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April 30, 2008











April 16, 2008

We Light Up Queens: Academic Leave

Due to academic obligations, I will be away from the "Blog-o-sphere" for the next few weeks.

Consequently as of now the blog will not be updated.

If you would like to assist me and become a guest blogger in my absence that would be greatly appreciated. Send me an email at WeLightUpQueens [at] Gmail [dot] com.

If you are a regular reader, please subscribe to my RSS feed so that you can be notified when the Blog comes back in full force.


We Light Up Queens

April 13, 2008

Queens Economics Improving

Queens, NYC Economic Picture Shows Improvements

"It's a terrific time to live and work in Queens," Lieber said, pointing out that residential market values have doubled in the past six years, crime is down by one-third and graffiti clearance has become a principal program of the police and their auxiliary groups. Figuratively touring the borough, he began in Flushing, a big commercial and transportation center, where the Downtown Flushing Task Force was formed in 2002 and dedicated itself to cleaner streets and attractive signage.

In Jamaica, $80 million has been invested by the city in street improvement in the vicinity of the Airtrain station; and the project to build 350 apartments on the old Queens Family Courthouse site is another example of the public sector setting the stage for private development.

He said that "for too long, Willets Point has remained stagnant" with a bad sewer system and other conditions that have rendered the area a pollution problem. Proper sewers and lighting are the forerunners of vast residential and commercial development. Another task that must be carried out is job replacement for the job displacement that is taking place in Willets Point in the automotive collision and body businesses that operate there now. Willets Point presents a situation that has been neglected for too long, Lieber said, but no time should be wasted blaming previous administrations for it, just get on with setting it right.
Stuff like this gives me both hope and pride to live where I live. It also sounds politically driven but what isn't these days?

April 12, 2008

Woodhaven Lanes Gutter Balled Over Lease Renewal

Queens Bowlers Rally To Keep A Beloved Alley Open

Dozens of residents in Glendale, Queens rallied Saturday to keep the Woodhaven Lanes bowling alley open.

Area bowlers are not happy at the possibility of the alley closing its doors after more than 45 years in business. Thousands of signatures to keep the good times rolling.

"We want this to remain a bowling alley. This is more than just a bowling alley it's a community center,” said bowler Jim Santora.

The Brunswick Bowling company said it will not renew its lease after the current league season ends this spring.
Maybe with all the space being added at Atlas Park, Woodhaven Lanes could have a new home. I always felt it was over priced but it was always packed with people, definitely something that will be missed.

The New York Philharmonic Announces Free Concerts In Queens

The New York Philharmonic Announces Free Concerts In Staten Island, Queens, The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, And New Jersey As Part Of The 2008 ‘Concerts In The Park Series."

The New York Philharmonic today announced details about free concerts in the boroughs of New York City as well as New Jersey as part of the 2008 Concerts in the Parks, Presented by Didi and Oscar Schafer, taking place June 24 and July 8–15 2008.

-The New York Philharmonic will perform in the Richmond County Bank Ballpark on Staten Island (July 8);

-PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, New Jersey (July 9);

-Cunningham Park in Queens (July 10);

-Van Cortlandt Park, the Bronx (July 11);

-Prospect Park in Brooklyn (July 14),

-Heckscher State Park, Long Island (July 12).

In addition to previously announced concerts in Central Park (June 24th and July15th)

The concerts on Staten Island and in New Jersey, Queens, the Bronx, and Long Island will feature works by Mozart, Bach, and Elgar, conducted by Philharmonic Associate Conductor Xian Zhang. Music Director Designate Alan Gilbert will lead the concert in Prospect Park in works by Bach, Beethoven, and Sibelius. New York Philharmonic Associate Principal Concertmaster Sheryl Staples and Assistant Concertmaster Michelle Kim will be the soloists in J.S. Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins in D minor, BWV 1043, in these concerts.

All concerts at 8:00 p.m.

