Tag Archives: Middle Village

Msgr. Nicholas Sivillo, longtime Middle Village church pastor, dies


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/File photo

Catholics in Middle Village are mourning the loss of Msgr. Nicholas Sivillo, the former longtime pastor of Our Lady of Hope church, who died Friday night at the age of 76.

Sivillo, who was ordained a priest in May 1964, served as Our Lady of Hope’s pastor from 1988 to 2009. He gained a tremendous following among parishioners for his involvement in various activities in both the church and school.

Prior to arriving at Our Lady of Hope, Sivillo served at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Ozone Park and St. Francis of Assisi Church in Long Island City. He was also active in the Diocese of Brooklyn Catholic Education Office, the Family Life and Pre-Cana programs, and, for more than 25 years, served as NYPD Housing Bureau chaplain.

Following his retirement in 2009, Sivillo served in residence at St. Margaret Church, also in Middle Village, and at Brooklyn’s Holy Spirit Church. He died Friday while under care at the Bishop Mugavero Residence at the Immaculate Conception Center in Douglaston.

A wake for Sivillo will be held Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m. and from 7 to 9 p.m., and Monday from 2 to 5 p.m. at Hillebrand Funeral Home, located at 63-17 Woodhaven Blvd. in Rego Park. Our Lady of Hope, located at 61-27 Eliot Ave., will hold a vigil Mass for the late pastor on Monday at 7:30 p.m. and a Mass of Christian Burial on Tuesday at 10:30 a.m.

Following Tuesday’s Mass, Sivillo will be interred at St. John Cemetery.

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Buildings Department approves revised Glendale shelter construction plans


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

While the battle over the proposed Glendale homeless shelter is far from over, the Department of Buildings (DOB) gave its blessing to the shelter’s revised blueprints.

The DOB approved on April 2 amended building plans to convert a long-defunct factory at 78-16 Cooper Ave. into a hotel with 70 dwelling units. In March, the agency approved plans for 103 units but quickly reversed course and withheld them for further review.

Issues stemmed from the previous classification of the site as “lodging,” but the revised plans approved on April 2 describe the building as a class B hotel. This change would allow operation of a hotel as-of-right, without requiring changing the location’s manufacturing zoning, which would involve a public review process.

The Department of Homeless Services (DHS) previously reached a five-year, $27 million agreement with the nonprofit Samaritan Village to operate a homeless shelter for up to 125 families at the factory site. Its owner, Michael Wilner, is reportedly leasing the site to Samaritan Village and is responsible for the factory’s renovation.

While construction may take place at the shelter site, the contract itself must be approved by City Comptroller Scott Stringer before it can be used as a homeless shelter. A spokeperson for Stringer told The Courier his office has yet to receive the contract, and therefore has yet to make the decision.

Meanwhile, the fight goes on for community activists opposed to the shelter’s opening. Community Board 5 District Manager Gary Giordano said in a phone interview the advisory body would file a formal challenge of the plans with the Buildings Department. The public has until about May 11 in order to officially file a challenge with the agency.

“We will do some consultations with attorneys and try to make the best of it,” Giordano said.

The Glendale Middle Village Coalition, a group of civic and business organizations, continues to raise funds for its legal challenges to the plan.

It previously filed an Article 78 proceeding against the DHS’ environmental assessment which determined that 78-16 Cooper Ave. — used for industrial manufacturing for decades and located adjacent to a chemical storage facility — is safe for reuse as a shelter.

The coalition hopes a judge’s ruling will force the DHS to perform an environmental impact study on the site, which could cost millions and take several years to complete.

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Bioswale construction to begin later this month in CB 5 area


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy of the Department of Environmental Protection

The confines of Community Board 5 are about to get greener.

Representatives from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced during the Community Board 5 (CB 5) meeting on Wednesday that the construction of 200 to 250 bioswales is set to begin at the end of the month.

