Tag Archives: Howard Beach

Goldfeder demands cleanup of Howard Beach ‘eyesore’


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

SALVATORE LICATA

Garbage bags, cigarette butts and an overflowing trash can greet commuters and locals in Coleman Square every day, charged a politician who is demanding a cleanup of the area.

Given the large volume of people passing through the Howard Beach square to jump on the A train, garbage pick-up and removal has become a major issue surrounding the two-block square, Assemblyman Philip Goldfeder said.

“There are simply not enough trash cans or a reliable pick-up schedule to accommodate the volume of litter that is produced in this area,” Goldfeder said. “The Coleman Square Station constantly remains an eyesore for our community.”

Goldfeder has sent a letter to the NYC Department of Sanitation (DSNY), requesting that there be additional trash cans added to the area along with more frequent garbage pick-ups in an effort to clean up the mess that has plagued the square.

The square currently has just one DSNY trash can which is constantly overflowing with garbage. It is common to see empty bottles and littered papers blowing right by the memorial war shrines that are set up in the square.

“It is the obligation of the Sanitation Department to provide more cans and more frequent pick-ups to support the volume of traffic at Coleman Square,” Goldfeder said. “Our families deserve to live in a community where they can comfortably enjoy the summer weather outdoors without being surrounded by unsightly garbage.”

Goldfeder is waiting for a response from the DSNY, which did not immediately return a call for comment.

 

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Claims pour in to city after sewage backup


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Nearly 200 Queens residents filed claims against the city in the last week after storms left their homes swamped in rainwater and sewage, officials said.

One hundred of those claims came from homeowners in Howard Beach and Lindenwood flooded, who filed notice of claim forms supplied by city Comptroller Scott Stringer against the city’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), according to Stringer’s office.

“We are going to do everything we can to get your money back,” Stringer said during a Howard Beach civic association meeting on May 27.

His staff handed out the forms at that meeting so people could submit them submit directly to his office, rather than file one through a lawyer. A notice of claim is usually a precursor to a lawsuit unless the claimant and the city come to an agreement over payment.

There are another 78 claims from other Queens residents who were affected by the storm, Stringer’s office said.

For the locals who didn’t see much water damage during Superstorm Sandy, the flooding from the April 30 rainstorm was surprising, according to residents.

But, according to the DEP, the flooding was not caused by nature. It was the result of a backflow from a local wastewater and sewage facility that is run by the agency. During rainstorms, the Spring Creek Facility is supposed to release the excess water into Jamaica Bay. But, according to the DEP, recently installed sensors failed to do this.

“DEP found that the new electronic system malfunctioned, and releases into the bay did not promptly occur. As a result, stormwater and wastewater backed up into streets and homes in parts of the New Lots and Lindenwood neighborhoods.” according to a press release from the DEP.

As the forms continue to come in, Stringer’s office is sending engineers out to verify the damages people claimed.

“At first, I thought this flooding was God’s doing,” said Tommy Durante, a Lindenwood resident. “But then we found out that our government caused this. So how am I supposed to trust the comptroller’s office to get me my money?”

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Hamilton Beach residents stuck with ruined road


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Roger Gendron

In Hamilton Beach, residents say they witness new potholes and sink holes form right before their eyes.

On 104th Street, a main artery for cars, buses and pedestrian traffic coming in and out of the neighborhood, a new problem developed over just a few days.

“On Monday there was a slight indentation [on 104th Street] and by Thursday it had become a fully developed sink hole,” said Roger Gendron, president of the Hamilton Beach Civic Association.

Residents trace the problem to 10 years ago when new homes were built in one section and the street was gouged in several places for sewer piping. Aside from the newly formed hole in the road, Hamilton Beach’s main road is pocked with numerous holes that span over 200 feet.

The daily task of driving along 104th Street is fraught with indentations of all kinds that often force drivers to drive on the wrong side of the road to save their axles the abuse. The road also has a bus stop for the Q11 but there is no sidewalk for people to wait on, making them another obstacle that drivers have to look out for.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen the city do any work on these roads to fix these problems,” life-long resident Marie Persans said. “We see Howard Beach getting paved a lot but all we get is patches that wear out in no time.” Persans is also the vice-president of the civic association.

