Tag Archives: Woodside

Real estate investors shelled out $3.6 billion for Queens properties last year


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Scott Bintner/PropertyShark

Queens’ relatively low land prices, access to public transportation and growing popularity has helped the borough attract a significantly larger amount of money from real estate investors in 2014 than in previous years, according to a new report.

Firms and individuals shelled out about $3.65 billion last year to buy Queens investment properties—large-scale real estate costing at least $850,000—which is a 25 percent increase from 2013, according to a report by Ariel Property Advisors.

The study pointed out that about one-third of the investment properties in Queens last year were development sites, which alone accounted for more than $1 billion, or a 191 percent gain when compared to 2012.

“Queens still presents developers with the opportunity to produce large-scale developments, and they are willing to pay a premium for prime sites,” said Daniel Wechsler, vice president of Ariel Property Advisors.

Photo courtesy of Ariel Property Advisors

Photo courtesy of Ariel Property Advisors

Wechsler pointed out that land parcels with at least 50,000 square feet of buildable rights were purchased all over “The World’s Borough,” including Astoria, Long Island City, Elmhurst, Woodside, Glendale, Jamaica, Ridgewood and Flushing, “further indicating the bullish attitude of investors on the entire borough. “

The report found that 925 properties were traded during the year, which is also a 25 percent year-over-year increase.

Some of the year’s highest profile transactions include the $110 million sale of the Standard Motors Building in Long Island City, which traded for just $70 million in 2008, and the sale of a 53-building portfolio in Kew Gardens Hills for $216 million.

There was also the $26.5 million sale of a garage near Queens Place mall in Elmhurst, which has about 227,352 buildable square feet.

Click here to read the full report.

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Meeting held to strengthen relationship between western Queens NYCHA residents and NYPD


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Residents of NYCHA developments in western Queens came together Saturday afternoon to discuss strengthening relationships with the police officers assigned to protect them.

The community gathered during a meeting organized by Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Victoria Schneps, publisher of The Queens Courier, with members of the NYPD to go over resident concerns and ways to build communication between community members and police.

“If we work together we’re going to be so much stronger,” Maloney said. “I think it’s important we come together and we try to figure out how we can make this city stronger because we’re only stronger when we’re together.”

During the meeting, residents voiced problems such as more lighting, more community engagement and communication by police officers who patrol the areas, and also support within the actual community between the older and younger generations.

“We are thrilled to be able to participate in bringing people in the community together,” Schneps said. “That’s what we are about, that’s what community journalism is about. Making sure we are talking to each other, many times through the pages of our papers, but also in person.”

Those present at the meeting at the Jacob Riis Settlement House, located at 10-25 41st Ave., within the Queensbridge Houses, included leaders from the Queensbridge, Ravenswood, Astoria and Woodside NYCHA houses.

NYPD representatives included Captain Mark A. Simmons, the commanding officer of Police Service Area (PSA) 9, which patrols the Queensbridge Houses, and members of the 114th Precinct.

“One of the things we have to do is when you see a police officer, thank them for their job, thank them for putting their lives on the line, thank them for going out on the streets to protect them,” Maloney said. “We have to show them that they are respected by people.

One resident of the Queensbridge Houses for 28 years, who goes by the name Sugaray, asked the officers available to show residents that they are more than just officers by coming by the neighborhood without uniforms.

“Come out and just be part of the community, show that you are human,” he said. “When we can see that the people in uniform are human and we can connect on a human-to-human level, that’s what builds relationships, that’s how you can build unity in the community.”

Simmons thanked the community for their support and said that by working together they will be able to get crime down.

“The greatest thing for you guys to know is that we support you and you support us and that’s the bond that we have here in PSA9,” Simmons added. “I am very proud to be here and I am very grateful that we are working together in the manner in which we are.”

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First safety workshop held for Queens Boulevard


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

Community officials, residents, family members of traffic accident victims and survivors got the chance Wednesday night to give their input on putting an end to fatal crashes on the “Boulevard of Death.”

