Tag Archives: Elmhurst

West Nile spraying scheduled for parts of Queens on Monday

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photos courtesy of the Health Department

In continuing efforts to reduce mosquito activity and the risk of West Nile virus, the Health Department will spray pesticides in several parts of Queens next week.

Pesticide trucks will be out spraying on Monday, Sept. 21, between 8:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. the following morning. In case of inclement weather, spraying will be delayed until Monday, Sept. 28, during the same time frame.

The following areas in Queens are scheduled to be sprayed:

  • Parts of Astoria, Ditmars, Steinway and Woodside, bordered by 20th Avenue and 35th Street to the north; 28th Avenue, 43rd Street and Newtown Road to the west; Broadway and Northern Boulevard to the south; and Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, 30th Avenue, 78th Street, Astoria Boulevard, and 75th Street to the east.
  • Parts of Blissville, Elmhurst, Sunnyside, Maspeth, Middle Village, West Maspeth, Ridgewood, and Woodside, bordered by Queens Boulevard and Thomson Avenue to the north, 29th Street and Dutch Kills to the west; The Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and Metropolitan Avenue to the south; and the LIRR to the east.
  • Parts of Forest Park, Richmond Hill, and Woodhaven, bordered by Metropolitan Avenue, Union Turnpike, and Myrtle Avenue to the north; Forest Park Drive, Park Lane South, and 88th Street in the west; 101st Avenue to the south; 104th Street, Jamaica Avenue, 115th Street, and Park Lane South to the east.

For the sprayings, the Health Department will use a very low concentration of Anvil 10+10, a synthetic pesticide. When properly used, the spray poses no significant risks to human health.

To minimize direct exposure to the spray, the Health Department suggests taking several precautions:

First, whenever possible, stay indoors during spraying. People with asthma or other respiratory conditions are encouraged to stay inside during spraying since direct exposure could worsen these conditions.

Air conditioners may remain on, but to reduce indoor exposure set the vent to closed. Remove children’s toys, outdoor equipment, and clothes from outdoor areas during spraying. If outdoor equipment and toys are exposed to pesticides, wash them with soap and water before using again. If exposed to pesticides, wash exposed skin and clothing with soap and water.


Families invited to special ‘Safety Day’ in Elmhurst on Sunday

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


Congresswoman Grace Meng will be hosting a Kids Safety Day on Sunday, Sept. 20, to raise awareness for basic safety issues and inform families on how to avoid potentially dangerous situations.

The event is scheduled to take place from noon to 4 p.m. at the Frank D. O’Connor Playground in Elmhurst, located at Broadway and Woodside Avenue, across from the Elmhurst Hospital Center.

“Each year, way too many children are injured and even killed in traffic collisions, bike crashes, poisonings, drownings, fires and other types of accidents,” Meng said. “Most of these injuries and deaths are easily avoidable, and this important event will provide key tips and information on how to prevent them from occurring, and it will do it in an interactive, fun and educational way.”

Safety topics such as pedestrian safety, fire safety, pool safety, anti-bullying, protection from abduction and self-defense will all be covered at the event. Guests will also receive free handouts as well as prizes and other fun giveaways.

Kids Safety Day is a result of the collaboration from a number of agencies and organizations, including the city’s Department of Education, Parks Department, Department of Transportation, the NYPD, FDNY, United Federation of Teachers, New York Mets and Queens Safe Kids Coalition led by North Shore-LIJ Health System.


Security guard arrested for impersonating cop in Elmhurst

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos via Twitter/@NYPD110Pct

A phony cop — with badge, gun and bullet vest in tow — came face to face with actual police officers in Elmhurst earlier this week, according to authorities.

On Wednesday, police officers from the 110th Precinct were on patrol near 59th Avenue at about midnight when they saw an argument going on between a group of people in the parking lot of Joe’s Crab Shack, located at 92-50 59th Ave.

The cops then intervened and while dispersing the group found 50-year-old Dwight Harley from Flushing, who was employed as a security guard for the restaurant, authorities said.

