Tag Archives: Howard Beach

West Nile spraying scheduled for parts of Queens this week


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYC Department of Health

On Tuesday, Sept. 16, there will be West Nile spraying in parts of Queens, including along the Brooklyn-Queens border, to help reduce the mosquito population and the risk of the disease.

The spraying will take place between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 6 a.m. the next morning. In case of bad weather, the application will be delayed until Wednesday, Sept. 17 during the same hours.

The following neighborhoods are being treated due to rising West Nile virus activity with high mosquito populations, according to the city’s Health Department:

Parts of City Line, Cypress Hills, Highland Park, Howard Beach, Lindenwood, Ozone Park, Spring Creek and Woodhaven (Bordered by Jamaica Avenue and to the north; Shepherd Avenue, Fulton Street Line and Fountain Avenue to the west; Jamaica Bay to the south; and Rockaway Rail-Line, Rockaway Boulevard and Woodhaven Boulevard to the east).

For the application, the Health Department will spray pesticide from trucks and use a very low concentration of Anvil®, 10 + 10, a synthetic pesticide. When properly used, this product poses no significant risks to human health.

The Health Department recommends that people take the following precautions to minimize direct exposure:

  • Whenever possible, stay indoors during spraying. People with asthma or other respiratory conditions  are encouraged to stay inside during spraying since direct exposure could worsen these conditions.
  • Air conditioners may remain on, however, if you wish to reduce the possibility of indoor exposure to pesticides, set the air conditioner vent to the closed position, or choose the re-circulate function.
  •  Remove children’s toys, outdoor equipment, and clothes from outdoor areas during spraying. If  outdoor equipment and toys are exposed to pesticides, wash them with soap and water before using  again.
  • Wash skin and clothing exposed to pesticides with soap and water. Always wash your produce thoroughly with water before cooking or eating.

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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.

sandy_1

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.

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9/11 heroes battle cancer with hope


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Asha Mahadevan

BY ASHA MAHADEVAN

Thirteen years ago, when tragedy struck the World Trade Center, they were one of the first to respond to calls for help. Today, they are suffering the after-effects of their selflessness.

Two days before the anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, four Queens residents, who developed cancer because of their exposure to carcinogenic substances at the WTC site, came forward to share their pain at the North Shore – LIJ’s WTC Clinical Center of Excellence at Rego Park on Tuesday, Sept. 9.

John Licato, 52, a resident of Howard Beach and a former cop with the 110th Precinct in Corona, was diagnosed with neck cancer in 2012. Since then he has undergone chemotherapy and radiation and now, his cancer is in remission. Christian Foggy, 67, an electrician from Jamaica who transported generators to the site for almost two months, was treated for prostate cancer.

Former narcotics cop Joe Ramondino, 52, developed Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. “They said it was safe,” said the Maspeth resident about concerns that arose in the aftermath. Last August, he was told he is dealing with a type of cancer he calls “treatable but not curable.”

“It is devastating learning what is in your body,” he said. “I am just staying positive and following a healthy lifestyle.”

Added his wife Toni, “It was frightening. We are sticking together and getting through.”
The program at the WTC Clinical Center is federally funded by the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which is meant for treating the people who fell sick due to exposure to harmful materials at ground zero. The funding runs through 2016. Initially, the people being treated were those with respiratory disorders such as asthma and sinus cases, and mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder. However, cancer takes many years to develop, said Dr. Jacqueline Moline, vice president and chair of Population Health at North Shore-LIJ. “We have more than 2,500 certified cases,” she said. “Truncating the program after 15 years is not right.”

Patricia Workman, 76, and her sister Julia Mooney, both from Flushing, helped at the site as Red Cross volunteers. “I worked in the pit, in the morgue, served meals, distributed supplies, whatever needed to be done,” said Workman. She was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2008. She was treated and went into remission but suffered a relapse earlier this year. Despite her trauma, she says she doesn’t regret helping out the way she did. “It was a terrible day,” she said. “We should not forget it because if you do, it can happen again.”

