Tag Archives: Bayside

All remaining Barnes & Noble locations closing in Queens


| amatua@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

It’s the final chapter for Barnes & Noble in Queens, as the bookstore is shuttering its remaining location in The Bay Terrace shopping center in Bayside.

A representative from Barnes & Noble declined to reveal the official closing date or who is expected to take over the property but did admit that the property owner declined to renew the company’s lease.

“With Bayside, when our lease came back up for renewal the property owner notified us that they chose a tenant who was willing to pay rents far in excess of what we were willing to pay,” said David Deason, vice president of Barnes & Noble development. “The Queens community is extremely important to us and as a result we are aggressively looking at new locations and expect to have a new store there in the future.”

According to Crain’s New York, a HomeGoods store will take over the property, making it the chain’s first location in Queens.

This news comes days after it was announced that a Target would take over the Forest Hills location of Barnes & Noble. Forest Hills residents tried desperately to keep it open, starting a petition to vocalize the importance of the community’s only bookstore.

A Barnes & Noble in Fresh Meadows, near St. John’s University, also closed at the beginning of this year after failing to negotiate a lease extension.

Queens residents can hop over to Manhattan or Brooklyn if they want their Barnes & Noble fix.

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Verizon workers protest contract changes in Bayside rally


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Alina Suriel

Verizon employees banded together Thursday in a rally outside a Bayside building owned by the company during ongoing contract negotiations over benefits and additional job demands.

Nearly 300 people were estimated to be at the rally, which attracted approving honks from passing cars and had its own on-site DJ. Union members sang pro-union chants cheering for district leaders and supportive politicians, including state Senator Toby Stavisky, state Senator Michael Gianaris and Assemblywoman Nily Rozic.

According to union leaders, Verizon workers were having similar demonstrations all over New York and across state lines as far away as Virginia. Labor force organizers charge that pension plans and health care co-pays may be changed under the proposed new contract, and job security may be threatened by initiatives that would enable Verizon to transfer workers to job sites far from their homes.

“The company basically wants to eliminate the entire contract,” said Michael Ciancarelli, president of the Local 1106 chapter of the Communications Workers of America. “They want to take away things guys have had for 30 years.”

Jeff Branzetti, a field technician who works as the district steward of a Verizon garage in Hollis, said that many of his co-workers are especially concerned with proposed changes to pension plans.

“We’re all getting older,” Branzetti said, adding that every worker in his garage had been with the company for at least 17 years. “You don’t yank the carpet out under people like that, who’ve worked their whole career for you.”

Sen. Stavisky said that she would be supportive to the cause for as long as it took to get a living wage for the working men and women of Verizon.

“We’re here today to let you know that we care,” Stavisky said. “I sent a letter to Verizon letting them know they’ve got to bargain in good faith because people need a job, and they need a job that pays a decent wage and has proper benefits.”

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A spokesperson for Verizon said the communications giant was committed to reaching a contract that is fair to both employees and customers. Representatives have had discussions this week with union leaders and state that they are willing to meet with them again to continue the discussion.

“We respect the rights of our employees to hold rallies, but we truly believe the best way to achieve a new contract is not at a [street] rally, but through serious and meaningful negotiations,” the spokesperson said.

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West Nile spraying to target northeast Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Image courtesy of NYC Health Department

Another round of West Nile spraying is set for parts of Queens next week in an effort to reduce mosquito activity and the risk of the virus.

The treatment, which will include spraying pesticide from trucks, will take place on Monday, Aug. 24, between the hours of 8:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. the following morning. In case of bad weather, the application will be delayed until Tuesday, Aug. 25, during the same hours.

Last weekend, the Health Department reported the season’s first human case of West Nile virus in a Brooklyn man. The patient, who was hospitalized with viral meningitis and over the age of 60, has been treated and discharged.

