Tag Archives: woodhaven

City Council District 32 candidates Ulrich, Simon look ahead to Election Day


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

File photos

The heated race for City Council District 32 is coming to a close.

Councilmember Eric Ulrich, the incumbent, has represented District 32 in the City Council since 2009. He stood with 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 through natural disasters and hard-pressed community issues.

“I am proud of my campaign and my work in the City Council over the past four-and-a-half years. I am running on my record of accomplishments and my ability to deliver real results for my constituents,” Ulrich said.

However, Lew Simon has not been far behind. He said he worked tirelessly through Sandy to ensure the safety of the district.

“The support we’re getting on our calls and door to door campaigning is phenomenal – people want change and they don’t feel like they’re being represented in City Hall on issues from schools to street lights to Sandy rebuilding,” Simon said.

Simon suffered a setback earlier this month when he received a stent due to partial heart blockage. He now said he’s spending every day “making sure every voter turns out” on Election Day.

 

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Elizabeth Crowley, Craig Caruana face off in heated District 30 debate


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

The first public debate between Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley and Craig Caruana was contentious.

The competitors faced off in a heated exchange on Monday. It was marked by frequent interruptions, yelling on both sides and cheers and jeers from attending residents of District 30, which includes Maspeth, Middle Village, Richmond Hill, Ridgewood, Glendale, parts of Woodhaven and Woodside.

The debate, which The Courier co-hosted, was organized by the Juniper Park Civic Association at Our Lady of Hope in Middle Village.

The showdown exploded from the very first question, which was about the Knockdown Center, a controversial arts hall in Maspeth that has hosted parties and is seeking a liquor license.

Crowley, who is in support of the center, said it will bring jobs and arts to the community.

“Do I support good jobs? Yes. Do I support arts as an economic engine? Yes,” Crowley said. “Now my opponent you will hear opposes this, and I believe it’s because he doesn’t have the ability to think outside the box when it comes to creating jobs.”

Caruana doesn’t believe the center will be used for arts, but as a club based on past parties that it has held.

“It’s not about jobs, it’s about hipsters coming from out of the area, creating a problem…” Caruana said. “This is a club that wants to sell liquor.”

The candidates sparred on various contentious projects in the community, such as the proposed Glendale homeless shelter, truck traffic and the Maspeth Bypass, the Ridgewood Reservoir development project and increased railroad garbage.

Many general questions were asked as well, including how the candidates would improve education, traffic problems, quality of life issues and decrease crime.

Crowley, who has been the councilmember for nearly four years, choose to answer questions based on her accomplishments, while taking jabs at Caruana.

Caruana, who has no experience as an elected official, stuck to his ideas to improve the neighborhood, relying on his background as a native of Middle Village and his work at the Pentagon.

Before the debate even got started crowds of Crowley and Caruana supporters were chanting at each other outside with placards, banners and megaphones for almost 20 minutes.

 

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Op-Ed: Where are we one year later?


| oped@queenscourier.com

BY STATE SENATOR JOSEPH ADDABBO JR.

On any particular day, whether I’m working, getting a cup of coffee, shopping or having dinner in the district, people detail their experiences involving Superstorm Sandy in many different ways. A year later, many still get tears in their eyes, others remain frustrated about the lack of progress, while some see it as a chance to make improvements and some are optimistic about community improvements. One storm, a year later, still causes many emotions.

While we can’t control the weather, we can take steps to control the level of our preparedness and what direction our government takes in addressing the next storm. We’ve learned a lot from Sandy, and I would urge my constituents to think ahead and make sure they have detailed emergency plans in place: know how to contact one another in case of an emergency; have adequate supplies of canned goods, medicines, batteries, flashlights and water on hand; know what to do to help secure your homes and properties to minimize risks during a storm. Useful hurricane preparedness information may be found at this NYS Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services website: http://www.dhses.ny.gov/oem/event/hurricane-safety.cfm.

I, along with other elected officials, have been advocating for adequate funding and needed legislation to help the district address the many serious human, economic and other consequences resulting from Sandy. As a member of the New York State Senate Bipartisan Task Force on Hurricane Sandy, I look forward to continuing the effort of our state in responding to Sandy’s devastation and obtaining assistance for those in need.  Currently, our city’s and state’s portion of the federal funding of $61 billion to help Sandy victims is being distributed through NYC Build It Back program, and the state’s utilization of community leaders in its NY Rising Community Reconstruction program aimed at improving our infrastructure.

