Tag Archives: Douglaston

Star of Queens: Lauren Elizabeth Cornea, Clinton Club of Northeast Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

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JANAE HUNTER

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Lauren Cornea has been a Young Democrat with the Clinton Club of Northeast Queens, which serves the neighborhoods of Auburndale, Bay Terrace, Bayside, Douglaston, Flushing, Little Neck and Whitestone, since 2010. The club keeps the community updated on local events and politics in the neighborhood. She is also a member of the Bayside-Whitestone Lions Club and does community and volunteer work for the community through the chapter. When she is not doing work for these organizations or volunteering for attorney Paul Vallone, she is a Learning Leader volunteer, where she tutors students at P.S. 21Q in reading, writing and math.

BACKGROUND: Cornea was born and raised in Flushing. After graduating from the Harvey School, Cornea spent some time traveling in Europe. Now, she is back in Queens and works as a realtor at Amorelli Realty in Astoria, and is the single mother of two children, Dominic John, 8, and Violeta-Rose, 6.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “The greatest obstacle I have faced is being a single mother juggling career and family life,” Cornea said. Raising two young children and balancing a job can be hard, but she makes it work. As for her career, being a female commercial realtor is tough when there are so many men doing the job. “This is a man’s world, and I have had to work extra to live in it. I work extra hard for people to take me seriously and value what I have to say. I have worked very hard to be seen as a woman who is knowledgeable and hard working and not just seen as a pretty face.”

GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT: “I have so many achievements that I’m proud of that it’s hard to choose,” said Cornea. “One of my top achievements has been closing the deal on Steinway Mansion. That deal took 18 months and when we finally closed the deal it went for $2.6 million.” But, she added, raising her children, successfully bouncing back from the divorce, having the opportunity to give back by teaching children to learn to read, write and do basic arithmetic, and being a successful woman in a male-dominated profession are also some of Cornea’s greatest achievements.

INSPIRATION: “This may sound corny, but my biggest inspiration is definitely my kids,” said Cornea. “They rely on me for everything. On days when I do not feel like getting up, all I have to do is think about my two children who need me to be a success in order for them to have a better future.” Cornea said she is also inspired by her natural competitiveness that makes her try and be the best at whatever she does.

 

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Queens businesses brace for LIRR strike impact


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Ahmed Iftikhar drives from Mineola with his wife to the Bayside LIRR station every day except Sundays to set up his newsstand and open at 5 a.m.

He serves coffee, snacks, newspapers and magazines to a portion of the 4,000 daily commuters who use the station for 14 hours, making an average of $200 per day in sales, he said. Each month he pays $3,450 for rent and about $300 in utilities.

The potential LIRR work stoppage, which could start on Sunday, would not only strand thousands of commuters, but also hurt small businesses in Queens like Iftikhar’s newsstand, which depends on LIRR service for customers.

“If they do the strike, I’ll be sad,” Iftikhar said. “I’ll be very upset. What would we do in the future?”

While some LIRR stations in Queens, such as Jamaica, which has subway lines nearby, wouldn’t be as affected, others that depend primarily on the LIRR service could feel an impact, businesses and community leaders said. Businesses, such as the deli and café near the Douglaston LIRR station, stand to lose potential customers in the 2,000 daily commuters at the station.

“Of course no one is happy about it,” said Dorothy Matinale, president of the Douglaston Village Chamber of Commerce.

The manager of Kelly’s Car Service, located near the Bayside station, said if the strike occurs they expect road traffic to be slow for further trips, as the MTA expects more drivers to be on the road.

“Going into Manhattan would be impossible,” manager Richard Pearlman said.

Pearlman couldn’t anticipate how the strike would affect business, but said the car service is thinking of offering trips directly to subway stations on Main Street, although plans have not been finalized.

While the unions and the MTA continue to negotiate, Iftikhar hopes they’ll patch it up soon.

“It’s a little problem,” he said. “If they solve it, it’ll be nice for everyone.”

 

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West Nile detected in Douglaston, College Point


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of James Gathany/CDC

BENJAMIN FANG

The West Nile virus was recently detected in mosquitoes in Douglaston and College Point, but no human cases have been reported so far, according to city officials.

Health Commissioner Mary Bassett encouraged New Yorkers to take precautions, such as wearing mosquito repellent and covering arms and legs while outside.

“During warm weather, mosquitoes can breed in any still water that stands for more than four days,” Basset said, “so the most effective way to control mosquitoes is to eliminate standing water.”

