Tag Archives: Middle Village

PHOTOS: ‘Shades of Blue’ with Jennifer Lopez and Ray Liotta films in Maspeth, Middle Village


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photos by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Jennifer Lopez and Ray Liotta hit the streets of Maspeth and Middle Village on Wednesday to film scenes for the new NBC police procedural “Shades of Blue.”

The series features Lopez in the lead role as Detective Harlee Santos, a single mother forced to snitch on her corrupt colleagues by the FBI after she is caught accepting a bribe. Liotta of “Goodfellas” fame also stars as Lieutenant Bill Wozniak. Lopez and Liotta also star opposite “Sopranos” actress Drea de Matteo as Detective Tess Nazario.

The series is set in Brooklyn and is based on the novel “Shades of Blue: 30 Years of (Un)ethical Policing” by Michael Rudolph. Executive producers of the series include Adi Hasak of “3 Days to Kill,” American Idol’s Ryan Seacrest, director Barry Levinson of “Wag the Dog” and “Homicide: Life on the Street,” as well as Lopez herself.

Both Lopez and Liotta filmed interior scenes for the series inside the Maspeth home of Claribel Vera on 58th Place and 57th Drive.

“This is so exciting,” Vera exclaimed. After shooting at the Vera home wrapped, Lopez emerged and posed for photos with fans, including Vera’s daughters Veronica and Annette, before leaving the set for the day.

Liotta and the rest of the crew then relocated to Middle Village where they dined on traditional Latin fare at Tropical 3 Restaurant, located at 62-27 Fresh Pond Rd. After enjoying an authentic Ecuadorian meal from owners Jimmy Illescas and Steven Vinas, Liotta resumed filming an exterior shot in a car outside the restaurant. Scores of locals gathered on 62nd Road to watch the shoot, many cheering when Liotta walked by. The actor appeared on set in special effects make-up, with fake bruises and a black eye.

Tropical 3 owners Jimmy Illescas and Steven Vinas welcomed Ray Liotta and the “Shades of Blue” crew to their restaurant during filming in Middle Village. (Photo courtesy of Sandra Gonzalez)

When filming wrapped, director Dan Lerner, of “In Plain Sight” and “The Blacklist” fame, thanked Illescas and Vinas for use of their establishment, and even sat to watch an original video made by Vinas’ young daughter on her iPad.

Liotta is no stranger to filming in Queens. Many of his scenes from the 1990 hit “Goodfellas” were filmed at the former Clinton Diner in Maspeth, as well on Maurice Avenue and the streets surrounding nearby Calvary Cemetery in Woodside.

“Shades of Blue” is set to air on NBC in the fall. Check local listings or click here for updates.

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Transit riders voice calls to ‘#FixWoodhaven’ in social media campaign


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photos via Twitter/@Jslyyynnn and @jam14063

Woodhaven Boulevard commuters took to social media on Wednesday afternoon to voice their frustration over crowded bus lines, deterioration and other problems along the thoroughfare.

The Riders Alliance and Transportation Alternatives organized the #FixWoodhaven event, which encouraged Queens subway and bus riders to use the hashtag on social media to call for bus rapid transit (BRT) and street improvements along the heavily-used boulevard bisecting Elmhurst, Rego Park, Middle Village, Glendale, Woodhaven and Ozone Park.

“The Twitter campaign had over 250 tweets under the hashtag #FixWoodhaven,” according to a spokeswoman for the Riders Alliance and Transportation Alternatives.

“The people who were tweeting and part of the campaign included commuters who ride the bus daily along the Woodhaven corridor. The campaign was designed to speak to elected officials so they know the importance of BRT to their communities and constituents,” she said.

Volunteers with both transit advocacy groups also met with afternoon rush-hour commuters waiting for buses at stops along Hoffman Drive near Woodhaven Boulevard in Elmhurst. In pictures posted on Twitter and Instagram, riders were shown holding up signs noting that BRT would help reduce commute times and ease congestion.

In many instances, those who vented tagged or retweeted local elected officials seeking support for their cause, including City Council Members Elizabeth Crowley and Donovan Richards and Assemblyman Mike Miller.

