Tag Archives: Maspeth

WWE Superstar John Cena grants Maspeth boy’s wish

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy the Lanzer family

To wrestling fans around the world WWE Superstar John Cena is known for being a 15-time world champion, but outside of the ring he is best known for his work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. On Monday night Cena set the record for most celebrity wishes at 500, by making an 8-year-old boy from Maspeth’s dream come true.

Last week Cena surprised Rocco Lanzer, who was diagnosed with acute t-cell lymphoblastic leukemia in January, on the set of the “Today” show with tickets to “Monday Night Raw” at the Barclays Center and a championship belt.

“He was ecstatic. He was at a loss for words,” said Maria Lanzer, Rocco’s mother. “He was walking on cloud nine and still is. John Cena is his favorite. He enjoys everything about the WWE, but John Cena is his number one favorite.”

As part of his wish, Rocco played games with Cena at a party at a Dave & Buster’s restaurant and joined Cena in ringing the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange on Friday.

“Mommy, I can’t believe I met John Cena and I played games with him at Dave & Busters,” Rocco told his mother.

Before Monday’s edition of “Raw,” Cena took Rocco backstage to meet several other WWE Superstars, get autographs and snap photos with some of his favorites.

“He got to meet a lot of the wrestlers. He got autographs and took pictures,” Lanzer said. “He got to walk down the entrance ramp with John Cena as his music was playing. After the show, John met with us outside of our limo and told Rocco to keep up the good spirits and to write to him. He shook his hand and gave him a hug.”

Cena’s motto of “never give up” is more than just a catchphrase; it has become a beacon of hope for children who are going through difficult times. Rocco has seen his share of tough times, receiving chemotherapy regularly three to four times a week, as well as blood transfusions when his blood counts become too low, Lanzer said.

“From the beginning I was telling him to never give up and he said, ‘That’s what John Cena says,” and I told him, “See, if John Cena says it you can’t give up,’” Lanzer recalled. “The motto fits for Rocco’s case. He is going through treatments like a champ.”

The Lanzers were very grateful to Cena for helping their child’s wish come true.

“Throughout his treatment and all the bumps in the road, it was great to see him smile. It lifted his spirts so much,” Lanzer said. “Meeting his hero and being there last night, seeing the smile on his face makes me and my husband so grateful for everyone who was involved with his wish. We were so happy and crying because he got to meet his idol and his role model.”

John Cena wore the loom bracelet Rocco made for him in ring, which added more to Rocco’s happiness that night, Lanzer added.

“His smile was from ear to ear all night,” she said. “John Cena has his heart in every wish he grants, which makes it more special. It was a chance of a lifetime and I would love to give a shoutout to Make-A-Wish and the WWE for granting his wish.”


Public invited to September participatory budgeting meetings in 30th Council District

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Anthony Giudice

Now that participatory budgeting is coming to the 30th Council DistrictCity Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley is inviting the public to attend neighborhood meetings where they can have their voices heard on upcoming capital budget ideas.

Through the participatory budgeting process, residents of the 30th Council District — which includes all or parts of Ridgewood, Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Woodhaven and Woodside — will gather to brainstorm and then vote on a number of proposed capital budget projects for their community, including street resurfacing, street tree planting, park improvements and more.

Crowley has released a list of dates through September of when and where community members can meet with her to discuss the process of participatory budgeting.

Those dates and locations are as follows:

  • Thursday, Sept. 10, at the Frank Kowalinski Post, 61-57 Maspeth Ave., Maspeth, at 6:30 p.m.;
  • Saturday, Sept. 12, at the Ridgewood Library, 2012 Madison St., Ridgewood, at 2:30 p.m.;
  • Monday, Sept. 14, at the Wynwood Gardens Civic Association meeting, 70-31 48th Ave., Woodside, at 7 p.m.;
  • Wednesday, Sept. 16, at Maspeth Town Hall, 53-37 72nd St., Maspeth, at 6:30 p.m.;
  • Saturday, Sept. 19, at the Ridgewood YMCA located at 69-02 64th St., Ridgewood, at 1 p.m.;
  • Thursday, Sept. 24, at P.S. 87, 67-54 80th St., Middle Village, at 6:30 p.m.;
  • Monday, Sept. 28, at Redeemer Lutheran School located at 69-26 Cooper Ave., Glendale, at 6:30 p.m.; and
  • Wednesday, Sept. 30, at the U.S. Columbarium, 61-40 Mount Olivet Crescent, Middle Village, at 6:30 p.m.

