Tag Archives: Hamilton Beach Civic Association

Lone road into Hamilton Beach to get major repairs


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

SAM_1216

BY ANGELA MATUA

Hamilton Beach residents will soon see an end to the roller coaster they have been experiencing when driving through 104th Street.

Representatives from the Department of Transportation (DOT) said they would finally get started on repairing the road, which residents have been demanding for years.

Work is anticipated to start in the fall of this year and will include roadway resurfacing, according to a representative.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will fund the repairs since they decided the damage was a result of Hurricane Sandy, though Hamilton Beach Civic Association President Roger Gendron said the damage was done well before the storm.

According to Gendron, the DOT told residents that 104th Street would be included in its 10-year capital project plan in 2010. Repairs were never made and after the superstorm hit, the potholes and cracks grew bigger.

“I don’t want to say we were lied to, but we weren’t told the truth,” Gendron said.

Everyone who enters and exits Hamilton Beach must drive through 104th Street, making the street even more dangerous since people sometimes swerve to avoid potholes, Gendron said.

Buses also run through 104th Street, and potholes formed near the bus stops. Additionally, there is no sidewalk where riders can wait to board, so they are forced to wait on the street.

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Betty Braton, chairwoman of Community Board 10 says the repairs are “long overdue.”

“The community has had to put up with conditions not conducive to safe driving because of the potholes and the ripples in the street,” Bratton said. “It’s not been a good situation for this community.”

Gendron said the DOT has filled a few potholes but the work has not been substantial enough. The DOT has conducted a number of street resurfacing projects for Howard Beach, Hamilton Beach’s neighbor, but this is the first time residents here have heard concrete information about repairs.

“This is a giant step forward,” Gendron said. “We’ve never heard about a project until now.”

The West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department is located right off of 104th Street and Chief Jonah Cohen said when volunteers come to department headquarters, they end up hitting potholes and run the risk of damaging their cars.

Something as important as responding to a call should not require so much effort on the part of the driver, Gendron said.

“Me, getting milk and bread, I can take my time,” Gendron said. “They’re going to respond to a call, time is of an essence. To have to think about where am I driving, what side of the street am I driving on, is anybody coming? It’s a no-brainer to me [that] you shouldn’t have to think like that.”

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Hamilton Beach wants local residents to design new welcome sign


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Roger Gendron

Hamilton Beach is looking for a new design to replace the community’s welcome sign and has called on local artists and residents to submit their best sketches for a contest.

“The civic is looking for local students, community members and artists to submit designs for the new ‘Welcome to Hamilton Beach’ sign,” said Roger Gendron, president of the Hamilton Beach Civic Association. “We thought this would be good community engagement to have a contest so people can submit their ideas.”

A new sign is being sought by the civic association after the last one had to be removed in December due to a car crash at the site. Gendron said he was looking for a simple design that he and the members of the civic association could vote on at the next monthly meeting, which will take place on March 26. He will then take the design with the most votes and bring it to a sign maker to see if it is feasible.

The old sign was designed by a Hamilton Beach resident and greeted residents and visitors as they entered the neighborhood from a bridge that connects it to Old Howard Beach over Hawtree Creek.

But the accident that occurred in December destroyed the guardrail and smashed it almost 2 feet back. The welcome sign was sitting right behind the rail but due to the impact was knocked out of the ground and cracked in the middle with letters and decorations missing.

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

The sign was removed to see if there was a possibility to have it repaired, but Gendron was told it was beyond salvation.

He put the word out on the civic association’s Facebook page on March 12 that he was looking for people to design a new sign and is still looking for more submissions but has gotten some good news since. He has found a local sign maker in Rockaway, who also designed the new “Welcome to Howard Beach” sign, and was even contacted by the American Legion in Broad Channel who said they would help to pay for the sign.

The civic also applied for a community grant that could give them $3,000 to use toward beautification projects. Gendron said that if he has help to pay for the sign he can use the grant to build a small garden area around the new sign which he feels will be even more welcoming to the community.

“We need a new sign for the community,” he said. “We want this sign to be different and unique from others.”

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Water main break fixed in Hamilton Beach after long wait


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Salvatore Licata

Updated Feb. 24, 2:20 p.m.

