Tag Archives: Briarwood

Airplane noise torments northeast Queens residents


| mchan@queenscourier.com

File photo

A nonstop rush of aircraft flights and a barrage of low flying planes have residents in northeast Queens alarmed at the deafening “war zone” they say their neighborhoods have become in the last two months.

“The sound — it’s like you’re living in an airport,” said Angela Polito of Bayside. “It’s nonstop, every 20 seconds, one after another. It’s been terrible.”

Residents from Bayside and downtown Flushing say they have been tormented since mid-June by the ear-splitting roar of airplanes they say soar past their homes by the minute each day from 6 a.m. to noon and then again from 6 p.m. to midnight.

Oiman Chan of Flushing, who suffers from anxiety, said the constant blaring booms that rattle the windows of his Franklin Avenue co-op have become “numbing.”

“It sounds like you’re under a war zone,” said the 63-year-old retired Department of Education employee. “I am suffering from panic attacks already and this is killing me.”

Eddy Liu, 68, who lives in the same Flushing co-op, said the nonstop noise distresses thousands of shareholders, including masses of elderly people.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) did not comment before press time. But in a June 22 letter sent to State Senator Tony Avella, the agency said they were conducting a six-month trial to test a procedure at LaGuardia Airport, in which departing traffic turns left to the north off Runway 13.

Amy Yeung of Flushing said flight routes used to run north over College Point Boulevard, only shifting downtown during the annual U.S. Open tournaments. But recent lavish neighborhood developments like the Sky View Center mall, Sky View Parc luxury condos and upcoming future plans for Willets Point, she said, could be the motive behind the rerouting.

“That’s my wild guess,” said Yeung, 45. “[But] you can’t make one group of people happy and disturb the others, if that’s the case. Everybody has to go to work and everybody has to have quality of sleep.”

The FAA said it would take in public comment before making the new route permanent.

“The agency does not have the authority to prohibit aircraft from flying over a particular geographic area unless the operation is unsafe or the aircraft is operated in a manner inconsistent with federal aviation regulations,” the FAA said in the letter.

Meanwhile, Polito said the frequent flights over Bayside are almost as unnerving as how low the planes are flying.

“We can practically wave to the people in the planes,” she said.

Queens residents in Woodside and Briarwood have also said they’ve been living in turbulence from thundering aircraft.

T-Mobile store scams Queens customers out of thousands


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A major mobile phone service provider is under fire from hundreds of Queens residents who say an authorized retailer scammed them for thousands — before closing up shop and ducking their calls.

A T-Mobile retailer, who sources identify as a South Asian man named “Raj” who suffers from schizophrenia, allegedly billed customers for several unauthorized lines that he tacked on to their accounts, and then pocketed the additional money when they directly gave him payments in cash.

“He’s from my country. He speaks my language and is even from my city. I trusted him. Now he ran away,” said Tarsem Singh, 47. “I can’t afford this. I paid these bills already. I feel like I’m going to die.”

Singh, a car service driver from Brooklyn, is one of hundreds of consumers who said they made direct payments to a T-Mobile preferred retailer who owns two Queens stores, at 138-40A 84th Drive in Briarwood and 134-11 Rockaway Boulevard in South Ozone Park.

Singh said he kept receiving notifications from T-Mobile of unpaid bills totaling $1,400, even though he said the dealer at the stores assured him the invoices had been paid and the mistake would be fixed.

Instead, Singh said, the devious dealer, who owns and operates a company called Jagdeep Global Products, Inc., re-sent the payments twice to two wrong routing numbers.

Dozens of customers who united outside the shuttered Briarwood store last Thursday said the owner, and all his employees, have fled. The two Queens stores have been closed for at least two weeks, they said.

“The last three days, I haven’t been working because I’m looking for him,” Singh said. “I have no money in my pocket.”

A spokesperson for T-Mobile confirmed the fraudulent activity committed by the store owner and said the company apologizes to those affected and is taking “fast action” to correct the issues.

“We have worked together with the wholesaler responsible for the store and the owner has been replaced. Customers who feel they have been negatively impacted by their experience with either of these stores should contact T-Mobile customer service. T-Mobile will address each concern and will work to correct all related issues directly with our customers,” the spokesperson said.

The company would not disclose or confirm the name of the stores’ owner.

The 107th Precinct said there were no reports filed from the location, but said the issue could be a civil, not criminal, matter.

A swarm of customers said at least 300 people have been affected and are left struggling to pay off bills for services they never wanted.

Taliff Mohammed, 44, said he set up an account in January for three prepaid lines. Instead, the Briarwood T-Mobile vender signed him up for five contracted lines, he claims.

