Tag Archives: Juniper Valley Park

Free Juniper Valley Park concert series lineup announced


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy of Juniper Park Civic Association

Juniper Valley Park in Middle Village will be rocking this summer with four free concerts as part of the 2015 Juniper Valley Park Summer Concert Series.

The concert series kicks off on July 14 with “Swing Night,” featuring music from the Gerard Carelli Orchestra (GCO). Gerard Carelli, a trombonist and vocalist, leads the GCO, which is one of New York’s most popular ensembles. The GCO has performed at many special events including the late actor Christopher Reeve’s 50th birthday; fundraisers hosted by former president Bill Clinton; and parties for celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito and restaurateur Drew Nieporent of Tribeca Grill and Nobu.

Carelli has also toured the world with famous musicians such as Ray Charles, and has two CDs to his name.

The three other free concerts in the series will be: Italian Night on July 21, featuring music from Elio Scaccio and Tony Valente Trio; ’80s Tribute Night on July 28, featuring the White Wedding Band playing popular hits from the 1980s; and, on Aug. 4, the NYPD Night Out Against Crime, where the band Generations will be playing classic rock ‘n’ roll music.

The 2015 Juniper Valley Park Free Summer Concert Series is sponsored by NYC Department of Parks & Recreation and Juniper Park Civic Association (JPCA). Co-sponsors include the Juniper Valley Park Conservancy, Crifasi Real Estate, O’Neill’s Restaurant, Queensboro UNICO and Rep.Grace Meng.

All concerts are free to the public and begin at 7 p.m. Concertgoers are invited to bring their own lawn chairs to comfortably view each performance.

Concert schedule and acts subject to change. For latest concert information and weather updates, call 718-651-5865 or visit the JPCA website.

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PHOTOS: Middle Village holds annual Relay for Life event


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photos courtsey Relay for Life

Rain and thunder could not dampen the spirits of the nearly 400 participants who took part in the 13th Annual Relay for Life of Middle Village in Juniper Valley Park on Saturday.

The relay in the park was a success, but the threat of high winds and heavy rain did cause the Luminaria ceremony to be rescheduled for July 13 at 9 p.m., said Marlene Medina, community manager for Relay for Life.

Relayers will get the opportunity to light their Luminaria bag and run their laps in honor of, or in memory of, a loved one at the Maspeth Federal Savings parking lot located on 69th Street and Grand Avenue.

Relay for Life is the world’s largest fundraising event created to help bring an end to cancer. It brings together communities to celebrate people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones who have not made it, and take action to stop cancer.

Relay for Life has currently raised over $170,000 and is continuing fundraising efforts until they reach their goal of $200,000 before Aug. 30, according to Medina. Anyone interested in donating can visit the Relay for Life website to make a donation.

 

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The St. Margaret’s/Resurrection Flyers celebrate record-breaking season


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy St. Margaret's/Resurrection Flyers

During their end-of-season celebration, the St. Margaret’s/Resurrection Flyers presented special plaques to runners, including those who broke records this season.

Senior girl Karolina Niepokoj received a special plaque to commemorate her record-breaking performance in the 800-meter run this year. Also receiving special plaques were novice boys Josiah Boulet, Kevin Isca, Unai Higgins and Andrew Kelly for setting a new record in the 600-meter medley relay earlier in the season.

For winning the Diocesan Championship in the indoor 600-meter medley relay, novice boys Josiah Boulet, Kevin Isca, Unai Higgins and Andrew Kelly won a special plaque and sweatshirt. Also winning were senior boy Luc Cathersal and junior girl Ainara Higgins for the indoor long jump.

The Diocesan champs for the indoor 800-meter race were senior girl Karolina Niepokoj and her bantam brother Kacper Niepokoj and junior girl Zara McPartland. For the indoor 400-meter run, junior boy Michael Hubert won the Diocesan and was awarded with the plague and sweatshirt as well.

