Tag Archives: Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley

Maspeth High School’s summer debate camp gets visit from councilwoman


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Photos courtesy Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley's office

Maspeth High School is still leaving Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley speechless.

This summer the school held a two-week debate camp for students from fourth to 12th grade. During the session, members and participants of the Queens Debate Institute introduced interested students to the art of debate.

Crowley, who dedicated $5,000 for the Maspeth High School debate team in this year’s budget, paid a visit to the camp at the school on Aug. 31 prior to their culminating tournament.

“The community is so proud to have a first-class debate team right here at Maspeth High School, and I enjoy seeing the team share their talents with other youth in New York City,” Crowley said. “Debate is used in so many everyday situations, and I’m pleased so many students are developing that skill so early in life.”

The Queens Debate Institute summer camp is a “two-week boot camp, teaching the fundamentals of debate from public speaking, ending with a full debate tournament on the last day of camp,” said Erik Fogel, director of the New York City Urban Debate League.

“Debate teaches every academic subject including current events, philosophy, critical theory, economics, geography, political science — many subjects that students normally do not learn until college or graduate school. As a result, every study shows that students that participate in debate have higher graduation rates, college acceptance rates, grades, test scores, and every other academic indicator,” Fogel added. “Thank you to Council Member Crowley for supporting Queens’ great debaters and inspiring them to apply their debate skills to real life to change the world around them.”

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Public invited to September participatory budgeting meetings in 30th Council District


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RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Anthony Giudice

Now that participatory budgeting is coming to the 30th Council DistrictCity Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley is inviting the public to attend neighborhood meetings where they can have their voices heard on upcoming capital budget ideas.

Through the participatory budgeting process, residents of the 30th Council District — which includes all or parts of Ridgewood, Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Woodhaven and Woodside — will gather to brainstorm and then vote on a number of proposed capital budget projects for their community, including street resurfacing, street tree planting, park improvements and more.

Crowley has released a list of dates through September of when and where community members can meet with her to discuss the process of participatory budgeting.

Those dates and locations are as follows:

  • Thursday, Sept. 10, at the Frank Kowalinski Post, 61-57 Maspeth Ave., Maspeth, at 6:30 p.m.;
  • Saturday, Sept. 12, at the Ridgewood Library, 2012 Madison St., Ridgewood, at 2:30 p.m.;
  • Monday, Sept. 14, at the Wynwood Gardens Civic Association meeting, 70-31 48th Ave., Woodside, at 7 p.m.;
  • Wednesday, Sept. 16, at Maspeth Town Hall, 53-37 72nd St., Maspeth, at 6:30 p.m.;
  • Saturday, Sept. 19, at the Ridgewood YMCA located at 69-02 64th St., Ridgewood, at 1 p.m.;
  • Thursday, Sept. 24, at P.S. 87, 67-54 80th St., Middle Village, at 6:30 p.m.;
  • Monday, Sept. 28, at Redeemer Lutheran School located at 69-26 Cooper Ave., Glendale, at 6:30 p.m.; and
  • Wednesday, Sept. 30, at the U.S. Columbarium, 61-40 Mount Olivet Crescent, Middle Village, at 6:30 p.m.

Future workshop dates will be released in the weeks to come. For more information, call Crowley’s Glendale office at 718-366-3900.

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Glendale cemetery ceremony honors victim of lynch mob 100 years later


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RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photos by Anthony Giudice

Vowing never to forget, local elected officials and activists gathered on Monday at the Glendale grave of Leo Frank to mark the 100th anniversary since the Jewish factory superintendent wrongfully convicted of murder in Georgia was lynched by a hateful mob.

In 1913, a jury in Georgia found Frank guilty of murdering a 13-year-old girl who worked at his factory and sentenced him to death in a trial marked by anti-Semitism. Then-Georgia Gov. John Slaton commuted Frank’s sentence to life in prison, but in 1915, a group of armed men kidnapped Frank from the prison farm where he was serving time.

The group drove Frank to Marietta, Georgia, an Atlanta suburb, where on Aug. 17, 1915, he was brutally beaten and hanged from a tree — a victim of anti-Semitism and unfounded fear among residents. Frank’s body was interred at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Glendale, where Monday’s ceremony took place at graveside.

Among the participants were City Council members Rory I. Lancman and Elizabeth Crowley, Assemblyman David Weprin, Public Advocate Letitia James, Borough President Melinda Katz and members of the Anti-Defamation League, the Queens Jewish Community Council and the Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archives.

