Tag Archives: Maspeth

In Glendale, 104th Precinct looks to improve on crime drop


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photos by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Crime numbers continue to plummet in the 104th Precinct, but the command is looking to do even better.

Capt. Mark Wachter, the 104th Precinct’s commanding officer, came to the precinct’s Community Council meeting on Tuesday at The Shops at Atlas Park in Glendale and reported a 26 percent reduction in overall crime in the past month. This included a significant downturn in domestic violence and felony assaults.

The precinct also experienced a 40 percent decrease in grand larcenies and stolen cars. Wachter credits crime prevention tactics, such as personalized home visits and spreading awareness about scams, with the large reduction.

In an effort to confront quality of life concerns, the 104th Precinct also held a successful undercover sting operation last Saturday to combat prostitution along Cypress Avenue and Starr Street on the Ridgewood/Bushwick border. According to Wachter, officers made six arrests and seized one vehicle for illicit activity.

“We put pressure on and basically make it go away,” he explained, “We don’t want it to go somewhere else; we want it to go away.”

Despite these victories, burglaries remain an area of particular concern for the command.  The Community Council’s Public Safety Committee and P.O. Eddie Collado of the precinct’s Crime Prevention Unit delivered a video presentation and discussion on home burglary prevention.

“The burglar is an opportunist,” Collado said. According to police, perpetrators often gain access to homes through unlocked rear windows, doors and fire escapes.

Collado urged residents to secure windows and doors with the proper locks and volunteered to conduct personalized home safety surveys upon appointment. He also asked that residents register their valuable items such as electronics and bicycles with the precinct’s Crime Prevention Unit. The items are marked with serial numbers that can potentially help identify and recover them if lost or stolen.

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

P.O. Sean Paul Hynes was honored as Cop of the Month for apprehending a suspect wanted for robbing a Boar’s Head delivery truck driver at gunpoint on April 21 on Woodward Avenue at Woodbine Street in Ridgewood.

According to Wachter, Hynes and his fellow officers from the 104th Precinct’s Anti-Crime Unit were able to track the suspect and his getaway vehicle through the use of undisclosed computer resources. Within minutes of the robbery, Hynes was able to track the vehicle to a specific location in Brooklyn.

A brief foot pursuit ensued, after which the male and his weapon were taken into custody.

“It’s one less gun on the street, but we can never measure how many victims the gun could have taken out,” Wachter said.

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Maspeth residents speak out on Frank Principe Park repairs


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Frank Principe Park in Maspeth is one step closer to getting the much-needed renovations the community has been wanting for years.

On May 13, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley held a visioning session at Maspeth Town Hall where members of the community, as well as community leaders, came together with the New York City Parks Department to suggest changes that they would like to see made to Principe Park.

The visioning session comes on the heels of Crowley allocating $5.7 million in city funding in the Fiscal Year 2015 budget to enhance the park and create green space the community can easily utilize.

The last major capital project for the park was done in 1996, which was a $3 million upgrade to the playground, tennis and basketball courts.

Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley during last week's visioning session for Frank Principe Park. (Photo courtesy Elizabeth Crowley's office.)

Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley during last week’s visioning session for Frank Principe Park. (Photo courtesy Elizabeth Crowley’s office.)

“This funding will give new life to a park that has desperately needed it for decades. This renovation has been a top priority of Community Board 5 and the community for the past 10 years and I am pleased to finally get this done,” Crowley said. “I’m happy to have brought the public together to hear what they truly need in their backyards for their children, for their sports teams and for themselves.”

Currently, the park’s sports fields are prone to flooding and the asphalt running track is weather-beaten and outdated. Neither of these amenities have been upgraded since the park’s installation in the late 1980s.

During the visioning session, residents requested full-size soccer fields, baseball fields, astroturf on the fields, an adequate drainage system, high fences, bleachers, water fountains, garbage cans and other improvements.

Over the next few months, NYC Parks will consider the community’s suggestions and lay out a proposal which will be heard in the fall.

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Your guide to Memorial Day parades and vigils in Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

The sacrifices of American soldiers will be celebrated across Queens in the days to come at various Memorial Day parades and vigils.

Among the celebrations are the following events, scheduled to take place rain or shine:

Woodhaven
Residents of Woodhaven will hold an early tribute to America’s fallen troops with a ceremony on Thursday, May 21, at 7:30 p.m. The vigil, sponsored by the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation, will take place at Forest Parkway Plaza, located at the corner of Jamaica Avenue and Forest Parkway.

The program includes patriotic music, a color guard, laying of wreaths and remarks from local elected officials and veterans.

