Tag Archives: Vernon Boulevard

Enjoy LIC Springs! and get Mother’s Day gifts at the LIC Flea


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via Instagram/@licflea

As you make your way to the LIC Flea & Food this weekend to pick out something out for mom, make sure to get your groove on at the LIC Springs! block festival.

The LIC Partnership will host its second annual LIC Springs! free community block festival this Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. on Vernon Boulevard between 50th and 46th avenues.

Throughout the day there will be live music, dance and theater performances, art and sculpture making, fitness classes, outdoor dining, sport games and much more open to all ages.

When you are done checking out the block party, make your way to the popular LIC Flea & Food, located just blocks away at the waterfront outdoor lot at the corner of Fifth Street and 46th Avenue.

Visitors can find that special gift just in time for Mother’s Day, whether it be unique soaps and candles, one-of-a-kind handcrafted or vintage jewelry and clothes, sweets and more.

Along with over 80 vendors each day, the LIC Flea also has a beer garden, exclusively serving beers brewed in Queens from local breweries including Rockaway Brewery, Queens Brewery, Finback Brewery and SingleCut Beersmiths. The bar will also offer a great selection of wines.

LIC Flea & Food runs every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through the end of October.

For updates on the LIC Flea & Food market, follow on Facebook.com/LICFlea, Instagram.com/LICFlea and @LICFlea on Twitter.

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LIC Partnership offers a snapshot of Long Island City’s growth now and for the future


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Jessica Frankl

It’s no secret that real estate in Long Island City is booming.

Thousands of apartments have been built within the last decade and land prices have risen to historic highs. With the influx of residents, the retail side is witnessing growth and more offices are moving across the East River.

In front of hundreds of real estate industry members at the LIC Partnership’s ninth annual real estate breakfast on Wednesday, experts agreed that it’s a good time for the area as it blooms into one of New York’s most desirable neighborhoods, and that real estate activity is set to multiply.

“Today’s breakfast featured a very enthusiastic discussion among some of the area’s industry leaders on the growth and demand for real estate in Long Island City,” said David Brause, president of Brause Realty, who moderated the panel discussion at the event. “The general consensus is that it’s a great time to be in this market, and that the area will only continue to take off in the coming years.”

More than 8,600 residential units have been completed in LIC since 2006, and more than 22,500 units are in the planning or construction phase, according to a LIC Partnership analysis released simultaneously with the event.

Some additional growth may come by way of the Sunnyside Yards — a rail yard used by Amtrak, the MTA and New Jersey Transit — where Mayor Bill de Blasio hopes to develop 11,250 affordable housing units, schools, open spaces and community facilities. The city’s Economic Development Corporation will announce the company that will perform a yearlong feasibility study for that plan in the coming weeks.

If accomplished, the Sunnyside Yards plan could again expand LIC, but panelists at the event weren’t immediately on board with the ambitious idea, which has been pitched for decades by various figures.

“My attitude is every time everyone gets all these visions, I’m like you know what I don’t have time for this,” said panelist David Dishy, president of development and acquisition at L+M Development Partners.

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LIC Partnership President Elizabeth Lusskin addressing the crowd.

One thing that is clear is that more and more people want to buy homes and stay in LIC.  To meet the high demand for homes — and rising land values — developers are pushing to build more condos.

However, buying residential property in the neighborhood is also becoming a pricey endeavor. The average price for condominiums in the first three months of 2015 was $678,333 for a studio, $820,000 for a one-bedroom apartment, and $1.1 million for a two-bedroom unit, according to the LIC Partnership analysis.

The neighborhood has also emerged as a hotel destination for New York City. More than 20 hotels have opened in the area in seven years and 26 more are planned or currently under construction, the Partnership said.

The foot traffic increase in LIC has helped fill in vacant spaces on retail corridors, but for most it’s still hard to pinpoint the neighborhood’s Main Street.

