Tag Archives: Bellerose

Councilman Weprin to leave seat for Cuomo administration


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/file photo

Updated Tuesday, May 12, 12:35 p.m.

Councilman Mark Weprin gave his two weeks’ notice to the people of his district Monday, as he announced his departure from the City Council to take a job with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Weprin, 53, who has served in the 23rd Council District seat since 2010, is poised to become Cuomo’s deputy secretary of legislative affairs. He didn’t set a specific date when he would leave office, but in a statement, Weprin indicated his resignation would take effect “within the next two weeks.”

Prior to his City Council election, Weprin served for 15 years in the state Assembly, holding the seat previously held by his late father, former Assembly Speaker Saul Weprin. Mark Weprin was elected to the City Council seat in 2009 to succeed his brother, David, who made an unsuccessful run for City Comptroller.

David Weprin then won a special election in 2010 for his brother’s and father’s former Assembly seat.

“It has been an honor to represent eastern Queens as an elected official for 21 years,” Mark Weprin said in a statement Monday morning. “It has been my privilege to serve the people and families of my neighborhood. I am proud to have helped the communities I have represented to continue to be wonderful places to live, work and raise a family.”

At the start of his second City Council term, Mark Weprin was elected in January 2014 as chair of the City Council’s Queens delegation. He was also named chair of the Zoning and Franchises Committee and serves on the Land Use, Education, Economic Development, Oversight and Investigations, and Technology committees.

As deputy secretary for legislative affairs, Mark Weprin will reportedly serve as a liaison between Cuomo and leaders of the Assembly and state Senate on various matters.

“I have known Governor Cuomo for most of my life, and he is a leader of incredible talent,” Weprin added. “I look forward to this next step in my public career.”

Once the councilman’s resignation takes effect, the mayor must call for a non-partisan special election to be held within 60 days. Each candidate must secure their own party line; the established political parties cannot nominate a candidate of their own, but they may make an endorsement.

The 23rd Council District includes all or parts of Bayside Hills, Bellerose, Douglaston, Floral Park, Fresh Meadows, Glen Oaks, Hollis, Hollis Hills, Hollis Park Gardens, Holliswood, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, Oakland Gardens and Queens Village.

As for who may replace Weprin in the City Council, one contender has already emerged — former Assemblyman and Deputy Queens Borough President Barry Grodenchik. He confirmed his interest in running for the seat in a phone interview with The Courier on Tuesday.

Other potential contenders, as reported in the New York Observer, include Dominic Panakal, chief-of-staff to Councilman Rory Lancman; local attorney Ali Najmi; civic activist and former City Council candidate Bob Friedrich; and former City Council and Assembly candidate Steve Behar.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Man busted for robbing four Queens businesses


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Police have arrested an alleged thief for holding up four Queens businesses this month — including three in the same day.

Jose Escobar, a 48-year-old Queens Village resident, has been charged with five counts of robbery in the crime spree that began on March 2, authorities said.

According to police, that afternoon Escobar held up the Baile Deli and Grocery at 222-15 Braddock Ave. in Bellerose, taking off with $1,000.

On Sunday, he allegedly pulled off three more armed robberies.

Escobar is accused of holding up a Bellerose Gulf Gas station, located at 239-15 Jamaica Ave., at about 10:35 a.m., getting away with about $75 in cash.

The same day, at about 1:15 p.m., he robbed a Bellerose convenience store, located at 236-11 Braddock Ave., police said. He took a drink and $1,500 in cash before fleeing.

Just 15 minutes later, he robbed Mogul Hardware in nearby Queens Village, authorities said. After entering the 212-44 91st Ave. store, Escobar allegedly took out his gun and demanded cash. He then grabbed $30 and fled on foot.

 RECOMMENDED STORIES

Man holds up three Queens businesses in one day: police


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

A thirsty thief held up four Queens businesses this month, targeting three in one day and stealing more than $2,500 in cash — and a drink, police said.

The suspect first hit the Baile Deli and Grocery at 222-15 Braddock Ave. in Bellerose at about 12:30 p.m. on March 2, according to authorities. After pulling out a gun and demanding money, the suspect took $1,000 before fleeing on foot.

On Sunday, at about 10:35 a.m., the same suspect allegedly robbed a Bellerose Gulf Gas station, located at 239-15 Jamaica Ave., at gunpoint, getting away with about $75 in cash.

