Tag Archives: Glendale

Glendale man who allegedly voiced threats against cops sentenced for weapons charge


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Image via Google Maps

A Glendale man arrested after voicing threats against police officers in the wake of two cop killings last December will spend the next three years behind bars after pleading guilty to a weapons possession charge, prosecutors announced on Monday.

Elvin Payamps, 38, of Edsall Avenue was originally arrested on Dec. 24, 2014, after allegedly being overheard making the threat while talking on a phone at the TD Bank located at 79-55 Metropolitan Ave. The comment came four days after two officers — Detectives Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu — were shot to death by a lone gunman on a Brooklyn street.

Reportedly, Payamps told an unidentified caller that the killer “should have killed two white cops, instead of a Hispanic and an Asian, if the guy really wanted to send a message.” Detectives indicated that the murderer shot Ramos and Liu to avenge recent high-profile, police-involved deaths.

During the state of heightened alert following the double homicide, a bank employee who heard Payamps’ remark notified police after the suspect left the location. After obtaining a description of Payamps and his vehicle, they located him a short time later at the Metro Mall parking lot at 66-26 Metropolitan Ave.

Ironically, the mall — located in a building housing the New York Corrections Department Academy — was evacuated the day before after someone phoned in a bomb threat.

Payamps was taken into custody at the mall after police found a plastic bag containing marijuana and a lead pipe inside the vehicle. After obtaining a search warrant for his home, police recovered a loaded black Jimenez Arms JA 9-mm pistol, a black Mossberg Maverick model 88 12-gauge shotgun with a defaced serial number, ammunition, brass knuckles and two bulletproof vests.

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Star of Queens: David Sands, Community Board 5


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Star of Queens

BY BROOKE RUTMAN 

Background: David Sands grew up in Glendale, where he has happily resided all of his life. He graduated from McClancy High School and received his associate’s degree at Queensboro. Sands is married to his wife Sandy, and has three children, Samantha, Olivia and Joshua.

Occupation: Sands is an electrician at the Roosevelt Avenue subway station and is part of the union local 3, which works throughout airports, baseball stadiums and train stations.

Community Involvement: Sands is the vice president of Liberty Park Homeowners Association, which is made up of about 700 families. When he and the current president took it over 10 months ago, the number of members significantly increased.

Sands was recently appointed to Community Board 5. He wants to make a difference and would like to become a part of the Parks Committee. He started getting involved with Evergreen Park in Glendale four years ago and has since helped to raise 2 million dollars for the park.
Sands also coaches his daughter’s fourth-grade basketball team.

Biggest Challenge: “My biggest challenge would be finding the time to balance community board work, local 3 and family time. I am very involved with local 3 with being a volunteer work officer,” Sands said. “I really want to make the middle class stronger.”

Greatest Achievement: “My greatest achievement would be my family and three children,” Sands said.

Biggest Inspiration: “My mom,” Sands said. “She just got through battling cancer and she raised five children. She’s an amazing woman.”

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Former Glendale auto body shop sold for $2.4 million


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy Right Time Realty

The site of the former Central Automotive and Collision Services in Glendale has been sold for $2.4 million in an all-cash, off-market transaction.

The former auto body shop sits on 12,000 square feet of land at 64-25 Central Ave. and 70-36 64th Pl., and will be renovated by the new owners, identified as Greenpoint-based R King Windows, and made available for rent or leased to several retail stores in the coming months.

Right Time Realty, the brokers that handled the Atlas Terminals sale to Broadway Stages, facilitated this deal and will handle the renting or leasing of the retail spaces once they are ready for use, to Joe Ibrahim, Right Time Realty’s president.

It is not yet known how many retail spaces will be constructed on the site, how large each space will be, or what industries will be interested in renting or leasing out each space.

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Transit riders voice calls to ‘#FixWoodhaven’ in social media campaign


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photos via Twitter/@Jslyyynnn and @jam14063

Woodhaven Boulevard commuters took to social media on Wednesday afternoon to voice their frustration over crowded bus lines, deterioration and other problems along the thoroughfare.

The Riders Alliance and Transportation Alternatives organized the #FixWoodhaven event, which encouraged Queens subway and bus riders to use the hashtag on social media to call for bus rapid transit (BRT) and street improvements along the heavily used boulevard bisecting Elmhurst, Rego Park, Middle Village, Glendale, Woodhaven and Ozone Park.