The Department of Transportation held the first Queens Boulevard Safety Workshop at P.S. 11 in Woodside to discuss the future of a stretch of the busy thoroughfare between Roosevelt Avenue and 73rd Street.

The agency said it decided to focus on this section first because statistics show there have been six fatalities since 2009 in that particular area. Last year, the speed limit on Queens Boulevard was lowered to 25 mph as part of the city’s Vision Zero initiative.

“The Mayor made it clear that improving Queens Boulevard is a priority and so Wednesday night NYCDOT will host a safety workshop to hear the community’s concerns and ideas,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said. “That workshop is only the first step in a more comprehensive process to reimagine and redesign the boulevard as a safer, greener, more attractive corridor for residents and businesses.”

During the workshop, over 100 members of the public were able to sit down with DOT facilitators in groups at several tables in the school’s cafeteria. The agency’s representatives then went over the options for improvements that can be done on the thoroughfare and asked that each person draw on a map of Queens Boulevard, provided at each table, any suggestions they have.

Among those present were members of Families for Safe Streets, made up of a group of family members of victims of traffic accidents and survivors.

“We’re really asking for them to take a really bold stand and do a complete redesign of Queens Boulevard,” said Ellen Foote, a member of Families for Safe Streets whose 27-year-old son was killed while riding his bicycle home. “We want to turn the ‘Boulevard of Death’ to the ‘Boulevard of Life.’”

Foote added that with the popularity of Queens increasing, she sees Queens Boulevard as the place to start making changes. She urged the DOT to take the community’s input and statistics and come up with a plan.

“We should make it a model not just for New York City, but the world,” Foote said.

Among the suggestions voiced by the public were creating protected bike lanes and dedicated bus lanes, making street medians longer and wider, adding street regulations to reduce speeding, and increasing the amount of time to cross Queens Boulevard.

Ralph Munoz, a Kew Gardens resident who lost both his mother and brother to traffic accidents, in separate incidents, sees the workshops as positive moves to making the streets safer. He added that he sees many cars speeding near where he lives.

“The [speed limit] law is new. People need to learn. It takes time. But if people want to do it, they can be a very responsible driver. People just need to be more responsible with their car,” Munoz said. “It’s a discipline and it’s a change to keep people safe.”

Munoz is a new member of Families for Safe Streets and says he plans to attend future workshops for Queens Boulevard, especially for the stretch of the strip near where he lives.

“It’s good to be involved and helping with this type of thing because you don’t want other families to go through this,” Munoz said.

The DOT will now take the input from the workshop and use it to come up with recommendations for Queens Boulevard. There are also plans for future workshops for the road.

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North Shore Towers is city’s most popular building complex in 2014


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

There is plenty to celebrate at the North Shore Towers.

Not only will the Floral Park building complex be marking its 40th birthday in 2015, but the towers were New York City’s most popular buildings in terms of sales by a wide margin last year, according to a published report based on data from real estate website PropertyShark.

That’s right, the three-building co-op at 272-40 Grand Central Pkwy. sold 115 units last year, which is 35 more units than the runner-up.

With everything from tennis courts, a pool, a fitness center, a movie theater, a golf course and annual events, the towers attract homeowners of all ages, and that could be the reason for the high number of sales.

To be fair, the median price of an apartment in the complex is about $495,000, which is quite a bit lower than the runner-up, a Manhattan building named The Jefferson, which had a median price of $1.72 million.

Honorable mentions

Some other Queens buildings made the most popular top 10, including Woodside Terrace Condo in Maspeth, which finished in fourth place with 76 units. The buildings, located at 63-14 Queens Blvd., has just 96 total apartments. Nearly 80 percent of its capacity was filled last year.

Coming in at number six is The Vista at 44-15 Purves St, which sold 48 units last year. The buildings are among Queens’ newest luxury residential developments.

And The Bay Club in Bayside took ninth place after selling 44 units last year. But the article points out the condominium has more than 1,000 units, so selling under 4 percent isn’t that much of an accomplishment.