A range of bills aimed at addressing various aspects of Sandy’s impact were passed by the state legislature and have been recently signed into law by the governor. Some topics include rebates of real property taxes, assisting Breezy Point residents with street frontage issues unique to Breezy Point, exemptions to filing fees related to federal Small Business Administration Disaster Loans, and the implementation of improved tornado warning systems.

This year’s Atlantic Hurricane Season is not yet over. We have learned a lot from Sandy and a year later are still dealing with its aftermath. It’s OK to share our emotions, feelings and sentiments about Sandy, knowing also that by working together we can rebuild and be prepared better than ever.

Senator Joseph Addabbo represents the 15th Senatorial District encompassing the communities – in whole or in part – of Broad Channel, Elmhurst, Forest Hills, Glendale, Hamilton Beach, Howard Beach, Kew Gardens, Kew Gardens Hills, Maspeth, Middle Village, Ozone Park, Rego Park, Richmond Hill, Ridgewood, South Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Woodside and the Rockaways.

 

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Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Senior Center finds temporary location after building damage


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

The Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Senior Center has found a temporary location after the building was damaged, but leaders still say there’s no place like home.

The center, which is operated by Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens, recently moved to the American Legion Post 118 at 89-02 91st Street after a building adjacent to the center’s location on Jamaica Avenue collapsed, damaging the roof and kitchen.

“We were concerned about the winter months with the snow and rain,” said Judith Kleve, vice president of Older Adult Services at Catholic Charities. “We are very relieved that the American Legion opened their doors to us.”

The center, which is funded by the city’s Department for the Aging, has more than 200 seniors enrolled and about 70 visit daily.

The staff prepares free meals every day and organizes exercise programs, including yoga and dancing, and educational lectures on topics such as arthritis and diabetes. During the temporary move the center is providing shuttles from the original location.

Despite joy for the temporary site, seniors want to return to the old building soon, because the American Legion building is too small, according to Kleve. But first, owners of the collapsed building, 78-19 Jamaica Avenue LLC, must fix it or the seniors can’t return.

“The situation is only going to get worst with the rain and snow coming,” State Senator Joe Addabbo said. “We need to get the owner to start fixing it now.”

The politician is working with other leaders to put pressure on the owners to repair the property. Addabbo met with officials from the Department of Buildings (DOB) this week to discuss the collapsed building, which has about a dozen violations and $11,000 in fines, according to the DOB.

The members of the center are hoping they can move back by next year.

“The seniors were very happy to know that the senior center was still open and that they had a safe site,” Kleve said. “But they still want to go home.”

The owners of 78-19 Jamaica Avenue LLC could not be reached for comment.

 

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Identify this place in Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

where

Do you know where in Queens this photo was taken?

Guess by commenting below!

The answer will be revealed next Friday.

 

Last week’s answer to “Identify this Place”: All Saints Episcopal Church in Woodhaven

Richmond Hill church moving to former Saint Matthew’s Church of Woodhaven


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Residents in Woodhaven are saying hallelujah as one of the borough’s most historic churches will soon reopen.

All Saints Episcopal Church in Richmond Hill is moving to the former Saint Matthew’s Church on 96th Street, which shut its doors in 2011.

Father Norman Whitmire Jr. will be the rector of the church and has already began overseeing the restoration of the new location.

“There were a lot of concerns about what was going to happening to that church, to that building, to that property,” said Ed Wendell of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association. “To hear that a new congregation is going to make it its new home, that is really good news, because that means that the building is going to have new life.”

The church and its famous Wyckoff-Snediker Cemetery, located behind it, are currently undergoing a renovation. The floors, chandeliers and furniture are being redone on the inside and a new sidewalk was already placed. Also, the entrance to the church has been made handicap accessible.

The church itself is one of the remaining churches of old English Gothic architecture. The inside has a distinct look with stained glass windows and arches.

“You just can’t build buildings like this anymore,” Whitmire said. “It’s very expensive and it’s hard to find the craftsman who can do the stone work like those.”

The cemetery is also a historic piece. A few families that lived on farms in the area from 1792 to 1893 were buried in the private, half-acre land, which is behind the church and hidden from the street.

After the church closed, the cemetery was left to ruin but in the late 1990s volunteers came together and revitalized it. The church will be consecrated on Friday, October 25.

 

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Illegal gambling operation arrests lead to weapon, drug bust


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Queens district attorney's office

Individuals busted in an illegal gambling operation were also stashing weapons, drugs and over $120,000 in cash.

