Tag Archives: LIC

Participatory budgeting winners announced in western Queens


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File Photo

The residents of western Queens have spoken and the results are in regarding where they would like to see $1 million spent in each community.

Councilmen Costa Constantinides and Jimmy Van Bramer announced the winning projects of this year’s participatory budgeting process, where residents in each individual district were able to cast their vote on where they want city funding to be spent.

In Constantinides’ District 22, which covers Astoria and parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst and Jackson Heights, 2,204 residents came out to vote last month and three projects were chosen as the winners.

A total of 825 residents voted on the first project that will spend $245,000 in district-wide public school technology upgrades. Through this project, $35,000 will be spent each for P.S. 84, P.S. 122, P.S. 234, I.S. 235, P.S. 17, P.S. 2 and I.S. 141.

The second project, which brought in 773 votes, is $500,000 to go toward turning a lot under the RFK Bridge, located at Hoyt Avenue between 23rd and 24th streets, which is currently empty, into a dog run.

The final project, with 715 votes, will transform I.S. 126’s parking lot in Astoria into a recreational playground for the school and community.

With the third project the total comes out to $1,245,000, so Constantinides plans to allocate more funding from his discretionary budget to fully support the projects.

“The entire process has been community-driven, inclusive, and engaging. I am excited to see the strong voter response that gave everyone a voice in the city budgeting process,” Constantinides said. “The technology upgrades across the district, a new dog run in a neighborhood that currently lacks even one, and a playground [where] students have no official schoolyard will enrich the lives of families and children throughout Astoria.”

Photo via Twitter/@JimmyVanBramer

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer announced the results of this year’s participatory budgeting process for District 26 on Wednesday night at LIC Bar. (Photo via Twitter/@JimmyVanBramer)

In Van Bramer’s District 26, covering Woodside, Sunnyside, LIC and parts of Astoria, the winning projects include a Long Island City Bikeway, a 10-person van for the Jacob Riis Settlement House for seniors and a playground upgrade at Queensbridge.

A total of $500,000 would go toward the Long Island City Bikeway, which would be an improved, safe and reliable bikeway system in the neighborhood. The Jacob Riis Settlement House van is a $55,000 project that would help transport seniors to and from programs. The third project is a $500,000 upgrade at a playground in the Queensbridge housing development that would replace rubber matting in five jungle gym areas.

During the announcement of the winners Wednesday night, Van Bramer also announced that because of the large voter turnout his office would be funding five more projects. These include $50,000 in accessibility improvements each for the Sunnyside and Woodside libraries, $200,000 for the Woodside Reforestry project, $100,000 for district-wide real-time passenger bus countdown clocks and $75,000 in technology upgrades for P.S./I.S. 78 in LIC.

In total, Van Bremer will be dedicating over $1.5 million in funding for projects chosen by the community.

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Enjoy LIC Springs! and get Mother’s Day gifts at the LIC Flea


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via Instagram/@licflea

As you make your way to the LIC Flea & Food this weekend to pick out something out for mom, make sure to get your groove on at the LIC Springs! block festival.

The LIC Partnership will host its second annual LIC Springs! free community block festival this Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. on Vernon Boulevard between 50th and 46th avenues.

Throughout the day there will be live music, dance and theater performances, art and sculpture making, fitness classes, outdoor dining, sport games and much more open to all ages.

When you are done checking out the block party, make your way to the popular LIC Flea & Food, located just blocks away at the waterfront outdoor lot at the corner of Fifth Street and 46th Avenue.

Visitors can find that special gift just in time for Mother’s Day, whether it be unique soaps and candles, one-of-a-kind handcrafted or vintage jewelry and clothes, sweets and more.

Along with over 80 vendors each day, the LIC Flea also has a beer garden, exclusively serving beers brewed in Queens from local breweries including Rockaway Brewery, Queens Brewery, Finback Brewery and SingleCut Beersmiths. The bar will also offer a great selection of wines.

LIC Flea & Food runs every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through the end of October.

For updates on the LIC Flea & Food market, follow on Facebook.com/LICFlea, Instagram.com/LICFlea and @LICFlea on Twitter.

