Tag Archives: Flushing

Flushing rejoices for new affordable residential tower


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre  

In a city where rental rates are astronomical in most areas, housing salvation came to 143 families in the form of a partnership between the legendary Flushing Macedonia AME Church and developer BRP Companies.

The two-century-old religious institution and builder — along with all the Flushing politicos — praised the completion of the nearly $50 million, 143-unit affordable housing development named Macedonia Plaza in a ceremony on Friday.

The 14-story building at 37-08 Union St. replaced a municipal parking lot that the city transferred to BRP Companies at a reduced cost. Macedonia gave unused air rights from its adjacent building for the project, maximizing the height of the affordable housing tower.

“The mission of Macedonia AME Church is to minister to the social, spiritual and physical development of all people,” said Rev. Richard McEachern, senior pastor of the church. “We are grateful to God for the opportunity to provide much needed affordable housing to this community.”


Macedonia Plaza has 161,720 square feet of space, which includes a 9,000-square-foot ground level retail space that will be occupied by grocery store Tree of Life NY.

It has numerous green features as well, including a co-generation facility, and has earned a LEED Silver ranking from the U.S. Green Building Council. The co-generation system will use natural gas to generate electricity for the commercial and common space areas.

More than 30,000 people applied to live in Macedonia Plaza when the lottery for units in the building opened about two years ago. In December residents began moving into the building and now all units are fully leased.

The apartments were reserved for people and families earning from $19,063 to $59,820 annually. The building is broken into 27 studios, and 58 one-bedrooms, 55 two-bedrooms, and two three-bedroom units.

Amenities include a bike storage area on the ground floor, a common terrace on the second floor, a party room and a laundry room.

The building’s completion closes a chapter in plans to construct over Flushing municipal parking lots to feed the ever-exploding community’s population. The other chapters include One Flushing and Flushing Commons, which will be directly behind Macedonia Plaza.

 

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Flushing’s Pomonok Houses gets new security cameras


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Installation is complete on a new security system of 30 exterior cameras installed across eight buildings in the Pomonok Housing Development in Flushing.

The security system will be used by local law enforcement, and was financed with capital funding allocated by the offices of Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz and state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky.

According to Stavisky, officials have worked for seven years to secure the funding and installation of the cameras for Pomonok Houses. Nearly $6 million in additional funding is required to outfit the entire complex with security cameras, as well as install cameras in the interiors of the building and elevators.

“Today is a major victory for the residents of Pomonok, who are now getting the high-tech security system they deserve,” said Stavisky, who added that she plans to continue to work with the Pomonok Houses, NYC Housing Authority and the NYPD for the future expansion of the security system.

A NYCHA official and a technology specialist explain how footage from the outdoor cameras will be stored and used by law enforcement to Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, Council Member Rory Lancman, Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz and Pomonok Residents Association President Monica Corbett. (Photo courtesy of the office of Toby Ann Stavisky)

A NYCHA official and a technology specialist explain how footage from the outdoor cameras will be stored and used by law enforcement to Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, Council member Rory Lancman, Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz and Pomonok Residents Association President Monica Corbett. (Photo courtesy of the office of Toby Ann Stavisky)

Simanowitz and Councilman Rory Lancman also pledged their commitment to outfit every building with the increased security measure.

“Pomonok has long been considered the jewel of public housing in New York City and we need to keep it that way,” Simanowitz said. “With the installation of these security cameras, residents will get an extra layer of protection and feel a greater sense of safety.”

An estimated 4,200 people reside at the Pomonok Houses complex, which is comprised of 35 buildings standing on nearly 52 acres in Flushing in an area bordered by 65th and 71st avenues and Parsons and Kissena boulevards.

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Attempted robbery, car chase ends after crash into Whitestone home


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Jackeline Garcia

A dramatic car chase through Queens Wednesday night ended with a getaway car slamming into a Whitestone home and two suspected robbers in handcuffs, police said.

