Tag Archives: Rego Park

Precinct council meets new officers, domestic violence chief in Forest Hills


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angela Matua

BY ANGELA MATUA

New faces were introduced at the 112th Precinct Community Council meeting on Wednesday, March 18, at the precinct’s Forest Hills headquarters.

Capt. William Matusiak, who has been on the job for 31 years, will be joining the precinct as an executive officer from the Midtown North precinct.

Though Matusiak never served in Queens, he grew up in Maspeth and Woodside.

Sgt. Brian McGowen, who previously served the 109th Precinct, will be supervising area schools.

The new community affairs officer, P.O. Tony Jimenez, is originally from the 104th Precinct and is also a clergy liaison. He has worked for the NYPD for 22 years.

Chief Diana Pizzuti of NYPD Patrol Borough Queens North, said she hopes the new additions to the precinct will help “build relationships between cops and kids” especially “with the recent unrest” that has taken place across the country that has strained relations between police officers and the communities they serve.

Deputy Commissioner and Chief of Staff at the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence Tracy Weber-Thomas also addressed the community about what services are available for victims of domestic violence.

Approximately 282,000 domestic violence occurrences were reported in New York City last year, according to Weber-Thomas, with 53,000 reported in Queens. Of the cases in Queens, 1,300 were in the 112th Precinct, which covers Forest Hills and Rego Park.

The Queens Family Justice Center, located at 106-02 82nd Ave. in Kew Gardens, is a “one-stop service center” that will help victims of domestic abuse regardless of immigration status, gender identity, sexual orientation or the language they speak, said Weber-Thomas.

Weber-Thomas encouraged anyone who is a victim of domestic violence to visit the family justice center, where no appointments are needed to speak to a counselor. Children can play in a children’s room while parents meet with a prosecutor or apply for housing or financial assistance.

The city also runs a NYC Healthy Relationship Academy initiative that coaches children ages 17 to 24 to run workshops about dating violence and healthy relationships for adolescents and young adults.

Click here for more information about the city’s domestic violence prevention programs.

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Cops seek suspects in Forest Hills, Rego Park business burglaries


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Police have released a photo of a man wanted for questioning in a burglary pattern at businesses in Rego Park and Forest Hills dating back to January.

The most recent burglary occurred on March 4 at the Key Food supermarket at 92-02 63rd Dr. in Rego Park after breaking into the market’s side door, police said.

Authorities said the crooks also visited that day the Da Mikelle II Restaurant, located at 102-53 Queens Blvd. in Forest Hills, broke through a rear door and removed an undetermined amount of money.

The person of interest is pictured in a security camera image taken at a nearby 7-Eleven shortly after the March 4 burglaries, authorities said.

Police described the six other incidents in the burglary pattern as follows:

  • On Jan. 24, the burglars broke through the rear wall of the Knish Nosh restaurant at 100-30 Queens Blvd. in Forest Hills and removed kitchen utensils and cash.
  • The following day, Jan. 25, burglars broke through the rear door of the Midorinatsu Hibachi restaurant at 111-16 Queens Blvd. in Forest Hills and stole cash, an ASIS laptop computer and two safe boxes.
  • On Feb. 18, the suspects entered through a skylight at the Rainbow store at 63-22 Austin St. in Rego Park and removed assorted drugs.
  • On Feb. 26, the burglars unsuccessfully attempted to break through the rear door of Colony Drugs and Surgical at 103-19 Queens Blvd. in Forest Hills.
  • The next day, Feb. 27, the crooks also failed in attempts to break into two Rego Park restaurants: Vstrecha at 98-98 Queens Blvd. and Nasicha at 98-92 63rd Dr.

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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One-bedroom rents in February soar in Ridgewood, Rego Park studio rates tumble


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of StreetEasy.com/ Charts courtesy of MNS Real Estate

Renters paid more for one-bedroom Ridgewood apartments in February as rates jumped more than 7 percent from January, according to the Queens Rental Market Report by MNS Real Estate.

One-bedroom rents in the neighborhood, which have been rising because of a spill-over effect from nearby trendy Brooklyn neighborhoods, climbed to an average of $1,749 per month in February from $1,630 in January, the report found.

While there was a big increase in Ridgewood, rents in Rego Park, which have been increasing in recent months due to an influx of luxury units, dropped.

The average monthly rents for studios in the neighborhood fell more than 12.5 percent to $1,527 in February. Prices of two-bedrooms in the area slid more than 5 percent as well to $2,453.

Overall rents in the borough followed Rego Park and dipped slightly to $2,089.37 in February from $2,103.96 in January. However, the experts at MNS expect prices to start trending upwards as the weather heats up.