Though no cases have reported in Queens this season, the following northeast neighborhoods are “being treated due to rising West Nile virus activity and because they have high mosquito populations”:

Parts of Auburndale, Bayside, Bay Terrace, Beechhurst, College Point, Flushing, Linden Hill, Malba, Murray Hill and Whitestone (bordered by Cross Island Parkway, Clearview Expressway and the East River to the north; Flushing Bay to the west; Northern Boulevard, 153rd Street, 35th Avenue, Utopia Parkway, 42nd Avenue, Clearview Expressway, 33rd Avenue, 215th Place and 31st Road to the south; and Cross Island Parkway to the east).

For these sprayings, the Health Department will use a very low concentration of the synthetic pesticide Anvil 10+10, which poses no significant risks to human health when properly used.

The Health Department recommends that people take the following precautions to minimize direct exposure:

  • Whenever possible, stay indoors during spraying. People with asthma or other respiratory conditions are encouraged to stay inside during spraying since direct exposure could worsen these conditions.
  •  Air conditioners may remain on; however, if you wish to reduce the possibility of indoor exposure to pesticides, set the air conditioner vent to the closed position, or choose the re-circulate function.
  • Remove children’s toys, outdoor equipment and clothes from outdoor areas during spraying. If outdoor equipment and toys are exposed to pesticides, wash them with soap and water before using again.
  • Wash skin and clothing exposed to pesticides with soap and water. Always wash your produce thoroughly with water before cooking or eating.

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Queens business owners in Bayside and Glendale charged with tax fraud


| amatua@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angela Matua

A couple that owns a Bayside gas station and a Glendale flower shop owner were recently charged for tax-related felonies, prosecutors announced on Thursday.

The owners of Merrick Gas Services, Rajpatee Rampersaud, 45, and her husband Naren Rampersaud, 52, were charged with grand larceny in the second degree and criminal tax fraud in the second degree. The owners, who operate the gas station as a CITGO on 34-51 Bell Blvd., were also slapped with a misdemeanor for operating without a valid Certificate of Authority to collect sales tax.

They failed to pay a total tax liability of $166,810 from September 2009 through May 2014 on cigarettes, sales, withholding and corporate taxes. The Rampersauds also failed to secure a license to sell cigarettes.

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Naren Rampersaud and Rajpatee Rampersaud (Photo courtesy of NYS Department of Taxation and Finance)

“This is yet another example of business owners allegedly lining their own pockets with collected sales tax money that should have been remitted to the government,” State Taxation and Finance Commissioner Jerry Boone said. “The city and state rely on collected taxes to fund programs and services for the public. Stealing tax revenue is a crime and makes every New Yorker a victim.”

Also charged was Brian Marcus, 56, of Howard Beach who owns and operates Glendale Florist at 78-17 Myrtle Ave. Marcus was charged with six counts of criminal tax fraud in the second and third degree, two counts of grand larceny in the third degree and grand larceny in the second degree. He was also charged with a misdemeanor for failing to maintain a Certificate of Authority.

Brian Marcus - Photo (NFMC)

Brian Marcus (Photo courtesy of NYS Department of Taxation and Finance)

From December 2011 through February 2015, Marcus failed to report $71,107 of sales tax to the state. He also did not file a personal income tax return in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

All three defendants could face up to 5 to 15 years in prison. The maximum penalty for operating a business without a valid Certificate of Authority is $10,000, which is imposed at the rate of up to $500 for the first day business is conducted without a valid Certificate of Authority, plus up to $200 per day for each day after.

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Pedestrian struck by car on Bell Boulevard in Bayside


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

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A pedestrian on Bayside‘s Bell Boulevard suffered injuries to his arm and shoulder after being hit by a car as he crossed the street.

Officers from the 111th Precinct and EMS units were on the scene after the man was struck sometime after noon. The car, a red Honda Fit, was being driven by an older woman, who stayed at the site of the accident to speak to police.

According to NYPD, the man spoke either Chinese or Korean and was unable to communicate with officers. Emergency service technicians escorted the man to a local hospital for treatment of his injuries.

An investigation is ongoing.

The victim being placed in an ambulance.

The victim being placed in an ambulance.

Officers speaking to the driver of the vehicle involved in the accident.

Officers speaking to the driver of the vehicle involved in the accident.

