Tag Archives: Elmhurst

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


| oped@queenscourier.com

COUNCILWOMAN JULISSA FERRERAS

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunnyside, Elmhurst buildings sell for $50M


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

A Manhattan management group has sold four of its Queens buildings for $50 million, according to The Real Deal.

Urban American sold the multi-family properties in Sunnyside and Elmhurst at 43-31 45th Street, 41-96 Gleane Street, 87-40 Elmhurst Avenue and 87-42 Elmhurst Avenue to Great Neck-based firm Benedict Realty Group (BRG), The Real Deal reported.

BRG already owns about 1,800 units nearby, according to the website.

The publication previously reported Urban American had signed an agreement to sell five multi-family buildings in Far Rockaway for $52 million to E&M Associates.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Op-ed: Why we need Mayor de Blasio’s pre-k plan


| oped@queenscourier.com

COUNCILMEMBER DANIEL DROMM

As chair of the NYC Council Education Committee, it is a priority of mine to see Mayor Bill de Blasio’s universal pre-kindergarten plan enacted. The only viable way to ensure that our children get this extra year of education is to create a tax on the city’s most wealthy residents to help fund it.

Before teaching fourth grade for 25 years, I directed a preschool in Harlem. I saw firsthand how an extra year of socializing and learning helped set up these young learners of all social and ethnic backgrounds for a more productive educational career. Study after study has shown that quality pre-k works.

Pre-kindergarten isn’t just for the children.  It also lends a helping hand to their parents, especially single parents. At the first Education Committee hearing that I chaired on February 12, I heard from parents about how pre-kindergarten combined with after school care allows them to work a full day. Without pre-k, working mothers and fathers have to scramble to find someone to care for their children and often times have to scrape the bottom of their bank accounts to pay for childcare.

I believe it is not too much to ask of those who are making $500,000 or more a year to fund the program with a small tax increase that equals the price of a cup of latte from Starbucks every day. I totally disagree with those who say these wealthy residents may leave the city. New York City is the greatest city in the world and everybody wants to be here. Wealthy residents won’t leave just for the price of a cup of coffee. A tax on the wealthy is the right path.

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan to fund a statewide program without a designated tax has its pitfalls. Former Education Committee Chair Robert Jackson walked 150 miles to Albany to shine light on the unequitable amount of education funding NYC receives and won a court judgment for city schools. A decade later, more than $4 billion of that money has never made it to our public schools. That’s why we need a dedicated tax – a lockbox – to fund this program.

Pre-kindergarten is a win-win plan for everyone. It gives all children a better start with a chance at a better future. It gives parents the support they deserve to further contribute to the city’s vibrant economy.  And, most importantly, it provides New Yorkers with a bright future.

Councilmember Daniel Dromm is chair of the NYC Council Education Committee. He was elected to the New York City Council in 2009 and represents District 25 (Jackson Heights & Elmhurst).

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

John Messer ‘seriously considering’ another State Senate run


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

John Messer is mulling over another State Senate run, he told The Courier.

“I am dedicated to this community, which is why I have been driven towards public service and am seriously considering a run for New York State Senate,” he said.

It would be the Oakland Gardens attorney’s third try at defeating incumbent State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, who has held the seat for nearly 15 years.

Most recently, Messer lost a contentious two-way Democratic primary to Stavisky in 2012. 

The heated race was waged principally on negative campaign attacks. Stavisky won 58 percent of the vote.

But Messer said he has not lost momentum since then.

“I believe now, more than ever, that this is a community I want to represent,” said the 43-year-old small business owner. “If anything, it’s a stronger feeling.”

“There are things you to look at before you decide to run — finances, family,” Messer said. “We’ll make a decision soon.”

Mike Murphy, a Senate Democratic spokesperson, said Stavisky has been a “vocal ally” for middle class families and recalled Messer’s previous losses.

“She enjoys wide support from all corners of her diverse district and has now defeated Mr. Messer twice despite the fact that he has spent over $1 million,” Murphy said. “The voters of the district see Mr. Messer for what he is — a Republican surrogate.”

The district encompasses parts of Flushing, Fresh Meadows, Bayside, Oakland Gardens, Rego Park, Elmhurst, Forest Hills and Jackson Heights.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

John Bowne crushes Newtown basketball in tense game


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

John Bowne basketball added to its undefeated record after a tense game against Newtown High School, crushing the Elmhurst team by almost 20 points.

