Tag Archives: rockaway beach

Madelaine Chocolate facility up for sale but owners say business is here to stay

| mhayes@queenscourier.com


The beloved Madelaine Chocolate factory is up for sale, following a brief comeback after Sandy.

The Rockaway Beach sweet spot suffered over $50 million in structural damages and loss of sales after the superstorm and was forced to shut down for about a year. They partially reopened in October 2013, but as of last week, the facility is on the market, said co-owner Jorge Farber.

“Considering the extent of the damage, there was only so much we have been able to do,” Farber said. “We are sitting on a 200,000-square-foot facility and only utilizing 50 percent of it.”

Madelaine Chocolate officials listed the site with real estate firm CBRE for an undisclosed amount of money. Interested buyers have the option of taking over the unused half or the entire four-building complex.

“There are all kinds of options we need to explore,” Farber said. “We’re going to relocate only if we can sell it. It’s a long, long process.”

The organization does not yet have a relocation space in mind, but one thing is for sure—their chocolates are here to stay.

“Our customer base has remained intact considering we were out for a year,” Farber said. “I’m just sitting on excess real estate.”

After Sandy, Madelaine Chocolate received a $250,000 grant from National Grid and $6.9 million from Empire State Development to retain its 315 employees. The Small Business Association also loaned the company close to $13 million.

They were able to rehire 120 people and partially operate on four of the 14 chocolate production lines.

But despite assistance, the complex at the foot of the Cross Bay Bridge is on the market. Before the storm, it was one of the biggest local employers in the region and had 315 full-time employees.

“The Madelaine Chocolate Company is not only a community gem, but has been one of the largest employers and supporters of our community for decades,” said Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder after the reopening.

At its peak, the 65-year-old chocolatier group produced 20 million pounds of chocolate annually and garnered $40 million in total sales. Its eight kitchens produced about 100,000 pounds of chocolate a day.




Woodhaven QueensWay forum brings in new ideas

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

File Photo

New ideas are flowing in for the abandoned Rockaway Beach rail line.

The Woodhaven Residents Block Assocation (WRBA) hosted what attendees are calling the truest, open public forum held thus far regarding the QueensWay and Rockaway Beach line.

Advocates for the proposed 3.5-mile QueensWay park along the abandoned rail line addressed those with reservations about the project and vice versa on Monday in Woodhaven.

Ed Wendell, WRBA president, brought a new idea to the table. He said the Brooklyn-Queens Greenway that currently runs through Forest Park has been “a problem for 20 years,” and QueensWay officials should use this space as their “lab experiment.”

“Why don’t we focus on cleaning up the existing greenway,” he said. “Show us what you can do, and the community will be much more receptive.”

Alexander Blenkinsopp, a WRBA member, called this idea “brilliant,” and offered an additional option for “each community to decide what they want done with their stretch of the tracks.”

The old rail line runs up 98th Street from the Rockaways to Manhattan.

“If the people of Forest Hills really want the QueensWay, let them have it in their neighborhood,” he said. “And if it’s so wonderful, the residents of Woodhaven will see how great it is in Forest Hills and will eventually welcome it into their community as well.”

Wendell echoed many people when he said one main concern to address before moving forward with building a new park is security in existing greenspaces such as Forest Park.

“We see women jogging in the morning using flashlights,” Wendell said. “How terrifying is that? That they have to do this.”

He said that park officials as well as cops in the 102nd Precinct should be given proper resources to patrol the park before more acres are added via the QueensWay, which would connect to Forest Park.

A feasibility study to determine the possibility of creating the new park is currently underway, and QueensWay supporters noted it is “just a study” and “there really is no plan yet.”

However, residents doubt a QueensWay study would show the QueensWay is not feasible.

“Any proposals that come back are going to have to take into account a lot of people’s concerns,” Wendell said. “There are a whole lot of emotions and feelings on it.”



City Council District 32 candidates Ulrich, Simon look ahead to Election Day

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

File photos

The heated race for City Council District 32 is coming to a close.

