Tag Archives: Councilman Daniel Dromm

PHOTOS: Jackson Heights celebrates 23rd annual Queens Pride Parade and Festival


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office/Gallery by Angy Altamirano

Under sunny skies, Jackson Heights was filled with color and music Sunday afternoon as the neighborhood celebrated this year’s Queens Pride Parade and Festival.

Kicking off the parade, which ran down 37th Avenue from 89th Street to 75th Street, was Mayor Bill de Blasio, who made history by becoming the first New York City mayor to serve as a grand marshal of the parade. He joined APICHA Community Health Center, which was also one of the grand marshals.

“This parade stands for a rejection of any bias and prejudice against the LGBT community,” de Blasio said. “We will not stand in this city for anyone who would harm our brothers and sisters in the LGBT community. And this parade stands for that resolute value of New York City.”

De Blasio became the first mayor to march in the parade last year, and even marched in 2013 while still serving as public advocate.

Joining the mayor were local elected officials such Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Council members Daniel Dromm – who founded the Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee over 20 years ago – Jimmy Van Bramer and Julissa Ferreras, and other city and state officials.

The theme of this year’s parade was “Pride – Strength – Unity,” according to organizers.

“We know what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. told us – ‘The arc of history is long but it bends towards justice.’ This parade epitomizes that constant movement towards justice. Let’s keep going. Let’s keep marching on until the day when everyone is truly embraced,” de Blasio said to paradegoers.

At the end of the parade, which featured colorful costumes and even four-legged participants, visitors were able to enjoy the Queens Pride Festival, which ran along 37th Road from 74th to 77th streets.

The festival featured about 100 vendors, community and social group booths and two stages of entertainment with performances that went on throughout the day.


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Jackson Heights students raise $2K for Nepal earthquake victims


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Garden School

A local nonprofit benefiting communities from Nepal received a $2,000 donation from the Garden School Key Club to go toward relief efforts after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit the South Asian country last month.

A group of students at the pre-K to 12th-grade school, located at 33-16 79th St. in Jackson Heights, were motivated to help out after hearing of the devastation caused by the earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25 and saw a death toll of more than 7,000 people.

The Garden School Key Club led the fundraising efforts and students, particularly ninth-grader Aneesh D., mobilized in a multi-component initiative which included a soccer match pitting faculty members against their pupils, a “change jug”in the school hallway and solicitation of donations from the community.

The school administration was very encouraging of the students and praised their commitment to the Garden School’s mission of “social involvement.”

Councilman Daniel Dromm helped the Garden School students to identify Adhikaar, an nonprofit benefiting the Nepali community in New York, as a local organization which would help the donations get to those most in need.

Adhikaar Program Coordinator Raji Pokhrel gratefully accepted the donation and spoke to students on progress being made to relieve the damage done to the country and the continued need for aid from the international community.

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De Blasio to be grand marshal of Queens Pride Parade


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Ed Reed for the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio

Mayor Bill de Blasio will make history in Jackson Heights next month as the first New York City mayor to serve as a grand marshal in the 23-year span of the Queens Pride Parade.

De Blasio will join APICHA Community Health Center as grand marshals of the 23rd Queens Pride Parade, which will be held on June 7 and runs from 89th Street and 37th Avenue down to 75th Street.

“When I founded the Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee over 20 years ago, I was hopeful that we would increase the visibility of the LGBT community in Queens in a positive and impactful way,” Councilman Daniel Dromm said. “Having the mayor of the City of New York as our grand marshal shows just how far we have come.”

De Blasio became the first mayor to march in the parade last year, and even marched in 2013 while still serving as public advocate.

“The mayor’s presence is an acknowledgment that the LGBT community in Queens and throughout the city is visible, welcome and included,” Dromm said.

