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‘Shots Fired’ call came from machine, police say of BCD shooting event

When multiple shots were fired nearby 71-15 Beach Channel Drive on Sunday, the call was made to the 911 system by a machine designed to hear shots and report them.

It was a “shots fired” call with a difference.

In the great majority of incidents, the call comes from residents who heard the shots and call the 911 emergency system. The more the calls, the faster the cops react.

On Sunday, March 26, at approx. 1:14 a.m., however, there was an activation of the ShotSpotter system.

It “heard” the shots and alerted 911 that there were shots fired in the vicinity of 71-15 Beach Channel Drive.

Responding patrol officers found numerous shell casings at the scene. There were no injuries and minor property damage was reported.

A level one mobilization was called, bringing dozens of police officers from the Strategic Response Group to the scene. All of the nearby hospitals were canvassed to see if a victim could be found, but to no avail.

Detectives from the 100 Precinct Squad are investigating.

Anyone with information in the above incident, please call our Precinct Detective Squad at 718-318-4223 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS.

NY Times: First ferry boat coming to NYC gets stuck in the mud trying to cross Florida

New York Times photograph of first ferry coming to New York City for commuter ferry service going under a bridge in Florida. The boat got stuck in the mud and had to go back, not unlike an experimental run in Jamaica Bay three years ago.

The captain and crew of the New York City-bound ferryboat known simply as Hull 200 were on their way from a Louisiana boatyard to take up its route carrying passengers from Rockaway to Manhattan and back when they ran into a familiar problem. The boat got stuck in the muddy bottom.

As Yogi Berra would have said, “It was déjà vu all over again.”

Three years ago, a similar ferryboat from NY Waterways was making an experimental run from its Beach 108 Street terminal to Bayswater to check on the feasibility of an east end stop. The boat, with officials, politicians and reporters aboard, got stuck in the mud of Jamaica Bay and had to be evacuated by small boats from FDNY’s Marine Unit until the boat could be refloated.

Hull 200 was navigating a swamp-like area when the boat jerked to a stop. Three and a half days into its maiden voyage, Hull 200 was stuck in the Central Florida mud with no help in sight, according to a long New York Times article by Patrick McGeehan. The Times reporter and his photographer, Scott McIntire were imbedded with the crew to get a story and photographs as the first ferry in a line of boats that will come to New York City to operate the Five Borough Ferry Service due in the early part of the summer.

Boats get trapped in muck all the time, of course. But this sudden halt interrupted a crucial test for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s commuter ferry program.

According to McGeehan, Hull 200 — which will eventually be renamed — was the first completed piece of a fleet under construction at shipyards in Alabama and Louisiana.

While it is not clear from the Times article whether or not Hull 200 would be used on the Rockaway route, an earlier press release made it clear that the Rockaway-bound boats were different from the others because they needed a higher freeboard to take the ocean waves. Those boats were built in Louisiana, but Hull 200 started out in Alabama.

For the most part, the trip involves hugging the Eastern Seaboard for more than 1,000 miles in a ferryboat designed to zip between landings in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. But the first obstacle is the Florida Peninsula, which adds a few days and hundreds of miles to the schedule.

 “It’s a long journey in a small boat,” James Caspers, a veteran mariner who is the acting captain of Hull 200, told the Times. “It’s like Kon-Tiki,” he said, referring to the famed voyage of the Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl.

Hornblower Cruises and Events, the company that the city chose to operate the ferry service, decided to try to save time and avoid trouble by cutting across Florida instead of going around it, where any rough waters or high winds might prove more of a challenge for the relatively light vessels. For about five hours on Friday, that seemed like a wise choice, the Times article said.

After three days in the Gulf of Mexico, the boat, an 85-foot catamaran, pulled away from a dock at the Fort Myers Yacht Basin on the west coast of Florida in the predawn darkness and headed east through the Caloosahatchee River. Along with Caspers, it carried seven men who had come aboard in Bayou La Batre, Ala., the home of Horizon Shipbuilding. Only one of them, Clip Hopkins, had ever taken this obscure shortcut.

In his regular job, Mr. Hopkins, 52, captains a small ferry that carries cars and trucks to and from Gee’s Bend on the Alabama River. He said he was “just tickled” to be bound for New York for the first time in his life.

“I like my job,” Mr. Hopkins said. “But sometimes it’s like ‘Groundhog Day.’ It gets kind of monotonous.”

He did not seem to mind that he was bunking each night with the other men in the passenger compartment of a commuter ferry, eating food stored in an ice chest and sleeping on an inflatable mattress.

