Tag Archives: Rockaways

Select Bus Service lanes to speed up travel along Woodhaven Boulevard


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of MTA

Transit officials unveiled three potential designs for Woodhaven Boulevard’s new Select Bus Service (SBS), slated to be the first rapid transit lane in the city physically separated from traffic.

The MTA and Department of Transportation (DOT) have to choose whether to either quickly create designated lanes off-set from the curb with room for parking; extend sidewalks that would meet the off-set lanes; or dig up medians and build main road bus lanes.

Whichever design is chosen, the route will run from Queens Boulevard to the Rockaways and will allow for three lanes of traffic on both sides of the corridor.

In the first option, the off-set bus lanes would be one lane out from the curb, leaving space for parking along the boulevard. This option would warrant the least construction out of the three proposed routes.

Additionally, the DOT would build out the sidewalk at designated “SBS bus bulb stations.” In that case, the sidewalk would be extended out to the off-set bus lanes to allow more room for passengers waiting to get on the bus.

The second proposal would create main road bus lanes in the right lane throughout the designated area. From Union Turnpike to Myrtle Avenue and Park Lane South to Rockaway Boulevard, it would run in the right lane of the main road corridor. Then, it would take the right lane from Rockaway Boulevard south to the Rockaways.

If main road bus lanes were put in, the DOT would come in and rip up much of the medians separating the main roads from the service roads and widen them so that people waiting for the bus have at least 7 to 10 feet of curb space to stand on.

They would also be building new medians in certain designated areas that have not all been determined yet.

For the final proposal, the red painted lanes would run through the middle of each corridor where the left lanes currently are.

To do this type of project, the DOT would come in and rip up the corridors that separate north- and south-bound traffic and expand them where necessary.

Furthermore, for the median lanes, north- and south-bound buses will travel right next to each other. For north-bound stops, the median for people to stand on will be on the east side of the bus, and for south-bound stops, travelers will wait on the west side.

All plans at this point are still being studied by the agencies. They will continue to work in more detail on every section of the boulevard for each proposal and will also have more community outreach, according to a representative who is working on the project.

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Last cleanup for Rockaway aims to clear beaches for winter


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Sea Shepherd New York

BY ASHA MAHADEVAN

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s New York City chapter plans a cleanup of Beach 116 in the Rockaways on Sunday. They have done it twice before this year, but the trash just keeps piling up.

The cleanup is open to the public and anyone can volunteer. Volunteers will meet on the boardwalk off Beach 116 under a Sea Shepherd Jolly Roger flag by 2 p.m.

They will clean the beach until 4:30 p.m. and spend the next hour sorting the trash on the boardwalk so passersby can see what is thrown away at the beach.

“During our earlier cleanups, we have found soda bottles, empty alcohol bottles, plastic cups, paper products from fast food places nearby and metal bottles,” said Ethan Wolf, coordinator for the society’s New York City chapter. “In the summer months, we have also found pieces of clothing.”

Once, his team found a plastic box filled with rusty nails. “That was the weirdest thing,” he said.

The most harmful thing to discard in the beach is plastic, Wolf said. “Plastic doesn’t go away,” he said. “It breaks down into smaller particles. The marine wildlife eats it, even the birds eat it, and then their stomach gets filled with plastic. They then cannot eat the food they need to sustain themselves.”

Sea Shepherd now has a plan for all that plastic. The organization has teamed up with Bionic Yarn to convert the plastic trash found on the beach into fiber. The project is still in its initial stages as both sides have yet to figure out which type of plastic can actually be used.

Wolf said that this is the last cleanup of Rockaway that the organization has planned for this year, since usually, not much trash accumulates on the beaches during the winter. However, volunteers will continue to check the beaches during the winter, and if they feel it’s necessary, they will organize another cleanup.

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MTA bus driver charged after allegedly stabbing wife’s lover in Rockaways


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

POLICE TAPE

Updated Wednesday, Nov. 5, 4:45 p.m. 

A city bus driver from Richmond Hill has been arrested after he allegedly stabbed his romantic rival in Arverne Tuesday afternoon, according to District Attorney Richard Brown.

Ephraim Henry, 30, had completed his route and was driving the empty bus to the depot when he spotted the victim, Oscar Williams.

