Tag Archives: jamaica

Local high school sluggers look to rack up ‘WINS for Cancer’


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of The Mary Louis Academy

Like good siblings, the sports teams at Holy Cross High School in Flushing and The Mary Louis Academy in Jamaica have long supported each other, and this spring they’re taking that partnership to a new level for a good cause.

Holy Cross’ varsity and junior varsity baseball teams, along with their softball counterparts at Mary Louis, officially launched their joint “WINS for Cancer” campaign in Jamaica Estates Thursday afternoon.

The athletic programs at the all-boys Holy Cross and all-girls Mary Louis developed a strong bond over the years. Mary Louis cheerleaders rally the crowds at Holy Cross football games. Holy Cross, in turn, opened its gym to Mary Louis for their girls CHSAA basketball games.

With CHSAA baseball and softball seasons on the horizon, the two schools launched “WINS for Cancer,” hoping that their teams’ performance on the field would raise big bucks for the Sunrise Day Camp, a Suffolk County summer escape for children battling cancer and their siblings.

For Joe Lewinger, Mary Louis’ athletic director, “WINS for Cancer” is a personal cause, as his twin son and daughter are cancer survivors.  Diagnosed at age 2, they attended Sunrise Day Camp during and after treatment, and got to enjoy outdoor summer activities that the isolation of cancer treatment deprived them.

“It’s the opportunity for kids who are forced to live an isolated life to feel like a normal kid,” Lewinger said. The experience at Sunrise proved wonderful for his children, both of whom are now 9 and in remission.

Sunrise Day Camp is the only camp of its kind in the U.S. dedicated to cancer survivors and their siblings from 3 1/2 to 16 years of age. It is equipped with specialized services and facilities to allow all children to have fun in safety, including an on-call medical staff.

The camp is offered free to parents and relies solely on donations.

According to Lewinger, Holy Cross’ baseball teams pledged to contribute $10 per league win, while Mary Louis’ softball will pitch in $20 per league victory; Holy Cross has 16 league games on schedule, while Mary Louis has eight.

Lewinger is hoping for a perfect campaign so Holy Cross and Mary Louis can deliver at least $640 to Sunrise Day Camp. Parents are also invited to sponsor their sons or daughters on the teams and contribute per batting achievement, such as a hit, run, home run or stolen base.

“We got the two teams together, hope to win a lot of games and help a good cause,” Holy Cross Assistant Athletic Director Tim Gilvary added.

Click here for more information about Sunrise Day Camp.

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70-year-old Jamaica woman shot to death after answering door


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

DoorknobH0505_M_150_B_R

Updated 4:38 p.m.

A 70-year-old woman was killed early Tuesday morning after she answered the door to her Jamaica home and was shot, police said.

Leta Webb heard a knock at the door of her 119th Avenue residence about 1:40 a.m., authorities said. When she opened the door, the gunman fired, striking her in the head and left arm.

Webb was taken to Jamaica Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Police had no motive for the shooting and said there were no arrests.

According to published reports, the incident may have been gang-related and Webb was not a specific target.

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Seven alleged southeast Queens gang members busted for murder plots


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com


Counting themselves among “killas,” seven street gang members based in southeast Queens were indicted for allegedly plotting two murders, prosecutors said.

According to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, the suspects are part of the EBK (Everybody Killas) gang, which allegedly carried out plots in January 2013 to shoot two individuals whom they believed were members of a rival gang. One of the murder attempts took place in a busy shopping district during the evening rush hour, while the other occurred a few hours later at a grocery store, according to Brown.

“In both instances, the defendants’ alleged actions threatened the lives and safety of innocent bystanders as the victims were fired upon,” said Brown on Friday. “Today’s indictment is another example of police and prosecutors working together to reduce gang-based violence that too often plagues our neighborhoods.”

Brown identified the seven suspects as Jeffrey Bien-Aime, 19, of St. Albans; Anthony Biggs, 18, of St. Albans; Jonathan Jean-Pierre, 20, of Rosedale; Dayjah Knowles, 18, of Jamaica; Jerald Lowe, 22, of St. Albans; Kenneth Stokes, 20, of St. Albans; and Rasheed Watson, 22, of Jamaica.