The concession stand in the rear of the compartment was stocked with cereal, fruit, granola bars, and microwaveable macaroni and cheese. The microwave and a coffee maker were strapped to a table with bungee cords. Despite the makeshift quarters and the lack of a shower, the only hardship any of the men cited was having to share one balky toilet.

None of the crew had ever made this crossing. But Caspers and Hornblower executives had studied charts and determined that the shallow canals were deep enough for the ferry, whose hulls protrude less than six feet below the surface. Bill Buckley, Hornblower’s director of marine operations, said he had crossed Florida in a similar ferry without incident.

So, the Times story said, Caspers and his ad hoc crew plowed eastward for a daylong leg of the journey that would require passing through five locks and under several drawbridges. Among the men onboard were four who had recently been hired by Hornblower to be captains of the Citywide Ferry fleet. The others were an Indian-born engineer employed by Hornblower and a Cuban-born representative of the company that consulted with Hornblower on its choice of French engines for the ferries.

City officials are still deciding what to name the boats, but the city’s Department of Education had invited second graders to submit ideas. One of their suggestions: Friendship Express.

But the first order of business was getting Hull 200 to New York Harbor.

By midmorning, the river had connected to a canal running along the northern edge of the Everglades. Known as the Okeechobee Waterway, most of it is man-made to help control flooding.

After the boat passed through the third of five locks on the waterway, Caspers swung it around to head toward Clewiston in the rim canal that skirts the south shore of Lake Okeechobee.

A few minutes later, they spotted a large gator slinking off the left bank as the ferry’s low wake approached. Almost immediately, the ferry ceased gliding through the canal. The pontoon on the right — or starboard — side of its hull had sliced into a mound of mud on the bottom that pulled the boat toward the right bank.

The captain cut the engines. The electronic instruments indicated that the water should have been deep enough to pass through, but the boat was clearly stuck. The mood onboard shifted from calm to worried.

Maneuvering out of the muck could have been easy, but Caspers was concerned about doing any damage to the hull or propellers of a brand new boat that cost close to $4 million. He called a towing company but learned that it could offer no help anytime soon. Then he called all hands to the top deck to explain that they might be spending the night right there, several feet from shore in a canal that they knew contained at least two gators.

The captain listed the options: Wait for a tow; try to lighten the ferry by dumping a tank of 200 gallons of potable water and hope to float off; or start up the engine on the port side, which was still floating, and use it to turn the boat clockwise until it was safe to start the starboard engine.

As long as there were no rocks down there, everyone agreed, the third option should work. And it did. After two hours there, Hull 200 was back in motion, but headed west.

 On Saturday morning, the crew members stowed their air mattresses and got Hull 200 on its way, retracing its path from Fort Myers.

“We tried,” Caspers said. “It cost us a day or two and a little excitement.” He said he was glad they were stuck only briefly because he “never wanted to be a famous captain.”

After inspecting the boat in Fort Myers and deciding that the seas around Key West had calmed enough for safe passage, Caspers and his crew headed back into the Gulf on Sunday. He said the rerouted voyage could take one to two weeks, depending on the weather.

 

Pipeline company gives grant money to Rockaway non-profits

The Rockaway Little League and the Rockaway Rockies are only two of the local non-profit groups that will benefit from grants from Williams, the company that owns and operates the Transco Pipeline.

Local emergency services, community, educational and environmental initiatives are benefiting from more than $91,000 in grants distributed to community organizations that reside in, or provide services to the area surrounding the Rockaway peninsula.

 Williams – a major operator of natural gas infrastructure in New York – on Monday announced the latest recipients of the Rockaway Community Grant Program, awarding grants to 21 local organizations.  Williams operates the Transco Pipeline that runs parallel to the Rockaway shoreline as well as the pipe that runs under Fort Tilden into Brooklyn. Williams provides natural gas to the New York City area through its Transco pipeline, a 10,200-mile pipeline system which transports natural gas to markets throughout the northeastern and southeastern United States.

 The Rockaway Community Grant program is designed to benefit the environment and local communities in which Williams operates its Transco natural gas pipeline. The company has awarded nearly $800,000 since the grant program was first initiated in 2014. 