“With listing inventory steadily increasing, we expect prices to follow suit, with demand for new units pushing prices up over the coming months, especially leading up to the summer months, particularly in the Astoria and LIC neighborhoods,” the report said.

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Rego Park man pleads guilty to sending death threats to employee of American Islamic organization: FBI


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Title

A 58-year-old Rego Park man has pleaded guilty to sending threatening emails to an employee of the Council on American Islamic Relations, the FBI announced on Tuesday.

According to court documents and the guilty plea he entered in New York’s Eastern District federal court on Monday, Bernhard Laufer admitted to threatening the employee with significant bodily harm and death. The communications were sent in June 2014 from New York to the employee who worked for the civil rights and advocacy group in Washington, D.C.

“Those who make violent threats to others because of race, religion or national origin must be held accountable,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department is committed to vigorously prosecuting those who engage in such conduct.”

Laufer faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

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Rego Park teacher pleads guilty to sexually abusing boys, won’t see prison time


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Nicholas Strini/PropertyShark

A Rego Park elementary school computer teacher will be sentenced to 10 years of probation after he pleaded guilty to sexual conduct with minors in his classroom over the course of four years, according to District Attorney Richard Brown.

Wilbert Cortez, 52, admitted to one count of first-degree sex abuse and three counts of endangering the welfare of a child when he appeared in court on Wednesday. Queens Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Holder will sentence Cortez on March 30.

On top of serving probation, Cortez, who taught at P.S. 174, will lose his New York State Teacher’s Certificate, must complete sex offender counseling and will register as a sex offender.

According to Brown, Cortez engaged in sexual conduct with four boys younger than 11 years old on multiple occasions beginning in 2007, in 2010 through the spring of 2011, and again in the fall of 2011.

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Selling point: Joe Abbracciamento site sells again and more big sales


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

The closing and sale of the nearly seven-decade-old Joe Abbracciamento Restaurant in Rego Park caused an emotional stir in the neighborhood last year.

The buyer, Criterion Group, had plans to demolish and build on the property, but nearly one year after the eatery closed, the new owner has sold the property. That transaction is just one of the big sales in the borough over the week.

Address: 62-98 Woodhaven Blvd., Rego Park
Price: $10,850,000

Plans to transform the former site of Rego Park’s beloved Joe Abbracciamento Restaurant haven’t gone anywhere. The restaurant and adjoining buildings were sold to 62-98 Realty LLC, a firm based in Flushing, for $10.8 million, according to city records filed on Friday.

After the family-owned eatery closed and was sold along with the adjoining buildings on the block for $9 million to Criterion Group, according to property records, permits were filed by the new owners to demolish the buildings and build a seven-story residential building on the lots with nearly 120 apartments and 60 parking spaces. The stores attached to the restaurant were closed last year for the impending demolition, which has not occurred as yet.

Address: 39-34 43rd St., Sunnyside
Price: $8,100,000

This warehouse building near Torsney/Lou Lodati Playground traded hands for $8.1 million, according to city records filed on Tuesday. Jay Kestenbaum is the buyer.

Last year, the FDNY tried to acquire this site to store about 100 spare and reserve fire engines, according to published reports. The plan needed Uniform Land Use Review Procedure approval from the city. Although it was approved by Community Board 2, the plan was met with some opposition. Residents cited potential problems of increased traffic and noise. The FDNY withdrew its application and plans for the site in August.

Address: 39-50 24th St., LIC
Price: $5,675,000

Greiner-Maltz Investment Properties closed on this apartment building on Tuesday. The four-story, 30-unit building has 21,680 square feet of space. There are also two vacant retail spaces in the building on the ground floor. The sale has yet to hit city property records.

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What to know about Queens rents in January


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Charts courtesy of MNS Real Estate

Overall most Queens renters didn’t see much of a change in rates from December to January as prices increased just 0.21 percent to $2,103.96.

However, select areas experienced more significant changes, revealing important neighborhood trends, according to data from MNS Real Estate’s January Queens Rental Market Report.

It’s back over $4,000

The most expensive rents for studios and one- and two-bedroom apartments can be found in Long Island City, as is the norm. But in January, the average rents of two-bedroom apartments in Long Island City climbed over the $4,000 mark for the first time since May of 2014 to an average of $4,044, according to the report. After hitting a low of $3,747 in June of 2014, prices fluctuated for a few months before slowly rising toward the end of the year.


