Tag Archives: Maspeth

Fired trash hauler workers win back their Maspeth jobs


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy Teamsters Joint Council No. 16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

photo courtesy of NYPD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Newtown Creek Alliance talks cleanup with Ridgewood group


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo courtesy of Newtown Creek Alliance

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

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

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

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

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

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Property Shark/Scott Bintner

Updated 4:43 p.m.

BY CRISTABELLE TUMOLA AND ROBERT POZARYCKI 

A slice of Queens is heading to New Jersey.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Warnings about police impersonators in Maspeth and Elmhurst


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

File photo

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of The Durst Organization

Updated April 15, 10:10 a.m.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Renewed push to pass Maspeth pol’s Child Victims Act


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Assemblywoman Margaret Markey

Four times since 2006, Assemblywoman Margaret Markey’s Child Victims Act — which extends the criminal and civil statute of limitations to punish sexual predators — passed the Assembly, but never made it to the state Senate floor for a vote.

The Maspeth lawmaker, however, isn’t giving up her efforts to make her bill a law.

Markey announced on Monday a renewed effort to make the Child Victims Act a reality, which includes meeting in Albany on April 22 with colleagues and advocates of sexual abuse victims. She also secured the support of state Senator Brad Hoylman of Manhattan, who is sponsoring a companion bill in the state Senate.

The Child Victims Act amends the statute of limitations to prosecute — and for victims to sue —alleged sexual abusers. Current state law requires that victims must present criminal or civil charges within five years of their 18th birthday.

Markey’s bill would eliminate all criminal and civil statutes regarding future child sex abuse cases, meaning that victims who are abused after the act becomes law may come forward and press charges or file a lawsuit at any time after the abuse took place.

Per a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the existing criminal statute cannot be extended. However, the Child Victims Act also creates a “civil window” by suspending the existing statute of limitations on civil cases for one year so those who were victims of child sexual abuse before the law was enacted can make their case.

“Since so many abused children are not able to come to grips with what has happened to them until much later in life, it is the victims who suffer most as a result of our state’s archaic statute of limitations for these offenders,” Markey said. “Future generations of children are also at risk as pedophiles go unpunished for their crimes and can easily remain hidden and continue their abuse under current law.”

The Democrat-dominated Assembly passed the bill each time with overwhelming margins, but the legislation was left in committee in the state Senate, which the Republicans — at times in concert with a smaller faction of Democrats — led for the last several sessions.

“We keep passing it over and over again, but you don’t get anything on the receiving side,” said Mike Armstrong, a Markey spokesman. The lawmaker, however, feels emboldened this time around with Hoylman’s sponsorship in the State Senate.

The Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens, however, opposed the act in previous years, claiming the open-ended statutes would leave it vulnerable to litigation and settlements that could cripple the diocese’s finances.

“We continue to oppose this bill,” said Dennis Prost of the New York State Catholic Conference, which represents the bishops of all New York dioceses on public matters. The conference, however, supports similar legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Michael Cusick of Staten Island which would extend the civil and criminal statute of limitations in sex abuse cases to 28 years of age and make public institutions liable for such matters.

Prost called Markey’s legislation “fundamentally unfair” as it would open the door to litigation surrounding “decades-old cases.” Cusick’s bill, he noted, is “more fair” because it would more easily enable victims abused in public institutions to seek justice.

“Right now, if you want to sue a public institution, you have to file a notice of claims within 90 days in order for that window to be open,” Prost said.

But Markey, a practicing Catholic, believes the reasons for continued opposition to her bill amounts to “red herring excuses,” according to Armstrong.

“It’s a lifelong ordeal for the victims, and there ought to be some accountability if you can demonstrate there’s a perpetrator who can be identified and can be subject to a logical criminal case,” Armstrong said.

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Bioswale construction to begin later this month in CB 5 area


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy of the Department of Environmental Protection

The confines of Community Board 5 are about to get greener.

Representatives from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced during the Community Board 5 (CB 5) meeting on Wednesday that the construction of 200 to 250 bioswales is set to begin at the end of the month.

Bioswales are curbside gardens that collect stormwater runoff into large, underground basins through 5 feet of specially engineered soil, comprised of layers of broken stone and sandy soil.

“New York’s infrastructure is hard, it’s very dense,” said Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, director of community affairs for the DEP. “Green infrastructure is, in a sense, peeling back a layer of that hard infrastructure.”

“Part of what we’re doing is making the land spongy again,” he continued. “The goal is to improve water quality…this is one of our tools to do that.”

The bioswales help improve the city’s water quality by reducing the amount of rainwater entering the sewer system, which helps lower combined sewer overflow (CSO).