A continuous stream of water that had been flowing onto one Hamilton Beach street for over six days due to a water main break — causing flooding along the thoroughfare that turned into sheets of ice when temperatures dipped below freezing — has finally been fixed by the Department of Environmental Protection.

On Feb. 24, a day after The Courier wrote about the water main break, which is located directly in the middle of First Street in Hamilton Beach, the DEP sent crews to the site to fix the problem.

Before the fix, water was gushing from cracks in the asphalt down toward 104th Street and into a catch basin. And as temperatures were plunging well below freezing on Monday night, Roger Gendron, president of the Hamilton Beach Civic Association, said the water was creating very dangerous and slippery conditions for residents and motorists.

“I was out there at 12:15 last night and the road was very slippery,” said Gendron on Tuesday. “I’m glad they came in and finally fixed it.”

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The break was first noticed on Feb. 17 by Joe Thompson of the Howard Beach Civilian Observation Patrol during his nightly tour. He observed the water coming out of the ground and turning into ice due to the cold weather that night. He immediately filed a 311 report but the only response before Feb. 24 from the city was a sanitation truck dispatched on Feb. 18 to salt the road in order to break up some of the ice.

 

Photo courtesy of Joe Thompson

Photo courtesy of Joe Thompson

Another water main break happened on the same block about a month ago which was also fixed by the Department of Environmental Protection.

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‘Welcome to Hamilton Beach’ sign and guardrail protecting it destroyed in hit-and-run


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Roger Gendron

A hit-and-run happened in Hamilton Beach. The victim: a beloved, handmade 2-by-3-foot wooden welcome sign crafted by a neighborhood resident.

The sign that welcomed visitors to Hamilton Beach, along with a guardrail and a city traffic sign, was located at the beginning of Hamilton Beach where vehicles cross into the community from Old Howard Beach.

The accident occurred in the beginning of December, but the motorist who caused the damage has yet to be caught. The guardrail is smashed almost 2 feet back, the two-way-traffic sign is knocked down behind the rail and the Hamilton Beach sign was cracked in the middle with letters and decorations missing.

It was removed to see if there was a possibility to have it repaired, but Roger Gendron, president of the Hamilton Beach Civic Association, was just told it was unfixable, and the neighborhood now has to look to purchase a new sign.

“I can’t imagine how fast this person must have been going to hit the rail that hard and knock it back so far,” Gendron said. “Thank God no one was hurt, but now we have to get it fixed and get a new sign.”

When crossing into Hamilton Beach from Old Howard Beach, a vehicle must go over a bridge with a slight incline. But, the high point of that bridge, which crosses over Hawtree Creek, is at least 50 feet if not more before the guardrail and sign, giving drivers an ample amount of time to see the stop sign at the corner before entering the neighborhood.

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When Gendron first noticed the sign was down he went down to further inspect the area and see if he could find any clues as to who may have done the damage. He found a piece of the car with the vehicle identification number on it, which he turned over to police at the 106th Precinct.

The crash is still under investigation, but just last week, the precinct removed an abandoned car from the neighborhood with a Pennsylvania license plate. The car’s front end was smashed in. It is not confirmed if that was the vehicle that caused the damage, but Gendron said it would definitely fit the description with how much damage was done to it.

The next step for the neighborhood is to get the guardrail fixed, erect a new pole for the two-way sign and put up a new welcome sign. Gendron has been in touch with Councilman Eric Ulrich’s office to see if the councilman can help get a Department of Transportation crew assigned to fix the two-way sign and guardrail. He is currently looking for someone or some business willing to make a new welcome sign. Gendron priced out a couple of signs but was astonished when he saw that many cost over $3,000. He has toyed with the possibility of starting a “Go Fund Me” page to see if he could get enough donations to buy a new sign but he hasn’t committed to it yet as he is exploring other options.

“We need a new sign for the neighborhood,” Gendron said. “I don’t know how we will get it yet, but we will.”

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Star of Queens: Roger Gendron, president, Hamilton Beach Civic Association


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Roger Gendron

BY ASHA MAHADEVAN

BACKGROUND: Roger Gendron was born and raised in Hamilton Beach. He continues to live there with his wife Holly and two sons — Christopher, 20, and Matthew, 16. He likes living in Hamilton Beach because he feels it is like a small town in a big city, where everybody knows everybody else and they watch out for each other. Gendron, 52, is a Local 3 electrician and shop steward at the Resorts World Casino.

