The 34th annual Maspeth Memorial Day Parade was held on a warm and sunny Sunday, May 26th, followed by memorial services at Maspeth Memorial Park. JPCA executive board members Josephine Caruso, Marilynn Gallo, Maryann Ricevuto, Len Santoro, Alicia Vaichunas, marched with the banner behind Enchanted Florist’s 1954 Chevrolet pickup truck driven by JPCA president Tony Nunziato. Tony decorated the truck with flowers and 2 posters of the March 2019 Juniper Berry honoring our service members. Joining us in the march were Charlie Vavruska and John Vaichunas. This year’s march paid special tribute to the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the Allied Invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe which occurred on June 6, 1944. The United Veterans and Fraternal Organizations of Maspeth and the Maspeth Chamber of Commerce sponsor the parade.

Verify your polling site
The Department of Elections has changed the voting locations for many Maspeth and Middle Village voters for the upcoming June 25th primary. Please check the voting notice mailed to you or the BOE’s poll site locator online:

Early voting locations
It was announced this past May that the Metro Mall will be one of the locations where early voting will take place for this year’s general election. Under new state law, you can vote here up to 10 days before November 5. The sites will be closed the day before election day.

Cops crack down on spot savers
Those residents who think it is acceptable to use cones, garbage pails or other objects to reserve parking spaces got a big surprise when the 104 Pct announced action against the illegal practice. On April 26, the 104 swept through Maspeth, tweeting, “NCO Charlie and NYC Sanitation cracking down on residents’ complaint of homeowners using waste bins and cones to reserve parking space. Violators were issued summonses with the help of sanitation.” The precinct assures us that this is just the beginning, so keep objects out of the street.

Queens Place Mall rumor
Fear and uncertainty swept through Elmhurst in early May when the Chair of CB4, Louis Walker, surprisingly announced at a community board meeting that the Queens Place Mall on Queens Blvd would close by the end of this year and that anchor tenant Target would relocate to the Metro Mall on Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village. He surmised that the building would then either be demolished for housing or repurposed for retail. A few days later, after denials from Target and Queens Place management, Mr. Walker recanted his statement. We don’t know where he received his information or what the real truth is, but time will tell.

Rally taken to Cooper Ave site owner’s home
On April 13, community members from Middle Village and Glendale, led by Glendaler Mike Papa, rallied at the home of Michael Wilner, the owner of 78-16 Cooper Ave, who is working with shelter providers to convert his defunct factory into a homeless shelter for 200 formerly incarcerated single men. The rally was peaceful and sent a message to Wilner to rethink his plan for the property. Upon catching wind that Wilner was playing cards at a nearby synagogue where he serves as president, the protesters performed a silent march in its parking lot under the watch of the Jericho PD before returning home. A full Stop Work Order at 78-16 Cooper was handed down by the NYC DOB on April 30 for a missing fence. As we go to press, the SWO is still in effect.

Redesign Fresh Pond Road
The NYC Dept of Transportation’s “Better Buses Action Plan” was announced in April. The initiative seeks to speed up bus transit along congested corridors. One of the areas identified as needing improvement was the ½ mile section of Fresh Pond Road from Metropolitan Ave to Putnam Ave where 30,000 riders of the Q58, QM24, QM25, QM34 buses travel. Average bus speeds are: 5.9 mph (AM) / 3.0 mph (PM). DOT recommends installing curbside southbound bus lane for buses and right-turns, in effect weekdays for part of the day, consolidating Q58 local bus stops to improve stop spacing, installing loading zones on east curb where warranted, installing loading zones and meters on western spur streets and studying a northbound bus queue jump signal at Putnam Ave. There has also been discussion of prohibiting parking along the southbound side of the street during morning rush hours. The impact on businesses along the strip has not yet been analyzed.