For the outdoor season, bantam boy Ricky Hubert, junior girl Zara Mcpartland and senior girl Karolina Niepokoj earned their plaques and sweatshirts for their performance in the 800-meter run. Winning the Diocesan for the outdoor long jump were senior boy Luc Cathersal and senior girl Ainara Higgins.

Other winners during the outdoor season were novice boy Andrew Kelly in the 400-meter run and novice girl Olaia Higgins for the 100-meter dash.

Two of the Flyers’ relay teams won the Diocesan Championship this year. First was junior/senior girls 400-meter medley relay team consisting of Nina Allen and sisters Shauna and Rebecca Hurson. The second outdoor Diocesan champion relay team runners were junior/senior boys Johnny Ostling, John Boger and Owen Kelly for the 400-meter medley race.

In addition to the plaques and sweatshirts being awarded, special coaches’ awards were presented to outstanding runners during the season.

The Super Spirit trophies were given to novice girl Aileen Mitrarotonda and bantam boy Victor Ostling. The Terrific Teammate awards went to novice girl Olaia Higgins and junior boy Owen Kelly. The Excellent Effort trophies went to junior girl Lili Cathersal and novice boy Unai Higgins. The Fantastic Flyer awards went to senior girl Ainara Higgins and senior boy Johnny Ostling.

The award for most valuable runner went to senior girl Karolina Niepokoj.

The Flyers will be back for a new season on Saturday, Sept. 12, at the track at Juniper Valley Park.

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Five teens caught in Middle Village robbery


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

HandcuffsHC0511_L_300_C_Y-624x413

Five teenagers were taken into custody following a Tuesday night robbery in Middle Village, police reported.

Authorities stated that the two victims were traveling through Juniper Valley Park at approximately 10:25 p.m. when they were approached by the five suspects. One of the perpetrators reportedly displayed a knife and demanded the victims’ cellphones.

During the course of the robbery, the group attacked the teens and removed their iPhones before fleeing from the scene, authorities said.

Officers from the 104th Precinct responded to the incident; the victims suffered injuries that were not life-threatening.

Police apprehended the five perpetrators in the area of 69th Street and Metropolitan Avenue shortly after the incident. They were identified as Jonathan Perez 18, from the Bronx; Kenneth Cabrera 18, of Glendale; Justin Santos 19, of Middle Village; a 17-year-old male, of Maspeth; and a 15-year-old male from New Britain, Connecticut.

Each suspect was charged with robbery.

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Queens students fight against animal abuse and endangerment through art


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photos by Anthony Giudice

Middle school students from across the city are getting the chance to have their artwork put on display in city parks thanks to Learning through an Expanded Arts Program’s (LeAp) public art program.

Students from P.S. 9 Walter Reed School in Queens participated in the public art program where they expressed their thoughts on the issues of animal abuse and animal endangerment through the power of art.

The project, titled “A View from the Lunchroom Students Bringing Issues to the Table,” tasked students with painting a lunchroom table to help raise awareness for their topic of choice.

“A lot of animals are being killed for their tusks or to make food,” said Demitirius Morris, student of P.S. 9 at I.S. 5. “It was fun making the table. We want to tell people to be nice to animals and protect the Earth. It is most important to me because I have a dog.”

Their table is now on display at Juniper Valley Park in Middle Village and will remain there through August.

“We are proud to put our table in Juniper Valley Park in Queens, New York,” said Vincent Suraty, a student at Walter Reed School.

The public art program allows public school students to have a voice in their communities and speak out on the social issues that matter to them. The children work with a LeAp teaching artist to explore the critical issues in their communities, study the history of the issues raised and learn how to express themselves through art.

“The idea is to target this age group to show them that adults respect what they have to say,” said Alexandra Leff, director of LeAp’s public art program. “We give them this public forum to express themselves and empower them to have a voice through artwork.”

The students learned from the LeAp teaching artist how to use art as a form of expression, and how their message can reach many people.

“We teach the students about symbolism in art, how to use color and to visually express their message,” said Christy Powers, LeAp teaching artist. “We teach them how important that is, especially in Queens, with such a diverse population and people speaking different languages. Art has a way to emotionally impact you.”

