Tag Archives: Metropolitan Avenue

Ridgewood civic focuses on bike lanes and local businesses


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Transit, tenants and trees took center stage during a three-part presentation hosted by the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association (RPOCA) on Thursday at the Ridgewood Older Adult Center.

Community Board 5 Public Transit Committee Co-Chair John Maier explained plans for new bike routes connecting Ridgewood and Glendale with other parts of Queens, including Rego Park. The RPOCA first requested the bicycle routes back in 2011. The Department of Transportation and Community Board 5 created a forum in 2013 to gather community input and feedback regarding preferred routes.

The first option for the proposed bike route plan would connect Ridgewood to Rego Park via various roadways in Middle Village. According to Maier, special road markings would be installed along Metropolitan Avenue and 69th Street. Eliot Avenue, however, is slated to receive actual designated bike lanes.

Option two would connect Glendale to Rego Park via 80th Street. Maier voiced safety concerns over the use of Dry Harbor Road for part of the proposed route and cited the narrowness of the roadway as being potentially problematic.

New pedestrian and bike passageways are also part of the Kosciusko Bridge Project, which began in 2014. Improvements also include the installation of a double suspension bridge aimed at increasing traffic flow.

Maier also announced that work may begin within the next one and a half years on long-awaited progress on the reconstruction of the bridge carrying Metropolitan Avenue and Fresh Pond Road over Long Island Rail Road tracks on the Ridgewood/Middle Village border. Originally planned in 2005 but delayed repeatedly, he told residents the project has been fully funded and is in the final design phase.

Maier also pleaded for help from the community in getting the stalled Wyckoff Avenue reconstruction moving. The project would implement much-needed street repairs and sewer/water line replacement along Wyckoff Avenue between Flushing and Cooper Avenues.  He asked community members to act as advocates for the project and request sponsorship from local elected officials.

Ted Renz, Community Board 5 member and executive director of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID), also spoke about changes and initiatives in Ridgewood’s busiest commercial district. According to Renz, the BID is experiencing an influx of new tenants and residential construction.

Renz cited ongoing residential development, including the 135-unit building slated for St. Nicholas Avenue, as well as two fully occupied 45-unit buildings on Putnam and Myrtle Avenues, as evidence of the commercial district’s popularity among a new wave of younger tenants.

“We want a balanced community,” he said. “If you don’t have young people, then you’re a dying community. Living over a store, which nobody wanted years ago, is now becoming chic and popular.”

In addition to attracting new residents to the BID, Renz also hopes to apply for a grant from the New York Main Street Program, a state-sponsored revitalization effort, in the future. Renz hopes to pursue the program once he receives a strong commitment from local retail owners.

Finally, RPOCA Director Maryellen Borello sounded the call for volunteers to help with the Parks Department tree count in a 200-block radius in Ridgewood. According to Borello, the Ridgewood tree count will take place from June through August. Those interested in volunteering can visit www.rpoca.org for details.

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Film to feature Middle Village


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photos courtesy David Lee Madison

Middle Village native and acclaimed filmmaker David Lee Madison is returning to his roots to shoot his next film named for the neighborhood where he grew up.

Madison currently lives in Milford, Pennsylvania, but he spent the first 27 years of his life in Middle Village. He attended St. Margaret’s School, P.S. 49 and I.S. 119, and is a graduate of Queens College.

Over the years, he has seen his hometown transition and change, giving him an insider’s perspective of the area, both past and present.

“We plan on showcasing the most important aspect of Middle Village, its residents,” Madison said of the film. “We will also bring the viewer back to some great nostalgic places of the past. We hope to make a film that is informative, smart, nostalgic and funny.”

Growing up in Middle Village left a long-lasting impression on Madison, and he intends on sharing what he loves about his hometown in this film, which he described as having “elements of a documentary film with a staged narrative to set some of our talking points.”

