4 THE QUEENS COURIER • FEBRUARY 1, 2018 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
Woodside businesses blast MTA repair woes
BY ANGELA MATUA
Th e co-owner of Donovan’s Pub in
Woodside is arguing that the MTA’s
work along the 7 line is bad for business.
Dan Connor, who runs the pub at 57-24
Roosevelt Ave., said that the agency has
conducted track work along the avenue
for two years now and have been using
parking spots that could be used for customers.
“It’s honestly been going on for nearly
two years, at least 15 weekends and scores
of actual weekdays,” he said. “It just cripples
us. It takes every single parking space
within four or fi ve blocks.”
Connor wrote a letter to Councilman
Jimmy Van Bramer to express his frustration.
Th e councilman, along with community
organizations and Donovan’s Pub
co-owner Jimmy Jacobson, held a press
conference in front of the pub on Jan. 26
to demand that the MTA “cease occupying
“We demand better train service, but
we are also here to demand that the MTA
give us back our streets, give us back our
parking and stop harming local businesses,”
Van Bramer said. “Th e ongoing work
on the 7 line has been a nightmare for the
people of Woodside, Sunnyside and Long
Island City for years. We want the 7 train
to be in good repair, but we also want
the MTA to do their work in a way that
doesn’t harm our local businesses.”
Connor said the pub relies on parking
spots to attract customers, some of
whom are elderly and need to drive to get
to the restaurant. Donovan’s also attracts
customers who once lived in the area
but have moved out and can only get to
Woodside by car.
Th e pub also hosts birthday parties,
christenings, baby showers and other parties
where “people are invited from out
Th e MTA also uses the streets to store
cranes and other large machinery while
they conduct track replacements.
Brenda Dominguez, a secretary at St.
Sebastian’s Church at 58-02 Roosevelt
Ave., said the street closures and lack of
parking have been an ongoing issue.
“It aff ects the church with funerals
during the weekends, making people late
to come to mass, and it aff ects the school
as well,” she said.
St. Sebastian’s Catholic Academy is
located at 39-76 58th St.
Connor said during one week, the agency
put up signs along Roosevelt Avenue
advising people that they could not park
on the street from Monday through
“Th ey never showed up to work,” he
said. “Five straight days of no parking and
they never came.”
Connor said the agency also kept a fi re
hydrant running for 36 hours one day
and the water turned into ice in front of
his pub. He is also frustrated because the
MTA has not reached out to him about
the work they are conducting, he said.
Woodside community leaders are calling on the MTA to stop hogging local streets.
Th e fi rst time he heard indirectly from
the agency was on Jan. 30, when a member
from Community Board 2 emailed
him to tell him that an MTA employee
would reach out within a few days.
“I get it. Track work needs to be done.
I understand,” he said. “In the amount of
time they’ve spent working just out of our
door I’m pretty sure the 7 train could’ve
MTA offi cials said the track replacement
Photo courtesy of Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer’s offi ce
work is “critical” to “maintain safety
and improve reliability and service.”
“We have been in constant contact
with elected offi cials and the Community
Board on this project and we look forward
to continuing that engagement,”
said MTA spokesperson Jon Weinstein.
“Th is equipment is essential for critical
state-of-good-repair work on the 7 line
and we simply must do maintenance to
ensure safe, reliable service for Queens.”
City urged to ‘immediately abandon’ plans for Corrections facility in Bayside
BY SUZANNE MONTEVERDI
email@example.com / @smont76
Bayside should not be the site of a proposed
Department of Corrections (DOC)
training facility, according to two lawmakers.
Assemblyman Edward Braunstein and
Councilman Paul Vallone are the latest
local leaders to speak out against the DOC
plan to bring its training academy to Fort
Totten in the Bay Terrace section of the
neighborhood. Th e agency is currently
working with the Department of Design
and Construction (DDC) on a feasibility
study for the site.
Community Board 7 fi rst raised concerns
with the proposal at a general meeting
in October 2017, where FDNY offi -
cials stopped by to share plans to construct
a wind turbine in the southeast
portion of the fort. While board members
were initially open to the proposal,
the mood changed when board member
Chuck Apelian announced he received
word the DOC is actively considering
Fort Totten for its training academy.
Remarks made by former DOC
Commissioner Joseph Ponte in May 2017
confi rmed the agency’s interest in the site.
Th e city has allocated $100 million for the
new training academy.
Braunstein called the city’s desire to
further develop Fort Totten “outrageous.”
“Recently, Community Board 7 notifi
ed my offi ce that DOC was considering
a facility at Fort Totten,” he said. “Upon
receiving this information, my requests to
various city agencies have failed to result
in any substantive information. Th is is
despite the fact that the city of New York
has been considering this proposal as far
back as 2015.”
Th e lawmaker also recently received an
anonymous mailer that included a copy
of the city Fire Department’s “Agency
Training Operations and Planned
Re-Development At Fort Totten, Queens”
report, dated Sept. 26. Should the DOC
plan move forward at the Fort, two buildings
near the the soccer fi elds/old parade
grounds would have to undergo renovation
and demolition work to accommodate
the new facility, according to the
document. Bus parking for students and
a 180-space, below-grade parking facility
for DOC instructors and administrators
would also be built.
Th e city has “moved aggressively” over
the last two years to explore whether the
expansion is feasible, the report said.
“It is absolutely unacceptable that a proposal
of this magnitude was not shared
with elected offi cials and the community
board for over two years,” Braunstein
said. “Given the lack of transparency and
absence of public input, I call on Mayor
de Blasio to immediately abandon any
plans for a DOC facility at the Fort Totten
Vallone said the city’s move was “gravely
“Fort Totten’s location is nestled in a
small residential community that lacks
the infrastructure, public transportation
and accessibility for a development of this
magnitude,” he said.
Fort Totten was formally an active U.S.
Army installation and is currently used
by the U.S. Army Reserve, NYPD and
FDNY. Certain portions are designated
public park areas.
Earlier this month, state Senator Tony
Avella also raised concerns about the city’s
plans for the site. In a letter addressed to
Mayor Bill de Blasio, the lawmaker called
for increased transparency. He also questioned
whether DOC’s interest in Fort
Totten pertained to the city’s move to create
neighborhood-based jail sites.
A DOC spokesperson told QNS the
Fort Totten feasibility study is still in the
works and “does not include plans for a
Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Ryan Joseph Daley of Bayside NY
A view from inside Fort Totten