“The proposed layouts for Woodhaven have benefits for pedestrians also. It’ll be safer and prettier! #FixWoodhaven #VisionZero,” tweeted @SamSamuelitoo.

“I support better, faster buses! Visiting fams in the Rockaways takes too long. #fixwoodhaven @RidersNY @brtfornyc,” added Twitter user @Jslyyynnn, who attached to her tweet a photo of herself holding a sign reading, “I live in Jackson Heights and I’m tired of overcrowded buses.”

“Let’s make public transportation, more efficient and desirable to ride! @transalt #FixWoodhaven @brtfornyc,” tweeted Juan Restrepo, @juan_john_hans.

For years, drivers, pedestrians and non-drivers have experienced commuting pains while traveling along Woodhaven Boulevard, especially during rush hour periods. Buses operating on the roadway — including two limited lines, the Q52 and Q53 — are often packed door-to-door with riders and are slow because of traffic congestion. The street also has a history of vehicular accidents involving pedestrians, many of which resulted in fatalities.

The city Department of Transportation in recent years started a “Congested Corridor” study for Woodhaven Boulevard, and recommended physical changes to the road’s configuration to make it safer and easier to travel. Working with the MTA, the DOT also recommends implementing Select Bus Service, a form of BRT, along both Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards, with stations created at major intersections such as Metropolitan Avenue and Jamaica Avenue.

As the Select Bus Service plans are still being finalized, the DOT is presently creating bus-only lanes along Woodhaven Boulevard between Eliot and Metropolitan avenues as a means of speeding up bus operation. Only buses would be permitted to travel in these lanes during the morning and afternoon rush hours on weekdays.

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Woodside resident to seek Assembly seat and ‘fight for the middle class’


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Brian Barnwell

Brian Barnwell is looking to be the voice of a district he has called home all his life and one he says needs a big change and new leadership.

The 29-year-old Woodside resident and lawyer has announced that he will run next year for the seat in the state Assembly representing District 30, which covers the neighborhoods of Maspeth, Woodside, Middle Village and parts of Astoria, Sunnyside and Long Island City.

The seat is currently held by Assemblywoman Margaret Markey, who was first elected in 1998.

“I just feel like it’s time for a change. I feel like we need some new energy where people are going to go out and engage the community and bring the community voices into the conversation,” Barnwell said. “Everyone is getting pushed out. The teachers are being thrown under the bus. The students are being thrown under the bus. The middle class is just being destroyed and we can’t take it for granted anymore. So I want to be the voice of the middle class, because I am in the middle class.”

Barnwell’s desire to run for office was fueled recently when he began working as the director of special events for Councilman Costa Constantinides, and experienced many residents coming into the district office complaining about various issues – including affordable housing.

This made him realize that there needed to be a change and he would be that change.

The platform of his campaign will strongly focus on helping individuals in the middle class and those vying to move into the middle class. With being a member of the middle class himself, along with his family, Barnwell said he has personal experience with the issues constituents face.

“The middle class is what made this country great. It’s what makes any country great. If you don’t have a middle class, you’re in trouble,” Barnwell said.

Barnwell’s platform – focusing on taxes, education and affordable housing – includes issues such as lowering personal income and corporate taxes; helping raise minimum wage; empowering teachers, parents and administrators in local schools and creating new curriculum based on districts; building more schools; and increasing the amount of affordable housing in the developing area.

For now, Barnwell will stay at Constantinides’ office until September, then he will hit the streets and reach out to the communities to see what issues the residents are facing.

“I want people to tell me what’s wrong with this district,” Barnwell said. “You’ve got to lead. You’ve got to be a leader. This why we elect these people to be leaders, not followers, and I want to be a leader. I don’t want to be a follower.”

Barnwell will hold his first fundraiser on Aug. 12 at 7 p.m. at The Brewery NYC, located at 49-18 30th Ave. in Woodside.

For more information visit Barnwell’s Facebook page or follow @Barnwell2016 on Twitter.

