Tag Archives: Ridgewood

Ridgewood coffee shop owners to open second business with beer and wine license


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

ERIC JANKIEWICZ

Coffee isn’t the only buzzworthy drink the owners of Norma’s café want to offer their customers.

Crystal Williams and Denise Plowman, owners of the Ridgewood coffee shop, have been trying to get a beer and wine license for several months now. But due to Department of Building restrictions and Norma’s small size, they weren’t approved.

But instead of merely accepting the rejection, they are creating a new business entity that they hope will increase their chances for approval.

Even though the license has yet to be voted on, Williams and Plowman have rented out space on Woodward Avenue for their new venture, to be called Julia’s Beer and Wine Bar.

“So it’s a bit of a risk but this was a labor of love,” Williams said. “The neighborhood has been very supportive.”

Williams and Plowman submitted their plans to Community Board 5 and it is expected to be voted upon soon. If approved in that advisory vote, there will still be an “incredible amount of unromantic paperwork” that has to be done before the State Liquor Authority can grant the bar a beer and wine license, Williams said.

There is also a Kickstarter campaign for Julia’s, where Williams writes, “We feel like Ridgewood is missing a great beer and wine bar. We want to create the perfect date spot or a place to spend time with friends and feel spoiled. Our goal is to pick all of our favorite things about wine bars and leave out all the stuffy pretense.”

Taylor Clasper was working at Norma’s on a recent morning and told her co-worker Rin Wilhelmi, “I really want to work at the other place.”

Wilhelmi also wanted to work at Julia’s because she thought the tips would be good and “who wouldn’t want to work at a place that serves drinks?”

Facing the morning rush of people, Clasper considered all of the challenges facing the new business. She shrugged and said, “We’re the coffee shop that could.”

 

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New Fox comedy to feature 30-somethings living in Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of 2014 Fox Broadcasting Co. / Michael Becker/FOX

A new Fox show, called “Weird Loners,” will use Queens as its backdrop.

The single-camera comedy, scheduled for 2015, focuses on “four single 30-something underdogs who are unexpectedly thrust into one another’s lives and form an unlikely bond in a Queens townhouse.” The show, which is still early in production, places the home in Ridgewood.

Nate Torrence and Zachary Knighton. (©2014 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Ray Mickshaw/FOX)

From writer Michael J. Weithorn (“The King of Queens”) and director Jake Kasdan (“New Girl”), the show stars Becki Newton (“Ugly Betty”), Zachary Knighton (“Happy Endings”), Nate Torrence (“Hello Ladies”) and newcomer Meera Khumbhani.

Newton plays Caryn Goldfarb: “A cute, but high-strung dental hygienist whose romantic life, unfortunately, is dictated by the love-crazed, ultra-romantic 13-year-old barricaded inside the control room of her brain. Each time a handsome new man crosses her field of vision, infatuation and extreme over-eagerness take over, and she inevitably winds up back at square one – single and not getting any younger.”

Becki Newton and Zachary Knighton. (©2014 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Ray Mickshaw/FOX)

Knighton plays Stosh Lewandoski: Described as “handsome, charming and whip-smart,” he’s a “serial seducer who has never been able to maintain an intimate relationship with a woman for very long – a couple of hours, usually. When Stosh’s shenanigans result in him losing his corporate condo, he winds up moving in with his cousin Eric.”

Torrence plays Eric Lewandoski: “A sweet, odd man-child, whose “adult life has consisted of living at home with elderly parents and working as a toll collector on the Queensboro Bridge. After both of his parents pass away, he finds himself cast adrift in the world for the first time.”

Meera Khumbhani and Nate Torrence. (© 2014 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Michael Becker/FOX)

Meera Khumbhani plays Zara Sandhu: “Drop-dead gorgeous, mysterious and ethereal, Zara is a lifelong heartbreaker who’s only capable of living one way – ‘in the moment.’  Men and women fall in love with her on a regular basis, and she often reciprocates their feelings with great passion, until… she doesn’t.”

 

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Radioactive Ridgewood site added to Superfund list


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

ERIC JANKIEWICZ 

After months of planning, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Thursday that a radioactive Ridgewood site has been added to the federal Superfund list, allowing the agency to further look into the site to reduce radiation levels.

“We often think about Superfund sites as being these shuttered, abandoned areas but what has me concerned is that this is a very densely populated area,” Judith Enck, the EPA’s regional administrator said.

