Tag Archives: Middle Village

Joe Abbracciamento Restaurant set to close after nearly 70 years


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A beloved Queens eatery that has fed generations for nearly 70 years will soon be serving up its last course.

Joe Abbracciamento Restaurant, a neighborhood fixture at 62-96 Woodhaven Boulevard, will close March 2, as longtime owners prepare for retirement.

“We just want to sit back for a little while, relax and breathe the fresh air,” said owner John Abbracciamento, 60 . “It’s bittersweet. But, basically, it’s time.”

The Italian eatery opened in 1948 under Abbracciamento’s father, Joe. Over time, it became a staple in the borough.

“We’ve taken care of people from the day they were born,” Abbracciamento said. “It’s a wonderful treat to be a part of their lives and some of the most important occasions that they would celebrate. We will sadly miss that part of it.”

Abbracciamento has known the restaurant life since he was 13.

It was not an easy decision to put it to rest after the baton was passed down to him from his late father, Abbracciamento said. But it was a necessary one.

“It was my father’s dream,” he said. “My brother and I kept it going. But I’ve just come to the point in my life where I just need some time to clear my head and move forward.”

“We had a nice, long run — a very successful run,” Abbracciamento said. “It’s just time to just relax a little bit.”

Longtime patrons said the loss of the local icon is a blow to the Queens dining scene and to the community.

“I’m sad. I’ve known them for 30 years,” said Leon Sorin. “They’ve been working hard for many years. Maybe it’s time.”

John Harrington, 73, has been coming for the “out of this world” lasagna for 38 years.

“I was shocked when I heard it was closing,” he said. “It’s a shame because you don’t have any good restaurants around.”

Ed Wendell, a lifelong Queens resident, called the restaurant “the go-to place” for Italian cuisine.

“It’s one of those places where a lot of people are going to look back now and say, ‘Man, I wish I had gone more,’” he said. “It will be missed.”

 

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Parks Dept. hosts snow activities in Juniper Valley Park


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

The first snowstorm of the new year was every child’s dream. It gave youngsters an extra vacation day from school and a snowy wonderland where they could play.

The Parks Department hosted free activities in Juniper Valley Park in Middle Village on Saturday, courtesy of massive amounts of snow from Winter Storm Hercules, to which hundreds of children and parents took advantage.

The recreation division of the city agency provided free sleds, hot chocolate, snow shoeing and music for children to enjoy the snow in the park.

“It’s vital to the community to have open spaces where they can come out, play sports, relax, make friends and socialize,” said Liam Kavanagh, first deputy commissioner of the Parks Department. “We want them to do it year round. Snow days encourage people to come out climb those hills, slide down, and come out in the winter time when they might not otherwise be in the park.”

It’s an annual event that the recreation division tries to sponsor on the first sighting of large snow storms.

The Parks Department holds the free activities at just five parks around the city, one from each borough. They chose Juniper because the hilly environment provides a great bunny slope for children, but there also weren’t impediments.

“They don’t have good hills in those locations,” said Iris Rodriguez-Rosa, Queens’ chief of recreation for Parks. “Although it’s fun we want the kids to do it in a location that is safe.”

While the massive amount of snow dropped on the city shut down streets, and made for hellish commutes for some, for others the snow was excellent winter fun.

“It’s absolutely wonderful, it makes the whole day wonderful for the kids,” said Jennifer Suffel, a Middle Village resident. “I think its a great part of our community and I would hate to see it stop. its good clean fun the kids should be having.”

 

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‘Snow day’ at Juniper Valley Park Saturday


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File Photo

Updated 4:00 p.m.

Just because Mother Nature has dropped a few inches of snow, doesn’t mean you can’t put on your snow boots, get the sled and, go out and have some fun.

Keeping in mind to stay safe and bundle up, the Department of Parks and Recreation has declared an official snow day for Saturday, January 4 at five parks across the city. The snow day will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

In Queens, the Parks Department will hold a snow day at Juniper Valley Park, at 78th Street and Juniper Valley North in Middle Village. During the snow day, free organized activities include supervised safe sledding, snowman building contests, best snow angel contests, friendly snowball fights, music, and complimentary hot chocolate.

For more information, please call 311 or visit the Parks Department website for updates.

Even though Juniper Park will be the only park in the borough to include free activities in the case of a snow day, here are other local parks you can visit for some fun in the snow and suggestions for sledding spots, courtesy of the city’s Parks Department. But remember to stay warm and be safe!