The officers noticed what looked like an NYPD badge on Harley’s belt and when they asked about it, the suspect said he was an off-duty police officer, but did not have the proper identification, according to authorities.

Upon arresting Harley, the officers found a .40-caliber semi-automatic handgun in a holster of his belt and also noticed he was wearing a bullet-resistant vest and had pepper spray, two sets of handcuffs, an expandable baton and two Motorola radios.

Harley was charged with criminal possession of a weapon and criminal impersonation of a police officer.


City Comptroller rejects Pan Am homeless shelter proposal for a third time

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com


Updated 2:15 p.m.

For the city’s Department of Homeless Services (DHS), the third time was not a charm.

City Comptroller Scott Stringer has once again rejected the agency’s proposal, which was submitted twice before, to convert the former Pan American Hotel located at 79-00 Queens Blvd. into a permanent homeless shelter.

“The Comptroller’s Office rejected for the third time a permanent contract for Samaritan Village Inc. to operate a shelter at the Pan American Hotel. We have asked the Department of Homeless Services to revise its plan to address outstanding health and safety violations,” said Eric Sumberg, spokesman for Stringer.

The emergency homeless shelter at the former Elmhurst hotel was supposed to close last December, yet even after facing large opposition from community members, an application was submitted to convert it into a permanent shelter under a five-year, $42 million contract with DHS.

This third rejection comes after Stringer already sent the proposal back to DHS in July and May citing that changes, such as clearing all outstanding violations and complaints, needed to be made before he considered accepting.

Congresswoman Grace Meng applauded Stringer’s decision and voiced her opinion on the proposed shelter.

“I thank the comptroller for once again saying no to this ill-conceived plan,” Meng said. “Perhaps the third time will be the charm. Perhaps the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) and Samaritan Village will finally get the message that this is not an appropriate site for a homeless shelter.”

Meng also added that she urges the DHS to not resubmit the proposal once again and instead to look for another site.

“As I have said, it is imperative that we address the needs of the homeless in our city. But those in shelters deserve to be housed in a clean, safe and well-maintained environment, and this facility is not that. This location has been plagued with numerous problems and poor conditions that have not served the homeless well,” she continued. “In fact, it’s been a disservice to the homeless. I urge DHS to not resubmit its proposal for a fourth time. The agency should instead focus on finding a more suitable location that can better address the needs of New York’s homeless population.”

Local grassroots organization Elmhurst United, which has been against the proposed homeless shelter since day one, also thanked Stringer for his decision and continued to note violations such as an expired Certificate of Occupancy and non-compliance of the city Administrative Code requiring a cooking facility in each unit at the site.

“DHS’ strategy of rapidly increasing the number of shelters is not a viable solution. Permanent housing where one can call home is the only solution. Recent studies highlight the detrimental impact and the long lasting scars homelessness has on children. These children need a secure and stable environment, not a transient one,” the organization said in a statement. “Rent subsidy programs must be reinstated so that these families are placed in permanent housing and close to their home base. The Pan Am shelter has proven to be an unworkable and unfit site. We urge DHS to stop warehousing homeless families at that Pan Am site and to place them in permanent housing instead.”


Macy’s discount store to open at Queens Place this week

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Updated Wednesday, Sept. 2, 10:51 a.m.

Shoppers looking for a bargain will have a new place to shop in the borough starting Wednesday as Macy’s opens a discount store at Queens Place in Elmhurst.

Macy’s Backstage, a new off-price store that the retail brand is opening in three New York Metro area locations on Sept. 2, will debut at the mall with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and marching band, according to a Macy’s spokeswoman.

“We are very excited to be debuting Macy’s Backstage store for shoppers in Queens who love fashion for themselves, their families and homes all at a bargain” she said. “Macy’s Backstage will entertain shoppers and will surprise them with designer deals and savings. The store will feature merchandise that will reflect the styles and tastes of the Queens shopper.”

Offering discounts at 20 to 80 percent off, Macy’s Backstage will feature both merchandise from previous seasons and newer products.