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Gendron was a member of the Hamilton Beach Civic Association for five years before he became president in February 2012. In the early days of his presidency, he dealt with issues such as poor street conditions, broken sidewalks and people hanging out at street corners, which were “easily rectified.”

The dynamics of his presidency changed dramatically when Hurricane Sandy hit the neighborhood that October. The association members, and the community as a whole, banded together to help each other out. The effects of the devastation are felt even today. Gendron spends most of his time serving as a liaison between his community and the city’s elected officials and agencies. The association has helped get a playground repaired at Hamilton Beach Park and a boardwalk reconstructed. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, new residents have moved into the neighborhood and the association tries to make them feel welcome in the community by inviting them to meetings and circulating a newsletter.

GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT: “There is no single achievement, but I have been able to become the voice of Hamilton Beach,” said Gendron. “Earlier, we were the forgotten stepchild of Howard Beach. One of the things I had promised was that Hamilton Beach will get recognition as a separate entity. We are there, in a way. Some good has come out of Sandy.”

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “My biggest challenge has been dealing with the bureaucracy of New York City,” said Gendron. “If you call one person about an issue to get an answer, they’ll promise to get back. One week later when you haven’t heard from them and call them again, they’ll say, ‘Oh, that person is on vacation.’ It is frustrating. We are blessed to have strong allies in our elected officials and all of them work well together and with us.”

INSPIRATION: “There is no one person. I’ve always found myself to be a helpful person, I’ll help anybody with anything. That’s the way I was raised. My work in this position helps more than one person, it helps the neighborhood. My mom would be proud of me.”

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Street name mishaps in Hamilton Beach cause serious problems for residents


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Salvatore Licata

Hamilton Beach — where the streets have two names.

While it sounds like a U2 spoof, the dually-named streets make it difficult for people to find addresses but more importantly, cause serious problems for first-responders heading toward emergency scenes.

Twice this year, an ambulance responding to a Hamilton Beach resident with diabetes was delayed because the dispatchers failed to recognize her street, Burlingame Court, a local leader alleged. Only the street’s other name, 163rd Road, rang any bells.

“It’s unbelievable that in this day and age we have this problem,” said Roger Gendron, president of the Hamilton Beach Civic Association. “It is something that could lead to a really serious issue down the line.”

Hamilton Beach has historically been off the city numerical mapping grid, and the streets all originally had names instead of numbers.

In 2007, the city decided to make it part of the grid, following street numbers and avenues from Old Howard Beach, just to the west.

City officials changed some of the street names to numbers but one year later decided to de-map the proposed grid and keep the original names along with the new numbered street names.

The names versus numbers issue has arisen before.

In 2007, a fire broke out on one of the newly numbered Hamilton Beach streets, but fire trucks responded instead to the Old Hamilton Beach side of Hawtree Creek and the house burnt down, Gendron said.

After that, the civic association requested that the streets revert to their original names. But officials instead combined the old and new, leaving many streets with dual names, such as 163rd Drive and James Court or 163rd Road and Burlingame Court.

Councilman Eric Ulrich said he has been working with the 106th Precinct to figure out whether the recent screw-ups were human error or a system problem.

As the precinct investigated the 911 mapping system, they found that both Burlingame Court and 163rd Road showed up. Officials came to the conclusion that it was most likely an issue with the dispatchers and ambulance drivers not being familiar with the neighborhood, according to a representative from Ulrich’s office.

But Gendron is afraid next time may be too late.

“Thankfully they got there in time,” Gendron said. “But something has to be done.

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Hamilton Beach playground hit with graffiti, quickly cleaned


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of New Hamilton Beach Civic Association Facebook page

They struck again.

Graffiti vandals tagged up a newly renovated Hamilton Beach playground before it officially opened.

“I was shocked that this happen,” said Roger Gendron, president of the Hamilton Beach Civic Association. “I think we all knew it could happen, but for it to happen before the playground officially opened is unbelievable.”

On Sept. 19, the vandal spray-painted graffiti on the slide that was just installed in the park. The slide is attached to a brand-new play set that Resorts World Casino shelled out $40,000 to install in the playground on 104th Street at the edge of Hamilton Beach. Graffiti was a major problem with the old playground that once sat there, making it an eyesore for the neighborhood.