Walter Reed School was just one of 10 schools from all five boroughs to have their artwork displayed in city parks. This art program is the largest student art exhibition in the history of New York City parks, and the first to span the five boroughs.


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City budget tops Glendale Property Owners meeting


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

At the Glendale Property Owners Association’s (GPOA) final meeting before the summer break, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley gave members an update on the city budget on Thursday night at The Shops at Atlas Park.

“We are in the middle of negotiations, as we are every June because we must pass a budget before July first,” Crowley said. “This year the budget has grown to $78 billion. The mayor has proposed $500 million in new programs, but he has a plan to roll over approximately $2 billion into the next fiscal year.”

The City Council’s plans for the budget differ from those of the mayor. For example, the City Council is proposing to hire more police officers.

“[Mayor Bill De Blasio] would like to hire 500 police officers. The Council is calling for 1,000,” Crowley said. “The [Police] Department spends approximately $700 million a year on overtime, which is too much money on overtime. If you had more of a force you would spend straight-time and less overtime if you had the resources to deploy.”

Although the crime in Crowley’s district is low, other areas of the city are seeing a rise in crime, and the legislator believes hiring more police officers would help alleviate such problems around the city.

“In addition to hiring more police officers, I have been working with the mayor to get more resources to improve our emergency medical services,” Crowley said. “The Fire Department runs most of our ambulances in the city, and the response times, especially in Queens, are too high. For life threatening emergencies, it takes over 10 minutes if you look at the past three months, on average, and that’s far too long.”

The councilwoman also touched on some of the city parks that are getting renovations thanks to City Council funds. Frank Principe Park and Juniper Valley Park are both slated to receive renovations to improve their infrastructure.

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Middle Village coyote caught


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@NYPD104Pct

Updated Wednesday, April 29, 12:36 p.m.

The wily coyote that ran amok through Middle Village Monday morning was safely caught Tuesday night, police announced.

The 104th Precinct posted a photo on its Twitter account at about 8:40 p.m. of the wild animal locked inside of a crate. The critter—which New York City Animal Care and Control (AC&C) later identified as a 4-year-old female—was caught in the area of Caldwell Avenue and 77th Place.

“He [sic] might have gotten away once but not today,” Capt. Mark Wachter, 104th Precinct commanding officer, said in the tweet Tuesday night.

Neighbors and police discovered the coyote sleeping in the front yard of a home on 71st Street across from Juniper Valley Park at about 10:30 a.m. Monday. When first responders moved in to tranquilize and trap the beast, the coyote darted off into the park and surrounding streets.

Police lost track of the coyote, which had been last seen Monday afternoon in the area of Juniper Boulevard South and 80th Street.

Officers and animal care experts were called to the 77th Place home at about 7:15 p.m. Tuesday night after a resident spotted the coyote in her backyard. The animal was successfully tranquilized, trapped and transferred into the custody of New York City Animal Care and Control for evaluation; the AC&C indicated the coyote has since been fitted with a tracking microchip.

Once deemed healthy, the coyote is expected to be released into the wild at a location far from the city.

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Coyote on the loose in Middle Village area


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

Updated 1:31 p.m.

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO AND ROBERT POZARYCKI

Police are looking to catch a coyote that was spotted in front of a Middle Village home Monday morning but suddenly took off into Juniper Valley Park when first responders moved in to nab the wild animal.

Reportedly, residents on 71st Street near Lutheran Avenue spotted the beast curled up in the front yard of a home at about 10:30 a.m.

Officers from the 104th Precinct and the NYPD Emergency Services Unit rushed to the location along with animal care experts. Police closed off 71st Street and Lutheran Avenue while first responders worked to tranquilize and trap the coyote.

But when the officers moved in on the animal, the coyote woke from its slumber and took off, darting across 71st Street into Juniper Valley Park, sources said. The creature was spotted running across the park and Juniper Boulevard North before police lost sight of it.

