Tag Archives: Maspeth

West Nile spraying to target areas of Queens this week


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYC Department of Health

On Wednesday, Aug. 27, 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 8:15 p.m. and 6 a.m. the next morning. In case of bad weather, the application will be delayed until Thursday, Aug. 28 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 Auburndale, Murray Hill and Flushing (Bordered by 25th Avenue to the north; Murray Street to the west; 45th Avenue to the south; and 192nd Street, Francis Lewis Boulevard and Utopia Parkway to the east).

Parts of Elmhurst, Forest Hills, Forest Hills Garden, Forest Park, Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Rego Park and Woodhaven (Bordered by 63rd Avenue, 80th Street and Long Island Expressway to the north; eastern boundary of Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Metropolitan Avenue, 73rd Place, Myrtle Avenue and eastern boundaries of Mt. Lebanon and Mt. Hope to west; Park Lane South to the south; and Metropolitan Avenue and Alderton 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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Police looking for driver in fatal Maspeth hit-and-run


| editorial@queenscourier.com

PoliceCarHC0312_L_300_C_R

A 32-year-old Ridgewood man was struck and killed in a hit-and-run accident early Monday morning, police said.

Police responded to a call at about 2:52 a.m. on Fresh Pond Road between 60th Drive and Elliot Avenue where they found Karoll Grzegorczyk unconscious with trauma on his body, lying on the road. Grzegorczyk was taken to Elmhurst Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival, according to the NYPD.

Further investigation showed that Grzegorczyk was walking on Fresh Pond Road when mid-block he entered the street between parked cars, police said. The Ridgewood resident was then struck by a dark-colored sedan, which fled the scene.

No arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing.

 

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


| 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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The Doe Fund to help clean up Myrtle, Grand avenues


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley's Office

CHRIS BUMBACA

In an effort to beautify Queens and support job growth within District 30, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley and The Doe Fund announced on Thursday discretionary budget funding of The Doe Fund’s Ready, Willing & Able program.

The Fund’s president and founder, George McDonald as well as other local community leaders, were also on hand for the announcement. The Doe Fund’s workers, men who were formerly incarcerated or homelessness, will take part in this year-long transitional program, and service streets and sidewalks along Myrtle and Grand avenues in communities such as Glendale, Ridgewood and Maspeth, improving cleanliness and safety throughout the community.

Crowley acquired $61,800 in funding in the current budget to fund these street-cleaning crews.

“I’m so thrilled to welcome The Doe Fund to District 30. Myrtle and Grand Avenues have been major sources of sanitation complaints for years, but thanks to The Doe Fund, residents and business owners along these commercial corridors will begin to see a big difference almost immediately,” Crowley, who also serves as Chair of the Committee on Fire and Criminal Justice, said. “This program is win-win: keeping our community clean, while simultaneously providing jobs, education, and career development services for hardworking New Yorkers trying to turn their lives around and make a positive impact.”

The crews will pick up litter and clean trash on Myrtle Avenue from Cooper Avenue to Fresh Pond Road and on Grand Avenue from 61st to 74th streets, three days a week for the next year. Clean-up on Myrtle Avenue began on July 15, and crews began cleaning Grand Avenue on July 15.

“We’re grateful and proud to join Councilmember Crowley in her commitment to her district and the vibrant communities in it,” McDonald said. “By choosing The Doe Fund’s ‘men in blue’ to service Myrtle Avenue and the surrounding area, Ms. Crowley is leading by example, providing our men the opportunity and work they need to transform their lives, while improving the cleanliness and safety of the district’s streets.”

“This is only the beginning, and I look forward to expanding this program over the next several years,” Crowley added.

 

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Worker killed by sanitation truck


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of DSNY

A sanitation worker died on Saturday after a coworker smashed into him with a street sweeper, according to police.

The collision happened at the Sanitation Depot on 48th Street in Maspeth around 1 p.m.

Steven Frosch, 43, was working on a street sweeper when another sanitation worker, 33, hit him with a street sweeper and pinned Frosch between the two large vehicles, officials said.

Police found Frosch unconscious and lying on the ground with severe body trauma. EMS responded and pronounced Frosch dead at the scene.

“We are deeply saddened to learn of the loss of one of New York’s strongest today while on the job in service of our city,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement, responding to the news. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Steven Frosch’s family – especially his wife and four children – as well as his friends and fellow sanitation workers.  New York City stands ready to support them all in this tragic time of need.”

