Tag Archives: Glendale

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 explained. “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

IMG_1081 (1)

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

IMG_1033

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.

IMG_1036 (1)

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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Buildings Department approves revised Glendale shelter construction plans


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

While the battle over the proposed Glendale homeless shelter is far from over, the Department of Buildings (DOB) gave its blessing to the shelter’s revised blueprints.

The DOB approved on April 2 amended building plans to convert a long-defunct factory at 78-16 Cooper Ave. into a hotel with 70 dwelling units. In March, the agency approved plans for 103 units but quickly reversed course and withheld them for further review.

Issues stemmed from the previous classification of the site as “lodging,” but the revised plans approved on April 2 describe the building as a class B hotel. This change would allow operation of a hotel as-of-right, without requiring changing the location’s manufacturing zoning, which would involve a public review process.

The Department of Homeless Services (DHS) previously reached a five-year, $27 million agreement with the nonprofit Samaritan Village to operate a homeless shelter for up to 125 families at the factory site. Its owner, Michael Wilner, is reportedly leasing the site to Samaritan Village and is responsible for the factory’s renovation.

While construction may take place at the shelter site, the contract itself must be approved by City Comptroller Scott Stringer before it can be used as a homeless shelter. A spokeperson for Stringer told The Courier his office has yet to receive the contract, and therefore has yet to make the decision.

Meanwhile, the fight goes on for community activists opposed to the shelter’s opening. Community Board 5 District Manager Gary Giordano said in a phone interview the advisory body would file a formal challenge of the plans with the Buildings Department. The public has until about May 11 in order to officially file a challenge with the agency.

“We will do some consultations with attorneys and try to make the best of it,” Giordano said.

The Glendale Middle Village Coalition, a group of civic and business organizations, continues to raise funds for its legal challenges to the plan.

It previously filed an Article 78 proceeding against the DHS’ environmental assessment which determined that 78-16 Cooper Ave. — used for industrial manufacturing for decades and located adjacent to a chemical storage facility — is safe for reuse as a shelter.

The coalition hopes a judge’s ruling will force the DHS to perform an environmental impact study on the site, which could cost millions and take several years to complete.

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Bioswale construction to begin later this month in CB 5 area


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy of the Department of Environmental Protection

The confines of Community Board 5 are about to get greener.

Representatives from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced during the Community Board 5 (CB 5) meeting on Wednesday that the construction of 200 to 250 bioswales is set to begin at the end of the month.

Bioswales are curbside gardens that collect stormwater runoff into large, underground basins through 5 feet of specially engineered soil, comprised of layers of broken stone and sandy soil.

“New York’s infrastructure is hard, it’s very dense,” said Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, director of community affairs for the DEP. “Green infrastructure is, in a sense, peeling back a layer of that hard infrastructure.”

“Part of what we’re doing is making the land spongy again,” he continued. “The goal is to improve water quality…this is one of our tools to do that.”

The bioswales help improve the city’s water quality by reducing the amount of rainwater entering the sewer system, which helps lower combined sewer overflow (CSO).

CSO is a combination of sewage water from homes and businesses and stormwater, which can become too much for the sewer system to handle, especially during times of heavy rainfall. The water then overflows and sends untreated water into the city’s waterways, such as Newtown Creek, which suffers from high levels of pollution.

One single bioswale can manage almost 3,000 gallons of water and if the bioswale becomes overfilled, the water is released into the sewer catch basin as it normally would, just at a lower rate so there is not a rush of water that could overflow the sewer system.

With the installation of the bioswales right around the corner, community issues are a major point of concern for the DEP.

“One of the big questions we get a lot is, ‘Who is going to take care of these?’” Abdul-Matin told the board. “We build it, we’re going to maintain it. It’s not like we’re going to pass the buck onto you.”

The construction and installation of these bioswales and other green infrastructure will help clean the city’s water and reduce flooding, making the neighborhoods they serve better.