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5Pointz artists to transform hallways of August Martin HS in Jamaica


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo via Instagram/@queensdreamers

The spirit of 5Pointz will be reborn this weekend, as over 150 artists from near and far are expected to come together to bring life to the hallways of one Jamaica high school.

On Saturday and Sunday, a team of students of the nonprofit The Future Project Dream Team at August Martin High School called “Operation Skittles” will team up with 5Pointz curators Jonathan “Meres One” Cohen and Marie Cecile Flageul to cover the hallways, elevator doors and staircases with one-of-a-kind artwork exploding with color.

“To us it’s kind of like making the pass to knowledge attractive and exciting,” Cecile Flageul said.

For the two days, more than 150 aerosol artists, all invited by Cohen, will volunteer their time and paint to transform the interior of the school, located at 156-10 Baisley Blvd.

According to the curators, this project symbolizes a “rebirth” of 5Pointz with a large number of people gathering together to create art pieces that will tell stories.

The Long Island City home of the graffiti mecca was ordered to be whitewashed by the property’s owner in 2013, just days after artists and supporters held rallies looking to save the site and requested the site be landmarked. Since then, the entire building has been demolished.

“It’s really awesome and symbolically it’s in Queens, it’s our initial borough. It’s kind of like a tribute to the spirit of 5Pointz and I don’t think we could have picked a better place than this school,” Cecile Flageul said.

5Pointz curators Marie Cecile Flageul and Jonathan Cohen with August Martin High School Principal Gillian Smith (center). (Photo courtesy of Marie Cecile Flageul)

5Pointz curators Marie Cecile Flageul and Jonathan Cohen with August Martin High School Principal Gillian Smith (center). (Photo courtesy of Marie Cecile Flageul)

She added that the response from participating artists has been intense and positive, with many wanting to continue having a relationship with the school and students even after the project is complete.

“To me it is incredible to be part of this project,” she said. “To be able to connect with those kids, help this school and start this relationship.”

The artists all want to inspire the students, help them achieve their dreams, and bring beauty to a school that some have called “the worst in Queens,” according to Cecile Flageul. Some artists have offered to participate in workshops for the students, and the 5Pointz curators also hope to continue being a “part of the family” with the school.

“Isn’t it ironic that what they call the worst high school in Queens and the so-called vandals of Queens are collaborating for something to better the future of the youth,” Cecile Flageul said.

In addition to the 20 kids from “Operation Skittles,” other students and teachers will also be volunteering their time during the weekend.

Although the painting on both Saturday and Sunday is closed to the public, the completed project will be revealed in June with a large art show.

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Reporter from LIC writes book on inside look at New York’s ongoing gang war


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Steve Pfost

Street gangs have been fighting against each other for years in New York, and now one Long Island City author is sharing an inside look at the ongoing war between these gangs in his new book.

Kevin Deutsch, a crime reporter for Newsday for the past three years, is the author behind “The Triangle: A Year on the Ground with New York’s Bloods and Crips,” which tells of the war between the two street gangs, centered around a Long Island intersection.

Deutsch first encountered members of the Bloods and Crips as a crime reporter for the NY Daily News and would see them battle it out in court rooms. He became interested in the subculture of the gangs and later learned from a source about the gang war going on between the two groups.

After taking a drive out to Hempstead, Long Island, he encountered what he called “an open-air, thriving drug market” where the two gangs fought over the territory.

Once Deutsch became a reporter Newsday, one of his first stories was on the ongoing war at the Linden Triangle, which later inspired the name of his book.

“I had never really thought much about doing a book until I encountered the story on the gangs,” Deutsch said.

After writing the article for Newsday, Deutsch had so much information left over that he felt he needed to tell the full story. That’s when he decided to put together the book.

Courtesy of Kevin Deutsch

Courtesy of Kevin Deutsch

“The story needed to be told,” he said. “I felt it was a story that no one had told before of young men living lives so far removed from what most of us understand American lives to be.”

The book, which took Deutsch a year of on-site reporting in 2012 and was released last December, follows members of the two gangs, anti-violence activists who would go on prayer marches to try to stop the violence, and police.