College Point
The College Point Citizens for Memorial Day Inc. will begin their parade on at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 24, at the intersection of 28th Avenue and College Point Boulevard. Queens Borough President Melinda Katz is set to appear along with other local officials, and veteran Louis A. DiAgostino will be honored as the grand marshal.

Marching bands, drill teams and dance groups will all be performing at the event, and military servicemen and women will march in the festivities. The College Point Citizens for Memorial Day are accepting donations to offset parade costs. For more information contact parade chairman Rev. Adam Crabtree at 718-640-8840.

Forest Hills
The Forest Hills Memorial Day Parade hosted by the American Legion and the Forest Hills Kiwanis Club will take place on Sunday at noon. The parade starts from Metropolitan and Ascan avenues and will head westward down Metropolitan Avenue to Trotting Course Lane. From there, the parade will turn right and stop at the landmarked Remsen Cemetery between Trotting Course Lane and Alderton Street.

This year’s grand marshal will be Roland Meier, president of the West Side Tennis Club. Members of ROTC, band, and local civic and children’s organizations such as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts will march in the parade. Organizers of the parade will hold a ceremony at Remsen Cemetery to honor veterans.

Maspeth
The United Veterans and Fraternal Organizations of Maspeth will honor the men and women of the U.S. armed forces who made the ultimate sacrifice during their 31st Memorial Day Parade on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Grand marshals James Desio, retired US Army WWII veteran, and William Aronowicz, retired U.S. Marine Corp. WWII veteran, will lead the procession, beginning at Walter A. Garlinge Memorial Park, located at 72nd Street and Grand Avenue. At 2 p.m., there will be a memorial service for the deceased veterans of WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Middle Village
The St. Margaret Catholic War Veterans Post 1172 will honor those who died for the nation on Monday, May 25, with a special Mass at 9:30 a.m. at St. Margaret Church, located at the corner of Juniper Valley Road and 80th Street.

Then, at 11 a.m., post members and residents will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Middle Village Veterans Triangle, located at the corner of Gray and 77th streets near 66th Road. The ceremony will include prayers, a military salute and the playing of taps.

Glendale/Ridgewood
The Allied Veterans Memorial Committee of Ridgewood and Glendale, a committee made up of delegates from six veteran organizations, will honor the more than 1.14 million men and women of the U.S. armed forces who died in defense of the country during the 77th Memorial Day parade Monday.

At 11 a.m., the parade will begin at the Glendale War Memorial, located at Myrtle and Cooper Avenues, with a short memorial service to honor the war dead of Glendale. They will then march down Myrtle Avenue westbound to the Ridgewood War Memorial, located at Myrtle and Cypress Avenues, where there will be another short memorial service to honor the war dead of Ridgewood.

Howard Beach
The Howard Beach Memorial Day Parade will honor Vietnam War veterans, including the Howard Beach residents lost at war since the neighborhood’s founding.

There will be a memorial day Mass before the parade at Our Lady of Grace at 101st Street on Monday at 9:30 a.m. At 10:15 a.m., there will be a brief ceremony on top of Hawtree-Ramblersville Bridge and the parade will officially commence at Coleman’s Square at 11 a.m. The parade will stop at the Vietnam War Memorial, located at 99th Street and 157th Avenue and then head to the World War II Memorial at Assembly of God Church at 158-31 99th St. They will then march to St. Barnabas Church at 159-19 58th St. before marching back to Coleman Square.

Laurelton
The Laurelton Lions Club will present the 26th Annual Laurelton Memorial Day Parade, featuring The Queens Area Pathfinders Marching Band and The Black and Gold Marching Elite Band, on Monday starting at 9 a.m. The parade begins at Francis Lewis and Merrick boulevards, and will end at the Veterans Memorial Triangle at 225th Street and North Conduit Avenue.

Sponsors for this year’s parade include the Laurelton Lions Club, American Legion Benjamin Moore Post 1946, Garden Club of Laurelton, Federated Blocks of Laurelton and Concerned Citizens of Laurelton in Conjunction with Col. Edward O. Gourdin VFW POST 5298.

Whitestone
The Whitestone Memorial Day Parade will honor veterans and public servants from the community on Monday, May 25. The event will begin at noon at Whitestone Memorial Park at 149th Street and 15th Drive with a ceremony. Following the ceremony, the parade will commence and follow a rectangular route around the neighborhood back to Whitestone Memorial Park. Jim Dunn, a veteran from The American Legion in Whitestone, will serve as the grand marshal.

