Tag Archives: Jackson Heights

Queens Botanical Garden to host two-day flower festival

| rmackay@queensny.org

Photos courtesy of Queens Botanical Garden

During Colombia’s Colonial Era, slaves known as “silleteros” would carry cargo — and even people such as children and royalty — on their backs from town to town. Diaries from the 19th century describe dozens of these men climbing the Andean nation’s steep mountains that were impassable with donkeys and other beasts of burden.

After emancipation in 1851, newly freed professionals would earn a living by hauling large quantities of flowers to markets. A genre quickly popped up as skilled artisans would create intricate floral designs to sell or present to romantic interests. In May 1957, the city of Medellin, which is located in the heart of Colombia’s flower-growing region, hosted the first annual Feria de las Flores, which continues to this day.

This weekend, the Queens Botanical Garden will honor this tradition with its sixth-annual, two-day flower festival. On Saturday, visiting silleteros will create and display their medallions of colorful, cut flowers, and visitors will get a taste of Colombian culture through food, hands-on activities for children, and traditional music and dance. Grupo Son Chande, a Colombian coastal band specializing in Cumbia, will perform throughout the afternoon.

Then the Silleteros Parade will take place in Jackson Heights on Sunday. Flower artists will march up 37th Avenue from 69th Street to 86th Street with their creations, starting at noon. After the procession, the public is invited to the Queens Botanical Garden for more music, food, crafts and a ticketed comedy show.



Reward offered for help in finding serial Queens bank robber

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of the FBI New York office

Federal agents and the NYPD are offering “a significant reward” for the public’s help in finding the man responsible for at least a dozen bank robberies in Queens dating back to last year — including several armed heists.

Authorities said the suspect last struck in Middle Village on Dec. 9, 2014, robbing cash from the Chase bank at 74-04 Eliot Ave. Many of the other robberies occurred in Astoria, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Maspeth, Sunnyside and Ridgewood.

During each incident, the suspect reportedly passed demand notes to a teller and walked away with various sums of money. In five capers, the perpetrator displayed a handgun in his waistband to bank employees, the FBI said.

Law enforcement agents describe the crook as a black or Hispanic male with a medium to light complexion standing 6 feet tall, and weighing between 200 and 250 pounds. He is usually seen on camera wearing glasses and a baseball cap with the logo of a sports team such as the New York Yankees or New England Patriots. The public should consider the suspect armed and dangerous.

Among the heists in the robbery pattern are the following incidents:

  • June 7, 2014, robbery of a Chase bank located at 77-01 31st Ave. in East Elmhurst;
  • July 22, 2014, attempted robbery of a Santander bank located at 89-01 Northern Blvd. in Jackson Heights;
  • July 25, 2014, heist at a Chase bank located at 47-11 Queens Blvd. in Sunnyside;
  • Aug. 30, 2014, incident at a Dime Savings Bank of Williamsburgh located at 75-23 37th Ave. in Jackson Heights;
  • Oct. 4, 2014, robbery of a Chase bank located at 69-55 Grand Ave. in Maspeth; and
  •  Dec. 6, 2014, heist at a Chase bank located at 60-67 Myrtle Ave. in Ridgewood.

The FBI-NYPD Violent Crime Task Force is investigating the pattern.

Anyone with information regarding the suspect’s whereabouts is urged to call the Task Force at 212-384-1000; all calls will be kept confidential.


PHOTOS: Jackson Heights celebrates 23rd annual Queens Pride Parade and Festival

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office/Gallery by Angy Altamirano

Under sunny skies, Jackson Heights was filled with color and music Sunday afternoon as the neighborhood celebrated this year’s Queens Pride Parade and Festival.

Kicking off the parade, which ran down 37th Avenue from 89th Street to 75th Street, was Mayor Bill de Blasio, who made history by becoming the first New York City mayor to serve as a grand marshal of the parade. He joined APICHA Community Health Center, which was also one of the grand marshals.