“When I brought it to their attention, they said it was a mistake on T-Mobile’s behalf and they said they would take care of it,” said the Ozone Park resident who also directly paid the vendor each month in cash. “I thought they were making the payments, but every other couple of weeks, my line used to get cut off. I would go back to them and it would be restored. They never paid the bills. They were sending checks that bounced.”

Mohammed said he heavily suspected fraud, but when he called T-Mobile, he said the company blew him off and said he was responsible for $1,271.92 in payments, including cancellation of lines the vendor added to his account without permission.

Harjeed Kaur, 45, of Briarwood said she was billed $2,000 for an account she already closed after vendors signed her up for five lines instead of the original three she asked for.

Calls to numbers listed for employees were either disconnected or went straight to voicemail. A number listed for Raj was “temporarily not in service.”

“We all trusted him,” Kaur said.

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

EVENT of the DAY: Summerstage WR/Felix Hernandez’s Rhythm Revue 

With over forty years in the music industry, their music and history transcends generations of pop culture and has a universal appeal to parents, grandparents, and children across the world. Also featuring DJ Felix Hernandez mixing in soul, Motown, funk, salsa and disco dance classics.

[Click here for more info or submit your events]

New $500,000 New York Hospital Queens Center for  Wound Healing at Silvercrest opens in Briarwood  

New York Hospital Queens and Silvercrest Center For Nursing and Rehabilitation celebrated the opening of the NYHQ Center for Wound Healing at Silvercrest with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, July 10. The new $500,000 center, at 144-45 87th Ave., in Briarwood, addresses the increasing need for more aggressive wound treatment for people with hard-to-treat chronic wounds such as pressure ulcers, diabetic ulcers and radionecrosis, officials said. Read more: [New York Daily News] 

Queens high school principal Caril Hudson Jr. arrested for possession of methamphetamine 

A Queens high school principal was nabbed just a block away from his school when cops found a baggie of methamphetamine in his car during a traffic stop, police said. Carl Hudson Jr., 33, was around the corner from Flushing High School on Northern Blvd. about 8:35 p.m on Tuesday when police discovered the meth in the bag in the car’s center console, police said. Read more: [New York Daily News] 

Far Rockaway man pleads guilty to JFK luggage thefts 

A Queens man is facing three to six years in prison after pleading guilty to a series of thefts from passengers in the terminals at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said Wednesday that 46-year-old Frederick McDonald of Far Rockaway, N.Y., had pleaded guilty to grand larceny in connection to six thefts. Read more: [1010wins] 

Bicyclist killed in hit-&-run 

A cyclist was fatally struck in Queens last night by a speeding car whose driver fled the scene, cops and witnesses said. The victim, who was carrying a bouquet of flowers, was struck at around 10:50 p.m. at Greenpoint Avenue and 39th Place in Sunnyside. Read more: [New York Post] 

 

NYHQ wound center helps patients heal


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

CFWH Ribbon Cutting

BY LORRI BROWNSTONE

Clarence McKay loves planting tomatoes, beets and carrots, doing yard work and other odd jobs around his home.

Unfortunately, a diabetic ulcer on his left foot means the 75-year-old retired hospital worker is unable to do the things he loves.

But that could change.

McKay has a better chance than ever at recovery thanks to New York Hospital Queens Center for Wound Healing at Silvercrest in Briarwood, which opened on June 26.

The facility features two hyperbaric oxygen therapy chambers, the second facility in Queens to offer this type of therapy.

The project, located at Silvercrest Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation, costs about $500,000, and helps patients with chronic wounds achieve high healing rates in shorter times. It is open to everyone in the community.

There are about 5 million people in the U.S. suffering from chronic wounds, and the number is rising, officials said.

“People are living longer and unfortunately there is a higher rate of diabetes and obese people in the country. I’m hearing about the cancer rate increasing and with that comes an increase in radiation injuries,” said Cari Dabak, the center’s program director.

Dr. Victor Chen, a specialist in wound care at the center, believes there is a current trend to open more wound care centers.

“Wound centers have a lot to offer,” Chen said. “Many will be at risk for amputation. And centers can offer an advanced level of care.”

While the facility treats all types of wounds, only 11 percent of patients qualify for hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatment.

Examples of patients who benefit from the chamber therapy include those with diabetic wounds, and those suffering from soft tissue damage due to radiation treatment.

McKay is one of those patients.

During treatment, McKay lies down in the transparent bed-like chamber for about two hours a day, Monday through Friday. His treatment will last up to six weeks. In the chamber, patients breathing in 100 percent oxygen under pressure, about two times the regular atmospheric pressure.

Humans normally breathe air consisting of 21 percent oxygen and 79 percent nitrogen.

