Tag Archives: Elizabeth Crowley

PHOTOS: Preview of new QNS.com website at Queens Museum party


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Corazon Aguirre

Businesspeople, elected officials and other movers and shakers from across Queens came to the Queens Museum Wednesday night to get a glimpse of QNS.com, the future Internet home of The Queens Courier, Ridgewood Times, LIC Magazine and BORO magazine.

The preview party allowed guests to mingle with one another and learn more about the new website, which will launch this summer. QNS.com will continue to provide the expansive news coverage of The Courier and its sister publications while also incorporating social media elements, enabling residents from Astoria to the Rockaways to interact with one another on a variety of levels.

Courier President and CEO Victoria Schneps-Yunis and Co-Publisher Joshua Schneps welcomed several notable guests to the preview party, including state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, Assemblymen Ed Braunstein and David Weprin, City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, Deputy Queens Borough President Melva Miller and former Queens Borough President Claire Shulman. Representatives of City Councilmen Donovan Richards and Jimmy Van Bramer and Assemblyman Francisco Moya were also in attendance.

Following a reception, guests headed into the museum’s famous Panorama — a scale model of New York City — for a formal presentation on the new website. Stay tuned to find out the power of QNS.com.

In advance of the launch, Facebook users are invited to like the new website’s Facebook page.

 

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Barry Grodenchik receives support from female pols


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Alina Suriel

Several prominent female politicians in Queens threw their support to Barry Grodenchik in his bid for a City Council seat at a press conference Tuesday afternoon in Bayside Hills.

“It is my delight to stand with some of the great women leaders of this county, my wife included,” said Grodenchik, who has served as an assemblyman and deputy Queens borough president. He is running as a Democrat for the District 23 City Council seat vacated in June by Mark Weprin, who left to become Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s deputy secretary of legislative affairs.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz was the most high-profile name at the event to support Grodenchik, which was held at the Bayside Hills clock on 50th Avenue and Bell Boulevard. Grodenchik is currently on leave from working in the borough president’s administration as an aide, and the two were once rivals on the 2013 campaign trail, which Katz ultimately won.

The two Democrats also worked side by side in the office of former Borough President Claire Shulman, who served from 1986 until 2002.

“He is committed, and he is strong, and is a great advocate for the people of Queens,” said Katz, adding that Grodenchik has the experience to have a real impact in city politics.

Two local councilwomen who would be Grodenchik’s colleagues, if elected, also spoke highly of his career of service to the city.

“Barry is someone who knows what to do and how to get it done,” said Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz, who represents Forest Hills, Rego Park, Kew Gardens and Richmond Hill in District 29. “I have seen him in action not just with me, but with many of my colleagues in government.”

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley of District 30, which encompasses Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Ridgewood, and parts of Woodside and Woodhaven, pointed to Grodenchik’s efforts to aid victims of domestic violence as part of his wealth of experience, as well as other important initiatives in which he has taken part.

Grodenchik is one of six Democrats seeking the party’s nomination for the 23rd Council District seat in the September primary. The winner of that race will face presumptive Republican nominee Joe Concannon in the November general election for the right to serve the remainder of Weprin’s term, which expires in 2017.


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Participatory budgeting coming to Councilwoman Crowley’s district


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley is the latest city lawmaker to hop on the participatory budgeting bandwagon.

Crowley announced on Tuesday that residents in the 30th City Council District — which includes all or parts of Ridgewood, Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Woodhaven and Woodside — will get to decide how to spend $1 million in city funds on community improvement projects.

She is the 11th member of the City Council’s Queens delegation to host participatory budgeting. During the 2015 fiscal year, City Council members Costa Constantinides, Daniel Dromm, Julissa Ferreras, Karen Koslowitz, I. Daneek Miller, Donovan Richards, Antonio Reynoso, Eric Ulrich, Paul Vallone and Jimmy Van Bramer — along with former City Councilman Mark Weprin — pledged to fund $12,871,000 in projects through the process.

“This year, I am able to bring participatory budgeting to my constituents and give them insight into the often lengthy and sometimes very expensive city budgeting process,” Crowley said in a statement. “This will provide a forum for active engagement between residents and myself to decide on capital projects, and calls for the participation of every community member.”

Through participatory budgeting, local residents brainstorm and then vote on a number of proposed capital budget projects for their community, such as street tree planting, park improvements, school technology upgrades, security cameras and street resurfacing.

