Tag Archives: Corona

Corona, Flushing schools win DOT street safety video contest

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Videos via YouTube/NYC DOT

Hey drivers and pedestrians: Let’s be careful out there!

That’s the message students from the Corona Arts and Sciences Academy and Flushing’s P.S. 255 sent in their winning entries as part of the Department of Transportation (DOT) “We’re Walking Here” public service announcement (PSA) contest.

Students at the participating schools were tasked with developing PSA videos that promote walking and active lifestyles while also urging drivers and pedestrians alike to stay safe. The videos are part of the city’s Vision Zero initiative, which aims to increase street safety across the five boroughs.

The Corona Arts and Sciences Academy took home a $1,000 grant as the first-place winner, while P.S. 255 earned a $500 grant for finishing third. The Safe Streets Fund, a public-private partnership that promotes street safety, provided the prize money.

“In this crucial second year of Vision Zero, we are thrilled that these students are putting their creative minds behind this important safety message,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said in a statement on Tuesday. “It is never too young to begin educating peers on street safety.”

“Walking,” the Corona Academy video, is based on Pharrell Williams’ hit song, “Happy,” and was shot across Corona and in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Teacher Adriana Baiata led the production, which featured lead singers Cristian Dominquez and Jannet Palaguachi, and students Christine Avila, Christopher Carchi, Radhames Dilon, Harry Hernandez, Roselyn Hernandez, Natalie Huerta, Victor Infante, Edwin Jimbo, Aileen Palaguachi, Gagi Jean Renee, Bralin Rodriquez, Leslie Rodriquez, Sarita Roque, Vanessa Rosario, Jeremy Saladana, Elvin Sosa, Kelvin Yunga and Kelvin Zenteno.

Students proclaim “We like to walk” in the P.S. 255 hip-hop video shot in and around the Flushing school. It was directed by teacher Jenny Kim and paraprofessional Cadecia Lowe, and features students Adam Choudhry, Mohammed Hamza, Caleb Kang, Brian Ma, Malik Merlius, Aryan Minhas and Terrel Watson from Class Y40.

Schools can now pre-register to participate in next year’s “We’re Walking Here” competition by clicking here.


Corona tenants say ‘enough is enough’ by filing lawsuit against landlord

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Updated Wednesday, June 10, 5:34 p.m.

Fifty-seven families came together to file a lawsuit against the landlord of their Corona apartment building over hazardous conditions from rodent and roach infestation to crumbling ceilings.

The tenants of 96-10 37th Ave., a rent-stabilized building of about 76 units, filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Benedict Realty Group LLC (BRG) demanding the landlord repair the conditions they face in their apartments.

In the lawsuit, tenants claim that BRG has not been addressing their concerns with repairs and building safety, and that they have dealt with issues such as untreated rat and cockroach infestations, no or inadequate heat and water, ceiling leaks and cracks in walls and floors, mold and exposed electric lines.

The decision to join forces came after the tenants were contacted by local community organization Woodside on the Move and community organizer Constantino Tejeda visited the building.

“To get repairs has become a privilege for tenants instead of a basic service or basic right,” Tejeda said. “They pay the rent every month in order to get those basic services. They’re begging for their services.”


According to attorney Keriann Pauls of the Community Development Project of the Urban Justice Center, who has filed the lawsuit on behalf of the tenants, the landlords have done patchwork repairs but none of them have been done appropriately.

Along with having filed the lawsuit, the housing court will also have to schedule inspections with the city’s Housing Preservation Department before the tenants appear in court.

Currently, there are over 100 violations – including water leaks, structural issues, problems in the electrical system and general deterioration – open for 96-10 37th Ave., with some violations dating back to 1993.

According to Pauls, the open violations either mean the landlord addressed the issues and didn’t file the right documents or the violations still exist.

Apt. A-11

Another hole in a ceiling of an apartment in 96-10 37th Ave. (Photo by Constantino Tejeda)

“It’s a situation where we said enough is enough and they don’t hear us individually, they hide behind an answering machine, so this is a time for everyone to get together in a small force,” said Jose Mencia, a tenant at the building for over 50 years.