As he created one of the first inside accounts of this ongoing gang war, Deutsch had to build relationships with gang members from both sides in order to truly understand everything behind the conflict.

“I had to spend a lot of time assuring them that I had no skin in this game. I was not rooting for anyone. I was an objective observer here to chronicle their lives,” he said.

During his interaction with gang members, he learned how these young men lived in a world surrounded by death, drugs and rape, feeling that this was the only option for them.

“It’s easy to get into a gang but it’s so hard to get out, and most of the guys get out in a box or they get out in a cell,” Deutsch said. “It’s so engraved in the atmosphere of these neighborhoods that it’s a cycle impossible to break.”

Although Deutsch built relationships with a large number of members from both sides of the gangs, he added that there were others who questioned his motives and what he was doing.

In one instance one gang member, who had been high on drugs, got paranoid and believed Deutsch was an undercover cop. This led the young man to take out a gun and point it at Deutsch’s face. Another gang member had to talk the other down to put the gun away, and the gun-wielding member later apologized to Kevin.

Although he was face-to-face with danger, Deutsch said that that moment served as an eye-opening experience to the threat and lifestyle the gang members have to face each day.

“They could tell me all day what it is like, but until I had that gun to my face I didn’t really understand what these kids’ lives are really like,” he said. “I just got a little taste of what they go through every day.”

Through his research for the book, Deutsch said that in 2012 about 56 people were shot in Long Island and the five boroughs in gang-related incidents. He added that in Queens, there is a large Bloods and Crips presence in the Rockaways.

At the end of the year of investigating and after putting the book together, Deutsch handed out copies of the book to members of both gangs. Some responses were really positive, because they felt their stories were finally being told, while others were upset because they felt the other side was being portrayed better.

However, Deutsch said he tried to be as objective as possible when writing the book and tried to cover the gang war just like a war correspondent would.

“They were glad that their story was finally told because they felt America was ignoring them,” he said. “They felt that they were living in a war zone right here in America and no one cared about them.”

Deutsch added that he hopes the book also helps readers understand that gang violence is occurring throughout the nation and is prevalent to in so many communities, even if they don’t necessarily see it.

“The Triangle: A Year on the Ground with New York’s Bloods and Crips” is available at bookstores and through Amazon.

Deutsch will be doing a reading of the book at The Astoria Bookshop, located at 31-29 31st St., on June 4 at 7 p.m.

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Astoria Flea & Food at Kaufman Astoria Studios to pop up again this summer


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File Photo

Something is ready to pop up in Astoria this summer.

The organizers of the Astoria Flea & Food at Kaufman Astoria Studios, which launched last year as the city’s first-ever backlot market, have announced that the market is expected to make its grand return.

The Astoria Flea, a partnership between the LIC Flea & Food and Kaufman Astoria Studios, will operate from the studios’ outdoor lot, the first off its kind in the city.

This year, instead of running for a consecutive number of weeks, the Astoria Flea will be popping up at the studios’ lot on different dates.

Upon arrival at the Astoria Flea entrance at 36th Street and 35th Avenue, visitors will be welcomed by a 40-foot-high steel gate, designed by David Rockwell and the Rockwell Group.

Visitors of all ages and from all over the city will be able to enjoy the best in food vendors, antiques, collectibles, arts, crafts, fashion and much more.

Anyone looking to be a vendor at the Astoria Flea can apply at www.licflea.com.

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LIC Flea & Food named as one of amNewYork’s ‘Cool Things to do in NYC’


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File Photo

If you want to be cool, you have to head to Long Island City this weekend.

The LIC Flea & Food has been picked as one of amNewYork’s 25 “Cool Things to do in NYC.”

The popular Long Island City flea market, located at an outdoor lot by the waterfront at the corner of Fifth Street and 46th Avenue, was chosen by amNewYork editors as one of the coolest things to do in the five boroughs.

Visitors and fans of the flea market can vote for it as their favorite spot, up to three times a day, at amny.com/nyc25.

LIC Flea & Food offers items for sale including food and drinks, collectibles, antiques, arts and crafts, handcrafted jewelry and fashion, and much more.

