Thursday, August 14, 2008

This Week's Forum West and South

Officials Tour Reservoir and Push to Preserve

Unlicensed Teen Driver Admits to "Popping Pills" Before Wreck

New York Mets Recognize Local Residents for Outstanding Charity

Homeless Man Found Beaten to Death Outside Sikh Temple

Cell Tower Proposed for Maspeth House Scaled Back

Police Use DNA to Link Man to 1997 Rapes

Chicago: My Kind of Town?

Making the Walk to School Safer

Officials Tour Reservoir and Push to Preserve Wilderness

City Considers Converting 20 Acres into Ballfields

By Nicole Turso

A forgotten reservoir reclaimed by the wilderness has become a natural wildlife and flora preserve where residents, community groups and elected officials gathered on Tuesday for a tour and to petition for its integrity.

The Ridgewood Reservoir, on the Queens and Brooklyn border, was decommissioned in 1990 after serving as a back-up water supply from 1858 through 1959. Once the three basins were drained, decades of neglect allowed for natural forests, fields and wetlands to form—now home to at least 127 species of birds as well as mammals, reptiles and a variety of native plants.

In 2004, Mayor Michael Bloomberg transferred the 50 acres of wilderness to the city Parks Department and a $50 million “renovation” project was put into place, which would convert more than 20 acres of land into athletic fields and recreational facilities for the neighboring communities.

However, many community activists and government officials believe the reservoir would serve better as a nature preserve for environmental study in an urban area that does not have such natural luxuries. Some argue the money would be better spent renovating existing ballfields at adjacent Highland Park.

“We have a gem here in the reservoir that many people in the community, as evidence here, want to preserve,” said community activist David Quintana.

Highland Park, located directly across from the reservoir, is equipped to provide the same recreation planned in the renovation project—with two baseball fields, several basketball and volleyball courts and picnic areas.

According to the Highland Park/Ridgewood Reservoir Alliance, the park is in desperate need of renovation and repair—an issue the alliance and activists have brought to the attention of city officials.

Congressman Edolphus Towns (D-Brooklyn), Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (D-Brooklyn/Queens), Queens Borough Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski and representatives of Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-Queens), Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum and State Senator Serf Maltese (R-Glendale) attended the reservoir tour on Tuesday to survey the basins in their current condition.

“This park here contains an ecosystem that we must protect, we must enhance and we must preserve,“said Rep. Velazquez, “We must come together to work to make sure that we do what is right on behalf of the community and behalf of the park.”

“There are a lot of parks here that can be upgraded [that] have been for too long neglected,” she explained. “I can tell you that if the city, the state and the federal government come together, we can assure you that we will fight to get the resources that we need to have the parks that we can all be proud of.”

The group set out to tour the reservoir and was informed that in order to reach basin three, one of three basins at the reservoir, the congressional representatives would have to rappel down the side of the basin on a long, rather thin rope.

“I hope that rope is strong,” Rep. Towns joked.

A flash of apprehension crossed Rep. Velazquez’s face before her descent, but she, along with nine other members of the party made it down safely and arrived back at the top of the basin, triumphant looks on their faces.

As the group toured the rest of the basins, which were drained in the 1960’s through the 1980’s, it was given an idea as to what renovations must be completed to make the reservoir into a useable facility. Both basins one and three have become natural forests, while basin two, though drained, fills with water as a natural marsh.

Broken lampposts—shattered—with shards of what used to be lighting fixtures, poison ivy coiling around trees and original wrought iron fences, and uninviting entry ways make the reservoir unappealing to onlookers—but a secret garden of sorts for those inside.

“You just cannot buy this—the experience,” said Rep. Velazquez. Renovation ideas tossed around between the elected officials and Parks Department personnel along the walk included taller lampposts less prone to damage and vandals and the use of solar energy as a more eco-conscious way of lighting paths at night.

Three design consultants created conceptual plans for the renovation and redesign of the reservoir based on preliminary analysis for the city. A contract with Mark K. Morrison Associates Ltd. (MMA) was submitted by the Parks Department as a project to help combat raising rates of childhood obesity and focused on developing athletic fields.

However, the contract was rejected by city Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr. and returned to the Parks Department with concerns about the environmental impact, increased truck traffic and the vendor selection process. Parks is now reportedly working on a contract with a different firm, EDAW, which prides itself on balancing “aesthetic, environmental and social goals.”