Williams, 48, was driving a Honda near Beach 67th St. and Beach Channel Drive, when Henry allegedly stopped the bus and began to argue with Williams, who is reportedly involved romantically with Henry’s wife. The two began to fight and Henry stabbed Williams in the arm, Brown said.

Williams survived the incident but had to undergo surgery at a nearby hospital.

Henry was arraigned on Wednesday on charges of assault and criminal possession of a weapon. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison.

The stabbing was within blocks of where several stray bullets hit an MTA bus on Monday night. No one aboard the bus was injured, but a 21-year-old man was hit in the leg. He was taken to the hospital, where he was listed in stable condition.

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Stray bullets hit MTA bus in Rockaway shooting


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

PoliceCarLightsHC0708_L_300_C_Y-624x414

Updated 2:53 p.m.

An MTA bus was hit by stray bullets in a shooting that injured a 21-year-old man in Arverne Monday night, according to authorities.

Two bullets went through the driver’s side of the Q22 bus, near Beach Channel Drive and Beach 73rd Street at about 8:20 p.m., police said.

Around 15 to 20 passengers were on the bus at the time of the shooting. No one aboard was hurt.

The 21-year-old man was found on Beach 67th Street with a gunshot wound to his leg and taken to Jamaica Hospital, where he is listed in stable condition, authorities said.

Police are still looking for the shooter.

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Ex-NYPD detective pleads guilty to DWI, accidentally shooting partner in Queens


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Gavel 2

A former NYPD detective who was busted for drunk driving and accidentally shooting his partner in Queens earlier this year pleaded guilty to the incident and was sentenced to undergo an intensive alcohol safety program, the Queens district attorney’s office said.

Jay Poggi, 57, a Long Island resident who, according to police, was a member of Brooklyn’s 75th Precinct, pleaded guilty Friday in Queens Criminal court to assault and operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, prosecutors said.

In addition to the 12-week program, as a condition of his plea, Poggi must complete an awareness program for first-time DWI offenders, called a Victim Impact Panel, install an ignition interlock device on any vehicles registered to him and pay a $500 fine. His driver’s license has also been suspended.

In the early morning hours of April 24, Poggi was showing the hammer of his Smith and Wesson revolver to his partner, Det. Matthew Sullivan, when the gun went off, striking his partner in the right wrist, court records said. Poggi then drove Sullivan to Jamaica Hospital in their unmarked police car.

At the hospital, Poggi was observed with bloodshot eyes and was given a field sobriety test, which registered above the legal limit, at .113 percent, prosecutors said. He later refused to take a Breathalyzer test at the 112th Precinct in Forest Hills.

Poggi and his partner were supposedly on their way to conduct a robbery investigation in the Rockaways when Poggi accidentally fired the weapon, the New York Daily News reported. They were caught on camera drinking that night at The Wharf Bar & Restaurant in Rockaway Park.

In May, Poggi was terminated from the department following a recommendation from the Office of the NYPD Trial Commissioner.

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Op-ed: Keep the Rockaway Ferry


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BY JOE HARTIGAN

As a lifelong resident of Queens and a 34-year resident of the Rockaways, I would like to emphasize the great potential ferry service will have for Rockaway and the rest of the city.
Since those living in the Rockaways have the longest commute of any NYC residents, it is evident that the ferry service, which was established after Superstorm Sandy, has dramatically improved commuter travel time but is also the only nice thing that has happened to Rockaway since the storm.

The ferry service that was put in place after Superstorm Sandy in Rockaway was done in three days. The Rockaways were very fortunate that Seastreak had the proper vessels available to establish the ferry run after Sandy.

The ferry has cut the commute time from the middle of Rockaway to lower Manhattan by over a half-hour. The ferry service has had an on-time performance of better than 95 percent with not one police incident in the almost two years since it started.

According to the NYC Parks Department, in 2012, Rockaway Beach saw almost 8 million visitors before Superstorm Sandy. Rockaway could become the number one (or two) tourist destination in NYC by improving beach access through better transportation. Rockaway has more visitors than the Metropolitan Museum of Art, American Museum of Natural History and the Statue of Liberty, to name a few.

In the last week of August, the Rockaway/Brooklyn/Manhattan ferry did 1,300 rides per day. If the R/B/M ferry were free, it would give the Staten Island ferry a run for the top ridership spot.
The ferries would be built in New York State, thus creating jobs. Seastreak would base part of its operations in New York State, therefore creating 50 to 80 permanent jobs in NYC.

The route that I am proposing is JFK Airport-Rockaway-BAT Pier Brooklyn-Wall Street-Roosevelt Island-Astoria-Flushing, LaGuardia Airport and Willets Point Project. If the R/B/M ferry had the same number of ferry runs with the beach traffic and JFK Airport passengers, the ridership number would triple that of the East River ferry.

I am just trying to improve my neighborhood of Rockaway, Queens, by advocating for an overall NYC ferry service which, in turn, will assist in developing all areas of our city.

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Cross Bay Boulevard gets more parking — for bikes


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Parking is never easy to find on Cross Bay Boulevard. But that has now changed — for bicyclists at least — as the Department of Transportation (DOT) has begun installing bike racks along the boulevard.

The installation of the racks is part of a citywide initiative of recycling and reusing the now-obsolete vehicle parking meter poles by converting them into bicycle parking spaces, according to a DOT representative.

“The bike racks being installed along Cross Bay Boulevard are part of a citywide project to recycle the single-space meters and retrofit the pipes into mini-hoop style bike racks,” the DOT representative said.

The installation began on Aug. 25 and a total of 86 bike racks are being put along both sides of the boulevard. The racks will extend from Liberty Avenue in Ozone Park, south to 165th Avenue in Howard Beach, according to the DOT representative.

The initiative was started in 2011 when many of the single-space parking meters had their heads removed as the muni-meters made their way onto city streets and demand grew for bike parking throughout the five boroughs. The bike racks are made to easily slide onto the old parking meter poles already installed on the sidewalk, according to the DOT website.

Howard Beach is part of the Jamaica Bay Greenway route, which has a bike lane running from the neighborhood into the Rockaways.

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Councilman Ulrich allocates $25K to clean up graffiti in district


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Cross Bay Boulevard can draw comparisons to 5Pointz with the amount of graffiti that has stricken its surrounding neighborhoods, but clean-up is on the way.

In his discretionary budget, Councilman Eric Ulrich has allocated $25,000 to graffiti clean-up in the district. Ulrich is teaming up with the Queens Economic Development Corporation (EDC), which will choose a company for the clean-up, for the first time and is hoping to start the job next month.

Cleaning up graffiti in these neighborhoods and all of Council District 32 is something that Ulrich has funded throughout his time as councilman, but this year he has allocated more money than ever to hit even more problem areas, according to Rudy Giuliani, a representative for the councilman.

The focus areas that Ulrich outlined are the neighborhoods of Woodhaven and Ozone Park. This is where graffiti is the biggest problem in Ulrich’s district, Giuliani said. The company that is hired by the Queens EDC will then move on to other areas in the district, which include Howard Beach, Lindenwood and the Rockaways.

 

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Anthony Weiner opening up restaurant in Rockaways


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Anthony Weiner is helping to restore the Rockaways, but not as a politician.

Instead, he’s launching Rockaway Restoration Kitchen, a nonprofit agency that aims to “operate a healthy, sustainable restaurant in a hard luck community to provide training, on-the-job apprenticeships and placement in the culinary and food service sector for unemployed New Yorkers,” according to its page on Idealist.org.

Hurricane Sandy damaged much of the peninsula, and the restaurant, which was first reported to open by the Rockaway Times, is looking to help out the still-suffering residents there.

“Our goal is to provide a comfortable neighborhood restaurant with healthy, locally sourced food that satisfies the hunger of Rockaway residents, attracts visitors and serves up dignity and self-sufficiency by serving as a hands on training ground to provide skills, real experience and job placement in the culinary industry,”  the restaurant says on its website.

Weiner, who virtually ended his political career in a sexting scandal back in 2011 and then mounted a failed mayoral campaign that was marred by another sexting discretion, represented the Rockaways for more than a decade.

He told the Daily News this project is something that the area needs.

“Large swaths of the peninsula are lacking in quality, sustainable, nutritious food,” he said. “It’s also sadly true that many residents need help developing skills to lift them out of unemployment.”

The Kitchen is currently looking to fill an executive director position. This person will be in charge of the management and operation of all aspects of the social enterprise as well as the nonprofit corporation, multiple food-service based lines of business and the youth training program, according to the listing.

