Tag Archives: Ridgewood

Imagine a Ridgewood waterfront hotel at Newtown Creek


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Map via Google

Today Newtown Creek stands as one of the “nation’s most polluted waterways,” according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as a result of industrial contamination from nearby factories and raw sewage dumping that dates back to the 1800s.

But listed as a Superfund site since 2010 and with an ongoing remedial process, brokers at Greiner-Maltz Investment Properties are marketing a site across from a section of the infamously contaminated body of water that could be in high demand after the grimy, toxic 3.8-mile creek is cleaned up.

The site sits at the edge of Ridgewood near the border of East Williamsburg and Maspeth to the north. It begins where Metropolitan and Onderdonk avenues intersect, and is surrounded by various factories in the neighborhood.

An existing 4,225-square-foot building with the address 46-00 Metropolitan Ave. is on the site, which is being used as an auto junk yard. The property has up to 40,720 square feet of buildable space zoned for manufacturing, but an investor could redevelop it into a hotel — with views of the now-mucky creek — brokers said.

“We’re getting a lot of interest. Some investors feel that this area is going to change,” said John Orgera, director of sales for Greiner-Maltz. “There are talks about the cleanup of Newtown Creek. There is bike lane proposed for that area. So people are optimistic.”

Orgera and John Gonsalves are marketing the property, which they said could also be used for a retail space or mixed-use office. The asking price is $7,250,000.

The closest train station from the site is the Jefferson Street L stop, which is a 10-minute walk. Nearby the site is a popular restaurant, Bun-Ker Vietnamese, and a few blocks further is the Knockdown Center event hall in Maspeth. Continue on Metropolitan Avenue past Flushing Avenue and the street becomes a commercial strip with restaurants and stores.

An environmental study will have to be performed in the event that a developer intends to build on the marketed site, and the property may need a cleanup of its own if serious contaminants are found, but investors could lose out big if they don’t act, the brokers said. The remedial investigation of the Newtown Creek started in its second phase last year, according to the EPA.

“Once it’s cleaned up it’s only going to get more expensive,” Gonsalves said. “There isn’t any more land. What may be expensive today could be a steal in five years.”

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New outdoor bar making its debut in Ridgewood


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photos by Anthony Giudice

A new outdoor bar in Ridgewood called Nowadays is providing residents with a different way to hang out.

Justin Carter and Eamon Harkin, the DJs behind the popular dance parties known as Mister Saturday Night and Mister Sunday, own Nowadays with Mark Connell, who owns the Botanica Bar. Located at 56-06 Cooper Ave., Nowadays is a nearly 16,000-square-foot “outdoor hangout with food and drink,” according to Carter.

“We kind of see it as a place for people in the community to come hang out,” Carter said. “If you call something a bar it will conjure up a specific image, if you call something a beer garden it brings up a specific image. We don’t really like to try to define what it is because we want people to not categorize us before they come in.”

The owners wanted to bring into their establishment a “backyard feeling” they got while performing as DJs. They achieved that goal by enclosing Nowadays with corrugated fences and filling the area with honey locust and birch trees, native grasses and sodded hills for customers to throw a towel down to lie on.

Patrons are invited to bring their friends, children and even their dogs to Nowadays.

“It’s totally a dog-friendly space as long as people bring a dog on a leash,” Carter said. “We want it to feel more like a friend’s backyard.”

Nowadays makes sure customers are treated to a variety of entertainment and games. There is a bocce ball set, chess, checkers and backgammon sets with the playing boards painted directly onto the picnic tables. There is also a ping-pong table for customers to use.

The bar offers customers a selection of local beers, sangrias and wines, as well as sodas from local soda manufacturer Brooklyn Soda Works. There will also be a wide selection of food for sale for all types of customers, including vegetarian and vegan hot dogs, grass-fed beef burgers, a beet burger and an avocado salad.

“We care about organic and local stuff but we’re not trying to force that down anyone’s throats,” Carter explained. “What we are trying for here is to have a level of quality that is high but not force anything on anyone. We aren’t a vegan place or vegetarian place but we cater to all of those people. We like to have multiple options for all these different categories of eaters.”

In addition to all of that, Nowadays donates 10 percent of their net profits for the poverty-fighting organization Robin Hood.