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Sunnyside map updated to attract more visitors to neighborhood


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District

Navigating the streets of Sunnyside just got better.

The Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District, in partnership with the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce and LaGuardia Community College, has released this year’s updated map for the neighborhood.

The map features full-color illustrations and an updated business directory of Sunnyside. A total of 15,000 maps were printed and will be distributed at hotels in Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside, local businesses and real estate offices, and community events.

The introduction of this map is an effort to bring in new people to the neighborhood while also familiarizing new residents with the area.

“The Sunnyside map is a great piece to promote the neighborhood,” said Rachel Thieme, executive director of the Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District. “I was glad to see how well it was received last year, and we are grateful [to our] local businesses for supporting it again this year.”

The map, which will be updated every year with a new business directory and is printed locally at Paper Plus Printing, was started last year following a design competition among students at LaGuardia Community College. The artwork featured on the map for both this year and last year belongs to former student Carmen Zhu.

“Like Sunnyside itself, [the map] is both retro and fresh, and a useful, free, tangible gift to visitors and residents in this era of all online resources,” said Rigoberto Cardoso, president of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce.

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Man exposed himself to store worker at Woodside station: NYPD


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

A man exposed himself to a 22-year-old woman while she was working at a store inside a Woodside subway station earlier this month, police said.

The employee was working in the mezzanine area of the 61st Street and Woodside Avenue station about 1 p.m. on Jan. 3 when the suspect entered the business, cops said. He then exposed himself to the woman.

When a customer came into the store, the suspect fled.

Police have released video footage of the suspect and describe him as black, 25 to 30 years old and 6 feet tall with a skinny build.


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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Woodside man beautifies neighborhood one fire alarm box at a time


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

Call him the anti-graffiti artist.

Woodside resident John S. Colgan has turned outdoor walls, fire boxes, lampposts and hydrants into his canvas — not in an illegal effort at self-expression but to battle the defacing of his beloved neighborhood by graffiti.

Colgan got tired of waiting around for someone to clean up his community from the work of graffiti vandals, so instead he picked up a paintbrush and took matters into his own hands.

For the past three and a half years, Colgan, who goes by “Fire Alarm Guy” on Twitter, has been going around the western Queens neighborhood he calls home and fighting the problem of graffiti, along with bringing fire alarm boxes back to life.

“I wanted to do something nice for the neighborhood,” he said. “When I was a kid in the ’80s everything was pristine. People took care of things themselves back then. If you want to get rid of graffiti in the neighborhood, you have to do it yourself.”

After deciding to give back to community after attending church one morning, the 39-year-old security guard began to repaint lampposts, fire hydrants and fire alarm boxes in Woodside.

He has also taken the time to paint murals underneath bridges in the neighborhood, including a large American Flag, paid for by American Legion Post #1836, located on 32nd Avenue between 56th and 58th street. He plans to update the mural and add more detail to it during the summer. 

“That’s how it all started: I decided to give back, and now I’m addicted to it,” he said. 

Colgan said before he worked in the shadows, because he thought he would get into trouble for painting, but now he goes around talking to people about the issues, in hopes of getting more people involved. 

Taking things further, for the past two years, Colgan has teamed up with the Woodside Neighborhood Association and also begun going around covering up graffiti during a nightly patrol, which at first was just out of habit. Every night he drives around the neighborhood and finds fresh graffiti tags on walls and covers them up with paint he keeps at the ready in his car. He uses whatever color he has on hand. 

Members of the Woodside Neighborhood Association then come back to the site and paint over with a “battleship gray” color so that the new paint looks uniform with the rest. 

Photo courtesy of John S. Colgan

Photo courtesy of John S. Colgan

“The point is if you cover [the graffiti] within 24 hours, the taggers talk to each other and tell each other not to tag there,” he said. “The bottom line is people have to do it themselves. If they don’t fix it then they just get used to seeing it.”

Mostly all the paint used for the projects is purchased from a local shop called Gleason Paint, located at 65-01 Roosevelt Ave. Colgan said that at times the store donates paints and helps with any questions he might have. 