The contaminated address of the site is 1129 to 1135 Irving Ave., where there are several businesses, including a deli and an auto shop. But the site was once used as a nuclear testing facility by the Wolff Alport Chemical Company, which no longer exists. The company processed and sold minerals containing a radioactive material called thorium from the 1920s to 1954 at the site.

The EPA first proposed the site be added to the Superfund list in December 2013. Superfund is a federal cleanup program created in 1980 by Congress to investigate and clean up the country’s most hazardous waste sites. But even before the proposal, the EPA worked with local businesses and the community to perform tests and installed a shielding material – made out of concrete, lead and steel – under the floors and sidewalk in 2012 in an effort to reduce the amount of radiation coming out of the site. The efforts have so far cost the environmental agency $2 million and the Superfund designation will allow them to have more funding.

As for what the EPA will exactly do with the new funds is still unknown. The rest of this year will be spent putting together evidence and data on the levels of radiation in the area. The agency will then release “a master plan that will be circulated to the community,” Enck said. But, according to the EPA, the community outreach is unlikely to happen this year.

“We want people who live in this area to give us feedback on our plans. And then once we get that back we will alter it based on what people tell us,” she said.

In the meantime, the community shouldn’t be worried about getting cancer or any other nasty side-effects of radiation, according to Enck.

“There is no immediate threat for people in this area,” she said.

The designation makes Ridgewood site the third Superfund location in New York City. The other two sites are the Gowanus Canal and Newton Creek in Brooklyn.

 

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Ridgewood stop-motion animator wins Tribeca #6SecFilms competition


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo: Behind-the-Scenes

KATRINA MEDOFF

Vine, a mobile app that allows users to create and share six-second looping videos, didn’t exist until January 2013 — but now, thanks to the app, Ridgewood resident Lawrence Becker, 32, is creating stop-motion videos full time.

And now, the stop-motion animator has been recognized by the TriBeCa Film Festival as one of the winners of the second annual #6SecFilms competition.

“I heard about [the contest] the year before, when they had the same contest, but I was late to it — I heard about it when it was already over,” Becker said. “This year, I jumped on it.”

More than 530 submissions were narrowed down by TriBeCa Film Festival programmers, who presented a short list to the jury. The jury then chose winners from each category.

Becker won a meeting with GrapeStory, which is an agency that connects Viners to companies, but “[t]he best prize is being able to call myself a TriBeCa Film Fest winner from now on,” he said.

Becker’s film, “The Vortex Finds a Host,” won the “genre” category of the competition.

“I submitted a bunch [of films] to ‘animation’ — that’s what I primarily do,” Becker said. But, luckily,

“I also submitted to ‘genre,’ because many of my films have a fantasy/sci-fi quality to them.”

Becker’s winning Vine depicts a giant, living snowman-turned-vortex of snow filtering into his mouth.

“With all the snow we had this winter, I started going out and playing in the snow, just kind of experimenting with snow animation, and it just slowly started turning into a film,” Becker said.

To create the film, Becker took footage of himself out in the snow at McCarren Park in Williamsburg.

“I take footage out in the snow and make a fool out of myself in public because I’m acting with things that aren’t there,” he said.

He then put that video on a flat screen monitor and laid it down horizontally under multiple layers of glass on which he animated “snow” made of Styrofoam and baking powder.

Becker explained that the multiple layers of glass created a 3-D effect: “It’s how Walt Disney used to do his animating,” with a character on one layer and the background on other layers, he said.

“The Vortex Finds a Host” is just part of a short film, which will end up being around a minute and a half to two minutes long when completed.

Another of Becker’s snow animations, which made it into the list of runners-up, is the beginning of the longer film. “You see a snowball burst like a planet blowing up,” Becker described.

Becker started creating Vines a year ago, in April 2013, and has turned it into a career.

He now creates animations for companies such as ESPN, Bud Light, Tillamook Cheese, Sony’s “Astronauts Wanted,” the Food Network and Coca-Cola Co.

“They all keep rolling in,” Becker said, since Vines are very popular right now.

His big break came when he hosted one of social media news site Mashable’s weekly Vine contests (his week’s theme was Star Wars Mashups, and he himself created a themed Vine).

ESPN took notice and contacted him, and he’s worked consistently since then.

Stop-motion animation has always been a passion of Becker’s and “since I was a kid, it was what I wanted to do with my life,” he said. “Vine got me there.”

