Every year, the holiday day season gives us an extra special opportunity to reflect upon our blessings and take time to give back to those we love.
With Chanukah just ending and Christmas and Kwanzaa fast approaching, it’s clear that the spirit of giving is already in the air – almost everywhere you look you see folks with shopping bags full of holiday presents just waiting to bring joy.
While I have always found truth in the age-old saying “Tis better to give than to receive,” I could not help but relish the happiness that one sizable gift brought to our community last week.
This gift will not only benefit countless New Yorkers by creating 100 jobs for workers maintaining 20 of the City’s existing plazas, but it will also ensure that the DOT’s community partners in under-resourced neighborhoods, like Corona, will have the support they need to maintain clean, green and vibrant public plazas.
Since 2008, the DOT has installed 22 plazas throughout the City, and it plans to bring another 37 in the near future with the goal of putting all New Yorkers within a 10-minute walk of quality open space.
Corona Plaza is a perfect example of how effective and important these green spaces are to our local neighborhoods. To so many children who grow up in apartments without any front or back yards, neighborhood plazas are the only safe access they have to the outdoors.
Just 18 months ago, the site where Corona Plaza now sits was open to traffic and cluttered with parked trucks, causing a safety hazard for all pedestrians entering and exiting the nearby subway platform. Today, the plaza is a space bursting with activity, serving as the go-to destination where locals can have a cup of coffee, exercise outdoors and enjoy free family-friendly events.
Public plazas go a long way in helping our communities enhance economic activity, air quality, community safety and the overall quality of life.
Although Chase’s gift will undoubtedly go a long way in improving plazas throughout the City, it’s clear that there is still much work that needs to be done. The cost just to maintain Corona Plaza alone ranges between $50,000 and $75,000 every year, not including the hundreds of volunteer hours donated by those who want to add to the beautification efforts.
This holiday season, I urge everyone to spend time at their nearest neighborhood plaza and consider the immense benefits they generate. If you can spend just a fraction of your time investing in your local plaza, you will not only help improve these vital green spaces, but you will also create a better future for generations to come.
In the spirit of giving, please consider volunteering at your local plaza today. The gift of your time will surely be one that keeps on giving!
Councilmember Julissa Ferreras represents the 21st Council District encompassing Elmhurst, East Elmhurst, Corona and Jackson Heights. Through her leadership, Corona Plaza continues to be a premiere outdoor destination for the local community.
Corona Plaza has received a helping hand, along with other public plazas around the city, to become cleaner, greener and part of the community.
Councilmember Julissa Ferreras gathered with local representatives, Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and residents on Tuesday to announce an $800,000 leadership gift from Chase to the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership (NPP).
The gift allows the DOT’s community partners in under-resourced neighborhoods to have the support to keep public plazas clean, green and vibrant for the communities.
“Because our community deserves the same kind of public amenity as any other, we have rallied around the Plaza Program and this site for more than five years,” said Ferreras. “The Queens Economic Development Corporation has forged a wonderful partnership with the Queens Museum of Art to provide countless free programs and events year-round to hundreds of local residents. Their donated time and energy has truly made Corona Plaza one of the best public spaces anywhere in New York City. We are delighted that, thanks to Chase, the excellent service NPP provides here will expand to our sister plazas in other parts of Queens and across the City.”
The NPP gives the community partners affordable, high-quality plaza maintenance and horticulture care through The Horticultural Society (The Hort) and The Association of Community Employment Programs for the Homeless (ACE NY). Together with Chase, the NPP helps create jobs and will work to make sure the DOT Plaza Program grows in all five boroughs.
The November 26 announcement included music from La Cumbiamba and activities from the Uni Pop-Up Library. Students from P.S. 16 in Corona spent the morning gardening and released ladybugs to show the “transformative power of neighborhood plazas.”
Ferreras also presented Edgar Gutierrez, store manager of the local Walgreens, with the “Daily Point of Light” award from the Points of Light Foundation for his volunteering and efforts to promote Corona Plaza.
