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Queens Chronicle

A memorable year in south Queens

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Posted: Thursday, December 30, 2010 12:00 am

Talk of school closings and casinos dominated much of the headlines this past year in south Queens, but residents also faced their own unique problems, whether they be flooding or dangerous intersections.

But in Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Richmond Hill and Woodhaven, the year was also one marked by celebrations and accolades; tragedies, rallies and protests.

Here’s a look back at some of the stories that captured headlines over the past 12 months.

JANUARY

Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) began serving his full first term in the City Council. Ulrich was one of five Republicans elected to the council the previous January.

The Nativity BVM Father Joseph C. Nosser Knights of Columbus celebrated its 10th anniversary.

The principal of the High School for Construction Trades, Engineering and Architecture in Ozone Park was accused of soliciting sex from at least four male students at the school, according to Special Commissioner of Investigation Richard Condon.

Haitian expats across South Queens waited anxiously for news of loved ones as a 7.0 magnitude earthquake destroyed much of the country’s capital city of Port-au-Prince.

What appeared to be a pattern of robberies involving livery and yellow cabs in South Richmond Hill and South Ozone Park kept police on the hunt for the perpetrators.

Clement Vicari, an Ozone Park business owner also well-known for the charitable work he performed as a leader of the Howard Beach Kiwanis Club, died at his home in Syosset, LI after a year-long battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease.

After an all-night hearing, the Panel for Educational Policy voted to close 19 schools, including John Adams High School in Ozone Park and Richmond Hill High School.

FEBRUARY

Aqueduct Entertainment Group won the bid to operate a casino at Aqueduct Race Track. That decision would be short-lived, however, as AEG’s bid was later revoked amid accusations of political cronyism.

A three-alarm fire on Crossbay and Linden Boulevards leaves several Ozone Park families displaced.

Alberto Livecchi, owner of Alberto’s Music Center in Ozone Park, discovered two letters signed by all four members of The Beatles in a 1966 used Fender piano he was going to sell.

The Richmond Hill 2010 Census Committee forms in order to make sure that immigrants in that neighborhood register for the Census so it is not passed over for vital federal aid.

Armed bandits made out with nearly $7,000 after robbing a late-night card game in the basement of the Rockwood Park Jewish Center in Howard Beach.

MARCH

A forum on the rising problem of sex trafficking in Queens was conducted at Borough Hall. Kennedy International Airport in south Queens is noted as a major hub for the sex-trafficking trade.

School bus drivers for Amalgamated Transit Local 1181 based in Ozone Park staged a rally to demand a contract, better pensions and medical benefits after retirement.

The National Parks Service announced it will appropriate $200,000 in funding to clean up and rehab Frank Charles Park in Howard Beach.

Ozone Park resident Juan Gomez is is arrested and charged with biting and bruising his infant daughter, according to the Queens District Attorney’s Office.

South Queens, particularly Hamilton Beach, was hit hard by wind and rain during a weekend storm, leaving many downed trees and utility poles in its wake.

Gov. Paterson rescinds the bid of AEG to operate a casino at Aqueduct after officials began questioning ties between the project’s leaders and key elected officials who approved the deal. The bidding process is reopened.

The Howard Beach Columbus Day Foundation hosted its second annual St. Joseph’s Day celebration. St. Joseph is regarded by many Roman Catholics as the patron saint of workers.

Reach for the S.T.A.R.S. daycare center in Old Howard Beach was the recipient of a facelift after it was chosen by the producers of a new Discovery Channel show called “Construction Intervention” for a complete renovation of its facility.

APRIL

The state Supreme Court overturned the city’s decision to close 19 high schools after a lawsuit is filed by the United Federation of Teachers, NAACP and others alleging the city did not go through the proper legal procedure before doing so.

Residents of south Queens protested a proposed change to the route of the Q10 bus, which runs on Lefferts Boulevard from JFK to Kew Gardens.

More than 100 police officers converged on Gateway National Recreation Area in Howard Beach to search for a missing 7-year-old Brooklyn boy.

New Jersey resident Anand Hazare was sentenced to 21 years in prison for manslaughter after he killed a pedestrian in Ozone Park in 2005.

Firefighters battled a three-alarm blaze that ripped through the Spring Creek Park Reserve area located at 83rd Street and 160th Avenue in Howard Beach.

The Rockwood Park Jewish Center hosted in annual Yom Hashoah Holocaust Memorial Service honoring the millions killed during the Holocaust of World War II.

MAY

State Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) held a press conference to bring light to the danger pedestrians, especially the elderly, face when crossing Woodhaven Boulevard, which is up to 10 lanes wide in some places.

Mayor Bloomberg announced “doomsday” budget cuts that would have cut up to 6,400 teachers and 20 fire companies throughout the city.

The plan to build senior housing on the site of the former Bernard Fineson Center in Howard Beach was delayed by officials.

A teenager was shot dead in Richmond Hill at approximately 4 a.m. in front of a shop on Atlantic Avenue. Police say the shooting was the result of a dispute.

Residents of Hamilton Beach are again besieged with drastic flooding that closes streets and affects properties. Many who live in the area plead with the city for help with the longtime problem.

