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Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together

COMET N E W S L E T T E R / WINTER 2 0 2 0


The preliminary work for the 70th Street Sewer Upgrade
is under way. The project is expected to last until August, 2023.
Story Inside.

If you see something, say something! If you see something, send something!
Counter Terrorism Hotline Go to the APP Store, type in “see send”.
1-888-692-7233 or1-888-NY-SAFE You can attach photos or send information.
Additional Traffic Lanes on 57th Avenue as their personal
parking lots. While we’re

80th Street generally averse to additional

parking restrictions, we’re
thinking that if this stretch of
57th Avenue becomes a No-
Parking zone from 12:00 am –
5:00 am that this action would
deter owners of oversized
vehicles from leaving them
there overnight. Who’s going
to want to go out at midnight
every night to move a truck or
If approved, this restriction shouldn’t have a negative impact on the
local residents since most people don’t want to leave their cars there
In the fall of 2019, the NYC Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) overnight because this is a remote stretch of road and an ideal place to
restructured the traffic lanes on 80th Street between 57th Avenue and break into cars and steal property. The folks who usually use this strip
the Queens Midtown Expressway. There is now enough space on this during the day are teachers and employees of local businesses and this
stretch of road to accommodate two lanes of traffic in each direction. restriction would not affect them at all.
This should alleviate commuter congestion at the intersections of 80th
Another benefit to this plan would be that police officers could simply
Street and 57th Avenue and the Queens Midtown Expressway during
issue tickets to these vehicles if they’re parked illegally and not be forced
rush hours.
to spend time interacting with the owners.
Prior to this adjustment, there seemed to be constant gridlock at these
Councilman Holden’s office is reaching out to NYC DOT regarding this
intersections because the only way to get around a car waiting to make a
suggestion and we’ll keep you updated.
left turn was to drive in the designated bike lane and risk getting a ticket.
Sometimes drivers willing to risk the ticket still couldn’t move around
the gridlock because of cars parked too close to the corners or the
traffic flow was just too disorganized. It was obvious that the available
space on this stretch of 80th Street needed to be reallocated so it could
Illegal Dumping on 85th Street is
accommodate two lanes of vehicular traffic in each direction.
This new design on 80th Street is in fact, one of several ideas submitted
an Ongoing Issue in Elmhurst
to the NYC DOT by a COMET member in late 2016 and we’re hoping that
this will actually improve the traffic situation on 80th Street. The only
downside to this change is that cars can no longer park on 80th Street
between 57th Avenue and the Queens Midtown Expressway. We don’t
anticipate this being a big problem for the community as people rarely
parked along this stretch of 80th Street. We’ll see how it works out.

Long-Term Parking on
57th Avenue
For quite some time we’ve had trucks and For decades 85th Street between 55th and 57th Avenues in Elmhurst has
Winnebagos parking for long periods of time on been an irresistible site for illegal dumping. On Columbus Day weekend,
57th Avenue between 74th and 80th Streets and Elmhurst resident Ed Misiura found several pieces of rusty aluminum
we don’t want this section of 57th Avenue to sheets, rotted lumber, concrete debris, etc. dumped just off the sidewalk
become a long-term parking haven for oversized near the Long Island Railroad. Mr. Misiura immediately contacted
vehicles. The 104th and 110th Precincts are aware COMET and Qibin Ye at Councilman Dromm’s office. Dromm’s office
of this issue but their authority to have these reached out to the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) and the trash was
vehicles removed is limited under current law and removed. We would like to thank Mr. Misiura, Councilman’s Dromm’s
there are times our officers are addressing more office and the DSNY for their swift action in resolving this matter. If you
serious issues. see something, say something.

COMET is currently discussing alternative solutions to this problem. So Despite the efforts of all involved, we can expect more dumping along
far, the best idea seems to be restricting parking for a few hours each this stretch of 85th Street and there is no reason to believe it will stop
day to discourage the owners of these oversized vehicles from using anytime soon. The nature of this block is particularly attractive for illegal

