Tag Archives: Kew Gardens

‘Commuter Composting’ coming to Ridgewood and Kew Gardens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

BY ANGELA MATUA

Queens residents will soon have “Commuter Composting” in order to properly dispose of their household food waste, according to the Department of Sanitation (DSNY).

The DSNY is expanding its curbside organic waste recycling program and also adding 11 new food scrap drop-off locations. Residents will also see 19 more seasonal sites this summer, for a total of 64 sites throughout the city. The drop-off program offers composting opportunities for New Yorkers in neighborhoods or buildings that do not receive curbside collection of organic waste.

The “Commuter Composting” program will be offered in Ridgewood outside the Fresh Pond Road M train station, located on Fresh Pond Road near Putnam Avenue, on Wednesdays from 8 to 10 a.m.; and in Kew Gardens outside the Union Turnpike E/F train station, on Kew Gardens Road between 80th and 81st avenues, on Thursdays from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m.

The collected compost will be distributed to local greening groups such as urban farmers, community gardeners and street tree stewards to improve the quality of the soil.

Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia said the program will help redirect organic material from ending up in landfills.  Last week, the DSNY announced it would expand its household organics collection program in Maspeth, Middle Village and other areas of the city.

“Organic material makes up about a third of our city’s trash,” Garcia said. “We are excited to be able to provide more opportunities for New Yorkers to recycle their food waste. By increasing the number of food scrap drop-off sites, more organic material can be composted instead of going to landfills.”

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Community Board 9 chooses Lisa Gomes as new district manager, angering BP Melinda Katz


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Members of Community Board 9 selected Lisa Gomes to fill the long-vacant post of district manager — a move that Borough President Melinda Katz blasted as an attempt by the board to “steamroll this important decision” before new members join the board.

“Over six months have lapsed since the former district manager tendered her resignation,” Katz said. “The length of time it has taken the board to move this forward demonstrates the ongoing governance issues which have been prevalent on Community Board 9.”

Katz was so upset about the move that she issued a press release several hours before the meeting on March 3.

“It’s perplexing at best as to why Community Board 9 feels it is absolutely necessary to steamroll this important decision upon a board that may or may not be the same in 28 days,” Katz said in the statement.

Community Board 9 covers Kew Gardens, Richmond Hills, Ozone Park and Woodhaven.

Queens’ longest-tenured district manager Mary Ann Carey resigned last year in October and since then Community Board 9 was without a leader. The board members made a decision on Tuesday night during a closed meeting that lasted for over an hour. But just as the board members were about to heed Katz’s urging to select a new district manager, the borough president sent a letter to the board asking them to postpone the decision until April, a request that baffled board members.

“I think it’s ironic that the borough president highlights how long the process has taken as a potential problem and then urges us to take even more time,” a community board member said. “That seems a little weird to me. Especially when one of her former staffers happens to be a finalist for the job.”

The board members went ahead with the voting process between three candidates and ultimately voted to appoint Lisa Gomes to the district manager’s post. The former Katz staffer was not selected.

“[Gomes'] familiarity with Community Board 9, with its members and with its neighborhoods, made her a strong candidate for the job,” the board member said. “With her at the helm we are preserving institutional memory and maintaining continuity even while she has pledged to improve the way the office is run.”

Lisa Gomes served as a temporary district manager since October and she served as a board staff member for over 20 years.

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Inclusive Queens soccer program teaches kids skills beyond the field


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Soccer Kids NYC

BY ANGELA MATUA

A new soccer program for children in Queens hopes to have kids setting goals on and off the field.

Soccer Kids NYC was created by Noe Canales in September 2014 after he noticed that other programs did not focus on teaching lessons that could translate to all aspects of a child’s life.

Canales said that Soccer Kids NYC strives to teach not only the fundamentals of soccer but also skills that children can utilize off the field like teamwork, respect and perseverance.

Soccer Kids NYC differs from other programs in several ways. Canales, who is a certified special education teacher, integrates children with special needs into all classes. He hopes to remove the stigma that families of special needs children typically deal with.

“Soccer Kids NYC wants to help in getting rid of that pervasive thinking,” Canales said of the three-month course that costs $179. “Our mission cuts across all lines; our program is for children with special needs and typically developing children. We don’t believe in labels except for our kids’ names.”