The trouble began at about 7:45 p.m. at a cellphone store in Flushing.

According to authorities, three men entered the Verizon store at 191-30 Northern Blvd. while wearing masks and simulating a firearm, and announced they were robbing the place.

The suspects then fled without taking anything, with one escaping on foot and the other two getting away in a van.

Police were able to spot the van near the Cross Island Parkway and Willets Point Boulevard a short time later and a chase reportedly ensued. As the cops went after the suspects, the van struck two parked cars before crashing into a nearby home on Willets Point Boulevard.


One suspect, 20-year-old Xavier Oneal of Brooklyn, was arrested at the scene. The van’s other occupant, 38-year-old Andrew Taylor, also of Brooklyn, was nabbed not far from the scene at Utopia Parkway and 17th Road after fleeing on foot. Both have been charged with robbery, reckless endangerment, criminal mischief, fleeing an officer in a motor vehicle and menacing, police said.

According to the FDNY, five people were hurt as a result of the chase. Four were taken to North Shore-LIJ with minor or non-life threatening injuries. One person refused medical attention at the scene.

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Kim helps usher in consumer awareness campaign for nail salon industry


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Office of Ron Kim

Updated June 3, 1:38 p.m.

BY ANGELA MATUA

Assemblyman Ron Kim joined Gov. Andrew Cuomo in Manhattan on Friday to launch a consumer awareness campaign to improve conditions in the nail salon industry.

Kim, who represents parts of Flushing, Whitestone and Murray Hill, called for a more educational approach to reforming the industry and proposed a training program to ensure that workers receive minimum wage while learning about their rights.

“I’m proud to join Governor Cuomo in this fight and that’s why I’m sponsoring important legislation to protect New York’s workers,” Kim said. “Together with the governor, the owners and advocates, we can transform the nail salon industry and protect the thousands of workers in our community so they can obtain the proper treatment they rightfully deserve.”

The consumer awareness campaign proposes to teach consumers what to expect when they visit a nail salon. As part of the initiative, pocket cards listing the “Top Five Things to Ask When Entering Nail Salons” are being distributed statewide.

The questions include “Are workers paid at least minimum wage and overtime?”; “Is appropriate protective equipment (respirator, mask, gloves, eye protection) provided to workers and used?”; “Is there adequate ventilation (no strong odors)?”; “Is the salon business license posted in plain view?”; and “Is the Nail Salon Workers’ Bill of Rights posted in plain view?”

Kim joined public officials and owners of local nail salons earlier last month in Flushing to announce the “Healthy Nail Salon Network,” a series of proposals to create a safe working environment for nail salon workers.

Among the proposals that Kim outlined that day, raising prices for manicures and creating a code of conduct for salons were among a few solutions he suggested.

Several politicians including Mayor Bill de Blasio and Public Advocate Letitia James have taken steps to reform the industry on the state and city level. Efforts to reform city nail salons increased after a New York Times article exposed unfair wage and labor practices at many nail salons.

A spokesperson for James’ office noted Wednesday that the public advocate has been working on the issue for more than a year.

“We are calling on New Yorkers to use their power as consumers to patronize nail salons who treat employees fairly, and boycott those unscrupulous businesses who profit by exploiting their workers,” Cuomo said.

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Flushing fifth-grader dubs $2M surgical robot ‘Leonardo Jr.’


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Alina Suriel

The subject of this christening ceremony has a circuit board.

Fifth-grader Karla Barreta from Flushing’s P.S. 22 won a school-wide contest to name the newest da Vinci surgical robot at Flushing Hospital Medical Center. The final pick was selected by Flushing Hospital’s robotic surgeons and administrators, with “Leonardo Jr.,” beating out a flood of other submissions.

“I feel very proud of myself and also very excited because I’m representing my school and my class,” said Barreta.

Children from Barreta’s class were invited to enjoy a celebration with pizza donated from Trattoria 35 in Bayside, and a live demonstration of how to work the machine. Each child then got a chance to sit in the operating chair and experience what it would be like to perform surgery with the help of the $2 million robot.

