Tag Archives: Ridgewood

DOT commissioner headlines Myrtle Avenue BID meeting in Ridgewood

| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso


The city’s top transportation official touted ongoing traffic initiatives during the 27th Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID) yearly meeting on Tuesday night in Ridgewood.

As the event’s keynote speaker, NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Polly Trottenberg spoke in support of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative and touted the success of the program. Trottenberg has referred to the Vision Zero initiative as one of the “signature priorities” of both the de Blasio administration and the DOT.

“We look forward to this partnership on safety projects, causes and all of the other things that will help make this neighborhood really thrive and be prosperous,” Trottenberg said.

The action plans are meant to target problematic intersections with high crash and fatality rates. The DOT hopes to reduce incidents of injury or death through a combination of education, enforcement and engineering improvements, including curbside neckdowns and designated bicycle lanes.

Capt. Mark Wachter, the 104th Precinct’s commanding officer, shared in Trottenberg’s optimism. “Vision Zero is working,” he said. “Fatalities are down, and that’s the biggest thing.”

Wachter employs a similar approach to the DOT’s action plans in his combination of community education and enforcement. This dual pronged effort focuses on preventing unsafe behavior through education while curbing ongoing hazardous behavior through hefty fines and enforcement.

According to Wachter, the 104th Precinct saw three fewer fatalities this year versus the previous year. For the captain, the success of Vision Zero is a joint effort shared among motorists, pedestrians and cyclists.

“Everybody’s got to look out. It’s everybody’s job,” Wachter explained. He cautioned motorists and pedestrians alike to use be alert at intersections and dangerous turns, and warned pedestrians to avoid using cellphones while walking.

DOT Senior Project Manager Alexander Keating noted that the Community Board 5 area, which includes Ridgewood, is participating in the federally funded “Go Smart NYC” pilot program designed to reduce congestion and pollution while increasing foot traffic to local businesses and communities. Go Smart NYC aims to increase education regarding travel options and alternatives to driving, such as walking, biking, carpooling and mass transit.

As an added incentive, program participants sign in and log their trips on the Go Smart website in exchange for special discounts at local merchants and retailers. For example, local restaurants such as Ltauha and Ridgewood Eats are offering participants 10 percent off their dine-in orders through December 2015. Rudy’s Bakery, the Onderdonk House and Cook’s Crafts in Glendale are offering discounts for various goods and services.

Thus far, 289 Board 5 residents have signed up for the Go Smart NYC program, according to Keating. Out of the 229 total trips logged, 101 were on foot, translating into 15,000 total calories burned and a communal savings of $455.

Meanwhile, City Councilman Antonio Reynoso advocated for bike lanes and greater bike access throughout the district.

“Vehicles have a convenient way to get across in a way that bikes don’t,” he explained. “People are breaking the law to compensate for that, which is not acceptable, but as a city we need to make sure that we can put the infrastructure in place that would allow for them to move freely as well.”


Detectives collar suspect in Ridgewood rape attempt

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Police charged a Brooklyn man on Tuesday with the attempted rape of a woman whom he followed into a Ridgewood apartment building last week.

Larry Williams, 24, of Bedford-Stuyvesant is accused of trying to sexually assault a 28-year-old woman on the 1900 block of Palmetto Street at about 9:15 a.m. on June 25. Reportedly, he was not known to the victim.

According to authorities, Williams followed the victim into the building, then confronted her as she attempted to enter her apartment. Reportedly, the suspect tried to pull the victim’s pants down.

Police said the victim engaged in a physical struggle with Williams, then managed to enter her apartment and lock the door behind her. Williams reportedly attempted to push the door open, but his efforts failed and he fled the scene.

The incident was reported to the 104th Precinct; the woman was not injured.

Members of the NYPD Queens Special Victims Squad tracked down Williams and arrested him Tuesday following questioning at the 112th Precinct’s Forest Hills stationhouse, where the squad is based. Williams is charged with attempted rape, burglary, sex abuse and forcible touching.