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Maspeth, Middle Village set to co-name two streets for community leaders


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo via Google Maps

The City Council unanimously passed a bill Thursday that includes the proposed co-naming of two Queens streets, one in Maspeth and the other in Middle Village.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley proposed the bill to honor Frank Kowalinski and Bishop Joseph Sullivan.

Maspeth Avenue between 61st and 64th streets is slated to become Frank Kowalinski Way. Kowalinski was born in 1894 and grew up on Clinton Avenue. In 1918, Kowalinski became the first U.S. Army soldier of Polish decent to be killed in combat during World War I. In honor of his service, the local veterans post in Maspeth is named after Kowalinski.

Middle Village will see 71st Street, from Eliot Avenue south of the railroad, be named Bishop Joseph Sullivan Way.

Sullivan served the Our Lady of Hope parish since its founding in 1960 until his death in 2013. Sullivan was also involved with several Catholic charities, hospitals and other religious, interreligious and secular organizations.

“Recognizing and memorializing the dedication of these two men to their country and community is truly a privilege,” Crowley said. “Queens is both fortunate and unique in that it has a history of such strong public servants, whether they are soldiers or clergymen. It is only right to post their names for all to see in the neighborhoods they have made such an impact on. That way, their legacy can live on for generations to come.”

The dates for the co-naming ceremonies have yet to be determined.

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Participatory budgeting coming to Councilwoman Crowley’s district


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley is the latest city lawmaker to hop on the participatory budgeting bandwagon.

Crowley announced on Tuesday that residents in the 30th City Council District — which includes all or parts of Ridgewood, Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Woodhaven and Woodside — will get to decide how to spend $1 million in city funds on community improvement projects.

She is the 11th member of the City Council’s Queens delegation to host participatory budgeting. During the 2015 fiscal year, City Council members Costa Constantinides, Daniel Dromm, Julissa Ferreras, Karen Koslowitz, I. Daneek Miller, Donovan Richards, Antonio Reynoso, Eric Ulrich, Paul Vallone and Jimmy Van Bramer — along with former City Councilman Mark Weprin — pledged to fund $12,871,000 in projects through the process.

“This year, I am able to bring participatory budgeting to my constituents and give them insight into the often lengthy and sometimes very expensive city budgeting process,” Crowley said in a statement. “This will provide a forum for active engagement between residents and myself to decide on capital projects, and calls for the participation of every community member.”

Through participatory budgeting, local residents brainstorm and then vote on a number of proposed capital budget projects for their community, such as street tree planting, park improvements, school technology upgrades, security cameras and street resurfacing.

The first round of community meetings focused on the process will be held in September, with voting taking place in February 2016. For additional information, call Crowley’s Glendale office at 718-366-3900.

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New Showtime series starring Damian Lewis filming in Middle Village this week


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by  JoJo Whilden/SHOWTIME

Updated 3:38 p.m.

Be on the lookout for some major star power in Middle Village as the new Showtime series “Billions” films on Metropolitan Avenue this Thursday.

Posters along Metropolitan Avenue alert the community that there will be no parking beginning at 10 p.m. on July 15 in preparation for the shoot on July 16, which will run from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. the following morning.

The production company has parking requests for Metropolitan Avenue between 74th Street and 80th Street, both sides, with full block control; 78th Street between Metropolitan Avenue and 67th Road, both sides, with 3/4 block control; 78th Street between Metropolitan Avenue and 66th Drive, both sides, with full block control; 66th Drive between Gray Street and 78th Street, on the south side, with 1/2 block control; 74th Street between 66th Drive and Metropolitan Avenue, both sides, with full block control; and 75th Street between Metropolitan Avenue and 67th Road, both sides, with full block control.

Photo by Dylan Mannarino

Photo by Dylan Mannarino

The series is headlined by Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning actors Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis, as well as Malin Akerman of “Watchmen” fame.

Giamatti plays Chuck Rhoades, a shrewd U.S. Attorney who has his sights set on taking down Lewis’ character, Bobby “Axe” Axelrod, a corrupt billionaire hedge fund king in this complex drama about power and politics in the world of New York high finance.