Councilman Daniel Dromm and Mayor Bill de Blasio (Photo courtesy of Queens Pride)

Councilman Daniel Dromm and Mayor Bill de Blasio (Photo courtesy of Queens Pride)

The theme of this year’s parade, which kicks off at noon, is “Pride – Strength – Unity,” according to organizers. Also at noon, the Queens Pride Festival begins along 37th Road from 74th to 77th streets.

The festival features close to 100 vendors, community and social group booths and two stages of entertainment with performances throughout the day until 6 p.m.

One of the day’s featured performers includes multi-platinum artist CeCe Peniston known for her hits “Finally,” “We Got a Love Thang” and “Lifetime to Love.”

“This year’s theme, Pride – Strength – Unity, highlights the diversity that is Queens. Queens has the largest number of language/ethnic groups in the whole U.S.A. Despite the linguistic and cultural vastness, we all come together to celebrate our accomplishments and continue to work towards further advancements,” said Alan Reiff, co-chair of Queens Pride.

Days before the parade on June 4, Queens Pride will collaborate with NYC Pride, Brooklyn Pride, Staten Island LGBT Community Center, Bronx Pride, Chutney Pride and Out Astoria, to host a Pride Kick-Off Party at Studio Square, located at 35-33 36th St. in Long Island City. The event will benefit Queens Community House.

For more information, visit www.queenspride.org or email info@queenspride.org.

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Jackson Heights residents call National Grid a ‘bad neighbor’


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

Updated 5:20 p.m.

Residents on one Jackson Heights street are calling on National Grid to be a good neighbor and take care of “dangerous” holes left unattended for weeks after digging was started last month to work on gas pipe updates.

Councilman Daniel Dromm and residents on 80th Street gathered on the block Tuesday morning to speak out against holes created by the utility company that were left ignored for weeks.

The holes, which measure about 13 feet by 3 feet and go as deep as three to six feet, were dug by National Grid in April to start renovations on underground gas lines. However, residents said that in the beginning of May work just stopped and the holes were left uncovered and surrounded by barriers and cones, most of which fell into the holes.

“The damage they have done to this street makes you understand that National Grid is a bad neighbor. You don’t come into communities, dig up streets, leave piles of dirt and then leave the exposed pipes open to all types of foul play, to children falling into them, and then not respond to the community,” Dromm said. “We are here today to demand that National Grid minimally put plates over this, fix this work, and ensure the safety of the community is taken care of here.”

Dromm added that his office communicated with National Grid several times, but no fixes have been made. The councilman said he even left his personal number and never received a call back.

Some residents expressed concerns that they have seen children playing in the holes, and others said the exposed gas lines have been letting out gaseous odors.

A Courier reporter on the scene also smelled gas odors coming out of one of the holes.

“The unfinished repair work initiated by National Grid on April 17, 2015, has not only resulted in a trip and fall hazard to pedestrians but has made us nervous because we were told originally the construction was to remedy a gas leak,” said Ricky Castro, co-op board vice president. “Despite many complaints we have received no answers about why we smell gas and if it’s safe.”

Castro added that last weekend when it rained, water filled the holes and caused the basement of one of the apartment buildings, which has storage units belonging to residents, to flood.

According to residents, National Grid workers showed up Tuesday morning but no work was being done. They also added that they have called the FDNY, Department of Transportation and Department of Environmental Protection and were told National Grid is responsible for the holes.

A spokeswoman for National Grid said the company is committed  to ensuring the safety of the public.

She added the company is using industry-approved methods to secure the work site and have the appropriate work permits. Also, National Grid is conducting daily surveys of the area to maintain safety until the repairs are completed.

“We apologize for the inconvenience but the work is necessary to ensure a safe and reliable gas system for the community,” the spokeswoman said. “Last month during an investigation we detected a gas leak and made arrangements to schedule the repairs, working around parking restrictions on the block.”

She added the gas lines had been replaced on the street and now each home in three buildings has to be transferred to the new service lines. The company is working to notify everyone in the buildings.

