Tag Archives: Glendale

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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Glendale, Middle Village residents get more time to vent on waste-by-rail permits


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Anthony Giudice

Residents of Glendale, Ridgewood and Middle Village scored a victory in their fight for the containerization of all solid waste transported by rail Tuesday, when elected officials secured an extension of the public comment period regarding permits regarding two waste haulers’ plans to increase their rail operations.

In the permits, One World Recycling Inc., which operates out of Lindenhurst, is looking to expand the total quantity of waste they transport via the Fresh Pond Railyard, which runs through parts of Glendale, Ridgewood and Middle Village.

Coastal Distribution in Farmingdale, which also uses the Fresh Pond Railyard, also seeks to expand the type of waste it hauls to include commercial and residential waste, and is planning to test out three types of containerization methods.

In a letter to Joseph Martens, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), dated June 26, U.S. Representatives Grace Meng and Nydia Velázquez, state Senator Joseph Addabbo, Assemblymen Andrew Hevesi and Michael Miller, City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley and Borough President Melinda Katz got the NYSDEC to extend the public comment period for permits.

“We are concerned about the impact that increased operations will have on the quality of life for our constituents in these communities, specifically in regards to odor from open containers that sit idle, the attraction of pests, and pollution stemming from the construction and demolition debris and other waste that are not adequately sealed,” the lawmakers wrote. “A public forum should be held in order to provide an opportunity for the residents to voice their concerns and reach an understanding with the companies planning these operations.”

Prior to this extension, the comment period was only 19 days long, not the typical time frame of 30 days. The public can now submit comments through Aug. 9.

The NYSDEC will factor in comments from the public when deciding whether or not to grant the permits.

For the One World Recycling permit, the public can submit written comments by email to OneWorldRecycling@dec.ny.gov or by regular mail to Mark Carrara, NYSDEC, SUNY at Stony Brook, 50 Circle Road, Stony Brook, NY 11790-3409.

For the Coastal Distribution permit, the public can submit written comments by email to NYAR.Coastal@dec.ny.gov or by regular mail to NYSDEC, Susan Ackerman, SUNY at Stony Brook, 50 Circle Road, Stony Brook, NY 11790-3409.

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Seven Queens students accepted to the US service academies


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy of Congresswoman Grace Meng's office

Seven recent high school graduates from Queens will be all they can be in their college years after being accepted into various U.S. military service academies with the assistance of Congresswoman Grace Meng.

The academies consist of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point; U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland; U.S. Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs, Colorado; U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point; and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy at New London, Connecticut.

Kate Gerodias from Middle Village graduated from Forest Hills High School and will be attending the Naval Academy; Zachary Kurre from Glendale graduated from Archbishop Molloy High School and will attend West Point this summer; Selah Cho of Fresh Meadows finished school at Marion Military Institute in Alabama and will attend West Point; Kevin Guo from Rego Park graduated from Hunter College High School and will be continuing his education at the Naval Academy; Julia Hsu from Flushing graduated from West Point Prep School and will go on to West Point this summer; John Makiling of Flushing graduated from Naval Academy Prep School and will continue on to the Naval Academy; and Daniel Zakrevski from Richmond Hill graduated from Bronx High School of Science and will be attending the Merchant Marine Academy.

“I am honored to congratulate these seven exceptional students,” Meng said. “All are outstanding individuals who will be future military leaders of our country. I have no doubt that they’ll make Queens and the nation proud.”

Students looking to attend the service academies are required to be nominated by their Congress member. The institutions then evaluate the nominations from across the nation and decide which nominees to accept.

The students nominated by Meng compete against students from across the country and must meet the highly competitive educational, physical and extracurricular standards set by the institutions. Meng’s Academy Review Board, which is a panel of local community leaders, assists Meng in the nomination process for students looking to attend the academies.

This year, a total of 33 students applied to be nominated by Meng. Of those 33 students, 20 were nominated by the Congresswoman.

To congratulate the students for being accepted to the service academies, Meng hosted a reception for them and their families at her office in Flushing. She also presented each student with a certificate of Congressional recognition.

Meng plans to continue her “U.S. Service Academy Information Night” for Queens students who are interested in applying to the U.S. Service Academies. The day and location will be announced in the near future.