Katz provides $200K for countdown clocks at Queens’ busiest bus stops

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Robert Pozarycki

Where’s the bus? That common question among Queens commuters will be answered with countdown clocks set to be installed at the borough’s 10 busiest bus stops within the next two years.

Borough President Melinda Katz announced on Tuesday she allocated $200,000 in the city’s 2016 fiscal year budget to the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) for the purchase and installation of the real-time devices that track the estimated time of arrival for buses.

While the MTA oversees the bus system, the DOT is responsible for the countdown clocks and other bus-related infrastructure such as signage and shelters.

“Countdown clocks eliminate the anxiety of waiting for the unknown, a feeling familiar to every traveler,” Katz said in a statement. “They’ll add more predictability to any commute and will be a boon for thousands of riders in a borough that boasts some of the longest commutes to and from work.”

The DOT, through analyzing data such as ridership levels, commuter transfers, proximity to prominent facilities and dependency of bus service, will recommend to the MTA and Katz which 10 locations will receive the countdown clocks. The final locations will be determined through conversations among Katz, the DOT and the MTA.

Judged solely on activity, it figures that at least a few of the countdown clocks will be installed at transit hubs along some of Queens’ 10 busiest bus routes. According to MTA statistics, the Q58 led all other borough bus ridership in 2014, with 9,787,420 customers. The Q58, which runs between Ridgewood and Flushing, connects riders at both ends to local subway lines and intersects with Queens Boulevard, where M and R train service is available at the Grand Avenue station.

Other heavily traveled bus routes in Queens include the Q44 route between Jamaica and the Bronx, which passes through Flushing (9,240,459 riders in 2014); the Q10 between Kew Gardens and JFK Airport (7,511,855); the Q46 bus between Forest Hills and New Hyde Park (6,594,164); and the Q53 limited line between Woodside and the Rockaways (5,140,345).

The clocks are scheduled to be installed and activated in 2017. Currently, riders can find information on bus locations through the MTA’s BusTime program, available online and through a mobile app.


Residents rally against MTA bus reroute on Ridgewood/Bushwick border

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photos courtesy of United We Stand Neighborhood Association

In the face of a proposed bus route change by the MTA, members of the United We Stand Neighborhood Association and residents of Bushwick and Ridgewood rallied and marched to oppose the new B26 and Q58 bus routes, which on Sunday started traveling down their blocks on the Ridgewood/Bushwick border.

The march was set to take place Saturday afternoon, but after meeting with a representative from the MTA on Wednesday, the group decided to move the rally to Sunday, the day the bus routes officially changed, in order to maximize the protest’s impact.

“They did not give us any notification that they would be doing the reroute of the buses,” said Flor Ramos, member of United We Stand Neighborhood Association. “The MTA never informed the public that anything was happening.”

“There were around 150 people in the meeting,” Ramos added. “We have support from Councilman Rafael Espinal and from [Brooklyn] Community Board 4.”

On Sunday afternoon protesters marched down Putnam Avenue to Ridgewood Place and up Palmetto Street, the new route which the buses would be taking.

Residents took out their smartphones to snap photos and take videos of the buses trying to turn onto Ridgewood Place from Putnam Avenue. The protesters were not surprised when the buses could not complete the turn.

“This is our concern,” Ramos told the Ridgewood Times in a phone interview. “Those buses can’t fit through there. Even if they made it to Palmetto, they couldn’t turn there either.”

Ramos said that both the B26 and Q58 buses failed to make turns onto Ridgewood Place, at which point they were rerouted to another block, where they also had troubles making the turn. In the end, the buses were brought back to their original route, according to Ramos.

“I think the rally was very successful. It brought awareness to people in the area who didn’t know about it,” Ramos said. “We are bringing a lot of light to this issue. These buses turning on small residential streets is dangerous. The narrower streets will cause more accidents.”

