Tag Archives: Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras

$6K reward offered for info on shooting of pregnant woman in LeFrak City


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Instead of coming together with his family to celebrate Thanksgiving, Joseph Massey had to spend his holiday trying to figure out a way to tell his four children that their mother would never be coming home.

Massey’s wife, 27-year-old Brandee Anastasia Massey, was gunned down outside of her apartment at LeFrak City at 98-15 Horace Harding Expressway in Corona on Wednesday morning, police said. She was about six months pregnant and had been returning from dropping three of her four kids off at school, according to authorities.

The stay-at-home mom was shot in the chest and arm and taken to Elmhurst Hospital where she was pronounced dead. Doctors were able to deliver her baby, but the child died several hours later, according to police.

Now, hoping to develop leads in the murder investigation, state Sen. Jose Peralta and the LeFrak City Organization are each offering $2,000, in addition to the NYPD’s initial $2,000 reward, for any information leading to the arrest of Brandee’s killer.

“As this community mourns a horrific tragedy, we come together to provide however much support and comfort we can to a grieving husband and devastated family,” Peralta said. “But the most important thing we can do for them right now is to help police and law enforcement bring Brandee’s killer to justice and make whoever is responsible pay for this brutal crime.”

Brandee Anastasia Massey (Photo via Facebook)

Brandee Anastasia Massey (Photo via Facebook)

Since the shooting, Joseph Massey and his four children, who have not been able to return back to their home in Lefrak City, have been staying at a hotel. Peralta and Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras have helped the family with expenses.

After seeing Massey Thursday night, Peralta said the father is very distraught and just wants justice for his family and children.

“All he said was, ‘I don’t know how to explain it to my children,’” Peralta added.

Peralta will also be creating a fund in the upcoming days to help provide for the education of Massey’s four children.

Norma Cooksey, 77, who lived in LeFrak City for 40 years, was friends with Brandee’s grandmother and said she was shocked when she heard the news.

“She grew up in front of me. She was a nice person,” Cooksey said.

Residents of LeFrak City, which is currently undergoing renovations and improvements, say they are concerned for their safety. The building where Brandee lived currently has no cameras and residents said the front door to enter the building remains unlocked.

“We have to really beef up security. Do we have adequate security here at LeFrak? In my opinion, absolutely not,” said Jim Galloway, coordinator for the Lefrak City Tenant’s League. “After this we need cameras on all the floors as quickly as possible. So if anybody comes in to LeFrak to do something irregular at least we can see them through any camera.”

Police Commissioner William Bratton said Thursday the shooting appears to have been a domestic dispute involving the victim’s uncle and police are looking to question to him, according to published reports.

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.

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Some small business owners, residents continue to say ‘no’ to BID in Jackson Heights, Corona


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

The resistance continues.

During the first of two public meetings on Thursday, some Jackson Heights and Corona residents and business owners asked their community to vote no to the expansion that would bring a business improvement district to the neighborhood. They brought up issues which the BID would bring such as gentrification, and the rising of property costs and taxes.

“Right now they say $1,000 annually, once the project gets approved then a little bit more, a little bit more they squeeze one’s throat,” said Sergio Ruiz, a business owner of 15 years, about the estimated yearly cost per lot in the district.

The 82nd Street Partnership, a nonprofit group promoting the current local BID covering four blocks and over 160 businesses, announced last year it would be extending all the way through 114th  Street to form the Jackson Heights-Corona BID. It was later revised to stretch from 82nd Street to 104th Street and down Junction Boulevard. The corridor will include a total of 440 lots and about 850 commercial tenants.

Tania Mattos, a member of the coalition Queens Neighborhoods United, said the group has been trying to educate the community on what a BID is, the voting process and options, and they have been cleaning Roosevelt Avenue every two weeks.

“Roosevelt Avenue does not need the BID,” Mattos said. “It needs the city to wake up, to realize it has neglected Roosevelt Avenue for decades and I’ve seen it personally. Instead the broken sidewalks, perishing and poorly maintained elevated train is blamed on the residents.”

According to Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras, the concept of the BID came from every community resident she had spoken to expressing concerns about the safety and cleanliness of Roosevelt Avenue.

“They want to be able to walk, they want to be able to shop, they want to be able to come with their families and contribute to the businesses,” Ferreras said. “We have a very different and very vibrant business corridor, we deserve better, we deserve to be able to have a business corridor that is vibrant, clean and safe.”

Other business owners at the meeting showed their support for the BID and tried to encourage audience members to vote yes.

“We have to give it a chance and give ourselves a chance,” said Rosita Cali, a business owner and Jackson Heights resident for 17 years. “Let’s give ourselves the room, the chance to have the opportunity to try this and also if something comes out wrong we have the right to say that it’s not right. But if we give the opportunity and this is positive, why not enjoy all the changes?”

In the upcoming weeks, business owners, residents and property owners on Roosevelt Avenue will have to vote on whether they want the BID in their community.

“The BID is really an advocate for the business community, the goal here is to improve the shopping environment, make it cleaner, safer, more inviting and better for the small business,” said Seth Taylor, executive director of the 82nd Street Partnership.

