Tag Archives: Fresh Meadows

EXCLUSIVE: City eyes two more northeast Queens school sites


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The city’s School Construction Authority (SCA) is looking for more than an acre of Queens land to build a new high school, The Courier has learned.

The SCA has allocated funds for the future institution, poised to alleviate Queens high school congestion, but is still scouring the borough for a site slightly larger than an acre to build it on, according to SCA Director of External Affairs Mary Leas.

“We’d love to find a nice, big site for a high school,” Leas said. “Over an acre would be best. It’s not easy to find a site that size. Then when we do, we really want to investigate it and see if we could make it work. An acre is a lot of property in the city.”

The SCA briefed Community District Education Council 26 (CDEC) Thursday on its proposed $12 billion capital budget for 2015 to 2019, which includes the new high school.

A Department of Education spokesperson told The Courier the city is eyeing a site in Whitestone that “has not been identified.”

Residents in the area, in September, said they saw SCA scouts surveying the vacant Whitestone Jewels Property at 150-33 6th Avenue. The six-acre site is in the midst of a foreclosure action by OneWest Bank.

State Senator Tony Avella said the location is not “viable” for a school, due to lack of infrastructure and public transportation options.

“The city would have to put in sewers and water mains. It would be a transportation nightmare for parents and students,” he said.

The authority ruled out a Little Neck school site — long suggested by the CDEC — due to its “remote” location near 58-20 Little Neck Parkway, on the border of Long Island.

“It’s very hard to site a high school in a community,” Leas said. “Just even looking at a site could cause quite a flurry of activity amongst communities that don’t want the high schools.”

The SCA’s preliminary five-year plan also includes building a 465-seat elementary school in either Oakland Gardens or Fresh Meadows.

Partial funds have been set aside for the potential elementary school, but the SCA has not found a site yet, according to Monica Gutierrez, an SCA community relations manager.

The City Council last week passed a controversial plan to build a pre-kindergarten through fifth grade school at 210-11 48th Avenue in Bayside. According to the SCA, it will likely take about three years to open. Its design process, which has not yet begun, is expected to be finalized in about a year.

The SCA gave the presentation to seek feedback from the school district that encompasses Bayside, Douglaston and Little Neck.

To suggest site locations to the city, email sites@nycsca.org.

 

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Fresh Meadows home to appear on ‘The Good Wife’ Sunday


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of CBS Broadcasting Inc./Below photos THE COURIER/By Melissa Chan

This Sunday’s episode of CBS’s “The Good Wife” will feature a Fresh Meadows home and a stretch of Union Turnpike.

Show fanatics Peter and Kathy Hart lent their 183rd Street home to film crews and actors for a full day of shooting in October, The Courier first reported.

“We’re excited. This weekend, we’re throwing a ‘Good Wife’ red carpet premiere. I just don’t have a red carpet,” Kathy said. “I just invited some friends over.”

Five actors, including two playing FBI agents, shot scenes in the couple’s living room, dining room, kitchen and on the street near their home, as well.

The episode will air November 24 at 9 p.m.

The critically acclaimed drama began its fifth season this September. It stars Emmy Award winner Julianna Margulies, who plays a wife and mother who restarts her life as a defense attorney after her politician husband is jailed over a public sex and corruption scandal.

 

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Fresh Meadows restaurant owners featured on Cooking Channel show say eatery did not need ‘redemption’


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Queens restaurant owners recently featured on the Cooking Channel’s new series, “Restaurant Redemption,” say their iconic 60-year-old eatery did not need the rescue.

King Yum in Fresh Meadows kicked off the show’s first episode on October 29. The series stars Ching-He Huang, a British food writer and TV chef, who helps revitalize struggling Asian restaurants around the country.

Business has dropped “drastically” for the “failing” tiki-themed Chinese restaurant, according to the network’s description of the episode.

But husband and wife duo Robin and Roberta Ng, who own the family-operated business, say the plot was largely exaggerated for show business.

The restaurant needed a change in décor, not food, and did not need redemption, they said.

“It was such a bunch of baloney, the whole thing,” said Robin, 61. “A lot of it was made up. They tried to make it look like the restaurant was failing and that the show was going to come in and save the day.”

In the episode, Huang describes King Yum’s best-selling dishes as “over-fried, greasy, bland” and “dreadful” as a straight-faced Robin blankly looks on.

“I wasn’t going to give her a reaction or feed into her,” said the Culinary Institute of America graduate, who took over the restaurant seven years ago from his late father.