“Some of the kids were so keenly absorbing every word that was being said about the robots. They’re fascinated by it,” said class teacher Jennifer Kim. “I can see some future surgeons in this class, I really can, and I think today’s experience is really going to cement that.”

The robot is used in the new robotic surgery division that opened at Flushing Hospital in October 2014. It can be useful in a wide array of different types of surgery, including general surgery, gall bladder procedures and bariatric surgery, among others.

“It’s a tremendous asset,” said Dr. Roberto Cantu Jr., who added that time with the machine is especially sought after because it is the only one of its kind owned by the medical facility. “There are certain situations in which it is the standard of care.”


According to the robot’s informational website, the da Vinci surgical system aims to enable surgeons to operate with enhanced vision, precision, dexterity and control with the use of a magnified 3-D high-definition vision system and tiny instruments that bend and rotate far greater than the human wrist. As a result, surgeons are able to operate through fewer and smaller incisions which can result in less blood loss and faster recovery times.

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First draft of Flushing express bus plan publicly revealed


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel

The preliminary design for a proposed Select Bus Service (SBS) line from Flushing to Jamaica was publicly revealed for the first time Wednesday in an interactive open house at Flushing Town Hall.

“We understand that we need streets to work for bus riders, we need the streets to work for businesses, and we need the streets to work for the residents and communities, so the open house tonight is really our opportunity to share our proposal,” said Nicole Garcia, Queens Commissioner of the DOT, during the open house.

The proposal was presented in an informal open house, in which different components of the plan were printed out onto large posters and displayed on easels. Officials from the Department of Transportation (DOT) were on hand to explain each poster to community members and answer any questions, and attendees were encouraged to post their reactions onto a comment board for collection.

Event participants were largely supportive of the proposed changes, which include repavement of the general traffic lanes, as well as the installation of dedicated bus and right turn lanes alongside a curbside parking lane. Pedestrian sidewalks are also set to be made wider to accommodate dense foot traffic in the district.

“I want to see improvement for the Q44,” said Samuel Santaella, a community member who said that he thinks off-board fare collection is one of the most important upgrades to be implemented upon the arrival of SBS along the Q44 bus route connecting Flushing to the Bronx. “To kill two birds with one stone, I want to see improvements to Main Street too, on the pedestrian side.”

The DOT will meet with community boards again in June to continue the feedback process and create a finalized street design. The new SBS service is projected to be implemented in fall 2015.

Although there is widespread anticipation among commuters looking forward to improved bus service from Jamaica to Flushing and the Bronx, the creation of an SBS line was initially met with some contention from some officials and local business owners who feared the designated bus lane would cause a displacement of parking resources and additional traffic congestion for private vehicles.

But even among those who had been initially skeptical, there was a feeling of some compromise being reached.

“They really meant it when they said they wanted to engage the community and hear what the community had to say,” said Don Capalbi, president of the Queensboro Hill Flushing Civic Association and a vocal advocate for the preservation of local parking resources. “I really feel that they’re listening to the concerns of Joe Sixpack and his neighbors in our community.”

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Flushing baby with rare disorder gets surgery for new thumb


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel/Gallery courtesy of the Cohen Children's Medical Center

Who’s got two thumbs and is a happy baby? This little guy!

One-year-old Brandon Torres of Flushing is only a month into recovery after a successful surgery to create a working digit to be used in place of his right thumb. Torres was born without a thumb due to a disorder known as Duane-radial ray syndrome, which can result in abnormalities of bones in the arms and hands.

“It would be extremely difficult just to try to do anything without a thumb,” said Anderson Torres, Brandon’s father, who became visibly emotional when recounting the lifelong physical limitations that could have resulted from his son’s condition. “So for a better future for him we just went ahead and did the [procedure].”

