Tag Archives: Howard Beach

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


Howard Beach laces up to cure juvenile diabetes

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER / Photos 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.



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.”


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.


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.


Banks to help stop zombie properties in south Queens and elsewhere

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder


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.”


Howard Beach girl’s death inspires fundraising campaign

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Facebook/Team Valentia


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.


Pol calls for early mosquito spraying in south Queens

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Greenfield


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.


Final workshops for Jamaica Bay Greenway plan announced

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata


The first of the final workshops for the Jamaica Bay Greenway Implementation will take place this week.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) will be adding bike lanes to the 11-mile bike path that connects Brooklyn and Queens.

The additions are a result of resident calls for an expansion to Ozone Park to connect the greenway to the soccer and baseball fields on Conduit Avenue.

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

The DOT proposed using 155th Avenue or 156th Avenue to connect Ozone Park to the greenway and also plans to improve existing bike lanes including the lane that connects the Joseph P. Addabbo Memorial Bridge to the Belt Parkway in Howard Beach.

A workshop will take place in Howard Beach on Wednesday, May 13, at Old Mill Yacht Club located at 163-15 Cross Bay Blvd.

Rockaway and Broad Channel workshops will take place on Thursday, May 21, at Knights of Columbus at 333 Beach 90th St., Rockaway Beach.

Marine Park and Sheepshead Bay workshops will take place at Carmine Carro Community Center located at 3000 Fillmore Ave. on Wednesday, June 3.

The last workshops at Canarsie and Spring Creek are scheduled for Wednesday, June 10, at P.S. 272 at 101-24 Seaview Ave.

All workshops will be held at 6:30 p.m.

According to the DOT, the final report will outline community preferences for route selection and enhancement projects, prioritize proposed connector routes and long-term projects, and serve as a tool to increase awareness of and support for the Greenway among residents and political leaders.


Elderly Howard Beach resident dies following crash

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

An 88-year-old Howard Beach woman has died from injuries she sustained in a car crash last month, police said Saturday.

Carmela Rutolo of 88th Street was driving north on Cross Bay Boulevard at 7:40 p.m. on April 20, when her vehicle struck a pillar at Liberty Avenue.

Officers from the 106th Precinct and EMS units responded to the scene. Rutolo died of her injuries on April 24 at Jamaica Hospital.

An investigation by the NYPD Collision Investigation Squad is ongoing.



Fake 911 call backfires for Howard Beach burglary suspect

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Instead of driving the police away with a fake emergency call, a suspected burglar wound up bringing more cops to his Hamilton Beach block Thursday afternoon.

Keith Kolm, 25, of 164th Road, allegedly broke into the Key Food supermarket at 163-30 Cross Bay Blvd. in Howard Beach at 6 a.m. on April 6 and stole the shop’s ATM.

Through an investigation, the 106th Precinct Detective Squad linked Kolm to the crime and “plastered the neighborhood” with wanted posters featuring his mugshot, one law enforcement source said. Plainclothes officers staked out the suspect’s home for several weeks, but he never surfaced.

At about 3:45 p.m. on Thursday, police received a 911 call regarding an officer in need of assistance at the corner of Linden Boulevard and the Van Wyck Expressway service road in South Ozone Park, authorities said.

While heading to the scene with other units, an on-duty supervisor requested the location of where the 911 call was made; police learned that the call came from a cellphone in Hamilton Beach.

Plainclothes officers stationed outside Kolm’s home activated their sirens and drove around the corner, according to authorities. After a few moments, they returned to the location and observed Kolm walking outside his home.

“That call was placed so he could get out of the house,” a law enforcement source said.

Kolm then led officers on a foot pursuit through Hamilton Beach streets and backyards, prompting additional NYPD units to respond to the area, police said. At about 4:30 p.m., officers apprehended Kolm on the rooftop of a home in the area of 104th Street and 163rd Drive.

Charges against Kolm are pending.


