Tag Archives: Howard Beach

Man jumps to his death at Howard Beach A train station


| amatua@queenscourier.com

Photo via Facebook/Far Rockaway

Updated 1:47 p.m.

A man jumped to his death Monday morning from the platform of a Manhattan-bound A train at the Howard Beach-JFK Airport station, it was reported.

Police and EMS units received a call about the incident at 8:19 a.m., according to officials, and they responded to the scene shortly thereafter. Service was suspended from Rockaway Boulevard to Beach 90th Street until 10:46 a.m. Free shuttle buses were provided during that time.

The man has not been identified and the investigation is still ongoing.

Later, the MTA suspended A train service from Euclid Avenue and Ozone Park-Lefferts Boulevard in both directions due to switch problems. Service between Euclid Avenue and Broad Channel was also suspended in both directions.

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Con Edison reduces power in south Queens, urges customers to conserve


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Flickr/Con Edison

Equipment problems and a power strain related to today’s hot weather forced Con Edison to cut back voltage by 8 percent in several southern Queens neighborhoods.

The reduction affects customers in the areas of Broad Channel, Howard Beach, Kew Gardens, Lindenwood, Ozone Park, Richmond Hill, South Ozone Park and Woodhaven. In all, 138,000 customers are affected in the area generally bounded by the Jackie Robinson Parkway, Queens Boulevard, Van Wyck Expressway, Jamaica Bay and the Brooklyn/Queens border.

Con Edison said the cutback aims “to protect equipment and maintain service as repairs are made.” Until further notice, residents in the reduction zone should not use heavy-duty appliances such as washers, dryers and air conditioners and should turn off any unnecessary lights or televisions.

Queens is in the midst of this summer’s first heat wave, with temperatures today forecast at 92 degrees. Combined with oppressive humidity, it’ll actually feel more like 102 degrees, according to accuweather.com. Thunderstorms are also forecast for this evening.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation also issued an air quality health advisory through 10 p.m. Monday for the New York City area, as the stifling, muggy air may also include heavy amounts of pollutants such as ozone. Children, seniors and those with respiratory disorders should limit their outdoor activity.

The city will have cooling centers around the five boroughs open on Monday, including at senior centers, NYCHA facilities and parks. Call 311 or click here to locate the nearest center.

Con Edison urges customers who experience power outages to report them immediately to 800-75-CONED and visit its website to check the status of service restoration efforts. When reporting an outage, customers should have their account number available and notify the operator if neighbors on their block also lost power.

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Queens Village woman receives dream wedding with help from community


| amatua@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Minerva Santivanez

Minerva Santivanez met her fiance Edward Horan seven years ago and knew that day that the couple would be together a long time.

Her intuition was right, and on Sunday, August 2, the couple will get married at Russo’s on the Bay in Howard Beach with a little help from the community.

Though they were only engaged on May 23, Santivanez and Horan want to tie the knot before Santivanez starts chemotherapy treatment to fight her stage 4 cancer.

In November 2014, Santivanez, a Queens Village resident, saw bulges in her abdomen and went to Queens Hospital to have them examined. Doctors told her that they were tumors and that she would need surgery to have them removed.

During her recovery in the hospital, Santivanez experienced chest pain and difficulty breathing. Soon after, she became unresponsive and the staff went against hospital policy to give her a double blood transfusion that saved her life.

Though it has been a difficult journey, Santivanez said her fiance and family have been a great support system for her.

“I’m grateful that my fiance has been there the whole way through,” Santivanez said. “I told him, I don’t know how he deals with things, how he’s been so strong. My cousin Mary has been helping me out nonstop, her family as well.”

Once Santivanez and Horan got engaged, her cousin Mary Legaspi began using social media to raise funds for the wedding and hospital bills. Frank Russo, who owns Russo’s on the Bay, heard about the story through his son Frank Russo III and offered to provide Russo’s on the Bay for the service and reception.

“I’m trying not to cry right now because it’s been overwhelming,” Santivanez said. “Who does that nowadays? In this day and age nobody does anything unless you’re going to do something in return. They don’t know me like that and they just offered it.”