“It’s hard to point it out, but I would say Vernon [Boulevard],” said Matthew Baron, president of Simon Baron Development. “There’s really no Main Street, but I think that’s okay.”

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LIC Arts Open to celebrate fifth year


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos by Junenoire Fonte

Long Island City is coming together next month to celebrate the art scene that grows every day throughout the western Queens neighborhood.

The LIC Arts Open — a five-day extravaganza where over 500 artists are expected to occupy galleries and other local spaces and open their studios to visitors — will celebrate its fifth year and hopes to work with real estate companies to help keep artists in the neighborhood.

“We’re really proud to have reached year five and I think that we did not really envision it when we first started,” said Richard Mazda, festival director. “We [started] something that even in the first year became much bigger than we thought it would.”

The festival, running from May 13 through 17, began as a two-day, open-studio event mainly showcasing visual artists. However, in its fifth year, the event now features works from visual artists, performers, musicians and so much more.

This year the festival will span 60 locations, and over 200 artists will open up their studios on Saturday, May 16, and Sunday, May 17, from noon to 6 p.m. to share their work with visitors. For the first time, there will be a preview of open studios located in the Court Square area on Friday, May 15, from 5 to 7 p.m.

Sculpture by Jack Howard-Potter at last year's LIC Arts Open.

Sculpture by Jack Howard-Potter at last year’s LIC Arts Open.

“The initial inspiration for the festival was because Queens has one of the largest concentrations of artists of any borough in New York and maybe it’s the largest concentration of artists in the country. It just hasn’t been talked about much,” Mazda said. “We have a lot of the major cultural institutions in Queens so the festival was sort of inspired by the idea that it was time to shine a light on the immense talent that is here.”

Mazda also added that there is some concern surrounding the real estate boom occurring in the neighborhood, but he plans to work with real estate property companies to “remind them that artists are a valuable component when marketing the area.”

A head sculpture made from trash bags by Beth Williams.

A head sculpture made from trash bags by Beth Williams.

The festival is working with companies such as Jamestown, which owns the Falchi Building located at 31-00 47th Ave., to showcase art shows during the LIC Arts Open.

The idea of the five-day event is also to take over buildings and spaces that are not traditional gallery locations, and create pop-up art galleries and art shows introducing the community to these industrial spaces.

Another highlight of the festival includes neighborhood nights out, where each night is dedicated to a specific area of Long Island City such as Vernon Boulevard/Jackson Avenue, Dutch Kills or Court Square.

A fundraiser will be held on May 5 at the home of LIC photographer Orestes Gonzalez. During the garden party, awards will be given to Harriet Taub, executive director of Material For the Arts, and sculptor Eliot Lable.

Map of participating venues for this year’s LIC Arts Open.

The LIC Arts Open will come to an end during a closing party at the Court Square Studios, located at 2138 44th Rd., on May 17 featuring a special concert version of the musical “Hair,” a silent auction of about 100 art pieces on 10-by-10 canvases, and performance from the Astoria band 2/3 Goat.

Every event throughout the festival is free and open to the public. For the latest updates visit licartsopen.org.

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Community feedback leads to permanent bus service expansion along Vernon Boulevard


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

As they say, ask and you shall receive. Due to an immense amount of support from community members, it will now be easier to access the western Queens waterfront.

The MTA announced on Friday that weekend and increased weeknight service on the Q103 route, which runs down Vernon Boulevard between Astoria and Long Island City, will be permanently added after a successful pilot program started last June.

The service additions made during the experimental program include extending weeknight hours from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., and adding service on Saturdays and Sundays from about 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

During a public hearing in December on the increased service, community support was unanimous, according to the MTA.

Local leaders and business owners saw the need to expand the Q103’s service as crucial to the growing neighborhoods, which have seen a rise in new residential developments and expanded cultural attractions.

Some of the cultural spots that the bus serves include the Noguchi Museum and Socrates Sculpture Park.

