Tag Archives: Grand Central Parkway

Three major Queens roadways led city in costly pothole claims: Stringer


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Queens streets have gone to pot.

Potholes on three major arteries serving Queens cost the city tens of millions of dollars in accident claims over the last six years, according to City Comptroller Scott Stringer.

In a “ClaimStat alert” he issued on Thursday, Stringer said the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, along with the Grand Central and Belt parkways, accounted for a combined 1,561 claims between the 2010 and 2015 fiscal years, leading all other roadways in the five boroughs.

Back in February, the Department of Transportation (DOT) reported that Queens had the most potholes in the entire city.

The Belt Parkway, in particular, proved to resemble Swiss cheese more than a street, as the report pointed out that it “had the most pothole claims in four of the six years examined…making it by far the most pot-holed roadway in the city.”

Damages to vehicles that hit potholes on streets citywide cost taxpayers nearly $1.5 million in claims the city settled with drivers over the six-year period, Stringer noted. An additional 2,681 personal injury claims resulting from potholes and pedestrian falls on defective roadways were settled for $136.3 million during the same period.

The comptroller indicated that the alert gives the DOT a “road map” for making proper repairs well in advance of the winter weather that precipitates the creation of potholes.

“Potholes are serious trouble,” Stringer said in a statement. “They deflate tires, break axles and twist ankles, often at a significant financial cost to the city.”

According to the report, the common settlement for pothole damages to vehicles was $500, with 76 percent of all settlements amounting to $1,000 or less. Queens had a total of 3,590 pothole claims on its streets.

For personal injury claims related to slips, trips and falls on defective roadways, the city paid an average of between $2 and $9 million, with a plurality of them (48 percent) costing $5,000 or less. Only 211 settlements during the period were of $100,000 or greater.

Not surprisingly, pothole and personal injury claims related to defective streets spiked in years when winter weather wreaked havoc on New York City. Higher claims were also reported in areas of the city where the majority of households own a car, including much of eastern and southwest Queens. Sixty-four percent of Queens households, in total, have at least one vehicle.

As with the most recent winter, the DOT went on a “pothole blitz” across the five boroughs whenever the weather was fair enough to allow for emergency street repairs. The city is also experimenting with a different asphalt formula containing rubber which it hopes will prove more durable.

Stringer’s report, however, suggested that the DOT should consider whether some streets particularly prone to potholes should be completely reconstructed. It also called on the city to re-examine its road resurfacing procedures to make sure the best practices are followed.

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North Shore Towers residents rally for left-hand signal in Floral Park


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Stephen Vrattos

Residents of the North Shore Towers rallied on June 25 to continue their fight for a left-hand turn signal at a busy intersection near their co-op buildings.

Co-op members charge that the high volume of cars make it treacherous for pedestrians to cross the street at the meeting point of Grand Central Parkway and Little Neck Parkway, but inquiries to state agencies have produced no increase in safety measures. Residents of the building were at the rally, as well at Glen Kotowski, co-op general manager, and Mort Gitter, board president.

“It’s a very dangerous turn onto the Grand Central Parkway side road,” resident Sheila Fejes said.

“We’re not giving up,” added rally organizer Felice Hannah, who serves as both the chair of the Political Action Committee and a co-op board member at North Shore Towers.

State Senator Tony Avella has also been involved in the unsuccessful fight for increased street signage at the intersection.

“Once again, the Department of Transportation is not being responsive to the needs of the community,” Avella said. “Despite DOT denying my request for additional controls, the conditions at this intersection demand further action.”

A representative from Avella’s office said that he previously had put in a request for the installation of a left-hand turn signal in February, but after some consideration the DOT office decided that additional signage was not needed.

To change any existing street sign configuration in New York City, the DOT must complete a study to understand the extent of existing safety risks and determine any possible effects it could have on local traffic. As part of this study, the DOT analyzes reports from the Department of Motor Vehicles on traffic accidents occurring in the last three years in the affected area.

