Tag Archives: Springfield Gardens

Springfield Gardens doesn’t want liquor store near school


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Springfield Gardens wants to make sure the area around its high school stays dry.

A construction site across the street from Springfield Gardens High School could be the new home for a liquor store. But the community is calling for its owner to put a cork in it.

“We are not going to get drunk to a liquor store,” said State Senator James Sanders. “What does he think we are, high?”

By law, a liquor store cannot be within 200 feet of a school, according to the New York State Liquor Authority. Measurements showed the school’s doors are roughly 75 feet away from the proposed site of the liquor store.

Officials said once the dismissal bell rings, hundreds of students flood out of the high school’s doors and linger in the area. The youths socialize and stop in surrounding stores.

“We don’t want our young scholars seeing drunkards, people bobbing and weaving across the street,” Sanders said.

“This is not something the community wants,” echoed Franck Joseph, Community Liaison for Councilmember Donovan Richards. “It is very disrespectful, and a backhand slap. It shows a disregard to the community.”

Community activists Michael Duncan and Joan Flowers joined Sanders and Richards at a press conference on Friday, May 11 calling on the liquor authority to shut down the proposal.

Lawrence McClean, district manager of Community Board 13, said while owners are required by law to notify the local community board if they wish to open a liquor store, they have heard nothing.

“People are trying to get away with things in the dark,” he said.

McClean and the board have sent a packet with signatures to the liquor authority in strong opposition to the proposal. They were yet to hear back, but hoped the liquor authority does not even entertain the plan.

Richards said he tried to meet with the would-be owner, Tarsem Singh, but to no avail. Richards and Sanders hope to sit down and discuss the feasibility of using the space for something more “community-appropriate.”

“Put in an after-school youth center,” Sanders said. “We could have a place where we’re teaching values. It’s their future we’re concerned about.”

Singh could not be reached for comment. The liquor authority did not return repeated calls.

 

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National Guardsman guilty in murder of girlfriend


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

He went from hero to felon.

A National Guardsman and Iraq war veteran has been convicted of second-degree murder for punching, drowning and ultimately killing his girlfriend on the beaches of Far Rockaway.

David Lynch, 33, served two tours in Iraq and was a reservist in the New York National Guard at the time of the November 2010 killing. He was convicted on Thursday, March 21.

“The defendant was trained to defend the weak and protect the innocent,” said District Attorney Richard A. Brown. “In this case, he went against everything he was taught.”

According to trial testimony, Lynch brutally beat and drowned Althea Lewis, 45, of Springfield Gardens. In the early morning, Lynch and Lewis were on the beach having an argument. Lynch punched and bit Lewis on her head and face, threw her in the water and dragged her out by her feet, causing her head to be submerged.

Police discovered her clothed body on the beach with four puncture wounds on her face, later revealed to be from Lynch’s Army ring. The cuts were so deep that cops initially thought Lewis was shot. Ultimately, she died as a result of blunt force injury to her head and submersion in water.

“[Lynch’s] actions have irreparably shattered a family by robbing them of a loved one,” said Brown. “Conviction warrants imposition of a maximum prison sentence to punish him and protect society.”

The Supreme Court set sentencing for Monday, April 29. Lynch faces up to 25 years to life in prison.

 

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Man gets 50 years for killing pregnant girlfriend, son


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Jimmy Humphrey admitted to murdering his pregnant girlfriend, then setting fire to her Springfield Gardens apartment and killing her two-year-old son. He now faces life behind bars.

“[Humphrey] stands convicted of first strangling the mother of his unborn child and then, without the slightest regard for human life, attempted to cover up his crime by intentionally setting fire to her home, thereby taking the life of her innocent two-year-old son,” said District Attorney Richard A. Brown.

In July 2010, Humphrey, 26, said he was in his girlfriend Linda Anderson’s apartment on Anderson Road. He grabbed Anderson by the throat and shoved her to the ground. He also hit Anderson with a bottle of alcohol and used her lighter to set her couch on fire, despite knowing her son, Ayden, was sleeping inside the apartment, according to statements he made to police.

Humphrey then ran from the apartment, leaving Anderson behind with her body on fire and her son in his bedroom. After lying down for a period of time, he walked to a phone and called 9-1-1 to report the fire.

