Tag Archives: Maspeth

Victims’ families, pols gather to support Vision Zero


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Many teary eyes were focused on “Vision Zero” during recent rallies in Queens.

Supporters of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s call to reduce traffic fatalities to nil gathered Sunday at a candle light vigil on the corner of Wyckoff and Myrtle Avenues in Ridgewood, where 23-year-old Ella Bandes was struck and killed by a city bus a year ago.

Politicians, advocacy groups, friends and families of victims called for safer streets and more responsible drivers during the event, which paid tribute to Bandes and many others.

“What we’ve been through in the past year is such a nightmare,” said Judy Kottick, Bandes’ mother. “Losing your child is the worst thing that could happen to anyone. We just don’t want anyone else to go through this.”

There have been nearly 20 auto-accident related fatalities in the city since the start of 2014.

People at the rally wanted drivers to be more aware of pedestrians and avoid breaking traffic laws. They also asked for support for Assemblymember Dan O’Donnell’s bill, which would lower the NYC speed limit to 20 mph from 30 mph, except where the City Council determines a different speed is appropriate.

Before the candle light vigil, supporters of “Vision Zero” rallied on Grand Avenue and 69th Place in Maspeth in honor of Angela Hurtado, who was killed at the intersection when a driver with a suspended license struck her on Jan. 18.

Transportation advocacy group Make Queens Safer called for support for State Senator Michael Gianaris’s bill, which would charge drivers who continue to drive without a valid license and are in an accident that causes serious injury or death with vehicular assault. It would be a class E felony, punishable by up to four years in prison.

“The people we are talking about have had their licenses suspended because they’re already known to be bad drivers, and the faster and easily we could make it for law enforcement to take them off the street, the better,” Gianaris said.

 

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Nearly $7,000 in cash stolen from Maspeth church


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

A perpetrator stole nearly $7,000 in cash from Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church in Maspeth, cops said.

The money was taken from a car in front the church near 56th Road. The suspect took $6,900 in cash and $1,300 in checks, according to police.

The vehicle was being fixed at the time of the crime, and upon further investigation police learned that the money inside belonged to the church, authorities said.

If you have any information relating to the above incident please contact the 104th Precinct Detective Squad (718) 386-3004.

The church declined to comment.

 

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Maspeth family pushes for safety after fatal accident


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Zoraya B. Torres

Angela Hurtado’s family knows that nothing will bring her back, but they are hoping something will be done to protect other pedestrians. 

Hurtado, 68, was hit and killed while crossing Grand Ave. at 69th Pl. at about 11 a.m. on Jan. 18.

She had been going to play bingo at a local center, according to her daughter, Zoraya B. Torres, who had spoken to her just hours before.

“My mom was a very humble woman, a good-hearted person and a loving mother,” Torres said. “It’s hard to believe that something so horrible could have happened to her.”

It was the last time she would talk to her mother, as a driver in a Mitsubishi Montero swung around the corner to make an illegal left turn, hitting Hurtado, according to the NYPD.

She was rushed to Elmhurst General Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Cops arrested the driver, Abel Tinoco, who remained at the scene. Tinoco, 28, was driving with a suspended license, and was charged with aggravated unlicensed operator, police said. His sentence is pending.

But that’s not enough for Torres, who believes more awareness is needed for the intersection.

Just visiting the scene, she noticed other people making the same illegal turn. Torres wants to contact transportation and elected officials to remedy the problem.

“Something needs to be done, because someone else could get hit,” Torres said. “My family is devastated, we are in shock to know that we are not going to see her, or feel her love. I wouldn’t want anybody to go through what we are going through.”

Torres said Hurtado went to church every day. Originally from Ecuador, she moved to America when she was 21 years old and had lived in Queens since.

Hurtado was a former housekeeper for the 3 World Trade Center Marriott Hotel at the time of the 9/11 attacks, but left the building before it was destroyed. She also beat cervical cancer when she was 33.

A wake for Hurtado was held Jan. 21 at Gerard J Neufeld Funeral Home in Elmhurst. On Jan. 22, her body was flown to Ecuador, where she will be buried.

“My mom always would tell us, ‘If anything ever happens to me, I want to go home,’” Torres said. “She asked us to do it, because that’s where her parents are.”

