cultivated, and Belgium-grown hops.

They’ve only been open for about two weeks now, but are already impressed with the knowledge of beers many of their customers have.

“A lot of people really know what they’re talking about over here,” said Figliolia. “I tell customers about beers and some of them teach me a thing or two.”

Figliolia lived in Ridgewood in the 1980s, and he and Berkery were childhood friends. He reminisced on the solid neighborhood Ridgewood was when he was growing up there and said it has only gotten better since. He talked about how the new, younger crowd coming in, mixed with the older generation, makes the neighborhood diverse and welcoming.

He wants his bar to have the same feel. There is no TV, just background music so that people who come in can have conversations and get to know one another.

the monk1

the monk2

“I want this bar to be a welcoming place for all who come in,” Figliolia said. “People can try new beers and have some fun while doing so.”


Ridgewood bar hosts first variety and burlesque show

| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy of KissedPR

Queens County took on a whole new meaning when a Ridgewood bar hosted a burlesque show.

The first-ever Ridgewood Variety Show, held on Aug. 14, bedazzled patrons at the Queens Tavern on Fresh Pond Road.

“There were so many talented acts,” said Sarah Feldman, one of the organizers of the event and operator of the website Ridgewood Social. “The bar owner and the locals had a fabulous time.”

The two–hour show, held in front of more than 30 cheering guests, included drag, dance, singing, comedy and burlesque acts.

Headliners included New Orleans chanteuse Bronze Bettina, “Maven of the Underworld” Lady Zombie, premiere female drag queen Miss Crimson Kitty and Jantina, the “Burlesque Booty Queen.”

“This was a variety show and the difference between a variety show and a burlesque is you have an opportunity to entertain people with more unique performers,” Feldman said.

The event was put together by both Ridgewood Social and KissedPR, a public relations firm for small businesses. One person even commented on how the performances reminded them of what used to happen in Greenwich Village and said it was a “very New York City” kind of night.

The show worked out so well that Feldman was asked to put together another one and is hoping that she can have it as a monthly event at the tavern.

Already, she and the owner of the Queens Tavern have scheduled for the next show to be on Sept. 18 and hope for an even bigger crowd.



Police looking for driver in fatal Maspeth hit-and-run

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


A 32-year-old Ridgewood man was struck and killed in a hit-and-run accident early Monday morning, police said.

Police responded to a call at about 2:52 a.m. on Fresh Pond Road between 60th Drive and Elliot Avenue where they found Karoll Grzegorczyk unconscious with trauma on his body, lying on the road. Grzegorczyk was taken to Elmhurst Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival, according to the NYPD.

Further investigation showed that Grzegorczyk was walking on Fresh Pond Road when mid-block he entered the street between parked cars, police said. The Ridgewood resident was then struck by a dark-colored sedan, which fled the scene.

No arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing.


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Ridgewood newsstand razed, problems persists across street

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Office of Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley

One long-standing Ridgewood problem down, and one more to go.

The troublesome newsstand on Metropolitan Avenue near Fresh Pond Road, which had been an eyesore in the community, attracting garbage and graffiti for more than two decades, has finally been taken out of sight.

The MTA/LIRR, which owned the land, demolished it on Friday with $100,000 allocated from Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley.

“After long delays from both the DOT (Department of Transportation) and LIRR, I am happy to see persistence pay off,” Crowley said.

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre 

Crowley called a press conference in 2009 with Senator Joseph Addabbo and Assemblymember Mike Miller to announce that they would remove the structure, and transform the space into a community garden.

But those promises were derailed due to complications with the LIRR and the DOT, which both have rights to the property.

The city was reluctant to have any work done in the area, according to Crowley, because of the renovations on the nearby bridge on Metropolitan Avenue.

Community leaders appreciate that the site has finally turned a corner, but now they want elected officials to focus on the other problem — literally across the street.

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre 

The DOT assumed control of the abandoned gas station on Metropolitan Avenue across from the newsstand site several years ago, but the property has also attracted graffiti. However, unlike the newsstand, the gas station is fenced in, meaning community volunteers can’t clean it up.

“The city takes available property, because they have to fix the bridge and then they let it go,” said Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, which has cleaned up the newsstand site in the past. “They don’t keep it up, and this is a disgrace. If we, regular property owners, did that, we’d get fined.”

Photo courtesy Bob Holden

Plans aren’t complete for what the newsstand site will become, but for now the DOT “will make it nicer,” according to a Crowley spokesperson.