Tag Archives: Woodside

DOT to install traffic safety features at fatal Woodside intersection


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

The city’s Department of Transportation will make a series of traffic changes on Northern Boulevard in Woodside, where an 8-year-old was killed last year, officials said.

Noshat Nahian was on his way to school, when he was fatally struck by a truck while crossing the busy thoroughfare at 61st Street in December, police said.

In response to the tragedy, the city will install two pedestrian safety islands at the intersection, and remove the westbound left turn bay and signal on Northern Boulevard to eliminate possible vehicle and pedestrian collisions.

“Safety is the agency’s first priority, and following earlier enhancements including parking restrictions to increase the visibility of pedestrians on the northeast corner of the intersection, DOT will proceed with a comprehensive redesign of the area,” a DOT spokeswoman said.

The agency will also adjust signal timing to maximize crossing time for pedestrians, and install school crosswalks at every crossing to increasing the visibility of pedestrians.

Work on the project is expected to be conducted in the following weeks using in-house resources, according to the DOT.

“I am glad to see the city stepping up safety measures at this deadly intersection, though I only wish these plans had been completed before the life of Noshat Nahian was so tragically lost,” said Senator Michael Gianaris, who has worked to ensure that Northern Boulevard, and other western Queens roads, receive attention in the Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative.

“This is an encouraging step in that direction but we have far more to do to remove the dangers posed by our streets,” Gianaris said.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer has also worked with school leaders, parents and the community to get the safety measures approved in the area.

“We must do everything possible to make sure that no child is ever harmed trying to cross the street to get to PS 152. We continue to mourn Noshat Nahian and we are as committed as ever to making Vision Zero a reality in Woodside, and New York City,” Van Bramer said.

 

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New federal legislation to focus funds on areas with increased pedestrian accidents


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Newly proposed legislation will require states to focus federal resources in areas where there have been an increase in pedestrian fatalities or injuries, one politician said.

U.S Rep. Joseph Crowley created the Pedestrian Fatalities Reduction Act of 2014 to help prevent another traffic fatality from occurring on New York City streets.

Crowley made the announcement on the corner where 11-year-old Miguel Torres was fatally struck in December of 2012 as he was crossing Northern Boulevard to get to school. Last October 3-year-old Olvin Jahir Figueroa was killed crossing Northern Boulevard near Junction Boulevard with his mom. In December 8-year-old Noshat Nahian was killed crossing the busy street on the way to his Woodside school.

“The recent string in traffic related deaths in and around Queens demands our immediate attention to find solutions,” Crowley said. “We need to ensure the federal highway safety funds at their disposal are put toward achieving our goal of reducing pedestrian fatalities to zero.”

States are currently required to submit a Strategic Highway Safety Plan to the Federal Highway Administration for them to receive federal highway safety funds. This state-wide plan is used by state transportation departments to look at safety needs and decide where to make investments.

The Pedestrian Fatalities Reduction Act of 2014 will require the safety plan to include statistics on pedestrian injuries and fatalities, and each state must show how it expects to address any increases at both state and county levels.

“Pedestrian safety is a vitally important issue for my district and citywide,” said Councilman Daniel Dromm, who has worked with the Department of Transportation to implement neighborhood slow zones and other safety improvements. “However, more can always be done and this legislation would give some much needed funding to this tragic problem.”

The new legislation is also expected to update the federal handbook, which local and state transportation departments use when gathering highway safety data, in order to include items that will promote safety for pedestrians and cyclists.

“For too long, the people of New York City have seen repeated injuries in areas that have been proven to be dangerous and high risk,” said Cristina Furlong of the group Make Queens Safer. “With the passing of this legislation, New York will be able to provide the resources necessary to transform our dangerous streets.”

 

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Queens student treated for tuberculosis as cases rise in city


| mchan@queenscourier.com

CDC/ Melissa Brower

A Hillcrest High School student recently exposed to tuberculosis is receiving treatment and recovering from the potentially deadly bacterial infection, officials said.

The Health Department tested 170 students and six staff members who might have been at risk at the Queens school Tuesday as a precaution.

“Given that the person with TB is receiving treatment, there is no health risk to students or staff currently at the school,” a department spokeswoman said.

Tuberculosis cases are on the rise in the city for the first time in a decade, health officials said. They increased 1 percent from 651 in 2012 to 656 in 2013.

Most people infected were foreign-born, living in Flushing, western Queens and Sunset Park in Brooklyn, according to the Health Department.