 

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Driver charged after fatally striking woman in Maspeth


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Grand Ave

Updated Sunday, Jan. 19, 5:55 p.m.

A driver was arrested after hitting and killing a 68-year-old woman in Maspeth Saturday morning, police said.

Angela Hurtado, an Elmhurst resident, was crossing Grand Avenue at 69th Place about 11:20 a.m. when a Mitsubishi Montero struck her as it was making a left turn onto westbound Grand Avenue from northbound 69th Place, according to the NYPD.

Hurtado was taken to Elmhurst General Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

The driver, 28-year-old Abel Tinoco, remained at the scene, and was arrested and charged with aggravated unlicensed operator, the NYPD said. Tinoco was driving with a suspended license, according to a police source.

Witnesses told the New York Post they saw him making an illegal left turn before striking Hurtado.

 

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Organics collection service extending to Glendale, Middle Village and Maspeth


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

The Department of Sanitation’s organics collection program is branching out to Queens.

Starting in April, residents in Middle Village, Maspeth and Glendale will be able to participate in the program, which targets food scraps, food-spoiled paper and yard waste, such as leaves, to recycle. The program is already underway in parts of the other four boroughs.

The organics collection program is part of the city’s plan to expand recycling. The city spent more than $85 million exporting organics to landfills last year, and hopes that an expanded recycling program will lower that cost.

“If we can collect organics, we can avoid landfills disposal fees and convert the organic material into compost, an organic fertilizer, or clean renewable energy,” said Ron Gonen, deputy commissioner for recycling and sustainability. “It’s a win for taxpayers, it’s a win for the environment and it’s a win for local jobs.”

The containers are brown and come in a small kitchen size and a bigger curbside size as well. The program is volunteer-based, but the bins will be delivered to all buildings with nine or fewer residential units.

The Department of Sanitation asks that residents put only food-soiled waste, food scraps and yard waste in the bins. This means no metal, glass, plastics, cartons, animal waste, foam items, clothing or electronics are allowed in the organics bins.

People participating in the program do not need to line their organic trash bins, but if they want they can line them with newspaper, paper bags, cardboard, clear plastic liners or compostable liners approved by the Department of Sanitation.

The organic trash collected from Queens will be transferred to a composting facility upstate, according to a Sanitation Department representative.

For more information on the organics recycling collection program, visit www.nyc.gov/organics.

 

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Cops arrest Maspeth bank robbery suspect


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

A man was arrested and charged with committing a bank robbery in Maspeth on Tuesday, police said.

Jimmie Knight, 56, a Staten Island resident, walked into the Chase Bank at 66-02 Grand Ave. about 3:25 p.m. and indicated that he had a weapon in his coat pocket, cops said. He then removed money from the bank and fled.

Police searched the area until they found Knight, who was at the intersection of Grand Avenue and 64th Street.

Knight was charged with robbery, menacing, criminal possession of stolen property and harassment, cops said.

 

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Cops looking for two suspects in Queens burglary spree


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Two suspects wanted in a September burglary of a Woodhaven bodega have been tied to eight more burglaries throughout the borough, police said.

The thefts date back to August 8, with the most recent incident taking place on November 26, police said.

Businesses the suspects targeted included Stop1 and Jamao Coffee Shop 7 in Jamaica, the Richmond Hill Deli and El Cran Canario Restaurant in Richmond Hill, Darbar’s Chicken & Ribs in South Richmond Hill, East Town restaurant in Maspeth and a Dunkin’ Donuts in Whitestone, according to the NYPD.

After breaking into the businesses the suspects stole cash, ranging from $30 to approximately $4,580, or possibly more. During some of the burglaries, the pair allegedly took merchandise, including scratch off lottery tickets, beer and cigarettes, police said.

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

 

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Osteria Italiana: For a real Italian experience


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Looking for real Italian food, but can’t go to Italy? Then how about Maspeth?

Osteria Italiana, which loosely translates to “Italian restaurant,” opened up over the summer on 61st Street near Grand Avenue with a familiar face.

Head chef and part-owner Michael Zampitelli, who is an Italian native turned Maspeth resident, brings nearly 40 years of Italian cooking experience to the neighborhood. Zampitelli owned a popular restaurant in nearby Glendale, which was forced to close in 2008 due to high rental costs.

Zampitelli, who has worked in the restaurant business starting as a teenager in Rome, wants to bring affordable, authentic Italian food to the neighborhood with Osteria.

