Tag Archives: Maspeth

Participatory budgeting coming to Councilwoman Crowley’s district

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley is the latest city lawmaker to hop on the participatory budgeting bandwagon.

Crowley announced on Tuesday that residents in the 30th City Council District — which includes all or parts of Ridgewood, Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Woodhaven and Woodside — will get to decide how to spend $1 million in city funds on community improvement projects.

She is the 11th member of the City Council’s Queens delegation to host participatory budgeting. During the 2015 fiscal year, City Council members Costa Constantinides, Daniel Dromm, Julissa Ferreras, Karen Koslowitz, I. Daneek Miller, Donovan Richards, Antonio Reynoso, Eric Ulrich, Paul Vallone and Jimmy Van Bramer — along with former City Councilman Mark Weprin — pledged to fund $12,871,000 in projects through the process.

“This year, I am able to bring participatory budgeting to my constituents and give them insight into the often lengthy and sometimes very expensive city budgeting process,” Crowley said in a statement. “This will provide a forum for active engagement between residents and myself to decide on capital projects, and calls for the participation of every community member.”

Through participatory budgeting, local residents brainstorm and then vote on a number of proposed capital budget projects for their community, such as street tree planting, park improvements, school technology upgrades, security cameras and street resurfacing.

The first round of community meetings focused on the process will be held in September, with voting taking place in February 2016. For additional information, call Crowley’s Glendale office at 718-366-3900.


Train that hit truck in Maspeth was speeding: investigators

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Anthony Giudice

The locomotive that crashed into a tractor-trailer at a Maspeth intersection on July 8 was traveling above the speed limit, and the man behind the switch could face disciplinary action, authorities reported.

The early-morning accident at the six-track railroad crossing on Maspeth Avenue near Rust Street caused the truck to burst into flames. The driver managed to escape with injuries not considered life-threatening.

Sources familiar with the investigation told The Courier on Tuesday that the train was moving at a minimum of 20 mph; the railroad speed limit for the area is 15 mph. Reportedly, the engineer operating the train is now facing disciplinary action.

Video of the accident obtained by The Courier shows the railroad crossing gates on Maspeth Avenue activated only at the moment of impact. A source familiar with the situation said the train’s faster speed may have delayed the gate’s activation.

But a union official, in a WABC-TV report on Tuesday, claimed one part of the gate “never comes down normally.”

New York and Atlantic Railway (NYA) President Paul Victor disagreed with notions that the gate malfunctioned, but conceded the Maspeth Avenue crossing’s design is flawed and requires improvement. The NYA reportedly asked the state Transportation Department to evaluate the signal system and the crossing’s logistics.

“Given the accident and the understanding that there have been other incidents there, it certainly makes logical sense to do an engineering evaluation of that crossing,” he said in a phone interview. “It’s a heavily trafficked route with lots of trucks and commercial traffic that goes back and forth. It’s a very unusual crossing.”

The crossing is part of the Long Island Rail Road’s Montauk branch extension, which is leased exclusively to NYA west of Jamaica for its freight rail operations. Wednesday’s accident raised concerns among local residents regarding the safety at other at-grade railroad crossings along the line, such as the one on 88th Street in Glendale.

According to Community Board 5 Chairperson Vincent Arcuri, the rail switches activating the crossing gates at 88th Street are dependent upon train speed. When passenger trains operated on the Montauk branch west of Jamaica, the switches were located 300 feet away from the crossing because the trains moved at 40 mph.

With the line exclusively used for freight rail and all trains limited to 15 mph, the switches were relocated to within 10 to 20 feet of the crossing, he noted. Freight train operators were also instructed to slow down when coming to a crossing, then send a crew member out to check that the crossing gates were activated before proceeding.

This change, Arcuri said, makes drivers and pedestrians at the 88th Street crossing especially “nervous,” as they can see the train very close to the crossing well before the gates are activated.

“The LIRR decided when they stopped the two passenger train runs to abandon the passenger line and turn it over [to NYA] as a freight line so they didn’t have to upgrade the signal system,” he added. The board has requested that the LIRR move the signal switch further back at 88th Street and other local at-grade crossings for safety’s sake.