The same day, at about 1:15 p.m., he robbed another Bellerose convenience store, located at 236-11 Braddock Ave. After entering the store, the suspect played a lotto game then went to the refrigerator, took a beverage, and put it onto the counter, police said. He then displayed a gun and demanded the drink and cash. The suspect took the drink and $1,500 in cash before fleeing.

Just 15 minutes later, the same man is accused of robbing a hardware store in nearby Queens Village, authorities said. The suspect entered Mogul Hardware, located at 212-44 91 Ave., flashed his gun and demanded cash again. He then grabbed $30 and fled on foot.

Police describe the suspect as a white Hispanic man who is about 40 years old, 6 feet 3 inches tall and 200 pounds. He was last seen wearing a light blue “Adidas” hooded sweatshirt during the robbery at the hardware store.

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.

 RECOMMENDED STORIES

Queens men take home top prizes at sit-down arm wrestling competition


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

Even Mother Nature couldn’t keep New York’s strongest from showing what they got at an arm wrestling competition in Flushing over the weekend, the city’s first sit-down tournament in 12 years.

The New York Arm Wrestling Association (NYAWA) held the NYC Sit-Down Arm Wrestling Championships on Sunday at Cheap Shots Sports Bar, located at 149-05 Union Turnpike. The event was the first sit-down arm wrestling competition in the past 12 years, according to Gene Camp, founder and president of NYAWA.

“It’s good to get back and it’s something new for some of [the competitors],” Camp said. “It really brings out the broad strength in people, to find out who the true winners are because people with signature techniques can’t really use them in this event because they are sitting down.”

Although the snow began falling before the competition began, more than 60 men and women flocked to the sports bar to show their strength and make it to the top.

The event, which was opened to all ages, featured individual categories for amateurs and pros, 45 to 50 years old and over, women, and right and left hand classes.

“I thought it was a great turnout. I didn’t expect this kind of turn out [because of the snow]. Some of the best arm wrestlers in the city and state were here today,” Camp said. “It was a good competition; there were some very good matches. It was exciting and the crowd was really riled up.”


Jason Vale, who grew up in Whitestone and now lives in Bellerose, was one of the competitors and top winners of the day. The 47-year-old has been arm wrestling with his right arm since he was 20 and in 1997 won a world championship.

During the sit-down tournament Vale earned two first place awards and was given the MVP Strongest Arm Right. He was also awarded a Captains of Crush Hand Grippers award, along with $100 cash prize, for strongest arm.

“It felt great competing again,” said Vale, who holds weekly arm wrestling practices at his home. “I just love it.”

Like Vale, Angel Cosme was another returning arm wrestling champ, who picked up the sport 15 years ago. The 48-year-old Flushing resident said he had been out of the game for three years and returned to help referee the match. He decided to compete in both the left and right hand categories and took home two first place awards and one second place.

“I feel good but I’m just tired,” Cosme said. “After being out for three years I know I need to start practicing again.”

David Milburn from Jamaica also took home a first place award in an amateur left hand category.

The NYAWA’s next competition will be the 38th Annual NYC Big Apple Grapple International on May 3. The location has yet to be determined.

For more information visit www.nycarms.com.


RECOMMENDED STORIES

Cupcake Kickstarter aims to open pastry shop in Bellerose


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Dawn White

In the cupcake world, Queens is a good place to start a business, according to Dawn White.
She is trying to break into the New York City cake scene by raising money to open a cupcake and pastry shop in Bellerose.

She hopes to raise $8,000 in Kickstarter donations by October, when she plans on opening her business, which she calls Cake Music NY.

“Places like Brooklyn and Manhattan are already overcrowded with these kinds of things, but Queens is a perfect spot to make my dream a reality,” White, 41, said.

CUPCAKE3

She said she hopes to find a storefront on Hillside Avenue or Jamaica Avenue.

“Jamaica Avenue is my number one choice because of the high demand [for baked goods] in the area,” she said.

White has been making cupcakes for the last eight years but she’s never owned a commercial kitchen.

Instead, she jumps around communal kitchens in Astoria and Brooklyn, making not only cupcakes, but also custom cakes for any occasion.

Courtesy of Dawn White

She said she is also planning to take out a loan for about $80,000, hoping to turn her dream into a family business.

“I want to leave something to my daughter,” she said. “And this is my chance to do it.”
As for the business name, White said simply, “Everyone likes music.”

“It doesn’t actually have anything to do with music directly,” she said, “but there’s an appeal.”

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Bellerose library to reopen after $1.66M renovation


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Queens Library


The Bellerose branch of the Queens Library will reopen Wednesday following a $1.66 million facelift and technological additions.