“We really like Robin Hood because Robin Hood is an organization that is based here in New York and they specifically target poverty in New York City where poverty is a real big issue,” Carter said. “We are very fortunate to be in a place in our lives and society where we have the ability to make a living off of people’s luxury time. The fact that we can do that in the shadow of extreme homelessness and poverty, it really hit us.”

Nowadays, which held a soft opening on June 11, will officially open starting on June 18 and operate through October, with hours on Thursdays from 4 p.m. to midnight, Fridays from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m., Saturdays from noon to 2 a.m., and Sundays from noon to midnight.


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Moms want upgrades for Ridgewood playground


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photos by Anthony Giudice

Updated June 17, 10:35 a.m.

Things aren’t so rosy at Rosemary’s Playground in Ridgewood, according to mothers Stephanie Sauer and Caroline Stark, who frequent the park with their children on a daily basis.

“This is the closest park for residents of this neighborhood,” Sauer said. “There are a lot of parents with young children that visit the park, as well as people of all ages and races.”

These two moms are looking for improvements to be made at Rosemary’s Playground so their playground can be comparable to other parks around the area. They addressed the issues directly to Community Board 5 during its meeting last week.

“I am wondering why this one is so neglected,” Sauer said in an interview Monday. “If you go to the park by Grover Cleveland or Juniper Valley Park and see how great those parks are, it makes me wonder why this playground is so ignored.”

Some of the problems Sauer and Stark have noticed at the park include peeling paint along some of the walls and playground equipment, potentially dangerous elevated flower beds, and trash in and around the playground, among several others.

The mothers believe the two elevated flower beds pose a danger to children, especially in the condition they are currently in.

“My kid was playing in the dirt and there was a large piece of peeling paint around him,” Stark said. “They are nothing but a hazard. We just tolerate it for now because there isn’t a better option.”

The vegetation that grows in these green spaces may not be the safest for the users of the park. In the flower beds, one has nothing but small plants and weeds growing in it while the other one has thorny bushes growing. The trees along the perimeter have berries growing off of them and the parents are concerned that their children might try and eat them.

“These berries are just growing here,” Sauer said. “We don’t know if they are edible if one of the children tries to put them in their mouth. Kids try to put everything in their mouths.”

Other parts of the park’s infrastructure are in need of repairs as well. The playground equipment is marred with peeling paint and damages.

“Some of this stuff looks like it has been through a war,” Sauer said. “It looks like it came from a war zone. This isn’t up to standards. We don’t have really high expectations, but we want a decent park to bring our children to.”

Garbage has also become a problem in the playground.

“I found an empty liquor bottle right in the middle of the floor,” Stark said. “I’m just lucky I noticed it first before my son did.”

Inside Rosemary’s Playground there is an open area with a soft-top surface that has no practical use for parkgoers.

“I would love to see maybe a nice grassy area with some bushes where people could come with a blanket and enjoy the day,” Sauer said of the void area.

The mothers plan on attending additional community board meetings until their concerns are addressed and their park is repaired.

“It’s not just us,” Sauer said. “We have a whole dedicated mommy and daddy team that want changes made to this park. If it is not one of us, someone will take our place at the community board meeting and speak out on these problems until they are fixed.”

Dorothy Lewandowski, Queens Parks commissioner, said that the Parks Department has reached out to Community Board 5 and community members who have voiced concerns about Rosemary’s Playground regarding this issue.

“Rosemary’s Playground is in need of some TLC and we’re committed to working with the community to make the changes they see for this park,” Lewandowski said in an email statement to the Ridgewood Times. “We look forward to meeting with park users to create both short- and long-term plans to address immediate maintenance needs and fully realize their vision for the space.”


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Make Music New York festival comes to Ridgewood on June 21


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/File photo

The sounds of pop rock, blues and hip-hop will fill the air in Ridgewood this Sunday as part of Make Music New York, a citywide festival of free concerts in public spaces.

Entering its ninth year, Make Music New York brings together over 1,000 artists for free shows across the five boroughs on the summer solstice. The acts range from high school bands to career musicians and everything else in between.

Ridgewood will host 10 acts at four different venues this Sunday. The two busiest locations will be Ridgewood Veterans Triangle, at the corner of Myrtle and Cypress avenues, and Venditti Square, at the intersection of Myrtle and St. Nicholas avenues, each of which will host eight performers.

The musical festivities get underway at Ridgewood Veterans Triangle at noon, with High North performing its experimental rock sounds. Following them at 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., respectively, will be rock artists Desmond McManus and Amber Stowell. Hip-hop artist Kyle Young will wrap things up with a concert at 7:15 p.m.

