Tag Archives: Queens Boulevard

Forest Hills gets fresh flooding fix


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Away goes trouble, down the drain.

Rampant rains that saturated homes and submerged cars earlier this month expedited plans by the New York City Departments of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Design and Construction (DDC) to complete the installation of a water-distribution system, expected to alleviate flooding in steadily soaked Forest Hills.

The $24 million upgrade targets roadway flooding and added approximately one mile of new sewer lines and half a mile of water mains. The project was funded by the DEP and will be overseen by the DDC.

Paul Pearlman, owner of Emilio’s Ski Shop, said flooding remains a major problem in the area.

“Every time it rains, the water just comes right in,” Pearlman said. “The water gets so backed up it just comes in. Even if it’s just a little rain, it floods.”

The business owner, whose store is located at the corner of Queens Boulevard and 76th Avenue, said his shop’s basement flooded on Saturday, September 8, after the DEP announced the completion of the revamped sewer system.

According to DEP commissioner Carter Strickland, the city agency plans to invest over half a billion dollars into improving the sewer infrastructure in Queens, reducing system overflows, backups and flooding.

“These new roadways, catch basins, and sewers will reduce flooding, improve water delivery, and yield a more attractive streetscape for the residents of Forest Hills,” said Eric MacFarlane, deputy commissioner for infrastructure at the DDC.

The project includes the installation of approximately 1,700 feet of sanitary sewer lines, more than 4,000 feet of storm sewer lines, 55 catch basins and 49 manholes, as well as the replacement of a 2,400-foot section of a water distribution main — fixtures the city believes will increase sewer capacity, reduce flooding and diminish backups.

DOT addressing construction concerns in Briarwood


| mchan@queenscourier.com

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Commuters in Briarwood say poor planning by the state has left them hanging two years after ongoing construction at a major subway station first started marring the community.

Civic leaders in the area called for better communication from the state’s Department of Transportation (DOT), during an August 25 rally at the Briarwood-Van Wyck subway station on Queens Boulevard — an area they say is plagued by poor lighting and dangerous, confusing traffic rerouting.

“The whole traffic flow changed and people ended up driving on the wrong side of the road. It was just genuinely a mess,” said Beth Brooks, spokesperson for the Briarwood Action Network (BAN). “People are frustrated because it’s not like any of this is new. The state DOT really dropped the ball.”

The Briarwood component of the state’s Kew Gardens Interchange project, as the Courier reported last September, involves replacing the Queens Boulevard bridge over the Van Wyck Expressway, adding an auxiliary lane to the expressway and an elevator and new entrance to the subway station, which will not be open to the public for at least another year, said Adam Levine, spokesperson for the state’s DOT.

Construction along the south side of Queens Boulevard caused the station’s main entrance to close two weeks ago, Levine said, and vehicular traffic was then shifted to the north side of the boulevard, where the agency built a new pathway along the edge of the construction zone leading to a ramp into a newly built, but temporary, subway entrance.

Levine said the DOT installed a new, temporary traffic signal on Queens Boulevard, additional street lights and workers to guide pedestrians past the work zone during works hours.

But BAN leaders — who have observed several cars and a bus traveling on the wrong side of the road — say the changes put both pedestrians and motorists in dangers. The project, Brooks said, has also caused a noticeable buildup of litter after construction knocked out several city garbage cans along the route from the subway station to Main Street.

“The community was blindsided. We felt like we had been left out of the process that we thought we were included in,” Brooks said.

Levine said the DOT is “taking action” to address all the concerns and implement changes. Agency officials, he said, met with Briarwood leaders three days after the rally. Brooks said the DOT plans on scheduling a public meeting to discuss practical solutions and appointing a community liaison to the project.

“We got what we wanted,” Brooks said, “immediate attention.”