A source in the Queens DOT office said that the agency is currently studying the location after being contacted by Hannah in April, and will share the results with stakeholders once its review is completed.

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Queens Museum lit orange for gun violence awareness following vigil


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

The “World’s Borough” came together Monday night to honor the nine lives lost in last week’s South Carolina church shooting, and show the rest of the nation that a diverse community can unite as one.

Elected officials, local community and religious leaders, and families of victims of gun violence gathered in front of the Queens Museum during a candlelight vigil remembering the victims of gun violence throughout the borough, and paying tribute to the nine people shot and killed at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17.

“We are the borough of Queens, we are 130 languages spoken in our school system, we hail from over 120 countries and you know what? We take the greatest pride in that diversity. We are proud and we stand together to say that gun violence, especially racist terrorist gun violence, will not be tolerated and we will stand together to send that message,” Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said.

Monday night also marked the first of nine nights that the front exterior of the Queens Museum will be illuminated in orange, the official color of Gun Violence Awareness Month. Through June 30, an average of about 168,000 motorists per day will be able to see the museum as they drive by on the Grand Central Parkway.

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“I hope the orange glow of the museum’s façade this evening will remember each of the passing motorists of our collective responsibilities,” said Laura Raicovich, executive director of the Queens Museum.

Those present during the interfaith vigil included local religious leaders who each voiced the importance of coming together to fight for the end of gun violence. Pastor Richard Hogan of the Divine Deliverance Ministry in Jamaica and father of Laseam Hogan, who was killed in 2010 at the age of 27, also led the group in a prayer.

“We come here to launch a movement. We’ve been moving but we need a movement, a movement against gun violence. This is not a movement of just some folk but it has to be a movement of all folk,” said Rev. Dr. Alfonso Wyatt of the Greater Allen A.M.E Cathedral of New York in Jamaica. “We are all impacted. Bullets do not respect age, [do] not respect denomination, faith, tradition, socio-economic background. We have to come together.”


At the end of the night, family members of victims of gun violence read out names of their lost friends, husbands, sons, daughters and other loved ones.

“We commit to continue to be the trailblazers in the borough of Queens and make sure that as the Queens division of the crisis management system, we will show the world how people from different races, people from different ideologies, people from different nationalities, people from different beliefs, and walks and everything that you can think of can come together and change the culture of violence and stop the epidemic of violence from spreading and killing our children and destroying our families,” said Erica Ford, CEO and founder of LIFE Camp Inc., a group founded in 2002 with the mission of teaching violence prevention in schools.

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Police save pup struck by car on Grand Central Parkway


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of the NYPD

Updated: Wednesday, Jan. 21 12:35 p.m.

One pit bull mix puppy, who found himself on the Grand Central Parkway Monday morning, proved that cats are not the only ones with extra lives thanks to help from local police.

Police Officers Melissa Mezzoiuso and George Morinia-Blocker of the 110th Precinct responded to a call at 8:21 a.m. of a “vicious dog” wandering in the westbound lane of the Grand Central Parkway, near the Long Island Expressway, according to police.

Upon getting to the scene, the officers saw the dog sitting motionless on the highway. Morinia-Blocker then maneuvered the car to keep Mezzoiuso safe as she got out of the car and went toward the puppy, who was not “vicious,” but instead scared and injured.

Photo courtesy of ASPCA

Mezzoiuso then picked up the dog, who could not move on his own, and carried him to the side of the road. The officers then placed the dog in their squad car and took him to the ASPCA office in Queens. It was then decided to take the dog to Animal Care & Control of NYC in Manhattan.

The 110th Precinct later tweeted that the almost 6-month-old dog, dubbed “Rocky” by Mezzoiuso and Morina-Blocker, had been struck by a car and had broken its leg.

The puppy has since been transferred to the ASPCA Animal Hospital in Manhattan.

According to the ASPCA, “Rocky” is resting comfortably at the hospital where he underwent surgery for the broken leg Tuesday. His fracture has since been fixed and he will continue to receive “around-the-clock care” and is expected to make a full recovery.