Brandon’s parents, Yuli Ramirez and Torres, found out about his condition when hospital staff did a routine count of the boy’s hands and toes immediately after his birth following an otherwise normal pregnancy.

The boy underwent a three-hour correctional procedure at Cohen Children’s Medical Center on April 27 where his right index finger was shortened, rotated, and moved into the place of the thumb. A metal pin will hold the finger in place so a pseudo joint can form from the bone.

“It was very scary, because of course as a parent you never want anything to go wrong with your children, but we knew that this would be a great thing for him,” said Ramirez, who also has another son.

In order to better understand her youngest son’s experience with a disabled hand, she and her partner would often try to spend time with their own thumbs tied back to recreate the heightened challenges of everyday activities.

The thumb is the most single important finger in the human hand and has a specific area in the brain associated with the task of its movement. Its power is necessary as an opposing force to the other four digits used on a hand when grasping objects.

According to Dr. Nick Bastidas, the pediatric plastic surgeon who treated Brandon, patients with Duane-radial ray syndrome are too rare to statistically quantify, with only about 30 cases reported around the globe. Although the young boy will still only have four fingers and a 30 to 40 percent weakness in his new thumb, he will be able to hold and grasp objects normally after undergoing some physical therapy to perfect his use of the new digit.

Bastidas said the ease in which children like Torres can adapt and heal after extraordinary circumstances is one of the reasons he chose to specialize in pediatric plastic surgery.

“It’s the reason why I went into medicine in the first place, is to really make an impact,” Bastidas said. “Just to shape a child’s life and let him go on to live a normal happy healthy life is the most rewarding thing you can expect.”

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Cops searching for armed robber who hit Flushing sandwich shop


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Police are looking for a man wanted for the armed robbery of a Subway restaurant in Flushing.

On May 12 at about 7:45 p.m., a man walked into the establishment located at 25-52 Francis Lewis Blvd., displayed a firearm and demanded money, according to cops.

The cashier obeyed and the suspect then fled with an undetermined amount of money. There were no injuries reported during this incident, police said.

The suspect is described as a white man in his early 40s, 5 foot 8 inches tall, and weighing 185 pounds.

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.

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Flushing business owners fight to maintain parking in SBS plan


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File Photo

The Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce met with representatives of the MTA and Department of Transportation (DOT) on May 22 to express their skepticism over the benefits of a proposed Select Bus Service (SBS) line set to run from Flushing to Jamaica.

Small business owners felt the most threatened over the possible impact to parking availability in the area. One of the proposed changes will see the area getting a dedicated bus lane for SBS service, and in some cases possibly displacing lanes currently used for curbside parking.

“I am afraid that losing more business due to parking unavailability will result in my business reducing our staff or worse,” said Andrew Hai, owner of Flushing NAPA Automotive Inc. “We are a small business and need all the customers we can get.”

Although local civic groups were in favor of the SBS plans, they also emphasized the need to maintain parking resources.

“The Queensboro Hill Flushing Civic Association supports the implementation of SBS,” said the group’s president Don Capalbi, although he did urge the DOT to ensure that parking lanes will be preserved. “Elimination of Main Street parking will decimate our local small business hub and the community they serve.”

Nicole Garcia, the DOT’s Queens commissioner, said officials will continue to work with the chamber to ensure that the needs of businesses will be prioritized in transit system changes.

Select Bus Service is an improved bus service that aims to offer fast, frequent and reliable service on high-ridership bus routes. SBS lines decrease travel time by utilizing off-board fare collection by kiosk, dedicated bus lanes and transit signal priority.

A two-phase study completed in 2006 and 2009 identified Main Street and Kissena/Parsons boulevards between Flushing and Jamaica as corridors that could support and greatly benefit from Select Bus Service. The four bus lines along the two thoroughfares move at overall speeds of under 10 mph, and some are delayed for nearly 50 percent of travel time.

The meeting between transit officials and the chamber is part of the ongoing third round of public outreach for SBS implementation. Open houses will be held this week in both Flushing and Jamaica to solicit additional input from the general public and to discuss street design and bus stop locations.