Howard Beach boardwalk needs handicapped-accessible ramp, additional lighting

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER / Photo by Angela Matua


The Howard Beach boardwalk has been the cause of many headaches in the community and after a reconstruction, some are looking to further improve the 2,000-foot-long cement walkway.

The boardwalk, which begins in Coleman Square in Howard Beach and ends in Hamilton Beach, was in disrepair for many years. After Hurricane Sandy damaged the boardwalk further, residents were no longer allowed to use it.

Repairs were made to the walkway, which was converted from a wooden boardwalk, and finished during the first week of December of last year.

But repairs took longer than anticipated after a dispute broke out between the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) over who owned the land.

DCAS eventually took responsibility and Councilman Eric Ulrich pressed the agency to make repairs.

Salvatore Simonetti, chief of staff for the councilman’s office, is now pushing for more lighting to be installed to make the walkway safer and for a handicapped-accessible ramp to be built at the Coleman Square entrance.

According to Hamilton Beach Association President Roger Gendron, the original scope of the project was just to repair the wooden boardwalk. But when they installed a concrete walkway instead, stairs were constructed on the Howard Beach side. Hamilton Beach’s entrance is a ramp.

Simonetti has reached out to local officials and the Department of Transportation (DOT) to alleviate the problem, but the dispute over who owns that part of the boardwalk has come up again and is making it harder to pinpoint who claims the responsibility of the additional lighting and ramp.

He recently met with DOT officials to walk across the boardwalk and point out where additional lighting can be placed. According to Simonetti, the DOT will work to install lighting, but there is not an exact timeline as to when this project will be completed.

“If someone goes there and realized that it’s not ADA-compliant, they have to turn around and come back and I’m not sure there is much room,” Simonetti said. “It’s difficult to maneuver a wheelchair, even a stroller or a baby carriage if you’re moving in and out to come back.”

Though the process to fully complete the boardwalk has been long and “draining,” Simonetti said the people of Hamilton Beach and Howard Beach have been patient.

“They know that we’re working on it,” Simonetti said. “They’re a wonderful group of people … they’ve been very patient with us and understanding.”


Pair arrested for drug possession in Howard Beach

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angela Matua


Police found large amounts of oxycodone and Xanax and arrested two men while executing a search warrant in a Howard Beach apartment house on Friday.

Members of the NYPD Queens Narcotics Bureau and the 106th Precinct launched the raid at 6 a.m. on April 24 at an apartment on 156th Avenue near 81st Street.

Reportedly, police recovered one large Ziploc bag containing 57 oxycodone pills and 88 Xanax pills from an end table in the living room.

Officers also recovered a pill bottle containing 45 oxycodone pills and 30 Xanax pills in the kitchen and a wallet containing $1,245 in cash.

The home’s resident, Matthew Clarke, 23, and an accomplice, Timothy R. Yan, 21, were taken into custody at the scene. According to authorities, Clarke and Yan were sleeping on separate couches in the living room when police entered the home.

Clarke and Yan, a Brooklyn resident, were charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance. Clarke was booked on an additional drug possession charge.

During their arraignment hearings, Yan was ordered held on $5,000 bail, while Clarke was released without bail. Both men are due back in court Wednesday.


Rockwood Park Jewish Center hosts Holocaust Remembrance Day

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Rockwood Park Jewish Center


Stories were shared and prayers were offered to the victims of the Holocaust during a special service last week at the Rockwood Park Jewish Center in Howard Beach.

Yom Hashoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, honors both the more than 6 million people who died at the hands of Nazi Germany during World War II and those who survived the atrocity. The event, which was hosted at the synagogue on Thursday, April 16, honored four Holocaust survivors: Nathan Berkowitz, Martin Braun, Jack Gruer and Judy Berkowitz.

After a candle lighting service, the audience sang “Hatikvah,” Israel’s national anthem, and “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Rabbi Tzvi Berkowitz welcomed the crowd along with Bernard Fisch, president of the Rockwood Park Jewish Center.

Public officials including Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder, Community Board 10 Chair Betty Braton, Fr. Francis Colamaria of St. Helen’s Church, state Senator Joseph Addabbo and Deputy Inspector Jeffrey Schiff, commanding officer of the 106th Precinct, made opening remarks.