Crews are expected to be on site starting Wednesday through the end of the week to complete the work and have the holes filled.

Residents are urged to call 911 or National Grid’s Gas emergency number, 718-643-4050.

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Queens parents decide to ‘opt out’ kids from state testing


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Parents across the city are coming together this week to stand against standardized testing and the effects it has on their children.

Starting Tuesday and running through Thursday, students are scheduled to have to take the English Language Arts (ELA) test at schools throughout the state. The following week, students are scheduled to take the math standardized test.

Parents and education advocates have spoken against the tests, saying it brings too much pressure onto students and is not being properly used to evaluate the students, but rather to assess teachers. This has led some parents to forbid their children from taking the tests, and the schools have been prohibited from taking any action against those parents.

“I’m here as the chair of the [City Council] Education Committee to call into question the validity of these tests and the reason these tests are being given, and actually question why they are being used the way they are being used,” said Councilman Daniel Dromm, who on Tuesday stood with parents who have decided to have their children opt out of taking the tests. “These tests actually are not tests to show our children’s strength, they’ve become tests to make our children look like failures.”

Having served as a teacher for 25 years, Dromm added that he is not opposed to tests being used as “one piece of a child’s overall evaluation” but he believes that too much time is spent on taking and preparing for these tests.

“We have heard stories about children who have collapsed under the pressure, who get sick from the pressure, who wet their pants from the pressure of these tests. This is not what education should be about,” Dromm said. “I do not believe that our students should be used as guinea pigs in the governor’s battle against teachers.”

Danny Katch, whose daughter is a fourth-grader at P.S. 69 in Jackson Heights, decided to have her opt out of the exams last year and believed the decision served as an educational experience for his daughter because it showed her about standing up for what you believe in.

Katch also said he is not opposed to tests, but the standardized tests do not come from the teachers or schools. Instead, they are being used as a form to evaluate teachers rather than assessing the students.

“If you tell teachers that 50 percent of their evaluation is going to be based on two standardized tests, then you are going to believe that most of what the kids are going to be doing all year is preparing for those standardized tests,” Katch said. “If you want to improve our schools it’s not about shoving more tests down their throats, it’s about improving the resources that they need and they deserve.”

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Open call for Queens-based LGBTQ performing artists for Jackson Heights concert


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File Photo

Flushing Town Hall is looking for LGBTQ entertainers to help kick off Pride Month in Jackson Heights this June with music, words and the performing arts.

The nonprofit organization is holding an open call for Queens-based LGBTQ performing artists to take part in a free, outdoor concert on June 6 at 5 p.m. in Diversity Plaza, located at 37th Road and 74th Street, in Jackson Heights.

The LGBTQ-themed concert, sponsored in part by Councilman Daniel Dromm, will celebrate the start of Pride Month and the immigrant LGBTQ communities in the borough. The following day, the organization Queens Pride will be hosting the 2015 Pride Parade and Festival in Jackson Heights down 37th Avenue. 

Flushing Town Hall is encouraging all LGBTQ musicians, dancers, poets and spoken word artists, actors and theater artists, and other performing artists based in Queens to submit applications. 

“It’s a great opportunity for artists based in Queens to perform for their peers in a free setting,” said Sami Abu Shumays, Flushing Town Hall deputy director. “It’s an exciting outdoor event.”

Applications must be submitted by May 1 through email to Shumays at sshumays@flushingtownhall.org with the subject line “LGBTQ OPEN CALL 2015.”

The emails should include a statement of interest and description of proposed performance (200 words maximum), biographical details (300 words maximum), and work samples. Artists may submit mp3, jpg or video files. The samples can be included as an attachment or via a URL where they can be viewed, for example on YouTube or a website link.

Flushing Town Hall will then select three to five applicants to perform during the June concert. Artists will be notified during the week of May 11. 

For more information, click here.