“The Twitter campaign had over 250 tweets under the hashtag #FixWoodhaven,” according to a spokeswoman for the Riders Alliance and Transportation Alternatives.

“The people who were tweeting and part of the campaign included commuters who ride the bus daily along the Woodhaven corridor. The campaign was designed to speak to elected officials so they know the importance of BRT to their communities and constituents,” she said.

Volunteers with both transit advocacy groups also met with afternoon rush-hour commuters waiting for buses at stops along Hoffman Drive near Woodhaven Boulevard in Elmhurst. In pictures posted on Twitter and Instagram, riders were shown holding up signs noting that BRT would help reduce commute times and ease congestion.

In many instances, those who vented tagged or retweeted local elected officials seeking support for their cause, including City Council members Elizabeth Crowley and Donovan Richards and Assemblyman Mike Miller.

“The proposed layouts for Woodhaven have benefits for pedestrians also. It’ll be safer and prettier! #FixWoodhaven #VisionZero,” tweeted @SamSamuelitoo.

“I support better, faster buses! Visiting fams in the Rockaways takes too long. #fixwoodhaven @RidersNY @brtfornyc,” added Twitter user @Jslyyynnn, who attached to her tweet a photo of herself holding a sign reading, “I live in Jackson Heights and I’m tired of overcrowded buses.”

“Let’s make public transportation, more efficient and desirable to ride! @transalt #FixWoodhaven @brtfornyc,” tweeted Juan Restrepo, @juan_john_hans.

For years, drivers, pedestrians and non-drivers have experienced commuting pains while traveling along Woodhaven Boulevard, especially during rush-hour periods. Buses operating on the roadway — including two limited lines, the Q52 and Q53 — are often packed with riders and are slow because of traffic congestion. The street also has a history of vehicular accidents involving pedestrians, many of which resulted in fatalities.

The city Department of Transportation in recent years started a “Congested Corridor” study for Woodhaven Boulevard and recommended physical changes to the road’s configuration to make it safer and easier to travel. Working with the MTA, the DOT also recommends implementing Select Bus Service, a form of BRT, along both Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards, with stations created at major intersections such as Metropolitan Avenue and Jamaica Avenue.

As the Select Bus Service plans are still being finalized, the DOT is presently creating bus-only lanes along Woodhaven Boulevard between Eliot and Metropolitan avenues as a means of speeding up bus operation. Only buses would be permitted to travel in these lanes during the morning and afternoon rush hours on weekdays.

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Boy Scout organizes cleanup event for Glendale RGMVM fields


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photos courtesy of the Hansen family

The Ridgewood-Glendale-Middle Village-Maspeth (RGMVM) Little League fields located at 78-11 Woodhaven Blvd. in Glendale got a much-needed cleanup over the weekend thanks to one Boy Scout’s efforts.

In order to become an Eagle Scout, the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), Steve Hansen had to complete a service project for the community. Hansen decided to give back to the little league baseball organization that he played for as a child, the RGMVM Little League.

“It was his idea to do RGMVM because he has played baseball down there since he was young and he wanted to give something back to the group that was so good to him,” said Steven Hansen Sr., Hansen’s father.

Hansen hoped to breathe new life into the fields over a three-day span from July 23 to July 25. The plan involved cleaning and repainting the fields’ six dugouts, painting lines in the batting cages, cleaning up garbage from the surrounding fields, installing bat racks into the dugouts, hanging a sign of the Little League Pledge, and refurbishing the parking lot by pulling weeds in the lot, cutting ivy off of the lot’s fencing and repainting the parking lot lines.

Hansen had to present his project plan and get it approved by both the RGMVM board and the BSA board. Once the project was approved, Hansen was tasked with raising funds for the project, purchasing and getting donations for the supplies needed, recruiting volunteers, and gathering food and beverages for the three-day event.

For the project, Hansen raised over $1,800 in donations from family, friends, neighbors and local organizations such as the Glendale Kiwanis Club.

Volunteers and contributors were current scouts, former scouts, friends and family. Over the course of the cleanup effort, Hansen recruited a total of 24 volunteers, who in total put in 143 man-hours of work.

