Tag Archives: Forest Hills

Astoria face and body painter brings out inner child with colorful designs


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of The Cheeky Chipmunk

For one Astoria artist, your face is her canvas.

Lenore Koppelman, 39, is the owner and artist behind The Cheeky Chipmunk, where she has turned face and body painting into living, breathing art.

Born in Queens and raised in New Orleans, La., Koppelman recalls that it was a tradition for her and her family to go to the French Quarter every Sunday after breakfast and get their faces painted. Koppelman said that every Sunday morning she would talk about what she would get painted on her face that day.

As she grew up, she went to college for interior design, and her inner knack for art and creativity followed her throughout the years.

Having lived in Forest Hills from when she was 3 to 6 years old, Koppelman decided to return to Queens eight years ago, and she made the move to Astoria. But her decision to make a career change did not happen until just last year.

While on a walk by Astoria Park with one of her best friends, Pamela Bob, Koppelman pondered over what her true calling was. Realizing that she loved art and loved working with people, she put the two together.

“We both realized at that moment [the face painting business] was going to happen. So I just felt this wave of calm come over me, like I had finally figured out what I was here to do,” Koppelman said. “I got goosebumps and said, ‘I am going to be a face painter.’”

She began painting her friend’s children’s faces for free and realized that something was missing.

“I was terrible. I was really bad. I had no idea how difficult face painting was. I think a lot of parents think, ‘How hard can it be?’” she said. “I then said, if I’m going to really do this, I’m going to have to learn how to do this.”

She began practicing, on herself and others, and reached out to the face painting industry. Koppelman said she was surprised to see the unity in the face and body painting community and she began attending workshops, and meeting other face painters at “jams.”

Koppelman also signed up for an online community called FABA (Face and Body Art) TV, where instructors from around the world share tutorials and tricks on design ideas. She also attended a workshop called Face Painting University and got to learn from professionals in the industry who had appeared in shows such as Skin Wars and Face Off.

“It really took wanting this so badly in order for me to really commit to learning it. This was a whole other level of passion and want. And aside from my little boy and husband, I couldn’t think of anything else I’m more passionate about,” Koppelman said.

Since taking the classes and becoming involved in the community, Koppelman said she felt an increase in confidence. Since September, she has been starting to book more gigs painting faces and bodies, and she even dabbles in maternity belly paintings.

The decision to name the business The Cheeky Chipmunk came from a childhood nickname given to her by her parents and her love for alliteration. She’s now busy offering face and body painting for almost any occasion, from birthdays to corporate events.

Koppelman has also spent her time volunteering for different organizations and events, most recently at a fundraiser held at an Astoria bar called The Quays for a local boy suffering from a rare blood disorder.

She said her favorite moment is the reveal—the moment when a child or adult opens their eyes after sitting patiently through the painting process just trusting her.

Although she is constantly learning and changing designs to meet the latest fads, Koppelman said she still can’t believe she is finally doing what she loves as a career. She hopes to one day publish a book with all her paintings done on her own face and start doing paintings on things in New York she would like to celebrate.

“It’s all about having fun and getting in touch with something inside of you that is magical and youthful and free,” Koppelman said. “Nothing horrible will come of it; it’s paint, it washes off, and it’s a good time. I would love to see more people find that kid inside that just wants to be free. Let the glitter fly free.”


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Forest Hills Tudor co-op complex getting $5M in repairs


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Christopher Bride/ PropertyShark 

Members of a near-century-old Forest Hills Tudor-style co-op have borrowed $5.2 million to make modifications and improvements to the buildings.

The Tennis View Apartments at 4 Dartmouth St., which were built in 1917, according to a representative at National Cooperative Bank (NCB), have deteriorating roofs. The co-op recently borrowed the money from NCB to revitalize the roofs and modernize the elevators.

The deal was arranged by Mindy Goldstein, senior vice president at NCB’s New York office.

The Tennis View Apartments comprise 175 units throughout five seven-story buildings, which were converted to co-ops in 1971.

There is no planned date for the construction as yet.

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Queens Chamber celebrates winners of annual building awards


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

The Queens Chamber of Commerce hosted its 99th annual Building Awards on Thursday, recognizing architecture and design of new buildings around the borough.

Out of 100 total entries, just 19 new construction, interior and rehabilitated use projects were selected as winners from various categories, including public use, office space, commercial and residential.

City Planning Director Carl Weisbrod was the keynote speaker at the event in the LaGuardia Marriott Hotel. The Chamber’s President’s Award was given to College Point-based developer Mattone Group.

