Today’s news:

No light on 215th leaves nabe in dark

Residents of 215th Street between 47th and 48th avenues say one of the block's streetlights, essential to their neighborhood's safety, has been recently removed by the city's Department of Transportation without warning or explanation."That was my night light," said 215th Street resident Peter Economou, who lives across from the missing light. "Now it's pitch black, and it's hard to park at night."Calls placed to the Department of Transportation were not returned by press time.The street's three other streetlights are so far apart that there is not adequate illumination at night for pedestrians and motorists without the fourth lamp located in front of 47-38 215th St., residents said."The next light is all the way down, and you can't see it," Tony Comando, who lives near the streetlight, said. "It's so dark at that end, it's dangerous," said Shirley Madonna, who moved to the quiet residential block 40 years ago. She said the darkness of the street, which is home to about a hundred families with many elderly residents as well as young children and teenagers, has parents fearing for their children's safety."They're really up in arms because it's dangerous to kids," Madonna said. "We all burn our porch lights day and night to help the end of the block, but the little porch light doesn't help much."And with busy 48th Avenue nearby and drivers cutting through their street to avoid traffic on Bell Boulevard, Madonna's husband, Joe, said "cars turn onto the street and just roll through the stop sign," a dangerous situation made worse without adequate lighting.The streetlight in question has been there for many years, according to 215th Street residents, and a tree planted by the city right next to the streetlight had grown large and leafy around it.But about six months ago the light stopped working and city workers had to run an extension wire to provide electric power to that light, a project that was only finally resolved in early April after much neighborhood lobbying, Madonna said."We were all so delighted when we saw the light, we were going to have a party," she said. The celebration was short-lived, however, when neighbors saw the streetlight being removed by Transportation workers in late April."They took the pole down, and said there was a tree in the way," said resident Al Ferrigmo, who said he asked the workers why they were taking away the streetlight. Despite repeated calls to the agency and a letter sent on their behalf by City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside), the 215th Street residents say they have not gotten any answers. "It's agonizing to think that your taxes are not being spent properly," Madonna said. "At the beginning we all wanted to know. Now we don't even care. We just want the light back."Reach reporter Sophia Chang by e-mail at, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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