Photo via Twitter/@NYPD104Pct

Photo via Twitter/@NYPD104Pct

Moments later, officers rushed to the intersection of Caldwell Avenue and 77th Street after a neighbor reported seeing the coyote in a backyard. However, the coyote was gone by the time authorities arrived.

Currently, police continue to canvass the Middle Village area for the wily coyote. The 104th Precinct reported in an email that, as of 1:23 p.m., “there have been multiple calls into 911″ regarding coyote sightings in the Middle Village area. Reportedly, the wild animal was last seen on the south side of Juniper Valley Park.

Anyone who spots the animal is urged to call 911 immediately; under no circumstances should they approach the creature.

This is not the first time a coyote was spotted wandering through Queens. Last month, Long Island City residents and business owners observed one on the roof of a neighborhood bar before it wandered into the defunct Paragon Paint building.

On Saturday morning, police successfully trapped a coyote observed on the loose in Battery Park City in Lower Manhattan.

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

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Middle Village bocce court repairs miss the mark


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photos by Anthony Giudice

Juniper Valley Park in Middle Village received an $850,000 renovation for its bocce courts, located near the corner of 79th Street and Juniper Boulevard North, in July. Now, players are saying that more needs to be done to make the courts playable before the one-year warranty on the site expires.

Longtime bocce player Anthony Sozio believes some of the designs of the new courts are flawed.

The panels on the top of the protective canopies “are slanted the wrong way,” Sozio said. “When it rains, the water drips right onto the court,” he explained. The dripping creates divots in the court, leaving it unplayable.

“We are aware that to reverse the panels to face outside the courts is a costly proposition,” Sozio said. However, he has a cost-effective suggestion that would alleviate the problem. Sozio believes a heavy-duty tarp could be placed atop the canopies to divert the rainwater away from the courts.

Icicles also formed on the canopies this winter, posing a danger to players below, he added.

“Last week, one of the players got hit by an icicle while removing snow from one of the courts, thankfully without any consequence,” Sozio said.

Photo: Anthony Giudice

Other bocce players, Nick Fazio and Peter Bozanic, agreed with Sozio’s claims and feel something should be done.

“We get no help from the Parks Department with maintenance,” Fazio said.

The players take it upon themselves to repair damages to the courts, having already gone through the 60 bags of replacement soil given to them for maintaining the courts, Sozio said.

The benches alongside the bocce courts pose a problem for spectators. “The benches are so low and the courts are high, so no one can see the game,” Sozio said.

The lighting around the courts do not do enough to illuminate the area when the sun goes down, Bozanic said. “The yellow lights don’t provide enough light,” he continued.

Sozio plans on creating a petition, getting it signed by the bocce players who use the courts and sending it to the local politicians in hopes that they will help fix the courts.

“We are going to petition the City of New York, the Parks Department and our elected officials to prompt responsible people to make proper repairs,” Sozio said.

The group wants the repairs made to be able to keep playing the game they love. “Bocce is very good for us,” Sozio said. “It keeps us healthy. People come from all over to play here and it is how we make friends.”

“The three new bocce courts are great new amenities at Juniper Valley Park, and will allow our community to host citywide bocce tournaments,” said Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, who serves District 30. “My office has been working closely with the community members who regularly use the bocce courts at Juniper Valley for years, and we have conveyed their concerns to the Parks Department – which is ultimately responsible for design, construction, and maintenance of the bocce courts.”

The Parks Department did not immediately respond for a request for comment.

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Juniper Valley Park has second most playground injury claims in city: report


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Juniper Valley Park in Middle Village has cost taxpayers at least about $300,000 over the last decade due to personal injuries claims, according to a new report.

The green space tied for second place for playground-related personal injury claims filed against the city from 2005 to 2014, which cost more than $20.6 million citywide, City Comptroller Scott Stringer said.

Stringer’s analysis also found that annual claims in the city rose 53 percent from just 45 incidents in 2005 to 69 last year.

Of the 577 park- and playground-related injury claims over the decade, 111 accidents occurred in Queens. Brooklyn led the city in playground injuries with 209 accidents occurring in the last decade.