Also supporting the preservation of the reservoir as a natural area are local community boards in both Brooklyn and Queens, the Queens Civic Congress and a number of community organizations.

Even with the overwhelming support to preserve the reservoir’s wilderness, Rep. Towns is still calling on the surrounding communities and their residents to continue their efforts, despite obstacles.

“It’s going to require working together, and it’s going to require a lot of talking and a lot of meetings, and of course it’s going to require some negotiating,” Towns explained, “I’m committed to working with you to make certain that we have the resources to do this, there’s no question about it.”

Towns summed up the feelings of many residents fighting for the preservation of the reservoir when he addressed the crowd. To a chorus of applause and laughter, representative Towns shared an anecdote: “I received a phone call asking me ‘Where are you? I’ll call you from the park.’ I said, ‘I live in Highland Park, I’m already there.’”

Photo: Congressman Edolphus Towns and Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez discuss the future of the Ridgewood Reservoir during a recent tour.

The Forum Newsgroup/photos by NICOLE TURSO

Unlicensed Teen Driver Admits to "Popping Pills" Before Fatal Wreck


By Conor Greene

The teenager arrested after a fatal car accident last week was “drugged out of his gourd” when he made incriminating statements to investigators in the hours after the wreck, said his lawyer after visiting him in the hospital.

Seventeen-year-old Jacob Chubalashvili is currently in the Rikers Island infirmary while awaiting his next appearance in Queens Criminal Court, scheduled for August 21. He is facing second-degree manslaughter charges after allegedly running a red light and slamming into a vehicle driven by a Kew Gardens husband and wife, who were killed instantly.

After the accident last Tuesday on the Grand Central Parkway service road, Chubalashvili told prosecutors that he smoked marijuana and was “speeding and popping pills” before running the red light and slamming into an Acura driven by Ki and Hyekung Kim, who were on their way to work.

“I just took the car, I didn’t have permission to take it,” the unlicensed teen told investigators, according to District Attorney Richard Brown. “I smoked some marijuana before I took the car... I remember taking the car, it’s a Mercedes and jetting down the road and the next thing I remember is waking up in the hospital.”

Later that evening, after being informed of the criminal charges, he allegedly said, “I was speeding and popping pills. I had about 12 pain pills. I was really f---ed up.”After being told that two people were dead, Chubalashvili said, “How is the Mercedes? That was supposed to be my car,” according to Brown.

On Tuesday, Chubalashvili attorney, Leonard Ressler questioned whether his client had actually made those statements. “I’m sure he made some of them, but he couldn’t have made the ‘how’s my car’ statements because it [didn’t belong to] a family member,” he said.

Ressler said his client was “drugged out of his gourd” and “severely injured” with a broken arm and head injuries. He is still awaiting reports regarding Chubalashvili, including the results of the toxicology tests taken after the accident and information regarding Chubalashvili medical history.

“Given his age, hopefully we’re going to be able to negotiate something,” said Ressler, adding that he doesn’t expect any movement on the case by the next court hearing. “We have to get the reports; apparently he has some issues.”

At the time of the accident, Chubalashvili had been sent to stay with a friend of his father’s because he was refusing to take his medication. He is accused of taking the family friend’s Mercedes without permission before driving around an SUV stopped at a red light and speeding through the intersection at 69th Road at more than 60 miles per hour.

Contrary to statements issued by the district attorney’s office, Ressler said Chubalashvili “acted shocked” when he told him two people were dead. “We’re talking about someone who had a head injury and was on drugs,” said Ressler. “I had trouble communicating with him, so I don’t know where they’re getting the whole issue of [lack of] remorse from. As far as I’m concerned, he has been medicated since the accident.”

Chubalashvili told his attorney he blacked out and “has no recollection of anything” before “waking up in the hospital,” said Ressler. He said the next step is to review the medical reports so that “the proper assessment [can be made] between someone who is a psycho driver and someone with other conditions.”

Ressler said the stretch of road where the accident occurred is especially dangerous. “Accord- ing to the neighbor, there is an accident a day there. They said they constantly hear the squealing of breaks. The foliage is overgrown, and in this case he went around an SUV so it was double blind.”

According to court papers, Chubalashvili was arrested twice in the three months before the accident. He was charged on March 18 along with Rabiyev Merikhay and Michael Sarikov with robbing two pre-teens of a cell phone at a Rego Park playground. The three friends then forced the youngsters to take them to their apartment and get $200 for them.

