Queens rocked by calamitous events of 2010

After a decade of false starts, a winning bidder was selected for the contract to install video lottery terminals at Aqueduct Race Track. Plans (l.) for the redevelopment by wining bidder Genting New York include two, 2,000-seat signature restaurants – Chinese and American – and 4,500 VLTs. Officials from Genting (below), union officials and elected officials ceremonially break ground on the project, which will be known as Resorts Word New York. About 1,300 construction jobs and 800 permanent positions are expected to be filled, providing a boost to the Queens economy. Genting's bid included a $380 million upfront payment to the state. Photo by Christina Santucci, rendering courtesy Genting NY
By Howard Koplowitz

The year in Queens was bookended by natural disasters — an earthquake in Haiti whose tremors were felt throughout the borough and a late December blizzard that crippled Queens and the rest of the city — with a tornado and its aftermath lingering for days in the summer.

While the borough experienced its share of natural disasters, it also had some man-made ones, including the self-destruction of former state Sen. Hiram Monserrate, who was expelled from the Senate after being convicted of misdemeanor assault for cutting his girlfriend’s face with a glass.

On the education front, Queens faced shutdowns of some schools, including the city’s renewed efforts to close Jamaica and Broad Channel high schools after a somewhat brief reprieve.

The borough also saw the defeat of longtime Sen. Frank Padavan, who will not be walking the halls of the state Legislature for the first time in 37 years after he lost his re-election battle to former City Councilman Tony Avella.

The 7.0-magnitude earthquake that rocked Haiti was also felt in the large Haitian populations in Cambria Heights and Queens Village.

The nonprofit Haitian Americans United for Progress swept into action, putting Queens residents in touch with their families in the Caribbean nation and assisting Haitian nationals with finding a home in the borough.

In late September, a powerful tornado descended on the borough and hit particularly hard in northeast and western Queens, where 1,000 trees were destroyed, thousands of borough residents were left without power and a Pennsylvania woman with ties to Flushing was killed on the Grand Central Parkway.

In the waning days of 2010, a blizzard plowed its way into the borough, dumping more than a foot of snow in Queens and paralyzing Queens.

At John F. Kennedy International Airport, 16 inches of the white stuff was measured while 13 inches was recorded at LaGuardia Airport.

The borough’s transportation system was also dealt a blow in 2010, when the Metropolitan Transportation Authority decided to eliminate the W and V subways, the X51 in Flushing and the Q14, Q74 and Q79, which served southeast and eastern Queens.

Southeast Queens was jolted by a rash of murders throughout the year, ending 2010 with 68 killings compared to 53 from 2009 — a 28.3 percent increase, according to official police statistics. To make matters worse, most of those murders have so far gone unsolved.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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