Tag Archives: Juniper Valley Park

Speed bumps installed along Juniper Valley Park, residents call for more safety measures


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Salvatore Licata

It’s going to be a bumpy ride for speeders along Juniper Boulevard North after the installation of three speed bumps last week.

The stretch along the north side of Juniper Valley Park has long been a source of community concern. Cars and motorcycles would routinely zip along the street, which had no traffic lights or stop signs, residents said.

After a request from Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley and the approval from Community Board 5 (CB 5), speed bumps were installed at 78th Street, 77th Place and 75th Street to deter cars from speeding, according to a Department of Transportation (DOT) representative.

But on the south side, residents are calling for a traffic signal to make it safer for pedestrians to cross the street.

For over a year now, CB 5 has been asking the DOT to do a traffic signal study to possibly add a traffic light on Juniper Boulevard South.

“The transportation members of the board felt a traffic light would be more efficient on [the south] side,” said Gary Giordano, district manager of CB 5. “A lot of people go to the park each day. They should have a safe place to cross.”

The community board is calling for a light on 78th Street where there is an entrance to the park.

The request for a light at the intersection was denied once already by the DOT but the board is asking for a reconsideration.

The DOT did offer to put a speed bump in the area of 78th Street, due to a request from Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi, according to a DOT representative.

But CB 5 turned it down because they would like to see a light there.

Board members feel that even though speeding is a problem all around the park, this spot would be safer with a traffic light because it will eliminate two problems: speeding and crossing issues, Giordano said.

The request for a reconsideration of a traffic signal study was made on March 31.

The DOT has yet to make a decision. Giordano hopes that the DOT will decide soon, especially because school is now back in session and P.S./I.S. 49 sits just two blocks away on 80th Street.

But if the DOT does again deny a traffic signal, Giordano said the board will be more open to other options.

“If the traffic signal gets denied again,” Giordano said, “then we will be more open to possibly putting a speed bump there.”

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New Juniper Valley Park bocce courts met with skepticism


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Juniper Valley Park’s three new bocce courts opened on Wednesday with a ribbon cutting ceremony and talk of meatballs and spaghetti. But for the players, most of whom are older Italians, the new courts don’t meet their standards.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said that the new courts, which replaced two older ones, were “Grade-A.” But many of the players present during the ceremony weren’t such generous graders.

 “It looks nice. They spent a lot of money on this,” John Pistone, 62, said. “So I give them an A for effort but for efficiency, I give them an F.”

Pistone and his fellow bocce players complained that the new $850,000 courts weren’t leveled correctly and that the design of the overhead shades didn’t prevent rain from soaking the courts. The bulk of the money came from Katz’s office and Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley allocated another $50,000.

Queens Park Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski boasted that the shades placed on all three courts would keep the players cool. But Frank Trocchia said the shades were too small to provide any real protection from the sun.

“We get here in the morning and by 11 o’clock it’s too hot for us to even play,” Trocchia, 64, said. “They didn’t consult us on this design.”

Trocchia and Pistone then proceeded to argue with each other over the ineffective shades and the unbalanced field and which one truly made the bocce courts flawed.

 

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Quiz asks: What NYC park are you?


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File Photo

With hundreds of parks in New York City, it is hard to find the right one to call your own.

The city’s Department of Parks & Recreation just put up a quick quiz on its website to match individuals with a local green space based on likes such as favorite food, book and vacation spot. 

Will you be Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Astoria Park, Juniper Valley Park or another Queens greenery?

To find out, take the quiz here.

 

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U.S. Coast Guard visits Middle Village boy, Colin Flood, with helicopter


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Bob Holden

Follow me @liamlaguerre

 

It was a cool day on Monday for 8-year-old Colin Flood in more ways than just the weather.

Flood, who is battling his second round of acute lymphocytic leukemia, received special gifts from the U.S. Coast Guard, which landed a helicopter in a closed off Juniper Valley Park in Middle Village.

The Coast Guard wanted to treat Flood to the helicopter visit because they learned he is a fan of the TV show “Coast Guard Alaska.”

Photo by Lorraine Scuilli 

Members of the Coast Guard air crew gave Flood a tour of the helicopter and a picture of it. Flood also received a Coast Guard hat and T-shirt along with unit patches and a personal name tag. Members of the nearby 104th Precinct and the U.S. Coast Guard members then took pictures with him.

“It meant a lot to us to see the happiness on Colin’s face and to be able to fulfill his dream to see a Coast Guard helicopter up close and personal,” said John Keeley, special agent of Coast Guard Investigative Services.