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Glendale author to be featured at Barnes & Noble book fair


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy Rosaria Lucia Photography

In celebration of Get Pop-Cultured: Outlander Day, the Barnes & Noble bookstore in Forest Hills will host a book fair featuring Glendale author and founder of the Excalibur Reading Program, Angelica Harris.

The book fair will run from open to close (9 a.m. to 10 p.m.) on Sunday and proceeds will help benefit the Excalibur Reading Program, located at 80-17 78th Ave. in Glendale. Harris will be available to sign her latest book in the Excalibur series from 3 to 4:30 p.m.

“It is a fundraiser for the kids and the families that we service,” Harris said. “I’ll be signing my book, I’ll be talking about my reading program and the impact the program has made on my life and why I opened the Excalibur Reading Program.”

Harris is a successful author, poet laureate, entrepreneur, advocate and speaker. She will also be moderating the poetry and art contest to be held during the Fresh Pond Road street festival this September.

Since 2005, the Excalibur Reading Program has been conducting educational workshops and tutoring students in reading, writing and math. The program is geared to help all children, especially those of impoverished means or those who have special needs, to reach their academic and personal goals.

Barnes and Noble Bookfair Flyer

The Excalibur Reading Program partners with community organizations to mentor children who have been through domestic violence and sexual assault, as well as those who have been incarcerated. They also provide private tutoring lessons for students in kindergarten through college, creative writing workshops and blog and essay workshops, among other programs.

“I want to leave a legacy behind of good children that become good adults. This is the legacy I want to leave behind here,” Harris said of the Excalibur Reading Program. “This is what it’s all about: paying it forward.”

“The Barnes & Noble book fair, in conjunct with the Excalibur book series and reading program, invite children to come find their holy grail through fantasy and time travel and the journey of their legacy within,” Harris added.

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More road work closures on Jackie Robinson Parkway this week


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Anthony Giudice

Ongoing renovations on the Jackie Robinson Parkway will cause even more headaches for drivers this week.

Portions of the eastbound lanes of the 5-mile parkway between Pennsylvania/Jamaica Avenues in Brooklyn and the Van Wyck Expressway will be closed overnight from 11 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. through Friday, July 3, as crews replace existing guardrails.

Additionally, the right lane of the eastbound parkway between the Woodhaven Boulevard overpass and Metropolitan Avenue will be shut down on weekdays from 10 a.m. through 2 p.m. through Thursday. The closure is needed as workers replace a retaining wall.

The closures are part of the state Department of Transportation’s efforts to upgrade the entire Jackie Robinson Parkway, which connects Kew Gardens to eastern Brooklyn and winds its way through Ridgewood, Glendale, Cypress Hills, Forest Hills and Kew Gardens.

Both sides of the parkway will be resurfaced in the $17 million project, which also includes the installation of new safety devices, lane markings and reflectors. The state DOT indicated in May that entire segments of the parkway would be closed to traffic on six separate weekends through the late summer.

Drivers are advised to use designated detour routes while closures are in effect. The DOT also reminds them to travel safely and slowly through work zones; by law, speeding fines are doubled in work zones, and convictions of two or more speeding violations in a work zone may result in a driver’s license suspension.

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Pilot program promoting public transportation launched in CB 5 area


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy NYC DOT flickr

The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) pilot Go Smart NYC program has launched in the areas of Community Board 5 (CB 5).

Go Smart NYC is designed to increase residents’ use of public transportation, biking, carpooling, or walking in order to reduce the traffic congestion and emissions caused by single-occupancy motor vehicle trips.

The DOT chose CB 5 as the pilot area due to its population, proximity to public transportation options and bike lanes, walkability, as well as its high level of car ownership.

“The congestion and traffic in our communities can sometimes be unbearable. Go Smart NYC plans to alleviate that with the click of a button,” Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley said. “Walking, biking, public transportation and carpooling are all viable urban modes of travel and I look forward to this program’s roll out and working with the DOT to make it as effective as possible for everyone.”

Residents can sign up for the program through the Go Smart NYC website. After registering, participants can order a free, personalized travel toolkit, with information about walking, biking, public transit, carpooling and Vision Zero safety and education materials.

“I am excited that Community Board 5 has been selected for the kickoff to the city’s launch of Go Smart NYC,” said Gary Giordano, district manager of CB 5. “Middle Village, Ridgewood, Maspeth and Glendale are home to a wealth of local businesses, and this program encourages residents to shop and explore these neighborhoods by foot, transit and bike. The more we can walk or use public transit, the better off we will be as a society.”