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Design workshops scheduled for Woodhaven/Cross Bay Select Bus Service plan


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYC DOT

The city Department of Transportation (DOT) will hold the first of four public design workshops for the planned Woodhaven/Cross Bay boulevards Select Bus Service (SBS) system next Thursday night in Woodhaven.

All are invited to attend the April 16 workshop at P.S. 306 NYC Academy for Discovery, located at 96-16 89th Ave. This workshop will focus solely on redesigning the portion of Woodhaven Boulevard between Union Turnpike in Glendale and Rockaway Boulevard in Ozone Park.

The following week, April 23, the DOT will hold a workshop at Queens Metropolitan High School, located at 91-30 Metropolitan Ave. in Forest Hills, focused on Woodhaven Boulevard between Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst and Union Turnpike.

An April 29 workshop at P.S. 146, located at 98-01 159th Ave. in Howard Beach, will center around Cross Bay Boulevard, and an April 30 workshop at P.S. 42, located at 488 Beach 66th St. in Arverne, will focus on implementing SBS in the Rockaways.

All of the workshops will take place from 6 to 8 p.m.

Representatives from the DOT will collect at each session “block-by-block feedback on street design and bus stop locations” for the Woodhaven/Cross Bay SBS. Last month, the DOT selected an SBS design that would include dedicated main-road bus lanes on Woodhaven Boulevard and offset bus lanes on Cross Bay Boulevard.

The plan, which requires the physical reconfiguration of Woodhaven Boulevard, also calls for the creation of SBS stations at major roadways that intersect the boulevard, such as Metropolitan and Jamaica avenues.

While each workshop focuses on a specific section, the DOT indicated that comments on any or all parts of the proposed SBS system will be accepted at all four sessions. Translation services are available and may be reserved in advance of the workshop by emailing brt@nyc.gov.

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Glendale Romani gypsy teens share arranged marriage on docuseries


| kmedoff@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of FYI/"Arranged"

Many kids are told that their parents know best, but two Glendale teens really had to trust that was true as they prepared for their arranged marriage in September.

What was it like to marry a stranger at such a young age? Viewers can find out by watching their journey on FYI’s new docuseries, “Arranged,” which follows this Romani gypsy couple from Queens, as well as a southern couple in their 20s from the “Bible belt” and an Indian couple in their 30s in Beverly Hills, California.

Maria and Christian Miller of Queens, both 18, barely knew each other when their parents arranged their marriage. When Christian found out who he was going to marry, he “made an effort” to get to know Maria by secretly contacting her online, because he “didn’t want to go in totally blind,” he said. But he didn’t learn much.

“Her mother and father would constantly be watching her, so she couldn’t really get to the computer all the time; she couldn’t get to the phone all the time,” Christian said. “So how much can you really learn about a person on the computer and talking for only a few minutes?”

Before the wedding, Christian was hoping “that a lot of people would come and that everything would go smoothly,” he said. Even though there were no formal invitations and family and friends learned about the wedding through phone calls and word of mouth, if there aren’t a couple hundred people in attendance, “that’s a big embarrassment at a gypsy wedding.”

Maria arrived at the party — which took place before the actual wedding ceremony — wearing an orange dress that her parents bought for her. Then, she changed into a blue dress from her mother-in-law and father-in-law to symbolize that “I’m no longer my family’s; I’m their daughter now and part of their family,” she said. Finally, she changed into her white wedding dress, also bought by the parents of the groom.

After the wedding, Maria would be moving in with Christian, his parents, Michael and Nina, and his younger brothers.

“My whole life is about to change in the blink of an eye and I can’t even believe it,” Maria said on the docuseries before her wedding. “I’m leaving my family to live with a total new family that I just don’t know and I’m really, really scared.”

The couple with Christian's parents, Nina and Michael

The couple with Christian’s parents, Nina and Michael

Yet this experience is “normal” for Romani gypsies, Michael said, noting that his ancestors’ marriages have been arranged for generations. “And they’re all to death do they part,” Nina said on the first episode.