The Flushing open house will be held in Flushing Town Hall at 137-35 Northern Blvd. on Wednesday, May 27, from 6 to 8 p.m. In Jamaica an open house will be held at the Jamaica LIRR Station Atrium Lobby on Sutphin Boulevard the following night, May 28, from 6 to 8 p.m.

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SUV smashes into Flushing supermarket, injuring five


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter, @NYPD109Pct

Updated Wednesday, May 27 

An out-of-control sports utility vehicle turned a Flushing supermarket into a drive-thru Tuesday afternoon, injuring four people plus the driver in the process.

Police said the accident occurred at about 6:30 p.m. inside the Pathmark located at 31-06 Farrington St.

A 72-year-old woman was behind the wheel of the Mercedes Benz SUV when she suddenly accelerated while in the supermarket parking lot and drove into the wall of the store before coming to rest inside, cops said.

Officers from the 109th Precinct and EMS units responded to the scene.

Four people and the driver received minor injuries and were transported to local hospitals. Three of the victims were reportedly transported to New York Hospital Queens, while two others were taken to Elmhurst Hospital.

An investigation is still ongoing.

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Flushing public forum reveals planning study


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo by Alina Suriel/ Gallery courtesy of the NYC Department of City Planning

The NYC Department of City Planning publicly revealed Thursday night details of a Flushing West planning study which will result in large-scale re-zoning in line with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 10-year plan to increase affordable housing.

The study area is a 10-block zone bounded by Northern Boulevard to the north, Roosevelt Avenue to the south, Prince Street to the east and the Van Wyck Expressway and Flushing Creek to the west. Underutilized commercial and industrial land uses will be re-examined for changes which aim to allow for new residential, commercial and community facility uses alongside the eventual redevelopment of the area.

This will be accomplished by increasing allowable residential density, providing a public space amenity plan, and rethinking the height and massing of new buildings, as well as several other aspects of study.

“I hope that you can see how comprehensively we’re trying to think about Flushing, and yet how innovative this process is for this community,” said John Young, director of the City Planning Department in Queens.

Officials, community organizations, and residents were outspoken about their concerns for plans intended to bring major change into their area. Councilman Peter Koo remarked that the rapid growth of Flushing puts a strain on its existing community and infrastructure, and said more has to be done to preserve affordable housing, support small businesses and improve stormwater systems before increased development results in a possible population influx.

Among residents, the creation and preservation of affordable housing was cited as the biggest priority. According to a report circulated by the office of the mayor, between 2005 and 2012, rents rose by 11 percent while renters’ incomes stagnated, and to combat this trend the inclusion of affordable housing units is a condition of any new development.

While opportunity for affordable housing creation in Flushing is limited under the current zoning, any new re-zoning under the Flushing West study will fall in line with the new affordable housing requirement. Planners undertaking the Flushing West study are also being guided by other city agencies on how to adapt the affordable housing requirements to the area in a way that is financially feasible.

Grace Shim, executive director of the MinKwon Center for Community Action, was fearful of the possibility of residents being displaced in programs which do not address the needs of the population with the lowest income.

“We don’t want them to be priced out of here,” said Shim, who added that the most vulnerable sector consists of senior citizens and recent immigrant with limited English proficiency. “We don’t want them to be pushed out.”

In addition to preserving affordable housing, expanding waterfront access to Flushing Creek is also targeted as a specific objective of the study. Planners will work to find ways to provide pedestrian access to the waterfront by creating a street network leading to the area, which is now difficult to access due to narrow sidewalks and closed-off street networks.

Open walkways and green areas are eyed for the waterfront’s future, as well as affordable housing developments to utilize some of the open space.

The community input process of the Flushing West planning study is ongoing, and previous public presentations as well as additional information can be found online at nyc.gov/flushing-west.