Mooney, who suffered from PTSD due to her time at the site, added, “These people [who died that day] deserve to be remembered always.”

Despite their pain, the patients and their families are staying positive. As Ramondino put it, “Things could have been worse. Lots of people died that day. We are still here.”

“I have three children and three grandchildren,” said Workman. “I have a lot to live for.”

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Goldfeder tells DEP to rid southern Queens of sewer odors


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder

Southern Queens is the home of the highest concentration of odor complaints in the borough, according to 311 data, which prompted one local elected official to try to clear the air on this issue.

Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder is urging the Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner, Emily Lloyd, to step up efforts and remove debris from catch basins the area, many of which are now leaving foul odors around the neighborhoods.

“Our families shouldn’t have to hold their breath waiting on DEP to clean our sewers,” said Goldfeder. “Debris left by Sandy continues to clog our catch basins and sewers causing standing water and foul odors.”

The report was compiled by the website, BrickUnderground and apartment data site AddressReport, and included a list of the 10 smelliest and 10 least smelly neighborhoods in Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan by using data from odor-related complaints that 311 has received.

Five of the borough’s top 10 sites were in southern Queens and included the neighborhoods of Lindenwood, Neponsit, Howard Beach, Bayswater and Broad Channel.

Goldfeder sent a letter to DEP asking them to do a comprehensive review of the sewers in southern Queens and implement a schedule to regularly maintain the problematic ones.

“We have once again earned an awful distinction that could have been avoided,” Goldfeder noted.  “Sandy recovery must remain a priority for every city agency to ensure our infrastructure is updated and prepared for future storms. I strongly urge DEP to immediately investigate all the catch basins in our communities and ensure they are properly maintained to prevent flooding and foul odors.”

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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.”

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Cross Bay Boulevard gets more parking — for bikes


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Parking is never easy to find on Cross Bay Boulevard. But that has now changed — for bicyclists at least — as the Department of Transportation (DOT) has begun installing bike racks along the boulevard.

The installation of the racks is part of a citywide initiative of recycling and reusing the now-obsolete vehicle parking meter poles by converting them into bicycle parking spaces, according to a DOT representative.

“The bike racks being installed along Cross Bay Boulevard are part of a citywide project to recycle the single-space meters and retrofit the pipes into mini-hoop style bike racks,” the DOT representative said.

The installation began on Aug. 25 and a total of 86 bike racks are being put along both sides of the boulevard. The racks will extend from Liberty Avenue in Ozone Park, south to 165th Avenue in Howard Beach, according to the DOT representative.

The initiative was started in 2011 when many of the single-space parking meters had their heads removed as the muni-meters made their way onto city streets and demand grew for bike parking throughout the five boroughs. The bike racks are made to easily slide onto the old parking meter poles already installed on the sidewalk, according to the DOT website.

Howard Beach is part of the Jamaica Bay Greenway route, which has a bike lane running from the neighborhood into the Rockaways.

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Howard Beach COP car gets tire slashed


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Joe Thompson

He woke up to exactly what he is trying to deter.

Joe Thompson, founder of the Howard Beach Civilian Observation Patrol, was on watch Wednesday night and was getting a great response from his neighbors about his work.

But the next morning when he checked up on his patrol car, he saw a slash in one of its tires.

“I came back from patrol around 12 a.m. and parked my car in front of the house,” Thompson said. “When I came outside I noticed my tire was flat and when I looked at it I noticed a big slash.”

Thompson and his team just started patrolling the streets of Howard Beach and Lindenwood last week and have gotten a positive response from many residents. The slashed tire came as a shock to Thompson but he said it was something he could see happening.

“You’re always going to catch a few people that are against what you do,” Thompson said. “It’s a shame.”

Thompson said the vandalism will not alter his plans.

He said he hopes to have more civilian patrol cars on the streets in the future and that this one act of vandalism will not deter him.

“We are here to help the community,” Thompson said. “This won’t stop us from doing our patrol.”