By the end of the three days the project was nearly complete, with only the installation of the bat racks and the sign to be completed once they arrive.

“This has been a great learning experience. Scouting has been a big part of our family’s life,” said Kerrie Hansen, Steve Hansen’s mother. “We are thrilled Steven has embraced this project with hard work, determination and persistence that he displayed. Eagle Scout projects like this have to have a huge influence on shaping a young man’s life. It is probably one of the most difficult things they ever tackled.”


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Buildings Department nixes Glendale homeless shelter floor plans


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Jeff Stone

Those fighting against the proposed homeless shelter at 78-16 Cooper Ave. in Glendale received a bit of good news last week, when the city’s Department of Buildings (DOB) revoked the floor plans for the shelter after a full audit of the plans.

The notice to revoke — which according to the DOB is pending until the plan review is completed — stalls the progress of the property owner, Michael Wilner, in renovating the former factory, which the nonprofit group Samaritan Village plans to use as a homeless shelter. The full audit found that the plans are not up to full code compliance, according to a DOB representative.

“The project at this site remains under department review, and at this time there has not been a determination of the plan’s compliance with all applicable codes or the zoning resolution,” said a DOB spokesperson in an email.

According to Robert Holden — a member of the Glendale/Middle Village Coalition, a group consisting of residents, businesspeople and community leaders dedicated to opposing the shelter — the DOB originally disapproved the building plans for the site, then later gave the plans the green light.

Once hearing of the plans’ approval, the Glendale/Middle Village Coalition raised enough money to legally challenge the Buildings Department. As a result, the DOB found “a laundry list of problems,” Holden said.

“I don’t know why the Department of Buildings approved their application when there were so many flaws,” Holden added. “It was mind-boggling that they approved it.”

The coalition previously filed legal action against the Department of Homeless Services (DHS), which previously approved a contract to open and operate the Glendale shelter, over what the coalition considered to be a flawed environmental assessment of the location. The building is located in an industrially zoned area, was used for manufacturing for decades and is adjacent to a chemical storage facility.

Holden hopes the coalition can build off the momentum of this latest snag in the shelter plans.

“It is certainly another win for the neighborhood,” Holden said. “I think this demonstrates the resolve of the community that we came together. Most other communities wouldn’t do this. We raised enough money to fight, but the fight isn’t over yet.”

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New Glendale coffee shop offers a taste of Wonderland


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photos by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Just steps away from the bustle of Myrtle Avenue in Glendale is an enchanted place lined with giant tea cups in which to sit and enjoy freshly brewed coffee, teas and delectable pastries.

While this may sound like a scene from the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, this unique ambiance can be found at My Coffee Cup, a newly opened café bringing a touch of Wonderland to the heart of Glendale.

My Coffee Cup, located at 65-53 Myrtle Ave., has only been open for a week and has already garnered a loyal local following. This two-month-long labor of love first began when owner Evelyn Valentin experienced an unfortunate personal event.

“I lost my job in March, and at my age, I didn’t want to start again. I think it was a blessing in disguise,” Valentin explained. “So I decided to invest my savings and open up a coffee shop. I wanted to have something different and unique from everybody else. I just happened to see a picture online of a teacup ride and I said ‘That’s it!’”

Many of the café’s patrons enjoy stopping by for an iced coffee while snapping selfies at one of My Coffee Cup’s unique, oversized teacup booths. The booths seat seven and are similar to the teacups in the Mad Tea Party ride at Disneyland — though the cups in Glendale do not spin.

“I wanted something bright and different, something that was never seen in New York before,” Valentin added.

The tea cups were designed by Valentin, made in Asia and transported halfway around the globe to Glendale, with an interesting pit stop in customs along the way. Each teacup is painted in bright shades of blue according to the theme of the café and adorned with a gold filigree stencil design reminiscent to delicate, fine china.

In addition to a whimsical ambiance, My Coffee Cup also boasts an expanding menu filled with both traditional café favorites and unique offerings. The coffee menu includes hot and iced coffee, teas, cappuccino, lattes, hot chocolate, Chai tea and mocha beverages. The café liegeois ($3.75) is a decadent mix of ice cream bathed in a shot of hot espresso or special cold brew.

“I went through over 60 blends of coffee to find that perfect one,” Valentin laughed. “I was awake for weeks after because of the caffeine, but I got it.”