Blues band Hive will get things rolling at Venditti Square with their performance at 1:30 p.m. They will be followed at 2:45 p.m. by electronic indie rock performer Eric Contractor and, at 4 p.m., experimental rock artist Jim Duffy. Rock band Everpulse will round out the festivities with their 5:15 p.m. show.

Meanwhile, musicians from the Joe Fuoco Music Center in Glendale and friends will perform rock, country, pop and other music from 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday at the 71st Avenue Triangle, located at the corner of Myrtle and 71st avenues.

Street Studio: Ridgewood will hold an electronic and experimental rock show from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Trans-Pecos Cafe, located at 915 Wyckoff Ave.

Click here for more information about Make Music New York events in Ridgewood and other parts of the city.

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Reward offered for help in finding serial Queens bank robber


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of the FBI New York office

Federal agents and the NYPD are offering “a significant reward” for the public’s help in finding the man responsible for at least a dozen bank robberies in Queens dating back to last year — including several armed heists.

Authorities said the suspect last struck in Middle Village on Dec. 9, 2014, robbing cash from the Chase bank at 74-04 Eliot Ave. Many of the other robberies occurred in Astoria, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Maspeth, Sunnyside and Ridgewood.

During each incident, the suspect reportedly passed demand notes to a teller and walked away with various sums of money. In five capers, the perpetrator displayed a handgun in his waistband to bank employees, the FBI said.

Law enforcement agents describe the crook as a black or Hispanic male with a medium to light complexion standing 6 feet tall, and weighing between 200 and 250 pounds. He is usually seen on camera wearing glasses and a baseball cap with the logo of a sports team such as the New York Yankees or New England Patriots. The public should consider the suspect armed and dangerous.

Among the heists in the robbery pattern are the following incidents:

  • June 7, 2014, robbery of a Chase bank located at 77-01 31st Ave. in East Elmhurst;
  • July 22, 2014, attempted robbery of a Santander bank located at 89-01 Northern Blvd. in Jackson Heights;
  • July 25, 2014, heist at a Chase bank located at 47-11 Queens Blvd. in Sunnyside;
  • Aug. 30, 2014, incident at a Dime Savings Bank of Williamsburgh located at 75-23 37th Ave. in Jackson Heights;
  • Oct. 4, 2014, robbery of a Chase bank located at 69-55 Grand Ave. in Maspeth; and
  •  Dec. 6, 2014, heist at a Chase bank located at 60-67 Myrtle Ave. in Ridgewood.

The FBI-NYPD Violent Crime Task Force is investigating the pattern.

Anyone with information regarding the suspect’s whereabouts is urged to call the Task Force at 212-384-1000; all calls will be kept confidential.

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Myrtle Avenue BID pushes for dedicated trash pickup service


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

File photo

Full and overflowing public wastebaskets are a common sight on Myrtle Avenue in Ridgewood, and the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID) is looking to do something about it.

In the fiscal year 2016 expense budget, the Myrtle Avenue BID has requested the restoration of six-day dedicated basket pickup service from the Department of Sanitation (DSNY).

Currently, this service is only being provided three days a week within the Myrtle Avenue BID. The present service consists of a dedicated basket run on only Mondays and Wednesdays on the midnight to 8 a.m. tour. On Thursdays, the garbage baskets in the Myrtle Avenue BID often go uncollected because household refuse takes priority.

“Overflowing corner baskets are the first thing shoppers and potential new store owners see along our shopping districts,” said Ted Renz of the Myrtle Avenue BID in a statement to the Ridgewood Times. “They are an eyesore and create an unpleasant shopping environment.”

Comparable business improvement districts, such as the Greenpoint Avenue/Queens Boulevard Sunnyside Shines BID and the Steinway Street BID, have at the minimum five- to six-day corner basket pickup service between the dedicated basket truck and regular household pickup.

The Myrtle Avenue BID, along with the Ridgewood Local Development Corporation (RLDC), is looking for similar service for not only the BID’s area, but for all major commercial retail business corridors within Community Board 5. Those areas include Myrtle Avenue between Fresh Pond Road and Cooper Avenue, Fresh Pond Road between Myrtle Avenue and Eliot Avenue, Metropolitan Avenue between 73rd Place and 80th Street, and Grand Avenue between Flushing Avenue and 74th Street.

