Tag Archives: Howard Beach

Shots fired outside Cross Bay Diner during task force bust: report


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Sal Licata

A popular Howard Beach eatery was the scene of a shootout between a federal agent and a suspect Monday night, according to a published report.

A task force, consisting of NYPD officers, Homeland Security and the FBI were at the Cross Bay Diner at about 11 p.m., trying to nab four people, the New York Post said.

At some point, the officials and suspects ended up in the parking lot of the Cross Bay Boulevard restaurant and shots were exchanged, the Post reported. Though it wasn’t immediately clear who fired first.

Three of the individuals were taken into custody and one man is still at large, according to the paper.

Police confirmed authorities are still looking for a suspect following a multi-agency narcotics task force operation involving Homeland Security at the diner Monday night.

The suspect is described as a Hispanic man in his 30s, 5 feet 8 inches tall and 180 pounds. He was last seen wearing a gray sweatshirt and blue jeans.

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New routes proposed in Howard Beach, Ozone Park for Jamaica Bay Greenway


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Howard Beach and Ozone Park will be home to new bike routes on the Jamaica Bay Greenway, according to the Department of Transportation (DOT).

The only problem is figuring out where.

The DOT has been hosting community workshops and asking for the input of residents on where they think the new routes are best for safety and convenience.

Currently, the Greenway is an 11-mile bike path that hugs Jamaica Bay, connecting Brooklyn and Queens.

It runs through Howard Beach, through Broad Channel to the Rockaways and then across the Marine Park Bridge to Brooklyn.

The DOT said there has been strong advocacy by residents for the Greenway to be expanded to Ozone Park to connect to the soccer and baseball fields on Conduit Avenue, across the street from Resorts World Casino.

For this connection, the DOT proposed using 155th Avenue or 156th Avenue.

While it’s looking to add new stretches to the Greenway, the DOT is also hoping to improve existing ones, like the part that connects the Joseph P. Addabbo Memorial Bridge to the Belt Parkway in Howard Beach.

One is to use 84th Street, a two-way road, instead of the existing paths on 91st Street and 92nd Street, which are both one-way. This would give both cars and cyclists more room on the street, said Alice Friedman, the DOT’s project manager for the Greenway.

The other option would be to add a path where 78th Street meets the Belt Parkway and use the existing grass area along Spring Creek to connect to the Addabbo Bridge.

Finally, there is a plan to build a route through Spring Creek connecting the parkway and the bridge. But Freidman mentioned that would be a long-term plan.

For the path on the Addabbo Bridge, which connects Broad Channel and Howard Beach, the DOT proposed three options:

  • Keep the path the way it exists with one lane on each side of the bridge,
  • Move the parking lane out and let the bike lane hug the sidewalk on both sides, or
  • Put two bike lanes on the south side of the bridge next to each other.

Most people found the last option the most viable for this section but would like to see an actual barrier between the car and bike lanes.

When all community workshop events are finished, the DOT will draft a finalized plan of what it believes it should look like, based on the residents’ input and their own planning.

The DOT expects to have the draft finished by the spring of 2015.

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Howard Beach has new, free after-school program


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

P.S. 207 in Howard Beach now has a new after-school program that benefits students beyond the school’s enrollment.

The program, which is open to sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders, is free and will accommodate any student who is able to arrive by 3 p.m., no matter which school he or she attends, said Michael Taylor, after-school program director for P.S. 207.

“The cornerstones of structure for the program are STEM [science, technology, engineering and math], literature and leadership,” Taylor said. “We provide a successful model for children to follow.”

The after-school program is called School’s Out New York City (SONYC) and is run by the Sports and Arts in Schools Foundation (SASF). P.S. 207 is one of the 33 schools in which SASF established new programs for the 2014-15 school year.

The program runs five days a week from 2:30 to 5 p.m.

It mixes both intellectual and physical activities to fully engage the students, Taylor said. These include studies in core curriculum, newspaper writing, video editing and activities in gymnastics, basketball, yoga and Zumba, among others.

Educators will also work with students on leadership skills, engaging them in teen talk, community service, student counseling and peer mentoring.

“Our job is to make sure kids are not only occupied but that we keep them productive,” Taylor said. “With this model, the sky is the limit.”

