Newsletter Summer 2013

Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together

At Last!

Our new Commanding Officer at the 108th Precinct, Captain Brian Hennessy (in white shirt), has promised to do ongoing enforcement with NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission to curtail illegal commuter van activity in our area. This photo was taken on 53rd Road between 73rd and 74th Streets.
Story on page 6.
Photo by Tom Porembski

A reformed burglar speaks out and dispels some common security practices we always thought kept our home safer - Please take a moment to read them and see if you are a part of the myth! By posting a sign stating which alarm you have, you’re giving the burglar all the information needed to bypass that specific system. A better move is to post a general warning sign that the home has an alarm. A light that stays on all the time is no more of a deterrent than a dark house. Use timers that turn lights on and off in different parts of the house at different intervals to give the appearance to anyone watching that there is someone home. It’s the first place burglars look - store rarely-used valuables in a safe-deposit box. In the home, be creative with your hiding spots and don’t hide everything in one place. Even if you’re just running out for coffee, set your alarm. Career burglars will stake out your home to learn your habits before ever acting. Make it a habit some newer alarms can even be armed remotely from your smartphone, so there is no excuse! For more information on keeping your home safe please contact our Crime Prevention Section for a free Home Security Survey. You can also visit the website at for more information. Tall bushes and shrubs can allow burglars to jimmy windows without being seen.

Myth #5: Hiding windows with landscaping

Myth #1: Posting detailed alarm signs

Myth #6: Having newspaper and mail delivery stopped

The more activity burglars see, the less likely they are to target your house. While you’re away, it’s better to ask friends or neighbors to gather your mail. If you can’t do this, then stop the mail - don’t let it pile up, as that is another sure sign no one is home. They’re virtually useless...Secure every exterior door with deadbolts - and use them!

Myth #2: Leaving lights on

Myth #7: Counting on chain locks

Myth #3: Hiding valuables in the bedroom

Myth #4: Installing alarms (but not using them!)

Pg. 2 Summer 2013 COMET

We want to send a special thank you to Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer for reaching out to the Taxi & Limousine Commission regarding the illegal commuter van activity in our area. One happy resident spotted a commuter van being pulled over in mid-April on 52nd Drive at 69th Street, which is a chronic location. The problem can be readily seen in south Elmhurst and the Winfield section of Woodside as well as Maspeth. We hope he keeps up the pressure! On March 6th, Council Member Elizabeth Crowley wrote to Councilman James Vacca, Chairman of the City Council’s Transportation Committee, asking for an oversight hearing to investigate the operation of commuter van services within New York City. One of the issues raised in her letter was the difficulty in determining the geographic area in which a particular commuter van service is licensed to operate because of the indecipherable map and legend that the Commission posted on its website. She also asked that the hearing should include an examination into the Commission’s enforcement efforts and resources because she has received complaints about commuter vans making unauthorized pick-ups outside of their authorized zones. Lastly, she introduced a bill in July 2011 that sought to correct a community board notification issue with respect to the licensing process.

Van Bramer Requests Enforcement

Commuter Van Update

Crowley Requests Oversight Hearing

Photo by Tom Porembski

Truckers and Their Trash

Photos by Linda Daquaro

The 104th Precinct continues to monitor the LIE service road at Mazeau Street for illegal truck parking which is an ongoing problem. These truckers not only violate the law and create a hazardous condition; they have no respect for our community. You can call 311 to report problems such as this.

66th Street Needs Speed Bump!
Jennifer Stegman, Block Captain of 66th Street, believes a speed bump on 66th street between 52nd Road and 52nd Drive would make the street safer for children heading to and from PS229. We submitted a request to NYC DOT and were told we would hear results of their survey in approximately six months.
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Maspeth Celebrates Earth Day
On Saturday, April 20th, Maspeth Federal Savings, Council Member Elizabeth Crowley, the 104th Precinct and COMET joined to give residents the opportunity to shred valuable paperwork, recycle electronics and textiles, learn how to compost and have the opportunity to VIN Etch their vehicles to help prevent car thefts as well as save money on their theft insurance. Folks also were able register their bicycles, iphones and other electronics. Special thanks to Maspeth Federal Savings, Council Member Crowley and Captain Manson, 104th Precinct, for making the event a success. We want to thank Comet members John Connor and his daughter Shannon, Chammy Liu and Richie Polgar for helping at the event. Youth from Maspeth High School were also on hand to assist.

Photos taken by Richie Polgar

57th Avenue

Kudos to the Parks Department for doing such a great job planting on the parkland at 57th Avenue and 74th Street! Photos by Richie Polgar

Pg. 4 Summer 2013 COMET

CSX Tracks on 57th Avenue
A homeless individual has an encampment adjacent to the railroad tracks on 57th Avenue near the billboard. This could pose a fire hazard if we have a dry summer. Assembly Member Markey’s office and PO Tom Bell, Community Affairs at the 104th Precinct, have been in touch with CXS to have the debris removed and have asked them to repair the breach in the fence on the Elmhurst Park side of 57th Avenue where youth access the tracks. The breach in the fence near the park has been repaired. We’re still waiting for CSX to remove the debris at the homeless encampment and secure the gate.
Photo taken by Richie Polgar

