Tag Archives: Jamaica Bay

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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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


| 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

Agreement breathes new life into Jamaica Bay


| brennison@queenscourier.com


Jamaica Bay, which has long been a medley of city, state and federal land, will now have thousands of acres of parkland jointly managed by the National Park Service and the New York City Parks Department.

The two agencies reached an agreement to maintain 10,000 acres of Jamaica Bay to “promote visitation, education programs, scientific research and recreational opportunities.”

“This is an important example of the great things that can happen when different levels of government work together and are supported by philanthropic organizations,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “This agreement fulfills important goals included our plans to make our city more sustainable and to enhance our waterfront.”

Goals for the collectively administered project include improved recreation spaces, including more camping and boating opportunities; integrated land and water trail systems; ensuring public transportation and access to and within Jamaica Bay; and new experiential activities, including public transit, pedestrian, bicycle and ferry access.

As part of the project, the city and National Park Service released a request for expressions of interest for a university, academic partner or science-focused organization to manage an intensive research program focused on the restoration of the bay, including potentially creating a new science and resilience center to coordinate and bolster research efforts.

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

EVENT of the DAY: A tale of two stadiums

Shea Stadium and Yankee Stadium disappear under “the slow precision of giant machinery whose operators’ hands were not unlike skilled surgeons choreographing a dinosaur ballet.” The exhibit shows the changing face of New York through the eyes and viewpoints of three photographers: Rich Scarpitta, Steve Spak and Rob Yasinac.

[Click here for more info or submit your events]

Police search for livery cab driver who allegedly tried to rape passenger 

Police are looking for a livery cab driver who allegedly tried to rape a passenger in Queens. They allege the driver followed the 20-year-old into her Astoria building after she got out of the cab Friday morning. Investigators said he grabbed her and tried to rape her. Read more: [NY1] 

City Board of Standards and Appeals green-lights large Mormon church in Flushing 

The Mormon church’s prayers to build a huge chapel in Flushing have been answered. The city Board of Standards and Appeals voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve construction of a church that is more than one-and-a-half times what is permitted under current zoning. The new chapel will be built on land owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 145-13 33rd Ave. Read more: [New York Daily News] 

Secret plan would move the controversial Civic Virtue statue from Queens to Brooklyn 

The city has hatched a secret plan to move a controversial, crumbling public statue out of Queens and into Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, the Daily News has learned. The Triumph of Civic Virtue, which sits near Queens Borough Hall in Kew Gardens, has been both hailed as a priceless piece of public art worthy of restoration and derided as a sexist eyesore that should be trashed. Read more: [New York Daily News] 

City, federal gov’ts to work together to improve Jamaica Bay 

Nat Diaz visits Jamaica Bay often but he has other, less frequent visitors on his mind. “They’re not taking care of it,” he said. “They should be taking care of it a little more.” He’s not talking about just the city. It’s the federal government, too. Oversight of Jamaica Bay, its trails and beaches, are split between the two, which sometimes leads to, well, miscommunication. Read more: [NY1] 

JFK jet in laser scare 

A lunatic aimed a powerful laser beam at an airliner flying over Long Island on its way into JFK — sending the pilot to the hospital and endangering the lives of the 84 people aboard. The first officer on JetBlue Flight 657 from Syracuse was treated for injuries to both eyes after the blinding flash of light lit up the cockpit Sunday night — as the FBI and Suffolk cops hunted for the person responsible. He could face federal prison time. Read more: [New York Post] 

Fowl Strikes Cause Foul Feelings


| aaltman@queenscourier.com


Recent collisions between birds and airplanes departing city airports could give a much-needed “all clear” for negotiations between the Port Authority and wildlife conservation groups.

While recent uproar mainly surrounds possible runway expansion plans at JFK, in-flight crashes with birds came under scrutiny when a Los Angeles-bound flight was quickly grounded after a bird was sucked into its engine shortly after taking off on Thursday, April 19.

Tarmac expansion came under fire when the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey announced its proposal to extend the airport’s runway, expected to cover a significant portion of the Jamaica Bay area, in February, 2011. The 400-acre area of land, including wetlands and shoreline, was designated as a wildlife refuge, park and recreation area by the National Parks System in 1972.

Assemblymember Phil Goldfeder believes conservationists attempting to protect the birds and those trying to ensure the safety of plane passengers need to collaborate.

While preserving Jamaica Bay has long since been a priority on Goldfeder’s platform, he proclaims he is not for working against the airports, adding that there is always a balance to be found.

Goldfeder also noted that many people believe the birds striking the planes are not the same birds nesting in the Jamaica Bay area.

A source close to the situation suggested increasing traffic out of the city’s other airports, LaGuardia and Newark, is a better solution than filling in Jamaica Bay.

Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority, claimed that the agency’s wildlife control protocol is above and beyond Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, insisting they are among the industry’s most effective.

“Our wildlife biologists and staff efforts to minimize threats to aircraft include reducing nesting areas, removing standing water and eliminating food sources,” said Coleman. “We also use pyrotechnics to disperse birds. We believe those efforts are effective since the number of incidents at JFK resulting in aircraft damage has remained about the same since 2008.”

Dan Mundy, president and founder of Jamaica Bay Eco Watchers, believes the recent increase in collisions Mundy mentioned the famed incident of US Airways Flight 1549, when Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger was forced to make an emergency landing in the Hudson River after striking a flock of Canadian geese in January of 2009. Mundy alleged that high-flying fowl cause more severe problems than those closer to the ground, adding that groups of migrating birds can be dangerous to planes, as with Flight 1549.

According to published reports, Sullenberger opposes the mayor’s plan to put a trash station near LaGuardia Airport — a decision that will inevitably bring more birds to the area.

Acknowledging that the Port Authority takes measures to scare away birds, such as simulated gunshots and preying falcons, Mundy wondered why plane manufacturers have yet to design a system to prevent birds from being sucked into engines.

Mundy added that bird strikes are not just a problem with airplanes. Several tall buildings, including the Empire State Building, have caused the demise of birds killed by flying directly into the glass windows.