Tag Archives: Howard Beach

Elmhurst woman writes Queens walking tour book


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Image courtesy of Adrienne Onofri

One Elmhurst woman is hoping her new book will help readers step out their doors and take a stroll while exploring all that Queens has to offer.

Adrienne Onofri is the author behind “Walking Queens,” a new book that features 30 detailed walking tours through the borough exploring architecture, distinct cultures in different neighborhoods, historical landmarks, celebrity homes and natural scenery.

“There are one or two books about neighborhoods in Queens but really no guide book completely dedicated to Queens,” Onofri said. 

The opportunity to write this book came after Onofri, a licensed New York City sightseeing guide, wrote “Walking Brooklyn: 30 Tours Exploring Historical Legacies.” 

Her publisher became interested in doing a version for Queens, and Onofri said she jumped at the idea because a lot of people had asked her to write a walking tour book for the borough she has called home for decades.

“I liked the idea because I can say I live in Queens,” Onofri said. 

To compile the book, which took about a year to finish, Onofri traveled the borough on nothing but her two legs and public transportation. She sketched out routes based on what she already had in mind or knew she wanted to include. Other locations, she said, she roamed and discovered in order to create the detailed walks. 

“There are a lot of people that drive around and don’t get around in public transportation much,” Onofri said. “[The book] is just encouraging them to go a few neighborhoods over, which they would normally drive pass on the highway.”

The neighborhoods featured in the book go from Long Island City and Astoria all the way to Howard Beach and the Rockaways. Along with these, Onofri also spent time in the borough’s parks such as Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Alley Pond Park and Rockaway Park. 

The book, with photographs taken by the author, includes maps of the area that will be walked, nearby trains or buses, points of interest in the neighborhood, historical facts and detailed directions of how to get around. 

Part of the Hunters Point Historic District on 45th Ave. in Long Island City (Photo by  Adrienne Onofri)

Part of the Hunters Point Historic District on 45th Ave. in Long Island City (Photo by Adrienne Onofri)

“There are things you walk past and don’t notice,” Onofri said. “This book has the discoveries of things that you might not take the time to notice regularly.”

While working on the book, Onofri said she realized there were instances where she noticed things she hadn’t before. Also, one of the issues was trying to fit as much as she could in the 254-page book, with some things just not being able to be included. 

“There was a lot of stuff to learn, whether it was just some place I had been only a couple of times or a place I really didn’t know much about before,” she said. 

Onofri said she is still conducting tours in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. 

To contact Onofri to schedule a tour, email walkingqueens@gmail.com.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Fire breaks out at Howard Beach building


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

A one-story commercial building on Cross Bay Boulevard caught fire Thursday evening.

Around 5:22 p.m., a fire broke out in the cockloft of the building, which houses Scott Baron and Associates Law Office, located at 159-49 Cross Bay Blvd., according to the FDNY.

Firefighters had the flames under control by about 6:00 p.m., the FDNY said.

About eight engine trucks were on scene.

There were no injuries, according to the FDNY.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

 

 

 

Abandoned home in Howard Beach cleaned up


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

After Superstorm Sandy hit, many houses in Howard Beach were destroyed, leaving homeowners who couldn’t pay for the repairs in a bind.

Now, some of those homes sit in the same condition they were in after the storm, abandoned and deteriorating.

During his nightly patrol on Nov. 11, Joe Thompson of the Howard Beach Civilian Observation Patrol (COP) noticed that one of these abandoned, Sandy-damaged homes had its door kicked in. He has been keeping a watchful eye on this house, on 155th Avenue and 78th Street in Lindenwood, because he knew the owners do not live there anymore.

He exited his patrol car, checked the house from the outside for any activity and then closed the door and secured it.

Thompson, realizing that the fact that no one lives at the house makes it a potential site for squatters, got in touch with some of the neighbors to see if they knew the whereabouts of the homeowner so he could get in contact with them. He was able to get a phone number and called the homeowner to ask for permission to secure the house to deter squatters from coming in.

The owners left for Florida because of the conditions of the house and their lack of money to fix it, according to Thompson. The windows had garbage bags on them, graffiti was drawn on the house, weeds were growing rapidly and there was a greenish tint on the side paneling of the house from the nearby tree.

“It hurts my heart to see someone’s home damaged and them not be able to do anything about it,” Thompson said.

After getting the OK, he went to the house with his patrol and started working on Nov. 15. They trimmed the weeds, took measurements of the windows on the first floor and went to Home Depot to buy the supplies with their own money.

The next day they came back and boarded up the windows and doors, making sure the property was secure and lessening the chance for any illegal activity to occur there.

“I know how it hurts when you don’t have any money to fix your home,” said Thompson, who had to move from his home when it was destroyed in Superstorm Sandy. “We are here to help the community and the residents here, and this is one way we were able to.”