Arcuri, however, claimed the freight signal system in place on the Montauk line is similar to that used on the Bushwick branch of the LIRR — which links up to the Montauk line — and other freight rail systems across the U.S. for generations.


104COP thanks Frank Kotnik for 25 years of service

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photos by Anthony Giudice

For 25 years Frank Kotnik has served the communities of Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth and Ridgewood as a member of the 104 Civilian Observation Patrol (104COP), formerly known as G-COP (Glendale Civilian Observation Patrol).

During those two and a half decades, Kotnik devoted his time and energy to making those communities as safe as he could by organizing patrols, coordinating parades and lending help during times of need, such as after 9/11 and Superstorm Sandy.

At Thursday night’s 104COP meeting at Christ the King High School in Middle Village, family, friends, colleagues and local politicians surprised Kotnik to celebrate his 25 years of service as he stepped down as president of 104COP.

As his final act as president, Kotnik handed over the gavel to Mark Pearson, the new president of 104COP. Although Kotnik stepped down as president, he will remain an active member of the board.

After the installation of all the newly elected officers of 104COP, the guests began showering Kotnik with thanks and gifts.

State Senator Joseph Addabbo presented Kotnik with a proclamation from the New York Senate, thanking him for his years of dedication to the communities that 104COP serves and for lending help to other communities in need.

“I will forever be grateful to 104COP, and to Frank, because a third of my district was severely impacted by Sandy,” Addabbo said. “And Frank led the charge down there for many of you members to help my people after Sandy. And I don’t mean a month after Sandy, but days, hours after Sandy, Frank was helping my constituents, who are still hurting. So for that I will forever grateful to Frank, so thank you.”

Kotnik was honored by Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley and Councilman Antonio Reynoso with a proclamation, thanking him for his service.

“When I think of G-COP, I think of Frank,” Crowley said. “He’s always been president and the leader, and there is no other organization in the city of New York like G-COP.”

“As the newest member of this elite team here, let me tell you, I just wanted to say, Frank, I think I graduated preschool when you started at G-COP,” Reynoso said, to which the crowd erupted with laughter. “That speaks less of my age and more of his commitment to the mission of G-COP. A lot of people do things in short [stints], but he made a commitment to this community for much longer than that…and I truly want to thank you.”

Commanding Officer of the 104th Precinct, Captain Mark Wachter, personally thanked Kotnik for helping to keep the communities he has lived in since he was a child safe for so many years.

“Frank watched out for this community when I was very young,” Wachter said. “Because of Frank and the members of G-COP, this community is still safe. So on that personal level Frank, I thank you.”

Wacther then presented Kotnik with a plaque from the NYPD, thanking him for his years of service.

Among the others that honored Kotnik throughout the evening were representatives from Borough President Melinda Katz’s office, Captain John Travaglia, commanding officer of the 108th Precinct, representatives from the 104th Precinct Community Council, and the members of 104COP.

Kotnik thanked everyone for their love and support, now and over the years.

“Thank you, thank you for the support,” Kotnik said. “One thing that was forgotten, I know everyone is saying it was me, but it was ‘we.’ This patrol is always, as far as I’m concerned, is ‘we.’ We were going to do this together…All I can say to everybody, thank you for coming, God bless you all.”


Video shows fiery Maspeth train-truck collision and apparently slow crossing gate

| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

Video courtesy of Filco Carting Corp.

Updated July 10, 4:45 p.m.


Footage from a garbage truck’s dashboard camera depicts Wednesday’s fiery collision between a train and tractor-trailer in Maspeth early that morning — as well as an apparently slow railroad crossing gate.

The video was shot from a Filco Carting rig traveling westbound on Maspeth Avenue approaching Rust Street, stopping before the four-track crossing on the Long Island Rail Road’s (LIRR) Montauk branch where the accident occurred at about 12:37 a.m.

As shown in the video, the tractor-trailer heading eastbound on Maspeth Avenue was passing over the tracks when a New York and Atlantic Railway (NYA) locomotive heading southbound  —with horns blaring  — smashed into the trailer.