Once other people heard her story, the offers started pouring in. Thomas Knoell Designs donated wedding jewelry, Clay Bouquet Shop offered to donate a bouquet, Nidji Photography, Alice Escobar, Nick Kanellopoulos and his wife will be donating their photography services and DJ entertainment and several other organizations and people have offered to provide wedding services for free.

“Just listening to her story, sometimes you get caught up but every time you hear a story, if it can help … it’s a situation that we could participate in and that’s pure and that’s the most important piece, then I don’t mind helping,” Russo Sr. said.

Santivanez  said she cannot wait to meet these people so she can hug and thank them in person. She’s also excited to participate in a longstanding wedding tradition — the first dance.

“I’m excited for everything,” Santivanez said. “I’m hoping to beat chemo in the end and have it all be a bad memory. But the fact that everybody has been there for me, I want to be able to thank everybody. I just want to be able to hug them and thank them in person.”

Anyone who would like to donate to help Santivanez and her family cover medical expenses can visit her GoFundMe page.

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Ulrich secures a record $5.6 million in funding for district


| amatua@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Southwest Queens will receive $5,685,000 in funding from the City Council, the most that has ever been awarded to the 32nd City Council District.

Councilman Eric Ulrich, who represents neighborhoods including the Rockaways, Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven and South Richmond Hill, secured $685,000 in expense funding for local community groups, civic associations, senior centers, volunteer fire departments and other local groups.

New York Families for Autistic Children, Inc.Queens Chamber of CommerceHoward Beach- Lindenwood CivicRockaway Point Volunteer Emergency Services and Girl Scout Council of Greater New York were among the grant recipients.

“Above all, this year’s budget keeps New Yorkers and their families safe and protects the vital services we all rely upon,” Ulrich said. “It also provides funding for local groups that serve my constituents in every corner of the district. Since taking office, I have made sure that we receive our fair share of city services and resources in the budget. This year is no exception.”

Local schools in the district will receive funding for SAT programs and the $5 million allocated to capital projects will fund technology upgrades at 17 local schools and school library and auditorium renovations.

Forest Park will receive a number of enhancements and improved security measures. Residents who voted in the participatory budgeting process chose to refurbish the 9/11 Memorial and the Forest Park Dog Run and to install emergency call boxes throughout the park.

Libraries in Ozone Park and Richmond Hill have been awarded $200,000 for security upgrades and renovations.

The Richmond Hill library will look to install self-check-in and check-out machines, renovate the basement and purchase new computers and tablets, according to Rebecca Babirye-Alibatya, the library’s manager.

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Students from P.S. 207 in Howard Beach call for traffic safety


| amatua@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Office of Phil Goldfeder

Students from P.S. 207 in Howard Beach have stirred Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder to call for improved traffic safety near the school.

After third-graders from the school held a rally for improved traffic safety around school grounds on Friday, June 26, Goldfeder sent a letter to Department of Transportation (DOT) Queens Borough Commissioner Nicole Garcia requesting yield signs at crosswalks outside of the school.

“I am truly inspired by the students of Class 301 for their efforts to improve pedestrian safety in our community,” Goldfeder said. “Installing yield signs outside P.S. 207 will help ensure that our students can come home safely from school each and every day. I urge the Department of Transportation to take immediate action and make these necessary upgrades before someone gets hurt.”

At the rally, Goldfeder received more than 500 signatures from Howard Beach residents calling for the installation of signs around the school to urge drivers to yield to pedestrians. The yellow pedestrian signs already installed have not been effective in spurring cars to yield when a crossing guard is not present, residents said in the petition.

Goldfeder also met with the students of Class 301 to offer his support and received handmade yield signs from students thanking him for his efforts. In his letter, Goldfeder asked Garcia to install yield signs at the four intersections around P.S. 207 including 88th and 89th streets between 169th and 160th Avenues.

“No parent should have to fear for their child’s safety when sending them off to school each morning,” Goldfeder said. “This small step will help give area families the peace of mind they need and deserve.”