Chicken cordon bleu

“Everywhere you go in the city, the neighborhoods are mixed. You can find everything,” Zampitelli said. “Personally I think in Maspeth there are no real Italian restaurants. You find diners and pizzerias, but no real Italian restaurants.”

Aside from Zampitelli’s extensive Italian cooking experience, Osteria’s food is authenticated by the ingredients, such as cheeses and olive oil, which are imported directly from Italy.

The menu at Osteria is wide and can satisfy many taste buds.

Starters include soups, salads and appetizers. One appetizer, the eggplant parmigiana, is covered with fresh mozzarella and Parmigiano cheese with a savory marinara sauce.

Spaghetti alla carbonara 

Entrees include a range of pastas, chicken, veal and fish dishes.

Zampitelli’s spaghetti alla carbonara is a masterpiece at $11.95, for those not watching their waistline. The pasta dish is a mix of pecorino cheese, a creamy sauce and bits of bacon.

The chicken cordon bleu, at $14.95, is a hefty meal with big pieces of tender chicken, served with mushrooms and mashed potatoes.

Desserts on the menu include an Italian cheesecake with ricotta cheese and tiramisu, along with other Italian classics. And of course wines, such as merlot, are on the menu as well.

With Zampitelli’s return, some of his long-time customers have followed him to Osteria. He believes it’s because of the quality of his food and the friendly way he treats his patrons.

“Everyone who comes here we treat like family, that’s why they’ve follow me for many, many years,” Zampitelli said.

Osteria Italiana
57-57 61st Street, Maspeth
718-894-4391
Hours: Monday-Sunday Noon-11 p.m.
Cash only
Wheelchair accessible
Delivery

 

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O’Neill’s restaurant in Maspeth celebrates 80th anniversary


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Janet Burt recalled she first went to O’Neill’s, the popular Maspeth bar and restaurant, when she was 19 years old.

So naturally Burt, 54, missed the eatery when she moved to Virginia, and much like the community was distraught to find out about the tragic fire two years ago, which caused O’Neill’s to close until this September.

When Burt heard about the neighborhood bistro’s 80th anniversary, she made sure to make the journey north to celebrate with old friends.

“When I heard about the 80th anniversary I said I had to show,” Burt said. “It’s awesome. It’s so different than it used to be. It was much smaller.”

Since the bar had its grand reopening, owners increased the size, expanded the fine dining menu, and added some more formal and private room space.

Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley hosted a party in one of the private rooms to thank her staff and supporters, before presenting a plaque and proclamation to the restaurant from the City Council for the anniversary Wednesday.

“Everybody knows there was a big fire and it took down the walls, but it could never take down the memory,” Crowley said. “We’re so glad to be here today and celebrate 80 years. O’Neill’s has never looked better.”

Civic leaders and community residents came in droves to O’Neill’s celebration. They congratulated owners, but also enjoyed the special deals.

Because O’Neill’s was founded in 1933, a day after Prohibition was repealed, numerous beers returned to their 10 cent price from that era from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Additionally, four special cocktails were half price.

There were also free roast beef sandwiches, which is an O’Neill’s tradition on Friday nights, and DJ Johnny Guerrero was spinning music that spanned eight decades.

“As you can see by the turnout tonight, the neighborhood is happy we’re back and we’re just looking for another 80 years,” O’Neill’s manager Danny Pyle said.

 

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‘Safe Routes’ coming to four Queens schools


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Safer streets are coming soon to four Queens middle and elementary schools.

The Department of Design and Construction (DDC) confirmed it has selected a construction company to make adjustments around the schools to increase safety, as a part of the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Safe Routes to Schools program.

The safe routes program is a city-wide initiative that seeks to improve safety to city schools with the highest accident rates.

A DDC representative said the $3.3 million improvements will begin by the spring of 2014 around I.S. 77 in Ridgewood, St. Stanislaus Kostka School in Maspeth, St. Joan of Arc School in Jackson Heights and P.S. 108 in South Ozone Park.

The work around the schools will include adding speed bumps, adjustment of streetlights and traffic signals, ramps to the sidewalks, work to improve the curbs for pedestrians, placement of bus pads in the streets and infrastructure and utility work.

