Tag Archives: Hamilton Beach

Queens is the borough with the most roads and the most potholes

| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Queens isn’t just the “World’s Borough.” It’s also the borough with the city’s most tire-wrecking potholes — a total of 20,000 that have been filled by city crews so far in 2015.

“Queens has the largest share of roads out of the five boroughs so that only makes sense,”  Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said of the pothole problem.

With severe winter weather, roads take a beating and inevitably develop potholes. And so the city’s transportation department is fighting a perpetual battle with limited resources. On a recent Tuesday there were 12 crews out citywide fixing pock-marked streets.

Last year, the city filled almost 500,000 potholes and 131,000 of those fixed were in Queens.  And this year 20,000 potholes were filled in Queens, almost half of all citywide jobs to date.

With over 2,000 miles of roadway, the most of any borough, the number of potholes in the road is higher than in other boroughs, a spokeswoman for the Department of Transportation pointed out. The transportation department had filled a similar number of potholes this time last year.

At the time, it was the “most potholes ever filled at this point of the year in the history of New York City,” according to a then newly-elected Mayor de Blasio, who visited Maspeth last year to fill some holes.

Pothole season typically starts by February and dies down by April, though the timeline is dependent on weather, experts say. And while most potholes are just a nuisance, they can sometimes be a threat in neighborhoods like Hamilton Beach, where the neighborhood’s main road resembles the surface of the moon, causing traffic jams and dangerous conditions for pedestrians.

“This is a constant priority for us,” Trottenberg said of the pothole repair program.


Some Hamilton Beach residents reject James Court capital project plan

| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Salvatore Licata

Hamilton Beach is set for a multi-million dollar project to help alleviate tidal flooding issues on James Court. But residents living on the street smacked the plan down, saying it was more than they need.

“Why is it that when the city comes in they give you this”—James Court resident Rich Lynch widened his hands to represent something big—”when you only want this?”—he closed the gap between his hands to represent something small.

The city’s Department of Design and Construction (DDC) came to present their new project for the street at the Hamilton Beach Civic Association meeting on Jan. 22. They were met with residents from the street who weren’t so sure this would be a beneficial project.

The DDC calls for adding a bulk head to the end of the street, adding up to two feet of asphalt in some places to have a higher street elevation, and pitching the street in a way that the water would flow into the middle, where the sewers and catch basins would be installed. Moreover, they would move the utility poles from the north side of the street to the south side and were talking about the possibility of a shared street concept.

This would mean that both the sidewalk and street would be on the same level, leaving no heightened curb. The DDC is working on a project like this in Broad Channel, where they got every resident of each of the streets they are working on to sign a consent letter for the construction. But the residents of James Court aren’t convinced.

“We just want the end of the street fixed, a bulk head put in and maybe to pitch the street correctly,” said Lynch, who has lived on the block for six years. “We will deal with the flooding.”

The end of the block, where the street meets the canal, is eroding into the water. It is so bad that there are cement barriers placed in front of the ditch, because if a car or pedestrian were to fall into the ditch, they would end up right in the water. As years have gone by, the erosion has gotten worse, which is why some type of project is paramount.

James Court does have tidal flooding issues, approximately 7 percent of the year, that this project was designed to specifically address. The project would not address extreme weather events such as flash floods or another storm like Superstorm Sandy.

By raising the street, in some places up to two feet, tidal floods would not be high enough for water to make its way onto the street. The street would also be pitched to the creek. But raising the street would mean that residents’ sidewalks and stairs to get into their houses would be affected.

This would mean that some of the first steps people use to get into their house would have to be buried or reconstructed, if they are located directly on the sidewalk, so that the full street would be level.

Furthermore, because now people’s driveways would be substantially lower than the street, the DDC would construct a down ramp to the driveways and provide a pit for the homeowner to put a sump pump in so that rainwater falling down from the elevated street wouldn’t puddle up on the property.

“I’d rather you take this money and help every block in Hamilton Beach,” said Lynch. “Give every block in Hamilton Beach bulk heads.”

After the presentation, DDC’s original plan was to go to each resident individually and talk specifically about how it would affect their property. But because so much animosity about the project was voiced at the meeting, the DDC will send down three consultants and talk to the homeowners one-on-one to go over what exactly would happen to their property.

“I think we can all agree that simpler is better,” said Roger Gendron, president of the Hamilton Beach Civic Association. “Ultimately consent letters would have to be obtained by every resident. I appreciate that the city came in and heard the concerns of the residents. Now they can go back and look at other ways of doing it.”