A formal request has been sent to the DOT and Jon Greenfield, communications director for Goldfeder, said they are looking forward to working with the agency to install these yield signs.

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Fighting cancer step by step at Howard Beach Relay For Life


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Noreen Feehan

Howard Beach residents filled the track at Frank Charles Memorial Park on June 13 to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

For the seventh annual Relay For Life event, an overnight community fundraising walk, Howard Beach participants raised $52,000, bringing the local event’s seven-year fundraising total to $650,000.

The fundraising event, which takes place in tracks all over the country, honors cancer survivors and those who have lost their lives. Cancer survivors took the first lap around the track as onlookers cheered their victory.

“The goal of Relay For Life is to bring communities together in the fight against cancer,” said Meaghan Neary, special events manager for the American Cancer Society. “At Relay, we aim to celebrate our survivors and caregivers, remember those we’ve lost and pledge to fight back against a disease that has taken too much.”

At sundown, participants lit candles lining the track as part of the luminaria ceremony to remember those who died as a result of cancer, honor people who beat cancer and support those who continue to fight the disease.

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Howard Beach resident Noreen Feehan lost her father to duodenal cancer in February. Her father, Lester McCann, was well known throughout the community and coached the Lynvets football team in Howard Beach. Feehan attended the event with her 6-year-old and 8-year-old daughters and said Relay For Life allowed her to teach her children an important lesson.

“I think it’s very important for younger people to attend these events. As my 8-year-old had asked, she said ‘Mommy, why are we celebrating when it’s something sad?’ and I explained it to her that a person’s life is not contained in the sadness of their death,” Feehan said. “It’s in the happiness of their life and the memory of them of when they were alive is what we have to keep alive.”

Feehan said the survivor walk was an important part of changing the stigma of cancer from a death sentence to a disease that can be beaten with the right treatment and mental attitude. She would also like to see the event become a place where people who currently have cancer can come to find more information.

“There’s a lot of good services especially for people who are going through chemotherapy where they have wig services or hat services so that it can also become an event which disseminates information to those who need it,” Feehan said.


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Identify this place in Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Church

Do you know where in Queens this photo was taken? Guess by commenting below! The answer will be revealed next week.

Last week’s answer to “Identify this Place”: Frank Charles Park in Howard Beach

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A taste of Howard Beach history


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Robert Pozarycki

When Lenny’s Clam Bar ran television commercials years ago, owner Joe DiCandia Sr. became something of a local celebrity, famously offering viewers a free glass of wine to any diner who came to the Howard Beach hotspot and mentioned his name.

They still honor that promotion to this day even though the senior Joe DiCandia has long since handed the restaurant reins over to his son, Joe Jr. It’s part of a 42-year history of charm, tradition and good food that Lenny’s has offered to generations of customers who’ve come through its doors.

There have been changes to Lenny’s through the years, most notably after Hurricane Sandy in 2012, which flooded it and many other Howard Beach businesses. DiCandia Jr. “turned a negative into a positive,” rebuilding the clam bar larger than before, as it expanded into a neighboring business.

Even with change, much of the staff — from line chefs to attendants — has been there for 20 years or longer. And the restaurant’s menu mainstays — sumptuous seafood and classic Italian cuisine — continue to attract customers from far and wide.

Naturally, the clam features prominently on the menu. The baked clams ($7.95 a half-dozen, $12.95 a dozen) are a great way to start your meal whether you’re a seafood lover or looking to try seafood for the first time. The cheesy breading complements the perfectly cooked clams, which offer diners that briny note of flavor that only fresh seafood can provide. Lenny’s also offers raw clams ($7.75 a half-dozen, $12.50 a dozen) and oysters ($12.95 for eight) on the half-shell, served with fresh lemon and cocktail sauce.

The seafood possibilities are almost endless when it comes to the main course. On our date to Lenny’s, my wife enjoyed the stuffed shrimp ($19.95) featuring mounds of scrumptious crab meat in a lemon wine butter sauce and served with potatoes and broccoli. You can also get broiled scallops or Norwegian salmon ($19.95 each) or breaded and baked lobster tails ($17.95 single tail, $24.95 for a double).