These four schools are on DOT’s list of 135 priority schools for traffic safety improvements, which was originally created in 2003 by the city agency. Overall, there are 33 priority Queens schools on the list that are slated to see the improvements.

The work on the four schools is expected to be completed by the spring of 2015.

 

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220 Maspeth Duane Reade workers getting the ax


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Duane Reade is about to send half of its Maspeth warehouse workers packing.

The company, which has been a subsidiary of Walgreens since 2010, said it will lay off the unionized workers at its distribution center at 50-02 55th Avenue by next June.

The first round of cuts will begin on December 6 with 120 employees, and another 100 will be shown the door in April 2014, the company said. Currently, the company employs about 400 workers at the site.

“It was surprising because everything was going well,” said Michael Hayles, who has worked at the center for more than a year but will be laid off next month. “Hopefully, I’ll find another job.”

The distribution center has been in service since 1998 and steadily increased in operation.

But because of the increase, the company said that the building is too small, the ceiling height is too low and they would not be able to expand at the site.

“We are making these changes in Maspeth because the physical design of this distribution center is not up to standards necessary for a state-of-the art distribution system that is efficient, effective and customer responsive,” the company said in a statement.
Because the workers are members of the union Teamsters Local 210, they were able to get a severance package.

Duane Reade has agreed to pay the employees one week pay for each year they have worked at the center, as well as time-and-a-half for sick days and personal days.

The company has also hosted job fairs at the center and is scheduling workers for interviews with other employers. However, many say they are still searching for new options.

“It’s frustrating because no matter how much of an injustice you see it to be, there’s nothing you can do about it because the laws allow it,” a spokesperson from the union said.

 

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O’Neill’s: Classy, right outside your door


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Revitalized O’Neill’s restaurant and bar is ready to serve all lads and lassies looking to O’verindulge.

After reopening in September following a devastating fire two years ago, the Maspeth neighborhood favorite has increased its fine dining options, and brought in world-renowned chef Richard Burns.

Restaurant owners rebuilt the beloved bar section, but expanded areas for fine dining and private parties with a range of tasty and classy offerings on the menu.

“In this economy, in this day and age, we can target different areas from steak house, fine dining to a sports grill,” manager Danny Pyle said. “Put that all together and it’s just a fun, happening spot.”

The bar at O’Neill’s, which is known for its stellar wings and burgers, has many TV screens to catch the biggest sports moments and numerous beer offerings for any fan to enjoy.

But beyond the bar is a room for formal dining, which has more space between tables, softer lighting and no TVs, providing for a fine dining atmosphere much like some of the top eateries in the city.

Everything from appetizers to entrees, to soups and drinks, bring a level of dining not usually found in the neighborhood.

Appetizers include thick slices of applewood smoked slab bacon drenched in a sweet sauce, Maryland crab cakes with seaweed and irresistible roasted garlic bread blanketed by aged Gorgonzola cheese. Soups, such as a savory New England corn clam chowder and rich lobster bisque, are also on the menu.

Entrees range from salmon to steaks. The mouth-watering salmon is served on top of sautéed leaf spinach, while tender and sweet prime rib lamb chops on the bone are served with crunchy vegetables and hash brown potatoes. And to top the menu are thick cuts of succulent porterhouse steak with onion rings, potato and creamed spinach on the side.

“I thought about what did people like about O’Neill’s, what were the best things about O’Neill’s, and decided ‘let’s bring that back. And what else new can we add to the table?’” Pyle said, “That’s the fine dining.”

O’Neill’s
64-21 53rd Drive, Maspeth
718-672-9696
Open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 a.m. and
Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 a.m.

 

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Incumbent Elizabeth Crowley comes out on top after tough challenge


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley will return to the City Council after overcoming a stiff challenge from candidate Craig Caruana.

The councilmember celebrated the win with supporters and family members at her victory party at Woodhaven House in Middle Village, after the race initially seemed close.

“This has been a long campaign, but the people of the 30th council district have spoken tonight,” Crowley said, “and guess what? They want to send me back to city hall.”

Crowley won nearly 59 percent of the vote, according to early polling numbers, while Caruana took about 41 percent, a gap of approximately 3,000 votes.

Crowley has served District 30, which encompasses Maspeth, Middle Village, Glendale, Ridgewood and parts of Woodhaven and Woodside for nearly four years, tackling issues from education, traffic and preventing firehouse closures.