All were variously charged with second-degree attempted murder, first-degree attempted assault, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, first- and second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and conspiracy.

If convicted, each suspect faces up to 25 years behind bars.

Law enforcement sources said the first shooting occurred at 5 p.m. on Jan. 7, 2013, when Lowe, Bien-Aime, Watson, Jean-Pierre, Knowles and Stokes, along with unidentified EBK members, allegedly confronted rival gang members near Jamaica Avenue and Parsons Boulevard.

Following a verbal exchange, one of the EBK members pulled out a pistol and shot a rival in the right foot. The group then fled the scene, police said.

More than four hours later, Biggs, Stokes and two unidentified EBK members allegedly confronted another suspected rival at a deli located at 116-02 Merrick Blvd., according to prosecutors. Moments after arriving, an EBK member reportedly walked into the store, drew a .380-caliber pistol and shot the suspected rival in the left abdomen.

After the wounded rival fell to the ground, the EBK member attempted to fire again, but the gun jammed, authorities said.

Both of the gang’s targets were treated for their injuries at a local hospital. Detectives determined from shell casings recovered from both crime scenes that the same gun was used in each incident.

“I want to thank the members of the 113th Precinct who worked closely together with the Queens District Attorney’s office to build this case against these alleged EBK gang members,” Bratton said. “The NYPD remains committed to eliminating gang activity and improving the quality of life for the residents of the southern Queens communities.”

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Girlfriend charged with deadly botched robbery of boyfriend in St. Albans


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com


Updated at 4:15 p.m.

The girlfriend of a 33-year-old Jamaica man shot to death in St. Albans Thursday afternoon was locked up Friday for her role in the homicide, according to authorities.

Prosecutors said Natasha Mohabeer, 30, of 126th Street in South Ozone Park collaborated with two unidentified males to rob the victim, Michael Jonathan, at the corner of Fonda Avenue and Mayville Street just before 2:47 p.m. Thursday.

But all did not go according to plan, as Jonathan engaged the robbers in a physical struggle after they confronted him, police said. Moments later, one of the crooks reportedly shot Jonathan in the torso.

Authorities said both unidentified suspects remain at large.

Officers from the 113th Precinct, in responding to a 911 call regarding the incident, found Jonathan wounded at the intersection. Paramedics brought him to a local hospital, where he died a short time later.

In questioning Mohabeer, detectives learned that she worked with the two at-large suspects in concocting the planned robbery, according to prosecutors. Mohabeer was subsequently charged with second-degree murder, first-degree attempted robbery and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

“This is yet another example of the senseless gun violence in our community that must end,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said. “[Mohabeer] now faces being locked behind bars for the rest of her life.”

Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of the two suspects 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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Identify this place in Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

WHERE

Do you know where in Queens this photo was taken? Guess by commenting below! The answer will be revealed next week.

Last week’s answer to “Identify this Place”: Jamaica near the LIRR station 

WHERE-624x402

 

 

 

 

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New CTE and STEM initiatives coming to NYC public schools


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilman Rory Lancman

Strengthening core curriculum in public schools that gives students a head start on preparing for college and careers is a major focus of the New York City schools chancellor this year.

The General Electronic (GE) Foundation gave a $3.2 million investment to the school system that will support a new Career and Technical Education (CTE) pilot program and an enhanced Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) teacher training program.

“CTE and STEM programs provide an innovative way to motivate students and prepare them for future success,” said Councilman Rory Lancman, who joined Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña at Thomas Edison Career and Technical Education High School in Jamaica on Monday to announce the new programs. “The training provided at schools such as Thomas Edison ensures students graduate high school with skills they need to succeed in college and their careers.”

Schools participating in the CTE pilot program will work with higher education and industry partners to satisfy all portions of their CTE program. They will also establish professional development and assessment materials that are aligned to their respective programs, according to Fariña.