Mencia added that one of the big issues is that the building no longer has a live-in superintendent. He added that their current super puts up signs saying that he is only available from 9 to 5 on weekdays but not on weekends, and doesn’t provide help when tenants ask for it.

“They would just like for us to get the hell out of here and just re-rent the apartments,” Mencia said. “BRG is a management company that manages a lot of apartments and behind them are investors. To them it’s an investment. They don’t care about the people. “

Enriqueta Vicioso, who has been living at the site for 15 years, calls the conditions she lives in “fatal” as she is afraid to shower in her bathroom because there is a gaping hole in the ceiling where pieces of sheetrock have fallen from.

Vicioso said in order to take a shower she has to step outside and pour buckets of water on her head.

She also added that the ceiling in her living room and kitchen also have open holes in them.

“They don’t want to fix it. They just want to get me out of for me to pay and keep living in these conditions,” Vicioso said. “It’s horrible how they have me living here, they just don’t want to listen. They don’t want to help anyone.”

A group of the tenants got together on Wednesday in front of 96-10 37th Ave. to announce the lawsuit and rally against the conditions.

Tenants held signs that read, “We pay rent we deserve a better living condition,” and “We demand legal representation in housing court.”

“I want to live like people, not like animals in the mountains,” said Jose Gutierrez, a tenant in the building since 1979 and who has issues with mold in the walls among other problems. “We’re all here with a purpose. United we can [do this].”

According to a BRG representative, the company is surprised to hear about the lawsuit and has spent more than $600,000 in capital expenditures on the building in the past 18 months. These funds went toward upgrading electrical systems and installing new elevators, new front doors, and a new compactor and chute. There are also ongoing capital expenditures to replace mailboxes and the intercom system at the site.

“We are very surprised to hear that tenants are planning a lawsuit against 96-10 37th Avenue,” said Daniel Benedict of BRG. “We have never been the subject of a tenant lawsuit of this nature and take pride in our relations with our tenants as well as the way in which we maintain our buildings.”

Benedict added that the company also has an online work order submission system and they have received no formal complaints in relation to the issues addressed by tenants.

The superintendent also had reported to BRG a few months ago that there were signs of a rat in the basement of the building and BRG immediately increased exterminator services to the building and the issue has been addressed since then, according to Benedict.

After being contacted by The Courier, BRG looked further into the issues and “just became aware” that one tenant had complained to HPD last week about a hole in their apartment in relation to the infestation. A contractor is scheduled to go by the apartment on Thursday to fix the problem.

In response to BRG, attorney Pauls said they are happy if the landlord wants to respond because overall that is what the group is looking for, but according to what the tenants have said their requests have not been answered adequately.

“The tenants have come to us and said they have been asking their landlord through the super through management and any way they can to get repairs,” she said. “Their request for repairs, for services have gone unanswered. It’s an entire group that has banded together. If they had received some sort of solution I’m sure whoever would have passed that information along to their neighbors. When I met with the tenants recently and today you see that their requests haven’t been answered adequately.”


Corona’s Langston Hughes Library wins $20K

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos by Don Pollard

One Corona library has stood out from over 13,000 nominations throughout the city for its dedication to the local diverse community.

The Langston Hughes Community Library, located at 100-01 Northern Blvd., was announced on Thursday as one of five winners in this year’s second annual NYC Neighborhood Library Awards.

One neighborhood resident and community group member who nominated the Langston Hughes Library said it “unites people across ethnic and cultural lines” and allows residents to see just how much they have in common.

It is the only Queens library to win this year and joins the Corona Library, which was one of the winners during the awards’ inaugural year.

This year’s winners, which were selected from more than 13,000 nominations in the city’s three library systems, each received $20,000. They each also received a two-minute video showing the impact each branch has on its communities.

Along with the five winners, five other finalists were presented with $10,000. These included two Queens libraries – the Sunnyside Library and Cambria Heights Library.


Queens Library CEO appeals for more city funding

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Queens Borough Public Library

With a little more than a month until the city’s budget deadline, the Queens Borough Public Library is urging elected officials to make a much-needed investment in its system.

The Queens Library, along with the Brooklyn and New York public libraries, recently launched the “Invest in Libraries” campaign, which aims to engage New Yorkers in the debate and convince city lawmakers to provide an additional $65 million in combined funding in the 2016 fiscal year budget, which takes effect in July.

