Quantcast

Quality of Life

by
1

Nestled in the heart of Middle Village, Juniper Valley Park — which sits between Juniper Boulevards North and South, Lutheran Avenue and 71st Street on the west and Dry Harbor Road on the east — is almost intentionally situated far from the crowds and noise that the subway bring. It’s one of the youngest of Queens’ larger parks, having been created in the 1930s.

Middle Village lies between Maspeth and Forest Hills and was named in the 1830s after its position along Metropolitan Avenue, which was laid out as a toll road between Williamsburg and Jamaica in the 1810s. A roadhouse as well as several small dwellings and farms arrived in the area, which had come to be considered midway between Williamsburg and Jamaica, hence its name. Large cemeteries such as Lutheran/All-Faiths, Mt. Olivet and St. John’s arrived after 1850 or so, and attracted Sunday visitors; restaurants and saloons sprung up in the area to serve the crowds. In time, more streets were laid out and were lined by dwellings.

by

College Point has always been a rubber town. The village in northwest Queens, still very much isolated by the Whitestone Expressway and the old Flushing Airport grounds, was founded by German immigrant Conrad Poppenhusen, who received a patent from Charles Goodyear to produce rubber products and settled into the area in the Civil War era to build a factory, very much like his contemporary, piano manufacturer Henry Steinway. Like Steinway, Poppenhusen formed a company town surrounding his works, combining two forgotten smaller villages, Flammersburg and Strattonport. He founded a railroad to bering workers from the East River ferries to College Point (parts of it are now included in the Long Island Rail Road) as well as the town’s cultural center, the Poppenhusen Institute, which continues its work today.

by
2

In his recent State of the City address, Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed a citywide ferry service that would cost the same as a bus or train ride, including several new routes that would hopscotch along both sides of the East River and would reach as far as the Rockaways in Queens, Soundview in the Bronx, Coney Island in Brooklyn, and Stapleton in Staten Island, where new housing developments are currently under construction.  

Ferry service in New York City, aside from the Staten Island Ferry which is subsidized so that there is currently no fare, have proven difficult to sustain. The Rockaway link was recently shut down for lack of ridership and high cost (as much as $30 per passenger to run, with a lesser fare per person).

I like the idea of a beefed-up ferry service, and I have occasionally used the current service run by NY Waterway’s East River Ferry, which was inaugurated in 2011. The ferry is run as a shuttle, with seven stops on each side of the river: Midtown/34th Street, Hunters Point South, India Street in Greenpoint, North 6th Street and Schaefer Landing in Williamsburg, Brooklyn Bridge Park in DUMBO, and Wall Street/Pier 11. The fare is $4.00 weekdays and $6.00 on weekends.

My experience with the East River Ferry is mixed. When I am wandering about the East Side and want a quick ride back to Hunters Point in Queens, from whence I can get the #7 train, the ferry should be a very convenient amenity. There’s only one boat per hour, though, and the last time I attempted it in December, I of course arrived just after the last boat left. I decided to get an M34 bus back to Penn Station, for expedience’ sake and also because it was 35 degrees and drizzling. The East River Ferry does run a shuttle bus that connects the 34th Street landing with Midtown. On other occasions, though, when the weather is pleasant and my usual bad luck is not with me, I can arrive and enjoy the weather for a short time before boarding. Other lines, also, use the landing and people who are not everyday riders can be easily confused about what boat to take.

by

Describing it as “vandalism,” “a blight,” and “a crime,” civic and political leaders from the Richmond Hill/Woodhaven area helped launch an anti-graffiti initiative with a press conference (below) and demonstration (above) on Wednesday. City Council Member Eric A. Ulrich, who represents these neighborhoods, announced that he had allotted $25,000 to eliminate graffiti at six major corridors — Woodhaven Boulevard; Jamaica Avenue; Atlantic Avenue; 101st Avenue; Liberty Avenue; and Rockaway Boulevard. The borough’s only Republican council member directed the funds to the Queens Economic Development Corporation‘s Neighborhood Development Division, which promotes economic growth by supporting community businesses. QEDC will sub-contract with Ridgewood-based Magic Touch Cleaning to carry out the initiative.

Saying this was a priority for him, Council Member Ulrich stated that he planned to seek more funding for this program in the future. QEDC Deputy Director Ricardi Calixte opined that graffiti is bad for business. He stated, “This type of vandalism has a domino effect, discouraging shoppers, encouraging lawlessness, and deterring investment.”

