Tag Archives: south ozone park

Suspect tied to second child sex assault in South Ozone Park


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Sketch courtesy of NYPD

Police believe the suspect wanted for sexually assaulting a seven-year-old in South Ozone Park on Wednesday, inappropriately touched another girl in the area the same day.

The man allegedly came up to the victim, also seven, around 2:45 p.m. as she was sitting on the stoop of her South Ozone Park home and grabbed her buttocks, said police. Her 12-year-old sister, who was also on the stoop, yelled at the suspect, at which time he fled.

According to authorities, the suspect  matches the description of the man who came up to a seven-year-old girl around 6 p.m. that same day outside of a South Ozone Park driveway. He performed a criminal sex act on the girl, then fled on foot.

The suspect is described as a man in his 20s, of dark complexion, 5’11 – 6’1″ tall, 160 pounds, with black hair. He was last seen in a blue hooded-sweatshirt with unknown white writing on the front, dark jeans and carrying a purple backpack.

Anyone with information in regards to either of the above crimes is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (5477).  The public can also submit their tips by visiting the Crime Stoppers website at or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

The following video and photos are from the incident that occurred around 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 1:

 

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Robbers strike same Queens hotel twice in two months


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

robbery suspects video

A pair of men sought in a string of hotel robberies hit the same Jamaica Howard Johnson for the second time in two months.

According to the NYPD, the suspects and another individual entered the 153-95 Rockaway Boulevard hotel around 2:15 a.m. on Friday, April 5, displayed a firearm, removed cash, then fled.

Two of the suspects struck the same Howard Johnson on  February 4. They also robbed a Quality Inn in Jamaica on December 29 and a South Ozone Park La Quinta Inn on February 4.

In the first three incidents the suspects fled the scene in a silver Audi.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto Crime Stoppers website or by texting their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

Video of an April 5 robbery at a Howard Johnson located at 153-95 Rockaway Boulevard. (Courtesy of NYPD)

 

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Family mourns Queens man allegedly killed by bouncer


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Deosarran “Deo” Ramdular was just starting his life at age 24. But the motivated man went braindead after being brutally beaten outside of a Queens club, and died a week later.

“I never expected anything like this would happen to him,” said Ramdular Baboolall, the victim’s father. “There are no words to describe this.”

On Sunday, March 17, Ramdular went out for a night with friends at Club Moka in South Richmond Hill. Before leaving his South Ozone Park home, he asked his mother, whom he lovingly called “Binky,” if he could pick anything up for her while he was out.

“I never knew that he wouldn’t come back,” said Lee Baboolall through tears.

Early the following Monday morning, according to the DA, Ramdular was beaten by the club’s bouncer, Kristian Sorbera, 27. Sorbera repeatedly punched and kicked Ramdular about the face and head, causing him to suffer multiple face fractures, lacerations and bleeding, which ultimately resulted in severe brain damage.

His father said he does not know the reason that Sorbera went after his son, but he was told that the bouncer followed Ramdular away from the club and beat him.

Ramdular was rushed to Elmhurst Hospital, where he was put on life support. On the evening of Thursday, March 21, doctors told the family that he was braindead. Baboolall waited until relatives from out of state arrived at the hospital, and that Sunday, Ramdular’s mother agreed to take him off life support.

She said her son had an excessively swollen head and doctors said his brain was swelling. She couldn’t bear to see him in that condition anymore, and even if he were to come back, he wouldn’t be the same person he once was.

The 24-year-old was an air conditioning technician, and aspired to one day have his own business, according to family. He was also taking classes to become a certified EMS worker. As of recently, he was picking up odd jobs, acting as a handyman. He was the youngest of two boys, and always put family first.

“He was always willing to help. He was very kind-hearted,” said Baboolall. “I can’t find the words to describe how good he was.”

Sorbera has been charged with assault in the second degree with intent to cause serious physical injury to another person and is being held on a $500,000 bail. Since Ramdular died as a result of his injuries, charges against the bouncer could change after he appears before a grand jury. His mother, Karla Sorbera, said she believes her son is wrongfully accused but did not wish to comment further. Additionally, Club Moka did not return calls for comment.

Ramdular’s family held his funeral on Thursday, March 28 and cremated his body.