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: Partly cloudy. High of 82. Winds from the ENE at 5 to 10 mph shifting to the SE in the afternoon. Wednesday night: Partly cloudy. Low of 72. Winds from the South at 5 to 10 mph shifting to the WNW after midnight

EVENT of the DAY: Family Karaoke Night at Manducatis Rustica

At this Long Island City restaurant’s karaoke night there are over 40,000 songs to choose from plus $5 specialty drinks for adults and gelato for kids of all ages. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Brazen thief steals 2 silver Torah crowns from Queens synogogue during evening services

Two valuable silver Torah crowns were stolen from a Queens synagogue during evening prayer services, police said Tuesday. Read more: New York Daily News

Councilman proposes emergency lane along Queens Boulevard

While traffic on Queens Boulevard can be frustrating for drivers, one official says it may be causing bigger problems. Read more: NY1

Cagey peacock ruffles Queens cops’ feathers

They can rappel down skyscrapers, rescue plane-crash survivors from an icy river, and go toe-to-toe with terrorists.But elite NYPD Emergency Service Unit cops were outsmarted yesterday by a plucky peacock that has made a Queens neighborhood his home away from home for the past week. Read more: New York Post

Busted pipe slowly turning freshwater ponds salty in Broad Channel

A busted drain pipe and valve system is slowly ruining the ecology of Jamaica Bay, driving away birds that usually breed along two freshwater ponds. Read more: New York Daily News

Sources: U.S. Open ref arrested in connection with husband’s death

Sources say that police arrested a U.S. Open tennis referee Tuesday who is a suspect in her husband’s death. Read more: NY1

NYPD: Muslim spying led to no leads, terror cases

In more than six years of spying on Muslim neighborhoods, eavesdropping on conversations and cataloguing mosques, the New York Police Department’s secret Demographics Unit never generated a lead or triggered a terrorism investigation, the department acknowledged in court testimony unsealed late Monday. Read more: AP

Blasting goes awry along 2nd Avenue subway; buildings, sidewalk damaged

Blasting along Manhattan’s still-under-construction 2nd Avenue subway line caused some damage Tuesday afternoon. Now, authorities want to know if human error was to blame. Read more: CBS New York

Searching for a new neighbor on ‘Sesame Street’

“Sesame Street” held its first-ever open casting call in New York this week to find its newest neighbor — a Hispanic character to reflect the long-running show’s increasingly diverse audience. Read more: Wall Street Journal 

BC/WSJ poll: Heading into conventions, Obama has four-point lead 

After Mitt Romney selected his vice presidential running mate, and just days before the political conventions kick off next week, President Barack Obama maintains his advantage in the race for the White House, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Read more: NBC news

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Tuesday: Overcast with thunderstorms and rain showers in the afternoon. High of 86. Winds from the SSW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 40%.Tuesday Night: Overcast with thunderstorms and rain showers. Low of 73. Winds from the South at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 60% with rainfall amounts near 0.5 in. possible.

EVENT of the DAY: Live at the Gantries with Christel Rice

Traditional Irish flute player and Philadelphia native Christel Rice has created a sensational and unique style with her music. She studied with the late Michael Rafferty of Ballinakill, Ireland where she learned the regional style of flute playing. Come see her preform for free tonight at Gantry Plaza State Park. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Glendale property owner in talks to lease vacant Cooper Ave. land to local nonprofit for a homeless shelter

A Glendale property owner is mulling a plan to turn a former factory into a shelter for the homeless, though community leaders have vowed to fight it. Read more: New York Daily News 

Vallone urges emergency lanes on Queens Boulevard

Forget bike lanes and pedestrian plazas: It’s time to accommodate emergency responders navigating Queens’ deadliest road, a lawmaker says. Read more: New York Post

Congressional Candidate Meng comments on her father’s bribe charges

As Democratic congressional candidate Grace Meng picked up the endorsement of former Mayor Ed Koch at City Hall on Monday, she spoke publicly for the first time about her father’s arrest on wire fraud charges. Read more: NY1

Judge who accused cop of assault says Queens DA is whitewashing probe

The Queens judge who accused a cop of striking him in the throat with a military-style chop says the District Attorney’s probe appears to be a sham. Read more: New York Daily News 

DOE finds almost 70 percent of city students live in poor households

At Hillcrest High School in Jamaica, Queens, 65 percent of the students live in households that earn under $30,000. That is double the figure of just three years ago. While Hillcrest saw one of the biggest jumps, student poverty has increased citywide. Read more: NY1

Bratton makes rounds

Former New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton is signaling his interest in succeeding Commissioner Raymond Kelly, holding private meetings with potential mayoral candidates during which he’s discussing public-safety strategies and his desire to return to service. Read more: Wall Street Journal 

Veteran officer, gunman die in Texas shootout

A routine serving of an eviction notice to a man living near the Texas A&M University campus turned deadly for Brazos County Constable Brian Bachmann when the resident opened fire on him, leading to the death of the law enforcement officer and another man before the gunman was killed. Read more: AP