“We urge anyone with information about Rocky to please come forward,” an ASPCA spokeswoman said. “Thank you to the officers of the 110th Precinct who rescued a dog in need and brought him to safety at the ASPCA.”

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See it: Stay warm in this Jamaica Estates home with two fireplaces


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Michael Chambers

Even when the weather outside is frightful, this house will still be warm and delightful.

This large colonial home, built nearly a century ago, features six bedrooms and two bathrooms in about 3,000 square feet, and sits on a lot that’s more than three times its size at 175-02 Grand Central Parkway Service South. But one of its most appealing features may be its two fireplaces — one on each side of the home. The asking price is currently $985,000.

The residence is a single-family detached home, but it was built to accommodate two families — hence the double chimneys, according to broker Michael Chambers of Douglas Elliman Real Estate. There’s also a kitchen on the first floor and gas lines hooked up to the second floor for a smaller-sized kitchen.

The elderly couple selling the house has lived at the home for more than 40 years, and has kept the abode in great shape. The floors are original hardwood throughout, but there’s no creaking, even on wooden staircases.


Jamaica Estates
is known for having large-scale detached houses unique from many other neighborhoods in the borough. But it’s hard to find another property with as much land as this one has, even in neighborhoods like Jamaica Estates.

There is more than 11,100 square feet of land for this corner property, which is near St. John’s University. And because the house sits on a hill, it has a huge, partially finished basement at ground level.

The garage, which is attached to the basement, can hold two cars, and the extended driveway can fit a few more.


But besides all its amenities, the best-kept secret in this home is the attic, which is like having another full floor with nearly 12-foot-high ceilings, lots of space and 10 windows. Though the current homeowners use it for storage, Chambers believes it’s possible to transform it into another bedroom.

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Astoria man charged as serial tagger for graffiti acts


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Queens district attorney's office

An Astoria man was indicted Wednesday for allegedly tagging trees, traffic control boxes and more in the past year, according to the Queens district attorney’s office.

Michael Mestric was arraigned in Queens Supreme Court on 19 counts of criminal mischief and 19 counts of making graffiti.

According to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, the 30-year-old “found a canvas for his tag at nearly every turn.”

Between May 2013 and April of this year, Mestric’s tag “AOE” was found spray painted on highway walls along the Grand Central Parkway, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and the Long Island Expressway, Brown said. Mestric is also being charged for tagging control boxes, a fence, tree, and a historic observation deck at Astoria Park.

“Graffiti is not art – nor is it a victimless crime. Tagging encourages lawlessness. It leads to decreased property values and is expensive to remove,” Brown said.

The damage and cost of removing the graffiti allegedly exceeded $12,500, with the observation deck at Astoria Park alone costing more than $2,500 to repair.

If convicted, Mestric faces up to seven years in prison.

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Pedestrian struck and killed while walking on LIE


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

police car

A 38-year-old man was fatally hit by a vehicle early Wednesday morning as he was walking in the middle lane of the Long Island Expressway, cops said.

The victim, who has yet to be identified by police, was struck at about 3:15 a.m. on the westbound side of the roadway at the Grand Central Parkway near Corona, according to police. He was pronounced dead at the scene, according to police.

The driver of the vehicle, a green Ford, remained at the site of the collision and the investigation is ongoing.

It was not immediately clear what the pedestrian was doing on the expressway.

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Man fatally hit on Cross Island after exiting moving vehicle, running across roadway: cops  


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

AmbulanceInMotionHC0507_L_300_C_Y-624x416

A 54-year-old man was killed on the Cross Island Parkway Tuesday night after he exited his moving car and was struck by a van as he tried to cross the roadway, according to authorities.

At about 5:40 p.m., the victim, who has yet to be identified by police, was driving eastbound in the left lane of the Grand Central Parkway near Little Neck when he got out of his Mercedes, police said.

His car then crashed into the center median and came to a stop.