“Middle Village had such a positive impact on the person I grew up to be,” he said. “The place was so unique to any other place I have been, I feel this story should be told. My favorite memories of growing up in Middle Village are playing ball at the schoolyard, riding my bike in the park and hanging out with my wonderful group of friends.”

“I don’t think that many people realize that Middle Village, which is just a handful of miles away from the biggest city in the world, was and still is just a small town,” Madison continued. “Much like you would find in the middle of America.”

Madison and his crew have already begun filming scenes for the movie, visiting staples of the Middle Village community such as London Lennie’s restaurant on Woodhaven Boulevard, Juniper Valley Park, Middle Village Playground and areas of Metropolitan Avenue.

“We plan on filming at several other locations throughout Middle Village over the next two months,” Madison said.

Filmmaking has been a major part of Madison’s life since his early childhood.

“I developed a love for film as a very young kid,” Madison said. “When I was about 8 years old I remember seeing “It’s a Wonderful Life” for the first time. It had such a visceral impact on me, I knew right away I wanted to be a filmmaker.”

This love of filmmaking led Madison to create some great horror films, including his last film, “Mr. Hush,” a throwback to classic slasher films. This movie about Middle Village will be a drastic change from Madison’s usual work.

“As a filmmaker, you like to explore different things,” he explained. “I have a great passion for my old neighborhood, and feel we can tell a story that will connect to people throughout the country. My last film, ‘Mr. Hush,’ had become a bit of a cult classic in the horror genre; it was even placed in The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Margaret Herrick Library to be preserved forever. I just wanted to take a step back from my beloved genre for a moment.”

With no set release date yet for “Middle Village,” Madison expects the film to come out right before Christmas.

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MTA will boost service on 7, L and M lines later this year


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

File photo

With overall subway ridership up 2.6 percent across the city, the MTA is set to meet the increased demand by boosting service on three local subway lines this December.

Most of the changes will take place during off-peak hours, as the MTA reported ridership between or after rush hour periods reached its highest rate in 65 years in 2014, with more than 1.75 billion riders systemwide.

The biggest boost will take place on the L line, with seven additional round trips added between 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. on weekdays. Ridership on the L line — which services Ridgewood and Bushwick — grew 4.7 percent last year, the largest increase of any line in the system.

According to the MTA, the seven additional trains will reduce wait times on the L line to five minutes between the morning and evening rush hours. Last fall, the MTA similarly enhanced L train service during weeknight and weekend periods.

The MTA will also introduce two additional round trips on the 7 line — which services the rapidly-growing neighborhoods of Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside and Flushing — between 8 and 10:20 p.m. on weeknights. The agency said this will reduce wait times to under 4 1/2 minutes.

This service increase is expected to ease commuting, in particular, out of the Vernon Boulevard-Jackson Avenue station in Long Island City, which experienced a 12 percent growth in weekday ridership in 2014; and at the Flushing-Main Street terminal, which averages about 60,000 riders each day.

Finally, the M line will get an extra round trip just after the morning rush hour, between 9 and 9:30 a.m., reducing wait times to an average of 7 1/2 minutes. Since the line was rerouted in 2010 through Midtown Manhattan and northwest Queens (replacing the defunct V line), M train ridership is up about 31 percent, with an average increase of 6.2 percent at stations between Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village and Marcy Avenue in Williamsburg.

“New York is a dynamic city and it continues to grow as new or better housing options become available and more people come here for jobs or school,” said MTA New York City Transit President Carmen Bianco. “By making these schedule changes, New York City Transit is making the most of its resources to deliver service that accurately reflects ridership in growing areas.”

The MTA plans to spend $1.6 million to implement the additional service.

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Van driver arrested in deadly Middle Village hit-and-run


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

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Updated 2:58 p.m.

A driver has been charged in a fatal hit-and-run after he struck a California man in Middle Village Tuesday night, causing him to fall into the path of another vehicle, authorities said.

Kamil Gorski, 36, was standing on the double yellow lines separating the westbound and eastbound lanes of traffic of Metropolitan Avenue near 62nd Street just before 8 p.m. when he was killed, authorities said.