“I am thrilled the MTA heeded my call to make Q103 service expansion permanent. Western Queens has long needed better bus service, so it is gratifying that the MTA responded to our concerns,” state Senator Michael Gianaris said. “There is so much happening throughout western Queens that our need for better methods of traveling between our neighborhoods has never been more pressing. This service expansion represents a hard-fought victory, but I will never stop fighting for improved transit service in our community.”

The Q103 bus line also serves as the public’s only option to connect areas to subway stations such as the F line at 21 St–Queensbridge and the 7 line at Vernon Blvd–Jackson Av.

During the pilot program, ridership levels increased by 6.8 percent on weekdays compared to the five-month period before the trial, and by 30 percent compared to average weekday use in 2012, the MTA said. Currently weekday ridership is 1,100 customers, the average Saturday ridership is about 300, and on Sundays it is about 250.

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Man turns himself in following deadly Long Island City beating


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Scott Bintner/Property Shark

A man is in police custody after turning himself in for a fatal beating in Long Island City on Friday, authorities said.

Kaheem Addison, 29, of Huntington Station, Long Island, allegedly got into a dispute with Jose Antonio Cocuyo-Malaga, 32, about 2:30 a.m. at 50th Avenue and Vernon Boulevard, which turned violent.

Police found Cocuyo-Malaga unconscious and unresponsive with head trauma upon their arrival. He was taken to Bellevue Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Police would not confirm what caused the fight, but according to the New York Post, Cocuyo-Malaga, a married father and chef from Astoria, was attacked after he tried to catch a ride from what he thought was a livery cab.

Addison got out of the car and “rushed” Cocuyo-Malaga, the Post said, and, as they struggled, his head was slammed into the sidewalk. Addison then fled.

Witnesses then alerted police at the 108th Precinct, which is just around the corner on 50th Avenue, reports said.

Addison turned himself into the same precinct station house with his lawyer by his side on Saturday, according to police.

He has since been charged with manslaughter.

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Man beaten to death in Long Island City


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Scott Bintner/PropertyShark

Updated Saturday, Feb. 21, 11:21 p.m.

Police are investigating the murder of a 32-year-old man who was beaten to death just feet from the 108th Precinct in Long Island City early Friday morning.

Cops found the man, Jose Antonio Cocuyo-Malaga, on the corner of 50th Avenue and Vernon Boulevard at about 2:30 a.m., authorities said. He was unconscious and unresponsive, and had head trauma.

EMS took Cocuyo-Malaga to Bellevue Hospital, where he died.

According to published reports, Cocuyo-Malaga, a married father and chef from Astoria, was attacked during an argument after he tried to catch a ride from what he thought was a livery cab. Two men got out of the car and assaulted the victim before fleeing.

Witnesses then reportedly alerted police at the 108th Precinct, just down the street.

There have been no arrests.

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

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Identify this place in Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

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Do you know where in Queens this photo was taken? Guess by commenting below! The answer will be revealed next week.

Last week’s answer to “Identify this Place”: Vernon Boulevard 

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Private sanitation truck hits and kills bicyclist in LIC


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

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A private sanitation truck fatally struck a man as he was riding his bicycle in Long Island City Saturday night, police said.

The truck was traveling northbound on Vernon Boulevard about 7:15 p.m. when it made a right turn onto 41st Avenue and hit the bicyclist, police said.

EMS pronounced the bicyclist, 36-year-old Hoyt Jacobs, of Brooklyn, dead at the scene.

The driver remained at the site of the incident. The investigation is ongoing.

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New mixed-use LIC building at Vernon Boulevard partially revealed


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Construction work has already begun for a new mixed-use building at the corner of 50th Avenue and Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City, and now there’s a clearer picture of what the structure will look like.

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Blueprints of the forthcoming building at 49-18 Vernon Blvd. have been posted on the construction fence.