Queens Library’s Interim President and CEO Bridget Quinn-Carey outlined the campaign in an exclusive interview with The Courier Thursday. The Queens Library seeks an $18.2 million funding boost from the city, a drop in the bucket in a budget projected to meet or exceed $70 billion.

Should Queens Library receive the extra funding, Quinn-Carey claimed, it would restore the library’s funding level to that of 2008 and open the door toward adding more than 200 new jobs, expanding existing educational programs and restoring six-day service throughout the system. Since 2008, the library lost 20 percent of its funds, pared jobs and eliminated six-day service at two-thirds of its 62 branches.

Quinn-Carey charged that increasing library funds is a concept that aligns with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s efforts to increase economic opportunity for all New Yorkers.  For instance, the extra funds would enable Queens Library to expand its English as a second language program, which was held at 40 branches and proved so popular that some potential students were turned away due to a lack of available seats.

“This is really an investment not only in the traditional library system but also community engagement,” she said. “This is giving communities a greater chance of success.”

Additionally, the Queens Library is also seeking capital funds to renovate many aging, yet heavily used branches such as the Corona, Rego Park and Far Rockaway locations. De Blasio set aside $300 million in the city’s 10-year capital plan to renovate libraries, but Quinn-Carey noted the actual projected costs exceed $1.4 billion.

Quinn-Carey and the Queens Library have spent the better part of a year working to repair its image following a scandal centered around its former president and CEO, Thomas W. Galante. He came under fire early in 2014 after it was revealed that he collected a nearly $400,000 annual salary, ordered a six-figure renovation of his office and made other lavish expenses at a time when the library cut jobs and services due to funding cutbacks.

The library lost political and financial support, and local elected officials such as Queens Borough President Melinda Katz sought to change the library’s board of trustees after it resisted calls to force Galante out of office and fully open its financial books. Legislation enacted by the state in June empowered Katz and de Blasio to remove eight library trustees who supported Galante and resisted calls for full financial disclosure.

The board of trustees was stocked with new members by September, when it forced Galante into a leave of absence. Quinn-Carey was named as his interim replacement, and Galante was subsequently fired in December.

Quinn-Carey said she and the reconstituted board are working closely with the government to reform the library system. It engaged audit firms to assess the library’s risks and expenses. Steps were also taken to make the library more transparent; the library is now in compliance with the Freedom of Information Law and posts expense records on its website.

“These efforts and a reform of policies and procedures should reassure the public that the library is a great institution and still able to deliver these great services,” Quinn-Carey said.

Click here for more information about the Invest in Libraries campaign.


Reputed gang member arrested in murder on Roosevelt Avenue

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD/via Google Maps

Updated Monday, May 18, 4:09 p.m. 

A reported gang member has been apprehended in the deadly shooting of a Corona man in Jackson Heights earlier this month, authorities said.

Raul Zamora, a reputed member of the Sureños 13 gang, has been charged with second-degree murder, first-degree gang assault and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon in the death of 38-year-old Jorge Manzanarez, according to the district attorney’s office.

Police identified Zamora, 33, who lives in Jackson Heights, just blocks from the crime scene, as the suspected shooter last Monday, arresting him on Saturday.

According to officials, Zamora and two other unapprehended individuals got into an argument with Manzanarez at about 2:30 p.m. on May 5 on Roosevelt Avenue near 94th Street. Manzanarez was then shot once in the chest.

Manzanarez was taken to Elmhurst Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Zamora, who faces 25 years to life in prison, was ordered held without bail at his arraignment on Sunday.


New installments to bring ‘light to shadow’ on Roosevelt Avenue

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

A stretch of Roosevelt Avenue in Corona will soon light up bright, removing residents from the shadows and bringing a sense of safety to the community.

Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras and the Department of Transportation (DOT) announced Friday that new lampposts and LED lights are being installed down Roosevelt Avenue, a thoroughfare that has faced safety issues throughout the years.

The $500,000 project, which is part of Ferreras’ New Deal plan for Roosevelt Avenue, will replace the current lampposts and install new ones between 90th and 111th streets.

