Tag Archives: Corona

Great Wall Supermarket opens in Corona

| svrattos@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Stephen Vrattos

In spectacular fashion, Great Wall (GW) Supermarket opened its latest location Thursday at 59-16 99th St. in Corona.

A row of about 30 dignitaries, including nearby LeFrak City General Manager Gerald Rivera, participated in the ribbon cutting, which included explosive confetti cannons, Chinese drummers and dancing lions and dragons. The new location joins more than a half dozen stores throughout the northeast, including in New York, Boston, Maryland, Virginia and Atlanta.


The first GW Supermarket was established in Elmhurst in 2001, with three now opened in the borough. At more than 30,000 square feet, the new store carries a wide variety of cut-to-order meats and seafood, including geoduck clams and live eels, groceries and a vast selection of fresh produce that would make a farmers market blush, including aloe vera and durian. The popular chain plans to expand into organic foods to offer its customers healthy living choices.

“We focus on fresh produce,” said Operating Manager Edward Wu. “We also have our own brand, so we’re able to offer products of as high a quality as the major brands, but at much lower prices.”


PHOTOS: Queens residents enjoy a fun ‘Night Out’ with New York’s Finest

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Promoting greater harmony between police and the people they serve, Tuesday’s National Night Out Against Crime brought thousands of Queens residents out to venues across the “World’s Borough” for family-friendly activities.

From Astoria to the Rockaway Peninsula, each Night Out event included free games and activities for children of all ages as well as refreshments, live music and other entertainment. Residents also had the opportunity to meet with the officers who serve their community and learn more about the NYPD’s various crime prevention programs.

Local elected officials, including Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, attended each gathering and presented proclamations to the precinct commanders. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who made the rounds at Night Out events across the city, stopped by the 113th Precinct’s Night Out in Springfield Gardens.

The National Night Out Against Crime, founded by the National Association of Town Watch, aims to strengthen relationships between law enforcement and the communities. Millions of people across the U.S. and Canada were estimated to have participated in Night Out events Tuesday evening.


Second arrest made in deadly Jackson Heights shooting

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Image via Google Maps

A second individual has been arrested several months after a Corona man was gunned down in broad daylight on a Jackson Heights street, according to authorities.

Isaac Martinez, 24, who the NYPD said is homeless, was arrested on Tuesday and charged with second-degree murder and gang assault in the May 5 death of 38-year-old Jorge Manzanarez.

Raul Zamora, 33, of Jackson Heights, was charged with second-degree murder, gang assault and criminal possession of a weapon for the shooting two weeks following the incident.

According to officials, Zamora — a reputed member of the Sureños 13 gang — Martinez and another unapprehended individual got into an argument with Manzanarez at about 2:30 p.m. on May 5 on Roosevelt Avenue near Whitney Avenue. Manzanarez was then shot once in the chest.

Martinez’s affiliation with the Sureños 13 wasn’t immediately clear.

Both men face 25 years to life in prison and are currently being held without bail, according to the Queens district attorney’s office and court records.


Thief steals $9,500 in cellphones from Corona store: NYPD

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

A burglar took thousands of dollars’ worth of cellphones from a Corona telecommunications store earlier this month after breaking in through the back wall, according to police.

The theft occurred about 9 p.m. on July 9 at 97-09 Roosevelt Ave., authorities said.

The male suspect was able to enter the business by cutting a hole in its rear wall, police said. He then took cellphones, valued at about $9,500.

Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS, visit their website or send a text message to 274637 (CRIMES), then enter TIP577. All calls and messages are kept confidential.




Five wanted for robbing woman at gunpoint inside Corona apartment

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Police are looking for a gang of robbers who forced their way into a Corona apartment earlier this month and stole cash after holding a 60-year-old woman at gunpoint.

The five suspects got into the apartment near 100th Street at about 4:50 p.m. on July 7 while displaying a handgun, according to authorities. They then forced the woman to the ground, causing minor injuries to her arm. The crew finally broke into a locked file cabinet inside a bedroom and took an undetermined amount of cash before fleeing in a black SUV.

1730-15 115 Pct Robbery 7-7-15 photo (3)The suspects are described as Hispanic men, about 25 years old with dark complexions, standing 6 feet tall and weighing 150 pounds. Authorities have released a surveillance photo of all five of the suspects inside the apartment building.

Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS, visit their website or send a text message to 274637 (CRIMES), then enter TIP577. All calls and messages are kept confidential.