Residents ultimately want the Department of Transportation (DOT) to put in a completely new roadbed that would elevate the road, preventing pools of water from collecting in the holes during rainstorms. They also want a waiting area for people using the bus.

DOT Spokesman Nicholas Mosquera said that the department doesn’t have the resources to make these long-term changes.

“While DOT will look to include 104th Street in a future reconstruction schedule, the agency will continue to monitor the roadway, which was assessed last month, and repair potholes and perform any other short-term maintenance needs,” he said.

Councilman Eric Ulrich’s office has been working with the community to get the transportation department to get the resources need for long-term changes, according to Sal Simonetti, a representative for the councilman.

“These conditions are horrible,” Gendron said. “This is a very dangerous situation for everybody.”

 

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73-year-old woman robbed, punched on Howard Beach sidewalk: police


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

A 73-year-old woman was robbed and punched in the face as she was walking down the street with a cart of groceries in Howard Beach Tuesday afternoon, cops said.

The victim was attacked about 3:20 p.m. near 153rd Avenue and 88th Street, officials said.

One of the suspects, described by police as a woman, around 18 years old, came up to the victim from behind and took her pocketbook, which contained$100, a cell phone and other personals, from the cart. A second suspect, a man, who was also about 18 years old, then punched the 73-year-old in the face, causing her to fall to the ground.

The victim suffered cuts to her ear and abrasions to her arm, and was taken to Jamaica Hospital for treatment, cops said.

Police have released a video of the robbery, and said the female suspect was last seen wearing a vest and the male suspect was last seen wearing dark clothing and tan cargo shorts.

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

 

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Parks Dept. says no to changing tree program despite complaints from Howard Beach residents


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Gabriella Licata

SALVATORE LICATA

The Parks Department rejected Howard Beach residents’ plea of changing the system of planting trees in the neighborhood, known as the one million tree initiative. Currently, residents may request a tree to be planted in front of their homes but may not refuse a planting, a point of contention for more than two dozen residents.

Due to recent complaints, Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder has urged the department to implement a system where residents will be given the option to have a tree planted in front of their homes prior to it being planted.

But doing so would be too complicated, according to Zachary Feder, a spokesman for the Parks Department.

“NYC Parks is always willing to consider location and species suggestions,” Feder said.

“However trees work best as a system, and eliminating planting sites or allowing homeowners to opt out would undermine the effectiveness of this system and significantly reduce the environmental benefit.”

The trees are being placed on city property, but once planted maintaining them and raking the leaves that fall from the trees on to the sidewalk are the residents’ responsibility.

When Superstorm Sandy roared through the area it tore down trees, which damaged houses, power lines and sidewalks, leaving some residents wary of new trees being placed in front of their houses.

“Many residents are still recovering from Sandy and should be involved in the process that will revitalize their neighborhood,” Goldfeder said.

Feder said the new trees will be better suited for storm conditions.

“In recent years, we have implemented new planting techniques on streets to make the new trees we plant less susceptible to storm damage and less likely to lift up sidewalks,” Feder said.

The MillionTreesNYC initiative is a citywide project, and is not just going on in neighborhoods that were affected by Sandy. The Parks Department plans to plant about 220,000 trees on public streets, which will increase the city’s urban forest, “our most valuable environmental asset,” according to the department’s website.

It also says these new trees will help to capture storm water, reduce air pollution and moderate temperatures.

Despite the protests, the Parks Department said it will continue to plant trees around the neighborhood.

 

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Howard Beach Staples to close at end of May


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Roger Gendron

The only Staples in Howard Beach is closing at the end of this month.

The store put signs up announcing the closure last week but there will be none of the usual sales fanfare, according to the workers at the Cross Bay Boulevard location. Residents have noticed workers starting to pack boxes as the store nears its closing date.

“Sad how everything seems to stay here short term,” Lisa Marie, a local, wrote on the Howard Beach Civic Association Facebook page.

