Tag Archives: rockaway peninsula

Op-ed: Make ferry service permanent


| oped@queenscourier.com

COUNCILMEMBER DONOVAN RICHARDS

I would like to start by commending the city for the fourth extension of ferry service to the Rockaway Peninsula. I would especially like to thank Mayor Bill de Blasio for extending the ferry service through May and keeping his word, as he remains dedicated to the recovery of Rockaway and New York City as a whole. Ferry services in the Rockaways have provided a much needed relief during an extremely trying time. The ferry has quickly become the preferred method of transportation to Manhattan for many people throughout the peninsula.

While we certainly are enjoying our time with the ferry, the threat of losing the service continues to loom over our heads. We have repeatedly been told that the service may just be temporary, that there would be yet another study or deadline, and that the service would be cut if ridership was poor. However, the ferry has continually maintained strong ridership, and it is time to put this ambiguity aside.

Rockaway needs a permanent ferry! Residents have had to deal with subpar transportation options for far too long, and Sandy has only made these shortcomings more apparent. Service may have been lacking on the best of days but became non-existent in the days following Sandy. Thousands of people were effectively stranded while still reeling from the devastation. While we simply were not prepared for a storm of that magnitude, that excuse only works once. We must never allow ourselves to be in that situation again.

While the need to improve our transportation infrastructure is obvious, there are many other ways this ferry has benefited New Yorkers. Commuters are getting to work faster; the ferry trip is peaceful, serene, and timely; the ease of travel also encourages visitors to come out and experience our beautiful beaches during the summer months, which is essential for local businesses still recovering from Sandy related losses. Anyone who has taken a trip on the ferry knows that it is as aesthetically pleasing as it is essential to our community.

The truth of the matter is that not only am I passionate about keeping the ferry, I am also very interested in creating another stop in Rockaway. While the ferry has maintained a strong ridership, this is a large peninsula. Creating a ferry stop between the center of the peninsula and Manhattan will increase ferry ridership and further address any concerns over small ridership. I have been working with the Economic Development Corporation and they have launched a study on the feasibility of extending the ferry.

I will not rest while these issues continue to plague my friends and neighbors. I know that the residents, community leaders, elected officials, and vacationers in Rockaway stand with me. I hope the rest of our city and the new administration will do the same.

Councilmember Donovan Richards represents the 31st District.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST  

Wednesday: Clear. High of 79. Breezy. Winds from the NW at 10 to 20 mph. Wednesday night: Clear. Low of 61. Winds from the NW at 5 to 15 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Outdoor Night Market at the Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden

Astoria Market invites you to the second Night Market at the Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden. The market will be held on Wednesday, August 14 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Local bands will be performing, the outdoor grill will be open and there will be drink specials throughout the evening. Stroll through 30 vendors selling unique wares such as art, jewelry, toys, all natural soaps, cookies, and crocheted bags. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

NYCHA behind schedule on spending $50 million allocated by City Council for repairs: report

Not only did NYCHA sit on millions set aside for security cameras — the troubled agency also held on to nearly $50 million more in taxpayer dollars allotted to repair its aging developments. Read more: New York Daily News

Weiner, other Dems spar in NYC mayor’s race debate

Former congressman Anthony Weiner fell to fourth among Democratic candidates in the city’s latest mayoral race poll on Tuesday but was the center of attention in a heated debate. Read more: NBC New York

Rockaway Peninsula may lose its last hospital as St. John’s Episcopal starts closing units

Code blue! The only hospital on the Rockaway Peninsula is in critical condition after the closure of units and growing uncertainty surrounding the facility’s finances. Read more: New York Daily News

A fine myth dispelled: City collecting less cash for violations

There are dozens of ways New Yorkers can get fined by the city — failing to clean up after your dog, not bundling up your magazines on recycling day and, of course, parking your car in the wrong spot. Read more: CBS New York

Justice department, states challenge American Airlines, US Airways merger

The Justice Department and attorneys general in six states and Washington, D.C., filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging the proposed $11 billion merger between American Airlines and U.S. Airways, while at the same time possibly throwing AA’s bankruptcy process into disarray. Read more: NBC New York

LIPA instituting Sandy fixes


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Nearly nine months after Sandy, LIPA facilities are still coming back online.