To address the issue, the health department is applying larvicide in marsh areas  and other non-residential areas, including Alley Pond Park, the abandoned Flushing Airport in College Point, and Dubos Point and Edgemere Park in Far Rockaway. The sprayings will take place on Thursday, July 17, Friday July 18 and Monday July 21, from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m., weather permitting.

Not everyone infected by the virus becomes ill, officials said. But it can cause complications, such as neurological diseases, and symptoms like headache, fever, fatigue, or sometimes a rash.

 

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Alley Pond Environmental Center to get new $7.1M visitors’ building


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy Department of Parks and Recreation


The Alley Pond Environmental Center (APEC) in Douglaston is growing with a new $7.1 million building.

Construction on the 10,000-square-foot structure is expected to start next summer, and be completed in 2017, according to the Parks Department.

The structure, which will nearly double the current visitors’ center, is necessary to meet the demands of popular after-school and camp programs, which create an enormous waiting list every year of 7,000 to 10,000 children.

The new building will house more classrooms, staff offices, a large lobby that doubles as an exhibition space, a public meeting room and restrooms.

“We are very excited,” said Irene Scheid, APEC executive director. “The organization sees a lot of potential in this new building in terms of education value and community teaching capabilities.”

The new structure will be LEED silver certified, which is the third highest green rating by the U.S. Green Building Council, behind gold and platinum. The exterior will be a modern design, clad in brick, glass and steel.

The center’s parking lot is also being designed with bioswales that capture and retain storm water.

To fund the project, the Queens borough president’s office allocated $4 million, the City Council allocated $2.186 million and the mayor’s office added $1 million.

 

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Identify this place in Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

where

Do you know where in Queens this photo was taken? Guess by commenting below! The answer will be revealed next Friday.

Last week’s answer to “Identify this Place”: Shore Road in Douglaston 

 

Douglaston Eagle Scout prospect collects donations for St. Alban’s Veterans Hospital


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

This scout has honor.

Douglaston teen Michael Tuffey is collecting personal care items for the Veterans Affairs Community Living Center at St. Alban’s to become an Eagle Scout, the highest rank for members of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA).

Tuffey, a Life Scout in Troop 153 with 31 badges, has already collected hundreds of personal products, including body wash, shaving cream, deodorant and shampoo, for the nearly 140 male veterans living at the home. He plans to continue the drive until June 20.

“Sometimes for projects it’s refurbishing a park or a playground or a community center,” Tuffey said. “But I wanted to give back to people. I thought this was a really worthy cause because these guys have obviously done a lot and they definitely deserve to have something given back to them.”

Tuffey, 16, is a junior at Xavier High School in Manhattan and is a member of the track team and the school’s Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC). He was inspired to help the veterans because of his affiliation with the reserve training group. He initially approached the hospital to ask for their needs and received a list of personal care items.

To collect the donations, Tuffey set up two drop-off stations, one at Douglaston French Cleaners on Northern Boulevard at Douglaston Parkway, and another at HOME NY Real Estate at 40-60 Douglaston Parkway. He has also contacted and received donations from various organizations, including local churches, and handed out flyers on Memorial Day to spread the word about his campaign.

The project is the final step for Tuffey, who has been with the BSA since the Cub Scout level in second grade, to complete his longtime dream to become an Eagle Scout.

“It would mean a lot,” he said of the honor. “It’s a culmination of a lot of hard work and a lot of years of being involved.”

Anyone willing to donate can drop off items at the stations in Douglaston or contact Tuffey at mtuffeyeaglescoutproject@aol.com.

 

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Douglaston school walks against bullying


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Students from the Divine Wisdom Catholic Academy School embarked on their first “Stamp Out Bullying Walkathon” on Friday in an effort to remind themselves and the community about the damaging effects of students picking on each other.

“This walk is meant to stomp out bullying,” eighth-grader Lena Vella said. “It’s meant to teach people how to take action.”

The trek from the school on Northern Boulevard to a ballpark on Cloverdale Boulevard was made by 250 students, Prinicipal Michael Laforgia and several teachers. A new student-run program in the school called the Pope Francis Society hosted the event. Once students made it to the ballpark, a selected group of kids read essays on bullying to their classmates. A group of students from Divine Wisdom’s other campus in Bayside also held a walkathon and the two converged on the ball park. Most of the students wore orange shirts, the color of their cause.

Laforgia became principal of the pre-K-8 Catholic school four years ago, and students, teachers and parents credit him with making the students more aware of bullying.

“These kids don’t walk into the school with a halo,” Laforgia said. “So we have to be very active in preventing bullying. I hope in the quiet of their day they’ll take a moment to reflect on this.”

