Tag Archives: College Point

Northern Queens parents gain no traction during meeting with BP Katz over school program


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Whitestone and Flushing parents were sent back to the drawing board after meeting with Borough President Melinda Katz to discuss their desire to create a gifted and talented program for middle schools in the northern and central Queens area.

Lisa Fusco and a growing number of parents are building a case for the creation of gifted and talented programs for middle schools in their district. During a meeting with Katz and education officials on Wednesday, the parents were told that the district’s superintendent was the only one with the power to extend the program from its limited elementary school reach to middle school.

“They’re giving us the run around,” Fusco said. “We’ve spoken to [Superintendent Danielle Di Mango] before and that hasn’t gotten us anywhere. We’ve tried everything else.”

Mango declined a request for comment.

Fusco’s fourth-grade daughter is enrolled in the gifted and talented program in P.S. 79 and — unlike in many other school districts — the program does not continue into middle school within District 25, which covers most of central and northern Queens. Neighboring districts 26 and 30 provide the program to students in middle school. More than 150 parents have signed a petition to bring the program into their middle schools in places like Flushing and Whitestone.

The gifted and talented programs are meant to provide extra services for students who show academic promise and get bored easily in a traditional classroom setting. Parents must sign up their children for tests to get into the program by November, and children are tested in January and February.

“We have made some real strides engaging community leaders,” Fusco said. “And we will continue to push for the program in our communities.”

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‘Shorty 140’ graffiti tagger arrested: report


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Laser Burners/Flickr Creative Commons

They got Shorty.

A graffiti artist famous among local authorities for leaving his “Shorty 140” tag on Queens overpasses has been arrested, according to a published report.

Alberto R. Rodriguez, 33, who has lived in College Point and Long Island at various times, has been charged with criminal mischief and the felony crime of making graffiti, according to Newsday.

Police eventually nabbed Rodriguez on Dec. 3 after picking him up in a DWI case and charged him with the graffiti crimes, the paper reported. They were able to catch him through surveillance and a database that logs graffiti tags throughout the city.

One of the “Shorty 140” tags that police collected, according to am New York, included the words “RIP John Gotti” along the Cross Island Parkway.

Rodriguez has long been a thorn in the side of police and community leaders, angry over his ever-present graffiti on highway overpasses. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton once fumed that seeing Shorty 140′s tag on graffiti while traveling to and from the Hamptons on weekends drove him out of his mind, according to a report in Newsday.

In addition to continuing his graffiti spree, Rodriguez has also developed a cult following as a rapper in recent years.

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Whitestone and northern Queens residents push for expansion of school program


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Parents in Whitestone and Flushing are trying to give the city a new lesson plan.

Lisa Fusco, from Whitestone, and 150 parents in northern Queens signed a petition to the city Department of Eudcation demanding the creation of gifted and talented programs for the middle schools in their  district. Several of the parents are also meeting with Borough President Melinda Katz and Department of Education officials on Dec. 10 to discuss the issue.

District 25 is bordered by Flushing Meadows Park to the west and Bayside to the east, and it encompasses Pomonok to the south up to Whitestone and College Point.

The large area has six middle schools, but none of them have gifted and talented programs. For Fusco and others, that’s a problem.

“Our children are in the gifted and talented program in the elementary schools and we would like them to continue this wonderful program into middle school,” said Fusco, whose fourth-grade daughter is enrolled in the program in P.S. 79. “It would be such a shame if they had to stop this program.”

The gifted and talented programs are meant to provide extra services for students with a high aptitude who get bored easily in regular classes, according to the Department of Education. Parents must sign up their children for tests to get into the program by November, and children are tested in January and February.

While the program is usually meant for elementary schools, the group’s request isn’t unprecedented. School District 26, which runs along the border with Long Island, and District 30, Long Island City and Astoria, both have middle schools that offer the gifted and talented program.

“I don’t understand why the DOE lacks a citywide policy on [gifted and talented programs] and why it provides [gifted and talented] classes in one district and not another,” said Morris Altman, the president of the education council in District 25.

Justin Chang, from Whitestone, has two boys who are enrolled in the program at P.S. 79, and he worries about what his kids will do if there is no equivalent teaching method being used in the local middle schools.

“They are different and they need help in a different way,” Chang said. “I would just hope they consider opening the program for our district.”

