Tag Archives: Jamaica Bay

Bikes, kayaks get green light in Jamaica Bay


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYC Parks and Recreation

Jamaica Bay visitors are about to get a little bike for their bucks.

The Parks Department announced California-based Wheel Fun Rentals has received the license agreement for much-discussed bike and kayak stands throughout Jamaica Bay.

A site in Queens opened at Rockaway’s Jacob Riis Park over Memorial Day Weekend, according to the Parks Department, with another site at Riis Landing expected to open in mid-June.

“Millions of people visit the parks and beaches at Jamaica Bay and the Rockaways each summer and this concession provides a fun and new recreational amenity,” Parks Commissioner Veronica M. White said in a statement.

Requests for Proposals (RFPs) were released in March to build stands around the park in a pre-Sandy project between the National Park Service and the Parks Department.

Howard Beach residents were upset the Frank M. Charles Memorial Park was included in the proposals even while the park was in dire need of repairs. At Community Board (CB) 10’s April meeting, members asked a Parks representative to consider taking Charles Park off the RFP until something was done to clean it up.

CB10 chair Elizabeth Braton said she’s happy Charles Park was not included in the plan and is hopeful authorities will focus on cleaning it up instead.

“I’m very glad that they took our advice and decided go with appropriate locations,” she said.

Braton added that the board would be open to including Charles Park in future proposals if a clean-up takes place.

 

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Petco, other shops overcome Sandy setbacks


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Terence M. Cullen

As the days and months since Sandy tick by, businesses in south Queens are rising from the rubble and returning to normalcy.

There was “paws” for applause on Saturday, April 27 as the Howard Beach Petco reopened. It had closed six months ago due to damage from Sandy.

Animals both big and small—all the way down to crickets—were evacuated before the storm, according to general manager Victor Aponte. He regularly communicated with his corporate affiliates. They decided to move the animals and their habitats to other locations in Queens and Brooklyn.

By the time flood waters from Sandy had ebbed back into Jamaica Bay, Petco and many other Cross Bay Boulevard businesses were considerably damaged. Aponte said floors had to be ripped up and the whole shop was inspected for mold.

Before the storm, there were 15 staffers at Petco, many of them living in the community. They were not only worried about damage to their homes and properties. They also had concerns about their jobs. However, staffers were relocated to other stores in Utica and College Point.

Now that the store has reopened, staff and community members couldn’t be happier, Aponte said.

Shoppers and their four-legged friends came to the store all day Saturday, making use of special bonuses and grabbing giveaways.

Rich Naimoli of Ozone Park said he had been shopping at another pet store on Cross Bay Boulevard, but it did not compare to the variety and help at Petco. He added that he and his wife, who own three dogs, were thrilled the Howard Beach pet shop was up and running again.

“I’m just happy they’re back,” Naimoli said.

Aponte said while Petco was part of a corporate chain, he and the staff have tried to make it a community place where residents can get one-on-one help. There are now 17 staff members in all. The reopening, he said, was another step toward normalcy half a year after Sandy devastated the area.

“It’s just exciting to get the neighborhood back to where we were before the hurricane,” Aponte said. “We really feel we’re a neighborhood store.”

According to State Senator Joseph Addabbo’s office, eight businesses are still closed on Cross Bay Boulevard. Some were able to bounce back just weeks after floodwater caused thousands of dollars worth of damage. For others, it’s been a major struggle.

It remains to be seen whether 7-Eleven and Jennifer Convertibles will reopen, However, Cross Bay Diner is slated to come back.

Joe DeCandia, owner of Lenny’s Clam Bar, was back in business less than a month after the storm. He worked practically around the clock on repairs. Now, he said, the popular eatery along with most of the boulevard is in good shape.

“We’re doing pretty good,” he said. “We’re up and running. We’re doing okay, thank God.”