“When patents come out (of the chamber), they say the feel ‘okay,’ ” Dabak said. “We check their sugar, lungs, blood pressure. . . and there can be some ear pain when you come right out. It’s like getting off of a plane.”

McKay doesn’t mind.

“I get to watch T.V. and they say I sometimes doze off,” he said.

After one week of outpatient treatment, McKay said he’s already noticing a difference. His pain has lessened and he sees more circulation in his foot.

“If I could get back to gardening and doing things around the house, well, I’d be jumping up and down,” he said.

The center is part of the New York-Presbyterian Healthcare System. Silvercrest Center is a 320-bed skilled nursing facility at 144-45 87th Avenue, Briarwood.

For more information about the center, call 855-480-HEAL.

 

Briarwood deli hit with violation for selling “loosie” cigarettes


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A city investigation pinned a previously problematic deli grocery store in Briarwood with only one violation after multiple residents complained the store was selling “loosie” cigarettes and packs of smokes to minors.

Community Board 8 filed a complaint against the 84th Deli Grocery to the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) this April, according to District Manager Marie Adam-Ovide. The store, located at 84th Drive and Manton Street, was formerly Stop & Go before new owners took over in late 2008.

According to a spokesperson for the DCA, the city agency issued one violation for selling loosie cigarettes to an adult during inspections this May, but the store was not found to be selling tobacco to minors.

However, numerous violations for selling alcohol to minors — accumulated since 2006 under previous owners — did cause the New York State Liquor Authority to revoke the deli’s liquor license in November 2009, records showed.

The store — which no longer sells alcohol — has stayed out of trouble for the most part since then, said manager Mohammed Ahmed.

Ahmed, who worked for a couple of months under the former owners, said he makes sure his employees always ask for proper identification to avoid repeating problems of the past.

“You have to do that,” he said. “How much profit could you make on one pack of cigarettes if you get a ticket?”

Deli employee Sharif Sagar, 36, said he IDs unfamiliar faces who are seeking smokes, but leaves the store’s regulars alone.

“We always ask for ID,” he said. “But if I’ve known you for a long time, I’m not going to ask you again because I checked already.”

The store’s new owners were barred from applying for a new liquor license for two years after it was terminated, but they are now eligible for one, Ahmed said.

The NYPD did not return calls for comment, but Adam-Ovide said police have not seen any illegal sales so far.

Briarwood Organization: 100 years of solid foundation


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

COURIER PHOTO/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

An antique picture of Luigi Riso sits in his grandson Raymond’s office in Bayside. The mustached Riso is well-dressed in the fading photo. Riso, an Italian immigrant who came to New York by way of Argentina, was working as a carpenter when he started L. Riso & Sons Co. Inc. in 1912.

His sons, Vincent and Dominic, took over the company in the late 1920s and built a housing development in Jackson Heights which still stands today.

A 1927 photo of the building, with Vincent and Dominic standing in front, hangs in the conference room at the Briarwood Organization’s office – the company that grew from L. Riso & Sons – among pictures and drawings of the buildings that have come since.

The Briarwood Organization is celebrating 100 years in business that includes a storied past and still has the family dynamic it did when Luigi Riso started the company in the early 1900s.

Today the company is run by four partners: Luigi’s grandsons and Vincent’s sons, Vincent L. and Raymond Riso; Raymond’s son James; and Howard Goodman, who is regarded as a brother by the Riso brothers. The company not only does general contracting, but consults, manages, develops and does joint ventures.

 

The walls of the office, located in Bayside at 36-35 Bell Boulevard, can tell a story of the company alone. There are plaques for various awards and photos of buildings that the partners have tried to make affordable to residents of communities throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx and most of all, Queens.

Like many other companies, the organization bloomed in the 1920s, including the housing development in Jackson Heights. “They did quite well,” said Vincent L. Riso.

And like countless others, the company took a hit during the Great Depression, but bounced back after World War II.

When the current generation took over in the late 1960s, buildings began to spring up like the company had never seen before – many of which are now fixtures on Bell Boulevard in Bayside, where Vincent L. and Raymond Riso grew up.

These buildings include The Atrium at 38-46, which was constructed in the late 1960s – a second floor added a few years later – and is now home to Tiger Schulman karate and several other businesses.

In total, according to the company’s web site, the Briarwood Organization has received 16 awards from the Queens Chamber of Commerce — the most recent in 2001.

The mortar that keeps the bricks of the company together is more than just cement and a good work ethic — it’s family.

The Riso brothers said they’ve known and worked with Goodman for close to 45 years and he currently works as a designer and planner for the company. His buildings, they said, are not only aesthetically appealing, but are managed well for space.