In terms of new construction, the modern, glassy, three-story commercial building by K.O.H. Architecture at 215-15 Northern Blvd. in Bayside was among the winners. The building is home to a Tiger Schulmann, a Pizza Hut and a day care.

Plaza College’s newly opened campus in the Forest Hills near the intersection of Queens Boulevard and Union Turnpike was among winners in the rehabilitative use category. The school moved following a devastating fire that destroyed its Jackson Heights campus at 74-09 37th Ave. The new campus serves 750 students and features labs and medical classrooms.

Mediterranean and soul food fusion restaurant Pa-Nash of Rosedale, which opened in April, was also a winner in the rehabilitative use category, as well as the Queens Library’s redesign of the teen space in the Cambria Heights branch.

Pa-Nash 3

Below is the full list of winners.

 

New Construction

Category                                                         Project

Schools                                                            Public School 330Q

Commercial                                                     215-15 Northern Blvd., Bayside

Office Buildings                                             Jackson Heights Office Building

Multi-Family, Low Rise

(up to 3 stories)                                               Xiaoyan Jin Residence

 

Single Residences

(1 family-detached up to 3000 sq. ft.)              Grippi Residence

 

Single Residences

(1 family-detached over 3000 sq. ft.)               Vaccaro Residence

 

Multi-Family, High Rise

(4 or more stories)                                           Multi-Family Residential Building

Mixed Use

(residential/commercial/industrial)                  Antonelli Building

 

Rehabilitation, Readaptive Use, Alteration or Addition

Category                                                         Project

Public Buildings                                             Queens Library @Cambria Heights-Teen Space

Colleges                                                          Plaza College

Schools                                                            P.S. 81Q

Commercial                                                     Pa-Nash Restaurant & Lounge

Single Residences

(1 family-detached up to 3000 sq. ft)               Annie Hsu Residence

 

Interiors

Category                                                         Project

Colleges                                              Queens College Rosenthal Library

Commercial                                                     Murphy’s Lobster Grill

Single Residences

(1 family-detached over 3000 sq. ft.)               Long Residence

 

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Bramson ORT College expanding main Forest Hills campus


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

A small two-year college in Forest Hills has signed a lease for more space nearby to expand its facilities as part of a plan to become a larger institution.

Bramson ORT College, which currently enrolls 610 students, is renting 8,000 square feet of additional space at 68-80 Austin St. — a block away from the school’s main building at 69-30 Austin St.

The school hopes to build a new library, a student lounge, a bookstore, faculty offices and some new classrooms in the new space, which is under construction and will be completed by early 2015, according to school President Dr. David Kanani. Kanani said the expansion is part of a full reconstruction of the school to hopefully become a full four-year institution.

“We are restructuring the school, we are restructuring our staff, we are restructuring our facilities, we are adding new programs. We are really intent to make this one of the best two-year, career-oriented, post-secondary junior colleges in Queens, if not the state,” Kanani said. “And then after that, once we put that in good working order, then we will hopefully go for a four-year college.”

Recently, Congresswoman Grace Meng helped Bramson ORT from losing federal funds, which caused a difficult financial situation for the small school. The U.S. Department of Education was delaying financial aid for the school, and Meng intervened to bring both sides together and hasten the delivery of the funds to the institution.

Bramson ORT College, which has a campus in Brooklyn, has a history that stretches back to 1942. The school was originally established to serve refugees and immigrants during World War II.

Today it provides students with degrees in accounting, business management, computer technology, electronics, graphics and web design, paralegal, pharmacy technician and programming, among other subjects. Kanani hopes the expansion and reconstruction of the school will attract better students as well.

“I believe that when you improve the quality of the school as a whole, automatically you attract better students,” Kanani said. “Better students for us means students that want to learn.”

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Pearl Jam fans to hold fundraiser at Kew Gardens bar in ongoing efforts to bring band to Queens


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Danny Clinch/Flickr Creative Commons

Pearl Jam fans are holding a fundraiser at Austin’s Ale House in January as part of a push to raise money for a crowdfunded attempt to get the ’90s band to play at Forest Hills Stadium.

The organization, Pearl Jam Forest Hills, has raised over $60,000 so far, bringing the head of the organization, Daniel Sheffer, closer to his dream of seeing the band live at Forest Hills Stadium. The money will be used to try to lure the band to play at the stadium.

“It’s beyond my wildest dreams. We’re thankful for all of our supporters,” Sheffer said. “It’s like there are actually people who believe in this and it makes us want to keep going and pushing harder.”