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Local authorities try to put an end to College Point homeless encampment


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

A team of city officials, police and advocates for the homeless swept into a makeshift encampment under a ramp to the Whitestone Expressway, relocating those taking shelter there to safer quarters and fencing off the barren lot.

The fenced off area is under the Whitestone Expressway on the border between College Point and Flushing and is popular among the homeless seeking shelter, according to Councilman Paul Vallone’s office. Police have known about the area and periodically evacuate it. Despite the fence, the homeless kept returning. But Vallone is hoping that the area will be rid of shelter seekers now that the Department of Homeless Services and Common Ground, a nonprofit organization, helped relocate the people who called the Whitestone Expressway their home.

“This combined effort by our city’s Agencies was effective in cleaning up and relocating the homeless encampment in College Point,” Vallone said. “Particularly, I applaud the DHS and Common Ground for going above and beyond to work with the chronically homeless to encourage them to relocate and seek out shelter and housing as we work to try and ensure that no one has to live outside on the streets.”

Vallone’s office estimated that there were around 30-50 people using the underpass as a shelter. Neither the city nor Common Ground returned a request for comment.

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Police prepare for Black Friday shopping rush in Flushing and College Point


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of The Shops at SkyView Center

Police are preparing for Black Friday in Flushing and College Point by beefing up police presence and posting traffic officers on busy roads, according to authorities.

While there weren’t many crimes in the area during last year’s Black Friday, police at the 109th Precinct hope that the increase in police presence will prevent the possibility of shoppers getting robbed and stores being burglarized, according Detective Kevin O’Donnell.

“We’re expecting large crowds to be coming out to Flushing and College Point and we want everyone to have a safe Black Friday,” he said.

The police will be concentrating on two areas. The first location, The Shops at SkyView Center, will be particularly important to police because the Target housed in the mall will stay open all night on Friday into Saturday. The other area is in College Point on a section of 20th Avenue lined with strip malls. Just north of Flushing, the shopping center has several strip malls next to one another. And while there is parking, traffic backups from exit 15 off the Whitestone Expressway on regular weekends.

“Traffic is going to be a mess out there but we’re hoping to keep things as smooth as possible,” O’Donnell said.

Shoppers can expect to see an increase in police beginning on Thursday afternoon, a concentrated presence that will continue into Saturday.

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Elderly man, woman killed in College Point crash


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

An 87 year-old man and his 89-year-old passenger were killed Monday night in a car crash in the parking lot of the College Point BJ’s Wholesale Club, police said.

The driver was trying to leave the parking lot of the store at 137-05 20th Ave. around 9:15 p.m. when he lost control of his 1989 Mercury, striking an unoccupied parked minivan and then a light pole, authorities said.

The man and his female passenger, who both have yet to be identified by police, were pronounced dead at the scene.

Police were investigating.

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Suspect wanted in connection to 21 Queens, Bronx commercial break-ins


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of the NYPD

Police are looking for a man wanted in connection with a string of citywide commercial burglaries.

In a total of 21 incidents, starting in June in Rosedale and most recently occurring on Oct. 20 in the Bronx, at least one suspect broke into commercial establishments via the roof, side or rear doors, or ventilation ducts while the business were closed, according authorities. Money from the cash register and broken-into ATMs, as well as miscellaneous items, such as cigarettes, were taken during the thefts.

In Queens, the burglaries have occurred in Laurelton, Broad Channel, Jamaica, Astoria, Queens Village, Bayside, Hollis, Glen Oaks, College Point, Richmond Hill and Flushing. The other break-ins all happened in the Bronx.

The NYPD has released surveillance photos of the male suspect wanted in an incident on Sept. 12 in Richmond Hill. During this burglary, at about 8 p.m. the suspect entered 88-24 Van Wyck Expressway via the roof, damaged the security system but did not remove any property, police said.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

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Real estate roundup: $750M College Point Police Academy delayed again, Meadow Lake to get cleanup


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of the NYPD

New $750 million NYPD Police Academy in Queens faces another setback with defective gym floor

“Cadets attending the NYPD’s new multimillion-dollar Police Academy in Queens may be asked to participate in a new physical fitness regimen — ripping out the broken gym floor.