THE COURIER/ Photo by Salvatore Licata

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Because of where the park is situated, it is hard for residents to keep surveillance on it. Houses are only on one side and they are separated by a street, handball courts and a basketball court, leaving the playground as an easier target for vandals.

But Gendron said he would not let this new playground set become what the old was one, especially after Resorts World picked up the whole tab to install it.

“The paint will be removed this time and every other time it happens,” Gendron said.

And it has.

THE COURIER/ Photo by Salvatore Licata

THE COURIER/ Photo by Salvatore Licata

Auxiliary police officers from the 106th Precinct quickly repainted the slide two days after the vandals struck. They have been a huge presence in the neighborhood when it comes to covering up graffiti.

Gendron said he was humbled by their kind act and hopes that everyone in the neighborhood will join in helping to keep the park in good shape for the children from now on.

Resorts World Casino did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Hamilton Beach street in disrepair, ignored by city, locals say


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Salvatore Licata

Hamilton Beach residents are furious that smooth streets in nearby Howard Beach are being repaved while, they say, the main artery into their tiny enclave has been ignored for years.

“It’s frustrating to drive into the neighborhood and see perfectly good streets [in Howard Beach] being ripped up,” Roger Gendron, president of the Hamilton Beach Civic Association, said. “104th Street was supposed to be a capital project plan but now we can’t even get it repaved.”

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has been doing street resurfacing projects throughout Howard Beach for about two weeks now but has not made its way over to Hamilton Beach. The neighborhood does not appear on this week’s resurfacing schedule on the DOT website.

DOT doing street resurfacing in New Howard Beach

DOT doing street resurfacing in New Howard Beach

104th Street is littered with potholes, pavement cracks and deteriorating previous repairs. Throughout the day, cars can be seen driving on the wrong side of the road to avoid the rough patch leading to a blind spot for oncoming traffic into the neighborhood.

Moreover, Gendron says the road is responsible for front-end car damage that many residents have experienced. He has filed a claim for his mother’s car which he says has $1,500 worth of front-end damage due to the many times she must travel the road to get into and out of the neighborhood.

“This is something that affects every resident in the neighborhood,” Gendron said. “We’ve been asking for something to be done since 2008.”

In 2010, a representative from the DOT came to a civic meeting in Hamilton Beach and said that 104th Street would be part of its 10-year capital project list with shovels in the ground for a totally new road by 2012, according to Gendron. This has yet to happen.

Betty Braton, chairwoman of Community Board 10, says the road has and will continue to be in the top 10 of the board’s capital budget request list.

“This is a difficult situation for residents of Hamilton Beach because of the nature of the roadway,” Braton said. “The people in Hamilton Beach deserve a street that is properly paved just as all residents of the city deserve a street that is properly paved.”

Gendron said he hopes that one day a capital project will be done for the street but for now would be content with the same project that is being done one neighborhood over.

“At this point all we want is the surface pavement to be re-done,” Gendron said. “Hopefully, that would hold us over until a capital project can actually be put in place.”

The DOT did not immediately respond to calls for comment.

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First 500 feet of new Hamilton Beach ‘boardwalk’ constructed


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Salvatore Licata

The repair work on the Hamilton Beach walkway connecting the town to the Coleman Square train station is making strides.

The first 500 feet of the now-concrete walkway has been built and officials hope the nearly 2,000-foot path will be fully constructed by the end of September, said Sal Simonetti, chief of staff for Councilman Eric Ulrich, at the Hamilton Beach Civic Association meeting on Aug. 14.

The concrete walkway is expected to be a bit wider than the original wooden boardwalk and will have handrails and lighting, according to Roger Gendron, president of the Hamilton Beach Civic Association.

Work began on May 17, nearly two and a half years after the bridge was rendered too dangerous to use because of damage from Superstorm Sandy.

A look at what the boardwalk looked like after Superstorm Sandy (Photo courtesy of Roger Gendron)

What the boardwalk looked like after Superstorm Sandy (Photo courtesy of Roger Gendron)

Part of the delay was attributed to uncertainty as to which city agency was responsible for the repairs. Ultimately, the Department of Citywide Administrative Services took responsibility and started the repair.

The walkway allows residents a straight path from the train station to Hamilton Beach. Residents have had to take a circuitous route into Hamilton Beach, which included a trek down Russell Street, which lacks an adequate sidewalk.