Photo by Bob Holden 

About two years ago Flood was in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant and there was a successful collection drive in the neighborhood, where thousands of people volunteered to be tested.

Also, the Make-A-Wish Foundation granted Flood’s wish to go to Walt Disney World Resort in November last year.

 

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Parks Dept. hosts snow activities in Juniper Valley Park


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

The first snowstorm of the new year was every child’s dream. It gave youngsters an extra vacation day from school and a snowy wonderland where they could play.

The Parks Department hosted free activities in Juniper Valley Park in Middle Village on Saturday, courtesy of massive amounts of snow from Winter Storm Hercules, to which hundreds of children and parents took advantage.

The recreation division of the city agency provided free sleds, hot chocolate, snow shoeing and music for children to enjoy the snow in the park.

“It’s vital to the community to have open spaces where they can come out, play sports, relax, make friends and socialize,” said Liam Kavanagh, first deputy commissioner of the Parks Department. “We want them to do it year round. Snow days encourage people to come out climb those hills, slide down, and come out in the winter time when they might not otherwise be in the park.”

It’s an annual event that the recreation division tries to sponsor on the first sighting of large snow storms.

The Parks Department holds the free activities at just five parks around the city, one from each borough. They chose Juniper because the hilly environment provides a great bunny slope for children, but there also weren’t impediments.

“They don’t have good hills in those locations,” said Iris Rodriguez-Rosa, Queens’ chief of recreation for Parks. “Although it’s fun we want the kids to do it in a location that is safe.”

While the massive amount of snow dropped on the city shut down streets, and made for hellish commutes for some, for others the snow was excellent winter fun.

“It’s absolutely wonderful, it makes the whole day wonderful for the kids,” said Jennifer Suffel, a Middle Village resident. “I think its a great part of our community and I would hate to see it stop. its good clean fun the kids should be having.”

 

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‘Snow day’ at Juniper Valley Park Saturday


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File Photo

Updated 4:00 p.m.

Just because Mother Nature has dropped a few inches of snow, doesn’t mean you can’t put on your snow boots, get the sled and, go out and have some fun.

Keeping in mind to stay safe and bundle up, the Department of Parks and Recreation has declared an official snow day for Saturday, January 4 at five parks across the city. The snow day will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

In Queens, the Parks Department will hold a snow day at Juniper Valley Park, at 78th Street and Juniper Valley North in Middle Village. During the snow day, free organized activities include supervised safe sledding, snowman building contests, best snow angel contests, friendly snowball fights, music, and complimentary hot chocolate.

For more information, please call 311 or visit the Parks Department website for updates.

Even though Juniper Park will be the only park in the borough to include free activities in the case of a snow day, here are other local parks you can visit for some fun in the snow and suggestions for sledding spots, courtesy of the city’s Parks Department. But remember to stay warm and be safe!

Astoria Park, Astoria, 19th Street between Shore Boulevard off Ditmars Boulevard

Bowne Park, Flushing, Small hillside on the 155th Street side of the park

Cunningham Park, Oakland Gardens

Crocheron Park, Bayside, 35th Avenue opposite Golden Pond

Flushing Meadows-Corona Park

Forest Park, Mary Whelan Playground at 79th Street and Park Lane South

Hermon A. Macneil Park, College Point

lower Highland Park, Jamaica Avenue & Elton Street

Kissena Park, Flushing, Eastside of Lake: enter Metcalf and 164th Street

 

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Police arrest a Queens Parks Department manager for sexual abuse of a minor


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rene Herrera

A Woodhaven resident and long-time Parks Department employee was arrested on Sunday and charged with three counts of sexual abuse of an underage family member, stemming from his alleged actions five years ago.

Rene Herrera, 57, who oversees such green spaces as Juniper Valley Park, sexually abused an 11-year-old female relative on three separate occasions in 2008, cops said.

The mother of the girl, who is now 16, reported the incidents to the police on Saturday, December 28. Police have not released specific details of the alleged abuse.

Herrera has worked with the Parks Department for about 25 years, according to the Juniper Park Civic Association (JPCA), and became a regional manager in 2002. He is married and has three children.

People that worked with Herrera said that he is a good person.

“I’ve worked with him on many projects. I’ve known him for a long time, he’s a team player,” said Simcha Waisman, vice president of the Richmond Hill Block Association. “From 2008 to now? Something is wrong with that.”

And Herrera has been very helpful and reliable in managing the parks in his districts, according to JPCA.

