Tag Archives: Glendale

In Glendale, 104th Precinct looks to improve on crime drop


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photos by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Crime numbers continue to plummet in the 104th Precinct, but the command is looking to do even better.

Capt. Mark Wachter, the 104th Precinct’s commanding officer, came to the precinct’s Community Council meeting on Tuesday at The Shops at Atlas Park in Glendale and reported a 26 percent reduction in overall crime in the past month. This included a significant downturn in domestic violence and felony assaults.

The precinct also experienced a 40 percent decrease in grand larcenies and stolen cars. Wachter credits crime prevention tactics, such as personalized home visits and spreading awareness about scams, with the large reduction.

In an effort to confront quality of life concerns, the 104th Precinct also held a successful undercover sting operation last Saturday to combat prostitution along Cypress Avenue and Starr Street on the Ridgewood/Bushwick border. According to Wachter, officers made six arrests and seized one vehicle for illicit activity.

“We put pressure on and basically make it go away,” he explained, “We don’t want it to go somewhere else; we want it to go away.”

Despite these victories, burglaries remain an area of particular concern for the command.  The Community Council’s Public Safety Committee and P.O. Eddie Collado of the precinct’s Crime Prevention Unit delivered a video presentation and discussion on home burglary prevention.

“The burglar is an opportunist,” Collado said. According to police, perpetrators often gain access to homes through unlocked rear windows, doors and fire escapes.

Collado urged residents to secure windows and doors with the proper locks and volunteered to conduct personalized home safety surveys upon appointment. He also asked that residents register their valuable items such as electronics and bicycles with the precinct’s Crime Prevention Unit. The items are marked with serial numbers that can potentially help identify and recover them if lost or stolen.

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

P.O. Sean Paul Hynes was honored as Cop of the Month for apprehending a suspect wanted for robbing a Boar’s Head delivery truck driver at gunpoint on April 21 on Woodward Avenue at Woodbine Street in Ridgewood.

According to Wachter, Hynes and his fellow officers from the 104th Precinct’s Anti-Crime Unit were able to track the suspect and his getaway vehicle through the use of undisclosed computer resources. Within minutes of the robbery, Hynes was able to track the vehicle to a specific location in Brooklyn.

A brief foot pursuit ensued, after which the male and his weapon were taken into custody.

“It’s one less gun on the street, but we can never measure how many victims the gun could have taken out,” Wachter said.

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Glendale students learn the secrets of Broadway


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

Students from P.S./I.S. 119 got a chance to look behind the scenes and learn how a hit Broadway show is put together.

The students who took part in the Glendale public school’s partnership with Inside Broadway, a program designed to bring the performing arts to more than 20,000 children in more than 75 schools across the city, were invited to the Gershwin Theater in Manhattan to go behind the scenes of the Broadway show “Wicked” earlier this month.

More than 3,000 students from all five boroughs attended the free Creating the Magic seminar hosted by Inside Broadway, where they learned the dynamics of putting on a professional show, as well as learning about career opportunities in the performing arts from the actors, musicians, sound technicians and other members of the cast and crew of “Wicked.”

The professionals showed the kids how the props worked, how the sound effects came from hidden speakers throughout the theater and how the 23-musician orchestra is located beneath the stage. Some of the cast members even performed musical numbers from the show.

“I thought it was really cool,” said Quinn Corcino, an eighth-grader at P.S./I.S. 119. “The stage design was really cool, the vines were interesting and the dragon was great.”

Sixth-grader Adam Sikorski enjoyed the demonstration of how the props worked, especially the head of the Wizard of Oz.

“The Oz head was my favorite,” he said. “I really liked when they showed the back of it and you saw all the different instruments and switches.”

Ashley Wool, a teaching artist with Inside Broadway who was at the seminar helping usher students around the Gershwin Theater, said that the kids really enjoyed this learning experience.

“This was the third one of these that I’ve been to,” she said. “This was a really special one. The kids were very responsive.”

“I always like watching these because they show the other aspects that bring the show together,” Wool continued. “[The students] see it is not as easy as going to a theater and doing the show. That’s the kind of thing that will bring kids into the performing arts world. It shows respect for all of the people working on it.”

The students from P.S./I.S. 119 took away more than just a fun experience from the Creating the Magic seminar.

“I learned that it’s not just about the cast, but it’s about the crew too,” said Julia Sikorski, a P.S./I.S. 119 eighth-grader.

Darren Valdera, also an eighth-grader, learned “how important the crew is.”

“It is also important to have loud volume when you’re on stage for the crew to hear their cues,” he added.

The students will take all that they learned during the Creating the Magic seminar and put it to use as they get ready to perform “Once on this Island Jr.”

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Your guide to Memorial Day parades and vigils in Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

The sacrifices of American soldiers will be celebrated across Queens in the days to come at various Memorial Day parades and vigils.