In the past couple of weeks, Colgan said he had noticed less graffiti in his neighborhood and has been able to move his cleanup project to Long Island City and parts of Jackson Heights. He also helps paint hydrants, lampposts and fire alarm boxes found in the perimeter of local police precincts such as the 114th and 108th precincts. 

As the weather gets warmer, Colgan plans to move further into the borough and help cover up graffiti in other areas such as Astoria and Corona. 

“The original goal was just to make it look nice and when I was painting people were stopping,” Colgan said. “The neighborhood is behind me now. They’re taking pride in the neighborhood.”

To see Colgan’s works and get updated information follow @firealarmguy75 on Twitter or @thewoodsideavenger on Instagram.

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Queens native makes career out of performing Hollywood stunts


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Derrick Simmons

Derrick Simmons has fallen from the sky, tumbled from a bridge and almost been run over by a car — and he’s done all of it on purpose.

The Queens native has spent the last two decades as a stuntman, standing in for many of the industry’s top actors.

He’s also acted through the years, getting his start in a national commercial while he was still a child.

Now, after writing, producing and acting in three of his own films, he’s hoping to move from taking the fall for Hollywood’s elite to becoming one of the rising stars himself.

“I love the action,“ Simmons said. “It doesn’t feel like a job because I love what I do.”

Simmons spent the first seven years of his life at the Queensbridge Houses in Long Island City. He then moved to Woodside, where he remained for the next 14 years, until relocating to the Upper East Side, where he still lives today.

His love for acting began at 10 years old. At that age, he started taking acting classes, and during his first showcase, a talent scout saw him and sent him on his first audition. From that audition, he was cast in a national Burger King commercial, opposite Stacey Dash, who would go on to star in the movie “Clueless.”

“Every time [my family] would hear the commercial on the TV we would run into the room and celebrate,” he said.

The commercial earned him entry into the Screen Actors Guild, but the young Simmons thought the $635 fee was a little steep. But after he received his $1,800 paycheck for the commercial, he decided to join.

More commercials as well as TV work soon followed, and as time went on, he would be pulled aside while acting and be replaced with a stuntman. During those moments Simmons had a thought — why can’t I do the stunts?

He started training with stuntmen, and landed one of his first stunt jobs in 1994 on the TV series “New York Undercover,” where he was thrown off a bridge.

From then on, his “phone started lighting up.”

Simmons has done stunts for Chris Rock in the movie “Dogma,” where he fell out of the sky, Taye Diggs in “The Best Man,” Whoopi Goldberg in the latest “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” installment, the Precious character in the film of the same name, Tracy Morgan in “30 Rock” and the movie “Cop Out,” among others.

“We come to the set and we do the action and there is a lot of adrenaline,” Simmons said.

“It’s a great job as long as you don’t get hurt,” he added.

Simmons has only been sent to the hospital twice as a result of performing stunts.

Once he broke his collarbone during a commercial shoot. The second time, he injured his ankle while filming a scene for “NYPD Blue,” where he had to run from a car and almost get hit by the vehicle.

Though he enjoys his work as a stuntman, Simmons said acting is his “first passion.” But he’s found a new love for filmmaking in roles that put him behind the camera.

In an effort to evolve and grow within the industry, he’s written, produced and directed three movies.

In the first “Jump Offs” (2007), he played three roles, and in the second, “Women Do It Better” (2009), he takes on four parts. Both films examine the world of relationships and “players.” The first movie is from the man’s point of view, and the second from the woman’s.

His latest film, “Nobody’s Perfect,” is his first thriller. The film is about a woman who meets the man of her dreams who turns into a nightmare once they get married. The movie won best film at the Mt. Vernon Film Festival this September.

Simmons hopes to turn more of his scripts into films and get to them to a larger audience so he can become more than just the man who does stunts for the big stars.

“As soon as you hear the word Derrick you will think the word entertainment,” he said.

