Tag Archives: Bayside

Annual Tour de Queens draws more than 1,200 riders


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy Transportation Alternatives


More than 1,200 bicyclists from around the city participated in the 7th Annual Tour de Queens, a 20-mile ride that travels through several neighborhoods in the borough.

The annual ride on Sunday by Transportation Alternatives began in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, in the plaza between the Unisphere and the Queens Museum, and took cyclists of all ages through East Flushing, Murrary Hill, Auburndale, Bayside, Bay Terrace, Beechhurst and Whitestone.

While the event bears a resemblance in name to the rigid Tour de France biking competition, the Tour de Queens is not a race. Participants rode through streets at a leisurely pace with the NYPD and volunteers from Transportation Alternatives acting as safety marshals.

Proceeds from the event will go toward advocacy efforts to enhance public transportation and make the streets safer for cyclists, pedestrians and motorists.

 

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EXCLUSIVE: Bayside BID to study DOT lot expansion to solve community parking woes


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Building up may be the best way to build up Bayside businesses, and Councilman Paul Vallone allocated $20,000 for a study to solve the parking problem near Bell Boulevard, which many residents and business owners say is the No. 1 issue in the community.

The Bayside Village Business Improvement District (BID), which supports hundreds of businesses along Bell Boulevard between Northern Boulevard and 35th Avenue with sanitation, event planning and marketing services, requested the funding to conduct a feasibility study to build a multilevel parking lot. The parking structure would expand the current Department of Transportation (DOT) municipal lot on 214th Place and 41st Avenue.

“It is no secret that the popularity of this commercial hub makes parking difficult for those commuting via the Long Island Railroad and customers frequenting stores,” Vallone said. “Potentially expanding the municipal parking lot on 41st Avenue could greatly alleviate parking concerns and ensure continued success for the businesses that call Bell Boulevard home. This study is a step in that direction.”

A representative of the BID said the feasibility study will identify and estimate costs to expand the lot, examine financial impacts on the neighborhood, analyze the supply and demand for spaces, and determine possible mixed-use options for the new structure. The lot may expand up, but representatives aren’t sure how many levels at this moment.

Currently, the parking lot has dozens of spaces, but residents and business owners say it’s usually filled.

“You can’t find a [parking spot] there on nights and on weekends,” said John Bonavita, co-owner of Fiamma 41, a restaurant that opened eight months ago on 41st Avenue between Bell Boulevard and 214th Place. Bonavita said that the restaurant added valet parking on weekends specifically to counter complaints about the lack of parking.

“The fact that they would add parking would be a plus for the boulevard,” he said. “I lose a lot of business because people say they can’t find parking.”

 

 

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Cops arrest man in Bayside home invasion of elderly couple


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

handcuffs-with-color-web-size1111


Police have arrested a man for a Bayside home invasion that left an elderly couple seriously injured.

Christopher Ramirez, 24, has been charged with robbery, burglary and assault in connection to the April 23 break-in, cops said.

During the robbery two men, claiming to be maintenance workers, forced their way into the 15th Avenue home around 2:30 p.m., according to police.

Once inside, they assaulted the couple, an 85-year-old woman and 86-year-old man, leaving the wife with bruising to her face and body and the husband with head injuries, officials said.

Both victims were taken to New York Hospital Queens in stable condition.

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NY Lottery $1,000 a day for life winning ticket sold at Bayside 7-Eleven


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Paulina Tam


Bayside just hit the jackpot.

New York Lottery officials confirmed Tuesday that a single Cash 4 Life ticket, worth at least $7 million or $1,000 a day for life, was bought at the 7-Eleven on Bell Boulevard and 41st Street.

The winner has yet to be identified. Officials are urging the winner to sign the back of the ticket immediately and contact the organization to claim his or her prize.

The Cash 4 Life game is the lottery’s newest game and recently started with its first drawing on June 13. The winning numbers for the June 23 Cash 4 Life drawing were 5, 16, 21, 33, 47 and the Cash Ball was 4.

The odds of winning the jackpot were 1-in-21,846,048, according to the New York Lottery.

 

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Street co-named for longtime Bayside school teacher


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Office of Councilmember Paul Vallone


Family, friends and former students of longtime P.S. 41 science teacher Geri Cilmi attended a street co-naming in her honor outside the Bayside school on Friday.