IMG_5618

My Coffee Cup also serves real fruit smoothies in strawberry, blueberry and tropical fruit flavors, as well as sweet summertime frozen slushies. The expanding menu features breakfast frittatas, grilled cheese sandwiches and dessert items including apple turnovers and cheese almond Danishes.

My Coffee Cup offers a senior citizen discount daily, as well as a special rewards card. Valentin is also constructing a special sidewalk coffee cart for busy morning commuters.

Valentin hopes to expand the café, with an outdoor tea garden complete with large, LED-lit teacups on the horizon for next summer. She also hopes to someday franchise My Coffee Cup, with cafés throughout the boroughs and Manhattan.

“I’m hoping that maybe in the near future it becomes a chain, and I’ll have a bunch of teacups all over the city,” Valentin said.

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Stop & Shop to buy out Pathmark, Waldbaum’s supermarkets in Queens


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Updated, July 21, 2 p.m.

Stop & Shop is looking to grab six Queens supermarkets off the clearance rack.

The company announced Monday it is acquiring local Pathmark and Waldbaum’s supermarkets from the struggling Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (A&P), which filed for bankruptcy. In all, Stop & Shop is purchasing 25 Pathmark, Waldbaum’s and A&P locations in the tri-state area from the grocery giant for $146 million. The deal is subject to court approval, but is expected to be finalized before the end of this calendar year.

On Sunday, A&P announced it was filing for federal Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, its second such filing in five years, according to The Wall Street Journal. A&P reportedly racked up $2.3 billion in debts versus $1.6 billion in assets, according to its bankruptcy filing. Reportedly, the company lost $300 million between February 2014 and February 2015.

A Stop & Shop spokesperson said the acquired locations will remain open and become integrated into the national supermarket chain, and all of its employees would be retained.

“Stop & Shop is always looking for convenient locations to better serve our customers,” said Don Sussman, president of the company’s New York Metro Division. “We are very happy to have the opportunity to expand our presence in greater New York and serve new customers.”

Stop & Shop currently has five locations in Queens, including on Myrtle Avenue in Glendale; on Union Turnpike on the Glendale/Forest Hills border; on Northern Boulevard in Little Neck; and on 48th Street in Long Island City.

The chain will more than double its presence in the “World’s Borough” with the addition of three Waldbaum’s stores on 26th Avenue in Bayside, Beach Channel Drive in Belle Harbor and Cross Bay Boulevard in Howard Beach, as well as three Pathmark locations on Farrington Street in Flushing, Atlantic Avenue in Ozone Park and Springfield Boulevard in Springfield Gardens.

The 19 other Waldbaum’s and Pathmark locations that Stop & Shop purchased are in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties, Staten Island, Brooklyn, the Bronx and New Jersey.

The 25 stores Stop & Shop acquired represent about 10 percent of A&P’s 296 stores nationwide. As part of the bankruptcy filing, A&P put up 120 supermarkets for sale at a combined $600 million, which will be tested at an upcoming auction. The company is closing 25 other locations immediately; none of those stores are in Queens.

Stop & Shop has 395 stores from New Jersey to Massachusetts employing over 59,000 workers.

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PHOTOS: New Baz Luhrmann Netflix series films exterior scenes in Glendale


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photos by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Scenes for the upcoming Netflix series “The Get Down,” a musical hip-hop drama set in the late 1970s, were filmed on Wednesday afternoon at the former K-9 Caterers off Cooper Avenue in Glendale.

The empty storefront was transformed into “Adele’s Beauty Shop,” complete with retro signs advertising “summer braids.” Extras clad in bell bottoms and platform shoes filed onto the set amid vintage Cadillacs and lighting rigs.

The series is a period drama following the lives of a group of teenagers from the South Bronx during 1978. Events within the show will also coincide with political and cultural milestones, such as the birth of hip-hop in the Bronx.

“The Get Down” is set to star Jimmy Smits, Giancarlo Esposito and singer-songwriter Herzien Guardiola, who will play the female lead Mylene Cruz, daughter of Rev. Ramon Cruz (played by Esposito). Mamoudo Athie will star as rap pioneer Grandmaster Flash, and Jaden Smith will also appear in a cameo.