CSO is a combination of sewage water from homes and businesses and stormwater, which can become too much for the sewer system to handle, especially during times of heavy rainfall. The water then overflows and sends untreated water into the city’s waterways, such as Newtown Creek, which suffers from high levels of pollution.

One single bioswale can manage almost 3,000 gallons of water and if the bioswale becomes overfilled, the water is released into the sewer catch basin as it normally would, just at a lower rate so there is not a rush of water that could overflow the sewer system.

With the installation of the bioswales right around the corner, community issues are a major point of concern for the DEP.

“One of the big questions we get a lot is, ‘Who is going to take care of these?’” Abdul-Matin told the board. “We build it, we’re going to maintain it. It’s not like we’re going to pass the buck onto you.”

The construction and installation of these bioswales and other green infrastructure will help clean the city’s water and reduce flooding, making the neighborhoods they serve better.

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Alleged Maspeth pizzeria, Ridgewood drugstore burglars picked up by cops


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Property Shark/Christopher Bride

Detectives delivered two suspected burglars to jail for allegedly breaking into a Maspeth pizzeria and a Ridgewood drugstore last month, authorities said.

According to the Queens district attorney’s office, Bushwick’s Charles Viacava, 48, and Jamaica’s Pedro Alicea, 43, were allegedly caught on security camera video burglarizing Pronto Pizza located at 52-03 Metropolitan Ave. on the evening of March 24 and the Rite-Med Pharmacy at 311 St. Nicholas Ave. on the night of March 31.

During the pizzeria burglary, Viacava and Alicea allegedly threw a brick through a glass window and removed the cash register, police said.

Authorities said the suspects did the same thing at the Rite-Med store, smashing a front window with a brick before getting inside and then ultimately stealing a cash register.

Following an investigation, the 104th Precinct Detective Squad tracked down Viacava and Alicea and, after questioning, took them into custody on Saturday. They were both charged with two counts of third-degree burglary and two counts of criminal mischief.

Both suspects were arraigned in Queens Criminal Court Sunday morning before Judge William Harrington, who set Viacava’s bail at $35,000 and ordered Alicea held on $25,000 bail. The alleged burglars are due back in court on April 13.

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More Maspeth massage parlor employees busted for prostitution


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

Three Maspeth massage parlor workers wound up in handcuffs last week for rubbing patrons the wrong way, according to police.

Law enforcement sources said the suspects were cuffed on April 1 at a massage parlor located at 66-47 Grand Ave., which cops raided in a prior bust back in March.

According to the criminal complaint, Hiu Yi Tsang, 29, of Flushing, allegedly offered and agreed to engage in a sexual act for $40 and perform a massage for $60 on an undercover detective.

It was also noted in the report that Tsang is allegedly not licensed, registered, nor holds a limited permit to practice massage therapy in New York State.

Sunyu Ping, 46, of Maspeth, is alleged in the report to have offered and performed a full body massage, which she was not licensed for, on the undercover detective for $40. It is further reported that Ping then offered and agreed to engage in oral sex with the detective for the sum of $60.

Finally, police said that Lina Li, 33, of Maspeth allegedly offered and agreed to engage in sexual intercourse with the undercover detective, and then agreed to perform a full body massage on the detective, for a total of $300.

All three suspects were charged with prostitution and unauthorized use of a professional title.

Tsang and Ping were arraigned in front of Judge Bruna Dibiase, while Li was arraigned in front of Judge David Hawkins; they were each released without bail. Both Ping and Tsang are due back in court on April 24, while Li’s next court date is May 1.

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Community project ideas on display at Sunnyside participatory budgeting expo


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Residents in the 26th City Council District got the chance to view project proposals that will be put to a public vote later this month during Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer’s participatory budgeting (PB) project expo Monday night at Sunnyside Community Services.

“This is a chance for residents of this district to really get a visual of the projects that are going to be on the ballot a week from now,” explained Amanda Nasner, PB delegate and Special Projects representative from Van Bramer’s office. “This is just a good visual to help people get excited about participatory budgeting.”

Van Bramer is one of 24 City Council members who have each allocated $1 million in discretionary funds for public improvement projects aimed at helping the community. Budget delegates from District 26—which encompasses all or parts of Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside—showcased their project ideas through vibrant displays and posters.

Many of the project proposals called for improvements to the district’s schools. Jennifer Munoz, a sophomore at the Academy of American Studies, advocated for much-needed auditorium repairs at Newcomers High School in Dutch Kills. At 15, Munoz is one of the youngest budget delegates in the district.

According to Munoz, the Academy of American Studies and Newcomers High School share the same auditorium. The project would replace the auditorium seating and upgrade the sound system at a projected cost of $250,000.

