Long Island City Post

Long Island City NY news

LIC Restaurants form association to promote neighborhood and tackle agencies

QUINNCREEKCAVE-61Nov. 4, By Christian Murray

More than a dozen restaurants—fed up by the way the media portrays Long Island City as well as the adversarial nature of the Health Department—have come together and formed an association to promote the neighborhood and tackle a range of issues from the health department grading system to sanitation problems.

The group, called the Long Island City Restaurant Association, held its first meeting at the Creek and the Cave, located at 10-93 Jackson Ave., last Tuesday.  The owners/managers of several well-known establishments participated, including: Alobar, Masso, Alewife, Manducatis Rustica, Riverview Restaurant & Lounge and LIC Market.

Rebecca Trent, the owner of the ‘Creek and the Cave’ and the association’s chief organizer, said the members all have similar concerns.

Trent said they are frustrated by the how some members of the media try to compare Long Island City to Williamsburg. “We are not a hipster haven,” she said. “This is a neighborhood of young professionals and children– not men with handlebar moustaches.”

“Some of the older journalists—who are not tapped in– think that anyone who is in their 20s/early 30s is a hipster,” Trent said. Furthermore, “many of these same reporters haven’t even spent any time here.”

Another issue is that some media outlets pitch Long Island City like it’s a hotel.

“Some people promote the area as a cool place to live given how close it is to the city—but fail to say what a great place it is to hang out in,” said Jeff Blath, the owner of Alobar.

Therefore, the restaurant owners say, the underlying message can easily be interpreted to mean: hang out in the Manhattan, sleep in Long Island City.

The organization aims to speak with one voice, where its members refute the hipster and hotel generalizations–and promote the Long Island City restaurant and bar scene as a destination for visitors.

Bath said the organization, which is expected to meet monthly, will grow as awareness increases among restaurant owners.

The new organization aims to promote its own events such as a restaurant week. “We are in the best position to determine when is the best time of the year to hold events,” said Doris Nowillo Suda, who manages Riverview Restaurant, as opposed to newspapers or outside groups. “We all know when the slow periods are and how to price specials.”

Trent said that the group is useful in that they can work together in discussing Dept of Health issues, which continues to be a concern.

Trent is confident that the group’s health department concerns will be listened to. She said that Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer’s office sent a representative to the meeting and that Van Bramer sponsored legislation that was passed in October that helped reduce fines.

As search continues, Police Captain praises Long Island City residents for their help

Capt. Hennessy

Capt. Hennessy

Oct. 31, By Christian Murray

The Long Island City community was subject to a great deal of praise from the captain of the 108th Precinct for its efforts in trying to locate the missing autistic boy Avonte Oquendo.

“I have been on this job for many, many years…and this has been the closest-knit, the most helpful community I’ve seen,” said Brian Hennessy, the captain of the 108 precinct, who is in charge of the search on a day-to-day basis.

“There have been hundreds of volunteers, mothers with their children, Guardian Angels, La Guardia College students to everyone in the community,” Hennessy said. “The support has been tremendous and everyone should be proud they live in this community.”

Avonte went missing Oct. 4 after leaving his Long Island City school and there have been few clues. However, a photo emerged of a boy sitting on the subway Wednesday that resembled Avonte, which the police are reviewing.

Hennessy discussed the efforts the department has gone to since Avonte went missing. “We have gone door-to-door, checked vacant lots, sewers, dumpsters, the railroads, you name it.”

“You’ve probably heard the helicopters and some people would have seen the scuba divers,” he said. “There are fliers everywhere—from bus and train stations, businesses—to every corner.”

However, Hennessy said he hasn’t given up hope. “We still get leads every day and we are working them.”

Hennessy said that precinct has had to divert cops to the search but that has not undermined policing efforts in other sections of the command (which covers Sunnyside/Woodside and Long Island City). “We have officers coming in from other precincts to supplement us with the search,” he said.

He said crime has been flat throughout the precinct since the search was conducted. He said last week there were 23 major crimes reported (the same number as last year) and crime dropped the week before.

In the past month, crime was essentially flat– up 2%. For the past 28 day period, 92 major crimes were reported, compared to 90 for the same period a year ago.

The number of assaults and auto break-ins dropped significantly—however, stolen motor vehicles accounted for the modest uptick.