Even though they already secured the home, Thompson and his team are going one step further. They will be coming back with a power washer to clean the greenish tint from the panels and try to wipe away the graffiti, making the home less of an eyesore for residents who live nearby. He’s also in the process of surveying Howard Beach for any other abandoned homes.

“This is what we do,” he noted. “We want to help get this neighborhood’s quality of life back.”

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Select Bus Service lanes to speed up travel along Woodhaven Boulevard


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of MTA

Transit officials unveiled three potential designs for Woodhaven Boulevard’s new Select Bus Service (SBS), slated to be the first rapid transit lane in the city physically separated from traffic.

The MTA and Department of Transportation (DOT) have to choose whether to either quickly create designated lanes off-set from the curb with room for parking; extend sidewalks that would meet the off-set lanes; or dig up medians and build main road bus lanes.

Whichever design is chosen, the route will run from Queens Boulevard to the Rockaways and will allow for three lanes of traffic on both sides of the corridor.

In the first option, the off-set bus lanes would be one lane out from the curb, leaving space for parking along the boulevard. This option would warrant the least construction out of the three proposed routes.

Additionally, the DOT would build out the sidewalk at designated “SBS bus bulb stations.” In that case, the sidewalk would be extended out to the off-set bus lanes to allow more room for passengers waiting to get on the bus.

The second proposal would create main road bus lanes in the right lane throughout the designated area. From Union Turnpike to Myrtle Avenue and Park Lane South to Rockaway Boulevard, it would run in the right lane of the main road corridor. Then, it would take the right lane from Rockaway Boulevard south to the Rockaways.

If main road bus lanes were put in, the DOT would come in and rip up much of the medians separating the main roads from the service roads and widen them so that people waiting for the bus have at least 7 to 10 feet of curb space to stand on.

They would also be building new medians in certain designated areas that have not all been determined yet.

For the final proposal, the red painted lanes would run through the middle of each corridor where the left lanes currently are.

To do this type of project, the DOT would come in and rip up the corridors that separate north- and south-bound traffic and expand them where necessary.

Furthermore, for the median lanes, north- and south-bound buses will travel right next to each other. For north-bound stops, the median for people to stand on will be on the east side of the bus, and for south-bound stops, travelers will wait on the west side.

All plans at this point are still being studied by the agencies. They will continue to work in more detail on every section of the boulevard for each proposal and will also have more community outreach, according to a representative who is working on the project.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Pair suspected in second travel agency robbery


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

Two suspects who tied up the employees of a Howard Beach travel agency during an armed robbery last week are likely connected to a second travel agency robbery in Queens just days later, authorities said.

In both incidents, the suspects tied up the business’s employees at gunpoint before trying to take money from the safe.

The suspects, both armed with guns, entered Liberty Travel on Cross Bay Boulevard about 9:40 a.m. on Nov. 7, and ordered its six employees to the back of the agency, police said. They then zip-tied the employees and asked for the location of the safe. The suspects then took an undetermined amount of money from the safe and the employees’ cell phones before fleeing.

Police believe the same two men robbed the Crown Travel Agency in South Richmond Hill on Wednesday morning.

Two men, one armed with a gun, entered the 118th Street business about 11 a.m. and zip-tied the employees. They then demanded that the employees open the safe. When they could not open it, the suspects took an undetermined amount of money from a cash tin in the office as well as jewelry and cash from the two employees and then fled.

Photos of the suspects captured during the robbery at Crown Travel Agency.

Photos of the suspects captured during the robbery at Crown Travel Agency.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

NY Sun Club to replace Beach Bum Tanning on Cross Bay Boulevard


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

When the door of one tanning salon closes, another one will open.

After the closure of Beach Bum Tanning on Cross Bay Boulevard in Howard Beach, signs were recently put up for NY Sun Club Tanning and Airbrush.

The new tanning salon at 156-40C Cross Bay Blvd. plans to open in the next three weeks, according to an owner of the property, who didn’t clarify why Beach Bum left the location.

RECOMMENDED STORIES 

Man writes book recalling his near-death Howard Beach crash


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Joe Parenti

It was winter 1988, and Joe Parenti was 23, driving home after filling up his gas tank, when he was blindsided by a stolen car going 80 mph at 162nd Avenue and 91st Street.

He went into cardiac arrest and nearly died at the scene. When doctors took a closer look, they noticed that Parenti had a “swollen and twisted brain” and major damage to his spinal cord, among other injuries. They told his family that if he were to survive, he would suffer from brain damage for the rest of his life.

“It was the type of experience that I wasn’t sure I would survive from,” Parenti said.

The Howard Beach resident has now written a book about the crash in the hope of inspiring others.

