Tag Archives: Woodhaven Boulevard

Vacant Rego Park building becomes eyesore


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Terence M. Cullen

A vacant building in Rego Park has some complaining that the structure is a major eyesore.

The commercial strip on Woodhaven Boulevard, between 63rd Road and Dana Court, has rental signs along its windows.

Until recently, scaffolding covered almost the entire block.

“Of course there’s a problem,” a source said. “There’s been problems for years.”

The source, granted anonymity, who identified himself as a former employee of Bridie’s, a bar and grill on the boulevard, said scaffolding had covered the entire block for more than a year-and-a-half. He said the structure was intended for work on nearby apartment buildings, but repairs were ever conducted.

A business last called the building home about four or five years ago, the source said. Bridie’s, the only establishment on the block, has suffered, the former employee added.

The For Rent signs that cover the windows advertise “restaurant, medical, retail, or office space.” Calls to the phone number on the signs reach an automated message system.

Keystone Management, a California-based real estate company, controls the building under High Point Associates LLC, according to a Department of Buildings (DOB) spokesperson. Representatives for Keystone, owned by developer Daniel

Shalom, had not returned calls for comment by The Courier as of press time.

The vacant building has received a number of violations from the DOB and the Environmental Control Board (ECB), in recent years.

It has four unresolved ECB violations, according to the DOB spokesperson. These deal with plumbing work without a permit, failure to maintain a boiler, maintaining building walls and miscellaneous boiler problems.

 

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Op-Ed: Putting Woodhaven Boulevard on the fast track


| oped@queenscourier.com

BY COUNCILMEMBER ERIC ULRICH

For the past decade, Woodhaven Boulevard has been a traffic nightmare. The daily commute during the morning and evening rush hours is sluggish at best. Whether you’re in a car or on a bus, the slow and painful crawl up and down Woodhaven Boulevard is sure to make your daily commute even more stressful and time consuming.

Since taking office, I have been working with the Department of Transportation to alleviate traffic congestion along Woodhaven Boulevard and have suggested a number of measures which I believe would make a big difference. Here are just a few:

  • I am committed to bringing the deployment of Transit Signal Priority (TSP) to this corridor. TSP will improve travel time for all vehicles by optimizing overall traffic signal coordination, resulting in a 5%-10% decrease in overall travel time. This system can, for instance, hold the green light a little longer to allow buses and cars to proceed through an intersection before the traffic signal turns red. TSP is already operating in Staten Island, the Bronx, and Manhattan. I am fighting to bring it to Queens.
  • Implementing Select Bus Service (SBS) along the 3.2 mile route would also have a significant impact. This is a bold initiative that would establish a dedicated bus lane for express and local buses only. It would speed up the average commute time for bus riders by 15-20% and prevent the bottlenecking situation that occurs at almost every major intersection along the boulevard. SBS is more commonly referred to as Bus Rapid Transit and already exists on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, Hylan Boulevard in Staten Island, First / Second Avenues in Manhattan and Fordham Road in the Bronx. Woodhaven Boulevard is ripe for this proposal and I am looking forward to the day it comes to Queens.
  • Site specific improvements at certain intersections are long overdue. There are turning lanes that need to be widened or extended and others that need to be eliminated altogether. This is a delicate process that will require the advice and consent of the local community. Nevertheless, it is one that must be part of our overall strategy to make Woodhaven Blvd. safer for drivers, mass transit users and pedestrians alike. When done correctly, modifications such as these can reduce traffic related injuries dramatically and help the overall flow of traffic.

The DOT has already made some progress by incorporating some of the above-mentioned ideas into the Citywide Congested Corridor study. In fact, data has been collected, traffic patterns and accident prone locations have been analyzed and several public meetings have been held to discuss possible solutions since the study first started in 2008. Some of these proposals are common sense and easy to implement while others are all but certain to raise controversy.

But the fact remains that people have been sitting in traffic for far too long and Queens is entitled to what every other borough already has. If we’re serious about addressing the traffic nightmare on Woodhaven Boulevard once and for all, we must take the necessary steps to put this plan into action.

Eric Ulrich was elected to the New York City Council in 2009, as the representative for District 32, serving Belle Harbor, Breezy Point, Broad Channel, Hamilton Beach, Howard Beach, Lindenwood, Neponsit, Ozone Park, Rockaway Beach, Rockaway Park, South Ozone Park, South Richmond Hill, and Woodhaven.

