Tag Archives: Middle Village

Middle Village ceremony remembers Triangle factory fire anniversary


| info@timesnewsweekly.com

Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Community leaders, activists and residents gathered at Christ the King High School in Middle Village on Wednesday for a moving tribute on the 104th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.

The ceremony — hosted by former state Sen. Serphin Maltese, now president of the Triangle Fire Memorial Association — honored the 146 victims of the tragedy that took place on that day in 1911 in Lower Manhattan. Most of the victims were Italian and Jewish immigrant women and adolescent girls working to support their families.

The Maltese family was personally affected by the tragedy. Their grandmother Caterina, 38, and her two young daughters, Rosarea and Lucia, were among the 146 victims who perished in the blaze. Caterina left behind a husband, Nonno Serafino Maltese, and two young sons Paul and Vito.

The family’s grief was compounded by the fact that Caterina was initially buried in a mass grave at the Cemetery of the Evergreens in Brooklyn along with six other unknown victims of the tragedy. Nonno Maltese was able to identify his late wife through her wedding ring. She was disinterred and laid to rest with her daughters at Calvary Cemetery.

A monument was later donated by the Maltese family to honor the 36 other Triangle fire victims buried at the cemetery.

Maltese reflected upon the impact the Triangle Shirtwaist fire had on his childhood: “We never realized as kids the enormity of the tragedy. We were always cautioned by our mother to beware of fire, but it was more than that. Growing up on the Lower East Side, no matter how many years passed, there were still elderly Italian women who wore black from the Triangle fire. That’s how long they grieved.”

The ceremony featured moving performances from the Christ the King Concert Chorus, led by Choral Director and Conductor Heather Arzberger. The chorus sang “Counsel to Girls” by Nils Lindberg and “Soon I will Be Done” by William Dawson.

Playwright, actor and past honoree Lulu Lolo Pascale delivered a riveting one-woman performance reenacting the events surrounding the Triangle Shirtwaist tragedy.

The Triangle Fire Memorial Association presented six honorees with awards, as well as special Proclamations from state Sen. Joseph Addabbo’s office, in recognition of their service within the community.

One of the honorees was Joel Sosinsky, secretary and founding member of Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition. Sosinsky and his organization were instrumental in securing permission from New York University to install a public arts memorial on the landmarked building on Greene Street and Washington Place, which housed the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory.

The association also honored local educator Caroline Roswell for utilizing the events of the tragedy as a teaching tool to inspire social justice and awareness in her students. Roswell took her students to the annual commemorative march and ceremony held in the city earlier in the day.

The other honorees included:  Dr. Clara Sarrocco, scholar and educator; Rosemarie Iacavone, chair of the Women’s Republican Club of Queens; Diego Lodico, founder of the Italian Cultural Organization Bella Italia Mia; and Drew Nelson, former lieutenant base commander with the NYPD Harbor Patrol Unit and current director of operations at the Catholic Community of North Columbia County, NY.

The ceremony concluded with a reading of the names of the 146 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire victims by Iacavone, Marie Lynch and Stephanie Zgaljic. Dianna Maeurer was also on hand representing Triangle Fire victim Fannie Hollander. Maeurer, dressed in a special memorial sash and headband, has carried Hollander’s commemorative shirtwaist in the city’s tribute ceremony since 2009.

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DSNY to expand curbside food and yard waste recycling collection


| a.giudice@timesnewsweekly.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Get ready to see more brown compost bins in Queens starting the week of May 18, as more areas of Maspeth and Middle Village are added to the city’s organics waste pilot.

The NYC Department of Sanitation’s (DSNY) voluntary curbside food and yard waste recycling program is expanding into both neighborhoods and communities in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Staten Island later this spring.

The program, which began in May 2013, currently serves more than 100,000 households and 700 schools throughout all five boroughs and has collected more than 6,500 tons of material. This latest expansion will add approximately 35,000 more houses to the program.

“Organic materials make up about a third of our trash,” DSNY Commissioner Kathryn Garcia said. “When you [recycle] your food and yard waste, you decrease the amount of garbage going to landfills and help create a greener and healthier New York City.”