According to the retailer, each store will be curated to the “fashion styles of the community it serves.” Available items will include men’s, women’s and children’s apparel; shoes and accessories; housewares and home textiles; and an assortment of home decor, bath and beauty products, such as nail and hair care, as well as toys, tech products, gadgets and more. The store will also feature a beauty section where shoppers can sample and experiment with cosmetics and fragrances that include premium brands, and a Sunglass Hut outpost.

Each Backstage site is expected to give Macy’s shoppers a unique experience from its other stores, as they are a “more intimate venue,” according to retailer, ranging from 25,000 to 35,000 square feet. Macy’s also promises that each one offers an “easy-to-shop store environment,” with mobile check-out stations outside the dressing rooms, and other amenities such as free Wi-Fi, designated charging stations and accessible parking.

The other stores that will be opening along with the Queens location on Wednesday are at in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn and Melville Mall in Huntington, Long Island. A fourth location in Lake Success Shopping Center in New Hyde Park, Long Island, will be opening on Sept. 19, and two additional stores in the Fordham section of the Bronx and Essex Green, NJ, will debut in late fall.

The selection of Queens Place as one of the first Backstage stores is particularly fitting, as the shopping center was constructed as a Macy’s in the mid-1960s. Though the store later relocated to the nearby Queens Center mall, Queens Place still houses a Macy’s Furniture Gallery.


Elmhurst man sentenced for fatal stabbing of wife

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

The Elmhurst man who stabbed his wife to death in 2014 and went on with his day, after faking her suicide note, has been sentenced to serve 18 years in prison, prosecutors announced.

Luis Paguay, 43, was sentenced Tuesday after pleading guilty to first-degree manslaughter this past June. After his 18-year sentence, the judge also ordered five years of post-release supervision.

According to court documents, Paguay admitted to stabbing his 39-year-old wife, Maria Paguay, in their basement Elmhurst apartment between the night of Dec. 3, 2014, and just before 6 p.m. on Dec. 4, 2014. A large kitchen knife was found near the victim’s body.

After killing his wife, Paguay wrote a note in his wife’s name claiming that her death was a suicide, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. He then went to his job as a dishwasher at Ducale Restaurant in Whitestone.

Once arriving at the restaurant, Paguay noticed blood on his shoes and video surveillance from the site shows what looked like him washing his shoes in a sink, authorities said.

Maria Paguay’s body was found around 6 p.m. on Dec. 4, 2014, by her 19-year-old son who had just come home from school.

“Although the defendant ultimately took responsibility for his violent crime by pleading guilty to manslaughter, he first tried to make it appear that his wife took her own life by writing a suicide note in her name and letting her 19-year-old son discover his mother’s bloody remains upon returning home from school,” Brown said. “The lengthy sentence imposed by the court is a just resolution to this case.”


New program to restore rent-regulated apartments to buildings in western Queens

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Images courtesy of state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman's office

A group of state and city officials are getting together to crack down on landlords throughout the five boroughs — including a handful in western Queens — who they say could be breaking the law.

State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the city’s Department of Housing Preservation & Development Commissioner Vicki Been announced Wednesday that notices were sent out to 194 building owners throughout the city who accepted “lucrative” tax breaks under the state’s 421-a program without complying with the law’s rent regulation requirements by registering their apartments as rent-regulated.

The state passed Section 421-a of the Real Property Tax Law in 1971 as a way to motivate the construction of rent-regulated housing and condominiums in New York City. The law gives a partial exemption from city property taxes for the owners of these newly constructed residential multi-family buildings for at least 10 years.

The owners of these buildings, found throughout the five boroughs and most of whom own one building of less than 50 units, provide housing to more than 2,400 families and individuals who are entitled to rent-regulated leases under the law.

A high concentration of these buildings are found in Brooklyn and Queens, with neighborhoods that include Astoria, Long Island City, Corona and Elmhurst.