The gates, however, were up when the train hit the truck, which was dragged a distance and burst into flames. The red lights on the gates activated a split-second before impact, and the video shows the crossing gate lowering as the train and truck pass out of the picture.

Officers from the 104th Precinct and EMS units responded to the accident; the driver escaped with non-life-threatening injuries.

According to WABC-TV, Filco Carting installed dash cams on all of its rigs as a safety measure.

An LIRR spokesperson said on Thursday that the NYA is responsible for the condition and maintenance of the railroad crossing gate; the NYA leases the Montauk branch west of Jamaica from the LIRR for its freight operations.

However, a source with the NYA said the issue is “complicated.” The NYA is the main operator of the crossing gate, but both entities are jointly responsible for the gate’s maintenance.

Congresswoman Grace Meng said that while she is “thankful that nobody was killed, we must get answers as to why this happened.”

“The video showing the freight train crashing into a tractor-trailer is extremely scary — and it’s very disturbing that the gate at the railroad crossing failed to come down in time,” Meng said in a statement issued Friday afternoon. “I have been in touch with all stakeholders pertaining to this accident, and I am being kept up-to-date on the investigation. … The crossing gate cannot be allowed to fail again. The safety of train personnel, motorists and area residents must not be compromised.”


Driver injured after train strikes truck in Maspeth

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo by Robert Stridiron

The driver of a tractor-trailer was hospitalized after his rig was struck by a train at a Maspeth railroad crossing early Wednesday morning, according to police.

Police said the accident occurred just before 1 a.m. in the area of Maspeth Avenue and Rust Street.

Reportedly, the New York and Atlantic Railway engine was traveling eastbound when it hit the truck that was on the four-track crossing on Maspeth Avenue. The impact caused the truck to burst into flames.

Officers from the 104th Precinct along with EMS and Fire Department units responded to the scene. The truck driver was taken to a local hospital and was listed in stable condition; no other injuries were reported.

An investigation is ongoing.


Maspeth could be getting a community athletic field near Newtown Creek

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Ridgewood Times/Photo by Anthony Giudice

The area around Newtown Creek, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognizes as one of the “nation’s most polluted waterways,” could be the site of a brand-new community athletic field in Maspeth.

During a City Council hearing, Eric Landau, associate commissioner of public affairs for the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), testified before the Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting and Maritime Uses, asking for public siting approval on the construction of an aeration facility for Newtown Creek in Maspeth.

The proposed aeration facility is part of a state-mandated effort to improve water quality in Newtown Creek and would be located on 47th Street, near the water’s edge. The facility would help raise oxygen levels in the water and promote wildlife sustainability.

The initial phase of construction leaves approximately one and a half acres of open space on the property, which Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Community Board 5 have expressed interest in converting into an athletic field.

“While it is very important to build this aeration facility for Newtown Creek, it is also important our community take advantage of green space for athletics. I am grateful the DEP has agreed to work with the community to allow for public use of the land,” Crowley said. “In Maspeth, there is a high volume of trucks traveling through the streets. It also has fewer city parks. This lack of green space plus its proximity to the LIE both lead to a higher rate of obesity and asthma compared to neighboring communities.”

“Maspeth residents are disadvantaged in that they lack access to sufficient open green space,” she added. “We can promote sports and physical activity by taking advantage of all public space options, ideally by way of increased access to athletic fields.”

Landau testified to the City Council that the DEP will begin discussions with the community, as well as local athletic groups, about entering into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding an athletic field on the unused portion of land.

The MOU would state that the sports organizations are responsible for the capital cost of the field as well as the maintenance. Also, if the DEP should ever need the field in the future, upon reasonable notice, the sports organization would need to discontinue operations on the property until any and all construction on the site is complete. Once construction is complete, the site would be handed back over to the community again.