‘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.

ham beach sign 3

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.”




Hamilton Beach boardwalk officially opened

| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

The final stone has been set, and the brand-new Hamilton Beach “boardwalk” has opened.

The 2,000-foot-long cement walkway now provides access for Hamilton Beach residents to travel a direct path from the neighborhood to the Coleman Square train station. Before the reconstruction, the now-cement path was a boardwalk with wooden slats.

The boardwalk was in disrepair for many years, with some boards missing and rusty rail, but it was usable. But once Superstorm Sandy hit, the fragile boardwalk was further damaged and deemed too dangerous for the public to use.

Following Sandy, the city dragged its heels on repairing the boardwalk because of a dispute over who actually owned the land beneath it. The city’s Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) claimed that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority owned the land, while the state-run MTA insisted it was the city’s land and responsibility.

Councilman Eric Ulrich then pushed for repairs to be done immediately by the city and the rightful owner, DCAS, took over the project.

Photo courtesy of Roger Gendron

Photo courtesy of Roger Gendron

“This is an issue our office has worked on with DCAS and the Hamilton Beach community for a long time,” Ulrich said. “In an area with limited ways in and out, the boardwalk is a main route connecting many people to the Howard Beach A train station. Residents will once again have easier access to transportation — but the boardwalk is just one part of the neighborhood that needed repair and we aim to fix them all.”

Repairs started back in May and were finished last week. The new “boardwalk” is now a cement path with a stone embankment descending to the water. The walkway has a new fence and guardrail.

“As a whole this is a positive step [for Hamilton Beach],” said Roger Gendron, president of the New Hamilton Beach Civic Association. “It is great that we have another way out of Hamilton Beach that is safer for residents to get to the businesses in Coleman Square and the train station.”

Hamilton Beach is a small portion of Howard Beach and is separated from the rest of the neighborhood by canals and waterways. There are only three ways out of the neighborhood, one being the boardwalk, which was out of commission for the past two years.

“I am glad to finally see that Hamilton Beach is finally getting some of the attention that it desperately needs from the city,” Gendron noted. “This is a great step forward.”


Hamilton Beach boardwalk project close to completion

| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

The final steps of the new Hamilton Beach boardwalk are being constructed and it could be opening up soon.

The “boardwalk,” which will now be a cement path connecting Hamilton Beach to Old Howard Beach, has been fully paved and railings have been installed, according to Councilman Eric Ulrich’s office, which is overseeing the plans.

The main portion of the project has been done by the NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS). The last remaining portion of it, which is to add the ramp connecting the train station to the boardwalk, has to be done in partnership with the MTA since they own that portion of the land.

Work started on the path in May and was scheduled to finish by the end of September, but building the ramp has prolonged this process.

“There are a couple of little things left to be done,” said Redmond Haskins, a representative from Ulrich’s office. “But the large portion of the project is completed.”

There is no set date for the opening as the office is still trying to figure out the plans with the MTA.

The boardwalk stretches about 2,000 feet and is used as the main walkway for residents in Hamilton Beach to get to and from the A-train station in Old Howard Beach. It was in disrepair for many years but became totally unusable when Superstorm Sandy hit the area.

Since 2012, residents have had a longer and more dangerous walk to the train because they have to travel on a street without a sidewalk to get out of the neighborhood.

The MTA did not immediately respond for a request of comment on the issue.


Sandy vigil held in Hamilton Beach to mark two-year anniversary

| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Hamilton Beach was one of the areas hardest hit by Superstorm Sandy and two years later, some residents are still not back in their homes.

On the storms’s anniversary Wednesday, the neighborhood came together for a candle light vigil to support those who are still displaced and give thanks to all those who helped during the harsh times.

“In our community, Sandy brought out the best of our people,” said Roger Gendron, president of the Hamilton Beach Civic Association. “Groups that came into help two years ago are still here helping today. It has been a constant flow of generosity.”

The vigil was held at the West Hamilton Beach Fire Department, a group that was and is “a vital life line to the community,” Gendron remarked. Over 50 residents, and local and city officials were present to take a moment of silence for all those who are still affected by the aftermath of the storm.

“If anything good came from the storm it was that it showed the strong sense of community,” Councilman Eric Ulrich said. “We will be here every year lighting candles until everyone in this community that was displaced is back in their home.”

The ceremony was led by Father Anthony Rucando of Our Lady of Grace Parish. He led the residents of the neighborhood in a tearful prayer ceremony that was joined by the director of Build It Back, Amy Peterson.