Following the robbery, Merikhay warned the victims, “If you do call the police, you are going to get a worse beating than you already got,” according to the criminal complaint. “Russians don’t cry, Russians get even,” added Sarkiov.

“The repercussions won’t end.” On July 16, Chubalashvili was arrested at the Roosevelt Avenue subway station after “doubling up through a turnstile with another person” instead of paying the fare.

While Ressler will likely seek a plea agreement with prosecutors in the manslaughter case, District Attorney Brown vowed in the days after the fatal accident that the case will be “vigorously prosecuted and should serve as a warning to those who would flout our traffic regulations and put others in danger.”

The district attorney’s office declined to comment on the chances the case will not go to trial.

NY Mets Recognize Local Residents for Outstanding Charity


By Patricia Adams

On Monday August 11th The New York Mets held their Spirit Awards presentations and this year honored two men for their outstanding efforts and selfless dedication.

Retired FDNY FF Bobby McGuire of Howard Beach and Gene McCauley of Woodhaven were both recognized for their continuous charitable work on behalf of The New York Firefighters Burn Center Foundation. Kenny Schmidt, formerly of Ozone Park, was awarded for his work on behalf of St. Mary’s Children’s Hospital.

A little more than 15 years ago, Gene McCauley, of Woodhaven Galleries, suggested that a charitable golf tournament be started in order to raise money for the Firefighters Burn Center. Bobby McGuire, boxing manager and coach of the FDNY boxing team took the ball and ran with it to start up the tournament.

“We started out 15 years ago and it’s been amazing ever since,” McGuire said. “About 12 years ago we decided to change the name of the tournament to the John Ciorciari Golf Tournament.” McGuire explained that the tournament was renamed and dedicated to the memory of Firefighter John Ciorciari who was shot and killed while off-duty at a Howard Beach eatery in 1996 over the Fourth of July weekend.

“This year was the 12th annual one for John,” said McGuire who was a close friend and brother firefighter to Ciorciari. “What’s unbelievable is that this event is held on the first Monday after Father’s Day each year and has been sold out every year since it started.”

The event is always held at Forest Park and is comprised of 36 foursomes each year. “Out of 144 golfers every year, we have a return rate of about 120 of the same golfers every year. That’s pretty unbelievable.” Among the golfers who have come back to play in the event every year is John Ciorciari Sr, also a retired firefighter.

Since the tournament began, it has raised more than $200,000 in donations which have been presented yearly to the Burn Center at New York Cornell. “Their care is outstanding and probably the best burn care in the world,” said Bobby McGuire. “They treat civilians and firefighters alike, and we are really glad to have the opportunity to help them out.”

The NY Firefighters Burn Center Foundation is a non-profit organization of firefighters founded in 1975 and is dedicated to the advancement of burn care, research, prevention and education. The goal of The New York Firefighters Burn Center Foundation is to make quality burn care available to all who are seriously burned regardless of age, race, creed or economic status.

It proudly supports The Burn Center at NY Presbyterian Hospital. The Center admits more than 1,000 patients annually and is the busiest in the nation. It is headed up by Dr. Roger Yurt who was responsible for the care of 9/11 survivors at the unit and who describes the work at the hospital in this way, “If you can learn to take care of a patient who has been badly burned," he notes, "you'll be able to treat any kind of severe acute illness.”

When asked how much longer he expects the event to go on, Bobby McGuire looked up and laughed. “When we first started, it was for one year. Then we decided to go for $50,000. After that the new benchmark became $100,000. Now that we’re at a milestone of $200,000, I guess we’ll just keep going until we get to half-a-million.”

The Forum Newsgroup/photo courtesy of TOM CROCCKER

Homeless Man Found Beaten to Death Outside Sikh Temple

By Conor Greene

Police have yet to announce any arrests in connection with the murder of a homeless man found dead last week outside a Sikh temple in Richmond Hill.

Worshippers at the Sikh Cultural Society on 118th Street were shocked last Thursday when they discovered the body of a homeless man who was beaten to death. A broomstick, presumed to be the murder weapon was found near the man’s body and police removed a slab of concrete that contained a bloody footprint (below).

Witnesses described the man’s face as being so badly beaten that his features were distorted. He was repeatedly hit on the face, neck, back and shoulders, according to sources. Several members of the temple reported seeing a group of neighborhood teenagers harassing the man in the days before his death, but police have not said whether they have any suspects.