The parade will feature classic cars, elected officials, children from local sports leagues, and it will also celebrate the 100th anniversary of Whitestone’s Engine 295/Ladder 144 of the FDNY. For additional, information or to volunteer call Devon O’Connor, parade chairman, at 718-757-8546.

Woodside/Sunnyside
This year the St. Sebastian’s War Veterans will host the Woodside Memorial Day Parade to honor fellow veterans on Monday starting at 11 a.m. Parade participants will get together at the St. Sebastian’s School yard located at the corner of Woodside Avenue and 57th Street.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and John V. Daniels Jr. Post No 2813 in Sunnyside will host a Memorial Day event to honor veterans on Monday at 11 a.m. The event will be held at John Vincent Daniels Square, located on Roosevelt Avenue and 52nd Street. During the ceremony, a wreath will be placed at the flagpole in the middle of the park.

Little Neck/Douglaston
This year’s Little Neck/Douglaston Memorial Day Parade, scheduled to take place at 2 p.m. Monday, pays special tribute to Vietnam War veterans. Dr. Loree Sutton, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs, will serve as grand marshal of the march sponsored by the Little Neck/Douglaston Memorial Day Parade Association.

The march begins in Great Neck from the corner of Jayson Avenue and Northern Boulevard, then proceeds west on the boulevard to the yard of St. Anastasia’s Church, located near Northern Boulevard and 245th Street.

Knockdown Center continues push for liquor license


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy of The Knockdown Center/Ariana Page Russell

Continuing their quest for a liquor license, representatives of the Knockdown Center in Maspeth made their case directly to Community Board 5 (CB 5) during the advisory body’s Wednesday meeting in Middle Village.

Last year, the Knockdown Center was denied an application for a liquor license by the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA). Since that time, the Knockdown Center has been working hard to adjust their request and gain community support, even as local elected officials and civic leaders remain opposed.

“In the year since that denial, we’ve been able to audition our operational strategy and received much more support as a result,” said Tyler Myers, co-director of the Knockdown Center.

That support came in the form of a letter, dated Jan. 6, to the SLA by the 104th Precinct’s former commanding officer, Capt. Christopher Manson. In the letter, Manson noted that the Knockdown Center has been in regular contact with the 104th Precinct and “has repeatedly proven their ability to host several thousand guests with minimal impact to the precinct and the community.”

“We have performed overt and covert surveillance of the events held at Knockdown Center and have not observed any unlawful or inappropriate activity,” Manson wrote.

Photo by Anthony Giudice

Photo by Anthony Giudice

The letter also mentions that security at the center has kept contraband from entering the facility, owner of the Knockdown Center, David Sklar, monitoring noise levels during events, as well as maintaining a smooth traffic flow of vehicles and pedestrians outside of the facility.

“Throughout 2014, the Knockdown Center has proven their ability to successfully and safely host large events and have proven genuine desire to maintain the quality of life of area residents,” Manson wrote. “There is now a strong, working relationship between Knockdown Center and the 104th Precinct which could be used as a model for all licensed premises, and I have no opposition to their application to the Authority for a liquor license.”

The new commander of the 104th Precinct, Capt. Mark Wachter, reportedly echoed Manson’s “no opposition” stance after speaking with Myers and Sklar.

Rosemarie Daraio, president of Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together (COMET); Robert Holden, president of Juniper Park Civic Association (JPCA); and Christina Wilkinson, president of Citizens for a Better Maspeth, also wrote a letter to the SLA asking for certain stipulations to be included if they decide to grant the Knockdown Center a liquor license.

They ask that civics, CB 5, the 104th Precinct and neighbors on 54th Street be notified of all events that will take place at the center with the number of people expected to attend; that security be present for all events with 600 or more attendees; that a shuttle bus be available for events with an expected attendance of 200 or more; and that for events numbering 800 or more guests, additional shuttle buses will be hired to make stops at L and M train stations, as well as several others.

“We are here tonight to ask the board to reconsider your original opposition in light of our record over the last year and the new stipulations we agreed to operate under,” Myers said. “We do not take the responsibility we ask for lightly and we do not take the community it is in for granted.”

Vincent Arcui, CB 5 chairperson, said the board would take the presentation as a formal request and will hand it over to the Land Use Services Committee to discuss and report back to the Executive Committee with their recommendation after their meeting. The Executive Committee will then take action.

The next SLA meeting for the Knockdown Center’s liquor license application is slated for June 2.

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CB 5 committee considers stricter liquor license rules


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Bar and club owners seeking liquor licenses in Ridgewood, Glendale, Maspeth and Middle Village may soon need to show Community Board 5 more than just their business credentials.