Astoria Park, Astoria, 19th Street between Shore Boulevard off Ditmars Boulevard

Bowne Park, Flushing, Small hillside on the 155th Street side of the park

Cunningham Park, Oakland Gardens

Crocheron Park, Bayside, 35th Avenue opposite Golden Pond

Flushing Meadows-Corona Park

Forest Park, Mary Whelan Playground at 79th Street and Park Lane South

Hermon A. Macneil Park, College Point

lower Highland Park, Jamaica Avenue & Elton Street

Kissena Park, Flushing, Eastside of Lake: enter Metcalf and 164th Street

 

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Middle Village scout troop needs members


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Charles Krzewski

The St. Margaret’s Boy Scout Troop 119 of Middle Village was once a bustling group filled with dozens of youngsters eager to learn about the outdoors.

But membership in the nearly 70-year-old troop has declined after years of competing for attention with computers, video games and now, mobile devices.

About two decades ago there were more than 35 members, but now with just 14 scouts, the group is seeking new members to teach the importance of nature and charity.

“Outdoor skills are very important,” said Charles Krzewski, the troop committee chair. “If they don’t learn this stuff they’re never going to have an appreciation for the outdoors. And you don’t want people going out to wreck it.”

The boy scout troop teaches boys from ages 10 to 18 how to start fires and build camps. They go on hiking and camping trips upstate and in New Jersey, Staten Island and Pennsylvania.

The troop also teaches the boys sports such as basketball, dodgeball, skiing, fishing, rafting, canoeing and rock climbing, among others.

But, in addition to the fun, the scouting group focuses on charity. They paint over graffiti and do community clean-up. Recently, the scouts also collected pies, snacks, canned food and turkeys, and donated them to local disadvantaged families for Thanksgiving.

Following the holidays, the scouts will collect food to donate to St. Margaret’s Roman Catholic Church in Middle Village, which will give it to people in need.

“Today’s kids are all concerned about self,” Krzewski said. “We want to have a good time, but we stress ‘you must give back.’ It lets them know that there is more out there than just themselves.”

Krzewski asks parents interested in signing their children up for the Scout Troop 119 to contact him at 718-894-4099.

 

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Aging vets selling Middle Village building after nearly 40 years


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

One local veterans’ organization is about to lose a big part of its history.

The St. Margaret’s Post 1172 Catholic War Veterans (CWV) is selling its building on Metropolitan Avenue near 73rd Place, which has housed the organization for nearly 40 years The Courier has learned.

The decision to sell the building came after an overwhelmingly popular vote by members. People at Post 1172 said they decided to sell because attendance is down at meetings and events due to age-related problems and because the cost to maintain the building is not worth it.

Although the organization has about 80 current members, fewer than 20 actively attend meetings, which are on the second and fourth Thursday of each month. The building is not otherwise in use.

“It’s happening throughout fraternity organizations. They’re just impossible to keep up,” said Paul Cuskley, second vice-commander of the New York CWV.

Post 1172 was chartered in 1947, following World War II, with 15 members. The organization was named after St. Margaret’s Roman Church in Middle Village, because it is the closest Catholic parish.

The institutions are not associated, but members of the organization met at St. Margaret’s Church before they bought the current building in 1976, a representative for the organization said.

In the past, about 45 members would show up to meetings regularly and the building was open a few days a week. But most members are World War II veterans, so many are very elderly and can’t physically attend.

Although active membership is down, the veterans still hold many events. They visit the veterans’ hospital in St. Albans and a Catholic veterans’ cemetery on Long Island. They also visit memorials on Veterans Day, attend patriotic events and sponsor youth programs in local schools.

The organization hired Macaluso Reality to sell the building. Post 1172 leaders said they want to find a place in the community to host the twice-a-month forums.

“Personally I would miss it. I’ve been going there since it was purchased, but we don’t want another major war to get our membership up,” said a spokesperson for Post 1172. “Nothing would change, except for the location.”

The money from the sale of the building will be donated to charity, the spokesperson said.

 

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Middle Village man seeks home to donate his ducks


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

One man wants to donate his birds, but won’t let them be sitting ducks for Thanksgiving.

Middle Village native Frank Garet, who saved three ducks from possibly being the centerpiece of a dinner table last year, is now looking for a permanent home for the birds.

He believes the ducks deserve to return to nature, so he is considering a wildlife sanctuary upstate, but Garet is also talking with possible pet owners.