Juniper Valley Park had six injury claims filed against the city over the decade for accidents related to missing matting, holes and defective swings. Five of those claims recorded a combined $297,500, according to Stringer’s analysis. The amount of one was not given in the report.

Local residents say Juniper has a numerous issues, including holes, defective equipment, cracks and other trip hazards, and that the Parks Department neglects to take action and fix the park, even though problems have been reported.

For example, Robert Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, emphasized the need to fix netting at the park’s batting cages, where high school children play. The netting is used to protect balls from being hit outside the field area, but has been broken since Hurricane Sandy.

Holden has complained about it for years but still hasn’t seen a fix.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the lawsuits were with somebody getting hit with a ball,” Holden said. “Perhaps if it were their own money, like let’s say it would come out of department leaders’ paychecks, they would fix it.”

The park is receiving $2.5 million, allocated by Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, for improvements to the track, but Holden said the fixes have been long overdue.

Citywide, parks have recorded injury claims for a range of problems, include protruding nails, debris, defective park equipment and improper surfacing — including cracked grounds, holes and missing matting.

In an attempt to reduce the city’s bill over the next 10 years and protect children, Stringer sent a letter to the Parks Department asking to increase efforts to make certain that parks are safe.

“With claims at their highest point in a decade, it’s clear that the Department of Parks and Recreation must find ways to improve safety in our city’s playgrounds,” Stringer said. “We owe it to our kids to adopt best practices for safety and install state-of-the-art equipment in our playgrounds that reduces the potential for injuries.”

Click here to see a full map of all the claims.

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$2.5M allocated for Juniper Valley Park improvements


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Joggers and athletes in Juniper Valley Park will soon be jumping for joy with a new upgrade coming to the track and field.

$2.5 million has been allocated by Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley to renovate the track and field complex, which she says has its fair share of problems that need to be addressed.

“Drainage issues have significantly damaged the track and have prevented its full use,” said Crowley. “Renovating this track will enable all residents to take advantage of all Juniper Valley Park can offer.”

At this point, the funding has been secured for the renovation, but there are no concrete plans or timeline for what type of work will be done. Scoping meetings will be held with the community to discuss the possibilities for this project, according to a representative from the Parks Department.

This is not the first time Crowley has allocated funds to help the park. She also secured funding for upgrades of the handball courts, lower playground area and bocce courts.

She said she wants to get the renovations done as soon as possible and is even drafting legislation that will expedite Council members’ fully funded capital projects.

“Since Juniper is a highly utilized park, upkeep is very important,” Crowley noted. “Renovating the field at Juniper Valley Park is a high priority for members of our community.”

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Star of Queens: Ed Shusterich, president, Pullis Farm Cemetery Historical Landmark


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

_2Ed Shusterich

BY ASHA MAHADEVAN

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Ed Shusterich is the founder and president of Pullis Farm Cemetery Historical Landmark, a nonprofit organization that handles the upkeep of the Pullis Cemetery in Juniper Valley Park, Middle Village. Shusterich founded the association in 1993 to transform the decrepit site into a beautiful garden, firmly believing “we could do better than what we have.” Over the years, he planted trees and other foliage on the barren wasteland and even built a utility house. He believes that it is part of the culture and heritage of the community and it is the community’s civic duty to improve it. Most of the volunteers involved in the project are above 50 years of age. Shusterich said that one of the unintended benefits of the project is that it also helps senior citizens connect with each other. On Oct. 18, his organization is holding a drive, calling volunteers of all ages to plant more flowers in the park.

BACKGROUND: Shusterich was born to Slovenian immigrants in Brooklyn but moved to Queens more than 50 years ago. He was in the army for two years during the Korean Conflict before working in the private sector. He lives in Middle Village.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “Getting funding and support from local elected officials is the biggest challenge,” said Shusterich. “They support us but it takes time. Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. has been a great supporter.”

GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT: Shusterich recalled, “I had a flag pole installed in 2003. It cost us $17,000. On the occasion I dedicated the flag pole and the plaque to the heroes and victims of 9/11. I invited the fire department, veterans and the general public to the installation.”