The new Mrs. Geri Cilmi Place street sign was unveiled at 214th Lane behind the school. Cilmi, who died in 2011 after battling cancer for four years, taught at the school for about 25 years and was a teacher in city schools for about four decades.

During her time at P.S. 41 she was loved by colleagues and students for her extraordinary effort as a teacher. Cilmi hosted science nights in the school, where parents and students were able to do a variety of experiments. She applied for numerous grants for the school, including one from NASA for a weather station. She also set up the school’s garden, was vice president of the Elementary School Science Association (ESSA), and made various science presentations for children.

Photo courtesy Tom Cilmi

Cilmi lived in Flushing with her husband, Tom, and her son. Various elected officials, including Councilmember Paul Vallone, Borough President Melinda Katz and Congresswoman Grace Meng, were in attendance for the street co-naming ceremony.

“Mrs. Cilmi’s life was dedicated to teaching and showing her students that science was beyond the classroom,” Vallone said. “To co-name the street in front of the school where she spent over a decade is a fitting tribute to her career and tells the community Mrs. Cilmi will forever be in our hearts.”

 

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Queens locals open hookah bars in Bayside


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre


Bayside is getting hooked-up with hookah.

Hookah enthusiasts opened two lounges on the Bell Boulevard commercial strip within the past three weeks, hoping to spread the smoking sensation away from crowded, known hookah areas such as Astoria.

“Anybody that’s into hookah or that’s serious about hookah would have to go to Astoria, but Astoria is saturated [with lounges],” said Sandy Diaz, co-owner of Galyan Hookah Bar, which is between 38th and 39th Avenues. “The reason we brought this concept here is because there is a void that needs to be filled.”

Diaz, a Flushing resident who grew up in Glen Oaks, opened the lounge as a restaurant and bar that serves a fusion of Middle Eastern and American food, meaning that patrons can expect everything from burgers and fries to lamb.

But Galyan primarily targets hookah–lovers or customers interested in trying the Middle Eastern delight. There are dozens of flavors for the hookah, ranging from Skittles to mango and each costs $15-$20.

Not to be out done, Pyramids, which opened few blocks south near 41st Avenue, offers a wide variety of flavors as well, such as vanilla and blueberry pancake, for a similar price range. They also have a custom mix-and-match option.

Pyramids owners, long-time friends Amarjit Singh of Ozone Park, Maneet Dhillon of Briarwood and Dave Verma of Bellrose, brought the lounge to Bell Boulevard after sensing a lack of hookah establishments. A DJ system is set up prominently in the lounge and modern party music is spun nightly.

“We want people to relax, have a good time and enjoy the surroundings,” Singh said. “We want people to be comfortable when they come here.”

Although the two lounges opened around the same time, they have no affiliation and owners said they don’t see each other as a business threat.

“No beef, we’re all family,” Dhillon said.

 

 

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John Messer stops bid for state Senate


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy John Messer


Oakland Gardens lawyer John Messer is dropping his third bid to unseat 14-year veteran state Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky in District 16, which includes Flushing, Bayside, Forest Hills and Fresh Meadows, among other areas.

“I look forward to continuing to work together to make our community a better place to work and live. However, for personal and business reasons, I will not be a candidate in this election season,” said Messer, who announced his decision through a press release on June 9.

Messer, who holds a master’s degree in government and politics from St. John’s University, ran an unsuccessful race against Stavisky in the 2012 Democratic Primary, losing the race to the incumbent after receiving 41.9 percent of the vote. The Queens Courier reported in 2012 that Messer spent $351,000 of his own money in the campaign.

Messer hoped two years ago that the redrawn District 16, which included a 53 percent Asian population, would give him an advantage, since his wife is Chinese-American, and because the primary was just a head-to-head battle between the candidates.

Messer’s first attempt in 2010 was a three-way primary election with Isaac Sasson, a retired professor and cancer researcher.

“We’re not ruling out a run in the future,” Messer said. “We have so much support in the community now, everyone knows we are here to stay.”

 

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N’Awlins in Bayside


| editorial@queenscourier.com

ShortRib

CHRIS BUMBACA

While Bell Boulevard does not resemble downtown New Orleans, the eatery Bourbon Street, located at 40-12 Bell Blvd. in Bayside, provides the opportunity to indulge in delicious Cajun cuisine in the heart of Queens.

Stepping into the restaurant is like being teleported from the concrete jungle of New York to Bourbon Street itself. The color scheme of the interior, with purples and greens, reminded me of Mardi Gras. A spacious bar area with several televisions provides a pleasurable atmosphere to take in a game.