Its name, “Miracle on 91st Street,” is the perfect setup for what follows between the covers. Those who have heard his story, as well as Parenti, believe that it is a miracle he is still alive.

In the book, he takes the reader through his time growing up in Howard Beach, the accident and the ensuing years of recovery, which is where his message lies.

Spending seven months in three different hospitals, switching doctors and receiving numerous types of treatment taught Parenti lessons that he still carries with himself and is now sharing with others.

“All that time in the hospital really made me think,” he said. “It taught me to not worry about the little things in life and the power of perseverance.”

Throughout the novel, Parenti looks back on all the people who were there to help him through his recovery. He mentions the West Hamilton Beach Fire Department and credits them with his life, saying, “Without the quick response and expert care of The West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department, I would not be alive today.”

He is donating a portion of his profits from the book to the fire department to show his gratitude.

Even though Parenti, 49, is still dealing with some aftereffects of the accident, he says he has only gotten happier each day since the crash.

He is now a self-employed CPA residing in West Hempstead and still lives by two life lessons he learned because of the accident: the power of perseverance and that anything is possible.

“The accident changed my outlook in terms of where I’m heading in life,” Parenti said. “I want my story to inspire people to fight for what they want and never give in.”

To find out more about the book, visit www.miracleon91st.com or “Miracle on 91st Street-Surviving the impossible” on Facebook. The book is available through his website or on Amazon.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Photos released of suspects in armed robbery at Howard Beach travel agency


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

The search continues for two suspects who tied up the employees of a Howard Beach travel agency during an armed robbery Friday morning.

The pair, both armed with guns, entered Liberty Travel, located at 156-40 Cross Bay Blvd., about 9:40 a.m. and ordered its six employees to the back of the agency, police said. They then zip-tied the employees and asked for the location of the safe.

The suspects took an undetermined amount of money from the safe and the employee’s cell phones before fleeing, authorities said.

No one was injured in the robbery.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Howard Beach travel agency robbed at gunpoint


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Pierangelo Licata

Two men robbed Liberty Travel in Howard Beach Friday morning, according to police.

The suspects, who were wearing hoodies, entered the travel agency, located at 156-40 Cross Bay Blvd., at about 9:50 a.m. and asked for cash at gunpoint, authorities said.

It was not immediately clear how much money was taken. The two suspect are still at large.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Three injured in fiery Howard Beach car crash


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Salvatore Licata

A two-car accident in Old Howard Beach caused one to flip over and the other to catch fire Wednesday afternoon.

The accident happened on 159th Avenue and 99th Street at around noon. At the scene, one car was flipped on its side and hit the fence of the corner house on the block, while the other hit a utility pole and burst into flames.

fire_two

The fire was put out quickly by first responders.

Three people were taken to Jamaica Hospital and one person refused to go to the hospital, according to the FDNY.

The extent of the injuries was not immediately clear.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Star of Queens: Michael Brothers, chairman of the board, NYFAC Foundation


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Mike Brothers_Star of Queens_10-30

BACKGROUND: Born in the Bronx and raised in Pequannock, New Jersey, Michael Brothers, 56, moved to Queens in 1987 to become a licensed insurance broker for a firm in Woodhaven.

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Brothers has been the chairman of the board of the NYFAC Foundation based in Howard Beach since its inception in 2012. NYFAC is a 100 percent volunteer organization and works to better the lives of adults and children with autism. Brothers chairs the quarterly board meetings, ensures the board members are running fundraising events and raises awareness about the NYFAC Foundation. Under his leadership, the organization developed its website which helps it to spread awareness and raise funds.

GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Without a doubt my family is my greatest achievement,” said Brothers. “I have a wonderful wife, Aida, and two great sons. I come from a strong, tight-knit family. I am lucky enough to still have both my parents and four supportive siblings in my life. I also love my job and look forward to coming to work every day. Serving as chairman of the NYFAC Foundation is right up there as well. Knowing we are helping is a great feeling of accomplishment.”

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “Fundraising! Knowing the economy here in New York still has not recovered, it is extremely difficult getting donations, sponsorships and participation in our events. With the many worthy charities out there it is a difficult decision for people to determine where their charity dollars go.”

INSPIRATION: “I have many people who inspire me — my wife, my sons, my family. But when it comes to why I am involved in the world of autism I have two people who inspire me. First is my sibling, Dr. Kevin Brothers. He is the founding executive director of a school for children with autism. When he was going through his training many years ago, he showed me what patience it takes in dealing with a child with autism. That always stuck with me and I always knew I would someday help out an organization involved with autism. Second would be Andrew Baumann, president and CEO of NYFAC. His dedication is remarkable. He is a father of three children, one of whom has autism. He eats, sleeps and works for NYFAC. When I met Andrew for the first time back in 2009, I knew his organization was the one I wanted to volunteer for.”