See a photo from the press conference after the jump.

by
3

A rare weekend off found me at Astoria Park on Saturday morning. For the last couple of years, my wife has been getting up extra early on Saturdays to bring our little dog Zuzu over to the park for “off the leash” time, and has been after me to come along and witness the crowds of happy dogs, and their yawning owners, at play.

Since I had the day off from walking tours or any other nonsense and was up early anyway, I said “yes” and I’m glad I did.

More after the jump…

by
1

Sunday, I decided to go check out the Astoria Shore Fest. The annual event closes Shore Road, allowing Astorians the chance to mill about on the normally busy thoroughfare which sits between Astoria Park and the Hells Gate section of the East River. The event is conducted by the Astoria Park Alliance, and this year it was blessed by fantastic weather.

Check out lots of photos after the jump…

by
2

On Friday, the 11th of July, I found myself at the very edge of Queens in a very special place. At the end of Vernon Boulevard in LIC, where the old Vernon Avenue Bridge and the Newtown Creek Towing Company were found, is a facility which is engaged in the hands-on work of the Superfund process. The Anchor QEA company operates out of here, carrying out the collection of samples and scientific tests which will determine the exact nature of what’s wrong with Newtown Creek. These samples and tests are overseen and directed by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency, and is an effort conducted by the so-called “Potentially Responsible Parties” (PRPs).

These “Potentially Responsible Parties” have organized themselves together as the Newtown Creek Group, and they invited a small group of community members and representatives to their LIC facility to describe what they actually do at the Vernon street end and discuss the future of Newtown Creek.

More after the jump…

by

The New York City Housing Authority owns more than 80 houses that are sitting vacant, many of them blighted and causing a nuisance for neighbors according to a story in the New York Post. Nearby residents have been complaining for years that the houses are infested with rats, that the yards are used as dumping grounds and people often break into them. Many of the houses are in Queens with several in Jamaica like the one above at 106-17 Remington Street. The city took the houses over from the Department of Housing and Urban Development in the 1970s. After tenants moved or passed away the houses were left empty and many have been that way for decades.

A neighbor of one of these homes told the Post: “We live in a terrible situation. This is wrong. We’ve had people break in, do their dirty work and come out. Random people with trucks throw garbage in the back yard. It’s a dumping ground.” The neighbor of another said, “We have to deal with trespassing, garbage, mosquitoes, possums and rats. I call the city every year. Sometimes they come. They just sit here, eat lunch and leave. The Housing Authority abandoned this home.” Neighbors have cleaned up the yards, boarded up the buildings and shoveled the snow at these city-owned properties.

The housing authority is seeking permission to transfer the homes to non-profits that could fix them up and make sure they are occupied but many residents are skeptical saying they have heard those plans before but nothing ever happens.

NYC’s Housing Authority is Hoarding Filthy, Blighted Homes [NY Post]

Photo via PropertyShark

by

City Councilman Costa Constantinides has pushed to have the City set aside funds to pay for additional clean up teams in Astoria. The Doe Fund, which helps homeless people and former prison inmates to attain permanent self-sufficiency, is set to receive $70,000 for street cleaning services along Astoria’s commercial streets. According to the Astoria Post, Doe Fund workers will sweep and clean 30th Avenue from Athens Square Park to Steinway Street, Broadway from 31st Street to Steinway Street, and 31st Street from Ditmars Boulevard to 23rd Avenue. Additional money will pay for more garbage cans and to paint murals over graffiti-covered walls. The program is funded until July of 2015.

Plenty of City Budget Money Going to Cleaning up Astoria [Astoria Post]

Photo: DNAinfo

by
2

Hundreds of Elmhurst residents showed up outside of a meeting on Monday night to protest a new homeless shelter in their neighborhood. The Pam Am Hotel had recently been converted from a hotel into a shelter with little notice and Community Board 4 set up a meeting with shelter officials, government representatives and residents to discuss the matter.

Protesters gathered outside of the Elks Lodge on Queens Boulevard carrying signs and shouting at shelter residents who arrived to speak in support of the shelter. Children yelled, “pay your rent,” “Shame on you,” and “get a job.” One held a sign that read, “2, 4, 6, 8, who do we NOT appreciate, hobos hobos hobos.”

People began moving into the shelter three weeks ago and there was little community notice because of the overwhelming need for shelter space according to city officials. Elmhurst residents said that their local schools were already overcrowded and they pointed out problems with another nearby shelter. When one person who did not live at the shelter spoke, encouraging compassion for the homeless and suggesting residents work with the shelter to find solutions she was booed by the crowd.

Homeless Shelter Residents Booed, Told to ‘Get a Job’ at Queens Protest [DNAinfo]

Photo: DNAinfo