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

 

John Gotti grandson busted with a stash of steroids

The grandson of John (Teflon Don) Gotti was busted with a stash of steroids in Queens on Tuesday, police sources told the Daily News. A team of narcotics cops collared 18-year-old John Gotti — namesake of the notorious Gambino crime family boss — at a house near 92nd St. and 158th Ave. in Howard Beach shortly before 6 p.m., the sources said. Read more: [New York Daily News]

 

Georgia rapper busted at La Guardia Airport for having brass knuckles

What a knucklehead! A rapper from Georgia was busted with brass knuckles at LaGuardia Airport today, The Post has learned. Tauheed Epps, 34, who goes by the stage names 2 Chainz and Tity Boi, was stopped by TSA screeners at around 2:30 p.m. while passing through a security checkpoint in the Delta terminal, sources said. Read more: [New York Post]

 

NYRA Deal Aims To Revamp State’s Horse Racing Industry

Just weeks before the eyes of the horse racing world will be on the Belmont Stakes, Governor Andrew Cuomo, along with the state’s legislative leaders, announced Tuesday a deal to begin serious reform of the troubled New York Racing Association. Read more: [NY1]

 

R.A. Dickey K’s 11 Pirates as Lucas Duda lifts Mets

R.A. Dickey’s knuckleball is designed to baffle, not overwhelm. Against the free-swinging Pittsburg Pirates on Tuesday, it did both. His 80-mph knuckler dipping and darting all over the place, Dickey struck out a career-high 11 as the New York Mets hung on for a 3-2 victory. Dickey (6-1) tied a host of others for the most wins in the majors to continue the best start of his career. Read more: [ESPN]

 

Suspects Stole Blind Woman’s Wallet In Queens Before Using Her Credit Cards

Police are looking for a pair of suspects still at large in a brazen Queens theft. A 68-year-old blind woman was walking with her guide dog through the F line train station at the corner of Queens Boulevard and 75th Avenue around 6 p.m. on April 16 when one of the suspects reached into her dress pocket and took her wallet, authorities said. Read more: [1010WINS]

 

Off-duty police officer rear-ends car, hurts driver in Queens DWI wreck

An off-duty veteran cop was collared Tuesday for taking off after rear-ending another car in Queens while he was drunk, police said. Ankur Joshi, 35, crashed his vehicle at Steinway St. and 25th Ave. in Astoria around 5:25 a.m., just five blocks from the 114th Precinct stationhouse where he works, police sources said. Read more: [New York Daily News] 

Forest Hills biz hurt by JetBlue departure


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Forest Hills Tower 3w

JetBlue’s takeoff from Forest Hills has been rocky for local businesses – now severely struggling to survive.

A number of merchants say they have lost large percentages of their business since the airline moved from its headquarters in the Forest Hills Tower, located on Queens Boulevard and Union Turnpike, to a modernized facility in Queens Plaza in Long Island City last week – taking with it roughly 900 employees and daily customers.

Con Edison, which has roughly 80 employees in the Forest Hills Tower, is also moving. Several employees left on April 6, and the rest are expected to move by the end of the year, according to a Con Edison spokesperson.

Rikin Patel, the 23 year old who runs Mini LLC, a coffee and snack shop in the lobby of the building, says business has dropped nearly 60 percent in the past week.

“Since JetBlue left, everything has been quiet. Business is very slow,” said Patel, who is now covering expenses out of pocket. “I’m just trying to survive right now. I’m trying to cut down expenses and survive until a new company comes. It’s been one week, so it is too early to say whether we’re able to survive.”

Patel believes business should return to normal when the space is filled with a new tenant.

Matt Davidov, owner of Hot Bialys & Bagels, located a block away from the office building, says his shop used to be very busy thanks to JetBlue customers, who accounted for at least 30 percent of his business.

“We had a lot of JetBlue people coming in. We used to be busy but not anymore,” Davidov said. “I’m concerned to the extent of how I’m going to pay for things, but I’m cutting down here and there. I could probably survive a few months longer without cutting down on the staff. Beyond that, I would have to make cuts.”

JetBlue employees used to get 10 percent off at Davidov’s store, due to the volume of customers, but the owner says he can no longer afford to offer discounts and still earn a profit – which he claims is a common dilemma in the area.

“All the businesses around here are suffering,” he said. “There were a lot of businesses that opened up just because of [JetBlue] being here.”