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Tuesday: Partly cloudy. High of 63. Breezy. Winds from the SSE at 10 to 25 mph. Tuesday night: Overcast with a chance of rain, then a chance of a thunderstorm and a chance of rain after midnight. Low of 54. Winds from the South at 5 to 20 mph shifting to the WSW after midnight. Chance of rain 40%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Woodhaven Poetry Society

Read and discuss the written word of some of our most favorite poets. Write your own poetry from various topics as we expand our poetry horizons. It is FREE to the public. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Search warrant executed in Boston Marathon bombings that killed 3, wounded at least 145

The bombs that blew up seconds apart at the finish line of one of the world’s most storied races left the streets spattered with blood and glass, three dead, including an 8-year-old boy, more than 140 wounded and gaping questions of who chose to attack at the Boston Marathon and why.Read more: ABC New York/AP

Bloomberg: No specific NYC security concerns in wake of Boston bombings

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said authorities aren’t aware of any specific concerns about a potential attack in New York City after the explosions at the Boston Marathon, but stressed the city is taking precautions. Read more: CBS New York/AP

Two more people arrested in so-called ‘Cannibal Cop’ case

Two more people are under arrest in connection with the so-called “Cannibal Cop”, Gilberto Valle, the ex-NYPD officer convicted of conspiring to cook and eat women. Read more: ABC New York

Mets offices suffer damage in Citi Field blaze

Further evidence that the New York Mets are on fire — their ballpark was damaged in an early morning blaze on Monday. Read more: New York Daily News

Former Rep. Weiner looks back at Twitter sex scandal as he weighs mayoral run

After nearly two years of keeping quiet, former Rep. Anthony Weiner is speaking out. Read more: NY1

State pumps money into salt marsh restoration at Jamaica Bay

In a move designed to protect southern Queens against future storms and improve the eco-system of Jamaica Bay, the state is giving local groups $645,000 to help rebuild 28 acres of salt marshes, the Daily News has learned. Read more: New York Daily News 

Community: Clean up park before allowing new development


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photos

Howard Beach residents just want their park cleaned up.

Before plans Frank M. Charles Memorial Park are made, Community Board 10 wants the joint effort between the NYC Parks Department and Gateway National Recreation Area to get more local input.

Board members on Thursday, April 4 unanimously voted on a resolution to ask the coalition to remove Charles Park from consideration in the development of Jamaica Bay until further measures are taken.

“That park is in deplorable condition. It has been in deplorable condition for years,” Board chair Elizabeth Braton told a Parks representative. “When the City of New York entered in this agreement where the Parks Department would be allowed to go into Gateway and do some things, it was not the expectation of the local community that the first thing the Parks Department would do is engage in a revenue-making operation there.”

Parks and Gateway, which is an arm of the National Park Service, formed an agreement last summer to help drive more tourism to Jamaica Bay. Requests for Proposals (RFPs) were released last month for developers to create bike terminals, kayak launching areas or food concession stands.

The goal is to have these stands open by this Memorial Day weekend, with Jacob Riis Park in Rockaway as another option for Queens, according to the Parks Department.

But residents want Charles Park, notoriously in poor shape, to be cleaned up before any other sort of new development comes in. Others were concerned this would put a revenue-driving source in a park and disrupt the neighborhood.

While representatives from Gateway didn’t speak at the April meeting, Lauren Standke, a project manager for NYC Parks, spoke to the Board on what the project entails. She said it was not a goal to make money off these stands, but rather, bring more people to south Queens.

Any developer who comes into Gateway would also have to maintain the 50 feet of parkland around the site, Standke said.

“We really wanted to release these Requests for Proposals so that we could get these concessions in place by the summer season,” Standke said in regard to the lack of community input on the RFPs. “I think that with the release of these Requests for Proposals the idea is really to shift the focus to these parks that people really haven’t visited before.”

 

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Howard Beach residents say Charles Park needs repairs


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File Photo

Some Howard Beach residents want to make sure a local park is cleaned up before future development comes in.

