Tag Archives: Ozone Park

Ozone Park A train stations to be fully repaired by the end of September


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

The A train will soon pull into newly renovated subway stops in Ozone Park.

The 88th Street and 104th Street stations, on the Queens-bound side, are expected to reopen at the end of September, after about five months of repair work, according to an MTA spokeswoman. The repairs and replacements being made at the stops, which were started in May, are part of a $39 million capital project for five designated stations along the A line on Liberty Avenue in Ozone Park.

The scope of work being done at the stops includes repairs or replacements of mezzanine-to-platform stairs; mezzanine floors, doors and windows; and interior and exterior walls, the spokeswomen added.

Furthermore, each station will be painted, canopied, have better lighting in the mezzanine areas and have its railings replaced. The MTA has also worked to add new artwork to each of the stations with the help of the MTA Arts for Transit. The artwork will be displayed on the platforms’ windscreen walls.

The capital project called for station renewals of these two stations along with 80th St.-Hudson St., Rockaway Boulevard and 111th St.-Greenwood Avenue.

The MTA did not immediately give a timetable for the completion of the other three train stations.

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First Queens Art Intervention Day to offer interactive projects throughout borough


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos by RPGA Studios

Communities throughout Queens are set for an artistic intervention, looking to inspire, educate and empower residents and feed the pulse of the borough.

The nonprofit studio Rego Park Green Alliance, which uses creative methods to address community issues, will host the first Queens Art Intervention Day on Sept. 27 throughout the borough from Long Island City to the Rockaways.

“We see something that we are not happy with and we try to think about how we can fix it in a creative way,” said Yvonne Shortt, who started the studio and is currently the executive director.

The day-long event, which has a rain date for Oct. 4, will feature a total of 30 projects including murals, art installations, performance pieces, hands-on programs, and many more creative activities taking place outdoors in Astoria, LIC, Kew Gardens, Elmhurst, Rego Park, Forest Hills, Jackson Heights, Ozone Park, Ridgewood, Laurelton, Corona, Whitestone and the Rockaways.

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“We want our borough to be seen as a place that people want to come and do interesting things,” Shortt said. “We hope this will help Queens continue to grow and continue to thrive and not just have one spot thought of as artistic and creative.”

According to Shortt, along with being visually appealing, the pieces will also serve to bring about change and to get community members thinking about certain issues.

For example, posters for one project called “Stat Girl” depict a super hero displaying statistics on traffic accidents that have occurred on Queens Boulevard in the past two years. The posters will be put up all day down the thoroughfare.

stat girl photo by RPGA Studios

“We would love for people to stop and engage,” Shortt said. “It’s really about the communities themselves to find some inspiration and advocate for better communities.”

Shortt said that although there were over 160 submissions this year, funding, provided solely by Shortt, only allowed for 25 projects to be part of the event. In the future, she hopes to expand the event to more days and many more communities in the borough.

“There’s an active pulse throughout the borough of Queens and I’m very excited to help it move forward. I feel that if you have ideas and are willing to push it forward, that Queens is a very inviting borough.” Shortt said. “We’re showing the vitality of Queens.”

For more information and the full list of projects for Queens Art Intervention Day, click here.

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West Nile spraying scheduled for parts of Queens this week


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYC Department of Health

On Tuesday, Sept. 16, there will be West Nile spraying in parts of Queens, including along the Brooklyn-Queens border, to help reduce the mosquito population and the risk of the disease.

The spraying will take place between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 6 a.m. the next morning. In case of bad weather, the application will be delayed until Wednesday, Sept. 17 during the same hours.

The following neighborhoods are being treated due to rising West Nile virus activity with high mosquito populations, according to the city’s Health Department:

Parts of City Line, Cypress Hills, Highland Park, Howard Beach, Lindenwood, Ozone Park, Spring Creek and Woodhaven (Bordered by Jamaica Avenue and to the north; Shepherd Avenue, Fulton Street Line and Fountain Avenue to the west; Jamaica Bay to the south; and Rockaway Rail-Line, Rockaway Boulevard and Woodhaven Boulevard to the east).