“Corona Plaza is the perfect place to announce this visionary philanthropic gift from Chase, and to bestow a national award for volunteerism on Mr. Edgar Gutierrez – one of our many unsung heroes,” said Ferreras.
It was the final straw, and now the Jackson Heights and Corona communities are saying no more.
Family members of traffic accident victims, local elected officials and community members gathered Tuesday night to set off the inaugural action known as “Three Children Too Many.”
The group marched down Northern Boulevard, then 82nd Street, stopping to make statements about traffic control and give performances along the way. They then gathered on 79th Street and 37th Avenue to rally and remember young local lives that were cut short.
“You cope with this kind of thing and you feel terrible, sad, angry, but then there’s a tipping point,” said Laura Newman, one of the organizers of the march and resident of Jackson Heights. “We actually have to make it stop.”
Just a month before three-year-old Olvin Jahir Figueroa was fatally struck by an alleged drunk driver, Jackson Heights resident Luis Bravo, 19, lost his life in a hit-and-run in Woodside. In December of last year, 11-year-old Miguel Torres was killed as he tried to cross the street heading to school on Northern Boulevard.
In April Councilmember Daniel Dromm led the push to bring more slow zones to Jackson Heights, focusing on the side streets that meet Northern Boulevard.
“Three Children Too Many” calls on mayor-elect Bill de Blasio to choose a police commissioner who will make sure law enforcement for vehicular crimes is strongly enforced and demands more traffic calming zones, continued traffic safety education for local children, and action facilitators to lead the community towards greater safety.
“Safety is (Department of Transportation) DOT’s top priority and the agency participated in [Tuesday’s] event to highlight our shared goal of making streets safer for everyone using them,” said DOT spokesperson Nicole Garcia. “We also have been in touch with the local community, including the march’s organizers and elected officials to get feedback, share education materials and discuss ways to enhance safety at this intersection and the surrounding area.”
The agency is also looking at the signal timing at Northern and Junction Boulevards to determine if adjustments can be made, said Garcia.
Michelle L. Kaucic, community coordinator of the DOT’s Safety Education and Outreach, said the community needs to continue advocating for change and must also spread the word of not drinking and driving. The community and DOT need to work together to make the streets safe as possible, said Kaucic.
At the end of the march, participants held a moment of silence and a candlelight vigil honoring Olvin, Luis, Miguel and other victims, as family members spoke.
“Safe streets are not a luxury, it’s what we deserve,” said Councilmember Julissa Ferreras, who lost two of her best friends 20 years ago to a fatal traffic accident involving a drunk driver. “After losing several of our mothers, fathers, children and friends to fatal traffic collisions, we simply cannot tolerate to lose one more.”
Police are looking to identify a suspect wanted in connection to seven jewelry store robberies across the city, including three in Queens.
During each robbery, the suspect enters the store, armed with a handgun, and two to three additional suspects jump over the counter and take the jewelry, said cops. No injuries were reported during any of the incidents.
The robberies happened at the following locations and times:
169 Canal Street in Manhattan on September 10 at 4:15 p.m.
5914 8th Avenue in Brooklyn on October 15at 6:45 p.m.
66 East Broadway in Manhattan October 17, at 6:35 p.m. and on October 18 at 4:30 p.m.
37-58 103rd Street in the Corona section of Queens on October 28 at 7:50 p.m.
37-11 Main Street in the Flushing section of Queens on November 9 at 5:55 p.m.
Police describe the suspect as a Hispanic male and have released video footage of him.
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.
In Queens, we take tremendous pride in where we live, work and play. Whether we are in Corona, Elmhurst, Flushing or Jackson Heights, each community is unique with distinctive charms. Each neighborhood’s face is its commercial shopping district, where we buy goods, dine, stroll, and meet friends. It’s like going into “town” whether it’s around the corner from home or a bus ride away. The best commercial corridors are places we want to frequent; they are clean, safe and attractive and provide the goods and services we seek. We are fortunate that our borough has more than 100 of these strips.