As an Italian food lover, I certainly enjoyed the chicken cutlet parmigiana ($18.95), a generous portion of perfectly cooked chicken breast covered in a zesty tomato sauce and served with linguine on the side. Other Italian specialties to try include the chicken sorrentino ($21.95) topped with tomato, prosciutto, eggplant and mozzarella in Madeira wine sauce and the linguine with red or white clam sauce ($14.95).

Lenny’s offers seemingly anything to suit anyone’s appetite, from tender barbecue baby back ribs basted in the house barbecue sauce to a boneless shell steak off the grill cooked to order. The kids menu features cheeseburgers, pasta or mozzarella sticks.

Whatever you order, save room for dessert, as Lenny’s offers an incredible variety of sweet treats straight out of the DiCandia family cookbook. Their homemade cannoli is light and sweet without being too heavy, while the pistachio bomb — a tartufo ball of pistachio ice cream with a chocolate shell and a raspberry sauce — is an explosively tasty and delightful way to end a meal.

Times may always change, but Lenny’s Clam Bar still reigns as the champion of classic seafood and Italian fare in Howard Beach.

Lenny’s Clam Bar
161-03 Cross Bay Blvd.,  Howard Beach
​718-845-5100

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Howard Beach laces up to cure juvenile diabetes


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER / Photos by Angela Matua

BY ANGELA MATUA

Howard Beach residents walked in unison on Saturday to raise money for a disease that affects as many as 3 million Americans.

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Walk to Cure Diabetes, which started and ended at Ave Maria Catholic Academy, has been a staple event in the community for seven years.

Joe DeCandia, president of the International Society of SS. Cosma and Damiano, a local nonprofit, has long donated to JDRF and reached out to the organization to hold a walk after his then-9-year-old son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

“We were donating money to St. Jude’s, Ronald McDonald house, and JDRF was one of the [organizations we donated to],” DeCandia said. “A year or so into that my son was diagnosed with diabetes so we started fundraising so I started doing it for a personal reason anyway.”

JDRF is the number one non-governmental funder of Type 1 diabetes research, according to Development Manager Karena Ancona. Ancona said the Howard Beach community raises $50,000 to $100,000 every year and has raised about $500,000 for diabetes research in the seven years that they have done the walk.

Donna Siragusa and her daughter, Natalie, began attending the walk last year when Natalie was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. This year, the family pulled a team together consisting of Natalie’s classmates, teachers, St. Barnabas Church Girl Scout troops and other friends in the community.

“With the bad news [the walk] gave us something to look forward to and then when we were up here we felt more prepared,” Siragusa said. “I just hope that one day they find a cure, with all the donations and everything, that’s what we’re working for, a cure for Natalie.”

According to Rachel Kane, development coordinator for JDRF, the money raised for research has led to some important discoveries.

“Since you’ve been doing this walk in Howard Beach I am so excited this year to announce that finally things are happening,” Kane said at the event. “With your hard work, with your money and your support JDRF is finally making strides.”

In Type 1 diabetes, the beta cells that produce insulin are constantly attacked by the body’s immune system, making it difficult for the pancreas to create enough insulin to keep blood sugars down.

An artificial pancreas, which is currently in human clinical trials, is commercially available in the United Kingdom, Denmark and Australia. It will be commercially available in America in a few years, Kane said. An artificial pancreas would automatically react to rising blood-glucose levels and provide the right amount of insulin at the right time.

Within the next five to 10 years, smart insulin will be created and people with diabetes will have to take one shot of insulin instead of several throughout the day, she added.

Though the event was for a serious cause, the community was treated to fun in the form of face painting, free food, a DJ and a bouncy castle before the walk.

Local children who have Type 1 diabetes were in charge of cutting the ribbon to ring in the beginning of the walk and white doves were released as smiling faces proceeded to walk to cure diabetes.

 

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Cable theft causes A train shutdown in south Queens: MTA


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Ad Meskens

Updated 1:55 p.m.