Along with over 80 vendors each day, the market also has a beer garden, exclusively serving beers brewed in Queens from local breweries including Rockaway Brewery, Queens Brewery, Finback Brewery and SingleCut Beersmiths. The bar will also offer a great selection of wines.

LIC Flea & Food will run every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., through the end of October.

For updates on the LIC Flea & Food market, follow on Facebook.com/LICFlea, Instagram.com/LICFlea and @LICFlea on Twitter.

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George Clinton to perform as part of free summer festival at Queensbridge Park


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of City Parks Foundation

SummerStage, the city’s largest performing arts festival, is marking its 30th anniversary with six-day mini festivals at eight local parks, including one on the Long Island City waterfront.

Queensbridge Park, located along Vernon Boulevard adjacent to the Queensboro Bridge, will host the event from July 14 to 19, featuring the “godfather of funk” George Clinton, local musicians, dance, theater and more.

“As an organization we are dedicated to working in traditionally underserved neighborhoods across the city,” said Heather Lubov, executive director of City Parks Foundation, which produces SummerStage. “By presenting artists and genres that reflect the cultures and communities in these parks, introducing disciplines such as dance or theater alongside musical performances, and providing all of this fantastic art free of charge, we are building new audiences and fostering a broader interest in the arts here in New York City.”

The musical group Chi-Lites will be kicking off the Queensbridge Park festival at 7 p.m. on July 14. The group originated from the ’70s Chicago R&B scene, and in 2000 were inducted into the Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame.

The following night, at 7 p.m., George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, which was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997, will perform.

Large Professor

Large Professor

 

Local flavor will come to the park on July 16 with Large Professor (LP) a hip-hop songwriter, producer and DJ who comes from Flushing. Also performing that night is Marley Marl, a producer and DJ hailing from Queensbridge who has made a mark on the hip-hop world.

On July 17 and 18, the festival will shift gears to theater on Friday night and dance the following evening, featuring several collaborative and creative performers.

The final day of the festival will start with family-friendly programming from 4 to 7 p.m., including award-winning and critically-acclaimed jazz trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, B-Love’s Hip Hop Jazzy Groove, and Karisma Jay and AbunDance.

Wycliffe Gordon

Wycliffe Gordon

That night the festival will close with a performance by hip-hop artist Pete Rock and a screening of “Time Is Illmatic.” The feature-length documentary examines the making of rapper Nas’ 1994 debut album “Illmatic” and his development as an artist and his influences — including a visit to his childhood home in Queensbridge.

SummerStage is also expanding its season to commemorate its 30th anniversary, from May 18 through Oct. 4, when it will offer more than 140 free music, dance, comedy, family and theater programs in 16 parks across all five boroughs.

In Queens, there will also be SummerStage events at Flushing Meadows Corona Park and Socrates Sculpture Park.

As part of the World’s Fair Anniversary Festival at Flushing Meadows on June 7, starting at 4 p.m. there will be three musical performances as part of SummerStage by singer Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires, Hollis Brown, a rock ‘n’ roll band formed by two Queens natives, and another Queens native, violinist Damien Escobar.

Later in that month, on June 24, The Metropolitan Opera Summer Recital Series featuring Kiri Deonarine, Ginger Costa-Jackson, John Moore and pianist Dan Saunders will come to Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City.

For more information about SummerStage events, visit www.summerstage.org.

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Zagat to set up voting booth at LIC Flea & Food


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File Photo

Visitors to the LIC Flea & Food this weekend will have their voices heard and be able to win some money.

Zagat, known for its ratings of restaurants and nightlife, will be setting up a booth at the popular Long Island City market where visitors will have the chance to review their favorite New York restaurants and vote for the top LIC Flea vendors.

Voters will be rewarded with money to spend the same day at the flea market, and LIC Flea vendors who win most votes will be awarded with the title of Zagat Voters’ Choice at LIC Flea. For more information visit www.zagat.com/reviewNYC.

LIC Flea & Food is located at an outdoor lot by the waterfront at the corner of Fifth Street and 46th Avenue, and offers items for sale including food and drinks, collectibles, antiques, arts and crafts, handcrafted jewelry and fashion, and much more.

