Tag Archives: new york city

Comptroller Liu delivers State of the City

| brennison@queenscourier.com

Raising the minimum wage, providing free college tuition and ending corporate welfare were among the myriad of topics touched on during Comptroller John Liu’s State of the City speech last week.

After a pre-speech show featuring a children’s choir, interpretive dancers and violinists, the presumptive mayoral hopeful delivered his second State of the City speech this year which focused heavily on ways to aid the city’s working and middle classes to a packed room at John Jay College on Thursday, December 20.

“If we are serious about narrowing the wealth gap we need to have the courage to pay all people a livable minimum wage,” Liu said.

The comptroller said due to the city’s high cost of living, the effective minimum wage in the five boroughs was less than $4, the lowest in the country. Liu called for the current $7.25 an hour rate to be raised over five years to $11.50.

Ensuring more residents graduate from high school and college is one way for more residents to earn a decent living, the comptroller said.

Currently, four out of five high school students in the city do not graduate from college, according to the comptroller. Skyrocketing tuition costs is one reason behind the high number of students without a bachelor’s degree. Liu suggested offering the top 10 percent of students at public schools free tuition at any CUNY school.

“The offer of free tuition would help motivate students and elevate CUNY, one of our city’s most valuable gems, to the level of a competitive prize,” said Liu. “It would also be a lifesaver for many working families who are struggling to send their kids to college.”

Madison Square Garden also found itself in Liu’s crosshairs during the talk.

“Why has Madison Square Garden been awarded a $15 million a year real-property tax exemption?” Liu asked.

Eliminating tax breaks and corporate welfare handed out to big companies would raise hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for the city, Liu said. More than $250 million was handed out last year to a handful “of lucky and well-connected businesses,” he said.

While big businesses enjoy tax breaks, many smaller businesses struggle under the weight of taxes and fines. Liu unveiled a series of proposals to reduce taxes and fines by $500 million for small businesses. Fines doubled over the past decade, Liu said.

“While fines are sometimes a necessary evil to protect public safety and health, they should not be used just to generate revenue for the city,” he said.

Sandy’s surge delays bike share yet again

| aaltman@queenscourier.com


The city’s previously stalled bike share program is again slamming on the breaks after Sandy.

The New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) and bike share operator New York City Bike Share (NYCBS) announced that its hotly-anticipated Citi Bike will be postponed for a second time to May of 2013 because of damage incurred by the Superstorm.

Sandy’s surge flooded NYCBS’s facility located at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which sits along the East River and housed roughly two-thirds of the system’s equipment. According to the DOT, while portions of the equipment were not significantly damaged, including bike frames and hardware, several integral electrical components require repairs or replacing.

“DOT has worked around the clock to restore vital transportation links following the storm and that includes putting Citi Bike on the road to recovery,” said DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. “Despite the damage, New York will have the nation’s largest bike share system up and running this spring.”

The initiative was originally supposed to unveil 7,000 bicycles in March of 2013 after being delayed from the fall because of faulty equipment. The DOT said they intend to increase the number of bikes in the program to 10,000 eventually, but do not presently have a timeline on when that will occur.

According to the DOT, 5,500 bikes will be implemented at 293 stations in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Long Island City – initially slated to receive bikes in the first phase of the program – will not be included in the May 2013 debut. Western Queens cyclists can expect to see the shiny cobalt cruisers on their blocks sometime towards the end of 2013.

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, who has long been in support of the bike share program, said the delay is a major disappointment. Regardless of Long Island City’s exclusion from phase one, the councilmember said he would continue to advocate for the active neighborhood to increase its ability to be sustainable and environmentally friendly.

“I understand the Department of Transportation is doing its best to get the nation’s largest bike share program up and running but leaving Western Queens out of the mix does not seem logical when so many residents here rely on alternate transportation options,” said Van Bramer.

Initially, 10 docking stations were expected to be placed strategically to provide riders access to premier locations in LIC, including waterfront parks, the business district and LaGuardia Community College.

The delay will not impact the program’s $41 million price tag, funded privately by Citi.

DOE reviews safety for its students

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Now, Bristy Roy is afraid that tragedy can strike her daughter’s school too.