Among the celebrations are the following events, scheduled to take place rain or shine:

Woodhaven
Residents of Woodhaven will hold an early tribute to America’s fallen troops with a ceremony on Thursday, May 21, at 7:30 p.m. The vigil, sponsored by the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation, will take place at Forest Parkway Plaza, located at the corner of Jamaica Avenue and Forest Parkway.

The program includes patriotic music, a color guard, laying of wreaths and remarks from local elected officials and veterans.

College Point
The College Point Citizens for Memorial Day Inc. will begin their parade on at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 24, at the intersection of 28th Avenue and College Point Boulevard. Queens Borough President Melinda Katz is set to appear along with other local officials, and veteran Louis A. DiAgostino will be honored as the grand marshal.

Marching bands, drill teams and dance groups will all be performing at the event, and military servicemen and women will march in the festivities. The College Point Citizens for Memorial Day are accepting donations to offset parade costs. For more information contact parade chairman Rev. Adam Crabtree at 718-640-8840.

Forest Hills
The Forest Hills Memorial Day Parade hosted by the American Legion and the Forest Hills Kiwanis Club will take place on Sunday at noon. The parade starts from Metropolitan and Ascan avenues and will head westward down Metropolitan Avenue to Trotting Course Lane. From there, the parade will turn right and stop at the landmarked Remsen Cemetery between Trotting Course Lane and Alderton Street.

This year’s grand marshal will be Roland Meier, president of the West Side Tennis Club. Members of ROTC, band, and local civic and children’s organizations such as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts will march in the parade. Organizers of the parade will hold a ceremony at Remsen Cemetery to honor veterans.

Maspeth
The United Veterans and Fraternal Organizations of Maspeth will honor the men and women of the U.S. armed forces who made the ultimate sacrifice during their 31st Memorial Day Parade on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Grand marshals James Desio, retired US Army WWII veteran, and William Aronowicz, retired U.S. Marine Corp. WWII veteran, will lead the procession, beginning at Walter A. Garlinge Memorial Park, located at 72nd Street and Grand Avenue. At 2 p.m., there will be a memorial service for the deceased veterans of WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Middle Village
The St. Margaret Catholic War Veterans Post 1172 will honor those who died for the nation on Monday, May 25, with a special Mass at 9:30 a.m. at St. Margaret Church, located at the corner of Juniper Valley Road and 80th Street.

Then, at 11 a.m., post members and residents will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Middle Village Veterans Triangle, located at the corner of Gray and 77th streets near 66th Road. The ceremony will include prayers, a military salute and the playing of taps.

Glendale/Ridgewood
The Allied Veterans Memorial Committee of Ridgewood and Glendale, a committee made up of delegates from six veteran organizations, will honor the more than 1.14 million men and women of the U.S. armed forces who died in defense of the country during the 77th Memorial Day parade Monday.

At 11 a.m., the parade will begin at the Glendale War Memorial, located at Myrtle and Cooper Avenues, with a short memorial service to honor the war dead of Glendale. They will then march down Myrtle Avenue westbound to the Ridgewood War Memorial, located at Myrtle and Cypress Avenues, where there will be another short memorial service to honor the war dead of Ridgewood.

Howard Beach
The Howard Beach Memorial Day Parade will honor Vietnam War veterans, including the Howard Beach residents lost at war since the neighborhood’s founding.

There will be a memorial day Mass before the parade at Our Lady of Grace at 101st Street on Monday at 9:30 a.m. At 10:15 a.m., there will be a brief ceremony on top of Hawtree-Ramblersville Bridge and the parade will officially commence at Coleman’s Square at 11 a.m. The parade will stop at the Vietnam War Memorial, located at 99th Street and 157th Avenue and then head to the World War II Memorial at Assembly of God Church at 158-31 99th St. They will then march to St. Barnabas Church at 159-19 58th St. before marching back to Coleman Square.

Laurelton
The Laurelton Lions Club will present the 26th Annual Laurelton Memorial Day Parade, featuring The Queens Area Pathfinders Marching Band and The Black and Gold Marching Elite Band, on Monday starting at 9 a.m. The parade begins at Francis Lewis and Merrick boulevards, and will end at the Veterans Memorial Triangle at 225th Street and North Conduit Avenue.

Sponsors for this year’s parade include the Laurelton Lions Club, American Legion Benjamin Moore Post 1946, Garden Club of Laurelton, Federated Blocks of Laurelton and Concerned Citizens of Laurelton in Conjunction with Col. Edward O. Gourdin VFW POST 5298.