Throughout the fiscal year 2016 budget process, the Myrtle Avenue BID and RLDC have testified regarding this need during different capital and expense budget hearings. They have also met with Councilman Antonio Reynoso and Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley on the issue.

“Recently we did receive some good news that Myrtle Avenue will receive extra service on Tuesday and Saturday and that corner baskets would be given special attention because on those days there is a dedicated half mobile litter patrol,” Renz said. “Therefore, while we are grateful for this response, we will need to push for dedicated basket routes.”

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Rents in two Queens nabes rose faster than city average: report


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre. Charts courtesy Community Service Society

Maybe “the rent is too damn high” in New York City.

Rents throughout the five boroughs rose 32 percent between 2002 and 2014, according to a report released Monday by the Community Service Society, an organization that tackles the issue of poverty in New York.

The study is based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau and was created to “shed light on the important housing issues facing the New York State Legislature this year,” the report said.

Namely those issues are the expiring laws for rent regulation and the 421-a tax abatement, which currently fosters some affordable housing by giving developers tax breaks for 20 percent of low-income units in their projects. The state has a deadline until June 15 to renew the laws and make reforms.

The analysis of the past dozen years shows that two Queens neighborhoods surpassed the citywide average. Rents jumped 36 percent in Astoria and 35 percent in Jamaica in 12 years, the study said.


Surprisingly, Long Island City and Ridgewood weren’t over the citywide average although rent rates have changed dramatically in those areas as well.

The rental information for different neighborhoods was collected from tenants who have recently moved.

“In order to sensitively assess the changing state of the housing market in different neighborhoods, CSS focused on the rents being paid by tenants who have recently moved,” the report said. “This eliminates the tendency of lower rents paid by longtime tenants to smooth out market changes and mask the changes that affect tenants who are looking for a place to live.”

During the 12-year period, rents in Central Harlem rose 90 percent and those in Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn rose 63 percent, making them the neighborhoods where rent rose the most citywide, according to the report.

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PHOTOS: Hundreds of local artists participate in Bushwick Open Studios


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photos by Anthony Giudice

Over 600 art studios across Ridgewood and Bushwick opened their doors for Arts in Bushwick’s ninth annual Bushwick Open Studios (BOS) weekend, from June 5 through June 7.

BOS is the largest open studios event in New York City. The three-day arts and culture festival brings together visual artists, performers, musicians and designers to share their work with the public through studio visits, group shows and creative events.

Many forms of art, including paintings, sculptures, creative furniture, spray paint murals and much more were on display throughout the studios and streets of Bushwick and Ridgewood over the weekend.

Jeff Fichera is a veteran of the BOS scene, this year being his fifth open studios event, but he still finds the event to be exciting.

“It’s both invigorating and exhausting to share my work with so many people over a few days,” Fichera said. “It’s incredible to get so much valuable feedback from all of the visitors, but it’s also a very unusual situation to have so many people in the studio. The studio is almost always a place of quiet solitude and so the frantic activity is exhausting.”

“I think BOS is one of the best parts about the Bushwick/Ridgewood artist scene,” Fichera continued. “It really defines the boundaries of our community and allows everyone to participate and be seen and focuses the attention of the art world on what is happening here. It brings an enormous amount of attention and cohesion to the community.”

While some artists focused on showcasing their art, others, like Rodney Allen Trice, were interested in reaching out to collectors for their work. Trice is an artist and designer who creates new pieces of furniture from found objects.

“I have been doing this over 20 years,” Trice said. “I’m always inspired by objects I fall in love with and want to make useful again. To get an opportunity for this many people to see [my work] is a chance to find those unique buyers and collectors who find the same love as you do for the things I find and build with.”

Other artists participated in group showings, such as those involved with the Ridgewood Artists Coalition who put their art up at the “Ridgewood Represent!” event at the Onderdonk House in Ridgewood.

“It feels great to have my art on display here with everyone else’s for the Bushwick Open Studios,” said Alison Duignan, who was participating in her first art show. “I’m glad it’s less formal because I’ve never showed my work before, so I don’t feel out of place.”

Danielle Draik, co-curator of the “Ridgewood Represent!” art show has had her work appear in several other art shows, but this is her first time at BOS.

“Being a part of BOS is great,” Draik said. “Having an art show at a historic location in the festival and representing the adjacent town is very important. The Onderdonk House, an active arts staple in the neighborhood, really represents Ridgewood Arts Culture and it means a lot that they would have us local artists here.”