RECOMMENDED STORIES

$50M Spring Creek flood mitigation project funded, design stage set to begin


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Superstorm Sandy may have shown the vulnerability of southern Queens to coastal flooding but FEMA and New York state have now set aside $50 million to alleviate future flooding.

The Spring Creek Hazard Mitigation Project, headed by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and National Parks Service (NPS) is focused on Spring Creek, which serves as a barrier between Howard Beach and Jamaica Bay, south of the Belt Parkway.

While the grant money has already been awarded, there are no specific construction plans yet. Once the project is designed, it will take about 18 months to finish.

“Jamaica Bay was highly impacted by Sandy,” said Joanna Fields, a representative from the DEC. “Our goals are storm protection and creating an ecologically resilient system.”

Design work is expected to start in August of 2015.  This portion is estimated to cost around $3.3 million.

Phase two of the project is projected to start in December of 2015 and end in August 2017. This portion will be the actual construction of the design and will cost about $47 million.

At this point, the DEC and NPS have not finalized the plans for Spring Creek. They are currently collecting data and looking at additional planning considerations to figure out the optimal usage for the site.

Fields stressed that the money allotted to them from FEMA was for flood mitigation but said the usage of Spring Creek as a publicly accessible space is possible.

“The National Parks Service is all about public access and our goal is to work with the community on it,” said Joshua Laird, commissioner of the National Parks of New York Harbor. “If maintained and done right, this could be a great thing.”

There are also no plans laid out for how exactly the land would be accessible and Fields said they would not go ahead with designing it for the public until they came back to the community to talk about it.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Gambino crime family associate arrested in 2002 Queens murder


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Gavel 2

A longtime associate of the Gambino crime family has been indicted for his role in a racketeering conspiracy, including allegedly shooting a man to death in Queens more than 10 years ago.

After starting out at a young age as a member of a street gang and serving several years in prison, Gennaro “Jerry” Bruno, now 41, became a Gambino associate, according to officials. For 14 years, up until his arrest Tuesday, he allegedly took part in an array of crimes for the organized crime family, including drug trafficking and extortion.

When Bruno’s criminal associate Martin Bosshart began efforts to exclude one of Bruno’s co-conspirators from a marijuana import operation, Bruno plotted with other Gambino members and associates to murder Bosshart, authorities said.

On the night of Jan. 2, 2002, Bruno and others lured Bosshart to an isolated location in Queens, specifically Howard Beach, according to the Daily News. He then allegedly shot 30-year-old Bosshart in the back of the head. His body was recovered at the scene.

Officials from the FBI and United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York said as Bruno evaded arrest for years, he “conspired with other Gambino associates to “obstruct an official grand jury proceeding into the Bosshart murder.” He also allegedly continued his racketeering activity and extracted payments from the owner of a waste carting company in Queens.

Bruno has been indicted on charges of racketeering and racketeering conspiracy, including predicate acts of murder, narcotics trafficking, extortion and obstruction of justice, according to officials. As of Wednesday, removal proceedings to New York were still underway for Bruno, who was arrested in Las Vegas, where he is currently living.

In April 2012, a fellow Gambino associate Todd LaBarca pleaded guilty to racketeering, with predicate acts of conspiracy to murder Martin Bosshart, narcotics trafficking, extortion and bookmaking, as well as conspiracy to commit assault in aid of racketeering.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

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.”

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Ridgewood auto body shop owner charged after underreporting more than $1M in repair work: DA


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

GavelMoneyHC1206_X_300_C_R

A Howard Beach man and his Ridgewood auto body shop have been charged after failing to pay more than $100,000 in collectible tax revenue, District Richard Brown said.

“According to the charges, the defendant and auto body business underreported $1,253,767.44 of taxable income over a three-year period,” Brown said. “Tax fraud doesn’t just cheat the city and state out of much-needed revenue, it makes every New Yorker a victim by denying funding for essential public services.”

Alfred D’Andrea, 45, a Howard Beach resident and president of Triangle Auto Body Inc., was arraigned Tuesday in Queens Criminal Court , where he was charged, along with his business, with grand larceny, criminal tax fraud, falsifying business records, offering a false instrument for filing and scheme to defraud, according to prosecutors.

D’Andrea’s auto body shop, located on 79th Avenue, allegedly received about $1.9 million for auto body repairs from various insurance companies between March 2008 and February 2011. But he only claimed $664,235 in taxable repairs, underreporting more than $1,253,000, Brown said.

In total, $54,852.33 in additional tax revenue was owed to New York State and $53,906.07 to New York City local municipalities.

RECOMMENDED STORIES