The man was a non-practicing Sikh who had reportedly fallen onto hard times after he began drinking heavily. He often slept near the temple because its members sometimes feed local homeless people. “I feel very, very bad because he comes from our community, Bhupinder Singh, the lead president of the Cultural Society, told the Daily News. “Anybody who dies, anybody in the world, we feel badly.”

The Forum Newsgroup/photos by ROBERT STRIDIRON

Cell Tower Proposed for Maspeth House Scaled Back

Panels Now Planned Instead of Tower

By Conor Greene

A proposal to place a 25-foot cellular tower on top of a 72nd Place house has been replaced by a plan calling for several smaller panels, according to the building owner.

A hearing before the city Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) scheduled for Tuesday has been canceled as Omnipoint Communications and Joseph Wroblewski work out a revised contract for the smaller project. “It’s not happening – there is no cell tower,” said Wroblewski, who owns the house at 53-20 72nd Place, next door to Frank’s Deli.

The plan originally called for a 25-foot tower placed on top of a one-story high platform on top of the roof. The 36-inch wide pole would be disguised as a flagpole with an American flag at the top, capped by a gold ball. The entire structure would have risen 56-feet above street level, which many residents felt would not fit into the neighborhood.

Immediately after Wroblewski entered into the contract last year, which would have paid him an undisclosed rental fee each month, residents and local officials began fighting the proposal. The first BSA hearing in January was attended by local elected officials including Assemblywoman Marge Markey (D-Maspeth), along with members of the Juniper Park Civic Association and other groups.

The proposal was voted down by Community Board 5 and has been opposed by Borough President Helen Marshall. Several Maspeth residents also submitted a petition with more than 1,300 signatures from neighborhoods against allowing a cell tower in a residential area.

“We’re really devastated over this,” said resident Hope Stancati told the Forum West in November as the fight was heating up. “We never thought we would have something like that on a two-story house.”

Since the initial hearing in January, several scheduled BSA hearings have been postponed at the request of Omnipoint. This week, it was announced that this month’s hearing was also delayed and that a new plan was in the works. However, unlike the first plan calling for a tower, the new proposal likely won’t need approval from the BSA since a variance isn’t required.

On Tuesday, Wroblewski said that Omnipoint has agreed to replace the 25-foot tower with three panels after realizing how much opposition there is to the plan. Two of the panels would be two feet by one foot, and the third would be six feet by one foot, according to Wroblewski. “I understand that the neighbors very much want nothing, but I don’t think that’s happening,” he said. “I’m not allowed to back out [or] they [Omnipoint]would go ahead with the cell tower... What they propose now is very simple, very easy.

To me, this was huge [to go] from a massive structure down to basically nothing.” One of the big concerns for neighbors was potential for longterm health effects due to the tower. According to Wroblewski, Omnipoint told him there would be “zero health issues” and has offered to meet with neighbors to “prove that your average household items are doing more harm” than the panels would.

Councilman Anthony Como (R-Middle Village) met last week with several Maspeth residents who are fighting the proposal and remains committed to assisting them, according to his spokesman, James McClelland.

“We’re behind the residents,” said McClelland on Tuesday. “Just because they would be smaller antennas doesn’t mean it changes the resident’s concerns. We’re going to work with the DOB [city Department of Buildings] to find out all the information and assist the residents in their fight.”

As of press time, McClelland was trying to find out from the DOB what type of approvals or variances, if any, the new proposal would need.

On Tuesday, Markey suggested that they company is delaying the project due to the community backlash. She noted that it is the fourth time the hearing has been delayed and said that Omnipoint stated that this is the final three-month adjournment they will seek.

“I think this new postponement means that Omnipoint is getting the message about our vigorous opposition to their proposal,” she said in a statement. “I will continue to stand with property owners, community leaders and residents... to speak out in the strongest terms against a plan that is totally inappropriate for a residential area. Markey added that Omnipoint “is seeking to redesign alternatives that might be more acceptable to the community and we are waiting to hear the details.”

Police Use DNA to Link Man to 1997 Rapes

By Conor Greene

A Queens man was charged with two rapes that occurred in 1997 after his DNA was recently matched to evidence collected at the time, authorities announced.