Seems like Queens is the place to be this Spring.

Shea Stadium Beer Economics

Shea Stadium Beer Economics

Yet every year, people manage to afford enough beer at Shea to get blotto'ed and embarrass themselves. Clearly, the Mets have the wealthiest alcoholic fans in Queens.

But with gas heading to $4/gallon and a possible recession looming, it's time to break down the true cost of beer at Shea Stadium.

Loge13 regular Don Hahn Solo did just that in a recent note to me:

  • $8 for 16 ounces is fifty cents an ounce.
  • There are 128 ounces in a gallon.
  • Bud at Shea Stadium is $64 a gallon.

Queens: A Taste of the World Event

Queens restaurants heat up food event

30 Queens restaurants are set to offer the best of their culinary delights at the sixth annual "Queens: A Taste of the World" event at the National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park on Monday.

"We're excited about how this event has grown each year," said Spencer Ferdinand, executive director of the Queens Economic Development Corp., which sponsors the event.

As a buildup to Monday, chefs from some of the borough's best-known eateries - including Astoria's Mezzo Mezzo and Bayside's Papazzio Restaurant - gave live cooking demonstrations at Macy's in Herald Square.

The restaurants participating in the event "will be our headliners for September's Restaurant Week," said Michelle Stoddart, a spokeswoman for the QEDC.

Tickets are $85 each, or two for $150.

April 11, 2008

The Next Major Transporation Hub in Flushing?

Make downtown Flushing major transportation center

I have been a resident of Flushing for over 50 years. I watched it grow and fall and grow again. Each time it reinvents itself, I am proud to say I am from Flushing.

But our downtown needs to step up to the world plate. We are hitting singles while the rest of the world is slamming home runs. Anyone traveling outside America can see the enormous growth of cities. We need to make Flushing a showplace to compete with Shanghai, Beijing, London, Paris and Dubai, just to name a few. We need a transportation system that connects to our airports and looks like a showcase, not a hole in the ground.

I propose we take the old Master's, Alexander's, Corvette's and all the other names and convert them into a transportation hub. The building, on Main Street and Roosevelt Avenue, could have the Long Island Rail Road on one side and the 7 train underneath. The AirTrain could be brought right into the building, connecting everyone and allowing people to make their transfers.

The building could also be made into small shops similar to Penn Station. This would be the gateway to Flushing and all it has to offer. Instead of exiting the subway system onto a rain-soaked street or trying to find your friend waiting in a doorway, you could be in a large heated or air conditioned, stunning waiting room with shops and amenities.

Bob Bedrossian

In the light of the failures of Congestion Pricing and the Willets Point Plan, I think Bob's suggestion is one that if done properly could really improve the area, not to mention making the area surrounding it much for valuable, which will bring along investors. I would much rather take mass transit to an JFK than a cab, its more convenient and its price effective.This is not only feasible, I don't think it will require to use of Eminent Domain which should make things much easier. Then again with the lack of funding it could be awhile until something like this is taken seriously.

The Day Congestion Pricing Died

Congestion Pricing Dies in Albany

Denied the opportunity to vote on the proposal, congestion pricing was killed in Albany this week to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s chagrin.

The State Assembly never voted on the controversial plan that would charge drivers $8 to enter Manhattan below 60th Street and the state has now forfeited some $350 million in federal transportation funds for system improvements.

City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing), Chairman of the City Council Transportation Committee, was a leading proponent and voted for congestion pricing. He said in statement, “This defeat is disappointing to transportation advocates, environmental advocates, community activists and business leaders alike. However, there’s no use crying over spilled milk. Even without congestion pricing, we still need to reduce the extreme congestion that has a chokehold on our economy as well as on our environment.”

He was also critical of the mayor’s political strategy, implying that his administration failed to build a consensus around the plan.