During the storm, five of the energy company’s substations on the Rockaway Peninsula took on water damage, shutting down the area’s power and leaving residents in the dark until repairs were made.

“It’s still a work in progress,” said Nick Lizanich, LIPA’s vice president of operations.

He explained that at the peninsula’s substations, LIPA worked on immediate restoration, which required both temporary and permanent mitigation. He added that in some cases, it can take over a year to order and receive the larger pieces of equipment that were damaged.

Lizanich detailed those issues at a tour of the Rockaways’ substations on Wednesday, July 17. Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder and Councilmember Donovan Richards attended to see the repairs so far firsthand.

“LIPA is doing a good job ensuring the elected [officials] are in the loop. Communication was the biggest issue we had during Sandy,” Richards said. “To their credit, they’re taking steps forward.”

In Far Rockaway, LIPA’s substation was inundated by roughly three to four feet of water. Lizanich said workers could not get in for several days, but mobile equipment and mobile substations were brought in to temporarily distribute power. But he pointed out that while “there was power on the street [...] no customers [were] attached to it because their homes weren’t safe.”

“There’s a lot of room for improvement in that entire process,” Lizanich added.

Now LIPA is monitoring the fixes and working on turning temporary repairs into permanent ones.

“I think prior to Sandy, LIPA sold us a lot of smoke and mirrors. The storm made it clear there were holes in the system,” Goldfeder said. “But now to see real equipment, real plans and new notification systems is a great thing.”

However, despite visible changes, Goldfeder said “we have a long way to go.”

“I’m cautiously optimistic that we’re moving in the right direction,” Richards said.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Breezy Point homeowners sue LIPA over Sandy fire


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

File photo

With post-Sandy complaints piling up, Breezy Point homeowners are now slapping the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) with a lawsuit.

Seventeen families who lost their homes in the Breezy Point fire are seeking at least $1 million apiece in damages, claiming negligence by LIPA, according to legal papers filed with the law firm Sullivan, Papain, Block, McGrath and Cannavo.

The six-alarm blaze that incinerated roughly 130 homes could have been avoided, according to the claim, if LIPA had shut off the area’s electricity before floodwaters came through.

FDNY Commissioner Salvatore Cassano said that the fires “were sparked by sea water impacting electrical systems and components in and around these structures.” The inferno began the night of the storm at 8:30 p.m., and was not put out until 6:30 a.m. the following day.

The day before Sandy hit, the storm was predicted to have “destruction potential.” In such a case, de-energizing, or suspending electricity to an area, is recommended in order to protect the public from fire and electrical hazards posed by floodwaters.

According to the legal claim, LIPA had knowledge that Breezy Point was a flood-prone zone before Sandy hit, but disregarded this notion.

“De-energizing Breezy Point and the Rockaway Peninsula during Sandy would have afforded [these families] and their neighbors protection from fire,” said the claim.

LIPA, however, did take precautionary measures and de-energized Fire Island before the storm struck, and also did so one year prior, before Hurricane Irene. According to the claim, one official described these acts as “a measure to avoid fires and other risks that would require a personnel response not possible during the storm,” measures that Breezy Point was not afforded.

A LIPA spokesperson said that the organization had reviewed the notices of the claim, and has no comment at this time.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Film focuses on Rockaway recovery


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Dan Brown

In the months following Sandy, the Rockaway peninsula has yet to completely bounce back. A new documentary explains why, and where to go from here.

“We need to make people understand what works in Rockaway,” said John Cori, who is featured in the upcoming film, “John Cori Warned You.”

Cori stars with his partner and friend, Eddie Pastore, in a movie filmed by Rockaway resident Dan Brown.
Since Sandy tore through the peninsula, the three have been traveling around the borough, speaking with different people and also doing their own research as to what could help protect the beachfront town from future storms.

“[The documentary] raises two questions – how much damage could have been avoided, and how vulnerable are we to future storms,” explained Brown, who is co-producing and co-directing the movie with his wife, Patricia.

The film is shown through the viewpoint of Cori and Pastore, who are also both members of the Friends of Rockaway, and speak about the necessity of more rock jetties in the area. They claim there is a clear distinction in the amount of damage between the areas protected by rock jetties and the sections that are not.

“I feel that number one, our safety is jeopardized. Number two, I believe that the Rockaway people have the power to navigate which way Rockaway goes,” said Pastore.