Pg. 2 Winter 2020 COMET

dumping since there is Myth: City rats are “immune” to poison.
little to no foot traffic,
Fact: Today’s poisons work fine – but only if rats eat them. When
poor lighting and the Long
garbage is easily accessible, rats don’t take the bait.
Island Railroad (LIRR),
which runs adjacent to Myth: Cats, dogs, etc. help control city rats.
this strip, makes it easy Fact: They may kill an occasional rat, but they can’t keep up with rats’
for people to dump debris rapid breeding rates. Only people can make a difference!
with almost no chance of
How to Control Rats - To control rats, you have to remove everything
being caught.
they need to survive: food, shelter and ways to get around.
In the last newsletter
Look for Evidence
we discussed ideas for making this block a Green Street but we
acknowledged that the dumping issue would need to be factored into Most rats live in nests or burrows. Burrows are holes in dirt or concrete
any plans to improve this section of Elmhurst. While we don’t have any from one to four inches wide, with smooth edges. Burrows can be
updates on constructing a Green Street here, Councilman Dromm’s found under bushes and plants. They will often have an entrance and
office is looking into having the Department of Sanitation schedule exit hole. Look for droppings. They are often found close to garbage.
regular trash pick-ups on both sides of the LIRR, installing better lights, Look for gnaw marks on wood and plastic garbage cans.
and possibly cameras to deter dumping in the future. We’ll keep you Rats are often found in burrows under bushes and plants. Keep tall
updated about any progress with these plans. grass, bushes, shrubs and mulch away from building foundations. Pull
out ivy around burrows.

What we Learned at the Prevention

Rat Academy Keep ground bare six inches from buildings, and trim under shrubs.
Make space between plants and keep gardens free of weeds and trash.
Clutter gives rats lots of places to hide, sleep, nest and reproduce.
Remove (and recycle) piles of newspapers, paper bags, cardboard and
bottles. Store items away from walls and off the ground.
Starve them! Rats only need one ounce of food each day. Don’t make
your garbage their food. Use hard plastic or metal cans with tight fitting
lids. Don’t put food out for stray cats, pigeons or squirrels.
Rats chew holes into buildings and can squeeze through holes as small
as a half inch. To keep rats out, seal all holes and cracks in foundations,
walls, floors, underneath doors and around windows.

Grand Avenue Sinkhole

We want to thank Councilman Dromm for inviting us to a Rat Academy If you see something, say something.
class held by the NYC Department of Health. The purpose of the class Block Captain Lucille Winsko said
was to give us facts and myths regarding rats and, most importantly something about a sinkhole on Grand
giving us tips about preventing an infestation. Avenue and 61st Street. Ms. Winsko
noticed a sinkhole on Grand Avenue
We heard about rat sightings from folks in the vicinity of Calamus Avenue
near 61st Street and immediately
during the sewer construction, rat complaints from folks in Elmhurst in
reported it to Assemblyman Barnwell’s
the vicinity of the Long Island Railroad, and most recently from folks in
office. Barnwell’s office contacted
west Maspeth in the vicinity of Grand and 58th Avenues. With ongoing
the Department of Environmental
construction throughout our communities, we wanted to learn about
Protection (DEP) and the Department
measures that we can take as a community to abate the problem.
of Traffic (DOT) to find out what the
COMET members Paul Hogan, Howard Moskowitz, Lucille Winsko, James
problem was and what could be done
Zhang and Roe Daraio attended.
about it. It turns out that the street
Myth: Rats the size of cats live in NYC. cave-in is related to a nearby vacant lot
Fact: Most rats in our area weigh no more than one pound. When a rat and a sewer pipe needs to be realigned
is scared, it will fluff up its fur and look bigger to scare away its enemies. to correct the issue. The DEP and DOT are currently formulating a plan
and a timeline to make the repair. We’ll keep you posted as to when
Myth: “Rat cities” are in our sewers and subway system. we can expect this to be fixed and we’d like to thank Lucille Winsko and
Fact: Only small pockets live in NYC sewers and subways. Most rats live Assemblyman Barnwell’s office for their diligence.
in burrows at ground or basement level.

COMET Winter 2020 Pg. 3

SE859: 70th Street Sewer can be hundreds of feet long and many feet below ground. New shafts
will be constructed at each intersection to accommodate the boring
Upgrades machine work, it will be less impactful than an “open trench”, there
will be “real time” vibration monitoring and limited vibration during the
Anticipated completion: August 2023 micro tunneling.
We were not pleased to hear that a generator will be running 24/7
during the micro tunneling. This noise will most likely affect those living
near the intersections. Trucks will be coming and going to pick up dirt
from the tunnels during the day and night.
Construction Mitigation
There will be weekend or night work near the school as needed and
when permitted by the NYC Department of Transportation (NYC DOT).
Night work will be done on Grand Avenue as permitted by NYC DOT. In
the other areas of the project, work will be done during the daytime or
as needed (with community consultation).
Keeping Us Informed
There is a Community Construction Liaison
(CCL) assigned to this project. She will help
identify and resolve issues as well as respond
to inquiries and concerns.
Pauline Chan, who is bilingual, can be
reached by email at maspethccl@gmail.
com or by phone at 347-782-3885. The field
office is located at 57-12 Grand Avenue.
The contractor for this $101.2M project is
Northeast Remsco Construction, Inc.

