Tag Archives: State Senator Joseph Addabbo

New travel plaza opens at JFK


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

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Weary drivers looking for a break can now zip over to John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and rest at the city’s only travel plaza.

Airport Plazas, a company that builds rest areas, held a grand opening on Thursday of its $13 million rest spot on the outskirts of JFK on 150th Avenue.

The retail lot has a Sunoco gas station, a Wendy’s, Qdoba Mexican Grill, 7-Eleven, a pizzeria, restrooms, a car wash and a dry cleaner, and Airport Plazas is looking to add a bank. There is also a food court with Wi-Fi and a screen with current flight information.

“JFK did not have a main street,” said George Abi Zeid, president and CEO of Airport Plazas. “This plaza is a main street for JFK. A place where you could stop, meet people, have a fresh cup of coffee… fuel your car, sit and relax, and you could use the facilities and use the restroom, which is one of the cleanest restrooms you’ll ever see in a travel plaza.”

Besides being a rest area, the travel plaza also offers four different fuel selections, including Diesel, E85, natural gas and Tesla Motors’ electric car charges. There are also many many parking spaces available.

The rest area is also expected to bring an economic boost to the neighborhood. The retail area will employ about 90 people, mostly from nearby neighborhoods, and bring an estimated economic impact of $40 to $50 million to the community, Abi Zeid said.

“The Port Authority needs every applause they could get these days,” State Senator Joe Addabbo said. “This is what it’s all about in these tough economic times as we look to go a little forward we look for ways in which we could increase jobs, protect our environment and hopefully again protect our economy.”

 

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New state certificate to recognize NY Cold War veterans


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Cold War veterans throughout New York are eligible for a new special honor thanks to State Senator Joseph Addabbo.

The New York State Cold War Certificate, created for those who served in all branches of military during the 46-year standoff between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, is available to any New York resident who served in the military and was honorably discharged between the end of WWII on Sept. 2, 1945 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union on Dec. 26, 1991.

“The Cold War was an edgy time for Americans, and those in the armed forces were the ones charged with protecting us and protecting the country,” Addabbo, the Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans Committee said. “This recognition will further validate their hard work, bravery and selflessness.”

The certificate states: “In recognition of your service during the period of the Cold War, 2 September 1945 – 26 December 1991, in protecting peace and stability for this Nation, the people of the state of New York are forever grateful.”

Applicants can obtain the certificate directly from the New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs or Addabbo stated constituents can contact any of his three district offices for assistance.

For more information on how to apply for the certificate, veterans can contact Senator Addabbo, visit the New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs awards website here or call 518-591-5296.

 

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Resorts World closes buffet, lets go of more than 100 employees


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Resorts World Casino shut the doors to its Aqueduct Buffet on Monday, and in turn on about 175 employees.

“I thought it was a drastic move, certainly one that could be reconsidered down the line,” said State Senator Joseph Addabbo.

The buffet closed on Jan. 6 after “trying to make it work for two years, and just couldn’t,” said a spokesperson for the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council (HTC).

“We have made the difficult decision to close the Aqueduct Buffet, which never caught on with our customers and has consistently lost money,” said Ed Farrell, Resorts World president. “We sincerely regret the impact this closure has on the buffet’s employees and are working closely with the HTC to ease this transition.”

The HTC is in contract with Resorts World and has begun helping the laid-off employees find new work.

In the interim, the buffet workers will receive up to five weeks severance pay, depending on how long they were employed at the casino and what job they did. They will also get 120 days of extended family medical coverage and preferential hiring in other Resorts World departments, according to the spokesperson.

The employees did not receive notice the buffet was closing, but the spokesperson said the “federal WARN notice,” the worker adjustment and retraining notification act, does not apply in this situation. The buffet had to have more than a third of Resorts World employees to receive forewarning.

The HTC will be meeting with the laid-off workers in groups and individually if needed, and Addabbo said he will be meeting with both the HTC and Farrell.

The state senator said if he had known the buffet were suffering, he would have liked to look at alternatives to closing it entirely.