Whitestone
The Whitestone Memorial Day Parade will honor veterans and public servants from the community on Monday, May 25. The event will begin at noon at Whitestone Memorial Park at 149th Street and 15th Drive with a ceremony. Following the ceremony, the parade will commence and follow a rectangular route around the neighborhood back to Whitestone Memorial Park. Jim Dunn, a veteran from The American Legion in Whitestone, will serve as the grand marshal.

The parade will feature classic cars, elected officials, children from local sports leagues, and it will also celebrate the 100th anniversary of Whitestone’s Engine 295/Ladder 144 of the FDNY. For additional, information or to volunteer call Devon O’Connor, parade chairman, at 718-757-8546.

Woodside/Sunnyside
This year the St. Sebastian’s War Veterans will host the Woodside Memorial Day Parade to honor fellow veterans on Monday starting at 11 a.m. Parade participants will get together at the St. Sebastian’s School yard located at the corner of Woodside Avenue and 57th Street.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and John V. Daniels Jr. Post No 2813 in Sunnyside will host a Memorial Day event to honor veterans on Monday at 11 a.m. The event will be held at John Vincent Daniels Square, located on Roosevelt Avenue and 52nd Street. During the ceremony, a wreath will be placed at the flagpole in the middle of the park.

Little Neck/Douglaston
This year’s Little Neck/Douglaston Memorial Day Parade, scheduled to take place at 2 p.m. Monday, pays special tribute to Vietnam War veterans. Dr. Loree Sutton, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs, will serve as grand marshal of the march sponsored by the Little Neck/Douglaston Memorial Day Parade Association.

The march begins in Great Neck from the corner of Jayson Avenue and Northern Boulevard, then proceeds west on the boulevard to the yard of St. Anastasia’s Church, located near Northern Boulevard and 245th Street.

Volunteer patrol praised for efforts to find missing Glendale student


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Efforts to track down a missing Glendale student and honors for a graffiti-fighting cop were highlighted during Thursday’s meeting of the 104th Precinct Civilian Observation Patrol (104COP) at St. Pancras Pfeifer Hall in Glendale.

Capt. Gregory Mackie, 104th Precinct executive officer, commended the civilian patrol for their help in the search for 12-year-old Kwan Williams, a student at P.S. 113 in Glendale, who went missing after school on May 11. After an extensive precinct-wide search, Williams was eventually found safe at his father’s home in Manhattan.

As part of the effort, the 104COP mobilized 13 patrol cars in the search for Williams. Units searched local parking lots and parks, including Juniper Park, Mafera Park and the Forest Park Bandshell and surrounding areas.

In addition to the diligence of the patrols, 104COP members also credited social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter with helping to spread the word about the missing boy. According to Mark Pearson, 104COP first vice president, the missing persons flyer was posted and tweeted to all of the local civic groups social media pages. It was shared an estimated 350 times online, and reportedly reached 35,000 people.

“It was a great showing of community,” Pearson said.

P.O. Charles Sadler of the 104th Precinct Community Affairs Unit commended the use of social media in the search for Williams. “Let’s take advantage of the outlet we have and use it for something good,” he said.

Frank Kotnik, 104COP president, expressed pride over the effort and the search’s success.

“We’re out there and we’re looking to help,” Kotnik said. “It’s a good feeling that we had a purpose.”

The patrol also honored P.O. Justin Dambinskas of the Citywide Vandals Task Force, who was previously the 104th Precinct graffiti coordinator.

“He was one of the best graffiti coordinators in our precinct,” Kotnik said, adding that there were over 450 vandalism arrests and 2,500 sites painted and cleaned on Dambinskas’ watch.

Dambinskas credits the local judiciary system and the keen eyes of the community with helping win the war against graffiti.

“The District Attorney and prosecution in this neighborhood is the best I’ve ever worked with,” he said. “We’ve got people jail time and restitution. People are afraid to actually tag in Queens because of what happens.”

Dambinskas also thanked community and civic groups such as G-COP for contributing to the success of the precinct’s anti-graffiti operations.

“We got involved because graffiti was out of hand back in the day,” Kotnik said.

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CB 5 committee considers stricter liquor license rules


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Bar and club owners seeking liquor licenses in Ridgewood, Glendale, Maspeth and Middle Village may soon need to show Community Board 5 more than just their business credentials.

Members of the Community Board 5 (CB 5) Public Safety Committee met Monday and considered a proposal that would require new applicants to complete a written form stating their intentions with regard to their businesses.

Christina Wilkinson, an active member of the COMET (Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together) and the Juniper Park Civic (JPCA) associations, proposed the idea to the committee. This measure was introduced in response to the recent influx of bars, pubs and nightspots to Ridgewood and Bushwick.

According to Wilkinson, community boards 1 and 4 in Brooklyn have already adopted this practice in response to the rapid growth and popularity of their respective neighborhoods.