Future workshop dates will be released in the weeks to come. For more information, call Crowley’s Glendale office at 718-366-3900.


Queens workers owed $800K in unclaimed back wages: comptroller

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo via Scott Stringer's Facebook page

With Labor Rights Week quickly approaching, City Comptroller Scott Stringer scored a victory for city workers when he found $3.7 million as part of unclaimed prevailing wage settlements with several companies that worked on city-funded projects.

Stringer is now seeking the public’s help in identifying the over 1,000 workers from across the city to whom these funds are owed.

Throughout Queens, 200 individuals are owed nearly $800,000, according to Stringer’s findings.

In Corona, 20 people are owed a total of $117,470.53; Elmhurst has 18 individuals who are owed $74,934.79; and in Maspeth, Ridgewood and Jackson Heights, 14 people from each neighborhood are owed a total of $151,811.21.

“My office has recovered millions of dollars through our enforcement of the prevailing wage, but now we need your help to connect these workers with the money they are owed,” Stringer said. “Thousands of hard-working individuals, many of whom are immigrants, have been cheated out of their rightfully earned wages, but they may not know these funds exist. Help us get the word out about unclaimed wages — recovering thousands of dollars may only be a phone call or email away.”

Stringer’s office is trying to identify those who are owed wages through social media, media partnerships and distribution of informational flyers in several languages including English, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, Russian and Creole in neighborhoods throughout the city.

“We’re ramping up our efforts to identify these hard-working men and women who are owed the money they earned,” the comptroller said. “In the coming weeks, we’ll be on the streets, on social media and on the airwaves with a single message: if you’ve been cheated out of your wages, the comptroller’s office has your back. Tell your friends and family: call our hotline or visit our website to see if you are eligible to receive your lost wages.”

The prevailing wage laws require employers to pay workers the wage and benefit rate set annually by the comptroller when those employees work on city public works projects, such as renovating public schools or building service contracts, which includes security guard and custodial work, with city agencies.

Workers who believe they may be entitled to unclaimed wages can call the comptroller’s hotline at 212-669-4443, send in inquiries via email to laborlaw@comptroller.nyc.gov or check the comptroller’s unclaimed wages website.


Greater Ridgewood Restoration Corporation kicks off summer fundraising campaign

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy of the Greater Ridgewood Restoration Corporation

The Greater Ridgewood Restoration Corporation (GRRC) has begun its semi-annual fundraising campaign, asking members of the Ridgewood, Glendale, Maspeth and Middle Village communities to make donations to help fund programs that have made an important contribution to the areas’ quality of life.

The GRRC has been instrumental in stabilizing and upgrading the neighborhoods that make up Community Board 5 for the last 40 years, offering free programs such as landlord/tenant counseling, helping homeowners apply for low-interest home improvement loans, lobbying for street tree plantings, removing graffiti and more.

The donations will go towards the purchase of a lift for the hot pressure washer used in graffiti removal.

“The pressure washer is extremely heavy and getting it off and on the van is very difficult,” said Angela Mirabile, executive director of GRRC. “Our fundraising goal this year is $10,000 in private donations. This will cover the cost of the lift and replacement of worn equipment and supplies.”

The anti-graffiti program is one of the most used programs offered by GRRC. Last year, GRRC removed graffiti at 125 locations, and this year has cleaned over 110 sites. The organization anticipates cleaning 50 more sites by the end of November.

“It is evident that graffiti vandalism is once again on the rise, and we are doing our best to stay on top of it,” said Christa Walls, community liaison specialist for GRRC.

Mirabile added that funds will also go to cover general administration expenses as well as updating GRRC’s computer systems and software.

“In the past we have received donations ranging from $10 to $2,500. The people of our community support our effort and we are very thankful,” Mirabile said. “The public in this community has been very responsive to our campaign efforts. They are very active and we appreciate that.”

Donations can be made through the GRRC website, through PayPal or by mail to 68-56 Forest Ave., Ridgewood, NY 11385.


Kosciuszko Bridge project will cause long-term closure of Maspeth roadway

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Google Maps

Work crews will shut down a Maspeth street for six months beginning next week as construction of the new Kosciuszko Bridge begins in earnest, according to the state Department of Transportation (NYSDOT).