The first round of community meetings focused on the process will be held in September, with voting taking place in February 2016. For additional information, call Crowley’s Glendale office at 718-366-3900.

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EXCLUSIVE: Councilwoman envisions light rail line between Glendale and LIC


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

BY ANTHONY GIUDICE AND ROBERT POZARYCKI

Commuters in Glendale and Middle Village deal with limited public transportation options. Most residents in both communities live a mile or farther away from the nearest subway station, and local bus lines through the area have a reputation for being slow and overcrowded.

City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley hopes to change this situation with a plan to introduce light rail service between Glendale and Long Island City on the Long Island Rail Road’s Montauk branch, which currently offers only freight service west of Jamaica. She hopes to pitch the idea to the Department of City Planning in the coming weeks.

In an exclusive interview with the Ridgewood Times on Monday at her district office, Crowley said a new diesel-powered light rail line would address the transportation needs in Glendale and surrounding communities. The light rail line could also encourage redevelopment of underutilized industrially zoned areas adjacent to the line for business or residential purposes.

“A light rail is inexpensive, it’s clean and it’s quiet,” Crowley said. “I think an ideal plan would be to start [at The Shops at Atlas Park] where you’re not necessarily in the backs of the people’s yard or you don’t have at-grade street level crossing.”

Up until March 1998, the Montauk branch offered passenger service between Long Island City and Jamaica and stations in Glendale, Ridgewood and Maspeth. Passenger service was discontinued at that time due to lack of ridership; a New York Times report noted that just two passengers arrived and departed daily at the Glendale station, located along Edsall Avenue and 73rd Street, near an entrance to All Faiths Cemetery.

Crowley doesn’t suggest rebuilding the former Glendale station, but rather creating a new stop at The Shops at Atlas Park, noting that the shopping centerwhere her district office is also located—could serve as an active park-and-ride option for local residents.

“If we were able to get a rail here, people could potentially use this spot as park-and-ride, or the community around us could take a bus to the train or walk to the train,” Crowley said. “It provides options for public transportation that would effectively get more cars off our streets.”

Local civic activists have long advocated for returning public transit to the Montauk branch; members of the Community Board 5 Transportation and Public Transit Committees recently called for rebuilding the former Fresh Pond station located at the corner of Fresh Pond Road and Metropolitan Avenue on the Ridgewood/Glendale border.

Crowley, however, suggested building a new station a short distance to the east of the Fresh Pond stop near the Metro Mall, which could connect riders to the M train at its Metropolitan Avenue terminus.

“There could potentially be inter-borough connections here,” Crowley explained. “If we were to have the first stop over by the Metro Mall, then you could transfer to the M train and get quickly into Brooklyn.”

She also pointed to an area near Flushing Avenue in Maspeth as another potential station site, noting that it’s close to the connecting LIRR Bushwick branch, another freight rail line that Crowley suggested could potentially also accommodate light rail service.

From Long Island City, riders could connect to the 7, E and M lines at stations located within walking distance of the Hunterspoint Avenue station where the Montauk line terminates.

Crowley noted, however, that these plans are in the infancy stages and there is currently no estimated cost or timetable for this project. In addition to meeting with the Department of City Planning, she would further research the idea in meeting with operators of light rail systems in New Jersey cities.

Regarding costs, Crowley suggested the expense would be minimal compared to large-scale MTA capital projects such as the 7 line extension in Manhattan. The MTA—which is requesting billions in funding for capital improvements—would need funds to build the light rail stations and purchase cars and equipment.

The LIRR currently leases the Montauk line west of Jamaica to New York and Atlantic Railway exclusively for its freight rail operations based out of Glendale’s Fresh Pond Railyard. When asked if this would pose a complication to her light rail plan, Crowley remarked that other cities allow light rail to operate on freight tracks, and that both functions could coexist here.

Community Board 5 District Manager Gary Giordano told the Ridgewood Times in a phone interview Wednesday that the idea has “merit,” but there could be opposition from residents living near the Montauk line.

“Those who might not be that pleased with it are the people who own homes in east Glendale,” he said. “That’s the difficult part, but we need to get ourselves out of our cars as often as possible and use public transportation. In that sense, it can be very good.”