A bargain in Jackson Heights  

Tenants paid about an average of $1,514 for rental studios in Forest Hills in January, which is 6.62 percent less than the previous month and the largest percent drop that month. It was a significant decline in rates, but renters looking for a bargain should focus on Jackson Heights studios, where prices are $114 less at an average of $1,400 per month. Of the neighborhoods analyzed in the borough in January, Jackson Heights has the lowest prices for studios.

Rocketing Rego Park

Rego Park is continuing its hot streak. Average prices in the neighborhood are continuing to burn through residents’ wallets as new luxury units recently entered the market. For the month of January, average prices for two-bedrooms in the neighborhood rose a whopping 17.1 percent during the month to $2,598. From November to December 2014, Rego Park rental studios saw an stark increase of 12 percent in average rents.

 

Click here to read the full report.

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Watch Rego Park woman compete in ‘Jeopardy!’ Teachers Tournament semifinals


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Jeopardy Productions, Inc.

BY JAIME DEJESUS

It’s a daily double for one Queens woman!

Bay Ridge Prep fifth-grade teacher and Rego Park resident Erin McLaughlin was chosen to compete on the hit game show “Jeopardy!” The competition was filmed a month ago, with McLaughlin’s latest episode airing this Monday night on ABC 7 as part of the show’s annual Teachers Tournament.

Though she came in second in her first game of the tournament on Feb. 2, she still advanced to the semifinals by landing one of four wildcard spots — given to the competitors who won the most money aside from the winner.

McLaughlin, who has been an avid fan of the show since she was a child, tried out for the show many times online. She even received auditions in the past.

She then got the call for the third audition. Despite jitters some may have during the audition process, McLaughlin’s experience was a positive one.

“They make it really fun,” she said. “We played a pretend game of ‘Jeopardy!’ and they gave advice on how to behave.”

TT31GRP_004

Months after the audition, she was about to give up hope and take the online test again, when she was asked to fly to California to make her appearance on the game show.

“I was very surprised I got the call,” McLaughlin said. “Once you’re in the contestant pool, you are only in it for 18 months. After December, I was going to be out of the pool. That was it. I was just going to try again. But I guess the third time was the charm.”

Once her appearance was confirmed, she had six weeks to practice before she flew to the West Coast in December to compete against fellow teachers.

“I spent time studying categories that I didn’t know that much about like opera, presidents, composers,” McLaughlin said. “I took a lot of online quizzes. Other people quizzed me too. I knew a lot about pop culture and literature, so I didn’t prepare for those areas as much.”

When it was finally time to compete, she was ready to for the challenge. “I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be. There was no time to be,” she said. “I’ve watched the show since I was a kid so it was so surreal being on the stage. When that famous music started to play, I finally realized that it’s really happening. It was so strange.”

McLaughlin also enjoyed meeting the show’s longtime host, Alex Trebek, whom she described as “nice and personable.” She also liked being amongst her peers.

“Meeting the other contestants was great because we all have the same jobs and we had a lot in common,” McLaughlin said.

She wasn’t the only one excited about competing in the show. Her husband and stepdaughter were in attendance, cheering her on, and her students back home were as well.


“My students are very excited for me,” McLaughlin said. “They interviewed me and also asked me lots of questions about my experience.”

Her school, Bay Ridge Prep, located in southern Brooklyn, is also thrilled for the dedicated teacher and showed it by throwing a party the day her first episode ran.

“They’ve been so great and supportive,” she said.

Although McLaughlin didn’t know what to expect, she realized that playing at home is slightly easier than the real thing. “It was harder than I thought it would be,” she admitted.

“It was lots of fun and I realized whatever the outcome was, it didn’t matter,” McLaughlin said. “I’m just sad I can’t do it again.”

To watch McLaughlin compete in the Teachers Tournament semifinals, tune in on Monday, Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. on ABC 7. 

-With additional reporting by Cristabelle Tumola

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Five interesting facts about Queens home sales in 2014


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of The Continental Park /Chart courtesy of REBNY 

The Real Estate Board of New York released its 2014 fourth quarter home sales report for the five boroughs on Tuesday, which showed that homebuyers spent nearly $10 billion in New York City during the final three months of the year.

Since a ton of cash was spent, here are five interesting and maybe surprising facts pulled from the report showing how Queens fits into the big picture: 

Playing catch-up

Homebuyers spent 10 percent more money in Queens, the city’s most diverse borough, in the fourth quarter of 2014 than the previous quarter, accounting for $1.78 billion. Brooklyn, the city’s most populous borough, had total sales of $1.97 billion in the quarter, which results in a drop of 1.43 percent from the third quarter. Of course Manhattan leads the pack, but saw a major drop of 22.56 percent from the third quarter with just $5.3 billion in home sales.

