Tag Archives: LaGuardia Community College

After fatal accident, community calls for safety


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

It didn’t have to end in tragedy.

Following the death of 16-year-old Tenzin Drudak, mowed down by a minivan outside LaGuardia Community College, students and residents asked the Department of Transportation (DOT) for what they say are much-needed street safety enhancements.

Drudak, a student at Applied Communications High School inside LaGuardia Community College’s building, died after being struck by a minivan that lost control and mounted the sidewalk at the intersection of Thomson Avenue and 30th Street in Long island City. Four of the other five pedestrians hit were students from LaGuardia.
Public officials, students, school administrators, staff members and concerned residents gathered Thursday morning, March 14 in front of Drudak’s memorial at the intersection to voice their concerns and ask the DOT to take another look at the busy street and its safety conditions.

“No one should have to fear getting hit by a car on their way to school or work,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. “We need answers and we need solutions to make this place safer.”

Students at LaGuardia Community College started the “Petition to act on a safety concern with traffic issues” last July and sent it to the DOT with close to 500 signatures. According to Shah Amanat, president of the LaGuardia Community College Student Government, the DOT replied in November saying all signals were operating as designed and no changes were needed at the time.

“Please do something. We need safety. We need safety for the students, we need safety for the community, we need safety for staff and faculty members,” said Amanat.

Those in attendance asked the DOT to conduct a comprehensive safety and traffic study of Thomson Avenue and all side streets, put up additional barricades/barriers on the sidewalks and the adjustment of the timing of the street and crossing lights.

“We need them to come back and not say ‘everything is fine here,’” said Van Bramer. “We need the DOT to do this and do it now.”

Friends of Drudak also gathered to show their support for the street safety improvements and to remember their lost friend.

“I couldn’t believe it at first,” said Tenzin Samphel, 16, a student from International High School who best remembers his times beatboxing while Drudak rapped.

According to a DOT spokesperson, the fatal crash was the first at the location in at least six years and the safety enhancements that are under consideration include sidewalk extensions at the intersection and other “significant improvements.”

“Safety is always DOT’s first priority and the agency was already working with LaGuardia Community College to improve pedestrian safety and access at this location as part of the college’s planned expansion,” said the DOT spokesperson.

 

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Van jumps curb, kills teen, injures four in Long Island City


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo: Instagram/its_delgado

One pedestrian was killed and four others were injured when a minivan jumped the curb near LaGuardia Community College this morning, according to police.

Around 10:30 a.m., the vehicle was traveling eastbound on Thomson Avenue when the driver lost control and drove onto the sidewalk at 30th Street, striking five people.

They were taken to Elmhurst General Hospital where one of the victims, 16-year-old Tenzin Drudak, was pronounced dead. The four injured pedestrians are listed in stable condition.

According to Department of Education (DOE) spokesperson David Pena, Drudak was a student at Applied Communications High School, which is located near the accident site at 30-20 Thomson Avenue. The DOE is “arranging for a crisis team to offer counseling to students and staff at the school,” he said.

The investigation is ongoing.

 

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Cuomo budget centers on job creation, education improvements


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Photo Flickr/Governor Cuomo's  Office

In his budget outline for the coming year, Governor Andrew Cuomo focused on job creation and improving education, promising to improve the lives of New Yorkers across the state.

In addition to jobs and education, Cuomo’s proposal, NY Rising, addresses fiscal integrity and discipline and restoring the state as a progressive beacon.

Cuomo proposed an initiative that partners small start-ups with the state in order to retain companies and growth in New York. This included forgoing raising and adding supplementary taxes for businesses.

According to the governor, New York has the lowest middle class tax rate in 58 years.

Cuomo added he will be increasing minimum wage to $8.75.

Regarding education, Cuomo stated the inequities between schools for wealthy and impoverished students cause devastating discrepancies. The newly proposed budget includes a boost of $889 million, one of the largest increases in educational aid in years.

Other important issues touched upon were the decriminalization of the possession of small amounts of marijuana and a women’s equality act, both of which he hopes will be introduced in the coming year.

Throughout his address, Cuomo continued to remind the crowd that New York will continue to be a progressive and innovative state.

“This state is not just another state. This state is New York,” said Cuomo. “And when New York acts, the nation follows. And this state has had a great history of being the progressive capital, of doing things first, figuring out problems first, and we led the way.”

 

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Small business program produces success stories


| tcimino@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy of Marcela Cussolin

Since 2010, when Goldman Sachs selected LaGuardia Community College to be its first partner in its 10,000 Small Businesses initiative, over 170 small business owners have taken advantage of this free education program that is designed to help them grow their businesses.

All enrolled in the program, which is given at LaGuardia, for different reasons. Laura Catena, president/CEO of Long Island City’s City Gardens of New York, Inc., had to learn every aspect of running a business when her father suddenly died, leaving her to take over the family-owned company.

Without any knowledge of running a small business, she helplessly watched as her father’s thriving landscaping business sank from $700,000 in revenue the year he passed away, to $275,000.

But after participating in the program, the business has seen a 70 percent increase in sales and she has gotten a slew of new clients. Also, her staff has grown. Along with her foreman, designer/project manager and crewman, her husband joined the business as the general manager, and she recently hired a part-time office manager/account manager. And now that she is the middle of the busy season she said she will be hiring two or three more crewmen.