The CB 5 Transportation and Public Transit Committees would likely review Crowley’s plan and may also hold a public hearing on the matter, Giordano said.

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Rash of violent crimes raises concerns at Woodhaven meeting


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Woodhaven residents and elected officials expressed concern and outrage during Thursday night’s Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) meeting over the recent rash of high-profile crimes to hit the area.

Two recent shootings rocked the area. The first occurred roughly three weeks ago around 4 a.m. outside the Port O’Call nightclub near Atlantic Avenue and Woodhaven Boulevard. The more recent shooting was on the night of June 6 at the corner of Jamaica Avenue and 89th Street.

Then the community was stunned by the June 10 discovery of a dead body near Victory Field in Forest Park now being investigated as a homicide.

“It’s just a bad wave right now … but it’s not just us. It could happen anywhere in the city,” P.O. Jose Severino of the 102nd Precinct Community Affairs Unit told WRBA members during the session at American Legion Post 118. “We have leads in most of these crimes … but both shooting victims are being uncooperative, so it’s making our investigation difficult.”

One resident expressed fear over personal safety in light of the shootings. “I could stop by Jamaica Avenue to get a container of milk and be caught in a shootout,” she said.

In an attempt to calm concerns, Severino explained that several safety measures have been implemented in the wake of the shootings, including outside help from Central Command.

“Right now, we have multiple shooting posts to help increase visibility in multiple locations where those crimes happened,” he said. “We have an automatic shooting initiative in place and will be there for 24 to 72 hours after.”

Regarding the Forest Park homicide, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley called the murder “unsettling” and shared in the community’s concerns.

“Safety in Forest Park is so important,” she said. “I myself often run in the park. We’ve been on top of the 102nd Precinct to make sure they have patrols there.”

Another resident raised the question about security cameras in the park. “About two weeks ago, we noticed a security camera mounted on a light post,” she said. “But last weekend, that camera was gone. Ironically, it would have been in the same spot where the murder was.”

Angel Vazquez, Assemblyman Mike Miller’s chief of staff, explained that he was working to get the NYPD to sign off on an agreement allowing for the installation of cameras at specific locations within the park.

According to Vazquez, the first part of the six-stage process of approval was just completed. Going forward, the camera plans would require three-way approval from the Assembly, Dormitory Authority and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Greg Mitchell of Councilman Eric Ulrich’s office echoed Crowley’s concerns.

“Safety is our number one priority,” he said. “Through our budgeting, we did approve those emergency call boxes that will be going into Forest Park.”

Mitchell said he has been in touch with the capital department of the NYPD and expects the call boxes to be installed as soon as the upcoming budget passes.

WRBA President Martin Colberg urged residents to remain vigilant: “The biggest thing we can do is to call 311 or 911. Let’s get some kind of response out there and try to help each other as much as we can.”

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Ridgewood group eyes NYPD roster and homelessness


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Hiring more police officers and reducing homelessness were hot topics during the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association (RPOCA) meeting on June 4 at the Ridgewood Older Adult Center.

According to Captain Mark Wachter, the 104th Precinct has witnessed a 9.5 percent drop in the seven major crime categories. Problems plaguing the command include an upswing in identity theft, scams and theft of unattended property, such as wallets and laptop computers left in cars.

Even so, crime is up in other parts of the city, and Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley noted the City Council wants funds to hire more police officers included in 2016 fiscal year budget.

According to Crowley, Commissioner Bratton approached the City Council and requested funds to hire 500 extra police officers, primarily for the city’s anti-terrorism task force. However, Crowley estimates the need for more officers to be double that amount.

“It’s rare that you even have a commissioner of an agency that disagrees with a mayor,” Crowley said. “But the truth of the matter is, he could use a thousand more police officers.”

Crowley estimates that the police department spends roughly $700 million dollars in overtime pay to officers each year. “If you add enough resources to pay people straight time…you would save a significant amount of money by not having to pay time and a half,” she added.

She proposed deploying the additional 500 officers Bratton requested to problem areas throughout the city, including troubled neighborhoods such as Brownsville and the South Bronx, which, according to her estimates, have witnessed a 40 percent uptick in major crimes within the past year.

Crowley also tackled the issue of homelessness and rent increases, a topic of particular concern to the growing Ridgewood community.

“Some people are charging outrageous amounts for rent and it’s driving a lot of families out. This is happening throughout the city,” she explained.

