Tag Archives: Greenpoint

Detectives talk woman out of jumping off Kosciuszko Bridge

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

A pair of NYPD detectives spent around two hours Monday talking a suicidal woman off the edge of the Kosciuszko Bridge, according to police.

That morning, police arrived about 11:30 a.m. to find the 45-year-old Brooklyn resident on top of a pipe on the outside of the bridge, which connects Greenpoint, Brooklyn, with Queens.

Two detectives—Meghan Kinsella, a 14-year veteran who works as a domestic violence officer, and Steven Stefanakos, a 24-year veteran who has spent 20 of those years with the Emergency Service Unit—moved into action to try to talk the woman out of taking her life.

At first, according to police, the woman wasn’t responsive to either of the detectives as they took turns engaging her in conversation.

“I tried to convince her that no matter what, we would be with her every step of the way,” Kinsella said. “He would talk and I would talk. I didn’t even realize I was there for two hours. I was completely focused on her.”

When Stefanakos, who is an instructor with the NYPD’s Emergency Service Unit and teaches officers how to interact with emotionally disturbed people in crisis, mentioned the possibility of the woman having a family or children, she grabbed back onto the wire, authorities said.

“I told her, ‘I don’t know what is going on and what is happening with you, but give us [a] chance to talk to you,’” he said.

Kinsella also told the woman, who is a mother of one, that she was strong enough to get through the situation, and the detectives were finally able to convince her to come off the edge of the bridge.

As video footage of the rescue released by police shows, officers were able to pull the woman to safety, and EMS took her to Elmhurst Hospital for treatment.

“It’s a huge relief. It actually is euphoric because you made a difference in somebody’s life, right there and then,” Stefanakos said.

“I’m a mom so I just wanted to get her home safe with her family,” Kinsella added.


New Kosciuszko Bridge construction update

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy of NYC DOT

The state Department of Transportation has issued a construction advisory regarding the initial phases of the new Kosciuszko Bridge project.

The bulk of the work affects side streets on both sides of the span in Greenpoint and west Maspeth, including new water mains, gas lines, electrical wires and storm/sewer pipes.

Crews from Con Edison and Verizon will also install duct banks on 56th Road, which will cause traffic to intermittently be shifted to the right and left. The road, however, will remain open to two-way traffic at all times.

Due to the continued removal of the red brick and concrete walls underneath the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) between Sutton and Apollo Streets, one lane of westbound Meeker Avenue between these limits will remain closed through the summer of 2015 to facilitate the removal of the wall and the subsequent rebuilding.

Other work includes the restriping of eastbound Meeker Avenue, between Kingsland and Porter Avenues, to create a work zone. This is required to access the roadway deck and low wall along the edge of the Queens-bound BQE that must be removed.

This work, scheduled to being on or about March 23, will involve the placement of a concrete barrier along the Queens-bound BQE and a traffic lane shift on eastbound Meeker Avenue, between Kingsland and Porter avenues. Intermittent lane closures during daytime and evening hours will be required.

Advanced notices for specific activities will be distributed to residents and businesses prior to the start of work. The construction schedule is weather permitting and subject to change.

The more than $500 million project involves the construction of two new cable-stayed suspension bridges to replace the existing, aging steel-truss span. The first new bridge will be erected adjacent to the south side of the existing bridge and is scheduled to open in late 2016.

Once the first new span is complete, all BQE traffic will be shifted onto it, and crews will begin demolishing the old bridge. The second cable-stayed span will rise in the original bridge’s footprint; it is expected to be completed by 2019.

For more information, visit www.dot.ny.gov/kbridge or email kosciuszko@dot.ny.gov.


LIC-based grocery delivery service aimed for mom and pop stores

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Images courtesy of Pickup Later

One new delivery service is trying to level the playing field for local mom and pop shops battling the big, online food delivery companies by offering customers the option to have groceries delivered within hours of placing an order at neighborhood stores.

PickUpLater, a Long Island City-based online grocery service started at the end of 2014, allows customers to go on their website and order from a local store’s inventory.

As a resident of Long Island City for the past six years, owner Kodjo Hounnaké said the idea was born after he was ordering from GrubHub and he asked himself why such a service was not available for groceries from local stores. 

Although Hounnaké says he aims for the service to go nationwide, PickUpLater currently only offers customers groceries from Foodcellar & Co. Market, located at 4-85 47th Rd. The service is available for residents in Long Island City, Hunters Point, Astoria, Greenpoint, Sunnyside and Woodside. It has also started to deliver in Manhattan, below 59th Street. 

PickUpLater owner Kodjo Hounnaké

PickUpLater owner Kodjo Hounnaké

The delivery areas are expected to expand, once Foodcellar opens its second location in Court Square. 

Unlike giants like Fresh Direct, Hounnaké added that PickUpLater has groceries directly from the store, not from a warehouse. Also unlike grocery delivery service, Instacart, which delivers from large stores such as Whole Foods Market and Costco, the idea of PickUpLater is to stick to the local mom and pop shops. 