It is not known if Giamatti, Lewis or Akerman will be on the Middle Village set on July 16.

The show is set to air on Showtime in 2016.

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104COP thanks Frank Kotnik for 25 years of service


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photos by Anthony Giudice

For 25 years Frank Kotnik has served the communities of Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth and Ridgewood as a member of the 104 Civilian Observation Patrol (104COP), formerly known as G-COP (Glendale Civilian Observation Patrol).

During those two and a half decades, Kotnik devoted his time and energy to making those communities as safe as he could by organizing patrols, coordinating parades and lending help during times of need, such as after 9/11 and Superstorm Sandy.

At Thursday night’s 104COP meeting at Christ the King High School in Middle Village, family, friends, colleagues and local politicians surprised Kotnik to celebrate his 25 years of service as he stepped down as president of 104COP.

As his final act as president, Kotnik handed over the gavel to Mark Pearson, the new president of 104COP. Although Kotnik stepped down as president, he will remain an active member of the board.

After the installation of all the newly elected officers of 104COP, the guests began showering Kotnik with thanks and gifts.

State Senator Joseph Addabbo presented Kotnik with a proclamation from the New York Senate, thanking him for his years of dedication to the communities that 104COP serves and for lending help to other communities in need.

“I will forever be grateful to 104COP, and to Frank, because a third of my district was severely impacted by Sandy,” Addabbo said. “And Frank led the charge down there for many of you members to help my people after Sandy. And I don’t mean a month after Sandy, but days, hours after Sandy, Frank was helping my constituents, who are still hurting. So for that I will forever grateful to Frank, so thank you.”

Kotnik was honored by Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley and Councilman Antonio Reynoso with a proclamation, thanking him for his service.

“When I think of G-COP, I think of Frank,” Crowley said. “He’s always been president and the leader, and there is no other organization in the city of New York like G-COP.”

“As the newest member of this elite team here, let me tell you, I just wanted to say, Frank, I think I graduated preschool when you started at G-COP,” Reynoso said, to which the crowd erupted with laughter. “That speaks less of my age and more of his commitment to the mission of G-COP. A lot of people do things in short [stints], but he made a commitment to this community for much longer than that…and I truly want to thank you.”

Commanding Officer of the 104th Precinct, Captain Mark Wachter, personally thanked Kotnik for helping to keep the communities he has lived in since he was a child safe for so many years.

“Frank watched out for this community when I was very young,” Wachter said. “Because of Frank and the members of G-COP, this community is still safe. So on that personal level Frank, I thank you.”

Wacther then presented Kotnik with a plaque from the NYPD, thanking him for his years of service.

Among the others that honored Kotnik throughout the evening were representatives from Borough President Melinda Katz’s office, Captain John Travaglia, commanding officer of the 108th Precinct, representatives from the 104th Precinct Community Council, and the members of 104COP.

Kotnik thanked everyone for their love and support, now and over the years.

“Thank you, thank you for the support,” Kotnik said. “One thing that was forgotten, I know everyone is saying it was me, but it was ‘we.’ This patrol is always, as far as I’m concerned, is ‘we.’ We were going to do this together…All I can say to everybody, thank you for coming, God bless you all.”

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CB 5 sounds off on waste-by-rail company’s permits


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Anthony Giudice

After learning of the extended time frame for public comments regarding two waste-by-rail permits, members of Community Board 5 (CB 5) collectively voted against them during its meeting Wednesday night at Christ the King High School in Middle Village.

The board unanimously recommended denying the renewal of permits for One World Recycling Inc. and Coastal Distribution, which operate through the Fresh Pond Rail Yard that runs through parts of Middle Village, Glendale and Ridgewood, until certain stipulations are met.

One World Recycling submitted a permit renewal and modification application to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), requesting to increase their daily throughput from 370 tons to a total of 1,100 tons.

The permit submitted by Coastal Distribution requests to expand the type of waste it transports to include commercial and residential waste.