“The Mayor’s people forgot to understand the legislative process. A high-and-almighty approach supplanted what should have been a collaborative process. The worst part of the Administration’s approach was that the City Council was pawned off in the process.”
There go my hopes of better transit. I think the Manhattanites would have benefited, the everyday traffic and everything that goes along with it would have been greatly affected.

Come Walk For MS

Walk For MS:

Every year, Queens residents are among the thousands of New Yorkers who participate in Walk MS, a walk to raise money for the NYC Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. This year’s walk, expected to bring in more than $3.2 million, is scheduled for April 12 in Staten Island and April 13 in Manhattan.

For more information visit or call (212) 463-9791.

I have been walking for a couple of years now, it is quite a powerful experience.

$17 Million Funneled into Faticious Organizations

$17M Go To Fake Groups

Approximately $17.4 million has been allocated to fake community groups. The practice precedes Quinn’s tenure, dating back to 2001, but peaked in 2007 with 18 ghost groups – such as the Coalition of Informed Individuals and Senior Citizens for Equality – receiving $4.5 million.

The New York Post was first to report the practice and Quinn immediately held a news conference last Thursday.
“I was obviously deeply troubled when I found out about this information,” Quinn said. “I had no knowledge of it; I did not know this was the practice. It’s something I believe is completely inappropriate and should not have gone on, and will no longer go on.”

Quinn became speaker in January 2006 and only discovered the fictitious organizations last fall. She said she then alerted the United States attorney’s office and the City’s Department of Investigation and hired an outside law firm, Sullivan & Cromwell.

City Comptroller Bill Thompson released the following statement: “The allegations reported today in The New York Post raise serious concerns. If there were any attempts to subvert the New York City Charter or to hide money in nonexistent organizations, these actions would represent a breach of the public trust.”

Queens Councilman David Weprin (D-Hollis), who chairs the finance committee, pointed out the Mayor’s role in the scandal.
Just when you thought you could trust Bloomie and his Billions. That is a lot of money that could have went to schools or improvement in the MTA.

April 9, 2008

Atlas Park Mall to Double In Size

Damon Hemmerdinger, Selling the Archie Bunker Borough Nationally

Damon Hemmerdinger, the owner of the massive Glendale mall the Shops at Atlas Park (and the son of M.T.A. chairman Dale Hemmerdinger), has been running around passing out $20,000 of his own money. Why? Because the 36-year-old wants people to shop! In Queens!
There is an awesome Q & A with Mr. Hemmerdinger. He speaks very highly of Queens.

Even now, we speak to national retail brokers or retailers’ in-house real estate people, and they’ll say, ‘I’m not interested in Queens.’ It’s hard to know what that means. It’s the entire population of San Diego county!

It’s more than the entire population of the state of West Virginia.

Right. It’s bigger than 19 states. To dismiss it before you even look still doesn’t make sense to me. But it happens all the time.

Iv'e been to Atlas Park a few times and think that it truely stands out, its not something you would expect in Glendale or anywhere in Queens for that matter. This project will make a ride into Glendale more feasible than a ride out to Roosevelt Fields, for most people. I don't know how the economy will affect this project, but I am all for it.

MTA Hands Over Valuable Land in Queens

MTA Hands Over Valuable Real Estate To Spur Jamaica Redevelopment

More stores are on the way for commuters and Jamaica residents, as the MTA announced today that it is leasing some valuable real estate, as part of a plan to spur development in southeast Queens.

The Greater Jamaica Development Corporation is spear-heading a $12 million project, aimed at bringing more retail and private investment to the neighborhood.

To help the effort, the Long Island Rail Road is relocating its print shop, currently located under the rail road tracks on Sutphin Boulevard, to another Queens location.

The new plans would call for a better-lit underpass and more than 5,000 square feet of retail space.

Currently, the railroad underpass, pictured above, is a dark tunnel across the street from the entrance to the railroad and air train stations.

"Sometimes if you walk underneath here, you can't see the person's face that's coming towards you," said a local.