“We’re not [the grocery store’s] competitor; what we offer them is to remove that extra cost and that extra stress,” Hounnaké said. “We’ll come in and do everything for them. In a sense we are their ally not their competition.”

Once the customer places an order on www.pickuplater.com, a personal shopper then does the work of purchasing the items on the list. Keeping an emphasis on “real time interaction with customers,” the personal shopper will text or call customers with any updates or replacement options.

The groceries will then be delivered in two hours, or more, depending on the customer’s request. They also have the option to pick up the products from Foodcellar.

For orders over $35, pick up fees are $0.99. Deliveries scheduled for more than two hours, the fee is $3.99 and $5.99 for deliveries scheduled within two hours.

PickUpLater opens at 7 a.m. and deliveries are scheduled between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. Pickup hours are from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.


Newtown Creek sludge project nearing completion

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Jeff Stone


The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is celebrating the end of a month-long project in Newtown Creek that, if successful, will eventually make the water running through Ridgewood, Maspeth and Greenpoint much more inviting.

DEP crews have been traveling through the contaminated creek since the end of March, cleaning up silt, industrial waste and untreated sewage overflow that has been left largely undisturbed since the 1970s. The project, which is expected to be fully complete by no later than the end of April, aims to make Newtown Creek passable for a new fleet of DEP sludge vessels that will transport wastewater from elsewhere in the city to a new facility deeper inland.

Sludge vessels can be seen six days a week traveling through the East and Hudson Rivers, transporting sludge (semi-solid material leftover from industrial wastewater or sewage treatment) to decontamination facilities. Those facilities then extract any harmful materials and dump the clean water back into rivers around the metro area.

Yet, despite its status as one of the most contaminated bodies of water in the city, Newtown Creek is not currently equipped with its own dewatering plant. Sludge from the area is transported through a pipeline under the East River to a wastewater treatment plant in Greenpoint. City officials hope to soon use that valuable Brooklyn real estate for affordable housing and a new park, but the first step in removing the treatment facility is cleaning Newtown Creek.

Step one, for the most part, is finished. Environmental officials said that barges will be taking their final trips through the area using sonar technology to ensure that a new fleet of sludge vessels will be able to travel through without incident.

“Most likely there will be a few spots where they have to touch up and lay a fresh layer of sand down,” a DEP representative said Friday. “The barge and dredge machinery will be on Newtown Creek for at least another week or so, but the majority of the work will be completed by this weekend.”

Before the project began last month, DEP officials and nearby residents were concerned that the stirred-up silt bed would omit a smell of rotten eggs into the spring air. The very notion was enough to prompt a flurry of social media activity from Queens and Brooklyn residents alike. None of the dire predictions came to pass, though, thanks to the crews’ round-the-clock reliance on air and water quality monitors.

“The fact that there’ve been two complaints and all of our monitoring indicates that we’re well within our acceptable limits, everything has gone smoothly,” the spokesman said.

Work at Newtown Creek is a symptom of a citywide effort to equip designated priority areas like Gowanus Canal, Jamaica Bay, Flushing Bay and the Bronx River with green infrastructure. The city will spend $2.4 billion over the next 20 years on treating wastewater and rain overflow before it enters New York’s waterways.



Attorney general sues gas stations for Sandy price gouging

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Long lines at the pump were not the only fuel-related pains felt after Sandy.

Rapidly increasing fuel prices further victimized storm survivors. Now the state is getting back at the gas gougers.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has filed lawsuits against four New York gas stations and has reached settlements with 25 others for violating the gas price gouging statue immediately after the storm.

“Six months ago, as New Yorkers were sitting in lines waiting for hours to buy critical supplies of gasoline, some shady business owners were trying to make a fast buck at their expense,” Schneiderman said on Thursday, May 2.

“Today, we are sending a powerful message that ripping off New Yorkers during a time of crisis is against the law and we will do everything in our power to hold them accountable.”

The attorney general said his office received hundreds of complaints regarding post-Sandy gas price gouging and price jumps that took place up to several times a day.

An investigation into those complaints found dozens of area stations in violation of New York State’s Price Gouging Law. The statute prohibits vendors, retailers and suppliers from charging prices that reflect a “gross disparity” between prices immediately before and after a natural disaster or similar event that cannot be attributed to other factors outside of the seller’s controls.

The 25 gas stations that settled will pay a total of $167,850.

One of those stations, a Mobil at 40-40 Crescent Street in Long Island City, increased its retail markup on regular gasoline from $1.03 a gallon before Sandy to $2.08 immediately after the storm, according to the attorney general. Drivers paid $4.89 a gallon to fill up their tanks post-storm at the station.

Only one New York City gas station, in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, along with three in Long Island, is named in Schneiderman’s lawsuit. Investigations are pending against dozens of other stations.