“He has been efficient and responsive to any issues we may have, always attempting to solve any problems that are reported to him,” said Lorraine Sciulli of JPCA. “He is readily available by phone if we have the need to get in touch with him quickly. He has always been cooperative and helpful to the JPCA.”

Herrera has been suspended without pay, according to a Parks Department spokesperson.

 

Follow on Twitter @liamlaguerre 

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Middle Village-based Gottschee Soccer Club needs room to play


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Miguel Brunengo

The legendary Middle Village-based Blau Weiss Gottschee Soccer Club is so popular it’s literally outgrown the borough.

The soccer club, which remains one of the shining examples of high-level urban athletic competition, has so many players that it utilizes a scattered combination of public fields across the city and has gotten to a point where the league needs to turn young soccer hopefuls away.

The team’s main field is Brennan Field in Juniper Valley Park, but they also travel to practice at Randall’s Island, located between Manhattan and Queens in the East River, and they rent space for games at Aviator Field Sports & Events Center at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, to name a few locations.

“We’ve got [players] spread like seeds in the wind,” said Timon Kalpaxis, a youth coordinator. “Some guys have to schlep up to Randal’s Island just to train.”

The club was created in 1951 by Gottscheer immigrants, an ethnic German-speaking people of from what is now south central Slovenia.

A few decades ago a boom of Hispanic immigrants began entering the club. And as soccer’s popularity began to grow recently in the United States, more and more players have been coming to Gottschee.

The club currently has 30 registered teams in various age and skill divisions, numerous intramural programs and free clinics. During warm months it can accumulate nearly 1,000 players combined, sometimes from the Bronx, Long Island and even New Jersey.

Organizers want more Queens field space so their players can play at a centralized location.

“We not looking for a huge bite of the apple, we’re just looking for a nibble,” Kalpaxis said.

In searching for new fields to expand, Gottschee organizers have identified Grover Cleveland High School Athletic Field near Seneca Avenue and Deklab Avenue as a great location. The field is regulation size and has lights, so night practices and games would be possible.

The Department of Education (DOE) is currently revitalizing that particular soccer field.

“We are currently in the early stages of design with topographic surveys and storm system investigations underway,” said DOE spokesperson Marge Feinberg. “Construction duration will be determined after the surveys and investigations are complete.”

The soccer club has reached out for support from local leaders and politicians to help get access to it when it is completed.

“We are always open to working with them and supporting them,” said a spokesperson from Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley’s office. “We are very supportive of sports and culture programs that serve kids in the district.”

Gottschee attracts much attention from many top Division I schools.

From 2005 to 2012 more than 80 Gottschee players received scholarships to play soccer at well-known universities, including the University of Michigan, Duke, Villanova, Princeton, St. John’s, Holy Cross and Rutgers, just to name a few.

Coordinators said even with the Grover Cleveland field, their problem is part of a fundamental issue of lack of ball fields in the city.

“We lament the fact that we got kids running around getting into trouble, but what are we giving them,” Kalpaxis asked. “Where is the infrastructure for these kids?”

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Tuesday: Partly cloudy in the morning, then overcast with thunderstorms and rain showers. High of 95. Winds from the SW at 5 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 30%. Tuesday night: Mostly cloudy with thunderstorms and rain showers, then a chance of a thunderstorm and a chance of rain after midnight. Low of 73. Winds from the SSW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 40%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Summer 2013 Juniper Valley Park Concert Series – Italian Night

NYC Department of Parks & Recreation and Juniper Park Civic Association presents the Summer 2013 Juniper Valley Park Concert Series.Playing tonight are Tony Valenti and Chris Macchio. Starts at 7 p.m. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Teachers: African-American faculty was targeted for firing at Queens School

Teachers and activists protested at the New York City Department of Education Headquarters on Monday, amid claims that a principal at a Queens school used insensitive language toward African-American teachers as she fired them. Read more: CBS New York

NYPD, Brookhaven to release harmless gases in subway for chemical weapon study

The NYPD will release harmless gases into the subway system during the morning rush beginning Tuesday to study how chemical weapons could be dispersed through the air. Read more: NBC New York 

Queens borough president hopeful Melinda Katz nabs endorsement of Rep. Grace Meng

Rep. Grace Meng is backing Democrat Melinda Katz in her bid to become the next Queens borough president, the Daily News has learned. Read more: New York Daily News 

Two firefighters save five from sinking fishing boat 

Two city firefighters are being hailed as heroes for rescuing five people from a sinking boat in the waters off Queens. Read more: NY1

Restaurant owners hope inspection changes mean lower fines

Reform is on the menu for the controversial New York City restaurant inspection system. Read more: CBS New York

Women in Ohio kidnap case thank public for support 

Three women held captive in a Cleveland home for a decade issued a YouTube video Monday night in which they thanked the public for the encouragement and financial support that is allowing them to restart their lives. Read more: AP

Cyclists take part in sixth annual Tour de Queens


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

After completing the Five Boro Bike Tour last year, Astoria resident Jennifer Chakrabarti wanted to do a bike ride with her nine-year-old son Bhaskar.