Additionally, Humphrey admitted that he knew Anderson was pregnant, but he did not want to have a family with her. He has been held without bail since July 2010, and on Wednesday, March 6 was sentenced to 50 years to life in prison.

 

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City Council replacement to be decided in special election today


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Pesach Osina

Decision day has arrived, and one of eight candidates for southeast Queens’ 31st District will sit upon the City Council.

The council hopefuls hit the ground running just over a month ago when James Sanders vacated his seat and moved to the Senate. The campaign stretch, although short, has been heated.

Michael Duncan, Marie Adam-Ovide, Saywalah Kesselly, Jacques Leandre, Selvena Brooks, Donovan Richards, Allan Jennings and Pesach Osina were put up against each other in several public forums, testing their knowledge of the district neighborhoods and their ideas for the future.

The Daily News reported that in a nonpartisan special election such as this one, political observers note that merely a few hundred votes could determine a winner.

Donovan Richards, Sanders’ former chief-of-staff, received the veteran pol’s support, as well as 18 union endorsements and support from 60 community leaders, according to his Facebook page. Additionally, his campaign war chest came in first, and raised nearly $130,000.

Residents in communities such as Springfield Gardens and Laurelton are concerned with area flooding, and hope their new councilmember can make progress in eliminating the issue. Many people also want to see improvement in the school system and a decrease in home foreclosures.

Photo courtesy of Selvena Brooks 

 

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Man dies in Rockaway Boulevard hit and run


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A 65-year-old Queens man died early Friday when a car struck him on Rockaway Boulevard and fled the scene, said police.

Carlos Carlo was crossing the intersection of Rockaway Boulevard and 137th around 12:30 a.m. when a dark colored sedan traveling northbound on Rockaway Boulevard hit him.

Carlo was taken to Jamaica Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The investigation is ongoing.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Friday: Partly cloudy. High of 46. Winds from the WSW at 5 to 10 mph. Friday night: Mostly cloudy with a chance of snow and a chance of rain after midnight. Low of 34. Winds from the NW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of snow 40%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Emilio Solla + Bien Sur

At Flushing Town Hall renowned Argentine pianist Emilio Solla presents tunes from his celebrated album Bien Sur! and new compositions with his New York quintet, featuring Chris Cheek (soprano/tenor), Victor Prieto (accordion), Jorge Roeder (bass) and Ziv Ravitz, (drums and cajon). Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Rabbi busted after setting up Queens date for sex with a ’14-year-old girl’ online

A Brooklyn rabbi and travel guide exchanged sexually explicit online messages with an undercover cop he thought was a 14-year-old girl, then set up a date with her in Queens, prosecutors charged Thursday. Read more: New York Daily News

Bloomberg gives final State of the City address at Barclays Center

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Sen. Charles Schumer seeks aid for Sandy-damaged co-op and condos

New York’s senior senator is trying to ensure that storm-damaged co-ops and condos receive their fair share of the $60 billion Sandy relief package. Read more: New York Daily News

Local man recounts cruise ship horror as crippled vessel docks in Alabama

A cruise ship disabled for five nightmarish days in the Gulf finally docked with more than 4,000 people aboard late Thursday, passengers raucously cheering the end to an ocean odyssey they say was marked by overflowing toilets, food shortages and foul odors. Read more: CBS New York

Republicans block vote on Obama’s defense nominee, Hagel

Republican lawmakers succeeded on Thursday in delaying a Senate vote on confirming President Barack Obama’s choice of Chuck Hagel as defense secretary, but another vote was planned for later in the month and Obama said he expected his nominee to be approved. Read more: Reuters

Russian meteor causes blast; hundreds injured

A meteor streaked through the skies above Russia’s Urals region Friday morning, before exploding with a flash and boom that shattered glass in buildings and left hundreds of people hurt. Read more: CNN

Queens gang members sentenced to 50 years for shooting death of 13-year-old


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

After killing a 13-year-old boy and injuring another innocent bystander during a rival street gang shooting in Queens, two Crips members have each been sentenced to 50 years in prison, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown announced.

“Without the slightest regard for human life, the defendants recklessly turned the streets of Queens County into a deadly battleground that claimed the life of an innocent young student walking home from school and wounded a second hard-working teenager, said Brown. “The lengthy prison sentence imposed today is more than justified and sends a strong message to others who might think of resorting to gunfire to settle disputes.”