Forest Hills Stadium has held many high-profile music shows over the years, including the Talking Heads and the Beatles. The Who is slated to play in 2015. But if Sheffer and his ilk are successful in convincing the band to come, it would be the first completely publicly funded concert held in the venue.

The fundraiser will be held on Jan. 8, and Sheffer is confident in the the bar’s ability to host the fundraiser since they’ve held other similar events before. Sheffer is also taking the opportunity to help raise money during the fundraiser for charity organizations like the Wounded Warrior Project and Team Gleason.

People who come to the fundraiser can choose what organization they want to give money to. They will also be able to contribute to the Vitalogy Foundation, a nonprofit organization created by the band members of Pearl Jam.

“We’re staying humble, and whatever happens, we consider what we’ve already done a success,” Sheffer said.

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Broker of the Week: Susanna Hof, Terrace Sotheby’s International Realty


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Susanna Hof

Susanna Hof and her husband Rob are owners and lead brokers of Terrace Sotheby’s International Realty. Hof has deep roots in Forest Hills, where real estate has been part of her family for generations. She is actively involved in neighborhood organizations, working to improve and preserve those qualities that make Forest Hills a unique community within an urban metropolis. Hof recently spoke to Real Estate Editor Liam La Guerre about the residential market in Forest Hills.  

La Guerre: Why should people move to Forest Hills?

Hof: People who know Forest Hills would agree that it’s very unique. It’s in New York City and it takes only 13 minutes to get to midtown Manhattan from Forest Hills, but it has the look of the suburbs.

La Guerre: What makes it appealing?

Hof: Here in Forest Hills, you honestly get more bang for your buck. It has a very lively atmosphere with many great restaurants and the West Side Tennis Club. How many places can you live this close to Manhattan and have a country club with a junior Olympic-sized pool? Throughout the whole community, there are little parks that are often filled with children playing. We also have Forest Park, where there is horseback riding, a golf course, playgrounds, and jogging paths and bike paths. It’s quite an astounding number of factors that people are looking for.

La Guerre: Has the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium, which recently started playing concerts again, added value to neighborhood?

Hof: I think the concerts have been working out really well. They are bringing people here so that they see the community, but it’s adding an element of hip to the area. If you add this hip element to it, mixed with good restaurants and fun places to go, it kind of becomes something for everybody.

La Guerre: What are the residential prices like compared to other areas in the city?

Hof: Here prices have risen significantly in the past three years. We found this year that houses selling under the $2 million point have multiple offers the first week.

La Guerre: In terms of Queens, the borough is selling at a slower pace than last year. From your experience has it been the same in Forest Hills?

Hof: No, definitely hotter. Things are selling very quickly. Over the $2 million point things are a little tougher, but under $2 million things are just flying off the shelves. It’s the price point that people can afford. What used to be a year ago $1.1 million is now definitely a strong $1.5 million. And what was $1.5 million is now $1.9 million, because of the increase over the year.

La Guerre: How diverse is the residential market in Forest Hills?

Hof: Forest Hills is a very diverse community. It was founded to be diverse, and in that sense there are all different size houses. There are smaller townhouses, there are medium-sized detached houses, and there are larger, more estate-like properties, and there are condos around the gardens in Forest Hills and newer ones being built in the neighborhood. There are also co-ops and rental buildings.

La Guerre: With the recent completion of luxury condo building The Aston, do you think developers are noticing Forest Hills?

Hof: I think they are looking at where we are — 13 minutes from Manhattan — [and] the cost of real estate in the city, so they are seeing this as very desirable living situation for people who are looking to go into the city but want to live outside the city.

La Guerre: How do you see Forest Hills transforming in the future?

Hof: Homes in Forest Hills Gardens have strict architectural standards. You can’t tear down those houses. People can’t come in and take down an old Tudor. It just can’t happen and it won’t happen. In terms of Queens Boulevard, there was a change in zoning upping the stories. And those older, lower story buildings will probably be taken down and things like The Aston will replace them. In terms of Austin Street, it would be nice if that could be upgraded. Hopefully with a new interest in this direction that would improve the area.

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New luxury condo building The Aston half sold in just one month


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of The Marketing Directors 

The new Forest Hills luxury building, The Aston, has sold nearly half of its units after opening sales just four weeks ago, says the company handling sales in the building.

The 17-story, 97-unit building, which is located at 108-20 71st Ave., was created by Cord Meyer Development, and The Marketing Directors is handling the sale.