“We see Resorts World as a job generator,” he said. “It has great potential. If it’s going to reach that maximum potential in creating jobs, this is not the way to go.”

 

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West Hamilton Beach fire crew gets new ambulances to replace ones lost during Sandy


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Over a year after Sandy, two shiny new ambulances pulled up to the West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department to replace the ones the storm took away.

“Things like this bring back a positive morale,” said State Senator Joseph Addabbo, who got a ride in one of the new rigs after they were delivered on Thursday.

“Anything we can do to get back to the point of how we were before Sandy, or better than we were before Sandy,” he said.

Before the superstorm, the crew moved one ambulance from the beach town, which is below sea level, to “higher ground” at the Rockwood Park Jewish Center on 84th Street. It survived, but sustained some damage. The other truck was unsalvageable.

After the floods ravaged West Hamilton Beach, the roughly 45-man department received ambulance donations from Long Island and has since been operating status-quo with two ambulances.

But now, more safety and security has been delivered with the brand new rigs, upping West Hamilton Beach’s ambulance count to four.

“This will be a help to the community like everything else,” said Jonah Cohen, the department’s fire chief.

Now, the emergency crew can work without worrying about a vehicle breaking down, Cohen said.

“They’re first responders who are in a unique, isolated area,” Addabbo said. “When there’s any kind of emergency, severe storm, everyone looks to them. I’m speechless by the work they do here.”

The fire department needs two ambulances to operate efficiently. They will primarily use the new vehicles, keep one for back-up and donate the last to another volunteer fire department.

“To get two rigs that could help in a life-endangering situation, this is a life-changer,” Addabbo said.

 

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Howard Beach holds first meeting on $18M rebuilding grant


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

The first public meeting in Howard Beach for the state’s reconstruction plan was held at P.S. 146 on October 21.

Residents learned about the state’s NY Rising Community Reconstruction program, which is a plan that provides funds for rebuilding and revitalization of more than 100 communities that were severely damaged by Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.

The reconstruction program allows the neighborhoods to decide how funds should be spent in their communities, so the first meeting focused on identifying community needs and resources where residents would like to see the money invested.

Howard Beach was designated $18.3 million from the program.

“What I love about this program is that it’s not the governor telling residents what they are going to get,” said State Senator Joseph Addabbo. “It’s from the bottom up.

The residents are telling the governor how they would like to see that $18 million spent.”

Community resources are broken into categories, such as economic, housing, infrastructure, natural and cultural, and health and social. Each category contains a corresponding list of places in the community. Residents had the opportunity to add to more places to the lists at the meeting.

In the “necessities” section, people said they would like the community to invest in solar panels, gasoline on hand for generators, a central storm hub, and strengthening churches and high ground shelters, among others.

The Howard Beach NY Rising planning committee, which is made up of residents from the neighborhood, will take the feedback from the meeting to review. There will be three more public meetings to discuss the reconstruction plan, before a final plan is drafted and submitted.

The next public meeting will be on November 18 at P.S. 207. For more information about the program residents should visit stormrecovery.ny.gov.

 

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Speed board installed near Lindenwood’s P.S. 232


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Office of Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder

Speeders take note and slow down.

A new mobile speed board has been installed across the street from P.S. 232 in Lindenwood, right outside the bustling Lindenwood Shopping Center on 153rd Avenue.

“The Department of Transportation (DOT) has finally responded to our concerns,” said Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder, who requested a “traffic calming device” be brought into the area.

School officials, parents and community members have been asking and fighting for safer streets around the elementary school for years. Administration and faculty members frequently escort students across the busy intersection at 153rd Avenue and 83rd Street.

In September, State Senator Joseph Addabbo requested P.S. 232 receive speed cameras for a pilot program designed to nab speedy drivers around city schools.

Now, the DOT has stepped in and put up the temporary speed board, setting the speed limit at 25 miles per hour. The organization is still completing a study that will determine whether speed bumps are needed in the area. DOT’s School Safety Unit has also committed to coordinate with the school’s parents and students to identify other solutions.