Councilmember Eric Ulrich, the incumbent, has represented District 32 in the City Council since 2009. He stood with Belle Harbor, Breezy Point, Broad Channel, Hamilton Beach, Howard Beach, Lindenwood, Neponsit, Ozone Park, Rockaway Beach, Rockaway Park, South Ozone Park, South Richmond Hill and Woodhaven through natural disasters and hard-pressed community issues.

“I am proud of my campaign and my work in the City Council over the past four-and-a-half years. I am running on my record of accomplishments and my ability to deliver real results for my constituents,” Ulrich said.

However, Lew Simon has not been far behind. He said he worked tirelessly through Sandy to ensure the safety of the district.

“The support we’re getting on our calls and door to door campaigning is phenomenal – people want change and they don’t feel like they’re being represented in City Hall on issues from schools to street lights to Sandy rebuilding,” Simon said.

Simon suffered a setback earlier this month when he received a stent due to partial heart blockage. He now said he’s spending every day “making sure every voter turns out” on Election Day.



Pols: Fast track Rockaway boardwalk study

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

File photo

The NYC Department of Parks and Recreation unveiled its plans to rebuild the boardwalk after it was destroyed by Sandy almost a year ago. The plans, however, do not include a seawall along Rockaway Beach – something the coastline community has been requesting for years.

“The first priority must be the safety and security of our families and homes,” said Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder. “Our community has been demanding protective ocean barriers, including dunes and rock jetties for too long.”

Currently, the Army Corps of Engineers is performing a Rockaway Protection Study, including long-term protection measures, using a cost/benefit analysis to determine how to rebuild the devastated area. Now, Goldfeder and Senator Charles Schumer are calling on the group to expedite the study so these measures, such as a seawall and jetties, can be put in place as soon as possible.

Schumer said there is a “real concern” about coordinating long-term storm protection between Parks and the Army Corps and that a new, federally-funded boardwalk is able to accommodate these protection measures.

Additionally, if the Parks Department does include a seawall in its recovery plans, the Army Corps cost/benefit analysis will conclude that jetties and dunes are not needed for protection, said Schumer.

“Rockaway and its residents must not be left vulnerable in the event of a future storm,” Schumer said. “Now that New York City’s plans for the Rockaway boardwalk are underway, the Army Corps should fast-track their study so that New York City is aware of what protections will be put in place.”

The Army Corps’ study is underway along the shoreline from Beach 149th Street to Beach 19th Street, with the objective to find a long-term, cost-effective solution, potentially including dunes, stone-groins and other protective measures. The study is funded by federal money.

Currently, over 600,000 cubic yards of sand are being added to provide flood control between Beach 89th Street and Beach 149th Street.

Reconstruction of the boardwalk could start as early as later this year or early 2014, said the Parks Department.



Residents protest flood insurance hikes

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Maggie Hayes

Skyrocketing flood insurance rates could “do more to destroy the community than any storm has ever done,” say hundreds of residents who came out to protest the looming costs.

In July 2012, Congress passed the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, which called on agencies such as FEMA to change the way the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is run.

Through the act, the NFIP will be required to raise flood rates to reflect “true flood risk” for a policyholder, according to FEMA.

“They say it’s going to be $400 this year, and $12,000 next year,” said Dorothy McClusky, a 33-year Howard Beach resident. “If the insurance rates go up that high, we’ll have to move.”

Residents said that over time, their rates could get as high as $30,000 a year.

Rallies protesting the price hikes were held nationwide on September 28. In the borough, people from Breezy Point, Rockaway Beach, Belle Harbor, Hamilton Beach, Howard Beach and Broad Channel packed tightly into Broad Channel’s American Legion to participate.

“We’re brought together by a common thread of this outrageous legislation,” said Dan Mundy, Jr., president of the Broad Channel Civic Association. “[This act] basically will decimate your biggest savings.”