Teen crashes into Queens building after fleeing car accident


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

An 18-year-old Brooklyn man has been arrested for fleeing the scene of a Queens car crash and driving into a building just a few blocks later, said police.

Around 1:15 p.m. Sunday, March 3, Steven Rodriguez struck a vehicle at Woodhaven Boulevard and Union Turnpike, then sped off. His getaway attempt ended when he crashed into the first floor of a residential building located at 78-80 82nd Street, off of Myrtle Avenue.

Coincidentally, Rodriguez ran into a building directly across the street from the home of the passenger in the car that he just hit, according to the New York Post.

Only moments after witnessing Rodriguez plow into the building, Enza Giordano, the 13-year-old passenger’s mother, received a call from her brother, who was driving her son at the time of the crash.

“He told me about his accident and that my son was hurt. He described the hit-and-run car and I knew — same guy,’’ Giordano told the New York Post.

In addition to leaving the scene of an accident, Rodriguez has been charged with reckless endangerment and reckless driving, said police.

 

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Body discovered near Forest Park


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Screenshot via Google Maps

A man walking his dog near Forest Park found a man unconscious and unresponsive.

On Sunday, March 3, around 11:40 a.m., officers responded to a 9-1-1 call of a fire at the corner of Freedom Drive and Park South Drive just off of Woodhaven Boulevard. Police were met by a man walking his dog, who said his dog found the victim. He was pronounced dead at the scene, according to police.

According to the New York Daily News, the victim was a homeless man who died when he accidentally caught fire from a blaze he set to keep warm.

The identity of the deceased is pending proper notiication. The investigation is ongoing.

 

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67-year-old struck and killed by car in Woodhaven


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A 67-year-old man was killed Wednesday night when was hit by a vehicle in Woodhaven, said police.

Around 9:00 p.m., the victim was on the middle island at the intersection of Woodhaven Boulevard  and Jamaica Avenue attempting to walk westbound when he stepped off the island into the street and was struck by a car traveling northbound on Woodhaven Boulevard in the right lane.

The victim was taken to Jamaica Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

The driver, a 58-year-old man, remained on the scene. There is no criminality suspected at this time.

 

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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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Many Woodhaven mailboxes stay graffiti free


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

DSC_0775w

They delivered for you.

Much of the graffiti that littered the blue or green mailboxes in Woodhaven has been painted over, and the boxes have stayed clean for the most part, said Ed Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA).

On Sunday, August 26, Wendell and two other residents went out to clean about nine mailboxes that were tagged. By the end of the day, all 80 mailboxes in Woodhaven — across three zones — were cleaned.

Zone A, which spans from Woodhaven Boulevard to 98th Street, has not needed to be cleaned in nearly a month, Wendell said.

“We haven’t touched that one now in three-and-a-half weeks,” he said. “We’re definitely seeing some progress.”

After researching graffiti statistics, Wendell said the best way to fight consistent graffiti was by repainting the mailboxes as soon as they have been tagged.

The Courier reported in early August that the WRBA had been tracking tags in an effort to combat the markings throughout the neighborhood.

The Block Association has continued to give information to the 102nd Precinct to help fight the problem.

If graffiti continues in the neighborhood, Wendell said residents would be open to staking out boxes that are common targets, in conjunction with police efforts. He and other residents plan on taking the Civilian Police Course this fall that will inform them of correct legal procedures.

“We did speak to [the police] about doing stake-outs,” Wendell said. “We have got about a half dozen residents, myself included, who are going to the Civilian Police Academy.”

The neighborhood leader said if a vandal is caught, residents will work with law enforcement to make sure the proper penalty is imposed.

“Now when someone gets arrested for tagging in the neighborhood, we’re going to be following up,” he said.

Thieves steal iPhones from Rego Park Sprint store


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Police are looking for two suspects they say stole two iPhones from a Rego Park Sprint store.

The suspects entered the Woodhaven Boulevard store at approximately noon on Thursday, February 9 and grabbed the Apple products out of the salesperson’s hand as it was being shown to them, police said.

Police described the suspects as a 6-foot tall black male and a 5-foot-6-inch tall white male with a grey beard.

Anyone with information in regards to this grand larceny is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS. The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or texting their tips to 274637(CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

 

Woodhaven street changes face roadblock


| mchan@queenscourier.com

While the city’s plan to change the direction of two streets in Woodhaven is still on the table, major feelings of opposition within the community have not been rerouted.

Residents remain angry at the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) plans to convert 84th Street from one-way northbound to one-way southbound from Liberty to Atlantic Avenues and turn 89th Avenue from a two-way to a one-way street running eastbound between Woodhaven Boulevard and 97th Street.