In the past 28 days, 18 vehicles were stolen compared to seven for the prior year. Hennessy said six of the stolen vehicles were motorcycles—and some of the others were vehicles used to cart the motorcycles away in.

Dedicated bike lane to be constructed on Pulaski Bridge in 2014

Pulaski Bridge: Six Lanes for Cars; One Cramped Path for Bikes & Peds from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

Oct. 30, By Christian Murray

The Department of Transportation is drawing up plans for a dedicated bike lane on the Pulaski Bridge– which links Long Island City with Brooklyn.

Officials have been calling on the DOT to add a bike lane for over a year–after recognizing that the existing pathway squeezes pedestrians and cyclists into a narrow shared lane.

The DOT said it is the process of designing the dedicated lane. These plans will be reviewed by Queens Community Board 2 and Brooklyn Community Board 1.

If all goes well, the construction of the bike lane would begin in spring or early summer of 2014.

“We have been working on obtaining a dedicated bike lane on the Pulaski Bridge for over a year now and I am happy to say it is finally coming to fruition,” said Assemblyman Joe Lentol, who represents a northern Brooklyn, in a statement.

“The safety of bike riders and pedestrians on the bridge has always been of my utmost concern,” Lentol said.

The news was first reported by Streetsblog.com

Hundreds of kids expected to attend LIC’s Halloween march


Oct. 30, By Christian Murray

Long Island City is going to be the place to be for children this Halloween.

A number of local businesses have organized the ‘Halloween Trick-or-Treat March’ that is expected to draw hundreds of children to Vernon Blvd tomorrow.

The event begins at 4:15pm at Gantry State Park and goes up 48th Avenue – passing Little Ones—before snaking its way around 5th Street to 50th Avenue—and along Vernon Blvd.

Businesses will be offering snacks, candy, photos with super heroes, movies and story readings.

Participating businesses include Crankys, Modern Spaces, Manducatis Rustica, LIC Bar, Little Ones and Alewife—with the police precinct also handing out candy.

“This is sixth year we have been doing it,” said Eric Benaim, the owner of Modern Spaces.

“When we opened [Modern Spaces] five years ago, there were about 50 kids,” Benaim said. “This year we’ll probably get 500.”

Modern Spaces will have a booth where children can take pictures with Iron Man—and then receive candy.

LIC Bar will be catering to both children and adults. There will be music and snacks for the children—and drink specials for the parents.

5 Pointz artists win small battle in their war to save graffiti mecca

Source: George Burles

Source: George Burles

October 29, By Christian Murray

The 5Pointz artists just won’t go away.

The artists, who filed a federal court lawsuit against the owner of the so-called ‘Graffiti Mecca’ on Oct. 8, were able to convince a judge to extend their existing temporary restraining order another 14 days—thereby stopping the owner, Jerry Wolkoff, from demolishing the building through Nov. 12.

The judge, Frederic Block, also called for a hearing as a means to determine whether he should issue a preliminary injunction. A preliminary injunction, if granted, would stop Wolkoff from demolishing the building until the lawsuit was resolved, which could take well over a year.

Block’s ruling follows a lawsuit filed by 16 artists against G&M Realty (Wolkoff), which argues that the building cannot be destroyed since it would undermine the plaintiffs’ artwork as defined by the 1990 Visual Artists Rights Act.

The lawsuit, which is a long-shot, claims that many pieces of work are recognized throughout the country and the destruction of the artwork would damage the artists.

Jeannine Chanes, the attorney for the artists, said that the artwork should be protected since it was completed post 1990 (when the Act was introduced), is highly acclaimed, and was done with the permission of a property owner. Therefore, she said, the artwork cannot be altered without each artist’s consent.

However, Wolkoff’s attorneys have argued in court that the artists always knew the building was going to be demolished and that they had very little reason to believe the art would be up their permanently.

Wolkoff could not be reached for this article.

New pizzeria on Vernon, aims to cater to LIC’s kids

Tom Blaze

Tom Blaze

October 28, By Christian Murray

A new pizzeria that is opening on Vernon Blvd this February will be a big draw for Long Island City’s kids, the new owner predicts.

“The rear year is large and is ideal for children’s pizza parties,” said Tom Blaze who will open the 47-23 Vernon Blvd restaurant. “This is what attracted me to opening it.”

Blaze said Long Island City is a neighborhood where there are plenty of children, yet there are few places for them to have a party. “Nothing beats a pizza party, where the kids can make their own pizza.”