Limited service is back on the A line in south Queens Wednesday morning after crews worked to repair damage caused by the theft of nearly 500 feet of copper cables powering the tracks.

According to the MTA, the train troubles were discovered at about 11:22 p.m. Tuesday night, when a Manhattan-bound A train suddenly lost power just north of the Howard Beach-JFK Airport station. The MTA dispatched another train that pulled behind it, allowing some 150 passengers in the disabled train to safely walk back to the Howard Beach platform.

Upon investigation, crews reportedly discovered that copper cables which supply power to the third rail were missing. Signals and other related equipment were damaged due to the interrupted electrical equipment.

Photo courtesy MTA New York City Transit / Marc A. Hermann

Photo courtesy MTA New York City Transit/Marc A. Hermann

The cable theft caused a commuting nightmare during the morning rush hour Wednesday. The A line was entirely shut down between Rockaway Boulevard and Broad Channel, and shuttle buses were brought in to transport thousands of affected riders to the nearest working subway stations.

The MTA also noted the disruption made it impossible to dispatch trains stored at the Rockaway Park yard for morning rush hour service, thus reducing service along the entire A and C lines between upper Manhattan and Brooklyn. Some A trains were forced to terminate at Euclid Avenue in Brooklyn, the normal C train terminus.

MTA crews made emergency repairs to restore limited service by about 10 a.m. Wednesday, but the authority indicated the line would again be shut down tonight for further repairs. Shuttle buses will again replace A trains between Rockaway Boulevard and Broad Channel during the disruption.

Photo courtesy MTA New York City Transit / Marc A. Hermann

Photo courtesy MTA New York City Transit/Marc A. Hermann

“This morning’s service disruption was directly caused by the theft of cable from along the subway right of way,” MTA New York City Transit President Carmen Bianco said in a statement. “We are working closely with the NYPD Transit Bureau to help them investigate this crime and identify the culprits responsible.”

Click here for up-to-date information on MTA service.

In the wake of the shutdown, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder called for an immediate investigation and the MTA to beef up security along the A line.

“Families in southern Queens and Rockaway have some of the longest commute times in the entire city. On a normal day, our roads, trains and buses are stretched to capacity. Outages like this have devastating consequences for families simply trying to commute to work or school,” Goldfeder said in a statement. “I am alarmed by reported security breaches along the A train and the failure to put in place effective alternative travel plans for our families. I demand a full investigation by the MTA to ensure that this never happens again.”

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Photos: Queens honors and remembers soldiers with Memorial Day parades


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy Dominick Totino Photography/Gallery by Robert Pozarycki, Anthony Giudice, Liam La Guerre

Nearly a dozen Memorial Day parades were held in Queens over the weekend as the borough paid tribute to military men and women who protect the freedoms residents enjoy today.

Mayor Bill de Blasio marched in the Little Neck/Douglaston Memorial Day Parade, which began at 2 p.m. on Northern Boulevard and Jayson Avenue, alongside U.S. Representative Grace Meng, Borough President Melinda Katz, Public Advocate Letitia James, Councilmen Paul Vallone and Mark Weprin and Assemblyman Ed Braunstein.

Retired U.S. Army Brigadier General Loree Sutton, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs, served as the parade’s grand marshal. Sutton hailed Memorial Day as a sacred time.

“It is a day that we come together to commemorate and remember and to think about all that we share in this great country and to remind ourselves that the cost and price of freedom is never free,” Sutton said. “That we are so blessed to be in the land of the free because of the brave.”

Parades were held in Woodside/Sunnyside, Whitestone, Laurelton, Howard Beach, Glendale/Ridgewood, Maspeth, Middle Village, Forest Hills, College Point and Woodhaven.

New military recruits, veterans in vintage cars, fire fighters, police officers, JROTC members, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and marching bands participated in the borough’s parades while parents and children donned red, white and blue and waved the stars and stripes from sidewalks.

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BP Katz approves zoning amendment to speed up post-Sandy recovery


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

More help is on the way for Queens residents affected by Hurricane Sandy trying to rebuild their homes.