After exiting the Mercedes, the man ran across the westbound lanes of the Grand Central Parkway and attempted to cross the northbound lanes of the Cross Island Parkway, where he was struck by a Ford van, cops said.

The victim was taken to North Shore University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The driver of the van remained at the scene and the investigation is ongoing, authorities said.

It wasn’t immediately clear why the victim exited the car.

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20-year-old woman dies in Grand Central Parkway motorcycle crash


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Graphic image

Updated 1:07 p.m.

A motorcyclist was injured and his passenger was killed when he lost control of his bike on the Grand Central Parkway early Tuesday morning, cops said.

The crash happened while the motorcyclist was traveling westbound on the roadway at about 4:30 a.m. just before the 94th Street exit in East Elmhurst, according to police.

The bike’s operator, a 21-year-old man, was taken to Elmhurst Hospital in stable condition with injuries to his shoulder and legs.

His 20-year-old passenger, Giuseppina Lascalia of Astoria, was also taken to Elmhurst Hospital, where she was pronounced dead,  authorities said.

The investigation is ongoing.

 

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Man killed in two-vehicle crash on Grand Central Parkway


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Updated 4:32 p.m.

A car crash Thursday night left a 19-year-old dead and sent three others to the hospital after a driver struck another vehicle on the Grand Central Parkway, according to police.

The accident happened at about 11:50 p.m. near Union Turnpike, cops said.

A Nissan Maxima was driving westbound in the parkway’s middle lane directly behind a Honda Accord when it attempted to change lanes and hit the side of the Honda, authorities said. The Nissan then lost control and struck the guardrail before overturning.

The driver of the Nissan, 19-year-old Andy Ramdhanie, of Holis, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Three of the Honda’s occupants, a 57-year-old and 23-year-old woman, and a 20-year-old man, were taken to Long Island Jewish Medical Center with minor neck and back pain.

The investigation is ongoing, cops said.

 

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125-year-old East Elmhurst flower shop blossoms next to controversial homeless shelter


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

For more than a century, one East Elmhurst family has been helping their neighborhood bloom.

Donhauser Florist, located at 71-01 Astoria Blvd., was established in 1889 by Hans Donhauser, a German florist who immigrated to the United States. While working at a Brooklyn cemetery he heard that St. Michael’s Cemetery in Queens was in need of a florist.

He then moved to East Elmhurst and built a greenhouse on 71st Street and Astoria Boulevard. After a few years, 12 more greenhouses were added and a flower shop was built on 49th Street and Astoria Boulevard.

Donhauser’s family worked at the shop, including his sons, daughters and even his great granddaughter Gladys.

“When your parents are in the business, you’re in the business,” said Gladys about working at the shop since she was 12 years old. “It’s all I’ve known.”

Donhauser Florist moved to 71-01 Astoria Blvd. and replaced one existing greenhouse, while the other 12 were later sold to become the Westway Motor Inn.

Gladys, who grew up at the house currently still standing next to the shop, has owned the store since 1977 together with her husband William Gray, who initially started working at the 49th Street shop.

Since then the Grays have been providing flower arrangements for their neighbors, some of whom they have shared first communions with and years later, weddings. William even arranged all the flowers for his own wedding.

The shop provides flowers for visitors to St. Michael’s Cemetery, located across the Grand Central Parkway, first communions, weddings and other special occasions.

However, the Grays, who have been married for 60 years, say business has been up and down ever since the city’s Department of Homeless Services decided to first use the Westway Motor Inn, located right next door, as a temporary homeless shelter.

“It was once an exquisite hotel with beautiful rooms and a pool,” Gladys said. “Since about a decade ago we started to have problems with it. People were afraid to come around the shop.”

Two weeks ago, the city approved converting the motel into a permanent homeless shelter housing more than 120 families.

Although they are nervous on how the permanent shelter will affect the community and their business, the couple continues to welcome customers with smiles on their faces.

“I hope it stays for 125 more years,” Gladys said.