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Program at Elmhurst Hospital aimed at helping survivors of torture, persecution


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Elmhurst Hospital Center

Elmhurst Hospital has become a safe haven for survivors of torture and persecution, through a nonprofit organization looking to help them heal and move forward in life.

The Libertas Center for Human Rights was started in 2006 by two doctors as a voluntary program providing services to survivors of torture that came through the hospital’s emergency room.

After realizing that about six to eight percent of the population coming into the ER were survivors of torture, the Libertas Center was able to get funding and opened a new clinic space in 2010 within Elmhurst Hospital with a full-time staff.

“One of the biggest goals and accomplishments is to establish a safe community for our clients and a safe place for them to heal and become aware of their surroundings and the things that they can access,” said Jacqueline Chiofalo, program assistant at the Libertas Center.

The center focuses on four domains when it comes to its services, according to Leah Weinzimer, program director at the Libertas Center.

The first is providing medical care at the hospital for clients, whether it is through treating wounds resulting from torture or any other medical needs. For most clients, they had to flee their home countries and have not been medically checked, Weinzimer said. The staff at the center helps schedule appointments with doctors and also goes with clients to appointments.

The next focus is mental health, in which clients receive individual therapy concentrating on trauma mental help and also alternative therapies through using creative arts such as photography, art, yoga and meditation.

The center also provides social services, such as referrals for food pantries, English classes and in some cases housing and employment. Finally, clients also receive legal help because 90 percent of survivors are seeking asylum and need help finding or working with lawyers, according to Weinzimer.

“That’s why it’s especially important for this program to exist because during the time that their [asylum] cases are pending, it’s when these clients are more vulnerable,” Weinzimer added. “Our role is to help them to heal and move forward with their lives.”

As part of therapy for the clients, in the past three months, a group of them have worked together as part of the “New Life, New Beginning: A Photovoice Project.” Through this, participants were given cameras and asked to take photographs of aspects of their life that are important to them.

“We’re giving them a voice and allowing them to really show us and tell us about their experiences through their own eyes, using photography,” Weinzimer said. 

This project, funded by Councilman Daniel Dromm, allowed the survivors to get together and share their experiences with one another. They were able to identify what they had in common and came up with questions that were later answered through their images.

“They are seeing that other people are really listening to their stories. They are able to share their experience with the broader community,” Weinzimer said. “To have an opportunity to interact with other people during the process and publicly share their experiences can be very powerful.”

The exhibit kicked off on Jan. 23 and will remain on display in Elmhurst Hospital’s main lobby through Feb. 6.

The Libertas Center is located within the hospital at 79-01 Broadway on the fifth floor, annex G. For more information visit libertascenter.net or call 718-334-6209.

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Cat rescued from Elmhurst tree finds home with Glendale grandmother and granddaughter


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Annet Artani

Dorothy has finally made it to a new home.

Dorothy Gale is a lovable cat who on Dec. 20 was rescued from a three-story-high tree in front of Newton High School in Elmhurst.

She had been stuck in the tree for three days and residents had attached a sign to the tree looking for help. Councilman Daniel Dromm’s office contacted animal advocacy organization NYCLASS and other animal advocates. Firefighters were then called to conduct the actual rescue.

After living temporarily with Annet Artani of Miney’s Rescue of Love, Dorothy was adopted on Jan. 13 by Glendale grandmother and granddaughter Danielle Dunn and Kathy Strong, whose family recently lost two of their three cats to old age. The third cat had become lonely and depressed, and the family decided Dorothy would be the best companion.

For Artani it is a bittersweet feeling having to let Dorothy go, after falling in love with her and bonding. She adds that even her dog Miney is moping around missing her.

Although still a bit shy, Artani says Dorothy is adjusting to her new environment and family well.

“Because my rescue is based out of my home, I have a different way of doing things than a shelter,” Artani said. “The bond I build with each animal I rescue is intense because I make sure they leave here knowing what a loving home feels like so they are ready for the next permanent one. But it always takes a toll.”