“Leo Frank wasn’t a senator or an advocate. He wasn’t an artist or an academic. He was just a Jew, and often that’s all the world needs to know,” Lancman said. “He must have felt terribly alone during his ordeal, especially when he was kidnapped and surrounded by a bloodthirsty mob. He is not alone today.”

Crowley echoed Lancman’s sentiments that more work is needed to bring an end to social injustices that still exist today.

“This still happens today, 100 years later. That’s why it’s so important we come together as a community to remember the anti-Semitic acts that killed Leo Frank and the racism that is alive today in America,” Crowley said. “Whether it’s the color of your skin or the religion you practice, here in New York and all across America and sadly, more often, all across the world people are killed for who they believe in or who they are, and that’s just wrong.”

Frank’s grandniece, Catherine Smithline, was in attendance to remember her granduncle and the terrible ordeal he was put through a century ago. Smithline was presented a proclamation from the Council of the City of New York on behalf of Frank that would remain at the cemetery, which memorializes some of the facts of Frank’s trial and murder.

“Leo Frank’s trial and murder was not just a horrific example of anti-Semitism, but also a damning condemnation of America’s justice system at the time,” Lancman added. “Let’s leave here remembering Leo Frank, but let’s not forget that we still have a lot of work to do to rid our legal system of injustice.”

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Crowley visits NJ to gain insight on light rail line for Glendale


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Photo courtesy Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley's office

In order to get the wheels moving on a plan to bring light rail service to western Queens, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley took a trip to New Jersey to visit the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail line and gather information on how such a project could affect Glendale and the surrounding communities.

The councilwoman first presented her idea for a light rail service connecting Glendale and Long Island City in an exclusive interview with the Ridgewood Times last month. She used her trip to the Hudson-Bergen line on July 29 to examine how it was built, how it operates and how the communities benefit from the light rail line.

Crowley explained that the Hudson-Bergen line was funded through a mixture of public and private investments, expressing that she would like to see that same combination of funding for a light rail line in Glendale. However, bringing light rail into Glendale would not cost nearly as much as the Hudson-Bergen line, mainly because the tracks and right-of-way are already in place.

“It was interesting to see how it was put together by a public/private partnership,” Crowley said in a phone interview with the Ridgewood Times. “The cost of building a station shouldn’t be as expensive. This would be in the tens of millions, not the hundreds of millions.”

The Hudson-Bergen line runs through Bayonne, Jersey City, Hoboken, Weehawken, Union City and North Bergen. The line began its operation in 2000 and expanded over the next 10 years, and it currently services nearly 50,000 daily passengers.

“They have built a 21st-century rail all within the last 15 years. When they started back in 2000, 15 years ago, Bayonne had a small light rail and they expanded that,” Crowley said. “The Hudson-Bergen line is the second most-used passenger rail line in New Jersey. I was interested in learning on how they first started and then grew and what has happened in and around the communities they run through.”

The Hudson-Bergen line uses a fleet of all-electric train cars, which are the size of about two or three city buses, Crowley said.

“That would be a difference I would propose. We already have the infrastructure in place for diesel trains,” Crowley said, adding that hybrid train cars that run on diesel and battery power is an attractive option. “I think there are a lot of differences in the old train cars than what is used today.”

She used the hybrid buses as an example of how efficient a hybrid locomotive can be, noting that the train cars could produce less pollution and create less noise since they would be hauling only passengers instead of freight.

In addition to producing less air and noise pollution, a light rail line in Glendale could potentially create economic opportunities for the community, according to the legislator.

“I was impressed with all the activity around the rail line. Opening businesses, modern infrastructure that helped build a stronger community. I would see that as a benefit of the rail,” Crowley said. “We’ve been burdened by the freight rail, why not use the train tracks there for the public’s benefit?”

The next step in Crowley’s plan to bring a light rail to Glendale include meeting with representatives from various agencies including the MTA and Department of City Planning and creating a board in support of her plan.

“I am going to put together a board in support of it to engage local elected officials and representatives from city agencies and businesses to come and see what has worked in some areas and what we could do to get this project some traction,” Crowley explained. “I am going to have a meeting with all different colleagues in government to talk about it more.”

