Tag Archives: Howard Beach

Locals want to beautify Howard Beach


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Salvatore Licata

SALVATORE LICATA

Howard Beach wants a makeover — and members of the Howard Beach Lindenwood Civic Association are calling for three different spots in the neighborhood to get a facelift.

The “Welcome to Howard Beach” triangle on Cross Bay Boulevard, the overpass of the Belt Parkway on 156th Avenue and 84th Stree, and the fencing in Lindenwood along 156th Avenue between 84th and 88th streets are all part of the “Summer Beautification Project,” said Joanna Ariola, chair of the civic association.

“We want some of the messier areas in the community cleaned up,” said Ariola, who has asked for volunteers with some construction skills to aid the project. “We have gotten a lot of positive feedback from residents and also some people who were interested in helping out.”

For the welcome triangle, the association is looking to repaint the sign and upgrade its surroundings. Ariola said the sign hasn’t been changed for a significant amount of time and the brickwork around the sign needs to be redone.

The Belt Parkway overpass is graffiti-ridden with several shades of blue paint covering past vandalism. And the fencing along the parkway is covered with overgrown eyesore foliage.

Ariola said she is working with Councilman Eric Ulrich in hopes to get the DOT to repaint the overpass and cut the weeds off the fence.

The civic association expects to have a meeting to address these problem areas within the next couple of weeks.

Ariola said the group is hoping to gain more support from residents and acquire more volunteers to help.

To find out more, visit the Howard Beach Lindenwood Civic Association on Facebook or follow @hblcivic on Twitter.

 

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What to do if there is an LIRR strike


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Metropolitan Transportation Authority


Subways, shuttle buses, and even ferries– the MTA is pulling out all the stops to supplement LIRR service in case 5,400 workers strike starting on July 20.

As contract negotiations with unions continue to fall apart and the impending LIRR strike draws closer each day, the MTA released its contingency plan Friday to address the 300,000 riders that would be stranded daily with the loss of the train service.

Most of the MTA’s plans focus on Long Island customers, but there are resources and tips for riders from Queens and other boroughs.

There will be 4,000 free, secured parking spots at Citi Field and an additional 3,000 spots at Aqueduct Racetrack, where drivers can drop their cars and then take the No. 7 or A trains to work. Through social media and digital platforms, such as Twitter and a LIRR mobile app, agency officials plan to update riders on how many spots are available in the lots and traffic conditions.

The transportation agency also hired 350 school buses, which lack air condition, to shuttle riders from stations in Long Island to the No. 7 train near Citi Field, the A train in Howard Beach, and also the M and R train station on Woodhaven Boulevard. The buses will run from Long Island into Queens between 4 a.m. to 7 a.m. and return to Long Island from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

There will also be ferry rides that can carry 1,000 passengers per day from Glen Cove to 34th Street in Manhattan on 40 minute rides. But the MTA warns that parking near to the ferry is very limited.

The MTA is encouraging riders to telecommute if they can work from home. According to officials, about 18,000 workers already plan to do so.

Through its free lots and shuttle buses, the transportation agency estimates it can handle about 15,000 passengers daily, more than double the 7,000 passengers daily from the 1994 LIRR strike contingency plan.

“When the LIRR unions went on strike in 1994, Long Islanders had very limited options. There were no park-and-ride lots, no ferries, no real-time monitoring, no telecommuting,” said MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast. “Today, the MTA has a far stronger, more robust, multifaceted plan. Working with the state and elected officials from across Long Island and the city of New York, we are providing more shuttle buses, thousands of parking spots near subway stations, a ferry service, real-time traffic management and real-time parking monitoring.”

The MTA doesn’t yet know how much per day the contingency plan will cost, and officials said they hope not to have to use it.

For more details on the plan, click here.

 

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Hamilton Beach resident writes memoir about the neighborhood


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

During the 1960s and ’70s, Hamilton Beach was a close-knit community that fostered lifelong friendships, as shown by a new memoir.

Hamilton Beach resident Theresa A. Tomeo published a memoir of her childhood days growing up in the neighborhood. The small community comes alive in Tomeo’s book, “The Screen House Kids.”

Tomeo published the book in late June using Amazon’s free publishing tool, CreateSpace. The story follows a group of girls, the screen house kids, growing up in Hamilton Beach during the 1960s. Tomeo spent 10 years writing the book and up until publication, she was adding information into the book. The most significant recent event is Superstorm Sandy, which flooded and destroyed a good part of the neighborhood.

“The whole concept of this book is about this group of friends who would do anything together,” said Tomeo, who is now in her 50s, as her daughter Arlene sat by her. “I wanted people to know that even in this day and age that strong friendships are still possible but you have to work hard towards it.”

The self-published, 250-page book, reads like two grandmothers reminiscing about the past and Tomeo said that is how the idea for the workdeveloped. Tomeo’s daughter, Arlene Arebalo, helped her edit the book and get it published.

“We went through so many revisions that I can’t even read the book anymore,” Arebalo said.

In one part, Tomeo recounts how her group of friends, who she calls the LULAS (Love U Like A Sister), go out on the water one night.