Up, up and away

The prices of homes in the borough are definitely moving on up. The average sales price of a home in Queens was $463,000, up 7 percent from the fourth quarter in 2013. However, this pales in comparison to Manhattan and Brooklyn. The average price in Manhattan increased a whopping 19 percent from last year to $1.65 million, and people actually paid 15 percent more for a home in Brooklyn at an average price of $713,000. Fuhgeddaboudit!

REBNY chart

Condo “mini”-ums

Condos in “The World’s Borough” actually saw a decrease in prices, the report found. The average price of a condominium in Queens decreased 3 percent to $477,000. This is drastically different from “skyscraper world,” otherwise known as Manhattan, where prices for condos rose year over the year, increasing 37 percent to an average of $2.33 million.

Flushing in first

The report showed that the combined neighborhoods of Rego Park, Forest Hills and Kew Gardens had the most home sales with 443 in the fourth quarter. But to be fair, Flushing, which was counted alone, should take home the crown for most sales. The neighborhood recorded 401 home sales in the quarter.

And the winners are….

The area in Queens with the highest percent increase in the fourth quarter of 2014 over the year included the Howard Beach and Broad Channel neighborhoods, which saw a 25 percent jump in home prices to an average of $427,000. Long Island City had the most expensive prices with an average of $915,000.

Click here to read the full report.

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Rego Park studio rents soaring: report


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

ContourLR1

Fueled by hot luxury listings, studio apartment rents in Rego Park are going through the roof after another huge monthly increase in December.

Rego Park renters were likely to pay $184, or about 12 percent, more on average for a studio apartment in December than November, according to MNS Real Estate’s monthly Queens Rental Market Report, which was released Thursday.

The change in rates was quite drastic over a relatively short period of time. Studio renters in Rego Park were likely to pay an average of just $1,325 per month in August, instead of the current $1,717, according to MNS.

The real estate firm highlighted the neighborhood in the report and called its monthly increase “surprising.” That’s probably how future renters will feel when they realize the popular neighborhood of Astoria currently has an average asking rent of about $127 less per studio.

But the top rates in Rego Park were caused by the change in inventory, according to the report.

“Rego Park saw a decrease in studio inventory with various lower price rentals coming off the market, leaving a small number of higher priced units, namely at The Contour on 97-45 Queens Boulevard,” the report said.

In Jackson Heights there was a similar trend in two-bedroom rates over the month, which rose $230 to an average price of $2,317 per month. Jackson Heights, which has an inventory problem, has the lowest availability of two-bedroom apartments in the borough with just six, the report said. The neighborhood also has the highest demand for two-bedroom apartments as units have an average of 19 days on the market.

Long Island City led the pack again with the highest rental prices for studios and one- and two-bedroom apartments in December, according to the report.

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Rego Park social security office closing for renovations


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo via Google Maps

The busy Rego Park social security office, which serves several hundred people a day, is temporarily closing starting on Dec. 12 for several months while the office undergoes renovations to modernize the facility.

“Although this temporary closure will be an inconvenience, the work is necessary, and the renovation will allow the facility to better serve the needs of our borough,” Congresswoman Grace Meng said.

As an alternative, the estimated 240 Queens residents who visit the facility can use the three closest facilities, located at 155-10 Jamaica Ave., 3rd floor, Jamaica, 866-592-0802; 138-50 Barclay Ave., Flushing, 877-457-1735; and 1111 Myrtle Ave., Bushwick, Brooklyn, 888-327-1276.
Social security offices are open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

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Queens developer forced to pay $100K for tax break violation: AG


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

63-36 99th St. (center)

The developer of a Rego Park building was forced to pay a combined $100,000 in restitution and back wages after ignoring legal obligations for receiving tax benefits, according to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

The state settled with Tuhsur Development LLC after the firm violated mandates of the 421-a program, which offers tax incentives from the city when constructing buildings.

In exchange for benefits under 421-a, landlords and developers must add properties to the rent regulation system, and building workers must receive prevailing wages.

However, Tuhsur neglected to pay prevailing wages to workers at 63-36 99th St. in Rego Park. The firm was forced to pay nearly $10,000 in back wages to three building service workers and $90,000 in restitution to the city.

“Tax breaks offered to developers and landlords are not freebies,” Schneiderman said. “They come with legal obligations to New York taxpayers — ones that developers and landlords agree to abide by when they accept the tax incentives.”

In addition, B&S Management LLC, which owns 138-06 35th Ave. in Flushing, failed to register units in the building under the state’s rent regulation registry. It will provide rent regulated leases to eight families and was forced to pay $10,000 in restitution to the city.