The race against Caruana was initially one sided in the incumbent’s favor, but following an endorsement from mayoral candidate Joe Lhota and a feisty debate, Caruana, a political newbie, gained some traction.

“[Caruana] ran a good campaign,” Crowley said. “ I think that when you have a challenge it makes you work harder.”

Early results from polling sites showed Crowley only leading by about five percent, but that number gradually started to expand. Now with the election behind her she plans to get back on track with key issues.

“I want to improve transportation,” Crowley said. “Queens is growing and so is the 30th council district.”

Caruana, who was confident he could unseat Crowley, conceded and talked to his supporters at Collony’s Corner in Maspeth.

“There are serious losses that you take in life and this isn’t one of them,” he said. “If you expend yourself in fighting for something that you really believe in and you expend yourself sometimes in struggle, especially what you put your heart into, you can’t lose.”

 

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Despite setbacks, Maspeth Knockdown Center determined to host events


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Knockdown Center/Ariana Page Russell

The Knockdown Center is not backing down.

The Department of Buildings (DOB) recently reviewed and disapproved the center’s plan for a Place of Assembly Certificate of Operation (PA) on October 24, but Knockdown’s manager said they will tweak their proposal until it meets regulations.

The PA is required for a site that seeks to have 75 or more people gathered indoors or more than 200 outside.

“We are committed to ensuring we have the optimal building plan from the DOB perspective, and have found the plan reviews very helpful, and believe that our plans will be approved soon,” said Tyler Myers, the center’s manager.

The Knockdown Center, a former glass and door factory turned arts hall, has hosted everything from weddings, Tiki Disco parties and even a mini-golf art exhibition, since last year.

The center became a hot controversial community issue after a representative announced they were considering applying for a license from the State Liquor Authority (SLA) to serve alcohol at future events at the 52-19 Flushing Avenue site.

At the Community Board 5 October meeting, the Land Use Committee rejected granting a liquor license for the center, although Knockdown could still make a case to the SLA for the license.

Residents and politicians in the community are split on the center, some feeling that it could bring jobs and is a good use of the more than century-year old building. Others believe it will create a club environment in a neighborhood where many residents live.

“There is some evidence of people being carried out, a lot of evidence of people partying and loud music, and there is evidence of love making right in the open,” said Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association.

“We’re concerned that it will lower the quality of life.”

 

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Elizabeth Crowley, Craig Caruana face off in heated District 30 debate


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

The first public debate between Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley and Craig Caruana was contentious.

The competitors faced off in a heated exchange on Monday. It was marked by frequent interruptions, yelling on both sides and cheers and jeers from attending residents of District 30, which includes Maspeth, Middle Village, Richmond Hill, Ridgewood, Glendale, parts of Woodhaven and Woodside.

The debate, which The Courier co-hosted, was organized by the Juniper Park Civic Association at Our Lady of Hope in Middle Village.

The showdown exploded from the very first question, which was about the Knockdown Center, a controversial arts hall in Maspeth that has hosted parties and is seeking a liquor license.

Crowley, who is in support of the center, said it will bring jobs and arts to the community.

“Do I support good jobs? Yes. Do I support arts as an economic engine? Yes,” Crowley said. “Now my opponent you will hear opposes this, and I believe it’s because he doesn’t have the ability to think outside the box when it comes to creating jobs.”

Caruana doesn’t believe the center will be used for arts, but as a club based on past parties that it has held.

“It’s not about jobs, it’s about hipsters coming from out of the area, creating a problem…” Caruana said. “This is a club that wants to sell liquor.”

The candidates sparred on various contentious projects in the community, such as the proposed Glendale homeless shelter, truck traffic and the Maspeth Bypass, the Ridgewood Reservoir development project and increased railroad garbage.

Many general questions were asked as well, including how the candidates would improve education, traffic problems, quality of life issues and decrease crime.

Crowley, who has been the councilmember for nearly four years, choose to answer questions based on her accomplishments, while taking jabs at Caruana.

Caruana, who has no experience as an elected official, stuck to his ideas to improve the neighborhood, relying on his background as a native of Middle Village and his work at the Pentagon.

Before the debate even got started crowds of Crowley and Caruana supporters were chanting at each other outside with placards, banners and megaphones for almost 20 minutes.

 

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