One night they were all hanging out at John’s house. They decided to go out on his boat. While they were out there cruising around the bay they decided to try night water skiing! First Ronny, then Terry! Those idiots were water skiing all around the parameter of Charles Park, IN THE DARK.

That was probably the craziest thing that Terry ever did, but Laurie took the cake for being wild.

In another section, Tomeo writes about her 50th birthday and the “trailer trash” theme. One of the party guests brings a trailer trash doll that is pregnant and when you pull the doll’s chord, it says “Get me another beer, I’m drinking for two.”

 

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Three adjacent businesses set to open in Howard Beach


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Salvatore Licata

SALVATORE LICATA

For almost three years, the Howard Beach retail spaces that were once home to Blockbuster and Medysis have sat empty but this is set to change.

Three businesses, Cross Bay Chemist, GNC and the European Wax Center, have taken up the vacant store space on the corner of 157th Avenue and Cross Bay Boulevard and are ready to be opened very soon. Both GNC and Cross Bay Chemist already had stores on the boulevard but the wax center, which already opened on June 16, is brand-new to the neighborhood.

Cross Bay Chemist is set to debut in its new location on Monday, June 30, according to Frank Pantina, the owner. GNC is set to open up but is waiting for an official date, according to a worker at the store. They will continue to keep their current location open until then. Customers for all three stores will now be able to use the free parking lot that serves all businesses on the block.

There is still no word on what will take the soon-to-be-empty spots of the original GNC and Cross Bay Chemist.

 

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Lewd graffiti scrawled on Hamilton Beach footbridge


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Graffiti is nothing new for Hamilton Beach residents. But residents are alarmed over new racist slurs and sexually suggestive images scrawled on a graffiti-covered footbridge connecting the small neighborhood to Howard Beach.

The bridge, which is known as “the blue bridge” to locals and goes over Hawtree Creek, has always been a hangout spot for kids smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol, according to Marie Persans, a Hamilton Beach resident. And it has always been laden with graffiti but over the weekend someone, or group, sprayed a series of offensive terms and images on the bridge.

“You’ve got some really nasty stuff written over there,” Persans said. “Thank goodness I don’t use that bridge too often.”

Barbara Eckel-Schimmenti wrote on Facebook, “Walked over the bridge with grandchildren [and] was embarrassed by the profanity.”

A police source said that residents should report these incidents as often as possible to the police, but since the bridge is owned by the Department of Transportation (DOT) there is only so much they can do. For now, the 106 Precinct’s graffiti unit has been informed of the issue.

A spokesman for the DOT said, “We will inspect the location. DOT attempts to remove any such objectionable graffiti as soon as possible.”

Roger Gendron, president of the Hamilton Beach Civic Association, said that the bridge also has broken lights and that he brought these issues to Councilman Eric Ulrich’s attention.

The councilman’s office did not immediately return calls for comment.

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Howard Beach residents to start neighborhood watch group


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Image Courtesy of Joe Thompson

BY SALVATORE LICATA

Howard Beach is hoping to add a few more sets of eyes and ears to its streets in hopes of preventing crime.

The Howard Beach Civilian Observation Patrol, is a soon-to-be nonprofit group of residents that will be keeping a watchful eye on the neighborhood. In an effort to keep crime down, volunteers of the group will patrol the neighborhood and report to the police any suspicious activity that may be going on.

“Howard Beach residents are screaming for assistance,” Joe Thompson, president and founder of the organization, said. “We are going to be the eyes and ears of the neighborhood and it is up to us as a community to report any crimes.”

Thompson said he decided to start the patrol group after hearing resident’s concerns at community meetings.

Crime is down slightly so far this year in the 106th Precinct, but a recent rash of burglaries in Howard Beach set off fears in the community.

Thompson has over 30 years of experience in community watch groups and was an auxiliary police officer for 10 years. He said he hopes this group will help to prevent crime from happening but also noted that his patrol units will take no physical action if they see suspicious activity.

“We will have uniforms but no weapons at all,” Thompson said. “We will not take any action against criminals, our job is to just report what we see to the police. We don’t want to be seen as vigilantes.”

Thompson said he has met with the 106th Precinct and government officials and has their okay to go along with the program as long as the group goes through the proper training and follows the guidelines of community watch groups, as stated by the community affairs office of the NYPD.

“We are always looking for people to get involved,” said Kenneth Zorn, the community affairs officer for the 106th Precinct. “It is a large commitment but these people volunteer their time to help improve the quality of life for the community.”

State Sen. Joseph Addabbo also offered his support to Thompson – but not without some concern.

“We must make it very clear that volunteers must go through the proper training before they patrol,” Addabbo said. “But if it is done correctly it is a positive community program.”

The Howard Beach Civilian Observation Patrol will hold their first meeting/recruitment session on June 24 at 7:30 p.m. in St. Helen’s School at 157-10 83rd St.

Thompson hopes to gain support for his initiative with other residents at the meeting.

For more information follow Thompson via Twitter @HowardBeachCOP.

 

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Woman pepper-sprayed on A train in Howard Beach: report


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via MTA Flickr: Marc A. Hermann/ MTA New York City Transit

BY SALVATORE LICATA

An altercation between two women on the A train at the Howard Beach stop this morning, led to one being pepper-sprayed, according to a published report.

