Tag Archives: Richmond Hill

Elizabeth Crowley, Craig Caruana face off in heated District 30 debate


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

The first public debate between Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley and Craig Caruana was contentious.

The competitors faced off in a heated exchange on Monday. It was marked by frequent interruptions, yelling on both sides and cheers and jeers from attending residents of District 30, which includes Maspeth, Middle Village, Richmond Hill, Ridgewood, Glendale, parts of Woodhaven and Woodside.

The debate, which The Courier co-hosted, was organized by the Juniper Park Civic Association at Our Lady of Hope in Middle Village.

The showdown exploded from the very first question, which was about the Knockdown Center, a controversial arts hall in Maspeth that has hosted parties and is seeking a liquor license.

Crowley, who is in support of the center, said it will bring jobs and arts to the community.

“Do I support good jobs? Yes. Do I support arts as an economic engine? Yes,” Crowley said. “Now my opponent you will hear opposes this, and I believe it’s because he doesn’t have the ability to think outside the box when it comes to creating jobs.”

Caruana doesn’t believe the center will be used for arts, but as a club based on past parties that it has held.

“It’s not about jobs, it’s about hipsters coming from out of the area, creating a problem…” Caruana said. “This is a club that wants to sell liquor.”

The candidates sparred on various contentious projects in the community, such as the proposed Glendale homeless shelter, truck traffic and the Maspeth Bypass, the Ridgewood Reservoir development project and increased railroad garbage.

Many general questions were asked as well, including how the candidates would improve education, traffic problems, quality of life issues and decrease crime.

Crowley, who has been the councilmember for nearly four years, choose to answer questions based on her accomplishments, while taking jabs at Caruana.

Caruana, who has no experience as an elected official, stuck to his ideas to improve the neighborhood, relying on his background as a native of Middle Village and his work at the Pentagon.

Before the debate even got started crowds of Crowley and Caruana supporters were chanting at each other outside with placards, banners and megaphones for almost 20 minutes.

 

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Op-Ed: Where are we one year later?


| oped@queenscourier.com

BY STATE SENATOR JOSEPH ADDABBO JR.

On any particular day, whether I’m working, getting a cup of coffee, shopping or having dinner in the district, people detail their experiences involving Superstorm Sandy in many different ways. A year later, many still get tears in their eyes, others remain frustrated about the lack of progress, while some see it as a chance to make improvements and some are optimistic about community improvements. One storm, a year later, still causes many emotions.

While we can’t control the weather, we can take steps to control the level of our preparedness and what direction our government takes in addressing the next storm. We’ve learned a lot from Sandy, and I would urge my constituents to think ahead and make sure they have detailed emergency plans in place: know how to contact one another in case of an emergency; have adequate supplies of canned goods, medicines, batteries, flashlights and water on hand; know what to do to help secure your homes and properties to minimize risks during a storm. Useful hurricane preparedness information may be found at this NYS Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services website: http://www.dhses.ny.gov/oem/event/hurricane-safety.cfm.

I, along with other elected officials, have been advocating for adequate funding and needed legislation to help the district address the many serious human, economic and other consequences resulting from Sandy. As a member of the New York State Senate Bipartisan Task Force on Hurricane Sandy, I look forward to continuing the effort of our state in responding to Sandy’s devastation and obtaining assistance for those in need.  Currently, our city’s and state’s portion of the federal funding of $61 billion to help Sandy victims is being distributed through NYC Build It Back program, and the state’s utilization of community leaders in its NY Rising Community Reconstruction program aimed at improving our infrastructure.

A range of bills aimed at addressing various aspects of Sandy’s impact were passed by the state legislature and have been recently signed into law by the governor. Some topics include rebates of real property taxes, assisting Breezy Point residents with street frontage issues unique to Breezy Point, exemptions to filing fees related to federal Small Business Administration Disaster Loans, and the implementation of improved tornado warning systems.

This year’s Atlantic Hurricane Season is not yet over. We have learned a lot from Sandy and a year later are still dealing with its aftermath. It’s OK to share our emotions, feelings and sentiments about Sandy, knowing also that by working together we can rebuild and be prepared better than ever.