A Ford van driving eastbound down Metropolitan hit Gorski, causing him to fall into the westbound lane of Metropolitan Avenue, where he was struck by a sedan, police said. The sedan’s driver remained at the scene and was not injured, but the van fled.

Gorski, a resident of San Marcos, Calif., was taken to Elmhurst Hospital where he died.

The van’s driver, Raul Reyes, 53, was later located at his Bushwick, Brooklyn home, where he admitted that he knew he struck something with his driver’s side view mirror, according to the district attorney’s office. But he thought that had clipped the side mirror of a small truck driving in the opposite direction and decided to keep going.

Reyes was arraigned Wednesday night on a charge of leaving the scene of an accident without reporting serious physical injury, and was ordered held on $30,000 bond. He faces up to four years in prison if convicted.

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Bus-only lanes coming to Woodhaven Boulevard


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by  Salvatore Licata

Bus-only lanes are to be painted along a 1.4-mile stretch of Woodhaven Boulevard by late September, a representative from the Department of Transportation (DOT) said.

The lanes are being added on Woodhaven Boulevard between Elliot and Metropolitan avenues to help ease congestion on the heavily traveled roadway.

They will be one lane out from the curb which will allow the buses a faster transition when dropping off and picking up riders, according to Joan Byron, director of policy at the Pratt Center for Community Development.

“These [bus-only] lanes are to strictly address the issue of congestion along the boulevard,” Byron said. “With the addition of the one out from the curb lanes, the buses will not have to go in and out anymore which will help to ease the congestion.”

The lane nearest the curb will continue to be used for parking, officials said.

The start date for painting depends on weather conditions and the schedule of other DOT projects, the agency’s representative said.  The painting should take several weeks, weather permitting, the representative added.

The lanes can be used at all times of the day by other vehicles making a right turn.

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More Slow Zones coming to Queens


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

More areas of Queens are slowing down.

The city’s Department of Transportation announced Friday the second phase of Arterial Slow Zones, which reduce speed limits to 25 mph, in 14 new locations throughout the city. New signs will be put up indicating the change.

Among the 14 locations are two Queens corridors. The first will run 5.8 miles on Roosevelt Avenue from Queens Boulevard to 154th Street and the approximate start month is set for September.

In December, the DOT is expected to begin implementing a 5.6-mile slow zone on Metropolitan Avenue from Onderdonk Avenue to 132nd Street.

“Slow Zones are a critical and widely endorsed element of Vision Zero,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said. “We are glad to work closely with local communities in bringing these life saving measures to corridors across the city. These 14 additional zones meet another goal we set in February.”

In May the DOT announced that Northern and Queens boulevards would become part of 25 planned Arterial Slow Zones implemented throughout the five boroughs.

The first phase of a Slow Zone for Northern Boulevard runs 4.2 miles long from 40th Road to 114th Street.

DOT also implemented a Slow Zone on Queens Boulevard stretching 7.4 miles from Jackson Avenue to Hillside Avenue.

 

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Suspect steals from Kew Gardens synagogue donation box: cops


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD


A burglar decided to help himself to some religious charity in Kew Gardens last week.

On July 25, at about 12:25 p.m., the suspect made his way into Congregation Adas Yerem through an unknown entrance, police said. Once inside the Metropolitan Avenue synagogue, he took $75 from a donation box before fleeing.

The suspect is described as white, around 5 feet 10 inches tall and 185 pounds. He was last seen wearing a multi-colored striped short-sleeve shirt, beige slacks and beige shoes.

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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MTA to increase M train service in the fall


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File Photo

Some of the growing neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens are getting a much needed service boost.

The MTA just announced it plans to increases service to the L and M subway lines this fall, based on analysis of schedules and increased ridership demand.