“I am inspired everyday by the strength of communities like yours,” Peterson said. “We are doing everything we can and are committed to moving you forward in the process.”


Howard Beach COP gives first community report of patrol

| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of HBCOP

For a little over two months the Howard Beach Civilian Observation Patrol (COP) has been making rounds throughout the neighborhood to help deter crime.

Between Aug. 18 and Oct. 22, the patrol has recorded a total of 148 incidents. Two of those incidents also saw NYPD response, according to Joe Thompson, president of the Howard Beach COP.

Addressing crime prevention and quality-of-life issues, the patrol secured 13 car trunks, 26 garage doors, 10 doors leading into a house and 18 open house doors throughout the neighborhoods of Howard Beach, Old Howard Beach, Hamilton Beach and Lindenwood.

“We are out here to work with the community and try to deter crime from happening,” Thompson said.

During the 68-day period, the patrol also called in 13 complaints to 311 and dealt with 27 “miscellaneous” incidents, which included illegal fishing in the area or ladders left at construction sites, Thompson said.

The unit has also been involved in a number of community events, including the NYFAC bike loop, Hamilton Beach Baby parade, Charles Park clean-up and the most recent Halloween parade, where Thompson drove around in a hearse to add some more spirit to the event.

Thompson said he was excited that his patrol has grown to its current 22 members with two marked and two unmarked patrol cars as it continues to help out the residents of Howard Beach.

“This is what we do,” Thompson said. “And we do it to help renew the quality of life in the neighborhood.”


New Hamilton Beach playground has its grand opening ceremony

| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

It was a fun-filled day for the residents of Hamilton Beach on Sunday, as the neighborhood’s brand-new playground was officially opened to the public.

“It’s almost two years to the day that this community, along with many others, was hit with Hurricane Sandy. Not long after Sandy, I was contacted about the playground in Hamilton Beach,” said Roger Gendron, president of the New Hamilton Beach Civic Association. “After many months of planning, I’m happy to say that the children in this community now have a new playground.”

The grand opening event consisted of a bouncy castle, pumpkin patch, balloon clown, popcorn and cotton candy makers and a station for children to paint Stars of Hope, which were displayed all around the neighborhood of Hamilton Beach after Hurricane Sandy struck.

The playground set and project funds were donated by Resorts World Casino. In total, the cost was $40,000 to take down the old Sandy-stricken set, replace it with the new one, add two new benches to the play area, take off the old matting and replace it with new matting.

Gendron was contacted by Councilman Erich Ulrich, who told him Resorts World wanted to come in and rebuild the playground, soon after Sandy virtually destroyed it. They then got together with Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder and state Sen. Joe Addabbo, who worked with the National Parks Service and Local 1010 of the Pavers and Road Union to have the playground built.

The project was started in mid-August and was totally finished just last week, but Gendron and the New Hamilton Beach Civic Association wanted to hold a grand opening to thank all those who helped make the project possible.

On behalf of our entire community, I want to thank Resorts World for everything you’ve done for us,” Gendron said. “Resorts World has shown their generosity to Hamilton Beach over and over again and I just want them to know that we truly appreciate everything they’ve done for us.”




Residents clean up graffiti-stricken bridge in Hamilton Beach

| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Salvatore Licata

Graffiti has been a problem in Hamilton Beach for decades, creating eyesores all around the neighborhood.

And the bridge that connects Hamilton Beach to Old Howard Beach over Hawtree Creek, known to residents as the “blue bridge,” is one of the most notorious spots for defacement.

But some residents, who are fed up with the look it gives the neighborhood, took clean-up matters into their own hands.

“One day, while hanging on my boat with some friends, we all started talking [about] how the bridge made the neighborhood look degrading,” said Laura Weiser, a resident of Hamilton Beach for 12 years. “So, I decided to do something about it.”

And she did.


In the beginning of October, Weiser, along with her friend and fellow resident of Hamilton Beach, Traci Scotto, bought some green paint, and started painting over the graffiti on the concrete footing of the bridge.

Within three hours, the pair fully painted the northern portion of the footing on the Hamilton Beach side but soon after ran into some trouble.

As Weiser was starting to paint the southern portion, on her second day of painting, she slipped, fell and tore tendons and ligaments in her left wrist. Because of this injury, she could not finish painting the side and has left it a quarter of the way done.

She is now hoping that some residents will follow her good deed and help finish painting the concrete as she will not be able to do so for another six weeks.