 

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Newtown Creek sludge project nearing completion


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Jeff Stone

JEFF STONE

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is celebrating the end of a month-long project in Newtown Creek that, if successful, will eventually make the water running through Ridgewood, Maspeth and Greenpoint much more inviting.

DEP crews have been traveling through the contaminated creek since the end of March, cleaning up silt, industrial waste and untreated sewage overflow that has been left largely undisturbed since the 1970s. The project, which is expected to be fully complete by no later than the end of April, aims to make Newtown Creek passable for a new fleet of DEP sludge vessels that will transport wastewater from elsewhere in the city to a new facility deeper inland.

Sludge vessels can be seen six days a week traveling through the East and Hudson Rivers, transporting sludge (semi-solid material leftover from industrial wastewater or sewage treatment) to decontamination facilities. Those facilities then extract any harmful materials and dump the clean water back into rivers around the metro area.

Yet, despite its status as one of the most contaminated bodies of water in the city, Newtown Creek is not currently equipped with its own dewatering plant. Sludge from the area is transported through a pipeline under the East River to a wastewater treatment plant in Greenpoint. City officials hope to soon use that valuable Brooklyn real estate for affordable housing and a new park, but the first step in removing the treatment facility is cleaning Newtown Creek.

Step one, for the most part, is finished. Environmental officials said that barges will be taking their final trips through the area using sonar technology to ensure that a new fleet of sludge vessels will be able to travel through without incident.

“Most likely there will be a few spots where they have to touch up and lay a fresh layer of sand down,” a DEP representative said Friday. “The barge and dredge machinery will be on Newtown Creek for at least another week or so, but the majority of the work will be completed by this weekend.”

Before the project began last month, DEP officials and nearby residents were concerned that the stirred-up silt bed would omit a smell of rotten eggs into the spring air. The very notion was enough to prompt a flurry of social media activity from Queens and Brooklyn residents alike. None of the dire predictions came to pass, though, thanks to the crews’ round-the-clock reliance on air and water quality monitors.

“The fact that there’ve been two complaints and all of our monitoring indicates that we’re well within our acceptable limits, everything has gone smoothly,” the spokesman said.

Work at Newtown Creek is a symptom of a citywide effort to equip designated priority areas like Gowanus Canal, Jamaica Bay, Flushing Bay and the Bronx River with green infrastructure. The city will spend $2.4 billion over the next 20 years on treating wastewater and rain overflow before it enters New York’s waterways.

 

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More than 4,200 new full-day pre-K seats added to schools: mayor


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@NYCMayorsOffice

The city will be adding 4,268 new full-day pre-kindergarten seats to its public schools by September now that funding has been secured through this year’s state budget, Mayor de Blasio said Wednesday.

De Blasio made the announcement at Ridgewood ‘s P.S. 239, which this fall will be changing half-day pre-kindergarten seats into full-day ones, for a total of 36 spots.

“Today, we are more than 4,000 seats closer to ensuring that every 4-year-old has access to high quality full-day pre-K,” he said. “For months, we have been planning every facet of these programs to ensure we were ready to launch the moment funding was secured. Today, the rubber hits the road, and families will have more options for their children.”

The additional spots will bring the total number of full-day pre-kindergarten seats in public schools to 20,387 by the fall—the most in city history, according to the mayor.

De Blasio’s plan aims to make universal pre-kindergarten available to 53,604 children by September 2014 and 73,250 by the 2015-16 school year.

To be eligible to apply, children must be born in 2010 and live in New York City. The application deadline is April 23, and the Department of Education will notify families about placements in June. Families will also have an opportunity to apply for spots at community-based organizations later this spring.

Parents can apply and find out more information here or by visiting a borough enrollment office.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Friday: Cloudy with light rain developing this afternoon. High 58. Winds SSW at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 60%. Friday night: Cloudy skies early, followed by partial clearing. Low 43. Winds WSW at 10 to 20 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: An Evening with Groucho

Award-winning actor Frank Ferrante recreates his highly acclaimed portrayal of legendary comedian Groucho Marx at Queens Theatre. The two-act comedy consists of the best Groucho one-liners, anecdotes and songs, such as “Lydia, the Tattooed Lady.” March 29 shows at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., March 30 show at 3 p.m. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Two fatally shot inside Ridgewood home

A man and a woman were shot to death inside a Ridgewood home Thursday night, police said. Read more: The Queens Courier

MTA bus crashes into dump truck

An MTA bus driver rear-ended a dump truck on the 59th Street Ed Koch Bridge Thursday, tying up traffic during rush hour, authorities said. Read more: New York Post