Gregory Calas, 21, of St. Albans, and Nnonso Ekwegbalu, 19, of Springfield Gardens, were convicted last November of first-degree manslaughter for the death of Kevin Miller.

According to the district attorney, on the afternoon of October 2, 2009, Miller was killed when a bullet struck him during a shootout between members of the Bloods and Crips. Pedro Garcia, 17, who was working at a corner car wash, was also shot in the leg. Both teens were not involved in the altercation or members of the gangs.

Police search for suspects in 15 Queens armed robberies


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

The NYPD is looking for two men wanted in a string of commercial gunpoint robberies around Queens.

During each incident, the suspects, wearing masks and displaying firearms, entered the location and removed cash and property, said police. No one was injured during any of the robberies.

The first incident occurred on November 29 at a Gulf gas station at 131-07 Farmers Boulevard in Jamaica, and the most recent one was on Sunday, at the Hillside Mobile Gas Station on 165-01 Hillside Avenue, also in Jamaica.

All of the robberies occurred in the late afternoon to early evening and, in addition to Jamaica, took place in Hollis, Flushing, Woodside and Springfield Gardens.

The suspects are described as black or Hispanic males. Suspect one was  wearing dark clothing, glasses, a Yankees baseball hat and a partial mask. Suspect two was wearing a black leather jacket, dark clothing, a black face mask and a black skull cap.

Authorities are also trying to identify an individual wanted for questioning in regards to the use of a credit card reported stolen during one of the robberies.

That incident took place on Tuesday, January 15, at around 6:30 p.m., at the Great Big Supermarket on 222-16 144th Avenue in Springfield Gardens.

Anyone with information in regards to these incidents is asked to call Crime stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).  The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

 


A video of suspect one.

 

A video of suspect two.

This suspect is wanted for questioning in regards to the use of a credit card reported stolen during one of the robberies at the Great Big Supermarket on 222-16 144th Avenue on January 15.

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Candidates vie for Sanders’ City Council seat in special election


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Candidates 15th district

A vacant seat has been left in the 31st Council District by James Sanders’ ascent to the State Senate, and more than one candidate hopes to slide into the spot.

A special election is set to be held on February 19 for the coveted Council seat, covering parts of Springfield Gardens, Laurelton and Rosedale. The race has attracted several different candidates thus far, many of whom have hit the campaign trail running.

Sanders’ former chief-of-staff, Donovan Richards, is considered the front runner, according to multiple media reports. Richards has received endorsements from not only his former boss, but also from the City Council’s Progressive Caucus and the Working Families Party. He worked in the City Council for ten years under Sanders (pictured right), and is now looking to acquire his own seat.

In order to be eligible to run, all candidates must file with the Board of Elections (BOE) by January 15.

Valerie Vazquez, a BOE spokesperson, said that as of press time, Allan Jennings, a former City Councilmember, and Selvena Brooks, who has worked in the State Senate, have filed to run.

Brooks filed her candidacy under the party name “Rebuild Now,” referencing not only rebuilding post-Sandy, but also rebuilding the education system, local economy and neighborhoods.

Marie Adam-Ovide, the district manager of Community Board 8, has been expected to announce her candidacy, as is Earnest Flowers, former chief-of-staff of Assemblymember William Scarborough. Flowers boasts a reputation of making his promises a reality, and having “quantifiable work.”

“The reason why we don’t get a lot of things done is because no one puts anything down on paper, so no one can be held accountable,” said Flowers. “Everything I do is transparent.”

Flowers recently held a fundraising event for his campaign in his home, where he spoke to a crowd of roughly 60 about his passion for the community.

Many others are rumored to join the race, and will face each other on Thursday, February 7 at the 31st District Candidates’ Night. Members of the community will join the candidates in Laurelton at St. Luke’s

Cathedral where they will be given the opportunity to ask the Council hopefuls questions regarding their positions.

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Flood relief may be on way for Springfield Gardens


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Officials are hoping that relief is on the way for Springfield Gardens residents, who have long suffered from the deluge of downpours.

On Tuesday, October 16, city and local officials broke ground on the fourth phase of a project to upgrade sewer and water infrastructure in the southeast Queens community.

