Tag Archives: Elmhurst

Inclusive Queens soccer program teaches kids skills beyond the field

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Soccer Kids NYC


A new soccer program for children in Queens hopes to have kids setting goals on and off the field.

Soccer Kids NYC was created by Noe Canales in September 2014 after he noticed that other programs did not focus on teaching lessons that could translate to all aspects of a child’s life.

Canales said that Soccer Kids NYC strives to teach not only the fundamentals of soccer but also skills that children can utilize off the field like teamwork, respect and perseverance.

Soccer Kids NYC differs from other programs in several ways. Canales, who is a certified special education teacher, integrates children with special needs into all classes. He hopes to remove the stigma that families of special needs children typically deal with.

“Soccer Kids NYC wants to help in getting rid of that pervasive thinking,” Canales said of the three-month course that costs $179. “Our mission cuts across all lines; our program is for children with special needs and typically developing children. We don’t believe in labels except for our kids’ names.”

He believes this inclusiveness contributes to the program’s 99 percent retention rate. The coaches at Soccer Kids NYC also strive to make their classes affordable for everyone, he said. Though children typically attend classes once a week, students are encouraged to join other classes if there is available space at no extra cost. They also provide a refund to all families who are not satisfied with the program.

Scouting the right coaches is important for Canales, who is also a teacher at TheraCare Preschool Services, a preschool in Rego Park that accommodates children with and without special needs. Coaches are trained extensively until they are ready to lead a class. This approach is the reason he can provide a quality program, he said.

“My experience with larger programs has been that they will first find a location to expand and then work on hiring and staffing those classes with a coach,” Canales said. “This approach hinders the quality of a program as many times these coaches are not fully trained to lead a class and consequently, our kids get the short end of the stick.”

Every season, parents are encouraged to leave feedback for the coaches. Canales said they have not received any negative feedback yet, but the coaches still come together to reflect on ways to make the program better.

The feedback has been all amazing,” Canales said. “This is something that we feel extremely proud of.”

Classes are taught in Bayside, Woodhaven, Middle Village, Elmhurst, Flushing, Kew Gardens and other parts of Queens. Canales said they are not in a rush to expand but would like to eventually teach classes in other parts of Queens and New York.



Pols continue push for law change after another Queens hit-and-run

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano


Local elected officials are hoping a change in the law will prevent unlicensed drivers from getting behind the wheel of a vehicle and avoid yet another death.

In response to a fatal hit-and-run in Elmhurst on Sunday, which took the life of a 26-year-old woman, state Senator Michael Gianaris gathered with local officials and advocacy groups on Tuesday morning at the site of the crash to reintroduce legislation he put forth more than a year ago.

The change in law would make it a felony if drivers with suspended licenses either seriously injure or kill someone with their vehicle. The proposal, included in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero agenda, would also include immediate impoundment of a vehicle involved in such accidents.

“Unfortunately we’re here for something that should have been done a while ago but has yet to be done,” Gianaris said. “We’re now for the third time in little over a year in western Queens alone dealing with an incident where someone who did not have a proper license to drive has hit and killed someone.”

According to the NYPD, the victim was struck at about 10:40 p.m. on Sunday at the intersection of 76th Street and Woodside Avenue as she attempted to cross the intersection.

A Mitsubishi box truck was traveling southbound on 76th Street and was making a left turn onto Woodside Avenue when it hit the woman, who was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

The driver fled after striking the woman, but an eyewitness reportedly chased down the truck. The driver, 27-year-old Valentine Gonzalez, was nabbed just blocks away, at 73rd Street and 41st Avenue, and taken into custody, cops said.

Under the current law, Gonzalez has been charged with leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in death and driving without a license.

“After yet another hit-and-run by an unlicensed driver, it’s time that New Yorkers stood up and said that enough is enough,” Assemblyman Francisco Moya said. “Current laws are not tough enough if reckless drivers, like Valentine Gonzalez, are still able to drive on our streets. How many more fatalities will there be before we say the laws must be changed?”

The proposed bill, which is co-sponsored by state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, was initially introduced following the 2013 fatal accident in Woodside where 8-year-old Noshat Nahian was struck on his way to school at P.S. 152.

“It’s time for the punishment to fit the crime. If you get behind the wheel when you’re not authorized to do so and you kill somebody or you injure somebody you should go to jail. That way we will keep it from happening again in the future,” Gianaris said.