“Having lived on Roosevelt Avenue, I was eyewitness to the challenges it has with regard to safety,” Ferreras said. “Improving the environment for everyone — families, small businesses, street vendors, the LGBTQ community, drivers — has been one of my most important goals, and I am enormously proud to hit another milestone today with the installation of these lights.”

Roosevelt Avenue.

Roosevelt Avenue.

In Ferreras’ New Deal for the corridor, she aimed to make significant improvements such as creating a better business environment, increasing sanitation services and upgrading the lights.

According to the DOT, the new 78- and 91-watt LED lights will replace the 100- and 150-watt high-pressure sodium lights, giving everything around the lights a better color rendering and enhancing nighttime visibility.

The "yellow colored" lights that used to run down Roosevelt Avenue will be replaced.

The “yellow-colored” lampposts that used to run down Roosevelt Avenue will be replaced with new LED lights.

“Thanks to the council member’s support, the new LED lights and poles that DOT is currently installing on Roosevelt Avenue help build on Vision Zero’s safety goals,” DOT Borough Commissioner Nicole Garcia said. “The improved lighting enhances visibility for all, boost[s] the look of the streetscape and saves on energy costs.”

The lights are also part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s OneNYC Initiative, which looks to reduce the city’s overall carbon footprint by more than 30 percent by 2030.

The installation of the new light poles began last week and the DOT plans to have all work completed by the fall.

“[Roosevelt Avenue] will no longer be viewed as a blighted area. This will no longer be viewed as the shadow area of our community. We have brought light to shadow and I think that’s very important. It’s something that this community has consistently asked for,” Ferreras said.

Ferreras also added that as part of her participatory budgeting she plans to allocate funds to get new lampposts and LED lights from 90th to 82nd streets as well.


Map: Where recent college grads can afford rent in Queens

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Minas Styponias

For recent college graduates, living in New York City while juggling student loans and living expenses can seem almost impossible.

Add in the need for fun and entertainment, and most won’t have a dime remaining from their paychecks.

However, a new study released Wednesday by real estate website StreetEasy shows, through an interactive map, in what neighborhoods recent graduates will be able to find affordable apartments as they begin a life of independence in the Big Apple. Some areas in the “World’s Borough” have been pointed out as leading contenders.

“One of our top tips for recent grads moving to NYC is to look outside of Manhattan, and our study shows that several neighborhoods in Queens are especially ‘grad-friendly,’” a StreetEasy representative said.

Astoria and Ridgewood top the list of those Queens neighborhoods, but affordable apartments can be found in many neighborhoods throughout the borough including Kew Gardens, Corona, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Rego Park and Flushing.

The map (below) reveals the availability of affordable apartments in city based on three variables. It uses the average entry-level salaries for the top 10 majors of recent grads moving to the NYC, including business, social sciences, education and engineering, the percent of income one is willing to pay toward rent and the possibility of roommates.

The study found what many have known for decades —  paying NYC rents is actually possible when roommates are included. However, the report also notes, it is possible to fly solo in the city and spend only 30 percent of income, but graduates will have to do serious apartment hunting.

It would also help, if only slightly, not to be an education major.

Zero percent of studio and one-bedroom listings are affordable to solo education majors, according to the study, whereas only 2.7 percent and 5.1 percent were available for social science and business majors respectively.


Suspect identified in fatal shooting of Corona man on Roosevelt Avenue

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD/via Google Maps

Police have identified an alleged gang member as the shooter suspected of killing a 38-year-old Corona man in broad daylight on a Jackson Heights street last week.

According to authorities, Raul Zamora, a reported member of the Sureños 13 gang, and two other individuals got into a verbal dispute with the victim, Jorge Manzanarez, just before 2:30 p.m. on May 5 on Roosevelt Avenue near 94th Street. Zamora then pulled out a gun, shooting Manzanarez in the torso. Police believe the shooting was gang-related.

EMS rushed Manzanarez to Elmhurst Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Zamora is described as 33 years old, Hispanic, 5 feet 9 inches tall and 145 pounds.

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.



City to deploy ‘shelter repair squad’ to fix homeless shelter issues

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Five city agencies are coming together to investigate and solve the issues faced at over 500 homeless shelters throughout the city.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday that the city will deploying hundreds of “special SWAT teams” — made up of employees from the FDNY, Department of Buildings, Department of Homeless Services, Department of Health and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development — to accelerate the process of repairs at homeless shelters all over New York City.