“Understanding that the space may be needed in the future to meet state and federal water quality requirements, DEP is committed to working with the Council and community organizations that are willing to build and maintain the space for athletic purposes, as we have with a soccer league in Manhattan near our North River Waste Water Treatment Plant,” Landau said. “As an immediate next step, we look forward to taking Council member Crowley, local leaders, and other community members on a tour of similar public amenities DEP has constructed, as well as beginning discussions with local athletic groups, identified by [Crowley].”


Cyclists compete at Red Bull Mini Drome race in Maspeth

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photos courtesy M&C Saatchi Sports and Entertainment

The fastest athletes on two wheels faced intense competition on a rare figure-eight mini velodrome racetrack in front of hundreds of spectators at the Red Bull Mini Drome Race held at 56-70 58th St. in Maspeth, on June 19.

Competitors raced around the track at the venue — a former dance hall that has been used as a creative art space for the past two decades — to test their speed, skills and tolerance for risk, as riders hit curves at a 45 degree angle on the rarely seen figure-eight track to see which athlete and team could post the fastest time.

The competition was divided into two sections: teams and Red Bull Mini Drome All-Stars, which mostly consisted of previous years’ competitors. The eight fastest teams competed in their own bracket and the All-Star race pitted 32 fixie (fixed-gear bike) professionals head-to-head.

In the individual competition, Red Bull Athlete and Florida fixie competitor Addison Zawada sped his way to the top and eked out a narrow victory over Bronx native Ryan Locascio by only .65 of a second.

“I’m really proud to have had a significant hand in building the unique figure-eight track this year,” Zawada said. “It really means the world for me to have also have won the competition.”

Local Bedford-Stuyvesant bike shop Deluxe Cycles, featuring riders Willis Johnson and Cooper Ray, won the team challenge in a tight race against New York City shop, Chari &Co.

“I was too young for the first and only figure-eight that I know of,” Johnson said. “To win this is perfect because I can pay homage to the original.”


Maspeth woman celebrates over a century of life on 102nd birthday

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Alina Suriel

As the birthday song goes, “Are you one? Are you two? Are you…102?”

Former Maspeth resident Florence Galas celebrated her 102nd birthday Friday in Whitestone at The Grand at Queens, where she receives day-to-day care. Her friends and family were on hand to honor her long life and wish her well.

“She’s a beautiful woman. She’s been in my corner for years,” said her son, Michael Galas. “Everything I went through, she pulled me through.”

“She is a great mother, a great grandmother, and we’re happy that she’s still with us,” said her daughter, Penny VanMaldeghem.

The guest of honor herself was so overwhelmed with the attention that she kept repeating a single, simple phrase of gratitude.

“I’m so lucky,” she said. “I’m so lucky.”

Galas was born in Greece in 1913, and came to the U.S. a short while later in 1920 at 7 years old. After getting married in 1931, she spent most of her time caring for her family as a wife and mother, and had a total of four children.

Although her eyesight and hearing have been weakened due to her age, Galas still has a sharp mind which does not show signs of slowing down. She credits this to the fact that she had been a voracious reader for most of her life, reading as many as 12 books in a week.

Galas is fortunate enough to have a close companion who takes the time to read to her so she can still know the joy of a good book. Alan Capper, also a resident of The Grand, reads to her every day from a variety of novels and newspapers, and in that time he has gotten to know her own story very well.

“I find that she is extremely intelligent, very interesting to talk to about her life and the times that she’s lived through ” said Capper.

Galas was not only a reader in her earlier days, but also a painter.

She taught herself to paint in her ’70s by watching the television show of artist and painting instructor Bob Ross, and Galas was eventually so good that Ross asked her to come work for him as an art teacher after seeing a sample of her work. Ultimately, she refused, citing difficulties because of her advanced age.


Nighttime repaving of Grand Avenue in Maspeth begins this week

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Google Maps

Drivers and bus riders traveling through Maspeth during evening hours this week can expect some delays as crews begin resurfacing a portion of Grand Avenue.

According to Community Board 5 (CB 5), contractors hired by the city Department of Transportation will begin removing the existing asphalt on Grand Avenue between 64th Street and the Long Island Expressway on Tuesday night at 9 p.m., weather permitting.