The revitalization features fresh decor, a new teen area with computers, self service check out and fully automated 24/7 self check-in, so members can return books at any time.

Library officials will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday, with face painting and balloon animals for kids.

Funding for the project was allocated by Councilman Mark Weprin, Assemblywoman Barbara Clark and state Sen. Tony Avella.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES 

Ex-NYPD cop from Queens arrested for Brooklyn anti-Semitic graffiti


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

handcuffs-with-color-web-size111

A Queens man, who reportedly once worked as an NYPD officer, has been arrested for allegedly leaving anti-Semitic graffiti on buildings and vehicles in Borough Park, Brooklyn.

The graffiti was found about 9 p.m. Saturday, spray painted in pink on the front of the Bnos Zion of Bobov School on 14th Avenue and on a vehicle parked in front of the building, officials said. Police later discovered anti-Semitic graffiti on three additional buildings and 15 vehicles in the predominantly Orthodox Jewish neighborhood.

The markings included swastikas and offensive, hateful language, according to published reports.

Michael Setiawan, 36, of Bellerose, has been charged with 19 counts each of criminal mischief as a hate crime, aggravated harassment as a hate crime and criminal mischief in connection to the vandalism, police said.

The former NYPD cop was with the department for about two years, where he served in the 69th Precinct in the Canarsie area of Brooklyn, but left in 2007, reports said.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Astoria Battle of the Beards crowns first champion


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

Face fuzz from near and far made its way to Astoria to try and win the title of best of the beards.

The Quays, a corner bar that has been located at 45-02 30th Ave. for over 40 years, hosted the western Queens neighborhood’s inaugural Battle of the Beards on Tuesday, April 8, during a night filled with local music and drinks.

A total of 23 competitors tricked out their facial hair, from full-grown beards to mustaches.

FOR MORE BATTLE OF THE BEARDS PHOTOS CLICK HERE

James Albertelli, 50, came representing the Gotham City Beard Alliance to take part in his first competition.

“I haven’t seen my chin in 12 years,” said the Flushing native who now lives in Manhattan. “I hate to shave. It’s easier to grow it.”

Other competitors included Adam Bierton, who has held titles for his stylish mustache, and retired journalist Robert Mullen, also known as “Hollywood Bob.”

The concept of the event and contest came together after members of the local Astoria band The Green Gallows worked together with Tim House, who co-owns The Quays with Dee Flattery, to put together a show. The contest was inspired by band member Sean Ryan Donnelly’s beard.

“Sean has such a great beard and it’s that time of year when people want to shave off their beards,” said Adam Steiner, lead vocalist for The Green Gallows. “It’s a great farewell to winter.”

The other members of the band are Astoria residents Blake Adam “Double Wide” Smith and Cara Cooley.

The night began with performances from Beecher’s Fault, Robbie Cook and The Green Gallows.

After the performances, the first group of beards and mustaches was judged by audience applause. After two more rounds of judging, the final three came down to first place winner Dan Roberts, The Green Gallows’ Donnelly, who snatched second, and Guido Cappello, who took home third.

“To win is great but to win in New York is even better. Here is home. It brings a lot of emotion. It makes me feel so good,” said Roberts, who is from Mattituck, New York, and is one of the founding members of the Long Island Beard & Mustache Society. “It’s not about having a beard. It’s all about having a good time.”

Roberts, who has been growing his winning beard for almost three years and has taken part in various national competitions, took home an aged bottle of Jameson whiskey and a pair of Mets tickets.

The owners of the Astoria bar plan to continue with the competition for the following year and perhaps also add a separate mustache contest to the list of events.

“People came from miles around, and a lot of new blood came to the bar,” House said. “I want the talent to gravitate here.”

The Quays has been the backdrop for a scene in 1993’s “A Bronx Tale” and, most recently, the pilot episode of CBS’s “Elementary.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Star of Queens: Frank Toner, president, Rocky Hill Civic Association


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Frank Toner

KATELYN DI SALVO

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Frank Toner is the president of Rocky Hill Civic Association (RHCA), a volunteer organization started  more than 80 years ago. Today it continues to work and enhance the quality of life for more than 1,000 households bounded by Braddock Avenue, Union Turnpike, Stronghurst Avenue and Winchester Boulevard.

BACKGROUND: Toner was born and raised in Middletown, N.Y. His family moved to Elmhurst when he was a teenager. Toner and his wife Margaret, a Bellerose native, married in 1973 at St. Gregory The Great and settled in the neighborhood.

