Tag Archives: Maspeth

Councilwoman steers $5.7M in city funding to upgrade Frank Principe Park in Maspeth

| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

The baseball fields are plagued with drainage issues and the track is nothing more than a slab of asphalt. But that will soon change due to funding allocated to Frank Principe Park by Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley.

She has designated $5.7 million for the upgrade of these two portions of the park, according to the Parks Department. The department said they are currently putting together a Request for Proposal for a design consultant for this project as it is only in the preliminary stage. But sources familiar with the plan said they are hoping to upgrade the drainage system of two of the baseball fields, replace the other two fields with a soccer field and add an actual track to the park.

The four baseball fields overlap each other, making it hard for more than two separate games to go on at once, eliminating the use of all four at any given time. Furthermore, when it rains, the fields quickly flood due to poor drainage and are unusable until the massive puddles dry out.

Upgrading this system by putting drainage tanks under the fields is one way they are looking to combat the problem, according to a source. With regards to the track, they are looking to build one that would be similar to the polyurethane-surfaced track in Juniper Valley Park, which goes around the soccer/football field.

“I am thrilled to have been able to allocate nearly $6 million dollars for renovations at Frank Principe Park,” Crowley said. “For the first time in over 25 years, these much-needed upgrades will breathe new life into the lower fields and track area. I look forward to engaging the community in the upcoming months on the redesign of the fields.”

Earlier this year, Crowley allocated $2.5 million for upgrades to the track and field in Juniper Valley Park. They have similar issues with Frank Principe Park with regards to drainage problems.


15 acres of vacant land in Maspeth selling for nearly $70M

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Map via Google Maps

Maybe the future of manufacturing and warehouses in Queens isn’t dead yet.

Three vacant parcels of land zoned for manufacturing that combine for more than 15 acres are up for sale in Maspeth, and could be the future site of an industrial complex.

The three sites, which combined have about 1.3 million buildable square feet, are just east of the Kosciuszko Bridge and close to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Together they are asking for about $67.9 million, or $100 per square foot.

The biggest chunk is about 12 acres and located to the right of supplier Restaurant Depot. The second largest, at 2.2 acres, is at 42-02 56th Rd., and the final parcel measures about 1.5 acres and is located at 44-02 57th Ave.

The lands are being marketed by Alan Cohen and Ben Waller of real estate firm ABS Partners, who said the parcels would be great for a logistics or distribution center that needs to be close to Manhattan.

“The opportunity for a buyer to control such a large piece of real estate so close to Manhattan does not come around very often,” Cohen said. “With a diminishing supply of warehouse space in Queens and Brooklyn, a buyer could utilize the million plus square feet of air rights to create a thriving manufacturing center.”


Maspeth family still out of home over a month after collapse

| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Steven and Danielle Maher will be spending their Christmas in a hotel room — and not because they’re on a holiday vacation.

The couple and their 15-month-old daughter, Keira, were forced out of their home and into a hotel when a sinkhole suddenly caved in a portion of their sidewalk and house on Oct. 24. They have not been allowed back in the home, located at 69-11 158th Road in Maspeth, and a dispute with their insurance agency has left them with no timetable on repairs or a return to their home.

“It’s been really hard to get along since this happened,” said Danielle, 26. “We need answers because we haven’t been in our house since it collapsed and want to fully secure it to stop more damage or from it falling completely.”

The couple bought the house, which was built in 1928, three years ago. There were never any signs of damage or a faulty structure, which is why their insurance provider, State Farm, approved their application for homeowners insurance with no problems, Danielle said.

On the day of the collapse, their uncle was downstairs and noticed the sheet rock covering the wall was bulging. Upon further inspection, he saw a crack in the foundation and heard movement inside the wall. He notified Danielle immediately and she evacuated the home with her daughter and two dogs. Minutes later, the sinkhole caved in and a portion of the house’s wall went with it.