The rear yard is roughly 1,200 square feet, the same size as the interior.

The pizzeria will be for casual dining and there will not be table service. However, he said that he will be renovating the interior–to ensure the decor is inviting. He said he will completely transform the store’s existing frontage.

Blaze said the focus will be on pizza, although he will sell salads, sandwiches, mozzarella cheese and bread.

Blaze said the mozzarella cheese will be made in-house. Meanwhile, the bread will be locally produced.  “We aim to keep all our products as local and organic as possible,” he said.

Blaze grew up and lives in Long Island City. He is a broker at Modern Spaces, about a block away from his new pizzeria on Vernon Blvd.

“Real estate remains a passion of mine,” Blaze said. He said that he has hired an Italian pizza maker (who has been in New York for the past 10 years) who will come on board when he opens.

Meanwhile, his sister will manage the day-to-day operations.

Blaze said that he plans to call the pizzeria “L’inizio”, which in English means a new beginning.

LIC: Woman punched in face, as thief tries to take her purse



October 25, By Christian Murray

The NYPD is searching for a man who allegedly punched a 47-year-old woman in the face and unsuccessfully tried to grab her purse in Long Island City on Sunday.

The police said that the woman was walking in the vicinity of 44 Drive and 11 Street at 3:15 am on Sunday, Oct. 20, when the male suspect approached her, punched her in the face and attempted to remove her purse.  He subsequently fled without the purse.  Minor injuries were reported at this incident.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477).

Funny ladies come to LIC–fighting to be crowned best female comic

Scott Sharp

Scott Sharp

Oct. 24, By Christian Murray

About 100 funny ladies from across the nation are in Long Island City this week vying for the honor of being declared the best female standup comic.

The final is set to take place at the Laughing Devil (47-38 Vernon Blvd) on Saturday night, where the winner will walk away with the title—as well as $2,000, some high-profile gigs, and the chance to be seen by the biggest names in the industry.

The event, called the She-Devil Comedy Festival, is in its second year and the competitors were selected after submitting videos. The festival was created by Steve Hofstetter, a co-owner of the club.

Throughout the week competitors have been in knock out rounds at four venues throughout the city (including the Laughing Devil and the Breadbox Cafe).  The quarter finals are scheduled for Thursday night and semi-finals on Friday. (see schedule).

“People should know that this is the biggest all-female comedy festival in the world and it happens in Long Island City,” said an excited Scott Sharp, the general manager of the Laughing Devil.

Queens man pleads guilty– stemming from 2010 fatal stabbing of LIC resident

adam_rodriguez0d352c31-6b2c-4769-9d25-b36e6c94e3eeOctober 22, By Christian Murray

A 44-year-old Queens man pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter yesterday for fatally stabbing his brother’s 27-year-old roommate.

The defendant, Adam Rodriguez, had only been released from Rikers Island (on unrelated charges) hours before the grizzly incident.

Rodriguez, who faces a 20-year prison sentence, testified that he went to his brother’s apartment at 12-18 37th Avenue in Long Island City on March 18, 2010, looking for a place to stay.

William Edmonds, the roommate of the defendant’s brother, was the only one home at the time and he called Rodriguez’s brother on the phone to ask him if it was okay for Rodriguez to stay.

However, according to testimony, Rodriguez’ brother refused to let him stay and an argument ensued about money.  In lieu of the money, Rodriguez said he would take his brother’s leather coat.

When Edmonds attempted to stop Rodriguez from taking the coat, Rodriguez stabbed him once in the chest and fled.

Edmonds was taken to the hospital, suffering a stab wound to the chest that had punctured his heart.  He died from his injuries approximately four months later.

NYPD likely to scale back search for missing autistic boy this week

Avonte Oquendo

Avonte Oquendo

October 22, By Christian Murray

The NYPD is likely to scale back its search for 14-year-old Avonte Oquendo this week—if it continues to find no trace of the non-verbal autistic boy.

The police have devoted hundreds of officers to the search—sending out boat crews to scour the waters off Long Island City and helicopter teams to comb the area.

Avonte, who was last seen on surveillance video October 4th leaving his 51st Avenue school, has been missing for 18 days. There have been more than 200 tips and at least two possible sightings, but nothing has materialized.

However, in the process of looking for Avonte, the NYPD has found three other young people who had been reported missing.