“For years, heavy rain in Springfield Gardens meant flooded roads, damaged homes and thousands of dollars in repairs for residents,” said City Councilmember James Sanders, an advocate for the project. “With this … neighborhood upgrade under way, relief is coming soon for Springfield homeowners who have been under assault from Mother Nature for far too long.”

This most recent installment of repairs, totaling $69 million and funded by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Department of Transportation (DOT), is part of a larger $175 million project dedicated to improving Springfield Gardens storm management.

In this phase, the area bounded by South Conduit Avenue to the north; 149th Avenue to the south; 145th Road/146th Avenue/225th Street on the east; and Springfield Boulevard to the west will receive roughly 2.8 miles of new sewer lines, nearly 3 miles of water mains, and 84 catch basins, along with new streets and sidewalks.

“Low-lying streets in Springfield Gardens will get a lift with completely reconstructed streets and sidewalks, addressing the area’s flooding and making the neighborhood greener and more inviting,” said DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.

Residents are overall pleased with the work being done.

Elizabeth Simms, who lives nearby in an area that was part of an earlier phase, has seen a significant improvement in flooding around her home.

“New drains, new sewers, remaking the street has worked great. Before it was a problem, but now everything goes right down and the street is clean,” she said.

Also part of the project is the creation of a Bluebelt, a wetland that both stores and treats water runoff. This will allow stormwater to be collected in the new catch basins, and discharged into wetland systems where the water will be naturally filtered. The wetlands will store the water, allow any solids or debris to settle and excess nutrients to be absorbed by vegetation. The filtered water will then be discharged into the nearby Springfield Lake and existing streams into Jamaica Bay.

Dredging for the project is set to begin in the spring, and will be managed by the City’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC). Completion is estimated for 2014.

 

Four schools in Queens on the chopping block


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

schools

Four Queens schools are on the chopping block after receiving poor marks on the Department of Education’s (DOE) progress reports.

The four — I.S. 59, J.H.S 8, P.S. 140 and P.S./M.S. 156 — are from a list of roughly 40 borough schools that received low grades. Their fate was finalized after the department reviewed grades; past performance; quality reviews; plans already underway to improve the school; leadership performance and district and community needs. The four are part of a group of 36 schools citywide.

“We have begun conversations with 36 schools that we have identified as struggling. These are difficult conversations, but it’s important to have this dialogue and hold our schools to the highest of standards,” said DOE Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg. “The goal of these discussions is to gain a better understanding of what’s happening at these schools and give them the opportunity to talk about the challenges they face, the strategies and interventions already underway, and what strategies or interventions will be most meaningful to the school as they move forward.”

Conversations between the struggling schools and the DOE will continue, and within the coming weeks will be set for closure, or given a chance at redemption.

State Senator Shirley Huntley pleads not guilty to conspiracy and tampering charges


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

21763_news02-348x405

State Senator Shirley Huntley pleaded not guilty to three charges relating to a Long Island nonprofit after turning herself in this morning.

The southeast Queens politician helped cover up nearly $30,000 in public funds steered from Parent Workshop, Inc. to the senator’s aide, Patricia Savage, and to the senator’s niece, Lynn Smith, according to the indictment.

The nonprofit was provided with funds with the promise of providing programs for parents on the workings of the New York City public school system.  Savage and Smith were indicted in December.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said that when Huntley learned of the probe into her niece and aide, she penned a false backdated letter stating the nonprofit conducted workshops that never took place.

Huntley is charged with the tampering with physical evidence and falsifying business records in the first degree, and conspiracy in the fifth degree, a misdemeanor.

“Falsifying documents, conspiracy and deliberately tampering with an open investigation are serious crimes. The individuals who schemed to profit at the taxpayers’ expense and cover it up will be held accountable,” said Schneiderman.

If found guilty, Huntley would be removed from office, under the New York State Public Officers Law.

The two-time incumbent faces a fiercely contested primary in less than three weeks against Councilmember James Sanders and Gian Jones.

 

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Tuesday: Overcast in the morning, then mostly cloudy. High of 81. Winds from the NW at 5 to 10 mph. Tuesday night: Mostly cloudy in the evening, then partly cloudy. Low of 68. Winds less than 5 mph. Chance of rain 20%.