Kosciuszko Bridge opening 4 years early
Governor Andrew Cuomo surprisingly announced that the second span of the new Kosciuszko Bridge will open this September, which would be 4 years ahead of schedule. To top it off, the cost of the bridge is within its projected budget. The accelerated schedule was thanks to using a process known as “design-build”. In design-build, the designer and contractor work together from the beginning, as a team, providing unified project recommendations to fit the state's schedule and budget. Any changes are addressed by the entire team, leading to collaborative problem-solving and innovation. There will be 9 car lanes: 5 Queens-bound, 4 Brooklyn-bound and a 20-foot-wide bikeway and walkway on the Brooklyn-bound span. JPCA President Tony Nunziato has been a member of the Kosciuszko Bridge Committee since its inception and is looking forward to the ribbon cutting on the second span.

Grand Street Bridge replacement is years away
The NYC Dept. of Transportation announced that the rebuild of the 115-year-old Grand Street Bridge will go into the design phase in 2021, with work expected to start in 2023. The bridge, which is supposed to swivel to allow for ship passage, has remained stationary since 2013. There is no word on whether design-build will be employed to complete the project and concern that the current bridge may not withstand more years of delay.

Cross Bay Bridge will soon be free
A program that reimburses Queens residents for the cost of the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge toll will start in spring 2020, the MTA and public officials announced in April. The Cross Bay Bridge, which connects mainland Queens to the Rockaways, is the only intraborough toll bridge in NYC. It has long been argued that this puts an unfair burden on Queens residents who are simply trying to get from one part of the borough to another.

Flushing Ave underpass cleaned by DOT
In the March 2019 issue of the Juniper Berry, the graffiti along the Flushing Avenue underpass was featured as a Community Eyesore. Shortly after the Berry’s publication, Assembly Member Cathy Nolan received a response from DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg indicating that the graffiti would be addressed during the spring months. We are pleased to report that it was indeed cleaned, however, the graffiti is starting to creep back now that the weather is warming up. This needs to be kept on top of regularly in order to eradicate the problem.

Juniper Juniors join forces with Blau Weiss Gottschee
The Blau Weiss Gottschee U9 & U10 Girls soccer teams used their off day to give back to the Middle Village community. In conjunction with Len Santoro and the Juniper Juniors, players participated in a cleanup of the CSX overpass at Eliot and Lutheran Avenues. After painting the walls on both sides of Eliot Avenue, players headed over to Buon Cafe where they enjoyed some delicious gelatos! – Dennis Stephan

Street tree success
In the June 2018 edition of “Things That Are Dumb,” we brought you the story of trees planted on Goldington Court in the dead of winter that were predictably dead by spring. In December 2018 we received a letter to the editor alerting us that these were replaced with Silver Maples in late November. We’re pleased to report that these trees seem to be thriving.

Ferris wheel comes to Forest Park
An historic 70-year old Ferris wheel which was once part of a traveling carnival in Pennsylvania debuted on Memorial Day weekend. Although the materials are mostly original, the seats, gears and other safety features were upgraded to meet safety standards. The “Woodhaven Wheel,” as it’s now known, is located in the amusement area near the Forest Park Carousel.

London Lennie’s for sale as development site
There was a bit of shock and sadness in the area on May 23rd when a Zillow listing featuring beloved neighborhood institution, London Lennie’s was listed as being for sale as a “rare development site” for $6.5M. The listing goes on to say:

In its present state, the assemblage contains an established business and “landmark” since 1959; the top seafood restaurant in Queens; London Lennie's. The site is situated within a R5D with a C1-3 overlay zoning district that allows for the creation of a mixed-use project with the potential to include a mixture of medical, retail, residential, community facility, hotel and/ or office and build up to a 22,000 s/f new building… This redevelopment opportunity provides developers the ability to capitalize on tremendous demand in an area with a scarcity of developable land. The acquisition of 63-36 Woodhaven Boulevard is an ideal opportunity for any investor/developer looking for a sizeable development project within Queens.

We are hoping for the best – that the eventual buyer chooses to keep it a restaurant – but we are bracing for the worst.