Students will also work on programs such as Middle School Today, High School Tomorrow, where they will visit schools and learn different things about the high school application process to better prepare them for their futures.

Furthermore, the program will take students on field trips to places such as Coney Island and to productions such as “How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical” at The Theater at Madison Square Garden.

“We were given top-quality resources to run the program which allows us to do a lot of different activities,” Taylor said. “Our desire is to get kids engaged and provide a fun learning environment.”

To learn more about the program, email ps207@sasfny.org or call 718-848-2700 and ask for Michael Taylor.

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New ‘Welcome to Howard Beach’ sign donated by local organization


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Paul Ohana/ ADP USA

It’s a welcoming message.

The old and beaten up Howard Beach welcome sign, located in the welcome triangle on Cross Bay Boulevard and 155th Avenue, will soon be replaced by a brand-new one, thanks to a donation by the Howard Beach Memorial Services.

“We put the original sign up and realized that now it needs replacing,” said Ray York, a founder of the Howard Beach Memorial Services.

The original sign has seen its better days. The paint is chipped, the bricks around it are out of place and there is a large hole in the bottom corner of it.

The new sign will have a different look to it.

Instead of being green with gold letters, it will have a white trim with a blue body and gold lettering along with the picture of a seagull on the top.

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

The sign has been completed as of Oct. 7 and was created by ADP USA, located at 190 Beach 116th St.

It will be installed within the next two weeks.

The project for the new sign was part of the Howard Beach/Lindenwood Civic Association’s summer beautification list.

The association was originally just looking for a person to come in and paint the sign, but York and the organization went a step further.

The Howard Beach Memorial Services was set up by York and Ed Murray about two decades ago.

The service has donated signs and flag poles all around the neighborhood, such as the ones in the welcome triangle, Wetzel Square and Charles Park.

Replacing the beaten up welcome sign was something that just made sense for York and the organization.

“The sign needed to be replaced,” York said. “People ask us if we can help them out and if we can do it, we do it.”

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New shuttle bus coming to Catholic Charities centers in southern Queens


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Senior citizens may find it difficult to navigate around southern Queens, but that will soon change for many.

A new shuttle bus has been funded by Councilman Eric Ulrich to transport the elderly to and from their homes to five Catholic Charities senior centers throughout the 32nd Council District.

A total of $25,000 was allocated from Ulrich’s discretionary fund to pay for a driver, insurance and other vehicle-related expenses.

“This is important for senior citizens in this district,” Ulrich said. “[The bus] will be a lifeline for them.”

Along with transportation to and from the senior centers, where residents can participate in a variety of classes and workshops, the shuttle will provide rides to shopping centers and other local activities spots.

Ulrich hopes to extend the service to more of his constituents in the future.

“If this bus is successful now, I will do everything I can to extend it,” he said.

Residents and Catholic Charities officials thanked Ulrich for the allocation.

“We cannot tell you how much we appreciate this,” said Debra Hoffer, director of field operations for Catholic Charities. “Seniors will finally have the door-to-door service they need.”

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Storefront counseling center to open in Howard Beach


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

The New Horizon Counseling Center is getting ready to open up its newest location on Cross Bay Boulevard.

The center, located at 156-28 Cross Bay Blvd., is set to have its grand opening on Oct. 1, according to Herrick Lipton, the administrative and financial director for the center. A staple in southern Queens for over 20 years, the Howard Beach center will be its third location in the area, with the other two in Far Rockaway and Ozone Park.

“Empowering individuals and strengthening the community is our motto,” Lipton said. “We cover all different types of needs the community might have.”

New Horizon is a nonprofit behavioral health organization, servicing people of all ages and covering every type of behavioral health need. It also hosts programs around the community, including neighborhood events and after-school programs.

Unlike many counseling centers, New Horizon uses a storefront approach because it likes to immerse itself in the neighborhood and be a part of it, Lipton said.

New Horizon will have staff available for walk-ins and have psychiatrists and social workers on site. It will also provide individual, group and psychotherapy counseling.

“Reception has been very good,” Lipton said. “We are here to aid the communities that we are in. ”

To learn more about New Horizon Counseling Center, visit www.nhcc.us.

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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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