“FEMA is the agency that is going to enact this. FEMA also couldn’t find this island for two weeks [after Sandy],” Mundy said, met by resounding cheers.

The act will over time eliminate all subsidized flood insurance rates for those in participating areas and can increase those rates by two to 10 times their current cost over a five-year period, according to Councilmember Eric Ulrich’s office.

New FEMA flood maps additionally place many more residents into Zone A and Zone AE – Biggert-Waters designated areas.

“Areas that have never flooded will now be required to carry flood insurance,” said Roger Gendron, president of the Hamilton Beach Civic Association. “Homes would become virtually unsellable.”

Last week, the City Council passed a resolution calling upon Congress to amend the legislation.

“Sandy was a 700-year storm event,” Mundy said. “Nature took its best shot at us, but we were able to stay here.”

“We didn’t survive the 700-year storm to be destroyed by FEMA,” he said.

FEMA did not wish to comment.



Primary guide: City Council District 32

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


As the clock ticks closer to city primaries on Tuesday, September 10, The Courier would like to provide you, the reader and the voter, with a fair, detailed guide of who is running. Here is a list of the City Council District 32 primary candidates (Belle Harbor, Breezy Point, Broad Channel, Hamilton Beach, Howard Beach, Lindenwood, Neponsit, Ozone Park, Rockaway Beach, Rockaway Park, South Ozone Park, South Richmond Hill and Woodhaven), who they are, what they stand for and what they want to continue to do if they go on to the general election in November.

Name: Lew M. Simon

Party: Democrat

Occupation: Private school teacher, Assembly District Leader

Personal Info: Simon was born and raised in Rockaway. He has been a community and civic leader for over 30 years. He works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, helping all who need help.

Platform/Issues: To secure funding and build much-needed schools. Make school safety and stopping bullying a priority. Reduce busing and keep siblings together in neighborhood schools. Establish an HOV lane on Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevards during peak hours. See that every community has a good community hospital with a well-equipped emergency room. Will continue to fund all senior centers, Meals-on-Wheels and Access-A-Ride. Will increase funding for volunteer fire and ambulance departments. Increase the staffing levels so that each community board will have a building inspector. Will continue to fund the fight for additional firefighters and police officers. Support direct mass transit service to midtown Manhattan in less than 30 minutes (Rockaway Beach rail line). Clean up graffiti in Woodhaven and Ozone Park.

Name: William Ruiz

Party: Democrat

*The campaign for this candidate did not submit a profile as of press time



Officials detail sand restoration plan for Rockaway Beach

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYC Mayor's Office's Flickr

Rockaway Beach is coming back, potentially better than before.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined the Army Corps of Engineers, city agency officials and various elected officials on Thursday, August 15 to detail the sand restoration plan for Rockaway Beach.

The plan’s first phase will replenish 600,000 cubic yards of sand, while the second phase restores 3.5 million cubic yards to the beach that Sandy washed away.

“Beaches are a crucial defense against flooding and coastal storms,” Bloomberg said. “Now we’re working hard to strengthen those defenses.”

The 600,000 cubic yards is being pumped from Beach 149th Street down to Beach 89th Street. Dredging material in the water, located at the Rockaway Inlet, will clear a navigation channel that “hasn’t been cleared in a long time” while also bringing in “good quality sand” for the beach, said Colonel Paul Owen of the Army Corps of Engineers.

The 3.5 million cubic yards will stretch down the peninsula to Beach 19th Street.

“There’s a lot to be done and there’s great work going on — and we have a lot more to do,” Owen said.

However, residents say the project is a long time coming. For years, groups such as the Friends of Rockaway Beach and various civic associations have advocated for beach protection.

“It’s unfortunate it took a natural disaster for so many people to wake up to the problems that we’ve been facing in Rockaway for so, so long,” said Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder.

When the project is complete, estimated to be by next Memorial Day, Owen said the total will be more sand than the Rockaways has seen since about 1970.

A series of protective walls will also be installed from Beach 126th Street to Beach 149th Street, Bloomberg said.