The GE Foundation’s funding will support the CTE pilot at 10 schools and the STEM training for up to 200 schools through new multiday STEM Institutes. CTE schools, programs and schools that wish to establish a CTE program can apply through a competitive process this fall and selected schools will begin implementation later in the 2015-2016 school year, according to Fariña.

The STEM investment will consist of the DOE’s first-ever intensive, three-day citywide STEM Institute, which will take place next month. At the STEM Institutes, teachers and school leaders will have professional learning opportunities, and be able to work directly with experienced STEM partner organizations.

Nearly 300 teachers and school leaders will attend this institute, according to Fariña, and the first cohort will participate in two additional STEM Institutes in summer 2015 and spring 2016.

“Rigorous CTE and STEM programs have a tremendous ability to engage our students and prepare them for success in college and careers,” said Fariña. “It is so critical to have industry and higher education partners on board for this important work. These initiatives also provide more opportunities for teachers and school leaders at ‘Renewal Schools’ to change the dynamics in their building, and we will encourage them to take advantage.”

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Greater Jamaica Development Corporation gets new president


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy of George Arzt Communications, Inc.

The Greater Jamaica Development Corporation (GJDC) announced Thursday that it named Hope Knight, previously the chief operating officer of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone (UMEZ), as its new president.

“Hope has the background and experience to best project the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation’s mission,” GJDC Board Chairman Peter Kulka said. “She has proven herself extensively in her work at the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone and she is widely respected throughout circles dedicated to expanding economic development and opportunity in emerging urban communities.”

Knight, 50, has helped UMEZ create hundreds of businesses and thousands of jobs in its service area since 2003. She has served as vice president for Morgan Stanley in New York and in Tokyo. She serves on the boards of several corporate and nonprofits including the Carver Bank Community Development Corporation, Grameen American and Morgan Stanley New Markets, and she is the chair of the board of trustees of Marymount Manhattan College, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in business management. She also earned a master’s of business administration degree from the University of Chicago.

“I am excited at the prospect of joining the superb team at Greater Jamaica to build on the work they have done to lead the restoration of Downtown Jamaica to its historic central role in the economic vitality of Jamaica, Queens and beyond,” Knight said. “I have large shoes to fill following Carlisle Towery’s four decades of commitment to Jamaica. I am ready to roll up my sleeves and build on the progress to which he has contributed so much.”

“I could not be more delighted to leave Greater Jamaica Development Corporation in the capable and dedicated hands of Hope Knight,” former GJDC President Carlisle Towery said. “Jamaica is poised to reach even greater heights in the future, and everything about Hope’s experience and commitment gives us reason to believe she will help take us there.”

Knight said she looks forward to meeting with Jamaica’s elected officials, Borough President Melinda Katz, state Sen. Joseph Addabbo, as well as community leaders, heads of cultural organizations and officials from economic development and transportation agencies that are important to Jamaica’s progress.

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CUNY safety training academy holds ribbon cutting for new facility in Jamaica


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Melinda Katz

The City University of New York Public Safety Training Academy now has a brand-new site to call home in Jamaica.

The CUNY safety officers celebrated on March 13, the ribbon cutting of their new state-of-the-art facility in the Gertz Plaza Mall, 92-31 Union Hall St., 7th Floor, Jamaica. The new office consists of smart room technology classrooms, locker rooms, an all-purpose gymnasium and administrative offices. It can accommodate the increased number of NYC agencies for which the academy now provides training.

CUNY Public Safety Training Academy was established in 2002 at Lehman College/CUNY by University Director of Public Safety William Barry with the support of Allan Dobrin, CUNY executive vice chancellor and COO, and Dave Fields, senior university dean/special counsel to the chancellor, to train the 500 peace officers then employed by CUNY.

In 2004, the academy moved to York College/CUNY in Jamaica, Queens, close to a major transportation hub accessed by the LIRR, major subway lines, NYC buses and the Van Wyck Expressway. There, the academy expanded to train the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation’s 650 peace officers.

Each year the academy trains over 2,500 officers in over 100 topics mandated by the New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services, and the new upgrade to their own facility will help them to continue to accommodate the growing number of candidates.

