FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM FEBRUARY 20, 2020 • THE QUEENS COURIER 3
Astoria loses a local legend as WW II combat vet dies at age 95
DOT unveils concept for protected bike lanes in Astoria
BY MAX PARROTT
Th e Department of Transportation presented
Participants at the Astoria bike lane workshop discuss the DOT’s plan.
its blueprint for improving bike
infrastructure in Astoria on Tuesday, Feb.
11, at a public workshop where it unveiled
a tentative plan for a pair of protected
bike lanes and solicited feedback from the
Th e two proposed north-south protected
lanes extend up Crescent Street and
31st Street. Th e DOT is proposing these
two-way lanes as a way to close gaps in
the bike network through the Green Wave
Th e network would also include several
other standard bike lanes in the northeast
part of the neighborhood on 43rd and
44th streets and in the southwest on 22nd
and 23rd streets.
“We want to talk about expanding the
network around that bike lane. How can
we make the whole network work together?
What are the best routes to look at?
Are there other routes we haven’t considered?”
said DOT Deputy Director for
Projects and Planning Alice Friedman.
Cycling advocates have been calling
for a protected bike lane from the
Triboro Bridge to the Queensborough
Bridge along Crescent Street for years.
Th e Crescent Street concept involves a
two-way bike lane separated by a lane of
Th e plan for the 31st Street protected
lane, stretches from 20th Avenue to 39th
Avenue run parallel with the N/W subway
line, but would not provide a direct
connection to the Queensborough Bridge.
Th e plan envisions bus stops and pedestrian
improvements along the protected lane.
More than 100 biking enthusiasts came
to participate in the workshop. Aft er
breaking off into working groups led by
a DOT representative and deliberating
on the proposed network improvements,
each group presented their overarching
conclusions to the crowd.
In the group discussions, DOT representatives
emphasized that the proposed
routes weren’t fi nalized, and that they
would consider feedback seriously. Th ey
also attempted to gauge the most vital
parts of the design.
DOT Borough Planner John O’Neil
inevitably asked if the participants in his
group had a preference between the two
lanes if they had to choose. His groups’
consensus mirrored all of the rest: the
bike lane on Crescent was more critical,
but both lanes would be desirable as an
In presenting their conclusions, several
groups also commented that the plan
does not do enough to create safe eastwest
bike lanes in the neighborhood. Of
the east-west routes currently proposed,
one is only a few blocks long and the
other is a shared bike lane, which involves
painting “sharrows” or signage that serves
to remind cars about the presence of bikes
on the street.
Many of the participants were
skeptical that shared lanes constitute
a meaningful safety
“ T h e
p r o -
p o s e d
t h a t
should be every street because that’s the
law,” said cyclist and Community Board 5
member John Maier.
Th e mood of the participants presenting
their fi ndings wavered between enthusiasm
for the improvements to indignation
at the current state of bike safety in the
“It’s a car-centric neighborhood and we
basically have a freeway going through
it. We need speed bumps, signage, more
stop signals,” said Astoria cyclist Shannon
Rudd. “It’s terrifying to be out there.”
DOT planners say they will use the
feedback from the workshop to update
the proposal and continue with community
engagement into the spring and summer.
By the fall, the DOT says it plans to
begin implementation of the conventional
and protected bicycle
BY BILL PARRY
Astoria is mourning the loss of one of
the neighborhood’s most beloved fi gures.
World War II veteran Luke Gasparre,
who went on to become an usher for
the New York Mets when Shea Stadium
opened in 1964, died Th ursday, Feb. 13, at
the age of 95.
“Luke Gasparre was a friend to everyone
in Astoria,” state Sen. Michael Gianaris
said. “”He shared his love of the Mets,
public service, and his community with
every person he encountered. We will
miss Luke’s warm presence and constant
smile. I was proud to induct him into the
Senate Veterans Hall of Fame in 2016 and
was even prouder to call him my friend.”
At the young age of 18, Gasparre trained
to become a soldier and was assigned to
the 87th Infantry Division that was tasked
with breaking through the German lines.
He fought in the Battle of the Bulge, which
was the highest casualty operation by the
end of World War II.
“At one point he was in combat for
fi ve straight months,” Astoria civic leader
Antonio Meloni said during a ceremony
honoring Gasparre in 2014.
Following the war, Gasparre returned
to Astoria having earned seven medals
including the Bronze Star and Purple
Heart. He worked for the postal service for
34 years and to make ends meet he took a
job as an usher for the Mets for 55 years,
the most ever in the Mets organization.
“Luke held a special place in our Mets
family. He served as an usher for parts of
six decades and was a decorated World
War II veteran who wore his Purple Heart
and Bronze Star on his usher’s uniform,”
the Mets said in a statement. “So many of
our fans knew him as he always welcomed
everyone with open arms and a friendly
conversation. He will be missed by many
and we send our heartfelt condolences to
all his family and friends.”
Gasparre was also a ticket taker and
usher at the U.S. Open for more than 40
years. He became the longtime leader of
the Tamiment Democratic Club and various
other civic groups.
Former City Council Speaker Peter
Vallone, Sr., who represented Astoria for
more than three decades, put Gasparre on
the City Planning Commission “because
of his brilliant mind,” and Gasparre was a
longtime member of Community Board 1.
He was married to his late wife,
Madeline, for 66 years and they had a
family of three children, fi ve grandchildren
and four great-grandchildren.
Visitation took place at the Drago
Funeral Home at 43-10 30th Ave. on
Saturday, Feb.15, Sunday, Feb. 16, and
Monday, Feb. 17. A funeral mass was held
at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church —
located at 43-19 30th Ave. — on Tuesday,
“Luke Gasparre was a community treasure.
I will remember him best for his
warmth, generosity and strong commitment
to his community,” Assemblywoman
Aravella Simotas said. “Whether chatting
with him when the Mets were playing at
home or dancing with him at community
functions, Luke had a way of making me
smile. Our community will miss him. I
will miss him. My condolences to his family
Photo courtesy of DOT
Photo by Walter Karling
Luke Gasparre was a crowd favorite at Columbus Day Parades in Astoria each year.