For the appetizer, the lobster sliders were fantastic. Bits of chopped lobster were covered with a creamy sauce, highlighted with tomato, that enhanced the flavor between two grilled buns. Two of these sliders were served along with a helping of homemade potato chips. The chips had tremendous taste with a minimal amount of salt, making them truly delicious and light.

The second course featured fried scallops served over traditional rice and red beans. The rice had a zesty kick and was the perfect complement to the scallops. The scallops were light yet substantial, and were topped off with a peperonata sauce. The peperonata sausage was delightful, adding a different component to the dish. The sauce contained green and red peppers, adding a spice to the scallops. The sauce also added flavor because of the hints of white wine, cilantro and basil in the sauce.

The seafood paella sushi is the quintessential item on the menu for sushi lovers. Even if you are not into sushi, I’d still recommend the dish because it is a mixture of crab meat, chicken and roasted red peppers. The sushi is flash fried, crisping the exterior of the sushi, making it easy to eat and providing a change in texture from the softer interior filled with white rice. A saffron aioli was served on the bottom, and the sushi was topped off with a zesty, orange chipotle sauce. An ample portion of six pieces was served, definitely filling me up.

Dessert was traditional and delectable, and consisted of a trio of cakes and pies. The freshest piece of chocolate cake I’ve ever had was served with whipped cream, strawberries and blueberries. The key lime pie was tangy and pleased the taste buds. The carrot cake was fluffy with a sweet filling and frosting.

The drink menu is seasonal, and daily specials vary.

Overall, Bourbon Street provides a delightful experience featuring mouthwatering Cajun cuisine, so bring your appetite!

Bourbon Street
40-12 Bell Blvd., Bayside
718-224-2200
Lunch: 12pm-4pm Monday-Friday
Dinner: 4pm-11pm Sunday-Thursday
4pm-12am Friday & Saturday
Saturday & Sunday Brunch: 12pm-3pm

 

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Bayside couple sues TLC after husband accused of being illegal cabbie


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

A Bayside couple is suing the Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) for $3 million, claiming that agents racially profiled them after they wrongfully busted the husband for being an illegal cab driver, according to published reports.

Dan Keys, 66, was driving his wife, Symone Palermo, 53, to her job at Bob’s Discount Furniture store in Flushing in May 2013 when the incident occurred, reports said.

TLC investigators reportedly pulled Keys over after he dropped off his wife in their Lincoln Town Car and accused of him of operating an illegal taxi. Palermo was sitting in the back of the vehicle because the front passenger seat was wet.

Keys tried to explain that the passenger was his wife, and when Palermo arrived to try to help, they were both issued summonses because the car is registered in her name, according to published reports. They also seized the vehicle.

The suit, filed in Queens Supreme Court, claims that Keys was only stopped because investigators “observed an African-American male driving what they thought to be a white female,” the New York Daily News reported.

The suit is also claiming that the city and TLC violates civil rights because they “instruct its employees to target and single out vehicles operated by minorities with white passengers, the Daily News said.

A judge dismissed the summonses, but the couple did not get their car back for eight days, when they won their case, according published reports.

The TLC declined to comment pending litigation, reports said.

 

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Bayside elementary students dive ‘Under the Sea’ for their musical


| editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Paulina Tam

 PAULINA TAM

Bayside’s P.S. 31 is mounting an ambitious stage production of “The Little Mermaid,” an adaptation of the 1989 Disney animated musical classic.

In the school’s production, huge movable sets of underwater caves and boulders grace the stage alongside the sea — long, blue, flowing drapes that are flanked by student crew members on each side. Costumes consist of colorful wigs, feathers and sequins.

Director and music teacher Will Coppola and producer and art teacher Ashley Ciccotelli were nervous when initially approaching the design and construction of the set.

“How were we going to make one tiny little elementary school stage both the beach and the underwater scenes?” Coppola said. “We found out that we can use fabric to create the waves and the lighting to create the underwater scenery.”

Stage fright and keeping the students focused through many rehearsals were some of the challenges that Coppola and Ciccotelli faced since the cast’s first rehearsal in January.

“We have to constantly remind ourselves that the students are only 9 or 10 years old but they perform — in my opinion — so professional in quality that when I see them outside of class I think ‘Oh, they’re still kids,’” he said.