“Landlords of rental buildings who accept these tax incentives must follow through on their end of the bargain and offer rent-regulated leases to their tenants,” Schneiderman said. “The Real Estate Tax Compliance Program we are announcing today will safeguard tenants’ rights, protect more than 2,000 units of New York City’s rent-regulated housing stock, and ensure that our important and limited tax dollars are properly spent.”

The notices, which were sent out Tuesday, alert building owners to the possible legal consequences they face, including revocation of the tax breaks, if they do not register the apartments as rent-regulated and give tenants rent-regulated leases.

In the letter, the owners are also given details on the one-time, non-negotiable chance they have to “cure the violations” and “avoid further enforcement action.”

The governor’s Tenant Protection Unit (TPU) will monitor the registrations filed by the owners. If the owner fails to register properly, TPU could then look into putting an administrative order freezing current rents, along with pursuing overcharge actions against the owners for collecting improper rents. TPU will also seek damages on behalf of tenants.

“We will not tolerate landlords who break the law and deny their tenants rent-regulated leases, plain and simple,” Cuomo said. “This partnership will help ensure that building owners who benefit from the 421-a program are living up to their responsibilities. Owners who are not currently in compliance should get their act together immediately or face the real possibility of having the TPU freeze rents, pursue overcharges and seek damages.”


City opens new homeless shelter at former East Elmhurst hotel

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Updated Monday, Aug. 24, 11:57 a.m. 

Queens has become the home of yet another homeless shelter.

Starting Monday, homeless families with children will begin to move into a new shelter that has opened at the former site of the Clarion Hotel, located at 94-00 Ditmars Blvd. in East Elmhurst.

The shelter, the city’s first this year, is expected to have a total of 169 units and comes as the city continues to deal with an increase in the number of homeless people.

Since the end of June, the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) has seen a 20 percent increase in families entering the DHS family shelter intake center, with over 5,750 over the last two months. The agency has almost reached capacity with only .05 percent of space remaining.

“This administration has invested over $1 billion in new funding over four years to address homelessness in New York City, with a focus on preventing homelessness, improving conditions in shelter, and helping New Yorkers move from shelter into permanent housing. While we’ve moved over 13,000 individuals from shelter to permanent housing since January 2014, eviction continues to be the main cause of homelessness in New York City, and we’re now seeing the summer uptick of homeless families entering our shelter system,” a DHS spokesperson said. “In order to ensure we have the capacity to house those in need, we’re opening a new shelter — the first new shelter to open this year — at the former Clarion Hotel in Queens.”

The nonprofit CAMBA will provide various on-site social and re-housing services to the families to help them move to self-sufficiency and house permanency.

Meals will be provided at the former hotel and DHS will work to help the families have “adequate” transportation to and from appointments and schools.

DHS will also develop and implement a security plan through meetings with the NYPD and community affairs to ensure safety for both shelter residents and the surrounding community.

The agency also held a community meeting last week with local community leaders to discuss community concerns.

State Senator Jose Peralta, who represents East Elmhurst, voiced his outrage on the announcement of the new homeless shelter which he said again was implemented without any real community input.

“Here we go again, another permanent homeless shelter coming into my district, which makes it the second one under this administration. But the real kicker here is the so-called use of their emergency authority which is a cover for just bringing a homeless shelter into the community without any community input,” Peralta said. “My constituents are very understanding of the necessity of the city’s obligation to house the homeless, as well as understand that anyone is a paycheck away from being homeless. But, the fact that the city seeks input after the fact is nothing but a Bloomberg or Giuliani tactic of shoving a homeless shelter down a community’ s throat.”

The Clarion Hotel shelter will be only 2 miles away from the Westway Motor Inn, located at 71-11 Astoria Blvd., which last year outraged the local community when the city transformed it into a shelter housing over 100 homeless families.

In nearby Elmhurst, the community continues to fight against the city’s proposal to convert the site of the former Pan American Hotel, at 79-00 Queens Blvd., into a permanent shelter.