A one-block portion of 54th Avenue between Laurel Hill Boulevard and 43rd Street in industrial west Maspeth will be closed around-the-clock on or about Monday, Aug. 17, and will remain off limits through February 2016.

The eastern end of the existing Kosciuszko Bridge — which carries the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) over Newtown Creek — passes over this portion of 54th Avenue.

In an advisory, the NYSDOT indicated the closure is required in order for contractors to partially remove an existing BQE viaduct, then install new underground utilities and girders and an abutment wall for the new bridge.

As alternate routes, drivers who normally head eastbound on 54th Avenue should instead turn east on 54th Road from Laurel Hill Boulevard, then north on 43rd Street to 54th Avenue. Drivers heading west from 54th Avenue should turn south on 43rd Street, then west on 54th Road to Laurel Hill Boulevard.

The closure will not affect service on the Q67 side, which has a bus stop in the area. Buses heading westbound will follow the westbound detour route, according to the NYSDOT.

The existing Kosciuszko Bridge. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

The existing Kosciuszko Bridge. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

The $555 million project to replace the existing bridge — an obsolete structure notorious for traffic jams and accidents due, in part, to its narrow configuration — will be completed in two phases. First, the NYSDOT will build a cable-stayed suspension bridge adjacent to the existing bridge on its eastbound side.

Once the first place is completed, all BQE traffic will be shifted onto the new span, and crews will then demolish the existing bridge. A second cable-stayed bridge will be erected in the original bridge’s footprint.

A rendering of the new Kosciuszko Bridge. (File photo)

A rendering of the new Kosciuszko Bridge. (File photo)

The new twin-span Kosciuszko Bridge will feature wider traffic lanes and a joint bike and walking path. The project also includes the creation of new parks and open spaces below the bridge on both sides of the creek.

Click here for more information about the project.



PHOTOS: Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin film in Maspeth

| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photos By Kelly Marie Mancuso


Hollywood legends Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin descended upon Nat’s Diner in Maspeth on Monday to shoot scenes for New Line Cinema’s remake of the 1979 comedy “Going In Style.”

The veteran actors were observed entering and leaving the former Clinton/Goodfellas Diner, as well as shooting an interior scene in one of the diner’s booths by the window. Actress Joey King of the television series “Fargo” rounded out the cast.

The Queens Courier first broke the story about the film shoot on Thursday amid much speculation as to whether or not the actors would appear at the location. Caine and Freeman have previously starred together in Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” trilogy, with Cain playing Bruce Wayne’s butler Alfred Pennyworth opposite Freeman’s Lucius Fox.

According to sources on the set, Freeman was accompanied by his stepdaughter, Deena Adair Williams, who was working with the film’s hair and makeup department.

Morgan Freeman shooting a scene in the window booth at Nat's Diner

Morgan Freeman shooting a scene in the window booth at Nat’s Diner

Film crews surrounded the diner with multiple spotlights and reflection panels, including an 80-foot-tall lighting rig. Stand-ins for the actors were also on hand prior to the stars’ arrival on the set.

The original version of “Going in Style” debuted in 1979 and starred comedic legends George Burns, Art Carney and Lee Strasburg as cash-strapped retirees turned bumbling bank robbers in Groucho Marx disguises.


Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman on the set of “Going in Style” in Maspeth on Monday, Aug. 10

Actor and screenwriter Zach Braff of “Scrubs” fame is directing the latest version of the film. Braff made his directorial debut in 2004 with the critically acclaimed film “Garden State” in which he starred opposite Natalie Portman and Peter Sarsgaard. According to Variety, stars Matt Dillon and Ann-Margaret are also set to join the cast of the “Going in Style” remake.

“Going in Style” is set to premiere in theaters on May 6, 2016.



Film featuring Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine to shoot in Maspeth

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Screenshot via YouTube/Yellow Red Studio

Maspeth will be the setting for yet another movie shoot next week.

On Monday, Aug. 10, the producers of “Going in Style” — a reboot of the 1979 movie about elderly bank robbers — will shoot a scene at the Nat Diner, located at 56-26 Maspeth Ave. in Maspeth. Formerly known as the Clinton Diner, the establishment was famously featured in the classic 1990 Martin Scorsese mob drama “Goodfellas.”