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Maspeth, Middle Village set to co-name two streets for community leaders


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Photo via Google Maps

The City Council unanimously passed a bill Thursday that includes the proposed co-naming of two Queens streets, one in Maspeth and the other in Middle Village.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley proposed the bill to honor Frank Kowalinski and Bishop Joseph Sullivan.

Maspeth Avenue between 61st and 64th streets is slated to become Frank Kowalinski Way. Kowalinski was born in 1894 and grew up on Clinton Avenue. In 1918, Kowalinski became the first U.S. Army soldier of Polish decent to be killed in combat during World War I. In honor of his service, the local veterans post in Maspeth is named after Kowalinski.

Middle Village will see 71st Street, from Eliot Avenue south of the railroad, be named Bishop Joseph Sullivan Way.

Sullivan served the Our Lady of Hope parish since its founding in 1960 until his death in 2013. Sullivan was also involved with several Catholic charities, hospitals and other religious, interreligious and secular organizations.

“Recognizing and memorializing the dedication of these two men to their country and community is truly a privilege,” Crowley said. “Queens is both fortunate and unique in that it has a history of such strong public servants, whether they are soldiers or clergymen. It is only right to post their names for all to see in the neighborhoods they have made such an impact on. That way, their legacy can live on for generations to come.”

The dates for the co-naming ceremonies have yet to be determined.

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Upgrades coming for Woodhaven’s Mary Whalen Playground


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RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photos by Anthony Giudice

For over a year, Forest Park’s Mary Whalen Playground, located near Forest Parkway and Park Lane South, has been awaiting repairs, but the wait will end next month.

On Aug. 18, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley will be holding a groundbreaking ceremony at the Woodhaven play space in Forest Park to kick off the start of the renovation.

Crowley has allocated $1 million from City Council funding for the site, while the Parks Department added another $180,000 from the department’s budget to reconstruct the playground.

Mary Whalen Playground was built in the 1940s and sits at the bottom of a large hill that was formed by an Ice Age glacier hundreds of thousands of years ago. The semi-circular park last received renovations in 1991.

The park is named after Mary Whalen, who was the vice president of Community Board 9 and a one-time president of the Woodhaven Block Association. She also founded the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation.

Currently, the park’s centerpiece, a spray shower water feature, has cracked asphalt surrounding it. The concrete wall near Park Lane South is eroding, and certain play equipment is outdated, including the 10-foot swings that do not meet American Society for Testing Material standards.

The renovations will upgrade the park to include new play equipment, a new central water feature, separate areas for preschoolers and pre-teens, a new teen court play area near the back of the playground, and a secondary ramp into the park from Park Lane South that will adhere to the standards set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The project will also increase the green spaces of the playground by adding more canopy trees and repair the existing drainage system, perimeter walls and curbs.

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104COP thanks Frank Kotnik for 25 years of service


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RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photos by Anthony Giudice

For 25 years Frank Kotnik has served the communities of Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth and Ridgewood as a member of the 104 Civilian Observation Patrol (104COP), formerly known as G-COP (Glendale Civilian Observation Patrol).

During those two and a half decades, Kotnik devoted his time and energy to making those communities as safe as he could by organizing patrols, coordinating parades and lending help during times of need, such as after 9/11 and Superstorm Sandy.

At Thursday night’s 104COP meeting at Christ the King High School in Middle Village, family, friends, colleagues and local politicians surprised Kotnik to celebrate his 25 years of service as he stepped down as president of 104COP.

As his final act as president, Kotnik handed over the gavel to Mark Pearson, the new president of 104COP. Although Kotnik stepped down as president, he will remain an active member of the board.

After the installation of all the newly elected officers of 104COP, the guests began showering Kotnik with thanks and gifts.

State Senator Joseph Addabbo presented Kotnik with a proclamation from the New York Senate, thanking him for his years of dedication to the communities that 104COP serves and for lending help to other communities in need.

“I will forever be grateful to 104COP, and to Frank, because a third of my district was severely impacted by Sandy,” Addabbo said. “And Frank led the charge down there for many of you members to help my people after Sandy. And I don’t mean a month after Sandy, but days, hours after Sandy, Frank was helping my constituents, who are still hurting. So for that I will forever grateful to Frank, so thank you.”

Kotnik was honored by Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley and Councilman Antonio Reynoso with a proclamation, thanking him for his service.

“When I think of G-COP, I think of Frank,” Crowley said. “He’s always been president and the leader, and there is no other organization in the city of New York like G-COP.”