“At one point, Greenpoint was in the same boat that we’re in. They didn’t think it was going to be all that bad, and it got bad,” Wilkinson said. “I think we should be better prepared. Let’s learn from them. It’s working for them.”

Public Safety Committee Chair Robert Holden expressed support for the idea and asked District Manager Gary Giordano to discuss the issue with the Executive Committee. “We’re just trying to get more information,” he explained.

Newly appointed board member Alex Maureau agreed. “It’s also a good way for the local owners to get to know us, and vice versa,” he said.

Giordano voiced support for a shorter version of the written form. “I think it has a lot of merit,” he said. “We could certainly work out something.”

According to Giordano, the board can grant recommendations for or against liquor licenses. The board also notifies the 104th Precinct and Lt. George Hellmer, the precinct’s special operations coordinator, of establishments with a prior history of problems. The precinct, in turn, will notify the board of any prior arrests, summonses or felonies committed at establishments seeking licensing.

“I never want to be in a position to be okaying liquor licenses,” Giordano said. “In some cases, we have taken votes at community board meetings related to certain establishments that have been a problem. But we comment to the negative and I would prefer it that way.”

Under the current policy, prospective bar owners seeking liquor licenses must notify CB 5 30 days prior to applying for licensing from the State Liquor Authority.

Holden proposed that the extra form, if approved of by the Executive Board, be made available to bar owners as a PDF document on the board’s website. The agreement would be signed and submitted to the community board prior to seeking State Liquor Authority licensing.

P.O. Charles Sadler of the 104th Precinct Community Affairs Unit explained that he has adopted a “proactive instead of reactive” approach to new nightlife in the area. He said that he had personally visited five of Ridgewood’s newest bars, including The Monk and Onderdonk and Sons, in an effort to reach out to local bar owners.

Owners of each of the five establishments met with Sadler and other officers at a recent nightlife meeting hosted by the precinct. According to Sadler, all of the new bar owners and managers were made aware of the precinct’s regulations and guidelines, and all pledged respect and compliance.

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Glendale apartment building sells for $6.2 million


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Nicholas Strini/ PropertyShark

A four-story, mixed-use apartment building in Glendale sold for $6,250,000 recently, feeding off a hot real estate market and its proximity to Ridgewood.

Because of a lack of access to train lines, property values and rental rates in Glendale have not skyrocketed like neighboring Ridgewood. However, because the economy is trending upwards and demand is high, the building at 72-06 69th St. sold near its high asking price, which was $6,499,000.

The sale price was higher than most transactions in Glendale – it sold for double its value before the recession – because the time and place was right, according to Simone Grimaldi, owner of Grimaldi Realty Corp., which handled the deal.

“If the market changes it wouldn’t get that kind of money,” said Grimaldi, a veteran broker in the area since 1989. “It’s not really Ridgewood, it’s Glendale. But it’s the beginning of Glendale. You can walk to the M train from there. It was the right time to sell. Who knows when they would have gotten that opportunity again?”

Another reason for the high sale price is the building’s rate of return. The property makes $483,000 annually through rental income from its 24 residential tenants and four ground-floor commercial stores, which include a laundromat and a nail salon.

“The way the market is today, it’s attractive, because there aren’t many properties like this available,” Grimaldi said. “For the area, it is a big sale.”

A much bigger sale in Glendale happened late last year, when Brooklyn-based television and film production company Broadway Stages purchased Atlas Terminals, a huge industrial park with buildings adjacent to The Shops at Atlas Park mall, for $19.5 million.

The film company plans to build a massive film studio and retail complex in the neighborhood with the existing warehouses.

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Kids speak out on education at Glendale roundtable


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Students got their chance to speak out on the controversial Common Core curriculum and other hot education topics during a special roundtable with state Senator Joseph Addabbo on Friday at Glendale‘s Excalibur Reading Program.

Addabbo spoke with the children at the roundtable and listened to their ideas and concerns. He also encouraged them to speak out about changes and improvements they would like to see in their schools.

“Whether you’re in first grade or going into high school, it’s important that we hear what we need in our schools,” he said. “I need to hear from the students because they’re the ones in the classroom.”

When asked what they wanted to be when they grow up, the children’s answers ranged from athlete and engineer to educator. The children got to ask Addabbo questions, such as what was his favorite color (“blue”) and favorite food (“pizza”), before the discussion shifted to a heated debate among the adults over the controversial Common Core curriculum.

Addabbo referred to Common Core testing as “questionable” and spoke out against the use of the test as a yardstick to measure a teacher’s performance and effectiveness.

“Having a test like the Common Core to evaluate our teachers is wrong and I voted ‘no’ on that part of the budget,” he said. “You don’t use a flawed test to evaluate a teacher. We should not oppress good teachers. We should reward them by giving them better resources.”