“This parade stands for a rejection of any bias and prejudice against the LGBT community,” de Blasio said. “We will not stand in this city for anyone who would harm our brothers and sisters in the LGBT community. And this parade stands for that resolute value of New York City.”

De Blasio became the first mayor to march in the parade last year, and even marched in 2013 while still serving as public advocate.

Joining the mayor were local elected officials such Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Council members Daniel Dromm – who founded the Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee over 20 years ago – Jimmy Van Bramer and Julissa Ferreras, and other city and state officials.

The theme of this year’s parade was “Pride – Strength – Unity,” according to organizers.

“We know what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. told us – ‘The arc of history is long but it bends towards justice.’ This parade epitomizes that constant movement towards justice. Let’s keep going. Let’s keep marching on until the day when everyone is truly embraced,” de Blasio said to paradegoers.

At the end of the parade, which featured colorful costumes and even four-legged participants, visitors were able to enjoy the Queens Pride Festival, which ran along 37th Road from 74th to 77th streets.

The festival featured about 100 vendors, community and social group booths and two stages of entertainment with performances that went on throughout the day.


Jackson Heights students raise $2K for Nepal earthquake victims

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Garden School

A local nonprofit benefiting communities from Nepal received a $2,000 donation from the Garden School Key Club to go toward relief efforts after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit the South Asian country last month.

A group of students at the pre-K to 12th-grade school, located at 33-16 79th St. in Jackson Heights, were motivated to help out after hearing of the devastation caused by the earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25 and saw a death toll of more than 7,000 people.

The Garden School Key Club led the fundraising efforts and students, particularly ninth-grader Aneesh D., mobilized in a multi-component initiative which included a soccer match pitting faculty members against their pupils, a “change jug”in the school hallway and solicitation of donations from the community.

The school administration was very encouraging of the students and praised their commitment to the Garden School’s mission of “social involvement.”

Councilman Daniel Dromm helped the Garden School students to identify Adhikaar, an nonprofit benefiting the Nepali community in New York, as a local organization which would help the donations get to those most in need.

Adhikaar Program Coordinator Raji Pokhrel gratefully accepted the donation and spoke to students on progress being made to relieve the damage done to the country and the continued need for aid from the international community.


De Blasio to be grand marshal of Queens Pride Parade

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Ed Reed for the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio

Mayor Bill de Blasio will make history in Jackson Heights next month as the first New York City mayor to serve as a grand marshal in the 23-year span of the Queens Pride Parade.

De Blasio will join APICHA Community Health Center as grand marshals of the 23rd Queens Pride Parade, which will be held on June 7 and runs from 89th Street and 37th Avenue down to 75th Street.

“When I founded the Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee over 20 years ago, I was hopeful that we would increase the visibility of the LGBT community in Queens in a positive and impactful way,” Councilman Daniel Dromm said. “Having the mayor of the City of New York as our grand marshal shows just how far we have come.”

De Blasio became the first mayor to march in the parade last year, and even marched in 2013 while still serving as public advocate.

“The mayor’s presence is an acknowledgment that the LGBT community in Queens and throughout the city is visible, welcome and included,” Dromm said.

Councilman Daniel Dromm and Mayor Bill de Blasio (Photo courtesy of Queens Pride)

Councilman Daniel Dromm and Mayor Bill de Blasio (Photo courtesy of Queens Pride)

The theme of this year’s parade, which kicks off at noon, is “Pride – Strength – Unity,” according to organizers. Also at noon, the Queens Pride Festival begins along 37th Road from 74th to 77th streets.

The festival features close to 100 vendors, community and social group booths and two stages of entertainment with performances throughout the day until 6 p.m.

One of the day’s featured performers includes multi-platinum artist CeCe Peniston known for her hits “Finally,” “We Got a Love Thang” and “Lifetime to Love.”

“This year’s theme, Pride – Strength – Unity, highlights the diversity that is Queens. Queens has the largest number of language/ethnic groups in the whole U.S.A. Despite the linguistic and cultural vastness, we all come together to celebrate our accomplishments and continue to work towards further advancements,” said Alan Reiff, co-chair of Queens Pride.