Along with over 80 vendors each day, the market also has a beer garden, exclusively serving beers brewed in Queens from local breweries including Rockaway Brewery, Queens Brewery, Finback Brewery and SingleCut Beersmiths. The LIC Flea is the only location to carry beer from all six breweries. The bar will also offer a great selection of wines.

LIC Flea & Food will run every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., through the end of October.

For updates on the LIC Flea & Food market, follow on Facebook.com/LICFlea, Instagram.com/LICFlea and @LICFlea on Twitter.

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Queens Beer Week to kick off second year with over 70 venues


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Image via Instagram/@queensbeerweek

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO AND ANGY ALTAMIRANO

Something is brewing in Queens, and in just two weeks you’ll be able to get a cold glass of what the borough has to offer.

The second annual Queens Beer Week will kick off its nine-day celebration of local breweries on May 8, with the final event on May 17.

According to organizer Daniel Bronson, a beer enthusiast and manager of Crescent and Vine in Astoria, this year’s event is expected to be bigger and better than the previous year, celebrating nine local breweries at over 70 borough-wide participating bars and restaurants.

The celebration will include brewery tours, home brewing demos, tap takeovers, food and beer pairings, pub crawls, and more.

“Queens has such a rich and diverse beer scene,” Bronson said. “We’re a borough home to some of the best neighborhood bars in the country. And although we have more breweries than any other borough, it was hard getting New Yorkers, even us here in Queens, to appreciate that.”

This year’s Queens Beer Week kicks off on May 8, with the official launch of Queens’ newest brewery, LIC Beer Project, at Crescent and Vine, located at 25-03 Ditmars Blvd. in Astoria.

On May 9, Rich Castagna of Bridge and Tunnel Brewery will host the Ridgewood Beer Bar Scavenger Hunt at various bars throughout Ridgewood. Players will search for clues and hidden items at local hot spots such as Julia’s Beer and Wine Bar, The Monk Ale House, Onderdonk & Sons, Bleachers Sports Bar and Queens Tavern.

The official Queens Beer Week Kick-Off Party, which is already sold out, will be held on May 10 at 4 p.m. at LIC Landing, located at 52-10 Vernon Blvd. in Long Island City. The event will feature samples and tastings from all of the Queens breweries, including Queens Beer Week IPA, a special collaboration beer made specifically for Queens Beer Week by SingleCut Beersmiths and Barrier Brewing Company.

On May 14, the film “Blood, Sweat and Beer,” a documentary by filmmaker Chip Hiden chronicling the evolution of two start-up breweries, will premiere at SingleCut Beersmiths, located at 19-33 37th St. in Astoria. In addition to pours of SingleCut beer, viewers will also be treated to beer-inspired popcorn from Ma and Pa Kettle Corn Co.

Long Island City-based breweries such as LIC Beer Project, Big Alice Brewing, Rockaway Brew Co. and Transmitter Brewing will offer tours and beer samples throughout the day on May 16.

Queens Beer Week 2015 wraps up on May 17, with the celebration of Finback Brewery’s one-year anniversary. Their new Barrel-Aged Plum and Proper, described as “a smoky sour dark ale brewed with fresh plums,” will be available in Finback’s taproom, located at 78-01 77th Ave. in Glendale.

For the latest information and Queens Beer Week schedule, visit www.queensbeerweek.com.

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Queens native John Leguizamo to perform at LIC’s The Creek and The Cave


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of The Creek and The Cave

One comedian and Emmy Award-winning actor is coming back to the borough that saw him grow from a child to a young man.

John Leguizamo, known for films ranging from the thriller “Carlito’s Way” to the children’s movie “Ice Age,” will be taking the stage at The Creek and The Cave next month for a new series called “Week at The Creek.”

Leguizamo is scheduled to appear at the Long Island City venue, located at 10-93 Jackson Ave., on May 6, 7, 13 and 14 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 and can be found here.

The 50-year-old comedian and actor was born in Colombia, yet at age 3 moved with his family to Jackson Heights. While in the western Queens neighborhood, Leguizamo moved around with his family but stayed in the area until he was around 19, according to the Daily News.