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Bayside civic leader Frank Skala dies at 78


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Senator Tony Avella

Bayside civic leader and retired school teacher Frank Skala died late Sunday evening in Long Island’s St. Francis Hospital.

Skala, 78, was an active community leader, serving as a member of Community Board 11 from 2003 until failing health forced him to step down in the spring of 2015. He also founded the East Bayside Homeowners Association in 1974, and was awarded a Liberty Medal in June from state Senator Tony Avella for his community service.

According to information provided by Avella’s office, Skala was a lifelong Queens resident who lived for more than seven decades in a house purchased by his parents in 1940 on Bayside’s 219th Street.

“To capture the legacy of Frank Skala and his contribution to Bayside, Queens, would require more than several sentences could possibly allow,” Avella said.

Skala completed all of his education in Queens, attending P.S. 41, Bayside High School and Queens College for both his undergraduate history degree and graduate degree in education. His career teaching junior high school American history and geography spanned for a total of 33 years.

Community Board 11 District Manager Susan Seinfeld recounted memories of Skala, who refused modern conveniences such as a cellphone or computer and would always send flowers after hearing of someone suffering from an illness or accident.

“Frank was a very unique person: very opinionated, very old-fashioned,” Seinfeld said. “A real old timer who did not like modern technology but was the most thoughtful person.”

Skala is survived by a son, a daughter and two grandchildren.

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Rally at Bayside Jewish Center continues fight against proposed high school


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

File photo

The city should scrap plans to build new schools in Bayside and other parts of northeast Queens, protesters claimed at a rally on Friday.

State Senator Tony Avella organized the protest in Bayside on Friday to oppose a high school planned for the Bayside Jewish Center and two others planned for Linden Place in Flushing and the former Keil Bros. Garden Center and Nursery, which is also in Bayside.

Earlier in the year, the senator introduced a bill to require school construction agencies in highly populated areas to increase community involvement in the site selection process for new schools. The bill has successfully passed in the Senate, and is being carried into the state Assembly by Assemblyman Edward Braunstein.

“People know their neighborhood – they know what will and will not work,” Avella said. “Community boards need to be made aware of the rationale behind these decisions, what alternative options are available, and provide their own feedback.”

The proposals for Linden Place and the Bayside Jewish Center are both still pending, but construction has already begun at the Keil Bros. site.

While the rally was planned to protest all three schools, participants were particularly vocal against the proposal for the Bayside Jewish Center. Urban planner Paul Graziano said the scale of the proposed high school is too large for the plot of land occupied by the Bayside Jewish Center.

“Having a high-rise high school with 800 to 1,000 students crammed on to a single acre may work in an urban neighborhood like Astoria, but in suburban Bayside, or other parts of northeast Queens, it absolutely does not,” Graziano said.

Arlene Fleishman, president of the Mitchell-Linden Civic Association, said her group opposes the plan because they believed the area is already too congested.

“We are aware of the need for additional high school seats but the proposed site is not the right place,” Fleishman said. “This community is inundated with public facilities.”

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Bayside’s Bourbon Street roof to open on Wednesday


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Alina Suriel

Updated on Tuesday, Aug. 11

The long-awaited rooftop bar of Bourbon Street on Bayside‘s Bell Boulevard will open this Wednesday.

The popular Cajun-style restaurant will be featuring a select seasonal menu and full cocktail and beer menu in the 1,800-square-foot rooftop area, which sits approximately 30 feet above the current restaurant and will be lit with French Quarter-style lanterns.

Although construction on the rooftop bar is done, Bourbon Street is still in the process of completing work on its second-floor private event space, which can accommodate up to 140 guests for parties, business meetings and cocktail receptions. Seven television screens of up to 70 inches will show sports games and major sporting events such as boxing matches.

Work on the eatery’s interior layout and exterior façade is also still underway, including a shift in the location of the front entrance.


In addition to the new features in the restaurant’s layout, Bourbon Street will also be welcoming a new member of its kitchen staff with the arrival of chef Stephen C. Krische. He previously honed his culinary talents at the Bayhouse in Rockaway’s Breezy Point and the Rock Center Café.