The service increase will be as follows:

  • On Saturday L train service will be increased a total of 33 round trips between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.
  • On Sunday L train services will be increased a total of 23 round trips between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.
  • Weekday evening L service will be increased a total of 3 round trips
  • Weekday M service will increase one round trip – one northbound trip in the morning and one southbound trip in the late afternoon

In order to lower wait times during peak periods, there will also be increased M line service on Forest Hills-bound weekday morning and Metropolitan Ave- bound weekday afternoon trains.

The service changes, which are scheduled for the fall of this year, will cost about $1.7 million annually. M line service changes will be simultaneous with the Superstorm Sandy-related restoration of R line service.

For up-to-date information, visit www.mta.info.

 

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Ridgewood newsstand razed, problems persists across street


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Office of Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley

One long-standing Ridgewood problem down, and one more to go.

The troublesome newsstand on Metropolitan Avenue near Fresh Pond Road, which had been an eyesore in the community, attracting garbage and graffiti for more than two decades, has finally been taken out of sight.

The MTA/LIRR, which owned the land, demolished it on Friday with $100,000 allocated from Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley.

“After long delays from both the DOT (Department of Transportation) and LIRR, I am happy to see persistence pay off,” Crowley said.

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre 

Crowley called a press conference in 2009 with Senator Joseph Addabbo and Assemblymember Mike Miller to announce that they would remove the structure, and transform the space into a community garden.

But those promises were derailed due to complications with the LIRR and the DOT, which both have rights to the property.

The city was reluctant to have any work done in the area, according to Crowley, because of the renovations on the nearby bridge on Metropolitan Avenue.

Community leaders appreciate that the site has finally turned a corner, but now they want elected officials to focus on the other problem — literally across the street.

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre 

The DOT assumed control of the abandoned gas station on Metropolitan Avenue across from the newsstand site several years ago, but the property has also attracted graffiti. However, unlike the newsstand, the gas station is fenced in, meaning community volunteers can’t clean it up.

“The city takes available property, because they have to fix the bridge and then they let it go,” said Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, which has cleaned up the newsstand site in the past. “They don’t keep it up, and this is a disgrace. If we, regular property owners, did that, we’d get fined.”

Photo courtesy Bob Holden

Plans aren’t complete for what the newsstand site will become, but for now the DOT “will make it nicer,” according to a Crowley spokesperson.

 

 

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Forest Hills biz owners: Parking plans would ‘kill us’


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Rosa Kim

BY MELISSA CHAN AND ROSA KIM

The city’s plans to make a dangerous Forest Hills intersection safer would crush local shops, business owners said.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has proposed turning 14 metered parking spots along Metropolitan Avenue, between 70th Drive and 71st Avenue, into No Standing zones.

The measure is meant to improve traffic flow, ease congestion and make the crosswalk safer for pedestrians and simpler for motorists, a DOT spokesperson said.

Thirteen people were injured at Metropolitan Avenue and 71st Avenue between 2006 and 2010, the DOT said. Two were pedestrians who were severely hurt. In 2011, a left-turning car struck and killed another person who was crossing the street.

But business owners said the change would devastate already struggling stores that rely on more than just foot traffic.

“Without parking spots, we cannot operate,” said Tony Sparacino of Father and Sons Florist. “As little as we have, we need them. It’ll kill the drugstore, the bakery, all of us.”

Sam Cardenli of Piccola Italia said parking is already sparse.

“Sometimes you go around and around and you don’t find any parking,” she said. “If they remove the parking from here, it’s going to make it harder for the customers and we’re going to lose business.”

The DOT said many Metropolitan Avenue businesses have their own parking lots. Surveys conducted by the department show low Muni Meter usage, with only a fraction of spaces being occupied throughout the week.

There are also plans to relocate the 71st Avenue bus stop to 70th Drive and install a painted center median with a left turn bay. The DOT said the projects are not yet scheduled.

“If it happens, there’s going to be an uproar,” Sparacino said.

Forest Hills resident Wolfgang Rapp said he crosses the intersection daily without thinking he is in danger.

“This intersection is nothing compared to Queens Boulevard, which is really a death trap,” he said. “Reasonable people cross the street in reasonable ways. They look around and cars don’t really speed. So that concern about the safety of this area, it’s a non-issue.”