Toner’s interest in the RHCA was piqued when he started receiving the association’s monthly bulletin.

“I was aware that this community organization existed, and I was a little curious,” Toner said.

But it wasn’t until he was playing basketball at a local school that he decided to sit in on a RHCA meeting that was being held in the same building.

“I saw that they were really devoted in helping the community, and from there I was committed,” Toner said.

He signed up to be a block captain, and dealt with the complaints of his neighbors and the distribution of bulletins on his block. Toner was asked to be on the board after impressing the association president with volunteer work and a 95 percent collection rate on dues. When the president stepped down in 2007, Toner took his place.

GOALS: A goal Toner has for the near future involves surveying the streets for potholes and notifying the city so they can be fixed. He also intends to lobby for long-removed greenery to be restored to the median on Winchester Boulevard.

Another key focus for Toner and the RHCA is participatory budgeting, where community members vote to decide how public money is spent.

“This is something we will soon be hearing a lot about,” Toner said. He said he is excited about being a part of this project and optimistic that it will lead to more involvement from people in the community. “This allows people to get money for any project they have. They just need the vote,” Toner said.

FAVORITE MEMORY: Toner’s fondest memory is participating in a coalition with a number of other civics associations in Queens, called Eastern Queens United.

This group consists of about 10 different civic groups that come together when there is a problem in communities.

“There is power in numbers, and this is a positive thing for the community,” Toner said. One of the projects that the RHCA has worked on with the help of Eastern Queens is enforcing the zoning rights in Toner’s community.

“It took all of us working together to rezone the area, and that was a big victory for us,” Toner said.

INSPIRATION: Toner said his biggest motivation is a belief in people and the community, saying, “I’ve always felt that real change comes from the community level.”

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Toner’s biggest challenge is outreach. “The ethnic make up in the neighborhood has changed, and I would like to see more diversity in the group,” he said.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Op-ed: Seven-point plan


| oped@queenscourier.com

BOB FRIEDRICH AND EASTERN QUEENS UNITED

Last week, a convicted killer escaped from the state-run Creedmoor Psychiatric facility in Bellerose, where he was being held for observation.

This is a serious concern to the civic leaders of this community and other nearby community organizations.

Creedmoor is located in an area of single family homes and is very close to Glen Oaks Village, a co-op community of 10,000 residents. It is situated across the street from a children’s playground in Alley Pond Park, one of Queens’ largest parks.

The escape was also brazen for the ease in which it was accomplished. Exchanging clothes with a visiting friend was enough to allow a convicted killer to walk out undetected and into the neighborhood.

The stunning failure in security by the State Office of Mental Health has been a sore point with community leaders for many years.

The state has consistently failed to provide adequate funding to properly secure this large institution and as a result, numerous incidents have occurred which has put a strain on the already over-burdened local police precinct.

The time has come for real and serious action. Community leaders and local elected officials are calling for a full investigation and a security plan of action in which all stakeholders in the community must be involved.

Eastern Queens is a wonderful part of the city and is fortunate to have an active and vocal group of civic associations that seek to protect the quality of life of the communities they represent.

These civic associations represent thousands of folks that live along the tree-lined streets that surround Creedmoor. We are confident that elected officials, affected agencies and other community organizations will work together to resolve the security issues plaguing the Creedmoor Psychiatric Hospital.

Responding to this breach in security at Creedmoor, a coalition of more than a dozen civic presidents have issued a seven-point plan of action, which you can read below:

1. A full investigation of this incident.

2. Adoption of a comprehensive security plan for the entire Creedmoor campus that would prevent a recurrence of a similar incident in the future.

3. NYS Office of Mental Health must provide the resources to fund a proper level of security.

4. Disclosure and transparency as to the type of individuals being housed at Creedmoor.

5. A Community Notification Protocol to provide immediate alerts of dangerous situations.

6. A similar review and assessment of security at nearby Zucker-Hillside Hospital.

7. The inclusion of nearby civic associations and other stakeholders in the outreach and development of a security plan.

 

Jerry Wind, president of the Bellerose Hillside Civic Association

Bobby Sher, president of the Bell Park-Manor Terrace Co-op

Michael O’Keeffe, president of the Creedmoor Civic Association

Bob Friedrich, president of the Glen Oaks Village Co-op

Michael Castellano, president of the Lost Community Civic Association

Bruno DeFranceschi, president of the North Bellerose Civic Association

Judith Cohen, president of the North Hills Estates Civic Association

Richard Hellenbrecht, president of the Queens Civic Congress

Angela Augugliaro, president of the Queens Colony Civic Association

Jim Trent, president of the Queens County Farm Museum

Mo Ishmael, president of the Queens Village Civic Association

Frank Toner, president of the Rocky Hill Civic Association

Rhonda Kontner, president of the Royal Ranch Homeowners Association

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

SUV hits, kills pedestrian in Bellerose


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

An early morning accident in Bellerose Saturday left a pedestrian dead, police said.