Leslie Brown, president of the Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce, says one local shop recently closed in part because of JetBlue’s departure.

“We are sorry to see that [JetBlue is] leaving Forest Hills,” Brown said. “We liked the fact that JetBlue called Forest Hills its home. The small shops are going to feel the difference of 900 people not buying coffee or lunch or going shopping on their break or having a drink after work. Hopefully, another corporation will come in and take over the space because Forest Hills is such a vibrant place and a great place to do business.”

A spokesperson for Muss Development LLC, which owns the 17-story Forest Hills Tower, could not comment regarding prospective tenants or a timetable for replacing JetBlue, which occupied 10 stories of the building. The spokesperson did say there has been “a lot of interest from potential tenants.”

Ken Siegel, the international managing director of Jones Lang LaSalle, which is marketing the space, says there has been “a good amount of interest, both from local firms and firms from western Nassau and Manhattan.” Siegel expects to have the location “fully leased within the next few months,” due in large part to the building’s municipal incentives, panoramas of Manhattan and proximity to public transportation.

Reports have indicated that Plaza College, a business and health school located in Jackson Heights, and the Queens District Attorney’s Office is interested in potentially leasing the space.

Elderly Forest Hills woman missing


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Dolly Arias2w

Police are asking for the public’s help finding an elderly Forest Hills woman last seen on Sunday, March 4.

Dolly Arias, 72, was last seen leaving her Queens Boulevard apartment yesterday evening wearing a multi-colored jacket and black pants.

Police described the missing as 5-feet-6-inches tall, 120 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. Arias is in good physical health, but poor mental condition, according to authorities.

Anyone with information in regards to this missing 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 at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

One teen, two others shot on Jamaica Avenue


| brennison@queenscourier.com

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One teenager and two 20-year-olds were shot on Jamaica Avenue in what was according to witnesses, likely gang-related activity.

The shootings took place outside a Jamaica Avenue Wendy’s this afternoon at approximately 3 p.m. Two victims were shot in the leg, with one taking a bullet to the arm.

The victims were a 17-year-old black male and two 20-year-old Hispanic males, according to police.

Published reports indicate that the victims were members of the gang MS-13.

All three were taken to Jamaica Hospital and are listed in stable condition.

Jamaica Avenue was closed down between Queens Boulevard and 139th Street as dozens of police officers canvassed the area.

There are no descriptions of the suspects, police said.

Students from nearby M.S. 217 said they saw one victim with a gunshot wound to the left arm on their way home from school. The teens said that while gang activity is an issue in the area it had not escalated to gun violence before.

Jack Sharma, who lives one block away from the shooting, bemoaned teenager’s lack of respect for life.

“Kids don’t value life,” Sharma said. “It’s bad for my neighborhood.”

Sharma’s 16-year-old daughter saw the shooting’s aftermath as she picked up her brother and sister from school.

“This neighborhood is quiet,” Sharma said. “I did not expect this. It’s too close to home.”

 

Police search for suspect in three Queens bank robberies


| brennison@queenscourier.com

RMA #223-12 MCS Bank Robb. 2-24-12 (1)

Police are searching for a suspect they believe is responsible for three February bank robberies.

The suspect hit three Chase banks all along Queens Boulevard. In each instance the suspect, described by police as a 30-year-old black male, approached the teller with a note demanding money.

The three robberies occurred on February 3, February 14 and February 23 at the Rego Park, Long Island City and Forest Hills branches, respectively.

The suspect made off with money only one of the three times.

Anyone with information regarding the identity or whereabouts of the suspect 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 at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then entering TIP577.

 

Pedestrian countdown signals saves lives on Queens Boulevard


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Bye-bye “Boulevard of Death.”

Sixty-six intersections along Queens Boulevard have acquired pedestrian countdown signals (PCS), the latest safety improvement made by the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) throughout the borough. These fixtures, among over 2,100 new countdown signals installed in Queens in 2011, inform walkers of how much time is left before the light changes, keeping them from stepping into oncoming traffic.

“Safety numbers are more than statistics, safety is a nonstop campaign to prevent unnecessary, avoidable tragedies on our streets,” said DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, who announced the introduction of the new PCS devices on Tuesday, January 24. “Though these tragedies are less common for pedestrians on Queens Boulevard today, we do not take these gains for granted and continue to take aggressive steps to make our streets even safer.”