Local parent and Board of Education employee Maria Gregorio also weighed in on the issue. “We need to get out there and advocate,” she said. “I’m not there to sell the curriculum. I’m there to educate the children and help families. That’s why I applied for the Board of Education.”

As the father of two young daughters, Addabbo empathized with the plight of local parents. “I know the frustrations even I face as a parent,” he said.

Addabbo encouraged parents like Gregorio to get involved and advocate for change: “When you speak out for your child, you’re also speaking out for other parents.”

Excalibur mentor and tutor Christine Engesser spoke in favor of the goals behind Common Core, but also admitted that the curriculum is flawed in many ways.

“The thinking behind it is actually educationally sound,” she said. “They’re trying to get kids to examine a problem from different angles. Part of the problem for the adults involved is that they’re learning differently from the way we learned.”

One of Engesser’s critiques of the Common Core curriculum was that it did not account for disparities in age group and aptitude. “You have children with special learning needs with different learning styles and abilities and yet they have to take the same test,” she said.

Addabbo agreed. “These tests are not realistic,” he said. “We have made some changes, but we have a lot more work to do.”

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Addabbo talks homeless shelter at Middle Village meeting


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

After reports surfaced of the emergency homeless shelter located at the former Pan American Hotel being infested with rats, members of the Juniper Park Civic Association (JPCA) continue to voice their concerns over the planned opening of a homeless shelter in Glendale.

During the April 30 JPCA meeting in Middle Village, president Robert Holden asked state Senator Joseph Addabbo to write a letter to NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, asking him not to sign any contracts with Samaritan Village. The nonprofit group operates the Pan American emergency shelter and has a pending contract to operate a shelter at 78-16 Cooper Ave. in Glendale.

“Can you write us a letter and say, with all the problems with Samaritan Village, we need them to back off and don’t expand into other facilities?” Holden asked Addabbo, adding that there would be “rats and other things” at the proposed Cooper Avenue shelter — just like in the Pan Am shelter. “Certainly they don’t deserve to run any facility.”

Addabbo responded that he will have a personal conversation with Stringer about the proposed Glendale shelter.

“This is what my community needs, I don’t think you should sign it,” Addabbo said he would tell Stringer. “I think it’s a wrong road going down with Samaritan Village.”

Addabbo also mentioned a town hall meeting last May in which the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) said no families would be put into the Pan Am Hotel location due to the fact that there were no kitchens in the rooms where they wanted families to live.

“And about four weeks later, what do you know, families are in there,” Addabbo said. “It just confirmed for me that you cannot trust Samaritan Village, you cannot trust Department of Homeless Services.”

Holden assured those in attendance that their fighting, largely conducted in partnership with the Glendale Middle Village Coalition, has not gone unheard. The opening of the shelter has been delayed due to their continuing fight.

“We’ve been winning rounds, by the way,” Holden said. “The reason this thing hasn’t gone forward is because the coalition has been battling; every time they put something in with the Department of Buildings, we challenge it.”

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Evergreen Park renovations celebrated at Glendale groundbreaking


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

City officials and civic leaders celebrated the start of Evergreen Park’s reconstruction during a ceremony Friday morning at the Glendale green space.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley joined Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski and others to ceremonially break ground on renovations to the playground on the national observance of Arbor Day.

“It’s really appropriate, because it’s Arbor Day, that we have all of this green coming into this park,” Lewandowski said.

Construction on the park began in early April and is expected to take about one year to complete. The first phase of the park’s reconstruction will include replacing the underused bocce and shuffleboard courts with a garden-inspired playground, spray showers, new shrubs and plantings.

According to Lewandowski, the new playground, themed with the title “Play in the Garden,” will feature new spray showers with “large green misting leaves and directional jets and bubblers, in a field of leaves and vines.”

“It’s going to promote innovative play for toddlers and young children,” Lewandowski said. “This will be a really creative spot where kids can play. The days of the old concrete spray shower are gone. This will be much more interactive for children.”

Crowley allocated $1 million in funding for this first phase of the park’s reconstruction. The councilwoman considers Evergreen Park a “special place” as it’s where she used to play softball while growing up.

“This project is a long time coming,” Crowley said.

Community Board 5 was well represented at the affair in the form of Chairperson Vincent Arcuri, District Manager Gary Giordano, Parks Committee Chair Steven Fiedler, Paul Kerzner and Tom Dowd. Also on hand were Mike Liendo and David Sands, the respective president and vice president of the Liberty Park Home Owners Association, and Barry Grodenchik, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz’s director of community boards.

Community members, including Sands and Liendo, first approached Crowley back in 2009, shortly after she was elected, regarding refurbishment of the park.

According to Fiedler, a design committee rejected the plan on two occasions before finally granting approval to proceed.