“Sometimes, I can’t even speak,” said his father. “This is more than a tragedy.”

 

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South Ozone Park college student shoots for NFL


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Stockton Photo

David Lopez wants one particular job when he graduates college this spring: playing in the National Football League.

“I like the aggression of the game,” he said. “I love the game. I was never afraid to hit, it’s fun.”

Lopez, of South Ozone Park, has been working on getting himself drafted, or signed, after finishing up his collegiate career as a safety for Pace University. Because the school does not have a draft day for professional scouts, Lopez has faced an uphill run to the endzone.

He came to Pace after playing running back at Christ the King High School, a team that made it to its league’s championship during his final year. When Lopez, now 22, arrived at Pace, however, he was the young guy on a team of seasoned veterans. In order to gain some experience and retrain for a new position, Lopez opted to red-shirt his freshman year — essentially benching himself.

“The first year I was completely clueless to the schemes,” Lopez said of adjusting to college gridiron life. “I learned from the older guys. The older guys taught me a lot.”

Lopez was ready to go the following year and said it was astounding to take the field for the first time. Although Pace lost its first game, Lopez found his groove and took off.

“Two plays in I got a big hit and it was all smooth from there,” Lopez said.

Tragedy struck the team during Lopez’s tenure, however, and soon after he was forced into a leadership position.

In late 2010, Lopez’s teammate, D.J. Henry, was shot by police in Westchester as he drove away from an altercation outside a bar. As a result, some players were deemed ineligible to play, and others decided to transfer out.

“It took a lot out of us as a team,” he said. “The last two years at Pace, I was one of the older guys with a bunch of 17- and 18-year-old kids.”

Suddenly Lopez, intimidated by the veterans two years earlier, found himself propelled into a leadership role. As a captain who still felt like he was 18, Lopez was now mentoring new players both on and off the field.

Ideally, Lopez says he’d like to play safety for his favorite team, the New York Jets, but getting into the league is his top priority right now. To get himself into big-league shape, he’s been training with former Miami Dolphin and Christ the King alum Willie Poole and teammates from Pace.

One fundamental he’s taken from his mentors is that he is gunning for a job that hundreds, if not thousands, of others are vying for throughout the country. His next step is to make it to a pro-day either at Fordham University or Stony Brook University. The challenge there, Lopez said, is getting the schools to allow him to try out, as players from the home school would obviously get preference.

Under Poole’s leadership, Lopez has learned a new physical and mental aspect to football:

“He’s turned it up a notch on us, but it pays off,” Lopez said of Poole’s training. “He pushes us to stay perfect.”

Poole, who’s trained Lopez for a little more than a month now, said his protégé is conscious of the struggle he faces coming from such a small school. Despite this, Poole said Lopez is a true football player with strong skills and even stronger determination.

“I can honestly say that I really, truly believe that he is a better talent than the school he went to,” Poole said. “He works tremendously hard…he wants to get better.

“The bottom line is the kid can play football,” he added. “This kid is a football player.”

 

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Suspects rob Queens hotels at gunpoint


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

Two suspects are wanted in a string of Queens hotel robberies, said police. In each incident the suspects displayed a firearm, demanded money, then fled with the cash in a silver Audi.

The first robbery occurred on December 29, at approximately 1:00 p.m. at a Quality Inn located on 138-68 94th Avenue in Jamaica. In addition to cash, the suspects also took an iPad.

About a month later, they struck two more motels. On Monday, February 4, they robbed a Howard Johnson at 153-95 Rockaway Boulevard in Jamaica around 6:30 p.m. The following day, at about 1:30 a.m., the suspects stole cash from a La Quinta Inn on 111-26 Van Wyck Boulevard in South Ozone Park.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto Crime Stoppers’ website or by texting their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

 

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Final redistricting lines released


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Queens_Feb6

The final district lines that will go before the City Council were released on Monday, February 4, with moderate changes to the map that was released just two months ago. The new maps were released two days before the Districting Commission was to vote on the lines and discuss the changes district-by-district and borough-by-borough.

Several neighborhoods opposed the lines released in early December, mainly insisting the plans would divide neighborhoods and certain demographics. Independent residents and civic organizations made their unhappiness known at several hearings.

The Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) opposed the December map, as the neighborhood would continue to be divided between two councilmembers. The district currently represented by Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley was essentially flipped with that represented by Councilmember Eric Ulrich.

Members spoke out against the lines at a January 14 hearing. WRBA President Ed Wendell said he was disappointed, but realized at this point change probably would not have come. He said the WRBA would “have to work twice as hard to get our elected officials’ attention.”

Kris Gounden, an Ozone Park resident who’s been active in the West Indian community, said he was disappointed that parts of South Ozone Park were still incorporated into the 32nd District, despite pleas by residents.

“We want someone that’s born of us,” he said. “That looks like us. That’s more likely to speak of our own interest.

 

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Where to watch the Super Bowl in Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo

BY ANTHONY O’REILLY

While the Harbaugh brothers try to coach their teams to victory in the “HarBowl”, you can enjoy the game at one of Queens’ many bars, offering various drink and food specials throughout the night, along with free giveaways.

Bourbon Street, Bayside

For $45 per person, enjoy a hot and cold buffet, unlimited mixed drinks, bottled and tap beer, wine and soda during the game. Raffles and prize drawings will also be held during the event, which starts at 6 p.m.  Reservations and deposit required.

Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden, Astoria

“The Biggest Tailgating Party in Astoria,” offers free admission, free hot dogs, wing specials and $10 pitchers on select beers and the game is played on a 200-inch high-definition screen. The event will start at 6 p.m.

Studio Square NYC, Astoria

Starting at 4 p.m., enjoy unlimited draft beers, red & white sangria, loaded lemonade and red stag iced tea as well as an in-game buffet from the garden grill and shot specials during the game. Auction on past Super Bowl memorabilia and several raffles will be held for the chance to win an 80” led screen. Watch the game on more than three dozen 60” flat screen TV’s. Tickets are $40 online (studiosquarenyc.com) and $45 at the door.

Austin’s Ale House, Kew Gardens

For $50 per person enjoy bottled beer, top-shelf cocktails, half-time buffet and raffles & prize drawings. Order wings by Feb. 1.

Resorts World Casino, South Ozone Park 

Watch the game on a huge 16’x28’ flat screen TV, along with several other screens around the circular bar. Two packages are available. $25 per person gets you six wings and two domestic draft beers. The VIP package, priced at $60 per person (must order 25 tickets for a grand total of $1500), gets you 150 wings and 50 draft domestic beers.

Play, Elmhurst

Starting at 5 p.m., guests can enjoy a five hour open bar and watch the game on one of 16 flat screen TV’s for $25 per person. A mechanical bull, billiards, bowling and ping-pong and more also available. VIP tables are also available by calling 718-476-2828. VIP options include a bottle of liquor of your choice and two food platters or a la carte food and beverage service. After party will be held until 4 a.m. Tickets are required. Visit play.ticketleap.com to order.

 

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Resorts World Casino brings in record-breaking $1.2 billion


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

File photo

They did it again.

Resorts World Casino New York City officials announced they broke the bank once again after patrons spent $1.2 billion in the facility’s two floors of games last December — the most to go through a Racino in state history.

The Racino took back just about half of that, with $59.2 million in revenue and $42 million going back to the state in tax revenue. Continuing to earmark money for specific programs, $26 million will go to New York’s Education Fund.

Resorts World President Michael Speller lauded the record, noting it was a good way to kick off the New Year with high hopes for 2013.

“Resorts World Casino is breaking records on a regular basis,” Speller said. “With more visitors than ever coming through our doors, it’s clear that New Yorkers and tourists alike know that Resorts World Casino New York City is a world-class gaming experience right here in Queens – just minutes, not hours away. With a fantastic first year in the books, we look forward to doing even more to improve the gaming and entertainment experience in 2013.”

This caps off a record-breaking year for state gaming, with Resorts World sending $460 million back to the state, according to Racino representatives. Of that intake, $295 million was allocated for education. The remaining revenue has usually been earmarked for programs for the racing industry.

New modes of transportation are leading to increased numbers of gamers walking through the Racino’s doors. These include an upgraded A train stop at the Aqueduct site and a new visitor’s center at the arcade shops at Sutphin Boulevard.

 

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Residents fight against redistricting division


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence Cullen

In their last attempt before the maps went to the City Council for votes, residents told the New York City Redistricting Commission changes had to be made to keep neighborhoods such as South Ozone Park and Woodhaven in one piece.