The seven-mile stretch of Queens Boulevard now adorned with PCS devices was once an infamously dangerous street, the backdrop for 18 pedestrian fatalities at the height of its peril in 1997, according to the DOT. Since 2004, there have been one or two such fatalities a year and zero pedestrian fatalities in 2011 — the first time no pedestrian deaths were recorded since 1983, the first year detailed casualty records were kept.

The installation of PCS fixtures are part of the DOT’s Pedestrian Safety Study and Action Plan, an initiative stemming from the study of over 7,000 crashes causing serious injuries or fatalities to pedestrians. The research analyzed the underlying causes of these accidents, discovering that pedestrian crashes are about two-thirds deadlier when they occur on wider streets.

As of October 2011, the DOT installed countdown signals at 842 of these broad intersections throughout the five boroughs of New York City, including major traffic ways such as the Grand Concourse in the Bronx, 4th Avenue in Brooklyn, Hylan Boulevard on Staten Island and Broadway in Manhattan.

Queens gripped by fear of gropers


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Women across Queens have been gripped by a fear of gropers.

For the past month, female residents of Sunnyside and Woodside have been looking over their shoulders for a predator on pedals.

The neighboring communities are the most recent areas to experience repeated sexual attacks on women by men on bicycles.

Beginning September 15, five women and one 12-year-old girl have reported being groped from behind by a man riding a black mountain bike. The pervert has been described as Hispanic and between the ages of 30 and 40.

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer joined local elected officials on October 17 on 46th Street and Queens Boulevard in Sunnyside in order to alert the public of the predator’s existence.

“Sunnyside and Woodside are safe neighborhoods but one assault against women is one too many,” said Van Bramer. “We will track down this cowardly criminal and make sure he is punished and put away. We must be vigilant as a community as the 108th Precinct pursues leads in the case.”

The first attack occurred on the morning of September 15, and the most recent incident happened at 8 a.m. on October 7 on 39th Avenue and 46th Street. The suspect reportedly strikes in the same general vicinity, with incidents usually occurring only a few blocks apart, say police.

A full-scale investigation by the NYPD and 108th Precinct is already underway. Police are asking for the public’s assistance in catching the criminal, and a surveillance video, which was taken October 6 and depicts the suspect riding his bicycle down the street, has been released.

“The women of our community should not have to walk through our neighborhoods in fear of being attacked,” said Congressmember Joseph Crowley. “I urge everyone to take a good look at the surveillance tape and contact the authorities if you recognize the suspect, as well as report any suspicious activity.”

Other areas of Queens have also experienced repeated sexual assaults on women in recent months.

According to a law enforcement source, the 114th Precinct arrested a suspect on a bicycle on the morning of October 18 after he reportedly groped a woman at Broadway and 31st Street in Astoria. The police have included the suspect in three lineups to determine whether he is part of a larger pattern of sexual assaults, but have thus far been unable to link him to any other incidents, the source said.

“We must have zero tolerance for the recent rash of groping incidents in our neighborhoods,” said Senator Michael Gianaris, who has introduced legislation that would make the groping of a child a felony requiring mandatory jail time. “In addition to the passage of my bill that would increase penalties for gropers, we must band together as a community to keep our streets safe and free from sexual predators.”

This past summer, 45 women shared their experiences of being groped by male bicycle riders on a blog for Astoria residents. The posts drew the attention of Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., who teamed with the 114th Precinct to investigate the incidents. Two suspects were eventually arrested and identified by multiple victims as their attackers.

“It concerns me very much,” said Anne Marie Culhane, an Astoria resident, referring to the gropings in her community last summer. “I have a 17-year-old daughter that walks around the neighborhood, so I’m scared for her more than myself. I told her she’s not allowed to walk around alone and if she sees anyone on a bike to go the other way. It’s scary because this guy can do it and you can’t stop him if he’s on a bike and you’re on foot.”

With incidents of sexual assault rising across the five boroughs, the police are on a city-wide groper hunt.

Joshua Flecha, a 32-year-old Astoria resident, was arrested in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn on Monday, October 17 at 2:30 a.m. lurking down the street with his pants unzipped and a pornographic video playing on his cell phone.

Flecha, who was carrying marijuana at the time of his arrest, has been charged with forcible touching and sexual abuse after a woman identified him as the man who attacked her in the Seventh Avenue “F” train station on May 7. He was included in several lineups, but has not yet been charged in relation to any other incidents.