One of the leading chefs in the business, Emeril Lagasse, praised King Yum’s test-of-time standards just two years ago on the Cooking Channel’s “The Originals with Emeril.”

Robin also had a brief cameo as a waiter in the 2010 action comedy film, “The Other Guys,” starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, which filmed in the 181-08 Union Turnpike eatery.

The couple said they originally thought the Cooking Channel reached out to them to shoot another tribute-esque show.

Instead, they were blindsided — a claim echoed by other show participants, according to the Detroit Free Press.

“We had no idea what they were coming in to film,” Robin said. “They kept us in the dark about everything. They never told us it was for a restaurant do-over.”

Roberta said her regular customers were “mortified” to see the restaurant on the show.

“People love the food here,” she said. “Our customers are really angry.”

It has been King Yum’s “good food, consistency and good value” that has kept the business alive in the ever-changing food industry, Robin said.

“I grew up working here with my brother. We managed the place as teenagers. I did everything from washing dishes to peeling shrimp,” he said. “We’ve been here for 60 years. We must be doing something right.”

The Cooking Channel did not comment.

Somewhat grateful for the “wake up” call, the Ng family said they plan to soon incorporate Huang’s crispy chicken wings with citrus five-spice salt into the menu.

“It had a nice ending,” Roberta said. “Things needed to be freshened up. She did that.”

 

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57-year-old fatally struck in Fresh Meadows


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A man was killed Wednesday night when a car hit him on the Horace Harding Expressway.

Sangho Kim, 57, of Fresh Meadows, was crossing the roadway at 188th Street around 8:30 p.m. when the accident occurred, said police.

He was taken to Booth Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The vehicle remained on the scene and the investigation is ongoing, said police.

 

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‘The Good Wife’ films at Fresh Meadows home


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of CBS Broadcasting Inc./Below photos THE COURIER/By Melissa Chan

An upcoming episode of a popular CBS drama will feature a Queens couple — or at least the house they live in.

“The Good Wife” fanatics, Peter and Kathy Hart, played host to the show this Tuesday, lending their Fresh Meadows home to film crews and actors for a full day of shooting.

“This is our 15 minutes of fame,” said Kathy, a Manhattan hair stylist. “We’re big fans of the show. I tell Peter not to talk to me until commercials.”

Five actors, including two playing FBI agents, shot scenes in the couple’s living room, dining room, parts of their kitchen and on their tree-lined 183rd Street near Union Turnpike.

“For Fresh Meadows, this is the most exciting thing,” said Peter, a realtor, who has raised three kids in the home in the past 25 years.

The couple said a location scout knocked on their door about three years ago, came in and took pictures.

“We don’t know why we let him in, but we let him in,” Peter said. “We got a call days later saying more people wanted to see the house. But they said they would keep us on file for future episodes.”

Soon after, the pair picked up the remote, flipped to the show for the first time and got hooked while waiting for that “future episode.”

And then that time came.

About 21 more scouts working for the show showed up at their front door last week, they said.

“They all had clipboards. All these neighbors thought we were selling the house,” Peter said.

The couple was told to “empty the first floor” before film crews arrived at 6 a.m. on October 15.

Workers were seen unloading furniture from moving trucks early Tuesday morning in the family’s front yard.

“The experience is exciting,” Kathy said, “and we don’t have to do much but be quiet and not get in the way.”

“The Good Wife” began its fifth season September 29. It airs on Sundays at 9 p.m.

The critically acclaimed drama stars Emmy Award winner Julianna Margulies, who plays a wife and mother, who restarts her life as a defense attorney after her politician husband is jailed over a public sex and corruption scandal.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg appeared as himself in the show’s last season finale.

“Now we have to put a plaque outside our house saying, ‘As Seen on ‘The Good Wife,’” Peter said.

 

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Pols call for traffic calming measures in Fresh Meadows


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A group of leaders in Fresh Meadows are trying to put the brakes on lead-footed drivers who they say whiz down a stretch of homes daily.

The speeding motorists use 75th Avenue, a residential road, to bypass traffic on Union Turnpike, according to Councilmember James Gennaro.

For about one mile, between Utopia Parkway and 164th Street, drivers need only slow down twice for a speed bump and a stop sign, local leaders said.

“It’s a straight run” otherwise, Gennaro said. “It creates a very dangerous situation for people living in and around 75th Avenue on this particular stretch.”