They now offer five NYS-certified training programs that consist of recruit training for CUNY, the NYC Health & Hospitals Corporation, the Brooklyn Public Library, the NYS Liquor Authority, the Administration of Children Services and the NYC Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

They also provide Department of Criminal Justice-mandated, in-service training for those agencies as well as for the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz joined the academy at the ribbon cutting and was delighted to see the new facility.

“The academy’s new location in the Gertz Plaza Mall is a modern and spacious facility that will help ensure those trained there will receive the best possible preparation for the public safety duties they will be carrying out,” Katz said. “The new facility is a welcome addition to the up- and-coming Jamaica neighborhood.”

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Public transit advocates expand coalition for express bus service in Queens


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Updated March 3, 1 p.m. 

With express bus service set to be created on routes between Flushing and Jamaica and along Woodhaven Boulevard this year, a coalition of public transit advocates backing the plan is expanding its efforts to win the hearts and minds of Queens community members.

As the city moves ahead with plans to create what’s known as Select Bus Service, the Department of Transportation is holding workshops to gather input from community members living in areas that would be affected by the new bus service. Often these meetings are attended by an overwhelming majority of people who are opposed to Select Bus Service.

But a coalition of transit advocates – BRT  for NYC — recently enlisted interest groups like New York Immigration Coalition to help raise awareness in communities that would benefit from faster bus travel times. They ultimately want to influence the city’s plans to speed up travel time for commuters who depend on buses.

“People who are afraid of this are going to fight harder than people who will benefit from it,” said Joan Byron, a member of the Pratt Center, which is part of the growing coalition.

During a meeting at Kew Gardens Hills last year, city officials were barraged by people opposed to any express bus service plans that would have taken away a lane of traffic from motorists and restricted it to buses only.

“You are wrecking our neighborhoods,” one woman said to a city official during the 2014 meeting. “You’re all morons. We do not want this.”

The community members worried that the city would remove a traffic lane on Main Street to allow express buses to whiz past rush hour traffic. But for Kew Gardens Hills residents, traffic lanes were more important than fast buses.

During a City Council hearing in February, transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg announced that the Q44 would be transformed into a Select Bus Service that will cut travel time, much like those that have already been created in Manhattan and Staten Island.

Plans for the Q44, which runs mostly along Main Street, include off-board fare collection, traffic lights that will stay green for buses and general infrastructure upgrades. The city also plans to create an express bus service called Bus Rapid Transit along Woodhaven Boulevard.

The coalition has enlisted 10 new groups to help what they, according to Byron, see as underprivileged communities living in areas that don’t have train access and have very limited bus access.

But with some of these new enlisted groups, like the Alliance for a Greater New York, Jess Nizar from Riders Alliance and others hope the pro-Select Bus Service side will get a boost with political influence.

“Without having a coalition these plans won’t reflect the needs of the people that need this the most,” Nizar said. “Sure, the city said they’re going to create SBS, but we don’t know what it will look like yet and we want people who benefit from this to give the city their input.”

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Queens men take home top prizes at sit-down arm wrestling competition


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

Even Mother Nature couldn’t keep New York’s strongest from showing what they got at an arm wrestling competition in Flushing over the weekend, the city’s first sit-down tournament in 12 years.

The New York Arm Wrestling Association (NYAWA) held the NYC Sit-Down Arm Wrestling Championships on Sunday at Cheap Shots Sports Bar, located at 149-05 Union Turnpike. The event was the first sit-down arm wrestling competition in the past 12 years, according to Gene Camp, founder and president of NYAWA.

“It’s good to get back and it’s something new for some of [the competitors],” Camp said. “It really brings out the broad strength in people, to find out who the true winners are because people with signature techniques can’t really use them in this event because they are sitting down.”

Although the snow began falling before the competition began, more than 60 men and women flocked to the sports bar to show their strength and make it to the top.

The event, which was opened to all ages, featured individual categories for amateurs and pros, 45 to 50 years old and over, women, and right and left hand classes.