All single-family homes and buildings with nine or fewer units will automatically be enrolled in the voluntary program. Residential buildings with 10 or more units may apply to participate. All eligible households will receive a starter kit, which includes an indoor kitchen container, an outdoor brown bin or a larger bin to share for a building with three to nine units and an instructional brochure.

To participate, residents should place their food scraps and soiled paper products, such as paper napkins and paper plates, into the kitchen container, then transfer the material into their outdoor bin for collection on their pickup day.

Examples of items that may be placed in the bin include food scraps such as fruits, vegetables, egg shells, pasta, tea bags, coffee grounds and filters, baked goods, meat and bones; flowers and house plants; and food-soiled paper such as paper towels, napkins and paper plates.

Some items that may not be placed into the bins include plastics of any kind, even if labeled biodegradable, liquids, foam items, animal waste, cigarettes and ashes, and medical waste.

The collected organic material is managed both locally and regionally, with some of the waste being turned into compost and being used locally by greening groups such as, urban farmers, community gardeners, and street tree stewards to rebuild the city’s soil.

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DOT proposes expanding bike network in CB 5 area


| a.giudice@timesnewsweekly.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

Gear up for round two of bike lane construction in Ridgewood, Glendale, Maspeth and Middle Village.

Aaron Fraint, project manager with NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) bicycle program, presented three options for a second phase of bike lane creation to the Community Board 5 Transportation Committee members on March 24.

All three options focused on creating a network of lanes.

“We would like to do a set of streets that all connect to each other because we see the bike network as just that, a network, rather than sets of routes that aren’t connected to anything,” Fraint said.

The first option would connect Ridgewood to Rego Park through Middle Village via Metropolitan Avenue, 69th Street and Eliot Avenue ending on Woodhaven Boulevard.

“Metropolitan Avenue is very busy corridor…with a lot of commercial and industrial activity,” Fraint said, which is why creating safe bike lanes is so important.

The avenue is also 41 feet wide, which allows just enough room for a shared bike lane in both directions.

The DOT proposed using “sharrows,” symbols with a green background that notify motorists that bicyclists may be present.

Option two connects Glendale to Rego Park through Middle Village by using Central Avenue connecting to Cooper Avenue to Woodhaven Boulevard, with a north/south route on 80th Street turning into Dry Harbor Road and 63rd Avenue, ending on Woodhaven Boulevard.

Fraint said that both Central and Cooper avenues — which are 40 feet wide — have enough space for 12-foot-wide shared lanes in both directions with 8-foot parking lanes.

Cooper Avenue already has a shared bike lane on the extra-wide sidewalks that were installed on the underpass after its reconstruction. These connect to a shared bike lane on 80th Street, so “we would pick up where shared lanes left off on 80th Street and bring it over to Woodhaven Boulevard,” Fraint said.

The final option seeks to connect Ridgewood to Long Island City through Maspeth along Fresh Pond Road, 59th Drive to Rust Street. In the opposite direction, the route would take Rust Street to 60th Street then to 60th Avenue and back down Fresh Pond Road.

A segment of Fresh Pond Road, which is 44 feet wide, can accommodate 14-foot shared lanes in both directions, keeping the configuration of one travel lane in each direction and parking on both sides.

59th Drive is one-way westbound from the turn off Fresh Pond Road up until 60th Street, and at 26 feet wide, “we will be able to keep the condition as is, but add a shared lane for cyclists,” Fraint said.

As 59th Drive continues past 60th Street, it becomes a 30-foot-wide two-way street, and the DOT is looking to put in a center line and shared lane symbols.

The DOT is still working out what type of bicycle facilities would be the best fit on Rust Street.
Fraint added that a lot of cyclists are using that route and it is a logical connector between Ridgewood and Long Island City.

After the board heard all three options, they discussed which ones they would like to see implemented in the community.

“I do like the Metropolitan, 69th and Eliot [route],” said John Maier, co-chair of the committee. “I think Eliot makes a lot of sense.”