“These SWAT teams are necessary because we aren’t dealing with a problem that just started in the last year or two, we’re dealing with a problem that is decades old and has gotten worse for several reasons,” de Blasio said. “This city has seen a homelessness crisis that in the last decade went from a very troubling level to an absolutely unacceptable level.”

According to the mayor, 56,000 people are currently living in shelters, and although that number is down from 59,000 people a few months ago, there is still much more to be done.

The implementation of the inter-agency shelter repair squad comes after de Blasio received a report from the Department of Investigation two months ago that put forth the unhealthy conditions at the city shelters. The DOI found 25 shelters that required immediate attention, and those have since had almost all violations addressed.

One of those shelters included the Corona Family Residence, where de Blasio made the announcement Monday afternoon. This facility had violations such as smoke detector problems and rodent infestations.

The squads will go out to individual shelters, identify the problems and solutions to them, then reach out to various departments and agencies that could find the resources to correct the conditions. Typical violations — such as broken or missing smoke detectors — will be expected to be fixed within a seven-day period after being identified. Some of the more complicated capital repairs will begin in about 30 days with a plan of completion within the calendar year.

Along with the squad, there will also be an accountability system put into place where members of the public will be able to track the city’s progress through online scorecards.

“Every effort is being made to reduce the number of health and safety violations within DHS shelters, and the creation of the shelter repair squad will provide immeasurable support to us in these efforts,” DHS Commissioner Gilbert Taylor said. “This engagement is truly reflective of our city’s collective responsibility, serving our most vulnerable New Yorkers. These measures will indeed help DHS to overcome the many years of neglect that our city shelter system has been subjected to.”

Last week, de Blasio also announced that in the city’s 2016 $78.3 billion budget $100 million will go toward homeless prevention and assistance, including rental support, anti-eviction and legal services, and more. The budget will also include $4.7 million to expand the number of shelter beds for runaway and homeless youth by another 100, while enhancing mental health services.

For Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who attended the Monday announcement, the issues residents have to live with at these homeless shelters hit close to his heart because his family once lived in a shelter. Van Bramer said that many of the issues the families are facing are the same as those his family faced years ago.

“Every family that comes to [a] shelter is in a state of crisis in one way or another, but the fact that they found shelter means that they are on the path to recovery, like my family. So going to [a] shelter is the first step, in many cases, to making it out of [the] shelter,” Van Bramer said. “But when you get to that shelter, it should be a place where any New Yorker could live because it’s about dignity and it’s about knowing that you matter, your lives matter, your children matter.”


Queens family charged for international cocaine trafficking

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Google Maps

This drug ring was all in the family.

A married Malba couple and their son from Woodside were formally booked Wednesday in a federal indictment for operating an international cocaine smuggling ring out of a Corona restaurant and export company.

Gregorio and Eleonora Gigliotti, ages 59 and 54 respectively, and their son Angelo Gigliotti, 34, were initially arrested on March 11. They were charged with conspiracy to import cocaine, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, importation of cocaine and attempted possession of cocaine.

Italian authorities arrested on Thursday the Gigliottis’ alleged business partner — Franco Fazio, 56, of Calabria, Italy — along with 12 other defendants allegedly involved in the drug trafficking ring. The Gigliottis also face charges in Italy for various narcotics trafficking offenses.

Federal authorities said the drug ring was revealed through an investigation that included physical surveillance and court-authorized wiretaps.

Last October, federal agents intercepted a shipment of cassava from Costa Rica bound for Fresh Farms Export Corp. based in Corona and operated by the Gigliottis. Upon inspection, the shipment was found to contain 40 kilograms of cocaine.

Another 15 kilograms of the narcotic were recovered in a second cassava shipment to Fresh Farms Export Corp. that federal authorities intercepted in December.

Federal agents learned that the Gigliottis allegedly ran the drug smuggling business out of the export company and Cucino Amodo Mio, a restaurant and pizzeria the couple owned and operated at 51-01 108th St. in Corona. Eleonora Giglotti traveled to Costa Rica prior to the first shipment and made a $400,000 down payment on the product.

