Thursday, August 21, 2008

This Week's Forum West and South

Woman Fighting for Life After Struck by Falling Tree

Eight Torahs Stolen from Temple

Customs Officer Indicted in Fatal June Shooting

Residents Hope Funding Will Help Reclaim Charles Park's Beauty

Senator Clinton Pushes for Federal Cleanup of Newtown Creek

Man Strangled During Rent Money Dispute

Queens Woman Infected with West Nile Virus

Myrtle Ave Resurfacing Underway; Maurice Ave Work Planned

Slowing Down the Pace: A Leisurely Look at Central Queens

Woman Still Fighting for Life after Struck by Falling Tree


by Conor Greene

RIDGEWOOD – In a split second, a stroll down Myrtle Avenue in Ridgewood turned into a fight against death for a city corrections officer who was struck in the head by a large tree which fell from an elevated freight yard last weekend.

Donna Rypkema, a 10-year veteran of the Corrections Department, was transferred last Monday night from Wyckoff Heights Medical Center to New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan for surgery to relieve life-threatening brain swelling.

There was no further information on her condition as of press time on Wednesday.

She was struck on the head Sunday afternoon as she walked along Myrtle Avenue near the intersection of Fresh Pond Road. The tree, which appeared to be dead, fell from a yard adjacent to Long Island Railroad tracks that is leased by New York and Atlantic Railway.

Witnesses said it is common for smaller branches to fall from the yard onto the sidewalk below, where Rypkema, 38, was struck. “There are always branches falling from there,” one resident told NY1. “Never that size, but always branches falling down. It’s sad that this is probably what it takes to have somebody come up there and cut all that down.”

Rypkema, who is assigned to Rikers Island, was walking through the street fair on her way to meet her sister for manicures when the 20-foot tree uprooted and fell down the hillside onto her. She went into cardiac arrest as shocked witnesses looked on and was rushed to the hospital in critical condition.

Witnesses said they heard a crack and then screaming as the tree struck the woman, who immediately began bleeding profusely as her sister screamed for help. “It was like something out of a movie,” said Eli Kairey, who owns a store near the scene. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Francisco Rodriguez said that the tree came down right after a train passed by. Residents believe it was the vibrations from by the train together with the weakening of the roots beneath the dead tree that caused it [the tree] to topple to the ground below . “So when the train went by, it collapsed,” he said. “It broke into pieces when it fell.”

Other parents said that they purposely avoid walking under the freight yard because the tree was leaning precariously over the sidewalk. “I’m a paranoid father, so I don’t want anything to happen to my son,” said Scott Lopez. “So I stay away from this area.”

In the days following the accident, family and about 100 co-workers remained by Rypkeman’s hospital bed in Wyckoff Heights and in the chapel until she was transferred to Manhattan.

“She is by all accounts a revered, beloved, and very popular corrections officer,” Correction Department spokesman Stephen Morello told reporters outside Wyckoff Hospital.

Her husband and 15-year-old son were initially too distraught to speak with reporters, according to the Corrections Department. Her husband, Louis Abreu, later told the Daily News, “What can I say? It’s a tragedy... She’s well loved by a lot of people. She’s a very good woman.”

Her brother, Michael Rypkema, told the newspaper that CAT scans revealed that her head injury was causing brain swelling, a potentially life-threatening situation that led to her transfer to New York-Presbyterian Hospital. “They’re going to try and reduce the swelling,” he said. “Right now, we’re really just concerned about my sister.”

Paul Victor, president of New York and Atlantic Railway, didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment on the accident. He told WCBS-TV, “I’ve been in this business my whole life... Never have I seen anything like this worldwide.”

He said that recent rains might have caused the tree to fall and disputed witness accounts that a freight train had passed through at the time of the accident. He said that the company’s GPS system shows that it had been more than two hours since a train had been in the area. “If we are responsible, I’m sure we will live up to our responsibilities,” he said.

Above: Paramedics rush Donna Rypkeman into Wyckoff Heights Medical Center after the she was struck in the head by a falling tree.
Left: An officer stands at the scene at Myrtle Avenue.
The Forum Newsgroup/photos by ROBERT STRIDIRON

Eight Torahs Stolen from Temple

Inside Job Suspected in $500,000 Heist

By Conor Greene

Eight torahs worth nearly a half million dollars were stolen from the Jewish Center of Kew Gardens Hills, leaving the congregation reeling after the making the shocking discovery during a recent service.