Registered participants will be able to log their trips online in order to earn discount rewards at over 20 local businesses that are partnering with the DOT to help encourage sustainable travel choices and local shopping. To further enhance residents’ experiences with walking, biking or public transit, the DOT will assist the local community board in installing city benches, city racks, and a real-time bus information sign at an area bus stop.

“The Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID) and Ridgewood Local Development Corporation are delighted to be partners for DOT’s new innovative program Go Smart NYC,” said Ted Renz, executive director of the Myrtle Avenue BID. “This is a win-win: increase of residents’ use of public transit, biking, carpooling or just plain walking will reduce traffic congestion. At the same time, it will encourage people to shop locally and support our merchants.”

Go Smart NYC will run in the areas of Ridgewood, Glendale, Middle Village and Maspeth until November. DOT is also looking at the possibility of expanding the program to other areas of the city in 2016, if the pilot is successful.

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‘The Great Gatsby’ director filming at new sound stages in Glendale’s Atlas Terminals


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Within just months of buying the Atlas Terminals industrial park, Brooklyn-based television and film production company Broadway Stages has set up working sound stages, some of which are currently being used for acclaimed movie director Baz Luhrmann’s first TV show.

Luhrmann, who is known for “Moulin Rouge” and “The Great Gatsby,” among many other movies, is working out of the new Glendale sound stages on “The Get Down,” a drama series that will run on online streaming service Netflix next year with 13 episodes.

“The Get Down” is based in the South Bronx in the 1970s and focuses on the birth of hip-hop. Depending on filming days, anywhere from 200 to 500 workers could be on site, according to sound stage manager Hernando Santana. This range includes film crews, actors and the staff that builds the sets.

It’s a turnaround in usage for the site, which was historically used as manufacturing space for multiple companies before Broadway Stages purchased it for nearly $20 million last year.

Damon Hemmerdinger of ATCO Properties, which developed the adjacent Atlas Park Mall that fell into foreclosure in 2009, began shopping the 11-acre Atlas Terminals site in 2011.

Broadway Stages promised not to destroy the old buildings on the site, but to transform them into new use for film production, further helping the booming industry in New York City.

“Broadway Stages is responsible for a lot of the filming in New York right now,” said Jamie Crowell, co-producer of “The Get Down.” “Because without the sound stages the jobs wouldn’t be able to come here.”

Today there are four new sound stages on the site, and there is space for more. Although the co-producer couldn’t reveal much about the plot of “The Get Down,” she said while some scenes will actually be filmed in the Bronx, in Glendale there will be sets for apartments and a club for reoccurring scenes from the show. “The Get Down” is using three of the sounds stages, while another upcoming show called “Billions” is being shot at the remaining one.

Besides the sounds stages, much of the Atlas Terminals property is used for “support space,” or lingo in the business for the offices, dressing rooms, practice space and areas used for constructing the sets.

When the property was bought, a Broadway Stages spokeswoman told The Courier that some of the space would be used for retail, but representatives couldn’t say more about that part of transforming Atlas Terminals yet.

Through its new sound stages use, film workers at the site are discovering the community as Broadway Stages encourages crews to use local retailers. Apparently, The Shops at Atlas Park is a hit.

“I’m a born and raised New Yorker and I’ve never been to Glendale, Queens,” Crowell said. “It’s fantastic. I love it. The mall is fantastic. You have all that stuff right there in one spot.”

ATLAS-PARK-SALE-624x3391

Map via Google

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Make Music New York festival comes to Ridgewood on June 21


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/File photo

The sounds of pop rock, blues and hip-hop will fill the air in Ridgewood this Sunday as part of Make Music New York, a citywide festival of free concerts in public spaces.

Entering its ninth year, Make Music New York brings together over 1,000 artists for free shows across the five boroughs on the summer solstice. The acts range from high school bands to career musicians and everything else in between.

Ridgewood will host 10 acts at four different venues this Sunday. The two busiest locations will be Ridgewood Veterans Triangle, at the corner of Myrtle and Cypress avenues, and Venditti Square, at the intersection of Myrtle and St. Nicholas avenues, each of which will host eight performers.