Student Grace Wansor plays Princess Ariel. Coppola remembers having her for a class during her first year teaching at P.S. 31.

“She barely spoke in my class,” he said. “I can definitely say that I was completely floored when she auditioned for the part. She was not even on my radar and then she tried out and blew us all out of the water.”

Emilia Salazar did not get a leading part last year but she listened to and watched the film on repeat while continuously practicing her singing and acting skills until she landed the role of Ursula.

“I’m just a little nervous for the show but I’m going to fight through it,” she said. “I want to give it all I got so people would think that this is the best musical that P.S. 31 has ever put on.”

“The Little Mermaid” will take place in P.S. 31’s auditorium on Thursday, June 12, and Saturday, June 14, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 each.

 

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Street to be co-named for Bayside teacher who died from cancer


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre


Former P.S. 41 science teacher Geri Cilmi’s motto to her students in the Bayside school was “You get what you get, and you don’t get upset.”

So when she was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2007, instead of fretting about it, Cilmi took all the necessary treatment and fought the disease with a smile, her husband, Tom, said.

“She was fantastic,” he said. “[Doctors] were amazed at her attitude and everything was just hunky-dory.”

But the cancer attacked strong in 2011 and Cilmi, a mother of one and beloved public school teacher of four decades, died that May. To honor her memory and achievements, a former student, Thomas Fennell, requested a street be co-named and Community Board 11 approved it. Family and friends will gather on June 20 as Councilman Paul Vallone unveils the new Mrs. Geri Cilmi Place at 214th Lane behind the school.

Cilmi began teaching in 1967 as a substitute teacher in Brooklyn elementary schools. When she shifted to P.S. 41 in 1989 she became a full-time science teacher. She retired in 2008.

Photo courtesy Thomas Cilmi 

During her time at P.S. 41, Cilmi was loved by colleagues and students for her extraordinary effort as a teacher. Cilmi hosted science nights in the school, where parents and students were able to do a variety of experiments. She applied for numerous grants for the school, including one from NASA for a weather station. She also set up the school’s garden. She was vice president of the Elementary School Science Association (ESSA) and made various science presentations for children.

“She was one of those people that were a natural teacher,” said second grade teacher Diane DiBlasi, who worked with Cilmi at P.S. 41 for two decades. “She opened up the world to so many children in a positive way.”

Outside of teaching, Cilmi was a bright woman who loved to dance and a devoted mother who raised her son to be a Harvard University-educated doctor. She listened to The Beatles and Elvis Presley, and loved to draw. Cilmi desired to write a children’s book, but never had the chance.

Tom will be present at the ceremony and believes his wife deserves the honor.

“It gives me the feeling that she really accomplished something,” he said. “She touched a lot of people and an awful lot of children.”

 

 

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Bayside cops honored in annual ceremony


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre


Crime doesn’t pay, but outstanding law enforcement yields recognition.

The 111th Precinct in Bayside hosted its award ceremony during the monthly precinct council meeting on June 3.

Detective Jeffrey Peck, who led the investigation and arrest of a pair of women who were using a 4-year-old child to rob stores, won the Detective of the Year award. Frederick O’Modie, a veteran of two decades, won Police Officer of the Year and Sgt. Kevin Zweigbaum won the Supervisor of the Year award.

In addition to those honorees, Valerie Loayza won Explorer of the Year, Ana Rivera won Civilian of the Year and Nicole Piridis won Auxiliary of the Year.

Assistant Chief Diana Pizzuti, the commanding officer of Patrol Borough Queens North, was in attendance and congratulated the honorees on a job well done.

 

 

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Queens native writing and co-starring in new movie with Doris Roberts


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Andrew Koss


Actor Andrew Koss wants to know, “Who is your Zizi?”

Koss, who grew up in Bayside, is writing the script for and co-starring in an upcoming movie entitled “Zizi and Honeyboy” based on a 2002 autobiographical book by controversial trend forecaster Gerald Celente. The film will star five-time Emmy award winner Doris Roberts, who is best known for her role as Marie Barone on the hit sitcom “Everybody Loves Raymond.”

The movie will portray Celente’s — played by Koss — fall from grace, when he was blackballed as a forecaster, and how talking with his elderly, oracle-like aunt Zizi — played by Doris Roberts — helped turn his life around and open his eyes.

“You would go consult with this guy, yet here he is consulting with this old woman,” Koss said. “She was able to touch him in a way that sparked something and got him to get back into life again.”