Queens workers owed $800K in unclaimed back wages: comptroller

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo via Scott Stringer's Facebook page

With Labor Rights Week quickly approaching, City Comptroller Scott Stringer scored a victory for city workers when he found $3.7 million as part of unclaimed prevailing wage settlements with several companies that worked on city-funded projects.

Stringer is now seeking the public’s help in identifying the over 1,000 workers from across the city to whom these funds are owed.

Throughout Queens, 200 individuals are owed nearly $800,000, according to Stringer’s findings.

In Corona, 20 people are owed a total of $117,470.53; Elmhurst has 18 individuals who are owed $74,934.79; and in Maspeth, Ridgewood and Jackson Heights, 14 people from each neighborhood are owed a total of $151,811.21.

“My office has recovered millions of dollars through our enforcement of the prevailing wage, but now we need your help to connect these workers with the money they are owed,” Stringer said. “Thousands of hard-working individuals, many of whom are immigrants, have been cheated out of their rightfully earned wages, but they may not know these funds exist. Help us get the word out about unclaimed wages — recovering thousands of dollars may only be a phone call or email away.”

Stringer’s office is trying to identify those who are owed wages through social media, media partnerships and distribution of informational flyers in several languages including English, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, Russian and Creole in neighborhoods throughout the city.

“We’re ramping up our efforts to identify these hard-working men and women who are owed the money they earned,” the comptroller said. “In the coming weeks, we’ll be on the streets, on social media and on the airwaves with a single message: if you’ve been cheated out of your wages, the comptroller’s office has your back. Tell your friends and family: call our hotline or visit our website to see if you are eligible to receive your lost wages.”

The prevailing wage laws require employers to pay workers the wage and benefit rate set annually by the comptroller when those employees work on city public works projects, such as renovating public schools or building service contracts, which includes security guard and custodial work, with city agencies.

Workers who believe they may be entitled to unclaimed wages can call the comptroller’s hotline at 212-669-4443, send in inquiries via email to laborlaw@comptroller.nyc.gov or check the comptroller’s unclaimed wages website.


Senator Gillibrand visits Elmhurst to call for healthier school meals

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Anthony Giudice

As the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA) is set to expire at the end of next month, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand visited Elmhurst on Monday to call for its renewal and defend the availability of healthy breakfasts and lunches at public schools across America.

Gillibrand, along with Congresswoman Grace Meng, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and hunger advocates, came to I.S. 5 seeking greater access to fresh fruits and vegetables at schools, as well as expanding the amount of students eligible for a summer meal program.

“Class hasn’t started yet but we are already hard at work to make sure our children receive nutritious meals they need to thrive, both during the school year and during summer break,” Gillibrand said. “It’s our responsibility to make sure our children are well-fed.”

The HHFKA will expire on Sept. 30, and as Congress prepares to debate renewing the programs within the act, Gillibrand is advocating for preserving the existing nutrition standards including the requirement of fresh fruits vegetables every day; improving student participation rates in the School Breakfast Program; strengthening the ties between farmers, producers and meal service providers by bolstering farm-to-school programs; and helping school nutrition professionals meet their standard requirements, support peer mentorship programs and provide grants for improved kitchen equipment.

The HHFKA was a landmark piece of legislation that required school lunches to contain at least a one-half cup serving of fresh fruit and vegetables in order to be eligible for federal reimbursement.

“As a mother of two young boys who attend public school in Queens and as founder and co-chair of the Congressional Kids Safety Caucus, I know firsthand how important the fight for accessible and proper nutrition is,” Meng said.

In addition, Gillibrand is advocating to give more children the ability to access healthy summer meals by expanding access to the USDA Summer Food Service Program, as well as reducing barriers and making it easier for existing afterschool meal providers to sponsor Summer Meal Programs.

“Here in New York there are 1.7 million children who rely on this school meal,” Gillibrand said. “And over the summer, less than one-third of our kids can actually access those meals.”

Gillibrand’s Summer Meals Act would lower the threshold to allow areas with 40 percent or more of students receiving free or reduced lunch to be eligible for the program, down 10 percent from the current threshold of 50 percent. This would add 3.2 million children into eligibility.