“The big problem we have is that somehow the idea of mixing commercial solid waste and construction and demolition debris…we disagree with that,” said Vincent Arcuri, chair of CB 5. “We also had a concern over the years, and continue to be concerned about the lack of solid covers on the construction and demolition rail cars.”

The current method for sealing construction and demolition debris in rail cars is by using a mesh lining to cover the rail car. The mesh leaves the waste vulnerable to rain and pests, as well as subjecting residents of the communities the rail cars pass through to dust, odors and vectors.

“We had success with the Department of Sanitation and them getting Waste Management to put the, what I would call, the putrescible or municipal solid waste in sealed containers,” said Gary Giordano, district manager of CB 5. “But the construction and demolition debris continues to move back and forth in our neighborhoods.”

Another issue raised by Arcuri about waste-by-rail operations is the lack of control of pollution from the rail cars traveling through the communities in CB 5.

“We’ve been working with the FRA (Federal Railroad Administration), the state and the CURES (Civics United for Railroad Environmental Solutions) group to basically upgrade all of the engines in the Long Island Rail Road’s transportation department,” Arcuri said.

The official stance of CB 5 is that “putrescible solid waste garbage should be transported separately in sealed containers as Waste Management currently does in its agreement to transport city garbage in sealed, odorless containers,” Arcuri said.

“Construction and demolition debris should also be loaded and transported in sealed, odorless containers that will totally prevent dust and odors from escaping,” he continued. “There should not be a renewal of, or granting of any permits to these two companies unless the above mentioned items are accomplished. And these companies should certainly not be permitted to expand their operations until these stipulations are included in their permits by New York State DEC.”

The board’s next step is to send their recommendation to NYSDEC before Aug. 9, the deadline for the public comment period.

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EXCLUSIVE: Councilwoman envisions light rail line between Glendale and LIC


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

BY ANTHONY GIUDICE AND ROBERT POZARYCKI

Commuters in Glendale and Middle Village deal with limited public transportation options. Most residents in both communities live a mile or farther away from the nearest subway station, and local bus lines through the area have a reputation for being slow and overcrowded.

City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley hopes to change this situation with a plan to introduce light rail service between Glendale and Long Island City on the Long Island Rail Road’s Montauk branch, which currently offers only freight service west of Jamaica. She hopes to pitch the idea to the Department of City Planning in the coming weeks.

In an exclusive interview with the Ridgewood Times on Monday at her district office, Crowley said a new diesel-powered light rail line would address the transportation needs in Glendale and surrounding communities. The light rail line could also encourage redevelopment of underutilized industrially zoned areas adjacent to the line for business or residential purposes.

“A light rail is inexpensive, it’s clean and it’s quiet,” Crowley said. “I think an ideal plan would be to start [at The Shops at Atlas Park] where you’re not necessarily in the backs of the people’s yard or you don’t have at-grade street level crossing.”

Up until March 1998, the Montauk branch offered passenger service between Long Island City and Jamaica and stations in Glendale, Ridgewood and Maspeth. Passenger service was discontinued at that time due to lack of ridership; a New York Times report noted that just two passengers arrived and departed daily at the Glendale station, located along Edsall Avenue and 73rd Street, near an entrance to All Faiths Cemetery.

Crowley doesn’t suggest rebuilding the former Glendale station, but rather creating a new stop at The Shops at Atlas Park, noting that the shopping centerwhere her district office is also located—could serve as an active park-and-ride option for local residents.

“If we were able to get a rail here, people could potentially use this spot as park-and-ride, or the community around us could take a bus to the train or walk to the train,” Crowley said. “It provides options for public transportation that would effectively get more cars off our streets.”

Local civic activists have long advocated for returning public transit to the Montauk branch; members of the Community Board 5 Transportation and Public Transit Committees recently called for rebuilding the former Fresh Pond station located at the corner of Fresh Pond Road and Metropolitan Avenue on the Ridgewood/Glendale border.

Crowley, however, suggested building a new station a short distance to the east of the Fresh Pond stop near the Metro Mall, which could connect riders to the M train at its Metropolitan Avenue terminus.