Supporters say they are especially interested in promoting businesses that cater to both the neighborhood and to LIRR customers.

"We are hoping to do convenience stores that will be helpful to people riding the Long Island Railroad and those in the neighborhood," said Andrew Manshel of the Greater Jamaica Development Corp.

"We service 280,000 customers daily, and many of them come through Jamaica, so additional retail might make this a good stopping off point for them," said Susan McGowan of LIRR.

Construction on the project is set to begin later this year.
This will be beneficial to both the community and to commuters and I give kudos. However I am still skeptical that someone is getting rich on this transaction.

Queens: Counterfit Tax Stamp Operation Bust

Police Bust Queens Counterfeit Tax Stamp Operation

Police officials busted a counterfeit operation that they said could have net millions in illegal cigarette sales.

Officials seized $6 million worth of fake tax stamps, which would have been put on cigarette boxes to appear they were taxed properly.

The operations was the largest seizure of counterfeit tax stamps in New York State history.

Undercover investigators say they sold tens of thousands of cartons of smuggled cigarettes to Queens resident Refea Al-Nablisi, 40, who then sold more than a million fake tax stamps.

Al-Nablisi faces 15 years in prison for tax violations and counterfeiting.

The bust is part of an ongoing investigation into gangs dealing in black market cigarettes.
Only in Queens.... Now my tobacco products will cost more too. First my Air Gordans and now my smokes. Maybe now the increased taxes will do something productive and progressive for New York City. *cough* Fund the St. Saviors Move *cough*

April 6, 2008

Aristotle Lives in Queens?

Aristotle Statue Unveiled In Queens Park

Elected officials and community members gathered in Athens Square Park in Astoria Saturday to unveil a bust of Aristotle, the famed Greek philosopher.

Those in attendance said the statue is a great honor for the city's large Greek population.

"Just like in history, Aristotle follows Socrates. We had the bust of Socrates, the statue of Athena, and now Aristotle comes to Astoria. It's a jewel for not just for this community, but for the entire city," said Queens Democratic Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr.

The statue is a gift from Greece.
We Actually need more statues in all of our city parks. Congratulations Astoria Park.

April 5, 2008

Queens Awareness Walk for Developmental Disabilities

Dozens Walk In Queens To Raise Awareness Of Developmental Disabilities

Walkers pounded the pavement in Queens today to show support for an organization dedicated to serving people with disabilities.

Dozens of people came out for the 33rd annual five-mile walk sponsored by the Queens Centers for Progress.

Organizers say the walk is not only about raising money.

"It's often the case that unless someone has a family member with a disability, they really don't know too much about developmental disabilities and what people with those conditions can do, and we find this a good educational opportunity," said Charles Houston of the Queens Center for Progress.

April 4, 2008

Queens Leads Job Growth in the State of New York

Queens Leads State In Job Growth

Employment in Queens is growing faster than anywhere else in the state.

Also, average weekly wages went up almost 13 percent over the year, making it's wage growth the second highest out of any county in the country.

On one hand I am surprised of this fact, however when you think about the massive development going on in Queens especially over the past 5 years or so it makes too much sense. I would be skeptical about the quality of the majority of these jobs.

Despite MTA funding cuts 7 Train Sees Improvements

NYC Transit To Take Steps Toward Improving Subway Announcements

Transit officials are listening to riders' complaints about garbled or inaudible subway announcements.

New York City Transit says hundreds of decades-old subway cars are getting external speakers so messages from the conductor can be heard more clearly by riders on the platform.

Transit officials are also looking to replace the conductors' microphones to improve onboard messages.

Trains on the 7 lines will be the first to get the new equipment. If the change proves successful on that line, it will likely be expanded to other lines.

About 2,500 of the system's 6,200 cars, mostly the newer ones, already have exterior speakers pointed towards the platforms.