In the days after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, Roy, whose six year old is in kindergarten at P.S. 31, told The Courier, “Now, I’m so scared.”

In the wake of the shooting, which took the lives of 20 children and six adults in sleepy Newtown, Connecticut, city parents, school administrators and the Department of Education (DOE) are responding accordingly, and making sure that students stay safe.

“The fathers and mothers in that situation . . . I’m still crying every time I watch it on the news,” Roy said.

Schools in the area have responded to the tragedy by reviewing safety procedures with teachers, that include having teachers sign up for text alerts and executing a mandatory procedure in which any adult entering the school must show photo identification.

DOE Chancellor Dennis Walcott issued a letter to schools citywide, assuring them that safety is of the utmost concern.

“We have been in constant communication with the NYPD and their School Safety Division,” said Walcott. “I encourage you to guide your staff and students in maintaining your school’s regular schedule and continuing to be sensitive to the needs of your students as they learn more about this loss.”

Roy’s daughter has been one of the students learning more about the shooting, and innocently asked her mother what had happened.

“Five years old, six years old, that’s a baby,” said Roy, grabbing her heart. “I felt like something happened to me, because I have a child the same age.”

When Roy picked her daughter up from school Friday afternoon, she said she just hugged her as tight as she could, thankful that she was safe.

“Anyone can just walk into that school,” she said, pointing to the P.S. 31 doors. “They need to really check every single person that walks in.”

Walcott said that administrators should provide a safe place to discuss what happened for any students that wish to talk, and that guidance counselors and school psychologists should make themselves available. Resources on how to deal with the situation have also been posted on the Principals’ Portal and the Guidance and Teacher pages of the DOE website.

The DOE also requests that every school community review their visitor control procedures as well as the general response protocols, covering shelter-in, lockdowns and evacuations.

“While this tragedy occurred outside the bounds of our city, I know you share my sorrow for the students, families and colleagues affected,” said Walcott.

Legislators come thru for co-op, condo owners

| mchan@queenscourier.com

State leaders will end up keeping their pledge to co-op and condo shareholders in the city.

According to Governor Andrew Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, the Legislature has reached an agreement on tax relief legislation and will sign it into law when officials return to Albany.

The city will also issue tax bills based on new and lower rates, they said, and the tax abatement — which reduces the difference in property taxes paid by Class 2 co-op and condo properties and one, two and three family homes in Class 1 — will be retroactive.

State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky said the J-51 program, which gives owners partial property tax exemptions for capital improvements, will also be extended to June 30, 2015.

These assurances come after widespread panic in co-op and condo communities at the end of June, when the Legislature adjourned session without extending the city’s J-51 program and the expired abatement. Fear mounted in November after elected officials said the Legislature would not reconvene to pass promised relief.

Assemblymember Ed Braunstein said the Legislature would likely pass his bill, which would increase abatements for middle class co-op owners from 17.5 percent to 25 percent this year and over 28 percent in three years, based on assessments.

NYC looking to ‘Reinvent Payphones’

| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Cristabelle Tumola

Payphones may appear like anachronisms when residents whiz by them glued to their cellphones, but the seeming artifacts still prove useful, especially in times of emergency.

Payphone usage tripled during Superstorm Sandy in areas affected by the storm, as those without power were forced to use the coin-operated phones to make calls.

To assure that as technology continues to evolve payphones are not left behind, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the  Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) launched the Reinvent Payphones Design Challenge, a competition calling on urban designers, planners, technologists and policy experts to create New York’s payphone of the future.

The number of payphones within the five boroughs has shrunk significantly over the past few years. There are currently approximately 11,000 in the city, down from a high of 35,000 in the late 1990s.

“Payphones have been an iconic part of the city’s streetscape for decades, and can be vital lifelines for communication in times of emergency. But to thrive, the payphone of the future needs to offer valuable services at all times, and with various pilot programs already underway, we’re evaluating how some of those amenities are publicly received,” said (DoITT) Commissioner Rahul N. Merchant.

The goal of the competition is to foster innovative ideas to help modernize payphones and optimize use of public space when the city’s current contracts expire in 2014. Modernization of the phones has already begun with 13 already equipped as Wi-Fi hot spots.