The series is spearheaded by director Baz Luhrmann of “Moulin Rouge” and “Great Gatsby” fame and is set to air on Netflix in 2016.


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Participatory budgeting coming to Councilwoman Crowley’s district


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley is the latest city lawmaker to hop on the participatory budgeting bandwagon.

Crowley announced on Tuesday that residents in the 30th City Council District — which includes all or parts of Ridgewood, Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Woodhaven and Woodside — will get to decide how to spend $1 million in city funds on community improvement projects.

She is the 11th member of the City Council’s Queens delegation to host participatory budgeting. During the 2015 fiscal year, City Council members Costa Constantinides, Daniel Dromm, Julissa Ferreras, Karen Koslowitz, I. Daneek Miller, Donovan Richards, Antonio Reynoso, Eric Ulrich, Paul Vallone and Jimmy Van Bramer — along with former City Councilman Mark Weprin — pledged to fund $12,871,000 in projects through the process.

“This year, I am able to bring participatory budgeting to my constituents and give them insight into the often lengthy and sometimes very expensive city budgeting process,” Crowley said in a statement. “This will provide a forum for active engagement between residents and myself to decide on capital projects, and calls for the participation of every community member.”

Through participatory budgeting, local residents brainstorm and then vote on a number of proposed capital budget projects for their community, such as street tree planting, park improvements, school technology upgrades, security cameras and street resurfacing.

The first round of community meetings focused on the process will be held in September, with voting taking place in February 2016. For additional information, call Crowley’s Glendale office at 718-366-3900.

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Get the scoop on exotic Queens treats during National Ice Cream Month


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

July is National Ice Cream Month, so forgo the basic soft serve and embark on a self-guided culinary tour of exotic, uniquely flavored frozen treats here in Queens.

The first stop on the journey is Max and Mina’s (71-26 Main St., Kew Gardens Hills), first opened nearly 18 years ago by brothers Bruce and Mark Becker. The Flushing confectionery features an extensive, ever-changing roster of bold, unexpected ice cream flavors such as “beer,” “merlot” and “grass,” inspired by Triple Crown winner American Pharaoh.

Unique flavors like “toasted marshmallow,” “coconut s’mores” and “corn on the cob” made with real kernels are like a campfire cookout in a cup.

THE COURIER/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

Pop culture-inspired flavors like the SweetTart candy-infused “Tart Bart Simpson” and the “SpongeBob,” a decadent mix of sponge cake, batter and sprinkles, reflect the fun and colorful cereal box collages covering the walls.

The “Cookie Monster,” a blue mix of Chips Ahoy and Oreos, is popular among children. Adults may want to try the “Roker-licious,” a spicy blend of red chili flakes and caramel cream created by Al Roker himself on a visit to the shop.

Upcoming flavors include date, fig, Fruity Pebbles cereal and Minions-inspired banana.

Single scoops are $3.25, doubles are $5.70 and pints run $7.50.

Skip on over to Elmhurst and stop by the aptly named Sugar Club (81-18 Broadway) for a truly sweet experience. The Thai confectionary features the “emerald mango” ($9), a tropical mix of homemade mango ice cream topped with whipped cream and warm green sticky rice.

Not to be outdone, nearby Plant Love House (86-06 Whitney Ave.) is busy keeping Elmhurst cool with scoops of Thai coconut ice cream served in up in terracotta flower pots topped with red bean, fresh coconut and frozen egg yolk.

For a taste of the Philippines, visit House of Inasal (65-14 Roosevelt Ave., Woodside) for a unique ice cream sandwich featuring purple yam or “ube” ice cream, coconut and crisp rice served on a warm “pan de sal” egg roll.

For more experimental flavor combinations, head over to Astoria Coffee (30-04 30th Ave.) for offerings from Manhattan-based confectioner Ice and Vice. Rotating selections may include “9 a.m.”, a mix of coffee, chicory, Saigon cinnamon and doughnut truffle, “3 Little Pigs,” with salted caramel, bacon butter and bacon praline, or the popcorn, raisin and chocolate-infused “movie night.”

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Wrap up your tour in Glendale at Dan’s Sweet Shop (70-03 Myrtle Ave.), where daredevils can attempt to devour “#ascoopofeverything,” a monstrous bowl of 32 scoops loaded with brownies, candy, three sauces, cones, whipped cream and cherries ($73).