Recently Leguizamo completed production on films such as “The Nest,” featuring Tina Fey, “American Ultra” with Jesse Eisenberg and “The Man on Carrion Road” with Patrick Wilson and Jim Belushi.

Earlier this year the comedian also debuted his fifth HBO solo special with “Ghetto Klown,” an adaptation of his one-man stage show with the same name.

Other films the actor was involved in include “Kick Ass 2,” “Land of the Dead,” “William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet,” and many more.

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New LIC brewery to open taproom featuring experimental beers


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos by Jamie Lefkowitz Photography

A trio of beer lovers have come together to begin a project in Long Island City that will bring new flavors to Queens.

Daniel Acosta, Damon Oscarson and Gianni Cavicchi are the guys behind the LIC Beer Project, a new brewery expected to make its official launch during Queens Beer Week, which is set to kick off on May 10.

The idea of the brewery was born after Acosta took a backpacking trip through Europe in 2004 and fell in love with Belgian beer. He had already been interested in craft beer, but while overseas, he was able to visit well-known Belgian breweries. When he came back to the United States he tried some Belgian beer at a California brewery and from there started brewing at home.

At the time, Acosta was working in the construction industry and this got him interested in the process portion of making beer and how breweries are built.

“I had all of that behind me to help drive having the idea to start a brewery,” he said.

He later attended the Siebel Institute of Technology, an accredited brewing school, and received an education in brewing science. For the next eight years he studied and traveled around the world visiting breweries. 

With the idea of starting a brewery already in his head and wanting to create Belgian-inspired beers and American wild ales, he just wasn’t sure where he would call home. Then, three years ago, he met Oscarson, who had also been home-brewing beers, and Cavicchi, a wine and beer sommelier, and the idea of the brewery became a reality. 

The brewery is now located in Long Island City at 39-28 23rd St. and its site is slated to open in June, although LIC Beer Project will officially launch with three to four of its beers next month. 

“I felt there was really a need for these styles of beer here in the city so we all converged and wound up here in Long Island City and this is where it is beginning. We’re on a crazy journey here,” Acosta said. “We felt that [LIC] was a real up-and-coming area and we are very close to Manhattan, close to Brooklyn, so we felt that it was at the center of something big to happen.”

The idea of the brewery is to create different types of beers, using various techniques, and all shooting to be dry, allowing for people to enjoy more. The main set of beers will go through weeks of fermentation, a second style will be brewed with wild yeast called brettanomyces, naturally occurring on fruits, and another batch will go through what is known as the coolship method.

Through the coolship method these beers spend time in an open vessel, allowing what is naturally occurring in the air to ferment it, and then will be transferred to oak barrels. Through this method, which takes from six months to two years for beer to be ready, the brewers hope the beer will be exposed to the Queens air and have its own kind of “local touch” to it. 

“The reason we call it LIC Beer Project is because we have several different types of beer we’re going to do here starting from more traditional Belgium-inspired beer with their own American twist on them and then they’ll go through an evolution,” Acosta said. “So as we go through the different beers they’ll get more complex, more difficulty in brewing process, more complex yeast characters.”

Coolship located at the site of the LIC Beer Project.

Coolship located at the site of the LIC Beer Project.

Along with being home to the LIC Beer Project, the 23rd Street location will also serve as a taproom expected to be open to the public Fridays through Sundays starting in June. 

The taproom will have 10 beers on tap, which will constantly rotate in order to try different experimental beers and get feedback from visitors.

The site will include seating and food, and tours of the brewery will also be given, in order to provide an educational portion. Visitors will also be able to walk around the 5,550-square-foot facility and get a firsthand look at the brewery’s production.

“We’re going to make it a pretty interesting place for people to come and try something new,” Oscarson said. “We wanted to give people an experience when they come here and enjoy the beer as well. We wanted to give them an experience when they are drinking the beer and take them to a different place, so we wanted to do same thing with the taproom and brewery itself.”

For now, the LIC Beer Project has three beers — Ardent Core, Evening’s Empire, and one yet to be named — ready to be released to the public, and after Queens Beer Week these selections will be available at various locations in Queens.