“We’ve worked together so long, he’s like family,” Vincent L. Riso said.

The legacy of the company is not, however, just laid out in the foundation of its buildings across most of New York City. The partners are actively involved in many community organizations, including St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children, where Vincent L. Riso sits on the Board of Directors.

Raymond Riso said his son started out volunteering in the kitchen at St. Mary’s while he was a student at Holy Cross High School. He said his son became so popular with the children there that, “Everytime he came in they would crowd around him,” said the father of four and grandfather of nine.

Jeff Frerichs, president and CEO of St. Mary’s, complimented the company’s service to the community and particularly the hospital.

“With a business philosophy that fosters community-minded development and involvement, The Briarwood Organization and its principals, Vincent, Raymond and James Riso, [and Howard Goodman] are long-time supporters of St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children and are strong advocates for children with special needs,” he said. “St. Mary’s is privileged to have the Riso family as part of our family.”

Other times, Briarwood members have mixed their dedication to the public with its construction of more than 3,500 housing units. Many housing units they have constructed, the Riso brothers said, were designed to be affordable housing for people to continue to live in New York City.

These efforts, they said, have tried to raise more depressed areas back up and recreate once-thriving communities.

Vincent L. Riso said giving back to the community was one of the most rewarding things about being in business. “If feels good to give something back,” he said. “You get back 10 times what you give. Just the satisfaction alone is most of it.”

Today Briarwood is still building up areas, and has a keen eye on the future.

They are currently working on Briarwood Plaza II at 36-29 Bell Boulevard. The project is expected to be completed by the spring of 2013, Vincent L. Riso said, and will house businesses and medical offices.

James Riso is working on two projects in Brooklyn — one will be for the Brooklyn Diocese.

Overall, they said they would like to continue to grow and develop homes that people can afford, and are great places to live.

“I hope to see us expand our operations and go into the future with more and more rental properties, especially for lower-income people,” Vincent L. Riso said.

The key to staying strong, the partners believe, is staying positive no matter how hard or trying the economic times.

“In order to be a developer, you have to be an optimist,” said Vincent L. Riso. “We are optimists.”

Molloy mobilizes to help paralyzed teen


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Joe Sommo

Justin Thompson had just gotten his learner’s permit.

His parents’ only cause for concern at the time was the thought of their newly-minted 16 year old one day hitting the roads solo.
But all slated plans to drive, to land a starting spot in varsity soccer, to lead a normal teenage life, came screeching to a halt in October 2011 when the Springfield Gardens teen was shot in the back.

“In my mind, as a parent, I thought driving would be the next worry, the next hurdle,” Donald Thompson said. “This shows you life throws you some unexpected things.”

Justin and his friends were leaving a party in Cambria Heights when they suddenly saw a herd of people running “in all kinds of directions.”
“All hell broke loose,” the family said.

There was a shot fired, and Justin felt a burning in his back before losing his legs and hitting the ground.

The bullet — traveling from the right to left side of Justin’s back — was embedded in his armpit. It bruised, but did not sever, his spinal cord, doctors said.

Now, Justin is paralyzed below the waist.

“We hope it’s temporary,” Donald said. “But no doctor will say he’ll never walk again and no doctor will say he’ll be up and running by tomorrow.”

Still, his family said “since day one, his spirits have been high,” and that eternal positive attitude is something they are grateful for.

“We’re trying to keep our heads up, but sometimes you just want to break down,” Donald told The Courier. “But when you see Justin and his positive attitude, you can’t help but smile.”

Justin is currently undergoing a rigorous rehabilitation routine and is being home schooled, the family said. He will begin physical therapy soon.
But though most services are covered by insurance, the family has suffered pricey expenses, including a wheelchair ramp installed outside their home that cost $4,200.

The family is also seeking standard at-home machinery to keep Justin’s muscles ready “for when the nerves in his legs decide to wake up.” But if insurance doesn’t cover the equipment, the family can expect to shell out up to $20,000.

“It’s so important in his rehabilitation, and it’s still being tossed around. It’s kind of up in the air,” Donald said about the equipment coverage. “It’s just a life-changing experience. You had a healthy 16 year old playing soccer and basketball, and now — due to an unprovoked act — we’re dealing with this.”

To help with costs, Justin’s school — Archbishop Molloy High School in Briarwood — hosted a fundraiser on February 3, which has raised more than $30,000 so far for the family.

“It was so moving and emotional. The school’s efforts were unreal,” Donald said. “It’s just a great school and a great family-oriented place. When one of their students is in need, everyone comes forward. They’re really great people.”

While Justin continues to be courageous, his family will continue to keep their heads up.