About 60 members were in the midst of services last Saturday morning when the theft was discovered, according to congregant Herman Saltzman, who chairs the temple’s Pews and Memorials Committee. Since the torahs are always locked up, the congregation’s leaders and police suspect an inside job.

The discovery came during a part of the service when “somebody gets the honor of pulling back the curtain” to reveal the torahs, said Saltzman on Monday inside the temple at 71-35 Main Street. He was sitting in the temple’s last row on Saturday when the curtain was pulled back, revealing the theft. “I saw everybody standing, bewildered,” he said. “We couldn’t continue the service – it was something we had never seen before.”

Following the realization that the books were missing, the worshipers were left “standing in complete shock,” said Saltzman. “After a few moments of dazed shock one of the past presidents called the cops, who came in droves.”

Because the ark containing the torahs is connected to an alarm and includes steel gates, police are reportedly looking into whether somebody associated with the temple is involved in the theft. “It had to be an inside job – nothing was broken or compromised,” said Saltzman. “They are registered, but unfortunately like most things, there is a black market for it.”

He estimates each torah is worth between $30,000 and $60,000, adding that each is valuable due to the individual significance and meaning they carry. They were donated to the temple over the past 67 years “by people to commemorate special occasions in their lives,” said Saltzman.

A torah is a scroll of parchment containing the first five books Moses. They are handwritten and can take more than a year to complete, according to Saltzman.

He said that the congregation has been hit hard by the theft, and by the thought that it was an inside job. “We have a number of holocaust survivors in the congregation, and one called me and said it brings back all the bad memories,” he said, fighting back tears. “It’s a violation.”

Police have yet to announce any suspects or arrests in the incident, but are reportedly reviewing surveillance videos from nearby buildings and interviewing people who had access to the temple and to the three sets of keys that unlock the ark. They reportedly gathered fingerprints and other forensic materials at the scene.

Now, the temple’s members are left wondering who would do this, and how they will move forward. “How could this happen?” asked Saltzman. “All we want is them back. We’re not looking to sue or incarcerate – just bring them back.”

Above: Herman Saltzman stands in front of the ark from where eight torahs were stolen.

The Forum Newsgroup/photos by CONOR GREENE

Customs Officer Indicted for Fatal June Shooting

Victim Shot in Chest at Forest Hills House

by Conor Greene

A U.S Customs agent has been indicted on manslaughter and homicide charges in connection with the shooting death of a man at the officer’s Forest Hills house two months ago.

Eric Alke, who works for the U.S Customs and Border Protection agency and is assigned to Kennedy Airport, was arraigned last Friday on a two-count indictment charging him with second-degree manslaughter and criminal negligent homicide in the shooting death of Adrian Moldovan, a 50-year-old real estate agent.

Alke was being held on $75,000 bail as of Wednesday morning. His attorney, Gerard Marrone, said he expected his client would be able to post bond later that afternoon.

Details of the incident have been sketchy since Moldovan was shot dead in June while helping Alke’s landlord build a patio at 72-07 Kessel Street, where the customs agent lives. Published reports initially stated that Alke told police that Moldovan grabbed the service weapon from the kitchen table and shot himself.

However, when police arrived at the scene following the 3:30 p.m. shooting on June 25, they found Moldovan’s body lying on the driveway. While both the district attorney and Marrone agree that Moldovan was shot with Alke’s .38-caliber Smith & Wesson service weapon, the two sides’ accounts of what happen differ greatly.

Marrone said that Alke arrived home from lunch and offered Moldovan, whom he was “friendly” with, a beer. The customs officer placed his gun, wallet and keys on a shelf inside the apartment and went to get the drink. At that point, he heard the gun go off and ran up the stairs to find Moldovan lying outside the front door.

"My client is adamant that he didn't shoot the gun and that he isn't guilty of anything," said Marrone. "That's a big distinction from what the district attorney's side of the story is, so it looks like there is going to wind up being a trial."

Marrone stressed that he isn’t saying that Moldovan committed suicide, and said that earlier reports that the two men were drinking together in the hours before the incident are incorrect.

There were no witnesses to the shooting, as the landlord was in the backyard at the time, according to Marrone. “My client, it’s my understanding, even called 911,” he said. “As soon as he saw him, he tried to do CPR. When I met him at the precinct, he had blood all over him, even on his face.”

However, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown’s office apparently didn’t believe that version of events, instead charging that Alke “recklessly caused the death of Moldovan by discharging a shot from his .38 caliber revolver, striking Moldovan in the chest and causing his death.”

“As a federal officer trained in the safety and handling of weapons, the defendant should have known better than to draw a gun absent an imminent threat to the safety of himself or others,” said DA Brown. “Sadly, this case is a grim lesson why guns and drinking are a lethal mixture.”

Alke is due back in court on September 3. Marrone said he expects the district attorney’s office to release evidence including the autopsy report at that time. “Once I’m able to look at the reports and really ascertain what the people’s contention is, I can comment more,” he said.

Residents Hope Funding Will Help Reclaim Charles Park's Beauty

By Nicole Turso

Overgrown baseball diamonds, caved in fencing, and crumbling tennis courts are just a few of the dilapidated conditions at Frank Charles Park in Howard Beach desperately in need of renovation and repair, and the reason for which residents and community leaders are championing for change.

Frank Charles Park, 21 acres of land off of Jamaica Bay under the jurisdiction of the National Parks Service (NPS) and Gateway National Recreation, is the premiere park in the Howard Beach area—used by residents of surrounding neighborhoods stretching through Ozone Park for tennis matches, baseball games or a jog.

The park however, is showing its wear and tear.

Upon a quick survey of the park, it is clear that residents have a case. What used to be pristine baseball diamonds in years past now lack definition—weeds and grass cover the base paths. The tennis courts are littered with debris of seashells dropped by area birds, dangerous to the many children who take summer lessons. Dead trees and dying shrubs line the outskirts of the park.

“This park has really deteriorated over the last three years,” local resident and frequenter of Charles Park, Anthony Lasaracina explained. “We aren’t just talking about new ballfields or putting new tennis courts in. Besides that, a lot of these things are maintenance issues.”

And the park has not been without funds. According to Public Affairs Officer Brian Feeney of the NPS, which oversees 26,000 acres of the Gateway National Recreation area, of the $25 million annual budget, $7.5 million is appropriated to the Jamaica Bay Unit, which includes the upkeep of Frank Charles Park.

Additional funding over the past few years also included a $1 million congressional earmark in 2000, petitioned for by The Friends of Charles Park Committee and Congressman Anthony Weiner in which various restoration projects and improvements were made.

Federal funding however, is not the only money being used to update Frank Charles Park; the not-for-profit Friends of Charles Park Committee has also sunk money into the park on a number of occasions. “In the last 13 years we’ve dumped $2.5 million into the park, that’s a lot of money,” said Director of the Friends of Charles Park Committee Dorothy McCloskey. “Two-and- a-half million dollars for a not-for-profit group made up of general citizens made a big difference in the park.”

Five thousand dollars of the money was allocated to digging out and relaying the baseball fields, which have now been included in a capital project along with the tattered tennis courts in yet another congressional earmark of $1 million, this time, facilitated by Congressman Gregory Meeks.

Congressman Meeks met with Gateway General Superintendent Barry Sullivan last week to discuss the park. According to NPS, both the congressman and superintendent agreed the park would proceed with planning a $600,000 turf management program, along with upgrades and repairs to fencing and park benches as part of the $1 million earmark. Maintenance issues were also discussed.

Public Relations Officer Feeney addressed residents concerns over the perceived neglect of duties by the park workers. In an e-mail he writes: “The maintenance workers assigned to Frank Charles Park are dedicated to doing the very best job possible. However, given the 25% reduction in overall staffing that is a result of Gateway’s eroding budget situation, there is only so much that can be done.”

The NPS also explained that additional summer seasonal staff was hired this past year through the National Park Service Centennial Initiative, which have helped with the maintenance situation at Frank Charles Park. They expect additional maintenance help for several more summers.

But the signs of neglect continue, as fencing falls in on the baseball fields, McCloskey explains that the repair will cost at least seven thousand dollars and has been in such a condition for several months. Water fountains and irrigation systems have been turned off because they are in need of repair, and gates taken off of the fields, leaving them vulnerable to after-hours vandalism.