 Grants up to $15,000 per organization are awarded to organizations promoting initiatives that support environmental enhancement, education, economic

Among the local grant winners are: $10,000 to Roxbury Volunteer Emergency Services, Breezy Point, NY, for RVES Powered Ambulance Cot; $9,320 to Volunteer Fireman’s Association of the City of New York, Rockaway Park, NY, for Fit Test; $7,500 to Broad Channel Volunteers, Broad Channel, NY, for Hose Replacement;  $7,200 to Fund for the City of New York, Far Rockaway, NY, for Far Rockaway Arverne Nonprofit Coalition; $5,000 to Rockaway Point Volunteer Emergency Services, Rockaway Point, NY, for Operation Water Rescue; $5,000 to Rockaway Volunteer Ambulance Search and Rescue Corp., Rockaway Beach, NY, for First Responder Support; $4,000 to Rockaway Point Association, Rockaway Point, NY, for Bicycle Safety and Etiquette Program; $4,000 to Community Center of the Rockaway Peninsula, Far Rockaway, NY, for Vocational Program; $3,000 to PFC. John G. McLaughlin Post 8540 Veterans of Foreign Wars, Breezy Point, NY, for Help a Vet Stage II; $3,000 to Rockaway Youth Task Force, Far Rockaway, NY, for Community Garden Improvement Project; $3,000 to National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy, New York, NY, for Jamaica Bay Kayak Program – Train the Trainer; $2,500 to Rockaway Waterfront Alliance, Far Rockaway, NY, for Dyslexia Tutoring Program; $2,000 to Rockaway Little League, Belle Harbor, NY, for Fence Project 2017; $2,000 to Rockaway Rockies, Belle Harbor, NY, for Youth Hockey League; $2,000 to Rockaway Rugby Club, Rockaway Park, NY, for Rugby Field Project; $2,000 to Rockaway Rugby Club, Rockaway Park, NY, for Youth Rugby; $1,000 to Black Surfing Association, Rockaway Beach, NY, for Program Support

 

Two Arverne robberies within 12 hours on Beach 90 Street

One victim was robbed by three teenagers brandishing a box cutter under the Rockaway Freeway on Saturday evening. The other was robbed on Beach 90 Street and Holland Avenue early on Monday morning.

Police say that there were two robberies within 12 hours of each other on Beach 90 Street late last week and early this week.

In the first incident, a victim walking under Rockaway Freeway at Beach 90 Street was attacked and robbed by three male teens on Saturday night, police say.

The unidentified victim was approached by the teens, described by police as black males approximately 15 to 17 years of age at about 5:24 p.m. on May 25. One of the three brandished a knife and took money and other personal items from the victim. While police would not comment on the age or gender of the victim, posts on social media say the victim was a 13-year-old boy who was punched and then

The teens fled northbound on Beach 90 Street, police officials say.

A level one mobilization was called, bringing dozens of cops from the Strategic Response Group from all over south Queens. A wide search brought a negative response, police say.

In the second incident, which occurred at 5 a.m. on Monday morning, one of three black male teenagers who confronted the victim came up behind the unidentified victim and forcibly  removed his property. The victim was uninjured.

Detectives from the 100 Squad are investigating both crimes, which may be related, according to police sources.

Local police urge pedestrians to always be aware of their surroundings, which can decrease their chances of  becoming a victim.

 

New novel posits terrorist activity in November, 2001 Flight 587 crash in Rockaway

Onrockaway.com publisher Howard Schwach has penned a new novel about the tragic crash of American Airlines Flight 587 into the streets of Belle Harbor in November of 2001. The book is available now on Smashwords.com, but will be available on all eBook platforms within the next two weeks.

Ron Staller was a happy man. The retired teacher had become the editor and publisher of the “Beachcomber,” a community paper in New York City’s borough of Queens just before the deadly terrorist 9-11 attacks. Now, two months later, Staller was on his way to work when his world literally crashed on his head in the guise of American Airlines Flight 587. While state and federal officials were quick to say that the deadly crash was an accident caused by the erratic flying skills of the first officer, dozens of locals eyewitnesses, many of them police officers and firefighters, thought differently based on the their reports that the plane had smoke and fire on the fuselage prior to the crash. Staller, working with local police detectives begins to believe that the crash was more than reported by the NTSB and other federal agencies. Working hard on the evidence and thwarted by federal agencies, the detectives, joined by a rouge NTSB investigator, Staller’s police lieutenant son and a Muslim reporter, begin to see the truth. Will the government, however, allow that truth to be told.

Ron Staller is fictional, as is the rest of this new, exciting novel written by Howard Schwach, the editor and publisher of onrockaway.com. While the novel is fiction, the premise is all to real to any Rockaway resident who lived through the desperate days of September, October and November of 2001.

The book is now available at www.smashwords.com and will soon be available as well on all of the e-book platforms, including Kindle, Nook, Amazon.com, etc. It is a must-read for any Rockaway resident or those who remember the deadly 2001 crash. 

Detectives seek man wanted for violent robbery in Mott Avenue subway station

Detectives from the 101 Precinct and Transit District 23 are looking for this man, who is wanted in connection with a violent robbery inside the Far Rockaway/Mott Avenue A-Train Station.