Bowne players yelled at both their opponents and teammates throughout the Tuesday night game and Newtown boys walked off the court before it was officially over, unable to stay for the defeat.

The game got a late start but Bowne (PSAL 12-0) hit the ground running with a layup in the first four seconds. It seemed the John Bowne Wildcats would stay strong, as they maintained a strong defense and the Newtown Pioneers (PSAL 5-8) fired several wild shots throughout the first quarter.

However, about halfway through the quarter, Newtown’s Leon Peprah Antwi made a three-pointer, forced a turnover after Bowne rebounded, then sunk an additional shot for a five-point play.

Bowne responded slowly and Newtown’s offense quickened. But with just a couple minutes left, Bowne forward Ethan Harris Holt stole the ball from Newtown and ran down the court, dunking the ball and getting his team back on the scoreboard.

Bowne then picked up play, ending the quarter 17-14 Bowne. The second quarter was the Wildcats’ show as they made fast, effective passes and executed shots, ending the half up 13, 43-30.

But Newtown came out swinging the second half and outscored Bowne 11-5 in the first few minutes. For the Pioneers, Peprah Antwi and Noah Patterson remained leaders on the court, sinking the majority of shots. But the streak ended after Holt caught a down-the-court pass and made an easy layup.

Bowne’s persistence in rebounds also paid off, and the quarter ended at 61-58 Bowne, the closest margin of the game.

Newtown started the last quarter strong and trailed Bowne by only a few points, and after a brief scoring run, Bowne got antsy. Players started yelling at each other and the game got physical. Peprah Antwi was pushed to the ground, and Bowne’s Luis Hernandez was pushed under the basket into the wall.

But Bowne proved stronger on rebounds, getting both their own and Newtown’s missed shots. About halfway through the quarter, Bowne maneuvered Newtown’s defense with ease and the score rose to 79-61 Bowne.

With 1.4 seconds left and Newtown’s morale visibly low, Patterson wrapped his arms around Karven Alcindor from John Bowne, prompting a foul shot to end the game. Patterson and Peprah Antwi didn’t stick around for the shot, and walked off the court.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Queens Library space to open in Queens Center


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File Photo

Shoppers will soon be able to take a break in between stores and visit the library.

Queens Center, located at 90-15 Queens Blvd. in Elmhurst, has invited the Queens Library to open up a library space within the mall. It will be located adjacent to the food court and is expected to open in late spring.

“We are excited about bringing Queens Library to the Queens Center mall. It is an opportunity to reach even more people and familiarize them with everything Queens Library can do to enrich their lives,” said Queens Library’s Chief Operating Officer Bridget Quinn-Carey. “The library space at Queens Center mall will have books and reading material to engage people at the mall, or they can borrow and take books home. We will be hosting special programs as well.”

The library space, which will be Wi-Fi enabled, will include comfortable seating and offer a collection of popular books which people can sit down and read or borrow with their library cards. Laptops will be available to rent for use within the space and tablets may also be offered.

Free library card sign-up will be available at the location and there will be a schedule of promotional events in collaboration with other mall tenants  and programs, such as speakers, arts and crafts, kids’ educational entertainment and more. 

The space will also feature computer terminals to look up and request materials, order books  and research things to do in their neighborhoods. Full reference and referral services will be available by phone. 

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

FBI looking for three suspects in robbery of armored truck guard in Elmhurst


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of the FBI

The FBI is looking for three men who attacked and robbed an armored truck guard on Friday at an Elmhurst bank.

After 12 p.m. on Friday, a GardaWorld armored truck arrived at the HSBC Bank at 82-57 Broadway. One of the armed guards went into the bank to make a regularly scheduled deposit pick-up and as he was leaving the three suspects attacked him at gunpoint inside the ATM lobby, according to the FBI.

The suspects may have used a .45 semi-automatic handgun during the robbery and as they fled they sprayed the guard with mace, according to the FBI.

The three men then fled on foot with cash from the guard and may have driven in a navy blue or black Ford Explorer described by witnesses as “dirty from the winter weather and missing a front license plate,” the FBI said.

The men are described as either Asian or Hispanic and were dressed in heavy winter clothes.

The FBI has released surveillance photos of the suspects and together with the NYPD is asking for the public’s help in identifying and finding the three armed men. GardaWorld is offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to the capture, arrest, and conviction of those responsible and the recovery of the stolen money. 

Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI at (212) 384-1000. Tipsters may remain anonymous. The suspects should be considered armed and extremely dangerous.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Victims’ families, pols gather to support Vision Zero


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Many teary eyes were focused on “Vision Zero” during recent rallies in Queens.

Supporters of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s call to reduce traffic fatalities to nil gathered Sunday at a candle light vigil on the corner of Wyckoff and Myrtle Avenues in Ridgewood, where 23-year-old Ella Bandes was struck and killed by a city bus a year ago.

Politicians, advocacy groups, friends and families of victims called for safer streets and more responsible drivers during the event, which paid tribute to Bandes and many others.

“What we’ve been through in the past year is such a nightmare,” said Judy Kottick, Bandes’ mother. “Losing your child is the worst thing that could happen to anyone. We just don’t want anyone else to go through this.”

There have been nearly 20 auto-accident related fatalities in the city since the start of 2014.

People at the rally wanted drivers to be more aware of pedestrians and avoid breaking traffic laws. They also asked for support for Assemblymember Dan O’Donnell’s bill, which would lower the NYC speed limit to 20 mph from 30 mph, except where the City Council determines a different speed is appropriate.

Before the candle light vigil, supporters of “Vision Zero” rallied on Grand Avenue and 69th Place in Maspeth in honor of Angela Hurtado, who was killed at the intersection when a driver with a suspended license struck her on Jan. 18.

Transportation advocacy group Make Queens Safer called for support for State Senator Michael Gianaris’s bill, which would charge drivers who continue to drive without a valid license and are in an accident that causes serious injury or death with vehicular assault. It would be a class E felony, punishable by up to four years in prison.

“The people we are talking about have had their licenses suspended because they’re already known to be bad drivers, and the faster and easily we could make it for law enforcement to take them off the street, the better,” Gianaris said.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Driver charged after fatally striking woman in Maspeth


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Grand Ave

Updated Sunday, Jan. 19, 5:55 p.m.

A driver was arrested after hitting and killing a 68-year-old woman in Maspeth Saturday morning, police said.

Angela Hurtado, an Elmhurst resident, was crossing Grand Avenue at 69th Place about 11:20 a.m. when a Mitsubishi Montero struck her as it was making a left turn onto westbound Grand Avenue from northbound 69th Place, according to the NYPD.

Hurtado was taken to Elmhurst General Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

The driver, 28-year-old Abel Tinoco, remained at the scene, and was arrested and charged with aggravated unlicensed operator, the NYPD said. Tinoco was driving with a suspended license, according to a police source.

Witnesses told the New York Post they saw him making an illegal left turn before striking Hurtado.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

 

Former St. John’s Hospital, adjacent parking garage sell for $47 million


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy Massey Knakal

The former home to St. John’s Hospital will soon be transformed into a mixed-use building.

Real-estate company Massey Knakal announced it handled the $47 million sale of the 90-02 Queens Blvd building in Elmhurst, together with a five-story parking garage located at 87-28 58th Ave.

“For the first time, Queens is beginning to see a trickle-down effect of rising rents from primary neighborhoods, like Long Island City,” said Stephen Palmese, senior executive vice president of sales for Massey Knakal, who handled the sale together with company partner Thomas A. Donovan. “This is similar to Williamsburg’s effect on Bushwick. As a result, secondary markets, like Elmhurst, which also have great transportation, are experience strong increases in residential rent.”

St. John’s Hospital closed its doors in 2009 after Caritas Health Care, which ran the hospital, filed bankruptcy. Brooklyn-based developer called 89-52 Queens LLC then purchased the property and was the most recent owner up until the sale.

Approved plans from the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals show the new owner plans to convert the about 266,322-square-foot former hospital building into a mixed-use building with ground floor and lower level retail, medical facilities on the second floor and residential units on the remaining floors, according to Massey Knakal.

The about 86,400-square-foot parking garage, located behind the building, holds a capacity of 290 parking spots.

“This property is located across the street from the Queens Center mall, which is one of the top grossing malls in the U.S.,” said Donovan.

The property is located across the street from Queens Center and Queens Place Mall and near four major expressways.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

NYPD, Lion Cage Shredding holds free public document shredding event at Queens Center


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

The NYPD is working to make sure residents begin the New Year on the right and safe foot.

Together with Lion Cage Shredding, located at 120-10 Queens Boulevard in Kew Gardens and Macerich Properties, owner of Queens Center in Elmhurst, the NYPD’s Crime Prevention Section held a free document shredding public event in front of the mall on Sunday to make sure personal information does not get into the wrong hands.