Prices begin at $580,000 for a one-bedroom, $890,000 for a two-bedroom, and $1.39 million for a three-bedroom, according to a representative.

“We are proud of the sales we have achieved at The Aston in such a short period of time,” said Jacqueline Urgo, president of The Marketing Directors. “Additionally, the quick sales pace at The Aston indicates the strong demand for quality product in the area.”

All units in The Aston feature hardwood walnut flooring, floor-to-ceiling windows and individual washers and dryers. The building also has a 24-hour attended lobby and a private fitness center.

The building is still under construction and is expected to be completed soon.

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11-year-old Forest Hills boy vies for ‘MasterChef Junior’ title


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos by Greg Gayne / Courtesy of FOX Broadcasting Co.

Most 11-year-olds would settle for a store-bought cake for their birthday. Not Josh Reisner. The Forest Hills sixth-grader insisted on making 96 cupcakes for his party this year, with a variation for the cake, frosting and topping flavors on each one.

“It took three days to make, but it was really good,” Josh said of his cupcake masterpiece, which included flavors such as candied lemon and pistachio sauce.

It’s that sort of culinary know-how that has landed him a spot on season two of “MasterChef Junior.” On the Fox reality show, which kicked off its new season on Nov. 7, young chefs, ages 8 to 13, compete for $100,000 and the “MasterChef Junior” title. Like the adult version, the contestants must create gourmet-style dishes in timed challenges. Their creations are then critiqued by judges Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich and Graham Elliot.

Winning dishes on the first episode included chicken liver pâté on garlic crostini with brûléed pears and fish sauce chicken wings with a yuzu salad.

After thousands from across the country auditioned, Reisner was one of 16 chosen for the show.

“When I got called for the show I was so excited,” he said. “It’s so exciting because you know that out of all those kids you are one of those 16.”

MCJR2_S2-Gallery_0277_hires2

Reisner, who was 10 when “MasterChef Junior” taped, has been refining his cooking skills since he was 4.

But his passion for food began when he was still a baby and would nibble on sushi, caviar, snails and oysters.

“He would just reach and take things from our plate and we would let him try whatever he wanted to try,” his father Brad said.

Starting out with cupcakes, pasta and pizza, Reisner soon graduated to cooking more difficult dishes, such as beef bourguignon and braised meat.

His father’s favorite is Reisner’s chili, which he makes with Coca-Cola, cocoa, a mix of special spices and no beans because it “ruins the texture.”

Though it takes time to whip up, Reisner, said he loves to make braised short ribs because “it‘s a dish that puts everything you put into it back.”

His mother Serena shares his interest in food, but admits she has let her son take over the kitchen in the past two years. He now cooks at least four days a week for the family, including breakfast on the weekend.

Reisner decided to test his culinary skill outside of his home kitchen after hearing about a casting call for “MasterChef Junior” through Young Chefs Academy in Forest Hills, where he has taken classes.

After making it onto the show, he watched the first season, but admits he was still nervous about judge Ramsay’s fiery reputation from his other reality shows.

MCJR2_201-MBox_0328_hires2

His fears about Ramsay were dispelled, but the experience of cooking for the judges was intimidating at times.

“I hope I don’t go home because I mean that would just ruin my thoughts of Key lime pie and I would not feel comforted when I eat it,”  he said during the second episode, when he landed in the bottom four during a citrus cream pie challenge.

Reisner, who wants to own a restaurant, and be a chef and food critic when he grows up, said he gained confidence from being on the show, and has learned how to accept criticism and take more chances.

“It’s so much pressure, but it’s really a great experience,” he said. “I would have done it a million more times.”

Watch Reisner on the fourth episode of “MasterChef Junior” on Tuesday, Nov. 25, at 8 p.m. on Fox to see if he makes it past the top eight.

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Forest Hills fans crowdfunding to bring Pearl Jam to Queens


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Danny Clinch/Flickr Creative Commons

Local lovers of ’90s band Pearl Jam may soon have the opportunity of a lifetime — to see the rockers play a concert in Queens — thanks to some devoted Forest Hills fans.

A dedicated group of fans is trying to entice Pearl Jam to play at Forest Hills Stadium with a crowdfunded campaign that aims to raise $100,000.

And it looks like the famous quintet, led by vocalist Eddie Vedder, may indeed be on their way to Queens. The group, which is aptly named Pearl Jam Forest Hills, has already raised $20,000 and is getting a lot of attention on social media.