Detectives from the 101 Precinct in Far Rockaway and Transit District 23 are looking for a man wanted in connection with a robbery at the Far Rockaway Mott Avenue A Line station on Saturday, March 18.

Police say that on Saturday, March 18, at approximately 7:50 a.m., and unidentified man approached the 44 year-old male victim from behind while onboard a northbound “A” train stopped in the Far Rockaway-Mott Avenue train station. 

The individual proceeded to push the victim into a pole and forcibly remove $2,000 in cash from his back pocket and fled.

The robber is described as a black man, approximately 5’7″ tall and weighing approximately 140 pounds.

Anybody with information on the wanted man is urged to contact the 101 Precinct Squad in Far Rockaway or Transit District 23 in Rockaway Park. 

 

Cashless tolling coming to Rockaway bridges April 30

Cashless tolls, such as this one on the New Jersey Turnpike, will soon be coming to the two Rockaway bridges.

Joyce Mulvane, a spokesperson from the TBTA, speaks at the recent Community Board 14 meeting.

Forget the long lines leading to the tolls on the Veteran’s Memorial Cross Bay Bridge and the Gil Hodges-Marine Parkway Bridge. Forget those pesky toll barriers that sometimes just do not go up. Forget using tokens, paying cash to get to the other side.

Beginning on April 30 – just five weeks away — both bridges will be moving to cashless tolling.

Officials from the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority came to Community Board 14 on Wednesday night to talk about the program and answer questions from board members and the public.

“No stopping, no gate, no cash lane, no change for EZ-Pass holders, said Joyce Mulvane of the TBTA. “This is going to make for more efficient travel for everybody.

Anybody who has motored outside the metropolitan area recently has probably seen the new readers in action. On the New Jersey Turnpike, for example, motorist do not have to slow down as they pass under the new readers – which are now being installed on the Rockaway bridges.

One reminder from Muluane.

“The EZ-Pass devices have to be mounted on the front window of the automobile,” she said. “No more waving the pass in your hand as you move towards the toll plaza.”

EZ-Pass holders will see no change in the way they pay their tolls, she said, nor will there be any change to the resident toll program that allows Rockaway and Broad Channel residents to get full rebate for their tolls on the Cross Bay Bridge.

Those who do not have EZ-Pass will be billed as soon as their bill reaches $25 or every 30 days, whichever comes first. Motorists without the pass will be able to pay on line, through the mail, or at EZ-Pass walk-in centers. They can even pay in advance and allow the tolls to be drawn from their account. This is allowed by license plate readers that then use motor vehicle department records to provide for a billing address.

 

Opposition to new charter school at Beach Channel campus grows, but to no avail

A large crowd attended the Community  Board 14 meeting on Wednesday night, many of them to speak in opposition to co-locating a new charter school at the Beach Channel Educational Campus.

Jennie Soler-McIntosh, the vice president for community engagement for New Visions, made a presentation to CB 14 on Wednesday night, but many members of the board and speakers were in opposition to the new school.

Kahlil Anderson, a graduate for the Charter View school at the BCEC was in opposition to the new school, pointing out that amenities such as the gym, cafeteria and library were already over-utilized by  the six schools already at the campus.

The Department of Education says that there is plenty of room inside of the Beach Channel Educational Campus for a seventh school, arguing that the total enrollment for all six schools presently in the building is 1625 students and that, before it was discredited and closed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, it held 2,791 students, a difference of more than 1,000 students. The city’s own website says that the school is only utilizing 58 percent of its capacity. City education officials say that District 27 and Rockaway need more high school seats. According to education officials, the city will need several thousands of new high school seats over the next years.

The seventh school, Humanities IV, would open its doors to ninth grade students this coming September, was voted into co-location status on Wednesday night by the city’s educational council. It will begin in September with 125 ninth grade students, with the plan off adding a like-sized ninth grade class every year as the older students move towards graduation – a total of 500 students over four years.

Many locals, however, dispute that the raw numbers provided by the education department tell the whole story and they want the co-location stopped. Those opposed to the plan range from Assemblywoman Stacy Pheffer Amato to recent graduates to parent association officials to students attending the other six schools in the building – especially those at the highly-successful Channel View School for Research, a grade 6-12 school.

Kahlil Anderson, a recent graduate of Channel View and a Community Board 14 member, was one of those who voiced his opposition to the co-location plan at Wednesday night’s meeting.

“The school is so overcrowded now that some kids eat lunch at 10 a.m. What will it be like when 400 or 500 more kids are placed in the building,” he asked. The cafeteria is already over utilized as are the gym and the library. There are a lot of questions that have to be answered, particularly the question of how seven schools are going to share scarce amenities.”