The work will continue through Thursday night, when crews are scheduled to resurface Grand Avenue between Rust Street and the Grand Street Bridge, in the heart of Maspeth’s industrial section.

All of the resurfacing work will take place from 9 p.m. until 5 a.m. the next morning; notices will be placed along the avenue prior to the project’s start. Parking will be prohibited where work is taking place; all cars found parked on each street can and will be towed away.

The resurfacing will also affect service on the Q58 and Q59 bus lines that travel along Grand Avenue. Riders should anticipate detours and delays on both routes while work is in progress.

Resurfacing of New York City streets occurs in two steps. After stripping off the top layers of asphalt (through a process called milling), workers return days or weeks later to install a new layer of asphalt. New street marking lines are painted shortly thereafter.

The board previously requested that Grand Avenue be resurfaced at night to minimize traffic disruptions in the commercial and adjacent residential areas, according to CB 5 District Manager Gary Giordano.


Pilot program promoting public transportation launched in CB 5 area

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy NYC DOT flickr

The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) pilot Go Smart NYC program has launched in the areas of Community Board 5 (CB 5).

Go Smart NYC is designed to increase residents’ use of public transportation, biking, carpooling, or walking in order to reduce the traffic congestion and emissions caused by single-occupancy motor vehicle trips.

The DOT chose CB 5 as the pilot area due to its population, proximity to public transportation options and bike lanes, walkability, as well as its high level of car ownership.

“The congestion and traffic in our communities can sometimes be unbearable. Go Smart NYC plans to alleviate that with the click of a button,” Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley said. “Walking, biking, public transportation and carpooling are all viable urban modes of travel and I look forward to this program’s roll out and working with the DOT to make it as effective as possible for everyone.”

Residents can sign up for the program through the Go Smart NYC website. After registering, participants can order a free, personalized travel toolkit, with information about walking, biking, public transit, carpooling and Vision Zero safety and education materials.

“I am excited that Community Board 5 has been selected for the kickoff to the city’s launch of Go Smart NYC,” said Gary Giordano, district manager of CB 5. “Middle Village, Ridgewood, Maspeth and Glendale are home to a wealth of local businesses, and this program encourages residents to shop and explore these neighborhoods by foot, transit and bike. The more we can walk or use public transit, the better off we will be as a society.”

Registered participants will be able to log their trips online in order to earn discount rewards at over 20 local businesses that are partnering with the DOT to help encourage sustainable travel choices and local shopping. To further enhance residents’ experiences with walking, biking or public transit, the DOT will assist the local community board in installing city benches, city racks, and a real-time bus information sign at an area bus stop.

“The Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID) and Ridgewood Local Development Corporation are delighted to be partners for DOT’s new innovative program Go Smart NYC,” said Ted Renz, executive director of the Myrtle Avenue BID. “This is a win-win: increase of residents’ use of public transit, biking, carpooling or just plain walking will reduce traffic congestion. At the same time, it will encourage people to shop locally and support our merchants.”

Go Smart NYC will run in the areas of Ridgewood, Glendale, Middle Village and Maspeth until November. DOT is also looking at the possibility of expanding the program to other areas of the city in 2016, if the pilot is successful.


Crime drops in 104th Precinct but ID theft still up

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angela Matua


Crime dropped across the 104th Precinct last month, with the exception of identity theft, which has been a continuous problem, according to the precinct’s commander.

Capt. Mark Wachter, commanding officer of the 104th Precinct, told guests at the 104th Precinct Community Council Meeting in Maspeth Tuesday night that crime dropped by 8 percent, with 60 crimes in the past 28 days.

Though the number of robberies and burglaries has stayed even for the year, there has been a recent uptick in wallets stolen from vehicles. Wachter urged residents to remove any personal items from their cars when they leave.

P.O. Rob Selmer of the precinct’s Crime Prevention Unit warned about the dangers of identity theft and encouraged people to shred all of their mail and not to give money to people who claim to be from the IRS or any government organization. He also urged those going away for vacation to have a friend or neighbor pick up their mail.

“If you’re going away for the summer, let them pick up your mail,” Selmer said. “Mail is a big indicator that you are not home.”

