Tag Archives: Phillip Goldfeder

Rockaway Beach Rail Line gaining support


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder

Commuting to Manhattan from South Queens can be a miserable experience, but growing support for additional transportation options may alleviate these headaches.

“In addition to improving the terrible service on the A train, the MTA must increase bus service and restore the Rockaway Beach Rail Line,” Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder said, at the oversight hearing of the MTA capital budget plan from 2015 to 2019. “In the immediate aftermath of Sandy, we experienced firsthand the detrimental impact that the lack of public transit has on our families — in order to plan for our future growth, we must invest in vital transit infrastructure now.”

The MTA included the restoration of the Rockaway Beach Rail Line as part of their 20-year capital budget plan, which they outlined at the meeting on Aug. 7. Rail line restoration would mean quicker commute time to Manhattan for residents as well as economic growth for the area — and even supply a one-seat ride from mid-town Manhattan to JFK airport, Goldfeder said.

Advocates for more efficient South Queens transportation also advised the MTA to fix some ongoing issues in the neighborhood, including the possibility of toll rebates for cars from Howard Beach and Ozone Park that traverse the Cross Bay Bridge to and from Rockaway, Goldfeder said.

“There is no debate, improving current subway lines, increasing service and investing in projects like the Rockaway Beach Rail Line will benefit every resident of New York City,” he added. “No more excuses, every family should get the transit resources they deserve. In today’s difficult economy, we need more affordable and reliable transportation that will allow our city to grow and prepare for the future.”

 

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Residents ask for parking lines along Lindenwood streets


| editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

SALVATORE LICATA

Residents of Lindenwood want parking to be spot on.

More than 100 cars can be parked nose-first adjacent to the Belt Parkway on 157th Avenue between 77th and 80th streets, but that number is often reduced because there are no marked parking spaces.

Street signs tell drivers to back in at a 90 degree angle but since spaces aren’t marked, there are often wide gaps between vehicles too small for parking, which cut down the available space for other drivers.

So residents and politicians are calling for the Department of Transportation (DOT) to draw lines perpendicular to the curb to create defined parking spaces.

“A small effort from the DOT will allow local residents to have more parking spaces to access their neighborhood,” said Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder, who wrote a letter to the DOT urging them to do so.

Some residents have received summonses for parking haphazardly along the avenue but feel they are not at fault due to the city’s lack of designated parking spots for them.
“Marked legal parking spots are unclear and people are receiving summonses,” said Joann Ariola, president of the Howard Beach-Lindenwood Civic Association. “Redefining the lines will clear up all confusion when parking.”

The DOT is still reviewing Goldfeder’s request and did not have a response for how they would handle this situation.

 

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Parks Dept. says no to changing tree program despite complaints from Howard Beach residents


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Gabriella Licata

SALVATORE LICATA

The Parks Department rejected Howard Beach residents’ plea of changing the system of planting trees in the neighborhood, known as the one million tree initiative. Currently, residents may request a tree to be planted in front of their homes but may not refuse a planting, a point of contention for more than two dozen residents.

Due to recent complaints, Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder has urged the department to implement a system where residents will be given the option to have a tree planted in front of their homes prior to it being planted.

But doing so would be too complicated, according to Zachary Feder, a spokesman for the Parks Department.

“NYC Parks is always willing to consider location and species suggestions,” Feder said.

“However trees work best as a system, and eliminating planting sites or allowing homeowners to opt out would undermine the effectiveness of this system and significantly reduce the environmental benefit.”

The trees are being placed on city property, but once planted maintaining them and raking the leaves that fall from the trees on to the sidewalk are the residents’ responsibility.

When Superstorm Sandy roared through the area it tore down trees, which damaged houses, power lines and sidewalks, leaving some residents wary of new trees being placed in front of their houses.

“Many residents are still recovering from Sandy and should be involved in the process that will revitalize their neighborhood,” Goldfeder said.

Feder said the new trees will be better suited for storm conditions.

“In recent years, we have implemented new planting techniques on streets to make the new trees we plant less susceptible to storm damage and less likely to lift up sidewalks,” Feder said.

The MillionTreesNYC initiative is a citywide project, and is not just going on in neighborhoods that were affected by Sandy. The Parks Department plans to plant about 220,000 trees on public streets, which will increase the city’s urban forest, “our most valuable environmental asset,” according to the department’s website.

It also says these new trees will help to capture storm water, reduce air pollution and moderate temperatures.

Despite the protests, the Parks Department said it will continue to plant trees around the neighborhood.