Goldfeder said the speed board will “deter drivers from using this stretch of road as a personal speedway.”

“This is the first step in the right direction, but we must remain vigilant to protect our children and community,” he said.

 

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Pol honors Queens veterans


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Office of State Senator Joseph Addabbo

Area veterans were honored during State Senator Joseph Addabbo’s fifth annual Veterans Barbecue on Saturday, August 24.

Last year, Addabbo, the ranking Democrat member of the Senate’s Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs Committee, welcomed over 125 veterans and their families to the barbecue outside his Howard Beach district office. This year, the senator brought in and thanked over 70 veterans for their dedicated service.

“This is just our small way of saying, ‘Thank you for your service,’ not only to our local veterans, but also to their families,” Addabbo said. “All nobly served our country in years past, and of course, many are currently still doing so in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Addabbo and his staff reached out to various Queens chapters of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Catholic and Jewish War veterans and Vietnam veterans to be their special guests for the outdoor barbecue event.

“We should show our veterans that we appreciate their dedication and commitment not just on Veterans Day, but every day of the year,” Addabbo said.

 

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Push for speed cameras around Howard Beach schools


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Speeding drivers will be put to a stop if one south Queens pol has his way.

State Senator Joseph Addabbo is pushing for Howard Beach’s P.S. 232 and 207 to be considered for a pilot program designed to nab speedy drivers around schools.

A new state law went into effect on Saturday, August 31 that permits the city to establish a five-year demonstration pilot program to monitor school speed zones citywide and allows surveillance evidence to be used to impose liability for speeding.

Addabbo, who voted for the bill, said parents and school officials throughout his district have expressed concerns about speeding drivers traveling the streets in their school zones that see heavy traffic, but have inadequate traffic-calming measures.

“I know there are a number of schools in my district that face unsafe street conditions each school day. I am prepared to examine every school and every method available to ensure the safety of our schoolchildren,” he said.

P.S. 232 neighbors the bustling Lindenwood Shopping Center at 153rd Avenue and 83rd Street, and school staff wants to keep students safe around arrival and dismissal time. P.S. 207 parents similarly want to keep kids safe from the speeding drivers that zoom down its residential street.

The new law required Addabbo submit his requests to the Department of Transportation to get the two approved cameras. He also intends to work on crossing guard areas, pedestrian crosswalks, stop signs, traffic signals and speed bumps around school zones.

Through this legislation, the city can set up speed cameras in up to 20 school speed zones in each borough at any given time. Liability for violations would be imposed upon the vehicle’s owner and violations would be determined through the city Parking Violations Bureau.

The initial speed cameras installed in the borough will be rotated over time and locations may be determined based on state statistics on where crash ratings and posted speed limits versus speeds clocked were the highest.

 

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Howard Beach gets new senior housing location


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Howard Beach is home to a new senior housing location, providing more than 80 units of affordable housing for the elderly.

Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development and Management Corporation, a century-old organization, has various housing sites through Brooklyn and Queens and recently completed renovations at the Cross Bay Boulevard location, formerly the Fineson Center.

“The opening of the Catholic Charities’ senior housing residence is a huge victory for the Howard Beach community and all of the residents in Queens,” said Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder. “Our growing senior population can finally achieve the quality housing they deserve.”

All resident applications have already been accepted, and the applying period is closed, said a Catholic Charities official.

The Fineson Center, constructed as a private hospital in the 1960s, closed in the summer of 2009 to begin the conversion into a senior housing facility.

Catholic Charities additionally provides accommodations for the developmentally disabled, mentally ill and the isolated, according to its website. The official said this Howard Beach spot has additional units designated for people with disabilities.

Goldfeder said the new housing will also allow residents to keep “financial and economic independence” and remain “in their own backyard.”

“This building will finally provide a centralized location for our diverse senior community to meet under one roof,” he added.

The new facility, outside of housing units, will also have laundry facilities, resident lounges and offices. State Senator Joseph Addabbo also recently secured the return of a U.S. Mail collection box in front of the building.