To make things worse, the Mahers just finished putting in over $100,000 in renovations around their home and had just bought a door, which would have put the finishing touch on their makeover.

Photo courtesy of Danielle Maher

Photo courtesy of Danielle Maher

After the collapse, they put a claim in with the insurance company for the collapse. The Mahers figured it would be a quick process of approval, but the claim was denied. The insurance agency said the foundation was doomed to eventual failure on the day it was constructed and because of that, it is not covered in their policy.

Since the structure was built so long ago, the couple was never able to find any records on the house.

“We had no idea that there were any problems with the house and had no problems prior to this,” said Danielle. “Now, they won’t cover the claim and we don’t know what to do next.”

State Farm declined to comment on the claim, saying it was still open and must remain private.

At the time of the denial, the Mahers were already living in the hotel, which was being paid for by State Farm. But they have been told the insurance will stop covering the expenses, which would have pushed them out on the streets.

They quickly hired a public adjustor who was able to prolong the insurance payments covering the hotel expenses.

But the couple is worried that if they cannot get their insurance to pay for the repairs, they will be forced out of their home for good as the cost of fixing their home is upwards of $250,000.

To help out, some quick-thinking friends got together to throw a fundraiser for the Mahers in hopes to raise some money for the repairs.

Vincent Addeo, the couple’s friend and their daughter’s godfather, said it’s the least he can do to help.

“I did it for my goddaughter,” he said. “They should not be treated like this. They had no control over the situation.”

The fundraiser will take place at Bridie’s Bar and Grill, located at 63-28 Woodhaven Blvd. in Rego Park, at 8 p.m. on Dec. 20.

At this point, the couple has hired their own private engineers to take a look at the house to fight the denial of their State Farm claim. They will remain in the hotel for as long as their insurance will cover it.

They are unsure of their next step, or how they will be able to live if they do not get the insurance money to fix their home. But, even though these have been hard times, they have not been able to take a smile off of Danielle’s face thanks to her daughter Kiera.

“We just want some sort of normal back,” said Danielle. “My daughter though, I don’t know what I would have done without her. She’s holding us together.”



Crime down in the 108th Precinct

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Scott Bintner/PropertyShark

With just three weeks under his belt as the new commanding officer of the 108th Precinct, Captain John Travaglia had some good news to share with the community.

At Community Board 2’s monthly meeting on Thursday night, along with introducing himself to board members and the audience, Travaglia said they have seen a decrease in crime in the precinct covering Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside and Maspeth.

In the last 28 days, robberies have been down 8 percent, felony assaults 9 percent, burglaries 6 percent, grand larceny 15 percent, and stolen cars have been down 50 percent, according to Travaglia.

“We’re heading in the right direction. I can’t make promises that it will always stay that way but I hope it does. I hope I can keep up the good work,” Travaglia said at the meeting. “I credit a lot of this reduction to Brian Hennessy and the policies he had in place, and I look forward to continuing those efforts.”

Travaglia replaced Captain Brian Hennessy, who on Nov. 6 became the commanding officer of the 115th Precinct. Before becoming the new top dog at the 108th Precinct, Travaglia was at the 114th Precinct, and before that at the 104th Precinct.

“One of the best holiday Christmas presents I ever got was being assigned to the 108th Precinct,” Travaglia said. “I took over the 108th Precinct from Captain Hennessy. He did a wonderful job. He left me with a well-oiled machine. Our men and women are working very hard and very efficiently, and I just hope I can continue it. It’s pretty big footsteps to follow in.”


CB 2 names new chair, executive board members

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

With tears in his eyes, Joseph Conley said goodbye to the position he has held for close to three decades as he handed over the reins at Community Board 2 on Thursday night.

Conley officially announced at the December Community Board 2 monthly meeting that he would be stepping down as chair of the board. He gave the news to board members two days before the meeting via a letter.

“It’s been a great honor for me, a great privilege to be a voice of the community board and in some cases the face of the community board,” Conley said during the meeting. “There is no other reason to say other than it’s time.”