Currently, the phones rake in nearly $18 million of revenue each year; $1.2 million from calls and $15.9 million from advertising.

For more information on the competition visit reinventpayphones.splashthat.com.

Bloomberg says city will rebuild smarter along shore

| brennison@queenscourier.com


Despite record storm surges, Mayor Michael Bloomberg vowed to rebuild along the shore, but said it must be “smarter, stronger and more sustainable.”

Bloomberg made the remarks at the New York Marriott Downtown to an audience that included former Vice President Al Gore.

“Let me be clear: We are not going to abandon the waterfront,” Bloomberg said. “We are not going to leave the Rockaways or Coney Island or Staten Island’s South Shore. But we can’t just rebuild what was there and hope for the best.”

The city’s more than 500 miles of shoreline include some of the most desirable places to live, but also the most vulnerable.

Bloomberg announced the launch of an engineering analysis of coastal protection strategies to understand the best options to help protect the city.

An expansion of Zone A will be considered, he said, as well as new structural requirements to ensure that buildings can withstand intense winds and waves. While sea walls are not a likely option, dunes, jetties and levees must be considered to protect the city from rising storm surges, he said.

“We may or may not see another storm like Sandy in our lifetimes, but I don’t think it’s fair to say that we should leave it to our children to prepare for the possibility,” said Bloomberg. “And sea levels are expected to rise by another two and a half feet by the time a child born today reaches 40 years old, and that’s going to make surges even more powerful and dangerous.”

More than two-thirds of homes damaged by Sandy were outside of FEMA’s 100-year flood maps. The maps are drawn to represent an area likely to be flooded about once per century.

“No matter how much we do to make homes and businesses more resilient, the fact of the matter is we live next to the ocean, and the ocean comes with risks that we just cannot eliminate,” Bloomberg said.

Forbes names Bloomberg the world’s 16th most powerful person

| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Flickr/nycmayorsoffice Photo credit: Spencer T Tucker

New Yorkers who believe Mayor Michael Bloomberg wields too much authority will not be surprised by his high ranking on Forbes list of the world’s most powerful people.

Bloomberg placed 16th on the annual list that includes heads of state, CEOs and magnates, one spot behind Warren Buffet and one ahead of Walmart CEO Michael Duke.

President Barack Obama unanimously topped the rankings for the second consecutive year, followed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Bill Gates. Pope Benedict XVI, who recently joined Twitter, rounded out the top five.

Seventy-one people from 24 countries made their way onto the Power list.

The list was compiled based on four standards: whether the candidate has power over lots of people, how much money is controlled by the person, if the person is powerful in more than one area and whether they actively used their power.

Forbes said Bloomberg, who was 17th on the list last year, projects his influence in myriad ways.

“New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has power because he’s a politician, because he’s a billionaire, because he’s a media magnate and because he’s a major philanthropist,” Forbes wrote.

The magazine also pointed to his push to ban sugary drinks over 16 ounces as a highlight of the past year.

Bloomberg, who is about to enter his final year in office, will continue to wield power even after his days at City Hall are over. Independence USA PAC, a Super PAC created by Bloomberg to back candidates around the country who share his views, spent nearly $10 million on elections this fall and will continue to support office-seekers who share Bloomberg’s ideals, including gun control, the environment and education.

Other well-known names on the list include Mark Zuckerberg (#25), Rupert Murdoch (#26) and Bill Clinton (#50), though his wife and Secretary of State Hillary, who Bloomberg reportedly called to gauge her interest in the mayorship, was left off.

Two Queens schools awarded Blue Ribbon

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

There is much ado about being blue at two Queens schools.

P.S. 203 in Oakland Gardens and P.S. 191 in Floral Park were named Blue Ribbon schools by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) this year.

The borough’s high performing schools join three others in the city — Brooklyn’s P.S. 34 Oliver H. Perry School, Bronx Charter School for Excellence and Harlem Success Academy I — and 309 more in the country, according to the DOE.