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Rising rat problems on the Ridgewood/Bushwick border


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons/Mira (on the wall)

Aw, rats!

Residents of Himrod Street on the Ridgewood/Bushwick border in Brooklyn have noticed an increase in the number of rats they have seen on their block and are looking for a solution.

Pauline Bruscarino, a resident of Himrod Street for 39 years, says she has seen rats roaming the neighborhood almost every night.

“Every night before I go to bed, I look out my window and I see them,” Bruscarino said. “At first I called 911 because I didn’t know who to call.”

“The thing is, we have a lot of kids on the block,” Bruscarino continued. “Yesterday morning, I was outside at six o’clock doing the garbage, when all of a sudden I see this rat. Four times it passed me. Then it jumped…so something has to be done before it bites somebody.”

Photo by Anthony Giudice

Photo by Anthony Giudice

After going through 911 and 311, Bruscarino said that she was told that she had to wait before someone could get down to the area to inspect the problem.

“See, what we’re afraid of is that they’re going to start getting into the houses,” said Marie Lekoski, a resident of Himrod Street for 10 years.

Lekoski, and several other residents of Himrod Street, have also called 311 and logged complaints about the rats.

“Now I just called again this morning,” Lekoski said. “The woman said the status was that the Department of Health had to determine what to do about it.”

On Friday morning, Bruscarino said that a city inspector was seen on the block, investigating the problem.

Himrod Street (Photo by Anthony Giudice)

Himrod Street (Photo by Anthony Giudice)

After going through the area, the inspector told Bruscarino that the landlords of the residents complaining about seeing rats are responsible for getting rid of the rats. If nothing is done by the landlords, then the city takes its own action to wipe out the vermin, then sends the landlords the bill.

“[The inspector] said she would send a notice to the landlords because she checked and there were some droppings,” Bruscarino said. “She said she would send a notice and if it is not done in a certain time, the city would do it and they will bill the landlords.”

Now, residents have to wait and see if the landlords take action before the city sends out notices.

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Ridgewood group eyes NYPD roster and homelessness


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Hiring more police officers and reducing homelessness were hot topics during the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association (RPOCA) meeting on June 4 at the Ridgewood Older Adult Center.

According to Captain Mark Wachter, the 104th Precinct has witnessed a 9.5 percent drop in the seven major crime categories. Problems plaguing the command include an upswing in identity theft, scams and theft of unattended property, such as wallets and laptop computers left in cars.

Even so, crime is up in other parts of the city, and Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley noted the City Council wants funds to hire more police officers included in 2016 fiscal year budget.

According to Crowley, Commissioner Bratton approached the City Council and requested funds to hire 500 extra police officers, primarily for the city’s anti-terrorism task force. However, Crowley estimates the need for more officers to be double that amount.

“It’s rare that you even have a commissioner of an agency that disagrees with a mayor,” Crowley said. “But the truth of the matter is, he could use a thousand more police officers.”

Crowley estimates that the police department spends roughly $700 million dollars in overtime pay to officers each year. “If you add enough resources to pay people straight time…you would save a significant amount of money by not having to pay time and a half,” she added.

She proposed deploying the additional 500 officers Bratton requested to problem areas throughout the city, including troubled neighborhoods such as Brownsville and the South Bronx, which, according to her estimates, have witnessed a 40 percent uptick in major crimes within the past year.

Crowley also tackled the issue of homelessness and rent increases, a topic of particular concern to the growing Ridgewood community.

“Some people are charging outrageous amounts for rent and it’s driving a lot of families out. This is happening throughout the city,” she explained.

As a preventative measure, Crowley announced that she has allocated funds in the budget for the city’s LINK Program. This network of social services is designed to fight homelessness by keeping families out of shelters and helping them stay in their own homes.

In addition to vital resources, Crowley said that she had also allocated funds for local trees and park improvements, as well as other capital requests from Community Board 5. This news delighted former RPOCA president Paul Kerzner, who has been advocating for the planting of more trees throughout Ridgewood.

Kerzner estimates that roughly $300,000 would be required in the 2016 budget for tree planting in the community. Crowley explained that she had allocated that amount in the previous year’s budget for stump removal and the planting of 100 new trees.

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Ridgewood students raise money for wounded veterans


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy I.S. 93

Students from I.S. 93 in Ridgewood raised money for the Wounded Warrior Project through the Penny Harvest Program.