“This isn’t about which district we end up with, this isn’t about which representative we get,” said Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) President Ed Wendell. “We just know that when we’re divided, it weakens our position.”

The Monday, January 14 hearing was the third before a final draft is sent to the City Council for a vote. Representatives have three weeks to vote either in favor or against the map; the new Council lines will be adopted if the legislature can’t come to a vote by deadline. The commission will re-explore lines after this latest round of hearings and make any changes it feels necessary.

Concerns about neighborhoods in Flushing and Bayside were addressed at the meeting — particularly Mitchell Linden, Broadway and Murray Hill — where many say the towns were split or dislocated from traditional districts. Councilmember , reading from a prepared testimony, called for the commission to keep these neighborhoods united, as they had been in the past.

Wendell, one of several WRBA members to speak, harkened back to the first draft of Council lines in which Woodhaven was almost completely in one councilmember’s district. The second draft, however, essentially flipped Woodhaven’s representatives and divided the area again.

Colin Bucca, another Woodhaven resident, told the commissioners continuing to keep Woodhaven in two would ruin the integrity and the character of the neighborhood.

“It’s not just equations on a spread sheet, it’s not just lines on a map, it’s people,” he said. “A neighborhood is defined by the people that live there. I live in Woodhaven; that’s my neighborhood.”

Many others spoke about neighboring South Ozone Park being placed in District 28, but wanted the western line of the district pushed to Woodhaven Boulevard — incorporating such landmarks as John Adams High School.
The desire for a unified Indo-Caribbean community has been the driving force behind this push, something that many in attendance spoke to.

“We are disappointed that South Ozone Park, part of the same community of interest, remains falsely divided along Lefferts Boulevard,” said Videsh Persaud, a program coordinator for the Indo-Caribbean Alliance. “While we appreciate the changes that were made in Richmond Hill, the process is incomplete without adjustments to South Ozone Park as well. These are part of the same community, and they must be kept in the same district.”

Kris Gounden, a community activist for the area, said residents want elected officials who understand their cultures and needs. Gounden said the city had suppressed the Indo-Caribbean community in south Queens and had stunted its ability to grow and prosper.

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Pols say ‘no dice’ to no downstate full gaming


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

File photo

Governor Andrew Cuomo pulled a wild card last week.

New York will get seven new casinos if voters approve a full-gaming amendment this fall, Cuomo said during his State of the State address. Most of these casinos, however, will be upstate — particularly in the Finger Lake region — to drive tourism to other areas of New York.

The news has some elected officials working to ensure Resorts World Casino New York City will continue growing in South Ozone Park and creating jobs in the area.

Immediately after the governor’s generalized proposal on gaming in the state, State Senator Joseph Addabbo texted Cuomo staffers about the statement; Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder got to Twitter. Both officials, who represent the Aqueduct property and surrounding neighborhoods, are working to ensure that Resorts World becomes one of those seven full-gaming casinos.

The governor’s proposal was open for interpretation, Addabbo said, and the already-built Racino is prime for table games. Should gaming laws pass this fall, Addabbo said the Racino’s proximity to JFK Airport makes it the prime place for further development and could build up the burgeoning area.

“There’s too many facts here that cannot be ignored to say, ‘no, we’re not doing a full-fledged casino there,’” Addabbo said. “That would be an irrational thought.”

Goldfeder likewise said future expansion at Aqueduct was crucial to job growth and economic impact in south Queens.

“Especially post-Sandy, we need to create jobs and spur, boost our economy,” he said. “And putting gaming at Aqueduct would do exactly that.”

Resorts World executives are confident the company’s partnership will continue to grow, said spokesperson Stefan Friedman. Executives also plan on continuing to generate revenue for the state, particularly for education. “We remain interested in enhancing the extremely successful partnership with New York State that has led to Resorts World’s status as the number one slot machine revenue generator in entire country and look forward to reviewing the governor’s proposal to facilitate economic development in Upstate New York,” Friedman said in a statement.

Both the senator and assemblymember said they expect the pre-developed land used for a venue that would bring more visitors to the area. Having full gaming at Resorts World would only help that cause, Goldfeder said.