The musical festivities get underway at Ridgewood Veterans Triangle at noon, with High North performing its experimental rock sounds. Following them at 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., respectively, will be rock artists Desmond McManus and Amber Stowell. Hip-hop artist Kyle Young will wrap things up with a concert at 7:15 p.m.

Blues band Hive will get things rolling at Venditti Square with their performance at 1:30 p.m. They will be followed at 2:45 p.m. by electronic indie rock performer Eric Contractor and, at 4 p.m., experimental rock artist Jim Duffy. Rock band Everpulse will round out the festivities with their 5:15 p.m. show.

Meanwhile, musicians from the Joe Fuoco Music Center in Glendale and friends will perform rock, country, pop and other music from 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday at the 71st Avenue Triangle, located at the corner of Myrtle and 71st avenues.

Street Studio: Ridgewood will hold an electronic and experimental rock show from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Trans-Pecos Cafe, located at 915 Wyckoff Ave.

Click here for more information about Make Music New York events in Ridgewood and other parts of the city.

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New York and Atlantic Railway responds to community concerns


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

It’s been there for more than a century and is being used more frequently than in recent years, yet the Fresh Pond Railyard continues to be a source of friction between its operators and nearby residents.

The New York and Atlantic Railway, which leases the Glendale rail yard from the Long Island Rail Road for freight operations, insists only so much can be done to mitigate concerns from local residents while meeting regional transportation needs.

“What has happened over the intervening 100 years, as one would expect, the community has undergone expansion and construction where the footprint of the community ends at the footprint of the railroad,” said Paul Victor, New York and Atlantic Railway president.

Even with the uptick in railroad activity, Victor said, rail transportation is historically “a fraction of what it was.”

“We always try to accommodate as much as we can to local residents, but we can’t really fulfill their wish and not be here because if we’re not here, you have to weigh the historic difference between a railroad moving something and a truck,” Victor said.

As it pertains to local concerns over New York and Atlantic Railway’s open top rail cars, Victor said that the waste in those containers is non-organic, non-putrescible waste. It is only construction and demolition waste (C and D), which does not give off offending odors or attract unwanted wildlife.

“That has zero impact on the community because it’s no different than a C and D container in the street,” Victor said. “Then, to be fair, you have to cover everything in every street and see what happens to the economy. If that’s what they want, don’t do it to the railroad car only; take every construction site and force it to be covered on every corner.”

Residents of Glendale near the Fresh Pond Terminal also raised concerns about hearing trains operating during all hours of the night.

“There is no physical way to accommodate the existing traffic in an eight-hour window, or a ten-hour window, or even a 12-hour window,” said James Bonner, director of sales and marketing for New York and Atlantic Railway. “The nature of the timing of our interchange for some other agreements we have with other community members is that you’re going to have be operating around the clock, and that’s what we do.”

To help alleviate some of the noises made by the trains, New York and Atlantic Railway has recently installed a greaser in the Fresh Pond Terminal, which reduces the squeal of the trains.

“We did this specifically because we told CURES [Civics United for Railroad Environmental Solutions] we were going to do it and we did it,” Victor said. “We talked with them, we said here’s what we can do, we made the investment and put that in.”

Mary Parisen, chair of CURES, believes that the C and D waste can cause problems for the neighborhood.

“People with respiratory ailments are subject to the dust from the cars when they are being transported and bang together,” Parisen said. “When rain gets in there it can become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.”

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City budget tops Glendale Property Owners meeting


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

At the Glendale Property Owners Association’s (GPOA) final meeting before the summer break, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley gave members an update on the city budget on Thursday night at The Shops at Atlas Park.

“We are in the middle of negotiations, as we are every June because we must pass a budget before July first,” Crowley said. “This year the budget has grown to $78 billion. The mayor has proposed $500 million in new programs, but he has a plan to roll over approximately $2 billion into the next fiscal year.”

The City Council’s plans for the budget differ from those of the mayor. For example, the City Council is proposing to hire more police officers.

“[Mayor Bill De Blasio] would like to hire 500 police officers. The Council is calling for 1,000,” Crowley said. “The [Police] Department spends approximately $700 million a year on overtime, which is too much money on overtime. If you had more of a force you would spend straight-time and less overtime if you had the resources to deploy.”

Although the crime in Crowley’s district is low, other areas of the city are seeing a rise in crime, and the legislator believes hiring more police officers would help alleviate such problems around the city.