“I really hate to give them up, but they need a natural environment,” Garet said. “They are like my boys, but I think they deserve a beautiful pond.”

Since he found them, the birds have been in a pen at the Maspeth car dealership that Garet co-owns, Garet Motors on Flushing Avenue.

Garet said a woman had bought the ducks along with some chickens from a Flushing poultry market last year. But, when the box holding the birds broke and the animals started running around freely the woman collected the chickens, and left the ducks in the street.

Garet decided to rescue the young ducks because of a lesson his grandfather, who owned a hot dog truck, taught him early on.

His grandfather used to tell him to feed hungry birds that would gather near the vending truck. When he did, dozens of customers would suddenly appear to buy hot dogs.

“‘If the birds don’t eat, you don’t eat,’” Garet recalled his grandfather saying. “I fed the birds and cars never stopped coming.”
Since then, Garet has had a soft spot for the birds. He feeds corn and berries to his three feathered friends — Huey, Dewey and Louie — every day. But after a year, he said they have become too big.

Garet wants to find a home for them and is listening to anyone interested. However, he won’t donate them to someone until after Thanksgiving, “so they don’t kill them or sell them” and will take care of them “until the end of their natural lives,” Garet said.

“They are tame and friendly. They are healthy ducks and they deserve a good home,” he said.

Anyone interested in taking care of the ducks is encouraged to call Frank Garet at 718-371-1261.

 

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Middle Village man has contentious plan to fix community parking issues


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

One Middle Village resident is proposing a divisive plan to relieve parking problems in the community.

Matthew Crafa will meet with Community Board 5’s Transportation Committee to present his idea, which involves changing the parking signs around the perimeter of Juniper Valley Park to open up new overnight spots.

Parking is not allowed around most of the perimeter of the park from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. except for a tiny stretch on 71st Street. To avoid receiving tickets, residents in the neighborhood do not park their cars there overnight, leading to a scramble to find parking, Crafa said.

“We don’t live in Manhattan,” said Crafa, who moved into the neighborhood about a year ago. “There’s plenty of parking here. This is nonsense.”

Crafa and his neighbors on 75th Place have recently paved over the grassy areas in front of their homes to create extra parking spots.

Crafa said people constantly block his driveway and the fire hydrant on his street because of the limited parking.

Crafa believes that vehicle usage has increased in the area over time, due in part to the lack of public transportation in the community, which has no subway line. Opening up the parking around the nearly 56-acre park would alleviate the issue for residents in the area by instantly creating hundreds of parking spaces, he said.

However, Crafa’s plan has already met some opposition.

“We’re willing to look at ideas, but it was something that was done because kids were getting out there anytime of the night,” Juniper Park Civic Association President Bob Holden said. “This was an idea from the 104th Precinct, that the only way we could have any effect on anybody who hangs out over there would be with parking restrictions.”

Photo courtesy Bob Holden

Holden said the restrictions were enacted in the late 1980s to prevent youngsters from gathering with dozens of cars at the park after closing to drink and play loud music.

He believes that opening up overnight parking around Juniper again will encourage people to congregate at late hours.

Photo courtesy Bob Holden 

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Queens couples tie the knot on 11/12/13


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Cristabelle Tumola

Love was in the numbers for several Queens couples who chose the popular sequential wedding date of 11/12/13 to tie the knot.

Jonathan Rosa, 24 and Dina Acevedo, 33, of Middle Village didn’t know Tuesday, November 12 was significant when they decided to get married on that day, but when they found out they were excited.

“It’s like lottery numbers,” said Acevedo.

The pair, who has been together for almost four years and got engaged in January 2012, had several family members along as they tied the knot Tuesday morning at Queens Borough Hall.

There is another bonus to getting married on the date, said the couple.

“I thought about it and it would be easy [to remember the anniversary],” said Rosa.

Alcides Mercado, 33, and Jessica Cruz, 32, another couple who got married at Queens Borough Hall that day, were planning their wedding for Friday, but decided to switch to November 12 after they found out about the date’s importance just a day earlier.

The Ridgewood pair have been together for 11 years and engaged for six years, but decided to finally get married in a simple ceremony at Queens Borough Hall because they want to buy a home soon.

Despite the practical reasons for the wedding and the last minute ceremony, they still found romance in the day.

“I think [the snow] gives a story to tell,” Cruz said about the day’s weather.