There is not yet a set occupancy date for the new residents.

 

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87-year-old Ozone Park man waits half hour for ambulance


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

AmbulanceInMotionHC0507

A concerned community is responding to what they say is a “worrisome” and “life or death” situation.

Ralph Franzese, 87, was walking from his Ozone Park home to his car parked outside on 133rd Avenue last Tuesday, July 30. Despite having his walker for stability, Franzese fell backwards, cracking his head on the sidewalk. He then waited nearly a half hour for an ambulance, according to the FDNY.

A teen girl walking by saw the fall and ran to Franzese’s aid. Others nearby gathered around the senior and called 9-1-1.

While they waited for what was estimated to be 10 to 15 minutes, Frank Dardani, resident and president of the Ozone Tudor Civic, arrived on the scene and called for an ambulance a second time, he said.

The wait continued for roughly another 15 minutes, and an EMS team arrived, amounting to a wait time of 26 minutes.

“From my understanding, response time for emergencies is supposed to be four-and-a-half minutes. That’s out the window,” Dardani said. “What the real numbers are right now – that’s scary.”

The initial 9-1-1 call was made at 4:24 p.m. An ambulance arrived at 4:50 p.m., according to an FDNY spokesperson.

“Those had to be the longest [26] minutes,” said State Senator Joseph Addabbo, whose own home is just around the corner from Franzese’s. “Response time is life or death.”

During the wait, Dardani said Franzese was “very jittery” and did not want to sit still. The elderly man has a low-grade dementia, he said, and did not want to go to the hospital. Neighbors worked to keep him calm and still.

When the ambulance arrived, EMS workers emerged and said they came from Woodside, which ultimately caused the long wait.

“We get an ambulance from Woodside?” Addabbo said. “That makes no sense.”

Just a few blocks away, on 133rd Avenue near 95th Street, is the Lindenwood Community Volunteer Ambulance Corps. Franzese was near 87th Street. However, the group doesn’t receive 9-1-1 calls and did not pick anything up on its scanner.

The 9-1-1 response time was recently criticized in July after a teen fainted at City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s press conference and waited more than a half hour for an ambulance.

Franzese was eventually bandaged and brought to Jamaica Hospital. Dardani said he is “doing fine” and no problems were found aside from a head wound and swelling.

 

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East Coast Car Association keeps ‘cruising’


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Mike Bilski

For 12 years, the East Coast Car Association (ECCA) hosted an annual Cruise Night that showcased antique cars and raised funds for St. Mary’s Hospital for Children, all in a Forest Hills McDonald’s parking lot.

But this year, Mike Bilski of the ECCA was told McDonald’s could not host the Cruise Night because of corporate policies. With that, he and other members went looking around for a new venue.

“There we were, we had no Cruise Night,” he said. “We were trying all of the churches [but] nobody wanted us.”

Enter State Senator Joseph Addabbo. One night, Bilski was driving back from a friend’s house when he passed Resorts World Casino.

“I thought to myself, ‘[that lot] is empty,’ he said.

Bilski and the ECCA crew were referred to Addabbo, who met with Resorts World and worked out a deal. Now, the casino holds the Cruise Night every Tuesday from 5 to 9 p.m. in its VIP parking lot.

“For years, that association and its members have not only displayed some of the most beautiful cars of past generations, but they have also made substantial contributions to the community, especially the younger residents,” Addabbo said.

Bilski said the casino also donates to St. Mary’s, which was happy to see the ECCA’s nonprofit endeavors continue.

Since the VIP lot is larger than the ECCA’s previous home in Forest Hills, the Cruise Night can now accommodate more vehicles. The events have featured as many as 100 custom and antique cars and 50 motorcycles along with pick-up trucks and antique bicycles.

“We’re able to raise more money, and we’re getting a very diverse crowd and a very diverse range of cars,” Bilski said. “It’s not just antique cars anymore. We’re getting a lot of imports, low-riders and tuner cars.”

Attendees must contribute a $3 donation to each Cruise Night. The event will go on every Tuesday through November at Resorts World.