For the application, the Health Department will spray pesticide from trucks and use a very low concentration of Anvil®, 10 + 10, a synthetic pesticide. When properly used, this product poses no significant risks to human health.

The Health Department recommends that people take the following precautions to minimize direct exposure:

  • Whenever possible, stay indoors during spraying. People with asthma or other respiratory conditions  are encouraged to stay inside during spraying since direct exposure could worsen these conditions.
  • Air conditioners may remain on, however, if you wish to reduce the possibility of indoor exposure to pesticides, set the air conditioner vent to the closed position, or choose the re-circulate function.
  •  Remove children’s toys, outdoor equipment, and clothes from outdoor areas during spraying. If  outdoor equipment and toys are exposed to pesticides, wash them with soap and water before using  again.
  • Wash skin and clothing exposed to pesticides with soap and water. Always wash your produce thoroughly with water before cooking or eating.

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Man fixing flat tire on Van Wyck fatally hit


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

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Updated Monday, Sept. 15, 4:41 p.m. 

A man was struck and killed Sunday morning as he was changing a flat tire on the Van Wyck Expressway near the John F. Kennedy International Airport, officials said.

The 43-year-old victim, Felix Galarra, of Ozone Park, was fixing the flat just after 4 a.m. when a minivan hit the man and his vehicle, according to Port Authority of New York and New Jersey officials.

A passenger in the victim’s vehicle and three people who were in the minivan were taken to Jamaica Hospital with apparent non-life threatening injuries, a Port Authority spokesman said.

A section of the Van Wyck Expressway leading to the airport was reportedly shut down until just before 11 a.m. because of the accident.

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Fire breaks out at Ozone Park school on first day


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

BY CRISTABELLE TUMOLA AND SALVATORE LICATA 

An Ozone Park school had to be evacuated on the first day back to class after a fire broke out on its roof, according to the FDNY.

The minor blaze started at about 10:50 a.m. on Thursday in one of the air conditioning units of P.S. 63, fire officials said.

Students and staff were evacuated from the 90-15 Sutter Ave. building for about 45 minutes, according to teachers.

No injuries were reported.

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Cross Bay Boulevard gets more parking — for bikes


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Parking is never easy to find on Cross Bay Boulevard. But that has now changed — for bicyclists at least — as the Department of Transportation (DOT) has begun installing bike racks along the boulevard.

The installation of the racks is part of a citywide initiative of recycling and reusing the now-obsolete vehicle parking meter poles by converting them into bicycle parking spaces, according to a DOT representative.

“The bike racks being installed along Cross Bay Boulevard are part of a citywide project to recycle the single-space meters and retrofit the pipes into mini-hoop style bike racks,” the DOT representative said.

The installation began on Aug. 25 and a total of 86 bike racks are being put along both sides of the boulevard. The racks will extend from Liberty Avenue in Ozone Park, south to 165th Avenue in Howard Beach, according to the DOT representative.

The initiative was started in 2011 when many of the single-space parking meters had their heads removed as the muni-meters made their way onto city streets and demand grew for bike parking throughout the five boroughs. The bike racks are made to easily slide onto the old parking meter poles already installed on the sidewalk, according to the DOT website.

Howard Beach is part of the Jamaica Bay Greenway route, which has a bike lane running from the neighborhood into the Rockaways.

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Residents and business owners lock horns over Ozone Park plaza


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Supporters of the controversial Ozone Park pedestrian plaza defended the space during a meeting about the plaza’s future, calling it an oasis in a neighborhood that is starved of public space.

But others said the plaza, located on Drew Street and 101st Avenue, is detrimental to business owners who feel that the loss of parking and the cut-off of two-way traffic is causing sales to drop.

“We wanted to create an open environment for the community,” said Darma Diaz, chief operating officer for the Bangladesh American Community Development and Youth Services Corporation (BACDYS), which is responsible for the upkeep of the plaza. “This plaza gives the opportunity for the community to have a place to go.”