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Cat rescued from Elmhurst tree looking for home


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Councilman Daniel Dromm's office

One Queens cat is looking for the purrfect home.

On Dec. 20, FDNY Battalion 46 rescued a cat, now named Dorothy Gale, from a tree three stories high in front of Newton High School in Elmhurst, according to Councilman Daniel Dromm.

Dorothy had been stuck in the tree for three days and residents had attached a sign to the tree looking for help. Dromm’s office contacted animal advocacy organization NYCLASS and other animal advocates. Firefighters were called to conduct the actual rescue.

“My office works hard to serve the community,” Dromm said. “Recently, we received a call from a constituent in Elmhurst stating that a cat had been stuck in a tree for three days. I am an animal rights activist and knew we had to help. We immediately started making calls to bring Dorothy Gale to safety. I’m glad we helped. Now, we hope someone can give her a nice, warm, permanent home.”

Since being saved, Dorothy has paid a visit to the vet, where she was spayed and given all her shots.

Currently in good health, Dorothy is living with foster mom Annet Artani of Miney’s Rescue of Love, who writes on Facebook that the cat is “very friendly.”

facebook cat

Photo via Facebook

Anyone interested in welcoming Dorothy Gale into their home can contact Annet Artani of Miney’s Rescue of Love at fonoula28@aol.com or 347-934-5707.

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Community demands improvements at Elmhurst LIRR overpass


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

Elmhurst residents and their elected officials are demanding that the city clean and maintain a pedestrian bridge above Long Island Rail Road tracks that they say is deteriorating, dirty and often dangerous.

Local elected officials and community leaders gathered earlier in December to tour the pedestrian bridge that connects two separate sections of 55th Avenue, one of which turns onto 85th Street and the other that becomes a dead end near Haspel Street.

The group toured the overpass with Long Island Rail Road and Sanitation officials to discuss the conditions and demand immediate improvements be made at the site.

According to Christian Cassagnol, district manager of Community Board 4, the problems most residents have voiced concerns about include graffiti, lack of sufficient lighting, safety overnight and dirty conditions.

Residents and members of CB 4’s environmental committee regularly gather to clean up the site, Cassagnol said, but there is only so much that could be done on a local level. He decided to contact Councilman Daniel Dromm’s office in the hopes of finding a better solution.

Rosemarie Daraio, president of the nonprofit Communities of Maspeth & Elmhurst Together Inc. (COMET) Civic Association, added that some other issues include illegal dumping, weeds overtaking the site, and deteriorating and uneven steps.

Days before the Dec. 15 walk-through, the city’s Department of Sanitation showed up and did a cleanup.

“This site must be cleaned and made safe for pedestrians,” said Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, who was part of the group that toured the overpass.  “There is no substitute for an on-site visit to see conditions firsthand.”

According to Stavisky, she and Dromm will continue to monitor the issue.

“Quality-of-life issues are vitally important to the growth, strength and happiness of the community,” Dromm said.

Cassagnol plans to work with local leaders on trying to implement the Greenstreets program at the site, also known as the Green Infrastructure Program, which works to transform areas into green spaces.

“It’s an issue we are going to have to constantly monitor,” Daraio said.

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Bill introduced to City Council calling for term limits for community boards


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

A new bill that was set to be introduced in the City Council Wednesday calls for putting term limits on community board members appointed in mid-2016 or later.

Councilman Daniel Dromm, who is one of the initial sponsors of the bill, was set to introduce legislation in the Council’s Government Operations Committee that would establish term limits for community board members.

Currently under law there is no limit to the number of consecutive two-year terms board members could either be appointed to or serve.

If the new bill were to pass, those appointed for a first term starting April 1, 2016, or after would only be allowed to serve twelve years, or six consecutive terms.

Under the proposed bill, a board member such as former Community Board 2 chair Joseph Conley would not have been able to serve the almost three decades he had under his belt.