“Nobody is facilitating a comprehensive maintenance plan for all of Gateway National Recreation,” says McCloskey, “At Charles Park, because this is where we live, it’s our worry. In Rockaway, they have the same worries, and they are doing the same kind of fight over at Riis Park and Fort Tilden. We are well aware of the fiscal crisis, but we have to maintain this park.”

McCloskey explained that as the situation rolls on, more residents are getting involved and trying to form additional not-for-profit groups and clubs to maintain the park on a volunteer basis.

“Who’s watching the National Parks Service? The Friends of Charles Park Committee, the community of Howard Beach and its surrounding communities,” McCloskey said, “We are doing the best we can and we are getting the job done.”

Senator Clinton Pushes for Federal Cleanup of Newtown Creek

Superfund Designation Would Provide Federal Funding

by Conor Greene

The federal government should conduct testing at four hotspots along the Newtown Creek to determine whether a federal cleanup effort should move forward, according to U.S Senator Hillary Clinton.

In an August 13 letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson, Senator Clinton requests that the agency “use its Superfund authority to conduct preliminary tests at four known hotspots along the Newtown Creek.”

The letter comes just weeks after two local members of congress, Anthony Weiner and Nydia Velazquez, held a press conference calling for the 3.5-mile creek to be named a federal Superfund site. The waterway, which runs east from the East River between Brooklyn and Queens, was polluted by as much as 30 million gallons of oil over 150 years of industrial activity.

“New Yorkers living in communities near Newtown Creek have suffered long enough,” said Senator Clinton. “We know that there are dangerous chemicals in the soil, water and air at sites around the Newtown Creek. It’s time to put the resources of the Superfund program to work to conduct additional tests at known contamination hotspots to see whether a federal cleanup should go forward.”

Clinton notes in the letter that the creek “is well known as one of the most polluted industrial waterways in North America, where chemicals from factories along the bed of the creek have seeped into the soil, sediment and water.” She adds that the issue is “of particular interest” to her as chair of the Superfund and Environmental Health Subcommittee and a member of the Senate’s Environmental and Public Works Committee.

Much of the waterway’s pollution is believed to have occurred as a result of a huge oil spill, which was discovered by the Coast Guard in 1978 and is thought to cover properties on as much as 70 acres in Brooklyn. The oil spill encompasses an area that is one-and-a-half times larger than the site of the Exxon Valdez spill. However, it has never been tested by the EPA for consideration for inclusion in the federal Superfund site.

Under a state remediation plan being carried out by ExxonMobil due to a court order, about 9.4 million gallons of oil have been removed from the area so far. Officials estimate that it will take until 2026 to finish the current remediation effort. While the creek is already a state Superfund site, the federal designation would mean millions of dollars of funding for testing and remediation.

“For years, the residents in the vicinity of Newtown Creek have been forced to live, work and play with toxic fume in the air and contaminated water, soil and sediment on the ground,” wrote Clinton. “This exposure has led to community concern about potential pockets of serious illness... The people of Newtown Creek have suffered long enough.”

Man Strangled During Rent Money Dispute

Richmond Hill Man Charged in Death

by Conor Greene

A man has been charged with strangling his roommate over rent money during an altercation in South Ozone Park, authorities announced this week.

The incident occurred around noon Saturday when the victim, Rae Chisolm, 38, returned to the first-floor apartment at 117-15 124th Street. He had allegedly stolen his roommates’ rent money several weeks ago before fleeing the apartment, and had returned to collect his personal belongings.

He was let back inside the apartment by his two roommates, who were inside the flat with a friend, Rami Hawana, of 104-56 93rd Avenue in Richmond Hill. The men became involved in a fight over the money, which the roommates accused Chisolm of taking weeks prior. During the altercation, Hawana, 22, strangled Chisolm to death, according to authorities.

Hawana, who reportedly studies literature at SUNY Purchase, was arraigned last Sunday in Queens Criminal Court on second-degree murder charges and ordered held on $750,000 bail, according to District Attorney Richard Brown. He was due back in court this Thursday, August 21.

“The defendant, a friend of one of the roommates, allegedly placed the victim in a chokehold to separate him from one of the roommates,” causing Chisolm’s death, according to a spokesman for DA Brown.

A neighbor told the Daily News that Chisolm had returned to the apartment only to find the locks had been changed. He was let inside by one of the roommates before the fatal struggle ensued. The neighbor described Chisolm as a “decent” and “friendly” man who previously worked as a car salesman.