She noted that public space is so minimal in the area that children have to use the nearby municipal meter lot, located at Elderts Lane and Glenmore Avenue in Brooklyn, for activities.

“This is the only place we have in our neighborhood where children could get together,” said one attendee of the Aug. 21 meeting at Queens Borough Hall. “We have never had a place for us to get together [until the plaza].”

But Khemraj Sadoo, owner of Super Clean Laundromat, located on the same street as the plaza, said there is viable space just two blocks down on Elderts Lane in Brooklyn and wants the plaza moved.

“We need the plaza moved,” Sadoo said. “Who will accept such a plaza in front of his face with such loss of business?”

The plaza was first put in the area in the fall of 2013. Originally it was only designed to take up the tiny intersection of Drew Street where vehicles were once able to turn from Liberty Avenue to 101st Avenue. But Dalila Hall, DOT commissioner for Queens, said when the department came to assess the area they came to the conclusion that part of 101st Avenue would also have to be used for the plaza, which now has taken away parking spaces for customers.

Hall said the DOT did realize that many parking spaces were cut off, which is why they implemented a municipal meter on the Liberty Avenue side of Drew Street recently. She says with the introduction of the metered parking there is only a net loss of one or two parking spots.

But business owners say they need more than just the parking spaces back to survive. Restoration of two-way traffic and the removal of garbage were other top priorities for those who were against the plaza.

“We need two-way traffic back,” Sadoo said. “All the garbage from the plaza flies into my Laundromat. I have tickets from the city.”

Hall said the department is working with the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) for more frequent pick-ups of garbage. The DSNY picks up twice a week in the plaza now, but Hall is hoping to increase that number to keep litter minimal.

Giving two-way access to the street again would mean the plaza would either have to be placed entirely on the sidewalk or be moved elsewhere. Issues such as that will have to be looked at more deeply, Hall said.

“We need to take this information in as an agency to see if more can be done to address everyone’s concern,” Hall said. “We will listen to both sides of course.”

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Community Board 9 district manager announces retirement


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Liam La Guerre

After three and a half decades of service Mary Ann Carey is stepping down from her position as District Manager of Community Board 9, which covers Richmond Hill, Kew Gardens, Ozone Park and Woodhaven.

“In my thirty-five years of service to this great city with very little exceptions, I loved every minute,” Carey wrote in her resignation letter earlier this month. “I have overseen many projects too numerous to mention here and worked with four Borough Presidents, dozens of legislators, commissioners, District Managers and their staff.”

Current Chairman Ralph Gonzalez congratulated Carey, who began her work as District Manager when Ed Koch was mayor, on her retirement and said it would be hard to imagine anyone who can fill her shoes.

“She has done so much for the community, and for so long,” he said. “She can be proud of the legacy she’s leaving at Community Board 9. I know that many people in Queens and on the Board join me in thanking Mary Ann for her years of dedication.”

The process to search for the next District Manager will start at the next community board meeting.

 

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Suspect charged with hate crime in Ozone Park hit-and-run of Sikh man


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Title

Updated Wednesday, Aug. 20 11:52 p.m.

A 55-year-old Long Island man has been charged with a hate crime after he allegedly called another man “Osama” before intentionally running him over and dragging him several feet before fleeing, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

Joseph Caleca has been charged with attempted murder as a hate crime, assault as a hate crime and leaving the scene without reporting. 

“The defendant is accused of an unprovoked attack that allegedly began with the defendant driving by the victim and his friends and yelling out a vile anti-Muslim insult,” Brown said. “After an exchange of words, the defendant allegedly struck the victim intentionally with his vehicle and dragged his body along the street.”

On July 30, the victim, 29-year-old Sandeep Singh, was standing at the intersection of 101st Avenue and 99th Street in Ozone Park with three friends just after midnight when a light-colored pickup truck driven by Caleca approached the group. Caleca then went on to say, “in sum and substance,” according to Brown, “Move your [expletive] ass. You’re [expletive] slow, you [expletive] Osama. Go back to your country.”