“I’m happy that it’s finally official,” she said.

Queens, and the rest of the country, is likely to see a sharp increase in marriages on November 12.

David’s Bridal estimated that more than 3,000 brides would marry on 11/12/13, a 722 percent increase when compared to last year.

“Iconic dates have become a trend in the United States, reaching new heights when over 65,000 couples tied the knot on 07/07/07,” said Brian Beitler, chief marketing officer for David’s Bridal. “11/12/13 is a sequential pattern, and we have learned that couples love dates that have patterns. The last consecutive series of the century will occur next year, 12/13/14. It falls on a Saturday, so we predict this date could reach record-breaking numbers.”

 

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Incumbent Elizabeth Crowley comes out on top after tough challenge


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley will return to the City Council after overcoming a stiff challenge from candidate Craig Caruana.

The councilmember celebrated the win with supporters and family members at her victory party at Woodhaven House in Middle Village, after the race initially seemed close.

“This has been a long campaign, but the people of the 30th council district have spoken tonight,” Crowley said, “and guess what? They want to send me back to city hall.”

Crowley won nearly 59 percent of the vote, according to early polling numbers, while Caruana took about 41 percent, a gap of approximately 3,000 votes.

Crowley has served District 30, which encompasses Maspeth, Middle Village, Glendale, Ridgewood and parts of Woodhaven and Woodside for nearly four years, tackling issues from education, traffic and preventing firehouse closures.

The race against Caruana was initially one sided in the incumbent’s favor, but following an endorsement from mayoral candidate Joe Lhota and a feisty debate, Caruana, a political newbie, gained some traction.

“[Caruana] ran a good campaign,” Crowley said. “ I think that when you have a challenge it makes you work harder.”

Early results from polling sites showed Crowley only leading by about five percent, but that number gradually started to expand. Now with the election behind her she plans to get back on track with key issues.

“I want to improve transportation,” Crowley said. “Queens is growing and so is the 30th council district.”

Caruana, who was confident he could unseat Crowley, conceded and talked to his supporters at Collony’s Corner in Maspeth.

“There are serious losses that you take in life and this isn’t one of them,” he said. “If you expend yourself in fighting for something that you really believe in and you expend yourself sometimes in struggle, especially what you put your heart into, you can’t lose.”

 

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Elizabeth Crowley, Craig Caruana face off in heated District 30 debate


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

The first public debate between Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley and Craig Caruana was contentious.

The competitors faced off in a heated exchange on Monday. It was marked by frequent interruptions, yelling on both sides and cheers and jeers from attending residents of District 30, which includes Maspeth, Middle Village, Richmond Hill, Ridgewood, Glendale, parts of Woodhaven and Woodside.

The debate, which The Courier co-hosted, was organized by the Juniper Park Civic Association at Our Lady of Hope in Middle Village.

The showdown exploded from the very first question, which was about the Knockdown Center, a controversial arts hall in Maspeth that has hosted parties and is seeking a liquor license.

Crowley, who is in support of the center, said it will bring jobs and arts to the community.

“Do I support good jobs? Yes. Do I support arts as an economic engine? Yes,” Crowley said. “Now my opponent you will hear opposes this, and I believe it’s because he doesn’t have the ability to think outside the box when it comes to creating jobs.”

Caruana doesn’t believe the center will be used for arts, but as a club based on past parties that it has held.

“It’s not about jobs, it’s about hipsters coming from out of the area, creating a problem…” Caruana said. “This is a club that wants to sell liquor.”

The candidates sparred on various contentious projects in the community, such as the proposed Glendale homeless shelter, truck traffic and the Maspeth Bypass, the Ridgewood Reservoir development project and increased railroad garbage.

Many general questions were asked as well, including how the candidates would improve education, traffic problems, quality of life issues and decrease crime.

Crowley, who has been the councilmember for nearly four years, choose to answer questions based on her accomplishments, while taking jabs at Caruana.

Caruana, who has no experience as an elected official, stuck to his ideas to improve the neighborhood, relying on his background as a native of Middle Village and his work at the Pentagon.

Before the debate even got started crowds of Crowley and Caruana supporters were chanting at each other outside with placards, banners and megaphones for almost 20 minutes.

 

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Op-Ed: Where are we one year later?


| oped@queenscourier.com

BY STATE SENATOR JOSEPH ADDABBO JR.