“He’s been a real trooper. He’s really displayed such courage. It brings tears to my eyes,” Donald said. “No matter what the doctor says, he’ll be up and running and back in the hallways.”

And when that time comes, school officials will welcome him back with open arms.

“He’s a wonderful kid and a good player,” said Mike McCleary, the school’s athletic director, who said Justin remarkably managed to balance playing both varsity soccer and junior varsity basketball before the injury. “It was really a terrible thing that he was a victim of a senseless crime. Whether or not he gets on the field in time for his high school career, I just want him to be able to walk again.”

Meanwhile, the NYPD is offering a $12,000 reward to find Justin’s shooter. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS.

Donations to “Guidance Fund – Justin Thompson” can also be mailed to Archbishop Molloy High School, located at 83-53 Manton Street in Briarwood. Call 718-441-9210 for more information.

 

NYPD officer Peter Figoski shot & killed by robber in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

NYPD officer Peter Figoski shot & killed by robber in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn

A city police officer was shot in the face and killed while responding to a call of a robbery in Brooklyn early Monday, authorities said. Officer Peter Figoski was hit once as he stood at the bottom of a staircase that led from the street to a basement apartment at 25 Pine Street in Cypress Hills. “The officer interrupted a burglary-robbery in progress,” said Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne, the NYPD’s top spokesman. “It looks like the gunman may have surprised the officer. As the officer entered the location, he was shot by the gunman.” The tragic incident occurred about 2:15 a.m. Figoski was rushed to Jamaica Hospital but could not be saved. Read More: Daily News

Long Island City bank robber panicked after he fired his gun at the ceiling 

The FBI is hunting for a gun-toting bank robber, who was caught on camera after he fired a shot into the ceiling of a Queens bank to prove he meant business but left without a cent. The bandit, dressed in a dark colored cap, dark framed glasses and a dark jacket and black leather gloves, walked into the HSBC bank on 43rd Avenue near 22nd Street in Long Island City, shortly before 9 a.m. on Wednesday, said authorities.  Read More: Daily News

Ex-Officer Kills His Wife, a State Tax Agent, in Queens, the Police Say

A state tax agent who specialized in investigating the trafficking of illegal cigarettes was shot to death by her husband, a former New York police officer, the authorities said on Sunday. The body of the investigator, Tracey Young, 42, was discovered by the police and paramedics shortly after 11 p.m. Saturday in her apartment on the eighth floor of 143-41 84th Drive, in Briarwood. She had been shot several times in the head and torso, and was pronounced dead at the scene. Read More: New York Times

TSA Passenger Advocates Sought By New York Lawmakers

Two New York lawmakers have called for a passenger advocate at airports to immediately act on complaints by passengers over security screenings. U.S. Senator Charles Schumer and state Senator Michael Gianaris of Queens want the Transportation Security Administration to create the position at all airports. The proposal, released Sunday, was prompted by an elderly woman’s recent claims that she was strip searched by security officials at Kennedy Airport, which the TSA denies, saying it doesn’t conduct strip searches. Others have since made similar claims. Read More: Huffington Post

Meeks’ money man eyes plea deal

A Queens businessman who once gave Congressmember Gregory Meeks $40,000 is negotiating a plea deal with federal authorities in Brooklyn, according to court records obtained by The Post. The “extensive plea negotiations” are scheduled to stretch into the end of February, leaving some to wonder if Meeks pal and Guyanese-born developer Edul Ahmad is helping the feds with other targets. “That’s a lot of time to negotiate a plea,” said a New York criminal lawyer not connected with the case. “The feds must think there are bigger fish they can catch.” Read More: New York Post

Lying lawyer slapped

A Queens lawyer has been suspended for six months for falsely accusing a New Jersey state trooper of using anti-Semitic slurs against him, according to a ruling released yesterday. Attorney Elliott Dear said he made up the outrageous allegations in hopes of getting out of a speeding ticket. Court papers say the unidentified trooper pulled over Dear, an orthodox Jew, for going 84 in a 55-mph zone while driving with his wife in 2007. Read More: New York Post

Hero FDNY captain rescues badly-burned grandpa from burning Queens building

A badly-burned Queens grandfather was pulled from his smoke-choked bedroom early Saturday after his desperate son screamed at firefighters to rescue the trapped man. “My father! My father!” howled Patrick Bryan, 32, as the FDNY reached his burning Flushing apartment at 2:12 a.m. Bryan, his wife and their 5-year-old daughter escaped from the two-story apartment building — but 64-year-old Patrick James Rohan was lying unconscious in a rear bedroom. Read More: Daily News