He believes this inclusiveness contributes to the program’s 99 percent retention rate. The coaches at Soccer Kids NYC also strive to make their classes affordable for everyone, he said. Though children typically attend classes once a week, students are encouraged to join other classes if there is available space at no extra cost. They also provide a refund to all families who are not satisfied with the program.

Scouting the right coaches is important for Canales, who is also a teacher at TheraCare Preschool Services, a preschool in Rego Park that accommodates children with and without special needs. Coaches are trained extensively until they are ready to lead a class. This approach is the reason he can provide a quality program, he said.

“My experience with larger programs has been that they will first find a location to expand and then work on hiring and staffing those classes with a coach,” Canales said. “This approach hinders the quality of a program as many times these coaches are not fully trained to lead a class and consequently, our kids get the short end of the stick.”

Every season, parents are encouraged to leave feedback for the coaches. Canales said they have not received any negative feedback yet, but the coaches still come together to reflect on ways to make the program better.

The feedback has been all amazing,” Canales said. “This is something that we feel extremely proud of.”

Classes are taught in Bayside, Woodhaven, Middle Village, Elmhurst, Flushing, Kew Gardens and other parts of Queens. Canales said they are not in a rush to expand but would like to eventually teach classes in other parts of Queens and New York.

 

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Flushing man charged in bomb scare at DA office building in Kew Gardens


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

A 49-year-old Flushing man has been arraigned and charged following a bomb scare on Tuesday at a Kew Gardens building that houses law enforcement offices for the Queens District Attorney, New York State Police and FBI.

While holding a package, Scott Sasonkin entered the lobby of the building located at 80-02 Kew Gardens Road at about 11 a.m. on Tuesday and told a security guard that he had a bomb and wanted to kill everyone in the building, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. Sasonkin then allegedly placed the package on the floor.

A sergeant from the district attorney’s office who responded to the incident allegedly saw Sasonkin standing next to the package. The suspect then allegedly told the sergeant, in some words, “I’m a suicide bomber, my bomb is in this package, it’s a pipe bomb. I went to the hardware store and bought the fertilizer and a pipe. I learned how to make the bomb from the Internet, it has a detonator and a timer.”

Sasonkin followed by stating that he picked the building because “it’s famous and has a lot of law enforcement in it.”

The NYPD’s Bomb Squad inspected the package and determined it did not contain an explosive device and was not a bomb, according to the district attorney. Sasonkin was then arrested and taken to a local hospital.

“When a threat is posed by an organized enterprise or by a so-called lone wolf, law enforcement must respond promptly and effectively – as they did in this case – in order to protect our communities from those who would do us harm,” Brown said. “Fortunately, the bomb threat in this case proved to be a hoax. However, those responding personnel had no way of knowing that fact at the time. I thank them for their professionalism and restraint in the face of adversity.”

Sasonkin was arraigned on Wednesday night in the Queens Criminal Court on a criminal complaint charging him with first-degree reckless endangerment, first-, second- and third-degree falsely reporting an incident, first-degree placing a false bomb and making a terroristic threat. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison.

Sasonkin was held without bail pending the results of a mental health evaluation and has been ordered to return to court on March 23.

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Bomb scare at DA office building in Kew Gardens


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Updated 5:12 p.m.

A 49-year-old man was arrested Tuesday morning following a bomb scare at a Kew Gardens office building, authorities said.

Law enforcement sources identified him as Scott Sansonkin, a former resident of Woodhaven Boulevard in Glendale, who was taken into custody without further incident and found not to have a bomb in his possession. Reportedly, he was taken to a local hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.

The scare reportedly occurred at about 11 a.m. at 80-02 Kew Gardens Rd. near Union Turnpike, a 12-story office building that includes the Queens District Attorney’s Detective Squad, an FBI satellite office and the Kew Gardens Community Center.

According to police, Sansonkin walked into the lobby carrying a bag and allegedly announced he had a bomb. During a subsequent investigation, police reportedly determined the bag contained an inert device made to resemble an explosive.

Officers from the 102nd Precinct, the NYPD Bomb Squad and other NYPD units responded to the location, and all individuals inside the building were safely evacuated. District Attorney Richard Brown was not at the location at the time of the bomb scare.

Sources familiar with the investigation said Sansonkin previously pulled a bomb scare at the same location in November 2008; he was subsequently prosecuted on federal charges and served a prison sentence.