Senator Joseph Addabbo represents the 15th Senatorial District encompassing the communities – in whole or in part – of Broad Channel, Elmhurst, Forest Hills, Glendale, Hamilton Beach, Howard Beach, Kew Gardens, Kew Gardens Hills, Maspeth, Middle Village, Ozone Park, Rego Park, Richmond Hill, Ridgewood, South Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Woodside and the Rockaways.

 

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Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Senior Center finds temporary location after building damage


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

The Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Senior Center has found a temporary location after the building was damaged, but leaders still say there’s no place like home.

The center, which is operated by Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens, recently moved to the American Legion Post 118 at 89-02 91st Street after a building adjacent to the center’s location on Jamaica Avenue collapsed, damaging the roof and kitchen.

“We were concerned about the winter months with the snow and rain,” said Judith Kleve, vice president of Older Adult Services at Catholic Charities. “We are very relieved that the American Legion opened their doors to us.”

The center, which is funded by the city’s Department for the Aging, has more than 200 seniors enrolled and about 70 visit daily.

The staff prepares free meals every day and organizes exercise programs, including yoga and dancing, and educational lectures on topics such as arthritis and diabetes. During the temporary move the center is providing shuttles from the original location.

Despite joy for the temporary site, seniors want to return to the old building soon, because the American Legion building is too small, according to Kleve. But first, owners of the collapsed building, 78-19 Jamaica Avenue LLC, must fix it or the seniors can’t return.

“The situation is only going to get worst with the rain and snow coming,” State Senator Joe Addabbo said. “We need to get the owner to start fixing it now.”

The politician is working with other leaders to put pressure on the owners to repair the property. Addabbo met with officials from the Department of Buildings (DOB) this week to discuss the collapsed building, which has about a dozen violations and $11,000 in fines, according to the DOB.

The members of the center are hoping they can move back by next year.

“The seniors were very happy to know that the senior center was still open and that they had a safe site,” Kleve said. “But they still want to go home.”

The owners of 78-19 Jamaica Avenue LLC could not be reached for comment.

 

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Cops find South Richmond Hill kids living in unsanitary conditions among abused dogs


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Two South Richmond Hill parents have been arrested after police found their four children living in alleged unsanitary conditions among numerous abused dogs.

When police, responding to a 9-1-1 call of a female bitten by a pit bull around 8 a.m. Sunday, entered the parents’ 125th Street residence, they discovered a domestic dispute occurring between the adults, said cops

Upon further investigation, they found four children, ranging in age from seven to 11, living in the house in “severe unsanitary conditions” among five full grown pit bulls and 10 puppies, said police.

The children were taken to Jamaica Hospital for observation.

The dogs, some of which displayed extensive signs of abuse through their bodies, said police, were secured by Animal Care and Control.

Cops said one dog had been stabbed, kicked and strangled.

The father, Jasean Holmes, 29, has been charged with aggravated cruelty to animals,  torture to animals and endangering the welfare of a child and misdemeanor assault, said police. The mother, Madelina Ramirez, 28, has been charged with torture to animals and endangering the welfare of a child.

 

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Three injured after Richmond Hill house fire


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Three people are left injured after a house fire in Richmond Hill.

According to the FDNY, a call came in on Saturday at approximately 1:01 a.m. for a fire at 87-40 124th Street. Upon arrival, firefighters found the fire in the basement of the one-story home. The fire was under control by 3:58 a.m.

One person was taken to Nassau University Medical Center with serious burns and two people were taken to Jamaica Hospital with minor burns.

According to the FDNY, the cause of the fire is still under investigation. 

 

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Survey says overcrowding problem at Queens schools


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Queens schools are failing in at least one subject– classroom sizes.

Hillcrest High School in Jamaica ranked highest in the number of oversized classrooms, 400, and Bayside’s Benjamin Cardozo High School follows with 385, according to a recent United Federation of Teachers (UFT) survey.

More than 230,000 students citywide spent some of the first few weeks back to school in crowded classes, the study found. About 6,313 classes were overcrowded, up almost 200 from last year, but more than 1,000 of those classes were found in Queens high schools alone.

Overcrowding is a problem throughout the entire city school system, but “Queens high schools have been hit the worst,” the UFT said.

Class sizes around the city in grades 1 through 3 have now reached a 14-year high. Although they have not reached the classroom size limit of 32 seats, first and second grade has grown to an average of 24 seats per class, with 25 in third grade.

“It is time to take this issue seriously,” said Michael Mulgrew, UFT president. “All our students, especially our youngest children, desperately need smaller class sizes.”