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Sunnyside Shines BID names holiday window photo contest winners


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Sunnyside Shines BID

Christmas might be over but the holidays are still being celebrated in Sunnyside.

The Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District (BID) announced on Tuesday the winners of this year’s Holiday Window Contest, which brought it more than 1,100 votes.

The contest began on Small Business Saturday on Nov. 29, with the BID hoping to encourage local stores to decorate their windows for the holidays.

First place went to Sunnyside Thrift Shop, located at 45-14 Greenpoint Ave., which took home $300. Sunnyside Florist at 40-05 Queens Blvd. won second place and $200, and Pure Spa and Salon at 40-15 Queens Blvd. won third and $100.

“We hoped to encourage Sunnyside stores to create a festive holiday shopping environment,” said Rachel Thieme, executive director of Sunnyside Shines. “The holiday window contest was a fun way to engage businesses and local residents to get into the ‘shop local’ holiday spirit.”

In its second year, the contest served as a competition for not only businesses but also local photographers, who are asked to submit their photos of Sunnyside holiday windows to the Sunnyside Shines BID’s Facebook page.

To enter, participants had to take a photo of a business in the Sunnyside Shines district and its holiday window decorations. Then they uploaded the image to the contest section on the Facebook page, and people began voting.

Photographer Mehdi Smita of Woodside won $250 for receiving the most votes for his photograph.

Mehdi Smita of Woodside won for his photograph.

Mehdi Smita of Woodside won for his photograph.

“The holiday window contest improved business. I saw more people coming in to look at our windows because of the contest,” said Ayman Kasem, manager of Sunnyside Thrift Shop.

This contest was part of the BID’s plan to promote local shopping during the holidays. On Small Business Saturday, the BID held an event and also released the first-ever Shop Local Holiday Gift Guide, which featured gift ideas and coupons.

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Several injured after school bus crashes into Woodside building


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

AmbulanceInMotionHC0507_L_300_C_Y-624x416

A school bus carrying children crashed into a building in Woodside on Friday, leaving several people injured, reports said.

The bus collided with a livery cab and yellow cab before hitting the brick wall of a pizzeria at Woodside Avenue and 59th Street just before 5 p.m., according to published reports.

Fifteen kids, ages 6 to 10, were on the bus and refused medical attention at the scene. Four adults, the two cab drivers, the bus driver and a pizza shop worker, were injured in the crash and taken to Elmhurst Hospital, report said.

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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 week.

Last week’s answer to “Identify this Place”:  IS 125 in Woodside

Woodside IS 125

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Western Queens gets greener: park officials


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Valerie Medoff

Western Queens has gotten greener these past four years with a project that has planted more than 1,000 new trees — and the program will just keep growing.

Partnerships for Parks, a joint program between the nonprofit City Parks Foundation and the city’s Parks Department, celebrated on Dec. 12 the planting of trees and tree care events in Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside over the past few years.

Key project representatives, elected officials and local organizations, such as New York Restoration Project (NYRP), Trees New York, City Parks Foundation and NYC Parks/Forestry, gathered at the celebration ceremony where the “torch was passed” to community volunteers, who will now lead the program and continue to green the neighborhoods.

Since 2011, the Greening Western Queens (GWQ) Urban Forestry and Community Stewardship Program has brought more than 1,100 new trees and over 100 community-enriching tree care projects to the western Queens neighborhoods.

The four-year, grant-funded project was part of a $7.9 million initiative of The North Star Fund to invest in energy efficiency and environmental projects in the community, which was affected by a 2006 electric power outage.

The GWQ program was created in the summer of 2011, when honey locusts and Japanese pagodas were planted. Since then, the project has planted 1,127 trees, including 598 new street trees on sidewalks, 528 trees in publicly accessible private spaces, such as schools, churches and public housing sites, and a storm water mitigation bioswale on the site of the Steinway & Sons piano factory in Astoria.

Other works include training over 400 people in tree care best practices with Trees New York and supporting more than 1,600 people at over 128 volunteer tree care and greening events.