Sansonkin was charged Tuesday with falsely reporting an incident, possessing a false bomb or hazardous substance and second-degree harassment. Other charges are pending the results of an investigation.

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See it: Kew Gardens Spanish Colonial home sells for $1.9 million


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Terrace Sotheby’s International Realty

A huge Spanish Colonial house in Kew Gardens with four fireplaces was sold, according to real estate firm Terrace Sotheby’s International Realty.


The home has five bedrooms, five and a half bathrooms and a fully finished basement. It has about 4,300 square feet of space and sits on a 7,000-square-foot lot. The residence was recently renovated and has an updated kitchen and family room with an entertainment system.

The house was originally listed for $2.3 million, but the buyer got a deal when it closed at $1.9 million.

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Pearl Jam fans hold fundraiser, continue quest to lure the band to Forest Hills


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by  Ross Belsky

BY ROSS BELSKY

On Thursday the fanatics from Pearl Jam Forest Hills hosted their long-awaited fundraiser at Austin’s Ale House in Kew Gardens, hoping to add to the $107,000 they’ve already collected to convince Eddie Vedder and the band to play at Forest Hills Stadium.

The group has been raising money through tilt.com, a crowdfunding website similar to Kickstarter. Of the 450 backers on Tilt, over a hundred jammed out to a Pearl Jam cover band called Last Exit at the Ale House.

About 150 people of all ages sang along to every word with Last Exit. There were roars at the recognition of each song’s first note, and fist pumping on cue with dramatic drumbeats.

“We want to cement Forest Hills Stadium as legendary,” said the group’s founder, Daniel Sheffer. “It is an intimate venue and in our backyards, so the fans would hypothetically have a cathartic experience.” The stadium, which once hosted The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, has been upgraded with $3 million in modern amenities since 2013.

Pearl Jam cover band Last Exit

Pearl Jam cover band Last Exit

Through social media, the group’s efforts have also benefited several charitable organizations, such as Wounded Warrior, the National Kidney Foundation, and Pearl Jam’s own nonprofit Vitalogy Foundation. At the Ale House fundraiser alone, with incentives like band stickers and posters, hundreds of dollars were donated to charities.

Albert Lee, who worked closely with Sheffer in preparation for the event, created a motivational video that says, “This one’s for the band, the fans, the crew, the world.”

“We had no specific goal in terms of money raised,” Lee said at the fundraiser. “But this is more about the noise and publicity of the cause. We try to stay humble, but if Pearl Jam does play here, it will hit me heavy and take me to a higher place.”

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Sword-carrying man commits robbery at Kew Gardens pet store: NYPD


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

A man used a large sword to rob an employee at a Kew Gardens pet store, police said.

The suspect entered the store, Petland Discounts, on 126th Street near Metropolitan Avenue, just after 5 p.m. on Dec. 13, cops said. Once inside, he demanded the employee’s cash and cell phone, while displaying the sword. The suspect then fled with about $400 and a Samsung phone.

Police have released video footage of the suspect from inside the store, and describe the man as Hispanic, 5 feet 7 inches tall and 150 pounds. He was last seen wearing a tan jacket, baseball hat and blue jeans.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

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Pearl Jam fans to hold fundraiser at Kew Gardens bar in ongoing efforts to bring band to Queens


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Danny Clinch/Flickr Creative Commons

Pearl Jam fans are holding a fundraiser at Austin’s Ale House in January as part of a push to raise money for a crowdfunded attempt to get the ’90s band to play at Forest Hills Stadium.

The organization, Pearl Jam Forest Hills, has raised over $60,000 so far, bringing the head of the organization, Daniel Sheffer, closer to his dream of seeing the band live at Forest Hills Stadium. The money will be used to try to lure the band to play at the stadium.

“It’s beyond my wildest dreams. We’re thankful for all of our supporters,” Sheffer said. “It’s like there are actually people who believe in this and it makes us want to keep going and pushing harder.”

Forest Hills Stadium has held many high-profile music shows over the years, including the Talking Heads and the Beatles. The Who is slated to play in 2015. But if Sheffer and his ilk are successful in convincing the band to come, it would be the first completely publicly funded concert held in the venue.

The fundraiser will be held on Jan. 8, and Sheffer is confident in the the bar’s ability to host the fundraiser since they’ve held other similar events before. Sheffer is also taking the opportunity to help raise money during the fundraiser for charity organizations like the Wounded Warrior Project and Team Gleason.

