Tag Archives: Juniper Valley Park

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

Residents hold 9/11 vigil at Juniper Valley Park


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Billy Rennison

With the Twin Tower tribute lights in the background, hundreds of Queens residents gathered holding candles to honor those who died in the attacks on September 11.

The candlelight vigil at Juniper Valley Park in Middle Village featured poems, prayer and music on the 11th anniversary of the attacks.

Click here to see all the pictures from the night.

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: Overcast with thunderstorms and rain showers, then thunderstorms in the afternoon. High of 81. Winds from the SW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 80% with rainfall amounts near 0.4 in. possible. Wednesday night: Mostly cloudy in the evening, then partly cloudy. Low of 75. Winds from the West at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 20%.

EVENT of the DAY: Alobar’s Tomato Festival

All this week, Long Island City restaurant Alobar is honoring the harvest season with a rotating menu of tomato dishes supporting local farms at $30 per person for two courses and a cocktail or glass of wine. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Seven Queens schools slated for closure re-open this week

After months of uncertainty, many teachers at seven Queens high schools previously slated for closure are going back to work. Read more: New York Daily News 

Internet currency exchange biz owner gets jail for tax conviction

The owner of an Internet currency exchange business is going to prison on a tax conviction. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara announced the two-year sentence today for Ilya Boruch of Forest Hills, Queens. Read more: New York Post

 School in Queens to serve “brunch”

he thought of having lunch, or as the principal of IS25 calls it “brunch,” at 9:45 in the morning is not going over well. Come Thursday, many students at the middle school in Auburndale, Queens will feast on roast chicken, rice and pinto beans, just two hours after their day. Read more: ABC New York

Juniper Valley Park plagued by trash, vandalism and under-aged drinking, civic leaders say

Underage boozing, vandalism and mounds of trash have plagued Juniper Valley Park all summer due to lack of Parks Enforcement Patrol officers, civic leaders say. Read more: New York Daily News

With City Council redistricting looming, activists unveil “Unity Map”

Activists are trying to protect the city’s minority groups as the City Council district lines are about to be redrawn. Minority advocate groups unveiled their so-called Unity Map Tuesday. Read more: NY1

Ed Koch being treated for anemia at New York Presbyterian

Former mayor Ed Koch was being treated at New York Presbyterian on the Upper West Side and will remain hospitalized for a few days after undergoing a blood transfusion, officials said Tuesday night. Read more: CBS New York

Airlines to face trial over 9/11

The AMR Corporation’s American Airlines and United Continental Holdings must face a federal trial over negligence claims tied to the hijacking of jetliners used in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a federal judge ruled Tuesday. Read more: New York Times

Mrs. Obama: Husband knows what struggle means

Democrats are using one of Barack Obama’s strong suits, that voters believe he understands the problems of ordinary people, to trump his weakest suit, the economy. Read more: AP

Memorial Moving Wall is moving experience


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Dara Drake

BY DARA DRAKE

Jane Pescatore said it brought tears to her eyes.

The Middle Village resident was one of many who attended the opening ceremony of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Moving Wall on Friday, June 29, when it went on display to the public.

“This is just such a beautiful thing – it brought tears to my eyes – and I’m glad it could be brought to the neighborhood for everyone to see” said Pescatore.

With residents, elected officials and others present, members of the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) read the names of the 37 soldiers who hailed from Queens listed as prisoner of war or missing in action (POW/MIA).

“Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another,” said Paul Narson, president of the VVA #32 of Queens, which worked in conjunction with the Veterans Day Parade Committee, Maspeth Federal Savings and the United Fraternal Organizations of Maspeth to bring the half-sized replica of the Memorial Moving Wall to Juniper Valley Park through Monday, July 2.

This was the Wall’s second visit to Queens – it was on display in Cunningham Park in 2004.

 

Christmas Tree Collection to Begin January 3


| brennison@queenscourier.com

After the presents have been unwrapped, the stockings unstuffed and the new year has passed, comes the time to take down the decorations and discard the Christmas tree.

Beginning Tuesday, January 3, the Department of Sanitation will collect the curbside Christmas trees that should be removed of tinsel, lights, ornaments and stands.  The program will run through Saturday, January 14.

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.  Compost is a natural fertilizer and is a soil enrichment that promotes the growth of plants and grass.

“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 7 and Sunday, January 8.  Residents can bring their trees to one of the 70 designated locations around the city — 10 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 2012, visit www.nyc.gov/sanitation or www.nyc.gov/parks 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 (Sunday Only*) (164th Street at Underhill Avenue)
  • Land Restoration Project Compound* (Queens Plaza South & 10th Street)
  • 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

Juniper Valley Park grade-A greenspace


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File Photo

Middle Village’s Juniper Valley Park is making the grade.

In a recent report card released by New Yorkers for Parks, the park received an “A,” ranking it among the highest rated parks in the city.

The study focused on the maintenance conditions of parks between 20 and 500 acres.

The Middle Village park scored a 93, making it the second highest ranked within the city. The report attributed the park’s high score to an active group of volunteers that keeps it running and clean.

“Most of the parks in Queens that scored well have very active volunteer groups. That makes a difference,” said Fred Kress, president of the Queens Coalition for Parks and Green Spaces.

“It’s one of the nicer parks in Queens,” said Roy Bilson, a Middle Village resident as he walked his dog. “There is lots to do and it’s very well kept.”

Among the 56-acre park’s features are baseball fields, basketball courts, a dog run, handball courts, track, playground, tennis courts and shuffle board.

“There is always something going on, whether it’s a baseball game, or football or tennis,” said Greg Faines, a Middle Village resident. “The park is very well kept.”

Juniper Valley Park has a varied history that includes a past as a farm, cemetery, garbage dump and source of peat moss – partially decayed vegetable matter. The land where the park now stands was acquired in the early 1930s to settle back taxes from the infamous Arnold Rothstein. After plans of a municipal airport and civic center, the land was developed for a park, opening in the early 1940s.

Most Queens parks surveyed scored well on the report card, securing the second highest average grade – 87 – after Staten Island. Of the 17 Queens parks surveyed all but two – Roy Wilkins Recreation Center and Bayswater Park – received either an “A” or “B.”

New Yorkers for Parks is a citywide independent organization championing quality parks and open spaces for all New Yorkers in all neighborhoods.