The state approved a $25 million loan to the New York Racing Association to help the struggling agency stay afloat.

JUNE

MS 202 in Ozone Park pays tribute to longtime School Safety Officer Gale Baraba, who passed away in 2009, with a memorial tree planting and plaque.

The Greater Woodhaven Development Corp. honored its business of the year during its annual dinner dance.

The city Department of Transportation held public meetings on its plan to implement traffic improvements on Liberty Avenue, including at the often-snarled intersection of Liberty, and Woodhaven and Rockaway boulevards.

Former councilman Anthony Como declared his intention to run on the Republican line against state Sen. Joe Addabbo in November for the 15th state Senate District.

A crowd of supporters gathered outside the Woodhaven Library to rally against budget cuts that could have endangered its existence.

The organic movement made its way to Ozone Park with the formation of a Community Supported Agriculture group in the neighborhood. CSA members purchase a share of the group, and in return get a box, bag or basket of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.

JULY

The DOT held a hearing in Woodhaven to garner feedback on its plan to improve traffic along Woodhaven Boulevard.

The Chemistry Lounge, an embattled Ozone Park nightclub that had been the scene of several violent episodes and allegedly violated state liquor laws, closed its doors for good.

Genting New York, a subsidiary of Asian gaming giant Genting Malaysia Berhad, entered the bidding process for the Aqueduct gaming license.

The company also gave a public presentation on its bid before a crowd of hundreds at the racetrack during a public hearing sponsored by Community Board 10. The company unveils its plans to turn Aqueduct into a destination resort.

Two men were shot, including one who was killed, in separate incidents in South Ozone Park.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced a plan to increase tolls at the Cross Bay Bridge connecting Broad Channel and the Rockaways.

Advocates of the carousel in Forest Park press the city to find a new operator for the iconic landmark so it can be put in use once again.

Residents of the Forest Park Cooperative rallied asking for more police protection due to perceived crime increases in the area.

The Jamaica branch of the NAACP staged a protest outside Aqueduct, demanding access to construction jobs when the new casino is built there.

AUGUST

The New York State Division of Lottery formally approved Genting’s bid to operate a casino at Aqueduct.

Precincts across south Queens held their Night Out against Crime events.

Dario Paiva, a 27-year-old Woodhaven man, was stabbed to death while protecting his brother against attackers on the platform of the elevated J train.

The city Economic Development Corp. called off a plan to close two exits of the Van Wyck Expressway.

Kamla Persad-Bissessar, the prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, visited Richmond Hill.

A new American flag and memorial to veterans was erected in Charles Park.

SEPTEMBER

Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven) defeated challenger Nick Comaianni in the Democratic primary.

Voters in south Queens tested out the new electronic voting machines during the primaries.

The state Attorney General and comptroller signed off on the Genting Aqueduct casino bid, giving it the final approval it needed.

Congressional candidate Bob Turner conducted a rally in Forest Park with other officials to move the location of the Cordoba Institute, dubbed by some as the “Ground Zero Mosque” from its planned location in lower Manhattan.

Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani came to Howard Beach to stump for GOP candidates during the election season.

Hundreds turned out as Howard Beach hosts its annual Columbus Day Parade.

The School for Language and Communication Development formally opened its doors in Richmond Hill.

OCTOBER

The DOT began its Liberty Avenue congestion-reduction project. Many business owners along the avenue hope the plan eases traffic, but eye it with skepticism.

The Holy Child Jesus Church in Richmond Hill celebrated its 100th anniversary with a concert and dinner.

Genting New York, along with a host of elected officials, conducted a groundbreaking ceremony at Aqueduct, and revealed the name of the casino will be Resorts World New York.

The state Inspector General released a scathing report about the mishandling of the AEG Aqueduct bid from earlier in the year. It accuses state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Jamaica), among others, of playing political favoritism to give AEG the bid.

The United Federation of Teachers hits the one-year mark without a contract

NOVEMBER

South Queens voters sent incumbents back to office, including Addabbo, Miller and Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer (D-Ozone Park).

Residents of the Centreville section of Ozone Park received letters from the city saying it may need to acquire properties via eminent domain to complete the long-awaited HWQ411B sewer project in the area. This prompted the Ozone Park Civic Association to host a public meeting with the Department of Design and Construction so residents can get details.

Those who live in Hamilton Beach are afflicted with even more flooding, once again prompting calls for help.

The license for the Aqueduct Flea Market to operate in the parking lot of the racetrack was not renewed, marking the end of a 30-plus year stay in that location.

The family of Howard Beach resident Giuseppe Russo pleaded for public assistance after he is discovered missing from his home.

DECEMBER

Neighborhoods across south Queens are aglow with holiday lights, and hundreds of people young and old come out for holiday parades from Howard Beach to Woodhaven.

The city announced that John Adams High School will not be closed next year, and may be eligible for federal transformation funds.

The Lindenwood Alliance, a new civic group seeking to give a voice to residents of that area, held its first meeting.

PS 254 in Richmond Hill was named a national Blue Ribbon School.

Welcome to the discussion.