Patrick O’Brien, who previously held the position of second vice chair and has been a member of the board for 13 years, was voted as the new chair of Community Board 2.

Although he is stepping down from his position as chair of the board, which covers Sunnyside, Woodside, Long Island City and a part of Maspeth, Conley will finish his term as a board member, which ends in April.

“I have made lifelong friends in this room, people that I have shared my life, my family and you will remain all my friends,” Conley said while tearing up. The members of the board and audience cheered and gave him a standing ovation.

Conley said he joined the board because of the issue of the “squeegee men,” who would attempt to clean car windows on the side of the road at Queens Plaza. Since then he said he has seen each community flourish in its own unique way.

When thinking of his proudest moment of being part of the board, he said it had to be the community’s input for the new Hunter’s Point South Park in Long Island City and helping to come up with affordable housing in that area.

“It’s tough, it’s really tough only from the sense of the inspiration you get every day from people, trying to help people, making a difference — so it’s very hard,” Conley said. “I’m very happy for Pat. He will be a dynamic leader. He’s very thoughtful, and he has a good grasp of the issues in the community, so he will do a great job.”

Along with voting for a new chair, the executive board members decided to also put forth a new “slate” and vote on a new first and second vice chairman, secretary and treasurer. The decision was initially met with opposition from some board members, who said they felt it was too soon to be asked to vote, especially with only knowing two days before that Conley would be leaving.

However, after going back and forth, the members voted and the new executive board was chosen.

“It’s going to take some time to get the lay of the land even having been on the executive board. There are things that the chairman, particularly this chairman, has done that are going to be hard to duplicate, but you find your way and in a couple of months you do your own thing,” O’Brien said.

The new executive board consists of Stephen Cooper continuing as first vice chair, Lisa Deller going from secretary to second vice chair, Diane Ballek staying as treasurer, and Denise Keehan Smith becoming the new secretary.

O’Brien, who is a lifelong Long Island City resident, said he plans to continue the focus on key community issues, such as quality of life, transportation and development.

“We still have all the same issues. We’re going to miss Joe, but we’re not going to stop working towards all of those [issues]. The good news is that he’ll still be around,” O’Brien said. “We have more issues than answers, but that’s why we’ll work on it.”

Community Board 2’s next meeting will be on Jan. 8, 2015.


Four busted for drifting at Flushing Meadows Corona Park

| ctumola@queenscourier.com


They may have been “Fast and Furious,” but four daredevil drivers ripping through a Queens park weren’t fast enough to escape from the police.

Four men were arrested for what officials describe as “movie-style stunt” performances in a parking lot at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, according to the district attorney’s office.

“Cars are not toys. Driving at high speeds and intentionally skidding a roughly 3,000-pound vehicle, especially where spectators are gathered, is dangerous and can result in tragedy,” District Attorney Richard Brown said. “Following a number of noise complaints from neighborhood residents, the police responded and shut down this illegal and potentially deadly activity. The vehicles have been seized and the drivers have been charged.”

The men used modified vehicles for drifting, a style of driving made popular by the “The Fast and the Furious” movies that combines high speeds and dangerous turns.

Spectators would watch these stunts, where the cars would sometimes allegedly strike other vehicles and stationary objects in the park’s parking lot, the district attorney said.

The four were busted after area residents called 311 to complain about the excessive noise. In total, 66 calls were received, and none have been logged in the neighborhood in the more than five weeks since the men were arrested.

Kareem Ali, 26, and Michael Mahabir, 27, both of Richmond Hill, Joel Santiago, 36, of Maspeth, and Darren Tang, 24, of Manhattan, were arraigned on Oct. 26 on charges of reckless endangerment, reckless driving, speed contests and races and failure to comply with directions, prosecutors said. Ali is also charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. The men, who face up to a year in jail if convicted, were released on their own recognizance.



Joseph Conley turning over reins of CB2 after decades of leadership

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

An era is coming to an end Thursday night as a longtime community board chair is stepping down after nearly three decades of volunteer service.