At least four people were injured near 75th Avenue and 172nd Street between 2007 and 2011, according to the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT), though none were severely hurt.

That number jumped to 14 in 2012, according to a spokesperson for Gennaro, who said crashes and near collisions are increasing as more drivers discover the detour.

Assemblymember Nily Rozic said she recently saw a speeding driver jump the curb in an attempt to avoid hitting another car.

“It missed and parked on top of a lawn,” she said. “It’s actually not the first time that I’ve seen that on 75th Avenue. Enough is enough. We really need to figure out a strategic and innovative way to calm the neighborhood to speeding traffic.”

Gennaro said his office has made three requests for traffic studies since 2011. The calls for an all-way stop sign at 172nd Street and 75th Avenue were all denied by the DOT, the councilmember said.

“It’s frustrating,” Gennaro said. “The Department of Transportation has to figure something out. This situation may not lend itself to some kind of cookie cutter solution, but there has to be some sort of solution.”

DOT spokesperson Nicholas Mosquera said the location did not meet federal guidelines for more traffic controls. However, he said the department is looking into other measures.

The legislators proposed putting speed bumps instead of stop signs in problematic parts of 75th Avenue. A DOT feasibility study for the measure is not slated to be finished until October.

“A speed bump is a true traffic calming device,” Gennaro said. “That’s what it’s made for, to slow traffic down and make it a less desirable alternative to Union Turnpike.”

Principal Mary Scheer of nearby Holy Family School said traffic along 75th Avenue will only increase in the meantime.

“They want to keep speeding. I’ve seen cars pass each other on this road. It’s very dangerous,” she said. “There’s total neglect of any of the rules of the road on this street.”

 

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Fresh Meadows man recounts stop-and-frisk experience


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Naji Grampus

Fresh Meadows resident Naji Grampus claims he was stopped by cops one night while walking home from playing basketball in a playground near P.S. 26 in the fall of 2010.

It was chilly, so Grampus, then 21, was wearing a hoodie and his gloves were bundled in the pouch of the sweater. Grampus, who is black, was walking with two white friends, but the officers directed their questions only to him, he said.

“Where are you going?” Grampus recalled one of three officers asking. “What’s in your pocket?”

Grampus and his friends said they were headed home, but the officers got out their vehicle and allegedly proceeded to frisk him alone.

“He frisked me, not them,” Grampus said. “I believe I was racially profiled, because I had a bulge in my pocket. But a bulge doesn’t look like a gun.”

U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin agreed with Grampus and minority groups’ view when she ruled last week that the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy is being used unconstitutionally by overly targeting blacks and Hispanics.

In 2012 police stopped nearly 533,000 people, but approximately 473,644 or 89 percent, were innocent, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union. Of those stopped 284,229 were black (55 percent), 165,140 were Latino (32 percent) and 50,366 were white (10 percent).

“It feels like they are playing the law of averages,” Grampus said. “If I stop 100 [minorities] maybe one will have something.”

Grampus was a junior in Baruch College then and is now a community liaison for Councilmember Mark Weprin, who has voiced concern over stop-and-frisk.

Grampus thinks the policy should be reformed, not discontinued, as does Scheindlin.

As part of her decision, Scheindlin appointed a monitor over the NYPD and body cameras for police officers in some precincts in her decision.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg was displeased with the ruling and the city filed to appeal the decision. Bloomberg instead referred to stats that show last year the city had the fewest shootings and murders since records began being kept in 1962.

Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly then touted stop-and-frisk as a reason that selling illegal weapons in the city was more difficult after the pair announced “the largest seizure of illegal guns in city history” on Monday, August 19.

Cops recovered 254 firearms and indicted 19 people. One of the men arrested was heard saying said he couldn’t bring the weapons to Brooklyn because of stop-and-frisk, according to police.

This was rebuffed by various supporters of stop-and-frisk reformers.

“We applaud the city’s record gun bust, but we are nonetheless outraged that the mayor is using it as a scare tactic to justify the unconstitutional stop-and-frisk police tactic,” said

Comptroller John Liu, a mayoral candidate. “Stopping and frisking innocent New Yorkers never has been, never is, and never will be the answer.”

 

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Fresh Meadows woman arrested for Sandy scam


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office

A Fresh Meadows woman claiming to be a Sandy victim was arrested for allegedly scamming more than $87,000 in city and federal relief, the state attorney general said.

Caterina Curatolo stayed at hotels on the city’s dime for close to nine months after she claimed she was evacuated and rendered homeless by the October superstorm, according to authorities and a criminal complaint.