“Our free summer meals program provides every child in the city the chance to eat healthy, nutritious food every day and that is critical for their development,” Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña said in a statement. “By offering meals free of charge at accessible locations throughout the five boroughs, we are meeting families where they are and helping children continue good habits over the summer.”

Gillibrand’s legislation would provide children with transportation to summer meal sites, offer the option of an additional meal to children who attend evening programs, as well as reducing the paperwork for meal program sponsors that want to participate in the program.

“What the senator is doing here is bringing national attention to the fact that if you don’t have the tools to succeed, if we don’t give children the tools that they need, and those tools are more than books and pens and a classroom with wonderful teachers,” Katz said. “Those tools are also the nutrition that children need in order to focus, in order to have attention, in order to be able to succeed in life.”


Would-be home invader cuts Elmhurst woman’s neck: NYPD

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Sketch courtesy of NYPD

Police released on Tuesday afternoon a sketch of a man who recently assaulted a 24-year-old woman while trying to enter her Elmhurst apartment last month.

Authorities said the incident took place at 2:40 a.m. on July 28 inside an apartment house in the area of Hampton Street and Baxter Avenue.

According to police, the perpetrator — described as a Hispanic male in his 30s, standing 5 foot 9 inches tall and weighing 180 pounds — approached the victim as she attempted to enter the front door of her home.

Reportedly, the suspect put a sharp object against the left side of her neck, causing a laceration, and asked her several times if she lived alone. After the victim screamed, police said, the perpetrator ran out of the building and fled in an unknown direction.

Officers from the 110th Precinct and EMS units responded to the scene. The victim was treated at Elmhurst Hospital.

Anyone who can identify the suspect or has any other information about the incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS, visit their website or send a text message to 274637 (CRIMES), then enter TIP577. All calls and messages are kept confidential.


Elmhurst site near Queens Center may soon distribute medical marijuana

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

A state-regulated medical marijuana dispensary center may soon open shop across the street from the Queens Center mall in Elmhurst.

Empire State Health Solutions, one of five organizations that the state Health Department selected to produce and/or distribute medicinal marijuana, will open a location at 89-55 Queens Blvd., a building that currently houses a Casual Male XL store and an AT&T Wireless customer care center, according to NY1. It will be one of four marijuana dispensary centers to open in New York City.

As the Health Department announced on Friday, the organizations’ selection clears a major hurdle in the state’s implementation of provisions in the Compassionate Care Act enacted in 2014, which authorized the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes in New York State. The medical marijuana program is on target for implementation by January 2016, about 18 months after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law.

The production and distribution of medical marijuana in New York State will be heavily regulated and restricted to patients deemed qualified to receive it based on debilitating conditions. The state-sanctioned organizations will be permitted to make and sell via prescription up to five different marijuana products: oil for vaporization, oral capsules, oral sprays, injectable tubes and sublingual (under the tongue) dissolvable tablets.

Marijuana will not be provided in either loose, edible or cigarette forms.

The exact location of the dispensary center was reported by various media outlets, but the Health Department did not confirm such information, according to state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky. She claimed in a phone interview that she only learned of the center’s opening — which is located within her district — through reading published reports largely based on information leaked to the press by unnamed sources.

“The notification process is lacking in transparency,” Stavisky said. “That’s not a good sign.”

Despite the communication gap, the senator believes the use of medicinal marijuana will bring a great deal of relief to patients in need — and that the law itself has enough safeguards to block recreational use.

“People have to understand that this is not going to be Colorado,” Stavisky said, referring to one of two states that legalized recreational marijuana use. “It’s for use in people with very serious or debilitating ailments…This is not something for someone looking for a quick high.”

To that end, the senator pointed out that the regulations require that only doctors may prescribe medicinal marijuana to a patient; that doctors must undergo an extensive training program to learn the conditions that would qualify a patient to receive medical marijuana; and that a qualified patient must be deemed disabled under the Civil Rights Law.