INSPIRATION: “Self-inspiration,” laughed Shusterich. “I am a self-starter.”

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Middle Village, local 10-year-old featured in soon-to-be-released movie


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos by Kelsey Bennett

Middle Village is ready for its close-up.

The neighborhood is the backdrop for a soon-to-be-released film focusing on an ex-mafia captain (“capo”) as he comes to grips with how his former life has changed after spending the last 20 years in federal prison. The movie also features a 10-year-old actress from the neighborhood, Olivia Panepinto, in her debut role.

Director, writer and producer David Rodriguez was inspired to make “Once Upon a Time in Queens” after seeing a program on the Investigation Discovery channel about an FBI agent who went undercover in the Gambino crime family in the Bronx. There was one member who was recently released from prison and came home to reclaim his old rackets, but most of the people from his former mob life were dead, in prison or informants.

“In his mind it was still the early 90s … where you could still survive in this world and be untouchable, and what he didn’t realize was that it was the opposite,” Rodriguez said.

In the film, Paul Sorvino plays Joseph Scoleri, who was sent away for racketeering and conspiracy to commit murder. After his release, he goes to live at his Middle Village home, with his 43-year-old daughter Rita (Renee Props). In addition to leaving his gangster lifestyle behind and being forbidden to speak to former associates, Scoleri must reestablish his relationship with his daughter and come to terms with how she has been living her life.

He also becomes reacquainted with his neighbor Bobby DiBianco, played by Michael Rapaport, whom he last saw as a teenager.

Bobby now has a family of his own and runs his father’s deli, and agrees to help run errands for the ailing Scoleri. The character represents a progressive, professional lifestyle, instead of a wannabe gangster, according to Rodriguez.

“He speaks to [Scoleri] like nobody has ever spoken to him,” Rodriguez said. “That is another shocker to him.”

Part of Bobby’s family man image is his daughter Liv, played by Olivia.

Olivia

The current fifth-grader landed the part after three impressive auditions. She was so good that her part was changed from a boy to a girl.

“She really knocked it out of the park in the audition,” Rodriguez said. The part was also changed to make the film less male-centric and more heartfelt.

Olivia’s dream of acting started at two years old when she was watching TV and asked, “How can I be in the box?”

After a trip to Los Angeles where she visited the Hollywood Walk of Fame and asked her parents how she could “get one of those stars,” Olivia started taking acting lessons, and landed her first part in “Once Upon a Time in Queens.”

“It was like my dream come true,” she said. “It was even more cool that we shot it in my neighborhood.”

Filming was somewhat challenging, but mostly fun, Olivia said, especially when Sorvino would sing opera between takes.

The young actress has also appeared in a web show called “Mona in Manhattan” with her older sisters, Alessandra, 14, and Emmanuela, 12, and will be filming a movie with them in LA this January called “Marilyn Monroe Zombie Hunter.”

Olivia  during a scene at a Middle Village deli with actor Michael Rapaport (far right).

Olivia during a scene at a Middle Village deli with actor Michael Rapaport (far right).

Olivia’s father Ignazio was also involved in “Once Upon a Time in Queens,” receiving a co-executive producer credit for helping find most the locations for the film, which was mainly shot in Middle Village and Ridgewood. Some scenes were filmed at Juniper Valley Park and Village Gourmet on Eliot Avenue, a stand-in for Bobby’s deli.

Though the film was shown at several film festivals around the country last year, including the 2013 Austin Film Festival, its official premiere, with its new name, will take place this Wednesday in the East Village.

In February, Lionsgate purchased the movie, which was originally called “Last I Heard,” and renamed it “Once Upon a Time in Queens.”

It also will have a Los Angeles premiere on Thursday, which will be followed by a seven-day theatrical run in the city. On Nov. 11 it will be available on DVD, iTunes, Netflix and Amazon Instant Video.

Rodriguez hopes audiences “see the film for what it is.”

“I don’t want people to see the movie and think it’s a mob movie,” he said. “It’s a slice of New York life.”

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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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