Lena and three other classmates volunteered to write their own essays for the event. They are all part of the Pope Francis Society, which is made up of about 40 students who meet together once a week with Laforgia and teachers. Most importantly, Lena said, they’re given the task of keeping an eye out for bullying in school, acting as hall-monitors against aggressive behavior.

“I hate that so many people just watch when others are picked on,” said Laura Toscano, Lena’s classmate. “We’re trying to get people to be friendly.”

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Queens chef wins Food Network’s ‘Cutthroat Kitchen’


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Brian Redondo

Chef Tomica “Tom” Burke took a leap of faith that made her a Food Network champion.

Burke, a Douglaston resident who grew up in Cambria Heights, came out the victor Sunday on the Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen.” She went head-to-head with three other chefs on the reality cooking show hosted by celebrity chef Alton Brown.

“I couldn’t breathe in the morning before we started filming,” Burke said. “Once we got into the studio, it was a totally different ball game. You’re there and doing the best you can. It was very hard; between every round I had no idea what was going to happen.”

Contestants are given $25,000 at the start of the show to bid on the right to sabotage their competition during three rounds of cooking challenges.

In the episode called “Chain of Tools,” Burke had to create her own versions of Cobb salad, enchiladas and layered cake while facing sabotages such as having to mix ingredients in a cement mixer and create her own kitchen out of items within a shopping cart.

Although Burke had received no training as a chef and never enrolled in culinary school, the Queens resident beat her competition Sunday night and took home a total of $8,600 in winnings.

“You have no idea what you can do until you have to do it,” she said.

Burke, however, did not start off as a chef. The 31-year-old graduated from Columbia Law School and, while studying and working in a city law firm, took courses at the Institute of Culinary Education. She then decided to leave the legal profession and opened her own catering company in 2013 called “TomCookery – New Comfort Cuisine & Catering.”

Since then, Burke has been cooking Caribbean and Southern-inspired food, influenced by her grandmothers, out of the Entrepreneur Space in Long Island City. TomCookery caters for any kind of party including weddings, bar mitzvahs and much more.

She said as a new business it was very important for her to take the risk of competing on the show, which she hopes will create more business and recognition for TomCookery.

“I think taking risks is super-important in general,” she said. “You shouldn’t limit yourself, just jump at every opportunity and let life decide what is going to happen.”

For those who want to catch a rerun of Burke on “Cutthroat Kitchen,” the episode will air again on April 26 at 4 p.m. and May 4 at 6 p.m.

For more information on TomCookery visit here.

 

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Little Neck residents come together to save annual Memorial Day Parade


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

File photo

Follow me @liamlaguerre 

 

The show will go on.

The United War Veterans Council (UWVC) hosted the first of a series of meetings to organize the Little NeckDouglaston Memorial Day Parade, which was in danger of being canceled this year, on Wednesday, March 19, at Community Church of Little Neck.

Since the former parade board was dissolved, the UWVC, which organizes the annual National Veterans Day Parade in Manhattan, reached out to help save the event.

The UWVC isn’t taking over the event, but just wants to help the community organize the parade, which started in 1927.

“We’re not uncomfortable by taking this leap, and we are not uncomfortable to say to you that if you want it, we could help you get it done, but we can’t do it, you have to do it and we will help you keep on track and make sure that it happens,” said Vince McGowan, president and founder of the UWVC.

About 60 residents, some of who were on the former board of the parade, packed the room at the church, full of resolve to keep the parade alive.

The UWVC just took a census from the room about saving the parade. They then talked about the committees that would be needed to organize the parade, including the Executive Division, Legal, Treasury, Parade Operations, Marketing, Public Relations, and Institutional Involvement, Dignitary, Opening and Closing Church Ceremony Committees. They also noted possible volunteers from the community.

Past parades cost about $30,000, so the UWVC believes it should cost about the same this year. The group is pledging $10,000, and former State Senator Frank Padavan donated $1,000, according to Geraldine Spinella, who was the head of the Treasury Committee of the former board of the parade. Many kinks still need to be worked out, but residents left feeling confident the parade will be back again.

“The best people in the community were in this room and they will get it done,” said Spinella, who volunteered to continue as the head of the Treasury Committee.

Anyone that wishes to volunteer should attend the next meeting on Wednesday, March 26 at 7:30 p.m. at Community Church, or visit the parade’s website or Facebook  and Twitter accounts.

 

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Macy’s initiative to boost funds for two Queens parks


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

This month, Macy’s shoppers can spend some green to keep Queens green.