Average folks can indulge in scoops of “Superman,” a brightly colored blend of strawberry, banana and blue moon, or “cotton candy,” a pink and blue candy blend.

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Train that hit truck in Maspeth was speeding: investigators


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Anthony Giudice

The locomotive that crashed into a tractor-trailer at a Maspeth intersection on July 8 was traveling above the speed limit, and the man behind the switch could face disciplinary action, authorities reported.

The early-morning accident at the six-track railroad crossing on Maspeth Avenue near Rust Street caused the truck to burst into flames. The driver managed to escape with injuries not considered life-threatening.

Sources familiar with the investigation told The Courier on Tuesday that the train was moving at a minimum of 20 mph; the railroad speed limit for the area is 15 mph. Reportedly, the engineer operating the train is now facing disciplinary action.

Video of the accident obtained by The Courier shows the railroad crossing gates on Maspeth Avenue activated only at the moment of impact. A source familiar with the situation said the train’s faster speed may have delayed the gate’s activation.

But a union official, in a WABC-TV report on Tuesday, claimed one part of the gate “never comes down normally.”

New York and Atlantic Railway (NYA) President Paul Victor disagreed with notions that the gate malfunctioned, but conceded the Maspeth Avenue crossing’s design is flawed and requires improvement. The NYA reportedly asked the state Transportation Department to evaluate the signal system and the crossing’s logistics.

“Given the accident and the understanding that there have been other incidents there, it certainly makes logical sense to do an engineering evaluation of that crossing,” he said in a phone interview. “It’s a heavily trafficked route with lots of trucks and commercial traffic that goes back and forth. It’s a very unusual crossing.”

The crossing is part of the Long Island Rail Road’s Montauk branch extension, which is leased exclusively to NYA west of Jamaica for its freight rail operations. Wednesday’s accident raised concerns among local residents regarding the safety at other at-grade railroad crossings along the line, such as the one on 88th Street in Glendale.

According to Community Board 5 Chairperson Vincent Arcuri, the rail switches activating the crossing gates at 88th Street are dependent upon train speed. When passenger trains operated on the Montauk branch west of Jamaica, the switches were located 300 feet away from the crossing because the trains moved at 40 mph.

With the line exclusively used for freight rail and all trains limited to 15 mph, the switches were relocated to within 10 to 20 feet of the crossing, he noted. Freight train operators were also instructed to slow down when coming to a crossing, then send a crew member out to check that the crossing gates were activated before proceeding.

This change, Arcuri said, makes drivers and pedestrians at the 88th Street crossing especially “nervous,” as they can see the train very close to the crossing well before the gates are activated.

“The LIRR decided when they stopped the two passenger train runs to abandon the passenger line and turn it over [to NYA] as a freight line so they didn’t have to upgrade the signal system,” he added. The board has requested that the LIRR move the signal switch further back at 88th Street and other local at-grade crossings for safety’s sake.

Arcuri, however, claimed the freight signal system in place on the Montauk line is similar to that used on the Bushwick branch of the LIRR — which links up to the Montauk line — and other freight rail systems across the U.S. for generations.

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104COP thanks Frank Kotnik for 25 years of service


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photos by Anthony Giudice

For 25 years Frank Kotnik has served the communities of Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth and Ridgewood as a member of the 104 Civilian Observation Patrol (104COP), formerly known as G-COP (Glendale Civilian Observation Patrol).

During those two and a half decades, Kotnik devoted his time and energy to making those communities as safe as he could by organizing patrols, coordinating parades and lending help during times of need, such as after 9/11 and Superstorm Sandy.

At Thursday night’s 104COP meeting at Christ the King High School in Middle Village, family, friends, colleagues and local politicians surprised Kotnik to celebrate his 25 years of service as he stepped down as president of 104COP.

As his final act as president, Kotnik handed over the gavel to Mark Pearson, the new president of 104COP. Although Kotnik stepped down as president, he will remain an active member of the board.

After the installation of all the newly elected officers of 104COP, the guests began showering Kotnik with thanks and gifts.

State Senator Joseph Addabbo presented Kotnik with a proclamation from the New York Senate, thanking him for his years of dedication to the communities that 104COP serves and for lending help to other communities in need.