However, at a public hearing held on February 1, agency officials told locals that the community will ultimately make the final decision on whether or not to implement the changes.

“Neither one of these proposals is mandated to improve because it is a high-accident location, so this can be voted up or down by the community,” said Maura McCarthy, DOT borough commissioner. “The DOT is not going to implement this over the objection of the community. We only do that if it’s a big safety problem. Neither of these locations are accident-prone locations, so this is really up to a community vote.”

According to the DOT, the request to convert 89th Avenue to a one-way operation came from Community Board 9 (CB 9) in 2008 due to the narrow roadway width — coupled with parking on both sides — while the westbound direction was recommended to foster the safe curbside drop-off of students.

“The DOT receives a lot of requests for traffic changes, whether it is adding a stop sign, traffic signal or changing street directions,” McCarthy said, “We take each request, analyze the request and then bring it before the community board to have a vote.”

Still, local leaders said the changes would severely inconvenience residents traveling back and forth between Woodhaven and Ozone Park. It would also cause some residents to be forced to go “at least six blocks out of their way” to get home.

“I think we’ve done everything we can to make sure our opposition is well known. I really don’t know what else we could do. We’re not going to lie down on the street,” said Ed Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Residents Block Association (WRBA), who said he left the meeting feeling positive and productive.

CB 9 was slated to vote on the proposals during a public hearing on February 14 in Kew Gardens, though they recently postponed it due to complaints from the community about the meeting’s “inconvenient” date and time. They will now be meeting on March 13 to vote in Woodhaven.

“Every board member will vote how they feel is appropriate. We do whatever the community wants us to do because it’s their request, but half of the people are for it and half of the people are against it,” said Andrea Crawford, chair of CB 9. “It’s really up to the people who are directly affected.”

Residents opposed to Woodhaven street changes


| mchan@queenscourier.com

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The city’s plan to change the direction of two streets in Woodhaven is heading down a one-way road to opposition.

While the project is only in its proposal stage, plans to convert 84th Street from one-way northbound to one-way southbound from Liberty to Atlantic Avenues and turn 89th Avenue from a two-way to a one-way street running eastbound between Woodhaven Boulevard and 97th Street have been met with resistance from residents and local civic groups.

“Both of these changes are not good for the community. They weren’t asked for by residents,” said Ed Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Residents Block Association (WRBA). “It doesn’t make very much sense, and it’s a bad change.”

Wendell said if the changes are implemented, the “symbiotic” relationship between Woodhaven and its adjacent neighborhood — Ozone Park — would suffer by the newfound difficulty that would come from traveling back and forth.

He said the 84th Street alteration would eliminate one of the main northbound entry points into Woodhaven, leaving only Woodhaven Boulevard and 76th Street as northbound roads that cross Atlantic Avenue.

“It’s like the doors of a supermarket — with the entrance and exit doors next to each other. If you close one of those doors, it’s going to cause problems. This cuts off one of the valuable entrances back into Woodhaven from Ozone Park. This is going to hurt both communities.”

Wendell also said turning 89th Avenue into a one-way street would severely inconvenience residents — some of whom would be forced to go “at least six blocks out of their way” to get home.

“In order to get home, the only way they can do it is to make this really awkward turn on Jamaica Avenue and Woodhaven Boulevard, which is congested already,” Wendell said. “That’s the move this is going to force all these people to make. These residents are not going to have a choice. It’s going to be the only way to get home.”

According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), the request to convert 89th Avenue to a one-way operation came from Community Board 9 (CB 9) in 2008 due to the narrow roadway width, coupled with parking on both sides. The westbound direction was recommended to foster the safe curbside drop-off of students, a DOT spokesperson said.

CB 9 has yet to vote on the proposal, according to District Manager Mary Ann Carey, due to “so much controversy” revolving around the issue. The board postponed the original meeting to vote on the plans in order to seek more input from the community, although Carey said CB 9 sent out notices to residents back in 2008 when she said the plans were first proposed.

“There are so many different opinions. There are a few who are for it, but there are so very many who spoke in opposition of it. CB 9 more than likely goes with the community, but when the community is divided, it’s hard to decide,” Carey said.

The proposals will be voted on during a public hearing scheduled for February 1 at 7 p.m. at St. Elizabeth’s Church in Ozone Park.

Carey said that although feedback from the community board carries a lot of weight, the city Department of Transportation (DOT) will make the final call.