Borough President Melinda Katz recently approved amendments to citywide zoning codes, which will allow more Sandy-affected homeowners to rebuild their homes faster and to return them to how they were before the storm instead of having to alter them to fit current regulations.

The zoning change is a result of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s overhaul of the city’s Build it Back program, which has started construction on 412 homes in Queens to date, and completed construction on 222.

“This is a vital text amendment that will finally relieve the red tape that had burdened entire neighborhoods and prevented thousands of homes from fully rebuilding since Hurricane Sandy,” Katz said. “Thanks to joint inter-agency collaboration, home and property owners will soon be able to rebuild their homes to their original form prior to the storm, with improved flood resiliency elements.”

The amendment was also approved by Sandy-impacted community boards 10, 13 and 14. It would allow, among other things, more residents to rebuilt their homes faster by waiving document requirements.

Under current laws, before reconstruction can begin on residences, homeowners are supposed to provide documents to show changes made to homes since 1961, which is difficult for most people since their homes probably traded hands since then or documents were destroyed in the storm.

Also, some homes could be required to be constructed much taller than others in the neighborhood because of current zoning. The amendment will create zoning pockets, which will allow homeowners to build shorter and wider homes, which are prevalent in surrounding neighborhoods.

Now with support from Katz, the amendment must be approved next by the Department of City Planning and then the City Council before it can go into effect.

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Banks to help stop zombie properties in south Queens and elsewhere


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder

BY ANGELA MATUA

New York is preparing to take on zombies — not the flesh-eating walking dead, but the abandoned properties that have been a scourge in Howard Beach and other south Queens neighborhoods.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that 11 leading banks, mortgage companies and credit unions representing 70 percent of the New York market will actively work to help combat the economic damage and poor safety conditions brought on by zombie properties.

Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder has been fighting the steady increase in zombie properties in his district, which includes neighborhoods that saw heavy damage from Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Goldfeder sent letters to Wells Fargo, Bank of America and CitiMortgage urging them to take steps to improve properties in their possession.

These institutions, along with Ocwen, Nationstar, PHH, Green Tree Servicing, Astoria Bank, Bethpage Federal Credit Union, M&T Bank and Ridgewood Savings Bank, have agreed to abide by these practices.

“Zombie properties not only have the potential to affect our families’ health and drive down property values, they also slow our long-term recovery from the devastation caused by Sandy,” Goldfeder said. “I applaud banks and lenders for stepping forward as true community partners and agreeing to take the necessary steps to fight the growth of zombie properties and improve quality of life for thousands in southern Queens and Rockaway.”

Existing law dictates that property owners are in charge of maintaining these homes until banks receive a judgement of foreclosure, which can take more than three years after homeowners file for foreclosure.

The participating financial institutions have agreed to regularly inspect properties that fall into delinquency to determine if they are vacant and abandoned, and properly maintain them. Exterior inspections will be conducted within 60 days of delinquency to assess possible vacancy, and then every 30 days after that period.

Institutions will secure the property and maintain safety for communities, including replacing or boarding up windows and changing locks; ensure compliance with applicable New York maintenance codes for minimum sanitary conditions and structural safety; and report abandoned and vacant properties to a state registry to be developed by the New York State Department of Financial Services. Local government officials will also have access to this information.

A report from state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman found that statewide, 16,701 zombie properties existed in New York, an increase of 50 percent from 2013 to 2014.

Residents have called 311 to complain about 16 instances of abandoned properties in Goldfeder’s district from January to April 2015, a representative for his office said.

Rockaway Park resident Tricia Balsamello reached out to Goldfeder’s office to tell the assemblyman about an abandoned house in her neighborhood.

“Since Sandy, I’ve regularly called the banks and the local police precinct to have my neighbor’s abandoned property secured,” Balsamello said. “I’d look out the window at two in the morning and the porch door in the back of the house would be wide open. The backyard also has an unsecured pool. I have two 9-year-olds and I’m afraid to let them outside in case they fall in. I’m hopeful that this new agreement will help improve the problem.”