“Together, these measures will not only reverse damage to the beach done by Sandy, they will make the beach stronger than it was before the storm,” he said.

The roughly $300 million project is funded by federal Sandy relief funds.

Community plans are also helping to rebuild the damaged boardwalk.

The Parks Department has hosted several meetings in various parts of the peninsula to discuss what is needed going forward.

Boardwalk designs will be presented to the community in September, with construction starting potentially by the end of the year, said Parks Commissioner Veronica White.

“When we open the beach next year, Rockaway will be better than ever and that is a day that I am truly looking forward to,” said Councilmember Eric Ulrich.



Photos: Sandcastle competition hits Rockaway Beach

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos by Derek Scultz/Courtesy Creative Time.

A group of 10 artists and their teams came to Rockaway Beach on Friday, August 9 to battle it out at Creative Time’s Second Annual Sandcastle Competition.

First prize, a “‘gold” shovel, a bucket with a bottle of tequila and a $500 check, went to Jamie Isenstein for “Disappearing Sculptures;” second prize, a “silver” shovel and bucket of booze, went to Esperanza Mayobre for “Raft de la Esperanza”; and third prize, a “bronze” shovel and booze, went to Duke Riley for “White Castle.”

Photo by Lili Rusing


Jamie Isenstein’s “Disappearing Sculptures” (first prize)

Esperanza Mayobre’s “Raft de la Esperanza” (second place)

Duke Riley’s “White Castle.” (third place)




Queens’ Morning Roundup

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup


Thursday: Overcast with thunderstorms and rain showers. High of 84. Winds from the SSW at 5 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 60%. Thursday night: Overcast with thunderstorms and rain showers. Low of 75. Winds from the South at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 60% with rainfall amounts near 0.4 in. possible.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Waterfront Concert Series 2013

The cover band Bon Journey will play Bon Jovi and Journey songs on the Astoria Park Lawn at 7:30 p.m. as part of a weekly series sponsored by Central Astoria LDC. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Teen arrested in sex assault of four-year-old girl at Jamaica McDonald’s

Police have arrested a 14-year-old for the sexual assault of a young girl at a Jamaica McDonald’s. Read more: The Queens Courier

Parks Department seeking designs for a new Rockaway boardwalk

Rockaway residents are stepping closer to seeing their boardwalk rebuilt. Read more: New York Daily News

Under agreement, NYPD to stop storing names of those stopped and frisked

City officials will no longer store the names and addresses of people whose cases are dismissed after a police stop under an agreement that settles a lawsuit over the stop-and-frisk issue. Read more: CBS New York/AP 

Body of dolphin washes ashore at Rockaway Beach

A badly decomposed dolphin washed ashore on Rockaway Beach Wednesday morning. Read more: New York Daily News

Powerball luck strikes 3 times in 2 states

At least three people in two states have beaten astronomical odds to become the nation’s latest Powerball millionaires. Read more: AP

Disney movie stars help clean up Rockaway Beach

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

A pair of Disney teen movie stars stepped out the spotlight and into the sunlight to join a Far Rockaway Beach clean-up on July 14.

Ross Lynch and Maia Mitchell, who play surfing lovers Brady and McKenzie in the upcoming Disney Channel flick “Teen Beach Movie,” mixed and mingled with about 45 volunteers and helped tidy up the beach and repair damage done by Sandy.

“It’s really, really cool to give back to the community,” Lynch said. “And also it’s nice to meet everyone who is cleaning up the beach.”

The clean-up was a part of a global Disney volunteering initiative in conjunction with Verizon employees. Teams from both companies and their children picked up garbage, painted rusted railings and, together with the teen stars, applied mulch to prevent weed growth and stabilize the soil for new plants.

“For us to be able to come out with our families and volunteer as a unit, it’s really important,” said Adrienne White, a manager of the volunteer group at Disney. “We know that by doing that it inspires our young kids to become lifelong volunteers and contributors.”