Investigators learned that in September, Fazio allegedly traveled from Italy to Costa Rica (by way of New York) and made an additional payment to the drug suppliers.

The FBI raided the home of Gregorio and Eleonora Gigliotti and Cucino Amodo Mio restaurant on March 11 and recovered numerous weapons — including a 12-gauge shotgun, several loaded handguns and brass knuckles — as well as more than $118,000 in cash.

“This case is a powerful example of the impact of international cooperation in combating criminal organizations whose activities transcend national borders,” said Acting U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District of New York Kelly Currie.

“The arrests in New York and Italy dismantle a global network of alleged drug smugglers believed responsible for importing more than 50 kilograms of cocaine into the U.S.,” said Special Agent-in-Charge Raymond Parmer of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations.

Each of the Gigliottis face at least 15 years behind bars if convicted on the top charges.


Corona man found shot to death on Roosevelt Avenue

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Image via Google Maps

Police are investigating the murder of a 38-year-old Corona man who was fatally shot in Jackson Heights Tuesday afternoon.

Cops discovered Jorge Manzanarez about 2:20 p.m. on Roosevelt Avenue near 94th Street with a gunshot wound to the torso, authorities said.

EMS rushed Manzanarez to Elmhurst Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

A motive for the shooting was not immediately clear. There are no arrests.


Man exposes himself to woman on 7 train: NYPD

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo/Photo courtesy of NYPD

A man riding on the 7 line exposed himself to a female straphanger as the train was approaching the Junction Boulevard station in Corona, police said.

The incident happened about 8:30 a.m. on March 20 aboard a Manhattan-bound train, according to authorities.

As the train was pulling into the stop at Junction Boulevard and Roosevelt Avenue, the victim, a 25-year-old woman, saw the suspect standing in front of her and exposing himself, police said. The man then exited the train at the Woodside/61st Street station.

The suspect is described as an Asian male in his 60s, about 6 feet tall, 180 pounds, with brown eyes and gray hair.

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.


Parents call for permanent annex at Corona’s P.S. 143 to alleviate overcrowding

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

Parents at one Corona school are saying enough is enough and are calling on officials to give their children more room to succeed.

Over a hundred parents and children gathered on Tuesday morning with state Senator Jose Peralta outside of P.S. 143, The Louis Armstrong Elementary School, located at 34-74 113th St., to propose the building of a permanent addition to the school to help alleviate the chronic overcrowding.

According to Peralta, the Corona elementary school was originally built to accommodate 900 students, yet currently there are about 1,800 students enrolled at the site. This causes some children to have lunch at 9:50 a.m. and a large number of students have to take their classes outside of the school’s building.

The new annex would replace a mini building and six temporary classroom units, also known as trailers, which are found on the side of the school’s original building. Some students have also been moved to an annex located at 98th Street and 38th Avenue. 

“We need to have real classrooms for our children. A trailer is no place for a kid to be learning and that’s something that we’ve been saying time and time again to the administration,” Peralta said. “No kid should have to learn in a trailer. Forget about the state-of-the-art classrooms, state-of-the-art technology, we just want every student to sit and get an education in a real classroom.

Peralta first proposed the idea of the annex to the Department of Education two years ago, and was told that the agency agreed with the need for a solution to alleviate the overcrowding at P.S. 143. However issues arose because the property where the building would go is owned by the Parks Department. 

Yet the senator said that the building of a new annex would not affect the recreational areas because it would only take up the space already being used by the mini building and trailers. 

“Enough of the talk – we need the walk, we need actions. It is time to act now,” Peralta said. “This is the 21st century. We need to treat our kids like we are in the 21st century,”

Parents said they are concerned because their young children, mostly first-graders, have to go from one location to another during bad weather conditions and are also learning in classrooms with over 30 students. 

The parents added that they call on representatives of the Department of Education, Parks Department and School Construction Authority to believe that it was their children being made to learn in these conditions. 

“We are fighting and no one listens to us and we are tired of this situation,” said Juana de los Santos, who has two children attending P.S. 143. “I believe our children deserve a good education because they are the future of this country. We want an answer and soon, we don’t want them to tell us ‘Here, in five years it will happen.’ We are tired and our children are suffering.”