At a preview event Monday, Bourbon Street owner Mark Boccia said that he felt a lot of support from the Bayside community and that a rooftop venue was something unique in the neighborhood, which is already known for its culinary offerings.

“The community really wanted something new, they really wanted a rooftop,” Boccia said. “We wanted to keep people coming to Bayside, to Bell Boulevard. We just wanted to keep up with the times.”

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Organic produce market to open on Bayside’s Bell Boulevard


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Jeannie Hermosura

Bayside’s Bell Boulevard will be getting a fast and fresh alternative to the avenue’s many food and dining options with the arrival of Big Green Apple Market, an organic produce store with hot and cold meals.

The market will be located adjacent to the Port Washington-bound entrance of the LIRR on Bell Boulevard between 41st and 42nd avenues. It is slated to open for business sometime in late August and will be open 24 hours.

Store manager Harry Celik, a Kew Gardens resident who originally hails from Turkey, is familiar with Bayside because he had been looking to open a store in the neighborhood for several years. He believes the upscale clientele of Bell Boulevard will be a great fit for the new market, which will prominently feature organic products, including fresh produce and dairy items.

The market is also planned to have a selection of hot and cold prepared foods, bubble tea and sushi in addition to household grocery staples.

Celik said that customers will choose Big Green Apple Market because of the affordable prices for high-quality products.

“There’s no store like ours around the neighborhood,” Celik said. “There are a few stores that are way overpriced, [especially] supermarkets with crazy prices, and we’re going to have everything with a reasonable price that everybody can afford.”

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THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel

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Bayside’s M.S. 158 looks for alumni to celebrate 60th anniversary


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Diane Verlaque-Rosolen

Bayside’s M.S. 158 is looking for alumni to help celebrate the school’s 60th anniversary.

Administrators at the Marie Curie Middle School are inviting former students to its Oct. 3 fall festival with current middle-schoolers and their families. Alumni will be encouraged to reminisce on their formative experiences in the school during a walk-through tour given by student ambassadors, and class pictures from throughout the years will be on view.

According to Principal Marie Nappi, alumni are also encouraged to participate in an upcoming career day to show current students how far they can go after an education at M.S. 158. The school is also looking to start an alumni association to have a stable level of funds to beautify the school.

Nappi said having a relationship with alumni will add to what is already an involved community at the school.

“It’s because of the great community and parents, students and staff, and the dedication we all have for our students and for education,” said Nappi, who has served as principal for the last decade. “That’s what led to our 60 years of excellence.”

Retired M.S. 158 teacher Mary O’Sullivan says that the programs at the Bayside school are exceptional in many ways, especially its musical bands which have won several state awards.

“What made me stay there so long? You wouldn’t want to leave a school that good,” said O’Sullivan, who retired this year after teaching at M.S. 158 since 1989. “It was an excellent school and it still is.”

Former M.S. 158 student Gregg Sullivan still has great memories of the school although he graduated many years ago, and even shared a middle school secret which would likely have embarrassed his younger self.

“M.S. 158 was a beautiful transition and right of passage for us that took us from childhood into puberty and adolescence,” Sullivan said. “I had my first crush on a teacher there: Ms. Jacobs. Anyone who reads this and was a student of hers will know what I mean.”

Any M.S. 158 alumni interested in being a part of the 60th anniversary celebration or volunteering as a career day participant should email the school at info@ms158pta.com.

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‘Comfort woman’ survivor speaks on sexual slavery at Queensborough College


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel

A Korean woman who survived sexual slavery as a “comfort woman” during World War II spoke about her experiences Thursday at the Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center of Queensborough Community College in Bayside.

“Comfort women” is the name given to women and girls forced into sexual slavery on military bases by Japanese armed forces before and during the war. Most of the women were kidnapped from occupied territories such as Korea, China and the Philippines, but many were from southeast Asia as well. While there is no definitive tally of how many women were enslaved, estimates range from 20,000 to upwards of 100,000.

Yong Soo Lee was kidnapped from her family farm at age 15 in the early 1940s. She spoke about her innocence at the time of the ordeal, having only experienced a sheltered rural life.