Wachter said the precinct has removed 15 derelict cars from an area in Maspeth and an unlicensed tow truck from Grand Avenue after several residents called the precinct to complain. Only towing companies in the Directed Accident Towing Program are allowed to tow trucks, he said.

“This is a tow truck that basically operates illegally to skate around New York towing cars when they’re not supposed to,” Wachter said. “If you get into a car accident there’s one tow truck that’s supposed to come, not just Joe Schmoe’s towing service.”

During the question-and-answer portion of the meeting, residents warned Wachter about a suspicious massage parlor in Maspeth, graffiti on the Woodhaven Boulevard underpass, speeding problems near the Metro Mall in Middle Village and abandoned houses in Maspeth and Glendale.

“We need the community involvement,” Wachter said. “We rely on information you give us to solve these crimes.”

Wachter also presented police officers Nicholas Mancuso and Jonathan Hili with Cop of the Month honors for arresting four people in a home invasion on Gates Avenue in Ridgewood.


“We probably prevented a shooting,” Wachter said. “If we didn’t take these three guns off the street, what could’ve happened? We’ll never know the answer to that question but it’s something to ponder.”

Wachter and newly-elected Precinct Council President Len Santoro, who was elected president in place of Mario Matos, presented the officers with plaques donated by the Ridgewood Times.

Bob Monahan, executive director of the Greater Ridgewood Youth Council, also spoke about programs offered by the council, including a young adult internship program for people ages 18 to 24 who receive job training and an internship with companies throughout New York City.

The organization also has a youth employment program for people ages 14 to 24 who work at the youth council during the summer. Monahan encouraged people at the meeting to tell young people in the community about these programs.


Maspeth’s Knockdown Center gets liquor license with limitations

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

After much debate within the community, the Knockdown Center in Maspeth finally got its liquor license Tuesday from the State Liquor Authority (SLA) — but the permit comes with several significant stipulations.

In an agreement brokered between the SLA and Knockdown Center representatives, the art venue at 52-19 Flushing Ave. will be permitted to serve alcohol to gatherings of between 1,000 and 1,800 people at up to 12 events annually. Tyler Myers of the Knockdown Center said in a phone interview Wednesday that after holding six large-scale events, the venue has the right to request that the SLA “relax” this stipulation.

These large gatherings must also take place on Friday or Saturday nights, according to Community Board 5 (CB 5) Chairman Vincent Arcuri.

Additionally, the Knockdown Center will be able to serve alcohol up to 60 times a year to gatherings of between 500 and 1,000, and another 60 times annually at events drawing up to 500 guests.

For several years, CB 5 — along with local civic groups and Maspeth residents — opposed the Knockdown Center’s attempts to obtain a liquor license, citing quality-of-life concerns related to large-scale events and the fact that the facility — formerly a glass factory — was encroaching on the industrial area.

In 2014, CB 5 voted unanimously to recommend denial of the Knockdown Center’s liquor license application. The SLA denied the first application, but the venue’s representatives reapplied for a license earlier this year. At its June 10 meeting, CB 5 again recommended denial of the revised application, but 12 members voted in favor of the permit this time around.

“The ruling is the ruling,” Arcuri said in an interview Wednesday. “The only question is what [the Knockdown Center] will do for the certificate of occupancy.”

The Knockdown Center submitted an application with the city Department of Buildings for a certificate of occupancy allowing a maximum of 3,100 people on the premises at any given time. Myers said the center is moving forward with that request, but noted it will abide by the terms of the liquor license permit.

“At every step, we’ve won more and more people over,” Myers said on Wednesday. “We are going to be art-focused and be good neighbors. We are willing to take future steps to prove ourselves to the community.”

The SLA agreement also requires that the Knockdown Center, located about 3/4-mile away from the nearest subway station, must also provide supplemental transportation services for its larger gatherings.


Red Bull Mini Drome race comes to Maspeth

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy M & C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment

Competitive cyclists from all over the country will race to Maspeth on June 19 for this year’s Red Bull Mini Drome race.