The ones that really stand out are the Business Improvement Districts – or BIDs. These areas have distinct advantages; they allow local businesses to take control and make decisions to keep them cleaner, safer and more inviting. In Queens, there are BIDs in Astoria, Bayside, Flushing, Jamaica, Long Island City, Ridgewood Sunnyside and Woodhaven. All have enlivened their communities, benefiting businesses, residents and shoppers. Without exception these corridors are better places to do business now than they were prior to the BID designations. Just look at the cleaner streets, fewer retail vacancies and increased property values.
Under the direction of members, BIDs enhance and improve the look, feel and ambiance of the street. And in every single instance, the BIDs in Queens have proved their worth. They are bargains, too. Fees are based on property size, and the average cost per store owner is $37.50 per month. Considering what shopkeepers pay for sanitation tickets and holiday lights, this is a real savings. Other benefits include staffers who advocate for the business community.
The proposed Jackson Heights-Corona BID will tie together the Roosevelt Avenue commercial corridor. One of the borough’s most important, this long shopping strip under the No. 7 train is certainly worthy of a BID. Between 82nd Street and Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, there are over 1,000 small businesses that are vital to the area’s economic well-being. In the last few years, the 82nd Street Partnership has increased services, adding cleaning, marketing and promotional programs. The Queens Economic Development Corporation is proud to have helped transform Corona Plaza at 103rd Street into a pedestrian paradise that has been heralded as one of the best public spaces in the city. (My prediction: It will get even better!) But to maintain these improvements and enhance the entire commercial strip, a BID is crucial.
Change is sometimes daunting. But BIDs throughout the city have created stable and exciting commercial districts. I invite any skeptic to walk with me through any borough BID and witness their vibrancy, cleanliness and diversity.
Seth Bornstein is the Executive Director of the Queens Economic Development Corporation and has helped establish many BIDs in the borough.
On the heels of community complaints, a billboard promoting a local strip club has come down. The billboard sat above the New Hope Baptist Church at 105-13 Northern Boulevard.
“Common sense and decency have prevailed,” said State Senator Jose Peralta, who had called for the ad to be removed. “Like everyone else that I spoke to who had seen the billboard, I thought that the female pictured looked far too young to be featured in an ad for a strip club. It was a jarring image that was offensive and sickening. That it sat above a church was an especially twisted mockery.”
Thursday: Overcast with rain. High of 66. Winds from the NE at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 80% with rainfall amounts near 0.3 in. possible. Thursday night: Overcast with rain. Low of 55. Winds from the NE at 5 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 90% with rainfall amounts near 1.0 in. possible.
EVENT OF THE DAY: Invasive Pigments
The Queens Botanical Garden’s exhibit Invasive Pigments is a series of watercolor-like paintings which explores the migration and proliferation of weeds and other “unintentional” plants in tandem with human movement. Artist Ellie Irons created colors by extracting pigments from these local, invasive plants, and uses them to construct map-like portraits to illustrate the species’ movement into local ecosystems.The exhibit will end on October 27. Free with Garden admission. Click here for more infoor to submit an event of your own
Cops: Suspect recorded video under teen’s skirt at Corona subway station
Police are looking for a man allegedly caught videotaping under a teen’s skirt at a Corona subway station. Read more: The Queens Courier
Nor’easter to dump rain on tri-state, coastal flooding likely
Forecasters say a slow-moving nor’easter that will bring bouts of wind-driven heavy rain to the tri-state over the next 24 hours could cause minor coastal flooding. Read more: NBC New York
City council approves major changes to restaurant grading system
The New York City Council on Wednesday approved a package of bills that will reduce the fines restaurant owners pay for minor health infractions. Read more: CBS New York
Off-duty cop busted after crashing while driving drunk in Queens
An off-duty cop who was driving drunk hit a car in Queens and took off, police said Wednesday. Read more: New York Daily News
President Obama to seek opening with GOP leaders on shutdown
President Barack Obama is hosting top House Republicans to seek an opening in an impasse that has shuttered much of the government and threatens a catastrophic federal default. Read more: AP
It took cops only minutes to recover a stolen cell phone and catch the robbery suspect thanks to an iPhone tracking app.