Superstorm Sandy hit businesses hard on the boulevard and the office supply store didn’t open back up until mid-2013. With less than a year of operating after recovering, the store will be closing its doors for good.

A photo of the Staples Howard Beach location after it reopened, taken around the one-year anniversary of Sandy. (THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre)

“Whenever a large store like that closes, it sends bad vibes through the community,” state Senator Joseph Addabbo said.

The fact that Staples was willing to reopen after Sandy, unlike the local Duane Reade, led him and other local politicians to think they were here to stay.

“We’re trying to bring back our local economy,” Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder said. “Staples was always a good neighbor but I’m hopeful. This gives us an opportunity for new entities to come in.”

A Staples worker said that the increase in online retail has made it unnecessary to keep the location open.

“As customers shift online, we are taking aggressive action to right-size our retail footprint,” a spokesperson for Staples, Kaitlyn Reardon said. Staples is also “working to provide transfer options where possible” for the workers there.

Addabbo noted that many of these workers are locals. “It’s a loss of jobs,” he said. “So now the question is post-Staples, what happens?”

 

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Repairs begin on Hamilton Beach boardwalk after Sandy damage


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Roger Gendron

The city is finally repairing the boardwalk connecting Hamilton Beach and Howard Beach after Superstorm Sandy made it dangerous to use.

“No one from the city wanted to step up and take responsibility,” said Roger Gendron, the president of the Hamilton Beach Civic Association. “But [Councilman Eric Ulrich’s office] kept going and going to get this done.”

While Ulrich’s office pushed for the repairs, which began on May 15, the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) is ultimately responsible for doing the work since it owns the property, according to the councilman. But the department wasn’t quick to admit ownership and instead they told the community that the MTA owned the land. The two debated ownership, causing a delay in repairs.

“This is an issue we’ve been working on for more than a year,” Ulrich said. “We kept going back and forth with DCAS. We were relentless. The city has to accept responsibility for its property and we’re here to make sure that happens.”

When the flooding hit the area, Gendron explained, the boardwalk became uprooted, and now, the once-straight boardwalk curves and drops in many spots. The boardwalk also sustained damages to the individual planks. Construction workers were observed by Gendron on Tuesday, May 20, working on the site.

Hamilton Beach is a small sliver of Howard Beach and is separated from the rest of the neighborhood by canals and waterways. In an area with less than a handful of ways in and out, the boardwalk is used as a main walkway for people going to and from the Howard Beach A train station.

“Anytime we lose any way out of Hamilton Beach, it hurts,” Gendron said.

Gendron and Ulrich both said that this repair is just one among many things that needs to be fixed.

“It’s just one part of the community that needed repairs and we aim to fix them all,” Ulrich said.

DCAS did not respond to comment requests before press time, and no completion date has been set by the department. When the project is complete, according to Gendron, the department will replace the wooden planks with a concrete walkway and new railings.

 

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Signs of life: Howard Beach 7th-graders make their own traffic safety signs


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

ERIC JANKIEWICZ 

Students at P.S./I.S. 232 Walter Ward School have first-hand experience with the dangers of traffic and speeding cars.

The Howard Beach school is located across the street from a shopping center, and the everyday task of crossing the streets is always tinged with danger, according to students, parents and faculty members at the school.

In response to the constant speeding that they see daily, students from a seventh-grade class designed their own traffic sign as part of a wider Department of Transportation (DOT) project for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero” policy. The signs went up on two locations Friday around the school.

“It’s so dangerous, “Rosemarie Asselta, a parent, said about the intersection of 153rd Avenue and 83rd Street. “They’re rushing past the school in a hurry and zooming into the [shopping center] parking lot. It’s terrifying.”

Asselta explained that the problem isn’t that drivers in the area are particularly careless. But between 84th and 79th streets on 153rd Avenue there is no stop sign or red light. Add to this the fact that the crossing guard can’t control traffic on the high-speed Avenue, and you get an area where “close calls” happen all the time, Asselta said.

The traffic sign designed by the seventh-grade class was put up on the avenue itself as well as 83rd Street, advising students that, “ready and alert wins the race.” The sign depicts a green human figure crossing the street as a yellow car, presumably, slows down as it reaches the intersection.