Mario Fichera, chief operating officer of Visual Millworks, a 78-year-old family business in Woodside, was desperately looking for answers on how to keep his manufacturing business afloat during these hard economic times.

Since graduating from the program in February 2012, Fichera has reversed the company’s downward spiral and got it back on track. He has developed the company’s first-ever structured budget; he took steps to ensure that his small business is being correctly evaluated by insurance companies; and he began to better handle its costs.

“Being a small business owner is very isolating; you become a prisoner in your own brain,” Fichera said. “But by bringing small business owners together, the program allowed us to discover that we are all going through the same experiences and that our situations are not unique. You suddenly realize that you are not alone.”

Leslie Nilsson-Pedace, president and CEO of Sage General Store and Sage Events, had to learn how to reinvent herself when she lost her successful restaurant.

“The great thing about the program is that it forces you to focus and come up with a game plan that is a roadmap that you really want to follow to the end of the road,” she said.

As a result of participating in 10,000 Small Businesses, all three have success stories to tell.

In fact, of the 170 small business owners who graduated from the program, 75 percent have increased their revenue and more that 50 percent are creating new jobs.

To learn more about the 10,000 Small Businesses initiative, visit www.laguardia.edu/10ksb; call 718-730-7400 or email 10KSB@lagcc.cuny.edu.

LaGuardia Community College Student Photo Exhibition


| amanning@queenscourier.com

The men and women who make up Long Island City’s small businesses are the focus of LaGuardia Community College’s student photo exhibition, “Long Island City Works.” Over 100 faces, including photographer Tony Vaccaro, were captured by the school’s commercial photography students.

“The exhibition is a way for the college to recognize the workers of Long Island City at a time when the country’s economy is facing difficult times,” said Scott Sternbach, director of the commercial photography program and one of the project developers.

The exhibition will kick off on November 17 with a reception at the LaGuardia Gallery of Photographic Arts from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Running until February 29, viewing hours are Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information, call 718-482-5985.

Investigate clean up of Newtown Creek


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Congressmember Carolyn Maloney

Indifference to filth and pollution for over a century has mutated Newtown Creek into more of a beast than a beauty.

Beginning in the mid-1800s, contaminants were spewed into Newtown Creek by more than 50 refineries that called the waterway home, including sawmills, lumber and coal yards, fertilizer and glue factories, petrochemical plants and oil refineries. The creek was also used by commercial vessels to transport oil, chemicals, fuel and other raw materials. During World War II, the channel was one of the busiest ports in the nation, and factories continue to operate on its banks to this day.

Congressmembers Carolyn Maloney and Nydia Velázquez, Borough President Helen Marshall and Assemblymember Catherine Nolan joined EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck on a boat tour of the Newtown Creek cleanup project on October 11. During the tour, the Queens leaders were taken to the key areas of pollution in the creek.

“For far too long, Newtown Creek has been a disgrace: a toxic dumping ground since the mid-1800s, a blight on our waterways, and the scene of perhaps the largest oil spill of all time – three times the size of the Exxon Valdez,” said Maloney, referencing the Greenpoint oil spill.

In addition to the damage done by industrial pollution, the city began dumping raw sewage into the water in 1856.

As a result of its history, which includes multiple spills, Newtown Creek is among the most polluted waterways in America.

In the early 1990s, New York State declared that the channel was not meeting water quality standards under the Clean Water Act, and since that time, several government-sponsored cleanups have occurred.

Newtown Creek, whose waters wash the shores of both Queens and Brooklyn, was designated a Superfund site by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in September of last year.

The Superfund Program was established by Congress to locate, investigate and cleanup the most hazardous sites across the country. It also provides the EPA with the authority to coerce responsible parties to account for the damage they have done, either by cleaning up the site themselves or by reimbursing the government for all costs associated with the restoration.

This past July, following a year-long examination, the EPA entered into a consent order with six potentially responsible parties to conduct a remedial investigation and feasibility study of the creek’s cleanup. Field work for the investigation, which will determine the nature of the pollutants, evaluate any risks to human life or the environment and assess prospective cleanup methods, is scheduled to begin within the next month.

“Restoring the health of both sides of Newtown Creek will give residents of Queens and Brooklyn improved access to the waterfront and make our neighborhoods healthier places to live,” said Maloney.

The EPA will be holding a public information session at LaGuardia Community College, located at 31-10 Thomson Avenue in Long Island City, on Thursday, October 27 from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 7 to 9 p.m. to discuss the project.

The investigation could take as long seven years to complete, and the removal of contaminants from Newtown Creek could last an additional 10 years. A preliminary estimate by the EPA approximates the cleanup costs between $300 and $400 million.

The EPA has reported that potentially responsible parties include premier oil companies BP America, Exxon Mobil and Texaco, as well as the City of New York. These, as well as other responsible parties, will be paying for the remedial investigation and feasibility study for the near future.

During initial tests performed by the EPA, harmful contaminants such as pesticides, metals, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which easily evaporate into the air, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have been detected in Newtown Creek.

“The more we find out about this polluted waterway, which affects two boroughs, the more we see the need to move the feasibility study along and remediation, in the form of a massive cleanup, to begin,” said Marshall.