According to DOE spokesman Jason Fink, the agency is “working with the Parks Department to explore ways to add capacity at this school.”


Bayside actor muscles in on Hollywood

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Image courtesy of Peter Gaudio

Bayside actor Peter Gaudio is keeping himself quite busy these days both on and off the screen.

Gaudio has a starring role in the upcoming Steve Rahaman film “Snitches,” which according to IMDb is scheduled to premiere in 2016. Starring Chris Victor and Daniel O’Shea, the movie tells the story of a New York City crime boss undermined by an associate working with corrupt police officers to bring the syndicate down.

The Bayside resident and Corona native was most recently featured in the boxing film “Back in the Day,” starring Alec Baldwin, Danny Glover and Michael Madsen. He’s also part of “Take it Back,” a mob TV drama currently in production.

But away from the production sets, Gaudio showcases his comedic and singing talents during the “Wiseguys and Women of Comedy” act playing weekly at Il Bacco restaurant in Little Neck.

An active bodybuilder and former Mr. New York City, Gaudio got his first break on the screen in the 1992 film “A Bronx Tale” starring Chazz Palmentieri and Robert DeNiro, who also directed. Gaudio said DeNiro selected him in an open audition for one of many background roles in the film shot on location in Astoria.

Over the years, he worked to refine his acting craft, studying with many renowned acting coaches in New York City including the late actor William Hickey and Alice Spivak.

Those lessons paid off for Gaudio, as he’s worked in dozens of films and television shows based in New York and had a recurring role in the off-Broadway murder-mystery show “Murdered by the Mob.” Even so, there’s only one role more important in his life.

“Working with talented artists is living a dream, but the best role I play each and every day is being the greatest father I can be to my 10-year-old daughter Petrina,” he said.


LeFrak City cuts ribbon on new courtyard as part of multimillion-dollar renovations

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

A new era has begun at LeFrak City as the Corona apartment complex celebrated the grand opening of a brand-new courtyard filled with amenities just in time for the warmer weather.

The West Courtyard, located at 96-04 57th Ave. in LeFrak City, was officially opened on Wednesday morning after a ribbon-cutting ceremony including local elected officials, LeFrak Organization representatives and residents of LeFrak City.

The courtyard, which is the first phase of projects aiming to transform the outdoor amenities at LeFrak City, features new trees and shrubs, walkways, a new seating area with benches and picnic tables, and two athletic courts currently used for basketball and tennis.

“We’re going to be able to have a great summer and spring here in LeFrak City, but it only works if we keep it clean, if we respect ourselves and respect the facility and we allow the residents and children to enjoy this in that kind of atmosphere,” Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry said. “We can do this. This is not so hard; we just have to work together, communicate together and enjoy the diversity that LeFrak City has promoted for so many years.”

Aubry also added that the new projects were a “new era” for the Corona apartment complex. Along with the West Courtyard, the next outdoor project will be adding a new playground with state-of-the-art equipment for young children.

Plans are even being drawn to bring a new swimming pool at the East Courtyard in 2017, according to Jamie LeFrak, principal of the LeFrak Organization.

“LeFrak City is more, it’s much more and by that I’m not talking about the spacious, sun-filled apartments or the lively, growing neighborhood with its library and schools and shopping malls,” LeFrak said. “The more in LeFrak City is the people. LeFrak City is 20,000 amazing people in 5,000 families and more than 200 maintenance workers, safety officers and administrative staff.”

All the outdoor projects are part of a multimillion-dollar renewal and modernization of LeFrak City which began three years ago.

The overall renovations include five new lobbies with 10 new mail rooms, hundreds of renovated apartments, 20 new laundry rooms, 10,000 brighter and more efficient light fixtures, 60 fully modernized elevators, 80 restored façades, eight reconstructed garages, five new security and intercom systems including more than 1,000 new HD video cameras and a residential rooftop solar energy installation.

“LeFrak has always been a destination and now it will continue to be even a better destination with this courtyard. This is the new beginning,” state Senator Jose Peralta said. “LeFrak has gone through some recent tragedies but today is a day of celebration. Today is a day of celebration because today is about a new hope, a new beginning where we are going to transform LeFrak into what LeFrak was going to be envisioned for.”