Joseph Conley, who has been chairman of Community Board 2 (CB2) for almost 29 years, announced to board members via a letter Wednesday that it is time for him to hand over the reins, according to Sheila Lewandowski, CB2 member. 

“For a lot of us it was a surprise,” Lewandowski said. “He has really done an incredible job.”

Although he is stepping down from his position as chair of the community board, which covers Sunnyside, Woodside, Long Island City and a part of Maspeth, Conley will finish his term on the board as a member.  He is expected to make the official announcement during the board’s monthly meeting on Thursday night. 

Conley’s decision to step down comes as the western Queens neighborhoods serviced by the community board are going through major developments. 

“Community chair is a very tough job, what you do is for the most part unnoticed and unappreciated and he operated at the best interest of the community,” Lewandowski said. 

Lewandowski also added that this changing of the guard serves as an opportunity to open up the spot to other people and also possibly change the dynamic of the overall board. 

“I know there is conversation on whether we should just go for the most likely candidate right now or take a moment to absorb that we will not have Joe and then look around the room,” she said. “I think people are still digesting the fact that Joe won’t be at the helm anymore.”

The community board will be holding an election for officer positions, including chairman, first and vice chairman, secretary and treasurer, at its monthly meeting Thursday night at 7 p.m. at Sunnyside Community Service, located at 43-31 39th St. 


Bridge and Tunnel microbrewery expanding to Ridgewood

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Rich Castagna

A Queens microbrewery is planning a big move.

Bridge and Tunnel Brewery, a “nano-scale” brewery in Maspeth, signed a lease for a warehouse space in Ridgewood, the brewery announced.

Currently, the brewery has been operating through a tiny 150-square-foot space, but the new 2,300-square-foot building will “allow for more production” and be home to a brewery that patrons can visit, owner Rich Castagna said.

Castagna founded Bridge and Tunnel and received a license to operate in 2012. It has been a one-man operation and distribution system since the brewery’s inception, but Castagna is now planning to hire some employees to help with the expanded brewery.

The new location will be around the intersection of Decatur Street and Wyckoff Avenue, near eatery Houdini Kitchen Laboratory, which already carries some Bridge and Tunnel beers. There could be collaborations with the restaurant in the future.

“We have a pretty good working relationship,” Castagna said. “We’re kind of both excited about things we can do together.”

Castagna is happy Ridgewood has become a more desirable neighborhood recently, but wants the brewery to be a place where people who have known the area for a long time can enjoy the history of the neighborhood.

Ridgewood is where he had his first beer, attended grammar school and high school and played little league, among other firsts.

“It’s where my roots are,” Castagna said. “This is where I’m supposed to be.”

Castagna didn’t give a specific time for when the new brewery location will open up, but said he will begin moving into the space shorty.


108th Precinct names new commanding officer

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@NYPD110Pct

The 108th Precinct has a new top dog.

Captain John F. Travaglia has been named the new commanding officer of the police precinct that covers Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside and Maspeth.

He is replacing Captain Brian Hennessy, who on Nov. 6 became the commanding officer to the 115th Precinct.

Travaglia began his career in the NYPD in 1993 at the 105th Precinct. Throughout the years, he has also served in the 113th and 104th precincts, and Patrol Borough Queens South, Patrol Borough Queens North, Highway District, Highway 3 and Queens South Narcotics Division.

On Wednesday, Travaglia tweeted from the 108th Precinct’s Twitter account saying, “As the new Commanding Officer of the #108pct, I look forward to working with the wonderful communities of #LIC #Sunnyside #Woodside #Maspeth.”

The next 108th Community Council Meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 25, at 7 a.m. at Sunnyside Community Services, 43-31 39th St. in Sunnyside.


Sanitation worker honored with Maspeth garage dedication

| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/NYC Sanitation

A Department of Sanitation garage is being renamed to honor a veteran sanitation worker who was run over by a street sweeper in June.