On any particular day, whether I’m working, getting a cup of coffee, shopping or having dinner in the district, people detail their experiences involving Superstorm Sandy in many different ways. A year later, many still get tears in their eyes, others remain frustrated about the lack of progress, while some see it as a chance to make improvements and some are optimistic about community improvements. One storm, a year later, still causes many emotions.

While we can’t control the weather, we can take steps to control the level of our preparedness and what direction our government takes in addressing the next storm. We’ve learned a lot from Sandy, and I would urge my constituents to think ahead and make sure they have detailed emergency plans in place: know how to contact one another in case of an emergency; have adequate supplies of canned goods, medicines, batteries, flashlights and water on hand; know what to do to help secure your homes and properties to minimize risks during a storm. Useful hurricane preparedness information may be found at this NYS Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services website: http://www.dhses.ny.gov/oem/event/hurricane-safety.cfm.

I, along with other elected officials, have been advocating for adequate funding and needed legislation to help the district address the many serious human, economic and other consequences resulting from Sandy. As a member of the New York State Senate Bipartisan Task Force on Hurricane Sandy, I look forward to continuing the effort of our state in responding to Sandy’s devastation and obtaining assistance for those in need.  Currently, our city’s and state’s portion of the federal funding of $61 billion to help Sandy victims is being distributed through NYC Build It Back program, and the state’s utilization of community leaders in its NY Rising Community Reconstruction program aimed at improving our infrastructure.

A range of bills aimed at addressing various aspects of Sandy’s impact were passed by the state legislature and have been recently signed into law by the governor. Some topics include rebates of real property taxes, assisting Breezy Point residents with street frontage issues unique to Breezy Point, exemptions to filing fees related to federal Small Business Administration Disaster Loans, and the implementation of improved tornado warning systems.

This year’s Atlantic Hurricane Season is not yet over. We have learned a lot from Sandy and a year later are still dealing with its aftermath. It’s OK to share our emotions, feelings and sentiments about Sandy, knowing also that by working together we can rebuild and be prepared better than ever.

Senator Joseph Addabbo represents the 15th Senatorial District encompassing the communities – in whole or in part – of Broad Channel, Elmhurst, Forest Hills, Glendale, Hamilton Beach, Howard Beach, Kew Gardens, Kew Gardens Hills, Maspeth, Middle Village, Ozone Park, Rego Park, Richmond Hill, Ridgewood, South Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Woodside and the Rockaways.

 

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P.S./I.S. 87 in Middle Village unveils $20 million extension


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

A new $20 million extension to P.S./I.S. 87 in Middle Village was unveiled in a ribbon cutting grand opening ceremony on Tuesday, October 15.

Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, officials from the Department of Education and parents were in attendance at the event to celebrate the new addition, which will add 120 seats in four classrooms, a new gym with basketball courts, a new main office, an elevator and various bathrooms.

 

“It was always frustrating having so little space to move around in. This took a toll on all of us,” said 8th grader Julian Kilichowski, the student government chair. “The new generations of Middle Village students will enjoy the beautiful new space that we have been granted.”

 

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Community leaders trash railroad garbage expansion plan


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Residents and community leaders are trashing a company’s plan to increase garbage export from Long Island through their neighborhoods.

One World Recycling, which processes garbage in Lindenhurst, Long Island that is hauled by New York and Atlantic Railway through tracks in Middle Village, Ridgewood and Glendale, has applied to the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to nearly triple its output from 370 tons of garbage per day to 1,100 tons.

“We’re going to have garbage all day and all night, that’s how we see it,” said Mary Parisen, chair of Civics United for Railroad Environmental Solutions (CURES). “We’re not happy about it.”

After One World applied, the community of Lindenhurst rejected the idea during a public hearing period that ended on August 16. But following procedure, the DEC has until 90 days after that date to review the application and make a decision.

With just about a month remaining until the deadline, community leaders in Queens are worried the DEC will make the wrong choice and plan to meet with agency officials to work towards a solution.

“The potential expansion of the One World Recycling Center in Lindenhurst raises numerous concerns,” said Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi. “I have signed onto a letter with my colleagues to the Department of Environmental Conservation urging them to deny this expansion, and I am having conversations with the DEC about this specific proposal.”

The trains wake up residents when they move through the night and some sit on tracks for hours with uncovered cars, which cause the stench of garbage to flow through the community, say locals.