In their surf-rock musical movie, Mitchell and Lynch battle bikers for control of a beach hangout. They spontaneously break out in song and dance throughout the film. The stars said while learning their roles, they were taught about the importance of the beach ecosystem. They were blown away by the beauty of Rockaway Beach.

“It was great to see [Rockaway Beach] and see a new part of New York,” Mitchell said. “I’ve never been here and it looks beautiful.”

“Teen Beach Movie” will premiere on Friday, July 19 at 8 p.m. on the Disney Channel.




Free solar phone charging stations coming to Queens

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of AT&T


The dreaded low-battery warning—we’ve all seen it. Thanks to AT&T, Queens residents will be able to re-charge their phones, tablets and other mobile devices at solar mobile charging stations, free of charge.

Located at Rockaway Beach, Clearview Golf Course and Socrates Sculpture Park, the charging units work day and night, even when the sun isn’t out. Three monocrystaline solar panels store the sun’s energy to charge up powerful internal batteries to keep the stations working in the shade.

In light of the power outages after  Sandy that left New Yorkers disconnected, AT&T teamed up with solar technology company Goal Zero and Brooklyn-based design firm Pensa to create a more reliable power source.

“We created Street Charge with community and public spaces in mind,” said Mark Prommel, Creative Director of Pensa. “It provides an elegant, durable and powerful off the grid charging solution. Our design pays homage to the beauty of clean, renewable solar power with its solar petals extended towards the sun.”

Between now and the end of summer, a total of 25 mobile charging stations will go live in all five of the city’s boroughs.

For a full list of dates and locations of each AT&T Street Charge station, visit www.att.com/attstreetcharge.



Queens’ Morning Roundup

| ctumola@queenscourier.com


Tuesday: Clear in the morning, then partly cloudy. High of 75. Winds from the NW at 10 to 15 mph. Tuesday night: Clear in the evening, then partly cloudy. Low of 59. Winds from the NNW at 5 to 15 mph.


Come experience the diverse flavors of Long Island City at the 8th annual Taste of LIC food festival. From 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Gantry Plaza State Park,, the event, hosted by The Chocolate Factory Theater, will feature food and beverage samples from some of the borough’s culinary forerunners such as The Astor Room, Sweetleaf, and the Rockaway Brewing Company. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

NYPD deploys additional officers, resources in wake of weekend shootings

Following multiple shootings across the city this weekend, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly has ordered additional police resources to prevent more violence, Deputy Commissioner Paul J. Browne said in a statement. Read more: The Queens Courier

Cuomo to propose bill allowing for later-term abortions in New York State

An abortion battle could be brewing in Albany, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to propose a major change to abortion laws in New York State. Read more: CBSNewYork/AP

Statue of Liberty visitors to be screened in Battery Park

The federal government has changed plans and will screen Statue of Liberty visitors in lower Manhattan instead of letting them board boats to be checked later on Ellis Island, officials announced Monday. Read more NBC New York

New NYC ad campaign targets sweetened teas, fruit drinks

New York City’s campaign to cut consumption of sugary drinks now features ads warning people about sweet teas, sports and energy drinks and fruit-flavored beverages. Read more: CBSNewYork/AP

Radio ad campaign to use Ramones hit ‘Rockaway Beach’ to lure visitors back to the shorefront devastated by Hurricane Sandy

The Ramones are back (sort of). And with their help, visitors to Rockaway Beach should be back this summer, too. Read more: New York Daily News

Christie faces major decision in NJ Senate choice

In filling a vacant Senate seat, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie faces a significant choice fraught with political implications for his re-election campaign and, perhaps, a future presidential run. Read more: AP

Rockaway Beach reopens

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com



The sun is out and the shore is open, but not everything is back to normal at Rockaway Beach.

There is still work to be done to restore the beach to the way things were before Sandy devastated the Rockaway community in November. An uprooted boardwalk, damaged homes and buildings as well as a destroyed sea wall are some of the problems the community has faced the past seven months.