Hawana’s father was quoted in the newspaper as saying, “I feel terrible” at the family’s Richmond Hill house. On Tuesday, Hawana’s attorney, Robert Lucks, declined to comment on the charges, other to say that his client remains in jail pending his next court hearing.

Photo: Rami Hawana is led from a precinct stationhouse by detectives after being arrested on second-degree murder charges.
The Forum Newsgroup/ photo by ROBERT STRIDIRON

Queens Woman Infected with West Nile Virus


by Conor Greene

Two New York residents, including a Queens woman, have tested positive for West Nile virus, marking the first two human cases reported this year, announced city health officials.

A 73-year-old Queens woman was hospitalized last Friday after she was infected by the virus while in the city, according to the city Department of Health. A 60-year-old Bronx man was released from a hospital last week after also becoming infected.

Both individuals became ill in July and were hospitalized in August, according to the DOH. The Queens woman developed encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain, and is now recovering in a local hospital, according to the department. The Bronx man developed an inflammation of the brain and spinal tissue (meningitis) as a result of the virus, but has since fully recovered.

DOH officials said the man had recently traveled outside the city, making it difficult to determine where he was infected, but it is believed that the woman was infected while in the city. Citing privacy issues, a DOH spokeswoman this week refused to say where in Queens the woman lives or is believed to have contracted the virus.

“A case of West Nile virus provides an urgent reminder to protect ourselves,” said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the city’s health commissioner. “Wearing mosquito repellent whenever you are outdoors, and long sleeves and pants in the morning and evening will reduce your risk of contracting the virus. Older New Yorkers need to be especially careful; they are more likely to become seriously ill and die if they are infected.”

Last year, 18 city residents contracted the virus and three died. The DOH warns that each year, the first infections usually don’t occur until August, meaning residents should continue to protect themselves against the threat of infection over the coming weeks.

According to the DOH, a greater number of mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile virus this year compared with 2007. The majority of positive tests were in Queens, where 62 mosquito pools have tested positive for the virus so far this year, compared with 53 all of last year.

In many cases, a West Nile virus infection causes mild or moderate flu-like symptoms, according to the DOH. However, in some cases, particularly in people 50 and older, it can cause serious infection in the brain and spinal cord that can be fatal. The most common symptoms are headache, fever and extreme fatigue.

Residents are reminded to eliminate any standing water from their property and make sure that roof gutters are clean and draining properly. Allowing standing water to accumulate is a violation of the city’s health code.

Myrtle Avenue Resurfacing Underway

Maurice Avenue Upgrades Slated for Fall

by Conor Greene

Several road improvement projects in the area are underway or planned, including the repaving of Myrtle Avenue and a major construction of Maurice and 54th Avenues.

Night work crews began this week resurfacing Myrtle Avenue, which is being improved from Fresh Pond Road to Woodhaven Boulevard. As of Wednesday morning, a new surface had been laid from Fresh Pond Road to 69th Street. The project is being performed between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Work on Myrtle Avenue was expected to continue overnight through the week, according to Gary Giordano, district manager of Community Board 5. If they are not finished by the end of the week, they will complete the job Sunday night into Monday morning, he said.

Giordano said the community board has been “really advocating this year” to have the road repaired. “The last time Myrtle was resurfaced was at least eight years ago, and it has taken a beating,” he said. “Eight years ago it was only Wyckoff to Cooper, so resurfacing from Cooper to Woodhaven has been a real long time.”

He said problems along the stretch of busy road included pot holes and deterioration, as well as “utility cuts that were never resorted perfectly.” In addition, “a long stretch on the eastbound side from 72nd to close to 80th was fairly bumpy,” he added.

“There is a certain amount of resurfacing money available, and I think I just got fortunate based on the timing of the request,” said Giordano of Myrtle Avenue’s inclusion in the city’s projects. “Two things I really believe add to the neighborhood, at least visually, are tree plantings and roadway resurfacing. Those are things people see right away.”

The city Department of Design and Construction recently issued a community advisory notice regarding reconstruction of Maurice Avenue and 54th Avenue in Maspeth. According to Giordano, that work will include the length of 54th Avenue from Maurice Avenue to 58th Street, which is located within the confines of Community Board 2.

“That road is in really poor condition, so it’s a full capital project,” he said. “They’re going to rip up the road, put in new sewer lines, water mains and sidewalks. It is a long time coming.”

