Tag Archives: south queens

MTA improvement plan may benefit restoration of Rockaway Beach Rail Line


| slicata@queenscourier.com

File photo

South Queens has one of the longest commute times to Midtown Manhattan out of any area in the five boroughs. But changes may soon be made as part of a new study released by the Metropolitan Transit Authority that could undermine a proposal to turn an unused Queens rail line into a park.

In the study, the MTA Transportation Reinvention Commission proposes to “aggressively expand the capacity of the existing [MTA] system.”

The newly released MTA study was welcome news to Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder, who has been advocating for improvements to the already existing infrastructure where the Rockaway Beach Rail Line once was.

“Support for reactivation of the rail line continues to grow and this new report drafted by leading transit experts is a huge step in the right direction,” said Goldfeder. “The Commission recognizes that reactivating unused rights-of-way such as the Rockaway Beach Rail Line is the best and most cost-effective way to improve access to transit for hundreds of thousands of Queens families.”

The report finds that the economic success of New York is dependent on a world class transportation system and that the MTA must continue to make improvements to it if it wants to keep this economic growth.

“New York will never have a world-class transit system unless the MTA reinvents itself and the public invests in it. A robust transportation network is essential to the region, but its past achievements do not make future success inevitable,” said Ray LaHood, co-chair of the Transportation Reinvention Commission and former U.S. Secretary of Transportation. “Our work shows that the MTA can meet the array of challenges it faces, but doing so will require careful stewardship, creative thinking and heightened investment to ensure it can continue to be the engine that drives New York.”

The MTA study comes as a group has been advocating for a project called QueensWay, inspired by Manhattan’s High Line, which would convert the long-dormant rail line into a public park stretching across a wide swath of Queens.

The report released seven key strategies for improving transportation throughout the city. It states that the MTA must make investments designed to serve existing and emerging population and employment centers that are not well served by the existing system while also “pursuing new flexible service alternatives and operating modes.”

This expansion is already taking place in south Queens with plans being discussed for Select Bus Service on Woodhaven Boulevard.

The reactivation of the Rockaway Beach Rail Line could result in 500,000 daily trips and would cost the MTA around $700 million, according to a recent Queens College study.
Goldfeder believes this is a significant step forward in his fight to bring rail service along the line back to south Queens.

“I’m pleased that the Commission recognizes what our communities have known for a long time — that using this right-of-way is our best option for cutting commute times, growing our small businesses, and building a stronger, more resilient transit network,” concluded Goldfeder.

“Residents overwhelmingly support the reactivation of the rail line and I will continue to work with the MTA and my colleagues to make that dream a reality.”

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Rockaway Beach Rail Line gaining support


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder

Commuting to Manhattan from South Queens can be a miserable experience, but growing support for additional transportation options may alleviate these headaches.

“In addition to improving the terrible service on the A train, the MTA must increase bus service and restore the Rockaway Beach Rail Line,” Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder said, at the oversight hearing of the MTA capital budget plan from 2015 to 2019. “In the immediate aftermath of Sandy, we experienced firsthand the detrimental impact that the lack of public transit has on our families — in order to plan for our future growth, we must invest in vital transit infrastructure now.”

The MTA included the restoration of the Rockaway Beach Rail Line as part of their 20-year capital budget plan, which they outlined at the meeting on Aug. 7. Rail line restoration would mean quicker commute time to Manhattan for residents as well as economic growth for the area — and even supply a one-seat ride from mid-town Manhattan to JFK airport, Goldfeder said.

Advocates for more efficient South Queens transportation also advised the MTA to fix some ongoing issues in the neighborhood, including the possibility of toll rebates for cars from Howard Beach and Ozone Park that traverse the Cross Bay Bridge to and from Rockaway, Goldfeder said.

“There is no debate, improving current subway lines, increasing service and investing in projects like the Rockaway Beach Rail Line will benefit every resident of New York City,” he added. “No more excuses, every family should get the transit resources they deserve. In today’s difficult economy, we need more affordable and reliable transportation that will allow our city to grow and prepare for the future.”

 

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Car thefts spike in south Queens: 21 stolen in 28 days


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam LaGuerre

Car thefts in south Queens are up nearly double what they were at this time last year.