“We are still devoting a lot of resources to the search,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said yesterday. However, “We will have to make some adjustments as for the deployment of the resources … this week if we are unsuccessful.”

Pizzeria to open on Vernon Blvd, where Mario’s Deli was located

mariosdeliOct 21, By Christian Murray

A pizzeria is opening on Vernon Blvd in the space that had been occupied by Mario’s Deli for the past 18 years.

The pizzeria, which will be located at 47-23 Vernon Blvd, is expected to open in February and represents a new era in Long Island City.

Tom Blaze, the owner, has yet to come up with a name for the eatery. However, he did say the pizzeria would be for casual dining (not a restaurant) and that he would be focusing on selling to residents.

While Blaze was discussing his plans at the new Vernon Blvd location, Mario Migliorelli (the owner of Mario’s Deli) was about 30 feet away cleaning up the empty store as he was about to hand the keys to the landlord.

Migliorelli, 61, who closed at the end of August (although his lease ends Oct. 30), said his business peaked and fell with the transformation of Long Island City.

“When I opened the deli, business was excellent,” Migliorelli said. “We had all these manufacturers—such as air-conditioning companies, Pepsi, Budweiser–and there were steady customers.”

But as the residential towers went up and the manufacturers started to disappear business began to dry up. “I did get a lot of the construction workers buying lunch which helped replace lost business—but they didn’t work all year round.”

Migliorelli said that as construction moved farther away from Vernon Blvd in recent years and new eateries and restaurants popped up business got even tougher.

“I had to rely on residents and they had a lot of places to go to,” he said.

Therefore, when his lease came up this year he decided that he didn’t want to work long hours to eke out a living. He decided to call it a day.

Migliorelli said he’s taking a few months off and going to work for Pepsi. “My wife works, so what I’m going to do…sit around at home all day?”


Mario Migliorelli, removing left over garbage

Police release updated picture of missing teen Avonte Oquendo

BW28YE5IMAEfVSA.jpg largeOctober 18, By Christian Murray

The police have released a new picture of missing autistic teen Avonte Oquendo, who disappeared from his Long Island City school two weeks ago.

The picture, which includes a photo of the shirt he was wearing the day he disappeared, was tweeted by the NYPD this afternoon.

The picture is an updated photo of Avonte and includes the gray and white striped shirt he was wearing that day.

The police, family and concerned citizens have been combing the city for Avonte, who is autistic and cannot speak, since he vanished.

Avonte has been missing since Oct. 4, and was last seen leaving his school at 1-50 51 Ave. wearing a gray striped shirt, black jeans and black sneakers. He is 5-foot-3 and weighs 125 pounds.

Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS.

Court grants 5 Pointz artists a 10-day restraining order, as long-shot battle to save building continues

Photo: By George Burles

Photo: By George Burles

October 17, By Christian Murray

The demolition crew tasked with the job of bulldozing 5 Pointz is going to have to wait–as the 5 Pointz artists were able to convince a Federal Court Judge today to grant them a temporary restraining order, which prohibits the developer from tampering with the building.

The decision follows a lawsuit filed by 17 artists last week against G&M Realty (the owner of the property), which argues that the building cannot be destroyed since it would undermine the plaintiffs’ artwork as defined by the 1990 Visual Artists Rights Act.

The lawsuit claims that many pieces of work are recognized throughout the country and the destruction of the artwork would damage the artists.

The District Court judge’s decision to grant a 10-day restraining order was deemed by the plaintiffs as the first step toward getting a permanent injunction.

The plaintiffs hope the judge will come back before October 28 and announce a hearing for a preliminary injunction. At that point, the artists would be called upon to testify.

Jeannine Chanes, the attorney for the artists, said that the artwork should be protected since it was completed post 1990 (when the Act was introduced), is highly acclaimed, and was done with the permission of a property owner. Therefore, she said, the artwork cannot be altered without each artist’s consent.

She said that G&M Realty needs to get a waiver from each of the artists before it can remove their work.

G&M Realty could not be reached for comment.

Chanes said the Visual Artists Rights Act is narrowly defined and only applies to paintings and sculptures. Furthermore, work for hire would not be protected either—nor graffiti art that is done without the property owner’s consent (such as Banksy).

“Aerosol art would be considered painting,” Chanes claims. “Jeannine was here…would not.”

VARA Complaint 10102013 Copy