The remake of “Going in Style,” starring Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin, is about three retirees who are living on fixed incomes until they decide to rob a bank to solve their money issues. The only problem is that they have no experience robbing banks. It’s a remake of the 1979 comedy-drama that starred George Burns, Art Carney and Lee Strasburg.

The shoot will involve characters entering the diner, performing interior dialogue scenes, then exiting the diner. It was not immediately known if Freeman, Caine or Arkin will be on location for the shoot.

The production company has requested permission to place an 80-foot-tall apparatus on Maspeth Avenue between Rust Street and 57th Place for lighting. They have also made partial parking restriction requests for Rust Street between 56th Terrace and Maspeth Avenue and a full parking ban on both the east and west sides of the street; the full west side of Rust Street between Maspeth Avenue and Grand Street; the full block, both north and south, on Maspeth Avenue between Rust Street and 57th Place; full block control, east and west sides, of 57th Place between Maspeth Avenue and Rust Street; the south side of the entire street for Maspeth Avenue between 57th Place and 58th Street; full block control of the north and south sides of 57th Road between 57th Place and 58th Street; and full block control of the west side of 58th Street between Maspeth Avenue and 56th Drive.

Maspeth has been quite a popular location for film and TV shoots in recent weeks. One other such production that filmed in the neighborhood is “Shades of Blue,” a new NBC drama starring Jennifer Lopez and Ray Liotta. J-Lo was spotted on the set in Maspeth twice in the past week.


PHOTOS: On set with Jennifer Lopez in Maspeth

| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photos by Kelly Marie Mancuso


Jennifer Lopez was in Maspeth once again this afternoon for the filming of her new NBC series “Shades of Blue” due out this fall.

Lopez plays New York detective and single mother Harlee Santos, who is forced to report on her fellow crooked cops after she was busted by the FBI for accepting bribes.

Lopez and the “Shades of Blue” crew filmed interior and exterior scenes outside a home at 57-22 58th Ave. in Maspeth, one block off Grand Avenue.

The shoot included a scene in which Lopez’s on-screen partner comes to her rescue after she is found lying on the sidewalk outside the home. The pair then walks up the stoop and into the house. Crew members were busy setting up the scene and touching up Lopez’s makeup in between takes.

The series has been filming at various locations throughout Maspeth and Middle Village recently. Scenes with both Lopez and her co-star Ray Liotta were shot on location in Maspeth last week.

“Shades of Blue” is set to air on NBC in the fall. For air times, cast information and updates, click here.


PHOTOS: ‘Shades of Blue’ with Jennifer Lopez and Ray Liotta films in Maspeth, Middle Village

| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photos by Kelly Marie Mancuso


Jennifer Lopez and Ray Liotta hit the streets of Maspeth and Middle Village on Wednesday to film scenes for the new NBC police procedural “Shades of Blue.”

The series features Lopez in the lead role as Detective Harlee Santos, a single mother forced to snitch on her corrupt colleagues by the FBI after she is caught accepting a bribe. Liotta of “Goodfellas” fame also stars as Lieutenant Bill Wozniak. Lopez and Liotta also star opposite “Sopranos” actress Drea de Matteo as Detective Tess Nazario.

The series is set in Brooklyn and is based on the novel “Shades of Blue: 30 Years of (Un)ethical Policing” by Michael Rudolph. Executive producers of the series include Adi Hasak of “3 Days to Kill,” American Idol’s Ryan Seacrest, director Barry Levinson of “Wag the Dog” and “Homicide: Life on the Street,” as well as Lopez herself.

Both Lopez and Liotta filmed interior scenes for the series inside the Maspeth home of Claribel Vera on 58th Place and 57th Drive.

“This is so exciting,” Vera exclaimed. After shooting at the Vera home wrapped, Lopez emerged and posed for photos with fans, including Vera’s daughters Veronica and Annette, before leaving the set for the day.

Liotta and the rest of the crew then relocated to Middle Village where they dined on traditional Latin fare at Tropical 3 Restaurant, located at 62-27 Fresh Pond Rd. After enjoying an authentic Ecuadorian meal from owners Jimmy Illescas and Steven Vinas, Liotta resumed filming an exterior shot in a car outside the restaurant. Scores of locals gathered on 62nd Road to watch the shoot, many cheering when Liotta walked by. The actor appeared on set in special effects make-up, with fake bruises and a black eye.