“There could potentially be inter-borough connections here,” Crowley explained. “If we were to have the first stop over by the Metro Mall, then you could transfer to the M train and get quickly into Brooklyn.”

She also pointed to an area near Flushing Avenue in Maspeth as another potential station site, noting that it’s close to the connecting LIRR Bushwick branch, another freight rail line that Crowley suggested could potentially also accommodate light rail service.

From Long Island City, riders could connect to the 7, E and M lines at stations located within walking distance of the Hunterspoint Avenue station where the Montauk line terminates.

Crowley noted, however, that these plans are in the infancy stages and there is currently no estimated cost or timetable for this project. In addition to meeting with the Department of City Planning, she would further research the idea in meeting with operators of light rail systems in New Jersey cities.

Regarding costs, Crowley suggested the expense would be minimal compared to large-scale MTA capital projects such as the 7 line extension in Manhattan. The MTA—which is requesting billions in funding for capital improvements—would need funds to build the light rail stations and purchase cars and equipment.

The LIRR currently leases the Montauk line west of Jamaica to New York and Atlantic Railway exclusively for its freight rail operations based out of Glendale’s Fresh Pond Railyard. When asked if this would pose a complication to her light rail plan, Crowley remarked that other cities allow light rail to operate on freight tracks, and that both functions could coexist here.

Community Board 5 District Manager Gary Giordano told the Ridgewood Times in a phone interview Wednesday that the idea has “merit,” but there could be opposition from residents living near the Montauk line.

“Those who might not be that pleased with it are the people who own homes in east Glendale,” he said. “That’s the difficult part, but we need to get ourselves out of our cars as often as possible and use public transportation. In that sense, it can be very good.”

The CB 5 Transportation and Public Transit Committees would likely review Crowley’s plan and may also hold a public hearing on the matter, Giordano said.

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Glendale, Middle Village residents get more time to vent on waste-by-rail permits


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Anthony Giudice

Residents of Glendale, Ridgewood and Middle Village scored a victory in their fight for the containerization of all solid waste transported by rail Tuesday, when elected officials secured an extension of the public comment period regarding permits regarding two waste haulers’ plans to increase their rail operations.

In the permits, One World Recycling Inc., which operates out of Lindenhurst, is looking to expand the total quantity of waste they transport via the Fresh Pond Railyard, which runs through parts of Glendale, Ridgewood and Middle Village.

Coastal Distribution in Farmingdale, which also uses the Fresh Pond Railyard, also seeks to expand the type of waste it hauls to include commercial and residential waste, and is planning to test out three types of containerization methods.

In a letter to Joseph Martens, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), dated June 26, U.S. Representatives Grace Meng and Nydia Velázquez, state Senator Joseph Addabbo, Assemblymen Andrew Hevesi and Michael Miller, City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley and Borough President Melinda Katz got the NYSDEC to extend the public comment period for permits.

“We are concerned about the impact that increased operations will have on the quality of life for our constituents in these communities, specifically in regards to odor from open containers that sit idle, the attraction of pests, and pollution stemming from the construction and demolition debris and other waste that are not adequately sealed,” the lawmakers wrote. “A public forum should be held in order to provide an opportunity for the residents to voice their concerns and reach an understanding with the companies planning these operations.”

Prior to this extension, the comment period was only 19 days long, not the typical time frame of 30 days. The public can now submit comments through Aug. 9.

The NYSDEC will factor in comments from the public when deciding whether or not to grant the permits.

For the One World Recycling permit, the public can submit written comments by email to OneWorldRecycling@dec.ny.gov or by regular mail to Mark Carrara, NYSDEC, SUNY at Stony Brook, 50 Circle Road, Stony Brook, NY 11790-3409.

For the Coastal Distribution permit, the public can submit written comments by email to NYAR.Coastal@dec.ny.gov or by regular mail to NYSDEC, Susan Ackerman, SUNY at Stony Brook, 50 Circle Road, Stony Brook, NY 11790-3409.

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St. Margaret Church’s newest priest is a Middle Village native


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Anthony Giudice /Gallery photos courtesy Father Nicholas Colalella

A son of Middle Village has just been ordained a father.