This project includes 69th Street from Queens Boulevard to 48th

Avenue; Calamus Avenue between 69th and 70th Streets; 70th Street The Saga of the 84th Street
from Calamus to 54th Avenue; 71st Street from 54th to Grand Avenues;
Grand Avenue to Mazeau Street; Mazeau Street to the Long Island Boulder Continues
Expressway north.
The general scope of work includes the reconstruction of sewers, some
water mains, 4 sewer chambers, 10 new sewer manholes and 20 new
fire hydrants.
As many of you know, preliminary work which includes moving utilities,
has already begun on 70th Street, Calamus Avenue and 69th Street.
Residents have been feeling the adverse impact of the construction
resulting in lack of curbside parking, noise, water interruption, dust and
street and lane closures. The boulder on 84th Street near Grand Avenue is still there! COMET
COMET was very vocal about the fiasco with the Calamus Avenue reached out to the NYC Department of Transportation and we were told
combined sewer installation. When we heard 70th Street and other it would be removed. It has been more than a year and even though we
blocks were being targeted, we stated that we would not tolerate living have been following up, neither Councilman Dromm’s office or COMET
under the conditions like the poor folks on Calamus. The Department of has received an update.
Design & Construction then came up with the idea of micro tunneling Councilman Dromm’s office suggested the boulder be moved to Elmhurst
which is supposed to be less invasive than trenching. Park. His office has reached out to the Department of Parks with this
What is Micro Tunneling? suggestion but as of now the Parks Department has not responded.
Micro tunneling is a method of digging that uses computers and The Department of Transportation did agree to remove the boulder
machines, with human help, to create a tunnel. since it’s in the street and falls under their jurisdiction, but perhaps it’s
still there because they need to know where they will move it to.
This allows for less interruption on the street and, most importantly,
they can keep the streets open. In a nutty nutshell, we’ve had a boulder mysteriously appear on 84th
Street, nobody seems to know how or when it got there and how or
In our case, the new sewer will be inserted into the micro tunnel which
when it’s going to be removed, this is unreal!

Pg. 4 Winter 2020 COMET

Burglaries in the Maspeth congested, our schools are overcrowded and our public transportation
system is inadequate to service the existing population let alone

& Middle Village Area thousands more residents. In some cases, we’ve noticed that the
project never seems to get finished. For example, 84-52 Grand Avenue
There’s been a few burglaries in the Maspeth and Middle Village area is currently a hollowed out building. There’s green fencing around the
recently, some of these burglaries involved forced entries on weekdays building with construction permits but these isn’t any construction
when people are out shopping or at work. Of course, we should all going on. Right up the block at 84-18 Grand Avenue is another fenced
keep our doors and windows locked to deter burglaries but there are off construction site where nothing’s been done for months. If you
additional steps you can take to make a burglar think twice before keep heading south on Grand Avenue to the corner of 83rd Street
attempting to break into your home. Remember, burglars usually want there’s another construction site that’s been nothing more than a
to break into an empty house, the last thing they want is a confrontation fenced off vacant lot for several years now. None of this adds value to
or to draw attention to what they’re doing. Here are some steps you the community.
can take.
• Leave a light on inside your house at night when you go to sleep or go
out. If a burglar sees light coming through a window at night, they may
think there’s somebody home and awake in the house and look for an Citi Bikes Coming Soon
easier target without risking a confrontation.
• Put up signs stating your house is alarmed, even if it isn’t. A potential
burglar may suspect the house isn’t alarmed but if they’re not sure
they’ll probably decide not to take the risk and move on.
• Do not let mail and fliers accumulate at your door when you’re away
on business or vacation. This is a sure sign that your house is empty and
an easy target. Ask a friend or neighbor to collect your mail for you while
you’re away.
• Leave a radio on near doors and windows a burglar may break into
when you aren’t home. Again, the idea is to create the illusion that
somebody is home. If a potential burglar hears a radio or a television
playing behind a door or window, they’ll most likely move on rather than
risk a confrontation.
While none of these steps are guaranteed to stop a burglar, they can
only help and they certainly won’t increase the risk of your home being
burglarized. Your Crime Prevention Officer at your precinct may have
additional tips for safeguarding your home.
Last but not least, if you see suspicious individuals on your block or in
your neighbor’s yard call 311. Always be vigilant.

Elmhurst Developments in Limbo

In July the mayor and transportation officials announced that the Citi
Bike program will be expanding over the next five years and we can
expect to see Citi Bikes available in both Maspeth and Elmhurst. For
those of you unfamiliar with the Citi Bike program it allows individuals
to rent a bicycle with a credit card and ride it throughout the city. One
of the best features of this program is that the renter is not required
to return the bike to the kiosk they took it from. You can rent the bike
from a kiosk in Maspeth, ride the bike to Manhattan and return the
bike to a kiosk in Manhattan, it’s very convenient.