As a preventative measure, Crowley announced that she has allocated funds in the budget for the city’s LINK Program. This network of social services is designed to fight homelessness by keeping families out of shelters and helping them stay in their own homes.

In addition to vital resources, Crowley said that she had also allocated funds for local trees and park improvements, as well as other capital requests from Community Board 5. This news delighted former RPOCA president Paul Kerzner, who has been advocating for the planting of more trees throughout Ridgewood.

Kerzner estimates that roughly $300,000 would be required in the 2016 budget for tree planting in the community. Crowley explained that she had allocated that amount in the previous year’s budget for stump removal and the planting of 100 new trees.

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Hillary Clinton visits Queens for campaign fundraiser


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Victoria Schneps-Yunis

Updated 3:22 p.m.

Former Secretary of State and current presidential candidate Hillary Clinton appeared at Terrace on the Park Monday afternoon for a lucrative fundraiser in her honor.

Rep. Joe Crowley, leader of the Queens County Democratic Party, and Rep. Grace Meng held the $2,700-per-plate campaign luncheon in support of Clinton’s 2016 campaign.

It was the second of three fundraisers held for Clinton in the New York City area; earlier in the afternoon, she stopped by a Manhattan function held by former New York State first lady Silda Wall Spitzer. Following her appearance at the venue inside Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Clinton headed off to a private fundraiser at the home of Nassau County Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs.

All told, the “Hillary for America” campaign reportedly raised $275,000 at the Queens fundraiser. According to the New York Daily News, Clinton is rumored to be planning an official campaign launch later this month on Roosevelt Island.

Former President Bill Clinton was not with candidate Clinton at Monday’s event.

Prominent Democrats from across Queens joined Crowley and Meng at the Clinton fundraiser, including Assemblywoman Margaret Markey, City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Queens County Clerk Audrey Pheffer, former Borough President Claire Shulman and former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr.

Polls point to Hillary Clinton as the prohibitive front-runner in the 2016 Democratic race. Two rivals, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, have already declared their candidacies for the Democratic nomination.

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NYS Pavilion to get free paint job


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

Updated Wednesday, May 6, 1:30 p.m. 

The city Parks Department and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz announced Wednesday morning the latest efforts to spruce up the New York State Pavilion at Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

Katz and Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver will herald a new partnership with two local labor unions — the New York Structural Steel Painting Contractors Association and the International Union of Painting and Allied Trades Local 806 District 9 — to repaint the upper portions of the Tent of Tomorrow, the elliptical steel building in the shadow of the pavilion’s space needles.

“Flushing Meadows Corona Park’s Tent of Tomorrow is an iconic symbol of Queens, but we haven’t been able to give it the treatment it deserves until now,” Silver said. “Thanks to a partnership with the Structural Steel Painters Union, the building is being restored and beautified so that it may remain a source of pride for the entire borough, and a reminder of the World’s Fairs, for years to come.”

The new paint system of the pavilion, which is expected to be completed by this fall, will serve as a protective coating and extend the life of the structure by at least 15 years.

The $3 million effort will be undertaken free of charge through a painting apprenticeship program operated by the unions, allowing painters to gain work experience.

“Due to the tremendous generosity of Painters DC 9 and the Painting Contractors Association, the pavilion will be refreshed with a new coat of paint,” Katz said. “We’re working hard to save this architectural marvel, and the facelift is a great boon to our efforts. We will restore this national treasure into a visible icon befitting the ‘World’s Borough’ for generations of families and visitors to enjoy.”

In recent years, local volunteers and historians have advocated for refurbishing the pavilion, one of the last remaining fixtures of the 1964-65 World’s Fair. The pavilion’s space needles served as observation decks, while the Tent of Tomorrow — once featuring a stained-glass roof and a terrazzo tile roadmap of New York State — was an entertainment venue.

The Tent of Tomorrow was used sporadically for years after the fair’s conclusion, but fell into disrepair along with the rest of the pavilion over the last few decades.

Full restoration of the pavilion is estimated to cost at least $43 million, according to a Parks Department announcement last November. Katz, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council have already secured a combined $6 million in funds to repair the towers and its electrical infrastructure.

A group of volunteers also formed the New York State Pavilion Paint Project to provide short-term renovations while Katz and other city officials worked on a long-term plan for the pavilion’s rehabilitation.