Two parks in the borough — Cunningham and Queens Botanical Garden — have been selected for the major department store’s “Heart Your Park” fundraising initiative that raises money for upkeep and improvement projects.

More than 550 parks in the nation were chosen for the program.

From March 7 to March 31, customers can make donations at three Macy’s locations in Flushing, Douglaston and Queens Center Mall.

Macy’s will match the total up to $250,000 and give the proceeds to the city’s Parks Department.

“I’m ecstatic,” said Friends of Cunningham Park President Marc Haken. “We’re constantly improving the park.”

Haken said his parks support group, which is funded through City Council and state assembly grants, has spent at least $100,000 over the last few years to maintain the Fresh Meadows park.

The much-needed help from Macy’s would go toward cleaning up hiking trails and fixing many eroded parts of the park, Haken added.

“It’s like owning a house,” he said. “There’s always stuff to do, equipment to be purchased.”

 

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Queens Girl Scout cookie champ ready to hand out sweet treats


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of DeAnne Lorde

This Queens Girl Scout is one smart cookie.

Springfield Gardens seventh-grader Najah Lorde more than doubled her cookie sales from last year to become the top seller in the city with 2,833 boxes.

Najah, 12, has been selling cookies since she joined the Girl Scouts in second grade, but didn’t surpass the 1,000 mark until 2013 when she sold 1,111 boxes.

That year, she was bested by Upper West Side resident Olivia Cranshaw by about 700 boxes.

Cranshaw set a goal of selling over 2,000 this year. She exceeded that number by 141, but Najah had the right ingredients for a win.

“I was running and screaming all over the house,” Najah said, describing the moment she found out she was the cookie champ.

Each Girl Scout that sells over 1,000 boxes receives all the prizes offered, including a Nintendo Wii and Sephora gift card.

“If you are the top seller you just win bragging rights,” Najah said.

“She’s very competitive, Najah’s father Donovan Lorde said. “She was very determined when the sale started.”

Najah, a member of Troop 4287, claimed she had no special strategy, but her father said she did have a plan, she just didn’t realize it.

He said she made a list of the people she wanted to call and even took his and his wife’s phones to look for potential buyers. Using her networking skills, the preteen urged her contacts to reach out to others.

The Girl Scout said she received a lot of support from family. She also sold the baked goods at her school, Divine Wisdom Catholic Academy in Douglaston, her church, the Greater Allen Cathedral of New York, and her parents’ workplace, SUNY Downstate Medical Center.

“When we tallied up the numbers and we saw 2,833, we were like ‘wow that is a lot of boxes,’” Donovan said.

“To a certain degree we were surprised by the number, but we weren’t surprised that she did it,” he added.

Najah is aiming for another win next year by selling at least 3,000 boxes.

Though her father is supportive of her ambitions, he admits the goal makes him somewhat “afraid.”

This Saturday, the boxes are set to arrive and they will need to figure out how to store, transport and hand out all those cookies.

“We are going to need a very big vehicle to pick up the boxes,” Donovan said.

 

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Queens precinct ramps up speeding enforcement to meet ‘Vision Zero’


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Lead-footed drivers in the 111th Precinct will have to ease up on the gas soon or get a ticket.

The precinct plans to ramp up speeding enforcement and make sure motorists yield to pedestrians, Deputy Inspector Jason Huerta said.

The push is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “Vision Zero” initiative, which aims to reduce traffic fatalities to zero within the next 10 years. De Blasio’s plan also calls for a reduction in the citywide speed limit from 30 to 25 mph and stiffer penalties on reckless taxi and livery drivers.

Speeding and failing to yield make up 70 percent of pedestrian fatalities in the city, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said.

Officers will be closely eyeing major area intersections like Northern and Bell Blvds. and Springfield Blvd. and Horace Harding Expwy., Huerta said.

The 111th Precinct  covers Bayside, Douglaston, Little Neck, Auburndale, Hollis Hills and Fresh Meadows. It is one of many citywide precincts to beef up traffic enforcement in order to reach the mayor’s goals.

There have been no pedestrian deaths within the precinct this year, Huerta said.

However, a 2-year-old boy was hit by a car Monday afternoon in Auburndale after he darted onto 196th St. near Northern Blvd., police said, though he is expected to recover.

“They think the child is going to pull through,” Huerta said. “Obviously, it’s a tragedy.”

 

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Community Board 11 elects Christine Haider as new chair


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Community Board 11 ushered in a new era with a swift election Monday night.