For more information, visit JHCoronaBID.org.

 

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9th Annual Taste of LIC offers items from over 50 local restaurants


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos by Dominick Totino Photography

Foodies made their way to the Long Island City waterfront to a get a taste of what the popular western Queens neighborhood has to offer.

The Chocolate Factory Theater presented the Ninth Annual Taste of LIC, a community-wide festival highlighting Long Island City’s culinary and cultural accomplishments, Tuesday at Gantry Plaza State Park.

FOR MORE PHOTOS CLICK HERE

This year’s celebration featured food and beverage tastings from 50 restaurants and auction and raffle prizes courtesy of 100 local Long Island City businesses. The event also featured a special performance by over 30 Sunnyside/Woodside Girl Scouts choreographed by Madeline Best.


Executive Director of The Chocolate Factory Theater Sheila Lewandowski and Borough President Melinda Katz

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer served as Master of Ceremonies and “chocolate lover honored guests” included Borough President Melinda Katz, state Senator Michael Gianaris, Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan.

All of the event’s proceeds go toward The Chocolate Factory’s 2014-2015 season of dance, theater, music and multimedia performances.

 

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DOT to implement Slow Zones on Northern and Queens boulevards


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

The city’s Vision Zero traffic safety plan will be implemented at two highly trafficked Queens thoroughfares where collisions have claimed more than 20 lives in the last six years, officials said.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) announced Thursday that Northern and Queens boulevards would become part of 25 planned Arterial Slow Zones implemented throughout the five boroughs.

“I am pleased to bring the Arterial Slow Zone program to Northern Boulevard where long crosswalks and high speeds have been an unnecessary reality for too many Queens residents,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said.

The first phase of a Slow Zone for Northern Boulevard will run 4.2 miles long from 40th Road to 114th Street. Starting later this month, the speed limit will be lowered to 25 mph and traffic signals will be retimed.

Since 2008, there have been five fatalities on Northern Boulevard, according to the DOT. One of the recent accidents involved 8-year-old Noshat Nahian, who was fatally struck by a truck on his way to school on Northern Boulevard and 61st Street.

Last month the DOT announced it would install two pedestrian safety islands at the intersection, and remove the westbound left turn bay and signal on Northern Boulevard to eliminate possible vehicle and pedestrian collisions.

“Bringing an arterial slow zone to Northern Boulevard is a huge victory for our entire community,” Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras said.

In July, the DOT will implement a Slow Zone on Queens Boulevard, which has seen 23 deaths in the past six years. The Slow Zone will stretch 7.4 miles from Jackson Avenue to Hillside Avenue.

“I am thrilled to be here on Northern Boulevard with Commissioner Trottenberg announcing safety improvements, rather than with a grieving family begging the city to take actions,” state Sen. Michael Gianaris said. “Too many lives have been lost on Northern and Queens Boulevard, and many other dangerous roads throughout our city.”

The city agency also announced Slow Zones would go up on Jamaica Avenue later this month, and Rockaway Boulevard in August.

For more information on the Slow Zones, visit www.nyc.gov/dot or www.nyc.gov/visionzero.

 

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Op-ed: Our children win with universal pre-K


| oped@queenscourier.com

COUNCILWOMAN JULISSA FERRERAS

After months of rallying for the future of our children, our voices have finally been heard! Last week, our state legislators approved $300 million in funding for universal pre-kindergarten programs in their final budget. This is historic. We are now poised to ensure every child has access to high-quality, full-day pre-K.

The City’s plan is moving forward, and in less than six months, a new school year will begin, giving tens of thousands of our children access to full-day pre-K and thousands more middle-schoolers access to a safe, educational place to go after school.

Imagine the difference this will make for kids who will now start learning a year earlier. Imagine what it means for working parents!

As a former director of a Beacon program at P.S. 19 in Corona, it was my privilege to watch the effect of high-quality programming on young people who would otherwise be falling behind. Just as early education, including pre-K, is vital to a child’s success later in life, after-school for young adolescents is a bridge that helps them maintain momentum—or, in the case of struggling students, a way to regain lost time and get back on track. Studies show that children who participate in these programs behave better in school, do better in class and on tests, and have improved attendance records.

With this new, dedicated funding from Albany, the people who win here are parents and children. New York City is ready to move forward. We’ve been moving aggressively to put all the pieces in place to be ready for the fall.

Thanks to the work of Mayor Bill de Blasio, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and my colleagues in our city and state government, we are making history. As a new mother, I cannot tell you how excited I am about this momentous change. These are game-changing solutions that will reach every child. They’re the kind of solutions that unite communities and improve our schools.

If you live in New York City and your child is turning 4 years old in 2014, it’s time to think about applying to pre-K. Here’s what you need to know:

• Children turning 4 years old in 2014 who live in New York City are eligible to attend pre-K programs.

• Pre-K is free. You do not have to pay to attend programs offered by the NYC Department of Education.

• Programs can be half-day (2 hours and 30 minutes) or full-day (6 hours and 20 minutes). Half-day programs may take place in the morning or afternoon.