Acosta added that the ultimate goal for the brewery would be to become a nationally known boutique brewery, sold at various markets around the country, but for now they will let the beer take them forward.

“We’re going to keep evolving, keep working. We’re on like a beer odyssey. Sometimes things might work out and sometimes not,” Acosta said. “At the end of the day everything that we do is all about the beer.”

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Schools Chancellor discusses District 30 issues, ‘renewal schools’ plan


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Parents and educators made their voices heard during a town hall meeting for District 30 where topics such as school overcrowding, testing and the start of a renewal program for schools were discussed.

Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña joined parents and members of the Community District Education Council 30 on Thursday night in Long Island City for a town hall meeting discussing issues and concerns arising in District 30.

Among the topics brought up by audience members — who were asked to write out questions on postcards that CEC 30 members read — included recent school testing, more parent engagement, overcrowding at local schools and the need for mandatory recess.

When answering questions on concerns over recent testing, which has been under criticism for being used mostly to evaluate teachers, Fariña said that the DOE is working to run things more smoothly. She believes that the tests should make up only 30 percent of the teachers’ evaluation, and the rest of the evaluation should be left to the school principals.

However, Fariña added that she does not believe opting out of the state tests is the answer.

“I want to be clear that I do believe in testing. I believe our kids are challenged every day of their lives in different ways,” she said. “As long as I have been with testing, no matter what you call the test, there’s always some stress, there’s always some fear.”

Fariña also brought up the idea of creating diagnostic tests, where students would take one test at the start of the school year and then another at the end of the year in order to evaluate progression.

In regards to parent engagement, Fariña said she wants to increase involvement of parents and guardians. She said she would like more days for parent-teacher conferences, workshops for parents, and even recommended parents start book clubs to not only create relationships but also get an idea of what books their children are assigned to read.

She also added that one of the priorities is to create more programs aimed to parents and children whose first language is not English.

“We’re working on many different levels and we’re trying to make it better for all parents to access all our schools,” Fariña said.

Among other topics discussed during the meeting was the plan to create what the chancellor called “renewal schools.”

Through this model, schools that are struggling, such as Long Island City’s P.S. 111, would become “renewed.” This means that the school day would be extended to at least 5 p.m., the school would offer extra programs with after-school programs also open to parents, health services, academic support, and some form of enrichment activities such as an arts program or physical education.

“Our job is to help struggling schools. Our job is not to close them. Our job is not assume that they have to struggle forever or be failing schools forever, and we’ve gone into the renewal school model with that fully in place,” the schools chancellor said.

At these schools there will also be renewal directors, who will work with principals to provide more support and guidance. The directors will also observe and evaluate teachers at these specific schools to make sure they are a right fit for the site.

“We need to do a wraparound service around these schools so that all the needs are met,” Fariña said. “You can say a school is only about education, but the reality is that it’s a lot more than that. They need to be community hubs. They need to be places where, to the most degree possible, we do everything we can and bar no efforts to get this done.”

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LIC Flea & Food beer garden offers drinks from six Queens breweries


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo

As the weather is expected to hit the 70s this weekend, what better way to cool down than with a cold drink from the LIC Flea Beer Garden?

The popular Long Island City flea market celebrated its opening weekend last week, filled with sunshine and visitors from near and far.

LIC Flea & Food is located at an outdoor lot by the waterfront at the corner of Fifth Street and 46th Avenue, and offers items for sale including food and drinks, collectibles, antiques, arts and crafts, handcrafted jewelry and fashion, and much more.

Along with over 80 vendors each day, the market also has a beer garden, exclusively serving beers brewed in Queens from local breweries including Rockaway Brewery, Queens Brewery, Finback Brewery and SingleCut Beersmiths. The LIC Flea is the only location to carry beer from all six breweries. The bar will also offer a great selection of wines.

LIC Flea & Food will run every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., through the end of October.

For updates on the LIC Flea & Food market, follow on Facebook.com/LICFlea, Instagram.com/LICFlea and @LICFlea on Twitter.

Applications from potential vendors for the new season are still being accepted by registering online at www.licflea.com.