School Trash vs. Quality of Life in Maspeth
You can’t help but notice the piles of trash outside of PS58 on Grand Avenue and 72nd Place or at Maspeth HS on 57th Avenue off the corner of 74th Street almost 7-days a week. It’s unsightly, unsanitary and not something we should have to look at every single day. We reached out to Assembly Member Marge Markey’s office and were told that trash is picked up by a school truck between 4:00 pm and 12:00 am, Monday through Friday. On Wednesday and Friday garbage and paper is picked up. On Tuesday and Thursday garbage and metal is picked up. We were told that janitors put lunch garbage out daily, usually before 4:00 pm, but don’t clean classrooms until after all the children are gone. As a result, sometimes garbage is placed out for collection after 9:00 pm when Sanitation has already made their pickup. In this case, the trash remains at the curb until the next day’s pickup. Sanitation Regulations state that public schools must follow regulations. We reached out to Council Member Crowley’s office and asked if they would contact the schools and ask that any uncollected trash be stored off the street until time for the next day’s pickup. Council Member Crowley responded, “ My office has brought DSNY to schools to train the staff and students about proper recycling and trash disposal policies and I will continue to work with our local schools to ensure those policies are followed. Trash left out for days is unacceptable when it is a city agency.”

Photos taken by Richie Polgar COMET Summer 2013 Pg. 5

First Commuter Van Enforcement Operation a Success
On the morning of Wednesday, May 29th, a joint operation with the NYPD and NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) was conducted on the Woodside, Maspeth and Elmhurst border. The operation, which was headed by Captain Brian Hennessy, Commanding Officer of the 108th Precinct, and included officers from the 108th and 104th Precincts as well as officers from NYC TLC, netted a total of seven summonses which included three unlicensed vehicles for hire, two off route and two for no manifest. Two vehicles were confiscated. COMET receives numerous complaints from residents claiming the vans are making pickups along bus routes, beeping their horns, backing out of streets, blocking intersections on narrow streets and creating hazardous conditions. Homeowners who live on the corners where pickups are made complain that people wait outside of their homes and leave trash and cigarette butts for them to pick up. Unfortunately, enforcement over the years has been minimal and the summonses issued to these companies are being written off as the cost of doing business. The City is issuing licenses to businesses such as this and TLC doesn’t have enough personnel to enforce the regulations on a regular basis. What irks us is the fact that the City always seems to have enough personnel to go after folks with residential vehicles. How many of you have seen the traffic agents prowling our streets looking for residents’ vehicles with expired inspection stickers, etc.? We are hopeful that Captain Hennessy will keep his promise and continue the enforcement efforts. A special thank you goes to Captain Christopher Manson, Commanding Officer of the 104th Precinct, for recognizing the problem and assigning officers to join with the 108th Precinct and TLC to help with the enforcement.
Photos by Tom Porembski

104th Precinct
In early May, a woman was seriously injured on 69th Street in the vicinity of 54th Avenue. Captain John Travalgia, Executive Officer, stated that the precinct conducted a traffic survey at the location and suggested to NYC DOT via their Traffic Intelligence reports that the strip needs several crosswalks to be installed as well as additional staggered traffic signals. He also stated that the 104th Precinct conducted a lot of traffic enforcement in our region which will continue. He said he will keep us updated as to any further developments.

108th Precinct
Captain Brian Hennessey, 108th Precinct, met with some Comet representatives on May 8th and listened to our concerns about the livery cabs parking in the vicinity of St. Mary’s Winfield, illegal truck and bus parking, and body shops leaving vehicles on the street with no plates. Shortly after the meeting he told us that five cars were towed on 70th Street between Calamus and 48th Avenues. He promised to work on addressing the livery car problem.

110th Precinct
DI Leyson has advised us that they will be conducting graffiti clean-ups this summer and will address locations that have been called into 311. They will also continue to tow “for sale” vehicles parked on the street as well as large trucks, when possible. The 110th will also be monitoring licensed premises for noise and other quality of life issues such as intoxicated persons being served alcohol.
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Maspeth Celebrates Memorial Day
Once again, the United Veterans & Fraternal Organizations did a fantastic job organizing Maspeth’s annual Memorial Day Parade. Our elected officials showed up and many organizations participated to make it a success. Marianna Zero and Joseph Papavero were the Grand Marshalls. COMET members Mike Fordunski, Joanne Keeley, Rosalie Forgione, Richie Polgar, Shirley Warren, Chammy Liu, Ethan Chu and Roe Daraio were among the marchers. Photos provided by Mike Fordunski

Monday, September 9th, 7:00 pm
Meetings are held at the Bethzatha Church of God, 85-20 57th Avenue. Parking available


Michael Fordunski, Roe Daraio, Dick Gundlach, Christina Wilkinson, Richie Polar and Maspeth Press

Newsletter Committee:


This newsletter is made possible by funding from Council Members Elizabeth Crowley, Karen Koslowitz and Jimmy Van Bramer through the Department of Youth and Community Development.
COMET Summer 2013 Pg. 7


P.O.Box 780151 Maspeth, NY 11378

PRSRT STD U.S.Postage Paid Flushing NY Permit #1264

Newsletter Summer 2013

Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together

To find out more about C.O.M.E.T. check out our website at

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