“I was taken away when I was young,” Lee said. “I had no idea what was going on in the outside world. I didn’t even know what the world was.”

She was first held on a naval ship with several other women, and then taken to a military outpost in Taiwan to be abused by kamikaze pilots before their suicidal assignments. She endured horrific experiences which included being repeatedly beaten, tortured with electrical shocks, and held in a collapsing building during a bomb attack, during which she suffered a miscarriage. She was captive at the base until the end of the war.

Lee stayed silent about her experiences until hearing about other comfort women coming forward in 1991. She currently lives in Korea, and serves as an activist working to end sexual violence against women around the world.

“At first I started out as a victim,” Lee said. “I was really sad and I cried a lot in the beginning, but I don’t cry anymore and I do not keep resentment in my heart anymore.

The Holocaust Center has been working with local Korean-American partner organizations to record Lee’s story as part of an ongoing series of events on the topic. It’s currently trying to fundraise for several more initiatives including a permanent monument to comfort women at the Holocaust Center and a traveling exhibit to be shown at other venues.

Dr. Dan Leshem, director of the Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archives, commended Lee for her bravery in telling such a personal story about the pain inflicted on her. Lee has said that she will try to live until the age of 200 if that is how long it will take to end sexual violence against women.

“She’s just a remarkable woman and I have been so moved by getting to know her even in such a short time, by her passion and her dedication,” Leshem said.

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Pols at Fort Totten call for increased security at Army Reserve Centers


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the office of Paul Vallone

Congressman Steve Israel and local officials stood outside the Ernie Pyle Reserve Center at Bayside‘s Fort Totten on Monday to call on the Department of Defense to address security concerns at Army Reserve Center facilities nationwide.

Last week, Israel sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter asking that he consider an increase in the amount of active security measures, including providing security guards at military Reserve facilities. The request follows the July 16 attack on two military centers in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which saw a lone gunman opening fire and killing four Marines and critically wounding a Navy sailor.

Security concerns at the Reserve Center were brought to Israel’s attention by a worker at the Fort Totten military facility.

Israel said that more must be done to ensure the safety of service members, whether they are stationed overseas or within the U.S.

“My thoughts and prayers go out to the families and loved ones of the five service members killed in Chattanooga,” Israel said. “Unfortunately, this is a stark reminder of the devastation caused by gun violence in our country, and the security concerns surrounding our military facilities nationwide.”

Councilman Paul Vallone applauded the congressman for spearheading the initiative.

“The horrible tragedy at the Navy Reserve Center in Chattanooga has highlighted the need to address security concerns at reserve centers across the nation,” Vallone said. “We need to ensure that those who willingly put themselves in harm’s way to protect us, are in turn given the best protection we can provide.”

According to Mac Harris, director of Fort Totten Operation, budget cuts in 2009 forced Fort Totten to remove its armed guards from the facility and put in place a passive security system.

“The Army Reserve presence on Fort Totten adds to the surrounding community’s sense of well-being,” said Warren Schreiber, president of Bay Terrance Community Alliance. “In return, the Department of Defense must do everything possible to ensure the safety of troops on this base and at all Army Reserve locations. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is urged to provide Fort Totten’s Reserve facilities with adequate and immediate security.”

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Alley Pond Park kids clear wetland debris


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Alley Pond Environmental Center

Youngsters known as the Alley Pond Pioneers got their hands dirty last week in a cleanup of the park’s wetlands Thursday.

The Alley Pond Pioneers are a group of children entering grades four through six who meet at the Alley Pond Environmental Center (APEC) on Tuesdays and Thursdays to take part in educational programs.

APEC Executive Director Irene Scheid acted as judge to decide which team of pint-size trash collectors had the heaviest and largest pieces of garbage. The contest ended in a tie, as one team had a heavier haul but the other had collected larger pieces. Both the teams went home with a prize.

“We’re always glad to have the children here participating and making the park better for everyone,” Scheid said.

According to APEC Office Coordinator Elizabeth Whalen, many of this year’s Pioneers have been participating in the program for three consecutive years and had been anticipating the cleanup since their first week.