NYPIRG will be very happy about this, as they pushed very hard for new intercom speakers to hear the Conductors better. Maybe with these upgrades the next survey of the 7 Train will be better than a C-.

Police Raid Flushing Warehouse: Find 16 Million in Counterfit Goods

Queens Police Make City's Largest Counterfeit Bust
Police in Queens made one of the biggest counterfeit busts in city history Thursday night.

Police raided a warehouse on Northern Boulevard in Flushing, and seized the merchandise with an estimated value of nearly $4.5 million.

Among the items seized were 50,000 pairs of sneakers, more than 30,000 counterfeit handbags, and 5,000 pieces of clothing.

Police said the estimated retail value of the legitimate versions of the items is approximately $16 million.

There go my new pair of Air Gordans I was going to buy on Main Street this weekend.

Teen Stabbed in Queens Public Library

Elmont Teen Arrested in Library Assault

Police arrested a 17-year-old Elmont girl for allegedly assaulting another teen in the Elmont Public Library.

According to police, on Wednesday, March 26 at 3:52 p.m., two teenagers engaged in a verbal argument, which escalated into a physical altercation.

Police allege that one of the teens, a 17-year-old female, stabbed an 18-year-old teen once in the back. The 18-year-old was taken to Winthrop-University Hospital.

The 17-year-old female was arrested at her residence and was charged with second degree assault and fourth degree possession of a dangerous weapon.

A stabbing in a Public Library, what's next? a hold up at a Church?

Queens Road Rage In Car Wash

Queens Man Arrested For Car Wash Incident

Police arrested a Queens man after he allegedly drove his truck into a computer control at an Elmont car wash, causing the control to be demolished.

Police allege that on March 30 at 2:20 p.m., Assi Touti, 37, of Forest Hills, was dissatisfied with the service he received at Mr. Hand Car Wash on Linden Boulevard in Elmont. Police said Touti allegedly became agitated at having to wait in line for a second wash after he was dissatisfied with the first. Police said he allegedly drove his Silverado truck into the car wash's computer control repeatedly, trapping three employees between the machinery and a fence.

My question is, how bad does a car wash have to be to render this result?

Queens: Chaos at it's best.

Queens Civic Congress Report On Zoning

Received Via Email:

In order to help share information about civic activities in our area I am submitting the following report:

The QCC (Queens Civic Congress) Zoning zoning meeting held on Monday, March 31, at the Kew Gardens Community Center was very exciting and educational. Beverly McDermott and Joe Amoroso represented the KPCA. The Zoning Panel was made up of Henry Euler from Auburndale Civic, professional urban planner Paul Graziano, Sandra Atwell, President, Hollis 11423 Block Association, Paul DiBenedetto, President, Bayside Civic Database, John Young, Queens Director of City Planning and Mayoral candidate Councilman Tony Avella. The meeting, moderated by Sean M. Walsh, Esq., QCC Founder, was well attended by many civics with about 100 people filling the room.

Queens Director of City Planning John Young became the obvious target for the long delay that many neighborhoods are experiencing in their quest to get rezoned. John explained that the recent outburst of those objecting to down zoning has slowed the process significantly. It remains important that those seeking to preserve their neighborhoods stay strong in opposing those resisting zoning improvements for the sake of immediate financial gain. Tony Avella strongly urged City Planning to get back on track because many neighborhoods are years beyond the dates promised by City Planning for their rezoning. He understood that City Planning needs more staff but his recent efforts to acquire additional funds for staffing were not successful. Pat Dolan, QCC Executive Vice President, suggested that more zoning classifications are needed, especially one related to single-family row houses. After each panelist spoke the floor was opened for questions from the various civic groups resulting in a barrage of lively discussions. Although many civics had an opportunity to speak there were many who could not because of time constraints. The representative from Holly Civic did not get to speak but did approach the panel after the meeting to indicate that he strongly opposed City Planning's zoning proposal for the Holly Civic area and requested to be removed from the rezoning process if it wasn't changed to his satisfaction.