 

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Goldfeder wants clean-up of Howard Beach eyesore


| mhayes@queenscourier.com


The Joseph P. Addabbo Memorial Bridge has become a community “eyesore,” said one Queens pol who wants the National Park Service (NPS) to step in.

“The level of deterioration at the foot of the Addabbo Bridge in Howard Beach is unacceptable,” said Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder.

Goldfeder sent a letter to NPS Commissioner Josh Laird, requesting he repair the damaged and collapsed fence along the bridge near Cross Bay Boulevard before the summer season.

During Sandy, over one year ago, the fence was blown down and has yet to be restored. Goldfeder said this allows for pedestrians and fishermen to walk freely through the area, polluting the grounds.

“Currently, it’s a wide open space for any tragedy to occur,” said Dorothy McClusky, founder of the neighborhood group, Friends of Charles Park. “Any child could fall in the bay and no one would know. It’s a dangerous situation for the community.”

 

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Pol: Racino money should go to Aqueduct


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Assemblymember Goldfeder

Following years of neglect and two recent crimes, one Queens pol wants to turn the Aqueduct Racetrack from a “national disgrace” back into a community gem.

“It’s unacceptable that this once national treasure has become an eyesore and serious danger to our families and neighbors in southern Queens,” said Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder.

Goldfeder  introduced new legislation Monday that would require an existing $30 million, generated by neighboring Resorts World Casino, go directly to Aqueduct.

Earlier this month, a mentally handicapped 40-year-old woman was found naked in the racetrack’s bathroom stall after being sexually abused by Frank Wood of Pennsylvania, according to District Attorney Richard Brown.

Additionally, just this week the 1985 Breeders’ Cup trophy and several electronic items were stolen from the site, police said.

Goldfeder said his proposal would bring in funds to significantly upgrade security as well as give current employees the tools needed to combat crime. It would also go toward general upgrades for the facility.

The $30 million from Resorts World accounts for 4 percent of the racino’s yearly revenue. It is allotted to capital expenditures for maintaining and upgrading New York Racing Association (NYRA) facilities.

Currently, NYRA uses the funds at the Saratoga and Belmont racing sites.

Eric Wing, a NYRA spokesperson, said revenue received is diverted to Saratoga, Belmont and Aqueduct depending on what is needed in capital improvements.

“In the past year, we’ve spent well over $5 million just on upgrades at Aqueduct,” Wing said. “Everyone who comes can easily get a firsthand look at the many improvements that have been made.”

He said NYRA has a “responsibility to all three of our racetracks” and upgrades will continue to be made at the borough’s track.

 

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Goldfeder: Cell phone providers need to stay connected


| mhayes@queenscourier.com


In south Queens, one local leader wants the lines of communication open in the event of another superstorm.

After Sandy, thousands of the region’s residents were left without a lifeline for weeks, some for months – power was out, and cable and land-line service was gone as was cell reception.

Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder has hopes that cell phone service providers, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint, can build stronger cell towers and infrastructure throughout the region that will withstand the impact of any future weather disasters.

He will meet with Verizon and AT&T on Thursday to discuss upgrades and changes made thus far in preparation for another storm.

“Our inability to communicate via cell phone compounded the many issues brought on by Sandy,” Goldfeder said. “Communication is vital during a disaster.”

During the superstorm, the severe winds and flooding knocked out many cell towers.

“We cannot wait for another disaster to take action,” Goldfeder said. “Every company has a responsibility to their customers to invest in their infrastructure and towers to ensure that service will remain in place during our next potential disaster.”

 

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Pols push for St. John’s Hospital to be reimbursed for Sandy expenses


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the office of Assemblymember Goldfeder

Local pols want to keep the lone Rockaway hospital from flat lining.

Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder and State Sentator James Sanders sponsored a bill to bring $4.3 million to St. John’s Episcopal Hospital to reimburse them for expenses spent during and after Sandy.

“St. John’s is the only healthcare facility available to serve nearly 100,000 families on the Rockaway Peninsula,” Goldfeder said. “We must ensure that St. John’s has the tools necessary to protect its current services and expand in order to serve our community and keep our families healthy for many years to come.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo allocated $1.2 billion in his executive budget for healthcare facilities. Goldfeder requested a portion of that be reserved for St. John’s.

During the superstorm, the hospital worked on “caring for the many sick, elderly and homeless community members who entered our doors seeking shelter and medical assistance, and not the cost or how it would be recouped,” said Richard Brown, St. John’s CEO.