Members of the Community Board 5 (CB 5) Public Safety Committee met Monday and considered a proposal that would require new applicants to complete a written form stating their intentions with regard to their businesses.

Christina Wilkinson, an active member of the COMET (Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together) and the Juniper Park Civic (JPCA) associations, proposed the idea to the committee. This measure was introduced in response to the recent influx of bars, pubs and nightspots to Ridgewood and Bushwick.

According to Wilkinson, community boards 1 and 4 in Brooklyn have already adopted this practice in response to the rapid growth and popularity of their respective neighborhoods.

“At one point, Greenpoint was in the same boat that we’re in. They didn’t think it was going to be all that bad, and it got bad,” Wilkinson said. “I think we should be better prepared. Let’s learn from them. It’s working for them.”

Public Safety Committee Chair Robert Holden expressed support for the idea and asked District Manager Gary Giordano to discuss the issue with the Executive Committee. “We’re just trying to get more information,” he explained.

Newly appointed board member Alex Maureau agreed. “It’s also a good way for the local owners to get to know us, and vice versa,” he said.

Giordano voiced support for a shorter version of the written form. “I think it has a lot of merit,” he said. “We could certainly work out something.”

According to Giordano, the board can grant recommendations for or against liquor licenses. The board also notifies the 104th Precinct and Lt. George Hellmer, the precinct’s special operations coordinator, of establishments with a prior history of problems. The precinct, in turn, will notify the board of any prior arrests, summonses or felonies committed at establishments seeking licensing.

“I never want to be in a position to be okaying liquor licenses,” Giordano said. “In some cases, we have taken votes at community board meetings related to certain establishments that have been a problem. But we comment to the negative and I would prefer it that way.”

Under the current policy, prospective bar owners seeking liquor licenses must notify CB 5 30 days prior to applying for licensing from the State Liquor Authority.

Holden proposed that the extra form, if approved of by the Executive Board, be made available to bar owners as a PDF document on the board’s website. The agreement would be signed and submitted to the community board prior to seeking State Liquor Authority licensing.

P.O. Charles Sadler of the 104th Precinct Community Affairs Unit explained that he has adopted a “proactive instead of reactive” approach to new nightlife in the area. He said that he had personally visited five of Ridgewood’s newest bars, including The Monk and Onderdonk and Sons, in an effort to reach out to local bar owners.

Owners of each of the five establishments met with Sadler and other officers at a recent nightlife meeting hosted by the precinct. According to Sadler, all of the new bar owners and managers were made aware of the precinct’s regulations and guidelines, and all pledged respect and compliance.

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Precincts give crime updates at COMET meeting


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

The 108th Precinct’s commander raised concern over a rash of stolen vehicles and commercial burglaries in the Maspeth/Woodside area during the Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together (COMET) meeting held Monday in Elmhurst.

Captain John Travaglia said the number of cars being stolen in the neighborhoods has escalated, especially the older-model Dodge Caravans. According to Travaglia, at least four of these vehicles have been stolen within the confines of the 108th Precinct in the last 28 days.

“What we see a lot with that is, they’re easy to steal,” Travaglia said. “And then they’re easy to steal other things with because the seats will come out quick and maybe they’ll steal a motorcycle then, and throw the motorcycle in the back of that Dodge Caravan. So we’ve seen that type of activity going on in the precinct.”

The precinct has noticed an increase in commercial burglaries throughout the neighborhoods as well. The one burglary that was reported in the 28-day time frame from the 108th Precinct occurred at 70-32 Queens Blvd., where tools were stolen from off of a construction site.

“Construction sites, houses that are under construction are being burglarized for copper pipes [and] for tools,” Travaglia told those in attendance. “This has become a prevalent problem all over Queens.”

One major highlight for the 108th Precinct is the number of traffic fatalities that have occurred since November, which is zero.

“I can report the 108 Precinct [has] not had a traffic fatality since I’ve been there in November,” Travaglia announced. “It’s been fantastic. Year-to-date, we haven’t had a traffic fatality.”

Detective Thomas Bell from the 104th Precinct Community Affairs Unit also announced that the precinct is down in overall crime.

“Year-to-date, the 104 is down about 8.6 percent in crime,” Bell said. “We are down pretty much across the board.”

The 104th Precinct has seen two murders this year, compared to three at this time last year. There have been seven rapes compared to eight last year, 57 robberies compared to 62 last year. Felony assaults dropped to 63 this year from 69 last year, burglaries fell by just one, 110 versus 111 from 2014. Grand larcenies dropped from 198 last year to only 181 this year and grand larceny for automobiles dropped from 71 in 2014 to 57 this year.