In the wake of charging six people with unlawfully running a gambling operation, detectives recovered six guns, including two assault rifles, hundreds of narcotics pills, gambling records and the cash, said District Attorney Richard Brown.

“An investigation that started with gambling has now led to the recovery of a deadly and dangerous combination of guns and drugs,” Brown said.

In February, the NYPD’s Queens Narcotic Division began an investigation of an illegal gambling operation being run out of a central wire room in Brooklyn.

The wire room allegedly maintained a number of fax machines that received betting slips from over 30 betting parlors throughout Queens, Brooklyn and Nassau County.

Saul Montalvo, 44, of Ozone Park and his partner Juan Arias, 41, of the Bronx are accused with opening and running the operation. Montalvo’s sister, Veronica, also allegedly head the gambling joint. A second wire room was discovered in Woodhaven.

Montalvo and his wife Beatriz Velez, 33, were charged with various counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminal possession of a firearm, stolen property, promoting gambling and possession of gambling records. Montalvo and his son, Daniel, were charged additionally in a gambling case, and Daniel was arrested and charged with various counts of criminal possession of a weapon.

The three each face up to 15 years in prison if convicted on the weapons charges, according to officials.

During a search of Montalvo’s Lafayette Street home, police recovered over 200 prescription pills, loaded pistols and thousands of dollars in cash from a safe inside the master bedroom’s closet. Police also found two loaded assault rifles as well as three other magazines all loaded with over 10 rounds of ammunition, all found in the home’s laundry area.

“The nexus between illegal drugs and violence is never far,” said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

 

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Op-Ed: Ensuring the safety of our children


| oped@queenscourier.com

COUNCILMEMBER ELIZABETH CROWLEY

Drivers need to be more conscientious near schools. Just a few days ago, students of I.S. 73 in Maspeth got seriously injured by an out-of-control vehicle. As police investigate this accident, we owe it to those injured students and their classmates to make our streets safer.

Grand Avenue is a very busy street. The vehicular traffic is made worse during school arrival and dismissal time as P.S. 58, I.S. 73 and Maspeth High School are all located within six blocks of each other. I believe it is imperative to implement changes as soon as possible, and on Monday, along with PTA leaders, I met with Queens DOT Commissioner Dalila Hall on site to discuss how to make Grand Avenue safer.

The stretch of Grand Avenue near P.S. 58 and I.S. 73 is in need of “Safe Routes to School” program and a slowdown zone where the speed limit is reduced to 20 miles per hour. The safe routes program redesigns streets, which include expanding sidewalks, new lane paintings and improved signal timing, to ease congestion around schools.

Recently, the DOT studied vehicle speeds around all schools in New York City, and they found that 98 percent of vehicles driving around P.S. 58, I.S. 73 and Maspeth High School are going over the speed limit. This is dangerous and simply unacceptable. A comprehensive study by the DOT to change traffic patterns and slow down drivers through its “Safe Routes to School” program would be a major help in reducing congestion around these schools.

There must be constant traffic enforcement by the NYPD and DOT today. I have called on both agencies to ticket trucks that are not making local deliveries, and speeding drivers who are endangering our children must be stopped. New York recently approved speed camera enforcement at 20 schools in the city. Placing one of these cameras at Grand Avenue near P.S. 58 and I.S. 73 would certainly slow drivers down once tickets begin arriving in the mail.

Nothing is more important than ensuring the safety of our children traveling to and from school. I have brought the concerns of the community to DOT, and together, we must demand the DOT prioritize safety on Grand Avenue. Our most vulnerable and precious resource are our children, and we must do everything to keep them safe.

Elizabeth Crowley represents the 30th Council District, covering Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Richmond Hill, Ridgewood and Woodhaven

 

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Suspects burglarize four Richmond Hill, Woodhaven businesses


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

Cops are looking for two suspects they say stole cash from four businesses in Richmond Hill and Woodhaven over the last three weeks.

The pair first hit Tony’s Famous Pizza at 109-18 Jamaica Avenue around midnight on Saturday, August 24, said police. They entered through the rear door and removed cash from the office and an ATM.

A week later, on August 31, at about 12:30 a.m., they entered the Richmond Hill Delicatessen, located at 123-07 Jamaica Avenue, through the rear basement door and removed cash from an ATM.

On Monday, the suspects stole cash from an ATM and register at Lizmelis Grocery in Woodhaven around 10:30 p.m. by entering a hole in the wall in an adjacent unoccupied commercial establishment, said cops.