There is no set date for the kitchen’s debut.

 

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Dozens of Rockaway beaches closed for swimming due to lack of lifeguards, Sandy damages


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Salvatore Licata

SALVATORE LICATA

Just because a beach is open doesn’t mean people are allowed to swim there.

As of Thursday, only 29 of the more than 100 beaches in the Rockaways are open to swimming because of damage caused by Superstorm Sandy coupled with a dearth of lifeguards, the Parks Department said.

Many of the others have “normal access,” which, according to the Parks Department, means people are allowed to walk in the sand.

“Swimming is only permitted where there are lifeguards, which is never the entire seven mile beach,” said Zachary Feder, a Parks Department spokesman. “But walking is permitted along the entire length.”

Superstorm Sandy caused major damage to the beaches along Rockaway, which now has the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers working to repair many of them. They are using large pipes to pump sand from the ocean floor on to certain beaches which makes those specific locations closed to swimming.

“More beaches will open as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completes their sand replenishment and grading work,” Feder said. “We cannot allow swimming where the Corps is working. As the Corps finishes a section, that area will reopen for swimming.”

Feder also said another reason why many beaches are still closed to swimming is because the number of lifeguards has not reached its full potential for the year yet. He said lifeguard staffing does not reach its peak until July 4, which is when the volume of beachgoers is at its highest and the lifeguards, many of whom are students, are able to work for the summer.

But locals were upset that swimming was off-limits for most of the shoreline.

“Beaches being closed to swimming not only impacts our recreational life but it cripples the businesses that thrive on people going to beaches,” said Phillip McManus, a Rockaway resident and avid beachgoer, “We need a government that will listen to the people and need our beaches open for swimming now.”

Here is a list of the Rockaway beaches that are open to swimming as of June 19, as stated on the Parks Department website:

Beaches 9, 13, 15, 17, 18
Beaches  29-30
Beaches 115-119
Beaches 120-129
Beaches 131-137

 

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Government officials to host Build It Back reps


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

SALVATORE LICATA

The long, dragged-out process of filling out applications and following up with Build It Back may finally get a little easier.

In an effort to better accommodate residents who were affected by Superstorm Sandy, Assemblyman Philip Goldfeder and state Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. will host Build It Back representatives in their local offices, so residents can meet directly with Build It Back officials and learn exactly what they have to do to finalize their applications for the government-subsidized grant.

“There is a lot of confusion surrounding the Build It Back program,” Goldfeder said.

The representatives will file paperwork, investigate individual cases and provide a case manager for each resident. Making an appointment is strongly encouraged but walk-ins are welcomed.

“I am thankful Build it Back has people in the Rockaways, but residents off of the Peninsula were affected as well, and they should be able to get help in their own neighborhood,” Addabbo said.

At Addabbo’s office, located at 159-53 102nd St., representatives will hold meetings every Thursday beginning June 5, from 1 to 4 p.m. Appointments can made by calling 718-738-1111.

At Goldfeder’s offices, located at 2-14 Beach 96th St. and 108-14 Cross Bay Blvd., representatives will alternate between offices beginning with the Rockaway office on Thursday, June 5, from 1 to 4 p.m. Appointments can be made by calling 718-945-9550.

 

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93-year-old Rockaway strongman moves on to next round of ‘America’s Got Talent’


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos by Craig Blankenhorn/NBC

Rockaway strongman Mike “Mighty Atom Jr.” Greenstein pulled off enough yeses from the “America’s Got Talent” judges to earn another appearance on the reality competition show.

The 93-year-old was featured in the NBC program’s season nine premiere Tuesday night, where he pulled a Plymouth station wagon with his teeth.

He impressed judges Heidi Klum, Mel B and Howie Mandel with his strength, but judge Howard Stern said no.

But three out of four was all Greenstein needed to go to Judgment Week, where he will audition again, and the judges will determine which 48 acts will compete in the live shows for America’s vote. Judgment Week will air in July.

Greenstein, wearing a “Mighty Atom & Sons 1940” t-shirt, in honor of his father, the first “Mighty Atom,” who became renowned for his strongman act, both shocked and amazed the audience when he revealed his talent.

“You might say I have been carrying on his legacy,” Greenstein said during an interview for the show.