Afterwards, Caleca allegedly parked his truck, got out and confronted Singh and his friends. After a verbal dispute, Caleca then returned to his truck and drove head-on into Singh, catching his body on the vehicle’s undercarriage and then dragging Singh several feet until his body got out from under the vehicle, according to the district attorney. Caleca then fled the scene. 

Singh was taken to Jamaica Hospital with abdominal and back injuries, and several abrasions.

A week after Singh was struck outside of his business, a rally was held urging authorities to investigate the incident as a hate crime, according to DNAinfo.

Caleca was ordered held without bail and to return to court on Sept. 10. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison.

 

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Councilman Ulrich allocates $25K to clean up graffiti in district


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Cross Bay Boulevard can draw comparisons to 5Pointz with the amount of graffiti that has stricken its surrounding neighborhoods, but clean-up is on the way.

In his discretionary budget, Councilman Eric Ulrich has allocated $25,000 to graffiti clean-up in the district. Ulrich is teaming up with the Queens Economic Development Corporation (EDC), which will choose a company for the clean-up, for the first time and is hoping to start the job next month.

Cleaning up graffiti in these neighborhoods and all of Council District 32 is something that Ulrich has funded throughout his time as councilman, but this year he has allocated more money than ever to hit even more problem areas, according to Rudy Giuliani, a representative for the councilman.

The focus areas that Ulrich outlined are the neighborhoods of Woodhaven and Ozone Park. This is where graffiti is the biggest problem in Ulrich’s district, Giuliani said. The company that is hired by the Queens EDC will then move on to other areas in the district, which include Howard Beach, Lindenwood and the Rockaways.

 

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Ozone Park plaza getting makeover


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Salvatore Licata

A pedestrian plaza in Ozone Park that has become a detriment to local business is getting a makeover, according to the community group charged with maintaining it.

Shortly after The Courier published an article on the forlorn plaza at 101st Avenue and Drew Street, the Bangladesh American Community Development and Youth Services (BACDYS) organization placed a sign in the plaza announcing a re-make of the plaza.

There have already been changes made. BACDYS has scheduled an event for the plaza on Aug. 21 and also added umbrellas and chairs to better accommodate locals.

The sign hung up in the plaza reads, “A new plaza is proposed here,” and there is a meeting planned by Community Board 9 to discuss further solutions.

“When Community Board 9 voted in favor of the pedestrian plaza, we did so with the understanding that we would monitor the plaza’s local impacts and keep an eye on whether it remained an asset to the community,” CB 9 chairman Ralph Gonzalez said. “With this meeting, we hope to give all sides of this discussion a seat at the table, and we are aiming to arrive at the best resolution possible.”

Local business owners complained about the plaza because of the number of parking spaces it took up on 101st Avenue and Drew Street.

The meeting will be held on Aug. 21 at Queens Borough Hall at 4:30 p.m. Expected to attend are representatives from Community Board 9; the Department of Transportation’s Queens Borough Commissioner, Dalila Hall; representatives from the BACDYS organization and merchants from the area who have complained about the plaza.

 

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Ozone Park couple accused of beating, starving 12-year-old daughter


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

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An Ozone Park couple has been busted for child abuse after their 12-year-old daughter went through years of suffering that included being locked in her room without food and water, and being hit with a broken broom handle, officials said.

The child’s biological father, Rajesh Ranot, 46, and her stepmother, Sheetal Ranot, 31, have both been charged with assault and endangering the welfare of a child, District Attorney Richard Brown announced on Tuesday. The father has also been charged with unlawful imprisonment.

Rajesh and Sheetal Ranot are accused of beating their daughter Maya so badly that she ended up in the emergency room and starving her to the point that she weighed 58 pounds.

The horror began in December 2012, and lasted until July of this year, at which time Maya was repeatedly abused by her parents and locked in her bedroom for extended periods of time without food and water, according to prosecutors.