Bioswales are curbside gardens that collect stormwater runoff into large, underground basins through 5 feet of specially engineered soil, comprised of layers of broken stone and sandy soil.

“New York’s infrastructure is hard, it’s very dense,” said Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, director of community affairs for the DEP. “Green infrastructure is, in a sense, peeling back a layer of that hard infrastructure.”

“Part of what we’re doing is making the land spongy again,” he continued. “The goal is to improve water quality…this is one of our tools to do that.”

The bioswales help improve the city’s water quality by reducing the amount of rainwater entering the sewer system, which helps lower combined sewer overflow (CSO).

CSO is a combination of sewage water from homes and businesses and stormwater, which can become too much for the sewer system to handle, especially during times of heavy rainfall. The water then overflows and sends untreated water into the city’s waterways, such as Newtown Creek, which suffers from high levels of pollution.

One single bioswale can manage almost 3,000 gallons of water and if the bioswale becomes overfilled, the water is released into the sewer catch basin as it normally would, just at a lower rate so there is not a rush of water that could overflow the sewer system.

With the installation of the bioswales right around the corner, community issues are a major point of concern for the DEP.

“One of the big questions we get a lot is, ‘Who is going to take care of these?’” Abdul-Matin told the board. “We build it, we’re going to maintain it. It’s not like we’re going to pass the buck onto you.”

The construction and installation of these bioswales and other green infrastructure will help clean the city’s water and reduce flooding, making the neighborhoods they serve better.

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What cemeteries are most popular for Queens homebuyers


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

File photo

Not just the deceased are dying to be around All Faiths Cemetery in Middle Village.

Although it may not be as attractive a view as the New York City skyline, All Faiths was the Queens cemetery with the most nearby home sales over a two-year period, with 103 residences sold, according to an analysis from real estate website PropertyShark. That number is double that of the runner-up, Mount Lebanon Cemetery in Glendale, which had just 48.

While Queens is well known for having an abundance of cemeteries throughout the borough, about a quarter of homebuyers who chose to purchase near the dead bought homes close to All Faiths.

There were approximately 377 sales of one- and two-family homes within 300 feet of a cemetery in the top ten list recorded since January 2013 to March 2015, according to the data.

Completing the top ten is Linden Hill Cemetery in Ridgewood, where only 13 homes sold over the two-year span.

Queens_cemeteries stat boxAlso interesting to note, Flushing Cemetery recorded the most expensive sales with average prices at nearly $630,000.

Not surprisingly, the Springfield Cemetery in Springfield Gardens had the least expensive home sales with an average of about $329,000.

The spirits probably aren’t behind the low prices for those homes, because in 2014 Springfield Gardens as a whole had median asking prices at around $343,500 and had the lowest absorption rate, a metric showing rate of sales by calculating what share of home listings either went into contract or were removed.

Click here to see a map of the properties that were sold around cemeteries in the borough over the past two years.

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Pair sought in Queens police impersonation robberies


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

A phony cop is stopping people on the streets of Queens before robbing them and jumping into a getaway car, authorities said.

Police have released video footage of the fake officer in the act and say he has robbed six separate victims between October and March in Middle Village, Woodside, Elmhurst and Corona.

All of the victims were traveling on foot when they were stopped by the suspect described as Hispanic or white, about 30 to 40 years old and with a heavy build, authorities said. He then searched the victim and removed property from them before fleeing with a second suspect who was waiting in a black Lincoln Town Car or dark van, police said.

The two suspects are wanted in the following incidents:

  • On Oct. 29, at about 1:30 a.m., at the corner of 82nd Street and Furmanville Avenue, $80 was taken from a 21-year-old man.
  • On Nov. 27, at about 1:30 a.m., at the corner of James Avenue and 88th Street, a 40-year-old man’s wallet containing a debit card was taken.
  • On Dec. 11, at about 12:50 a.m. in front of 39-66 65th St., a 39-year-old man’s wallet containing $17 was taken.
  • On Feb. 14, at about 4:45 a.m. in front of 102-26 45th Ave., a 37-year-old man’s wallet containing a debit card and a cellphone were taken.
  • On Feb. 26, at about 12:30 a.m. in front of 49-07 103rd St., a 33-year-old man’s wallet containing $650 and debit and credit cards were taken.
  • On March 15, at about 5:30 a.m. at the corner of 102nd Street and 45th Avenue, a 45-year-old man’s wallet containing $480 was taken.