EVENT of the DAY: “The Adventures of Tintin”

Come to the Little Bay Park outdoor amphitheater for a free family movie overlooking the Long Island Sound. Tonight’s feature is “The Adventures of Tintin,”based on the beloved series of children’s books. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

City to begin $70 million plan to alleviate flooding in Springfield Gardens

A basement water pump is a necessity for many residents in Springfield Gardens and other deluge-prone areas of southeastern Queens. Read more: New York Daily News

Authorities offer $45K reward for alleged gunman who shot policeman

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B’klyn man loading cement onto truck struck and killed by school bus

A beloved married father and grandfather from Brooklyn was killed early today when he was struck and killed by a school bus carrying mentally disabled children in Queens, cops and witnesses said. Read more: New York Post

Majority in city see police as favoring whites, poll finds

A significant majority of New Yorkers say the Police Department favors whites over blacks, according to a new poll by The New York Times. Read more: New York Times

Mayor: City budget hole from stalled taxi program could result in layoffs

Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to expand taxi service to all five boroughs would not just have been a boon for riders. It also would have put an extra $1.4 billion in the city’s coffers. Read more: NY1

10 MTA workers charged for alleged false reports

Prosecutors charged 10 Metropolitan Transit Authority employees with falsifying reports to suggest they had completed or supervised safety inspections in the New York subway system, District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said Monday. Read more: Wall Street Journal

More West Nile spraying this week; 2 confirmed cases in Queens


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of James Gathany/CDC

With two confirmed cases of West Nile virus in Queens, the borough will receive another round of pesticide spraying this week to help control increasing mosquito populations.

Parts of eight Queens neighborhoods will have pesticide applied from trucks beginning Tuesday, August 21 at 8 p.m. and lasting through 6 a.m. the next morning, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said.

This is the seventh West Nile spraying in Queens this summer. Seventy pools of standing water have tested positive for the virus in addition to the two confirmed human cases in the borough.

This year has seen the most West Nile cases throughout the country through the first two weeks of August since the disease was first detected in the United States, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Parts of Arverne, Bayswater, Edgemere, Far Rockaway, Somerville, Cambria Heights, Saint Albans, Springfield Gardens, Baisley Pond Park and Roy Wilkens Park will be sprayed.

The pesticide being used, Anvil 10 + 10, poses no health risks when used properly, but the Health Department recommends that people take the following precautions to minimize direct exposure:

• Whenever possible, stay indoors during spraying. People with asthma or other respiratory conditions are encouraged to stay inside during spraying since direct exposure could worsen these conditions.

• Air conditioners may remain on, however, if you wish to reduce the possibility of indoor exposure to pesticides, set the air conditioner vent to the closed position, or choose the re-circulate function.

• Remove children’s toys, outdoor equipment and clothes from outdoor areas during spraying. If outdoor equipment and toys are exposed to pesticides, wash them with soap and water before using again.

• Wash skin and clothing exposed to pesticides with soap and water. Always wash your produce thoroughly with water before cooking or eating.

 

Neighbors knew nothing of Springfield Gardens kidnapping


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

People living on 181st Street in Springfield Gardens said the residents of the home where a man was held hostage in a garage last week kept to themselves and never really raised any eyebrows.

Hakeem Clark, 30, and Jason Hutson, 27, were arrested on Friday, July 27 at the home of NYPD veteran Ondre Johnson and charged with kidnapping and weapons possession after holding the 25-year-old victim in the garage next to the house. The two called the hostage’s family, it was reported, and demanded $75,000 for his release.

Clark, Johnson’s cousin, lived in an apartment in the house. Johnson, a 17-year NYPD veteran, is currently suspended from duty as the investigation is ongoing, police said.

One man, who declined to give his name, said he noticed a lot of activity outside of the house on Friday and was curious why police lines were set up, but chose not to ask questions.

“I don’t really get involved,” the man said as he was leaving his home.

The neighbor said there was never anything out of the ordinary in the home, where Johnson is listed as having lived since 2004 — and something like the kidnapping was rare in what he said was a relatively quiet neighborhood.

No one answered at Johnson’s home on Tuesday, July 31, but a maroon SUV was parked in the driveway, though it could not be confirmed who the car belonged to.