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LIC community garden vies for votes to win Seeds of Change grant


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of the Dutch Kills Community Garden

A community garden in Long Island City is looking to win a grant that will allow them to add more programs and reach more people.

The Dutch Kills Community Garden, which was started in 2013, could win a grant from the Seeds of Change Grant Program if it gets enough votes to move on to the final judging phase of the program.

The community garden was started by former LIC resident Jennifer DuJat, who grew up with her family of gardeners in Long Island and later gardened on her apartment’s fire escape in the western Queens neighborhood.

After being put on waiting lists in other community gardens, DuJat reached out to real estate broker Steffan Olausson Partridge, who helped her get the LIC apartment, and asked if he knew of anyone with an empty lot willing to offer it for the garden.

Partridge mentioned he had a house on 28th Street between 38th and 39th avenues, which he rents out as a short-term vacation spot, with a back lot.

The lot then became the home of the Dutch Kills Community Garden, which this past weekend celebrated the opening of its third season and is completely open to the public.

“We are making the point that even though we have chosen to live in the city we can still live green and do things for the community,” DuJat said.

The garden’s season goes from around April until the end of September, or the first frost, and there are 13 beds of vegetables which are owned by different members of the garden.

Members take turns completing chores to keep the garden’s common space clean, and each bed is the responsibility of the member who owns it. There are some rules that members must follow while keeping a bed, such as making sure they don’t block anyone else’s bed, keeping it clean and using organic materials.

The Dutch Kills Community Garden previously won the Citizen’s Committee for New York City Neighborhood Grant in 2013 and 2014.

This year, if they receive a Seeds of Change grant, the founders plan to use the funds to expand programs, such as wine tastings, and reach more people. The money will also go toward making the garden more sustainable regarding water by creating a rain harvesting system with rain barrels.

“By supporting these kinds of things in the neighborhood it get the word out and shows people that they can be environmentally friendly,” DuJat said. “It shows that even if you are in the city you can support a community garden.”

The voting for the Seeds of Change Grant Program ends on April 27 and people can vote once a day.

To vote for the Dutch Kills Community Garden, click here.

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LIC’s SculptureCenter to get excellence in preservation award for renovation, expansion


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Images courtesy of Michael Moran

One Long Island City nonprofit is being recognized for its excellence in preserving a century-old building, home to a former trolley repair shop, and converting it into a large art institution with its recent renovation and expansion.

The SculptureCenter, located at 44-19 Purves St., has been chosen as one of nine winners of the 25th Lucy G. Moses Preservation Awards, which will hold a ceremony on April 30 in Brooklyn.

These awards, also called the “Preservation Oscars,” are known as the New York Landmarks Conservancy’s highest honors of excellence in preservation.

The Long Island City institution was chosen for its renovation of the original 1908 brick building, which it moved into in 2002, and a 2,000-square-foot expansion which complements the site. The project was designed by Andrew Berman Architect, who has also designed projects for The New York Public Library and MoMA PS1. 

“The Moses Awards celebrate terrific preservation projects. Several of this year’s award winners demonstrate how historic buildings can be adapted to meet contemporary needs and add economic vitality in neighborhoods across the city,” said Peg Breen, president of The New York Landmarks Conservancy.

The SculptureCenter’s addition, which maintains the steel and brick structure of the existing building, gives the location a street presence while also increasing gallery and programming space. The one-story building houses an entrance lobby providing guests with ticketing, orientation and services such as restroom facilities, a bookshop and various gallery spaces.

A new 1,500-square-foot enclosed courtyard was also created to be used for outdoor exhibitions and events. Some upgrades to electrical and mechanical systems and improvements in office and storage space were also made as part of the renovations.

“SculptureCenter is honored to receive this year’s Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award. Andrew Berman’s sensitive and thoughtful expansion and renovation honors the dramatic steel and brick structure of the existing building while creating a stronger street presence as well as generously proportioned new spaces for the production and display of sculpture,” said Mary Ceruti, executive director and chief curator at SculptureCenter. “As the neighborhood becomes populated with more glass and steel, we felt it was important to preserve some of its industrial history.”

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