Days before the parade on June 4, Queens Pride will collaborate with NYC Pride, Brooklyn Pride, Staten Island LGBT Community Center, Bronx Pride, Chutney Pride and Out Astoria, to host a Pride Kick-Off Party at Studio Square, located at 35-33 36th St. in Long Island City. The event will benefit Queens Community House.

For more information, visit www.queenspride.org or email info@queenspride.org.


Jackson Heights residents call National Grid a ‘bad neighbor’

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

Updated 5:20 p.m.

Residents on one Jackson Heights street are calling on National Grid to be a good neighbor and take care of “dangerous” holes left unattended for weeks after digging was started last month to work on gas pipe updates.

Councilman Daniel Dromm and residents on 80th Street gathered on the block Tuesday morning to speak out against holes created by the utility company that were left ignored for weeks.

The holes, which measure about 13 feet by 3 feet and go as deep as three to six feet, were dug by National Grid in April to start renovations on underground gas lines. However, residents said that in the beginning of May work just stopped and the holes were left uncovered and surrounded by barriers and cones, most of which fell into the holes.

“The damage they have done to this street makes you understand that National Grid is a bad neighbor. You don’t come into communities, dig up streets, leave piles of dirt and then leave the exposed pipes open to all types of foul play, to children falling into them, and then not respond to the community,” Dromm said. “We are here today to demand that National Grid minimally put plates over this, fix this work, and ensure the safety of the community is taken care of here.”

Dromm added that his office communicated with National Grid several times, but no fixes have been made. The councilman said he even left his personal number and never received a call back.

Some residents expressed concerns that they have seen children playing in the holes, and others said the exposed gas lines have been letting out gaseous odors.

A Courier reporter on the scene also smelled gas odors coming out of one of the holes.

“The unfinished repair work initiated by National Grid on April 17, 2015, has not only resulted in a trip and fall hazard to pedestrians but has made us nervous because we were told originally the construction was to remedy a gas leak,” said Ricky Castro, co-op board vice president. “Despite many complaints we have received no answers about why we smell gas and if it’s safe.”

Castro added that last weekend when it rained, water filled the holes and caused the basement of one of the apartment buildings, which has storage units belonging to residents, to flood.

According to residents, National Grid workers showed up Tuesday morning but no work was being done. They also added that they have called the FDNY, Department of Transportation and Department of Environmental Protection and were told National Grid is responsible for the holes.

A spokeswoman for National Grid said the company is committed  to ensuring the safety of the public.

She added the company is using industry-approved methods to secure the work site and have the appropriate work permits. Also, National Grid is conducting daily surveys of the area to maintain safety until the repairs are completed.

“We apologize for the inconvenience but the work is necessary to ensure a safe and reliable gas system for the community,” the spokeswoman said. “Last month during an investigation we detected a gas leak and made arrangements to schedule the repairs, working around parking restrictions on the block.”

She added the gas lines had been replaced on the street and now each home in three buildings has to be transferred to the new service lines. The company is working to notify everyone in the buildings.

Crews are expected to be on site starting Wednesday through the end of the week to complete the work and have the holes filled.

Residents are urged to call 911 or National Grid’s Gas emergency number, 718-643-4050.


Jackson Heights rents jump in April, borough sees overall decline: report

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy StreetEasy/ Charts courtesy MNS Real Estate

Many Queens renters probably didn’t realize it, but average rents in the borough fell in most neighborhoods, according to the April MNS Real Estate Queens Rental Market Report.

Renters were likely to pay an average of $2,074.17 per month in April, which was down .41 percent from March, the report found. However, while most neighborhoods saw decreases, overall rents in Jackson Heights saw an average rental price increase of 7.45 percent from March to April.