Rockaway Beach officially reopened on Friday, May 24.

Christine Charles, a local who tries to make her way to the beach every day, said homeowners have tried their best with whatever resources are available.

“The city has done well overall helping us rebuild,” she said. “But with no full seawall yet, sand continues to get pushed onto the streets closest to the water during heavy winds.”

Other residents were not as happy with efforts to restore the beach.

“It’s been terrible,” said resident Cassie Mulholand. “We’ve been forgotten compared to the Jersey Shore, Coney Island and other beach areas, They need to be more active in getting the beach walls up again, as well as the boardwalk.”

Those working on the beach this summer are anxious to see how residents and visitors respond to the changes.

“This should be an exciting, but interesting summer,” said Morgan White, who has worked the last six summers as a lifeguard on Rockaway Beach. “The fact that we don’t have a boardwalk right now will definitely change things. It should be interesting to see if more beachgoers come to Rockaway Beach with some of the other beaches closed.”

According to the Parks Department’s website, “boardwalk islands” will provide a way for people to walk from the streets to the beach at multiple points along the seven-mile beachfront. The Department of Environmental Protection is working with the Department of Transportation to build four-foot-high concrete walls that extend above the sand between Beach 126th and Beach 149th Street. The planned walls will be a foot taller than those in place now.

Sandy’s aftereffects could extend beyond the beach itself.

John Biscaino, a five-year lifeguard at Rockaway Beach, said there are concerns about the storm’s effects on the water.

“Overall, the beach has definitely changed,” he said. “There’s less sand than before, and it’s causing new rip tides we need to look out for.”

Queens’ Morning Roundup

| ctumola@queenscourier.com


Tuesday: Overcast with a chance of rain, then thunderstorms and rain in the afternoon. High of 66. Winds from the South at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 70%. Tuesday night: Overcast with thunderstorms and rain. Low of 59. Winds from the SSE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 70% with rainfall amounts near 0.4 in. possible.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Design Zone Exhibit

Create a video game, practice your DJ skills, or build a roller coaster while exploring how each uses math and science. Find out how videogame developers, music producers, roller coaster designers and other creative problem solvers use math and science to meet their design challenges. Free with admission to the New York Hall of Science. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Woman’s body found in bag in car trunk in Queens

Police are investigating the death of an unidentified female in Queens. Read more: ABC New York 

Girl, 9, struck by van in Queens: FDNY

A girl was struck by a van in a Queens street Monday evening, fire officials said. Read more: NBC New York

Brooklyn Bridge reopens after it was shut down due to suspicious SUV

Police shut down the entire span of the Brooklyn Bridge for several hours Monday evening because of a suspicious abandoned SUV. Read more: Fox New York 

Rockaway Beach is back . . . but for now, you’d better bring your own food

The beach is open for business, but for now you’d better bring your own food. Read more: New York Daily News 

Officials say new Statue Of Liberty security plan is risky

New York officials say new security plans for the Statue of Liberty could leave visitors vulnerable to terrorism when the island reopens on July Fourth. Read more: AP/CBS New York

Obama, NJ’s Christie together again in mutual aid 

President Barack Obama and Gov. Chris Christie, the odd couple of politics, are finding common cause again. Read more: AP

Mets stars announce Sandy relief efforts, offer sneak peek of Queens Taste 2013

| events@queensny.org

Photo courtesy of Queens Economic Development Corp.

Legendary former New York Mets pitcher Ron Darling and current outfielder Mike Baxter, a Whitestone native, headlined a small business luncheon at the Irish Circle Tavern in Rockaway Beach on May 7. In addition to signing autographs and posing for photos, the athletes discussed Citi’s local efforts to help rebuild after Hurricane Sandy and plugged Queens Taste 2013. The Irish Circle is one of about 45 restaurants and other food or beverage purveyors that will offer samples for roughly 800 attendees at Queens Taste 2013.

Tickets for Queens Taste 2013 are available at www.queensny.org or 718-263-0546.