Nicholas Colalella was raised in Middle Village and attended Saint Margaret School as a youth. It was there that he began his journey of faith, which has just come full circle.

“It was great growing up in Middle Village,” Colalella said. “We used to walk and ride our bikes all over the place. I was always in Juniper Park. I always came to church [at St. Margaret] with my grandparents to the Italian Mass. I participated in their St. Joseph’s feasts. I am very much a product of the Italian community in Middle Village.”

On June 27, at the age of 24, Colalella was ordained a priest and was assigned to his home parish of St. Margaret for the summer. The next morning, he celebrated his first Mass at St. Margaret before family, friends and members of the community that have helped him on his journey to priesthood.

“It came very naturally, it all came naturally,” Colalella said of celebrating his first Mass. “It was a very joyous and happy occasion. It was quite fulfilling. The church was packed. There were a lot of people who haven’t been to Middle Village or St. Margaret’s in a long time that came back for the Mass. It was a nice occasion for the community and the parish to come together.”

As a teen, Colalella attended Xavier High School, where he made the decision to join the priesthood.

“Probably in high school is when I made the serious decision,” Colalella said. “I was in the military program and there was an image of St. Ignatius that always captured my imagination. It was Ignatius taking off his armor and putting it in front of a statue of Mary … and that kind of spoke to me because I was thinking about military and we were encouraged to think about a military career in high school and that image made me think about the priesthood.”

Colalella is currently enrolled in the Biblical Institute in Rome where he is studying biblical languages. He was sent to work in St. Margaret Parish for the summer before returning to Rome in September to continue his studies.

As part of the St. Margaret parish, in addition to saying Mass on a daily basis, Colalella makes Communion calls, visits the homebound, offers prayers at wakes and, as a priest, will be able to offer funeral Masses and officiate weddings.

“I would love to come back and be in the parish,” Colalella said of his future. “I would like to teach what I’ve learned; maybe teaching would be an option.”


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Free Juniper Valley Park concert series lineup announced


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy of Juniper Park Civic Association

Juniper Valley Park in Middle Village will be rocking this summer with four free concerts as part of the 2015 Juniper Valley Park Summer Concert Series.

The concert series kicks off on July 14 with “Swing Night,” featuring music from the Gerard Carelli Orchestra (GCO). Gerard Carelli, a trombonist and vocalist, leads the GCO, which is one of New York’s most popular ensembles. The GCO has performed at many special events including the late actor Christopher Reeve’s 50th birthday; fundraisers hosted by former president Bill Clinton; and parties for celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito and restaurateur Drew Nieporent of Tribeca Grill and Nobu.

Carelli has also toured the world with famous musicians such as Ray Charles, and has two CDs to his name.

The three other free concerts in the series will be: Italian Night on July 21, featuring music from Elio Scaccio and Tony Valente Trio; ’80s Tribute Night on July 28, featuring the White Wedding Band playing popular hits from the 1980s; and, on Aug. 4, the NYPD Night Out Against Crime, where the band Generations will be playing classic rock ‘n’ roll music.

The 2015 Juniper Valley Park Free Summer Concert Series is sponsored by NYC Department of Parks & Recreation and Juniper Park Civic Association (JPCA). Co-sponsors include the Juniper Valley Park Conservancy, Crifasi Real Estate, O’Neill’s Restaurant, Queensboro UNICO and Rep.Grace Meng.

All concerts are free to the public and begin at 7 p.m. Concertgoers are invited to bring their own lawn chairs to comfortably view each performance.

Concert schedule and acts subject to change. For latest concert information and weather updates, call 718-651-5865 or visit the JPCA website.

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Seven Queens students accepted to the US service academies


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy of Congresswoman Grace Meng's office

Seven recent high school graduates from Queens will be all they can be in their college years after being accepted into various U.S. military service academies with the assistance of Congresswoman Grace Meng.

The academies consist of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point; U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland; U.S. Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs, Colorado; U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point; and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy at New London, Connecticut.