“A state-of-the-art polyurethane floor recently installed in the soon-to-be opened $750 million NYPD training ground in College Point has already began to warp and buckle and will need to be torn out and replaced — possibly delaying the facility’s opening, police officials confirmed Friday.” Read more [The New York Daily News]

Long neglected, lakes and ponds in city parks will get some attention

“It is the largest lake in New York City, a historic salt marsh that was flooded when Flushing Meadows-Corona Park was fashioned from a former ash dump to host the 1939 World’s Fair.

“But while years of effort and millions of dollars have gone toward cleaning up the city’s major waterways, like the Hudson and Bronx Rivers, city officials and parks advocates have paid less attention to Meadow Lake and the four dozen other lakes and ponds scattered across the parkland.” Read more [The New York Times]

5 factors that could impact Chinese property investment in NYC

“As Chinese property developers and investors look to generate bigger profits by looking beyond their local markets, questions have arisen about what’s actually driving the influx of cash – and what could slow the flow.” Read more [The Real Deal]

Vallone allocates $68K for Doe Fund to clean Bayside, College Point


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Councilman Paul Vallone allocated $68,000 to contract The Doe Fund to clean up the streets, according to the councilman’s spokesman.

As part of the 2015 council budget, Vallone was given the money to spend on cleaning initiatives in Bayside and the surrounding neighborhoods within his council district, according to a spokesman for Vallone. And he plans on concentrating cleaning efforts on College Point Boulevard in College Point and Bell Boulevard in Bayside, where The Doe Fund will be charged with power washing the sidewalks, sweeping the sidewalks and replacing trash bins.

“Clean sidewalks and litter-free streets are a big part of our quality of life,” Vallone said. “The money allocated for The Doe Fund will go a long way to beautifying and maintaining College Point Boulevard and Bell Boulevard, two of the most important and widely used commercial strips in my district.“

According to Vallone’s spokesman, College Point Boulevard between 14th and 23rd avenues is in particular need of cleaning because of the stained, blackened sidewalks and the abundance of litter. Another spot that they will be concentrating on is Bell Boulevard between 35th Avenue to 45th Drive.

The Doe Fund’s street cleaning crews, made up of formerly homeless or recently incarcerated men, will start the cleaning job on Oct. 1 and continue until June 30, 2015. According to Vallone’s spokesman, there will be four workers covering the areas three days a week.

The Doe Fund’s presence is now in 10 Council districts in Queens, which is up from six in 2013. The increase in the crew’s services comes after the City Council approved $3.5 million for cleaning initiatives.

Vallone is scheduled to hold a press conference on Monday, Sept. 22, to announce the cleaning initiative with Doe’s founder, George McDonald.

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Bayside resident prepares for annual pigeon race


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Xu Jun wakes up every morning at 4 a.m. and drives hundreds of miles away from his Bayside apartment with at least 70 pigeons, then lets them find their way home. He’s training his birds, known as homing pigeons, for a competition in September.

“When I was young I liked to have pigeons,” Jun said in Mandarin, speaking through translator Lisa Zhang. “It’s always been an interest of mine.”

Jun participates in various races across the northeast and he began the hobby three years ago. The World Center Memorial Race, the one Jun is currently preparing for, is hosted by the Bronx Homing Pigeon Club and takes place in late September. Each of Jun’s 101 pigeons has an individual number tag so that the race organizers can make sure nobody cheats. The organizers of the race will take Jun’s birds, along with hundreds of other contestants’ birds, to an undisclosed area where they are released. Contestants are judged based on how fast their flock comes home, according to Jun.

Jun’s birds live in a wooden nest, known as a loft, in a College Point bus repair shop. The loft serves as their home and final destination in races. Jun works for the shop and during the lulls in his work schedule he cleans the loft and feeds the birds.

Homing pigeons have two racing seasons. The first is in late September when the birds are less than a year old. The second season is in the spring and the birds are typically older by this point in their racing careers.

With the first race season approaching, Jun has been training his pigeons by taking them further and further out in New Jersey every week and then releasing them in the wild, where they will usually take several hours to fly back home.

“I just like pigeons. It’s a very simple thing for me and I enjoy it,” Jun said. That day he was particularly pleased with his birds’ athletic performance; he released 73 and all of them returned, an outcome that doesn’t always happen.