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‘Recidivist’ car thief caught by 106th Precinct


| slicata@queenscourier.com

HANDCUFFS 2

An auto theft “recidivist” was arrested for grand larceny auto by cops from the 106th Precinct on Monday, police said, their second major arrest of an alleged car thief in the last month.

Richard Hobbs, 27, of Lindenwood, was caught behind the wheel of a stolen vehicle early Monday morning by plainclothes officers, cops said.

He was connected to the theft of two other vehicles just two weeks prior to this arrest, according to police.

Furthermore, cops were able to link Hobbs to four car break-ins in Howard Beach, police said.

In July, the cops from the 106th Precinct arrested a teenager in Howard Beach for breaking into vehicles throughout the neighborhood. At the time of the arrest, the alleged thief had property from at least five other cars, according to police.

Deputy Inspector Jeffrey Schiff, commanding officer of the 106th Precinct, has been out-spoken at community meetings, giving tips to residents on ways to keep their cars and property safe.

After the arrest of what he called the “auto-theft/car-break-in recidivist,” Schiff tweeted gleefully, “Let’s hope he goes away 4 a long while!”

After the two arrests, area residents are hopeful the worst is behind them.

“It is my hope that the arrests will help slow down these types of crimes in our community,” Joanne Ariola, a resident of Howard Beach, said.

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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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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.

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Councilman Ulrich allocates $25K to clean up graffiti in district


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Cross Bay Boulevard can draw comparisons to 5Pointz with the amount of graffiti that has stricken its surrounding neighborhoods, but clean-up is on the way.

In his discretionary budget, Councilman Eric Ulrich has allocated $25,000 to graffiti clean-up in the district. Ulrich is teaming up with the Queens Economic Development Corporation (EDC), which will choose a company for the clean-up, for the first time and is hoping to start the job next month.

Cleaning up graffiti in these neighborhoods and all of Council District 32 is something that Ulrich has funded throughout his time as councilman, but this year he has allocated more money than ever to hit even more problem areas, according to Rudy Giuliani, a representative for the councilman.

The focus areas that Ulrich outlined are the neighborhoods of Woodhaven and Ozone Park. This is where graffiti is the biggest problem in Ulrich’s district, Giuliani said. The company that is hired by the Queens EDC will then move on to other areas in the district, which include Howard Beach, Lindenwood and the Rockaways.

 

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Howard Beach rabbi gets relative’s grave mix-up fixed


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Rabbi Ricter

Rabbi Avrohom Ricter, director of  Chabad of Howard Beach, is finally at peace after narrowly beating a deadline to correct a 50-year-old error on a relative’s grave in a Wisconsin military cemetery.

Ricter, whose relative was a WWII veteran, found the grave on May 23 by chance when doing some genealogy searches online. He noticed the grave, which was dug in June of 1964 in Wood National Cemetery in Milwaukee, had a Christian cross symbol instead of the Star of David on it.

To stay in line with Veteran’s Affairs, whose rules prohibit modifying a memorial after 50 years, he needed to act fast and got the help of U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand to speed up the process.

“I got in touch with Veteran’s Affairs right away to try to get it changed but was not getting anywhere,” Ricter said. “I truly thank Gillibrand for helping me fix this in time. It shows that she cares about the normal, everyday person.”

Ricter came across the grave just three weeks before he would have been out of time. He said his relative, Henry Dienstein, had no children, which is why no one had ever noticed the mistake.

By chance, he was on the website findagrave.com helping a woman translate Yiddish writing on one of her ancestor’s graves and then decided to stay on the site and plug in some old family names. That’s when he found Dienstein’s grave with the incorrect religious mark on it and called the senator.

“It’s amazing how something like this just dropped in my lap,” he said. “I felt strongly about this and wanted to go and get it changed.”

Gillibrand expedited the case with the VA and provided the proper paperwork and evidence to get the correct headstone in place. Once everything was confirmed by the VA, they immediately switched the headstones.