Kate Gerodias from Middle Village graduated from Forest Hills High School and will be attending the Naval Academy; Zachary Kurre from Glendale graduated from Archbishop Molloy High School and will attend West Point this summer; Selah Cho of Fresh Meadows finished school at Marion Military Institute in Alabama and will attend West Point; Kevin Guo from Rego Park graduated from Hunter College High School and will be continuing his education at the Naval Academy; Julia Hsu from Flushing graduated from West Point Prep School and will go on to West Point this summer; John Makiling of Flushing graduated from Naval Academy Prep School and will continue on to the Naval Academy; and Daniel Zakrevski from Richmond Hill graduated from Bronx High School of Science and will be attending the Merchant Marine Academy.

“I am honored to congratulate these seven exceptional students,” Meng said. “All are outstanding individuals who will be future military leaders of our country. I have no doubt that they’ll make Queens and the nation proud.”

Students looking to attend the service academies are required to be nominated by their Congress member. The institutions then evaluate the nominations from across the nation and decide which nominees to accept.

The students nominated by Meng compete against students from across the country and must meet the highly competitive educational, physical and extracurricular standards set by the institutions. Meng’s Academy Review Board, which is a panel of local community leaders, assists Meng in the nomination process for students looking to attend the academies.

This year, a total of 33 students applied to be nominated by Meng. Of those 33 students, 20 were nominated by the Congresswoman.

To congratulate the students for being accepted to the service academies, Meng hosted a reception for them and their families at her office in Flushing. She also presented each student with a certificate of Congressional recognition.

Meng plans to continue her “U.S. Service Academy Information Night” for Queens students who are interested in applying to the U.S. Service Academies. The day and location will be announced in the near future.

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Cops arrest Middle Village, Ridgewood residents in fireworks bust


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@NYPD104Pct

They won’t be having a blast this Fourth of July.

Two Middle Village residents and a Ridgewood man were arrested Thursday for illegally possessing fireworks as part of the NYPD’s ongoing crackdown on unlawful pyrotechnics leading up to Independence Day.

The 104th Precinct stopped Middle Village’s Jason Rodriguez, 28, and Tina Foley, 29, at 9:50 p.m. Thursday night at the intersection of 65th Place and Admiral Avenue in Middle Village. Reportedly, they were found in possession of $2,000 in illegal fireworks, some of which were left unattended with a 3-year-old child in their car.

Additionally, the precinct also took into custody Wilfredo Maisonave, 32, of Ridgewood after he was caught possessing fireworks in front of a location on Woodward Avenue between Flushing Avenue and Troutman Street at about 7 p.m. Thursday.

Everyone is welcome to enjoy professionally-operated and permitted fireworks displays such as the Macy’s 4th of July spectacular on the East River, but it is illegal for residents to set off their own fireworks.

“The 104th Precinct will have extra patrols out all day and night to deal with illegal fireworks,” Det. Thomas Bell of the 104th Precinct Community Affairs Unit said in an email. “If you get caught, you can be subject to arrest.”

Anyone who witnesses fireworks being illegally used or sold in New York City is urged to call 911.

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PHOTOS: Middle Village holds annual Relay for Life event


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photos courtsey Relay for Life

Rain and thunder could not dampen the spirits of the nearly 400 participants who took part in the 13th Annual Relay for Life of Middle Village in Juniper Valley Park on Saturday.

The relay in the park was a success, but the threat of high winds and heavy rain did cause the Luminaria ceremony to be rescheduled for July 13 at 9 p.m., said Marlene Medina, community manager for Relay for Life.

Relayers will get the opportunity to light their Luminaria bag and run their laps in honor of, or in memory of, a loved one at the Maspeth Federal Savings parking lot located on 69th Street and Grand Avenue.

Relay for Life is the world’s largest fundraising event created to help bring an end to cancer. It brings together communities to celebrate people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones who have not made it, and take action to stop cancer.

Relay for Life has currently raised over $170,000 and is continuing fundraising efforts until they reach their goal of $200,000 before Aug. 30, according to Medina. Anyone interested in donating can visit the Relay for Life website to make a donation.

 

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