The 106th Precinct reported on Sunday that 21 car thefts had hit the region in the prior 28 days, up from just 12 last year.

Twenty of those thefts happened just north of the Belt Parkway within a block or two, including on Cross Bay Boulevard, Liberty Avenue, Rockaway Parkway, Lefferts Boulevard and North Conduit Avenue.

“It is quite clear these car thieves are very mindful of their escape route with an obvious emphasis on a quick escape route out of the area,” said the precinct report.

Seven of the thefts occurred after the victims left their keys in the ignition, with the car unattended. The precinct said this happened when drivers wanted to warm up their cars in the cold weather or while unloading packages.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the 106th Precinct.

 

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Green cabs could be coming to south Queens


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of TLC

Green cabs could now be driving down south in the borough.

A representative from the Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) will be making a stop at the next Community Board (CB) 10 meeting on Thursday, December 5 to explain the new Boro Taxi procedures, rules, and the program’s presence in the region moving forward.

Betty Braton, CB 10 chair, said the outer-borough cabs coming to the community could either be a benefit or a disadvantage depending on “how it rolls out.”

“I would believe on the positive side, it provides a safer way in the outer boroughs for people to do street hails,” she said. “On the downside, we already have an existing problem with livery cabs parking. I would think it would become problematic if the green cabs decide to take up parking spaces or just cruise constantly in the transit hubs.”

Boro Taxis, similar to livery cabs, are affiliated with a base and may take dispatch, flat-fare calls. However, similar to city yellow cabs, they can also make metered, hailed pick-ups.

Currently licensed livery bases apply for an opportunity to affiliate the street-hail liveries, which is then processed and approved by the TLC. Two sites in South Ozone Park already got the green light for green cabs, according to the TLC.

Resident Jesus Garay made a request on the Boro Taxis’ website for a base at the cross section of Woodhaven Boulevard and Rockaway Boulevard, so cabs could serve Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Richmond Hill and South Ozone Park.

 

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South Queens residents seek help at post-Sandy town hall


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Maggie Hayes

Carl Teresa drained his retirement savings to pay for Sandy home damages and is tired of getting the runaround from city and state agencies, he said.

Eight months after the storm, south Queens is still not whole, and Teresa said he is just one of many still struggling. Homeowners gathered at a town hall forum in Howard Beach, hosted by Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder and Congressmember Hakeem Jeffries, to ask pressing questions that still exist months later.

“You can’t get a straight answer from anybody,” Teresa said. “You talk to one person who has answer A, then another who gives you answer B. Nobody has the same answer.”

Teresa had his Rockaway Park home was inspected three times by FEMA agents before he received money for his damages. The first inspector, he said, left the state without relaying information. The second did not do an accurate inspection, he said, and the third was finally able to get Teresa a $31,900 FEMA assistance grant.

The basement apartment of his two-floor home was destroyed — inundated with over 30 inches of water — he said. The apartment is home to his mother-in-law, who has Alzheimer’s disease. She relocated to the first floor with Teresa and his wife until the repairs were complete.

Teresa estimated the damages cost him at least $70,000. He is on Social Security disability, and cannot return to work to replace the money lost.

“How do I support myself the rest of my life,” he asked.

Jeffries and Goldfeder advised people in predicaments similar to Teresa’s to register for the city’s Build-it-Back program, which is geared towards assisting homeowners, landlords and tenants whose properties were damaged by Sandy. It offers several pathways to relief, including reimbursement for out-of-pocket payments.

“People shouldn’t be forced to drain their bank accounts and decimate their savings in order to repair a home,” Jeffries said.

The two also discussed updates to FEMA’s flood and evacuation maps. Evacuation zones will be changing from letters to numbers, Zone 1 being the highest priority. Most of Howard Beach will be located in Zone 1, Jeffries said.

A rep from Neighborhood Revitalization NYC was also in attendance to speak about mold treatment. The program, which got cheers from the town hall audience, coordinates mold inspection and fixes free of charge. Members of the city’s Department of Financial Services as well as FEMA were also present to answer individualized questions.

Goldfeder, a notable advocate for Sandy victims since the storm, asked the Department of Environmental Protection to clean out catch basins in the hope to better preparing the area’s sewer system for any future storm.

“It has been a daily, daily struggle,” he said. “Almost every day is a new challenge.”