An existing tree inventory was also conducted, and 455 blocks were digitally mapped in the project area in collaboration with TreeKIT and 54 local volunteers during 27 citizen mapping events.

The program also installed 400 custom-designed, GWQ-branded tree guards in order to protect the young street trees and planted more than 1,800 native perennials in 117 tree beds.

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Sunnyside school to be renamed after former councilman, CB 2 chair


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

A new Sunnyside school, which opened its doors this September, will be named after a man who officials and residents call a “great advocate” of the western Queens community.

P.S. 313, located at 45-45 42nd St., will be renamed this Friday as the Walter McCaffrey Campus in honor of a former councilman, the late Walter McCaffrey, who represented the 26th District from 1985 to 2001.

According to Joseph Conley, who recently stepped down as Community Board 2 (CB 2) chair, McCaffrey had affection for Sunnyside and wanted to see the site, which once was home to the Sunnyside Jewish Center, serve as a location for a school.

“Walter was such a dedicated New Yorker and hard worker, and this is celebrating his legacy,” Conley said about the decision to dedicate the school in memory of McCaffrey.

The 75,000-square-foot school has a capacity to serve more than 430 students from prekindergarten to fifth grade. The facility features a gymnatorium, library, 20 classrooms, art and science rooms, and a rooftop play area.

McCaffrey, who died in 2013 at age 64, was born and raised in Woodside. Before being elected to the City Council, he served as chair of CB 2.

While in the City Council, McCaffrey also served as chair of the Zoning and Franchises subcommittee and was on the Land Use, Finance, Public Safety and Transportation committees.

In May, local politicians, community leaders and residents celebrated McCaffrey’s life during a ceremony renaming 61st Street on Woodside Avenue as “Walter McCaffrey Place.”

The school dedication ceremony will take place Friday at P.S. 313 with a concert at 8:30 a.m. and a ribbon cutting afterward.

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MTA blames F train derailment on small rail defects that went unfixed


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of MTA

An F train went careening off its rails last May, injuring 32 and causing massive subway delays, because of several defects in the tracks that went unreported and unrepaired for at least a year after they were first discovered by an automated inspection, according to a report released Friday by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

MTA investigators determined that it was not a single defect in the express track south of the Roosevelt Avenue station, but the combined effect of all those defects in one location that was the likely cause of the derailment.

Disciplinary action is being pursued against three maintenance supervisors and a track inspector for their roles in the derailment — failing to identify, document and correct the defects.

In the wake of the derailment and the ensuing investigation, New York City Transit has changed its inspection protocols to make sure rail defects like the ones found along the F Line are identified and repaired, according to a statement from the transit authority.

While inspectors never reported finding the track defects, despite making repairs to other tracks nearby, an automated inspection system did make a video record of the problems about a year before the derailment.

“Nothing is more important than providing the safest transportation possible for our customers and employees, so determining the cause of this derailment was a top priority for us,” New York City Transit President Carmen Bianco said. “We immediately took corrective action to ensure we always focus on identifying and correcting track defects. This will minimize the risk of future derailments.”

The Manhattan-bound F train was carrying about 1,000 passengers as it hurtled down the express tracks under Broadway at 60th Street in Woodside on May 2, when an 8-foot-long section of the 19-foot, six-inch rail fractured beneath it. Six of the train’s eight cars derailed. Thirty straphangers and two train crew members suffered minor injuries in the crash that caused an estimated $2 million in damages.

65th Street Derailment - Final Report - 12-12-2014.pdf - Adobe Acrobat

The weekday wreck at 10 a.m. forced the MTA to cancel service along the line and caused massive delays that rippled throughout the subway system.

During the investigation, safety officials reviewed videos from previously conducted automated inspections of that same stretch of track. The videos showed multiple problems, including a metal plate and fasteners under the track that had been broken for at least a year before the derailment. A wooden tie under the metal plate also was in poor condition.