Shortly after 10:30 a.m., on the Manhattan-bound train, the argument broke out which led to the victim being sprayed with the substance, the New York Post reported.

The entire train was evacuated and 18 passengers were treated on site for eye irritation, officials said.

“Anytime there is Mace or pepper spray in an enclosed area like that, you have to remove people from the immediate location,” police officials told the paper. “So the train was evacuated as a precaution.”

There have yet to be any reports of an arrest and one person was sent to Jamaica Hospital for further evaluation, officials said.

 

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‘Eyesore’ no more; Coleman Square to get more garbage pickups


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

 SALVATORE LICATA

Updated Thursday, June 12, 11:50 a.m.

The Department of Sanitation said it will improve clean-up efforts at the Coleman Square Station in response to a letter from a politician describing the square as an “eyesore.”

The collection of garbage will increase from two days a week to three and there will be an additional litter basket added to the area in order to improve conditions at the transportation hub, according to Kathy Dawkins, a spokeswoman for DSNY.

“After careful consideration, Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia has approved an additional litter basket collection for the Coleman Square Station in Howard Beach,” Dawkins said.

Along with the additional pickups, DSNY said it will monitor the area making sure efforts are correcting the condition.

Assemblyman Philip Goldfeder said in his letter that conditions at Coleman Square presented a public health concern because overflowing garbage was attracting birds and rats who feed on the trash.

“I applaud the Department of Sanitation for their quick response to my letter and for their immediate action to keep our community clean,” he said.

 

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Lindenwood resident missing since Monday


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Luz Lopez

Update: Daniel Otero was found Thursday morning in a Mount Vernon, N.Y. hospital 

Police are searching for 24-year-old Daniel Otero, who went missing Monday in Lindenwood.

Otero has schizophrenia and his family blames the mental disability for his disappearance. The family is particularly worried about his disappearance because he’s never done anything like this before.

“He’s very scared of everything and he’ll listen to anything a stranger tells him to do,” Luz Lopez, Otero’s sister, said. “If you tell him to jump off a roof he’ll do it.”

Otero disappeared after walking a relative to Lindenwood’s P.S. 232 on Monday and in the early hours of Tuesday he briefly appeared in Wyckoff Heights Medical Center before disappearing again, according to Lopez, who found out about the visit after calling all the local hospitals in the area.

A representative from Wyckoff Medical Center confirmed that Otero flagged an ambulance down in Lindenwood around 3 a.m. Tuesday, complaining about neck pains. In the hospital they found that his calves were covered with ticks but since there was nothing wrong with him and he appeared to be alert and coherent he was allowed to leave the hospital at 5 a.m. It was only later that day that cops alerted all hospitals to keep Otero if he shows up again.

Lopez and her friend Phelipa Mirabile spent Tuesday night and Wednesday spreading out missing person fliers with basic information about Otero.

Otero takes several different medications for his schizophrenia and Lopez worries that the longer he stays missing, the harder it will be to find him. He was released from Queens Hospital on June 6 for treatment.

“He’ll get more and more disoriented as time goes by,” she said. “He’s very sweet and religious. He wouldn’t hurt anybody but we’re afraid others will hurt him.”

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Authorities and Hamilton Beach residents use trucks to fight trucks


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Roger Gendron

Police towed three trucks and one school bus illegally parked in Hamilton Beach on Monday and Tuesday in a new effort to stop an old problem, according to authorities.

“It’s an out of the way location, a hidden spot where they think they’re safe parking overnight,” Deputy Inspector Jeffrey Schiff of the 106th Precinct said. “It’s a quality of life issue for the locals.”

The police have also issued summonses for unregistered cars parked in the small neighborhood that is already ailed with other transportation issues like small, narrow two-way roads and potholes. Residents and police are hoping that this will be enough to put an end to a problem that has been going on for several years, according to Schiff.

While Hamilton Beach may seem like a good hiding place for truck and car owners illegally parked in the area, Schiff is paying close attention to residents’ complaints and plans on towing more trucks in the near future. But part of the problem of towing such large vehicles is that special, heavy-duty tow trucks are needed and the NYPD has a limited amount of these tow trucks.

“There are 76 commands in New York City that want the same thing done,” Schiff said. “So it’s a logistical thing. This wouldn’t be a problem if you could use regular tow trucks.”

 

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Walk-in medical facility to open in Howard Beach


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

SALVATORE LICATA

A brand-new walk-in medical center will soon be opening up in Howard Beach.

On Crossbay Boulevard and 165th Avenue, ProHEALTH, one of the largest integrated physician groups in New York City, is starting construction on an urgent care center. It will be the second urgent care center on the boulevard along with Medysis a half mile to the north.

The center will serve walk-in patients, both children and adults, according to the sign that was hung up on the building. It will also offer gastroenterology services, expanding the medical practice of Dr. Frank Gerardi, whose current office is at 156th Avenue and Crossbay Boulevard.

The exact date of when the center will open is unclear; ProHEALTH did not respond to a phone call on the matter.

 

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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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