State Senator Michael Gianaris — who, like Stavisky, supported the Compassionate Care Act —welcomed the Health Department’s announcement on medical marijuana.

“It is welcome news for our economy when new jobs are created in our neighborhoods,” Gianaris said in a statement. “I look forward to working with this new local business to ensure it is a good corporate neighbor to existing residents.”


Jackson Heights, Elmhurst district schools to receive $2.4M in funding

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com


One local elected official is reaching out to help a handful of schools in Jackson Heights and Elmhurst continue to shine.

Councilman Daniel Dromm, who is the chair of the City Council’s education committee, announced on Monday that he has allocated a total of $2.4 million for schools in his district for the upcoming fiscal year.

The money will go toward improvements including security camera installations, electrical wiring replacements, audio/visual system enhancement, library upgrades, and repairs to school PA systems and playgrounds.

“Securing this historic increase in funding was a top priority for me,” said Dromm, who is a former New York City public school teacher for 25 years. “Our kids get one chance at a quality education. I’m doing everything I can to support our public schools. These funds will ensure that our children have access to safe schools and the updated technology they need to be successful.”

The schools that have received a portion of the funding include Public Schools 7, 13, 23, 69, 89, 102, 148, 149, 211, 212, 255 and 280; Intermediate Schools 230, 145, and 5; Pan American International High School, John F. Kennedy Jr. High School, Newtown High School, and the International High School for Health Sciences.


Transit riders voice calls to ‘#FixWoodhaven’ in social media campaign

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photos via Twitter/@Jslyyynnn and @jam14063

Woodhaven Boulevard commuters took to social media on Wednesday afternoon to voice their frustration over crowded bus lines, deterioration and other problems along the thoroughfare.

The Riders Alliance and Transportation Alternatives organized the #FixWoodhaven event, which encouraged Queens subway and bus riders to use the hashtag on social media to call for bus rapid transit (BRT) and street improvements along the heavily used boulevard bisecting Elmhurst, Rego Park, Middle Village, Glendale, Woodhaven and Ozone Park.

“The Twitter campaign had over 250 tweets under the hashtag #FixWoodhaven,” according to a spokeswoman for the Riders Alliance and Transportation Alternatives.

“The people who were tweeting and part of the campaign included commuters who ride the bus daily along the Woodhaven corridor. The campaign was designed to speak to elected officials so they know the importance of BRT to their communities and constituents,” she said.

Volunteers with both transit advocacy groups also met with afternoon rush-hour commuters waiting for buses at stops along Hoffman Drive near Woodhaven Boulevard in Elmhurst. In pictures posted on Twitter and Instagram, riders were shown holding up signs noting that BRT would help reduce commute times and ease congestion.

In many instances, those who vented tagged or retweeted local elected officials seeking support for their cause, including City Council members Elizabeth Crowley and Donovan Richards and Assemblyman Mike Miller.

“The proposed layouts for Woodhaven have benefits for pedestrians also. It’ll be safer and prettier! #FixWoodhaven #VisionZero,” tweeted @SamSamuelitoo.

“I support better, faster buses! Visiting fams in the Rockaways takes too long. #fixwoodhaven @RidersNY @brtfornyc,” added Twitter user @Jslyyynnn, who attached to her tweet a photo of herself holding a sign reading, “I live in Jackson Heights and I’m tired of overcrowded buses.”

“Let’s make public transportation, more efficient and desirable to ride! @transalt #FixWoodhaven @brtfornyc,” tweeted Juan Restrepo, @juan_john_hans.

For years, drivers, pedestrians and non-drivers have experienced commuting pains while traveling along Woodhaven Boulevard, especially during rush-hour periods. Buses operating on the roadway — including two limited lines, the Q52 and Q53 — are often packed with riders and are slow because of traffic congestion. The street also has a history of vehicular accidents involving pedestrians, many of which resulted in fatalities.

The city Department of Transportation in recent years started a “Congested Corridor” study for Woodhaven Boulevard and recommended physical changes to the road’s configuration to make it safer and easier to travel. Working with the MTA, the DOT also recommends implementing Select Bus Service, a form of BRT, along both Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards, with stations created at major intersections such as Metropolitan Avenue and Jamaica Avenue.