Longer 911 response times bring dismay to pols at City Council

City ambulances are taking nine and a half minutes to get to the scene of life-threatening emergencies, new data show. Read more: New York Daily News

Sources: State lawmakers reach deal with demands on city for charter schools

The battle between Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo over charter schools has led to a tentative deal on a reform package from state lawmakers, sources told CBS 2 News. Read more: CBS New York

Poll: More Catholics say church is in touch since Pope Francis

Catholics appear to be feeling more of a connection to the church since the beginning of Pope Francis’ papacy, according to a new CBS News poll. Read more: CBS New York

Two fatally shot inside Ridgewood home


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Updated 10:11 a.m.

A man and a woman were shot to death inside a Ridgewood home Thursday night, police said.

Officers found the victims at the Summerfield Street residence about 6:45 p.m., according to officials.

Natalie Mejia-Tavares, 21, suffered from a gunshot wound to the torso and an unidentified 22-year-old man was shot once in the head, cops said. Both were pronounced dead at the scene.

There are no arrests and the investigation is ongoing.

If anyone has information relating to this crime please contact the 104th Precinct Detective Squad at 718-386-3004 or to report information anonymously call Crime Stoppers at 1 (800) 577-TIPS (8477).

 

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Ridgewood residents divided over planned luxury apartment building


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Aufgang Architects

Follow me @liamlaguerre

 

Some Ridgewood residents are opposing a planned upscale building with a rooftop dog run, because it may be limited to renters of a certain pedigree.

Developers appeared at a public hearing at the Community Board 5 meeting on March 12 to introduce their proposed zoning change of the planned building’s site, 176 Woodward Avenue. But the meeting became feisty.

Residents who oppose the upscale building fear that it will gentrify of the neighborhood.

“What are we going to get that comes with this to make sure that our neighborhood could handle this and that it’s not a complete rift from the incomes that are in that neighborhood, so that when this wonderful looking project shows up all the folks that can’t afford wonderful looking projects in New York City don’t get kicked out,” Manny Jalonschi, a lifelong Ridgewood resident, asked.

The structure planned is a 90,000-square-foot building with 88 housing units, commercial retail space on the ground floor and 118 spots of underground parking. Owners are seeking a zoning change from manufacturing to residential. The building, which is being designed by Aufgang Architects, is estimated for $18 million.

More than 6,700-square-feet of the building will be dedicated to retail space on the ground floor, and a 3,115-square-foot community facility will be built to accommodate artists in Ridgewood and nearby Bushwick, Brooklyn.

Preliminary room renting prices are $1,100- $1,200 for a studio, $1,400- $1,600 for a one-bedroom and $1,700- $1,800 for a two-bedroom apartment, according to the developer, who also said these estimates could change.

Some Ridgewood residents at the meeting voiced support, citing that the community has already changed.

“I support the zoning law, because it’s going to have a good impact on the community,” Ridgewood resident Joe Pergolese said. “People are trying to come into the community, so what we need is a building to happen there.”

The community board’s Land-Use Committee plans to meet and discuss the feedback of the project at the next meeting on April 7, before making a decision to support or oppose the rezoning. Councilmember Antonio Reynoso is also collecting feedback about the issue before voicing his support for either side.

 

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Cops arrest Ridgewood and Middle Village graffiti vandals


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Follow me @liamlaguerre 

 

The next thing these vandals could be drawing is punishment.

Police arrested Joseph Guilfoyle, 43, of Ridgewood, and David Negron, 20, of Middle Village, for graffiti in numerous areas of Queens.

Guilfoyle was charged on Tuesday with eight complaints of graffiti in multiple precincts. He was wanted for vandalizing roadways, such as the Long Island Expressway, the Grand Central Parkway and the Van Wyck Expressway.

Negron was charged on Saturday with 21 individual acts of graffiti. He tagged just about anything he could find, according to police, including store fronts of local businesses, ATM machines, mailboxes, doors, emergency call boxes and payphones, mostly in Maspeth and Ridgewood.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Tuesday: Considerable cloudiness. High 58. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph. Tuesday night: Cloudy. Low 41. Winds ENE at 5 to 10 mph.

Cops arrest Brooklyn man in connection with string of Ridgewood knifepoint robberies

Ridgewood can rest a little bit easier now, but cops are still telling residents to be aware. Read more: The Queens Courier

Common Core panel says limit time teaching to test

A panel created by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to look into New York’s rollout of the controversial Common Core curriculum is recommending capping the amount of instructional time that can be used for standardized tests and test prep. Read more: NBC New York

Unions beg Mayor de Blasio to keep horse carriages

Leaders of the city’s most powerful unions — including many of Mayor de Blasio’s staunchest allies — are balking at his plans to banish horse carriages from city streets. Read more: New York Daily News

Housing becoming more expensive for NYers: comptroller

Housing is becoming unaffordable for millions of New Yorkers amid declining incomes and increasing costs for rent and home ownership, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said Monday. Read more: New York Post 

New ad campaign urges a ban on calling girls ‘bossy’

What goes through your mind when you hear the word “bossy?” Read more: CBS New York

Cops arrest Brooklyn man in connection with string of Ridgewood knifepoint robberies


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy NYPD

Follow me @liamlaguerre

 

Ridgewood can rest a little bit easier now, but cops are still telling residents to be aware.

Police arrested a Brooklyn resident on Monday afternoon in connection with four robberies in the neighborhood last month.

Bryant Aguilar was charged with four separate counts of robbery, for incidents that occurred during the final two weeks of February, police said.

There have been at least seven knifepoint robberies in Ridgewood from Jan. 22 through Feb.24.

Cops originally said the knifepoint robbery suspects were committing the crimes as a duo, and are still investigating a two-man knifepoint team that is connected to three incidents in which Aguilar was not involved.

The duo targeted mostly women between the hours of 3 p.m. and midnight, and the perpetrators followed their victims down the street, authorities said.

No one involved in these knifepoint robberies has been reported injured.

Anyone with information is asked to call the 104th Precinct at 718-386-3004.

 

Here are the locations and dates of the knifepoint robberies:

  • 59-12 68th Ave. on 1/22/14 –Ridgewood
  • 60th Lane and 75th Avenue on 2/17/14- Ridgewood
  • 60 Place and Putnam Avenue on 2/21/14- Ridgewood
  • 59-50 Decatur St.on 2/23/14- Ridgewood
  • 1708 Summerfield St. on 2/24/14
  • Cypress Avenue and Summerfield Street on 2/24/14
  • Grove Street and Forest Avenue on 2/24/14



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Van backing out of Ridgewood driveway fatally hits pedestrian


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A man was killed in Ridgewood Thursday night when a van struck him as it was pulling out of a driveway, police said.

The 25-year-old driver hit the man on 60th Lane near 75th Avenue about 10:45 p.m., according to the NYPD. The victim, who has yet to be identified by police, was in the roadway at the time of the accident, cops said.

He was taken to Elmhurst Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

There are no arrests and the investigation is ongoing, police said.

 

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92-year-old woman killed in Ridgewood fire


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

An elderly woman is dead after a fire at her Ridgewood home Monday morning, police said.

The blaze broke out around 10:30 a.m. at a residence on Himrod Street near Onderdonk Avenue, according to authorities.

After the fire was put out, responding officers found 92-year-old Maria Tchinkel inside, unresponsive and unconscious, police said.

Tchinkel was taken to Wyckoff Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

The medical examiner will determine the cause of the death and the cause of the fire is still under investigation, the NYPD said.

 

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Police: Duo commits string of knifepoint robberies in Ridgewood


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Follow me  @liamlaguerre

 

Cops are warning residents of a dangerous duo lurking in Ridgewood.

The pair has robbed at least seven victims at knifepoint in the neighborhood within the last month, authorities said.

The suspects are two males, one 5’4 and the other about 6’0, armed with what has been described as “kitchen knives,” police said. They are either white or Hispanic.

The men have targeted mostly women between the hours of 3 p.m. and midnight, and follow their victims down the street, cops said.

None of the victims reported any injures from the robberies. Police are still investigating the crimes.

Below  is a list of locations and dates of the knifepoint robberies reported in the 104th Precinct:

  • 59-12 68th Ave. on 1/22/14 
  • 60th Lane and 75 Avenue  on 2/17/14  
  • 60th Place and Putnam Avenue on 2/21/14 
  • 59-50 Decatur St. on 2/23/14 
  • 1708 Summerfield St. on 2/24/14 
  • Cypress Avenue and Summerfield Street on 2/24/14
  • Grove Street and Forest Avenue on 2/24/14

Anyone with information regarding these incidents should contact the 104th Precinct at 718386-3004.

 

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