“I will forever be grateful to 104COP, and to Frank, because a third of my district was severely impacted by Sandy,” Addabbo said. “And Frank led the charge down there for many of you members to help my people after Sandy. And I don’t mean a month after Sandy, but days, hours after Sandy, Frank was helping my constituents, who are still hurting. So for that I will forever grateful to Frank, so thank you.”

Kotnik was honored by Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley and Councilman Antonio Reynoso with a proclamation, thanking him for his service.

“When I think of G-COP, I think of Frank,” Crowley said. “He’s always been president and the leader, and there is no other organization in the city of New York like G-COP.”

“As the newest member of this elite team here, let me tell you, I just wanted to say, Frank, I think I graduated preschool when you started at G-COP,” Reynoso said, to which the crowd erupted with laughter. “That speaks less of my age and more of his commitment to the mission of G-COP. A lot of people do things in short [stints], but he made a commitment to this community for much longer than that…and I truly want to thank you.”

Commanding Officer of the 104th Precinct, Captain Mark Wachter, personally thanked Kotnik for helping to keep the communities he has lived in since he was a child safe for so many years.

“Frank watched out for this community when I was very young,” Wachter said. “Because of Frank and the members of G-COP, this community is still safe. So on that personal level Frank, I thank you.”

Wacther then presented Kotnik with a plaque from the NYPD, thanking him for his years of service.

Among the others that honored Kotnik throughout the evening were representatives from Borough President Melinda Katz’s office, Captain John Travaglia, commanding officer of the 108th Precinct, representatives from the 104th Precinct Community Council, and the members of 104COP.

Kotnik thanked everyone for their love and support, now and over the years.

“Thank you, thank you for the support,” Kotnik said. “One thing that was forgotten, I know everyone is saying it was me, but it was ‘we.’ This patrol is always, as far as I’m concerned, is ‘we.’ We were going to do this together…All I can say to everybody, thank you for coming, God bless you all.”

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CB 5 sounds off on waste-by-rail company’s permits


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Anthony Giudice

After learning of the extended time frame for public comments regarding two waste-by-rail permits, members of Community Board 5 (CB 5) collectively voted against them during its meeting Wednesday night at Christ the King High School in Middle Village.

The board unanimously recommended denying the renewal of permits for One World Recycling Inc. and Coastal Distribution, which operate through the Fresh Pond Rail Yard that runs through parts of Middle Village, Glendale and Ridgewood, until certain stipulations are met.

One World Recycling submitted a permit renewal and modification application to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), requesting to increase their daily throughput from 370 tons to a total of 1,100 tons.

The permit submitted by Coastal Distribution requests to expand the type of waste it transports to include commercial and residential waste.

“The big problem we have is that somehow the idea of mixing commercial solid waste and construction and demolition debris…we disagree with that,” said Vincent Arcuri, chair of CB 5. “We also had a concern over the years, and continue to be concerned about the lack of solid covers on the construction and demolition rail cars.”

The current method for sealing construction and demolition debris in rail cars is by using a mesh lining to cover the rail car. The mesh leaves the waste vulnerable to rain and pests, as well as subjecting residents of the communities the rail cars pass through to dust, odors and vectors.

“We had success with the Department of Sanitation and them getting Waste Management to put the, what I would call, the putrescible or municipal solid waste in sealed containers,” said Gary Giordano, district manager of CB 5. “But the construction and demolition debris continues to move back and forth in our neighborhoods.”

Another issue raised by Arcuri about waste-by-rail operations is the lack of control of pollution from the rail cars traveling through the communities in CB 5.

“We’ve been working with the FRA (Federal Railroad Administration), the state and the CURES (Civics United for Railroad Environmental Solutions) group to basically upgrade all of the engines in the Long Island Rail Road’s transportation department,” Arcuri said.

The official stance of CB 5 is that “putrescible solid waste garbage should be transported separately in sealed containers as Waste Management currently does in its agreement to transport city garbage in sealed, odorless containers,” Arcuri said.

“Construction and demolition debris should also be loaded and transported in sealed, odorless containers that will totally prevent dust and odors from escaping,” he continued. “There should not be a renewal of, or granting of any permits to these two companies unless the above mentioned items are accomplished. And these companies should certainly not be permitted to expand their operations until these stipulations are included in their permits by New York State DEC.”