“I’m glad to see this move forward,” he said. “It’s a great design.”

Crowley also announced that an additional $2.4 million in funding for the second phase of improvements was secured in conjunction with Katz and the mayor’s office. These improvements may include refurbishment of the asphalt field, basketball courts and comfort stations.

“I want to make sure everybody stays engaged as we come together to plan the next phase of this project,” Crowley said.

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

Principal Ann Marie Scalfano and first-graders from P.S. 68 also attended the groundbreaking ceremony. The children carried handmade signs and banners thanking Crowley for her funding and support of Evergreen Park.

“It’s exciting, because this $1 million allocation will go a long way in making Evergreen Park a better park for the community,” Crowley said. “The park is uniquely named ‘Evergreen’ and it’s important to keep it young and fresh for the young people of the community.”

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Star Glendale student getting ready for next chapter at MIT


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Kevin Rodriguez, a senior at Christ the King High School in Middle Village, is poised to become one of the breakout stars of the class of 2015. The Glendale native was accepted to MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and will begin working toward a mechanical engineering degree in the fall.

“I want to focus on biomechatronics, which is exoskeletons and prosthetic limbs,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve always been interested in exoskeletons, especially because I grew up on that whole video game culture, including Iron Man and things like that.”

Last summer, Rodriguez had the honor of being selected to attend MOSTEC (MIT Online Science, Technology and Engineering Community), a six-month online engineering program offered by MIT to exemplary high school seniors nationwide. MOSTEC allows students to conduct independent research online while sharing their observations and findings in a blog created by college. As part of the program, students get to spend one week at MIT presenting their research, as well taking classes and lectures.

During his visit, Rodriguez spent time at the college’s biomechatronics lab, where he met associate professor and lab director Hugh Herr, PhD. Herr was injured during a blizzard while climbing Mount Washington in New Hampshire back in 1982 and became a double amputee from the waist down.

Rodriguez was moved by Herr’s ability to overcome his personal and physical obstacles through feats of science.

“He was very inspiring in the way that he made his own powered prosthetics,” Rodriguez said. “Now he’s walking about just like anyone else.”

Inspired by his passion for engineering and design, Rodriguez became the founder and president of a chapter of the Technology Student Association (TSA), a national nonprofit organization, at Christ the King High School earlier in the school year. The club is currently focused on the task of building a website to share information, findings and blog posts.

As a member of the Christ the King Mathematics Team, Rodriguez is currently tied for first place in the statewide league with a couple of fellow CTK students. He is also one of the rising stars on the school’s speech and debate team. The team will be competing in the state championships in Oneonta this week, as well as nationals in Florida the following month.

In addition to his achievements in the fields of science and technology, Rodriguez has also enjoyed great success in the performing arts. He is a member of Christ the King’s musical theater club and will star as the Wizard in their upcoming production of “The Wizard of Oz,” opening next week.

For the past 11 years, Rodriguez has performed as part of a local competitive dance team. He is prolific in many diverse styles of dance, including jazz and contemporary, and has won awards for his performances.

His experiences and triumphs as a competitive dancer inspired Rodriguez to help improve the lives of physically disabled people through his work in the field of biomechatronics.

“One of the things that I realized when I got into what I want to study is that there are a lot of people who can’t experience those kinds of things,” he said. “I want to provide people with the ability to experience anything that they want to, whether it’s being onstage and performing or climbing a mountain. I want them to be able to do that.”

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Middle Village residents continue fight against Glendale shelter


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Anthony Giudice

As proponents for turning an abandoned Glendale warehouse into a homeless shelter try to move that plan forward, the Middle Village Property Owners and Residents Association (MVPORA) vows to continue to fight against it.

Samaritan Village, the company proposing to build the shelter, still has not conducted an environmental impact study for the former factory at 78-16 Cooper Ave., according to Sal Crifasi, president of both the MVPORA and the Glendale/Middle Village Coalition. The coalition consists of residents, businesspersons and community leaders dedicated to opposing the shelter primarily through legal action.

At the MVPORA meeting on Tuesday, Crifasi said an impact study would require Samaritan Village to research how putting a homeless shelter in the area would affect the schools, the sewage system, the traffic and the environment of the neighborhood.

“Because of our input, we stalled it almost a year already,” Crifasi said. “They were supposed go in there last year already, I mean, open and operating, but because of us making a little noise about this, they are having problems.”

There have also been some changes made to the shelter’s plans due to the location of the site.

Crifasi explained that the site is located in an “M zone,” which only allows for the construction of manufacturing buildings.

“For an M zone, you’re only allowed to put manufacturing, but you could put a hotel,” Crifasi said. “So what they did is, instead of 125 [units] they changed the plans and made it now a 70-room hotel. They’re allowed to put a hotel by code.”