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Evergreen Park renovations celebrated at Glendale groundbreaking


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

City officials and civic leaders celebrated the start of Evergreen Park’s reconstruction during a ceremony Friday morning at the Glendale green space.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley joined Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski and others to ceremonially break ground on renovations to the playground on the national observance of Arbor Day.

“It’s really appropriate, because it’s Arbor Day, that we have all of this green coming into this park,” Lewandowski said.

Construction on the park began in early April and is expected to take about one year to complete. The first phase of the park’s reconstruction will include replacing the underused bocce and shuffleboard courts with a garden-inspired playground, spray showers, new shrubs and plantings.

According to Lewandowski, the new playground, themed with the title “Play in the Garden,” will feature new spray showers with “large green misting leaves and directional jets and bubblers, in a field of leaves and vines.”

“It’s going to promote innovative play for toddlers and young children,” Lewandowski said. “This will be a really creative spot where kids can play. The days of the old concrete spray shower are gone. This will be much more interactive for children.”

Crowley allocated $1 million in funding for this first phase of the park’s reconstruction. The councilwoman considers Evergreen Park a “special place” as it’s where she used to play softball while growing up.

“This project is a long time coming,” Crowley said.

Community Board 5 was well represented at the affair in the form of Chairperson Vincent Arcuri, District Manager Gary Giordano, Parks Committee Chair Steven Fiedler, Paul Kerzner and Tom Dowd. Also on hand were Mike Liendo and David Sands, the respective president and vice president of the Liberty Park Home Owners Association, and Barry Grodenchik, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz’s director of community boards.

Community members, including Sands and Liendo, first approached Crowley back in 2009, shortly after she was elected, regarding refurbishment of the park.

According to Fiedler, a design committee rejected the plan on two occasions before finally granting approval to proceed.

“I’m glad to see this move forward,” he said. “It’s a great design.”

Crowley also announced that an additional $2.4 million in funding for the second phase of improvements was secured in conjunction with Katz and the mayor’s office. These improvements may include refurbishment of the asphalt field, basketball courts and comfort stations.

“I want to make sure everybody stays engaged as we come together to plan the next phase of this project,” Crowley said.

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

Principal Ann Marie Scalfano and first-graders from P.S. 68 also attended the groundbreaking ceremony. The children carried handmade signs and banners thanking Crowley for her funding and support of Evergreen Park.

“It’s exciting, because this $1 million allocation will go a long way in making Evergreen Park a better park for the community,” Crowley said. “The park is uniquely named ‘Evergreen’ and it’s important to keep it young and fresh for the young people of the community.”

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Parks Department announces start of Evergreen Park project in Glendale


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

File photo

Work began this week on the long-awaited reconstruction of Glendale‘s Evergreen Park, the Parks Department announced.

The first phase of renovations to the 1.1-acre green space on 60th Place between 75th and St. Felix avenues includes removing “underused” bocce and shuffleboard courts in order to reconstruct an expanded playground that will feature, among other amenities, new spray showers.

“We expect construction to take about a year to complete, and look forward to reopening this playground next spring,” a Parks Department spokesperson said. “This work has been funded with $1 million from [City Councilwoman Elizabeth] Crowley.”

Crowley, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Mayor Bill de Blasio also allocated $2.4 million for the second phase of Evergreen Park’s reconstruction, which will include a new asphalt playing area. According to the Parks Department spokesperson, the agency will seek “design consultant services for this project shortly.”

Plans to reconstruct Evergreen Park date back to September 2012, when Parks Department representatives outlined plans at a Community Board 5 Parks Services Committee meeting. Other components of the reconstruction’s first phase include the installation of new plantings and “World’s Fair-style” benches, new fencing, updated water fountains and a remodeled swing area.

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Ridgewood group presses City Council members for more street trees


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Landmark Preservation Commission

Hoping to make Ridgewood greener, the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association (RPOCA) submitted to the neighborhood’s City Council members formal requests for additional street tree funding.

The requests came in the form of “capital budget street tree lists” that RPOCA members compiled through block-by-block surveys of the neighborhood. In all, the group found more than 3,000 potential locations for street trees, the majority of which are located in Councilman Antonio Reynoso’s district.