Part 1 of the Doris Roberts EXCLUSIVE interview from Andrew Koss on Vimeo.

The movie will be directed by Brett Donowho. Also, longtime Bayside resident Elizabeth Liberatore and Astoria resident Dominick Ciardello are co-producers.

The film will begin shooting in July in Glen Cove, Long Island and also in Manhattan. Koss said the crew is trying to raise $37,000 from crowdfunding site indiegogo.com to help with costs of making the film.

The initial movie will be about 17 minutes long and debut in film festivals later this year, Koss said. He added, depending on excitement and feedback, they plan to expand it to a full-length feature film.

Koss believes that the movie will resonate with the audience because of the emotion behind the story, and since most people have a “Zizi” in their lives.

“I love that the story can be told and can be interesting and there doesn’t need to be explosions going off,” Koss said. “I feel like this subject matter addresses that human element. This guy was on top of his game, and all of a sudden there was nobody there.”

 

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Douglaston school walks against bullying


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Students from the Divine Wisdom Catholic Academy School embarked on their first “Stamp Out Bullying Walkathon” on Friday in an effort to remind themselves and the community about the damaging effects of students picking on each other.

“This walk is meant to stomp out bullying,” eighth-grader Lena Vella said. “It’s meant to teach people how to take action.”

The trek from the school on Northern Boulevard to a ballpark on Cloverdale Boulevard was made by 250 students, Prinicipal Michael Laforgia and several teachers. A new student-run program in the school called the Pope Francis Society hosted the event. Once students made it to the ballpark, a selected group of kids read essays on bullying to their classmates. A group of students from Divine Wisdom’s other campus in Bayside also held a walkathon and the two converged on the ball park. Most of the students wore orange shirts, the color of their cause.

Laforgia became principal of the pre-K-8 Catholic school four years ago, and students, teachers and parents credit him with making the students more aware of bullying.

“These kids don’t walk into the school with a halo,” Laforgia said. “So we have to be very active in preventing bullying. I hope in the quiet of their day they’ll take a moment to reflect on this.”

Lena and three other classmates volunteered to write their own essays for the event. They are all part of the Pope Francis Society, which is made up of about 40 students who meet together once a week with Laforgia and teachers. Most importantly, Lena said, they’re given the task of keeping an eye out for bullying in school, acting as hall-monitors against aggressive behavior.

“I hate that so many people just watch when others are picked on,” said Laura Toscano, Lena’s classmate. “We’re trying to get people to be friendly.”

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Bayside softball escapes upset in playoff trap game


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre


The Bayside High School softball team’s reward for being excellent all year was almost the cause for its demise in the 2014 PSAL playoffs.

The city’s second-ranked softball team earned a two-game bye because of its 15-1 record and tie for first in the Queens A Division, delaying its playoff debut until the sweet sixteen round on May 27 against Curtis High School of Staten Island.

But rust from the two-game hiatus quickly showed. Curtis, the 15-seeded team, jumped to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning and Bayside was trailing 5-4 by the fifth inning. Bayside was looking at an upset and early exit from the tournament, when the team quickly woke up in the bottom of the fifth inning led by senior Heidi Gomez, and they won the game 9-5.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” Coach Steve Piorkowski said, referring to the bye. “Skills like hitting and pitching you need to be game sharp, you want to be competing straight through.”

Gomez, the team’s ace pitcher, finished with 12 strikeouts and a complete game, but she gave up four walks and eight hits, including a monster three-run homer, which gave Curtis its 5-4 lead in the fifth.

But following her mistake, Gomez, who went 2-for-3 at the plate, started the Lady Commodores’ rally when she powered a single in bottom of the inning. Her pinch-runner eventually scored on a throwing error to first base to tie the game.

Later in the inning, with one base runner, senior catcher Taylor Moy smacked a triple, giving Bayside the lead. Then Moy scored on a wild pitch during the next at-bat to expand the lead, 7-5.

“I was like, we got to catch back up, we’re going to lose and I don’t want to lose,” Moy said. “So we had to rally, push through, make contact — any contact possible.”

Bayside quieted Curtis’ offensive for the remainder of the game and expanded their lead in the next inning. With the trap game behind them, the team feels that they’ll be in shape for the next round.

“I think if we play how we normally play, we’ll do great,” Gomez said.

Bayside will host George Washington of Manhattan on Thursday at 4 p.m.

 

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