Peter Grebinger, 41, of 87th Street in Richmond Hill, has been charged with two counts of first-degree rape and one count of first-degree sodomy, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. He was arraigned last Thursday in Queens Criminal Court and is being held without bail until his next court appearance on September 2.

Grebinger was linked to the two rapes after police searched his house at 85-87 87th Street in April on an unrelated investigation. The search turned up two loaded semi-automatic guns – a 9mm and a .25 caliber pistol – along with cocaine and marijuana. The guns were tested for DNA, and investigators were able to recover a profile from one, according to Brown.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner linked the DNA found on the gun to two cold rape cases from 1997. A DNA sample was then taken from Grebinger and matched to the profile found on the gun, leading to the charges, said Brown. “This case underscores yet again the crucial importance of DNA evidence which is irrefutable proof of guilt or innocence,” the district attorney said in a statement. “After nearly ten years of avoiding arrest in the two cases, the defendant ultimately was done in by his own genes.”

According to the charges, a 33-year-old woman was walking to the subway on her way to work at 7:30 a.m. on January 3, 1997 when Grebinger approached her near 87-18 101st Avenue and told her that he had a gun and not to scream. He allegedly demanded money from her and then forced her into a nearby building where he raped and sodomized her before again demanding money. After she handed over the cash, he told her to count to one hundred and fled.

In the second case, a 22-year-old woman was on her way to work at 6:20 a.m. on December 28, 1997 when she flagged down Grebinger, who was driving a dollar cab, near 179th Street and Jamaica Avenue. Grebinger allegedly told her that the back rear seat was full and that she should sit up front. Once the woman was inside the car, he allegedly locked the doors and told the woman to keep quiet and do what he said.

According to Brown, a struggle then ensued, during which Grebinger slammed her head into the dashboard and told her to get on the floor. After driving a short distance, he parked the car and took the woman’s jewelry before ordering her into the backseat, where he raped her. He then drove from the scene before ordering the woman out of the car.

In each case, the victim was taken to a localhospital where a sexual assault kit was prepared. However, the cases went cold for more than a decade until Grebinger was arrested on the unrelated weapons and drug charges, said Brown.

After police searched the house, Grebinger and his father, also named Peter Grebinger, were charged with third-and-fourth degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and second-and-third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, according to Brown. Bail was set at $15,000 in that case for Grebinger and $5,000 for his 62-year-old father. Both are due back in court on September 8 to face those charges.

According to Brown, this case highlights the need to collect a DNA sample from “everyone convicted of a felony or misdemeanor” to help solve other cold cases. “The cost of omitting many crimes from the DNA databank - as is the case under the existing law – is that those who commit brutal acts of violence may escape identification and remain free to leave more victims in their wake,” he said.

Chicago: My Kind of Town?

By Steve Tiszenkel

You'll excuse me if I haven't been thinking much about Queens lately. See, I've been thinking about leaving. No, not to Manhattan or Brooklyn or so-uncool-it's-cool Staten Island nor even the cutting-edge South Bronx. True, I've been contemplating a move west—but I was thinking more like 800 miles west. My wife and I could be packing up and heading to Chicago.

This didn't just come out of nowhere. It would be a move of circumstance, a reaction to something that's suddenly changed in our lives. The details aren't really important, but moving to Chicago would make things easier in a few important ways. Still, a move is technically optional, so I've been spending much of my free time doing repeated cost-benefit analysis.

Oh, stop, you New York snobs—I already know what you're thinking. Seriously, Chicago? Isn't that in one of those square states? Didn't it burn down because of some cow, and then the corrupt police bashed all those hippies over the head? You can put your preconceived notions to rest right now.

Chicago is an enormous metropolis that recently had a starring role as Gotham City in a little movie you and 40 million of your closest friends might have seen. As the Second City, it is indeed second to New York in many ways—though not in population; Los Angeles passed it back in 1990. It's got the second-best art museum, the second-best opera, the second-best symphony. It's No. 2 in finance, in theater and in food. None of this is a knock on the city—second place isn't too shabby, as the French Olympic swim team might grudgingly admit.

But believe it or not, there are things Chicago does better than New York. It invented the skyscraper, and its skyline, though more compact than New York's, is sleeker, prettier and taller. New York may be a city of islands, but continental Chicago, on the shores of enormous, beautiful Lake Michigan and straddling the Chicago River, is oriented toward the water in a way that New York simply isn't. And while New York is a city where urban improvements seem to just sort of happen—or not, as evidenced by the repeated hiccups at Ground Zero—Chicago's controversial-but-effective Mayor-for-Life Richard M. Daley has used his considerable power to push an aggressive development agenda that's seen his city become an international model for modern architecture, public spaces and public art.