“As the newest member of this elite team here, let me tell you, I just wanted to say, Frank, I think I graduated preschool when you started at G-COP,” Reynoso said, to which the crowd erupted with laughter. “That speaks less of my age and more of his commitment to the mission of G-COP. A lot of people do things in short [stints], but he made a commitment to this community for much longer than that…and I truly want to thank you.”

Commanding Officer of the 104th Precinct, Captain Mark Wachter, personally thanked Kotnik for helping to keep the communities he has lived in since he was a child safe for so many years.

“Frank watched out for this community when I was very young,” Wachter said. “Because of Frank and the members of G-COP, this community is still safe. So on that personal level Frank, I thank you.”

Wacther then presented Kotnik with a plaque from the NYPD, thanking him for his years of service.

Among the others that honored Kotnik throughout the evening were representatives from Borough President Melinda Katz’s office, Captain John Travaglia, commanding officer of the 108th Precinct, representatives from the 104th Precinct Community Council, and the members of 104COP.

Kotnik thanked everyone for their love and support, now and over the years.

“Thank you, thank you for the support,” Kotnik said. “One thing that was forgotten, I know everyone is saying it was me, but it was ‘we.’ This patrol is always, as far as I’m concerned, is ‘we.’ We were going to do this together…All I can say to everybody, thank you for coming, God bless you all.”

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After Queens Library audit findings, Crowley wants new legislation passed


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RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Anthony Giudice

On the heels of the first audit of Queens Library executives in almost 20 years by City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley introduced legislation that would require officers of city-funded, nonprofit organizations to disclose any conflicts of interest regarding their income.

After the audit revealed that former Queens Library CEO and President Thomas Galante and current interim CEO Bridget Quinn-Carey had amassed over $310,000 in personal expenses over a three-year period, including $115,000 in taxable, undeclared income, Crowley said it was “vital” to get this piece of legislation heard and ultimately passed.

The bill would mandate all individuals in leadership positions at charitable, city-funded, nonprofit organizations report sources of outside income to the city annually.

“Now that we know more of the discrepancies committed by library executives, it’s important that going forward, we ensure this corruption is stopped before it can begin,” Crowley said. “We the public should be aware of all sources of income and benefits of each executive and close family member. No executive receiving city monies should be immune to these disclosures. In their positions, they should voluntarily assure the city they are acting in accordance with the law.”

This legislation is currently in the City Council Contracts Committee awaiting a hearing in the fall.

“Last year the City Council learned that Tom Galante, president of the Queens Public Library system, spent public dollars for personal use. He continues to be under investigation for that and other irregularities,” said Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal, chair of the Contracts Committee. “I applaud Council member Elizabeth Crowley for her leadership to shine light on conflicts of interest involving these executive positions. I am eager to hear her legislation in the Contracts Committee later this year.”

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Maspeth could be getting a community athletic field near Newtown Creek


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Ridgewood Times/Photo by Anthony Giudice

The area around Newtown Creek, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognizes as one of the “nation’s most polluted waterways,” could be the site of a brand-new community athletic field in Maspeth.

During a City Council hearing, Eric Landau, associate commissioner of public affairs for the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), testified before the Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting and Maritime Uses, asking for public siting approval on the construction of an aeration facility for Newtown Creek in Maspeth.

The proposed aeration facility is part of a state-mandated effort to improve water quality in Newtown Creek and would be located on 47th Street, near the water’s edge. The facility would help raise oxygen levels in the water and promote wildlife sustainability.

The initial phase of construction leaves approximately one and a half acres of open space on the property, which Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Community Board 5 have expressed interest in converting into an athletic field.

“While it is very important to build this aeration facility for Newtown Creek, it is also important our community take advantage of green space for athletics. I am grateful the DEP has agreed to work with the community to allow for public use of the land,” Crowley said. “In Maspeth, there is a high volume of trucks traveling through the streets. It also has fewer city parks. This lack of green space plus its proximity to the LIE both lead to a higher rate of obesity and asthma compared to neighboring communities.”

“Maspeth residents are disadvantaged in that they lack access to sufficient open green space,” she added. “We can promote sports and physical activity by taking advantage of all public space options, ideally by way of increased access to athletic fields.”

Landau testified to the City Council that the DEP will begin discussions with the community, as well as local athletic groups, about entering into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding an athletic field on the unused portion of land.