The controversy over whether it will be an actual hotel or a place to warehouse the homeless is not deterring MVPORA from continuing their fight.

“We’re fighting it and I feel comfortable and confident that we are going to win,” Crifasi said. “We’re going to win one way or another.”

Due to the overcrowded schools in the district, Crifasi suggested that Queens is in need of three high schools. The shelter site, he and others claim, would be more suitable for redevelopment as a public school.

“Now we’re trying to see if we can get a high school there, because if they’re saying that [the site is] good enough for people to live there, then maybe it’s good enough for kids to go there.”

“We’re fighting,” Crifasi assured those in attendance. “We’re not putting up the white flag yet.”

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‘The Blacklist’ films in Glendale


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Eric Liebowitz/NBC

Glendale is making a television cameo yet again, as another series films in the community.

The acclaimed NBC series “The Blacklist,” starring James Spader, filmed three scenes on Cooper Avenue on Monday.

The first two scenes took place near Cooper Avenue between 83rd Street and 80th Street between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

The third scene was filming at 82-10 Cooper Ave. from 2 to 10 p.m.

On Tuesday, the production company will be filming a controlled vehicle explosion between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. in the vicinity of Cooper Avenue and 74th Street.

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Star of Queens: Angelica Harris, historian and author, founder of Excalibur Reading Program


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

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BY ANGELA MATUA

BACKGROUND: Angelica Harris, 58, was born and raised in Queens and now lives in Glendale. She was chosen to be the Queens poet laureate in 2010 and wrote a poem titled “Queens My Hometown.” Harris enjoys living in Queens because “we are a close-knit community of many cultures, backgrounds and creeds. We live together, work and play together and in times of need we stand proud and tall together.”

OCCUPATION: Harris is a medieval historian and author of several books and short stories including the trilogy “The Quest for Excalibur,” which chronicles the story of Arianna Lawrence and her journey as she travels back in time to Camelot to return Excalibur to King Arthur. Harris was also commissioned by the Titanic Museum in Florida to write a book about her uncles who worked on the Titanic.

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Harris is the founder of the Excalibur Reading Program, a nonprofit organization started in 2005 to help children and adults with special needs reach academic and personal goals. Teachers in the community conduct workshops and tutor students in reading, history, math, science and also offer SAT, ACT and GED prep classes. The program also offers art classes and mentoring programs to children who have experienced issues of domestic violence, sexual assault, and those who have been incarcerated.

GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT: “Part of my greatest achievement is overcoming some very serious issues I went through in my youth. I’m a survivor of domestic and sexual abuse in my youth and if I didn’t have the faith and if I didn’t have some influential people in my life, especially in high school, I don’t know where I would’ve been today.”

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “One of my biggest challenges in the last couple of years was making sure that my center stayed open. We went into a major financial deficit. We did some fundraising. It was making sure that our bills were paid and keeping the center open and running. Through the challenge, this year we’ve started getting recognized through the schools in the surrounding area. I ask how the parents hear about us and I hear that the parent coordinator at so-and-so school told us how well you worked with the community.”

INSPIRATION: “There are two through my high school. I graduated from William Cullen Bryant and two of my high school teachers … knew I was going through some challenges. Lila Klauseman was my greatest inspiration for the arts and she brought out the artist in me. So was Mr. Chahallis, who was my history teacher who gave me the love of history. But my biggest inspiration is Jesus. Through everything I’ve been through in my life, if I didn’t have him and I didn’t have him to either follow or fall back on … you know he’s there and he’s my first and foremost [inspiration].”

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Bandits wanted for towing away air pumps from Queens gas stations


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

Police are searching for the airheads who stole self-serve air pump machines from 17 gas stations in Queens and Brooklyn since December.

In each caper the suspects used a hook and chain attached to a vehicle to yank the coin-operated devices from their pedestals, authorities said. Each of the air pumps contained hundreds of dollars in quarters and police believe the crooks got away with more than $40,000 in change combined.

A dozen of the thefts occurred in Queens, and security cameras captured one of the incidents which occurred at 6:35 p.m. on March 21 at the Sunoco gas station located at 128-24 Rockaway Blvd. in South Ozone Park.


Two men, described as white or Hispanic, were spotted in the video. Police said one of them, who was wearing a white shirt and blue jeans, was observed operating a blue Honda Accord.