Officials said 19 out of 100,000 people have contracted the disease in Corona, Woodside, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights and Maspeth and 15 out of 100,000 in Flushing.

“Many are likely infected in their country of origin and developed TB after entering the U.S.,” Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said.

Smokers and people with diabetes or HIV have a higher chance of getting tuberculosis and should be tested for the disease, Bassett said.

Tuberculosis, which usually affects the lungs, spreads from person to person through the air.

 

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Pols ask for closer alternative for P.S. 11 students


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Woodside parents and politicians are asking the Department of Education to consider renting space in a nearby former Catholic school building rather than busing the kindergarten and first-graders miles away to Astoria.

Last week, a group of elected officials sent a letter to the DOE asking it to send the students from P.S. 11 in Woodside to the former St. Teresa School building, instead of P.S. 171 in Astoria.

The letter came as the agency announced the vote on the Woodside school’s partial co-location and re-siting had been postponed until April 9.

The 3-year relocation of the students, expected to begin for the 2014-15 school year, is a result of the School Construction Authority’s plan to build a brand new mini-building addition to P.S. 11 with a capacity of 856 seats.

In the letter the officials wrote the new option would provide the students the adequate space needed for a safe and positive learning environment, together with keeping in mind the concerns of parents. It would also keep the children in the same neighborhood.

P.S. 199 in Long Island City currently rents the first floor of the St. Teresa building for its kindergarten classes. The second and third floors are unoccupied, according to the officials.

Martin Connolly, father of three, was happy to hear about the DOE’s vote postponement and believes moving the children to the St. Teresa building would make it manageable for both the families and students.

“We as a family are more comfortable with the idea. We would like to keep our kids close by, we don’t believe our children are old enough to travel that distance every day,” said Connolly, who has a daughter in second grade and a son in kindergarten at P.S. 11. His youngest son is expected to start kindergarten at the school next year. “They’re toddlers, they’re still babies.”

The Woodside father also said other parents have not been told exactly what will happen during the three years of the temporary co-location and that when parents sign their children up for P.S. 11, they are not made aware of the re-siting.

“The DOE needs to know that everyone should be made aware of this,” he said. “They need to realize that everybody’s child is precious to them.”

The DOE did not respond to request for comment by press time.

 

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DOE postpones vote on temporary relocation plans of Woodside’s P.S. 11 students


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Julianne O’Riordan

The Department of Education (DOE) announced the vote on a Woodside school’s partial co-location and re-siting has been postponed.

Next month, the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) will decide if kindergarten and first grade students from P.S. 11 in Woodside will be sent to P.S. 171 in Astoria.

The three-year relocation of the students, expected to begin for the 2014-15 school year, comes as the School Construction Authority (SCA) plans to build a brand new mini-building addition to P.S. 11 with a capacity of 856 seats.

“I am encouraged by the collaborative effort by the Department of Education, the School Construction Authority and the Mayor’s Office to delay the vote on the proposal to bus over 250 kindergartners from Woodside to a school almost three miles away in Astoria,” said Congressmember Joseph Crowley. “Every alternative must be considered to ensure that these young children receive a quality education without having to be uprooted from their home community.”

Last month, Crowley gathered with other local elected officials and parents of students from P.S. 11 to voice their disagreement with the DOE’s final recommendation to move forward with the plan.

The PEP was originally going to vote on the proposal on March 18 but will now vote on April 9.

 

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IBZ funding cuts could hit home for businesses


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Follow me @liamlaguerre

 

 

It’s been nearly six years since Allen Frechter moved his company, Plexi-Craft, to Long Island City.

Plexi-Craft, which was founded more than a half-century ago in Manhattan, makes acrylic furniture and displays.

Frechter took control in 2008 after his father passed away and he wanted to expand, but realized Manhattan was too expensive.

Frechter, who lives in Boston, thought about moving to Massachusetts. He also considered New Jersey and New Rochelle. But because of concern for his employees, and help from a local Industrial Business Zone (IBZ) manager in receiving incentives, he was drawn to LIC.

“We have guys [employees] that have been here for 35 years, and our average is about 10-12 years,” Frechter said. “If we had moved out of the city, these guys would have been out of jobs.”

Plexi-Craft currently employees 25 people, including 20 industrial workers, who cut, smooth and sort acrylic pieces. All of the employees live within the five boroughs.