“We pay tribute to Mr. Dienstein’s courageous service in defense of our nation in World War II,” Gillibrand said.

“This headstone will ensure that Mr. Dienstein’s memory is rightly honored.”

Ricter said he could not blame the VA for the error on the grave. He noted that back then, when you requested a religious emblem you had to give a number instead of spelling out which symbol you wanted, which he suspects caused the mix-up.

 

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Howard Beach restaurant hosts movie shoot


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE QUEENS COURIER/ Photo by Salvatore Licata

Howard Beach is going Hollywood.

A scene from a feature-length film named “Where Hearts Lie” was shot at Lenny’s Clam Bar on Cross Bay Boulevard on Monday.

At Lenny’s, the film crew was shooting the first date scene between the two lead characters. It took about three hours to shoot the scene, which included about 25 extras and the two main characters. It was a perfect local spot to film this scene, according to Peter Iengo, producer of the film.

“I love this location because there is so much history here,” said Iengo, who mentioned the actual clam bar may be featured in the movie. “It’s a great spot to shoot this scene.”

The movie is about a young up-and-coming real estate entrepreneur from East New York who is trying to gain support for the projects he is working on after he took over the real estate business from his father, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s.

He meets a young women while he is working on his projects, falls in love and has a child not knowing that his spouse is mentally unstable. Once he sees her instability he wants to break away and fights for the custody of his child, which becomes the main plot of the movie.

Only two scenes are filmed in Queens, one at Lenny’s and one at the Elixir Lounge in Jamaica. The rest will be filmed in Brooklyn and the total filming period is about three weeks. Hollywood stars Clifton Powell, from movies like “Next Friday” and “Ray,” and Malik Yuba, from “Cool Runnings,” make guest appearances in the film as well.

Once the post-production is finished, the film team will send the finished product to films festivals and shop it around to distribution companies.

 

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Howard Beach defunct fire hydrants fixed after residents complain


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of state Sen. Joseph Addabbo's office

The Department of Environmental Protection fixed four broken fire hydrants in Howard Beach after state Sen. Joseph Addabbo’s office brought the problem to the agency’s attention.

“It is a major concern when a fire hydrant at any location is not working, but particularly the two hydrants located … on the block of Ave Maria Catholic Academy,” Addabbo said in a letter to DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd date. “It is important that these fire hydrants remain functional in the event of an emergency.”

Addabbo’s office first became aware of the issue after residents in the area complained to his office. The FDNY marked the four hydrants with a white circle to signal that they were broken. According to the state senator, the fire department is also supposed to tell the DEP about these problems but failed to do so. After receiving Addabbo’s letter, the agency fixed all four hydrants.

“When constituents contacted my office and I saw these fire hydrants, I was shocked,” Addabbo said. “I thought it was unacceptable to leave these communities defenseless, without a proper means to fight against a fire emergency, especially near a school.”

The FDNY did not respond to a query from The Courier about why they didn’t inform the DEP about the problem.

The locations of the four hydrants are 157th Avenue between 86th and 87th streets; 157th Avenue between 100th and 101st streets; in front of Ave Maria Catholic Academy on 158th Avenue between 100th and 101st streets; and 101st Street between 158th and 159th avenues.

 

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Cross Bay Key Food set to open at end of summer


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE QUEENS COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

SALVATORE LICATA

Howard Beach is finally ready to open its second largest supermarket.

Key Food, located on 164th Avenue and Cross Bay Boulevard, is set to open at the “end of the summer,” according to a spokeswoman for the Key Food Corporation. It has been a long awaited opening for the building that has been out of commission since Hurricane Sandy.

There were rumors throughout the neighborhood that the store was not going to open at all. The announcement that Key Food was coming to the boulevard came more than a year ago and many theorized the store wasn’t big enough for refrigeration of its products. But with signs going up this week and workers filing in and out of the site, the opening appears imminent.

The shop will be branded as a Key Food “Fresh” location, which will compete with Waldbaum’s, the only other supermarket on the boulevard.

 

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