“In addition to hiring more police officers, I have been working with the mayor to get more resources to improve our emergency medical services,” Crowley said. “The Fire Department runs most of our ambulances in the city, and the response times, especially in Queens, are too high. For life threatening emergencies, it takes over 10 minutes if you look at the past three months, on average, and that’s far too long.”

The councilwoman also touched on some of the city parks that are getting renovations thanks to City Council funds. Frank Principe Park and Juniper Valley Park are both slated to receive renovations to improve their infrastructure.

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State Senate bill gives communities input on homeless shelters


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Communities will now have the chance to hear plans for proposed social service facility sites before they appear in their neighborhoods.

The Senate recently approved legislation co-sponsored by Senator Joseph Addabbo requiring a more transparent process when it comes to locating homeless shelters or other social service facilities in communities throughout the city.

“This legislation, while not avoiding or ignoring the crisis of homelessness, substance abuse or other serious social ills in our society, does provide a necessary means for community members to be fully involved from the get-go when homeless shelters or other social service facilities are planned for their neighborhoods,” Addabbo said.

“All too often, communities are finding that facilities are being virtually rammed down their throats, with no real thought given to whether the buildings are appropriate for the programs, whether the neighborhoods have adequate transit or other services, or whether the proposed operators have questionable track records that should be challenged,” he added.

Under the new legislation, social service providers would be required to notify community boards and the City Planning Commission (CPC) within 45 to 90 days of selecting a location for their facility. The CPC would then have to hold public hearings to gather local input on the proposed facilities.

Within 60 to 90 days of the public hearings, the CPC would have the final authority to approve, deny or modify the community-based programs.

Community boards may also request hearings be held within the same time frame if a provider is planning on renewing its lease. This allows for local input in cases where questions have been raised about the operation of the facility.

“The fact of the matter is that we need transparency, honesty and in-depth community conversations about these programs—before they happen, not after the fact,” Addaboo said.

The Senator pointed out the proposed homeless shelter planned for Cooper Avenue in Glendale as a prime example.

“This project appeared virtually out of thin air, with no opportunity for the community to raise legitimate concerns about the facility, the track record of the operators, or other very pertinent issues—which then fell on deaf ears when brought to the attention of city officials,” he added. “We can’t let this continue to happen. It’s not about trying to keep people in need out of our neighborhoods—it’s about bringing neighborhoods together, with all the information they require, to help determine the best outcomes for these same people in need.”

The bill is currently under consideration by the Assembly Committee on Cities.

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CURES wants to put a lid on open-top rail cars


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

Updated June 3, 5:05 p.m.

An odoriferous open-top rail car, filled to capacity with construction and demolition debris, has been parked for several weeks in the Fresh Pond Railyard, directly across the street from Glendale homes, raising the ire of nearby residents.

Just an orange mesh lies atop the debris of the car at the corner of 68th Place and Otto Road, leaving it exposed to the elements of nature, according to one activist.

“When you have open containers like this, you leave the communities open to odors and debris,” said Mary Parisen, chair of Civics United for Railroad Environmental Solutions (CURES) civic group. “The orange top is not sufficient when the railcars are traveling near schools, parks and homes. These open rail cars are hosts for vectors, odors and storm runoff. Our communities cannot be held hostage by the state of New York to these conditions.”

“The railroad won’t move it. The rail car has a defect, which is why it is parked here,” she added. “The community shouldn’t be subjugated to vermin, raccoons or even rats. These long, heavy rail cars have been creating structural damage to homes, with seismic vibrations, and keeping residents awake all hours of the night.”

The rail yard is operated by New York and Atlantic Railway, which leases the site from the Long Island Rail Road for its freight operations.

A resident of the area believes that something has to be done about this rail car near his property.

“I’m not crazy about that, it’s been here over a week,” said Peter Germano, resident of 68th Place and Otto Road. “They shouldn’t leave it like that. You get a strong wind or some rain and it can get worse.”

CURES has urged Joseph Martens, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), and elected officials for the complete containerization of all waste moved by rail, not just demolition and construction residuals.

“If you put a solid lid on top of the rail cars, you will be protecting the community since they are traveling though densely populated neighborhoods,” Parisen said. “The state needs to be responsible for this.”

In May, seven local elected officials, including state Senator Joseph Addabbo and Borough President Melinda Katz, penned a letter to Martens asking him to consider implementing the use of solid lids on rail cars carrying waste near communities.