The board bid farewell to its longtime leader, Jerry Iannece, and unanimously voted in Christine Haider to take his place as chair.

“She’s going to be great,” Iannece said. “She’s a hardworking, diligent, responsible person, who has always had the best interest of the community at heart.”

Haider, a board member since 1991, was Iannece’s right-hand woman for the last five years, serving as first vice chair. She also chaired the board’s crucial East Flushing/North Bayside Zoning Committee.

“I’m delighted that I’ve been picked as chair,” Haider said, “and I will do my best.”

Iannece, who is term-limited due to the board’s bylaws, was first appointed board chair in 2002. He stepped down in 2007 due to term limits and took back the board’s helm in 2009.

Board members praised Iannece’s leadership at his final meeting on March 3.

Councilmembers Paul Vallone, Peter Koo and Mark Weprin also gave him a proclamation for his “labor of love” and countless years as a volunteer civic leader.

“He can be proud and know that his legacy of service will continue to fortify the lives of countless Queens residents for generations ahead,” the proclamation says. “He has truly distinguished himself in all of his endeavors and he has earned the enduring gratitude of all New Yorkers.”

While there are “big shoes to fill,” District Manager Susan Seinfeld has no doubt Haider will rise to the challenge during the next five years.

“It will be different, but she is a great woman,” Seinfeld said. “She’s very competent, knowledgeable and involved with the community.”

Board members also elected Laura James as first vice chair, Ocelia Claro as second vice chair and Eileen Miller as third vice chair.

The board covers Auburndale, Bayside, Douglaston, Little Neck, Hollis Hills and Oakland Gardens.

“I think we’re going to work really well together,” Seinfeld said.

 

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Community Board 11 to lose longtime leader, elect new chair


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Community Board 11 will lose a longtime leader and elect a new chair next month.

The Queens board will bid farewell to Jerry Iannece, who is term-limited due to the board’s bylaws. An election to replace him will take place March 3.

“It was an awesome ride,” said Iannece, whose term ends March 31. “It was exciting, exhilarating. It’s been a labor of love in many ways.”

Iannece was first appointed as board chair in 2002, stepping down in 2007 due to term limits. He returned to take back the board’s helm in 2009.

Under his leadership, Community Board 11 was at the forefront of a $125 million ravine improvement project at Oakland Lake. The massive upgrade, which was more than 10 years in the making, fixed a flooding problem in Bayside Hills.

“It saved Oakland Lake, and it saved the ecosystem,” Iannece said. “It’s sort of a textbook case of how a civic can identify a problem, employ their resources and get a problem solved.”

But after a roller coaster, decade-long tenure — and multiple failed bids for political office — the civic leader plans to step down for good.

“It’s an exhausting, full-time job without pay. I think my time as chair of Community Board 11 has come to an end,” said Iannece, who most recently ran for City Council in 2009 and suffered a devastating defeat in his bid for state Assembly in 2012.

“Running for office for a few years took a lot out of me,” the attorney said. “It just wasn’t meant to be, but it’s OK.”

Board members will nominate and then vote in a new chair at the end of the March 3 meeting, which starts at 7:30 p.m. at 46-35 Oceania St. in Bayside.

The board covers Auburndale, Bayside, Douglaston, Little Neck, Hollis Hills and Oakland Gardens.

“I think it’s always good to have fresh blood, to have someone with new ideas,” Iannece said. “We’ll find somebody that’s more than capable of filling my shoes and doing a great job.”

 

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Pols call for more city buses to run through Douglaston


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

More city buses need to roll through Douglaston, local elected officials demanded Monday, calling the neighborhood a “transit desert.”

Five major bus routes, coupled with sporadic service, are not enough to serve the area’s growing ridership, according to Congressmember Steve Israel and Assemblymember Nily Rozic.

“This is not just a matter of convenience for Douglaston residents,” Israel said. “This is just the smart thing to do.”

The two called for an increase in federal and state funding to buy more local and express buses, bus lines and bus stops in the neighborhood they said was “underserved” by mass transit.

Borough President Melinda Katz, State Senator Tony Avella, Assemblymember Ed Braunstein, Councilmember Paul Vallone and the Straphanger’s Campaign are also on board.

Rozic said current service was “unreliable, unsustainable and unacceptable.”

But an MTA spokesperson said improvements have been made to the QM3 and QM8’s running times and frequency in the past year.

The Q36 has also been extended and the Q76 weekend service has been restored and expanded, the spokesperson said. Weekend Q31 service will also be restored this spring. 

 

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