She racked up a hotel bill of more than $83,000, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said, and received nearly $3,600 on top of that from the city and American Red Cross to spend on food.

The attorney general’s office said she spent some of the money at electronic, shoe and dress stores.

“I am in desperate need for you all to pray for me and for all the victims of hurricane super sandy [sic], and please pray pray pray for me and us all,” Curatolo wrote on her Facebook page in June.

Schneiderman said Curatolo filed fraudulent claims, blaming Sandy for pre-dated or nonexistent damages to her house and car.

An investigation by his office found roof damages to her home were there since 2011, when she filed a similar claim to FEMA after Hurricane Irene.

Neighbors told The Courier they believed structural damage to her home took place long before the superstorm.

Curatolo’s car also showed no signs of water damage, Schneiderman said, though she allegedly told a car insurance representative her Jeep Grand Cherokee “was full of water,” according to a criminal complaint.

“The whole ceiling and everything was all wet and coming down well,” she allegedly said, “and the car is moldy and mildew-y [sic] now and the car won’t start.”

Neighbors said 159th Street, where Curatolo lives, saw little to no flooding during Sandy.

“There were some branches down. There was rain, but cars were not flooded,” said Abderraham Kamal.

Curatolo’s home is more than a mile from the nearest flood zone and was not located in an evacuation area, officials said.

Neighbor and friend Claudia, who did not want to give her last name, said Curatolo was battling health and family problems.

The 48 year old — who described herself on a social media sites as a reverend, actor, director and producer — also spent years taking care of her ailing mother, the neighbor said.

“I feel very bad for her,” Claudia said. “She needed help, but I guess she took it from the wrong place.”

Curatolo faces multiple charges including grand larceny, insurance fraud and falsifying business records and could serve up to seven years in prison if convicted.

“My office will do everything in our power to crack down on anyone who uses a national emergency like Sandy for personal gain,” Schneiderman said. “Today’s arrest shows that scammers who trade on tragedy will be exposed and punished.”

 

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Star of Queens: Alan Ong, board of directors, Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

star of queens

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Alan Ong has been active in the Queens community for years, serving as the PTA president for P.S. 173 before being appointed by Borough President Helen Marshall to the District 26 Community Education Council.

“Even though I stepped down as PTA president, now I can try to effect things on a district level,” said Ong, who also serves on the board of directors for the Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association.

Ong said that he was very active in the PTA, doing a lot of outreach and safety awareness work for parents and students alike.

At the head of the Homeowners Civic Association, Ong said he has worked hard to “maintain the quality of life within the neighborhood, like [fixing] potholes in the street. We also work with the local precinct to make sure everything is safe for the residents.”

BACKGROUND: Ong was born in Manhattan and spent his early years in Chinatown.

“I moved to Queens when I was a teen and have been living here ever since,” he said.

He attended the City College of New York and now lives in Fresh Meadows.

FAVORITE MEMORY: Ong recalls his time with the P.S. 173 PTA as one of his best memories.

“The reaction of the parents was very rewarding,” he said. “A lot of us work, and sometimes we don’t spend as much time with our children as we should. My aim was to get parents involved.”

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “The greatest obstacle I face is getting people to speak up,” Ong explained. “It’s difficult to tackle issues when you don’t know what they are. I have to inspire people to step up and tell us what’s going on.”

INSPIRATION: “One of the main reasons why I do this is because I’m Americanborn Chinese, and in the community of Chinese culture, people don’t step up and help others as much. I do this community work because I feel there’s a need for that. Hopefully what I’m doing will help others to do the same.”

LUKE TABET

 

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Hooters to reopen in Fresh Meadows


| mchan@queenscourier.com

File photo

Fresh Meadows will soon get its second helping of Hooters, but one where the busty wait staff might be clad in a new getup.

The once popular neighborhood rack shack at 61-09 190th Street will reopen later this summer as a new franchise under Marc Phaneuf.

Officials said the establishment closed last October after Hooters of America axed a franchise agreement with Strix Restaurant Group, which ran the Fresh Meadows restaurant and three others on Long Island.

Phaneuf said the dispute, and not a lack of business, caused the restaurant to close.

“That actual location did a wonderful amount of business, a great amount,” he said. “They were very successful at that location.”

Strix then rebranded the eatery Bud’s Ale House. The staff included more men — and less revealing outfits — in the hopes of attracting more customers.

But the ale house went flat several months later, eventually closing in April.

Now Phaneuf is shelling out more than $1 million to redo the restaurant before its slated late August grand opening.

“We’re bringing it up to the latest and greatest version of Hooters,” he said, adding that the original Hooters in Fresh Meadows opened in 2009. “Every restaurant concept goes through changes. The decor, times change.”

That could mean a slightly new uniform for the eatery’s Hooters girls, though nothing has been decided yet.

The staff’s tight white tops are likely to remain untouched. But their bright orange skimpy bottoms could be swapped for skirts with hidden shorts under them, similar to those worn by cheerleaders, Phaneuf said.

“It’s all about evolution in the restaurant industry,” he said. “Hooters of America is looking at new uniforms. Fresh Meadows just might be, because of its location and proximity to New York City, where they may be rolling out the new uniforms.”

Phaneuf, who operates Hooters restaurants in Farmingdale, Albany and five locations in New England, said diners can also expect three times as many televisions, including some 90-inch sets.

“That location will be the premiere location to watch sports in the Fresh Meadows market,” he said.

The new franchisee also plans to hire about 100 staffers and put higher quality, healthier food items on the menu.

 

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Council District 24 contender Alex Blishteyn is the ‘citizen candidate’


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Alex Blishteyn

A Fresh Meadows attorney wants to breathe life back into stunted small businesses in his district.

Alex Blishteyn, a Republican candidate for City Council, said he has seen too many shops close their shutters in the 23 years he has lived in District 24.

“I remember that area when small businesses were flourishing,” he said. “You could walk up Kissena Boulevard and people would be going in and out of stores.”

Now, Blishteyn said, local stores are being “overregulated and overburdened” with city taxes and regulations.

“They’re not being allowed to operate,” he said. “That’s why we’re seeing a lot of them shut down. They’re being nickel-and-dimed to death.”

The first-time candidate has raised about $16,000 so far in his bid to replace Councilmember James Gennaro, who is stepping down after reaching his term limit. District 24 stretches from Fresh Meadows to Jamaica.

“I think that the community is not well represented,” said Blishteyn, 35. “We need a voice for the people who actually live in that area, one who actually represents the residents of the area. I haven’t found that to be the case.”

Blishteyn, who calls himself the “citizen candidate,” said education is at the top of his agenda. He added that instituting a voucher program and tax credits for private school tuition would give parents more school choices for their children.

“I’ve never been a political activist,” Blishteyn said. “I’m the regular guy who really has had enough with what’s happening with our city.”

Blishteyn is supported by past and present GOP lawmakers including Councilmember Eric Ulrich and former Congressmember Bob Turner.

Other candidates in the District 24 race include former Assemblymember Rory Lancman, who leads in fundraising, Andrea Veras and Mujib Rahman.

 

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Flushing millionaire Isaac Sasson drops out of 24th City Council District race


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

A lottery millionaire from Flushing has scratched himself off the City Council ticket.

Isaac Sasson, 72, has dropped his bid for the 24th District and will instead “focus his efforts on his philanthropy and his related positions in the Orthodox Jewish community,” his campaign said in a statement.

The Democrat announced in January he would gamble to replace outgoing Councilmember James Gennaro in the district that stretches from Fresh Meadows to Jamaica.

Sasson, a former organic chemistry professor at Queens College and retired cancer researcher, won a $13 million lottery jackpot in 2007. But his luck turned in 2009 when he lost his first bid for City Council and then again in 2010 for State Senate.

He is not the first to drop out of the District 24 race. Democratic District Leader Martha Taylor terminated her campaign in February due to health concerns.

The race’s front-runner, former Assemblymember Rory Lancman, was endorsed by the Queens Democratic Party and most recently by former Councilmember Morton Povman, who used to represent the district.

According to the city’s Campaign Finance Board, other candidates Alexander Blishteyn, Andrea Veras and Mujib Rahman have filed funds for the district race as of last month.

 

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Pols push for sewer upgrades as Queens homes take on water


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Jim Gallagher

An outdated sewer system is leaving large swathes of Queens vulnerable to serious flooding, according to a pair of elected officials.

“Year after year, Queens residents have been fighting the trauma and financial burden of flood damage to their homes and lives,” said Assemblymember Nily Rozic. “We cannot continue to let our working families weather the storm alone.”

For decades, poor infrastructure in Fresh Meadows has caused basements and garages to flood with sewage during heavy rainstorms, local leaders said.

“If we have a torrential downpour, all the water gets backed up,” said Jim Gallagher, president of the Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association.

He added that sewer pipes in the neighborhood can only handle about an inch and a half of water per hour. Any more rainfall causes water to pour into homes.

The problem also extends to Glendale, where rainy weather shut down the flood-prone Cooper Avenue underpass last weekend.

The closure between 74th Street and 69th Road was due to “construction and the anticipation of flooding,” according to city alerts. It lasted from Friday afternoon to Saturday night.

Last August, three residents were caught in a deluge there. Cars were submerged under several feet of water and emergency responders had to rescue the trio.

A spokesperson for Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley said the city’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) plans to add new catch basins to the underpass, but the department has not committed to major infrastructure improvements.

Thousands in southeast Queens say they have also been suffering from mold spores and flooding since the city took over the water supply in 1996.

According to DEP spokesperson Christopher Gilbride, the city has “invested hundreds of millions of dollars upgrading the sewer system in Queens” over the last decade and will continue to make improvements.

But Rozic and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio last week said they wanted the department to speed up the sewers upgrades and reexamine reimbursement policies for homeowners until then.

“Put simply, severe weather is the new normal,” they wrote in a joint letter to DEP Commissioner Carter Strickland.

The pair urged the department to make flood-prone neighborhoods a priority in capital plans and expedite short-term flood mitigation measures like street landscaping to reduce storm runoff.

“After the wake-up call Sandy delivered, there’s just no excuse for inaction,” de Blasio said. “We can’t keep leaving families high and dry.”

Yolanda Gallagher of Fresh Meadows shows how high flood levels reached in Utopia Parkway homes after a storm last August.

 

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3 Fresh Meadows men arrested after search turns up hundreds of Apple electronics


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

Three men were arrested on a series of charges after police found hundreds of Apple electronics, drugs and other items in their Fresh Meadows residence.

Officers, after conducting a search warrant, turned up 443 Apple iPhones, 20 Apple iPads, 11 Apple iPod touches, a black imitation pistol, a small amount of marijuana and $9,180 in cash inside the 77-15 168th Street home on Wednesday, said the NYPD.

Adam Jaffer, 22, William Chen, 20, and Justin Pinder, 20, have been charged with trademark counterfeiting, criminal possession of stolen property, criminal possession of a weapon and unlawful possession of marijuana.

 

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Historic Fresh Meadows horse stable faces eviction


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Melissa Chan

Horses in a historic Queens barn may have their last trot in a century-old stable.

“Everyone’s saddened to see that it’s in jeopardy,” said equestrian master Joy Tirado, 43.

The Western Riding Club in Fresh Meadows—and its seven steeds—faces eviction now that property owner John Lightstone, 87, has put the land up for sale after three decades of ownership.

He currently leases the stable at 169-38 Pidgeon Meadow Road to Tirado for $600 a month.

Lightstone’s attorney, Jeff Schwartz, said it has become increasingly difficult for the widower octogenarian to manage the 5,539-square-foot plot on his own.

“He wants to sell his home and move into a smaller home with a simpler lifestyle,” Schwartz said. “It’s his property. He should be allowed to sell it.”

Tirado has until May 19 to exercise the “right of first refusal” clause in her lease, meaning she must substantially match the $800,000 offer already made by another party to buy the property no later than August.

“We need to maintain this horse stable here that has been a major factor within this community because its historical value is immeasurable,” said Tirado, who adopts rescue horses.

She also offers free therapeutic services every day to about 20 youths, seniors and cancer patients.

“It’s a wonderful community resource that unfortunately we may lose,” said State Senator Tony Avella. “We don’t do enough to preserve the unique character and history of each neighborhood.”

Avella called for the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission to review the barn for landmark designation.

“The stable brings us back to the days when all of Queens was farmland,” he said. “To this day, it remains one of the few stables left within a residential community.”

Nearly 200 people have signed an online petition to save the barn by giving it landmark status.

“This is a real heritage,” said Beverly McDermott, president of the Kissena Park Civic Association. “If the city had half a heart and any brains, they would give [Lightstone] fair purchase price for this property and run it as a facility for children and for adults who need special therapy.”

Schwartz shot down rumors that the land—which preservationists say could fit four homes—would be sold to developers. He also said Lightstone loves and sympathizes with the horses.

“In this present economy and in this industry, it is almost universal that when somebody buys a property,” the attorney said, ”they don’t want to buy it with a tenant in place. They want it vacant.”

 

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