“I thought it was a great turnout. I didn’t expect this kind of turn out [because of the snow]. Some of the best arm wrestlers in the city and state were here today,” Camp said. “It was a good competition; there were some very good matches. It was exciting and the crowd was really riled up.”


Jason Vale, who grew up in Whitestone and now lives in Bellerose, was one of the competitors and top winners of the day. The 47-year-old has been arm wrestling with his right arm since he was 20 and in 1997 won a world championship.

During the sit-down tournament Vale earned two first place awards and was given the MVP Strongest Arm Right. He was also awarded a Captains of Crush Hand Grippers award, along with $100 cash prize, for strongest arm.

“It felt great competing again,” said Vale, who holds weekly arm wrestling practices at his home. “I just love it.”

Like Vale, Angel Cosme was another returning arm wrestling champ, who picked up the sport 15 years ago. The 48-year-old Flushing resident said he had been out of the game for three years and returned to help referee the match. He decided to compete in both the left and right hand categories and took home two first place awards and one second place.

“I feel good but I’m just tired,” Cosme said. “After being out for three years I know I need to start practicing again.”

David Milburn from Jamaica also took home a first place award in an amateur left hand category.

The NYAWA’s next competition will be the 38th Annual NYC Big Apple Grapple International on May 3. The location has yet to be determined.

For more information visit www.nycarms.com.


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Merrick Academy honors Rev. Floyd Flake with lifetime achievement award


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

The Rev. Floyd Flake, a prominent pastor and former congressman, has been a powerful advocate for improving the neighborhoods of southeast Queens, earning him the Juanita E. Watkins Lifetime Achievement Award from Merrick Academy.

“The work he has done is tremendous,” said Gerald Karikari, president of the board of trustees at Merrick Academy, a charter school in Jamaica. “Rev. Flake has made many distinguished accomplishments. It is a great day to honor someone who has done so much [for this community].”

The award was named for former city Councilwoman Juanita E. Watkins. Karikari drew comparisons between Watkins and Flake because of their shared vision that has helped the southeast Queens community continue to get stronger. Flake has served the community as a congressman and is the leading pastor at the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral in Jamaica, which under his leadership has grown into one of the largest churches in the city.

“The way you carry yourself is the only way that you are able to rise from the position that you are in,” Flake told a crowd of students and teachers at Merrick Academy. “If we put our hearts, minds and souls into whatever we do, there is nothing that we can’t do.”

Watkins was the founding member of the board for Merrick Academy, which opened in 2000. Karikari said she would be so happy to see how they have expanded in the past year and how they are continuing to grow as a prominent educational facility in southeast Queens.

Flake said that he was honored to accept the award from Merrick Academy but remained humble throughout his speech. He called on the audience to stand up and applaud the children and teachers present for all their hard work and dedication. He gave encouraging words to the students at the academy upon ending his speech.

“Color means nothing,” he said. “What does matter is what is on your inside. That will drive you to do what you want to do.”

After the speech, students put on a performance that included songs and a dance tribute. Some students sang “Redemption Song” by Bob Marley and a group of others did a James Brown dance tribute that received a standing ovation from the audience.

Karikari outlined the importance of having a good arts program in the school as he said it will help students later in life, giving them the skills and confidence to go before large groups or to be more confident in front of future employers.

“I truly do believe in education and charter schools,” Flake said. “You children can become anything you want to be. You just have to work for it.”

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Police Commissioner Bill Bratton talks community relations in southeast Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton called for stronger ties between police and the community during a speech in Jamaica on Tuesday, when he outlined plans for greater collaboration and   alternatives to making arrests for first-time minor crimes while also recognizing law enforcement’s role in “many of the worst parts of black history.”

At a Black History Month event at the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral in Jamaica, he said that the NYPD has made tremendous strides with regards to crime prevention but that there is always room for improvement. He said that new programs started by himself and Mayor de Blasio will help to do so and will have a “dynamic effect on the level and quality of policing.”

“Despite our accomplishments we’ve made in the past years, police actions can still be a flashpoint,” said Bratton. “The NYPD needs to face the hard truth [that] in our most vulnerable neighborhoods we have a problem with citizen satisfaction.”