Dromm told the Gotham Gazette that just how communities change, he believes community boards should, too. Although he “applauds” and thanks those who serve 30 or 40 years on a board, he added that he thinks they “need to move things around.”

Community boards have up to 50 voting members. Votes by community boards are non-binding, but they often carry influence with elected officials.

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Jackson Heights middle school to welcome more space for students


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

Students at one Jackson Heights middle school are getting more room to learn.

Local elected officials, Department of Education (DOE) and School Construction Authority (SCA) representatives, and members of the I.S. 230 community will come together Thursday morning to cut the ribbon on the middle school’s new annex.

Located across the street from the middle school on 34th Avenue and 74th Street, the new building has classrooms, science labs, an art studio, a library with computers, bathrooms on every floor, an exercise room and a cafeteria.

“This new annex will help alleviate overcrowding at the main I.S. 230 middle school building,” Councilman Daniel Dromm said. “In addition to providing much-needed space, the building provides rooms for science labs, the arts and exercise. These rooms are essential to a well-rounded education.”

I.S. 230 is located in School District 30, which is one of the city’s most overcrowded school districts, according to officials.

I.S. 230

I.S. 230

The SCA also purchased two lots on 74th Street which will be used as outdoor play and exercise areas, according to Dromm.

“I want to thank the DOE and the SCA for making this building so beautiful and functional,” Dromm said. “It will go a long way to improving education in our district.”

The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the annex will take place Thursday at 9 a.m. at 74th Street and 34th Avenue.

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Slow zone arrives in Jackson Heights


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Drivers will now have to take it slow on the streets of Jackson Heights.

Local elected officials, community leaders and Department of Transportation (DOT) representatives announced Monday afternoon the implementation of the Jackson Heights Slow Zone.

The slow zone, which runs from 69th Street to 87th Street between Roosevelt and 34th avenues, was designed through input from the community, Councilman Daniel Dromm and Community Board 3.

“This slow zone brings much needed traffic safety elements to one of Jackson Heights’ busiest business and residential areas,” Dromm said. “Unfortunately during the last few years these streets have seen traffic fatalities. The reduced speed and the speed bumps will make an impact and get drivers to finally slow down.”

The area was selected based on the transportation agency’s evaluation on crash history, traffic fatalities, community support, and the closeness of schools and senior and day care centers.

Slow zones are marked with high-visibility blue signs that warn drivers at all streets entering the zones. Each area has a speed limit of 20 mph and includes speed bumps and eight-foot-high letters on the road that read “20 MPH.”

The Jackson Heights Slow Zone is bordered by 34th Avenue, Broadway, Roosevelt Avenue and 87th Street. There are six schools, two daycare and pre-K centers, and one senior center in the area.

“Additionally, the frequent signs along the periphery of the zone act as an educational tool to alert pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers that this is an area where people need to be cautious,” Dromm said.

According to the DOT, since 2007 there have been 14 pedestrians severely injured, 14 vehicle occupants severely injured and three fatalities in the zone.

The Jackson Heights Slow Zone includes 26 new speed bumps, added to existing 2 bumps, and 23 neighborhood slow zone gateways.

“The new signs, markings and speed bumps now clearly signal New Yorkers to slow down and help save lives,” said Dalila Hall, DOT Queens Borough Commissioner.

Image courtesy of the Department of Transportation

Image courtesy of the Department of Transportation

In the slow zone area, Dromm allocated $300,000 in capital funds for a Safe Routes to Schools Project, which will install curb extensions at intersections around St. Joan of Arc and the Renaissance Charter School. The extensions will help shorten crossing distances for pedestrians while also decreasing the speed of vehicles.

 

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Woodside street to be renamed after man behind Alfred Hitchcock film


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

the wrong man still 2

The story of one man, who influenced an Alfred Hitchcock film, will live on in the neighborhood his family called home.