“There’s kind of a neat tradition to pigeon homing,” said Deone Roberts, who works for the American Racing Pigeon Union, an organization that’s affiliated with hundreds of pigeon clubs across the country.

“The bird’s simply enjoying flying and going home,” she said. “[The pigeon] wants to go home and be with his mate and their offspring. It makes good fun.”

Using pigeons for racing has been around in America since the late 1800s, according to Roberts’ organization. The birds, a common sight in New York City, were also used during WWII to transmit messages across enemy lines.

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Derelict boat goes unnoticed in College Point


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

The origin of an abandoned boat on the College Point shoreline in Flushing Bay is a mystery but like the bay’s water, which government agency is responsible for abandoned vessels is murky.

According to the Coast Guard and other organizations, there is no agency that’s responsible for such unworthy sea vessels that aren’t obstructing waterways.

“It just appeared here one day and we’ve been salvaging it for parts ever since,” said a construction worker, who didn’t want his name revealed because he didn’t know whether it was illegal to take parts of the boat. He said that the boat has been in the bay for five years. While the decrepit boat shell doesn’t bother the construciton worker, he wonders why the city hasn’t done anything about it.

“If someone abandons their car, the government is going to tow it, right? So why do different rules apply here?” he said.

The hulk, which has the word “Fright” written in white on its bow, is completely rusted over and its innards, engine and all, have been gutted by the mechanics in the area.

Since the boat sits on the muddy shore near 119th Street and 20th Avenue, the Coast Guard doesn’t need to do anything about it. The Coast Guard will only do something if dysfunctional boats block waterways. The same goes for the Army Corp of Engineers but neither knows anything about the boat, according to spokesmen for the two entities.

College Point’s civic association also doesn’t know anything about the boat. The Arrow Yacht Club, which is located near the abandoned boat, is unaware of the about 60-foot-long beached vessel.

There are indications that the boat once traversed New York City’s waterways in the service of helping larger vessels move, such as its stout but thick build and the corroded rubber bumper.
Things like clothes and sleeping bags below deck suggest that someone now might be using the boat as a home.

 

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Health Department to treat Queens against West Nile


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYC Department of Health

On Friday, Aug. 15, Monday, Aug.18 and Tuesday, Aug.19, the Health Department will treat parts of Queens to help reduce the mosquito population and the risk of West Nile virus.

The treatment, which will apply larvicide by using a low-flying helicopter, will take place between the hours of 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. In case of bad weather, the application will be delayed until Monday, Aug. 18, Tuesday, Aug.19 and Wednesday, Aug. 20 during the same hours

VectoBacTM CG, VectoMaxTM CG/FG and/or VectoLexTM CG/FG—all containing naturally occurring bacteria—will be used for this spraying. These larvicides are used throughout the mosquito season to treat mosquito- breeding sites, and are approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, according to the city’s Health Department.

LOCATIONS:

Alley Pond Park and Alley Creek (Boundaries: Marsh areas inside Alley Pond Park)

Linden Hill/ College Point and Abandoned Flushing Airport (Boundaries: Marsh areas bounded by Whitestone Expressway to the east; 20th Avenue to the north; 130th Avenue and Ulmer Street to the west; and Ulmer Street and 28th Street to the south)

Edgemere, Somerville Dubos Point and Edgemere Park (Boundaries: Marsh areas bounded by Norton Basin to the east; Mott Point to the north; Grass Hassock Channel to the west; and Beach 65th Street, De Costa Avenue and Almeda Avenue to the south)

 

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College Point tattoo shop hopes to make an indelible mark in Bayside


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Benjamin Fang

A College Point tattoo shop is packing up, needles and ink in tow, and moving to Bayside to add a little color to Bell Boulevard.

Mean Streets Tattoo first opened in 1999 and is owned by Tommy Murphy, who is also one of the store’s main tattoo artists.

But in recent years, “College Point is not what it used to be,” Murphy said. “We just wanted to go to a neighborhood that’s more upscale and local.”

Murphy, who is from Whitestone, cited the opening of corporate stores in recent years like the Target as a contributing factor to the decline in business for his tattoo shop.

“All the local stores are starting to feel the pressure,” he said.

Along with his partner and daughter, both of whom work as tattoo artists, Murphy plans on opening his new shop on Sept. 1, leaving behind their original location.