Tropical 3 owners Jimmy Illescas and Steven Vinas welcomed Ray Liotta and the “Shades of Blue” crew to their restaurant during filming in Middle Village. (Photo courtesy of Sandra Gonzalez)

When filming wrapped, director Dan Lerner, of “In Plain Sight” and “The Blacklist” fame, thanked Illescas and Vinas for use of their establishment, and even sat to watch an original video made by Vinas’ young daughter on her iPad.

Liotta is no stranger to filming in Queens. Many of his scenes from the 1990 hit “Goodfellas” were filmed at the former Clinton Diner in Maspeth, as well on Maurice Avenue and the streets surrounding nearby Calvary Cemetery in Woodside.

“Shades of Blue” is set to air on NBC in the fall. Check local listings or click here for updates.


Woodside resident to seek Assembly seat and ‘fight for the middle class’

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Brian Barnwell

Brian Barnwell is looking to be the voice of a district he has called home all his life and one he says needs a big change and new leadership.

The 29-year-old Woodside resident and lawyer has announced that he will run next year for the seat in the state Assembly representing District 30, which covers the neighborhoods of Maspeth, Woodside, Middle Village and parts of Astoria, Sunnyside and Long Island City.

The seat is currently held by Assemblywoman Margaret Markey, who was first elected in 1998.

“I just feel like it’s time for a change. I feel like we need some new energy where people are going to go out and engage the community and bring the community voices into the conversation,” Barnwell said. “Everyone is getting pushed out. The teachers are being thrown under the bus. The students are being thrown under the bus. The middle class is just being destroyed and we can’t take it for granted anymore. So I want to be the voice of the middle class, because I am in the middle class.”

Barnwell’s desire to run for office was fueled recently when he began working as the director of special events for Councilman Costa Constantinides, and experienced many residents coming into the district office complaining about various issues – including affordable housing.

This made him realize that there needed to be a change and he would be that change.

The platform of his campaign will strongly focus on helping individuals in the middle class and those vying to move into the middle class. With being a member of the middle class himself, along with his family, Barnwell said he has personal experience with the issues constituents face.

“The middle class is what made this country great. It’s what makes any country great. If you don’t have a middle class, you’re in trouble,” Barnwell said.

Barnwell’s platform – focusing on taxes, education and affordable housing – includes issues such as lowering personal income and corporate taxes; helping raise minimum wage; empowering teachers, parents and administrators in local schools and creating new curriculum based on districts; building more schools; and increasing the amount of affordable housing in the developing area.

For now, Barnwell will stay at Constantinides’ office until September, then he will hit the streets and reach out to the communities to see what issues the residents are facing.

“I want people to tell me what’s wrong with this district,” Barnwell said. “You’ve got to lead. You’ve got to be a leader. This why we elect these people to be leaders, not followers, and I want to be a leader. I don’t want to be a follower.”

Barnwell will hold his first fundraiser on Aug. 12 at 7 p.m. at The Brewery NYC, located at 49-18 30th Ave. in Woodside.

For more information visit Barnwell’s Facebook page or follow @Barnwell2016 on Twitter.


Road conditions at dangerous railroad crossing concern Maspeth business owners

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Anthony Giudice

Road conditions at the railroad crossing located on Maspeth Avenue and Rust Street, where a crash between a locomotive and tractor-trailer occurred earlier this month, were a main concern voiced during Thursday’s Maspeth Industrial Business Association (MIBA) meeting.

The at-grade crossing is reportedly suffering from cracked and deteriorating pavement, leaving the metal railroad tracks exposed and creating large potholes. When drivers travel over the railroad tracks, whether in personal cars or industrial trucks, they are vulnerable to hitting these potholes and damaging their vehicles.

“Just beyond the collision, I know that businesses have been complaining about the crossing because it needs to be repaved, and it’s been doing a lot of damage to their vehicles and so we’ve been trying to put some pressure on New York and Atlantic [Railway] to make the repairs,” said Jean Tanler, coordinator of the MIBA. “It’s been a long process, so hopefully now that there’s been more eyes on this area maybe we can have a little bit more leverage in having them address it.”

Michael Cristina, owner of Boro-wide Recycling Corp., located at 3 Railroad Pl. in Maspeth, wants improvements at the railroad crossing because the current conditions are damaging his fleet of trucks that travel over the train tracks several times a day.

