Tag Archives: Gary Giordano

Stalled Maspeth, Ridgewood, Middle Village transportation projects suffer more setbacks


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

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Ridgewood residents were hopeful that reconstruction of the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge would finally start this spring, but it’s been delayed again.

The path, which is elevated over LIRR tracks where Metropolitan Avenue intersects Fresh Pond Road, carries major truck traffic and is long overdue for repairs. In 2007, city officials informed Community Board (CB) 5 it was in danger of collapse.

Financial troubles delayed its original reconstruction start date back in 2009, and at a recent CB 5 Transportation Committee meeting, it was said that it’s been pushed back yet again, because the project has to undergo review and redesign.

The bridge is just one of a few major transportation projects, together worth about $115 million, in CB 5 that just keep getting delayed. The Metropolitan Avenue Bridge alone could be a $25 million project, CB 5 District Manager Gary Giordano said.

“You are talking about a lot of money for one district,” Giordano said. “We keep bringing them up at our transportation meeting because we believe that they need to be done and want don’t want to forget about them.”

Developers are now considering building an abutment, eliminating one track under the bridge, to help the building process.

There is also the Grand Street Bridge project, which connects Maspeth to Brooklyn over Newtown Creek.

The 111-year-old bridge is so narrow that it can’t support two-way traffic, although it is a two-way span, with all the big rigs and city buses that traverse it. The new bridge would cost about $50 million.

The plan for a new bridge was ready to go when Sandy struck in 2012 and flooded the area. Now plans are being redesigned to meet new flood regulations.

Besides the bridges, major street rebuilding plans have also been set back.

The Wyckoff Avenue Reconstruction Project, estimated to cost about $20 million, was supposed to start during the summer of 2010, but has been pushed back to 2026, according to the city Department of Design and Construction (DDC).

The project would give Wyckoff Avenue new sewer lines, new water mains to replace the 70-year old ones, as well as a new concrete base on the roadway, new sidewalks and new curbing from Flushing Avenue to Cooper Avenue.

The community has been waiting on a similar project in south Middle Village for about two decades. The area from 73rd Place to 80th Street, between Metropolitan Avenue to Cooper Avenue, are due for new sidewalks, sewer lines, new water mains, signage and street lights, estimated to cost about $20 million. The project has a due date of 2022, according to the DDC.

The projects are pushed back because the city keeps putting funding to higher priority initiatives, CB 5 Chair Vincent Arcuri said. But Arcuri said the planned repairs would help boost the community and should be pushed.

“When you rebuild the streets, the property value increases,” Arcuri said. “It becomes an economic boost to the community.”



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Maspeth residents and leaders are split over arts center


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Knockdown Center/Ariana Page Russell

Maspeth leaders and residents are ready to rumble over the Knockdown Center.

The center, a former glass and door factory turned arts hall, has hosted everything from weddings, Tiki Disco parties and even a mini-golf art exhibition since last year. Now, owners are applying for a license from the State’s Liquor Authority (SLA) to serve alcohol for future events at the 52-19 Flushing Avenue site.

But the center has recently come under fire from local leaders and residents, including Assemblymember Cathy Nolan, Senator Michael Gianaris, City Council candidate Craig Caruana and civic organizations, such as Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together (COMET).

“Bringing the arts to our neighborhood is good, but it’s a terrible idea to allow a club to serve alcohol to 600 to 5,000 people at dance parties, raves and concerts right across the street from residents’ homes,” Caruana said.

The industrial castle-like building in which the Knockdown Center operates is more than a century old.

Owners redid some of the inside and installed new windows, but kept most of it original so as to preserve the structure.
The immediate neighborhood consists of other manufacturing buildings and residential apartments.

Musical events will be held in the center and owners plan to host a flea market every Sunday  from Oct. 20. Some feel the facility has potential.

“I’m not against it right now as it stands,” said Anthony Nunziato, chair of civic group Maspeth-Middle Village Task Force. “I like the structure. I just want to make sure it’s workable in the community. It’s a place that’s been vacant in the community for years. By right, they can take it down and turn it into condos.”

Gary Giordano, Community Board 5 district manager, said as of last week he had not received any complaints of past Knockdown Center events. Giordano did say that owners may need to take into account transportation, security and respect for the community for future events.

The center, which officials said has been operating under temporary permits, is in the process of obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy from the Department of Buildings. Max attendance at past events was about 800 people, said Tyler Myers, Knockdown Center manager, but owners estimate it can hold 8,000 people.

“We are working with them to discover what a workable capacity would be for the building that we would also feel comfortable operating,” Myers said. “I think the Knockdown Center represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring something really unique and really special to Maspeth certainly, but also the New York community at large.”

Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, who also represents Maspeth, is in full support of the center, saying that it could bring economic growth.

“Manufacturing has been moving out of that area, a lot of those buildings are just warehouses and are not producing many jobs,” Crowley said. “I only see that it brings a benefit in creating good jobs.”

 

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Community Board discusses hydrofracking, new gym


| dbeltran@queenscourier.com


There were several important issues brought up at Community Board (CB) 5’s first meeting of the new year, but none drew as much attention, or speakers, as the issue of hydrofracking.

In the process of hydrofracking water, sand and chemicals are shot into the ground to push out natural gases. One of the many problems, Gary Giordano, district manager of CB 5, said, is that there is no filtering process to clean out contaminated water that comes back up. This increases the possibility of drinking water being contaminated, he said.

According to officials, no one knows what chemicals are going into the ground. Officials also pointed out earthquakes that were pin-pointed back to the area of the hydrofracking.

“There are numerous stories in other states where this process has backfired and contaminated drinking water,” said Giordano. “I just hope hydrofracking never happens in New York State.”

A public hearing was also held about whether to allow Retro Fitness to open a gym at 65-40 Otto Road in Glendale. One major issue was parking. While the owners of the gym said they could fit 70 parking spots and probably be able to build more, board members said they wanted that guaranteed in a lease. The owners also agreed to pay for a stop sign and maintenance of the property, as members said there is constant graffiti in the area.

Two board members then spoke about an abandoned factory in Glendale that is being torn apart. They claim that it has asbestos, preventing their families from being outside in their yards. According to the members, the owner works with no permits and even though the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has placed stop orders on the site, they continue to work.

“The Community Board has been involved in this since 2003. We protested the application for alteration,” said chair Vincent Arcuri. He added that test results from the DEP for asbestos came back negative.