On June 21, Steven Frosch, 43, was working on a street sweeper when another worker accidentally hit him with another street sweeper and pinned Frosch between the two large vehicles. Police found him unconscious and lying on the ground with severe body trauma.

Steve Frosch (Photo courtesy of the DSNY)

Steven Frosch (Photo courtesy of the DSNY)

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

To honor Frosch for his dedication to the department, his work garage, Queens West 5A in Maspeth, was named after him on Wednesday.

Frosch had been with the sanitation department for 15 years before the tragic accident took his life.


Maspeth home evacuated after wall collapses

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata


Part of a Maspeth home collapsed Friday afternoon, causing the evacuation of the house and two neighboring ones, according to the FDNY.

The basement side wall of the 69-11 58th Rd. residence partially caved in, along with part of the driveway’s concrete, fire officials said.

Authorities evacuated the home, along with two others — one that was attached to house and a second that was adjacent to the driveway.

No one was injured in the collapse, the FDNY said.

The fire department said it has secured the house and the Department of Buildings has taken over the investigation.



Box maker Norampac selling huge Maspeth factory complex for $72M

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Greiner-Maltz 

Corrugated box manufacturer Norampac is selling its Maspeth factory complex on Grand Avenue for $72 million, according to Greiner-Maltz, which is marketing the property.

The site is home to three buildings and additional land. The entire complex has development potential with up to approximately 770,000 square feet of buildable space, while the structures on the site are using about 320,000 square feet.

The box maker plans to buy and lease back the property while planning to build a larger, more efficient facility in the neighborhood to accommodate increased business, said John Maltz of the real estate firm.

The property has already seen interest from food distributors and lumber companies among others, Maltz said.

The largest structure on the compound is a two-story manufacturing and office building with a basement and penthouse located at 55-15 Grand Ave. It was constructed in 1925 and each floor of the structure has more than 100,000 square feet of space, while the penthouse level has about 8,000 square feet and the basement has 8,685 square feet.

On the same lot as the main building is a 29,590-square-foot structure and the final building has 71,953 square feet of space with loading docks located at 56-19 Grand Ave.

There is also 90,000 square feet of additional paved land on the site, primarily used for parking space and loading access.

Click here for more information about the listing.


Maspeth shopping center sells for $56 million

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Scott Binter/ PropertyShark

A shopping center in Maspeth is under new management after being sold for $56 million, according to city records filed Thursday.

The complex sits on two lots, 74-17 Grand Ave. and 53-01 74th St., which is the former home of Maspeth Bowl. It was bought by Shops at Grand Avenue LLC and sold by CPT Grand Avenue.

The building, a one-story structure with more than 101,000 square feet of space, was built in 1996 and has a number of local stores and recognizable brands as tenants, including a Stop & Shop, Sleepy’s and Party City branch.

City records show CPT Grand Avenue bought the mall in 2009 for $33.5 million.


Police looking for suspect who wore blue gloves to rob Maspeth bank

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

A man dressed in all black, wearing blue gloves and donning sunglasses robbed a Maspeth bank Saturday morning, authorities said.

The suspect entered an Amalgamated Bank, located at 69-73 Grand Ave., at about 11:50 a.m. and demanded money from a teller, according to police. The teller complied and the suspect fled the bank with $873.

Authorities describe that suspect as a heavy-set white man, 40 to 50 years old and 5 feet 6 inches tall. He was last seen wearing a black jacket, black hat, black sunglasses, black sweatpants and blue gloves.

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.


Body found hanging on overpass in Maspeth

| ctumola@queenscourier.com


Updated 3:11 p.m.

A dead body was discovered hanging on a pedestrian walkway that goes over the Queens Midtown Expressway, according to police.

The deceased man, who was in his 30s, was found at about 8:15 a.m. Wednesday near Mazeau Street in Maspeth.

Authorities said the body was hanging on the overpass with a belt and the death appears to be a suicide.