People who come to the fundraiser can choose what organization they want to give money to. They will also be able to contribute to the Vitalogy Foundation, a nonprofit organization created by the band members of Pearl Jam.

“We’re staying humble, and whatever happens, we consider what we’ve already done a success,” Sheffer said.

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Queens teen found shot to death in Long Island


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Suffolk County Police Department

A Queens teenager was discovered fatally shot in a Long Island park Friday afternoon, police said.

The body of Jonathan A. Graff, 17, was found by a man who was walking his dog in Spur Drive Park in Bay Shore at about 4:15 p.m., according to authorities.

He had been shot in the head, reports said.

Graff, who lived in Kew Gardens, was last seen Thursday in Jamaica near the Long Island Rail Road station, according to Newsday.

Police are investigating his death as a homicide.

Graff’s body was taken to the Suffolk County Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy, and authorities are reportedly awaiting the results to determine how many times he was shot.

Anyone with information on the incident or who may have seen Graff before the shooting is asked to call Suffolk County Police detectives at 631-852-6392 or call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-220-TIPS.

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Serial Queens bank robber strikes again: cops


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the NYPD

Police are searching for a suspect wanted in eight bank robberies and two attempted heists around Queens over the past two years.

The latest incident occurred on Saturday at approximately 2:50 p.m. at a Chase Bank on Grand Avenue in Maspeth, cops said. During the robbery, the suspect passed a demand note while displaying a firearm. The suspect left with $5,170.

A previous incident happened on Aug. 30 at 12:40 p.m. when the suspect entered The Dimes Savings Bank, located at 77-23 27th Ave. in Flushing, while similarly passing a demand note to a bank teller and displaying a firearm. He walked away with $1,300.

The other robberies, which date back to July 2012, took place in the Kew GardensLong Island CityAstoriaEast Elmhurst and Middle Village areas of the borough, officials said. In the suspect’s most successful theft, on Dec. 12, 2012 at a Chase Bank at 77-01 31st Ave., he fled with $12,400, cops said.

Police describe the suspect as Hispanic, 30 to 35 years old, 6 feet tall and 200 pounds.

Authorities have released a photo of the suspect from the July 22 attempted robbery and a June 7 robbery at a Chase Bank at 77-01 31st Ave.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

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First Queens Art Intervention Day to offer interactive projects throughout borough


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos by RPGA Studios

Communities throughout Queens are set for an artistic intervention, looking to inspire, educate and empower residents and feed the pulse of the borough.

The nonprofit studio Rego Park Green Alliance, which uses creative methods to address community issues, will host the first Queens Art Intervention Day on Sept. 27 throughout the borough from Long Island City to the Rockaways.

“We see something that we are not happy with and we try to think about how we can fix it in a creative way,” said Yvonne Shortt, who started the studio and is currently the executive director.

The day-long event, which has a rain date for Oct. 4, will feature a total of 30 projects including murals, art installations, performance pieces, hands-on programs, and many more creative activities taking place outdoors in Astoria, LIC, Kew Gardens, Elmhurst, Rego Park, Forest Hills, Jackson Heights, Ozone Park, Ridgewood, Laurelton, Corona, Whitestone and the Rockaways.

QAIposter6

“We want our borough to be seen as a place that people want to come and do interesting things,” Shortt said. “We hope this will help Queens continue to grow and continue to thrive and not just have one spot thought of as artistic and creative.”

According to Shortt, along with being visually appealing, the pieces will also serve to bring about change and to get community members thinking about certain issues.

For example, posters for one project called “Stat Girl” depict a super hero displaying statistics on traffic accidents that have occurred on Queens Boulevard in the past two years. The posters will be put up all day down the thoroughfare.

stat girl photo by RPGA Studios

“We would love for people to stop and engage,” Shortt said. “It’s really about the communities themselves to find some inspiration and advocate for better communities.”

Shortt said that although there were over 160 submissions this year, funding, provided solely by Shortt, only allowed for 25 projects to be part of the event. In the future, she hopes to expand the event to more days and many more communities in the borough.

“There’s an active pulse throughout the borough of Queens and I’m very excited to help it move forward. I feel that if you have ideas and are willing to push it forward, that Queens is a very inviting borough.” Shortt said. “We’re showing the vitality of Queens.”

For more information and the full list of projects for Queens Art Intervention Day, click here.