“It’s normal for us,” Michael said. “At 17, 18, 19, your mind is set for marriage, and so it’s not anything new … you’re expecting it.”

There are “maybe a couple thousand” people in the Romani gypsy community in New York City, Michael said, about 500 of whom live in Queens.

“We’re a small community and we all know each other,” said Michael, who grew up in Richmond Hill and used to live in Middle Village. His family and others in the community are spread out around those areas, as well as Rego Park, Forest Hills, Howard Beach and Ozone Park.

The couple hopes that their inclusion on the show will help bust stereotypes about their culture.

“I just want everyone to know that gypsy people are normal people,” Maria said. “We’re all about tradition. We’re all about family. We all love each other. We’re all a happy family.”

“The stereotypes are pretty bad,” Christian added. “We’re not cons; we’re not thieves. We’re nothing like that. We’re normal people. We want to show them we’re a good, clean-cut family and there’s no reason for anyone to be afraid of us. We want to show that we’re not the way people think of us, the way they portray us on other TV shows.”

And his father, who has seen generations of long, happy marriages, wants “to show our traditions. We do arranged marriages that work. If you listen to your father and mother it works out,” he said. “Maria and Christian have been married for six months and they’re doing good.”

“Arranged” premieres on Tuesday, April 14, at 10:15 p.m. on FYI.

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Community Board 5 appoints new members


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Nine new members were appointed to Community Board 5 this week.

The board, which includes Ridgewood, Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth and Liberty Park, received five new members from City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley’s 30th District and four new members in Councilman Antonio Reynoso’s 34th District.

The new members in Crowley’s district are Tobias Sheppard Bloch of Glendale, Karamjit Dawali of Glendale, Sarah Feldman of Ridgewood, David Sands of Glendale and Alex Maureau of Glendale.

In Reynoso’s district, the new members are Raquel Namuche of Ridgewood, Cathleen Knight of Ridgewood, Tom C. Dowd of Ridgewood and Carmen Santana of Ridgewood.

Richard Huber of Glendale was not reappointed this year.

Community board members are appointed by the Queens borough president largely based on the recommendation of the City Council member(s) within the board’s jurisdiction.

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Parks Department announces start of Evergreen Park project in Glendale


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

File photo

Work began this week on the long-awaited reconstruction of Glendale‘s Evergreen Park, the Parks Department announced.

The first phase of renovations to the 1.1-acre green space on 60th Place between 75th and St. Felix avenues includes removing “underused” bocce and shuffleboard courts in order to reconstruct an expanded playground that will feature, among other amenities, new spray showers.

“We expect construction to take about a year to complete, and look forward to reopening this playground next spring,” a Parks Department spokesperson said. “This work has been funded with $1 million from [City Councilwoman Elizabeth] Crowley.”

Crowley, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Mayor Bill de Blasio also allocated $2.4 million for the second phase of Evergreen Park’s reconstruction, which will include a new asphalt playing area. According to the Parks Department spokesperson, the agency will seek “design consultant services for this project shortly.”

Plans to reconstruct Evergreen Park date back to September 2012, when Parks Department representatives outlined plans at a Community Board 5 Parks Services Committee meeting. Other components of the reconstruction’s first phase include the installation of new plantings and “World’s Fair-style” benches, new fencing, updated water fountains and a remodeled swing area.

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Inside Broadway brings performing arts to Glendale elementary school


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photos by Anthony Giudice

As part of Inside Broadway’s after-school arts program, the students at P.S./I.S. 119 in Glendale performed their play “The After School Club” on Thursday in the school’s auditorium for parents, teachers and fellow classmates.

Inside Broadway, an arts education nonprofit, is funded by the City Council’s Cultural After-School Adventures (C.A.S.A.) Initiative. Through the C.A.S.A. Initiative, Inside Broadway has brought, and will continue to bring, a taste of Broadway to over 500 students in over 20 public schools throughout the boroughs this winter and spring.