The following day, the two allegedly entered El Cran Canario Restaurant, located at 111-17 Jamaica Avenue, through a rear window and removed cash from an ATM and register.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS or submit their tips by texting 274637(CRIMES) then enter TIP577 or by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website.

 

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Op-Ed: Simple measures for park safety


| oped@queenscourier.com

Late last week, the NYPD revealed that the suspect being sought in the late August attack of a 69-year old jogger in Forest Park is allegedly responsible for five previous attacks in and around the 538-acre park. Police presence has been increased with a temporary command center being set up at the intersection of Myrtle Avenue and Park Lane South in Richmond Hill.

But this is a temporary measure, one that we’ve seen before. And in a few weeks it will be decided that the resources are needed elsewhere and it’ll be back to business as usual. Back in the 1970s, Assemblymember Frederick D. Schmidt called on the city to make Forest Park a separate police precinct – it’s an idea worth reconsidering.

The 102nd Precinct is currently responsible for Kew Gardens, Richmond Hill East, Richmond Hill, Woodhaven, and the northern part of Ozone Park. The precinct includes a number of busy commercial districts (including Queens Boulevard, 101st Avenue and Jamaica Avenue) and several major roadways. That’s a large area, made even larger by the need to also patrol Forest Park.

A small precinct, or substation, with officers trained on and equipped with all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) for regular patrolling of the many trails within the park, would make it safer for all who use it. Even a shopping mall has its own security base – why not one of our city’s largest public attractions?

In other words, if it’s such a necessary step after a woman is attacked, why not make it permanent in an effort to prevent future attacks?

Apart from an increase in police, the city needs to do a better job of keeping the streetlights in and around Forest Park in proper working condition. We have been reporting major outages in well-trafficked areas and there does not appear to be any sense of urgency to get them repaired.

During the early morning hours on Forest Park Drive, we have seen people walking or jogging carrying flashlights, meaning the lights have been out long enough for people to learn that they need to come prepared.

Ultimately, there is no one to blame for these attacks apart from the sick animal that commits them. He will be caught, though whatever punishment he receives will never be enough. But that does not mean we can’t take precautions so as not to give this animal any tactical advantages.

Whenever possible, try not to run or walk alone. Reach out to friends and neighbors; try to make it a social activity that can be enjoyed as a group. Avoid isolated trails; remember that you do not have to go deep into the park to be alone and that just because you can see a main road from the woods does not mean that people traveling on that road can see you.

Forest Park is a wonderful place that hosts many thousand residents and visitors each year. Let’s all do everything we can to make it the safest experience possible.

Edward K. Wendell
President
Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association


Video via YouTube/Edward Wendell

 

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Woodhaven man killed by toy helicopter


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via Facebook

CRISTABELLE TUMOLA AND DENISE ROMANO

A 19-year-old Woodhaven man was killed by his own toy helicopter in Brooklyn Thursday afternoon.

Roman Pirozek was flying his remote control helicopter in Calvert Vaux Park in Gravesend around 3:40 p.m. when one of the blades hit him in the head, killing him.

According to police, emergency crews responded to Bay 44th Street and Shore Parkway and found Pirozek unconscious and unresponsive lying on the ground with severe head trauma. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Pirozek reportedly graduated from High School For Construction Trades, Engineering and Architecture in Queens and was vice president of a Brooklyn-based model helicopter flying club, Seaview Rotary Wings.

His YouTube channel, where he posted several videos of his hobby, shows his passion for model helicopters.

Pirozek also attended Woodhaven’s St. Thomas the Apostle School, according to the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA).

“We heard the news from one of his teachers who said he was a wonderful person from a good family. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family at this time—it’s hard to comprehend the pain they must be feeling,” said the WRBA.

Woodhaven looks to resurrect civilian patrol organization


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Frank Kotnik

Woodhaven leaders are seriously considering resurrecting the more-than-a-decade defunct civilian patrol to respond to recent crimes in the neighborhood.

Members of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) recently met with Assemblymember Mike Miller and members of the Glendale Civilian Operational Patrol (GCOP) to discuss how to start the neighborhood watch. And in a town hall meeting last week, WRBA members took a poll of attendees to gauge the interest, to which there were nearly a dozen responders.

“We want safer streets, we want to improve the quality of life in our community and we want our residents to feel empowered,” said Ed Wendell, president of the WRBA.