The family-friendly sixth annual Tour de Queens on July 7 fit the bill. This year, it began in Chakrabarti’s “backyard” at Astoria Park.

“I like that it’s a slow-paced so that kids can do it,” Chakrabarti said. “That’s what really drew us to it, because he wanted to do a ride.”

About 1,250 riders from all over the city saddled up for the annual bike tour to experience a relaxing ride and enjoy unique views of western Queens neighborhoods, which was a major lane change for the event.

For the first time ever, the ride started in Astoria Park instead of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. It continued for nearly 20 miles through Long Island City, Ridgewood, Maspeth, Middle Village, Rego Park, Forest Hills, Corona and Elmhurst.

The ride also highlighted Juniper Valley Park at the halfway point, where the group gathered to rest, eat and reenergize.

“We change the ride up every year to showcase different parts of the borough, to demonstrate the interconnectivity of the different neighborhoods and to show how easy it is to bike through the borough and to show people the sites,” said event director Ben McRoberts of Transportation Alternatives.

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, whose district was included in the tour, hoped the ride could help future business.

“Not only is it healthy for all of us, but it is a great opportunity for people to see sites and small businesses that they never get to see,” said Van Bramer, who participated for the first time this year.

SEE MORE PHOTOS FROM TOUR DE QUEENS 

About 100 volunteer ride marshals in orange jackets followed riders to keep them on track and assist in case there were any issues. Paramedics also followed closely behind the bikers in case of medical problems.

The NYPD escorted the ride to manage the crowd and traffic and provide a safe atmosphere. Many participants felt secure with the cops guiding the tour, especially after the tragic events of the Boston Marathon earlier this year.

“With this number of people, I guess there is a little bit of safety concern,” said Astoria cyclist Jonathan Co. “But I feel pretty safe for the most part.”

 

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Middle Village event fights cancer, one lap at a time


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

In 1994, just a few days after his 19th birthday, Darren Alloggiamento was diagnosed with cancer. Doctors discovered a brain tumor after he complained of a headache.

“I was so nervous and depressed,” Alloggiamento recalled.

He underwent successful surgery to remove the tumor a few weeks later. That year, the Queens native attended game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals to watch his beloved Rangers win the title.

Since his battle nearly two decades ago, he decided to donate to cancer research. He has attended the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life of Middle Village every year since 2004.

On June 22, dozens of survivors and about 1,000 other participants joined in the 11th annual Middle Village Relay for Life at Juniper Valley Park.

“My family was very supportive, but you need other survivors,” Alloggiamento said.

Sixty teams of nearly 600 participants total raised more than $184,000 for cancer research as of June 24, coming close to their goal of $200,000.

Communities across the country have held relays for more than 25 years since Dr. Gordy Klatt started the tradition to raise money for his local American Cancer Society office in Tacoma, Washington.

Today the event takes place in more than 5,000 communities across America, including numerous Queens neighborhoods.

“There is no finish line until we find a cure, which is why we walk in circles all night long,” said Leslie Orlovsky, who has directed the Relay at Juniper Valley Park since its inception.

“It’s too late for my son, but there are a lot of people that need the help,” said Maspeth resident Dolores St. Louis, whose son, Paul, died of cancer in 1996 at age 29. “People have to keep contributing so we can find a cure.”

 

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Art gives Queens students a voice


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Maggie Hayes

Queens artists are blossoming in borough elementary schools.

The LeAp public art program took two schools under its wing to help students make large-scale pieces and present them to the community. The works, by pupils from P.S. 9 and P.S. 75, took on current issues such as gun violence and global warming. They went on display at Juniper Valley Park and Forest Park.

“I am so proud of our students,” said program director Alexandra Leff, adding they “have been extremely brave in taking on major issues in such thoughtful, meaningful and beautiful ways.”

The students worked in groups to transform plain lunch tables into works of art relating to social issues. They crafted 3D pieces and other creations.

“My table sent a message to a lot of people,” said Jerome John, a seventh grader at P.S. 75. “It can touch a lot of people’s lives.”

