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Want Bus Line to Shift Gears

COMET Looks At Tweaking Q59 Route

Changing a local bus route, the growth of a new community garden and crime updates were the hot topics at last Monday’s (Sept. 10) meeting of the Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together (COMET) civic association at Bethzatha Church of God in Elmhurst.

COMET President Rosemarie Daraio informed attendees that she forwarded to City Council Member Karen Koslowitz’s office a proposal submitted by a local resident to have the portion of the Q59 route which runs through Elmhurst shifted from Grand Avenue to 57th Avenue.

“The people over here … have to walk seven to eight blocks or Grand Avenue to get the bus,” Daraio said. She noted that it is also a long walk for residents south of Grand Avenue and north of the Long Island Expressway to reach the E, F, M or R stations on Queens Boulevard.

“The only other option they have is to take the [Q47] bus, which is a very circuitous route” to reach the 7 line,” she said. “It would take them 20 minutes for a five minute bus ride or less to Queens Boulevard.”

The proposal would have the Q59 bus (as it heads eastbound along Grand Avenue) turn south on 74th Street to 57th Avenue. The bus would then turn east on 57th Avenue for just under a mile before turning onto Queens Boulevard en route to its terminus in Rego Park.

The rerouted Q59 would follow the same route in reverse while traveling westbound.

Daraio observed that the change would allow buses to stop in front of the newly-opened Maspeth High School at the corner of 57th Avenue and 74th Street. Elmhurst residents who do not drive would also be able to reach the Stop and Shop supermarket in Maspeth and other stores with this bus change, she added.

“If you don’t have a car and you want to go to Stop and Shop and you live on 57th Avenue, that’s a long hike,” she said. “Last year we had several robberies on 57th Avenue with people going home,” pointing out that the block is dimly lit at night.

“It’s just a proposal” at this point, Daraio said. If the MTA finds favor with the plan, she noted, a public hearing would be held with Community Board 4 before any changes are enacted.

“We’ll see where that goes,” she concluded.

New Elmhurst garden sprouting

Several members of the New Life Community Development Corporation’s “Young Governors” program stopped by to talk about the new community garden they are developing on a former litter-strewn site on Kneeland Avenue.

Led by program director Delia Kim, Kevin Salazar, Tala Haider, Mable Cheng and Amy Wang explained that they began the garden on the vacant lot in the summer, removing debris and planting seeds for crops such as yellow squash, eggplants, tomatoes and basil.

The food grown and harvested at the garden will be distributed to individuals in need who stop by the New Life Church pantry, located at the house of worship at the Elks Lodge on Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst.

Salazar added that the Young Governors also worked to cleanup a park on Broadway in Elmhurst and coordinated a special magic show at the location. In the future, the organization hopes to hold a voter registration and awareness drive prior to the November election.

For more information on the program, visit the Young Governors’ Facebook page at www.facebook.com/young.governors, their website at www.newlifecdc.us/about/youthdevelopment/ young-governors or call 1-718-614-7599.

Crime report

The commanding officer of the 104th Precinct and the executive officer at the 110th Precinct updated residents on recent crime figures in the Maspeth and Elmhurst areas which they patrol.

Deputy Inspector Michael Cody, commander of the 104th Precinct, stated that overall crime is down 11 percent over the 28-day period which concluded last Sunday, Sept. 9. Robberies, felony assaults and grand larcenies dropped for the period, while burglaries and auto thefts rose.

In the Maspeth area patrolled by the 104th Precinct, 20 burglaries have occurred year-to-date, an increase of six from the same time in 2011, Cody said. Even so, he noted that the command has made a number of recent arrests of burglary suspects.

One of the cases, as reported in the Times Newsweekly last week, involved the arrest of two individuals who were spotted attempting to break into a home on 66th Street on the morning of Sept. 5. Both suspects, following their arrests, were linked to another burglary in the same area; one of the two individuals was also tied to a recent burglary in College Point, Cody added.

“They were very willing to talk,” he said of the two suspect, noting that both perpetrators targeted homes with unlocked or open doors and windows.

Overall, there were also increases in the number of arrests made by the 104th Precinct for DWI (96 for 2012, up from 68 in 2011) and narcotics activity (225 this year, up from 132 in 2011).

Residents complained about double parked vehicles and school buses at schools around Maspeth. Cody stated that the precinct would make a “focused effort” to address the problem, with 104th Precinct officers reaching out to local principals to advise parents and school bus drivers to “be a good neighbor” and avoid double parking on area streets.

“If the issue arises, we have the assets to address it,” the deputy inspector added.

Turning to Elmhurst, Capt. Gregory

Santana-the executive officer of the 110th Precinct-informed residents that crime was down over the last 28-day period, though it remains up for the year.

Year-to-date increases were reported in robberies, felony assaults, burglaries and grand larcenies, Santana said. However, in the last week, he noted that all crime categories except for felony assaults were down.

“We’re heading in the right direction,” he stated. “We hope to keep bringing crime down.”

Santana also touched on the recent burglary arrests in Maspeth, noting that since the collar was made, the number of break-ins have decreased in the 110th Precinct. Between June 1 and Aug. 31, a total of 27 burglaries occurred in areas of Elmhurst within COMET’s confines, 18 of which were of homes.

The executive officer also warned residents of a con artist targeting women of Asian descent. He explained that the female perpetrator, claiming to offer spiritual healing of physical ailments, approached elderly victims and offered to cure them in exchange for their fortunes.

In one instance, Santana noted, a victim took all of the money out of their safe deposit box and delivered it to the phony healer.

P.O. Thompson Wen of the 110th Precinct’s Crime Prevention Unit, stated that the crime fit an ongoing pattern that has been taking place in the 109th and 110th precincts for several months. The NYPD has posted advertisements and advisories in Chinese language publications urging the public to avoid being scammed and to report any con games to police.

With many Asian residents living in the area, Daraio requested copies of that NYPD flier for placement around Elmhurst.

Other news

Daraio asked local elected officials to inquire with the city Department of Transportation about the status of air quality monitoring devices in the area, which were to be installed as part of the Maspeth bypass plan.

She also noted that the organization is seeking further action by the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission regarding commuter vans illegally traveling through Maspeth and Elmhurst. Though some of the vans have licenses, Daraio stated, the vehicles are “still disobeying the law” by serving areas where they are not permitted to travel.

The next COMET meeting is scheduled to take place on Monday night, Oct. 1, at 7 p.m. at Bethzatha Church of God, located at 85-24 57th Ave. in Elmhurst.

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