Community leaders want companies such as Plexi-Craft, which is located in the LIC IBZ, to stay and grow in the city.
But some business owners and industry advocates say that their way of life is being threatened, since Mayor Bill de Blasio removed $1.1 million in funding for the IBZs from his preliminary budgets released last month.

The program was originally created to save and foster manufacturing and industrial jobs in the city, but funding has been reduced year after year.

The $1.1 million from last year’s budget was approved by the City Council in its revision, after then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg cut it from his budget. The City Council and de Blasio still have to make revisions to this year’s budget, so business owners hope the money will not only be replaced, but increased.

When Bloomberg created the IBZs in 2006, he allocated nearly $4 million to the program.

The money is used to give tax credits, up to $1,000 per employee if conditions are met, and pay for consulting services for IBZ managers, which businesses consider invaluable.

Many business owners are too preoccupied with running their establishments to figure out what they qualify for, and find it confusing to understand the alphabet soup of programs. That’s just one way IBZ managers try to help.

Spaeth Designs, a company that makes animated displays for stores during the holidays, including Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor and Bloomingdale’s, is one such company. Spaeth Designs was located in Manhattan for about 40 years, until owners of the building they were in on 54th Street doubled the rent last year.

After talking with an IBZ manager in Queens, they decided to buy a building in Woodside, where the newly formed IBZ was affirmed.

The owners are depending on the IBZ manager to help figure out what incentive programs they qualify for. Since January, the company has been in the process of moving in to its new location.

“We were focused on getting the building and fixing it,” said Sandy Spaeth, president of Spaeth Designs. “What we need right now is to move in. As far as benefits go we don’t know yet.”

Spaeth employs about 30 worker at the height of its production season from July through November, and owners said their employees live in the five boroughs.

The other argument for the IBZs is that it will protect industrial businesses, since they are zoned for manufacturing companies.

David Spaeth, CEO and chairperson of Spaeth Designs, said the rent increase occurred because their former neighborhood was seeing an influx of luxurious businesses in other sectors. But in an IBZ, he argues, they won’t be pressured out.

“This is our home,” Spaeth said, “and for as long as we see it.”

 

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Congressmember Crowley kicks of re-election campaign


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Dominick Totino Photography

Congressmember Joseph Crowley has launched his re-election campaign.

Crowley, who was first elected to Congress in 1998, was voted in last year to represent sections of Queens and the Bronx in the 14th Congressional District.

He officially kicked off his campaign for re-election on Sunday, March 9, in Sunnyside, though no opponents have declared their candidacies as of yet.

“It has been my privilege to represent the people of one of the most diverse districts in the country, and I am excited to announce I’ll be seeking re-election to continue to focus on the issues that matter most,” Crowley said.

The announcement came as the Woodside native gathered with other elected officials and supporters during his fifth annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration at Sidetracks Restaurant.

“Too many families are still struggling to get by and we need to break the gridlock in Congress to get our country moving forward again,” he said. “Using my position in the elected leadership of the House Democratic Caucus, I am fully committed to making a real difference in people’s lives. That means putting New Yorkers back to work, raising the minimum wage, protecting social services that are vital to our most vulnerable communities, and fighting hard to make immigration reform a reality.”

Recently, Crowley introduced the On-The-Job Training Act that would guarantee American workers are able to gain new skills to both compete and succeed in the job market.

 

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Police warn Maspeth, Woodside residents of home burglars


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Follow me @liamlaguerre


The 104th Precinct is warning residents to beware of burglars.

The precinct’s detective team has released flyers seeking information that could help prevent future loss of property or catch thieves that have committed several recent home burglaries in Maspeth.

“Help us, Help you!,” is written on the flyer. “Recently there have been numerous burglaries in the Maspeth/Woodside, Queens area while homeowners are at work or away from home.”

Anyone with information is asked to call the precinct’s detective team at 718-386-2723.

Flyer courtesy of NYPD

 

 

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Police: Suspects steal $16K from Woodside business


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Three men walked into a Woodside business last month, taking thousands in cash as well as the employees’ own money and cell phones, cops said.

The robbery occurred about 6:40 p.m. on Feb. 25 at Sensational Livery Cab Leasing Services on 48th Avenue, police said.

After entering the business, the suspects, armed with guns, demanded property from five employees, then fled with the victims’ cell phones and cash, and approximately $16,000, according to authorities

Police described the suspects as males in their early 20s with slim builds.

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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114th Precinct faces increase in burglaries


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

The 114th Precinct has faced a spike in burglaries since the beginning of the year, according to CompStat.