Jackson Heights two-bedroom apartment prices saw the borough’s largest increase of 17.44 percent over the month, or $356 more, to $2,395 per month. The report indicated that the price jump is a result of very low inventory in Jackson Heights, which had just six two-bedroom rental apartments in April.

To compare, Astoria had the most available two-bedroom units in the borough in April with 115 apartments, according to the report.

Astoria was the only other neighborhood in the survey that saw an increase in average rents, although it was just .2 percent more. The increase was due to rising prices in one- and two-bedroom apartments in the neighborhood caused by high demand.

But despite the overall increase, studio rents in Astoria actually dropped nearly six percent to an average of $1,748 per month.

To view the full report, click here.



Reputed gang member arrested in murder on Roosevelt Avenue

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD/via Google Maps

Updated Monday, May 18, 4:09 p.m. 

A reported gang member has been apprehended in the deadly shooting of a Corona man in Jackson Heights earlier this month, authorities said.

Raul Zamora, a reputed member of the Sureños 13 gang, has been charged with second-degree murder, first-degree gang assault and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon in the death of 38-year-old Jorge Manzanarez, according to the district attorney’s office.

Police identified Zamora, 33, who lives in Jackson Heights, just blocks from the crime scene, as the suspected shooter last Monday, arresting him on Saturday.

According to officials, Zamora and two other unapprehended individuals got into an argument with Manzanarez at about 2:30 p.m. on May 5 on Roosevelt Avenue near 94th Street. Manzanarez was then shot once in the chest.

Manzanarez was taken to Elmhurst Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Zamora, who faces 25 years to life in prison, was ordered held without bail at his arraignment on Sunday.


Jackson Heights elementary school celebrates planting of Peace Poles

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Danielle Mahoney

Students at P.S. 212 in Jackson Heights are looking to spread the idea of peace throughout their community.

Danielle Mahoney, a literacy coach at the elementary school located at 34-25 82nd St., has been teaching students about practicing mindfulness and gratitude for the past year.

While attending a weeklong training conference on mindfulness for kids and adolescents in California, Mahoney noticed a “Peace Pole” in a field and thought it would be a good idea to bring the concept back home.

Peace Poles, which have been planted throughout the world, are handcrafted structures that have the message and prayer “May peace prevail on Earth” on each of its four to six sides.

Mahoney decided to work with one of the third-grade classes she instructs, Jennifer Bayer’s 3-317 class, to have two poles erected outside of P.S. 212 and allow the students to share with the community what they have been learning throughout the year.

“Having these Peace Poles is having to share in the community that regardless of the differences, we can live together and share all the wonderful things about our culture and embrace things and live in a peaceful way,” Mahoney said.

The poles, which are 7 feet tall and from the company The Peace Pole Project, each feature the message “May peace prevail on Earth” in English, Urdu, Bengali, Mandarin, Spanish and Arabic. They also include two other messages in English: “May peace be in our communities” and “May peace be in our schools.”

Although the students had a ceremony celebrating the poles on Wednesday, the structures will not actually be permanently planted until next week. They will be located outside the main entrance of the school, one on each side in small gardens.

“Words are very powerful and as a literacy coach this is not so far away from our core work,” Mahoney said. “When you read it, hopefully the next step is to have action with your words and thoughts will be in a positive way.”

During the Wednesday night ceremony, students, who ranged between 8 to 9 years old, also explained to parents and faculty what the Peace Poles are, why they were being planted and what mindfulness is.

“We hope that when people pass they will take a moment to send kind thoughts to all beings on this planet, [and] focus on the good and peaceful parts of life,” Mahoney said.

Mahoney added that she has seen that teaching the practice of mindfulness to students has helped them relax more, often using breathing as a tool to cope with difficult times, and also teaches the children how to pay attention to the present moment.

Some students have even tried teaching their parents how taking the time to relax and breathe will help them move forward in their days, according to Mahoney.

“Mindfulness allows us to take the time to respond to situations,” one student said. “We learn not to react to everything that happens. You notice what happens, respond to it and let it go. Mindfulness will help you do that.”