“My maintenance in the last year has gone up tremendously on my trucks,” Cristina said. “There’s tie rods that go in the front end of the truck, springs are breaking, shocks are snapping off, and there are kingpins…what happens over time, it wears the metal away eventually and then the whole tire wobbles.”

In addition to causing damage to vehicles, Cristina believes that the conditions at the crossing are a safety concern as well.

“This is a safety issue,” he said. “Anybody’s wheel could fall off, or something could break on a car because of the abuse the tracks are doing to the cars. And if it breaks right on the tracks, what can you do? You’re kind of limited on what you can do. If it was maintained, you would have less of a safety issue there.”


Maspeth, Middle Village set to co-name two streets for community leaders

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo via Google Maps

The City Council unanimously passed a bill Thursday that includes the proposed co-naming of two Queens streets, one in Maspeth and the other in Middle Village.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley proposed the bill to honor Frank Kowalinski and Bishop Joseph Sullivan.

Maspeth Avenue between 61st and 64th streets is slated to become Frank Kowalinski Way. Kowalinski was born in 1894 and grew up on Clinton Avenue. In 1918, Kowalinski became the first U.S. Army soldier of Polish decent to be killed in combat during World War I. In honor of his service, the local veterans post in Maspeth is named after Kowalinski.

Middle Village will see 71st Street, from Eliot Avenue south of the railroad, be named Bishop Joseph Sullivan Way.

Sullivan served the Our Lady of Hope parish since its founding in 1960 until his death in 2013. Sullivan was also involved with several Catholic charities, hospitals and other religious, interreligious and secular organizations.

“Recognizing and memorializing the dedication of these two men to their country and community is truly a privilege,” Crowley said. “Queens is both fortunate and unique in that it has a history of such strong public servants, whether they are soldiers or clergymen. It is only right to post their names for all to see in the neighborhoods they have made such an impact on. That way, their legacy can live on for generations to come.”

The dates for the co-naming ceremonies have yet to be determined.


108th Precinct sees large crime decrease after new anti-crime team created

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of PropertyShark/Scott Bintner

Crime in the 108th Precinct — which covers Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside and Maspeth — has seen a large decrease after a new team of seasoned officers hit the streets, according to the precinct’s top cop.

Captain John Travaglia, who took over the precinct last November, told The Courier that he has seen a 23 percent decrease in crime in the 28-day period ending on July 19 and a 30 percent decrease in the year to date.

Burglaries, which are the main issue the neighborhoods face, have been down 61 percent in the 28-day period and 26 percent in the year to date.

The police captain credits the decrease in crime to the creation of a second anti-crime team at the precinct which is made up of five seasoned officers.

“I inherited a precinct from Captain Brian Hennessy that I thought was working very, very well. The one thing that I noticed was we were missing an anti-crime team. Most precincts function with two anti-crime teams and we only had one,” Travaglia said.

Travaglia added that after going over the personnel background folders for each of the officers in the new team, he noticed they were being underutilized at the precinct and wanted “to get them back in the game.”

Since being formed in March, the team has worked to solve crimes that have been under the radar as well as more prominent crimes, and has helped take down ongoing crimes in the neighborhoods.

“We have put together, to me, one of the best anti-crime teams in the city of New York,” he said. “They’re just very sharp individuals. And I always say that if I was a criminal in this region right now, I’d be very scared of these men.”

Along with helping bring the crime numbers down, Travaglia said the men who make up the team are humble and are always accepting information from other officers and members of the precinct.

He added that they also train other officers around them and many other officers want to emulate these seasoned cops.

“They’re not giants among men. They’re police officers on a team. They don’t take credit for anything. The team takes credit. They’re phenomenal officers and they’re a big component of our crime reduction,” Travaglia said.

The precinct has seen a slight issue concerning Long Island City’s nightlife. Travaglia said that there have been issues, for example felony assaults, that occur late at night surrounding these establishments.

In order to tackle this issue and stop problems from occurring, Travaglia is looking to get together with the owners and managers of local bars, restaurants and clubs during a nightlife best practices meeting.

“We need cooperation because you don’t want to meet me after the situation has happened. You worked hard to get your liquor license, you’ve worked hard to license your establishment, to build your reputation up,” he said. “I want people to be successful here. People are coming to Long Island City to patronize these establishments at night, to visit here, so I want everyone to have a safe experience and pleasant experience.”