Jamee Lopez is one of the seventh-graders that helped design the traffic sign and for her, traffic incidents take a personal note. Last year she was crossing the avenue when she was almost hit by a car.

“I was like, ‘Oh, my God.’ And it made me realize how dangerous this area really is,” Jamee said. “Because in this school you always hear stories about kids almost getting hit but then when it happens to you, it becomes really serious.”

Jamee and her fellow classmates worked on the design process since the beginning of the school year in September 2013. During that time, they collaborated with one another on a design and visited the DOT’s sign shop in Maspeth, according to Theresa Bary, a DOT representative.

“They see it from start to finish,” said Bary, the department’s deputy director of safety education outreach. “They really take this to heart.”

 

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Howard Beach man sold 12 stolen vehicles for scrap metal: DA


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

A Howard Beach man was busted for allegedly selling a dozen stolen vehicles to Long Island scrap yards and pocketing thousands of dollars in return.

“As the price of scrap metal increases, thieves are growing more aggressive and taking advantage of a quirk in the law which allows them to dispose of vehicles eight years or older without proof of title, District Attorney Richard Brown said. “They simply show their driver’s license at the scrap yard, fill out a DMV form stating that they are the delivery agent or the vehicle’s owner and leave with cash in their pocket – and their victims without a ride.”

John M. Brew, 35, is accused of pawning off 12 vehicles to Universal Scrap Processes and Gershow Recycling facilities on Long Island between February 4 and April 7 of this year.

He was allegedly paid $600 to $750 per vehicle, which would each then be crushed.

Brew was able to sell the vehicles by showing a DMV form signed by him that listed himself as the vehicle owner, along with a New York State driver’s license, Brown said. He sometimes would also trick the scrap yards into thinking he had the vehicle’s key by allegedly saying the ignition was broken and placing a fake key in the ignition.

The stolen vehicles Brew sold included two Dodge Caravans, model years 1993 and 1995, and 10 Ford Econoline Vans with the model years, ranging from 1998 through 2006, according to the district attorney.

Brew was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court Friday on charges of grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, falsifying business records and unauthorized use of a vehicle, prosecutors said. He faces faces up to four years in prison if convicted.

 

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Astoria Park gets new trees for green-friendly Five Boro Bike Tour


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

More than 30,000 bicyclists will pedal into a greener Astoria Park this May.

Volunteers from nonprofits Bike New York, the New York Restoration Project and other organizations, as well as local and city officials came together on Earth Day to plant 64 trees at the park, which will be one of the major rest areas for the 37th TD Five Boro Bike Tour.

“It’s our way of giving back to the environment and to the park,” said Beth Heyde, senior events manager for Bike NY.

Out of the 64 trees, which included 12 different species, 20 were placed Tuesday on the route bicyclists have taken throughout the park for years during the bike tour.

“It feels so good to give back to this park that has been giving us so much for 37 years,” said Kenneth J. Podziba, president and CEO of Bike New York, who was born in Howard Beach. “We love Astoria Park so much, we love Queens so much.”

The Five Boro Bike Tour is scheduled to take place on Sunday, May 4, and begin in Lower Manhattan.

This year Bike NY’s bike tour, which allows 32,000 cyclists to wheel through all five boroughs on streets free of traffic, will be the city’s first sporting event and the nation’s second cycling event to be certified as sustainable by the Council for Responsible Sport after making the tour environmentally green.

The nonprofit has partnered with the city’s Department of Environmental Protection to provide riders with fresh city drinking water, eliminating the use of plastic bottles during the bike tour. Riders will also receive a kit that includes a compostable bike ID plate, recyclable bibs and a reusable helmet cover.

“Today is the first step in the right direction,” Podziba said during the April 22 tree planting. “We’re improving Astoria Park. We don’t just want it to be one year; we want to do this every year.”

 

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NYS Pavilion recognized as ‘National Treasure’ on World’s Fair anniversary


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Follow me @liamlaguerre

 

The New York State Pavilion, a surviving relic of the 1964-65 World’s Fair, was named a “National Treasure” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation on the 50th anniversary of the opening of the famed event.