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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Community Board 5 appoints new members


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Nine new members were appointed to Community Board 5 this week.

The board, which includes Ridgewood, Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth and Liberty Park, received five new members from City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley’s 30th District and four new members in Councilman Antonio Reynoso’s 34th District.

The new members in Crowley’s district are Tobias Sheppard Bloch of Glendale, Karamjit Dawali of Glendale, Sarah Feldman of Ridgewood, David Sands of Glendale and Alex Maureau of Glendale.

In Reynoso’s district, the new members are Raquel Namuche of Ridgewood, Cathleen Knight of Ridgewood, Tom C. Dowd of Ridgewood and Carmen Santana of Ridgewood.

Richard Huber of Glendale was not reappointed this year.

Community board members are appointed by the Queens borough president largely based on the recommendation of the City Council member(s) within the board’s jurisdiction.

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Volunteers wanted for Relay for Life events in Queens this spring


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/File Photo

Those looking to put their best feet forward in the fight against cancer are encouraged to join Relay for Life events scheduled across Queens in May and June.

The relays benefit the American Cancer Society (ACS) and include teams of volunteers from families, businesses, churches, synagogues, mosques, schools, civic associations and other groups walking or running laps around a course to raise funds for cancer research and treatment.

New York City played host to 27 Relay for Life events last year, raising more than $1.4 million combined, a goal the ACS hopes to eclipse in this year’s relay events.

“The Relay for Life movement unites communities across the globe to celebrate people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost and take action to finish the fight once and for all,” ACS Relay for Life Senior Manager Ben Messner said. “Many participants are our family, friends and neighbors who have faced cancer themselves. Each new team that registers brings us one step closer to saving more lives.”

Each Relay for Life kicks off with the “Survivors’ Lap,” as local cancer survivors take the first steps on the course, symbolizing their resiliency and strength. Once the survivors complete their circuit, the fundraising teams take the track; at least one member of each team must be on the track for the relay’s duration, into the night and following morning.

Team members camp out trackside and, when not on the course, get to rest and enjoy games, music and entertainment.

After nightfall, volunteers hold a luminaria lighting ceremony, when candles lining the course are lit in honor of a cancer survivor or in memory of someone who died of its complications.

The Relay for Life for the communities of Broad Channel, Breezy Point and the Rockaways takes place on Saturday, May 16, from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. the next morning at the Broad Channel Athletic Club, located at 125 Cross Bay Blvd. For more information, contact Carol Palacio at 631-379-4924 or carol.palacio@cancer.org.

Bayside will hold its Relay for Life on Saturday, June 6, from 4 p.m. to 7 a.m. the following morning in Alley Pond Park. Those interested in participating can contact Marlene Medina at 646-318-7636 or marlene.medina@cancer.org for additional information.

One week later, the Howard Beach Relay for Life will kick off at 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 13, at Frank M. Charles Memorial Park, located on 165th Avenue near 83rd Street. To learn more, contact Meghan Neary at 631-300-3458 or meaghan.neary@cancer.org.

Lastly, the Middle Village Relay for Life will take place two weeks later on Saturday, June 27, from 4 p.m. to 7 a.m. the next morning at Juniper Valley Park’s Brennan Field, located off the corner of 71st Street and Lutheran Avenue. Contact Marlene Medina as the previously listed email and phone number.

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Middle Village ceremony remembers Triangle factory fire anniversary


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.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 former senator’s family was personally affected by the tragedy. His 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.

Former Sen. 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


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.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 program.

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


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.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


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.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


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.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


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.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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