Truck driver charged in fatal Elmhurst hit-and-run

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File Photo

An eyewitness helped catch an unlicensed truck driver who struck and killed a woman in Elmhurst Sunday night after the man fled the scene, police said.

The incident happened about 10:40 p.m. at the intersection of 76th Street and Woodside Avenue.

A Mitsubishi box truck was traveling southbound on 76th Street and was making a left turn onto Woodside Avenue when it hit the woman, police said.

The woman, whose identity has not been released by police, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver fled after striking the woman, but an eyewitness reportedly chased down the truck. The driver, 27-year-old Valentine Gonzalez, was nabbed just blocks away, at 73rd Street and 41st Avenue, and taken into custody, police said.

Gonzalez was charged with leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in death and driving without a license.


City focuses on reducing pedestrian deaths in Queens

| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com


City officials have chosen Queens to launch the first borough-wide traffic safety crackdown in the city as part of a long-range effort to reduce the number of deaths from auto accidents, police and transportation officials announced at a press conference in Jamaica on Tuesday.

“We launched Vision Zero in Queens a year ago, and today we proudly return to the world’s borough to release the first of our five groundbreaking Borough Pedestrian Safety Action Plans,” said transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.

“These Borough Plans combine cutting-edge data analysis and community input from thousands of New Yorkers in all five boroughs. They will help the city target its engineering, enforcement and education efforts to make New York’s streets the safest in the world.”

The announcement was made at P.S. 82, near the intersection of Metropolitan and Hillside avenues, a “priority corridor” slated for a major redesign because of historically high rates of deaths and serious injuries.

On average, 43 people in Queens have died every year since 2011, according to data compiled by the city, and most of these deaths occurred in Flushing, Elmhurst and Jamaica, where there is a high concentration of car and foot traffic.

By focusing on intersections and areas in Queens with the highest number pedestrian deaths, the Department of Transportation identified 72 intersections and 47 corridors that pose the most danger to people and where the highest percentage of car-related deaths have taken place.

Trottenberg and other officials outlined a series of initiatives that will take two years and, the city hopes, will bring down the average number of pedestrian deaths and injuries in Queens. The initiative is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero.

The city, among other things, wants to increase pedestrian crossing times at crosswalks for areas like Northern Boulevard between Queens Plaza and 114th Street; change traffic signals so that they deter people from driving fast on large boulevards that Queens is known for; increase the amount of light in dark underpasses; and expand the bicycle lanes and network.

Cops will also take a tougher line on speeding hot spots identified by the city.

“We’re going to concentrate our enforcement efforts in these areas,” said NYPD Transportation Chief Thomas Chan. “We’re going to do our best to reduce the number of traffic fatalities.”

These plans are the results of years of preparation by the transportation department and community input received during workshops over the last year.

The press conference was also attended by local politicians whose areas included some of the dangerous areas.

“I appreciate all the effort that the administration is putting into safety,” Councilman Rory Lancman said. “This is going to make a real difference with people I represent.


Man charged in three-day crime spree that began with Elmhurst murder

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Screenshot via NYPD

Updated Monday, Feb. 16, 12:28 p.m.

Authorities have nabbed a man in the deadly August stabbing of an Elmhurst resident and have also charged him with stabbing another man and punching a third person in the following days, officials said.

“The defendant is alleged to have gone on a wild attack spree — stabbing two men and punching a third — over a three-day period last August,” District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Jefferson Pachon-Pineda’s streak of violence began on Aug. 22 outside an Elmhurst apartment building at 83-45 Broadway, officials said. He is accused of stabbing one of the building residents, Mukesh Patel, 50, that afternoon.

The following day Pachon-Pineda came up to a 20-year-old man on an R subway train as the doors of the train car opened and punched the man in the face before fleeing, the district attorney’s office said.

His crime spree continued the next day when he approached a 54-year-old man on Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst and stabbed him in the chest with a knife, according to Brown. Pachon-Pineda left part of the blade embedded in the victim’s liver, but the man managed to survive his injuries.

Officers from the 110th Precinct located and arrested Pachon-Pineda at a Corona barber shop hours after the Aug. 24 attack; he was incarcerated without bail.