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Two arrested after bikers, ATV riders drive recklessly on Van Wyck Expressway: cops


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Police arrested a motorcyclist and an ATV rider on the Van Wyck Expressway near the Kew Gardens area on Saturday after a group of bikers were caught driving recklessly, cops said.

Omid Bedi, 30, and Equilla Ross, 39, were riding on the Van Wyck Expressway at about 5 p.m. when cops came to the roadway in response to several complaints about a large group of dirt bikes and ATV motorcycles driving recklessly, authorities said.

Police found the bikers on both sides of the expressway near Hillside Avenue, and observed one four-wheeled ATV driving the wrong way on the highway. They also said they saw some of the motorcyclists lift their bikes over the expressway median before fleeing and leaving behind two ATVs and a dirt bike. Bedi and Ross were apprehended at the scene.

Bedi, a Queens resident, who was riding a blue Yamaha ATV, has been charged with reckless endangerment, criminal nuisance, reckless driving, unregistered motorcycle and improper license violation. Ross, a resident of Mount Vernon, who was driving a red Honda motorcycle, has been charged with two counts of criminal nuisance.

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Community Board 9 district manager announces retirement


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Liam La Guerre

After three and a half decades of service Mary Ann Carey is stepping down from her position as District Manager of Community Board 9, which covers Richmond Hill, Kew Gardens, Ozone Park and Woodhaven.

“In my thirty-five years of service to this great city with very little exceptions, I loved every minute,” Carey wrote in her resignation letter earlier this month. “I have overseen many projects too numerous to mention here and worked with four Borough Presidents, dozens of legislators, commissioners, District Managers and their staff.”

Current Chairman Ralph Gonzalez congratulated Carey, who began her work as District Manager when Ed Koch was mayor, on her retirement and said it would be hard to imagine anyone who can fill her shoes.

“She has done so much for the community, and for so long,” he said. “She can be proud of the legacy she’s leaving at Community Board 9. I know that many people in Queens and on the Board join me in thanking Mary Ann for her years of dedication.”

The process to search for the next District Manager will start at the next community board meeting.

 

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Health Department to treat areas of Queens against West Nile this week


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYC Department of Health

On Wednesday, Aug. 6 there will be West Nile spraying in parts of Queens to help reduce the mosquito population and the risk of the disease.

The spraying will take place between the hours of 8:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. the next morning. In case of bad weather, the application will be delayed until Thursday, Aug. 7 during the same hours.

The following neighborhoods are being treated due to rising West Nile virus activity with high mosquito populations, according to the city’s Health Department:

Parts of Bayside, Douglaston, Hollis Hill, Little Neck and Oakland Gardens (Bordered by Long Island Rail Road Track to the north; 219th Street and Springfield Boulevard to the west; Long Island Expressway to the south and Douglaston Parkway to the east)

Parts of Blissville, Sunnyside and west Maspeth (Bordered by Green Point Avenue and 48th Avenue to the north; Van Dam Street to the west; Newtown Creek (Queens-King County Boundary) to the South; 49th Street, 56th Road, 50th Street, Queens Midtown Expressway and 49th Street to the East

Parts of Kew Gardens, Briarwood and Jamaica (Bordered by Grand Central Parkway and Jackie Robinson Parkway to north; Metropolitan Avenue and 118th Street to the west; Long Island Rail Road and Archer Avenue to the south; 14th Place, Jamaica Avenue, 144th Street, 87th Avenue and 150th Street to the east)

For the application, the Health Department will spray pesticide from trucks and use a very low concentration of Anvil®, 10 + 10, a synthetic pesticide. When properly used, this product poses no significant risks to human health.

The Health Department recommends that people take the following precautions to minimize direct exposure:

  • Whenever possible, stay indoors during spraying. People with asthma or other respiratory conditions  are encouraged to stay inside during spraying since direct exposure could worsen these conditions.
  • Air conditioners may remain on, however, if you wish to reduce the possibility of indoor exposure to pesticides, set the air conditioner vent to the closed position, or choose the re-circulate function.
  •  Remove children’s toys, outdoor equipment, and clothes from outdoor areas during spraying. If  outdoor equipment and toys are exposed to pesticides, wash them with soap and water before using  again.
  • Wash skin and clothing exposed to pesticides with soap and water. Always wash your produce thoroughly with water before cooking or eating.

 

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