Assemblymember Phil Goldfeder and City Councilmember Eric Ulrich are some of the elected officials that the men have interviewed, as well as several reporters and even a meteorologist who explained the “science of the storm.” Through these interviews, the crew hopes the audience will see how they themselves can work with the media and local officials to achieve a bigger goal — in this case, support from Congress and funds to protect their home.

“Sandy was our biggest advocate,” said Pastore. “There’s something broken here, and I really felt that we had to get up and say something.”

“John Cori Warned You” is set to come out in March. Free viewings will be organized throughout the city.

Dan Brown, pictured here in his home office, is directing and producing an upcoming documentary about the Rockaways post-Sandy. (THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes)

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

New hours for free Rockaways “H” train


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of MTA

Beginning tomorrow, the free “H” subway shuttle, which started running in the Rockaway Peninsula  after Sandy damaged the “A” line’s connection to area, will have new hours.

The “H”  line, from Far Rockaway-Mott Avenue to Beach 90th Street, will operate from 4:55 a.m. to 9:25 p.m., Monday to Friday, and from 4 a.m. to midnight on weekends.

From Beach 90th Street to Far Rockaway-Mott Ave, it will run from 5:10 a.m. to 9:40 p.m., Monday to Friday, and from 4:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. on weekends.

These changes were made to accommodate ongoing work along the line to restore full subway service in the area.

To connect to the rest of the city’s transit system, riders can still take a free shuttle bus from the Far Rockaway-Mott Avenue station to the Howard Beach/JFK Airport stop, where they can get the “A” train.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

Star of Queens: Dolores Orr


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

DOLORES ORR 01-03

Star of Queens: Dolores Orr, Community Board 14 Chair 

INVOLVEMENT: As chair of Community Board 14, Dolores Orr oversees happenings all over the Rockaway peninsula. She works with the community board staff and city agencies to address quality of life issues, such as zoning problems, economic development and, most recently, post-Sandy clean up. Orr is also the president of the Rockaway Beach Civic Association.

PERSONAL: Born and raised in Rockaway, Orr is the third generation of “civil servants” throughout the peninsula; her father grew up just blocks from where she grew up. Both of her grandparents were members of the NYPD, and her grandmother was one of the first Gold Shield detectives in the 1930s. One of seven children, her family still lives in the Rockaways, just blocks from her home on Shore Front Parkway.

FAVORITE MEMORY: Orr’s favorite memory is also what she considers to be her greatest accomplishment – the Arverne By The Sea project. Advertised as “New York City’s hottest new oceanfront community,” Orr and the community board saw the project through from the space being a vacant lot, to now being a completely occupied, luxurious living facility.

INSPIRATION: Orr believes that her inspiration comes from a combination of being raised by “civil servants” and also believing in community service as part of your everyday life. “I just love where I live, and I want it to be better,” she said.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Because of its geographic isolation, an increase in public transportation is what Orr said is the “number one need.” “We need [more transportation] for both growth and for people in the borough and in the city to come out and enjoy Rockaway,” she said. She also said that there is a need for better schools – now, many students travel off of the peninsula for high school, and Orr knows that a greater focus on education could result in children staying local for school. Lately, a challenge for Orr has been dealing with the “many more layers of government” after the storm to ensure that their shoreline is restored better than before, and also jumping over the “many road blocks” to help residents and small businesses get back on their feet.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

“H” train merchandise to benefit Sandy victims


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of MTA

The special subway shuttle that was set up last month on the Rockaway Peninsula after Sandy damaged the area’s transit is being honored with a limited collection of “H” line merchandise available through the New York Transit Museum store’s website.

The store, which already carries clothing and other items featuring the city’s subway lines, is selling t-shirts and sweatshirts with  a blue “H” subway logo  and “The Rockaways” or “Rockaway Shuttle” spelled out underneath, as well as magnets and pins. Additional merchandise may also be developed.

Proceeds from sales will benefit Sandy relief efforts through the Graybeards, a local nonprofit organization established in response to 9/11 and dedicated to the Rockaways community, said the MTA.

“The H Line has piqued a lot of interest in subway service in the Rockaways and, with the help of a few of our product licensees, presented us with a unique opportunity to promote the service and to provide tangible assistance to efforts to rebuild that community,” said Mark Heavey, MTA director of marketing and communications.