The increase is due to a string of home burglaries in which police say the suspects gain access to the roofs of apartment buildings, walk down fire escapes and enter homes through opened or unlocked windows, according to published reports.

For the 28-day period over the last month ending February 23 there was a 115 percent increase in burglaries with a total of 43 incidents, compared to 20 in the same period last year, according to NYPD statistics.

To find out more information, residents can call the 114 Precinct’s Crime Prevention Bureau at 718-626-9324.

 

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Industrial Business Zones in danger of losing funding


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Follow me @liamlaguerre 

 

Ted Renz is hoping what he fought so hard for won’t soon end.

Just last November, Renz, director of the Ridgewood Local Development Corporation, was at the forefront of the fight to get the neighborhood included in the Industrial Business Zone (IBZ) program.

But only three months later, the IBZ may be in jeopardy, as Mayor Bill de Blasio didn’t include $1.1 million in funding in his preliminary budget for the program, an initiative left over from the previous administration to save manufacturing jobs.

“We are disappointed that it wasn’t in the mayor’s budget,” Renz said. “We thought that he was a big supporter of manufacturing jobs. We hope that it will be reinstated (in his final budget).”

IBZs were created to stabilize industrial areas and spur growth in the manufacturing sector by offering tax credits of up to $1,000 per employee for businesses that relocated to them, and additional services to help companies grow.

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg allocated nearly $4 million to 16 IBZs in 2006.

However, since its inception, funding decreased to about $1.1 million in 2013. Bloomberg himself hasn’t allocated money to the initiative since 2010, but the City Council has restored it every year, according to the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

The move could mean de Blasio, who supported manufacturing jobs during his campaign, will engage a different strategy to assist the sector, although his administration has not come up with any specifics.

“The de Blasio administration is committed to making smart, impactful investments that will help industrial business thrive in New York City, and is working with our agency partners to take a fresh look at the suite of programs that support this critical part of the city economy,” a spokesperson for the mayor said. “Spending differences in one program do not speak to the overall commitment to industrial firms and their jobs.”

Despite the decline in funding over the years, the program has grown to 21 IBZs, including Ridgewood and Woodside last year.

Community Board (CB) 5 especially pushed for the Ridgewood IBZ against opponents, which are owners who wanted to use their properties for residential use instead of industrial.

“It enables us to promote businesses more in that area and advocate for businesses, and provide programs for manufacturing,” said Renz, who is a member of CB 5.

In March, the city council will review the preliminary budget, and some are touting the IBZ’s signficance. “I am committed to restore it,” Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley said. “I know it is important not just to Maspeth and Ridgewood, but the rest of the city. It is something that the council treasures.”

 

 

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Parents, pols oppose temporary relocation plan for P.S. 11 students


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

A group of Woodside parents is sending the Department of Education (DOE) back to the drawing board.

Congressmember Joseph Crowley gathered with other local elected officials and parents of students from P.S. 11, located at 54-25 Skillman Ave., to voice their disagreement with the DOE’s final recommendation of sending the school’s kindergarten and first grade students to P.S. 171 in Astoria.

The temporary relocation of the students, expected to begin for the 2014-15 school year, comes as the School Construction Authority (SCA) plans to build a brand new mini-building addition to P.S. 11 with a capacity of 856 seats.

“I commend the DOE and the SCA for allocating millions of dollars towards this expansion,” Crowley said. “At the same time, though, we must ensure that our children, especially our youngest elementary students, are not displaced to a school outside of the confines of their own neighborhood.”

Last month, the elected officials sent a letter to Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña urging her to reconsider the proposed plan.

According to the DOE’s proposal, the incoming kindergarten class and some first grade students would be transported by bus to P.S. 171, close to three miles away from their zoned school. Then for the 2015-16 school year the children would be relocated to a new elementary school located at 39-07 57th Street. For the third year, the students would then return to P.S. 11.

Woodside parent Julianne O’Riordan currently has a daughter in second grade and a son in kindergarten at P.S. 11, and her youngest son is expected to start kindergarten at the school next year.

“For the first three years of school he’s going to be moved around Queens like a piece on a chess board,” said O’Riordan, about her youngest son, Enda. “We love P.S. 11, its principal, teachers and staff. That is why we are upset that our younger children may not get to have the same wonderful experience that our daughter has enjoyed.”