Forest Hills Stadium has held many high-profile music shows over the years, including the Talking Heads and The Beatles. The Who is slated to play in 2015. But unlike most of these shows, efforts to raise money to bring in Pearl Jam aren’t backed by any corporate sponsors.

“We’re trying to keep it as pure as possible,” said Daniel Sheffer, one of the fans. “I’m not a concert promoter, but I have the tenacity to learn it as I go along. It’s organic.”

“We’re going strong. We loved Forest Hills. We love Queens,” said Sheffer, who grew up in Forest Hills listening to Pearl Jam.

As part of the crowdfunding campaign, which seeks donations from the public, fans get a seat if they give $80 or more. Those who give $1000 can expect four tickets, plus what the group calls a “mystery bunch of Pearl Jam goodies.”

Pearl Jam is known for songs like “Daughter,” “Corduroy” and “I Got Id.” Sheffer hasn’t yet heard from the band about being open to playing in Forest Hills Stadium, but he’s hopeful that if they raise enough money, the band will come.

Along with Sheffer’s close friends and family, the crowdfunding group is working hard to spread the word through social media sites and raise more money. They are also contacting local politicians and community advocates, who’d love to see Queens getting concerts like Brooklyn does with the Barclays Center.

Sheffer thought of the idea after he heard that the band Foo Fighters played a crowdfunded set in Richmond, Virginia, in September.

“I might not be the best guy for the job, but I’ll give it a thousand percent, ” Sheffer said. “And if they give us a hard ‘no’ that’s cool, too. At least we gave it a shot.”

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See it: Forest Hills Tudor sells for nearly $1M


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Terrace Sotheby's International Realty

A fully attached Tudor townhouse in Forest Hills fetched $992,500, after spending two months on the market.

The asking price was $998,000, according to Terrace Sotheby’s International Realty, which marketed the home.

The residence at 67-80 Selfridge St., which was built in 1940, has three bedrooms and two-and-a-half bathrooms throughout two floors.

At 2,460 square feet, the townhouse features a detached garage and renovated kitchen.

The home also has a finished basement with hardwood floors, high ceilings and a laundry room.

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Real estate roundup: Hunter’s Point South affordable housing developers throwing a party


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Related Companies

Party at the Site Where $500-a-Month Apartments Are Rising in Hunters Point

Residents interested in applying for one of the hundreds of affordable apartments in the first phase of Hunters Point South can check out the neighborhood next week at a party being thrown by the developers.” Read more [DNAinfo]

Near $4 million Douglaston mansion most expensive listing in Queens

A nine-bedroom mansion on 234th Street was the priciest Queens home put on the market last month. [The Real Deal]

Forest Hills residents think their beloved Bonelle Pastry Shop is worth fighting for  

“Queens cookie fans are crumbling at the news that a beloved borough bakery is closing at the end of the year — possibly due to an incoming Dunkin Donuts. Bonelle Pastry Shop in Forest Hills will lose its lease at the end of December after serving up its specialty cakes and almond croissants for more than 20 years, shop owner Rahita Ravel said.” Read more [The New York Daily News]

City Living: Rego park is as Queens as it gets

“The neighborhood is characterized by its main arteries of Queens Boulevard, Junction Boulevard, 63rd Drive and Woodhaven Boulevard – pulsing with retail and culinary activity — juxtaposed with quiet residential streets featuring picturesque Tudor homes.” Read more [amNewYork]

 

Suspect gropes woman inside Forest Hills elevator: cops


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

A man grabbed a 31-year-old woman’s buttocks inside a Forest Hills elevator Wednesday night, according to police.

The suspect entered the elevator with the victim at about 5:45 p.m., authorities said. Once inside, the suspect said, “Excuse me,” to the woman before grabbing her buttocks. He then ran out of the elevator and the building.

Police have released surveillance video of the suspect at the building, and describe him as black, in his late teens, 5 feet 4 inches tall and about 170 pounds. He has brown eyes and short dark hair with blond coloring.