QCC President Corey Bearak, noted that in some areas that have been rezoned there is still some out-of -character construction in progress with DOB permits that should not be approved under the new zoning regulations. All of the panelists agreed that the citizens and civics must be on alert to protest the issuance of permits issued by the DOB in error. Enforcement can only be accomplished by caring citizens.

Joe Amoroso, KPCA Zoning Chair

April 3, 2008

Queens Artists Displaced By MTA Expansion Hold Last Exhibit

Queens Artists Displaced By MTA Expansion Hold Last Exhibit

Some artists in Queens who will be forced from their studios are using an art exhibit to expres frustrations over the MTA's East Side Access Project.

Artists who work at the Flux Factory in Long Island City, which is being closed and demolished as part of the project, are holding one more show – called “Everything Must Go” - before the building’s doors are shut forever.

"We have an artist who is going to be making, no offense to any actual MTA workers, it's going to be an MTA worker pinata that we'll have at the final party," said Flux Factory director Stefany Anne Golberg.

Flux Factory began as an artist collective in the early 1990s and has been in this space in Long Island City since 2002. At the site, artists create, collaborate, and showcase their art. Many live at the site, as well.

But with the MTA getting ready to demolish the building, artists like Nick Normal need to find new places to live by the end of the month. The situation inspired his artwork.
Flux Factory

More Photos to come. It's a shame that the artists are being forced out, but at least they are going out with a bang.

April 2, 2008

Man Arrested Throwing Cocktails in Queens, This isn't Grand Theft Auto IV Buddy...

Police: Man Arrested for Queens Firebomb Barrage

NEW YORK (AP/1010 WINS) -- New York City police have arrested a man accused of hurling homemade firebombs from a Queens rooftop after slashing someone with a machete on a nearby street.

Police say Felipe Velasquez is being held at a hospital where he was taken for a psychiatric evaluation after the incident Tuesday evening. The 21-year-old has been arrested on charges including attempted murder, reckless endangerment and assault.

No telephone number could be found at the Queens address Velasquez gave police. They aren't certain whether he has a lawyer.

Police say Velasquez tossed five flaming, liquid-filled containers into the street from a building roof, setting a car on fire.

Police say Velasquez ran to the roof after using the machete to attack a 45-year-old man on the street below. The victim is hospitalized in stable condition.
What the hell is going on? The chaos is slowly picking up momentum or so it seems... but just maybe the news is that slow that they are reporting things like this. I like how 1010wins also omits where in Queens this happened. There was no injuries or property damage (besides one car) reported so once again Queens residents get lucky. Could it be due to foreclosure rate in Queens? Could it be the Recession? No its called F_ _king crazy. That is all.

April 1, 2008

Brownfields: Making Fresh Meadows... Less Fresh?

Per Queens Chronicle
(Photo by Michael O'Kane)

When it comes to environmental cleanup, sometimes the wheels of change grind slowly.
Take the case of such a location at 183-15 Horace Harding Expressway in Fresh Meadows, a 1.6-acre site which formerlyhoused a strip mall and was demolished three years ago under the state’s voluntary Brownfield Cleanup Program.

The property is owned by Whitestone Realty LLD, which wants to develop two hotels and attached houses in the back of the property. Plans call for two six-story hotels with 70 and 90 rooms, respectively.
Susan Seinfeld, district manager of Community Board 11, has been trying to work with the developer for years, but has had little success. “I have been trying to reach George Xu, an official with the developer, to discuss all the problems, but he didn’t call me back,” she said.

At this point I'd take the proposed project over the vacant land/Brownfield. Queens should not be a place where stagnation should occur. It is unacceptable, to deny Queens residents possible services the occupants of this land could bear. It is also unacceptable to bring downt he quality of the neighborhood, leaving eyesores like this around.