A group of seventh- and eighth-graders from the middle school held weekly meetings focused on finding a charity to support. After much research, they decided to donate $500 to the Wounded Warrior Project, a charity and veterans service organization that offers a variety of programs, services and events for wounded veterans of the military.

In addition, the kids signed up to become student ambassadors for the Wounded Warrior Project. They decided they wanted to help even more by raising additional money. They fundraised by selling Wounded Warrior Project bracelets and pins, informing the I.S. 93 community about the special ways in which this program helps wounded soldiers.

They were able to raise an additional $200, totaling a $700 donation to the organization.

As a special surprise, the group of students were able to meet a true wounded warrior: Sgt. Juan Arrendondo, one of the first soldiers to receive help from the Wounded Warrior Project when it began over 10 years ago.

Arrendondo spoke to the students about his injuries, losing an arm and part of his leg, and gave an inspirational speech on how he considers himself lucky to be alive.

“When you told your story about how you got hurt I wanted to cry,” said Weronika Pawlowska, a student at I.S. 93, in a thank-you letter to Sgt. Arrendondo. “It made me sad at how this happened to you and many other people. I love how you have confidence in telling us about your injuries and how you opened out to people. I learned no matter what happens, life can be amazing and full of surprises.”

I.S. student Anthony Paredes wrote, “Dear Juan, it was indeed a pleasure of meeting you. When I met you I knew that you were a person of endurance and that nothing could stop you. When you told us your story, you couldn’t prove me more correct of how you were a symbol of courage. I hope to be like you one day.”

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Cops collar four alleged Ridgewood home invaders


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Google Maps

Police busted four Brooklyn men late Monday night who allegedly invaded a Ridgewood apartment in search of loot, according to the 104th Precinct.

Authorities said the trouble began at about 11:45 p.m. inside an apartment house on Gates Avenue between Grandview and Fairview avenues.

Reportedly, a 43-year-old man was at home with his family when the four suspects suddenly entered the apartment through a rear window from the fire escape.

The perpetrators — identified by police as Randall Williams, 24, and Rodney Smalls, 25, both of Bradford Street; Arturo Calcano, 23, of Knickerbocker Avenue; and Joseph Goyco, 22, of Lexington Avenue — displayed firearms and demanded cash and other property.

Law enforcement sources said the 43-year-old male victim and other residents then engaged in a physical struggle with the suspects. One of the residents reportedly managed to escape the apartment during the scuffle and called 911.

Seconds later, police noted, the suspects fled out of the apartment through the fire escape. Reportedly, they got away with the victim’s iPhone 5 and a watch.

Officers from the 104th Precinct rushed to the location and conducted a search of the surrounding area, during which all four suspects were apprehended. Two of the perpetrators were reportedly found inside a livery cab at the corner of Palmetto Street and Grandview Avenue.

Police recovered three firearms, a knife and the stolen loot from the suspects. Each was charged with multiple counts of robbery, authorities said.

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Jackie Robinson Parkway shutdowns begin tonight


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Jim Henderson

Portions of the Jackie Robinson Parkway will be closed beginning Monday night as the state Department of Transportation (DOT) begins resurfacing the five-mile-long and winding road between Kew Gardens and Brooklyn.

The work will begin tonight on the eastbound side from the parkway’s Brooklyn terminus at the corner of Jamaica and Pennsylvania avenues to the Cypress Hills Street exit. As reported in the Ridgewood Times, the project will be performed in segments, with the eastbound side completed first.

The $17 million project is expected to be finished in mid-August, barring any weather-related delays. Much of the work will be done during weeknight hours from 11 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. the next morning, but portions of the parkway will be shut down entirely on six weekends, from 11 p.m. Friday to 5:30 a.m. the following Monday.

The first two weekend closures will occur on June 5 through 8 and June 12 through 15. Drivers will be diverted through marked detour routes passing through neighboring Brooklyn, Ridgewood, Glendale, Woodhaven, Richmond Hill, Forest Hills and Kew Gardens.

During the project, crews from Tully Construction Company of Flushing — working on behalf of the state DOT — will remove the existing asphalt pavement and repair the concrete roadbed, then apply new asphalt and re-stripe the roadway with new lane markings. Various traffic safety devices, from reflectors to new signage, will also be installed.