She was forced to take cold showers while her father struck her with various objects, including a baseball bat. Her stepmother allegedly hit her repeatedly and on different occasions used a wooden rolling pin and a broken metal broom handle.

The abuse sent her to the hospital several times, where she had to undergo surgery for her wrist and receive stitches, the district attorney said. During these visits doctors noticed the bruises, marks and scars on her body, and her low weight.

“Despite the bruising and scarring on her body which served as a silent testament to the violence and cruelty she purportedly endured, it is alleged that for a long time this emaciated child was fearful of disclosing the true nature of her injuries or those responsible for her suffering for fear that her younger step-siblings would be taken away by authorities and placed in foster care,” Brown said. “Fortunately, she found the courage to speak up.”

 

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Suspect runs man over in Ozone Park roadway dispute: cops


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD


A roadway dispute between two men in Ozone Park turned violent when one of the men ran the other over and dragged him several feet before fleeing, police said.

The incident started just after midnight Wednesday as the 29-year-old victim was exiting his parked car on 99th Street and prevented a pickup truck from passing, cops said.

After the pickup truck’s driver and the victim started arguing, the driver accelerated slightly, bumping the victim, according to authorities. The driver accelerated again, running the victim over and dragging him several feet before fleeing the scene on 101st Avenue.

The victim was taken to Jamaica Hospital with abdominal and back injuries, and several abrasions.

Police have released a photo of the suspect’s vehicle, a light colored 2007-2009 GMC 1500 Series Sierra pickup truck.

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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Owner of Smitty’s Hot Dog truck celebrates 25 years with $1 wieners


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

SALVATORE LICATA

During the dog days of summer, there’s one spot in Ozone Park where people can get relief—not from high temperatures but from high food prices.

The owner of Smitty’s Hot Dog and Italian Sausage truck, located on 149th Avenue and Cross Bay Boulevard in Ozone Park, is celebrating 25 years at the location by offering hot dogs at a discounted price—a buck apiece.

Don Cusumano has owned the truck since 1989 and frankfurter aficionados come from all over the tri-state area to chow down.

“You see those plates over there,” said Abdullah Muhammed, pointing at his car while waiting for his usual two hot dogs with mustard and onions. “I come all the way from New Jersey just to get Smitty’s.”

Cusumano bought the truck 25 years ago from a man named Schmidt, who had it in the same location for about 50 years.  He decided to keep the name “Smitty” because he thought people would rather have a “Smitty” dog than a “Don” dog.

He upgraded the truck by installing a drive-thru window on the street side to better accommodate customers, many of whom have been loyal for decades.

“I started coming here when I was 16 years old and now I’m 61,” said Joseph DeFeligibus, who raved about Cusumano’s homemade onions and Italian sausage. “Don’s a great man. Everyone knows about him.”

Cusumano’s anniversary special of $1.00 hot dogs will continue through Sept. 1. He said it’s a small way of thanking all those loyal customers that keep his truck going.

Aside from serving his customers, Cusumano shares a helping hand to those less fortunate in the community. He has taken part in events such as Toys for Tots, National Night Out Against Crime and even donated hot dogs to Hurricane Sandy victims.

“I enjoy what I do because I love serving this community,” Cusumano said. “Serving my customers is great. I’ve never thought about leaving this spot.”

 

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New shopping center coming to Ozone Park


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy Platinum Realty

A new shopping center is being built in a vacant lot in Ozone Park, and owners are planning to have it completed in time for Christmas.

Platinum Realty Associates plans to build a one-story center on the plot of land where Cross Bay Boulevard and North Conduit Avenue intersect. The project is scheduled to be completed by Dec. 1 and could house as many as 10 tenants.

The firm hopes to secure a supermarket as the anchor tenant, but has not confirmed one as of yet.

In the rendering obtained by The Courier, there are parking spaces for the stores, but a company official could not confirm the exact number of spots that will be available.

 

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