“Additionally, we would like to follow up on the use of hard lids on all freight rail carts carrying putrescible waste,” the letter stated. “The use of solid covers to restrict pollution is a strong measure that would benefit our constituents and all New Yorkers.”

Paul Victor, New York and Atlantic Railway president, confirmed that the rail car is off the tracks and near the fencing by Otto Road. He said the car is there because it is awaiting parts for a repair before it can be put back on the tracks and moved.

He also said that the orange mesh atop the garbage in the rail car is used to signify that it is filled with construction and demolition debris, and not any other type of garbage.

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Queens students know the meaning of sportsmanship


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy Aaron Finkel

Three students from Queens were among the winners of New York Sports Connection’s first annual New York City student sportsmanship essay contest, “What Sportsmanship Means to Me.”

The students were tasked with writing original 400- to 500-word essays on the topic of what sportsmanship means to them. The submissions were anonymously judged on originality, emotional appeal, use of the theme, grammar, spelling and writing skills. Entries were received from all five boroughs, and the finalists were selected from 10 different NYC public and private schools.

“We were overwhelmed by the response and impressed by the wonderful quality of the many essays we received,” said Aaron Finkel, New York Sports Connection founder.

Sifan Lu, 17, a Forest Hills resident and student at Stuyvesant High School, won the 11th- and 12th-grade category. Xavier High School student, Connor Mulvena, 16, a resident of Glendale, was named a finalist in that category.

Forest Hills resident Jennifer Yu, 15, was a finalist among the ninth- and 10th-graders. She is a ninth-grader at Stuyvesant Tech in Manhattan.

As a category winner, Lu will receive a $500 prize. Mulvena and Yu will each receive $100 for being finalists in their categories.

The essays were judged by a celebrity panel of judges, including WFAN radio sports talk personality Craig Carton; former New York Mets relief pitcher and team captain John Franco; Mike Puma, a sportswriter with the New York Post; and Luis Fernando Llosa, former Sports Illustrated associate editor.

“It was an honor to help judge New York Sports Connection’s First Annual Youth Essay Contest,” Franco said. “The essays submitted by the finalists showed a level of maturity way beyond their years, and were a testament to the amazing work done by parents, coaches and volunteers to ensure that our kids’ youth sports experience teaches real life lessons.”

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Jackie Robinson Parkway shutdowns begin tonight


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Jim Henderson

Portions of the Jackie Robinson Parkway will be closed beginning Monday night as the state Department of Transportation (DOT) begins resurfacing the five-mile-long and winding road between Kew Gardens and Brooklyn.

The work will begin tonight on the eastbound side from the parkway’s Brooklyn terminus at the corner of Jamaica and Pennsylvania avenues to the Cypress Hills Street exit. As reported in the Ridgewood Times, the project will be performed in segments, with the eastbound side completed first.

The $17 million project is expected to be finished in mid-August, barring any weather-related delays. Much of the work will be done during weeknight hours from 11 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. the next morning, but portions of the parkway will be shut down entirely on six weekends, from 11 p.m. Friday to 5:30 a.m. the following Monday.

The first two weekend closures will occur on June 5 through 8 and June 12 through 15. Drivers will be diverted through marked detour routes passing through neighboring Brooklyn, Ridgewood, Glendale, Woodhaven, Richmond Hill, Forest Hills and Kew Gardens.

During the project, crews from Tully Construction Company of Flushing — working on behalf of the state DOT — will remove the existing asphalt pavement and repair the concrete roadbed, then apply new asphalt and re-stripe the roadway with new lane markings. Various traffic safety devices, from reflectors to new signage, will also be installed.

“The Jackie Robinson Parkway is a critical connector between Brooklyn and Queens, carrying thousands of commuters each day and supporting the local economy,” state Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald said in a statement. “[This] project will give more than 82,000 motorists who use the parkway each day a smoother, safer ride.”

“Motorists who use the Jackie Robinson Parkway can look forward to a better road experience thanks to this paving project and infrastructure enhancement,” added Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, who thanked the DOT and Governor Andrew Cuomo “for making the improvement of the parkway a priority.”

Drivers are reminded to travel safely and slowly through work zones; by law, speeding fines are doubled in work zones, and convictions of two or more speeding violations in a work zone may result in a driver’s license suspension.

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