Pedestrian Karah Michaels said she could see the logic behind moving the bus stop.

“Despite the lights, a lot could happen here,” she said. If it’s going to a street where there’s a lot less traffic, I think it would be a lot safer.”

 

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Sewers will relieve water woes on Metropolitan Avenue


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley

A current of constituent complaints, along with a wave of support from a local councilmember, has turned the tide for an oft-flooded local stretch of road.

Metropolitan Avenue between 80th Street and Cooper Avenue will receive a new storm sewer system to help relieve flooding, Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley recently announced.

Work began on Monday, March 5.

“For too long, even the slightest rain created dangerous flooding conditions on Metropolitan Avenue near St. John Cemetery,” said Crowley.

The road which cuts through the burial ground is often reduced to a river following any rainfall, creating traffic buildup and dangerous black ice when the water freezes during winter.

“I’m pleased to have worked with DEP [the Department of Enviornmental Protection] to remedy this nuisance for the community,” Crowley said. “Repairs like these are an investment in our neighborhoods that will improve the quality of life for residents for years to come.”

Crowley first wrote to the DEP in April of 2010 asking for the agency to investigate the area’s “ongoing problem” of four lanes of flooding and the potential health hazard of standing water.

Twenty-four inch storm sewers will be installed along with a catch basin to help alleviate the flooding in the area, a DEP spokesperson said.

The agency said the work should be completed by mid-June.

 

Grover Cleveland High School Protests Turnaround


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Billy Rennison

Students and faculty gathered outside Grover Cleveland High School to tell the mayor not to “turn” his back on their school.

The Ridgewood high school currently sits on the list of high schools to be “turned around,” which involves the closure and immediate reopening of the school under a different name, along with the replacement of the principal and 50 percent of the teachers.

Over 200 members of the school’s community took to the streets surrounding the school, marching and brandishing signs calling for people to dial 3-1-1 to protest the school’s potential closing.

“Bloomberg doesn’t know anything about the school,” said science teacher Russ Nitchman, calling the threat of a turnaround a “political hissyfit” from Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

As the protest made its way to Metropolitan Avenue, passing cars honked their support for the protest.

Senior class president Diana Rodriguez is worried about the effect the turnaround would have on the students that will remain at the school next year.

“We have such a bond with these teachers, to just ruin that, get rid of 50 percent of the staff, it’s going to have a negative effect,” she said.

“There is a sense of home, here for the kids,” said English teacher Elizabeth Clark, who graduated from the school. “The kids need that safe haven.”

A vote will be held later this year to determine the fate of the 33 schools designated for turnaround.

“This entire community is here supporting Grover Cleveland and unfortunately the mayor’s plan never takes any of that into account,” said Queens UFT representative James Vazquez. “Moving people around and playing with numbers is the only solution [the city] ever has.”

 

Maspeth Federal Savings reopens two locations


| brennison@queenscourier.com

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Maspeth Federal Savings reopened two branches – Fresh Meadows and Forest Hills – with ribbon cutting ceremonies on Wednesday, October 5.

Cake, live music and prizes helped reopen the Metropolitan Avenue bank that takes serving the community seriously.

“We hold a lot of community events,” said Victoria Grappone, Forest Hills Branch manager. “Maspeth federal is a very strong bank; we’ve been in this community for 37 years.”

The Maspeth Federal location on Metropolitan Avenue first opened its doors in 1974, next door to its current location, and its dedication to community involvement is ingrained in its history.

“We feel we have a real presence in the community,” said the bank’s President and CEO Kenneth Rudzewick. “We’ve been doing this for 65 years.”

Founded in 1947 by local citizens and business leaders, the bank opened to benefit its customers and the community. The bank takes its slogan, “We treat you like family,” to heart. Besides organizing community events, the bank visits local schools to teach students how to save and assists at senior centers.

The bank’s community events include free summer concerts, a 5-Mile Fun Run and Smile on Maspeth Day.