The Williamsburg-based lawmaker’s jurisdiction includes the area of Ridgewood generally south and west of Myrtle and Forest avenues. City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, based in neighboring Glendale, represents Ridgewood’s eastern half.

But according to former RPOCA President Paul Kerzner, neither of the last two budgets included funding for street trees in the community. Street trees were planted in the area through the city’s MillionTreesNYC public/private partnership initiative.

Kerzner said Reynoso previously told civic members he would secure funding to plant 300 trees in Ridgewood. He hopes the legislator will follow through on his promise, and that Crowley would also make a similar commitment.

To that end, Kerzner said, the RPOCA is urging Ridgewood residents to call or write Crowley and Reynoso informing them of the importance of street trees in beautifying the neighborhood and thank them in advance for their support.

However, sources familiar with the situation stated the city’s Parks Department received a $172,000 allocation from Crowley for street trees in Ridgewood. The Parks Department has already planted 112 trees in the Ridgewood area and plans to plant another 29 this spring.

“We need to make sure Queens remains a beautiful and healthy place for all New Yorkers to live and enjoy. That is why I am proud to have allocated funding for over 125 new street trees in Ridgewood,” Crowley said. “I will continue to work with the community and the Parks Department to ensure we continue to add street trees to our neighborhoods.”

This is the latest effort in the RPOCA’s ongoing campaign of adding more green to the community’s streetscapes.

“In 1971, less than 5 percent of the streets were tree-lined,” Kerzner recalled. “Forty-four years later, about 70 percent are now tree-lined, and some years, we don’t get any new trees. In other years, we get about a couple of hundred. We’re making steady progress.”

Kerzner, who himself participated in the RPOCA street tree survey, thanked other RPOCA members for their participation, including President Charles Ober, Peter Comber, Domingo Santos, Luis Rodriguez, John Maier, Carlos Ortiz, Simon Orr and Maryellen Borello.

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In Glendale, schools chancellor calls for parents to get involved


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilwoman's Elizabeth Crowley's office

Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña came to Glendale’s P.S. 91 on Wednesday, urging parents to seek seats on education councils and become more involved in their local public schools.

Elections are held every two years for seats on all 32 community education councils (CEC) and the citywide councils for high schools, English language learners, special education and District 75 schools.

The advisory bodies hold monthly meetings, examine issues relevant to the district and offer recommendations for or against certain policies.

“The community and citywide education councils help shape education policies and maintain strong relationships with families and the community,” Fariña said. “Education councils make important contributions to their communities, and I want to encourage parents across the city to apply for a seat.”

“We need our community education councils to represent diverse needs and voices of public school parents,” added Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, who joined Fariña at P.S. 91 on Wednesday. “If any parent has ever wanted a more direct line of communication with the Department of Education, this is the best way to do it.”

Parents of a child currently enrolled in a public school within their district are qualified to pursue a seat on their respective education council. No prior experience is necessary; people of all languages are welcome.

Applications are being accepted through Mar. 11; all candidates will meet with parent associations and parent-teacher associations within their district to solicit votes.

Three officers from each PA or PTA will cast online ballots for the council candidates of their choice between Apr. 19 and May 8. Winning candidates will then undergo training and leadership development for their positions.

For more information, visit www.nycparentleaders.org. The election results will be posted on the website on May 12.

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Councilwoman steers $5.7M in city funding to upgrade Frank Principe Park in Maspeth


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

The baseball fields are plagued with drainage issues and the track is nothing more than a slab of asphalt. But that will soon change due to funding allocated to Frank Principe Park by Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley.

She has designated $5.7 million for the upgrade of these two portions of the park, according to the Parks Department. The department said they are currently putting together a Request for Proposal for a design consultant for this project as it is only in the preliminary stage. But sources familiar with the plan said they are hoping to upgrade the drainage system of two of the baseball fields, replace the other two fields with a soccer field and add an actual track to the park.

The four baseball fields overlap each other, making it hard for more than two separate games to go on at once, eliminating the use of all four at any given time. Furthermore, when it rains, the fields quickly flood due to poor drainage and are unusable until the massive puddles dry out.

Upgrading this system by putting drainage tanks under the fields is one way they are looking to combat the problem, according to a source. With regards to the track, they are looking to build one that would be similar to the polyurethane-surfaced track in Juniper Valley Park, which goes around the soccer/football field.