Based on its blueprints, the OAPD Architecture-designed building’s façade will be comprised of a glass and stone design, and there will be ground-floor retail at the property.

The new building will be a five-story, 15-unit residential structure, according to filings with the Department of Buildings. About 4,450 square feet has been set aside for the retail component in the building.

Photo courtesy of Scott Bintner/PropertyShark

49-18 Vernon Blvd. Photo courtesy of Scott Bintner/PropertyShark

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LIC loses some free Wi-Fi hotspots amid bankruptcy scandal


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

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Long Island City has lost some of its connection.

Spain-based Wi-Fi provider GOWEX, which was announced last year as one of the organizations that would help bring free Wi-Fi access throughout the city, has filed bankruptcy and had “dozens” of its hotspots go offline, according to the New York Post.

Some of the hotspots include areas in Long Island City, the Bronx and Staten Island, the Post said.

According to the Post, analysts at Gotham City Research posted in a July 1 report that GOWEX had lied about the size of its contract with the city’s Economic Development Corporation, claiming it had 100,00 hotspots throughout the world, when it actually had about 5,000.

Founder and CEO of GOWEX, Jenaro Garcia resigned after he admitted he inflated the revenues, according to the Chicago Tribune.

When it was announced last year, GOWEX was expected to help bring free Wi-Fi access to the Long Island City area with the network being installed along the Vernon Boulevard, Jackson Avenue and Queens Plaza commercial and retail corridors.

GOWEX had a contract with the EDC worth $245,000 and it has paid the company about $185,000 so far, according to published reports. The contract with GOWEX runs through September 2016.

 

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Burglary spree hits LIC restaurants


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Updated Friday, July 11, 1:05 p.m.

A burglary suspect has broken into five Long Island City restaurants and bars since June, getting away with cash and electronics, cops said.

The crime spree started on June 11 at Andre’s Pizza, located on 40th Avenue. The suspect took $20 from the restaurant’s cash register by breaking through the glass front door police said.

He then allegedly used the same method to break into Manducatis Rustica, on Vernon Boulevard during the early morning hours of June 22. The burglar stole two iPads, two iPad minis and $700 in cash, according to authorities.

The suspect also took a Galaxy 10 electronic tablet and $100 from Woodbines on Vernon Boulevard three days later, and $850 from on June 27 the Seattle Café, on Queens Boulevard, cops said.

During the latest incident, around 4:20 a.m. on July 4, the suspect attempted to burglarize the LIC Bar, on Vernon Boulevard, by entering through a window, but fled before he could take anything, according to police.

Jeff Blath, owner of Alobar, on Vernon Boulevard, believes the same suspect that tried to burglarize LIC Bar may have attempted to break into his restaurant just minutes earlier.

According to the establishment’s security footage and a porter who watches the eatery, around 3:50 a.m. a man, wearing similar clothing, used a glass bottle to hit Alobar’s door several times before stumbling backwards and walking away.

The man damaged the door and was caught on camera heading in the direction of LIC Bar, just two blocks down the street, Blath said.

He reported the incident to police, but said it isn’t considered an attempted burglary, just criminal mischief.

Blath, who opened Alobar three years ago and has lived in Long Island City for seven years, said the recent crime spree is a “very rare occurrence” in the area.

“I do know this neighborhood is becoming known for its restaurants and bars, and it may draw positive and negative attention,” he said.

 

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MTA to begin weekend bus trial expanding service along Vernon Boulevard


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

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Starting this weekend, residents and visitors will have better access to the western Queens waterfront.

The Q103 bus line, which connects Astoria and Long Island City via Vernon Boulevard, will offer service to riders on weekends, starting Sunday and operate later on weekday evenings, according to the MTA.

In April, the transit agency said the schedule update would serve as a trial program, and it would receive comments from the community at an MTA public hearing to be scheduled at a later date. After the public hearing, a decision will be made to keep the service or not. It has not been determined how long the trial program will run.