On Sunday, August 4 they will host an additional Cruise Night at Maspeth Federal and another the following day at Atlas Park.

 

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Attorney general investigating Sandy charity money


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Sandy relief money is reportedly being kept under lock and key.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman released a preliminary report on Wednesday, July 17 detailing how charities have spent more than half a billion dollars of Sandy donations. At least $238 million of the more than $575 million had not been spent as of April of this year, according to the report.

“All one needs to do is look around Breezy Point to realize what a travesty [this] is,” said Arthur Lighthall, president of the Breezy Point Cooperative.

Councilmember Eric Ulrich echoed Lighthall, saying “sitting on this money while so many people are still in need is an insult.”

The report also asks whether some of the funds reportedly spent on Sandy were actually used for non-storm-related purposes.

“We have a responsibility to the people who donated their hard-earned money to help our community rebuild to make sure that the contributions they made were used as advertised,” Schneiderman said.

The Attorney General’s Charities Bureau, which regulates all state charities, reviewed the Sandy contributions and found that 58 percent of donations had gone to storm relief efforts; 17 organizations reported potentially using funds for non-Sandy purposes such as preventing future disasters; and responding organizations granted half of the $336 million they had received to other organizations.

“This funding is urgently needed and we cannot accept that charitable donations are not being spent as intended,” Ulrich said.

Schneiderman’s Charities Bureau is heightening its review of Sandy fundraising and seeking more detailed answers from the responding charities, including a clearer account of how money has been spent and plans for remaining funds.

“My constituents are not assisted by monies collected for victims of Sandy that are not distributed,” said State Senator Joseph Addabbo. “These funds are useless unless given to those who [are] truly in need.”

 

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MLB to donate $250K to Boys and Girls Club of Metro Queens


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Major League Baseball stepped up to the plate for south Queens.

The league announced it will donate $250,000 to build an all-star teen center in the new wing of the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Queens as part of its $5 million legacy project.

The Boys & Girls Club is currently undergoing an $11.5 million capital project transformation, with the first phase the completion of the left wing.

In a topping off ceremony on Friday, July 12, public officials, Mets and MLB administrators and Boys and Girls Club members signed a white beam that was hoisted and inserted on top of the new wing, which is currently scheduled to be finished in December.

“The club has served more than 500,000 children in its 57-year existence,” said Borough President Helen Marshall, who was able to contribute nearly half of the money needed for the renovations. “I am thrilled that this new building will become a second home to thousands of additional children in the surrounding neighborhoods.”

The teen center will be a 3,000-square-foot space decorated in Mets orange and blue. It will include a technology lab, a college lab, classroom space, a lounge and a viewing balcony overlooking the new gymnasium. The center will serve high school students in Richmond Hill, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Glendale, Howard Beach and Jamaica.

“While other clubs have gone extinct, this boys and girls club has become a beacon of hope,” said State Senator Joseph Addabbo.

The Boys and Girls Club was one of many projects in Queens and New York City chosen by the Mets and MLB as part of their legacy programs.

“The Mets and baseball targeted programs that provide great service for New York City, that have worked successfully in the past with both the Mets and Major League Baseball and that are best suited to create lasting benefits and to make a real difference in the lives of deserving New Yorkers,” said David Cohen, executive vice president of the Mets.

After the new wing is erected, the club will begin phase two of the transformation and renovate the old wing. Phase two is slated to begin in April of next year, according to Carol Simon, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club.

“It’s a dream come true,” said Joseph Ferrara, chairman emeritus, who has been a part of the club for nearly 45 years. “I always envisioned that I would rebuild this club better.”

 

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State gaming agreement leaves Queens out of casino deal


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

File photo

Governor Andrew Cuomo and state legislators have come to an agreement on a gaming deal that would effectively put four casinos upstate and leave Queens without one for now.

There is a seven-year hold on increasing the number of New York casinos, according to Cuomo’s office. After that, the entire state is up for grabs pending new legislation.