The Red Bull Mini Drome race is an all-day racing competition for single-speed fixed gear cyclists where they can race against the clock and then against each other to see who can boast the fastest time at Project Studio, located at 56-70 58th St. in Maspeth, which is a former dance hall that has been used as a creative art space for the past 20 years.

This year’s race is set to be a special event because competitors will race around a rarely seen figure eight track. The figure eight track concept, which is known to only have existed a few times, one being the 1995 Toronto Cycle Messenger World Championships, involves more speed, extra precision and a bit of danger as cyclists take turn after turn without rest.

For this year’s race, Red Bull Mini Drome has taken the normal circular “velodrome” concept, which is usually located in arenas or outside, and shrunk it down to bring it inside.

Red Bull Mini Drome features the top cyclists from all five boroughs and across the country, including professional bike messengers, accomplished fixed gear competitors and Red Bull Athletes Austin Horse and Addison Zawada.

The racing event will take place from 7 p.m. to midnight and tickets are free for fans 21 and older and are given on a first-come, first-serve basis. Cycling fans can RSVP here.


Star of Queens: Bishop Witold Mroziewski, auxiliary bishop-elect, Diocese of Brooklyn

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

BACKGROUND: Auxiliary Bishop-elect Witold Mroziewski was born in Augustow, Poland, on March 25, 1966. Mroziewski graduated from his seminary with a master’s degree in theology and was ordained on June 29, 1991. The following year, he was sent to the Diocese of Brooklyn to continue his parish duties as an associate to the pastor at Our Lady of Czestochowa. He was named pastor of Our Lady of Czestochowa in 2000 and worked there until he was transferred to Holy Cross Church in Maspeth in 2013. He will be ordained an auxiliary bishop on July 20.

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Mroziewski and his parish have an active relationship with the 104th Precinct. “They are doing outstanding work and protecting all our events when we celebrate parish events and occasions,” Mroziewski said. He has also worked with the City Council to help rename 56th Road, the block of Holy Cross Church, Pope John Paul II Way. “The cooperation with them has been outstanding,” Mroziewski said of the City Council.

FEELINGS ON BEING APPOINTED AN AUXILIARY BISHOP: “I got a phone call from the Nuncio who actually announced that Pope Francis appointed me auxiliary bishop. It was absolutely unexpected. It overwhelmed me and I was deeply touched because I never expected that honor, never. It’s a great responsibility, not only for Catholics, but for all people locally in the diocese and also in the universal church.”

CHALLENGES IN NEW POSITION: “From now on I will be more involved in public work. As a parish priest, I was recognized in the parish on a local level and sometimes in the community where that parish was located. Now, they will know me more often with my work and relation to the people of this diocese.

PERSONAL LIFE: “From childhood, I did like to be a sportsman. I was a good runner and I like to bike and to ski. Another hobby is contact with the people. I like having discussions and meetings with them to teach them and answer their questions. I enjoy talking to the children and the youth because they are the future of the nation, of the church and the local communities.”



Suspect wanted for cellphone store robberies in Jamaica, Maspeth

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo/Video courtesy of NYPD

Police are looking for a 30-year-old man wanted in connection to two robberies of Queens cellphone shops in the last two months.

On May 26 at about 6:25 p.m., the suspect — armed with a black firearm — entered the Metro PCS store located at 126-14 Merrick Blvd. in Jamaica and demanded property, police said. He then took $600 and a victim’s cellphone before fleeing the site. There were no reported injuries.

On June 2 at about 6:16 p.m., the same suspect entered a Metro PCS at 66-10 Grand Ave. in Maspeth armed with a black firearm and demanded money, according to authorities. A female victim handed the man $186 and a wristlet. The suspect then fled the location and there were no reported injuries.

The suspect is described as a black man, between 5 feet 8 inches and 6 feet 1 inch tall, and 160 to 190 pounds. He was last seen wearing a black mask, gray Arizona Diamondbacks jacket with a logo on the breast area and an image of a snack on the sleeves.

Police have released a surveillance video from the first incident and photos from the second.

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.