The money collected in restitution from the firms will be used by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to develop homes for low-income families.

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Report: Queens rent prices increase in October


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Chart courtesy of  MNS Real Estate.

Prepare to pay higher rents if you want to live in Queens.

An influx of new luxury buildings in Rego Park and the continued popularity of Astoria contributed to the average price for an apartment rising to $2,097 in October, according to the Queens Rental Market Report released by MNS Real Estate.

The prices for studios, one and two-bedroom apartments represents a slight jump from September, with notable changes in rents coming from Rego Park and Astoria.

In Rego Park, the average price increased because of new luxury buildings, according to the report.

“A notable growth spurt continues to take place in Rego Park as prices bounced back after a slight downturn last month,” the report said. “Developments such as The Contour at 97-45 Queens Blvd. and more recently, The Rego Modern at 99-39 66th Ave. are leading this progression.”

Renters in Astoria paid 5.3 percent more in October than September, the report showed. Studio prices in the neighborhood jump 7.05 percent to an average of $1,772.

See the full report here.

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London Lennie’s to host 18th annual Crabfest


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

When the blow-up crab goes up, it’s time to chow down.

London Lennie’s is getting ready to hoist a ginormous crab atop the restaurant to signify the start of its 18th annual Crabfest event and is shipping in the shellfish from all across the nation to please the patrons.

“We like to think of ourselves as an institution in Queens,” said Les Barnes, owner of the Rego Park restaurant. “We only put out the top quality crabs because it is our responsibility to keep the reputation we have gained throughout the years.”

Crabfest, which will run from Oct. 16 to Nov. 9, started at London Lennie’s in 1996. The event features a wide variety of the shellfish such as blue claw crab, Dungeness crab, red king crab, Jonah crab claws, snow crab claws and stone crab claws.

Each species of crab is flown in to the restaurant from a different place in the United States. Barnes and his chef first do a tasting and quality test of the fishermen’s products and then choose whichever one they feel is of the best quality.

All of the crab is fresh, never frozen, and both the red king crab and Dungeness crab are shipped to the restaurant live where they inhabit the fishing tanks until ordered.

Furthermore, customers can enjoy a variety of crab specials such as crab au gratin, three types of crab cakes and jumbo lump crab among others.

There will also be a large variety of crab appetizers along with specialty drinks that will complement each meal.

“We always look for the best of our product,” Barnes said. “It’s what keeps people coming back each year.”

Because the three-week-long event is so popular, it is best to make reservations due to how crowded the restaurant gets.

They can be made online at LondonLennies.com or on the phone at 718-894-8084.

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Plans released for possible QueensWay


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy of thequeensway.org

It’s the Queens way.

A 3.5-mile stretch of recreational, walking and biking trails is planned for central and southern Queens as part of a multi-million dollar proposal that has coined the name, QueensWay.

“This will be a wonderful park for Queens,” said Will Rogers, president of The Trust for Public Land.

The QueensWay plans, proposed by W X Y architecture + urban design, will add a mix of new recreational and cultural opportunities and nature trails for the borough, said the Friends of the QueensWay.

The path, if built, will cross through the neighborhoods of Rego Park, Forest Hills, Glendale, Richmond Hill, Woodhaven and Ozone Park, affecting over 322,000 people living within a mile of it.

In the plans, there are proposed areas for ecology and education, where planners are hoping to build an outdoor classroom for children to be able to learn the biodiversity in Queens.

Also, there will be two sets of trails for bicyclist and pedestrians to ensure the safety of everyone who uses the QueensWay.

Furthermore, there are plans for basketball courts, a skate park, habitat wetlands, arts-related programs and a gateway entrance from the QueensWay to Forest Park.

“Parks are too often neglected and QueensWay would offer more access to open space and parkland,” said state Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky. “Parks provide an economic benefit to local business, retail establishments and restaurants and people of all ages would be able to enjoy the recreational opportunities which this new green space would provide.”

The estimated cost for the QueensWay is $120 million and, if started, will take three to five years to build.

Although it has the backing of many elected officials and community leaders, some feel the narrow stretch of former rail line could be put to better use.

Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder is a staunch advocate for the restoration of the Rockaway Beach rail line, which once ran on the property being looked at for the QueensWay. He has formed a coalition to fight to get it back.

“The QueensWay and Trust for Public Land have wasted taxpayer dollars on expensive, out-of-state consultants and one-sided studies that don’t actually represent the interests or needs of Queens’ families,” Goldfeder said. “Our growing coalition, including the MTA, will continue the fight to expand transit in Queens while easing commutes, creating jobs, cleaning the environment and expanding our economic development.”

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