“These much-needed funds would help our recovery and aid us in upholding our mission of service to the people of the Rockaways,” he said.

 

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Howard Beach’s P.S. 207 receives nearly $2M in storm recovery funds


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Twelve feet of water rushed into the basement of P.S. 207 during Sandy, leaving the Howard Beach school with over $2 million worth of damages.

Senators Charles Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand and Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder announced Monday roughly $1.82 million is on the way for repairs.

“It’s been over a year since Sandy tore apart our schools in southern Queens and while we have all made significant progress there is still work to be done,” Goldfeder said. “This new funding will enormously help P.S. 207 rebuild and ensure our children receive the quality education they deserve.”

The FEMA federal funds will go to the New York City School Construction Authority (SCA) and will reimburse 90 percent of the cost of repairs throughout the building.

The bulk of the damage was in the flooded basement, where a fuel oil tank rolled and spilled about 3,000 gallons of oil. Two boilers, electrical panels, lights, ductwork and the fire alarm system were also damaged.

The damage left the school without electricity, heat and water, and closed in the months following the superstorm. Nearly 90,000 gallons of water and oil was removed from the building before it could reopen.

“This infusion of federal money is helping P.S. 207 put the damaging effects of Hurricane Sandy in the rear-view mirror and enabling the school to get back to educating New York City’s children without crushing back-bills,” Schumer said.

 

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Democrat Lew Simon enters City Council District 32 race


| tcullen@queenscourier.com


City Council District 32 has a new contender.

Lew Simon, leader of the 23rd Assembly District, has officially declared his candidacy as a Democrat for the upcoming race, where he will vie with incumbent Republican Councilmember Eric Ulrich.

Simon was backed by the Queens Democratic Party on Monday, May 20 after announcing his candidacy last week. State Senator Joseph Addabbo and Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder have also endorsed him. “I’m very honored and I’m very proud,” Simon said.

He is running on a platform of Sandy reconstruction and restoring the Long Island Rail Road’s Rockaway Beach Branch.

“The playing field is very different,” he said. “I was not happy with the services and the responses we’re getting from any of the city agencies, our mayor or our councilmember.”

This will not be the first time Simon and Ulrich face off in an election. They ran in a 2009 special election to fill the council seat vacated by State Senator Joseph Addabbo.

“I’m very excited,” Simon said of this year’s run. “I’m going to do the very old fashioned way of grass roots. I plan on being everywhere you see.”

Simon has begun reaching out to different neighborhoods in District 32, including Woodhaven and Lindenwood. He said he previously worked with Woodhaven residents when the neighborhood was part of the assembly district.

“It was like going back to my family,” he said. “I’ve never left Woodhaven. I’ve always been there working closely with them.”

 

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Full A train service returns to Rockaways May 30


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo  Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Amy Hausmann

Almost seven months after Sandy significantly damaged the A train in the Rockaways, the subway will fully start running in the area on May 30, the MTA announced today.

The storm washed-out 1,500 feet of tracks, and damaged miles of signal, power and communications wires. Two stations were also completely flooded and needed to be repaired.

Currently, the A line ends at the Howard Beach/JFK Airport stop.

Shortly after the shut down, the MTA started operating a bus shuttle between that station and the Mott Avenue stop in Far Rockaway

The transit agency also resurrected the H train on November 20. The line makes intermediate stops between the Far Rockaway-Mott Avenue and Beach 90th Street stations.

Both the bus shuttle and H train will be discontinued when full A train service is restored.

Following Sandy, a third option, a temporary ferry, was also offered to residents travelling to Manhattan.

Though full subway service is coming back, one local political wants the ferry to stay.

Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder is asking residents to sign a petition to continue the ferry service from Beach 108th Street and Beach Channel Drive to Pier 11/Wall Street and East 34th Street in Manhattan.

“I am urging the city to maintain the ferry even after the subway service has been restored to give residents transportation options and speed our recovery,” said Goldfeder.

 

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Pols push to make mixed martial arts legal in New York


| tcullen@queenscourier.com


A big fight for an increasingly popular sport is underway.

Mixed martial arts (MMA) could become legal in New York later this year, but there are still a few jabs advocates have to block.

Nine Queens assemblymembers sponsored a bill that would make the sport legal. The bill, sponsored by two legislators from Queens, passed 47-15 in the Senate.

The Assembly must pass the bill for it to become law, though the body voted not to remove the MMA ban last May. That left New York as one of a few states where professional MMA is illegal, though amateurs are allowed to fight here.