Pachon-Pineda, a Middle Village resident, was arraigned on Jan. 21 on charges of second-degree murder, fourth-degree attempted murder, first- and third-degree assault and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon. Pachon-Pineda, who faces up to 50 years to life in prison if convicted, was held without bail.

-With additional reporting by Robert Pozarycki 


Real estate investors shelled out $3.6 billion for Queens properties last year

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Scott Bintner/PropertyShark

Queens’ relatively low land prices, access to public transportation and growing popularity has helped the borough attract a significantly larger amount of money from real estate investors in 2014 than in previous years, according to a new report.

Firms and individuals shelled out about $3.65 billion last year to buy Queens investment properties—large-scale real estate costing at least $850,000—which is a 25 percent increase from 2013, according to a report by Ariel Property Advisors.

The study pointed out that about one-third of the investment properties in Queens last year were development sites, which alone accounted for more than $1 billion, or a 191 percent gain when compared to 2012.

“Queens still presents developers with the opportunity to produce large-scale developments, and they are willing to pay a premium for prime sites,” said Daniel Wechsler, vice president of Ariel Property Advisors.

Photo courtesy of Ariel Property Advisors

Photo courtesy of Ariel Property Advisors

Wechsler pointed out that land parcels with at least 50,000 square feet of buildable rights were purchased all over “The World’s Borough,” including Astoria, Long Island City, Elmhurst, Woodside, Glendale, Jamaica, Ridgewood and Flushing, “further indicating the bullish attitude of investors on the entire borough. “

The report found that 925 properties were traded during the year, which is also a 25 percent year-over-year increase.

Some of the year’s highest profile transactions include the $110 million sale of the Standard Motors Building in Long Island City, which traded for just $70 million in 2008, and the sale of a 53-building portfolio in Kew Gardens Hills for $216 million.

There was also the $26.5 million sale of a garage near Queens Place mall in Elmhurst, which has about 227,352 buildable square feet.

Click here to read the full report.


Apple store coming to Queens Center mall: report

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

How about them apples?

Soon, Apple gadget lovers in Queens may not need to trek to Manhattan for tech help and new products, as the technology giant is currently constructing a store in Elmhurst’s Queens Center mall, according to a published report.

The new outlet, which reportedly will be bigger than other Apple mall locations in the city, will be on the second floor of Queens Center, website 9to5mac.com reported. And the Queens retail store could be here before the Williamsburg, Brooklyn, location opens.

The store is expected to be completed later this year, according to the report, but Apple hasn’t made any official announcements yet.



Elmhurst corner strip sells for $5.8M, residential development possible

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Scott Bintner/PropertyShark 

A Manhattan-based firm recently spent $5.8 million to scoop up two lots on an Elmhurst corner that have the potential to be the location for a much larger residential building.

The parcels, located near the Jackson Heights border at 75-08 and 75-24 Broadway, comprise two buildings with 12 retail and office units combined.

Sunnyside firm Terra Property Group sold the buildings to 75-08 Broadway LLC, according to records filed with the city last week.

The property could be attractive to possible future residential tenants because a subway entrance to the five-line Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Avenue/74th Street-Broadway transit complex is on the corner, making transportation convenient.

No permits have been filed with the Buildings Department for the properties.


Four-story LIC building near waterfront sells for $12 million

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Scott Bintner/PropertyShark

Elmhurst-based Eunhasu Corporation bought a four-story building in Long Island City near the waterfront for $12 million, according to city property records filed on Friday.

The industrial building at 47-33 5th St., is zoned for residential development, and the previous owner had approved plans with the Buildings Department to convert the building from a manufacturing use.

Under the previous owner’s plans, the building would become a six-story residential structure with 14 units, according to filings, and Brooklyn-based architecture firm Thread Collective was designing the property. Now that the building has been sold, it’s fair to say those plans could see some adjustment.

The seller, 47-33 5th Street Corp., turned a nearly $10 million profit off the building after purchasing it in 2003 for $2.25 million, according to city records.

Eunhasu Corp has been active on the selling side of the market as well. In October last year, the Elmhurst company sold a warehouse in LIC to GDC Properties for $37 million.

GDC Properties is demolishing that warehouse and hopes to construct townhouses on the property.


Cat rescued from Elmhurst tree finds home with Glendale grandmother and granddaughter

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Annet Artani

Dorothy has finally made it to a new home.