For option two, Maier said that Fresh Pond Road is “already a traffic nightmare,” but that cyclists do use the route and it is worth taking a look at.

Panel members agreed that the first option would be the best fit for the communities. They liked option two, with some modifications to the 80th Street section. The DOT needs to further study the third option before the board accepts it. The DOT hopes to begin installing the accepted routes during 2015.

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Christ the King boys and girls win basketball titles, advance to state tourneys


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via CTKNY - CK Campus Facebook page

BY ROBERT ELKIN

Make it a three-peat for Christ the King Regional High School’s boys basketball squad.

For the third straight year, the varsity Royals captured the Intersectionals title, capturing the CHSAA title with a 59-56 victory over Xaverian High School. Christ the King advanced to the New York State tournament, which begins a week from Friday in Albany.

They’ll be joined in Albany by the Lady Royals, who also captured the city championship and advanced to the state girls basketball tournament.

Led by Coach Joe Arbitello, the Middle Village boys brought home the 2013 and 2014 titles with little surprise, but fought a tough battle with Xaverian to take their third title in a row.

“We had to overcome a lot to win this game,” said Arbitello, whose squad posted a 25-4 record. Credit went to the whole team, including its star player, Rawle Alkins, who was named the CHSAA most valuable player.

Alkins, as it happened, missed the start of the game, as he got stuck in traffic on the way to Fordham University for the championship game. Despite the worry from players and fans alike, Alkins eventually arrived and made contributions toward the Royals’ win.

“I came ready to play,” he said. “It was amazing. No one team has ever won three city championships in three straight years.”

Rebounding was the key to the wins for the entire season, but they didn’t show it during the championship game, as Xaverian out-rebounded them, 32-26. Otherwise, it was a well-balanced team effort turned in by the Royals, who were led by seven caroms off the boards by Tyrone Cohen. Alkins led all the scorers with 21 points.

“We show very good teamwork and play very good defense,” said assistant coach Gene Schatz. “We should be able to win the close games.”

The Royals played tremendous basketball during the season and next year there is no reason why they can’t win for the fourth time. The junior Alkins is playing at the top of his game, reaching a game-high 37 points at one point during the season.

With Alkins set to return and 10 underclassmen scheduled to move up to the varsity squad next season, the foundation for a four-peat appears to be in place.

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CB 5 eyes city budget: district manager wants more cops, building inspectors


| a.giudice@timesnewsweekly.com

Photo courtesy of Nicholas Strini/PropertyShark

Speaking during the annual Community Board 5 preliminary budget hearing on March 11 in Middle Village, Community Board 5 District Manager Gary Giordano called for more city funds to boost the 104th Precinct’s roster.

“What I do on behalf of the community board is in response to the preliminary budget as I see it,” Giordano said. “The estimated budget of the City of New York is in the neighborhood of $77 billion. And what I would normally focus on, as far as the expense budget goes, is our need and desire for 20 additional police officers in the 104th Precinct.”

According to Giordano, in 1995, patrol personnel were numbered at 203 officers, not including supervisors, and that number is down by 25 percent today. Even though crime is down, Giordano stated, the reduced staff at the precinct leads to response backlogs.

Other priorities for the expense budget, he touted, included “sanitation collection, cleaning dump-out locations, sanitation enforcement, education [and] fire department staffing.”

The district manager also recommended that the Department of Buildings hire more qualified building inspectors for Queens.

Community Board 5 District Manager, Gary Giordano (left) with Mark Hoffer from PANYNJ (center) and CB 5 Chairperson Vincent Arcuri during the CB 5 monthly meeting on Wednesday, March 11. (Photo by Anthony Giudice)

Community Board 5 District Manager, Gary Giordano (left) with Mark Hoffer from PANYNJ (center) and CB 5 Chairperson Vincent Arcuri during the CB 5 monthly meeting on Wednesday, March 11. (Photo by Anthony Giudice)

“I think the Buildings Department is down to like 19 inspectors for Queens County,” Giordano explained. “Since the economy is heating up and we’re going to see more construction, and we’re likely to see some pretty large buildings built … we need enough competent buildings inspectors to make sure that whatever construction is taking place is getting done according to plan and according to law and we also need those buildings inspectors to check on illegal uses.”

Parks in Maspeth and Middle Village are set to receive capital funding for reconstruction. Frank Principe Park in Maspeth will get $5 million and Juniper Valley Park is slated to receive funding to reconstruct either the running track or turf field, but the debate is not settled yet, Giordano said.

Projects that have already been funded and are currently underway include the installation of larger sewer pipes and the relocation of gas mains in the Penelope Avenue area in Middle Village and the Calamus Avenue/69th Street area.

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Middle Village bocce court repairs miss the mark


| a.giudice@timesnewsweekly.com

Photos by Anthony Giudice

Juniper Valley Park in Middle Village received an $850,000 renovation for its bocce courts, located near the corner of 79th Street and Juniper Boulevard North, in July. Now, players are saying that more needs to be done to make the courts playable before the one-year warranty on the site expires.

Longtime bocce player Anthony Sozio believes some of the designs of the new courts are flawed.

The panels on the top of the protective canopies “are slanted the wrong way,” Sozio said. “When it rains, the water drips right onto the court,” he explained. The dripping creates divots in the court, leaving it unplayable.

“We are aware that to reverse the panels to face outside the courts is a costly proposition,” Sozio said. However, he has a cost-effective suggestion that would alleviate the problem. Sozio believes a heavy-duty tarp could be placed atop the canopies to divert the rainwater away from the courts.

Icicles also formed on the canopies this winter, posing a danger to players below, he added.

“Last week, one of the players got hit by an icicle while removing snow from one of the courts, thankfully without any consequence,” Sozio said.

Photo: Anthony Giudice

Other bocce players, Nick Fazio and Peter Bozanic, agreed with Sozio’s claims and feel something should be done.

“We get no help from the Parks Department with maintenance,” Fazio said.

The players take it upon themselves to repair damages to the courts, having already gone through the 60 bags of replacement soil given to them for maintaining the courts, Sozio said.

The benches alongside the bocce courts pose a problem for spectators. “The benches are so low and the courts are high, so no one can see the game,” Sozio said.

The lighting around the courts do not do enough to illuminate the area when the sun goes down, Bozanic said. “The yellow lights don’t provide enough light,” he continued.

Sozio plans on creating a petition, getting it signed by the bocce players who use the courts and sending it to the local politicians in hopes that they will help fix the courts.

“We are going to petition the City of New York, the Parks Department and our elected officials to prompt responsible people to make proper repairs,” Sozio said.

The group wants the repairs made to be able to keep playing the game they love. “Bocce is very good for us,” Sozio said. “It keeps us healthy. People come from all over to play here and it is how we make friends.”

“The three new bocce courts are great new amenities at Juniper Valley Park, and will allow our community to host citywide bocce tournaments,” said Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, who serves District 30. “My office has been working closely with the community members who regularly use the bocce courts at Juniper Valley for years, and we have conveyed their concerns to the Parks Department – which is ultimately responsible for design, construction, and maintenance of the bocce courts.”

The Parks Department did not immediately respond for a request for comment.

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Federal charges for alleged Ridgewood, Middle Village bank robber


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

An alleged bank robber busted in Ridgewood Tuesday now faces federal charges for carrying out a series of heists in the 104th Precinct dating back to last November.

Police picked up Brooklyn’s Reuben McLaughlin, 24, moments after he allegedly robbed the Capital One bank located at 70-01 Forest Ave. Tuesday morning.

Based on an investigation, authorities said, McLaughlin was tied to five other recent bank robberies, in which he allegedly passed demand notes to tellers and threatened to shoot them if they did not comply.

Because of the threats involving firearms, law enforcement sources noted, McLaughlin was transferred to the FBI’s New York office and booked on federal armed robbery charges.

According to authorities, the pattern began in Middle Village on Nov. 24, when McLaughlin visited the Capital One bank at 74-11 Metropolitan Ave. He allegedly robbed the branch again on Feb. 14.

Police said the suspect additionally held up the Astoria Bank located at 75-11 Metropolitan Ave., steps away from the Middle Village Capital One, on Dec. 30 and Feb. 4.

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Middle Village teacher running for a cause


| a.giudice@timesnewsweekly.com

Photo courtesy of Christ the King High School

One Middle Village high school teacher is using his passion for running marathons to support education and teach by example.

Christ the King High School teacher Paul Salerni has run 44 marathons in his life. This year, he plans on running to help raise awareness for the Hale Reservation, an organization that educates schoolchildren about nature and the environment.

Salerni has been an avid runner for over 40 years, but this year’s Boston Marathon — which takes place on Apr. 20 — will mark the first time that he will be running to raise money for an organization. Salerni and his team of 17 runners aim to raise $75,000 for the Hale Reservation.

“After reading many environmental headlines lately, I have learned that half of the world’s wildlife has been lost over the last 40 years and that the oceans now contain over 5 trillion pieces of plastic,” Salerni said. “As educators, we know how important it is to raise awareness through education; Hale Reservation does this.”

“To raise awareness is one thing, to act on it is another,” he added.

Salerni has always loved running. He was a runner in junior high school, high school and college. “Running is a great way to manage stress,” he said.

In order to perform at the level necessary for the Boston Marathon, Salerni runs four to five days a week and cross trains on the other days. He usually rides his bike to keep up his endurance and cross country skis when there is some snow on the ground.

“I average 35 miles a week running,” he said. “I’m aiming for three hours and 30 minutes at the marathon. My best is three hours, eight minutes, I think I’m capable of it.”

Salerni has been a faculty member at Christ the King High School for over 27 years, and he teaches social studies and English. He is also an adjunct English professor for Queensborough Community College.

“We at Christ the King are proud of our faculty members who teach through example in shaping the leaders of tomorrow,” Christ the King Chairman Serphin R. Maltese said.

Principal Peter Mannarino added, “Mr. Salerni is an inspiration to all of us who care about our environment, as well as our own personal physical fitness.”

To help support the Hale Reservation, visit www.razoo.com/story/Paul-Salerni.

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Suspect nabbed in Ridgewood bank holdup could be linked to other robberies: police


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Detectives continue to investigate whether a suspected bank robber picked up in Ridgewood Tuesday is linked to a recent heist pattern within the 104th Precinct.

Reuben McLaughlin, 24, of Brooklyn, reportedly held up the Capital One branch at 70-01 Forest Ave. just before 11:40 a.m. Tuesday morning.

According to law enforcement sources, McLaughlin approached a teller and passed a note demanding cash. He also threatened to shoot the worker if his demands were not met.

Police said McLaughlin received $1,070 in cash, then fled the scene in an unknown direction.

Officers from the 104th Precinct were alerted to the robbery and, during a search of the surrounding area, located McLaughlin, authorities said.

In recent weeks, police have been looking for a man responsible for five bank robberies at three locations in Ridgewood and Middle Village dating back to last November, including the Capital One on Forest Avenue; the Capital One at 74-11 Metropolitan Ave. in Middle Village; and the Astoria Bank at 75-25 Metropolitan Ave.

Additional charges against McLaughlin are pending the results of the ongoing investigation, police said.

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Inclusive Queens soccer program teaches kids skills beyond the field


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Soccer Kids NYC

BY ANGELA MATUA

A new soccer program for children in Queens hopes to have kids setting goals on and off the field.

Soccer Kids NYC was created by Noe Canales in September 2014 after he noticed that other programs did not focus on teaching lessons that could translate to all aspects of a child’s life.

Canales said that Soccer Kids NYC strives to teach not only the fundamentals of soccer but also skills that children can utilize off the field like teamwork, respect and perseverance.

Soccer Kids NYC differs from other programs in several ways. Canales, who is a certified special education teacher, integrates children with special needs into all classes. He hopes to remove the stigma that families of special needs children typically deal with.

“Soccer Kids NYC wants to help in getting rid of that pervasive thinking,” Canales said of the three-month course that costs $179. “Our mission cuts across all lines; our program is for children with special needs and typically developing children. We don’t believe in labels except for our kids’ names.”

He believes this inclusiveness contributes to the program’s 99 percent retention rate. The coaches at Soccer Kids NYC also strive to make their classes affordable for everyone, he said. Though children typically attend classes once a week, students are encouraged to join other classes if there is available space at no extra cost. They also provide a refund to all families who are not satisfied with the program.

Scouting the right coaches is important for Canales, who is also a teacher at TheraCare Preschool Services, a preschool in Rego Park that accommodates children with and without special needs. Coaches are trained extensively until they are ready to lead a class. This approach is the reason he can provide a quality program, he said.

“My experience with larger programs has been that they will first find a location to expand and then work on hiring and staffing those classes with a coach,” Canales said. “This approach hinders the quality of a program as many times these coaches are not fully trained to lead a class and consequently, our kids get the short end of the stick.”

Every season, parents are encouraged to leave feedback for the coaches. Canales said they have not received any negative feedback yet, but the coaches still come together to reflect on ways to make the program better.

The feedback has been all amazing,” Canales said. “This is something that we feel extremely proud of.”

Classes are taught in Bayside, Woodhaven, Middle Village, Elmhurst, Flushing, Kew Gardens and other parts of Queens. Canales said they are not in a rush to expand but would like to eventually teach classes in other parts of Queens and New York.

 

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Juniper Valley Park has second most playground injury claims in city: report


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Juniper Valley Park in Middle Village has cost taxpayers at least about $300,000 over the last decade due to personal injuries claims, according to a new report.

The green space tied for second place for playground-related personal injury claims filed against the city from 2005 to 2014, which cost more than $20.6 million citywide, City Comptroller Scott Stringer said.

Stringer’s analysis also found that annual claims in the city rose 53 percent from just 45 incidents in 2005 to 69 last year.

Of the 577 park- and playground-related injury claims over the decade, 111 accidents occurred in Queens. Brooklyn led the city in playground injuries with 209 accidents occurring in the last decade.

Juniper Valley Park had six injury claims filed against the city over the decade for accidents related to missing matting, holes and defective swings. Five of those claims recorded a combined $297,500, according to Stringer’s analysis. The amount of one was not given in the report.

Local residents say Juniper has a numerous issues, including holes, defective equipment, cracks and other trip hazards, and that the Parks Department neglects to take action and fix the park, even though problems have been reported.

For example, Robert Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, emphasized the need to fix netting at the park’s batting cages, where high school children play. The netting is used to protect balls from being hit outside the field area, but has been broken since Hurricane Sandy.

Holden has complained about it for years but still hasn’t seen a fix.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the lawsuits were with somebody getting hit with a ball,” Holden said. “Perhaps if it were their own money, like let’s say it would come out of department leaders’ paychecks, they would fix it.”

The park is receiving $2.5 million, allocated by Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, for improvements to the track, but Holden said the fixes have been long overdue.

Citywide, parks have recorded injury claims for a range of problems, include protruding nails, debris, defective park equipment and improper surfacing — including cracked grounds, holes and missing matting.

In an attempt to reduce the city’s bill over the next 10 years and protect children, Stringer sent a letter to the Parks Department asking to increase efforts to make certain that parks are safe.

“With claims at their highest point in a decade, it’s clear that the Department of Parks and Recreation must find ways to improve safety in our city’s playgrounds,” Stringer said. “We owe it to our kids to adopt best practices for safety and install state-of-the-art equipment in our playgrounds that reduces the potential for injuries.”

Click here to see a full map of all the claims.

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CB 5 committees pan Cross Harbor Tunnel plans


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

File photo

Building a Cross Harbor Tunnel would shift the tri-state area’s traffic problems into Brooklyn and Queens, members of the Community Board 5 (CB 5) Transportation and Public Transit committees declared during a meeting Tuesday night in Glendale.

Panelists panned options in the Port Authority’s Cross Harbor Freight Program that call for a train tunnel or a combined train/truck tube through the harbor between rail yards in New Jersey and Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. The options include increased activity on the Long Island Rail Road’s Bay Ridge line and the connecting Fresh Pond Rail Yard in Glendale — the only freight rail terminal linking geographic Long Island and the rest of the country.

Though the Port Authority claims the tunnel plans would help reduce tractor-trailer traffic on its existing Hudson River and harbor crossings, CB 5 Chairperson Vincent Arcuri charged, the proposal wouldn’t remedy congestion, but rather move it elsewhere in the city.

According to Arcuri, the tunnel plans included the creation or expansion of intermodal shipping facilities and warehouses near the Fresh Pond Rail Yard as well as Maspeth and East New York. At these sites, goods would be loaded and off-loaded between train cars and small trucks. Citing analysis performed by the Glendale-based Civics United for Railroad and Environmental Solutions (CURES), Arcuri said, the tunnels would effectively add hundreds of truck trips each day onto local streets.

“By taking the largest tractor-trailers off the road and putting [their cargo] on the trains, they’re adding thousands of smaller trucks to our area,” he said. “We need to come up with a comprehensive argument against this current plan.”

John Maier, Public Transit Committee co-chair, echoed those sentiments, noting that much of the tunnel program’s concepts are based in “theory.” Municipal waste and construction and demolition debris from the city and Nassau and Suffolk counties make up the bulk of all local freight rail shipments. Other goods, he noted, are largely shipped by truck.

“The tunnel would do more to alleviate traffic outside of New York City than within it,” Maier said. “It’s not creating a lot of jobs because a lot of [shipping] is automated. It’s not a lot of yard jobs. It’s not a lot of anything, really. It would only reduce 6 percent of traffic on the Hudson River crossings while adding much more than 6 percent of traffic to East New York and Maspeth.”

Jean Tanler of the Maspeth Industrial Business Association stated that companies in the neighborhood’s Industrial Business Zone (IBZ) expressed similar concerns about a Cross Harbor Tunnel, but also pressed for easier shipping methods to reduce costs and travel time.

“There’s definitely demand,” she said. “It would save companies a lot of money to shave off a day of transit, either by rail or by barge.”

Local logistics also make a Cross Harbor Tunnel plan unfeasible, according to CB 5 District Manager Gary Giordano. The plans indicate a tunnel would bring between 16 and 21 trains through the area each day — and current freight rail facilities are already overwhelmed with traffic.

“Right there, it’s physically impossible to pull that off unless the trains just rolled through at all hours of the day,” Giordano said.

Arcuri concluded that “the current plan is unacceptable” and that the board needed to present a resolution not only dismissing the Cross Harbor Tunnel, but also advocating for increased barge shipments and container float operations across the harbor. The chairperson said a resolution will be developed and considered at the committees’ next meeting on Tuesday, March 24.

Meanwhile, Queens residents will have the opportunity to speak out on the Cross Harbor program during a public hearing on Tuesday, March 3, from 4 to 8 p.m. at Queens Borough Hall, located at 120-55 Queens Blvd. in Kew Gardens.

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Queens film series to focus on immigrant experience of women in New York City


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Zahida Pirani

A new Queens film series is giving foreign-born women a voice and showing what it means to be an immigrant within the five boroughs.

The nonprofit organization New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT) will be showcasing the series called Immigrant Women: Sharing Our Voice Through Film starting on Feb. 27 in Maspeth and will continue each month through June in other parts of Queens.

The series, which is put together through funding from the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley as part of the Cultural Immigrant Initiative, features works of female immigrants and first-generation American filmmakers. The pieces in the series focus on the immigrant experience within New York City.

“The immigrant experience is something really important and doesn’t really have the representation in mainstream media,” said Elizabeth Estrada, executive assistant at NYWIFT and project manager for the film series. “I think it’s great to know the stories of people that you live around and pass on the street.”