• Programs are available at public schools and community-based organizations (CBOs). There are separate application processes for public schools and CBOs.

The pre-K application period has been extended to April 23. The online application for pre-K is currently available in English and Spanish on www.schools.nyc.gov. You can also apply in person at your nearest Queens Enrollment Office, which are listed on the website. If you have any questions or need further information, please call (718) 935-2009. Our children’s future begins today.

Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras represents the 21st Council District encompassing Elmhurst, East Elmhurst, Corona and Jackson Heights. She is also the Chair of the City Council’s Committee on Finance.

Elmhurst Hospital celebrates opening of new Women’s Pavilion


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Elmhurst Hospital Center has opened the doors to more health care access for the women of Queens.

The hospital celebrated the grand opening of its new 17,370-square-foot outpatient healthcare facility, the Women’s Pavilion.

The $16.3 million Women’s Pavilion, located adjacent to the hospital’s main building at 78-20 41st Ave., is expected to expand the access to prenatal and complete obstetrical services for the women in the borough.

“I’m extremely thankful to call this hospital our own in our borough,” Borough President Melinda Katz said. “A women’s health care pavilion is sorely needed in this borough, we need to make sure that women are comfortable going in for health care, asking any questions they possibly have.”

The site, which is expected to start accepting patient June 1, will bring 15 percent greater capacity in patient volume and allow 5 percent annual growth in service capacity over a 5-year period, according to Chris Constantino, senior vice president of the Health and Hospital Corporation Queens Health Network.

“What this pavilion means for the women of New York City and the women of this district is priceless,” said Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras. “This space here is allowing for a safe haven, just the same type of safe haven we want to give our children.”

Some of the women’s health services offered include walk-in pregnancy testing, prenatal care, HIV counseling and testing, genetic counseling, high-risk pregnancy and postpartum services.

The new two-story facility features 18 exam rooms and two reception areas. There will also be space offered for childbirth, breastfeeding, nutrition and diabetes education classes.

“This is just another step in the journey to excellence,” former Councilwoman Helen Sears said.

 

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Op-ed: Why I support Mayor de Blasio’s plan for universal pre-K


| oped@queenscourier.com

COUNCILWOMAN JULISSA FERRERAS

There’s been a lot of discussion recently about Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan for universal pre-kindergarten in New York City. Often overlooked is that the plan would provide more than just high-quality programs for our youngest learners, it would also fund after-school programs for every interested middle schooler in New York. As chairwoman of the City Council’s Finance Committee, I support the de Blasio plan because it’s such a cost-effective way to address one of the most pressing challenges the city faces. As the former director of an after-school program, I support the plan because I know firsthand how critical after-school support can be in developing and safeguarding adolescents. It’s inspiring that both the Assembly and Senate have put forward budget proposals that meet these goals.

As you probably know, the mayor’s plan – which the Assembly also supports – would modestly raise income tax rates for New York City earners making more than $500,000 a year, from 3.9 percent to 4.4 percent for a period of five years. That’s a smaller increase than previous mayors have sought from Albany for key projects, and still would generate $530 million in new revenue for each of those years. Much of that revenue would be used to create tens of thousands of pre-K slots for 4 year olds, but $190 million would be directed to after-school programs. The Senate Majority Conference proposes funding after-school for every middle school student through the budget. Both proposals offer the funding needed to make the historic expansion of after-school a reality in New York City.

The city currently offers a little more than 45,000 after-school slots, which serve 56,300 students (not every student goes every day) in 239 schools. Fully, one in four children are left alone and unsupervised after school ends, the time of day when juvenile crime and violence are at their highest, and there are 237 public schools in which middle-school-age children don’t have access to comprehensive after-school. The funding from the de Blasio plan would allow the city to increase the number of after-school spots to 95,000—an addition of about 68,800 new slots—across 512 local schools, serving 120,000 children. The goal is for every child who’s interested to be able to participate. Programs would be free, run from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and mostly be run by local organizations experienced in working in the community.

As a former director of one such organization, I spent years running after-school at P.S. 19, a Beacon program, and it was my privilege to watch the effect of high-quality programming on young people who would otherwise be falling behind. Just as early education, including pre-K, is vital to a child’s success later in life, after-school for young adolescents is a bridge that helps them maintain momentum—or, in the case of struggling students, a way to regain lost time and get back on track. Studies show that children who participate in these programs behave better in school, do better in class and on tests, and have improved attendance records. After-school programs also help kids identify subjects and disciplines they enjoy and in which they can excel.

The expansion of after-school programming under the de Blasio plan would be a win for everyone. Far more children would have access to programs that would help cultivate their interests and improve their performance in school, all while ensuring they’re under supervision and avoiding the kinds of trouble that can derail a promising young life. The Legislature must work with the governor to ensure that the funding needed for expanded after-school and universal pre-K is part of the State’s final budget.

Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras represents the 21st Council District encompassing Elmhurst, East Elmhurst, Corona and Jackson Heights. She is also the Chair of the City Council’s Committee on Finance.