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Crystal Windows celebrating 25 years in Queens


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

The ’90s was an interesting time. The era is known for a variety of weird and colorful inventions, such as slap bracelets and light-up shoes, and famous figures from basketball legend Michael Jordan to Pokemon’s Pikachu.

It was also during that time a Taiwanese immigrant named Thomas Chen decided to stop working in construction and start his own window manufacturing company in Queens.

“I always wanted to do something in manufacturing,” Chen said. “And when I came to New York City I saw a lot of windows, so I felt that I have to do windows.”

Although back then using his College Point home garage and his teenage son as his only employee was hardly enough to be called a company, Chen’s business has grown to become the largest window manufacturer in the city and among the top 40 in the country since its inception in 1990.

Crystal Windows & Door Systems, now headquartered in a sprawling 215,000-square-foot Flushing facility not far from their old garage, produces more than 400,000 windows a year, serving numerous customers around the country and in some parts of the world, such as the Caribbean and Asia.

The company is celebrating its quarter-century birthday this year and to pay homage to the era in which the company was founded, Crystal held a ’90s-themed customer appreciation party Wednesday at Terrace on the Park. The event featured vintage video games, including Street Fighter for Super Nintendo, a performance from a Madonna impersonator and free neon-colored slap bracelets. It was their way of saying thanks to the consumers who made the rags to riches story a reality, but also to remember a time when it was all but a dream in a garage.

“When the company first started we never thought it would get up to this size. We thought we would still remain in our garage and just make enough to survive,” said Steve Chen, son of Thomas and the chief operating officer. “And then over time companies found out about us and we just kept growing and growing.”


Steve said one of the reasons why they have become such a big company from humble beginnings is because of their focus on quality.

The company offers over 56 different styles of windows that feature green designs and are energy efficient, and they are always looking to improve their products. They’ve even added a 3-D printer in the facility so engineers can be more creative with designs.

Crystal employs about 500 people around the country, and that number could balloon to 600 during the window industry’s seasonal summer months.

They have four facilities around the country in Chicago, St. Louis and Riverside, California, and provide custom windows for new developments and renovations, for both commercial and residential buildings.

Crystal’s windows are even featured on A&E’s TV show “Flipping Boston,” and recently they made products for a new dormitory at Texas A&M University.

But despite the growth and the work around the country, Crystal has never forgotten where it all started.

Steve said they have no intentions of ever leaving Queens and that Crystal supports numerous arts and business organizations in the borough.

“The company prides itself as being New York City-based, Queens-based, because that’s where we started,” Chen said. “New York City, especially Queens has helped us grow the way we are and we always believe in giving back to the community. ”

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Bayside brothers look to ‘bee’ a spelling dynasty


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel / File photo

Being a spelling master seems to be hereditary for Srinath Mahankali of Bayside.

Mahankali, a sixth-grader at Bayside’s Nathaniel Hawthorne Middle School 74, is one of 285 spellers set to compete in the 2015 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Although this is his first year qualifying for the bee, the 11-year-old Mahankali has already seen what it takes to be a winner. His older brother, Arvind, gained national attention after winning the championship in his third time competing in 2013, and Srinath was part of the process by helping him study.

In person, the younger Mahankali radiates a maturity far beyond his age. He thanks the principal, assistant principal and students at his school for supporting him throughout the regional spelling bee process and the newfound attention he has been getting from the outside world, which he tries not to let get to his head.

“I just want to feel normal,” Srinath said. “I’m not feeling shy, but I am proud of winning the regional spelling bee.”

And he doesn’t compare himself to his brother Arvind, now a 10th-grader at Stuyvesant High School. “I’m not looking at this as a competitive thing,” Srinath said. “He did inspire me to do this.”

The parents of the boys are both employed in professions involving science and technology —mother Bhavani Mahankali is a physician and father Srinivas Mahankali is in the software industry. Srinivas said that his sons are self-motivated to pursue academic prestige even outside of high-profile competitions.