Helen Greenblat, Rabbi Berkowitz’s cousin, told the story of her mother and father, who were both held in concentration camps to put a face to the numbers we so often hear.

“It’s something we can’t comprehend, but we can tell the stories and they can come to life and pay tribute by telling the stories,” Greenblat said.

Greenblat spoke about her parents before the war to emphasize that they lived a “normal” life, as well as the challenges they faced when starting over.

“They were absolutely heroic for starting all over again and continuing after what [they’d] been through, the losses they suffered, the misery they endured,” Greenblat said.

Her parents were both in their mid-teens when the war started and both lost family members as a result.

Greenblat’s father, Max Traeger, lived in Warsaw, Poland, and worked in his father’s shoe factory after dropping out of school in the fifth grade. According to Greenblat, the extreme anti-Semitism he faced in school caused him to leave.

Traeger and his family were forced into labor camps after Germany invaded Poland. Traeger, the lone survivor, lived in the camps for five years.

Ilona Lax, Greenblat’s mother, was forced out of her house in Czechoslovakia to a nearby ghetto along with her sister, two brothers and father. Soon after, they were put on cattle cars to be escorted to Auschwitz.  Upon arrival at the death camp, Lax’s father and brother were both killed.

Lax and her sister, Lily, were liberated from Bergen-Belsen, a concentration camp in Germany, by British soldiers. To start a new life, they created a kosher kitchen and a synagogue. When Lax’s sister got engaged, she requested that her fiancé get her a white wedding gown.

“I couldn’t believe when I heard the story. They went through hell, they lost so many of their family members and she’s telling him she wants a white wedding gown,” Greenblat said.

Rations were implemented and instead of coffee and cigarettes, Lily Lax’s fiancé requested a white German parachute. The makeshift gown has been used by 17 brides, including Greenblat’s mother.

“That to me is a symbol of renewed life,” said Greenblat.


Frank Charles Park repairs a home run for Howard Beach community

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angela Matua


Howard Beach residents hoping to enjoy America’s pastime at Frank Charles Park will experience a whole new ballgame when visiting the ballfields.

The National Park Service (NPS) made repairs to the fields on April 8 through 10, including leveling the infields, filling in ridges that formed between the diamonds and the outfields and repairing the outfields.

Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder received numerous complaints from the Hamilton Beach community and Michael Baker, manager of the X-Bays Softball team in the Queens Metro ASA Softball league.

Baker said he has experienced problems with the field since he started playing on it eight years ago. The X-Bays team, which was formed in 2009 and plays on the field from April to August, has never seen the ballfields being maintained.

“The field has been in quite bad shape for years,” Baker said, “more so after [Hurricane] Sandy. After the storm it was like a beach. We’ve gotten a lot of heat from other teams in the league about how atrocious it was, so I finally said enough is enough.”

Baker emailed Goldfeder’s office and was surprised by the Assemblyman’s quick response.

“He responded within 15 minutes,” Baker said. “I fell off my chair. It was phenomenal.”

Goldfeder’s office contacted the agency that owns and operates Charles Park, NPS’s Gateway National Recreation Area, and requested they make the repairs. He also asked the agency to provide the team with equipment including shovels, rakes and infield clay so players could make minor game day repairs.

“These improvements will help prevent injuries and make games more enjoyable for players, families and the entire community,” Goldfeder said in a press release. “I’d like to thank the National Park Service for their quick response and partnership with the neighborhood.”

Baker and his co-manager Anthony Galetto would spend two to three hours every Saturday fixing the field and prepping it for Sunday morning, especially after it rained, Baker said.

“It became quite a nuisance after years and years and years,” Baker said. “Now it’s just such a pleasure. When it rains, it rained fairly hard last night and it’s holding up so well. We’re just very pleased.”

The X-Bays played their first game of the season on the new field on Sunday, April 12, and are currently 4-0.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better start on our repaired field,” Baker said.