“Basically, the auditorium is being used a lot, so we need to fix it up,” Munoz explained. “They have broken chairs, so we’re trying to get them fixed.”

Other proposed school improvement projects include the installation of security cameras outside Bryant High School, resurfacing the P.S. 112 playground, and a series of technology upgrades at P.S./I.S. 78, P.S. 11, I.S. 204, P.S. 166, P.S. 12 and Aviation High School.

Woodside resident Tom Ryan and his daughter Katherine spoke in favor of the Woodside Reforestry project, which would fund the planting of Parks Department-approved trees along both sides of Broadway, from 48th Street to 69th Street, at a cost of $200,000.

“There are no trees there. It’s barren,” Ryan said. According to Ryan, both he and his fellow Northern Woodside Coalition members would assume the responsibility of watering and caring for the trees.

Miki Bairstow, a delegate from the Housing Committee, was on hand to advocate for six project ideas, including the installation of security cameras and playground upgrades at the Queensbridge, Ravenswood and Woodside Houses.

Kenny Medrano presented four project proposals on behalf of the Library Committee, including the installation of ADA-compliant push-button access for handicapped and wheelchair-bound patrons at both the Sunnyside and Woodside public library branches.

Several delegates proposed transportation improvements throughout the district. Nancy Silverman spoke in favor of a $55,000 proposal to provide seniors at the Jacob Riis Settlement House in Queensbridge with a 10-passenger van for day trips and various group outings. Ray Johnson and his fellow Transportation Committee delegates advocated for the $500,000 LIC Bikeway, the installation of bus bulbs at 31st Street and five real-time passenger information countdown clocks at bus stops district-wide.

Residents will vote for their favorite projects between April 11 to 19 at various locations throughout the district. Click here for details.

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Detectives talk woman out of jumping off Kosciuszko Bridge


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

A pair of NYPD detectives spent around two hours Monday talking a suicidal woman off the edge of the Kosciuszko Bridge, according to police.

That morning, police arrived about 11:30 a.m. to find the 45-year-old Brooklyn resident on top of a pipe on the outside of the bridge, which connects Greenpoint, Brooklyn, with Queens.

Two detectives—Meghan Kinsella, a 14-year veteran who works as a domestic violence officer, and Steven Stefanakos, a 24-year veteran who has spent 20 of those years with the Emergency Service Unit—moved into action to try to talk the woman out of taking her life.

At first, according to police, the woman wasn’t responsive to either of the detectives as they took turns engaging her in conversation.

“I tried to convince her that no matter what, we would be with her every step of the way,” Kinsella said. “He would talk and I would talk. I didn’t even realize I was there for two hours. I was completely focused on her.”

When Stefanakos, who is an instructor with the NYPD’s Emergency Service Unit and teaches officers how to interact with emotionally disturbed people in crisis, mentioned the possibility of the woman having a family or children, she grabbed back onto the wire, authorities said.

“I told her, ‘I don’t know what is going on and what is happening with you, but give us [a] chance to talk to you,’” he said.

Kinsella also told the woman, who is a mother of one, that she was strong enough to get through the situation, and the detectives were finally able to convince her to come off the edge of the bridge.


As video footage of the rescue released by police shows, officers were able to pull the woman to safety, and EMS took her to Elmhurst Hospital for treatment.

“It’s a huge relief. It actually is euphoric because you made a difference in somebody’s life, right there and then,” Stefanakos said.

“I’m a mom so I just wanted to get her home safe with her family,” Kinsella added.

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Community Board 5 appoints new members


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Nine new members were appointed to Community Board 5 this week.

The board, which includes Ridgewood, Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth and Liberty Park, received five new members from City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley’s 30th District and four new members in Councilman Antonio Reynoso’s 34th District.

The new members in Crowley’s district are Tobias Sheppard Bloch of Glendale, Karamjit Dawali of Glendale, Sarah Feldman of Ridgewood, David Sands of Glendale and Alex Maureau of Glendale.

In Reynoso’s district, the new members are Raquel Namuche of Ridgewood, Cathleen Knight of Ridgewood, Tom C. Dowd of Ridgewood and Carmen Santana of Ridgewood.

Richard Huber of Glendale was not reappointed this year.

Community board members are appointed by the Queens borough president largely based on the recommendation of the City Council member(s) within the board’s jurisdiction.

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DSNY to expand curbside food and yard waste recycling collection


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Get ready to see more brown compost bins in Queens starting the week of May 18, as more areas of Maspeth and Middle Village are added to the city’s organics waste pilot program.

The NYC Department of Sanitation’s (DSNY) voluntary curbside food and yard waste recycling program is expanding into both neighborhoods and communities in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Staten Island later this spring.