Dorothy Gale is a lovable cat who on Dec. 20 was rescued from a three-story-high tree in front of Newton High School in Elmhurst.

She had been stuck in the tree for three days and residents had attached a sign to the tree looking for help. Councilman Daniel Dromm’s office contacted animal advocacy organization NYCLASS and other animal advocates. Firefighters were then called to conduct the actual rescue.

After living temporarily with Annet Artani of Miney’s Rescue of Love, Dorothy was adopted on Jan. 13 by Glendale grandmother and granddaughter Danielle Dunn and Kathy Strong, whose family recently lost two of their three cats to old age. The third cat had become lonely and depressed, and the family decided Dorothy would be the best companion.

For Artani it is a bittersweet feeling having to let Dorothy go, after falling in love with her and bonding. She adds that even her dog Miney is moping around missing her.

Although still a bit shy, Artani says Dorothy is adjusting to her new environment and family well.

“Because my rescue is based out of my home, I have a different way of doing things than a shelter,” Artani said. “The bond I build with each animal I rescue is intense because I make sure they leave here knowing what a loving home feels like so they are ready for the next permanent one. But it always takes a toll.”


Teens charged after assaulting Elmhurst store owner, wife during robbery: NYPD

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Two teens brandishing what appeared to be guns walked into an Elmhurst electronics store on Tuesday and attacked the owner and his wife while robbing the place, police said.

The teenage thieves, Alex Diaz, 15, of Brooklyn, and Ronald Espinoza, 14, of Queens, walked into JC Electronics on Grand Avenue at 4 p.m. and said they were going to rob the store, cops said. Both boys, who were carrying air pistols, then went behind the counter where the owner, a 38-year-old man was, and started struggling with him.

Diaz and Espinoza then began to strike the owner in the head with their pistols and tried to cut him with a knife, according to police. When the owner’s wife tried to help him, she was also assaulted.

Their daughter, in the meantime, had fled to the basement and called 911.

The teens took $468 from the register and cellphones that were being repaired in the store, cops said. They then fled toward the subway station at Queens Boulevard, with the owner chasing them.

A passerby, who saw the fleeing suspects and the owner running after them, directed responding officers to the subway station and the pair was apprehended. Police found three air pistols, a gravity knife and the stolen goods on the teens.

The owner and his wife were taken to Elmhurst Hospital, where they were treated for lacerations to their heads and faces, and released, police said.

Diaz and Espinoza were both charged with robbery, assault, criminal use of a firearm, criminal possession of a weapon and criminal possession of stolen property.




Police looking for man who tried to rape woman in western Queens

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

A woman fought off a man who tried to rape her on a western Queens street last month, police said.

The 24-year-old victim was walking on 43rd Avenue, within the 110th Precinct, which covers Corona and Elmhurst, about 2:40 a.m. on Dec. 20 when the suspect grabbed her from behind, cops said. He then placed his hands around her mouth, pulled her to the ground and attempted to sexually assault her, cops said.

The woman was able to fight off the suspect, who then fled. She suffered no physical injuries.

Police describe the suspect as Hispanic, about 5 feet 5 inches tall and 130 pounds, with brown eyes, brown hair and pocked skin. He was last seen wearing black sneakers and a brown jacket, and carrying a black backpack.

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.



Cat rescued from Elmhurst tree looking for home

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Councilman Daniel Dromm's office

One Queens cat is looking for the purrfect home.

On Dec. 20, FDNY Battalion 46 rescued a cat, now named Dorothy Gale, from a tree three stories high in front of Newton High School in Elmhurst, according to Councilman Daniel Dromm.

Dorothy had been stuck in the tree for three days and residents had attached a sign to the tree looking for help. Dromm’s office contacted animal advocacy organization NYCLASS and other animal advocates. Firefighters were called to conduct the actual rescue.

“My office works hard to serve the community,” Dromm said. “Recently, we received a call from a constituent in Elmhurst stating that a cat had been stuck in a tree for three days. I am an animal rights activist and knew we had to help. We immediately started making calls to bring Dorothy Gale to safety. I’m glad we helped. Now, we hope someone can give her a nice, warm, permanent home.”

Since being saved, Dorothy has paid a visit to the vet, where she was spayed and given all her shots.