According to Ramos, the MTA is looking to implement no parking restrictions on the corners of the blocks on the rerouted bus lines to remove vehicles from the corners, allowing buses to safely turn onto and off of Ridgewood Place, in order to complete the new route.


More road work closures on Jackie Robinson Parkway this week

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Anthony Giudice

Ongoing renovations on the Jackie Robinson Parkway will cause even more headaches for drivers this week.

Portions of the eastbound lanes of the 5-mile parkway between Pennsylvania/Jamaica Avenues in Brooklyn and the Van Wyck Expressway will be closed overnight from 11 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. through Friday, July 3, as crews replace existing guardrails.

Additionally, the right lane of the eastbound parkway between the Woodhaven Boulevard overpass and Metropolitan Avenue will be shut down on weekdays from 10 a.m. through 2 p.m. through Thursday. The closure is needed as workers replace a retaining wall.

The closures are part of the state Department of Transportation’s efforts to upgrade the entire Jackie Robinson Parkway, which connects Kew Gardens to eastern Brooklyn and winds its way through Ridgewood, Glendale, Cypress Hills, Forest Hills and Kew Gardens.

Both sides of the parkway will be resurfaced in the $17 million project, which also includes the installation of new safety devices, lane markings and reflectors. The state DOT indicated in May that entire segments of the parkway would be closed to traffic on six separate weekends through the late summer.

Drivers are advised to use designated detour routes while closures are in effect. The DOT also reminds them 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.


Councilwoman meets parents over Ridgewood playground problems

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Anthony Giudice

After parkgoers raised issues with the conditions at Rosemary’s Playground in Ridgewood, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley met with concerned parents at the playground Friday to hear their plea and see what improvements could be made.

Stephanie Sauer and Caroline Stark formed the group Let’s Fix Rosemary’s Playground to address the community’s issues with the park. Since its inception, the group has gained over 150 likes on its Facebook page, proving that this issue is a major concern residents who frequent the park.

Approximately 20 parents and residents came out to the park to support the cause and voice their concerns to Crowley. Users of the playground brought up issues concerning the elevated flower beds, the deteriorating playground equipment and what could be done with the open space area of the park that currently has no use.

“The elevated flower beds are our number one issue with the playground,” Sauer said. “Kids climb into the elevated flower bed and we are nervous of the pesticides used in them. Our kids also climb up there and run around. They could fall and hurt themselves.”

Some parents suggested planting shrubs up to the edge of the flower beds so children would not be able to access them, or removing them completely.

“What is the benefit of having these plants?” asked Ben Brown, a resident of the area that uses the playground. “You could use the space better. It’s just wasted space at this point. It’s not providing shade or anything.”

After presenting their concerns, the parents asked Crowley where funding for the proposed changes could be found.

“Things don’t happen overnight in the city,” Crowley told the parents. “Let’s look for funding. Looking for funding is the first step. Then we can start looking at a long-term plan.”

The members of Let’s Fix Rosemary’s Playground understand that this process will take time and results are not going to be seen immediately.

“We don’t think that things will change tomorrow,” Stark said. “We just want to set a plan in action.”

“We have realistic expectations,” Sauer added. “We don’t expect things to get done tomorrow, or cheaply.”

Now that the issues have been raised, Crowley noted, an expert from the Parks Department needs to inspect the park and determine which changes could be made and how much the changes would cost.

“The next step, before I can move any further is to have professionals come and evaluate the park,” Crowley said. “Having the Parks Department let us know how much it would cost is a good first step.”

Crowley invited the members of Let’s Fix Rosemary’s Playground to a meeting in July at her office to continue the conversation and see what the next step in the process of getting repairs to the playground.


Cops seek man who tried to rape woman in Ridgewood apartment

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Updated June 26, 1:05 p.m.

Detectives released a video Thursday night of a man wanted for attempting to rape a 28-year-old woman inside an apartment building in Ridgewood earlier that morning.

According to police, the incident occurred at 9:15 a.m. at an undisclosed location on Palmetto Street.

Reportedly, the suspect — described as a black male in his late teens to early 20s, standing 5 foot 9 inches tall and weighing 150 pounds — followed the woman into the location, then up to her apartment.

When she attempted to enter her residence, police said, the perpetrator tried to pull her pants down. The victim reportedly was able to fight off the suspect, then got into her apartment and locked him out.

Police said the would-be rapist then tried to push the door open, but was unsuccessful and fled from the location. The woman was not injured.

Anyone with information regarding the incident or the suspect’s whereabouts is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS, visit their website or send a text message to 274637 (CRIMES), then enter TIP577. All calls and messages will be kept confidential.

Editor’s note: An earlier version, based on information the NYPD provided Thursday, incorrectly identified the location as Woodside. We regret any confusion which may have resulted.





Community Board 5 still wants funding for Wyckoff Avenue repaving project

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

The Ridgewood Times/Photo by Anthony Giudice

What’s the holdup with fixing Wyckoff Avenue? That’s the question members of Community Board 5’s (CB 5) Transit and Public Transportation Committees asked during their meeting Tuesday night in Glendale.

While the board discussed upcoming and ongoing capital projects, one project that has been on CB 5’s radar for several years now is the repaving and reconstruction of Wyckoff Avenue from Flushing to Cooper avenues, including several side streets along the route, which runs through parts of Bushwick and Ridgewood.

“We’d like to get it because of what’s going on in Ridgewood with our friends on the Queens side with housing and everything. We want the area to be fixed up,” said CB 5 Chairperson Vincent Arcuri.

Arcuri said that local elected officials in both Brooklyn and Ridgewood need to get on board with this project in order to get it done because the stretch of road traverses both Brooklyn and Queens.

“No one in [the Department of Transportation], in the Brooklyn borough president’s office, or any local politician is pushing for this project,” Arcuri said. “No one is pushing for it.”

One reason why this project never got off the ground is because, up to this point, there has been no funding for it, he noted.

“There is either no funding or they are waiting for federal funding for this project,” Arcuri added. “I don’t know why it never got funded. We need elected officials on both sides to ask where the funding for this project is.”

According to John Maier, member of the Transit and Public Transportation Committees, the plans for this project were in presented to the committees for review and recommendations several years back.

“We’ve reviewed [the designs] and gave feedback years ago,” Maier said.

This project would be beneficial for both neighborhoods as it would not only repave Wyckoff Avenue and the side streets, but include streetscaping projects that would improve the sidewalks, street lights and other parts of the avenue, as well as replace the water mains and sewer lines along the route.

“In today’s day and age, why would you not want to fix up their neighborhood?” Arcuri told the Ridgewood Times in a phone interview on Wednesday. “If you want to talk economics, this project will help businesses prosper. It will make the whole area better.”


Ridgewood woman goes on TV to change look

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of TLC

When Ridgewood resident Sarah Feldman decided to take the brave step of changing up her look to go with her growing businesses and roles in the community, she didn’t ask for advice from friends and family or stop by a local clothing store — she turned to national TV.

But the show, TLC’s “Love, Lust or Run,” had a larger impact on the 27-year-old and some of its viewers than she ever imagined.

“I was worried. I didn’t know what they would do,” Feldman said.

“I thought they would put me in a boring business suit,” she added.

Feldman had only seen the makeover show, hosted by Stacy London, formerly of the same network’s “What Not to Wear,” once before applying, and thought it would be “funny” to send her footage, but didn’t think she would be “weird enough.”

But her look made the cut, and it made quite the impression on London. When Feldman stepped into the studio with her pink hair and cat coat, London reacted by saying, “I’m confused” and “You look like a sherpa.”

Another of Feldman’s looks, which she described on the June 19 episode as “granny chic meets acid princess raver goth child from the ‘60s,” showed her sporting butterfly wings.

But  the busy entrepreneur knew it was time to stop hiding in her clothes, something she felt like she was stuck doing from her adolescence.

As a new member of Community Board 5, she wanted a more appropriate look for her new role, but to also maintain her artistic, creative side, said Feldman, who also runs Ridgewood Social and Ridgewood Market.

The premise of the show, beyond a basic makeover, is to ask people on the street to rate the person’s look and say whether it makes them feel “love,” “lust” or makes them want to “run.”

Though the comments were unflattering, including that she belonged in an “artisan enclave,” and that her look wasn’t appropriate for business, Feldman said she “felt relief” when she heard the comments because she had been hiding for a long time. She was actually more apprehensive about the makeover.

Sarah in an after look.

Feldman trying on clothes during the show.

Feldman not only ditched the pink hair, turning into a brunette (she had predicted that the hair stylist would make her blonde), but was also shown by London how to pick out better fitting clothes.

“I look so smart,” Feldman said during the reveal.

Not only did the people on the street now love what she was wearing, but her fiance Neil surprised Feldman by appearing via video to tell her that he loved her new look and to say that she was “still the beautiful girl I fell in love with.”

London also surprised Feldman with a bag — made from her cat coat.

“Everything she was doing beforehand was really about creating a distraction and now she is going to see herself as an asset,” London said.

Stacy London with Sarah in her after look.

Stacy London with Feldman in her after look.

Since the show, Feldman said she has kept the brown hair and gotten rid of her old clothes.

“I didn’t really think shows like that had an impact,” she said.

Feldman’s appearance also made an impression on some of those watching. She has received letters from girls around the country saying that they can relate to her experience and honesty, and that they “don’t feel alone anymore.” Some even told her they cried during the episode and lauded Feldman’s bravery for going on the show.

“It wasn’t my intention,” she said, “but it was a definite positive.”



Housing and education issues highlight latest Ridgewood open forum

| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso


Tenants’ rights, education and park space dominated the third “Ridgewood: Your Voice, Your Issues” open forum Monday night at Ridgewood Presbyterian Church.

The discussion was hosted by the Ridgewood Tenants and Neighborhood Association (RTNA) and moderated by RTNA co-founder Glenn Dyer. Much like the second forum back in April, attendees broke up into four groups focused on education, parks and green space, housing and Ridgewood’s social climate.

Angela Mirabile of the Greater Ridgewood Restoration Corporation (GRRC) chaired the housing panel. Tenants’ rights, illegal conversions and rent stabilization dominated their discussion.

Mirabile explained that the GRRC is waging a two-pronged effort to help stem the tide of rising rents and tenant flight. First, Mirabile provides information and legal advice to tenants who are being harassed out of their apartments by unscrupulous landlords.

Second, her group has partnered with the Department of Buildings to fight against illegally subdivided apartments and dwellings such as basements and attics.

Mirabile urged tenants to document all interactions and harassment in a journal and to report violations or harassment to 311. She also asked tenants to report suspicious construction or illegal conversions to the GRRC.

RTNA co-founder Matt Peterson chaired the group on parks and the local environment. The need for green space in Ridgewood was the topic of conversation. The replacement of grass with Astroturf in Mafera Park was one concern mentioned.

Community Board 5 (CB5) member John Maier suggested working to create green space on derelict plots of land, such as the triangle of unused land near Stop and Shop on Myrtle Avenue and Cypress Hills Street just over the neighborhood’s border in Glendale.

The group also circulated a petition seeking funds from Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley to help repair and restore Rosemary’s Playground.

Lydia Martinez, parent coordinator at Grover Cleveland High School, chaired the education group, which examined school class size, overcrowding, zoning issues and enrollment.

For Martinez, the absence of parents’ participation was a big concern. She cited a workshop hosted by her school in which only two parents attended as a prime example of this problem.

“We lack parental involvement,” she said. “They need to know what their kids are learning. They need to come up to school.”

CB 5 member Henry Cross proposed the creation of monthly parental support groups in which both parents and teens could get together to deal with both school and personal issues. Cross is currently working to help implement a similar support group in District 14.

“There is money that goes to the students, but we forget that the direct providers, whether it’s teachers or parents, need support systems as well,” he explained.

Finally, Queens College professor Stephanie Wakefield chaired the group discussion of Ridgewood’s social environment. The group brainstormed ways to foster stronger ties within the neighborhood while bridging the gap between new and existing residents.

“The social question is actually very interesting. In a lot of neighborhoods that get gentrified really fast, in some ways I think it happens because people are really isolated and don’t see themselves as a ‘we’ and are unable to organize together,” Wakefield said. “We want to create ways for people to get to know each other and collaborate together.”

Ideas included neighborhood cookouts, tenant co-ops and creation of community spaces, such as the garden at Woodbine (1882 Woodbine St.).


Ridgewood march against proposed MTA bus rerouting plan

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy the MTA

Members of the United We Stand Neighborhood Association, a newly formed civic group on the Ridgewood/Bushwick border, will be holding a march and rally in Ridgewood this Saturday to oppose the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s (MTA) proposed plan to reroute the B26 and Q58 buses.

The MTA’s proposal would take these two buses off of Wyckoff Avenue and instead reroute them onto Ridgewood Place. The MTA cites dangerous turning conditions at the three-way intersection at Palmetto Street and Myrtle and Wyckoff avenues as well as heavy vehicle and pedestrian traffic as reasons for the proposed changes.

This location has been the scene of many traffic-related injuries, several involving MTA buses, including the fatal accidents that killed Ella Kottick Bandes in 2013 and Edwin Torres in 2014.

“The whole idea of rerouting buses in the area of Myrtle and Wyckoff was due to the need to make traffic conditions safer for pedestrians,” said Gary Giordano, district manager of Community Board 5. “Unfortunately, two people were killed in vehicular accidents at that intersection. The decision on which blocks to reroute the buses to was studied by the MTA. This was done to save lives. The whole reasoning was for pedestrian safety.”

The United We Stand Neighborhood Association was formed in April of this year to combat this rerouting.

“We are a newly formed group,” said Flor Ramos, member of United We Stand Neighborhood Association, in a phone interview with the Ridgewood Times. “We got together mainly because of the situation with the bus rerouting. Nobody wants those buses around there.”

Protesters will assemble at the intersection of Putnam and Wyckoff avenues at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday morning. They will begin their protest at noon and march along Putnam Avenue to Ridgewood Place, ending on Palmetto Street, which is the proposed new route for the buses.

“Now it’s totally going to affect our quality of life,” Ramos said. “There is the noise issue and the fumes. Now you will have double the noise from screeching breaks and compressed air making that horrible bus noise echoing through the streets. We won’t be able to leave our windows open. These are all residential house along this new route. Wyckoff Avenue is all commercial.”

Currently, the Q58 travels down Putnam Avenue, turns right onto Wyckoff Avenue and right again on Palmetto Street, where the Ridgewood Terminal is located. The B26 travels straight down Wyckoff Avenue to Palmetto Street to the Ridgewood Terminal.

“That intersection is the beginning of our commercial district,” said Ted Renz, executive director of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District, who supports the bus route changes. “Since day one, we have been working with the city for the mayor’s Vision Zero plan and have advocated for improvements in that area.”

The proposed changes would have the Q58 turn right onto Ridgewood Place, then right again on Palmetto Street, while the B26 would turn left onto Putnam Avenue, right onto Ridgewood Place and right onto Palmetto Street.

“Overall, the buses will be making five new turns with this new route,” Ramos explained. “The B26 will add three more turns and the Q58 will add two more turns. They will be taking the accidents from there and bring them to the new location. That is going to cause a lot more problems.”

Members of United We Stand Neighborhood Association believe that moving the bus routes to Ridgewood Place would put more children and elderly at risk since the streets of the proposed reroute are very narrow, which would make it difficult for a bus to turn.