Frosch had been with the Department of Sanitation since 1999.

 

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Worker killed after forklift falls on him in Maspeth: cops


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Updated Wednesday, June 17 10:20 a.m.

A 54-year-old worker was killed Tuesday morning after a forklift fell on his chest at a Maspeth job site, police said.

The incident happened on 56th Drive near 58th Place around 10:30 a.m., cops said.

The construction worker, identified by police as Min Baz Sik, of Flushing, was taken to Elmhurst Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

According to police, another forklift  stopped working at the job site, and a second one was used to try to lift it. The functioning forklift then tipped over on the man.

 

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Stats show universal pre-K’s limited reach in western, central Queens


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo by Rob Bennett for the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio

Only 30 percent of 4-year-olds in parts of western and central Queens got into the pre-K of their choice, the lowest percentage of matched applicants in all of New York City.

Parents in Queens District 24 — Corona, Glendale, Ridgewood, Elmhurst, Long Island City, Maspeth and Middle Village — must now search for an alternative to public schools.

According to the Department of Education, the majority of parents with 4-year-olds — 70 percent — in the district recently received letters informing them that the public pre-K of their choice was already full.

In comparison, in Manhattan’s District 1 only 10 percent of applicants were unmatched and, overall, 38 percent of applicants throughout New York City were unmatched.

“Every single school in this district is overcrowded,” said Nick Comaianni, president of School Board District 24. “In the past we’ve actually had to get rid of pre-K seats to make room for kindergarten to fifth grade.”

As the city changes gears for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s aim to make pre-K universal, the DOE is using community-based organizations like local YMCAs and mom-and-pop pre-K programs to scoop up the applicants that didn’t get into a public school pre-K.

But Comaianni, who has been president of the board for 11 years, believes that the mayor’s office and the DOE are moving too fast.

“Someone should’ve done their homework before pushing pre-K through so quickly,” he said, noting that since the schools in the district are already overcrowded, there is no extra space for more students. “You can’t have pre-K if you don’t even have second grade.”

The DOE is opening up 53,000 full-day seats through community-based organizations in time for the new school year in September. While this will still leave some toddlers behind, by next year there will be 73,250 seats, enough to put every 4-year-old in New York City in school, according to education officials.

Which is just fine, Comaianni said, but warned: “In our haste to open these seats let’s hope we have qualified people who can teach pre-K and it’s not just a baby-sitting center.

Queens by school district:

Source: Office of Student Enrollment

 

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Residents skeptical as Maspeth, Glendale, Middle Village begin composting in city program


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Liam La Guerre

Little brown plastic bins have begun to appear in Maspeth, Glendale and Middle Village as those neighborhoods have been chosen as the vanguard in the city’s new composting program.

The first bins were installed on June 2 as the city attempts to reduce the amount of trash going into landfills by recycling organic waste.

The neighborhoods were chosen because they’re a microcosm of the rest of the city with the rich variety of housing from single-family homes to larger apartment buildings, said sanitation representative Lisa Brunie-McDermott.

The city-run program’s goal is to collect organic waste like food scraps and turn it into renewable energy or compost, which is used to enrich soil.

But many in the communities are skeptical about how effective the program will be and say that the city didn’t warn them that they would be chosen for the composting experiment.

“It’s an inefficient program at this point,” said Gary Giordano, a resident of Glendale and district manager for Community Board 5. During a meeting that the Glendale Property Owners held on June 5 to discuss the pilot program, Giordano noted that in order for the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) to collect the organic waste, an extra truck would have to be sent out on each block where there are brown bins.

“So what we’re looking at is an oxymoron. You’re wasting extra fuel in the name of going green,” he said.

Many residents at the meeting were also concerned that the city would ticket them for not participating in a program that they never wanted to be a part of in the first place. But, Brunie-McDermott explained, since the program is not law yet, there are no fines.

“It’s likely that if this becomes law, then there will be tickets involved,” she said. And whether or not the program becomes law is dependent on how communities like Glendale respond to it and whether residents participate. The DSNY is holding similar programs in the other four boroughs and by this time next year, the city will gauge how successfully the programs worked in the pilot areas.

Brunie-McDermott noted that during the first recycling period on June 3, just a day after the bins were given out, residents in Glendale had filled up their brown bins with all kinds of organic waste. And that’s a good sign for her, even if some in the community express trepidation.

“It’s a behavior change and it takes time,” Brunie-McDermott said. “I’m sure there were similar growing pains when the city decided to have regular recycling.”