For years COMET has been trying to stop real estate developers from
overdeveloping in our community. The infrastructure in our area is
already being strained beyond its capacity. Our thoroughfares are

COMET Winter 2020 Pg. 5

Deputy Inspector Gibbs On a Positive Note
Great News on 54th Avenue in Elmhurst
Captain Michael Gibbs
of the 108th Precinct
has been promoted from
Precinct Commander to
Deputy Inspector. We got
to know Michael Gibbs as
the Executive Officer at the
110th Precinct for seven
months as well as being
Executive Officer at the
104th Precinct for eight
months. In both positions
Mr. Gibbs was responsive,
pleasant to work with and At long last the house
an asset to our community. on the corner of 54th
His latest promotion is a Avenue and Van Horn
testament to his hard work Street has been rebuilt.
and dedication throughout For more than a decade
his career at the NYPD. Let’s 85-44 54th Avenue sat
wish him luck in his new empty with a burnt
position. exterior and a litter
strewn yard much to the
consternation of area

Cracking down on residents. In addition to

being an eyesore the yard was sometimes used as an illegal dumping

School Bus Parking

site that the Department of Sanitation would have to clean up and
homeless individuals would occasionally set up camp in the backyard.
After years of trying to determine who owned the house the property
was eventually purchased and after a lengthy permit process the
construction got under way. We are happy to report that this house
has been rebuilt with a beautiful brick face. This is great news for the

The Happy Tree Stumps

We can always count on Richie
Polgar to see the bright side of
any situation, even as winter is
closing in. On 82nd Street near
Grand Avenue Richie spotted
these colorful, happy-faced
stumps in a tree pit so he took a
Privately owned school buses have been parking on the street near picture and sent it to us for the
PS 7 on Cornish Avenue. Local resident Ellen Shugrue has been newsletter. We can all use a little
monitoring the situation and reporting the illegally parked buses to color and cheer, especially when
the 110th Precinct and COMET. The 110th Precinct is always busy with winter is setting in, so we’d like
street crime but NCO Officers Donald Lee and Kelsey Cunningham and to thank our neighbor for putting
Community Affairs Officer David Saponieri are still managing to issue these cheerful decorations in
summonses to the illegally parked buses. We’d like to thank Ellen the tree pit and Richie Polgar for
Shugrue and the NCO officers for their efforts. We expect this to be an taking the picture. These colorful
Electronics Recycling
ongoing situation so if you see something, say something. tree stumps are awesome.

Pg. 6 Winter 2020 COMET

Census 2020
Every 10 years the US Census Bureau, a nonpartisan government
agency, conducts a population count. It is imperative that an accurate
count is done because it will affect community funding, congressional
representation, and more. It’s important to know that funding for
hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads and other resources are
based on census data.
When you receive the census form, please fill it out!!

Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together

We need
your support
to continue

our efforts in Support your community!

the community.
COMET Dues for 2020 $10.00
Checks or money orders please


EMAIL (optional)

Existing Member New Member

Mail to: COMET

P.O. Box 780151
Maspeth, NY 11378

COMET Winter 2020 Pg. 7

P.O.Box 780151 U.S.Postage
Maspeth, NY 11378 Paid
Flushing NY
Permit #1264

Please Deliver To:


Saturday, September 8th

11:00 am
Printed by

Maspeth Memorial Square

Report Plane Noise
Sunday, September
WebTrak 16th Newsletter Spring 2012
website htt p:// every Friday. WebTrak system
11:00 amallows
- 4:00the
pmpublic to track ights and view noise readings at noise monitoring sites. The same site
can be used DAY
noise complaints. Noise complaints can also be led via their toll-free phone
number (1-800-225-1071).
Maspeth Federal Parking lot All noise complaints received are loggedin into a database and monthly
statistical reports are prepared and shared with the FAA and other stakeholders.
Saturday, September 29th
1:00 pmC.O.M.E.T.
- 4:00 pm Meetings
RECYCLEMeetings are held
DAY includes at 7:00
paper PM at The
shredding, St. Adalbert Parish Center, 52-40 84th Street, lower level.
recycling, animal adoption, pumpkin patch 104th 3rd
No meeting in January | Monday, February & | Monday, March 2nd | Monday, April 6th
Monday, May 11th | Monday, June 1st
108th Precincts will be VIN etching vehicles (you may
save $ onNewsletter Committee
your theft insurance) and registering cell

phones and Hogan, Mike Fordunski, Richie Polgar, Christina Wilkinson, Lucille Winsko, Geraldine Walsh,
Tom Porembski, Howard Moskowitz, Roe Daraio, Maspeth Press
Sunday, October
Special 7th
Thank You
Noon – 5:00
This pm
newsletter is made possible by funding from Council Members Daniel Dromm, Jimmy Van Bramer

and Robert HoldenFAIR as wellthe
through as Department
the Car Show
of Youth & Community Development
in Maspeth Federal’s parking lot