Recently Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that under his administration New York City schools had improved outstandingly on the academic side.

During his time in office many schools were shuttered, but more than new 650 schools were created. Bloomberg said 22 of the top 25 schools in the state are from New York City, and none were on that list before his administration.

“After 12 years reforming our once-broken school system, it’s clear that our hard work has paid huge dividends for our students,” Bloomberg said on his weekly radio show.

In fact, three Queens elementary schools, P.S. 46 in Oakland Gardens, P.S. 66 in Richmond Hill and P.S. 221 in Little Neck,  Richmond Hillwere named to the prestigious national Blue Ribbon award for excellence in education on September 24.

Despite the academic improvements, the UFT said children shouldn’t have to try to learn in overcrowded classrooms.

“Twelve years of Michael Bloomberg, and hundreds of thousands of students start the school year in oversize classes,” Mulgrew said. “There is no excuse for letting students stay in an oversize class.”

 

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Pols and Sikh Cultural Society respond to alleged Sikh hate crime


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Just days after a Sikh professor at Columbia University was brutally attacked, the Sikh community and elected officials gathered in Richmond Hill to speak out against what is being investigated as a hate crime.

Dr. Prabhjot Singh was walking through Harlem on Saturday, September 21 when more than a dozen attackers shouted slurs such as “Osama” and “terrorist” before grabbing Singh’s beard and beating him to the ground. He suffered a fractured jaw in the attack, according to a family friend.

“You are not suffering alone,” said Assemblymember David Weprin outside the Sikh Cultural Society. “Hate crimes against any group of people are intolerable and preventable.”

Weprin stood alongside Public Advocate and mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio, City Councilmember and Public Advocate candidate Letitia James, City Councilmembers Leroy Comrie and Mark Weprin and the Richmond Hill Sikh community, who all condemned the crime against Singh.

“We have to stand up each and every time there’s a biased attack,” de Blasio said.

He added the city should use “aggressive policing” against violent, biased crimes as well as utilize “every tool” to make sure these attacks don’t happen again. He specifically noted educating youth in schools about different religions.

Sona Rai, Singh’s friend and spokesperson, said that Singh is out of the hospital and already back at work. He now wants to give his attackers an opportunity to ask about his faith and his connection to the community, Rai said.

Rai, also a board member of the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, added that the overwhelming support in response to Singh’s incident has given him a “renewed sense” of how important his work is.

“The best way to deal with hate crimes in the city of New York is to come together,” James said. “We must respond forcefully as one community. Our differences are really are greatest strengths.”

 

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Richmond Hill church moving to former Saint Matthew’s Church of Woodhaven


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Residents in Woodhaven are saying hallelujah as one of the borough’s most historic churches will soon reopen.

All Saints Episcopal Church in Richmond Hill is moving to the former Saint Matthew’s Church on 96th Street, which shut its doors in 2011.

Father Norman Whitmire Jr. will be the rector of the church and has already began overseeing the restoration of the new location.

“There were a lot of concerns about what was going to happening to that church, to that building, to that property,” said Ed Wendell of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association. “To hear that a new congregation is going to make it its new home, that is really good news, because that means that the building is going to have new life.”

The church and its famous Wyckoff-Snediker Cemetery, located behind it, are currently undergoing a renovation. The floors, chandeliers and furniture are being redone on the inside and a new sidewalk was already placed. Also, the entrance to the church has been made handicap accessible.

The church itself is one of the remaining churches of old English Gothic architecture. The inside has a distinct look with stained glass windows and arches.

“You just can’t build buildings like this anymore,” Whitmire said. “It’s very expensive and it’s hard to find the craftsman who can do the stone work like those.”

The cemetery is also a historic piece. A few families that lived on farms in the area from 1792 to 1893 were buried in the private, half-acre land, which is behind the church and hidden from the street.

After the church closed, the cemetery was left to ruin but in the late 1990s volunteers came together and revitalized it. The church will be consecrated on Friday, October 25.

 

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Op-Ed: Ensuring the safety of our children


| oped@queenscourier.com

COUNCILMEMBER ELIZABETH CROWLEY

Drivers need to be more conscientious near schools. Just a few days ago, students of I.S. 73 in Maspeth got seriously injured by an out-of-control vehicle. As police investigate this accident, we owe it to those injured students and their classmates to make our streets safer.