Toddler falls out of window in Corona

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via Google Maps

A 2-year-old boy was taken to the hospital in critical condition after he fell out of an apartment building window in Corona Thursday evening, police said.

The incident happened about 7 p.m. at a building on 50th Avenue near 99th Street.

According to reports, the toddler tumbled from a first-floor window before falling down basement stairs.

He was taken to Elmhurst Hospital, where he was listed in critical but stable condition.

The fall was accidental, but the investigation is ongoing, authorities said.



Man wanted for forcible touching in Corona

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

Police are looking for the perpetrator who they say grabbed a woman’s buttocks as she walked down a Corona street on July 4.

The 46-year-old woman was near Corona Avenue and Junction Boulevard about 6:20 a.m. Saturday when the suspect — a Hispanic male — walked up behind her and grabbed her behind before fleeing the scene, authorities said.

Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS, visit their website or send a text message to 274637 (CRIMES), then enter TIP577. All calls and messages are kept confidential.




Celebrate Louis Armstrong’s birthday with live jazz on July 4

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Louis Armstrong House Museum

There’s some controversy among music historians about Louis Armstrong’s birthday. Some say it’s July 4, as he believed and his driver’s licenses noted. Others claim that the legendary trumpeter came into this world on August 4, as per his baptismal certificate.

But there’s little controversy among music lovers about how and where to celebrate Satchmo’s nativity: the three-gig Hot Jazz/Cool Garden series at the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Corona.

The Ladybugs, a traditional, five-piece jazz group known for their intricate harmonies, will perform on July 4, and organizers will serve red beans and rice (the birthday boy’s favorite dish), sweet tea and cake. Expect attendees to sing before the cake is sliced.

The series includes two other gigs in the historic house’s garden. On July 18, Jon-Erik Kellso & Friends will take to the stage. A trumpeter who joined his first big band at age 11, Kellso has a steady gig at Greenwich Village’s Ear Inn and Iguana in Midtown West. His specialty is swing, and his improvisations are inspiring.

Cynthia Sayer & Her Sparks Fly Quartet will do the honors for the final concert on August 15. Sayer is a banjoist/vocalist, and her quartet pays (and plays) tribute to Armstrong and other jazz luminaries from the 1920s and 1930s.

And to really hit the high note, the exhibit Red Beans & Ricely Yours: Louis Armstrong & Food will be on display in the museum during these shows.



Corona Plaza becomes first public plaza in Queens with free Wi-Fi

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras' office

Visitors to Corona Plaza this summer will be able to surf the net while enjoying some sun.

Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras announced Monday morning that Corona Plaza, located on Roosevelt Avenue between National and 104th streets, will be the first plaza in Queens to offer residents and visitors free WiFi, along with two AT&T StreetCharge stations.

This service is provided by the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership, a citywide program to help plazas flourish in high-need communities.

“Corona Plaza is a booming community space deserving of all the amenities. I am thrilled to have these free services that will increase Internet access and eliminate the digital divide for thousands of people in this neighborhood,” Ferreras said.

Sky-Packets, which brings high-speed Wi-Fi services to about 30 neighborhoods throughout the city, will provide the Wi-Fi service at the plaza. Corona Plaza’s service will accommodate several hundred users at any given time.

AT&T has also donated the two solar-powered mobile charging stations to Corona Plaza for the summer and each unit can charge up to six phones, tablets or other wireless devices.

“The new tech amenities at Corona Plaza are another milestone in the transformation of this former street space into an even more inviting destination for residents and visitors alike,” said DOT Queens Borough Commissioner Nicole Garcia.

Before 2012, Corona Plaza was a busy area filled with trucks and traffic, with no open space. After the Queens Economic Development Corporation (EDC) partnered with the Queens Museum, Ferreras and other local groups, the plaza became an open public space allowing residents and visitors to sit down and relax.

Corona Plaza is now one of 70 DOT pedestrian plazas throughout New York City and on average about 20,000 people go through the subway station by the plaza every day.

“In many parts of the city, free Wi-Fi and charging stations are now expected amenities, while in high-need areas they’re a luxury. Bringing this service to Corona Plaza is one of several ways in which we work to ensure that clean, beautiful, vibrant public spaces flourish in every kind of community,” said Laura Hansen, managing director of Neighborhood Plaza Partnership, a program of The Horticultural Society.


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.