“We’ve got a lot of big plans for that site and enhanced gaming would be a great anchor,” he said. “But I’m confident that, working with the governor, we’re going to come to a real conclusion that would be in the best interest of the community.”

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

 TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: Overcast. High of 45. Winds from the NNW at 5 to 10 mph. Wednesday Night: Overcast in the evening, then partly cloudy. Low of 36. Winds from the North at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT of the DAY: Jackson Heights Community Orchestra

The newly-formed Jackson Heights Community Orchestra, launched by conductor Patricia Glunt, has scheduled its first performance for Dec. 12 at the Jackson Heights Community Church. “Jackson Heights is ripe and it’s ready for an orchestra,” said Glunt, a 58-year-old musician who lives in the neighborhood. “The idea is really to explore and showcase the talent that we have in Queens, and use Jackson Heights as the center of that.” Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Vallone officially announces borough president bid

Councilmember Peter Vallone’s holiday surprise wasn’t all that surprising. Vallone announced his bid for Queens borough president at his father’s annual holiday party on Tuesday, December 11, surrounded by friends and family. Read more: Queens Courier

Queens lawmaker proposes local referendum on casino gaming

Local residents should get a chance to weigh in before the state rolls the dice on full-tilt casino gaming, a Queens lawmaker said on Tuesday. Read more: New York Daily News

JFK guards threaten strike, could snarl holiday travel plans

Just in time for Christmas, security guards at JFK Airport are threatening to walk off their jobs and create a holiday nightmare for travelers. Read more: New York Post

Sandy ineptitude catches up with LIPA at Moreland Commission hearing

Officials slammed the Long Island Power Authority Tuesday for its performance in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, during a hearing by a commission exploring how those utilities might be restructured. Read more: CBS New York

First section of WTC spire set to be hoisted

The first section of a spire that will rise atop the World Trade Center’s tallest building is set to be lifted into place on Wednesday. Read more: Fox New York

The Pope, now on Twitter, posts his first message

Pope Benedict XVI sent his first Twitter message on Wednesday, saying, “Dear Friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart.” Read more: New York Times

Gunman opens fire at Oregon mall; Suspect, 2 dead

The mall Santa was waiting for the next child’s Christmas wish when shots rang out, causing the shopping mall to erupt into chaos. Read more: AP

 

 

 

OpEd: Ban sex offenders from childrens’ sections of public libraries


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BY DAVID WEPRIN

When I heard about the sexual assault of a 10-year-old girl at the Pomonok branch of the Queens Public Library in the middle of the day on Monday, October 15, I was disturbed and outraged that we as a community failed once again to keep our children safe. I immediately called upon my fellow legislators in the State Assembly to pass the bill I introduced last spring prohibiting sex offenders from entering into the childrens’ section of our public libraries.

To me, it is absolutely outrageous that our children are not safe in our libraries, local parks, playgrounds, recreation centers and even our schools. We simply cannot allow any more of our children to be harmed by sex offenders in our communities. This horrific assault at Pomonok could have been prevented. It is a failure of our legal system that these predators are able to enter our public libraries and harm our precious children. We must put a stop to this now.

The bill, A10815/S7823, which I co-sponsored with State Senator John Sampson last spring, would prohibit all persons required to maintain registration under the sex offender registration act from entering the childrens’ section of a public library. Back in June, there was an incident involving two small girls, ages 6 and 9, at another branch of the Queens Public Library and the accused perpetrator was on parole for possession of child pornography at the time of the incident.

To enforce this bill, our libraries would need to create a separate entry into their childrens’ areas and request identification from any adult entering the space. Increased security in the childrens’ areas would also help monitor all activities taking place. Perhaps also the addition of security cameras would help protect our children while they are reading, studying, or enjoying a story time presentation. Our libraries have wonderful programs for children of all ages and parents should not have to worry about their children’s safety when they participate in these activities.

Also disturbing is a situation in South Ozone Park, which borders on my newly-re-drawn Assembly district, where the Skyway homeless shelter, which houses sex offenders, is located just 1,000 feet from PS 124 on South Conduit Avenue. I also co-sponsored a bill, A1947, that would restrict registered sex offenders from residing within 500 feet of a school. This legislation is still pending in Albany. Rightfully so, parents and members of the South Ozone Park community are frightened for their children and angry about the placement of these dangerous individuals in their neighborhood.