But when I thought about what I personally liked best about Chicago, to my surprise, what I ended up with were many of the same things I like best about Queens. There's an energy that Chicago and Queens share that Manhattan in 2008 doesn't have, a palpable sense of change, that things are happening. With the gentrification of nearly all of Manhattan complete, there's really nowhere to go but down. In low-rise Queens, the sky's the limit. Long-forgotten neighborhoods are reaching their potential in both places. Nobody quite knows what Queens will look like 10 years from now, and you can say the same of Chicago. Manhattan? I've got a pretty good idea.

Chicago is slower-paced and more personal, both qualities it shares with Queens. Outside of its bustling downtown, its blocks of residences broken up with the occasional commercial strip have much more in common with Queens than they do with, say, the West Village. Even the red-brick-and-ornate-entryway architecture is similar. I remember the very first time I ever wandered around Forest Hills, I thought, Hey, this looks like Chicago.

My wife wouldn't cry if we were gone tomorrow. She's never been a huge fan of New York. She ended up here by accident, met me and found herself stuck. She thinks it's too mean, too fast, too ruthless. Chicago, meanwhile, is her kind of town. The other day, she told me that if we do leave, she wouldn't miss Manhattan at all. She wouldn't feel bad about missing out on Central Park or Union Square or any of the great New York things her hypothetical new home wouldn't be able to provide. The only reason she hesitates to go, she said, is Forest Hills.

The writer, Steve Tiszenkel is the host of the Website, Queens Central. Log on to to read more about Forest Hills and surrounding neighborhoods.

Making the Walk to School Safer


By Conor Greene

The walk to school will become safer for thousands of students at public and private schools around the city under the second round of the Safe Routes to Schools program. The city Department of Transportation recently announced that 135 schools will be included in the second round of the program, which aims to make the streets surrounding schools safer for students walking there.

“Safe Routes to Schools takes a comprehensive view of the streets surrounding schools and tailors our bets measures to reduce pedestrian accidents,” said DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. The program, combined with a similar effort for seniors, “comprises the largest traffic-calming campaign of its kind in the nation, and it’s fitting we are targeting our most vulnerable New Yorkers,” she said.

As with the first phase, the new study will identify traffic and pedestrian safety issue and propose short-term improvements and recommendations for long-term capital projects to improve safety, according to the DOT. The city has already completed short-term improvements at the first set of schools across the five boroughs, including improved crosswalks, new traffic medians and other traffic-calming measures such as speed bumps, new traffic signals and improved signage around 135 schools.

Schools chosen for the project’s second phase include P.S 88 and P.S 239 in Ridgewood, M.S 137 in Ozone Park and P.S 100 in South Ozone Park. Also included is P.S 161 in South Richmond Hill, P.S 97 in Woodhaven and P.S 62 in Richmond Hill. Many of these schools are located near busy roads such as Fresh Pond Road or Rockaway Boulevard, meaning students have to cross dangerous intersections to reach the classroom.

In all, the second phase includes 33 schools in Queens, 46 in Brooklyn, 23 in Manhattan, 25 in the Bronx and eight in Staten Island. They were chosen after the DOT studied accident data around 1,436 public, private and parochial elementary and middle schools. “We must calm traffic in areas near our children’s schools,” said Congressman Anthony Weiner. “Better signs, clearer crosswalks and better enforcement will be needed to be implemented.”

Traffic accidents are the leading cause of child injury-fatalities in New York City, with half of child pedestrian injury-deaths occurring within 700 feet of a school, according to Congressman Jerrold Nadler. “We can protect these children and prevent fatalities with a few common-sense safety measures,” he said.

Earlier this year, the DOT launched the Safe Streets for Seniors program, which identified 25 areas citywide that combine a high density of senior citizens and a high number of pedestrian accidents or injuries.

Safety improvements have already been made in two of that program’s five pilot study areas, including installation of refuge islands, vehicle turning bays, painted medians, extended sidewalk curbs and improved signal phasing to increase pedestrian crossing times.

Photo: Traffic speeds through the intersection of Fresh Pond Road and Catalpa Avenue near P.S. 88.