Kew Gardens Fire Injures Four, Cause Unknown

Fire officials are looking into what sparked a fire Saturday that left four people injured in Queens. The New York City Fire Department says it broke out around 2 a.m. in the kitchen on the top floor of a two-story apartment building located at 147-19 75th Road in Kew Gardens. Family members say residents were forced to escape from a second story window. Read More: NY1

Queens Man Charged With Murdering Former Roommate

A Queens man was arraigned Saturday on charges of second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon in connection with the shooting death of a man on Staten Island. Armand Skrine, 34, is being held without bail. On Thursday, police responded to a call of shots fired on Steuben Street in Park Hill. There they found David Williams, 30, on the seventh floor of his building with multiple gunshot wounds. Read More: NY1

Archbishop Molloy gets 21st Century library


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photos by Joseph Sommo

Books and bookworms alike at Archbishop Molloy High School now have a new place to call home.

Students and faculty at the Briarwood school welcomed a brand new, state-of-the-art library in September at the start of the school year.

“It’s fantastic. It is light-years ahead of what it used to be,” said alumnus Joseph Sommo, who is also the school’s alumni communications coordinator.

In order to accommodate the increased technological demands and advances, the former library — which was first erected over 50 years ago when the school was constructed in 1957 — was stripped down and rebuilt inside and out.

“Education is constantly changing and evolving. We need to keep up with the pace,” Sommo said. “This is something that had to be done, and everybody is thankful for it. It needed to be rebuilt. It wasn’t up to the times. The infrastructure was old, and it hasn’t been updated since the school was built. It needed the technological upgrades.”

The school’s newly-modernized William J. Murphy Library features an expansive research lab that boasts 40 laptop computers dedicated to online research, which is supported by more than one linear mile of cable implanted during construction. New additions also include a unique college preparatory center and a multimedia conference room that serves both faculty and students.

In addition, energy-efficient lighting, climate control, carpeting with new wood-crafted furniture and a library database — which serves as a more efficient, green solution in maintaining records — were also installed during the transformation.

“It’s been 50 years since we did major renovations in the library,” said Richard Karsten, the school’s president. The new library is a state-of-the-art solution for the next 25 years. It’s a clean, safe and well-lit environment for students to work in.”

The “ambitious” project was completed over the course of “one short summer,” Karsten said, adding that the “effective execution” came after one year of planning. The renovation broke ground in late May this year after classes ended and was completed before the first bell of the semester rang.

“It was old fashioned to say the least,” Sommo said. “It’s a lot more welcoming and inviting than before. There are a lot more students in there now, trust me. A lot of them used to go down to the lounge. The library is a place that everyone gravitates toward now. It’s cozy and it’s a good place to get your work done. It’s definitely received an update that is worthy of the school, its students and faculty.”

What’s Happening In Queens


| amanning@queenscourier.com

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EDITOR’S PICK

WEEKEND EVENTS

CHINESE OPERA

Saturday, November 26 at 2 p.m. Flushing Library: Kunqu Society Presents a Chinese Opera; The Kunqu Society will present this special performance  in honor of the 10th anniversary of Kunqu’s designation as a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization; call 718-661-1200.

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 25

10:30 a.m. Douglaston-Little Neck Library: “Yoga and Me” for Preschoolers; Sarae Garcia teaches this class that introduces yoga to children ages three to five in order to tap into their creativity using movement and games. Preregistration is required; call 718-225-8414.

10:30 a.m. Fresh Meadows Library: Knitting/Crocheting Club; Enthusiasts of knitting and crocheting can come work on their skills while enjoying great conversation. Participants must bring their own materials; call 718-454-7272.

3 p.m. Long Island City: Homework Help: Come start your weekend off right by getting your homework out the way with the help of staff; call 718-752-3700.  

3 – 6 p.m. Cambria Heights Library: BOOST Homework Help; The library’s BOOST (Best Out of School Time) staff will be helping students with their homework to give them encouragement, keep them on task and clarify instructions; call 718-528-3535.

3:30 p.m. Queens Village Library: Holiday Pen Pal Club; Spread joy this holiday season by creating cards and bookmarks for the homebound elderly; call 718-766-6800. 

 4 p.m. Fresh Meadows Library: Book Buddies; Every Friday afternoon, children in grades K – 3 can come to read and play fun, educational activities with a teenage book buddy. Teens in seventh grade and up may apply to volunteer; call 718-454-7272.

 

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 26

2 p.m. Long Island City Library: Searching Online for a Job: This workshop will go over everything from Internet job searching and job search assessment to job sites and resumes; basic computer skills and preregistration are required; call 718-752-3700.