“The Jackie Robinson Parkway is a critical connector between Brooklyn and Queens, carrying thousands of commuters each day and supporting the local economy,” state Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald said in a statement. “[This] project will give more than 82,000 motorists who use the parkway each day a smoother, safer ride.”

“Motorists who use the Jackie Robinson Parkway can look forward to a better road experience thanks to this paving project and infrastructure enhancement,” added Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, who thanked the DOT and Governor Andrew Cuomo “for making the improvement of the parkway a priority.”

Drivers are reminded to travel safely and slowly through work zones; by law, speeding fines are doubled in work zones, and convictions of two or more speeding violations in a work zone may result in a driver’s license suspension.

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Improvements coming to dangerous Myrtle Avenue intersection


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Image via Google Maps

The Department of Transportation (DOT) is about to begin scheduled improvements for the intersection at Forest Avenue, Myrtle Avenue and George Street in Ridgewood.

The plans were originally presented to Community Board 5’s Transportation Services and Public Transportation Committees during a meeting in April.

The upcoming improvements include installing a concrete curb extension on the south side of the intersection on George Street, realigning and shortening the skewed south crosswalk in order to shorten pedestrian crossing distances, installing high visibility crosswalks at all crossings to increase visibility of pedestrians and adding markings to clarify direction of travel for vehicles on Forest Avenue.

The improvements are slated to begin within the first week of June.

This intersection was brought to the DOT’s attention because it is located within the Myrtle Avenue priority corridor and has seen a number of vehicle and pedestrian crashes since it is such a high-traffic area.

“Judging from the frequency and severity of crashes that occurred here between 2009 and 2013, the intersection has been designated a high pedestrian crash location,” said Arban Vigni, project manager with the DOT, at the April meeting.

During that five-year period, there were a total of 18 crashes, six of them involving pedestrians. Two of those crashes led to severe injuries.

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Superstar in the making: Ridgewood boxer headed to Olympic trials


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photos by Anthony Giudice

After hard work, dedication and an outpouring of community support, Ridgewood‘s Mathew Gonzalez will be flying to Colorado this June to compete in the Olympic trials in boxing for Team USA.

Gonzalez’s love of boxing began at just 5 years old, when he would watch and learn the sport from his older brother. At age 8, Gonzalez stepped into a boxing ring for the very first time, and by the age of 10, he knew that boxing was what he wanted to do.

“At 11, I started competing,” Gonzalez said. “I started following in [my brother’s] footsteps. He was already doing it big, at a national level and I just followed his footsteps and it took me here.”

Gonzalez has had an impressive amateur career thus far, winning the Junior Golden Gloves Nationals in Las Vegas and the Ringside World Championships in Kansas City, among other titles and awards. But he had to step away from boxing to focus on graduating from Grover Cleveland High School.

“My favorite achievement is coming back to the sport that I belong [in], coming back to the sport that I love even though I have not been actively competing and still having the support from all my fans and family is just great,” he said.

During his hiatus from boxing, Gonzalez joined International Boxing & Fitness gym, located at 953C Cypress Ave. in Ridgewood, and has been training and volunteering there during his free time. He trains six to seven hours a day as well as training and helping the youth teams develop and hone their skills.

Since joining the gym, Gonzalez has trained and worked hard to become an elite fighter in his age and weight bracket. At only 20, he is “very talented and a force to be reckoned with,” according to Jenny Badillo, co-owner of International Boxing & Fitness gym.

“Everyone knows Mathew from his Junior Olympic credentials,” Badillo said. “When he came to our gym, I knew he needed the support of a comfortable gym to come to. We were more than willing to give it to him because we know he is very, very talented.”

The support Gonzalez received from those at the gym has led to a very close relationship between the boxer and the members of International Boxing & Fitness.

“The gym here is like a family,” Gonzalez said.

That family recently joined together to support Gonzalez and his boxing dreams. Through a GoFundMe page set up by Badillo, members of the gym and parents of the kids Gonzalez helps train have donated the funds needed to send Gonzalez to Colorado Springs to participate in the Olympic trails this June.

“It means a lot to me to display my skills on a national level, and [fighting] the best the USA has to offer is amazing,” Gonzalez said. “It’s a great feeling, being that I know I have support behind me and it’s just makes you want to work harder each and every day.”

If Gonzalez makes it past the opening round of trials in Colorado Springs in June, there will be a second round of trials in the fall which he hopes to be able to attend, and with the support of his local boxing gym and community, his dreams could become a reality.

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