The precinct hopes to hold the first nightlife meeting in August or September at the precinct house, located at 5-47 50th Ave.

In regards to traffic enforcement, Travaglia said that since he took the post at the 108th Precinct there have been no traffic fatalities in the neighborhoods and he helped engineer a team of officers to follow traffic trends.

He added that although he has gotten some backlash on enforcement on bicyclists, he said he hopes the 364 summonses given out in the 28-day period, compared to the 17 in the same period last year, will control the other thousands on the road.

In regards to vehicles, he said there have been 7,000 moving summonses and 2,500 parking summonses given year to date.

“Someone has to make sure everyone is adhering to the rules of the road,” Travaglia said. “It’s something that I found needed to be addressed. We’re here to make sure the roadways are safe for all.”


Abandoned Maspeth gas station to become mixed-use facility

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Anthony Giudice

Updated July 23, 10:20 a.m.

Rumors have surfaced about plans to erect a two-story, mixed-use building on the site of a long-unused gas station in Maspeth.

The speculation floated on local Facebook pages noted that the proposed building at 58-60 Brown Pl. would be 11,000 square feet in size, including 5,500 square feet of retail space on the first floor with a healthcare facility located on the second floor.

According to Community Board 5 (CB 5), the triangular piece of land was once a gas station and currently has a commercial overlay of C1-3, which would allow the construction of a commercial building on the site. The rumored retail space/healthcare facility would fall within the parameters of the overlay.

Plans posted on the Department of Buildings website, filed on July 14, call for the construction f a two-story “commercial and community facility building” encompassing more than 10,996 square feet. These plans were filed under the address 58-38 69th St., which shares the block and lot with 58-60 Brown Pl.

Between 1991 and 2006, the vacant gas station racked up seven building code violations, with most of them concerning the illegal use of the open lot where individuals would sell furniture, according to the city Department of Buildings. The open lot has since been fenced in to avoid any further illegal activity taking place there.

CB 5 has yet to receive any demolition notices for the site.

Editor’s note: An earlier version noted that the latest plans for the site on the Department of Buildings online database dated back to 2010. We regret any confusion which may have resulted.




New York & Atlantic’s safety procedures under review following Maspeth crash

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Anthony Giudice

In the wake of a fiery collision between a train and a tractor-trailer at a railroad crossing in Maspeth on July 8, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced Tuesday that it will launch a safety review of New York & Atlantic Railway’s (NYA) safety culture and management practices.

The train was traveling at a minimum of 20 mph, 5 mph above the area railroad speed limit of 15 mph, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

This safety analysis will review NYA’s operational practices, its compliance with federal regulations and the overall safety culture of the train operation company. The FRA stated that NYA has committed to fully cooperate with the safety review.

“Rail safety is a responsibility DOT [Department of Transportation] shares with the operators,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Railroads must adhere to the strict standards of safety set by FRA, and FRA must ensure and enforce compliance in order to protect lives. This safety review aims to do just that.”

The FRA’s rail safety team will inspect NYA’s operating departments; engineer and conductor certifications; locomotive engineer oversight; grade crossing diagnostics; the company’s operation control center procedures and rail traffic controller training methods; human factors that may have caused the crash; and its compliance with federal practices regulations.

Photo by Robert Stridiron

Photo by Robert Stridiron

“[Tuesday’s] announcement by the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to launch a safety review of the New York & Atlantic Railway is welcoming news,” said Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan in a statement. “After last week’s train-truck collision in Queens, this study is much needed for our community. I am confident that this review by the FRA will help to improve safety standards. I will continue to monitor this important situation and working with my partners in government – city, state and federal — to make sure that Queens rails and roads are safe.”

After the FRA completes its review of NYA’s safety culture and practices, it will issue a report outlining their findings and provide recommendations to the railroad company. Additionally, the FRA will evaluate NY&A’s follow-up to the recommendations and assess if subsequent actions are necessary to strengthen safety at NYA Railway.

“In this safety sweep of NYA, FRA will provide recommendations on specific areas where the railroad must improve to meet the high safety standards FRA and the country expect,” said Sarah Feinberg, acting FRA administrator.

The Courier has reached out to Paul Victor, president of NYA, and is awaiting a response.