“I would love to have finished painting the bridge,” Weiser said. “I still have plenty of paint and new rollers and brushes. Now, I just need someone to continue on what I have started.”


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.



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.


Sandy-stricken trees to be cut down in Howard Beach

| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Salvatore Licata

Dead trees are a common sight in Howard Beach — a constant reminder of the devastation the neighborhood faced nearly two years ago when Hurricane Sandy ripped its way through the area.

But the neighborhood will now witness an arboreal upheaval as the Parks Department moves to uproot and replace a virtual forest of trees.

“Several hundred street trees damaged by Hurricane Sandy in Community Board 10 are slated to be removed and replaced,” said Meghan Lalor, a representative from the Parks Department. “Any tree that was marked for removal was considered to be dead or in such decline that it would not be able to recover to full health.”

The trees and their stumps will be removed entirely and will later be replaced by new trees. Each tree that is slated for removal has an “X” marked on its trunk. The removal process for many of them will take place from Sept. 15 to Sept. 19.


Soon after Hurricane Sandy, the Parks Department went out to survey the storm’s effect on the city’s trees.

The Parks Department looked at about 48,000 trees citywide, and categorized each of them by their leaf coverage. Since then, the department has been monitoring the trees’ leaf coverage and behavior throughout the growing seasons, which has helped identify which trees should be axed.

The exact number of trees to be cut down in Community Board 10 has yet to be determined. Parks is still surveying the neighborhoods to make sure all of the problematic trees are reached.


Build it Back numbers improve in Howard Beach

| slicata@queenscourier.com

Even though residents of Howard Beach have been frustrated with the Build it Back process, numbers are moving in the right direction for the neighborhood.

On Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that there have been 535 construction starts and that 543 reimbursement checks have been distributed to Hurricane Sandy victims in the city, thus exceeding his Labor Day goals of 500 constructions starts and 500 checks handed out.

On a smaller level, numbers in area code 11414, which includes Lindenwood, Howard Beach, Old Howard Beach and Hamilton Beach, are also on the rise.

Out of the approximate 1,200 active Build it Back applicants in 11414, 95 have received checks and 60 have started construction, according to a representative from the mayor’s office. There are also 139 applicants who have finished construction plan consultations and 564 who have formally been made an assessment offer, the representative added.

These numbers were at zero in the beginning of the year.

Over the past few months, the mayor’s office has overhauled the Build it Back process, allowing applications to move more fluidly through the program.

This overhaul includes putting senior city staff members in charge of Build it Back centers and case management, and allowing homeowners to consult with designers and architects earlier in the process, making construction scheduling easier, the representative said.

“It was simply unacceptable that not a single homeowner had gotten relief as of the beginning of this year,” de Blasio said. “We know there’s much more work ahead — and we’re committed to continuing to speed up recovery so that every homeowner gets the relief they need.”


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.



Howard Beach COP starts patrol

| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Joe Thompson

Howard Beach and its surrounding neighborhoods have added another set of eyes on the street as the Civilian Observation Patrol officially started their watch on Aug. 19.

“In a short amount of time we have been able to accomplish a lot,”  said Joe Thompson, founder of the Howard Beach Civilian Observation Patrol (HBCOP), a nonprofit organization. “Things are going really well.”

The patrol team has been going out through the neighborhoods of Lindenwood, Howard Beach, Old Howard Beach and Hamilton Beach for the past week. Thompson, joined by two to three members of the team each night, patrols the neighborhoods in the organization’s newly donated watch vehicle, which they are hoping will have an amber patrol light on top of it in the near future if approved by Deputy Inspector Jeffrey Schiff of the 106th Precinct.

HBCOP has about 15 members at this point and is doing its patrol strictly as a not-for-profit organization with no affiliation to the NYPD yet. To be fully recognized by the NYPD all members must first complete the Citizens’ Police Academy program, according to Thompson. Until then, he will be putting all of his members through security training programs that will properly prepare them to patrol.

Even though Thompson started the patrol in hopes of deterring crime from happening, he says he and his patrol team are looking to help the community in many different ways.

“We want to be able to assist the community with all types of quality of life issues,” Thompson said.

Along with assisting the 106th Precinct in “The Loop,” HBCOP will be helping out Hamilton Beach in its annual baby parade and are looking for ways to help out in the Columbus Day Parade in October. Thompson said they will also try to assist in graffiti removal programs as well as helping to clean up Charles Park.

“We want to be embraced by the community and let them know we are here to help out,” he added.

To find out more about HBCOP, visit their new website at hbcop.com.