John added that LeAp helped him reach a level of drawing and writing he “never knew” before.

The showcase will continue throughout the five boroughs as part of the largest student art exhibition in the history of city parks. Other issues such as bullying and drugs will be addressed through the students’ pieces.

“It’s time that young people have a voice in their community,” Leff said. “I hope the public will travel to see what young people have expressed on topics we all face every day.”

 

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City green spaces to get more staff


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Juniper Valley Park is just one green space in the borough that will soon get more supervision. The City’s Parks Department is significantly increasing its staff to include 81 new Parks Enforcement Patrol (PEP) officers who will protect park rules and assets in Queens and the rest of the city. The new hires will also include 207 city park workers, 96 maintenance and trade workers and 30 climbers and pruners to preserve trees, according to a Parks spokesperson.

The plans received a warm welcome in the southwest community, where many say that their parks, especially Juniper Valley, need extra eyes.

“It’s long overdue,” said Frank Kotnik, president of the 104th Precinct’s Glendale Civilian Observation Patrol (G-COP).

Robert Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, said that Juniper Valley Park had “a tenth of the officers that they’ve needed” in the past.

“Any investment in PEP officers is a good investment,” he said. “There’s vandalism in the park, people who don’t respect park regulations. The cops are spread so thinly at this point that they really can’t handle all of the park’s complaints.”

The Parks spokesperson attributed the shortage of PEP officers to the fiscal crisis, As a result, the workforce has not kept pace with its growing infrastructure, the representative added.

The Parks Department said 12 PEP officers and six Urban Park Rangers currently patrol Queens parks, adding that its 2014 budget allows for the additional staffing that will be spread throughout the city.

The specific number of officers coming to Queens this summer is not yet known.
Holden said that however many officers are coming, the community “needs them working,” especially on off-hours such as nights and weekends.

“In Juniper, there are 10 times as many people there on the weekends. If there are no officers, it’s almost a free-for-all,” he said. “We have picnics going on, and people driving through on [illegal] four wheelers.”

“It has been difficult to get an officer there during the evening or on the weekends when the parks really need to be protected,” he added.

When Holden heard complaints in the past, he used his own police connections to attempt to get an officer to the park.

He hopes Juniper Valley Park will see an increase in patrol staff to help alleviate the problems.

“PEP officers are certainly welcome,” he said. “But we need to know where they are going to be deployed. It’s great news, but I’m not going to jump up and down with joy.”

 

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Christmas tree collection to begin today


| brennison@queenscourier.com

The presents have been opened, the stockings unstuffed and the time is coming to take down the decorations and dispose of your Christmas tree.

Beginning Wednesday, January 2, the Department of Sanitation will collect the Christmas trees that have been placed curbside.  All trees should be removed of tinsel, lights, ornaments and stands. The program will run through Saturday, January 12.

The trees must not be placed into plastic bags.

The trees will be chipped and turned into compost and spread throughout the city in parks, ball fields and community gardens. More than 140,000 are “tree-cycled” each year.

“The department is very pleased to offer this special recycling service.  Providing collection and recycling options for residents is environmentally valuable and benefits our neighborhoods,” said Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty.

The city’s Parks & Recreation Department will also hold a Mulchfest on Saturday, January 12 and Sunday, January 13. Residents can bring their trees to one of the 80 designated locations around the city — 11 in Queens — for mulching. New Yorkers who drop their tree off at the event will also be able to pick up free mulch.

For more information on Christmas tree collection and recycling and/or Mulchfest 2013, visit www.nyc.gov/sanitation, www.nycgovparks.org or call 3-1-1.

Here is a list of Queens Mulchfest locations:

Astoria Park* (19th Street & Hoyt Avenue)

Brookville Park* (Brookville Boulevard between 144th Avenue & Caney Road)

Cunningham Park* (Visitor Parking Lot & 196th Street)

Forest Park Bandshell* (Forest Park Drive, west of Woodhaven Boulevard)

Juniper Valley Park* (80th Street between Juniper Boulevards North & South)

Kissena Park (164th Street at Underhill Avenue)

Land Restoration Project Compound* (Queens Plaza South & 10th Street)

Oakland Gardens/Playground 203* (Springfield Boulevard at 56th Avenue)

Rockaway Beach (Shore Front Parkway & Beach 94th Street)

Roy Wilkins Park (Park entrance at Merrick and Foch Boulevards)

Travers Park* (78th Street at 34th Avenue)

* Free mulch will be provided