The report also noted that two rails were not fitted together properly, leaving one eighth of an inch higher than the rail it was joined to. Metal rails used to join the rails together had been reused and one of six bolts holding them in place was missing. All of the defects were found in an area where crews had earlier replaced two sections of broken track, without investigating why the track was in disrepair.

“The combination of the broken plate, broken fasteners and deteriorated tie should have been prioritized for repairs,” read a statement from the MTA. “The report concludes that Division of Track personnel did not identify, document and correct the track defect at that location, either during regular inspections or when the two prior broken rails were replaced. They also did not adequately investigate the underlying causes of the broken rails.”

The MTA said it has taken other steps to make sure rail defects are properly identified and repaired, including a new procedure that is intended to ensure that plates and fasteners are replaced as soon as possible. The transit agency will add eight maintenance supervisors and will increase the number of times supervisors examine subway lines with the highest number of broken rails that are now inspected monthly by ultrasonic inspection cars.

The Transit Authority spends about $180 million on track maintenance every year. Altogether, the MTA has pumped $1.5 billion into track rehabilitation and construction under its 2010-2014 capital budget.

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New 108th Precinct commanding officer wants to ‘harden’ community against crimes


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

The new top cop at the 108th Precinct wants to enlist the public in the battle against crime as he steps into a new job he said he feels lucky to have landed.

Captain John Travaglia was named commanding officer of the precinct, covering Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside and Maspeth, on Nov. 17, replacing Captain Brian Hennessy, who was assigned commanding officer of the 115th Precinct.

“We don’t choose where we work in the NYPD, they tell us where we work and my lottery numbers came out. I hit the lottery to be in Long Island City,” Travaglia said. “[Hennessy] left me running with a well-oiled machine.”

Just a few weeks into his new assignment, Travaglia was able to present good news during the Dec. 4 Community Board 2 monthly meeting, when he reported that crime in the precinct had dropped significantly over the previous 28 days.

Robberies were down 8 percent, felony assaults down 9 percent, burglaries down 6 percent, grand larceny down 15 percent, and reports of stolen cars were down 50 percent, according to Travaglia.

In his new position, the 22-year NYPD veteran plans to continue what Hennessy accomplished at the precinct, such as Community Friday, which involves taking time to focus especially hard on quality-of-life issues in the precinct.

Using his experience from a previous assignment at NYPD Highway Patrol, Travaglia also said he wants to do more traffic enforcement, since an important issue in the precinct includes high-volume thoroughfares that carry thousands of commuters to and from work. He plans to emphasize enforcement of Vison Zero — a program championed by Mayor de Blasio to reduce traffic deaths — and also create a enhanced effort to crack down on drunken driving.

“There is nothing more important than getting a drunk driver off the road. I can equate it to taking a loaded illegal firearm off the street,” Travaglia said. “If we can somehow prevent a person from being injured, if not killed, that’s just as good as saving someone from a violent demise due to a crime.”

In regards to crime in the neighborhoods, Travaglia said he sees the same types of crimes that he did in his previous posts at the 114th and 104th precincts, such as property-based burglaries, car theft, and grand larceny.

In order to keep the number of such crimes down, Travaglia said he would like to educate residents on how they can help “harden the target” and lessen their chances of becoming crime victims. For example, residents making sure their windows and doors are tightly locked, making sure valuables aren’t left in cars and being more vigilant of their personal property and information.

“It’s not at all to make people feel like the police aren’t here to prevent this. We are here, [but] we cannot be everywhere. I wish we could stop all the bad people from doing this, but we cannot be everywhere,” Travaglia said. “It really is the community being the eyes and ears for the police department. We need people to call. If something looks out of place, we need to know about it.”

Travaglia said he wants to hear from the community, and that includes concerns about problems.

“I welcome complaints, I welcome compliments. I want people to attend community meetings,” he said. “We need to know what the problems are. If someone sees a problem, we need it to be reported. We cannot work a solution if we don’t know what the problem is.”

The next 108th Community Council Meeting is scheduled for Jan. 27, 2015, at Sunnyside Community Services.

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