Currently in good health, Dorothy is living with foster mom Annet Artani of Miney’s Rescue of Love, who writes on Facebook that the cat is “very friendly.”

facebook cat

Photo via Facebook

Anyone interested in welcoming Dorothy Gale into their home can contact Annet Artani of Miney’s Rescue of Love at fonoula28@aol.com or 347-934-5707.


Community demands improvements at Elmhurst LIRR overpass

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

Elmhurst residents and their elected officials are demanding that the city clean and maintain a pedestrian bridge above Long Island Rail Road tracks that they say is deteriorating, dirty and often dangerous.

Local elected officials and community leaders gathered earlier in December to tour the pedestrian bridge that connects two separate sections of 55th Avenue, one of which turns onto 85th Street and the other that becomes a dead end near Haspel Street.

The group toured the overpass with Long Island Rail Road and Sanitation officials to discuss the conditions and demand immediate improvements be made at the site.

According to Christian Cassagnol, district manager of Community Board 4, the problems most residents have voiced concerns about include graffiti, lack of sufficient lighting, safety overnight and dirty conditions.

Residents and members of CB 4’s environmental committee regularly gather to clean up the site, Cassagnol said, but there is only so much that could be done on a local level. He decided to contact Councilman Daniel Dromm’s office in the hopes of finding a better solution.

Rosemarie Daraio, president of the nonprofit Communities of Maspeth & Elmhurst Together Inc. (COMET) Civic Association, added that some other issues include illegal dumping, weeds overtaking the site, and deteriorating and uneven steps.

Days before the Dec. 15 walk-through, the city’s Department of Sanitation showed up and did a cleanup.

“This site must be cleaned and made safe for pedestrians,” said Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, who was part of the group that toured the overpass.  “There is no substitute for an on-site visit to see conditions firsthand.”

According to Stavisky, she and Dromm will continue to monitor the issue.

“Quality-of-life issues are vitally important to the growth, strength and happiness of the community,” Dromm said.

Cassagnol plans to work with local leaders on trying to implement the Greenstreets program at the site, also known as the Green Infrastructure Program, which works to transform areas into green spaces.

“It’s an issue we are going to have to constantly monitor,” Daraio said.


Cardozo HS senior to take part in Times Square ball drop

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Sonam Lama /  Countdown Entertainment

One Queens teen will be the belle of the ball this New Year’s Eve.

Sonam Lama, a 16-year-old senior at Benjamin N. Cardozo High School, will be one of five representatives from the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to push the button, signaling the lowering of the Times Square New Year’s Eve ball, and help lead the 60-second countdown to 2015.

“It is such a great honor and there are so many thoughts and emotions going through my mind and my heart right now,” Lama said. “I feel blessed to have the opportunity to participate in New Year’s Eve in Times Square and am really looking forward to pressing the button along with other awesome and inspiring people.”

The IRC, an organization that helps refugees from around the world, resettled Lama from her native Nepal when she came to the United States in 2012.

Lama’s family was forced from their village after her father, an active member of the Nepali Congress party, faced pressure to join the Maoists.

Even after they moved to the city of Kathmandu, they were followed, and with no help from the police, they had to keep moving from location to location, according to Lama. In 2005, her father applied for political asylum in the U.S. and left Nepal.

Lama said she didn’t know a lot about America, but imagined her father would be wearing a suit, carrying briefcases and living in tall skyscrapers “like the movies.”

IRC President and CEO David Miliband, Nykhor Paul, an Sonam Lama practice pressing the button. (Photo courtesy of Countdown Entertainment)

IRC President and CEO David Miliband, Nykhor Paul and Sonam Lama practice pressing the button. (Photo courtesy of Countdown Entertainment)

When Lama and her family finally joined her father in May 2012, life in America was not what she imagined, including the small, older building that would be her home. But she did find improvements, such as medical help for her sister who needed a hearing aid.

Though the Elmhurst resident found no language barriers after learning English in school since kindergarten and from watching television, high school was a challenge.

Lama admits at first she had difficulty adapting to her large school, but after joining clubs and activities, such as the Red Cross, UNICEF, badminton and volleyball during her junior year, she was able to make friends.

Joining Lama during the famed ball drop will be models Alek Wek and Nykhor Paul, both former refugees from South Sudan, Jencarlos Canela, an award-winning musician and actor who has volunteered with IRC, and IRC President and CEO David Miliband.