The first screening, scheduled to take place at Maspeth Town Hall at 53-37 72nd St. from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., will focus on the intersection between immigrant women and activism, and will feature three short documentaries.

The documentaries included are “Judith: Portrait of a Street Vendor” directed and produced by Zahida Pirani; “Claiming Our Voice” directed and produced by Jennifer Pritheeva Samuel; and “Living Quechua” directed and produced by Christine Mladic Janney.

Screenshot from the documentary "Claiming Our Voice." (Photo by Jennifer Pritheeva Samuel/Courtesy Fine Grain Films)

Screenshot from the documentary “Claiming Our Voice.” (Photo by Jennifer Pritheeva Samuel/Courtesy Fine Grain Films)

Following the screening, there will be a Q&A reception with the filmmakers and women in the documentaries.

“I want people to walk away more interested or inspired, and with this specific first screening, for them to be involved in something bigger than themselves,” Estrada added.

The following screenings of the series — dates and exact locations are still to be determined —  will take place in the surrounding neighborhoods of Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village and Ridgewood, each represented by Crowley.

“All of these women and filmmakers have important stories to tell, and I want people to know that,” Estrada said. “Women as a collective, especially immigrant women, have a story to tell and if they are given an opportunity to tell, that might be a way to change the way we think about women and immigrant women.”

NYWIFT is still accepting submissions for the film series and anyone interested can email info@nywift.com.

The first screening, “Immigrant Women Screening Series: Activism,” is free to the public.

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Middle Village bank robber strikes again


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Showing his love for stolen cash, a bandit robbed a Middle Village bank on Valentine’s Day morning — the fourth such heist in the neighborhood since last November, authorities said.

According to law enforcement sources, the crook — described as a black male wearing a green hooded jacket — walked into the Capital One bank at 74-11 Metropolitan Ave. at 10:54 a.m. Saturday morning, approached a teller and demanded cash.

Reportedly, the employee handed over an undetermined amount of cash to the suspect, who fled the scene on foot in an unknown direction.

Officers from the 104th Precinct responded to the scene; no injuries were reported.

Law enforcement sources stated that the suspect allegedly held up the Astoria Bank at 75-25 Metropolitan Ave. — just a few steps from the Capital One branch — on Dec. 30 and Feb. 4.

Police believe the same crook robbed the same Capital One in Middle Village on Nov. 24 and a Capital One branch on Forest Avenue in Ridgewood on Dec. 9.

In the previous capers, it was reported, the crook passed demand notes to tellers.

The NYPD Major Case Squad is investigating the robbery pattern.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

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Man charged in three-day crime spree that began with Elmhurst murder


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Screenshot via NYPD

Updated Monday, Feb. 16, 12:28 p.m.

Authorities have nabbed a man in the deadly August stabbing of an Elmhurst resident and have also charged him with stabbing another man and punching a third person in the following days, officials said.

“The defendant is alleged to have gone on a wild attack spree — stabbing two men and punching a third — over a three-day period last August,” District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Jefferson Pachon-Pineda’s streak of violence began on Aug. 22 outside an Elmhurst apartment building at 83-45 Broadway, officials said. He is accused of stabbing one of the building residents, Mukesh Patel, 50, that afternoon.

The following day Pachon-Pineda came up to a 20-year-old man on an R subway train as the doors of the train car opened and punched the man in the face before fleeing, the district attorney’s office said.

His crime spree continued the next day when he approached a 54-year-old man on Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst and stabbed him in the chest with a knife, according to Brown. Pachon-Pineda left part of the blade embedded in the victim’s liver, but the man managed to survive his injuries.

Officers from the 110th Precinct located and arrested Pachon-Pineda at a Corona barber shop hours after the Aug. 24 attack; he was incarcerated without bail.

Pachon-Pineda, a Middle Village resident, was arraigned on Jan. 21 on charges of second-degree murder, fourth-degree attempted murder, first- and third-degree assault and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon. Pachon-Pineda, who faces up to 50 years to life in prison if convicted, was held without bail.

-With additional reporting by Robert Pozarycki 

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