The nonprofit is in its 33rd year of operation, providing city public schools with arts education programs, professional staff members and artists who teach the students dancing, singing, acting, theater history and how to design and build the scenery and backdrops for their show.

City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley helped bring the C.A.S.A. program to P.S./I.S. 119 through a grant.

“We really appreciate that Councilwoman Crowley gave us the opportunity to bring drama back,” said Jeanne Fagan, principal at P.S./I.S. 119. “We don’t have a drama program at the school. We have arts and music, but no drama.”

The play, which the students created themselves, was inspired by the ’80s cult classic film “The Breakfast Club.” In the story, two rival factions in the school, the “nerds” and “cool kids,” are sent to detention. While there, they sing and dance their way past their differences and all become friends in the end.

The music for the play included songs from the 1980s such as Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” and more.

“We are excited to expand the arts program at P.S./I.S. 119 to include musical theater to go along with their other arts programs,” Katie McAllister, program director of Inside Broadway, said.

The students who took part in the play were Quinn Corcino, Sheikh Hasin, Julia Sirkoski, Adam Sirkoski, Aafant Shrestha, Alexa Garci, Samantha Liu, Sylvester Leyton, Darren Valdera and Jayda Nicole Catrina Fogarty.

Inside Broadway Pic2

Since January, the children have been working with teaching artist Nick Saldivar for two days a week, two hours each day to create the play.

“All the kids wrote parts of the play and we cut and pasted it all together,” Saldivar said. “I try to get the kids to create and generate their own content.”

Saldivar said he usually works with 30 kids per group in other schools, so working with such a small group of 10 students at P.S./I.S. 119 was “a great experience.”

“They are a really dedicated, lovely bunch,” Saldivar said. “I’ve been teaching them technique, having them think critically and be engaged.”

Besides writing and performing in the play, the students also helped decorate by painting the banner that hung behind them while they were on stage.

As a treat for the students, McAllister announced that they, along with other students from schools in the C.A.S.A. Initiative, will get to go behind the scenes of the Broadway hit “Wicked.”

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First Ridgewood Artists Coalition exhibit opens Sunday at Glendale brewery


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

The Ridgewood Artists Coalition (RAC) will hold its first exhibit, titled “The Ridgewood Artists Spring Showcase,” at Glendale’s Finback Brewery from this Sunday through April 26.

The opening reception for the exhibit will be held on Sunday from 1 to 7 p.m. at the brewery, located at 78-01 77th Ave. Donations collected at the reception will help support the Ridgewood Youth Market, a program that teaches teens and young adults small business lessons through operating farm stands in their neighborhoods.

The Ridgewood Youth Market is part of Grow NYC and is run in partnership with the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District and the Ridgewood Local Development Corporation.

The exhibit, described by its creators as “part survey and part dialogue,” is co-curated by RAC founder Emily Heinz and Finback manager Leah Blair and features local artists who live and work in Ridgewood, Maspeth, Middle Village and Glendale.

“The artists involved emerge from a myriad of different backgrounds, spanning the spectrum of age, ethnicity, formal training and relationship to the area,” Heinz and Blair said in a joint statement. “This diversity is intrinsic to a New York neighborhood, and the spirit of this condition is reflected in the variation of the works, which simultaneously form a single yet multifarious voice informed by the specific perspective of a cross-section of urban life.”

The showcase is just one of many community-oriented events hosted and sponsored by Finback Brewery.

“This collaboration between the Ridgewood Artists Coalition and Finback Brewery is indicative of an emerging art practice that is inclined towards social awareness and local identity, and uses both to organically form a presence of contemporary art and artists who are critically engaged with art making and socially engaged with the community as a whole,” the statement said.

For more information about the Ridgewood Artists Coalition, contact them at RidgewoodArtists@gmail.com.

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