Board Chair Delores Orr said that the board had asked the education council to hold off from its vote until the local community board could weigh in, but the plea was apparently ignored by the citywide board.

“Why not simply expand Channel View,” Orr asked. “Why throw another wrench in to a difficult situation with six separate entities and six managers.”

Jennie Soler-McIntosh, the vice president for community engagement for New Visions Public School was present at the meeting and made a presentation detailing the glories of the New Visions program.

She also admitted that there are “challenges” for co-location buildings with several schools.

“Co-location works if all the principals come together in a collaborative way,” she said. “It’s all a leadership issue. We spoke with all the other principals [in the campus] about the understanding that it takes to work with others. It’s all about collaboration and all of the principals meet regularly to work out the details of how all the amenities in the building will be shared.”

Soler-McIntosh said that there were already 150 applicants for the first 125 slots and that a lottery would be held to see who gets a seat.

At first, she said that most of the applicants were from schools already functioning at the Beach Channel Campus, but walked that statement back when Orr challenged her. She added that approximately 55 students from Rockaway presently attend a sister charter school in South Jamaica, proving the need for more high school seats on the peninsula.

“You say you bring new seats, but then what sense does it make to take most of your students out of already-existing seats in the same building,” she asked.

After a few moments, the charter representative walked back her statement, saying that she “misspoke” and that most of the applicants come from District 27, which includes a large portion of the mainland, and not specifically from Rockaway.

Those opposed to the program pointed out that there are already three high school programs at the Beach Channel campus and another across the street at Scholars’ Academy. There are another three more high school programs at the Far Rockaway Educational Campus on Bay 25 Street in Bayswater.

When Soler-McIntosh was asked how her program would be different than any of the other high school programs already on the peninsula and on the mainland, she was at a loss for words, except that her school has a “community service” and a “hands-on” components. She pointed out that her other schools have a 91 percent graduation rate. The graduation rate at Channel View is 95 percent and at Scholars’, 99 percent.

Four with minor injuries as a result of SFP high-rise fire

Fire apparatus clogged Shore Front Parkway between Beach 102 and 105 Streets for more than an hour as firefighters worked to put out a stubborn fire on the fourth floor of 102-00 SFP on Wednesday afternoon.

Neighbor Joanne Smith posted this photo to her Facebook page. Photo shows the heavy fire and dense smoke.

Four people were slightly injured with two being transported to St. John’s Episcopal Hospital for treatment as a result of a fire inside a fourth floor apartment at 102-00 Shore Front Parkway on Wednesday afternoon.

Fire officials say that the first call came in at 3:51 p.m. for a smoky fire in the 12-story high-rise building.

At 4:16 p.m., fire officials declared it an “all-hands fire,” which brought 78 firefighters and 20 pieces of fire apparatus, which clogged the busy road for more than an hour.

The fire was declared under control at 5 p.m.

Two firefighters were transported to SJEH for smoke inhalation. Two civilians were treated at the scene for minor injuries and released,

Fire officials say that fire marshals are investigating, but that the fire was not of suspicious origin.

House under construction collapses in Far Rockaway as heavy winds sweep in on Tuesday

Heavy winds on Tuesday blew down a house under construction at  the corner of Jarvis Avenue and Beach 7 Street in Far Rockaway, also knocking down an adjacent house that was also under construction.

Neighbor Israel Schreiber and his son take a look at the collapse as a reporter does a stand-up in front of the home.

The two homes were completely destroyed.  Because they were under construction, there were no injuries.

On Tuesday, at about 10:46 a.m., Israel Schreiber was working in his home office on Jarvis Avenue and Beach 7 Street in Far Rockaway when he felt a particularly heavy wind gust move through his home, part of the windy, snowy, icy day as a major storm swept over the peninsula.

Schreiber said that he heard a loud noise, something like thunder. His son thought that a large truck had driven by so close that his bed shook.

Schreiber and his son went outside to take a look and found that a neighboring home, not yet with a designated address under construction for more than a year, collapsed in the strong wind and then knocked over the next house, also under construction totaling both of the million dollar homes.

Police and fire units responded, as did many media outlets who were looking for strong storm stories that day.

Officials at the national weather service said that gusts of up to 65 miles per hour were being experienced on the peninsula at that time.

Schreiber told onrockaway.com that the builder had put up ten homes. Eight were sold and occupied. The two that collapsed were not yet sold, he said.

The collapse site is a block north of Seagirt Boulevard.

There were no reported injuries in the collapse.

 

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