Grand Avenue is a very busy street. The vehicular traffic is made worse during school arrival and dismissal time as P.S. 58, I.S. 73 and Maspeth High School are all located within six blocks of each other. I believe it is imperative to implement changes as soon as possible, and on Monday, along with PTA leaders, I met with Queens DOT Commissioner Dalila Hall on site to discuss how to make Grand Avenue safer.

The stretch of Grand Avenue near P.S. 58 and I.S. 73 is in need of “Safe Routes to School” program and a slowdown zone where the speed limit is reduced to 20 miles per hour. The safe routes program redesigns streets, which include expanding sidewalks, new lane paintings and improved signal timing, to ease congestion around schools.

Recently, the DOT studied vehicle speeds around all schools in New York City, and they found that 98 percent of vehicles driving around P.S. 58, I.S. 73 and Maspeth High School are going over the speed limit. This is dangerous and simply unacceptable. A comprehensive study by the DOT to change traffic patterns and slow down drivers through its “Safe Routes to School” program would be a major help in reducing congestion around these schools.

There must be constant traffic enforcement by the NYPD and DOT today. I have called on both agencies to ticket trucks that are not making local deliveries, and speeding drivers who are endangering our children must be stopped. New York recently approved speed camera enforcement at 20 schools in the city. Placing one of these cameras at Grand Avenue near P.S. 58 and I.S. 73 would certainly slow drivers down once tickets begin arriving in the mail.

Nothing is more important than ensuring the safety of our children traveling to and from school. I have brought the concerns of the community to DOT, and together, we must demand the DOT prioritize safety on Grand Avenue. Our most vulnerable and precious resource are our children, and we must do everything to keep them safe.

Elizabeth Crowley represents the 30th Council District, covering Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Richmond Hill, Ridgewood and Woodhaven

 

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FBI looking for two fugitives wanted in connection to Queens-based drug trafficking ring


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of FBI

The FBI is looking for two fugitives that have been charged in connection to a Queens-based heroin trafficking ring.

Arturo Villa, 37, known as “A-Rock,” and Emmanuel Ramos, 28, known as “Manny,” were allegedly involved with a drug operation called the Flock Organization, which imported and distributed heroin and cocaine in the greater New York City area, using Fresh Start Auto Repair and Tire Sales in Richmond Hill as a base, according to the FBI.

Authorities arrested seven other suspects for their roles in the drug ring last month.

Villa is described as 5’5,” 180 pounds, speaks English and Spanish, and has ties to Ozone Park and Woodhaven, as well as Pittsfield, Mass. and Erie, Pa.

Ramos is 5’8,” 190 pounds, speaks English and Spanish, and has ties to Forest Hills and Brooklyn.

 

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Upstate New York man charged for fatal hit-and-run in Richmond Hill


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

A man from upstate New York has been arrested and charged for an alleged hit-and-run that killed a Queens woman.

According to the NYPD, on Friday, at approximately 7 p.m. they responded to a pedestrian struck at 97th Avenue and 117th Street in Richmond Hill. Upon arrival, they found Raj Chohan, 59, of South Richmond Hill, unconscious and unresponsive. The victim was taken to Jamaica Hospital where she was later pronounced dead.

A police investigation revealed the victim was walking on 117th Street along parked cars when a grey 2013 Toyota Camry heading northbound, struck her and then fled the scene.

Police later caught the suspect at 115th Street and 101st Avenue. The suspect was identified as Vishwanand Subryan, 23, of Schenectady, New York.

He has been charged with vehicular manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death and driving while intoxicated.

 

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Suspects burglarize four Richmond Hill, Woodhaven businesses


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

Cops are looking for two suspects they say stole cash from four businesses in Richmond Hill and Woodhaven over the last three weeks.

The pair first hit Tony’s Famous Pizza at 109-18 Jamaica Avenue around midnight on Saturday, August 24, said police. They entered through the rear door and removed cash from the office and an ATM.

A week later, on August 31, at about 12:30 a.m., they entered the Richmond Hill Delicatessen, located at 123-07 Jamaica Avenue, through the rear basement door and removed cash from an ATM.

On Monday, the suspects stole cash from an ATM and register at Lizmelis Grocery in Woodhaven around 10:30 p.m. by entering a hole in the wall in an adjacent unoccupied commercial establishment, said cops.