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Queens students create art to tackle issues of abuse and teen pregnancy


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy of LeAp

Middle school students from Queens are taking a trip down New York City’s art circuit.

Walter Reed School in Maspeth and Robert E. Peary School in Glendale teamed up with a nonprofit art program to help students create an art exhibit that turns cafeteria benches into canvases with pictures of butterflies, the grim reaper and the words, “Be yourself. Stay above the influence” on them.

Students at Walter Reed presented their picture collage to an audience in Union Square on May 20 and on June 10 they will hold an exhibition at Juniper Park Valley. Students from Robert E. Peary School in Glendale will unveil their exhibit at the Evergreen Park on the same day.

The exhibits are meant to help students address problems in their communities that are important to them. These issues include substance abuse, teen pregnancy and dropping out of school and each table features pictures created by students from both schools.

“The students are the ones that brought these issues up,” said Jenny Castillo, an art teacher at the Walter Reed school. “These are issues they deal with on a daily basis.” The school worked with LeAp, a nonprofit organization that holds programs to educate students through art in New York City, to help the students create the art.

The art exhibits are part of LeAp’s larger citywide project to empower students in 10 schools on topics and issues that students come up with, according to LeAp’s Art Program Director Alexandra Leff.

“The idea is that students talk about these things around lunch time,” Leff said, explaining why cafeteria benches were chosen as the canvas. “It’s their moment to have a voice and talk about what’s important to them in a larger public space.”

“They live in neighborhoods where they’re around these problems all the time,” Castillo said.

The cafeteria benches will be on display for the whole summer and afterwards they will go on display in each school.

 

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104th Precinct sting finds delis, restaurants selling alcohol to minors


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

police-web11

Updated Saturday, May 17 11:12 a.m.

Two Queens businesses have been forced to close as they were caught selling alcohol to minors for a third time, police said.

Mount Everest Deli, 5609 Myrtle Avenue, and Apulum Bar, 18-19 Palmetto St., were shuttered by cops after allegedly selling alcohol to undercover auxiliary cops who were under 21.

Eight other establishments received summonses for alleges alcohol sales to minors: Optimo Convenience Store, 6693 Fresh Pond Road; Linden Convenience Store, 6661 Fresh Pond Rd; M&A Deli and Grocery, 6920 Fresh Pond Rd; Start Smart Deli, 6042 Myrtle Avenue; Three Family Deli, 801 Cypress Avenue; Eddy’s Grocery, 10-34 Wyckoff Avenue; Sabor and Rumba Bar, 666 Seneca Avenue; and Sabores Restaurant and Bar, 392 Woodward Avenue.

The operation was carried out by the 104th Precinct on April 12, according to Detective Thomas Bell, the precinct’s community affairs officer.

The precinct goes out periodically in their coverage neighborhoods of Ridgewood, Glendale, Middle Village and Maspeth to look for businesses that sell alcohol to minors, Bell said.

Robert Holden, a local and president of the Juniper Park civic association, said that he has witnessed the remains of underage drinking in Juniper Park Valley Park in Middle Village.

“We find dozens of bottles thrown all over the baseball field. They just get wild and crazy,” he said, noting that these findings have been on the rise lately. He worries that if more kids are drinking, they will be putting themselves and others danger.

Holden said he has been pushing the cops to come down on businesses that sell beer and alcohol to minors.

“We hope they expand the sweeps,” Holden said. “We think it’s a good deterrent. The community works with the precinct and we’ve made this a priority.”

 

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Knockdown center denied liquor license


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of The Knockdown Center/Ariana Page Russell

Follow me @liamlaguerre

 

The Knockdown Center took a straight right to the chin courtesy of the State Liquor Authority (SLA).

The SLA denied the Maspeth arts center’s license application at a full board hearing Tuesday. The center had applied for a cabaret class license, which would have allowed the it to serve liquor at events that have “musical entertainment” for 600 or more people.

“This is a vital step in preserving residents’ quality of life and maintaining the needed level of neighborhood safety,” said state Sen. Joseph Addabbo. “I will continue to fight to keep our homes and streets a safe haven when it comes to the Knockdown Center as well as any other establishment threatening our way of life. I look forward to an open dialogue regarding the future of this site.”

The center applied for the license despite heavy opposition from Community Board 5, neighborhood leaders and politicians, who feared that it would negatively impact the community.