Currently the “H” line runs between Far Rockaway-Mott Av and Beach 90 St and connects riders to a shuttle bus providing service to the “A” train at the Howard Beach/JFK Airport stop.

According to the transit agency, the first “H” line (known as the “HH”) started running on repurposed LIRR tracks in 1956, and travelled from Euclid Avenue to either Rockaway Park or Mott Avenue in Far Rockaway. It stopped running in 1972, but in the late 70s, it came back as the “CC” train, then returned to the “HH,” and was shortened to just the “H” train in 1986. In 1994, it was again renamed as the “S” (shuttle) train.

226 Sandy-related arrests mostly burglaries, says NYPD


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

The NYPD is continuing to take measures to combat Sandy-related thefts, as burglaries went up during the week of the storm.

Though burglaries only increased about 11 percent compared to the same week last year, it was the only crime to go up between October 29, the day Sandy hit, and November 4.

In the 100th and 101st Precincts in Queens, which cover some of the superstorm’s hardest hit areas in the Rockaway Peninsula, the uptick in thefts was much more dramatic.

In the 100th, burglaries were up from 2 to 16 from the same week last year and in the 101st there were 33 burglaries, up from zero.

According to authorities, burglaries account for most of the 226 Sandy-related arrests.

With those stats in mind, the NYPD has continued to assign extra police on extended tours of duty to the Rockaways, Breezy Point, Coney Island and Staten Island.

The NYPD has also brought in 500 light towers to neighborhoods still without power and are helping to illuminate those areas with police car and helicopter lights.

Authorities are also warning residents about automobile frauds and thefts related to Sandy.

Tow truck drivers are allegedly taking storm-damaged vehicles without permission, then storing them in private auto pounds and charging exorbitant fees between $1,000 and $2,300 when the owners try to recover their cars, said police.

Additionally, the NYPD said that in other flood disasters, fraudsters will take vehicles that have been declared total losses and instead of scrapping them, will refurbish and resell the cars.

LIPA COO resigns amid lawsuit, calls for investigation


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

It’s lights out for the chief operating officer of Long Island Power Authority (LIPA).

Tuesday night the utility announced that its COO Mike Hervey had resigned and will step down at the end of the year.

“Mike has provided 12 years of valuable service to LIPA, including taking on the responsibility to perform the functions of CEO of the organization over the past two years. Mike has played a leadership role in connection with the planned structural changes at LIPA going forward which will result in better service and accountability to LIPA’s customers in the years ahead.” said LIPA’s chairman, Howard E. Steinberg.

Earlier in the day, a lawsuit against the company was filed claiming breach of contract, gross negligence and fraud for the utility’s response to Sandy-related outages.

Also on Tuesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order forming a commission to investigate and study the New York state’s power companies and their preparedness, reaction and management of storms over the past two years.

As a result of Sandy, over a million of LIPA’s Long Island and Queens customers lost power. Though it has restored electricity for 99 percent of those “who can safely except power,” as of Wednesday morning, around 40,000 are more still are in the dark, over half of which are in the Rockaway Peninsula.

 

Lawsuit against LIPA to be filed Tuesday


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A class action lawsuit against the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) and National Grid, which manages LIPA’s grid, is expected to be filed Tuesday, claiming breach of contract, gross negligence and fraud for the utility’s response to Sandy-related outages, according to multiple reports.

Two Nassau county customers have already joined the lawsuit, reported CBS New York.

“We’re bringing a class action because I believe somewhere between 750,000 and 1 million people have been one way or another damaged by the ineptitude of this organization,” attorney Ken Mollins told CBS.

Critics say LIPA, which serve customers in Long Island as well as Queens, has responded slowly to the thousands that lost power due to Superstorm Sandy.

As of Tuesday, 14,000 LIPA customers outside of flood areas and 39,000 within, including 26,600 in the Rockaway Peninsula, are still without power.

Customers are not the only ones mad at local utility companies.

On Monday, Governor Cuomo said he wanted to launch an investigation of them, and that he believes they were “unprepared “ and “non-communicative” in their response to the storm.

In a speech this morning to the Association for a Better New York, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said that “we need to strengthen our energy structure.”