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) president Dana White has repeatedly blamed the Culinary Workers Union based in Nevada for blocking mixed martial arts in New York. His partners, Lorenzo and Frank Feritta, own Station Casinos in Las Vegas. Culinary workers have lobbied against the non-union establishment.

In an April 25 interview with ESPN, White said he wanted to see mixed martial arts in New York, but was resigned to waiting for the vote.

White said a UFC presence in the city would lead to about $600,000 in ticket taxes and an overall economic impact of $60-100 million. He is hopeful a fight will come at Madison Square Garden in the future.

“We’re doing fights all over the world,” he said. “Do I want to be here? Yes.”

Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder met with representatives from the UFC last week. He said legalizing pro MMA would tap into a revenue source nearly every other state has. Goldfeder added that no one opposing the legalization has reached out to him.

“There’s a huge upside with no downside. We currently have the access to MMA” through cable television, he said. “Now we can take advantage of some of the benefits as well.”

Goldfeder said he is confident the assembly will pass the bill before the current legislative session ends in June.

He added that Resorts World Casino New York City could potentially host UFC fights. While it is not as big as Madison Square Garden or the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, it has hosted professional boxing matches on the third floor.

Requests for comment from Unite Here, the nationwide wing of the culinary union, were not answered by press time.

 

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Assemblymember Goldfeder announces Summer Reading Challenge


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder

Kids can keep their minds sharp this summer with another chapter of the state Assembly’s Summer Reading Challenge.

The program looks to beat the “summer slide” in which kids may not keep up with reading while school’s out. Sponsored by Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder, this year’s theme is “Dig into reading” for children; for tweens it’s “Beneath the Surface.”

Students can pick up materials at their local schools in the 23rd Assembly District, or at Goldfeder’s Ozone Park and Rockaway offices.

Youngsters who read with a parent for at least 15 minutes a day for 40 days through July and August get an official Assembly certificate personally delivered by their representative.

Around 250 students from P.S. 232 in Lindenwood took part in the program last summer, according to Goldfeder’s office.

Principal Lisa Josephson said students who took part last year came back in September with keen minds, ready to learn.

“Our students at P.S. 232 who do their active reading during the summer months return to school prepared,” she said. “And they get rewarded for their efforts by Assemblymember Goldfeder.”

“Learning shouldn’t stop when the last bell rings at the end of the school year,” said Goldfeder. “The Assembly’s Summer Reading Challenge offers a fun and exciting way for families to spend quality time together while parents help their children expand their imaginations and learn.”

For more information, visit www.assembly.state.ny.us/goldfeder or call 718-945-9550.

 

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MTA cuts shuttle service to Sandy-ravaged Rockaways


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Image courtesy of MTA

Local and citywide leaders say the MTA is throwing the Rockaways under the bus.

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio joined with Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder and Councilmember Donovan Richards in Far Rockaway on Friday, April 19 to decry the decreased shuttle bus service to the Sandy-affected peninsula.

A train service to the Rockaways last ran on Sunday, October 28 as the city buckled down for the storm, which left rails across Jamaica Bay severely damaged.

Since then, buses have run from the Howard Beach-JFK Station to the peninsula.

But on Monday the MTA cut bus service from 94 to 75 runs per weekday.

De Blasio contrasted the cuts with the transit authority’s new Cannonball train, a streamlined shuttle to the Hamptons. He said people with high incomes would benefit from the new train while low- to middle-income Rockaway residents would suffer from the cost-saving measure.

“The MTA can’t throw the Rockaways under the bus,” he said. “If it can expand service for Manhattanites weekending in the Hamptons, then it can afford to do right by hard-hit families in the Rockaways.”

Train service within Rockaway returned in December with the restored H train. It runs from the Far Rockaway-Mott Avenue station to Beach 90-Holland.

“This shuttle service provides an essential lifeline with the rest of New York City for our residents in one of the areas hit hardest by Sandy,” Richards said. “If anything, what we really need is more buses during peak morning and evening hours.”

Goldfeder, who has advocated for faster train service to the peninsula, noted that south Queens residents already have one of the city’s longest commutes to midtown. With families still reeling six months after the storm, the service cuts would be another blow, he said.

“Our communities are still struggling to rebuild from the damage caused by Sandy,” Goldfeder said. “And the last thing they need is to be nickeled-and-dimed for service that is crucial to helping them recover.”

The MTA, however, said the service, while decreasing, is shifting to streamline travel in and out of Rockaway.

“We’re actually improving service for the vast majority of customers who use the shuttle,” said MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz.

There will be more shuttle buses running during rush hours, and decreased service during slower hours, he said.