As the Select Bus Service plans are still being finalized, the DOT is presently creating bus-only lanes along Woodhaven Boulevard between Eliot and Metropolitan avenues as a means of speeding up bus operation. Only buses would be permitted to travel in these lanes during the morning and afternoon rush hours on weekdays.


Wild night of ‘Big Battel’ wrestling in Elmhurst

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Kelly Marie Mancuso


As the lights of Queens Boulevard began to dim and store owners pulled down their metal gates on the night of July 10, a diverse crowd began to assemble at the Elmhurst Elks Club to watch costumed monsters square off in a ring as Boston-based wrestling sensation Kaiju Big Battel roared into town.

Kaiju (Japanese for “monster” or “mysterious beast”) features an ever-changing roster of giant, costumed, out-of-this-world creatures facing off in battles that are part Japanese sci-fi, part American pro-wrestling. The battleground is littered with monster movie props, including cardboard and foam skyscrapers upon which the monsters delightfully stomp and destroy.

The Friday night crowd that gathered to watch the late-night spectacle ranged from twentysomething guys and pastel-haired teens to the after-work crowd and young children, eager to see monsters and aliens smashing cardboard cityscapes and each other.

The audience was led into the Elks Club through the Jolly Corks lounge, where club regulars and newcomers sipped $3 pints of beer from plastic cups amid the wood-paneled hunting lodge walls.

Once inside, fans had the chance to purchase postcards, pins and posters of their favorite Kaiju heroes. Uniquely named treats such as “Ebola Cola” and “Danger Cakes,” Kaiju’s take on the classic Hostess cupcake, were also available to hungry fans.

The crowds cheered as the Kaiju crew began setting up homemade Styrofoam and cardboard buildings crafted from recycled boxes in the ring. Colorful MC Anthony Salbino, clad in aviator glasses and a sailors cap, kicked off the tournament.

Kaiju villain Dr. Cube entered with his posse of square-headed henchmen. He revealed a new, unnamed creation to fight crowd favorite and Kaiju sage Dusto Bunny. At first, Dr. Cube’s creation had Dusto Bunny on the ropes, slamming him onto the mat in a cloud of talcum powder and despair. But Dusto Bunny battled back to win the match and earned a standing ovation from the crowd.

Kaiju alien Steam Powered Tentacle Boulder came out to talk to the crowd but was interrupted by Dr. Cube. SPTB slammed Cube to scare him, earning him cheers from the crowd.

Kung Fu Chicken Noodle, an alleged former factory worker-turned-soup can, paired with French Toast as the team “Soup and Waffle.” The duo is the current Kaiju Double Danger Tandem Title Champions. They beat Dr. Cube’s creations Tucor and Hell Monkey in a hardcore match that allowed foreign objects, namely old Guitar Hero controllers. MC Salbino led the crowd in chants of “Soup! Soup!” as Kung Fu Chicken Noodle won the match.

Kaiju hero Sun Blaster, a good guy with an old game controller for an arm, beat his opponent by using the controller to take over his body.

The next match saw American Beetle, a patriotic space bug, face off against Gambling Bug, a bankrupt developer from a laundromat in Denver. American Beetle was led to victory with chants of “USA! USA!”

The headline event was a title match between reigning Kaiju champ Silver Potato and Cycloptopus, a furry, one-eyed green demon with red lobster claws for hands. Silver Potato was the early crowd favorite, handing out slices of pizza from Costco. The crowd cheered “Pizza!” and “Po-ta-to!” as he entered the ring.

Dr. Cube and the yellow spiked alien Unibouzu interfered on behalf of Cycloptopus, but Silver Potato used his pizza box to defeat his opponents and retain his belt and title.

After the tournament was over, the audience was invited to take home pieces of the shattered cardboard and foam skyscrapers as mementos of their wild night watching aliens and monsters duke it out in Queens.