“Now, we need to make sure we are prepared for the future,” he added.

Those interested in the Build-it-Back program can visit www.nyc.gov/recovery for more information. To see the preliminary flood and evacuation maps, estimated to be released at the end of the summer, go to www.region2coastal.com. For those seeking flood insurance information and agents, visit www.floodsmart.gov.

 

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Queens community comes together to stop the violence


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

QC05162013.pdf - Adobe Acrobat

As politicians at all levels try to combat gun violence through legislation, local groups seeing issues within their communities have taken a grassroots approach to keeping neighborhoods safe.

“Upon my release from prison, I wanted to make sure today’s youth didn’t fall into the same traps that I fell into,” said Lance Feurtado.

He and his brother co-founded the King of Kings, an anti-violence group in southeast Queens. They started the group in 2005, a year after Feurtado was released from prison. Their main goal is to reduce shootings and killings.

Feurtado set his sights on the Redfern Community Houses in Far Rockaway. After a shooting in broad daylight took place there, he hit the ground running.

King of Kings also goes on anti-drug and anti-gang tours to educate young people about the consequences of a violent lifestyle, the hidden dangers of drugs and what to do if you are pulled over by police.

I am “a former drug kingpin. I’m an ex-gang member,” Feurtado said. “We can relate first-hand to what the youth are going through. We lived it, we survived it.”

Feurtado also hosts a series of community events such as an annual “Friends for Life” breakfast.

Reverend Phil Craig is another activist active in the borough. The president of the Queens chapter of the National Action Network hosts youth town halls about violence in the community.

“The children, you can tell they’re dealing with a tug-and-pull situation,” he said. “A lot of their friends are attracted to this violent type of lifestyle. It makes them feel important.”

Craig and others in the chapter work to instill a different type of importance in young people—one where they can see themselves being successful off the streets.

“They can make a difference,” Craig said. “Negativity is contagious, but if we can change it around, the positive could become contagious.”

Craig said a big part of reducing violence among youths is getting parents involved and establishing a balanced household structure—something he said many homes in his area lack.

“There’s a gap they can’t fill at home, and these kids are out running around in the streets to try and fill it,” he said.

Out there, young people get territorial, said Manny Fiallo, the outreach coordinator for the Police Athletic League (PAL) in Far Rockaway. Fiallo is also a parent coordinator at the Department of Education (DOE).

“Kids feel like they can’t go to certain places,” he said. “But it’s one peninsula, it’s one Rockaway.”

Last year, Fiallo worked to put on a basketball tournament in memory of Stack Bundles, a local rapper who he said youths respect. The event was so successful that Fiallo is hosting it again and hopes to make it an annual event. The tournament travels throughout the peninsula. Fiallo said it helps break barriers by putting participants in areas they may not usually travel to.

“It involves the whole community, it’s about the whole community,” he said.

Aside from the tournament, Fiallo’s group has hosted teen job fairs and is trying to get a GED program expanded to accommodate 23- to 28-year-olds.

On summer weekends, Craig and the National Action Network occupy corners and try to get young people off the streets.

“One of the things I’ve observed, at 1 a.m., you have kids walking in the streets in packs. They can’t be more than 13 or 14 years old,” he said.

Organizations like Craig’s are trying to stop the violence once and for all.

“When people know each other, there’s less of a tendency [toward] tension” in the community, Feurtado said.

-BY MAGGIE HAYES & TERENCE M. CULLEN

 

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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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Tree complaints top 311 calls


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

File photo

Fallen limbs and downed branches, among other issues, still top the list of complaints to 311 within Community Board 10. Since the storm struck on October 29 through the end of 2012, there were 1,425 calls to the city about trees. In December alone, nearly 200 calls were put in from residents in the board’s zone about tree problems.

Sandy may have downed many trees in Ozone Park and Howard Beach the night of the storm, but wind-damaged branches could still be a problem, said board chair Elizabeth Braton.

“After a storm, when you have a lot of damage, you have other trees that were damaged but the branches didn’t fall — but they go down sometime later,” she said.

While city agencies still deal with recovery more than two months later, Braton said the board will meet during 2013 about plans for another Sandy-caliber storm. This includes what sorts of trees will be planted that can withstand flooding and winds.