The center, a former glass and door factory turned arts hall, has hosted everything from weddings, Tiki Disco parties, a mini-golf art exhibition and, most recently, a flea market. Owners also want to host art classes, concerts and large exhibits in the future.

In a letter in March following the application, the community board cited several reasons why they don’t want the center to have the liquor license, including extra pressure it will put on the 104th Precinct during events, the possible influx of vehicular traffic and problems it could bring to nearby residences.

Representatives from the center didn’t return calls for comment as of print time.

 

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Dmytro Fedkowskyj announces candidacy for NYS Assembly


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Dmytro Fedkowskyj

KATRINA MEDOFF

Dmytro Fedkowskyj, longtime resident and civic leader of the 30th Assembly District, officially announced his Democratic candidacy for the New York State Assembly on Saturday, in front of Maspeth High School.

“I’ve spent the last 10 years safeguarding the educational interest of our parents, students and school communities, but now I want to safeguard and protect the interest of all our residents, which is why I’m running for the State Assembly,” Fedkowskyj said. “This campaign will be about the people, not the politics.”

District 30 is comprised of Maspeth, Woodside and parts of Long Island City, Middle Village, Astoria and Sunnyside.

The district’s current assemblywoman, Marge Markey, who has held the seat since 1998, has said she is planning on running again.

Fedkowskyj is a Middle Village resident and has served as a member of the Community Education Council of District 24; as chair of the School Construction and Zoning Committee; and as a trustee for the city’s Board of Education Retirement System.

A former member of the city’s Panel for Education Policy (PEP), which serves to improve the welfare of schools and students in the city, Fedkowskyj is an advocate for more funding for education. During the announcement, he spoke about the need for more seats to relieve overcrowding in schools as well as the need for extended yellow bus service.

He supports the pending NYC Council’s Audible Alarms Bill that requires a door alarm to be installed on the outer doors of the city’s schools.

For crime prevention, he plans to advocate for increased state funding to hire more police and emergency personnel.

On the subject of taxes, he said that “it’s unconscionable to increase taxes on the working middle class, so I will only support a plan that keeps income and property taxes at their lowest possible levels. We need our middle class families to keep as much of their earned income as possible.”

Additionally, he said that he will support the Senior Citizens’ Exemption, which helps senior homeowners by reducing their property taxes so that they can continue to live in their homes.

He said he aims to advocate for equal pay and for closing the wage gap for working women.

Fedkowskyj said he also hopes to improve quality of life in the district by creating more green spaces, minimizing petty vandalism and upgrading technology in libraries and community centers.

 

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Maspeth dentist gives discount to patients willing to give up more than a tooth


| editorial@queenscourier.com

JEFF STONE

For most people, the very idea of having a tooth pulled or undergoing a root canal is enough to keep them out of the dentist’s chair for months. One Maspeth dentist, though, has managed to keep her waiting room full by convincing patients to register as organ donors, offering patients who do so a discount on dental work at her office.

Dr. Alexandra Khaimov — the owner of Grand Smile Dental, located at 69-77 Grand Ave. — has become one of the most popular medical professionals in the area by rallying customers and other members of the community to participate in a number of good causes. Her newest activity is encouraging patients to participate in Donate-A-Life, a month-long effort that aims to turn more Queens residents into registered organ donors.

The initiative isn’t an easy one. With over 10,000 New Yorkers on the waiting list for a kidney, liver or heart, the number of donors remains too low to make a sizable impact. Khaimov, with help from her five-person staff, hopes to change that by giving customers who register a discount on dental work. An estimated five or six have already signed up, with staff expecting more customers to partake in the program by the April 30 deadline.

“She is losing money,” assistant Yeva Gulkarova said of the reduced costs Khaimov sometimes gives to patients who do good deeds. The bottom line is secondary because “people like to see a dentist who’s not in it for the money. She actually cares, she won’t do anything that’s not necessary and always tries to help patients out. People like that.”

This is the first year that Grand Smile Dental is helping the Donate-A-Life program, combining it with their annual food drive. Customers are encouraged to bring in nonperishable food items or donate money that will go to needy families. The minimum cash donation is $10, although even that small contribution is enough to earn a patient a $50 credit toward his or her next appointment.

Khaimov organizes a handful of events like this every year. Her office was recently overwhelmed with essay submissions from kids ranging in age from 6 to 16 who wrote about something positive they’ve done. The winner was awarded a Kindle Fire, but the generosity also benefits people in more practical ways.