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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Real estate roundup: The Crossing in downtown Jamaica revealed, friends return to Sandy damaged house


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of BRP Companies

93-01 Sutphin Boulevard Revealed

“BRP Companies have released renderings of their 25- and 14-story mixed-use development project at 93-01 Sutphin Boulevard, in Downtown Jamaica. Dubbed The Crossing, the complex will contain 580 residential units and 100,000 square feet of retail space.” Read more [New York YIMBY]

After 50 years in business, Frankie’s Pizzeria has closed

“The operators of Frankie’s Pizza, which is located at 22-56 31st Street, left a note in the window that read: Dear Costumers! Thank you for your loyalty and support after 50 years of business– Frankie’s Pizza is closing!” Read more [Astoria Post]

Organic Coffee Shop with Vegetarian Menu Opens in Forest Hills

“A new coffee shop featuring organic and vegetarian menu opened this week in Forest Hills, a neighborhood that has been primarily served by coffee shop chains, including Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts.” Read more [DNAinfo]

Rockaway Park Friends Return To Homes Damaged In Superstorm Sandy

“Nearly two years after Superstorm Sandy, two friends in a Queens neighborhood are finally back in their own homes.” Read more [CBS]

Plans released for possible QueensWay


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy of thequeensway.org

It’s the Queens way.

A 3.5-mile stretch of recreational, walking and biking trails is planned for central and southern Queens as part of a multi-million dollar proposal that has coined the name, QueensWay.

“This will be a wonderful park for Queens,” said Will Rogers, president of The Trust for Public Land.

The QueensWay plans, proposed by W X Y architecture + urban design, will add a mix of new recreational and cultural opportunities and nature trails for the borough, said the Friends of the QueensWay.

The path, if built, will cross through the neighborhoods of Rego Park, Forest Hills, Glendale, Richmond Hill, Woodhaven and Ozone Park, affecting over 322,000 people living within a mile of it.

In the plans, there are proposed areas for ecology and education, where planners are hoping to build an outdoor classroom for children to be able to learn the biodiversity in Queens.

Also, there will be two sets of trails for bicyclist and pedestrians to ensure the safety of everyone who uses the QueensWay.

Furthermore, there are plans for basketball courts, a skate park, habitat wetlands, arts-related programs and a gateway entrance from the QueensWay to Forest Park.

“Parks are too often neglected and QueensWay would offer more access to open space and parkland,” said state Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky. “Parks provide an economic benefit to local business, retail establishments and restaurants and people of all ages would be able to enjoy the recreational opportunities which this new green space would provide.”

The estimated cost for the QueensWay is $120 million and, if started, will take three to five years to build.

Although it has the backing of many elected officials and community leaders, some feel the narrow stretch of former rail line could be put to better use.

Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder is a staunch advocate for the restoration of the Rockaway Beach rail line, which once ran on the property being looked at for the QueensWay. He has formed a coalition to fight to get it back.

“The QueensWay and Trust for Public Land have wasted taxpayer dollars on expensive, out-of-state consultants and one-sided studies that don’t actually represent the interests or needs of Queens’ families,” Goldfeder said. “Our growing coalition, including the MTA, will continue the fight to expand transit in Queens while easing commutes, creating jobs, cleaning the environment and expanding our economic development.”

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Star of Queens: Laura Newman, co-founder, Make Queens Safer


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

newman 2

BY ASHA MAHADEVAN

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Laura Newman is one of the founders of Make Queens Safer, which was formed in late 2013 after a child was killed while crossing Northern Boulevard with his grandmother. It was the third such incident in approximately 12 months and sparked in Newman a desire to bring about change. Make Queens Safer works toward ensuring the streets are safe for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists. Last November, Newman’s organization hosted a march from Corona to Jackson Heights to raise awareness about road safety, while talking to elected officials and parents who lost their children in road accidents. Recently, the group hosted a safety fair educating children about bike safety and pedestrian safety.

BACKGROUND: Newman was born and raised in Forest Hills. Over the years she lived in various boroughs of the city but came back to live in Queens because she said it is a down-to-earth place with no pretensions. She is a qualified psychologist.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “Allowing space for everybody in the community to be a part of this movement. Earlier the mood was adversarial. It is easy for pedestrians to blame motorists and motorists to blame bicyclists. That only raises anger levels without accomplishing anything,” Newman said. “We are all on the roads. We should unify to take a stand together as a community. This is solvable.”

GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT: “It is still a work in progress, but my greatest achievement would be bringing a sense of values in younger generations to take responsibility in a variety of ways,” Newman said. “As a parent, I want my daughter to be aware and committed to make a change in the community. Through Make Queens Safer, I can impact other parents to do the same and give the younger generation a sense of involvement and engagement. It is about empowering families and young children to own a sense of responsibility toward making their community a safer, more caring, better functioning neighborhood.”

INSPIRATION: “I can’t say I have a personal hero everyone knows by name,” Newman said. “But there are some young adults I have encountered in Queens and the city at large who are working for food justice and environmentalism. They are trustworthy and inspiring.”

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