“That will come up as we meet with the Parks Department over the course of the year,” Braton said. “Things are going to be much better as we learn from [Sandy]. But right now we’re still in the immediate mode.”

 

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Weekend Roundup


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Crazed subway ‘pusher’ says she did so because she thought victim was Muslim

The crazed woman who shoved a Queens immigrant to his gruesome death in front of a subway train told cops yesterday that she did so because she thought he was a Muslim, authorities said. Read more: NY Post

Teen shot and killed in Far Rockaway by two masked men armed with AK-47, pistol

A Queens mom who hoped to see her teen son become a marine biologist instead saw him Saturday in the morgue. Xavier Granville, 17, was gunned down by a pair of ski-masked gunmen — one toting an AK-47 assault rifle — after a late-night party in Far Rockaway, police sources said. Read more: Daily News

One woman dies following watery crash near JFK Airport

Fire officials say a woman died this in the hospital this morning after a car carrying her and five others submerged in water near John F. Kennedy Airport in Queens. The accident happened around 4:30 a.m. at Rockaway Boulevard and Brookville Boulevard near the southeast corner of John F. Kennedy Airport. Read more: NY1

Hurricane said to feed crime surge in storm-soaked South Queens precincts

Queens residents in Sandy-ravaged neighborhoods were victim to both Mother Nature and cold-hearted thieves this past year. The lastest NYPD crime stats show a soaring uptick in robberies and grand larcenies throughout the storm-battered Rockaways and Howard Beach neighborhoods. Read more: Daily News

Schumer wants House to vote on Sandy aid bill

Senator Charles Schumer called on leaders in the House of Representatives on Saturday to allow the $60.4 billion Hurricane Sandy aid package to come to the floor for a vote. The Senate passed the measure by a 61-33 vote on Friday, with 12 Republicans supporting the measure. Read more: NY1

Queens Morning Roundup


| brennison@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Friday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 40. Northwest wind 13 to 15 mph. Friday night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 30. Northwest wind 5 to 9 mph becoming light north after midnight.

EVENT of the WEEKEND: Jazz Night at New York’s Legendary Metropolitan Room

The incomparable Stix Bones will be hosting two Jazz Nights during December at the renowned Metropolitan Room in NYC. Jazz Night is a seventy-five minute performance highlighting music from the forefathers of Jazz such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Dizzy Gillespie, and original compositions by drummer Stix Bones. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Man dead after train push horror in Queens

A man was killed tonight after a woman pushed him into the path of an oncoming train in Queens, police sources said. The tragedy occurred at the elevated 40th Street station, near Queens Boulevard, in Sunnyside at around 8 p.m., sources added. Read more: NY Post

Sandy Hook funeral-fund scam outrages, feds charge Nouel Alba

The innocent blood spilled on the floors of a Connecticut elementary school was still warm when a Bronx woman hatched a sick scam to profit off the tragedy. Nouel Alba, 37, was busted after allegedly posing as an aunt of 6-year-old Noah Pozner — one of 20 children massacred inside Sandy Hook Elementary School — to collect money for the child’s “funeral fund,” authorities said. Read more: Daily News

Official: Endangered whale beached in Queens dead

A 60-foot whale was found dead on Thursday after getting stranded on a beach in a coastal enclave of New York City that was ravaged by Superstorm Sandy. The animal — part of an endangered species known as finback or fin whales — was severely emaciated but clinging to life when it was discovered Wednesday stranded on the bay side of Breezy Point. Volunteer firefighters sprayed water on the whale as it sat halfway out of the water. Read more: NY Post

Wednesday storm causes more issues for residents of two Jamaica homes

Wednesday’s storm caused more problems for some Jamaica residents whose homes were severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Natasha Francis and her two kids are staying with family and friends. She said Hurricane Sandy damaged her roof, and now there’s water everywhere. Read more: NY1

2 armed robbers terrorize Queens shopkeepers

Cops say two men have been very busy this holiday season from terrorizing six Queens shopkeepers. On December 5th, Nisha Sharvo was minding her business behind the back pharmacy counter of Quick Script Drugs in Hollis, when on her security monitors she watched the men hold up the front counter and order staff and customers to the floor while robbing them – all before making a beeline for Sharvo. Read more: ABC Local