Bratton mentioned some of these “hard truths” that the police have to realize and deal with. He said that “many of the worst parts of black history would not have been possible without police,” citing law enforcement’s role dating back to the days of slavery.

Bratton said that not recognizing this as an issue would not only be naive but reckless and irresponsible.

But he also mentioned that “far more often than not, many of the best parts of America’s history wouldn’t have been possible without police,” saying they are the protectors of such freedoms like those of speech and religion.

When asked about going back to community policing, a method that was scrutinized in the early ’90s for not being effective against historically high crime rates, Bratton simply replied that he doesn’t think the NYPD has ever gotten away from the strategy. He described the policing method using three “P’s” that he said the NYPD still practice today: partnership, problem solving and prevention.

The commissioner finished by saying that ultimately, policing is a shared responsibility: having the police and community work together will ultimately lead to a better and safer New York City.

“We cannot change the past but working together we can change our future,” Bratton said. “We all need to work together. All of us.”

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City focuses on reducing pedestrian deaths in Queens


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File Photo

City officials have chosen Queens to launch the first borough-wide traffic safety crackdown in the city as part of a long-range effort to reduce the number of deaths from auto accidents, police and transportation officials announced at a press conference in Jamaica on Tuesday.

“We launched Vision Zero in Queens a year ago, and today we proudly return to the world’s borough to release the first of our five groundbreaking Borough Pedestrian Safety Action Plans,” said transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.

“These Borough Plans combine cutting-edge data analysis and community input from thousands of New Yorkers in all five boroughs. They will help the city target its engineering, enforcement and education efforts to make New York’s streets the safest in the world.”

The announcement was made at P.S. 82, near the intersection of Metropolitan and Hillside avenues, a “priority corridor” slated for a major redesign because of historically high rates of deaths and serious injuries.

On average, 43 people in Queens have died every year since 2011, according to data compiled by the city, and most of these deaths occurred in Flushing, Elmhurst and Jamaica, where there is a high concentration of car and foot traffic.

By focusing on intersections and areas in Queens with the highest number pedestrian deaths, the Department of Transportation identified 72 intersections and 47 corridors that pose the most danger to people and where the highest percentage of car-related deaths have taken place.

Trottenberg and other officials outlined a series of initiatives that will take two years and, the city hopes, will bring down the average number of pedestrian deaths and injuries in Queens. The initiative is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero.

The city, among other things, wants to increase pedestrian crossing times at crosswalks for areas like Northern Boulevard between Queens Plaza and 114th Street; change traffic signals so that they deter people from driving fast on large boulevards that Queens is known for; increase the amount of light in dark underpasses; and expand the bicycle lanes and network.

Cops will also take a tougher line on speeding hot spots identified by the city.

“We’re going to concentrate our enforcement efforts in these areas,” said NYPD Transportation Chief Thomas Chan. “We’re going to do our best to reduce the number of traffic fatalities.”

These plans are the results of years of preparation by the transportation department and community input received during workshops over the last year.

The press conference was also attended by local politicians whose areas included some of the dangerous areas.

“I appreciate all the effort that the administration is putting into safety,” Councilman Rory Lancman said. “This is going to make a real difference with people I represent.

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City accepting proposals to develop NYPD parking garage in downtown Jamaica


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Christopher Bride/PropertyShark 

Even more development is coming to Jamaica—this time on the site of a police department parking garage.

Not long after Mayor Bill de Blasio’s pledge to focus on creating more housing with his State of the City address, the NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC) officially announced a request for proposals to develop hundreds of market rate and affordable units out of an NYPD parking garage in downtown Jamaica.

The 59,500-square-foot site at 93rd Avenue and 169th Street could also include ground-floor retail, according to the EDC, which set an April 30 deadline for developers to submit plans for the lot. Of course the project is consistent with de Blasio’s goal to build and preserve 200,000 affordable housing units in 10 years.

The two-story garage is currently used by cops, and will have to be entirely demolished to construct the new project, according to the EDC. But it’s a price the city is willing to pay for more housing.