The other Queens air pump thefts are as follows:

  • At 4 p.m. on Dec. 29, the crooks removed an air pump containing $800 in change from the Citgo gas station located at 91-02 South Conduit Ave. in Ozone Park. They returned to the location on March 1 at 3 p.m. and stole the replacement air pump, valued at $1,000.
  • On Dec. 30, at about 10 p.m., the bandits stole an air pump containing $200 from the Getty gas station at 70-21 73rd Pl. in Glendale.
  • At 8 p.m. on Jan. 12, the suspects removed an air compressor valued at $2,500 from the BP gas station at 130-11 North Conduit Ave. in South Ozone Park. They returned twice more to this location — at 9 p.m. on Jan. 28 and again at 10 p.m. on April 1 — and removed the replacement air compressors.
  • On Jan. 13, at about 6:59 p.m., the crooks removed an air pump valued at $2,000 from the Sunoco gas station at 162-35 North Conduit Ave. in Springfield Gardens.
  • At 12:20 a.m. on March 8, the bandits removed the air pump from the Global gas station at 49-25 Van Dam St. in Long Island City.
  • That same morning, at 2 a.m., the crooks yanked away the air pump machine from the Exxon gas station at 59-51 Long Island Expwy. in Long Island City.
  • At 8:26 p.m. on March 16, the suspects removed the air pump machine from the BP gas station located at 100-07 Rockaway Blvd. in Ozone Park.
  • At 9:26 p.m. on March 20, the perpetrators removed an unknown amount of change from the vacuum air machine at the Eagle service center located at 49-05 Astoria Blvd. in Astoria.

Among the five Brooklyn locations in the pattern was the Exxon GPN Boulevard gas station at 1193 Myrtle Ave. in Bushwick. The crooks removed the station’s air pump machine, valued at $700, at 9:08 a.m. on the morning of Feb. 2.

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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Glendale author pens short story to honor family members on Titanic


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

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BY ANGELA MATUA

A Glendale woman is paying tribute to her two uncles who worked on the Titanic by releasing a short story about their lives on the 103rd anniversary of the sinking.

“Titanic—The Brothers Peracchio—Two Boys and a Dream,” by Angelica Harris, will be released on Wednesday, April 15, and a book signing will take place at 80-17 78th Ave. from 7 to 9 p.m. Harris will also present artifacts and memorabilia she owns, including plates used to serve meals to passengers.

Harris, who is a historian and author, was prompted by her late uncle Modesto to research the lives of his brothers, Alberto and Sebastiano Peracchio.

Her research led her to befriend William Browers, a Titanic historian who was working on an exhibition titled “Titanic: The Legacy Continues” for the Plantation Historical Museum in Plantation, Florida.

Harris was commissioned in 2012 by the museum to write a short historical piece for the exhibition and she used her research to guide the short story. She decided to release the book on the 103rd anniversary to honor the men and women who lost their lives on the ship.

“It’s a chance for me to tell the story [and] not only to commemorate uncle Alberto but to commemorate all the passengers and crew who died on the ship that day,” she said.

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Through her research, Harris found that Alberto and Sebastiano Peracchio were born in Alessandria, Italy. Their father, Carlo, worked in the shipyards and Alberto and Sebastiano followed in his footsteps.

Alberto Peracchio aspired to do more than “work on the cargo and lift the heavy boxes,” according to Harris, so he taught himself how to speak four languages by the time he was 15. He not only spoke Italian but also learned how to speak Spanish, German and French.

After working, Alberto Peracchio moved to England to pursue other opportunities and was eventually hired by a man named Luigi Gatti to work in the restaurant industry in 1911. One year later, Alberto Peracchio was hired as an assistant waiter at the A la Carte restaurant. A la Carte was exclusively open to first class passengers on the Titanic.

Sebastiano Peracchio also began working at the restaurant after Gatti mentioned to Alberto that the restaurant needed to bolster its staff. Both men began working on April 10, 1912.

But according to Harris’ research, Alberto Peracchio was looking to take on a bigger role.

“Alberto always wanted more,” Harris said. “He didn’t just want to be a crew member; he wanted to be an officer.”

Gatti recognized his personable character, according to Harris, and fought for him to become an officer. Though Alberto Peracchio had dual citizenship, he was not born in England, which was a requirement to become an officer.

“When [the officers] would come and have dinner at A la Carte and watch how he worked, especially with the ladies…he would talk to the ladies and he was able to speak to them in their language,” Harris said. “He was very suave and debonair.”

Harris said Sebastiano was very eager to learn from his brother and eventually wanted to go back home and work with his family in Italy.

On April 14, 1912, the Titanic hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean and sank soon thereafter. Both men died that day but no one knows if their bodies were recovered.

“Unfortunately, history will never know if [Alberto] took the [officer] test, if he fought the good fight and he passed it,” Harris said. “They are heroes in my life. They give me inspiration when I look at them because I know they were young and they worked hard.”

“Titanic—The Brothers Peracchio—Two Boys and a Dream” will be on sale for $15 at the book signing and all proceeds will benefit Harris’ nonprofit organization, the Excalibur Reading Program. The organization offers tutoring to students in all subjects in addition to SAT, ACT and GED prep courses and professional art classes.

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