“This announcement is a milestone for all of us who fought for years to get proper bus service for the growing communities of Astoria and Long Island City,” said state Sen. Michael Gianaris, who has been calling for the extra service on the bus line since 2011. “I am thrilled the MTA is finally realizing western Queens’ need for increased mass transit is real and pressing.”

Gianaris is also urging the MTA to make the Q103 expansion changes permanent.

The weekend service will run from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and, in addition, the Q103 will also extend its weekday service hours until 9 p.m., instead of 7:30 p.m. The travel path and bus stops will not be affected, the MTA previously said.

“These enhancements were all a result of listening to our customers and keeping close watch on changing ridership trends,” said MTA NYC Transit President Carmen Bianco.

Local leaders and business owners see the need to expand the Q103’s service as crucial to the growing neighborhoods.

“It is a positive step in improving transportation options in our neighborhood,” Councilman Costa Constantinides said. “The Vernon Boulevard corridor has been one of the more under-served transit thoroughfares in western Queens. Increasing bus service would be a vital resource to commuters traveling to Manhattan and to residents connecting from Astoria to Long Island City.”

According to officials, the Q103 ridership has been increasing in the past years, rising from 558 riders per day in 2011 to about 790 in 2014.

The MTA has also announced that this Sunday the Q19 will extend its western last stop from Astoria Boulevard and 21st Street to the East River waterfront at 27th Avenue and 2nd Street.

The Q102 will then also remain on 30th Avenue between Crescent Street and 8th Street, according to the MTA, with the stops on Crescent Street, Newtown Avenue and Astoria Boulevard to be relocated to 30th Avenue. All bus stops along Astoria Boulevard will instead be served by the Q19.

For more information visit www.mta.info.

 

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Library services coming to Gantry Plaza State Park this summer


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ File Photo

Book lovers will be able to enjoy reading at Gantry Plaza State Park this summer.

Queens Library and the Friends of Hunters Point Library have announced a special series of library services coming to the waterfront Long Island City park all summer long.

On May 31, a kick-off of the series will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 pm. and will feature the Volunteer Library Brigade hosting reading hour, book giveaways and more. All activities are free.

“The Hunters Point community deserves a world class library and we are very much looking forward to seeing that vision become a reality,” said Mark Christie, president of the Friends of Hunters Point Library. “While we wait on the bricks and mortar we are so pleased to have the Mobile Library service and excited to bring this sun and volunteer fueled pop-up library service.”

A mobile library will be parked every Saturday, rain or shine, at Vernon Boulevard and 48th Avenue from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and offer books and materials for all ages for loan as well as digital downloads onsite and special library offerings.

The Friends of Hunters Point Library will be supporting a “pop-up” library on Saturdays, weather permitting, offering reading and activities starting at 11 a.m. with children’s story hour.

In partnership with Urban Libraries Unite and Food Cellar, a mini-library will be placed at the Food Cellar in Long Island City. It will be modeled on “take a book, leave a book.” Wi-Fi will be available at the site and there will be a free downloadable digital library.

There will be no service on July 5.

 

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French Louisiana 1682


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos by Bradley Hawks

BRADLEY HAWKS

What do you do when an outrageously popular national doughnut chain opens across the street from your N’awlins-inspired café? Do you keep selling powdered-sugar-dusted beignets and steaming mugs of java? Or do you incorporate the arsenal of skills you know best to rename and rebrand the café into a full-service restaurant? That is precisely what owners Mina and Jimi did at Cranky’s, the popular café in Long Island City.

Now harboring the moniker “1682 French Louisiana,” the new incarnation boasts all of the old favorites, alongside a full menu of classic New Orleans and traditional French dishes. As the website explains, “The restaurant style came naturally as both Mina, a Paris native, and Jimi, a film aficionado, have had a long-term love affair with the beautiful, unique flavors of French- and Cajun-style food. They describe the French Quarter in New Orleans as walking into a movie, a place that is unlike anywhere else. It is that atmosphere that welcomes you as you enter 1682 French Louisiana. Leave New York City at the doorstep and enter New Orleans.”