This Saturday, the corner of 73rd Street and 41st Avenue in Woodside will be co-named after Christopher Emmanuel “Manny” Balestrero as “Manny ‘The Wrong Man’ Balestrero Way.”

In 1953 Balestrero was arrested outside of his home after three witnesses identified him as the person who robbed a Prudential Insurance Company office, according to Councilman Daniel Dromm’s office. Balestrero was later charged with two armed robberies and taken to trial. After another man confessed to the crimes, he was exonerated.

“Manny Balestrero’s story is one example how we must continue to reexamine our criminal justice system,” said Dromm, who together with Community Board 4 helped get the street renamed after Balestrero.

In 1956 Alfred Hitchcock directed and produced the docudrama film “The Wrong Man,” starring Henry Fonda, which followed Balestrero’s real-life story and had scenes shot on the streets of Jackson Heights, Elmhurst and Woodside.

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

“Street co-namings can also serve as an educational tool,” Dromm said. “I hope that when people see the ‘Manny ‘The Wrong Man’ Balestrero Way’ sign they will be compelled to delve into this history and in doing so they will learn a little about their community, about cinematic history and continue to think critically about how our justice system works.”

The Sept. 27 co-naming ceremony will take place from noon to 2 p.m.

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Students study local street to make Jackson Heights safer


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos by Noah Beadle

Groups of “kid engineers” came together over the weekend to try to understand how to make Queens safer, one street at a time.

The advocacy organization, Make Queens Safer, hosted a Safer, Greener Streets Fair and Bike Bonanza on Saturday at Travers Park in Jackson Heights to raise awareness and allow visitors to learn more about street safety while also getting the chance to participate in activities.

One of the interactive events, called the Kid Engineers Traffic Study, allowed students from I.S. 230, P.S. 69, P.S. 212, P.S. 280, the Academy for Careers in Television and Film, the Baccalaureate School for Global Education, McClancy High School and Voice Charter School to assist in documenting traffic conditions down 34th Avenue between 74th and 80th streets.

The study was chosen for that particular stretch in Jackson Heights, which has a speed limit of 30 mph, because it is parallel to Northern Boulevard, is a major bike route and is near three schools and several parks, according to organizers.

“Providing the tools and knowledge on how to safely navigate the streets of our neighborhoods can help reduce accidents and improve the quality of life for all members of our community,” said Councilman Daniel Dromm, who joined the students as they conducted the study.

TS-3

The students measured traffic speeds using radar guns westbound on 34th Avenue at 75th Street and eastbound on the avenue at 79th Street.

According to the students’ data, with more than 100 measurements taken, about 17 percent of the vehicles traveled 31 mph or faster at 75th Street, while 7 percent exceeded the limit at 79th Street.

Traffic was light compared to weekday traffic, according to organizers. Other notes taken at the sites included vehicles running red lights.

The final field study involved intersection safety observations.

The “kid engineers” examined driver, pedestrian and cyclist behaviors at 76th, 77th, and 80th streets along 34th Avenue.

Students collected data on vehicles stopping in crosswalks while ignoring painted stop lines, drivers using hand-held cellphones, and pedestrians talking on cellphones as they crossed the intersections. During this time the students also talked about ways pedestrians should stay safe while crossing the streets.

Other information collected involved two near collisions, vehicles turning without signals, cyclists running red lights and pedestrians walking out into the street before checking for traffic.

For the full data collected by the Kid Engineers Traffic Study, click here.

Throughout the day other events of the a Safer, Greener Streets Fair and Bike Bonanza included a Learn to Ride Class hosted by Bike New York, a helmet giveaway from the Department of Transportation and free youth bike repair by Recycle a Bicycle and Bike Yard.

“Our family spent the entire day talking about safety – bike safety and street safety,” said Veronica Marino, whose 11-year-old daughter participated in the events. “So many times it takes a tragedy to get people talking about these things.”

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