This leaves Resorts World Casino New York City out of the running to become a Las Vegas-style casino with full table games, as some Queens officials had hoped.

State Senator Joseph Addabbo, whose district includes the Racino and Aqueduct, said on Wednesday, June 19 that he was still reviewing the bill before it enters the Senate and Assembly for votes. His top concern, he said, was how it would affect his district.

“I’m still going through it because I need to look at the whole bill in its entirety,” he said. “My first priority is my district.”

He added that constituents might not necessarily venture upstate for gaming, but could cross the border to Connecticut or New Jersey instead.

“If they’re going to just have some entertainment, they’re basically going to stay local,” he said.
Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder also opposed Cuomo’s original plan, which barred downstate casinos. He said he is still reviewing the bill and is hopeful Resorts World could become a full casino.

“I’m still going through the bill to determine the rest of the merit, if it’s something I can vote for,” he said. “New York City is in the running in the seven years. They’re on an equal footing as everyone else in seven years.”

Along with colleagues and business leaders, Addabbo and Goldfeder argued that if the referendum passes, Resorts World could be a fully operational casino as soon as January. They said an expanded wagering facility would have led to 1,000 jobs along with stimulating the economy in the area.

Cuomo has pushed for upstate casinos, which are expected to boost tourism, since his State of the State address earlier this year. Throughout negotiations, his goal was to make sure full casinos come to upstate New York first.

“Today’s agreement with the Legislature would establish world-class destination gaming resorts to attract tourists to Upstate New York, generating economic activity for local businesses and creating thousands of good paying jobs where we need it most,” Cuomo said in a statement.

Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs) similar to those at Resorts World will also expand in the state. Nassau and Suffolk Counties are possible sites. According to the governor’s office, the number of VLTs could increase if the November referendum cannot pass in order to make up for revenue expected from full casinos.

 

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Parents, officials call for crosswalk outside Lindenwood school


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

As students poured out of school, a crowd gathered on the corner of 153rd Avenue and 83rd Street in Lindenwood.

Passing through were parents and guardians, sometimes holding the hands of several children as they tried to cross 153rd Avenue toward the Lindenwood Shopping Center. The crossing guard shuttled people across 83rd Street, but could not stop traffic because there is no crosswalk.

Parents, teachers and community leaders rallied outside P.S. 232 on Friday, June 14. They urged the Department of Transportation (DOT) to install a crosswalk across 153rd Avenue at the corner of the school.

State Senator Joseph Addabbo, whose daughters are students there, hosted the rally.

He said the goal was to first get a crosswalk, and then get proper signs to make the intersection a little safer. He added he has also spoken to the 106th Precinct’s commanding officer, Deputy Inspector Thomas Pascale, who said a crosswalk there would increase safety

“I did have a conversation with Inspector Pascale,” Addabbo said. “He said he’s in favor of a crosswalk if they ask [...] He would want one here to allow his crossing guard to cross people.”

Community Board 10 would support a crosswalk plan if DOT were to come up with one for the street, Board chair Elizabeth Braton said.

“If DOT indicates that it’s safe from their standpoint of traffic engineering,” she said, “I don’t see any reason why the board would not support it.”

“We don’t feel safe without that crosswalk there,” said parent Lisa Neumann. “Hopefully, they’ll get our message.”
Stefanie Calise, whose son attends nearby P.S. 146 and gets dropped off at the intersection, said she nearly got hit by a car last week trying to cross the street.

Children “can’t cross that by themselves,” she said.

However, a DOT spokesperson said the intersection does not meet the criteria for a crosswalk under federal guidelines. Officials are looking into other ways to ease traffic at the intersection, the spokesperson said.

The most recent data DOT has to go by are from 2007 to 2011, when there were no injuries at the intersection.

Addabbo addressed the statistics at the rally and called for a more aggressive approach.

“Far too often, our city reacts to a bad situation,” he said. “They’ll give us statistics about not enough accidents here, not enough fatalities here. What we’re asking: let’s not be reactive, let’s be pro-active. Let’s prevent an accident.”

 

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