“Sending out a bus through there, all they’re doing is bringing that problem to our streets,” Ramos said. “There is nothing they can do about making the streets wider.”

“You have wider streets on Wyckoff and Palmetto,” Ramos continued. “There is about a 5-foot difference in width. The sidewalks on Wyckoff are much wider, giving bus drivers a better view of pedestrians passing through there.”


Web series to be filmed in Ridgewood’s Valentino Food Market on Thursday

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy of Property Shark/Nicholas Strini

Four locations in Ridgewood, including Valentino Food Market on Fresh Pond Road, will be in the spotlight as the web series “Sounds of Enjoyment” is scheduled to film in the neighborhood on Thursday.

The filming is set to begin at 1924 Gates Ave. from 8 to 10 a.m., where Ben and Ben, the main focuses of the series, are seen entering and exiting the building, and they answer interview questions and show their apartment.

Filming then moves to Valentino Fruit Market, located at 66-64 Fresh Pond Rd., from 10 a.m. to noon, where Ben and Ben are shot browsing the fruit market.

Myrtle Avenue between Stephen Street and Forest Avenue is the next filming site. From noon to 2 p.m., Ben and Ben will be walking down the street answering questions about their experiences while living in Queens.

The final stop for “Sounds of Enjoyment” will be Delight Donuts located at 66-91 Fresh Pond Rd., from 2 to 4 p.m. For this scene, Ben and Ben enter the donut shop, sit and answer more questions.

The filming permit has a parking request for no parking on half of the south side of Gates Avenue between Woodward and Fairview avenues for June 25.


Pilot program promoting public transportation launched in CB 5 area

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy NYC DOT flickr

The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) pilot Go Smart NYC program has launched in the areas of Community Board 5 (CB 5).

Go Smart NYC is designed to increase residents’ use of public transportation, biking, carpooling, or walking in order to reduce the traffic congestion and emissions caused by single-occupancy motor vehicle trips.

The DOT chose CB 5 as the pilot area due to its population, proximity to public transportation options and bike lanes, walkability, as well as its high level of car ownership.

“The congestion and traffic in our communities can sometimes be unbearable. Go Smart NYC plans to alleviate that with the click of a button,” Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley said. “Walking, biking, public transportation and carpooling are all viable urban modes of travel and I look forward to this program’s roll out and working with the DOT to make it as effective as possible for everyone.”

Residents can sign up for the program through the Go Smart NYC website. After registering, participants can order a free, personalized travel toolkit, with information about walking, biking, public transit, carpooling and Vision Zero safety and education materials.

“I am excited that Community Board 5 has been selected for the kickoff to the city’s launch of Go Smart NYC,” said Gary Giordano, district manager of CB 5. “Middle Village, Ridgewood, Maspeth and Glendale are home to a wealth of local businesses, and this program encourages residents to shop and explore these neighborhoods by foot, transit and bike. The more we can walk or use public transit, the better off we will be as a society.”

Registered participants will be able to log their trips online in order to earn discount rewards at over 20 local businesses that are partnering with the DOT to help encourage sustainable travel choices and local shopping. To further enhance residents’ experiences with walking, biking or public transit, the DOT will assist the local community board in installing city benches, city racks, and a real-time bus information sign at an area bus stop.

“The Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID) and Ridgewood Local Development Corporation are delighted to be partners for DOT’s new innovative program Go Smart NYC,” said Ted Renz, executive director of the Myrtle Avenue BID. “This is a win-win: increase of residents’ use of public transit, biking, carpooling or just plain walking will reduce traffic congestion. At the same time, it will encourage people to shop locally and support our merchants.”

Go Smart NYC will run in the areas of Ridgewood, Glendale, Middle Village and Maspeth until November. DOT is also looking at the possibility of expanding the program to other areas of the city in 2016, if the pilot is successful.


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.”



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.