The MOU would state that the sports organizations are responsible for the capital cost of the field as well as the maintenance. Also, if the DEP should ever need the field in the future, upon reasonable notice, the sports organization would need to discontinue operations on the property until any and all construction on the site is complete. Once construction is complete, the site would be handed back over to the community again.

“Understanding that the space may be needed in the future to meet state and federal water quality requirements, DEP is committed to working with the Council and community organizations that are willing to build and maintain the space for athletic purposes, as we have with a soccer league in Manhattan near our North River Waste Water Treatment Plant,” Landau said. “As an immediate next step, we look forward to taking Council member Crowley, local leaders, and other community members on a tour of similar public amenities DEP has constructed, as well as beginning discussions with local athletic groups, identified by [Crowley].”

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Councilwoman meets parents over Ridgewood playground problems


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RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Anthony Giudice

After parkgoers raised issues with the conditions at Rosemary’s Playground in Ridgewood, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley met with concerned parents at the playground Friday to hear their plea and see what improvements could be made.

Stephanie Sauer and Caroline Stark formed the group Let’s Fix Rosemary’s Playground to address the community’s issues with the park. Since its inception, the group has gained over 150 likes on its Facebook page, proving that this issue is a major concern residents who frequent the park.

Approximately 20 parents and residents came out to the park to support the cause and voice their concerns to Crowley. Users of the playground brought up issues concerning the elevated flower beds, the deteriorating playground equipment and what could be done with the open space area of the park that currently has no use.

“The elevated flower beds are our number one issue with the playground,” Sauer said. “Kids climb into the elevated flower bed and we are nervous of the pesticides used in them. Our kids also climb up there and run around. They could fall and hurt themselves.”

Some parents suggested planting shrubs up to the edge of the flower beds so children would not be able to access them, or removing them completely.

“What is the benefit of having these plants?” asked Ben Brown, a resident of the area that uses the playground. “You could use the space better. It’s just wasted space at this point. It’s not providing shade or anything.”

After presenting their concerns, the parents asked Crowley where funding for the proposed changes could be found.

“Things don’t happen overnight in the city,” Crowley told the parents. “Let’s look for funding. Looking for funding is the first step. Then we can start looking at a long-term plan.”

The members of Let’s Fix Rosemary’s Playground understand that this process will take time and results are not going to be seen immediately.

“We don’t think that things will change tomorrow,” Stark said. “We just want to set a plan in action.”

“We have realistic expectations,” Sauer added. “We don’t expect things to get done tomorrow, or cheaply.”

Now that the issues have been raised, Crowley noted, an expert from the Parks Department needs to inspect the park and determine which changes could be made and how much the changes would cost.

“The next step, before I can move any further is to have professionals come and evaluate the park,” Crowley said. “Having the Parks Department let us know how much it would cost is a good first step.”

Crowley invited the members of Let’s Fix Rosemary’s Playground to a meeting in July at her office to continue the conversation and see what the next step in the process of getting repairs to the playground.

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Pilot program promoting public transportation launched in CB 5 area


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Photo courtesy NYC DOT flickr

The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) pilot Go Smart NYC program has launched in the areas of Community Board 5 (CB 5).

Go Smart NYC is designed to increase residents’ use of public transportation, biking, carpooling, or walking in order to reduce the traffic congestion and emissions caused by single-occupancy motor vehicle trips.

The DOT chose CB 5 as the pilot area due to its population, proximity to public transportation options and bike lanes, walkability, as well as its high level of car ownership.

“The congestion and traffic in our communities can sometimes be unbearable. Go Smart NYC plans to alleviate that with the click of a button,” Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley said. “Walking, biking, public transportation and carpooling are all viable urban modes of travel and I look forward to this program’s roll out and working with the DOT to make it as effective as possible for everyone.”

Residents can sign up for the program through the Go Smart NYC website. After registering, participants can order a free, personalized travel toolkit, with information about walking, biking, public transit, carpooling and Vision Zero safety and education materials.

“I am excited that Community Board 5 has been selected for the kickoff to the city’s launch of Go Smart NYC,” said Gary Giordano, district manager of CB 5. “Middle Village, Ridgewood, Maspeth and Glendale are home to a wealth of local businesses, and this program encourages residents to shop and explore these neighborhoods by foot, transit and bike. The more we can walk or use public transit, the better off we will be as a society.”