Though he never made a career out of his strongman act like his father, Greenstein performed as a hobby, after doing shows during WWII all over the country.

“My dad would be very proud to see me doing things like this,” Greenstein said. “I hope the judges think of me as something extraordinary, especially at my age.”

In his younger days, he would bend iron bars, break chains and pull vehicles with his hair and teeth.

“The hair is no more, so I am still pulling with my teeth,” he said.

Greenstein said, even at 93, his teeth are all his own.

He used those choppers to pull the 3,500-pound station wagon, with his 84-year-old brother, his brother’s wife and his “lady friend,” inside of it.

With cheers of encouragement from the New York City audience, he towed the car a full-vehicle length and impressed the judges.

“That’s amazing at any age,” Mandel said.

But Stern turned him down because he felt Greenstein “needed more showmanship.”

The comment elicited boos from the audience and even host Nick Cannon.

Greenstein said in his next appearance he wants an open-back truck with about 20 to 30 people in the back of it.

If he goes further in the competition, the strongman told The Courier he would like to bend iron bars across the bridge of his nose, something he hasn’t done in almost 40 years.

“I feel with my mental capacity I can do it.”

 

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93-year-old Rockaway strongman to appear on ‘America’s Got Talent’


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos by Craig Blankenhorn/NBC

Don’t let his age fool you.

At 93 years old, 5 feet 4 inches tall and 140 pounds, Rockaway resident Mike “Mighty Atom Jr.” Greenstein can pull a car with his teeth.

He will show off his feats of strength on the Season 9 premiere of “America’s Got Talent” next week.

The grandfather of three and great-grandfather of two is a second-generation strongman.

His father, Joseph, the first “Mighty Atom,” was a Polish immigrant who came to Texas and started working in the oil fields in the early 20th century, where Greenstein was born.

But, Joseph, with a belief that strength was also built from mental ability, a philosophy he passed onto his son, later started performing as a strongman, and became renowned for his act.

Greenstein, along with his four brothers, trained with his father, but he didn’t perform himself until he joined the service during WWII.

After his father performed for the men at a camp in North Carolina where Greenstein was teaching aviation, he was asked if he could do a strongman act.

Remembering his father’s training and borrowing his equipment, Greenstein agreed and continued the shows at other camps and in area towns to raise money for war bonds.

“I enjoyed entertaining and enjoyed the applause,” he said.

Greenstein never made a career out of the act like his father, and went on to be a mechanic for Trans World Airlines and a wedding photographer, but continued to do strongman shows on the side.

Part of his act would include putting chains around his chest and breaking them, lifting weights by hand and his teeth, and bending them across the bridge of his nose. One of the feats he still performs today is pulling cars and trucks with his teeth, which he says are “still his own.”

In recent years, the senior citizen’s strongman abilities have garnered attention through the media. After finding out about his skills, “America’s Got Talent” came calling, and Greenstein went out for an audition.

During the season premiere, at 8 p.m. Tuesday on NBC, he will show off his car-pulling skills in front of judges Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, Mel B and Howie Mandel.

Hosted by Nick Cannon, the reality competition showcases a range of performers, from singers to dancers, to jugglers and magicians. The winner receives a $1 million prize.

“As I grow older I enjoy it more that I can still do certain things,” Greenstein said.

“There is nothing you can’t do if you put your mind to it.”

To see how Greenstein did on the “America’s Got Talent” season premiere, click here

 

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Man discovered inside garbage bag in Rockaways died from gunshot wound


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

The death of a Jamaica man whose body was found inside a garbage bag in the Rockaways Monday has been ruled a homicide, police said.

Quynton Ross, 33, was shot once in the chest, according to the medical examiner.

His body was discovered about 9:50 a.m. on Beach 40th Street between Edgemere Avenue and the boardwalk, officials said.

After Quynton went missing Sunday his family used a cell phone tracking app, which helped lead them to the scene where police found the body, cops said.

 

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Body discovered inside garbage bag in Rockaways


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Graphic Image

The body of a man was found inside a garbage bag in the Rockaways Monday morning, police said.

Officers discovered the body about 9:50 a.m. on Beach 40th Street between Edgemere Avenue and the boardwalk, according to officials.

Police said the unidentified man is about 30 years old.

The medical examiner will determine the cause of death and the investigation is ongoing, cops said.

 

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