3 p.m. Cambria Heights Library: Library Explorers Club; The Queens Museum of Art Educators will guide children and families through the new Children’s Library Discovery Center.  This series of programs was created specially for families with children affected by Autism (siblings are also welcome). Preregistration is required; call 718-990-0114.  

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 27

1 p.m. Fort Totten Visitor’s Center: Historic New York – The Fort Totten Tunnel Tour; Exploring tunnels and hidden chambers can be very exciting, especially when you have a guide who knows them well and is armed with a lantern.  Come see an unfamiliar part of Fort Totten, forgotten and mysterious; call 718-352-1769.

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 28

10 a.m.Forest Hills Library: Ping Pong Club; Adults are invited to come play ping pong; call 718-268-7934.

10 a.m. Central Library: Stay Well; Learn new ways to take charge of your health and help your friends do the same. Special exercises and relaxation techniques that can make a difference in your life will be taught; call 718-990-0700.

10:30 Forest Hills Library: Grandparent Support Group; This meeting will focus on issues and challenges of raising grandchildren, including how to communicate effectively, how to bridge the gap between Russian traditions and American culture at home and how to deal with difficult teens; call 718-268-7934.

1 p.m. Long Island City Library: Learn about Housing and Public Benefits Options; Learn about affordable housing and public benefits. All workshops will take place at the Queens Library Literacy Zone /JeanneElmezziAdultLearningCenter;call 718-752-3700.

1 p.m. Langston Hughes Library: Northern Queens Regional CAC Meeting; Anyone who is interested in improving the health of their neighbors in Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, Langston Hughes, Corona, Lefrak City, Flushing and Pomonok should come to this meeting; call 718-990-5197.

1 p.m. Long Island City Library: The Social Worker Is In: A social worker will be available to answer questions in English and Spanish for older adults and caregivers about obtaining long-term care and applying for benefits and entitlements and to provide  information about community services available to support you and/or the person you are helping. There will also be information about homecare, respite, counseling, support groups, adult day care and more; call 718-752-3700.

2 p.m. Long Island City: Financial Empowerment Center; Come talk to a financial counselor to get tips on managing your credit, debt and household budget. To register, call theQueensFinancialEmpowermentCenter at 646-810-4050 x 112 and indicate that you want to register for a session at the Queens Library.

4 p.m. Briarwood Library: Meditation for Children – Happy Minds, Healthy Bodies; Children ages seven to 12 can come learn how to relax their minds and learn how it helps their body and can improve their grades. Preregistration is required; call 718-658-1680.

5 p.m. Pomonok Library: College Club 2011 It’s All About You! – Your College Admissions Essay; This one hour Kaplan workshop is designed to show students and their parents what college admissions officers look for in an essay. The instructor will examine what types of essay topics students will encounter, critique a sample admissions essay and cover the four steps to writing a winning essay. Preregister at www.kaptest.com/College/Home/index.html.  

6 p.m. Lefrak City Library: Open Forum with New York City Council Member Daniel Dromm; Councilmember Daniel Dromm will join November’s Open Forum. Learn what a councilmember does, hear the responses to issues raised last month and join the Open Forum this month to voice your questions, ideas, concerns or observations about our community; call 718-592-7677.

6:30 p.m. Corona Library: Flamenco Cante and Guitar; Experience the musical traditions of Andalucia, Spain and folkloric songs – truly the heart and soul of flamenco –  and the beauty of flamenco dance as performed by Flamenco Latino; call 718-426-2844.

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 29

1 p.m. Fresh Meadows Library: Adult Scrabble; Come play the word game that has been played for generations. Participants should bring their own boards; call 718-454-7272.

1:15 p.m. Douglaston-Little Neck Library: Mother Goose; Children ages nine to 36 months and their caregivers can come sing nursery rhymes and listen to stories. Preregistration is required and space is limited; call 718-225-8414.

2:30 p.m. Bellerose Library: Let’s Bollywood – A Dance Instruction Workshop for Adults; Dance instructor Pia Majumdar will teach this 3-session workshop on Bollywood dance steps. At the last session, participants will get a chance to put all the steps together for a fun performance for family and friends. Preregistration is required; call 718-831-8644.

4 p.m. Steinway Library: Going Green with LEAP; Children ages 11 to 14 will create and play games that focus on the ecology and environments in their neighborhoods. They will also organize a “Go Green” campaign; call 718-728-1965.

6:30 p.m. Central Library: Owning Your Own Business – The Nuts & Bolts of Getting Started; Anyone who is considering starting his or her own business should come to this workshop to learn how to develop the idea into a business plan. Participants will learn how create a demand for a product/service, how to set goals and objectives and how to budget time and money. This is held in theJobInformationCenter. To register call 718-990-5102.