P.O. David Saponieri from the 110th Precinct Community Affairs Unit also informed COMET about its crime numbers. There have only been six arrests during the 28-day period within COMET’s area of Elmhurst. There were two stolen cars, two grand larcenies and two burglaries.

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Armed crook steals safe cash from Maspeth distributor


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Sketch courtesy of NYPD

Detectives are searching for the gun-toting suspect who pulled off a heist Monday at a Maspeth auto parts distributor.

Police said the robbery occurred at 5:30 p.m. inside World Pac Auto Parts located at 55-55 58th St., near 55th Drive.

According to authorities, the suspect — described as a Hispanic male standing 6 feet tall, weighing 200 pounds with a dark complexion and hazel eyes — walked into the business and displayed a black revolver.

The crook reportedly ordered three employees to open the safe. When they refused to comply with the request, the perpetrator fired a shot into the ground; no one was struck or injured, police said.

After he fired the warning shot, the employees complied with the crook’s request and opened the safe, according to the NYPD. The bandit then removed an unknown amount of cash and ordered the employees to hand over their wallets and cellphones.

Once the workers provided the suspect with their belongings, authorities said, the suspect ordered them to lie face down on the floor and count to 120, then made his getaway.

There were no injuries reported.

The bandit was last observed wearing a black hat, a gray shirt, black jeans and black sneakers.

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

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Local pol opposes liquor license for Maspeth’s Knockdown Center


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy of The Knockdown Center/Ariana Page Russell

The Knockdown Center in Maspeth again seeks a full liquor license — and again faces strong opposition from a local politician and Community Board 5.

Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan wrote a letter to State Liquor Authority (SLA) Commissioners Jeanique Greene and Kevin Kim asking them to deny the new liquor license application from the arts venue at 52-19 Flushing Ave. during a recertification hearing held on Tuesday.

The SLA did not make a decision on the matter at the hearing; it will be considered again at its June session.

In the letter, Nolan wrote, “The community board and the Maspeth community have very serious concerns that their quality of life will be seriously diminished if this establishment is granted a liquor license. I support and strongly endorse their concerns and would ask that your agency once again reject the application at the recertification hearing.”

During their March 12, 2014, monthly meeting, Community Board 5 (CB 5) unanimously voted in opposition to granting the Knockdown Center a liquor license.

“Our position has not changed since we made our recommendation last year,” said CB 5 District Manager Gary Giordano in an interview Wednesday.

Nolan went on to explain why she feels the Knockdown Center should not be granted a liquor license.

She noted that the center is currently located in the Maspeth Industrial Business Zone (IBZ), making the area better suited for a manufacturing or industrial business. The zoning was created to provide financial incentives to businesses that went into manufacturing. The Knockdown Center was previously a door factory.

“A study by the New York Industrial Retention Center supports this reasoning and claims that commercial businesses like the Knockdown Center can disrupt and ultimately lead to a breakdown of the zones,” Nolan wrote. “As a supporter of the IBZ, I would be very concerned by this proposed outcome.”

Nolan also mentioned that the center has repeatedly applied for a place of assembly permit to have as many as 5,000 people at their events, which could lead to hundreds, and possibly thousands, of visitors traveling through the community.

“With only three bus lines and a considerable distance from the train, the added volume of people will further strain the already limited transportation options residents have in Maspeth and the surrounding communities in Queens,” she said.

Nolan cited the Knockdown Center’s previous events where large groups of people gathered in the area, which has several residential homes and apartments. One such event took place on Nov. 11, 2014, when the Knockdown Center held a concert.

“Throughout the night, there were both large crowds present, customers sitting on stoops of nearby homes and allegedly public urination in the streets,” Nolan said. “Several residents called in noise complaints that were filed with the city’s 311 system.”

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Cops and kids get rid of Maspeth graffiti


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Volunteers and officers from the 104th Precinct spent their Saturday afternoon wiping out graffiti during a cleanup event targeting several vandalized walls in Maspeth.

Capt. Mark Wachter, the precinct’s commander, and P.O. Gonzalez, the precinct’s graffiti coordinator, led the cleanup efforts.

Teens and young adults from the precinct’s NYPD Law Enforcement Explorers Program and School Unit joined police and auxiliary officers in painting over graffiti tags and murals along Rust Street near the Maspeth Industrial Business Zone (IBZ). Community members were encouraged to meet the officers at one of three locations to pitch in.

The community cleanup targeted factory and warehouse facades on Flushing Avenue and Rust Street, as well the concrete barrier along the railroad tracks on Rust Street and Grand Avenue. Officers also tackled a large mural on a brick wall at the corner of Grand Avenue and 58th Road.