“The 168th Street garage site holds powerful potential to serve the Jamaica neighborhood with affordable housing and other amenities, while building upon the area’s strengths as a commercial, cultural and transit hub,” said EDC President Kyle Kimball.

Police vehicles will have to be “accommodated” in order to redevelop the site, the EDC said.

Photo courtesy of NYCEDC

Photo courtesy of NYCEDC

The development could create 400 construction jobs and 80 permanent jobs, the EDC said, and would add another project to the dizzying amount of construction coming to Jamaica near the downtown spurred by under-utilized lots, cheap land prices, high traffic and access to a massive transportation hub.

This includes Greater Jamaica Development Corporation (GJDC) giving its twin parking lots near 90th Avenue and 168th Street to Blumenfeld Development Group for a jumbo mixed-use residential and commercial project, with more than 265,000 square feet of space.

The GJDC is also working on a $225 million, 29-story residential and commercial tower across from the AirTrain and LIRR station on Sutphin Boulevard.

Not far away on Sutphin Boulevard, Able Management Group is constructing a 210-key hotel, and nearby York College has 3.5 acres of on-campus land that could be home to new companies that want to move into the area to partner with the institution through Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s START-UP NY tax-break program.

TCX Development’s seven-story luxury rental building on Hillside Avenue is nearing completion, and some major properties have also hit the market or were recently sold, including a $22 million sale of a huge garage and commercial strip at 163-05 and 163-25 Archer Ave. There are already plans to develop the property into a housing and retail mix, according to a published report.

Also, the Jamaica Colosseum Mall, which was formerly a Macy’s department store, also hit the market for an astounding $45 million.

And finally, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development recently announced that it is accepting plans from developers for 17 vacant city-owned sites in Jamaica to create more affordable housing.

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City plans to launch express bus service between Flushing and Jamaica this year


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

A planned express bus service that will run between Flushing and Jamaica is set to launch this year, according to city officials, who have included some measures to appease several communities that resisted the idea of designating lanes for buses only.

“Flushing and Jamaica are two of our key commercial centers, but traveling between them by subway means going in towards Manhattan and doubling back – and forget making the trip from the Bronx on the subway,” said Polly Trottenberg, commissioner of the Department of Transportation (DOT). “There are many destinations along this route not served by the subway system, such as Queens College and other key locations in the Bronx.”

During a City Council hearing on the citywide expansion of express buses, also called Select Bus Service, Trottenberg laid out a timeline to create a bus line that would connect the downtown areas of Flushing and Jamaica. She also said that in areas between the two destinations, bus-only lanes wouldn’t be created, respecting the wishes of many community members in areas like Kew Gardens Hills.

But Mike Sidell, a Kew Gardens Hills resident and community activist, remains skeptical because Trottenberg did not specify which communities would be spared the bus lane.

“We should hold them to the fire and get them to name all of the communities that won’t have the bus-only lanes,” Sidell said. “It looks like they’re giving us lip service, but it worries me that [Trottenberg] didn’t specifically name Kew Gardens Hills.”

Exclusive bus lanes are a common element of express bus lines, but residents in communities that live between Flushing and Jamaica resisted this idea because they feared it would create traffic back-ups by squeezing all the other traffic into only one lane.

The city appears to have responded to these residents by suggesting that bus-only lanes will be limited to areas where they are most needed, like the congested downtown Flushing area.

“Downtown Flushing and Jamaica are very different than places in between those neighborhoods,” Trottenberg said. “We’re going to have a long period of community engagement.”

The city plans to transform the Q44 into a Select Bus Service that will cut travel time, much like those that have already been created in Manhattan and Staten Island. Plans for the Q44, which runs mainly along Main Street, include off-board fare collection, traffic lights that will stay green for buses and general infrastructure upgrades.

The City Council hearing was held for testimony over a proposed bill that would require the DOT to develop a network of express buses that would stretch across the city and connect neighborhoods that have limited or no access to subways. The DOT already initiated express bus service plans on several routes, including Woodhaven Boulevard. And the hearing came soon after Mayor Bill de Blasio pushed for the expansion of express buses in his State of the City address.

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