Following the recognition on Tuesday, the Parks Department opened the Pavilion to the public for the first time for decades. The Pavilion recently received a fresh coat of paint from the advocacy group New York State Pavilion Paint Project, but its space-like structures have rusted over and it is in need of repair.

The hope is that the designation, which puts it among nearly 40 other historic places and buildings around the country, would help attract funds — estimated to be at least $43 million — to save it.

“For a long time the future of this building was a question mark,” said Paul Goldberger, a board member of the nonprofit group. “But in time it will not be a question mark at all, I think it will be a different piece of punctuation. It will be a great exclamation point in the middle of a resurgent Queens.”

In its heyday, the Pavilion featured the Tent of Tomorrow, three towers and the Theaterama, which is now the nearby Queens Theatre. When it was constructed, the Tent of Tomorrow had a $1 million map of New York State on its floor, made of 567 mosaic panels weighing 400 pounds each and colorful stained glass panels on its ceiling. Two of the towers had cafeterias for the fair, while the tallest, which stands at 226 feet, was used as an observation deck.

“It’s not what it was,” said Elaine Goldstein of Howard Beach, who visited both 1939-40 and 1964-65 World’s Fairs. “It’s hurtful to see that it went into disrepair.”

Thousands of people from all walks of life, many of whom had a connection to the Pavilion, walked through the gates with hard hats to tour the aged structure.

“This is the greatest moment of my life,” said Natali Bravo, a resident from Rego Park, who was shooting pictures of the Pavilion with a 1964 Kodak World’s Fair Camera. “This is the first time I’m actually setting foot in here. To actually be photographing this event the way it was meant to be photographed with this camera is a very special thing.”

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Library yoga aims to relieve stress in Howard Beach


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo

JEFF STONE

Queens librarians are encouraging residents at the Howard Beach branch to put aside their books, for at least one hour starting at 2:00 p.m. Thursday, in favor of a yoga mat.

Irene Failenbogen will be on hand to give library members an introduction to chair yoga. A yoga instructor for 30 years, Failenbogen has spent half of that time helping New Yorkers use the ancient method to relieve stress, improve mental clarity, lower blood pressure and realign tired joints.

She advocates using a chair for novice yogis and people with health problems because, while many of the motions are the same, a chair can provide important assistance when it comes to balance and mastering the proper movement techniques.

A native Argentine, Failenbogen teaches a string of classes at each Queens library before traveling to the next branch. She’s attracted a small following in no small part because of her willingness to help her neighbors.

“I’ve just been part of the melting pot, seeing all these people come into the same class with all these backgrounds and languages,” she said. “We learn so much in life about how to be a spectator, but yoga is about putting yourself out there for the experience. … Many people after class will say, ‘I’m so glad I came.’”

 

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Firefighters battle blazing Howard Beach brush fire


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Robert Stridiron

Updated Monday, March 17, 9:25 a.m.

More than 100 firefighters tamed a massive brush fire that lit up Howard Beach late Saturday afternoon, the FDNY said.

Flames broke out in a field of reeds near Spring Creek Park at 83rd Street and 163rd Avenue at about 4:20 p.m., fire officials said.

The FDNY said it took about 138 firefighters and 33 units to put out the three-alarm blaze. It was under control by about 6:20 p.m.

There were no reported injuries, according to the Fire Department.

The cause of the blaze is under investigation, an FDNY spokesperson said.

 

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Woman found dead in Howard Beach motel: cops


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

A 22-year-old woman was found dead in a Howard Beach motel Saturday morning, police said.

Authorities responded to a 9-1-1 call of an unconscious female at the Surfside Motel at 164-33 Cross Bay Blvd. about 11:25 a.m. Saturday.

She was pronounced dead at the scene. The investigation is ongoing.

 

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Identify this place in Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

identify

Do you know where in Queens this photo was taken?

Guess by commenting below!

The answer will be revealed next Friday.

Last week’s answer to “Identify this Place”: Bernard Coleman Memorial Square (Coleman Square) in Howard Beach