“I am thrilled to have been able to allocate nearly $6 million dollars for renovations at Frank Principe Park,” Crowley said. “For the first time in over 25 years, these much-needed upgrades will breathe new life into the lower fields and track area. I look forward to engaging the community in the upcoming months on the redesign of the fields.”

Earlier this year, Crowley allocated $2.5 million for upgrades to the track and field in Juniper Valley Park. They have similar issues with Frank Principe Park with regards to drainage problems.

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Proposed carriage horse ban finds strongest opposition among city lawmakers from Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Ricardo Zappala/Flickr Creative Commons

Opponents of a controversial bill that would ban carriage horses in the city can count on lawmakers from Queens as their biggest group of allies in the City Council.

Among the 14 council members from Queens, six have announced they will be voting against the bill that was introduced on Dec. 8 at City Hall. Only two Queens lawmakers are backing the bill and the other six remain undecided as of the night of Dec. 9.

“We are not going to be fooled by those who say that banning horse-drawn carriages is an animal rights issue. This is about political promises and money,” said Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, who joined a rally by carriage drivers and union leaders on City Hall steps on Dec. 8 before the bill was introduced.

“Banning the horse carriage industry would harm tourism, leave hundreds of families without jobs, and condemn these beautiful horses to join the tens of thousands of unwanted American horses that are sold each year to slaughterhouses and glue factories,” Crowley said.

Lawmakers from Queens who oppose the bill are Costa Constantinides, Mark Weprin, Rory Lancman, Daneek Miller, Karen Koslowitz and Crowley.

Supporting the bill to ban carriage horses are Paul Vallone and Daniel Dromm, who is one of the co-sponsors. Peter Koo, Erick Ulrich, Ruben Wills, Donovan Richards and Jimmy Van Bramer have yet to make up their minds.

Dromm repeated his support of the measure, issuing a joint statement with Manhattan Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, after the bill was introduced in the Transportation Committee, saying the measure “will increase the welfare of our horses by taking them off of our streets and to a safe haven where they can thrive.”

The effort to ban carriage horses is being fought tooth and nail by the roughly 350 drivers and other workers involved in the business and several labor unions.

If approved, the legislation would ban the use of horses in the city by 2016. In a bid to create new jobs for the carriage drivers, the city would offer free training and the right to get at the front of the line for a green-cab license, without having to pay the $6,000 fee.
The bill also would fine any of the horse owners $25,000 if they sell their horses for the “purpose of slaughter.”

But Crowley says the measures aren’t enough to help drivers and stable hands who would be out of work.

“We need to be realistic about what is being proposed: 300 New Yorkers could be unemployed at the stroke of a pen,” she said in a letter released this week. “Not only are these good jobs, they are union jobs. We cannot forget that labor unions have been an essential force in increasing and protecting the middle class.”

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City designates Central Ridgewood Historic District


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Landmarks Preservation Commission

Ridgewood is getting one more historic district.

The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission announced on Tuesday that it has designated a 990-building district as the Central Ridgewood Historic District. This district mostly consists of brick rowhouses that were constructed between 1906 and World War I by German immigrants and German-Americans. They showcase Renaissance Revival Style but also include elements from Romanesque Revival and neo-Greco.

About half the buildings in the district were constructed by Paul Stier, who built over 2,000 houses in the Ridgewood-Bushwick area.

Central Ridgewood

These buildings are interesting historically as they “served as a model for affordable housing at a time when New York City’s population was growing rapidly,” Meenakshi Srinivasan, chair of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, said in a statement. What’s also remarkable is that many of the buildings remain unchanged and their detailing such as original brownstone stoops, cut-glass and wood doors, iron fences and the pressed-metal cornices, are still intact.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley said she was “thrilled” by the decision of the Landmarks Preservation Commission as the district is “unique for its harmonious 19th-century brick homes — some with bow fronts, some with porches, others with steep stoops along tree lined streets.” She added, “Preserving historically significant neighborhoods is important for today’s New Yorkers, and for future generations, to understand their cultural heritage.”

Central Ridgewood

Ridgewood consisted of open farmland and amusement parks in the 19th century. That changed with the introduction of the electric trolley and the elevated train around the turn of the century. A growing New York City expanded eastward into Ridgewood and urbanized it.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission had previously designated two other historic districts in Ridgewood — the Ridgewood South and Ridgewood North Historic Districts.

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