 

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One dead after vehicle catches fire on Grand Central Parkway


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of @FabianBuchheim

Updated Wednesday, May 28, 9:55 a.m.

One person was killed and two people were injured in a vehicle fire on the Grand Central Parkway Tuesday afternoon.

The car, a 2010 Toyota Highlander, burst into flames about 1:40 p.m. on the eastbound side of the roadway near the exit for the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, cops said.

One of the passengers, identified by police as 50-year-old Dale Tulloch of Yonkers, N.Y, died in the fire. The driver, a 26-year-old man, and another passenger, a 25-year-old woman, were taken to New York Hospital Queens with minor injuries.

Officers at the scene were told that the vehicle ran over a piece of metal, which ignited the gas tank, cops said. The SUV then pulled over to the side of the parkway, where the occupants noticed smoke coming from the car, followed by flames.

The driver and the surviving passenger managed to escape before the car ignited, but the 50-year-old, who was in the backseat, did not, according to police.

The incident is still under investigation.

 

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Former Parkway Hospital will be converted to condos


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Jasper Venture Group

Follow me @liamlaguerre

 

After being shuttered for six years, the site of the former Parkway Hospital in Forest Hills will be converted to a residential building.

Jasper Venture Group, a real estate investment firm, announced on May 7 that it plans to demolish the former hospital at 70-35 113th St. and construct a bigger building than the 70,000-square-feet property.

Including a parking lot, the site is more than 107,000 square feet.

The company did not release how many units the new building will have or when it is set to be complete, but said the new residential space will “breathe new life into the idle site.”

“The additional housing this project will provide when complete will be a relief to those seeking a more spacious option to the compact living New York City provides,” the company said in a release. “[T]he former Parkway Hospital will be luxurious, offering its residents a view of the lakes and their own slice of serenity.”

Parkway Hospital overlooks Grand Central Parkway and rests just outside of both Willow Lake and Meadow Lake in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. The state closed the hospital in 2008 and it has been vacant since. The hospital filed for bankruptcy in 2005.

Former Parkway CEO Robert Aquino was sentenced to four months in jail in May of 2012 after he pleaded guilty to bribing former State Senator Carl Kruger to try to keep the medical facility open.

 

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NYPD detective who fatally shot National Guardsman charged: reports


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Facebook

The NYPD detective who fatally shot a National Guardsman on the Grand Central Parkway was charged in connection with the death, according to published reports.

Detective Hassan Hamdy received a departmental charge Thursday of “failing to employ proper tactics causing a civilian’s death,” when he shot 22-year-old Noel Polanco during a traffic stop in October 2012, reports said.

Sergeant Thomas Glaudino, who was responsible for Hamdy’s unit that day, was also charged with failing to supervise his team to prevent the alleged tactical mistakes, reports also said.

Polanco was pulled over when he was seen driving erratically in his car, weaving between lanes and speeding on the highway before allegedly cutting off an unmarked police vehicle. Hamdy allegedly fired the single shot that killed Polanco when he told him to put his hands on the steering wheel and Polanco reached under the seat.

In February of 2013, a Queens grand jury concluded that there would be no criminal charges filed in connection to the death of Polanco.

Two months ago, Polanco’s family reached a $2.5 million settlement in their wrongful death lawsuit against the city.

 

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Flushing man decapitated while trying to cross Grand Central Parkway


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Follow me @liamlaguerre

 

A 31-year-old Flushing man was killed while crossing the Grand Central Parkway Friday night, police said.

Fidel Vidal Diaz was hit by two vehicles when he tried to cross the westbound lane of the roadway at 31st Drive, cops said. Diaz was decapitated by the crash, according to reports.

The first vehicle was a 2005 Ford Mustang and the second was a 2002 Volkswagen. Both drivers remained on the scene of the accident, cops said.

Police and EMS responded just after 11 p.m. and Diaz was pronounced dead at the scene, according to officials.

Cops are still investigating the accident.

 

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