The trains, which are owned by the state and licensed to New York and Atlantic, are outdated and discharge pollutants, according to area leaders. Earlier this year Hevesi, along with various elected officials, was able to get the state government to allocate nearly $3 million to retrofit a new engine for one of 11 locomotives, which will reduce the impact of gases in the community.

But the problem of garbage traveling through these communities has annoyed residents for years. It stems from the state increasing rail usage to cut down on truck transportation of garbage to relieve vehicle traffic and emissions.

“Everyone wants to get the trucks off the road, but it’s taking a problem from one area, mitigating it, and putting it in another area,” said Glendale resident Thomas Murawski. “You’re maybe solving part of the problem, but you’re not solving the whole problem.”

While they don’t want the One World expansion, CURES also wants the train cars covered to prevent the smell and hopes the state upgrades all the trains to new engines to cut down on pollutants.

“It’s not a matter of them being our enemies,” Parisen said. “If rail is the way of the future we want them to be responsible.”

Numerous emails and calls were made to One World Recycling but a company representative failed to reply.

 

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Groundbreaking held for Juniper Valley Park bocce courts


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of the Parks Department/Photos Courtesy of Dominick Totino Photography

Soon Middle Village residents can say buon giorno to new bocce courts.

Local elected officials and the Parks Department joined members of the community on October 3 for the groundbreaking of a nearly $1 million project to repair the deteriorating Juniper Valley Park bocce courts.

The Parks Department will renovate the two existing courts and construct a third. The agency will also install new seating, tables and trees around the courts and Plexiglas structures over each to provide shade during the summer.

“Today’s ground breaking for the bocce courts in Juniper Valley Park marks the start of an investment in our parks that will provide a safe and refurbished area for visitors of all ages to relax and enjoy this sport,” said Borough President Helen Marshall, who allocated $800,000 to the project.

The new bocce courts are set to open in the spring of 2014.

 

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Middle Village-based Gottschee Soccer Club needs room to play


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Miguel Brunengo

The legendary Middle Village-based Blau Weiss Gottschee Soccer Club is so popular it’s literally outgrown the borough.

The soccer club, which remains one of the shining examples of high-level urban athletic competition, has so many players that it utilizes a scattered combination of public fields across the city and has gotten to a point where the league needs to turn young soccer hopefuls away.

The team’s main field is Brennan Field in Juniper Valley Park, but they also travel to practice at Randall’s Island, located between Manhattan and Queens in the East River, and they rent space for games at Aviator Field Sports & Events Center at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, to name a few locations.

“We’ve got [players] spread like seeds in the wind,” said Timon Kalpaxis, a youth coordinator. “Some guys have to schlep up to Randal’s Island just to train.”

The club was created in 1951 by Gottscheer immigrants, an ethnic German-speaking people of from what is now south central Slovenia.

A few decades ago a boom of Hispanic immigrants began entering the club. And as soccer’s popularity began to grow recently in the United States, more and more players have been coming to Gottschee.

The club currently has 30 registered teams in various age and skill divisions, numerous intramural programs and free clinics. During warm months it can accumulate nearly 1,000 players combined, sometimes from the Bronx, Long Island and even New Jersey.

Organizers want more Queens field space so their players can play at a centralized location.

“We not looking for a huge bite of the apple, we’re just looking for a nibble,” Kalpaxis said.

In searching for new fields to expand, Gottschee organizers have identified Grover Cleveland High School Athletic Field near Seneca Avenue and Deklab Avenue as a great location. The field is regulation size and has lights, so night practices and games would be possible.

The Department of Education (DOE) is currently revitalizing that particular soccer field.

“We are currently in the early stages of design with topographic surveys and storm system investigations underway,” said DOE spokesperson Marge Feinberg. “Construction duration will be determined after the surveys and investigations are complete.”

The soccer club has reached out for support from local leaders and politicians to help get access to it when it is completed.

“We are always open to working with them and supporting them,” said a spokesperson from Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley’s office. “We are very supportive of sports and culture programs that serve kids in the district.”

Gottschee attracts much attention from many top Division I schools.

From 2005 to 2012 more than 80 Gottschee players received scholarships to play soccer at well-known universities, including the University of Michigan, Duke, Villanova, Princeton, St. John’s, Holy Cross and Rutgers, just to name a few.

Coordinators said even with the Grover Cleveland field, their problem is part of a fundamental issue of lack of ball fields in the city.

“We lament the fact that we got kids running around getting into trouble, but what are we giving them,” Kalpaxis asked. “Where is the infrastructure for these kids?”

 

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