A 2011 Ford Expedition struck an unidentified male about 6:50 a.m. near the Cross Island Parkway and Union Turnpike, according to the NYPD.

He was taken to North Shore-LIJ where he was pronounced dead, police said.

The 69-year-old driver remained on the scene and the NYPD’s Highway Patrol Collision Investigation Squad is investigating, police said.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

City Council candidate Joe Concannon calls ‘fraud’ on Campaign Finance Board


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Joe Concannon’s campaign

The retired police captain running a pointed City Council bid against a popular incumbent says the city’s Campaign Finance Board should have accommodated his late entrance into the race.

Joe Concannon, who is taking on Councilmember Mark Weprin in a general election next month, said he was a “victim” of the CFB’s “incompetence and fraud” when his profile did not appear in the board’s widely distributed voter guide.

“I am running for public office to ensure that New York City government is more transparent and to alleviate the corruption, fraud and mismanagement,” said Concannon, who is on the Reform and Independent line. “The CFB seems to have succumbed to all three.”

About 4 million copies of the nonpartisan newsletter were mailed out throughout the city this week, a CFB spokesperson said. The guide contains voting information and detailed profiles submitted by candidates.

CFB spokesperson Matt Sollars said the hopefuls have until early July, at the latest, to submit their profiles, which then go through a timely process of getting translated into five languages in Queens.

“These are reasonable deadlines that are necessary for us to collect and produce a voter guide that is printed and mailed to every registered voter in New York City,” he said.

Concannon did not register with the CFB until September, Sollars said, months after the submission deadline.

But Phil Orenstein, the candidate’s campaign manager, said there should have been an exception, or at least an addendum.

“Accommodations should be made for his independent line candidacy, but nothing of the sort was done,” he said. “To us, this smacks of voter fraud and we hold the CFB culpable. They have failed in their responsibilities to properly inform the voters.”

Concannon leaped into the race August 8 because Weprin voted in support of two controversial police oversight bills in the Community Safety Act.

Concannon said the bills would increase crime and handcuff police, a belief numerous police unions shared when they endorsed him.

The Bellerose candidate unsuccessfully tried to unseat State Senator Tony Avella last year.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Hate Crimes unit investigating after Bellerose cars tagged with swastikas


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Melissa Chan

Bellerose residents whose cars were vandalized with graffiti were able to wash off the spray paint — but not the hateful message it left behind.

Fourteen cars in the quiet residential area were marked up during an early morning graffiti spree on October 11, police said.

Silver-painted swastikas were found on half of the vehicles around 87th Avenue and 256th Street, according to police. Residents said other cars were tagged with lines and random scribbles.

“I was very surprised,” said Devinder Chahal, whose white BMW was vandalized. “We saw all the other cars were painted. It’s a little scary.”

Chahal said she woke up at 5:30 a.m. to find four of her family’s cars, including her husband’s yellow city cab, sprawled along the sides and on the hoods with graffiti.

They were mostly squiggles, she said, but many down the street were hit with the Nazi symbol.

“Right now, the way it looks, it could be a hate crime,” Chahal said. “We’re concerned about the future. Today, they painted the cars. Tomorrow, it could be anything.”

Helicopters circled above the neighborhood Friday as law enforcement officials went up and down the roped off streets gathering evidence off cars.

“This has never happened before,” said Parveen Kumar, another victim of the vandalism. “I don’t know what happened.”

Chahal said the stubborn paint came off after “a lot of work,” following a full day’s investigation.

It was unclear if more than one person was suspected of the crimes. An investigation by the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force is ongoing, a police spokesperson said.

“This is a despicable act of vandalism,” said State Senator Tony Avella, “and those responsible for this heinous crime should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, including being possibly charged with a hate crime.”

Resident Daljit Kaur said she feared the culprit — or multiple offenders — could be capable of worse.

“Who knows what else they’ll do? It’s dangerous,” she said.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Councilmember Mark Weprin faces potential challenger in general election


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Joseph Concannon’s campaign

Numerous police unions are backing one candidate’s bid to unseat incumbent Councilmember Mark Weprin.