Even though the plans are mapped out to have the walkway finished by the end of September, Simonetti made it clear that this date was not set in stone.

But Gendron said he was happy that Hamilton Beach is finally starting to get some of its biggest issues addressed.

“This walkway is crucial for the residents of our neighborhood who need access to the Coleman Square train station,” Gendron said. “This will give our neighbors easier access into town and make for safer conditions while doing so.”

 

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Hamilton Beach residents stuck with ruined road


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Roger Gendron

In Hamilton Beach, residents say they witness new potholes and sink holes form right before their eyes.

On 104th Street, a main artery for cars, buses and pedestrian traffic coming in and out of the neighborhood, a new problem developed over just a few days.

“On Monday there was a slight indentation [on 104th Street] and by Thursday it had become a fully developed sink hole,” said Roger Gendron, president of the Hamilton Beach Civic Association.

Residents trace the problem to 10 years ago when new homes were built in one section and the street was gouged in several places for sewer piping. Aside from the newly formed hole in the road, Hamilton Beach’s main road is pocked with numerous holes that span over 200 feet.

The daily task of driving along 104th Street is fraught with indentations of all kinds that often force drivers to drive on the wrong side of the road to save their axles the abuse. The road also has a bus stop for the Q11 but there is no sidewalk for people to wait on, making them another obstacle that drivers have to look out for.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen the city do any work on these roads to fix these problems,” life-long resident Marie Persans said. “We see Howard Beach getting paved a lot but all we get is patches that wear out in no time.” Persans is also the vice-president of the civic association.

Residents ultimately want the Department of Transportation (DOT) to put in a completely new roadbed that would elevate the road, preventing pools of water from collecting in the holes during rainstorms. They also want a waiting area for people using the bus.

DOT Spokesman Nicholas Mosquera said that the department doesn’t have the resources to make these long-term changes.

“While DOT will look to include 104th Street in a future reconstruction schedule, the agency will continue to monitor the roadway, which was assessed last month, and repair potholes and perform any other short-term maintenance needs,” he said.

Councilman Eric Ulrich’s office has been working with the community to get the transportation department to get the resources need for long-term changes, according to Sal Simonetti, a representative for the councilman.

“These conditions are horrible,” Gendron said. “This is a very dangerous situation for everybody.”

 

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Residents protest flood insurance hikes


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Maggie Hayes

Skyrocketing flood insurance rates could “do more to destroy the community than any storm has ever done,” say hundreds of residents who came out to protest the looming costs.

In July 2012, Congress passed the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, which called on agencies such as FEMA to change the way the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is run.

Through the act, the NFIP will be required to raise flood rates to reflect “true flood risk” for a policyholder, according to FEMA.

“They say it’s going to be $400 this year, and $12,000 next year,” said Dorothy McClusky, a 33-year Howard Beach resident. “If the insurance rates go up that high, we’ll have to move.”

Residents said that over time, their rates could get as high as $30,000 a year.

Rallies protesting the price hikes were held nationwide on September 28. In the borough, people from Breezy Point, Rockaway Beach, Belle Harbor, Hamilton Beach, Howard Beach and Broad Channel packed tightly into Broad Channel’s American Legion to participate.

“We’re brought together by a common thread of this outrageous legislation,” said Dan Mundy, Jr., president of the Broad Channel Civic Association. “[This act] basically will decimate your biggest savings.”

“FEMA is the agency that is going to enact this. FEMA also couldn’t find this island for two weeks [after Sandy],” Mundy said, met by resounding cheers.

The act will over time eliminate all subsidized flood insurance rates for those in participating areas and can increase those rates by two to 10 times their current cost over a five-year period, according to Councilmember Eric Ulrich’s office.

New FEMA flood maps additionally place many more residents into Zone A and Zone AE – Biggert-Waters designated areas.

“Areas that have never flooded will now be required to carry flood insurance,” said Roger Gendron, president of the Hamilton Beach Civic Association. “Homes would become virtually unsellable.”

Last week, the City Council passed a resolution calling upon Congress to amend the legislation.

“Sandy was a 700-year storm event,” Mundy said. “Nature took its best shot at us, but we were able to stay here.”

“We didn’t survive the 700-year storm to be destroyed by FEMA,” he said.

FEMA did not wish to comment.

 

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