The program, which began in May 2013, currently serves more than 100,000 households and 700 schools throughout all five boroughs and has collected more than 6,500 tons of material. This latest expansion will add approximately 35,000 more houses to the program.

“Organic materials make up about a third of our trash,” DSNY Commissioner Kathryn Garcia said. “When you [recycle] your food and yard waste, you decrease the amount of garbage going to landfills and help create a greener and healthier New York City.”

All single-family homes and buildings with nine or fewer units will automatically be enrolled in the voluntary program. Residential buildings with 10 or more units may apply to participate. All eligible households will receive a starter kit, which includes an indoor kitchen container, an outdoor brown bin or a larger bin to share for a building with three to nine units and an instructional brochure.

To participate, residents should place their food scraps and soiled paper products, such as paper napkins and paper plates, into the kitchen container, then transfer the material into their outdoor bin for collection on their pickup day.

Examples of items that may be placed in the bin include food scraps such as fruits, vegetables, egg shells, pasta, tea bags, coffee grounds and filters, baked goods, meat and bones; flowers and house plants; and food-soiled paper such as paper towels, napkins and paper plates.

Some items that may not be placed into the bins include plastics of any kind, even if labeled biodegradable, liquids, foam items, animal waste, cigarettes and ashes, and medical waste.

The collected organic material is managed both locally and regionally, with some of the waste being turned into compost and being used locally by greening groups such as urban farmers, community gardeners and street tree stewards to rebuild the city’s soil.

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DOT proposes expanding bike network in CB 5 area


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

Gear up for round two of bike lane construction in Ridgewood, Glendale, Maspeth and Middle Village.

Aaron Fraint, project manager with NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) bicycle program, presented three options for a second phase of bike lane creation to the Community Board 5 Transportation Committee members on March 24.

All three options focused on creating a network of lanes.

“We would like to do a set of streets that all connect to each other because we see the bike network as just that, a network, rather than sets of routes that aren’t connected to anything,” Fraint said.

The first option would connect Ridgewood to Rego Park through Middle Village via Metropolitan Avenue, 69th Street and Eliot Avenue ending on Woodhaven Boulevard.

“Metropolitan Avenue is very busy corridor…with a lot of commercial and industrial activity,” Fraint said, which is why creating safe bike lanes is so important.

The avenue is also 41 feet wide, which allows just enough room for a shared bike lane in both directions.

The DOT proposed using “sharrows,” symbols with a green background that notify motorists that bicyclists may be present.

Option two connects Glendale to Rego Park through Middle Village by using Central Avenue connecting to Cooper Avenue to Woodhaven Boulevard, with a north/south route on 80th Street turning into Dry Harbor Road and 63rd Avenue, ending on Woodhaven Boulevard.

Fraint said that both Central and Cooper avenues — which are 40 feet wide — have enough space for 12-foot-wide shared lanes in both directions with 8-foot parking lanes.

Cooper Avenue already has a shared bike lane on the extra-wide sidewalks that were installed on the underpass after its reconstruction. These connect to a shared bike lane on 80th Street, so “we would pick up where shared lanes left off on 80th Street and bring it over to Woodhaven Boulevard,” Fraint said.

The final option seeks to connect Ridgewood to Long Island City through Maspeth along Fresh Pond Road, 59th Drive to Rust Street. In the opposite direction, the route would take Rust Street to 60th Street then to 60th Avenue and back down Fresh Pond Road.

A segment of Fresh Pond Road, which is 44 feet wide, can accommodate 14-foot shared lanes in both directions, keeping the configuration of one travel lane in each direction and parking on both sides.

59th Drive is one-way westbound from the turn off Fresh Pond Road up until 60th Street, and at 26 feet wide, “we will be able to keep the condition as is, but add a shared lane for cyclists,” Fraint said.

As 59th Drive continues past 60th Street, it becomes a 30-foot-wide two-way street, and the DOT is looking to put in a center line and shared lane symbols.

The DOT is still working out what type of bicycle facilities would be the best fit on Rust Street.
Fraint added that a lot of cyclists are using that route and it is a logical connector between Ridgewood and Long Island City.

After the board heard all three options, they discussed which ones they would like to see implemented in the community.

“I do like the Metropolitan, 69th and Eliot [route],” said John Maier, co-chair of the committee. “I think Eliot makes a lot of sense.”

For option two, Maier said that Fresh Pond Road is “already a traffic nightmare,” but that cyclists do use the route and it is worth taking a look at.

Panel members agreed that the first option would be the best fit for the communities. They liked option two, with some modifications to the 80th Street section. The DOT needs to further study the third option before the board accepts it. The DOT hopes to begin installing the accepted routes during 2015.

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