Along with improving protocol, erecting structures around power plants and substations, and upgrading infrastructure, Quinn suggested that in neighborhoods prone to heavy winds, overhead power lines should be buried underground.

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Monday: Overcast with a chance of rain. High of 79. Winds from the SE at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 30%. Monday night: Overcast with a chance of rain, then thunderstorms and rain showers after midnight. Low of 72. Winds from the ESE at 5 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 70% with rainfall amounts near 0.5 in. possible.

EVENT of the DAY: 30th Avenue Astoria Festival

Enjoy a plethora of booths selling food and goodies at the 30th Avenue Astoria Festival. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Peacock seen wandering Queens has been captured

The strut is up for one peacock that had been roaming Queens for weeks. The colorful bird was captured in Queens on Friday morning after it was spotted peacking the ground behind an apartment building. Read more: CBS New York

Hundreds grieve Queens high schooler Daniel Fernandez after party bus tragedy

The good times were rolling aboard the party bus to a Sweet 16 celebration — until tragedy struck for a Queens student who won’t see his 17th birthday. Read more: New York Daily News

Queens woman recovering from acid attack

A Queens woman whose eye and skin were horribly burned after her elderly dad doused her with sulfuric acid was up and talking yesterday as she battled back from the grisly attack. Read more: New York Post 

Seasonal parking bans please many Rockaways Residents but irk visitors

The houses in Neponsit and Belle Harbor, Queens, out past the last stop on the A train on the Rockaway Peninsula, are not what you picture when you think of New York City. Read more: New York Times

Citizenship help on offer thru City Council 

Immigrants will be able to get help applying for citizenship or deferred action — the new, temporary work and residency permits for young immigrants — at 30 City Council members’ offices starting next month. Read more: New York Daily News

On Labor Day, jobs debate a convention warm-up

Republicans and Democrats jockeyed for economic high ground in a Labor Day warm-up to the Democratic National Convention, with Republican Mitt Romney labeling the holiday “another day of worrying” for too many Americans anxious about finding a job. Read more: AP

Poll: Romney receives low score for convention speech

Mitt Romney’s speech at the Republican National Convention in Tampa last week received a lower score than any presidential candidate’s convention speech since the poll starting asking the question in 1996, according to the polling firm Gallup. Read more: CBS News

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

EVENT of the DAY: Daughtry concert at Citi Field 

Multi-platinum rock band Daughtry is going to play a concert after the Mets-Dodgers game at Citi Field. Ticket prices start at $28, which includes admission to the game and the post-game concert. They are available on www.mets.com/daughtry or via phone at 718-507-TIXX (8499).

[Click here for more info or submit your events]

USTA’s parking garage proposal a double fault, local leaders say

Not every aspect of the U.S. Tennis Association’s proposed expansion in Queens is an ace right down the middle in the court of public opinion. Advocates are yelling “fault” at the proposal to build two parking garages in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, saying they have no place in the greenspace. The garages are included in the $500 million expansion plan for the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center announced last month. Read more: [New York Daily News] 

MTA to improve bus service in all five boroughs, keep G train extension 

The MTA delivered good news Thursday as Chairman Joseph Lhota announced plans to add $29 million in bus, subway and commuter rail improvements, two years after major cutbacks. He says it’s doable because it’s a small percent of the MTA’s budget and business has improved. Read more: [NY1]

End ‘turnstile justice,’ pol fumes 

Strike three — you’re in! City Council Public Safety Committee Chairman Peter Vallone (pictured) yesterday again called on Albany to pass the “Three Strikes, You’re In” bill, mandating prison time for anyone convicted of three misdemeanors within 10 years. The Queens Democrat renewed his call after alleged PATH-train groper Gian Verdelli, 61, of Brooklyn, was nabbed Monday in New Jersey and it turned out his record included an eye-popping 168 arrests since the 1970s, mostly for misdemeanors. Read more: [New York Post] 

Eggs snatched from protected piping plover nests in Rockaway 

Federal parks police are trying to hunt down the person who snatched eggs from two piping plover nests in Breezy Point earlier this month. The tiny, plump birds are endangered and enjoy federally protected habitats along the Rockaway peninsula. Officials think the eggs — which were discovered missing the morning of July 4 — may have been stolen by a collector. Read more: [New York Daily News]