“The Pioneers took such pride in their efforts,” Whalen said. “They are to be commended.”

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Past Alley Pond Pioneer activities included tours of Oakland Lake, walks to natural springs, hiking, outdoor yoga classes and healthy cooking classes. The next cleanup is planned for August on the beach.

“It’s learning about nature how important nature is, and having it become part of their lives for the future,” Scheid said.

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Tapas bar with specialty drinks coming to Bell Boulevard


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel

Sangarita’s, an offshoot of successful tapas bar Sangria on Francis Lewis Boulevard, will be opening on Bayside‘s Bell Boulevard.

The menu will focus on Spanish-style tapas, which is a variety of appetizers or snacks that can be served hot or cold.

According to Joseph Loccisano, who is involved with the team behind both Sangria and Sangarita’s, a lot of the new spot’s ingredients are from imported directly from Spain, including sausages and manchego cheese. These elements will be used in dishes such as a potato croquette with cheese and prosciutto, a mixed seafood paella, and specialty entrees with chicken or salmon that will be seasoned with spices evoking Spanish culinary traditions.

Caribbean Latino food will be also be represented at Sangarita’s. French fries will be given a Dominican twist by being made out of yucca, a starchy tuber widely eaten on the island, and chimi sliders, a take on the Dominican version of a burger, will be on the menu as well with cabbage, tomatoes, ketchup and mayonnaise. Select options will recall Puerto Rican cuisine and that of Cuba, such as Cubanito sliders.

Five different types of sangria and a selection of fruit margaritas will keep patrons happy, but many of these are also available in non-alcoholic versions for those just looking for a sweet fruit beverage. Semi-regular live flamenco performances are planned to add an extra cultural dimension and amplify the sensual, rustic vibe.

Loccisano — who also operates Villaggio’s, an Italian food venture in Whitestone — said that he thinks Sangarita’s will be successful in carving out its own niche on Bell Boulevard.

“We’re a new format here. We’re different than every other restaurant because we don’t specifically make one type of cuisine,” said Loccisano, “and with the live flamenco, we bring the European flair.”

The restaurant is located at 40-02 Bell Blvd., and will likely open in October.

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Barry Grodenchik receives support from female pols


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Alina Suriel

Several prominent female politicians in Queens threw their support to Barry Grodenchik in his bid for a City Council seat at a press conference Tuesday afternoon in Bayside Hills.

“It is my delight to stand with some of the great women leaders of this county, my wife included,” said Grodenchik, who has served as an assemblyman and deputy Queens borough president. He is running as a Democrat for the District 23 City Council seat vacated in June by Mark Weprin, who left to become Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s deputy secretary of legislative affairs.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz was the most high-profile name at the event to support Grodenchik, which was held at the Bayside Hills clock on 50th Avenue and Bell Boulevard. Grodenchik is currently on leave from working in the borough president’s administration as an aide, and the two were once rivals on the 2013 campaign trail, which Katz ultimately won.

The two Democrats also worked side by side in the office of former Borough President Claire Shulman, who served from 1986 until 2002.

“He is committed, and he is strong, and is a great advocate for the people of Queens,” said Katz, adding that Grodenchik has the experience to have a real impact in city politics.

Two local councilwomen who would be Grodenchik’s colleagues, if elected, also spoke highly of his career of service to the city.

“Barry is someone who knows what to do and how to get it done,” said Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz, who represents Forest Hills, Rego Park, Kew Gardens and Richmond Hill in District 29. “I have seen him in action not just with me, but with many of my colleagues in government.”

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley of District 30, which encompasses Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Ridgewood, and parts of Woodside and Woodhaven, pointed to Grodenchik’s efforts to aid victims of domestic violence as part of his wealth of experience, as well as other important initiatives in which he has taken part.

Grodenchik is one of six Democrats seeking the party’s nomination for the 23rd Council District seat in the September primary. The winner of that race will face presumptive Republican nominee Joe Concannon in the November general election for the right to serve the remainder of Weprin’s term, which expires in 2017.


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