“She actually did a free dental day not too long ago where people who have pain or discomfort but no dental insurance would come in and she’d do pro bono work,” Gulkarova said of her boss. “She’s pretty involved.”

 

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Newtown Creek sludge project nearing completion


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Jeff Stone

JEFF STONE

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is celebrating the end of a month-long project in Newtown Creek that, if successful, will eventually make the water running through Ridgewood, Maspeth and Greenpoint much more inviting.

DEP crews have been traveling through the contaminated creek since the end of March, cleaning up silt, industrial waste and untreated sewage overflow that has been left largely undisturbed since the 1970s. The project, which is expected to be fully complete by no later than the end of April, aims to make Newtown Creek passable for a new fleet of DEP sludge vessels that will transport wastewater from elsewhere in the city to a new facility deeper inland.

Sludge vessels can be seen six days a week traveling through the East and Hudson Rivers, transporting sludge (semi-solid material leftover from industrial wastewater or sewage treatment) to decontamination facilities. Those facilities then extract any harmful materials and dump the clean water back into rivers around the metro area.

Yet, despite its status as one of the most contaminated bodies of water in the city, Newtown Creek is not currently equipped with its own dewatering plant. Sludge from the area is transported through a pipeline under the East River to a wastewater treatment plant in Greenpoint. City officials hope to soon use that valuable Brooklyn real estate for affordable housing and a new park, but the first step in removing the treatment facility is cleaning Newtown Creek.

Step one, for the most part, is finished. Environmental officials said that barges will be taking their final trips through the area using sonar technology to ensure that a new fleet of sludge vessels will be able to travel through without incident.

“Most likely there will be a few spots where they have to touch up and lay a fresh layer of sand down,” a DEP representative said Friday. “The barge and dredge machinery will be on Newtown Creek for at least another week or so, but the majority of the work will be completed by this weekend.”

Before the project began last month, DEP officials and nearby residents were concerned that the stirred-up silt bed would omit a smell of rotten eggs into the spring air. The very notion was enough to prompt a flurry of social media activity from Queens and Brooklyn residents alike. None of the dire predictions came to pass, though, thanks to the crews’ round-the-clock reliance on air and water quality monitors.

“The fact that there’ve been two complaints and all of our monitoring indicates that we’re well within our acceptable limits, everything has gone smoothly,” the spokesman said.

Work at Newtown Creek is a symptom of a citywide effort to equip designated priority areas like Gowanus Canal, Jamaica Bay, Flushing Bay and the Bronx River with green infrastructure. The city will spend $2.4 billion over the next 20 years on treating wastewater and rain overflow before it enters New York’s waterways.

 

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Queens priest seeks to preserve ancient language


| editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

ERIC JANKIEWICZ

The Rev. Joseph Palackal saves more than souls. The parochial vicar at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church in Maspeth is trying to save the ancient language of Aramaic, said to be spoken by Jesus and early Christians.

This summer he plans to revisit the unlikely home of the last Aramaic speakers — in the southern Indian state of Kerala, where many Christians trace the origin of their faith to Thomas the Apostle.

“Few people know this, but up until recently Christian Indians held religious services in the ancient language Aramaic,” Palackal said.

He explained that since the 1960s the churches in India held mass in the ancient language that much of the Middle East spoke in the early Christian years. Much like Latin, the spoken language has since faded into history.

“In Kerala, the language was kept in a time capsule,” he said, explaining that Christians in Kerala, unlike those in the Middle East, weren’t persecuted and could thus speak the language freely. “And so I’ve been trying to record as many people as possible who have knowledge of the language.”

The trick, Palackal said, is finding people who were born no later than the 1950s and attended the local church, where Aramaic was used for songs and worship. People born after that time wouldn’t have been exposed to the language because the church adopted the local language of Malayalam.

“So it is a very time-sensitive project and I have to hurry before all those who remember the language are gone,” Palackal said, explaining that he tracked down Indians who were part of the Syro-Malabar Church, the largest of the St. Thomas Christian denomination, which has its own forms of worship and theology. Many were able to sing the Aramaic religious songs of their youth.

Palackal hopes to have enough recordings of the language, which is preserved through religious song, to submit it to the Library of Congress.

And if he succeeds in his quest, the movie “The Passion of the Christ” won’t be the only place where Aramaic is heard or appreciated.

“It’s like a gold mine of musical melodies,” he said. “And if I don’t do it, no one else will. It will be a complete loss for humanity.”

 

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