Wendell said talks about the patrol heated up after a man attempted to rape a woman in Forest Park a few months ago, but then more crimes followed. Last month a teenage girl was stabbed in Woodhaven nearly a dozen times and a few weeks ago a wife was arrested for allegedly killing her husband by smashing her car after he clung to the hood. Also, a girl was robbed recently in the area.

“We are not just sitting back and letting things happen,” Wendell said. “We are going to be a force in our future.”

There are no statistics that show whether neighborhood watch groups actually lower or prevent crime, but the precincts appreciate their help, according to an NYPD representative.

The new patrol will work together with GCOP, as Woodhaven wants to model their program on them. GCOP has been operating since 1976 and currently has about 56 active members.

GCOP will lend equipment, such as radios, reflective vests and flashlights, to the patrol once it is established. Members of the Glendale Patrol will also train new Woodhaven volunteers on how to spot suspicious activity and to be extra “eyes and ears” for the NYPD as opposed to vigilantes.

“When I got involved 25 years ago, no one lent us a hand,” said Frank Kotnik, president of GCOP. “They will not be out there by themselves.”

Miller, who was a member of GCOP for more than 16 years, said he would be willing to help collect funding for the group once the patrol becomes established.

“I always felt I was doing something significant for the community,” Miller said. “It is a good feeling and once you become a part of it you want to do more.”

Before the group can get started Woodhaven needs to collect dedicated members and address concerns, such as transportation and donations. They will also meet with GCOP again and the 102nd Precinct.

 

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Woodhaven manhole fires injure five, damage two vehicles


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy State Senator Michael Gianaris

Five people were injured and two vehicles damaged in a pair of manhole fires in Woodhaven early Thursday morning.

The fire department responded to the blaze on 88th Road and 75th Street just before 1 a.m., officials said, and the flames were under control around 2 a.m.

The fires, which awoke residents, were caused by a failure in underground electrical wiring and equipment, according to Con Edison.

The victims were taken to Jamaica Hospital for smoke inhalation.

Senator Michael Gianaris rushed over to the area after the fire was put out. He said the smell of fire was still lingering in the air and the street was blocked off. Gianaris was concerned about the trouble with the electrical system.

“Unfortunately this is not our first experience with Con Ed having problems with their infrastructure,” he said. “It was a little bit too familiar.”

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Woodhaven immigrant allegedly created fake paintings as part of multimillion-dollar scam


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A Chinese immigrant from Woodhaven was reportedly the artist behind a multimillion-dollar scam where fake paintings were pawned off to galleries as original works.

Pei-Shen Qian, 73, was known to his neighbors on 95th Street as a “struggling artist,” according to the New York Times. But they didn’t realize that in his garage he was allegedly creating dozens of paintings and drawings that were passed off as pieces by Jackson Pollack, Willem de Kooning, Barnett Newman, Robert Motherwell and other artistic bigwigs.

Though the works were sold for more than $80 million, Qian was allegedly paid less than $75,000 for creating the fakes, according to CBS New York.

New York art dealer Glafira Rosales of Sands Point, Long Island, who is suspected of selling the faux art pieces from 1994 through 2009, reportedly pleaded not guilty in connection to the scheme on Monday. More arrests are expected.

Neighbors told the New York Times that Qian hasn’t been charged with a crime, and after the FBI searched his home last week, he went to China.

 

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Howard Beach man convicted in Woodhaven sex assault


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

A Howard Beach man has been convicted following a sexual assault earlier this year.

Richard Kassebaum, 42, was working at a Woodhaven laundromat in March when he approached a female patron at about 4:30 a.m. as she exited the store, grabbed her from behind and choked her. Kassebaum then grabbed the victim’s buttocks, and after she screamed, he fled the location, according to trial testimony.

“[Kassebaum] poses a serious threat to public safety and, under the circumstances, a significant prison sentence is more than warranted,” said District Attorney Richard A. Brown.

The “sexual predator” was convicted on Thursday, August 1 on first and third-degree sexual abuse and criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation. The charges followed a one-week jury trial before the borough Supreme Court.

Video surveillance from the laundromat revealed Kassebaum inside the establishment, then standing in the parking lot as the victim left. Kassebaum was then seen walking behind the woman and following her onto Woodhaven Boulevard. Video footage shortly afterwards shows Kassebaum running back and reentering the laundromat, said Brown.

Sentencing is scheduled for Thursday, August 15. Kassebaum, who has been held in jail in lieu of a $50,000 bail, faces up to seven years in prison.

 

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