Oritz said the Cannonball train follows a route that has been in operation for the past century. He added that the only recent change was making the train leave from Penn Station instead of Hunters Point.

 

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Pols call on city to reimburse out-of-pocket Sandy repair costs


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Alice Wade-Miller

Since Sandy ravaged the tristate area, homeowners battling with insurance companies have resorted to paying for damages out of their own pockets.

“Right now, we’re using our savings,” said Rose Miller, 86, of Belle Harbor. “I keep my fingers crossed every time I take money out. We’re holding our breath with each payment.”

Initially, residents like Miller were on their own without reimbursement, and local leaders stepped in to call on the city to extend a hand. City officials responded Tuesday night by announcing “qualified homeowners,” those who paid with their own money, or without a FEMA loan, would be reimbursed.

Councilmember Donovan Richards hosted a press conference on Sunday, April 21 with Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder and State Senator James Sanders. They called on the city to reimburse people like Miller who are scrounging their savings to rebuild.

Miller and her husband have lived in their Rockaway home for over 50 years. After Sandy, the couple had to completely gut their basement, redo floors, purchase new appliances, clear wreckage outside, empty sand that had washed inside and more. Miller estimates her repairs totaled around $48,000.

“We’re not going fancy,” Miller said. “We’re just getting our lives back in order.”

A 10-foot plank from the boardwalk washed up to their front stoop, which was broken in pieces. Three family cars were also completely ruined.

“We’re still suffering,” Miller said. “People don’t realize how deeply the neighborhood is affected. All of the reactions have died down.”

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is set to pay out the first $1.7 billion in Sandy aid to affected areas. While homeowners in New Jersey and Nassau County will be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses, Sanders, Goldfeder and Richards said homeowners in New York City will be left in the lurch.

“We are in a crisis,” said Richards. “To say we’re not going to help these people is a crime. We are calling on the mayor’s office to reimburse homeowners. It is the right thing to do.”

The trio of politicians all said they have written to HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, asking him to guarantee federal relief money go toward reimbursing homeowners.

They added that most of the city’s Sandy aid will go to infrastructure rebuilding and growth and called on Mayor Michael Bloomberg to put homeowners first.

“We shouldn’t minimize any family,” Goldfeder said. “If you need the services, if you need the help, you need the city to step up and be there for you.”

The officials said the city is worried about people trying to inflate the cost of damages they suffered. But Sanders noted that if a FEMA inspector visited a damaged home, the owner would have an actual appraisal to give back to the city.

“The city is being pigheaded on an issue where they’re not helping the middle class,” he said. “If you were facing the bitter [winter] cold and you did not want to see your family tormented, you went into your pocket you did whatever you had to do and you put your home back together, [and] you should get a refund.”

Richards estimated that homeowners suffered an average of at least $50,000 in damage to their homes. Goldfeder said he sustained upwards of $60,000 to his Far Rockaway home, while Sanders cited around $30,000 in costs himself. The typical FEMA grant is about $30,000. Miller received $14,000 from FEMA.

-BY MAGGIE HAYES AND TERENCE CULLEN

 

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Sandy’s heroes celebrate 85 years of service


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

While the night marked 85 years of serving its community, the West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department dedicated its annual dinner/dance to all of those who pitched in during Sandy — particularly the men and women who were on duty that night.

Volunteers, friends, family and local leaders celebrated another year of community service on Thursday, January 31 at Russo’s on the Bay. State Senator Joseph Addabbo and Councilmember Eric Ulrich were special honorees, along with former Assemblymember Audrey Pfeffer and former State Senator Serphin Maltese. “Our own firehouse took more than five feet of water, destroying every piece of apparatus we own, and caused extensive damage to the building and equipment,” said treasurer and former chief Mitch Udewitch. “Even during our nightmare, we continued to serve our community, as the new Howard Beach Civic Association began using the department building as a food pantry, a soup kitchen [and a] clothing drop off for area residents. As the devastation became clear, members of the community began stepping forward and helping.”

Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder, the night’s presiding officer, swore in new and returning members of the fire department, including Chief Jonah Cohen, who has served a number of terms in the position.

The Howard Beach Kiwanis Club gave a $1,000 contribution to the firehouse. Several donations have been made to the department in the months after the storm. A slew of fire companies from around the country gave equipment, fire trucks and ambulances to the West Hamilton Beach department after its entire arsenal was damaged by flood waters. In December, Duane Reade/Walgreens donated $25,000, which Cohen said would probably go toward a new ambulance.

 

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