The new Bell Boulevard site used to belong to a gift shop, Top Drawer, before it closed down earlier this year, according to neighboring businesses and city records.

According to the Times Ledger, Top Drawer was in business for 35 years and owners Jeffrey and Karen Serin decided to close shop for good after their lease expired. Renovations have just started but Murphy is excited for the new business and being in Bayside.

“Bell Boulevard is an amazing thing and it has a really strong small business atmosphere and we’re looking forward to being part of that,” he said.

 

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College Point historical site gets renovation funds, hopes for revival


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

The historic Poppenhusen Institute‘s foundation sits on sand and its façade deteriorates with age. After 30 years of weathering wind from the bay, the College Point cultural center is going to be restored.

The city granted funds to the historical landmark building in order to complete overdue repairs to its exterior and to also build an elevator for the three upper floors, according to city documents. The last time the building’s exterior was working was in 1980s.

Executive Director Susan Brustmann believes the repairs and construction will cost $10 million but the city has only approved $5 million. The two major jobs will begin in early 2015 and will last for at least a year, according to Brustmann.

At a time when the nineteenth century building is in danger of closing down, the city grant is a welcome relief, according to Brustmann.

“We’re facing the most challenging time in our history,” she said. “So we’re very grateful that the city has given us money. The construction will be a great thing once it’s done.”

When the repairs are completed, Brustmann hopes to attract new revenue sources like getting the HBO show “Boardwalk Empire” to come back and film another scene in the building’s party hall.

Poppenhusen was built in 1868 with funds from Conrad Poppenhusen, a German immigrant. Since opening, the building has taken on various roles, from holding the first kindergarten class in America to housing German Singing Societies to being a court room and a sheriff’s office with two jail cells that still stand today.

Brustmann hopes to bring some of that diversity back by not only offering its historic rooms to film crews  but by also hosting a coffee shop on the third floor, overlooking the water.

In 2008 the Institute lost its state funding and now relies on city grants and donations. For now, its plan is to hold on until the construction is finished.

“College Point is off the beaten path but we’re fighting to get people in here and stay relevant,” Brustmann said. “We’re not giving up.”

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‘Quiet Clubbing’ comes to Astoria beer garden


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy of Quiet Events

The music booms silently at one Astoria beer garden.

Every other Friday, guests are greeted at the Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden, located at 29-19 24th Ave., with wireless headphones and a quiet dance floor. Once they put on their headphones, the party begins.

This biweekly party is called “Quiet Clubbing” and is organized by the company Quiet Events, founded in 2012 by College Point resident William Petz after he experienced what is known as a “silent disco” on a cruise with family.

“We enjoyed it so much and thought someone had to be doing it in New York, but no one was,” Petz said. “I figured let me buy 300 headphones and worst comes to worst I sell them on eBay.”

During the event, there are three live DJs each playing a different genre of music such as hip-hop, old-school hits and top 40s. Guests put on their headphones and can switch to any of the three stations with LED lights on the headphones changing from blue, red and green, letting others know which DJ they’ve picked.

“We took a beer garden and almost turned it to a festival,” Petz said. He estimates that between 500 to 600 people attend each night, with the numbers only growing.

Petz said that although some people might assume these types of parties are “anti-social,” he believes the environment actually allows guests to get together and adjust the volume on their headphones to be able to strike up conversations.

“It kind of is weird but it is not silent, it is not quiet. People are singing to songs, laughing and having conversations with friends,” Petz said. “You can have friends who love different types of music, dancing together. We get people to do things they normally don’t want to do.”

Along with the biweekly “quiet clubbing” parties at the Beer Garden, Quiet Events, which will soon move its headquarters to Astoria, also organizes other events such as mobile parties.

During these mobile parties about 100 to 150 people are taken around New York City, all with headphones on, and walk with a certified tour guide. Petz said it is sort of like beer crawl, but guests get to learn more about the city as well.

Quiet Events also rents its equipment to other bars and clubs, and in some cases sells the equipment.

The next Quiet Clubbing party at the Beer Garden is Friday, Aug. 1, and starts at 10 p.m. Tickets are $5 online and $10 at the door.

“The best part for me is when you talk to someone and they say they don’t get it and afterwards they love it,” Petz said “You won’t get it until you put those headphones on. It’s golden.”

For more information, click here.

 

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