Dinner service begins with a complimentary basket of peeled sweet potato skins that have been deep fried. They make an irresistibly addictive snack, especially with the herbed aioli served on the side.

Actually, many of the dishes served on the side or as small plates were some of the stars of the show at this little Louisiana kitchen. Take, for instance, the cornmeal-crusted fried chicken. The distinctively southern coating of crispy cornmeal served the perfect crunch for the juicy legs and thighs. But the slab of jalapeño cornbread hugging its side was literally dripping with melting butter, and disappeared quicker than Paula Dean can apologize.

When it comes to macaroni and cheese, few versions rival my own grandma’s quite as seriously. A luxurious béchamel coats traditional elbows of macaroni, which are then buried under a generous bubbling blend of three melted cheeses flowing over the edge of the dish. Nothing makes me feel like a kid again like a warm strand of cheddar stretching from the plate to my fork.

Cajun hush puppies arrive with a kiss of honey. Salads come topped with roasted beets or grass-fed angus beef. And come before 11 a.m. if you want to taste those beignets. Weekend brunch harbors a handful of unique additions, including croques monsieur and madame, eggs benedict, and pancakes with bananas foster or blueberry ricotta mascarpone. From po’ boys and olive-kissed muffaletta to Creole-style barbecue, seafood and chorizo gumbo, and a classic coq au vin, the menu holds a little something for everybody.

“I really felt we had to rebrand to let people know that we truly are a full restaurant now,” smiles Mina as a group of twenty enter from a nearby film studio, and she rushes to push tables together. “In this business, you have to be ready for anything.”

1682 French Louisiana
48-19 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City
Open daily from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

 

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MTA town hall to address 7 train shutdowns


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

The Long Island City community plans to express its rage at the MTA for the lack of local subway service.

A town hall meeting for locals to decry the last three weekends of No. 7 train suspensions is scheduled for Thursday to go over the details of the service disruption, expected to last for 19 more weekends.

Local elected officials, who asked the MTA to set the meeting up, and MTA NYC Transit President Carmen Bianco are expected to hear feedback from community members.

“I really thought the community should have the same access and same right to get the briefing and be able to ask their own questions,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said. “I want the folks to be able to share with the MTA how they feel about this and why it is so harmful to their business and everyday lives.”

Senator Michael Gianaris said the MTA does not realize Long Island City has become a destination. The community has attempted to be more reasonable with the agency, but without success.

“It’s nice to have a dialogue, but a dialogue without action is not that helpful,” Gianaris said. “I hope this time is different. We’re going to keep their feet to the fire.”

Through July 21, there will be 13 weekend suspensions. Those dates are finalized, the MTA said, but there are also nine tentative weekend shutdowns scheduled for August through November.

The suspensions are expected to be in effect from 11:45 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday between Times Square-42nd Street and Queensboro Plaza. On some weekends, there will also be reduced or express-only service between 74th Street-Broadway and Queensboro Plaza.

Ideas for transportation alternatives during the weekend disruptions, such as the shuttle bus from Vernon Boulevard through the Queens Midtown Tunnel into the city, will also be brought up.

Sheila Lewandowski, Long Island City resident and owner of The Chocolate Factory Theater, believes such a meeting should be done before the disruptions began. However, she hopes the MTA will take what is said at the meeting and put it to good use.

“I think it’s important that the MTA remembers that it’s a public service and that they need to hear from their customers. I don’t feel like we get much opportunities for that to happen,” Lewandowski said. “What I want is for them to be more accessible to the very people that use the system because I feel like that’s what’s going to drive better service and change.”

The town hall meeting is open to the public and will begin at 6:30 p.m. at P.S./I.S. 78 at 46-08 Fifth St.

 

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