Joseph Concannon, a retired police captain from Bellerose, announced his run for City Council on August 8 — with the full support of several law enforcement groups, including the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA).

“I can assure you I will never risk the safety and security of one New York City citizen at any time at all,” Concannon said.

The PBA pledged in June to invest its full resources to target councilmembers, including Weprin, who voted in favor of the Community Safety Act. The union distributed anti-Weprin leaflets in Bayside in July.

“No councilmember who puts this city at risk will have a free ride in the next election,” PBA president Patrick Lynch said.

Two oversight bills in the act would create an inspector general to oversee the NYPD and allow individuals to sue the city in state court over the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices.

The PBA and Concannon said the bills would increase crime and handcuff police.

“I didn’t pick this fight. I didn’t ask for this challenge,” Concannon said. “I’m afraid that Mark Weprin and all the members have come to this with a very faint heart. They don’t understand the reach of this bill and what it will do to police officers we send out into the street.”

Concannon is planning to make the Reform Party line. He ran for State Senate as a Republican last year and lost to incumbent Tony Avella.

The Detectives Endowment Association, Lieutenants Benevolent Association, Sergeants Benevolent Association and Captains Endowment Association have also endorsed his candidacy.

Weprin stood by his vote, saying the bills would keep the city safe without leading to an increase in lawsuits since there is no monetary incentive.

“Everyone has the right to run,” he said. “I know Joe a little bit. I respect his service to our country and city. I just think that the law is in the best interest of New York City.”

If Concannon collects the 450 petition signatures he needs to make the ballot by August 20, he will face off with Weprin in the November general election.

“The voters will decide in the election,” Weprin said. “Having no opponent would be better, but this is democracy and democracy will run its course.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Queens has most immigrant seniors in city: report


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Queens has the largest number of immigrant seniors in the city, with Flushing leading the list of neighborhoods, according to a new report.

The borough is home to about 162,000 foreign-born people over the age of 65, says a study by the Center for an Urban Future. The report shows more than 25,000 live in Flushing.

“Immigrants are critical to Queens,” said Jonathan Bowles, executive director of the New York-based think tank.

“They’ve driven a lot of the economic growth in the borough,” he said. “They make up almost half of the population in Queens. It’s important that they can grow old in the city.”

Droves of immigrants, mostly from Asia, first made their way to Flushing in the 1970s, Bowles said.

Since then, many more have moved from Manhattan’s Chinatown to the northern Queens neighborhood for a more affordable way of life that is surrounded by immigrant services. In the last decade, more than 8,000 immigrant seniors have settled in Flushing, according to the report.

“They want to live in Flushing because it’s more convenient for them in terms of language barriers,” said Kathy Liu, program director for the Flushing YMCA’s New Americans Welcome Center. “It’s one of the neighborhoods which allow immigrants to go to different agencies to help them in their language.”

The center is a one-stop shop for non-English speakers and one of many locations where immigrants can receive for free literacy, citizen preparation, job readiness and computer classes year-round. The facility sees natives from China, Korea and even France, Liu said.

The Flushing branch of the Queens Library, which offers similar services, is the most heavily used branch in the state, said Queens Library spokesperson Joanne King.

Still, the report shows immigrant seniors face a number of challenges, including a higher poverty rate. They are also less likely to receive government benefits.

“Many don’t qualify for retirement or housing benefits,” Liu said. “With rent so high in this area, they find it very difficult to live with the savings they brought from their own country.”

According to the report, Flushing has the highest concentration of poor seniors. More than half of all Korean seniors in the city who are below the federal poverty line live in Flushing, the study found.

The Rockaways had the second largest group of poor immigrant seniors, 3,154 people.

“Immigrant adults have all of those traditional challenges, but then they have additional ones because of language barriers or a lack of familiarity with programs and services that are available,” Bowles said. “I don’t see this as a problem necessarily, but as a challenge that New York City policy makers have to plan for.”

Some other highlights:

  • Bellerose, Rosedale, Forest Hills and Rego Park, trailing slightly behind Flushing, also made the list.
  • Howard Beach and South Ozone Park had the largest change in their immigrant senior population. They saw a 112 percent jump, which amounts to nearly 5,000 seniors.
  •  Over the last decade, the number of immigrant seniors in Queens increased by 42,000, while the number of native-born seniors dropped by nearly 41,000.



RECOMMENDED STORIES