The following day, the two allegedly entered El Cran Canario Restaurant, located at 111-17 Jamaica Avenue, through a rear window and removed cash from an ATM and register.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS or submit their tips by texting 274637(CRIMES) then enter TIP577 or by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website.

 

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Op-Ed: Simple measures for park safety


| oped@queenscourier.com

Late last week, the NYPD revealed that the suspect being sought in the late August attack of a 69-year old jogger in Forest Park is allegedly responsible for five previous attacks in and around the 538-acre park. Police presence has been increased with a temporary command center being set up at the intersection of Myrtle Avenue and Park Lane South in Richmond Hill.

But this is a temporary measure, one that we’ve seen before. And in a few weeks it will be decided that the resources are needed elsewhere and it’ll be back to business as usual. Back in the 1970s, Assemblymember Frederick D. Schmidt called on the city to make Forest Park a separate police precinct – it’s an idea worth reconsidering.

The 102nd Precinct is currently responsible for Kew Gardens, Richmond Hill East, Richmond Hill, Woodhaven, and the northern part of Ozone Park. The precinct includes a number of busy commercial districts (including Queens Boulevard, 101st Avenue and Jamaica Avenue) and several major roadways. That’s a large area, made even larger by the need to also patrol Forest Park.

A small precinct, or substation, with officers trained on and equipped with all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) for regular patrolling of the many trails within the park, would make it safer for all who use it. Even a shopping mall has its own security base – why not one of our city’s largest public attractions?

In other words, if it’s such a necessary step after a woman is attacked, why not make it permanent in an effort to prevent future attacks?

Apart from an increase in police, the city needs to do a better job of keeping the streetlights in and around Forest Park in proper working condition. We have been reporting major outages in well-trafficked areas and there does not appear to be any sense of urgency to get them repaired.

During the early morning hours on Forest Park Drive, we have seen people walking or jogging carrying flashlights, meaning the lights have been out long enough for people to learn that they need to come prepared.

Ultimately, there is no one to blame for these attacks apart from the sick animal that commits them. He will be caught, though whatever punishment he receives will never be enough. But that does not mean we can’t take precautions so as not to give this animal any tactical advantages.

Whenever possible, try not to run or walk alone. Reach out to friends and neighbors; try to make it a social activity that can be enjoyed as a group. Avoid isolated trails; remember that you do not have to go deep into the park to be alone and that just because you can see a main road from the woods does not mean that people traveling on that road can see you.

Forest Park is a wonderful place that hosts many thousand residents and visitors each year. Let’s all do everything we can to make it the safest experience possible.

Edward K. Wendell
President
Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association


Video via YouTube/Edward Wendell

 

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Suspects rob, punch victim in Richmond Hill


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

Police are asking for your help in locating two suspects who are wanted in connection with a violent robbery.

On Monday, July 29, in the vicinity of Jamaica Avenue and 134th Street, the victim, a 59-year-old man, was approached by the suspects who demanded money.

The victim handed over his cash and the suspects demanded more, but when the victim said he did not have any, he was punched in the face, causing him to fall and hit his head.

The suspects fled with the cash and the victim’s cell phone. The victim was taken to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center in stable condition.

Suspect number one is described as a black male in his 20s, five feet nine inches to five feet 1o inches tall, and was last seen wearing a black skull cap, black T-shirt and black pants.

The second suspect is also a black man in his 20s, five feet nine inches to five feet 1o inches tall,  and was last seen wearing dark pants and a button-down shirt.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

 

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Richmond Hill Sikh community marks anniversary of Wisconsin temple shooting


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Zachary Kraehling

ZACHARY KRAEHLING AND MAGGIE HAYES

Mourners gathered for a candlelight vigil at the Sikh Cultural Society in Richmond Hill to remember the shooting attack on a Wisconsin Sikh temple just a year ago.

Wade Michael Page, who has been called a white supremacist, walked into the temple as worshippers prepared for Sunday services and opened fire. Six people were killed.

Assemblymember David Weprin stood with the Richmond Hill Sikh community and said, “You are not mourning alone” and that all Americans continue to be “enriched” by the nation’s religious diversity.

“This community is about love of country and spirituality,” said one man. “The goal is prayer. God’s name is love, and without love there is nothing.”

 

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