Registered participants will be able to log their trips online in order to earn discount rewards at over 20 local businesses that are partnering with the DOT to help encourage sustainable travel choices and local shopping. To further enhance residents’ experiences with walking, biking or public transit, the DOT will assist the local community board in installing city benches, city racks, and a real-time bus information sign at an area bus stop.

“The Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID) and Ridgewood Local Development Corporation are delighted to be partners for DOT’s new innovative program Go Smart NYC,” said Ted Renz, executive director of the Myrtle Avenue BID. “This is a win-win: increase of residents’ use of public transit, biking, carpooling or just plain walking will reduce traffic congestion. At the same time, it will encourage people to shop locally and support our merchants.”

Go Smart NYC will run in the areas of Ridgewood, Glendale, Middle Village and Maspeth until November. DOT is also looking at the possibility of expanding the program to other areas of the city in 2016, if the pilot is successful.

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City budget tops Glendale Property Owners meeting


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Photo by Anthony Giudice

At the Glendale Property Owners Association’s (GPOA) final meeting before the summer break, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley gave members an update on the city budget on Thursday night at The Shops at Atlas Park.

“We are in the middle of negotiations, as we are every June because we must pass a budget before July first,” Crowley said. “This year the budget has grown to $78 billion. The mayor has proposed $500 million in new programs, but he has a plan to roll over approximately $2 billion into the next fiscal year.”

The City Council’s plans for the budget differ from those of the mayor. For example, the City Council is proposing to hire more police officers.

“[Mayor Bill De Blasio] would like to hire 500 police officers. The Council is calling for 1,000,” Crowley said. “The [Police] Department spends approximately $700 million a year on overtime, which is too much money on overtime. If you had more of a force you would spend straight-time and less overtime if you had the resources to deploy.”

Although the crime in Crowley’s district is low, other areas of the city are seeing a rise in crime, and the legislator believes hiring more police officers would help alleviate such problems around the city.

“In addition to hiring more police officers, I have been working with the mayor to get more resources to improve our emergency medical services,” Crowley said. “The Fire Department runs most of our ambulances in the city, and the response times, especially in Queens, are too high. For life threatening emergencies, it takes over 10 minutes if you look at the past three months, on average, and that’s far too long.”

The councilwoman also touched on some of the city parks that are getting renovations thanks to City Council funds. Frank Principe Park and Juniper Valley Park are both slated to receive renovations to improve their infrastructure.

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Onderdonk House raises the roof


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THE COURIER/Photos by Anthony Giudice

A virtual who’s who of Ridgewood and Bushwick joined the Greater Ridgewood Historical Society (GRHS) in celebrating the completion of the historic Vander Ende-Onderdonk House’s new roof during its Raise the Roof event on Thursday night.

Those in attendance included Councilman Antonio Reynoso, Congresswoman Grace Meng, Vincent Arcuri and Gary Giordano from Queens Community Board 5, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Tom Finkelpearl, Deputy Brooklyn Borough President Diana Reyna and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, among several others.

The push to get a new roof for the Onderdonk House, located at 1820 Flushing Ave., began in 2009 when the GRHS held a fundraiser to help get the project started.

“We were able to raise over $25,000, really pretty impressive for one night, but well short of the working estimate of over $350,000 to restore the roof,” said Linda Monte, president of the GRHS. “That’s when our super women, Diana Reyna and Elizabeth Crowley…sprang into action. They were able to add member items to the New York City Capitol Budget.”

This allowed the Onderdonk House to get the additional funding to repair the roof.

“Although we had a delay in the construction of the work, we finished this past fall, under budget,” Monte added. “Tonight is to thank you, recognize our major donors, officially declare the roof restored and have a great time.”

Guests were allowed inside the Onderdonk House to tour the restored attic to get a look at the wooden shingle gambrel roof.


During the ceremony, the GRHS dedicated a plaque to the major donors who helped fund the Onderdonk House’s brand-new roof.

“It gives me great pleasure to have joined with Council member Elizabeth Crowley to support those landmarkings for historic districts in Ridgewood,” Reyna said. “Historic preservation does not only mean preserving old buildings, it means preserving the entire identity of the neighborhood. The fact that the Onderdonk House exists is a great illustration of what we can accomplish with participation from community and government.”

In lieu of a traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony, the GRHS gave each of the major donors of the project their very own hammer, which they used to ceremonially hammer in a nail of the newly constructed roof.