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 30

10:30 p.m. Auburndale Library: Computer Class for Chinese Speakers; A one-on-one, half-hour computer lesson for Chinese speakers. Appointments are available at 10:30, 11 and 11:30 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. every Wednesday; call 718-352-2027.

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 1

3 p.m. Bellerose Library: Introduction to Relaxation and Self-Healing, Part 2 – Meditation and Harmonic Self Balancing Technique; Learn harmonic self-balacing techniques to promote physical and emotional balance. These approaches will reduce stress, increase concentration and provide a greater understanding of the relationship between mind and body; call 718-831-8644.

6 p.m. Bayside Library: Writer’s Workshop; Improve your writing by taking part in this workshop. Writers will learn the craft of narrative and discuss published stories and participants’ work.

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Summer readers feted by Assemblymember Rory Lancman


| mchan@queenscourier.com

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More than 50 young readers throughout Queens were awarded for their participation in this year’s New York State Assembly Summer Reading Challenge on Monday, October 24.

Assemblymember Rory Lancman presented award certificates to students who accumulated at least 40 days of reading throughout the summer, either independently or with their parents and guardians.

“A lot of the time my kids don’t want to read, but if I tell them that they’ll get something out of it, they have the incentive to do it,” said Lisa Ramos, mother of Lara and Eduardo of P.S. 117 in Briarwood.

Student readers from public schools in Jamaica, Flushing, Briarwood, Kew Gardens, Fresh Meadows and Richmond Hill attended the ceremony held in the Briarwood Library.

Construction to close subway entrance


| mchan@queenscourier.com

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Commuters in Briarwood will be left hanging by more than just a strap until 2015.

Ongoing construction from the Kew Gardens Interchange project will force the more heavily used entrance of the Briarwood-Van Wyck station to close, pushing subway travelers out of an exit some residents have deemed dangerous.

The main entrance, located on the south side of Queens Boulevard, is expected to permanently close early this winter, according to the Department of Transportation (DOT), with construction efforts not expected to end until early 2015.
The remaining west side entrance leads out to the Van Wyck Expressway service road and borders Maple Grove Cemetery — a combination some residents find daunting.

“This is a problem for several reasons,” said resident Beth Brooks of the Briarwood Action Network. “Cars are used to speeding down there to get onto the Van Wyck. There is no stop light. There isn’t even a yield sign. There’s nothing there.”

Currently, the west side entrance is used by less than one percent of the station’s ridership, according to MTA spokesperson Charles Seaton.

“It didn’t matter before because nobody ever walked there,” said Brooks, a resident for over 25 years. “But now you’re going to have thousands of people a day coming out of that entrance. It’s a death trap.”

Brooks also expressed concerns about walking alone next to the cemetery at night.

“It’s very dark over there even in daylight. There is no foot traffic. It’s very isolated. It’s a perfect place for muggers, rapists and other unsavory characters,” she said.

Ridgewood resident Christine Evath shared the same sentiment.

“That doesn’t sound good to me. Not as a young female — that doesn’t sound good at all,” she said.

According to the DOT, the Kew Gardens Interchange project requires the station’s south side entrance to close before further construction contracts can continue. Among many changes, an auxiliary lane will be added to the Van Wyck and improvements — including an added elevator and a new entrance — will be made to the subway station.

But a brand new subway station isn’t worth the “inconvenience” or danger for resident Fred Stokes.

“I’d rather keep what’s been safe so far than take any other risk,” he said.

The issue even warranted the concern of nearby officials at Arch Bishop Molloy High School.

“We’re concerned about their safety,” said Assistant Principal Ken Auer. “We just try to keep them informed and aware at all times. We told them to keep their eyes open and to leave extra time because it’s going to be a longer walk.”

The high school is located on 83-53 Manton Street, just a few blocks down from the west side entrance.

“It’s a serious issue, but they’re young adults and they have to be careful. There’s nothing else we can really do,” Auer said.

Assemblymember Rory Lancman told The Courier that even he wouldn’t be too comfortable crossing the Van Wyck Expressway service road to get to the west side subway entrance.

After observing the area, he said cars that turn right onto Queens Boulevard have a tendency to make the turn very quickly.

“If you have someone in the middle of the crossway, a car is not going to have enough time to stop and that person is not going to have enough time to get out of the way,” Lancman said. “If you add nighttime and rain, it’s a real possibility for tragedy.”

With the exception of the “inadequate traffic control” located at the intersection between Queens Boulevard and the Van Wyck Expressway entrance ramp, Lancman and Officer Joseph Martins of the 102nd Precinct said residents should be safe otherwise.

“Right now, if residents follow and strictly adhere to the pedestrian traffic patterns that are in place, they will be safe,” Lancman said.