“We want to help people stop becoming victims of [identity theft],” said Sergeant Raymond Morales, from the NYPD Community Affairs Bureau. “It’s important that [the documents] get destroyed properly. This is a first major step on helping prevent [identity theft].”

During the event, people were able to bring in documents with personal information, dump them into two large garbage bins and watch them be destroyed inside the Lion Cage Shredding truck.

“You have to be proactive in taking steps to protect yourself,” said Sergeant Morales.

Participants were also able to bring in their computer hard drives and watch them be destroyed, as a hole was punctured into the hard drive. People were also able to have their electronic devices registered with the NYPD Operations ID Program and sign up to receive a certificate from Lion Cage confirming the destruction of all personal information from Sunday’s event.

“I just think it’s great to do this for the community,” said Regina Pluchinotta, from Ozone Park, who brought in bags of documents to be shredded and watched as her hard drive was destroyed. “You try to be precautious and safe about it all.”

Elmhurst resident Fabian Alsultany brought in two folding shopping carts filled with documents dating back to 1999 which were taking up room in his house.

“This was a real godsend,” said Alsultany. “This just makes life a lot easier. It’s a great service for the city to offer.”

The NYPD and Lion Cage Shredding will be working together with private companies and property owners in the next 10 months to hold document shredding events throughout the five boroughs. The next stop will be in the Bronx, and later dates and locations are to be determined.

For more information on the document shredding events or any other NYPD events, visit the NYPD Community Affairs Bureau website or text “NYPD” to 22828. To find out more about Lion Cage Shredding, visit its official website or Facebook page.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Parents welcome city’s first New Year’s baby at Elmhurst Hospital


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation

New York City‘s first New Year cry was heard through Elmhurst Hospital as Tenzin Choetso was welcomed into the world.

Tenzin was born to parents Metok Dolma and Choegyal Dorjee one second after midnight on Jan. 1 at Elmhurst Hospital Center. The couple, both from Tibet and now living in Woodside, reportedly also has another daughter.

The baby girl, weighing 6 pounds, 11 ounces, received a name given by the Dalai Lama, according to a hospital spokesperson. The parents put in a request to the Dalai Lama for the baby’s naming while Dolma was pregnant, and the Tibetan spiritual leader responded by giving the name Tenzin, meaning “to conquer the wisdom of Buddha,” the spokesperson said.

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama was given the name Tenzin Gyatso.

“We are thrilled and excited that one of the first babies of 2014 was born at Elmhurst,” said Chris Constantino, Elmhurst Hospital Center’s executive director. “Our staff is overjoyed.”

Tenzin Choetso is not Elmhurst Hospital’s first “New Year’s baby.” In 2013, at exactly midnight, another baby was born at the hospital.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

NYPD to hold free public document shredding event at Queens Center Mall


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Courtesy of NYPD

Looking to help start the New Year on the right foot? The NYPD is holding a free document shredding public event to make sure personal information does not get into the wrong hands.

The NYPD’s Crime Prevention Section will be holding the event at Queens Center Mall on Sunday, Jan. 5 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the intersection of 59th Avenue and Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst under the JCPenney sign. Police will help the public shred documents containing any personal or sensitive information for free.

Participants will also be able to bring their old hard drives to the event and have them destroyed. During the event you could also have your electronic devices registered with the NYPD Operation ID Program.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

Elmhurst man killed in Christmas morning hit-and-run


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A man died early Wednesday morning after a car struck him in East Elmhurst before fleeing, police said.

Enrique Clemente-Ovando, 29, of Elmhurst, was crossing Astoria Boulevard, near 103rd Street, about 4:30 a.m., when the vehicle hit him, according to the NYPD.

Clemente-Ovando was taken to Elmhurst Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The car, which did not remain at the accident scene, may be a beige Toyota Camry with a Pennsylvania registration, police said.

The investigation is ongoing.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

Suspect squirts lighter fluid inside Elmhurst check cashing business before robbing it


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

A man was caught on video Sunday dousing an Elmhurst check cashing business in lighter fluid before displaying a lighter and demanding money from an employee, police said.

The robbery took place about 2:30 a.m. at ATN Financial Services, located at 94-72 Corona Ave., according to the NYPD.

The employee, who was not injured in the robbery, handed over the cash before the suspect fled, police said.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES