Tag Archives: Fresh Meadows

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An outdated sewer system is leaving large swathes of Queens vulnerable to serious flooding, according to a pair of elected officials.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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St. Francis Prep goes for first baseball championship since 2007


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BASEBALL PHOTO

With a strong starting rotation and a solid bullpen, St. Francis Prep is eyeing its first baseball championship since 2007.

Senior captain Nick LoPrinzi has been a major asset to the Terriers. LoPrinzi, a four-year varsity standout, has played behind the plate, on the mound and at first base in his young career.

This season he is focusing on catching and calling a competitive game for star pitchers Taso Stathopolous and Dylan Lawrence.

LoPrinzi will attend Saint Joseph’s College in Brooklyn next year, where he has a chance to start as a freshman. For now, he is focused on bringing a championship home to Fresh Meadows.

“I think we have gotten better and better every year and we built a team this year that can win a championship,” LoPrinzi said.

While the players are confident in their team, they will need to stay healthy and remain consistent throughout the season.

Pitching and defense have been steady, but the offense has been the backbone of the team.

“If we hit, in my opinion, no one can stop us,” LoPrinzi said. “This is definitely the best team I’ve played on [during] my years at Prep.”

-BY NEIL A. CAROUSSO

 

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Bud’s Ale House closes months after taking over Hooters location


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A rebranded restaurant in Fresh Meadows could not fill the cups of its predecessor.

Bud’s Ale House has closed its 61-09 190th Street location. The move came several months after Bud’s took over a Hooters there.

Officials said the food joint reopened under a new name last October after Hooters of America axed a franchise agreement with Strix Restaurant Group, which ran the Fresh Meadows restaurant.

Bud’s Ale House offered food options and drink specials similar to Hooters’ menu, but servers showed less skin, according to Strix spokesperson Ed McCabe. The new establishment also shot for an equal ratio of male and female employees.

A Hooters in Farmingdale that transformed into a Bud’s Ale House the same time as the eatery in Fresh Meadows has closed as well.

A Bud’s Ale House in Astoria is still open, but managers say they are not affiliated with Strix.

McCabe and Strix could not be reached for comment.

 

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Queens daughter raises funds for handicapped dad


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Rachel Herman

His summer days were spent at the beach with his loyal dog by his side.

But for the last three years, a crippling neurological disease has kept Gary Herman away from the shore.

Now his daughter, Rachel, is on a mission to mobilize the man who supported his family for decades.

“My dad worked hard his whole life. [He] provided a good life for his family,” said the 23-year-old. “I want to give him a chance to have the independence he once had again. I want to take him to the boardwalk this summer.”

Gary Herman, 59, of Fresh Meadows, was diagnosed with motor neuron disease in 2011. The rapidly progressive illness, which attacks nerve cells in voluntary muscles, has made the retired teacher incapable of walking or moving much of his body.

“He used to go to the gym and walk the dog every morning,” said Rachel, who lives in Briarwood.

“His foot was dropped,” she said, recounting the early days of his condition. “He couldn’t lift it up all the way. He thought it was a problem with his muscles in his leg because he was going to the gym too much.”

Now the costs of renting a van each day, coupled with hospital bills, are piling up, Rachel said.

The doting daughter, who has three part-time jobs, has been raising funds to buy her dad a specially-equipped van to take him to doctors’ appointments, support groups — and back to the Long Beach boardwalk, which he has cherished his whole life.

“It’s been difficult to accept, but I just have to keep a clear mind about it and try not to get sad,” she said. “If I get sad, it’s just going to be pointless.”

Rachel said her family would later donate their van to the ALS Association’s greater New York chapter.

So far she has raised $5,614 for her cause, just $2,000 short of her goal.

To donate, visit www.indiegogo.com/projects/let-s-get-my-dad-a-van or email getdadavan@gmail.com.

“I think it would be nice for my dad to see the ocean again,” Rachel said.


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11 injured in Fresh Meadows house fire


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

An early morning blaze at a Fresh Meadows residence left 11 injured, including four seriously.

The fire broke out at the two-story, two-family private home at 169-03 65th Avenue around 1:46 a.m., and was under control by 2:19 a.m., said an FDNY spokesperson.

Four victims were taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. Six other people who were in the residence at the time of the fire suffered non-life threatening injuries and a firefighter received minor ones.

According to the FDNY, the cause of the fire was accidental and started in the kitchen.

 

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Borough President candidates making the rounds


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BP candidates

BY ANTHONY O’REILLY

Borough President candidates are blazing through Queens, participating in forums and allowing the community to hear their positions.

The six Democrats hoping to replace current Borough President Helen Marshall most recently gathered at the Hollis Hills Jewish Center in Fresh Meadows and attended the Ridgewood Democratic Club’s monthly meeting.

State Senators Tony Avella and Jose Peralta joined City Councilmembers Peter Vallone Jr. and Leroy Comrie, former Assembly and Councilmember Melinda Katz and former Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik to speak to members of several Democratic clubs across Queens.

In Fresh Meadows, discussion of mayoral control of the Board of Education (BOE) dominated the forum.
Grodenchik said he has mixed feelings towards the issue, but he wants to “bring some measure of control back to the boroughs.”

The controversy surrounding development of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park was also heavily debated. Peralta said he in favor of the proposed Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium, but would ensure that the park space used not only has to be replaced, but improved.

“It has to be better,” he said, calling soccer “the sport of the world.”

Despite his support for the stadium, he is opposed to the proposed plans for a shopping mall and an expansion of the United States Tennis Association (USTA) center.

Vallone said that he wanted to eliminate overexpansion in the park and bring it to areas in the borough that are “yearning for that kind of development.”

Avella, however, said he is the only candidate that is steadfastly against all three proposals for development.

All of the candidates will continue to campaign and participate in forums across Queens until election day on

Tuesday, November 5. The next forum will be held at St. John’s University on Friday, April 12.

 

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Op-Ed: Empowering women


| oped@queenscourier.com

BY ASSEMBLYMEMBER NILY ROZIC

Women’s History Month marks my third month as an assemblymember. It is a time to recognize the women who have come before to make this world a better place. While we have many great women to celebrate, we have more work ahead. At a time when polarization is defining many of today’s headlines, it is more important than ever to discuss how women’s voices alter the conversation. How can we work together to make our voices stronger? To borrow a phrase from Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, how do we make sure that we are all getting off the sidelines? How do we make sure we are not waiting in a never-ending queue or that we are equal partners in the policy and decision making process?

We have made progress in the number of women holding elected office, but women remain severely underrepresented in our political institutions. Women still only make up 21 percent of the New York State Legislature and 18 percent of Congress, so it is clear that something is missing. That gap will be filled by the next generation of female leaders, and we must do what we can to encourage them to get involved.

Women are underrepresented not because we cannot raise the money or talk to voters, but because we are less likely to even run in the first place. On average, a woman is asked to run for office seven times before she decides to run. More role models like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are needed to show young women they can aim high. There have been shining examples of this locally, particularly Congressmember Grace Meng’s historic victory this past November — a huge victory for Queens women!

I ran for office to show young women that they can do it too — that women could wake up every day, look in the mirror and know they can run and win. Mothers, aunts, sisters and daughters are good for our government and our nation.

The fight for equality will not be won simply by having more female legislators. While New York has passed many laws to ensure women’s equality, we still have many steps to take. The Women’s Equality Act proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo will shine a light on many of the problems faced by New York women and take a big step forward on issues of pay equality and reproductive rights. The Women’s Equality Act is an effort that I will continue fighting for, as it is clear that women’s perspectives lead to better understanding, better conversation, and eventually better laws.

There are also many times when women’s issues, such as reproductive rights, are discussed without input from female legislators or a discussion of how women are actually impacted. This scenario played out in Congress as House Republicans attempted to restrict access to birth control under President Barack Obama’s health care reform. Hormonal contraceptives are only available for women, yet there was not one woman on the panel invited to discuss the impact of the legislation. Underrepresentation is not always that obvious, however. The imbalance of women in public office creates a lack of female voices at times they are most needed. The simple act of more women running for office will change this dynamic, and it is important that we encourage young women to run.

Women’s History Month is about empowerment, and nothing is more empowering than knowing that no office is off limits. Politics has long been a field in which women could not imagine themselves participating, and thankfully it is changing. As the youngest female legislator in the New York State Assembly, I see firsthand the contributions that women are making in government.

I also know that as long as we continue to do good work and advocate for common sense policy, young women will play a significant role in helping our communities prosper.

Assemblymember Nily Rozic was elected to the 25th Assembly District in November 2012, representing neighborhoods in northeast Queens, including Flushing, Queensboro Hill, Hillcrest, Fresh Meadows, Oakland Gardens, Bayside and Douglaston.

Star of Queens: Yolanda Delacruz Gallagher, 25th District Leader and community activist


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Untitled 3

BY ADJANI SHAH

Community Involvement: Yolanda Delacruz Gallagher is the 25th District Leader in Queens. She has also been a board member on the Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association for over 15 years and a member of the Holy Family Parish Church. As an active community member, Gallagher tackles issues such as graffiti, broken street lights, storm damage and helps schools by giving students incentives to achieve their academic best.

Background: Gallagher is originally from the Philippines. She came to New York in 1991. She graduated from DeSales University with an MBA in business administration and used to work as a banker. She’s been married to James Gallagher for 18 years. They are both active members in the Fresh Meadows community.

Inspiration: Gallagher said her inspiration is her husband. He introduced her to community involvement. They both roam the community to see what could be fixed or improved. “It comes from the heart,” she said. “It comes from loving the community.”

Biggest Challenge: Gallagher said her biggest challenge is trying to please everyone and reaching goals without affecting the politics of the situation.

Star of Queens: Catherine Donohoe, president of the board of directors, Bridge to Life


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

photo

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Catherine Donohoe is president of the board of directors of Bridge to Life, an organization that works to provide parents with food, clothes and other items necessary for raising a child. The organization, Donohoe says, has only one part-time employee, an accountant. The board is made up entirely of volunteers. “We have doctors, lawyers and accountants on our board,” she said. “They all come from different religions.”

In addition to providing supplies, Bridge to Life also provides services for those who might be pregnant. “We have free pregnancy tests, we provide sonograms,” she said.

The organization was started in 1992 with one location on Bell Boulevard. Today, the organization has two locations with one in Flushing and the other in Astoria. Bridge also has a 24-hour hotline.

BACKGROUND: Donohoe is a lifetime resident of Queens. She works as a professor at Nassau Community College and is a parishioner at Holy Family R.C. Church in Fresh Meadows.

FAVORITE MEMORY: Donohoe told the story of a volunteer from Holy Cross High School who came to volunteer at Bridge to Life. The student asked his mom where he should volunteer to fulfill his service hours for school and she had chosen Bridge to Life herself and recommended it. Both mother and son were recently honored at the organization’s annual dinner dance.

INSPIRATION: When Eleanor Ruder, the founder of Bridge to Life, came to speak at Donohoe’s parish, she said she was inspired to start the work that Bridge does today.  But Donohoe said her inspiration continues beyond that single event. “You get inspiration when you continue to do the work day after day,” she said.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Donohoe says her biggest challenge is the current “culture” that she sees through the experiences of her daughter who is currently in college.

 

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Three Queens Burger King joints now delivering


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Burger buffs in the borough, here’s a whopper of good news: Three Burger King joints in Queens are now delivering.

The global fast food chain announced it would debut its home delivery services in New York City last November. Now locations in Fresh Meadows, Ozone Park and Jamaica — and four in Brooklyn — are ready to roll out the goods.

“We are thrilled to expand the BK Delivers test program and offer its convenience to our New York guests in the city that never sleeps,” said Alex Macedo, senior vice president and general manager of U.S. franchise business for Burger King Worldwide.

Fast “foodies” who live within 10 minutes of participating stores can place orders online at www.bkdelivers.com or call 1-855-ORDER-BK from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Franchises in Queens include 164-17 Union Turnpike, 92-02 Atlantic Avenue and 131-10 Hillside Avenue.

There is a $10 minimum and $2 delivery charge. Breakfast items, coffee, fountain drinks, shakes and soft serve ice-cream are excluded.

Innovative thermal technology packaging is guaranteed to seal in freshness, officials said. At least six more restaurants in Manhattan and Brooklyn are expected to offer delivery by the end of the year.

 

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Queens rabbi one of 10 women detained at Western Wall for wearing prayer shawl


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

She did not cross the Atlantic to make a stand.

Robyn Fryer Bodzin, a female rabbi from Fresh Meadows, said she came to the Old City of Jerusalem simply to exercise her rights to pray.

But on Monday, February 11, her peaceful worship abruptly ended when Israeli police detained her and nine other women at the Western Wall for wearing prayer shawls traditionally used by men.

“It’s archaic. It’s intolerant of a holistic society,” said Fryer Bodzin, 38.

An Israeli officer took her passport and told her she was not allowed to wear the shawl, called a tallit, at the sacred site. He said she violated regulations of the Torah and of holy places and “behaved in a way that may violate public safety.”

“There are some people in the world who don’t think women should be wearing this — that it’s male garb,” she said. “I was exercising my rights as a Jewish woman to pray, and when I pray, I wear a tallit. I’m still not sure why we were detained.”

Israeli police said the women were not charged with criminal offenses but were forbidden from the Wall for 15 days, according to reports.

Fryer Bodzin, who leads the Israel Center of Conservative Judaism (ICCJ), became the first female to head a conservative synagogue in Queens in 2009.

The self-described “hip, modern, vegan rabbi” said her indirect demonstration has not received backlash from the Jewish community, but rather applause.

“Robyn has always spoken for equality and tolerance. We’re proud of that. It’s something that we as a congregation wholeheartedly support,” said Sam Weiss, executive vice president of the ICCJ.

Weiss said Fryer Bodzin has used her wits and voice many times to fight for a variety of causes, including women and gay rights.

“She’s very young, very smart, and very lively,” he said. “We wouldn’t have picked her to lead us if she was any other person.”

Fryer Bodzin’s husband, Aaron, said he was proud of his wife for not taking off the prayer shawl.

“She is standing up for something that is important,” he said. “She has a good heart. She wasn’t going with any intent to cause any trouble.”

He called the breach in peace at the Wall “bitter irony.”

“One day down the road, we’re going to be able to look back and say, ‘Wasn’t it silly there was a time when women in Israel weren’t allowed to pray freely?’ One day, we’ll be able to say that was a silly time in our history.”

 

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Queens faithful celebrate Ash Wednesday


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BY ANTHONY O’REILLY

In a time when the Roman Catholic church has been thrust into the national spotlight following Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation, local parishioners gathered for the somber celebration of Ash Wednesday— the beginning of the holy season known as Lent.

The 3 p.m. service at Holy Family R.C. Church in Fresh Meadows was packed with faithful of all ages. Despite the fact the day is not a holy day of obligation, Father Casper Furnari couldn’t help but notice the church on this day, and in years past, has been more full than a regular Sunday service.

“Every Lent is a season of renewal and rededication,” he said.

Catholics traditionally attend Ash Wednesday services to have ashes in the form of a cross applied to their forehead. While it is being applied, the priest utters the phrase “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

During Lent, Catholics traditionally sacrifice a material good for the 40 days of the season.

Parishioner Theresa Sheehan said she would be giving up chocolate. Sheehan’s sacrifice, she said, reminds her of how fortunate she is in life.

“It makes me think I am fortunate enough to have all this stuff,” she said. “It makes me appreciate my life more on a daily basis.”

Joseph Healy said instead of giving up something for Lent, he would look to do something positive.

“Doing something positive for someone else, I think, is better than giving something else up,” he said, summarizing the season of Lent as a time to do good deeds. Healy said he hadn’t even thought of a sacrifice until that morning.

Furnari said this Lent would be historical considering the pope’s “shocking” announcement on Monday.

“Pope Benedict celebrated Ash Wednesday but toward the end of Lent we’ll have a new pope, whoever that might be, celebrating mass,” he said.

“It takes humility and courage to make that decision.”

 

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