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso
The paint and supplies were furnished through various donations, as well as through a coordinated effort with local civic group COMET (Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together).

For more information on reporting vandalism and future community cleanup events, visit the 104th Precinct Community Council at www.104PCC.org or follow the precinct on Twitter at @NYPD104Pct.

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Fired trash hauler workers win back their Maspeth jobs


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy Teamsters Joint Council No. 16

Two private sanitation workers fired last Friday for testifying before the City Council’s Sanitation Committee got their jobs back Monday morning thanks to community and labor pressure on the company that let them go.

City Councilman Antonio Reynoso, who is the Sanitation Committee chair, held a press conference this morning in front of Five Star Carting’s location on Thames Street in Brooklyn in support of Michael Bush and Carlton Darden, the fired workers.

The conference was to have taken place in front of Five Star’s location on 47th Street in west Maspeth, but was moved to Brooklyn after the company organized a counteractive rally among its own supporters.

During a City Council hearing held last Wednesday, Darden and Bush testified about the problems in their industry, from low wages for long hours to dangerous working conditions. Both were subsequently given their notice by Five Star for speaking out against the company.

Federal labor law protects workers from retaliation for speaking publicly about their working conditions.

“These workers never deserved to be fired for speaking out—it was both illegal and unacceptable—so I am glad they are back to work,” Reynoso said. “It really speaks to the fact that the commercial waste industry desperately needs to be reformed. I am proud to join with the brave sanitation workers and to stand up for good jobs, worker protections and the right to free speech.”

Representatives from local labor unions joined the lawmaker in supporting Bush and Darden.

“New Yorkers have learned two things this week: Five Star Carting does not respect its workers or their free speech rights, but also that when workers, community members and elected officials stand together, we win,” said Sean Campbell, president of Teamsters Local 813. “The campaign for justice for sanitation workers is not over. From Maspeth to City Hall, we will keep fighting for good wages, worker safety and a clean environment.”

Allan Henry, an organizer for the Teamsters, said that after speaking out against Five Star Carting and their working conditions, Bush and Darden were told to sign papers deeming them terminated before they could receive their paychecks.

“Now they both have their jobs back, but this is the type of working conditions and the type of retaliation these workers are dealing in this industry,” Henry said.

Anthony Tristani, president of Five Star Carting, claimed that Bush and Darden were never fired from the company.

“Neither one was ever terminated,” he said in a phone interview. “Michael Bush was scheduled to come in yesterday.”

Tristani said that after the rally, Bush came into the Maspeth location and asked to use a sick day to cover the shift that he missed, which he was granted. Darden is scheduled to work tonight.

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Middle Village bank robber linked to four other local heists since 2012


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

photo courtesy of NYPD

The crook who successfully swiped cash from a Middle Village bank on Wednesday afternoon is also responsible for four heists in Brooklyn and Queens dating back to 2012, according to police.

Authorities said the perpetrator grabbed an unknown amount of cash from the Cross County Savings Bank at 80-10 Eliot Ave. at about 3:22 p.m. on Wednesday.

The bandit — described as a white male between 38 and 48 years old, standing between 5 feet 6 and 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighing between 280 and 300 pounds — approached a teller and demanded money, according to police. After being provided with cash, he fled in an unknown direction.

Officers from the 104th Precinct responded to the scene; there were no injuries.

Detectives determined the crook held up another bank — the Amalgamated Bank at 69-73 Grand Ave. in Maspeth — three separate times in the last three years.

The bandit reportedly first visited the branch on Aug. 4, 2012, and, while armed with a weapon, stolen a unknown amount of cash. He returned to the location unarmed twice more — on May 4, 2013, and Oct. 18, 2014 — and swiped various amounts of currency.

Police also linked the bandit to the July 19, 2013, armed robbery of a Sovereign Bank located at 4823 13th Ave. in Brooklyn.

Anyone with information regarding the suspect’s whereabouts 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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Newtown Creek Alliance talks cleanup with Ridgewood group


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo courtesy of Newtown Creek Alliance

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

The Newtown Creek Alliance (NCA) offered information about the polluted waterway’s ecology during an Earth Day meeting of the Ridgewood Democratic Club Thursday night.

NCA Program Manager Willis Elkins was joined by historian Mitch Waxman and Community Board 2 Environmental Committee Chair Dorothy Morehead to discuss the group’s ongoing improvement and preservation efforts at Newtown Creek.

The NCA was first established in 2002 with the central goal of refurbishing and protecting all 3.8 miles of the waterway, a federal Superfund site straddling the Brooklyn/Queens industrial border.