The Onderdonk House was built in the late 18th century and is the oldest Dutch Colonial stone house in New York City. With the help of federal, state and local funds, it was opened to the public in 1982 and in June of 1996, it was given city landmark status. The house now serves as a museum for a permanent exhibit on the archaeology of the Onderdonk site, as well as having changing exhibits relating to history, the arts and culture.

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Middle Village block renamed for fallen sanitation worker


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Photo courtesy Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley's office.

A Department of Sanitation worker from Middle Village killed in a tragic accident last year will be remembered forever on the block where he grew up.

City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley helped family members, friends and former colleagues of the late Steven Frosch unveil on Sunday a street sign renaming the block of 67th Drive and 78th Street as “Steven Frosch Way.”

Frosch, 43, died in June after being fatally struck by a street sweeper while performing maintenance work at the DSNY’s Maspeth garage. He spent 15 years with the agency after serving for four years as an NYPD officer and briefly as a member of the FDNY.

“Steven dedicated his life to helping others, even before he became a uniformed serviceman. Those who were close to him tell stories of his selfless ways, always encouraging those around him to be their best,” Crowley said. “People like Steven Frosch are few and far between, and will always live on in the hearts of those they touched. I’m proud of this street renaming and thank my colleagues and everyone who helped make this possible.”

Frosch is survived by his wife, Bina, their four children Stevie, Charlize, Frederica and Jesse, and his brother Robert.

“We always had a group and endless laughs,” said Frosch’s close friend, Frank Ciccione, to the group of over 100 who were at the unveiling. “The city just recognized what we already knew—that this is Steve’s block.”

Last September, Greg Heihs, a friend of Frosch, came to Crowley’s office to request the co-naming. After a push from her office, the community and Frosch’s DSNY family, the name change request was submitted in November and approved by a City Council vote in January.

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Inside Broadway brings performing arts to Glendale elementary school


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photos by Anthony Giudice

As part of Inside Broadway’s after-school arts program, the students at P.S./I.S. 119 in Glendale performed their play “The After School Club” on Thursday in the school’s auditorium for parents, teachers and fellow classmates.

Inside Broadway, an arts education nonprofit, is funded by the City Council’s Cultural After-School Adventures (C.A.S.A.) Initiative. Through the C.A.S.A. Initiative, Inside Broadway has brought, and will continue to bring, a taste of Broadway to over 500 students in over 20 public schools throughout the boroughs this winter and spring.

The nonprofit is in its 33rd year of operation, providing city public schools with arts education programs, professional staff members and artists who teach the students dancing, singing, acting, theater history and how to design and build the scenery and backdrops for their show.

City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley helped bring the C.A.S.A. program to P.S./I.S. 119 through a grant.

“We really appreciate that Councilwoman Crowley gave us the opportunity to bring drama back,” said Jeanne Fagan, principal at P.S./I.S. 119. “We don’t have a drama program at the school. We have arts and music, but no drama.”

The play, which the students created themselves, was inspired by the ’80s cult classic film “The Breakfast Club.” In the story, two rival factions in the school, the “nerds” and “cool kids,” are sent to detention. While there, they sing and dance their way past their differences and all become friends in the end.

The music for the play included songs from the 1980s such as Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” and more.

“We are excited to expand the arts program at P.S./I.S. 119 to include musical theater to go along with their other arts programs,” Katie McAllister, program director of Inside Broadway, said.

The students who took part in the play were Quinn Corcino, Sheikh Hasin, Julia Sirkoski, Adam Sirkoski, Aafant Shrestha, Alexa Garci, Samantha Liu, Sylvester Leyton, Darren Valdera and Jayda Nicole Catrina Fogarty.

Inside Broadway Pic2

Since January, the children have been working with teaching artist Nick Saldivar for two days a week, two hours each day to create the play.

“All the kids wrote parts of the play and we cut and pasted it all together,” Saldivar said. “I try to get the kids to create and generate their own content.”

Saldivar said he usually works with 30 kids per group in other schools, so working with such a small group of 10 students at P.S./I.S. 119 was “a great experience.”

“They are a really dedicated, lovely bunch,” Saldivar said. “I’ve been teaching them technique, having them think critically and be engaged.”

Besides writing and performing in the play, the students also helped decorate by painting the banner that hung behind them while they were on stage.

As a treat for the students, McAllister announced that they, along with other students from schools in the C.A.S.A. Initiative, will get to go behind the scenes of the Broadway hit “Wicked.”

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