Since the start of last summer, residents of eastern and Southeast Queens got improved hospital care, a future with less trash, and said goodbye to some neighborhood icons and landmarks.
And MTA bus service was still slow.
New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection on July 2 unveiled a $400 million plan to revitalize Jamaica Bay, including the restoration of more than 50 acres of wetlands from Brooklyn to Nassau County.
Southeast Queens, still reeling from the mortgage crisis that began a decade ago, got good news and bad news in a report on the real estate website PropertyShark. The report said while foreclosure numbers in the region had increased in each of the first two quarters of 2018, they still were down significantly — 8 percent — from the same mid-year date in 2017.
The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on July 7 began treating a former privately owned park in Jamaica that has become an overgrown eyesore over the years. Neighbors had complained to the DHMH and the Department of Sanitation that the site, located at the corner to 109th avenue and 171st Street in Jamaica had become rat-infested.
The City Council passed the Waste Equity Bill, which caps the amount of solid waste that can be processed in individual neighborhoods. The bill was crafted in response to the fact that four neighborhoods in the city, including Jamaica, process more than 75 percent of all the garbage generated in the five boroughs.
The 113th Precinct hosted its annual Community, Cops and Kids Day on July 13 in North Rochdale Park with music, food, games, police demonstrations and a visit from the Harlem Wizards basketball team.
Four Queens bus routes — all of which serve Jamaica — made the list of the slowest and least reliable bus routes in the city in a study released by the New York Public Interest Research Group. They include the Q43 bus line which operates between Jamaica and Floral Park, the Q20A between Jamaica and College Point, the Q30 which serves Little Neck, and the Q56 which runs to and from East New York.
NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens in Jamaica opened its newly refurbished and expanded emergency room, a $5.8 million project aimed at filling the gap left by the closure of five hospitals in Queens in the last several years.
Samantha Stewart, a 29-year-old nurse from Springfield Gardens, was found strangled in her home on July 17. Danueal Drayton, 29, is believed to have met Stewart through an online dating service. He allegedly used her credit card to get to California, where he days later was arrested in connection with a similar attack in which the woman was found alive. Drayton, with a long history of attacking women, had missed “multiple meetings” with his Connecticut probation office before he allegedly met Stewart.
A federal judge on July 20 rejected a lawsuit filed by the Office of the New York State Attorney General against longtime protesters outside of a Jamaica clinic that provides abortions. U.S. District Judge Carol Bagley Amon ruled that the state did not present sufficient proof to secure a preliminary injunction against members of the Church of the Rock, including its senior pastor, the Rev. Kenneth Griepp. The AG’s office had claimed patients and staff were subject to constant harassment, threats and intimidation.
Citing projected increases of more than 10 percent in cardiovascular patients over the next few years, Jamaica Hospital Medical Center opened the Thomas Santucci Jr. MD Cardiovascular International Suite, named for a former longtime cardiologist.
Seven months after her son’s 2016 death was ruled a homicide, Phyllis Reinoso was arrested in Alabama by U.S. marshals and charged with manslaughter and assault in the death of Michael Guzman, 5, in the family’s South Jamaica home. City officials had previously documented eight instances of abuse or neglect of Michael or one of his siblings prior to his death.
The city announced that completion of long-stalled renovations to the field house bathrooms at Daniel M. O’Connell Park in St. Albans was again being pushed back, this time until August 2019. At a press conference in the park that included city Comptroller Scott Stringer, state Sen. Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) pointed out that he got the $1.2 million for the work in 2010 when he was a city councilman. Work originally was to have been competed by May 2016.
Four alleged ranking members of the MS-13 street gang operating out of Jamaica were indicted in federal court for the October 2016 shooting that left a teenager paralyzed. Melvi Amador-Rios, 27, of Briarwood; his brother Santos Amador-Rios, 31, of Jamaica; Yan Carlos Ramirez, 28, of Jamaica; and Antonio Salvador, 30, of Jamaica were charged with assault, murder conspiracy, attempted murder in aid of racketeering and a related firearms offense. The shooting, which took place at the intersection of 179th Street and 90th Avenue in Jamaica, allegedly targeted someone suspected of being with a rival gang.
The city Department of Transportation announced that automobile owners who park in the business corridors of Jamaica and Flushing would see their rates for parking meters double from $1 to $2 per hour effective Nov. 1.
Mayor de Blasio signed the Waste Equity Bill into law on Aug. 16.
One of the last few independent hardware stores to hold out against the giant national chains closed at the end of August when Byrnes Hardware shut its doors after 56 years at 178-01 Jamaica Ave.
Officers and staff from the NYPD’s 113th Precinct in South Jamaica, along with a small army of volunteers, took scores of neighborhood children on an overnight camping trip in Baisley Pond Park.
Family and friends of the late Zanu Simpson gathered at the intersection of Hollis and 99th avenues on Sept. 16 as the city renamed the corner after the former star teen athlete who became a barber to the stars. Simpson, who worked in a barbershop with his brother, was 32 when he was killed in an attempted robbery in July 2017 outside a restaurant in Rosedale. His clients included hip-hop artists Meek Mill and Bow Wow, as well as NBA star Kevin Durant. Simpson and his brother also ran multiple charitable functions, including back-to-school giveaways.
The Belmont Park Community Coalition, a Nassau county-based group opposed to plans for a new arena for the New York Islanders at the historic race track, visited Community Board 13 on Sept. 23 to enlist support from west of the Cross Island Parkway — and got a lot.
Politicians and representatives of Omni New York broke ground on Sept. 28 for the Archer Green Apartments in Jamaica. The site at the corner of 168th Street and Archer and 93rd avenues formerly held an NYPD garage. The building, which will consist of approximately 44,000 square feet, will hold more than 350 units of affordable housing with a community facility and retail space including a Western Beef supermarket.