The board’s next step is to send their recommendation to NYSDEC before Aug. 9, the deadline for the public comment period.

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EXCLUSIVE: Councilwoman envisions light rail line between Glendale and LIC


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

BY ANTHONY GIUDICE AND ROBERT POZARYCKI

Commuters in Glendale and Middle Village deal with limited public transportation options. Most residents in both communities live a mile or farther away from the nearest subway station, and local bus lines through the area have a reputation for being slow and overcrowded.

City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley hopes to change this situation with a plan to introduce light rail service between Glendale and Long Island City on the Long Island Rail Road’s Montauk branch, which currently offers only freight service west of Jamaica. She hopes to pitch the idea to the Department of City Planning in the coming weeks.

In an exclusive interview with the Ridgewood Times on Monday at her district office, Crowley said a new diesel-powered light rail line would address the transportation needs in Glendale and surrounding communities. The light rail line could also encourage redevelopment of underutilized industrially zoned areas adjacent to the line for business or residential purposes.

“A light rail is inexpensive, it’s clean and it’s quiet,” Crowley said. “I think an ideal plan would be to start [at The Shops at Atlas Park] where you’re not necessarily in the backs of the people’s yard or you don’t have at-grade street level crossing.”

Up until March 1998, the Montauk branch offered passenger service between Long Island City and Jamaica and stations in Glendale, Ridgewood and Maspeth. Passenger service was discontinued at that time due to lack of ridership; a New York Times report noted that just two passengers arrived and departed daily at the Glendale station, located along Edsall Avenue and 73rd Street, near an entrance to All Faiths Cemetery.

Crowley doesn’t suggest rebuilding the former Glendale station, but rather creating a new stop at The Shops at Atlas Park, noting that the shopping centerwhere her district office is also located—could serve as an active park-and-ride option for local residents.

“If we were able to get a rail here, people could potentially use this spot as park-and-ride, or the community around us could take a bus to the train or walk to the train,” Crowley said. “It provides options for public transportation that would effectively get more cars off our streets.”

Local civic activists have long advocated for returning public transit to the Montauk branch; members of the Community Board 5 Transportation and Public Transit Committees recently called for rebuilding the former Fresh Pond station located at the corner of Fresh Pond Road and Metropolitan Avenue on the Ridgewood/Glendale border.

Crowley, however, suggested building a new station a short distance to the east of the Fresh Pond stop near the Metro Mall, which could connect riders to the M train at its Metropolitan Avenue terminus.

“There could potentially be inter-borough connections here,” Crowley explained. “If we were to have the first stop over by the Metro Mall, then you could transfer to the M train and get quickly into Brooklyn.”

She also pointed to an area near Flushing Avenue in Maspeth as another potential station site, noting that it’s close to the connecting LIRR Bushwick branch, another freight rail line that Crowley suggested could potentially also accommodate light rail service.

From Long Island City, riders could connect to the 7, E and M lines at stations located within walking distance of the Hunterspoint Avenue station where the Montauk line terminates.

Crowley noted, however, that these plans are in the infancy stages and there is currently no estimated cost or timetable for this project. In addition to meeting with the Department of City Planning, she would further research the idea in meeting with operators of light rail systems in New Jersey cities.

Regarding costs, Crowley suggested the expense would be minimal compared to large-scale MTA capital projects such as the 7 line extension in Manhattan. The MTA—which is requesting billions in funding for capital improvements—would need funds to build the light rail stations and purchase cars and equipment.

The LIRR currently leases the Montauk line west of Jamaica to New York and Atlantic Railway exclusively for its freight rail operations based out of Glendale’s Fresh Pond Railyard. When asked if this would pose a complication to her light rail plan, Crowley remarked that other cities allow light rail to operate on freight tracks, and that both functions could coexist here.

Community Board 5 District Manager Gary Giordano told the Ridgewood Times in a phone interview Wednesday that the idea has “merit,” but there could be opposition from residents living near the Montauk line.

“Those who might not be that pleased with it are the people who own homes in east Glendale,” he said. “That’s the difficult part, but we need to get ourselves out of our cars as often as possible and use public transportation. In that sense, it can be very good.”

The CB 5 Transportation and Public Transit Committees would likely review Crowley’s plan and may also hold a public hearing on the matter, Giordano said.

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