Clearly, we must do more to protect our youngest and most vulnerable citizens. Libraries are places where our children learn – from the youngest toddlers to the freckled faces of our delightful teenagers – and there is no excuse for a convicted sex offender to have access to the childrens’ areas of any library. We need to be hyper-vigilant on these issues of public safety and work together to make sure no more children become victims.

New York State has taken numerous steps to ensure that sexual predators do not have access to children, but clearly we need to do more. I intend to work with my colleagues in Albany to ensure our laws do not provide loopholes for predators and that our children remain safe everywhere.

Assemblymember David I. Weprin (D) represents Queens Assembly District 24

OpEd: Happy 1st Anniversary in Queens, Resorts World


| brennison@queenscourier.com

By State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr.

A year ago this week, the Queens community came together to welcome Resorts World Casino New York City to the borough. One year later, we have 1,750 new jobs, $410 million in additional tax revenue, and an anchor business in Queens that is partnering with local business both in joint marketing plans and vendor agreements, helping them to thrive and grow. Resorts World has been a tremendous partner to the Queens community and the impact it’s having on our local economy will only grow in the years to come.

As a destination attraction, Resorts World Casino has brought millions of visitors to Queens, who would otherwise travel to Connecticut, Atlantic City and elsewhere for gaming. In doing so, the casino has been able to recapture millions of dollars in revenue for New York City, New York State, and for the state’s education coffers.

At the same time, Resorts World Casino has made a commitment to our local workforce by not only providing good-paying jobs, but by developing careers for the thousands of Queens residents who work there. Over the last year, they have promoted more than 130 employees and have provided opportunities for hundreds of others to transfer within the company to develop their professional skills.

Resorts World Casino was the single largest job creator in New York State in 2011 and made an extensive commitment to the hiring of a diverse workforce that represented the Queens community.

It’s also important that in addition to the economic shot-in-the-arm Resorts World Casino has provided to the borough, the company has also made a significant commitment to partner with and support our local community organizations, which represent the social fabric of Queens. In making this commitment, the company is setting a public example of corporate responsibility that we are hopeful other companies will emulate.

While last year has broken every expectation we have had for tax revenue, job creation, and visitors to the casino, we fully expect next year to be even bigger. As the State Senator for the area, I intend to continue working with the operators of Resorts World Casino to ensure that the residents and businesses of the community and throughout Queens continue to benefit from hosting this first-rate, professional business.

Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. is the State Senator for the 15th District, now representing in whole or in part, the Queens neighborhoods of Howard Beach, Hamilton Beach, Kew Gardens, Kew Gardens Hills, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, South Ozone Park, Glendale, Middle Village, Richmond Hill, Ridgewood, Maspeth, Sunnyside, Woodside, Elmhurst, Forest Hills and Rego Park.

 

Resorts World celebrates first year


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

COURIER FILE PHOTO/Photo by Steve Mosco

A wager on a South Ozone Park casino a year ago turned out to be a good bet for jobs, and for all of Queens.

A year after Resorts World Casino New York City opened its doors, there has been a lot to talk about. In that time, the Racino has seen millions go in and out, several boxing matches and concerts, and even a robbery.

“Resorts World Casino has been an incredible success overall for Queens, for New York City and also the state as a whole,” said Resorts World president Michael Speller.

The Racino has sent more than $410 million in tax revenue back to the state toward education, the racing industry and other state-run programs. The casino, and parent company Genting, is committed to giving back to the community and the state where it’s found a home, Speller said.

“Clearly [it is] a great outcome for education; a great outcome to the state,” he said, adding that of the tax revenue sent back, roughly $263 million, was earmarked for education. “It’s been a great experience. We’ve been accepted by the community, we’ve worked hard with the community and it’s been a great experience over the last year.”

More than a million people walked through the Racino’s doors in July, two months after Genting announced Resorts World had beaten out Atlantic City and Las Vegas for slot machine revenue.

In June, however, a man later identified by the Queens District Attorney’s office as Kevin Lides, entered the second floor and handed a note to a teller. Lides was able to make off with about $63,000, but was caught just a month later in northwest Pennsylvania — in part from the surveillance system at Resorts World and collaboration with the 106th Precinct.