Sources told the Chronicle that The Shops at Station Plaza, the mostly long-vacant storefronts on Sutphin Boulevard directly across the street from the main street-level entrance to the Long Island Rail Road’s Jamaica Station, could soon have a Dunkin’ Donuts and a shop specializing in Asian bubble tea. Both reportedly have committed to opening at the site by the end of the first quarter of 2019.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Airport voted to increase minimum wages for contracted airport workers at John F. Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark-Liberty airports to $19 by 2023. The existing minimums had been $13 per hour at JFK and LaGuardia, and $10.45 across the river.
Willie Calvin Foy of St. Albans died at age 104. The North Carolina native had lived in St. Albans since 1953. He was the owner of Foy’s Barbershop, and taught boys and girls how to cut hair. “The Godfather of Mangin Avenue” also was known as “The Bread Man” because of his work to feed the hungry at his church’s food pantry.
Con Edison, the city’s Department of Environmental Protection, Verizon and the state Public Service Commission all told the Chronicle that there is nothing they can do to stop the repeated and ongoing damage to water pipes that run from the city water main beneath Winchester Boulevard to homes along the Queens Village street. Plumbers and an insurance company say the cause is an unaccounted-for source of underground electricity.
City Councilman Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens), Borough President Melinda Katz and School Construction Authority President and CEO Lorraine Grillo broke ground on the combined reconstruction of the Bellerose Playground and the PS 133 schoolyard on Oct. 19. The project will cost $3.5 million.
Councilmembers Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) and Adrienne Adams (D-Jamaica) signed on to an effort to improve transportation in Southeast Queens, supporting calls for the establishment of shared electric scooters that would be rented along the lines of the Citi Bike program.
A Flint, Mich. man was arrested on Oct. 31 for allegedly selling 23 illegal guns to an undercover detective between July and October of this year, including purchases made in Jamaica. Justin McNeil, 28, was charged with first-degree criminal sale of a firearm and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon. Authorities allege that six of the guns were modified to make them assault weapons.
Election Day saw Queens go solid blue in state and congressional elections, with eastern and Southeast Queens returning Gregory Meeks (D-Queens, Nassau) to Washington and the full Democratic slate to Albany. Democrats were able to wrest control of the state Senate from the Republicans, who have run the chamber for most of the last half century. They will have 39 or 40 seats in the 63-person chamber, giving Democrats a lock on the capital and full control over legislation.
While returning from a civic meeting on Nov. 14, Officer Andrew Fitzgerald of the NYPD’s 105th Precinct teamed with a civilian to save the life of a teenager who was contemplating suicide from a bridge over the Cross Island Parkway in Bellerose. As the civilian held the woman while the two were perched on a 4-inch ledge more than 20 feet above the highway, Fitzgerald, unable to secure them from the sidewalk side of a barrier fence, inched his way more than 50 feet along the ledge to bring both back to safety.
Jamaica Hospital Medical Center on Nov. 15 unveiled two dozen landscapes, seascapes and other paintings donated by art students and others for display at its Ferrara Family Center for Hospice Care. The paintings were selected for their therapeutic effect on hospice patients and their families.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Nov. 22 unveiled two possible plans for fare increases to go into effect in March 2019. One would raise the cost of a single MetroCard swipe for bus and subway rides to $3. The second plan would keep the fare at $2.75 but eliminate the bonus for ride purchases of $6 or more.
The alleged white supremacist charged with murdering 66-year-old Jamaica native Timothy Caughman with a sword in March 2017 suffered a legal setback on Dec. 4, when a Manhattan judge rejected defense motions to exclude the sword and alleged confessions from being presented as evidence at a trial. James Jackson of Baltimore allegedly confessed to police that he had come to New York City specifically to kill black men. Caughman was run through with a sword on the West Side just blocks from Madison Square Garden.
Federal authorities at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Dec. 8 seized 70 finches that were being smuggled into the country by a passenger from Guyana. The tiny birds had been crammed into hair curlers that had been doctored to serve as tiny cages. The birds were placed in quarantine to determine if they carried any illnesses or parasites. The passenger was denied entry into the country and sent back to Guyana.
Longtime state Assemblywoman Vivian Cook (D-Jamaica) was sued in state court by a former staffer who is accusing Cook of discrimination, wrongful termination and retaliating against her for filing a formal complaint over her working conditions.
The MTA announced that two stations on its J line — Parsons Boulevard-Archer Avenue and Sutphin Boulevard-Archer Avenue — would be closed from Dec. 28 to Jan. 6 while winterizing work is done on elevated outdoor tracks just west of Jamaica Station.
Eleven Jamaica residents were among those charged following a sweep that was largely aimed at alleged members of the MS-13 street gang. Among the various allegations in the complaint were that gang members had attacked members of a rival gang; were planning to rob a home where they believed that they could steal as much as $80,000; and that others were plotting to kill a member of a rival gang as revenge for a prior shooting, possibly after luring the man to Rufus King Park in Jamaica.
Two people are facing up to 17 years in prison after pleading guilty late last month to attacking a St. Albans woman with acid in 2015 when she began investigating financial irregularities at a Long Island City nonprofit group. Kim Williams, 49, of the Bronx and Jerry Mohammad, 35 of Troy, NY, pleaded guilty to first-degree assault for the attack on the Rev. Alexandra Dyer as she walked to her car outside the nonprofit’s LIC offices on Aug. 19, 2015. Dyer, then the executive director of Hospital Audiences, Inc., was investigating the embezzlement of more than $750,000. Prior to working there, Dyer had served a term as executive director at the Queens Historical Society.
Miss Part I? Find it at qchron.com, along with Year in Review stories from the other parts of Queens.