Mahoney also hopes that more schools will consider planting Peace Poles and she even is looking to find a way to plant a pole in Astoria, a community she has called home all her life.


Map: Where recent college grads can afford rent in Queens

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Minas Styponias

For recent college graduates, living in New York City while juggling student loans and living expenses can seem almost impossible.

Add in the need for fun and entertainment, and most won’t have a dime remaining from their paychecks.

However, a new study released Wednesday by real estate website StreetEasy shows, through an interactive map, in what neighborhoods recent graduates will be able to find affordable apartments as they begin a life of independence in the Big Apple. Some areas in the “World’s Borough” have been pointed out as leading contenders.

“One of our top tips for recent grads moving to NYC is to look outside of Manhattan, and our study shows that several neighborhoods in Queens are especially ‘grad-friendly,’” a StreetEasy representative said.

Astoria and Ridgewood top the list of those Queens neighborhoods, but affordable apartments can be found in many neighborhoods throughout the borough including Kew Gardens, Corona, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Rego Park and Flushing.

The map (below) reveals the availability of affordable apartments in city based on three variables. It uses the average entry-level salaries for the top 10 majors of recent grads moving to the NYC, including business, social sciences, education and engineering, the percent of income one is willing to pay toward rent and the possibility of roommates.

The study found what many have known for decades —  paying NYC rents is actually possible when roommates are included. However, the report also notes, it is possible to fly solo in the city and spend only 30 percent of income, but graduates will have to do serious apartment hunting.

It would also help, if only slightly, not to be an education major.

Zero percent of studio and one-bedroom listings are affordable to solo education majors, according to the study, whereas only 2.7 percent and 5.1 percent were available for social science and business majors respectively.


Suspect identified in fatal shooting of Corona man on Roosevelt Avenue

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD/via Google Maps

Police have identified an alleged gang member as the shooter suspected of killing a 38-year-old Corona man in broad daylight on a Jackson Heights street last week.

According to authorities, Raul Zamora, a reported member of the Sureños 13 gang, and two other individuals got into a verbal dispute with the victim, Jorge Manzanarez, just before 2:30 p.m. on May 5 on Roosevelt Avenue near 94th Street. Zamora then pulled out a gun, shooting Manzanarez in the torso. Police believe the shooting was gang-related.

EMS rushed Manzanarez to Elmhurst Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Zamora is described as 33 years old, Hispanic, 5 feet 9 inches tall and 145 pounds.

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.



Makes Queens Safer founding member honored at state Capitol

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of state Sen. Jose Peralta's office

A Jackson Heights advocate was honored this week for her dedication in fighting for safer New York City streets.

State Sen. Jose Peralta honored Cristina Furlong, one of the founding members of the organization Make Queens Safer, on Tuesday with a Women of Distinction 2015 award given by the state Senate.

“Ms. Furlong has worked tirelessly to advocate for pedestrian safety and to fight against reckless driving,” Peralta said. “Ms. Furlong and her group, Make Queens Safer, have been and continue to be relentless in their efforts to make our streets safer for New Yorkers.”

Furlong received the award, which honors outstanding women from the district whose contributions enrich the quality of life in the community, during the Senate’s 18th annual award celebration at the Capitol in Albany.

“On behalf of my group, Make Queens Safer, it is an honor not just for us, but for advocates for social change in my arena,” Furlong said.

Make Queens Safer was formed in late 2013 after three children were killed by reckless drivers in Jackson Heights in less than 10 months. Since then the group has focused on an education program working with schools and community groups, reaching out to everyone from the borough’s youth to local elected officials.

“Like the women honored in previous years, my commitment to the community will remain strong and rooted by the fact that our community deserves safe streets for all,” Furlong said.


7 train rider exposes himself to woman: cops

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

A man exposed himself to a woman on the 7 train, fleeing at a nearby Queens station, but not before his victim captured his face with her cellphone camera, police said.