“Both the children made us really proud but the spelling bee is not an end in itself,” Srinivas Mahankali said. “It’s a lifelong thing. It’s a part of the biggest picture.”

Photo courtesy of the Scripps National Spelling Bee

Photo courtesy of the Scripps National Spelling Bee

Srinath Mahankali is not the only Queens student gearing up to take part in the bee. Sai Chandrasekhar, a Flushing teenager and an eighth-grader at Hunter College High School in Manhattan, will also be competing for the second time. She said that even though this is her last chance to take home the trophy, she is much more calm this year and feels proud of how much she has already accomplished at the young age of 13.

“It is my last chance but I’m not really that nervous,” Chandrasekhar said. “I’ve done a lot over the past few years, and I’m just going to do my best, and give it my best shot.”

In describing her pre-competition process, Chandrasekhar said that she does not try to cram more words into her head, but instead focuses on relaxing activities to stay stress-free.

The Championship Finals of the Scripps Spelling Bee will air on on May 28 at 8 p.m. on ESPN.

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Flushing’s Bowne Playground to be redone


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the NYC Parks Department

The Bowne Playground adjacent to P.S. 20 in Flushing is set to receive a multimillion-dollar renovation that will see the layout of the park completely updated and reimagined.

The design has been internally approved by the Parks Department, and is now going through the process of receiving comments and approval from external regulatory agencies after Community Board 7 voted Monday in favor of approving the project.

The Bowne Playground occupies 1.28 acres at Union Street between Barclay Avenue and Sanford Avenue. It is utilized by both neighborhood families and students at P.S. 20, which has an enrollment of around 1,400.

The renovation aims to create new park amenities and increase play opportunities for children of all ages, as well as upgrade existing features and create community space with flexible uses. The estimated end date for the project is set for 2017.

The new design will change the layout of the park to divide the area into several different sections for different activities and age groups. Currently, the playground contains a play area, a swing set, and basketball and handball courts that surround a multiuse paved space in the center of the playground.

The worn and cracked asphalt will be replaced, and two new play areas and swing sets for different age groups will be installed. The ball courts will remain, and new areas will be added, including a group of game tables, a space with adult fitness equipment, and an open area for community gatherings and events.

One of noticeable changes will be a new 4-foot wrought-iron exterior fence replacing the 12- and 16-foot chain-link fencing that currently encircles the playground’s perimeter. This switch was initially met with contention by some members of the community board who feared that lower barriers may pose a higher risk to children who might try to climb into the park and fall, or that teenagers might climb over in the nighttime after park hours.

Joanne Amagrande-Savarese, chief of staff to the Queens Parks Department commissioner, said that the department did not anticipate having problems with children climbing over the fences because it would be easy to get in through other entryways into the area. She added that in recent years the department has been trying make parks look less enclosed and more open to the community, and have largely been lowering the height of park fences to a four-foot standard in order to achieve this goal.

“What we’re trying to do right now is make our parks more inviting and more accessible,” said Amagrande-Savarese.

In addition to the new fences, the new playground will also be significantly greener, with twice as much permeable surface area to collect stormwater. There are currently trees only around the perimeter of the playground, and the new design will significantly increase the tree count to add more shade and differentiate between different areas of the park.

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Three suspects wanted for shooting into Flushing lobby


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

BY ANGELA MATUA

Detectives are asking for the public’s help in finding three men wanted for firing shots into the crowded lobby of a Flushing housing development Thursday afternoon.

The suspects pulled up in a black car to the Latimer Gardens housing complex on 137th Street at 3:10 p.m. and fired three shots into the main lobby, according to authorities.

Police believe the car is a two-door 2013 Hyundai Genesis with tinted windows.

The three suspects, described as Asian males in their 20s, missed their intended target, according to police, and fled in the car.

Though there were no reported injuries, several civilians, including schoolchildren, were standing in the direct vicinity of the shots fired, authorities said.

1111-15-109-Sqd-05-14-15-624x560-1

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.

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