Frank M. Charles Memorial Park, part of Gateway National Recreation Area and heavily damaged by Sandy, was listed as a site for potential concession stands, kayak launch bays or bike terminals in a request for proposal from NYC Parks Department and National Parks Service (NPS).

But Charles Park has been traditionally underfunded despite many facelift and cleanup efforts. It has experienced problems with athletic fields including broken fences and toppled mounds at its baseball fields that are used by locals.

Community Board 10 Chair Elizabeth Braton said while the board would be open to rebuilding Jamaica Bay, many members think replenishing the park should be NPS’ first priority before other attractions come in.

“The people in the community would be far more interested in seeing New York City Parks Department do some work on the ball parks there,” she said, “Or to work collaboratively with the federal parks people to get some real improvements there.”

Representatives from the Parks Department are scheduled to address Community Board 10 on Thursday, April 4, Braton said.

State Senator Joseph Addabbo said Charles Park has been underfunded because it competes with other parks nationwide, including Yosemite National Park and the Statue of Liberty.

If Charles Park is selected for one item in the project, Addabbo said he wants to see some federal money go into repairing the park. “We need to use some of the federal dollars to rebuild Charles Park,” he said.

Suzanne McCarthy, the deputy superintendent at Gateway, said in a statement that the proposals would help secure more funding, and the agency has future plans for the waterfront park.

“We see our request for proposal (RFP) with city parks as another opportunity for this community, not an obstacle to our continued clean up,” she said.

 

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Kayaking could bring tourism, revenue to Jamaica Bay


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

File photo

Jamaica Bay has been many things.

It was a fishing haven. It was the site of a deadly plane crash. And it was the catalyst for some of Sandy’s devastation.

But soon, the bay might attract more tourism when the region needs it the most.

Community Board 14 Chair Dolores Orr said the Parks Department had presented the board’s park committee with rough plans for kayak launching bays in Rockaway, along with concession stands throughout areas that are part of Gateway National Park.

Orr said the community desperately needed the project even before Sandy, as it would bring more tourism and revenue to the area.

“We are very much in favor of that in Rockaway,” she said. “We have a very large kayaking community.”

Kayaking has tapped into the water sports subculture in Rockaway. The New York Times last summer featured a story about kayaking trips in the bay. Access, however, has been restricted for many — especially after the storm cause extensive damage and pollution.

Gateway recently re-opened two launchings at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, but a Queens opening could still be way off. Orr said the board had proposed a launching site at Beach 88th Street about a year-and-a-half ago, and that Parks had begun to look into it as a potential site.

“Public access to Jamaica Bay was extremely limited prior to Sandy,” she said. “So after Sandy it’s even more significant.”

 

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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 on Friday.

 

Last week’s answer to “Identify this Place”: View of the Cross Bay Bridge from Jamaica Bay

VIDEO: Two kayakers rescued after fall in Jamaica Bay


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Police rescued two kayakers who fell into the waters of Jamaica Bay yesterday.

NYPD Air Sea rescue responded to a 9-1-1 call around 3 p.m. and split in two to retrieve the men, both 32. Two divers recovered the first man and transported him to Floyd Bennet Field. The man was then transferred to Kings County Hospital where he is in stable condition.

The second kayaker swam to an anchored boat in the harbor. A detective from the Emergency Service Unit saw the distressed boater and responded. He too swam to the boat and aided the man.

Both are being treated for hypothermia and listed in stable condition.

Video: NYPD

Queens Courier Persons of the Year honoree: West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

With 2012 behind us, The Queens Courier is paying tribute to the first responders — those men and women who put their lives on the line every day, and who braved Sandy’s wrath to save, and help rebuild, lives.

They have earned our respect and admiration, and a debt of gratitude. Here is one of their stories…

The West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department station house is on a strip of land that isn’t far from the water.

So when the storm surge from Sandy started to rise up in the hamlet on Jamaica Bay, it brought seven feet of water into the firehouse where eight volunteers — five firefighters and three EMTs — were on duty.

The residents of Hamilton Beach, which is in Zone A, had evacuated for the most part, according to Jonah Cohen, the chief. But those who stayed needed to be rescued. With their trucks damaged by the flooding and no way to walk through, the fire department had to improvise to save lives.

“We used a boat that was donated to us last year [for Hurricane Irene],” Cohen said. The boat rescued two people who remained at the firestation until the waters receded.

Though that was the sole mission that October night, according to Cohen, the fire department waited for the water to recede around 11 p.m. The next day, they assessed the damage: Three fire trucks, a chief’s car, two personal cars and one ambulance were damaged by Sandy. Lines on the windshields of the fire trucks marked how high the water rose.

Five members of the fire department live in the neighborhood and had to cope with the storm on two fronts. Once they were off-call or done assessing the damage, Cohen said they were relieved by others to focus on the destruction done to their own homes.

“Anybody who lives in the area had damage to their homes,” he said. “They dealt with it that night, and then when they found out what damage was done to their own homes, they basically needed to take care of business.”

Without any life-saving equipment, the West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department did what it could as first responders. They took in and distributed cleaning supplies, clothing and food.

“The day after, and for over a month, that’s what we were doing was handing out different products for the people who were here that were trying to clean up their homes and of course to feed them,” said Cohen.

Reconstruction is well underway. To the east of the firehouse, the rail tracks of the A line are being repaired. To the west, just down Davenport Court Road, there’s the wooden frame of a house that will soon be built.

The firehouse parking lot, underwater during Sandy, is once again filled with fire trucks and ambulances. While some bear the old “West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department” emblem, others, bear such names as “Berlin” from Pennsylvania, a testament to the fact that fire departments across the country stepped in to donate equipment.

In one corner, there is a colossal truck with both “FDNY” logos and emblems bearing the shape of Louisiana. Cohen, pointing out how remarkable the truck is in size and condition, explained it had gone back and forth between the two states after Hurricane Katrina and was donated to help after Sandy.

Today, calls are back to normal at the fire department, with some days busy and others quiet.

“The emergency calls are still normal,” he said. “Some days we have a lot; some days are very light. It’s like everything else.”

More Queens Courier Persons of the Year:

Sandy first responders honored as Queens Courier Persons of the Year


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Persons of the Year

With 2012  behind us, The Queens Courier is paying tribute to the first responders — those men and women who put their lives on the line every day, and who braved Sandy’s wrath to save, and help rebuild, lives.

They have earned our respect and admiration, and a debt of gratitude. Here is are some of their stories…

Dylan Smith

Dylan Smith saved the lives of six people during Sandy using just his surfboard, but tragically lost his own life just months later while on the water. On the night of Monday, October 29, Smith, 23, heroically paddled through the floodwaters into his neighbors’ homes in Belle Harbor, and, using a homemade rope bridge along with his surfboard, moved people to safety. Read more

Point Breeze Volunteer Fire Department

By now, everyone knows the story. More than 120 houses burned to the ground in Breezy Point the night Sandy struck. It was one of the most destructive residential fires in New York City history. Houses were lost, but lives were saved. Read more

Roxbury Volunteer Fire Department

It began as a glow to the west, a speck of twinkling amber light in the darkness. From the loft above the Roxbury Volunteer Fire Department’s station, the crew watched as the flicker became a blaze, carrying a once charming beachfront neighborhood into the night sky in embers and smoke. “Oh my God,” they said. “Breezy’s burning.” Read more

West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department

The West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department station house is on a strip of land that isn’t far from the water. So when the storm surge from Sandy started to rise up in the hamlet on Jamaica Bay, it brought seven feet of water into the firehouse where eight volunteers — five firefighters and three EMTs — were on duty. Read more

Woman charged with DWI in death of pregnant passenger


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

The woman behind the wheel of a car that flipped into a shallow marsh off of Jamaica Bay leaving a pregnant Queens woman dead has been charged with driving under the influence and without a license, according to the NYPD and media reports.

Denise Finley 32, of Arverne, was heading southbound on Brookville Boulevard in the Rosedale section of Queens around 4:30 a.m. on Sunday when she lost control of the 2000 Ford she was driving, overturning the vehicle into the water off of the roadway, said police.

Her passenger, Dominique Jamison, 25, of Far Rockaway, was removed from the car and taken to Jamaica Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

There were reportedly four other individuals in the vehicle at the time of the accident, three of which were injured.

Finley was taken into custody at the scene and later charged that day.

Historic Howard Beach


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Benny Patti

Famous for its waterways, Howard Beach has been known since the early 1900s as the “Venice of Long Island.” The land that makes up the neighborhood today was originally settled by the Canarsie and Rockaway Native Americans, and later attracted English settlers for its fishing sites — particularly by Hawtree Creek and Jamaica Bay. William J. Howard, a Brooklyn glove manufacturer, purchased 32 acres of land in 1897 and began developing them.

The rest, as they say, is history…

Photo courtesy of Benny Patti

Hawtree Creek attracted English settlers for its prime fishing. By the 1770s, the strip of water became a hot spot for the New World’s industry. That tradition stayed constant throughout the neighborhood’s history, as seen here in 1928.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Courtesy of the West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department

The West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department was established in 1928 and remains one of the few volunteer corps in the city. This 1940s photo shows that the station house and hardware has changed, but the dedication and service to the community is still the same.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cross Bay North

 

Cross Bay Boulevard has always been a busy thoroughfare. These pictures, showing the bustling boulevard heading north and south, show the street is still recognizable, even before the multiple stores that are landmarks today.

 

 

 

 

 

Located at 98-01 159 Avenue, P.S. 146 has long been educating scores of the neighborhood’s youth.

Fate of defunct Queens rail tracks to be debated


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Woodhaven Residents Block Association

The future of 50-year defunct rail tracks that run from Rego Park to the Jamaica Bay will be debated on Saturday, September 29 at a public forum hosted by the Woodhaven Residents Block Association (WRBA).

The hearing, to be held at the Queens Tabernacle at 1 p.m., will host advocates for a natural walkway, Friends of Queensway, and those who are for a revival of the Rockaway Beach rail line, which ended all service in 1962.

Regardless of what becomes of the trail, the impact on residents must be taken into place, said WRBA Communications Director Alex Blenkinsopp.

“My entire life, I’ve resided just a block away from those tracks.  I know that either proposal, if it became a reality, would have an enormous impact on those who live nearby, and on Woodhaven as a whole,” he said. “Other neighborhoods have publicly weighed in on this debate.  Now it’s time for the people of Woodhaven to hear the arguments for each side, ask tough questions, and make known where they stand.”

Residents may ask either side questions when the presentations are completed.

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Tuesday: Overcast with thunderstorms and rain showers. High of 79. Winds from the SSE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 70%. Tuesday night: Overcast with thunderstorms and rain showers. Low of 75. Winds from the South at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 70% with rainfall amounts near 1.5 in. possible.

EVENT of the DAY: Special preview of Ira Sachs’s latest film “Keep the Lights On” at the Museum of the Moving Image 

This event closes “Looking for Love: The Films of Ira Sachs,” the first comprehensive NYC retrospective of Sachs’s work that includes all his feature films and a selection of short films, each followed by a Pinewood Dialogue with Sachs in person. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Plans to convert College Point paint factory into waterfront condos back on table

A stalled proposal to transform a 150-year-old paint factory in College Point into a waterfront condo complex may be coming back to life — sparking community concerns. Read more: New York Daily News

Cops in hot water

Abandon ship! A Queens couple was forced to make a desperate leap into Jamaica Bay moments before a powerful 600-horsepower NYPD Harbor Patrol boat rammed into their tiny fishing dinghy. Read more: New York Post

Court orders city to do proper environmental review of Willets Point

Plans to revamp the gritty industrial landscape of Willets Point must remain on hold until the city can produce an “appropriate” environmental review, a court has ruled. Read more: New York Daily News

Schumer: Deny cop killers parole for murder of NYPD officer in 1988

Sen. Charles Schumer has spoken out, demanding four convicted cop killers to not be granted parole. Officer Edward Byrne was killed back in 1988 while he was sitting in his patrol car protecting a local citizen’s house who feared retribution local drug gangs. Read more: CBS New York

IBO: Longer NYPD shifts would bring greater efficiency

City police officers could be working longer hours, if the city implements the ideas from a new study.
The nonpartisan Independent Budget Office suggests lengthening officers’ shifts from 8 hours, 35 minutes to anywhere between 10 and 12 hours. Read more: NY1

Dems open convention in push for tested president

Four years later Democrats have gathered again, this time in support of a president who carries the power and the burden of incumbency, both in evidence as the opening gavel is struck at the Democratic National Convention. Read more: AP

Stanford scientists cast doubt on advantages of organic meat and produce

Does an organic strawberry contain more vitamin C than a conventional one? Maybe — or maybe not. Stanford University scientists have weighed in on the “maybe not” side of the debate after an extensive examination of four decades of research comparing organic and conventional foods. Read more: New York Times

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: Partly cloudy. High of 82. Winds from the ENE at 5 to 10 mph shifting to the SE in the afternoon. Wednesday night: Partly cloudy. Low of 72. Winds from the South at 5 to 10 mph shifting to the WNW after midnight

EVENT of the DAY: Family Karaoke Night at Manducatis Rustica

At this Long Island City restaurant’s karaoke night there are over 40,000 songs to choose from plus $5 specialty drinks for adults and gelato for kids of all ages. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Brazen thief steals 2 silver Torah crowns from Queens synogogue during evening services

Two valuable silver Torah crowns were stolen from a Queens synagogue during evening prayer services, police said Tuesday. Read more: New York Daily News

Councilman proposes emergency lane along Queens Boulevard

While traffic on Queens Boulevard can be frustrating for drivers, one official says it may be causing bigger problems. Read more: NY1

Cagey peacock ruffles Queens cops’ feathers

They can rappel down skyscrapers, rescue plane-crash survivors from an icy river, and go toe-to-toe with terrorists.But elite NYPD Emergency Service Unit cops were outsmarted yesterday by a plucky peacock that has made a Queens neighborhood his home away from home for the past week. Read more: New York Post

Busted pipe slowly turning freshwater ponds salty in Broad Channel

A busted drain pipe and valve system is slowly ruining the ecology of Jamaica Bay, driving away birds that usually breed along two freshwater ponds. Read more: New York Daily News

Sources: U.S. Open ref arrested in connection with husband’s death

Sources say that police arrested a U.S. Open tennis referee Tuesday who is a suspect in her husband’s death. Read more: NY1

NYPD: Muslim spying led to no leads, terror cases

In more than six years of spying on Muslim neighborhoods, eavesdropping on conversations and cataloguing mosques, the New York Police Department’s secret Demographics Unit never generated a lead or triggered a terrorism investigation, the department acknowledged in court testimony unsealed late Monday. Read more: AP

Blasting goes awry along 2nd Avenue subway; buildings, sidewalk damaged

Blasting along Manhattan’s still-under-construction 2nd Avenue subway line caused some damage Tuesday afternoon. Now, authorities want to know if human error was to blame. Read more: CBS New York

Searching for a new neighbor on ‘Sesame Street’

“Sesame Street” held its first-ever open casting call in New York this week to find its newest neighbor — a Hispanic character to reflect the long-running show’s increasingly diverse audience. Read more: Wall Street Journal 

BC/WSJ poll: Heading into conventions, Obama has four-point lead 

After Mitt Romney selected his vice presidential running mate, and just days before the political conventions kick off next week, President Barack Obama maintains his advantage in the race for the White House, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Read more: NBC news