“We’re in support of maintaining its industrial use, we just want to make sure it’s maintaining a clean state,” Elkins said.

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

During the 18th and 19th centuries, Newtown Creek was a vibrant salt marsh ecosystem. By the 1950s, however, the creek was one of the busiest industrial waterways in the city. As a result, pollutants including chemicals, dyes, metals and petroleum were left behind.

In addition to industrial waste, one of the many challenges plaguing Newtown Creek is contamination from over 20 combined sewer overflow (CSO) pipes discharging sewage and stormwater into the creek. The nearly 450 citywide CSOs were originally designed to handle the surplus of rainwater entering the sewer system during storms.

According to Elkins, the East Branch CSO, located at Metropolitan Avenue, is one of the biggest pipes on the creek, discharging over 500 million gallons of sewage and untreated stormwater per year. The creek also contains many dead-end tributaries in which water tends to pool and stagnate, promoting bacterial growth.

The rise in bacteria levels from CSO output is responsible for low dissolved oxygen levels and poor water quality. In an attempt to raise oxygen levels, the city Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is in the process of constructing a complex aeration system designed to pump air into the creek.

The NCA has voiced staunch opposition to the $110 million dollar project, citing concerns over the possible health risks linked to aeration of the creek’s contaminated sediment.

“It’s only treating the symptom and not the actual cause of the bad water quality,” Elkins said. “It’s like putting a bubbler on your toilet and calling it clean water.”

The NCA partnered with a research group to conduct a series of air quality tests. According to Elkins, research showed higher levels of bacteria entering the air while the aeration system was in use. Despite these results, a consensus could not be reached between the NCA, DEP and other agencies regarding the impact on public health.

Elkins voiced support for natural solutions, including the use of cord grasses and “filter feeders” such as mussels and wild oysters to help improve dissolved oxygen levels in the creek. Green infrastructure improvements, such as the installation of bioswales slated for Maspeth, can also help absorb excess rainwater before it enters and the already overburdened sewer system.

Going forward, Elkins and the NCA hope to focus on the creek’s ecology by creating habitats for the many birds, fish, plants and mollusks that have returned in recent years. The NCA recently received a small grant from the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund to construct a living dock to monitor wildlife. The 180-square-foot structure will feature milk crates filled with substrate that will act as a habitat for fish and invertebrates.

The NCA also partnered with LaGuardia Community College to install cord grass planters along industrial docks and bulkheads.

“It shows you can incorporate life into lifeless structures,” Elkins said.

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Junior’s moving its Maspeth cheesecake baking operation to New Jersey


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Property Shark/Scott Bintner

Updated 4:43 p.m.

BY CRISTABELLE TUMOLA AND ROBERT POZARYCKI 

A slice of Queens is heading to New Jersey.

Junior’s, the famous Brooklyn cheesecake institution, is moving its baking operation from 58-42 Maurice Ave. in Maspeth to Burlington, New Jersey, according to the company.

“We can’t afford the real estate around here,” Alan Rosen, grandson of Harry Rosen, who founded the business in 1950, told Crain’s New York Business, which first reported the relocation.

Its new baking facility across the river also affords more space — 103,000 square feet compared to 20,000 square feet in Queens — and features more refrigeration, freezers and loading docks, according to Rosen.

Junior’s has been reportedly renting the Maspeth facility for the last 15 years to supply its four restaurants in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Foxwoods Resort and Casino in Connecticut, as well as its wholesale and mail-order businesses.

According to Rosen, by July its baking operations will be moved to its New Jersey facility. Up to 75 jobs could be affected by the move, the New York Times reported, but only about 15 employees are expected to come to the new place. Workers were told about the relocation in January following the decision to relocate, which Rosen said was made in late 2014.

The product quality won’t be affected, he said.

“Not one iota. I tested cheesecakes there on Monday with my grandfather looking down on me. [Our cheesecake] has not changed one bit in 64 years,” he told The Courier.

Some baking will continue in New York at its flagship location in Brooklyn, according to a Junior’s spokeswoman. Last year, there was talk of the cheesecake maker selling the 386 Flatbush Ave. building, but the owner decided to stay put.

Rumblings about Junior’s relocation of its Maspeth facility began in 2011 when the city was considering the Maspeth bypass plan — a truck route through an industrial part of the neighborhood. The plan converted the segment of Maurice Avenue where Junior’s factory is located from a two-way street to a one-way thoroughfare.