The incident happened aboard a Manhattan-bound train on April 26 at about 3:30 p.m.

According to authorities, the suspect exposed himself to the 31-year-old victim while staring at her as the train entered the 103rd Street-Corona Plaza station. He then exited the train at the 74th Street stop in Jackson Heights.

Police have identified the suspect as Roger Almeida, a 61-year-old Hispanic man described as 5 feet 7 inches tall, 175 pounds with brown eyes and gray hair. He was last seen wearing a gray jacket and white sneakers.

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.


Corona man found shot to death on Roosevelt Avenue

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Image via Google Maps

Police are investigating the murder of a 38-year-old Corona man who was fatally shot in Jackson Heights Tuesday afternoon.

Cops discovered Jorge Manzanarez about 2:20 p.m. on Roosevelt Avenue near 94th Street with a gunshot wound to the torso, authorities said.

EMS rushed Manzanarez to Elmhurst Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

A motive for the shooting was not immediately clear. There are no arrests.


$24K raised at Jackson Heights candlelight vigil for Nepal earthquake victims

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos by Pralay Rajbhandari

Jackson Heights and the surrounding communities have come together to show the victims of this weekend’s magnitude-7.8 earthquake in Nepal that they are not alone.

Members of the Queens Nepalese community and the New York Nepalese Football Club have begun a fundraising campaign to collect money that will buy necessary items for families left devastated after the earthquake hit the country on Saturday, claiming more than 3,200 lives.

“Whenever these things happen, we get together,” said Pralay Rajbhandari, a player and member of the New York Nepalese Football Club. “We are all united for this great cause.”

Rajbhandari, who has been living in Jackson Heights for eight years, has his whole family in Nepal and spent hours trying to contact them after the earthquake hit. He was finally able to contact his father and found out that his home in Nepal had partially collapsed and his family is currently staying at a shelter.

“It was heartbreaking,” Rajbhandari said. “After I heard the news I was trying to find [my family] but finally after a few hours I talked to my father. There is panic everywhere and the fear is still there. The whole country is in pain right now.”

Photo by Cristina Furlong

Photo by Cristina Furlong

On Sunday, close to a thousand people gathered in Jackson Heights to hold a candlelight vigil and pray for loved ones in Nepal. By the end of the day, $24,000 was collected.

“I was surprised. So many people came, so much support,” Rajbhandari said. “It was not only Nepalese people. All people donated generously and the figure is still going up.”

Councilman Daniel Dromm also attended the Sunday vigil to show his support.

“My heart goes out to the thousands of families who have lost someone in the catastrophic earthquake that hit Nepal on Saturday,” Dromm said. “On Sunday, I joined many of my constituents in Diversity Plaza as a show of support for the earthquake victims. Many established organizations such as Adhikaar, the Red Cross and UNICEF need our support in the form of cash contributions. This is the best way to help right now.”

The organizers of Sunday’s vigil are currently still set up at Diversity Plaza, located at 73rd Street and 37th Road, and are accepting monetary donations as well as clothes or other items.

The president of the New York Nepalese Football Club, Wangla Lama, traveled to Nepal after the quake and is visiting shelters and writing down what people need.

Rajbhandari said that people in Nepal are in dire need of food, water, tents and blankets, and that any kind of donation would help. He also encourages people to donate to the Red Cross.

Photo by Cristina Furlong

Photo by Cristina Furlong

He added that some members of the club have also applied to head to Nepal to volunteer and are just waiting to get the permission to travel.

Assemblyman Francisco Moya, who represents parts of Jackson Heights, is also opening his office for any members of Queens’ Nepalese and South Asian communities who are in need of assistance.

“To New York’s Nepalese community, I send this message—the family of New York is behind you and we will support you in your time of need,” Moya said. “All of New York mourns with you in this moment of sadness.”

A candlelight vigil is expected to be held this Friday at 8 p.m. in Times Square. Anyone who is looking to donate or who has any questions on how they can help can contact Rajbhandari at 347-891-9841.