The 17-year-old victim was standing at a Corona bus stop on the Horace Harding Expressway near 99th Street around 8:45 p.m. Friday when she was robbed, said police.
The suspect came up to the teen, placed his hands over her and choked her while removing her iPhone from her handbag, then pushed to the victim to the ground, said cops. He then jumped into the rear passenger side of a vehicle and fled the scene.
The victim was not injured in the incident.
Responding officers were able to initiate the “Find My iPhone” app and track the stolen cell phone to Myrtle Avenue and 85th Street where they found the car around 9 p.m., said police.
Cops pulled the vehicle over and arrested the suspect who allegedly took the iPhone as well another man and a woman who were inside the car.
The stolen iPhone was recovered and returned to the victim.
Michael Iglesias, 29 has been charged with robbery and criminal possession of stolen Property. Augustin Rodriguez, 27, and Sayli Llonch, 28 have also been charged with criminal possession of stolen property, said police.
But a spokesperson for the Queens District Attorney’s office told the New York Postthere wasn’t sufficient evidence to prosecute Rodriguez or Llonch.
A Jackson Heights man has been arrested and charged for the murder of another man on Roosevelt Avenue.
According to the NYPD, on Friday, September 20 at approximately 5:54 p.m., after responding to a report of a man shot at 80th Street and Roosevelt Avenue, police found Ivan Rodriguez, 33, of Corona in front of 89-09 Roosevelt Avenue with a gunshot wound to his neck and head. He was taken to Elmhurst Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
Police arrested Pedro Silva, 20, of Jackson Heights in connection to the incident. He has been charged with two counts of murder, three counts of criminal possession of a weapon and two counts of criminal use of a firearm.
Three volunteer EMTs have been arrested after allegedly stealing more than $325,000 from a not-for-profit volunteer ambulance group, according to the attorney general.
State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced on Friday, September 20 that Daniel Dominguez, 37, Daryl Adeva, 31, and David Moretti, 41, were arrested for stealing from bank accounts of the Corona Community Volunteer Ambulance Corps (CCAC).
“These emergency medical technicians, who were entrusted with providing medical services and transportation for New York residents, instead took advantage of their positions and used a not-for-profit ambulance corps as their own personal piggy bank,” said Schneiderman. “My office will continue to weed out theft and fraud in charitable organizations and prosecute criminals who take advantage of the public’s trust.”
The arrests took place after the Attorney General’s Charities Bureau received a complaint from CCAC board members about “possible missing and misappropriated funds from CCAC bank accounts.”
According to a felony complaint, the investigation found that while Dominguez served as a board member and treasurer of CCAC, he stole more than $300,000 from the nonprofit’s bank accounts by transferring funds directly to his personal accounts. He then allegedly used the money to go on trips to Disney World and Niagara Falls, and purchased luxury car service trips and expensive meals.
In a second felony complaint, Dominguez allegedly helped Adeva, another CCAC board member, make an unauthorized transfer of $8,960 to his own account. The Attorney General also charged Moretti, who served as a board member and president of CCAC, in a third felony complaint for stealing more than $11,000 from the nonprofit between September 2008 and May 2011.
“Moretti received wire transfers, cash withdrawals and unauthorized credit card purchases,” said the complaint. “These purchases included overseas money transfer and personal car payments, all made without the permission of the CCAC board members.”
All three volunteer EMTs were arrested and arraigned on September 20 on grand larceny charges.
If convicted, Dominguez, who was charged with grand larceny in the second degree, faces up to five to 15 years in prison. Moretti and Adeva were both charged with grand larceny in the third degree and each face up to two and one-third to seven years in prison.