At a Community Board 5 meeting in June 2011, a lawyer for Junior’s stated that the Maspeth bypass plan was untenable due to delivery logistics, adding that the board was “forcing [Junior’s] to move to Jersey” if it had supported the Maspeth bypass. The board recommended the bypass plan’s approval in July, and the DOT implemented it in November of that year.

Rosen said the Maspeth bypass situation had no impact on Junior’s decision to move from the area.

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Warnings about police impersonators in Maspeth and Elmhurst


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

File photo

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Police impersonation warnings dominated the discussion at Monday night’s Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together (COMET) meeting at St. Adalbert’s Church in Elmhurst.

Representatives of the 104th, 108th and 110th precincts warned residents about a dangerous uptick in home invasions and robberies committed by perpetrators impersonating police officers. Deputy Inspector Christopher Manson, commander of the 110th Precinct, cautioned COMET members against falling victim to this scheme.

According to Manson, three such robberies occurred recently within the confines of the 110th Precinct. In one case, two males with dark complexions riding in a black van followed a man walking home between the hours of 1:30 and 4:30 a.m. One of the suspects, pretending to be a plain-clothes police officer, approached the victim, frisked him, stole his wallet and sped away in the van. The other two incidents were similar in nature.

Manson believes the victims were targeted because they were walking alone late at night. He urged residents to request a valid NYPD ID card from anyone attempting to stop them on the street claiming to be an officer.

Maspeth and Elmhurst have also seen an increase in home invasions and burglaries committed by police impersonators. However, unlike the robberies, the recent home invasions appear to deliberately target houses with reputations for illegal activities and narcotics.

Capt. Lavonda Wise (center) of the 108th Precinct is pictured with COMET President Rosemarie Daraio (at left) and Vice President Richard Gundlach. (TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso)

Capt. Lavonda Wise (center) of the 108th Precinct is pictured with COMET President Rosemarie Daraio (at left) and Vice President Richard Gundlach. (TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso)

On March 24th, a home invasion robbery involving police impersonation took place on Jay Avenue in Maspeth. According to reports, two black males wearing fake police uniforms forced their way into the front door of the home. Once inside, they ransacked a basement apartment and then fled on foot.

“This is not a random act,” said Capt. Mark Wachter, commanding officer of the 104th Precinct. “These homes were targeted.”

An investigation into the incident is ongoing, with detectives from the Police Impersonation Investigation Unit examining video footage from the vicinity of the crime.

Manson reported similar incidents in the 110th Precinct. Manson believes the perpetrators in these incidents are attempting to shake down reputed drug houses for narcotics and cash.

“They go where they know the money is,” he said.

Capt. Lavonda Wise, the new executive officer of the 108th Precinct, introduced herself to COMET members. She reported two incidents of home burglaries in the 108th Precinct in the past month. In both cases, perpetrators broke the locks on the front doors of the homes to gain entry. According to Wise, an investigation into these incidents is ongoing.

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Maspeth man with alleged mob ties charged in World Trade Center fraud scheme


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of The Durst Organization

Updated April 15, 10:10 a.m.

A reputed Maspeth mobster and silent partner at a construction company involved in the World Trade Center’s reconstruction was indicted Tuesday on federal money laundering charges and tax crimes, prosecutors announced.

Vincent Vertuccio, 60, reportedly controlled the Crimson Construction Corporation, which received an $11.4 million contract from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for its involvement in building the new One World Trade Center.

According to U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta E. Lynch, Vertuccio allegedly directed an employee not to disclose his involvement with the company in applying for the contract due to his “longstanding affiliation with” the Bonanno crime family.

Once the Port Authority awarded the contract to Crimson, Vertuccio received “significant sums” of a $1.5 million payment made to Crimson, authorities said. These funds were allegedly diverted to a bank account belonging to Vertuccio’s mother and were subsequently used to finance renovations to Vertuccio’s daughter’s home.

But the diversion of funds compromised Crimson’s involvement in the World Trade Center project and, as a result, the Port Authority terminated its contract.

Vertuccio’s accountant — Praful Pandya, 68, of Forest Hills — was additionally charged for allegedly submitting fraudulent tax returns in Vertuccio’s name to the IRS between 2008 and 2011.

Also charged in the indictment was Vertuccio’s lawyer, identified as John Servider, 53, of Patterson, N.Y. Servider is accused of presenting to a grand jury investigating Vertuccio falsified and doctored receipts and invoices from a Manhattan jewelry store.

“As alleged, Vertuccio and his team of criminal consultants —  including his accountant and his lawyer — cheated the taxpayers and the criminal justice system for their own corrupt purposes,” Lynch said. “We will not tolerate self-serving exploitations of Port Authority projects.”

All three defendants were scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn.

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