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Howard Beach girl’s death inspires fundraising campaign


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Facebook/Team Valentia

BY ANGELA MATUA

Valentina Marie Allen touched the lives of her Howard Beach community, and the town has started a #paintthetownred campaign in the 2-year-old’s memory.

Allen suffered from hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a heart defect that leaves the left ventricle severely underdeveloped; heterotaxy, a defect where organs are misplaced in the body; and asplenia, the absence of the spleen.

Just 2 years and 2 months old, Valentina died on Tuesday, May 12, her family announced on Facebook.

“She passed away very peacefully in our arms,” according to the post. “She put up a battle every single day, and she touched more lives and inspired more people than she will ever know. All of the prayers helped her to persevere this long, and now she will be a beautiful baby among the angels in heaven, forever watching over us all.”

According to Howard Beach resident Graziella Zerilli, the community has started to place red bows on trees and poles in Howard Beach and also place red heart balloons on their property to support the family. Restaurants Russo’s on the Bay and Vetro have placed red lights on their property in her memory.

“The entire community has come together to remember this beautiful little girl and support her family in this terrible time,” Zerilli said. 

Gold’s Gym on Cross Bay Boulevard is selling items like bows and key chains and all proceeds will go to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)  where Allen was treated for two years. 

The community has raised $28,935 for CHOP in three days. The money will be used to name an area of the hospital after Valentina.

To donate to this cause, click here.

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Pol calls for early mosquito spraying in south Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Greenfield

BY ANGELA MATUA

Weeks before summer’s official arrival, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder called on the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to launch a preemptive strike on mosquitoes in southern Queens that may potentially carry the deadly West Nile virus.

Goldfeder said the area — including Howard Beach, Hamilton Beach and the Rockaways — is particularly susceptible because of the increase in “zombie properties” following Hurricane Sandy in 2012. These abandoned locations, according to Goldfeder, are ideal breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

Last year, Goldfeder put forth a three-point plan to eliminate these zombie homes, including a push to ease the foreclosure process and a call to create a registry for vacant properties that could be monitored by the city. He has also worked with city agencies to encourage mosquito spraying and rodent baiting at the blighted properties.

“Families in southern Queens and Rockaway are at increased risk from the dangers of West Nile virus,” Goldfeder said. “The higher rate of abandoned properties and construction projects throughout the community following Sandy has only increased our potential for mosquito breeding. That’s why I’m calling on the city to take action and protect the health and well-being of our families as we head into summer.”

Roger Gendron, president of the Hamilton Beach Civic Association, said residents must also take precautions to protect themselves and others from mosquito bites.

“The best way to prevent West Nile virus is to protect yourself from mosquito bites,” Gendron said. “Homeowners are asked to do their part throughout the mosquito season by eliminating any standing water. Who then is responsible for the homes that have been left abandoned and untouched since Superstorm Sandy? This is an important issue that needs to be addressed by the city.”

Goldfeder sent a letter to DOHMH Commissioner Mary Bassett and urged her to work with the Department of Environmental Protection to locate and clean out clogged catch basins. He also called for action by the Sanitation Department in enforcing lot cleanings.

A representative for the DOHMH said the department uses preventative measures to reduce mosquito populations and the threat of West Nile. These measures include applying larvicide in every New York City storm sewage catch basin this month. Larvicide is also applied by helicopter three times during mosquito season to wet, marshy areas that are known to be breeding areas.

“We conduct weekly surveillance for West Nile virus activity throughout the city, and adulticide will be applied to carefully delineated areas only if the threat to humans is imminent in those areas, based upon location, species, persistence, and levels of WNV activity in mosquitoes, and findings of WNV in humans or possibly in other animals,” the representative said. “Spraying adulticide in populated areas before we have any evidence of WNV activity is neither appropriate, nor will it help protect public health.”

The representative also encouraged residents to report standing water on private property by calling 311 or visiting the DOHMH website.

Last summer, four people and 200 mosquito pools in Queens tested positive for the virus, according to DOHMH. West Nile activity was reported several times in Howard Beach, Hamilton Beach, Lindenwood and the Rockaways.

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