Speller said the casino’s security staff has worked closely with the 106th since inception and the working relationship continues daily.

The future of Resorts World has even crossed in to the hotly contested Senate District 15 election. Both incumbent Senator Joseph Addabbo and Councilmember Eric Ulrich said at a recent debate they believe in full gaming at all of New York’s seven racetrack casinos. At the same time, Addabbo said he hoped as the number of jobs at the Racino increases, the number of Queens-based employees there should as well. Ulrich said if gaming laws in the state were to expand, Resorts World must continue to be a responsible neighbor.

Resorts World currently employs just over 1,750 people, Speller said, about 1,100 of whom live in Queens. Executives promised last year that 70 percent of its employees would be based in Queens, though that was based on a projected 850 employees.

“Creating jobs is a big focus for everybody,” Speller said. “Obviously we continue to work on that. It’s a commitment that is not a one-time commitment. We continue to do whatever we can to improve on that.”

Throughout the entire growth of Resorts World, the community has been involved.

Liaisons from Resorts World attend the monthly Community Board 10 meetings, and executives meet with the board once a month to hear community feedback, Speller said.

“So it’s been a very collaborative and successful relationship between us and CB 10,” he said. “They tell us what the things are we need to be looking at and we respond to that.”

Board chair Elizabeth Braton likewise said Resorts World has lived up to all of its commitments to the surrounding neighborhoods, and had been responsive with any issues or comments.

“Their community relations are excellent,” she said. “They have ensured they have had a person available to just about any organization in the area to attend their meetings, and listen to people’s concerns and answer questions.”

But aside from enhanced gaming, which Speller says could find a home on the Racino’s open third floor, there is still more development on the horizon. Talks between the state and Genting for what would have been the nation’s largest convention center broke down in June, leaving plans at a standstill and sending developers back to the drawing board. Talks for a convention center, or other development at Aqueduct, would be held off until 2013, when voters will decide on proposed gaming law changes.

Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder, a proponent of Resorts World and more jobs and business in the region, said plans for Aqueduct were not done yet. In order to help south Queens continue to grow as a destination in the borough, Goldfeder said the state needed to give Resorts World and Genting the tools it needed to grow, particularly full gaming and better, faster transportation.

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: Partly cloudy. High of 61. Winds from the ESE at 5 to 10 mph. Wednesday night: Mostly cloudy in the evening, then clear. Low of 55. Winds from the SSE at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT of the DAY: The Platinum Band

The Platinum Band is once again performing on the Resorts World Casino New York City’s Bar 360 Stage. The band, which boasts a heavy rotation of reggae music, takes you back to an era of Bob Marley and the Wailers. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Students sickened after pepper spray is released in Queens school

One student was hospitalized, and 10 more had to be sent home, after pepper spray was discharged in a school lunchroom in South Ozone Park, Queens. Read more: CBS New York

Makeover for Queens traffic hub is underway

Pedestrian plazas and a gleaming stainless steel elevator are coming to Queens Blvd. and the Van Wyck Expressway but completion of the massive Kew Garden Interchange project is still years away. Read more: New York Daily News

Baggage handler who smuggled cocaine in planes is sentenced to life

An airline baggage handler who was convicted of trafficking millions of dollars’ worth of drugs in the bellies of commercial jets was sentenced to life in prison on Tuesday, putting an emphatic stamp on a case that revealed rampant theft and corruption by some airline employees. Read more: New York Times

Union officials ask Queens district attorney for fair investigation of cop in fatal shooting of unarmed man on Grand Central Parkway

Union officals for the NYPD detective who shot an unarmed man to death on the Grand Central Parkway met Tuesday with the Queens district attorney to ask for a fair and impartial investigation. Read more: New York Daily News

NYC cabbie suspended after tossing passenger

A New York City cab driver has had his license suspended after a hearing in which he was shown on video shoving and pushing a passenger out of his cab. Read more: NBC New York

Face to face: Obama, Romney in crackling debate

An aggressive President Barack Obama accused challenger Mitt Romney of peddling a “sketchy deal” to fix the U.S. economy and playing politics with the deadly terrorist attack in Libya in a Tuesday night debate crackling with energy and emotion just three weeks before the election. Read more: AP