The project will also include Maurice Avenue between 54th and 56th avenue. “Maurice was added to that project in order to alleviate some of the flooding conditions in that area of Maspeth,” said Giordano. “I think they saw an opportunity to do something there and are putting in a ten foot by six foot box sewer.”

Giordano said that he hasn’t received a specific date for when the work will begin. Work on Maurice Avenue will take place at night, and 54th Avenue will be reconstructed during the day. “Both we and board two pushed for night for the same reason as on Myrtle – minimal traffic disruptions and loses for businesses,” he said.

“I’m very, very hopeful that the installation of that box sewer will help the flooding over there – there’s a lot of flooding where Maurice meets the LIE,” said Giordano.

Slowing Down the Pace: A Leisurely Look at Queens

A couple of summers ago, I was on the phone with one of my more caustic, jaded and cynical friends, and I mentioned that I had just come back from a very long walk. “A walk?” he said, incredulous. “How old are you, [age deleted so as not to offend readers who may be over that age]?”

I immediately found myself getting incredulous right back. Who doesn't like a good walk? Sure, walking might not be as awesome as jogging—or “running,” as joggers are now required by international law to call it—but there's no better way to gain a sense of place and experience than meandering around at your own pace, slowing down to look at whatever catches your fancy in greater detail. I walk all the time, and though I may not be burning off too many big cookies, at least I won't be suffering from chronic knee problems for the next 20 years or so.

With Labor Day firmly in sight, the days of great walks are growing short—this is that depressing time of year when it's 90 degrees out but you just know you'll be holed up inside before you know it, making frantic calls to the office to see if telecommuting is an option this winter. Only you know what your perfect walk is, but in the absence of clairvoyant powers, I thought I'd share some of mine. They're rather long and so not for the faint of heart, but you can cut yourself off at any time.

Yellowstone Boulevard, Queens Boulevard to 62nd Avenue

Yellowstone is very possibly Forest Hills' prettiest public street, lined with the locally famous and much-desired Presidential buildings that people are talking about when they call the neighborhood “prestigious.” Not only is the classic architecture of Yellowstone lovely, but most of the buildings have beautifully landscaped lawns that make you feel happy you've chosen this borough as your home. Midway through this walk, the neighborhood gets a little less, er, prestigious, but it's still worth continuing, as it quickly turns into a fascinating patchwork of immigrant cultures—and if you stop before you get to the Long Island Expressway and the Corona border, you might miss construction on NOVO 64, the much-talked-about luxury housing development wedged between 64th Road and 64th Avenue.

Metropolitan Avenue, Union Turnpike to 69th Street

I'm not going to lie to you—this one is a big challenge, two long miles that run largely through a sidewalk-free stretch of Saint John's Cemetery. But the cemetery is pretty in that eerie cemetery way, and even if that's a little morbid for you, it's still worth it for the great neighborhoods on either side: the southern edge of Forest Hills to the east and Middle Village to the west. This is the part of Queens that will make you forget you're in New York City: all quaint, privately owned storefront businesses, side streets full of cute narrow houses and the occasional island-in-a-parking-lot drugstore or fast-food outlet. Bonus: When you cross Cooper Avenue, right as you hit the cemetery, you're less than a block away from Archie Bunker's house. Turns out ol' Arch had a great view of the sea of tombstones from his living room. No wonder he was always in such a bad mood.

Park Lane, Union Turnpike to Myrtle Avenue

Not technically in the coverage area of this newspaper, this walk is nonetheless right next door, so what's stopping you? Kew Gardens flies under a lot of radars, but it can be a stunning neighborhood, with grand mansions on hills and a charming Old World feel. Think Forest Hills Gardens wealth, only more spread out. There's no better street to experience it than Park Lane, which, as the name suggests, runs along the edge of lush, green Forest Park. There's very little commerce in the immediate vicinity of this strip, but there are plenty of park benches, so bring some reading material and expect to find yourself darting in and out of the park whenever its call becomes too strong.

If you make it to the end, you'll be rewarded with a glimpse of a remarkable piece of public art: the Richmond Hill—yes, you're now in Richmond Hill—Doughboy, nearly unique among World War I memorials in that it shows a soldier at rest, in mourning over the loss of his comrade. It's a fitting reminder that a good walk can be moving in a lot of ways.

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