Enda,4, and his 5-year-old brother Luke will have to go to P.S. 171 next year. (Photo Courtesy of Julianne O’Riordan)

Although the group of parents and elected officials are thrilled to be getting an expansion for the crowded school, they are calling on the DOE to look at different options that would keep the children in the community.

“Taking these kids and moving them miles away to school is going to damage their education and slow them down in their progress and it’s something we impose upon the [DOE] to fix, and fix before it becomes a problem,” State Senator Michael Gianaris said.

Throughout the process of deciding the best course of action during the estimated three year construction, consideration was given to every possible option, according to the DOE.

“Our aim is to deliver a state-of-the-art addition to the building, and as part of our newly announced engagement protocol, we will be scheduling a meeting with the entire school community,” said DOE spokesperson Harry Hartfield.

 

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Pols call for Northern Boulevard to be included in mayor’s Vision Zero initiative


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Local politicians and residents are saying the time to act is now, before another innocent life is taken on Northern Blvd

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer gathered with other elected officials and traffic safety advocates Thursday to call for Northern Blvd. to be added as one of the 50 locations in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative

“We are all committed to Vision Zero, and it is our obligation to speak up and stand up every single time pedestrians are killed or injured as a result of reckless driving,” said Van Bramer, who has developed a list of locations with traffic fatalities. “We’re calling for the administration to include Northern Boulevard, and really all over Northern Boulevard, stretching into Jackson Heights and Corona, deserve this recognition.”

The group gathered at the intersection of Northern Blvd. and 48th St. in Woodside, where four pedestrians were stuck Saturday while they were waiting for the bus. One of the victims was a 7-year-old girl who suffered a skull fracture but survived. 

“Here we go again,” said Senator Michael Gianaris, who introduced a bill in the Senate, which would charge drivers who continue to drive without a valid license and are in an accident that causes serious injury or death with vehicular assault.

“Until we begin taking pedestrian safety seriously, we are going to keep standing at more and more press conferences talking about the same issue and we hope we don’t have to do it too many more times,”  he said.

Last month, de Blasio and his administration launched an interagency working group, together with the NYPD, Department of Transportation, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Taxi & Limousine Commission, to implement a Vision Zero initiative aiming to reduce traffic fatalities to zero within the next 10 years.

The announcement took place just less than a block from where third-grader Noshat Nahian, who was on his way to school, was fatally struck in December by a tractor trailer on Northern Blvd. and 61st St.

The working group will come together to implement the mayor’s plan by developing a report, due to the mayor by Feb. 15 and released publicly, that will serve as a blueprint for the mayor’s “Vision Zero” plan for safer streets through the city.

“Clearly Northern Blvd. deserves this recognition and we are asking the administration to include this series of intersections on Northern Boulevard so no child is ever killed trying to cross the street going to school,” said Van Bramer. “This is a street. For some, they may think it’s a highway, but the truth is there are people living, working and going to school all along Northern Blvd. and it has to be just as safe as any other street in the city of New York and until it is so, we will not rest.”

 

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Cops looking for suspect who punched 65-year-old during Woodside attempted burglary


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

A woman coming home to her Woodside apartment Thursday night was attacked by a man who punched her in the head and tried to burglarize her, police said.

The suspect approached the 65-year-old victim about 6 p.m. on Jan. 30 as she was entering her home near 50th Street and 43rd Avenue, according to the NYPD. Once inside her apartment, the suspect threw her to the ground, punching her in her head. The suspect fled on fled on foot without taking any property, police said.

The victim sustained bruising and swelling to her lip.

Police describe the suspect as a white man with light colored hair, approximately 50 to 60 years old and 170 to 190 pounds. He was last seen wearing a baseball cap, dark clothing, and white sneakers.

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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Police looking for suspect in Woodside church burglaries


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

A man broke into two Woodside churches this month, stealing electronics and other valuables, cops said.

The suspect first burglarized the 7th Day Adventist Community Church, at 41-26 58 St., just after midnight on Jan. 16, taking off with two desktop computers, a laptop computer and two dozen Visa gift cards, police said.

During the overnight hours of Jan. 24, the suspect forced open a rear door of Sure Foundation Lutheran Church, at 64-20 Roosevelt Ave., and stole an iPad, iPod, cash and checks, cops said.

Police describe the suspect as a Hispanic man in his 30s, with a medium build. The NYPD has release a photo from the first incident, where he was wearing a red baseball hat, a red waist-length jacket, blue jeans and sneakers.

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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