“To be named a Blue Ribbon school is to join a very special, elite group,” said Carole Nussbaum, principal of P.S. 203. “It is a real ‘wow.’ It is the highest award in education that any school can get.”

An ocean of youngsters in blue shirts gathered at the Oakland Gardens school with Chancellor Dennis Walcott and elected officials on November 29 to celebrate earning the coveted honor, which is based on overall school excellence and progress.

They sang blue-themed songs, like “Blue Moon” and “Blue Suede Shoes,” and wowed the audience with comedic plays explaining how they won the Blue Ribbon through hard work.

“You’re role models for your community and all New Yorkers,” Walcott said. “We hope the Blue Ribbons inspire all students to cultivate a lifelong love of learning.”

Comptroller John Liu, the school’s 1979 valedictorian, said it was “no small feat” to gain national recognition.

“This is also a great day for all of our public schools in New York because it shows what our public schools here in New York City are capable of,” he said.

A mix of snow & rain expected during morning commute tomorrow

| brennison@queenscourier.com

File photo

New Yorkers will likely have to deal with a wintry mix of rain and snow during their commute tomorrow morning.

The precipitation is set to begin early tomorrow with the snowfall picking up at around 8 a.m., according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

Approximately one inch of accumulation is expected. Snow will give way to rain in the afternoon.

The Department of Sanitation began loading salt spreaders today in preparation for the storm and has issued a “snow alert.”

City gas rationing to end Saturday

| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Maggie Hayes

Two weeks after the mayor activated odd/even gas rationing, he announced any car, regardless of license plate number, will be able to fill up beginning tomorrow.

Beginning Friday, November 9, Mayor Michael Bloomberg instituted a rationing system to ease long lines at gas stations amidst a post-Sandy fuel shortage.

“With more than 85 percent of gas stations now operating – a substantial increase from just 25 percent two weeks ago – and Thanksgiving and Black Friday behind us, the odd-even license plate system will be rescinded starting tomorrow morning,” said Bloomberg.

In the week following the storm, stations throughout the city with gas featured three-hour long waits to fill-up.  In the days after rationing began, the lines dwindled back to normal.

The mayor last week extended the rationing until at least Black Friday to assure all drivers would be able to travel during one of the busiest travel times of the year.



Queens residents sound off on MTA fare hikes

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Chris Coury pleaded with officials from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), telling them that paying to get to and from is making a “big dent” in his wallet.

“Please, be reasonable,” urged Coury, a recent college graduate, to a panel of MTA board members at the Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel.

The MTA has been touring the city, stopping in each borough to allow residents to sound off on the proposed fare hikes.

In October, the transit authority unveiled four proposals for fare hikes, one of which will be put into place March of next year. Under the first proposal, the MetroCard base fare would rise from $2.25 to $2.50, leaving the seven percent bonus discount unchanged, but increasing a 30-day unlimited pass to $112, and a seven-day to $30. In another, the base fare would remain unchanged; the bonus discount would be reduced to five percent, increasing the 30-day pass to $125, and the seven-day to $34. Another option is to eliminate the bonus discount, increasing the 30-day pass to $119 and the seven-day to $32. The proposals would also increase bus fares and bridge and tunnel tolls.

According to the MTA’s website, the fare hikes would “raise additional, vitally needed revenue to support the New York region’s transportation system,” since these proposals come “during an era of successful and unprecedented MTA management actions to cut controllable expenses.”

Joseph Lhota, MTA Chair and CEO; Stephen Morello, Counselor to the Chair; Helena Williams, Long Island Railroad (LIRR) President; Thomas Pendergast, New York City transit President; and several other MTA board members were in attendance at the Thursday, November 15 public hearing.

Coury, who recently graduated from Berkeley College in Midtown, now lives in Flushing and works part-time to pay off his student loans. He said that the proposed hikes will only take a bigger bite out of his budget.

Roughly 20 residents and Assemblymember Ed Braunstein spoke out against the fare increases, many calling them “unfair,” “ridiculous” and “outrageous.”

Jason Chin-Fatt of the NYC Straphangers Campaign spoke out on behalf of a number of rider testimonies submitted to their organization, and compared choosing one of the four MTA proposals to “picking your poison.”

Several students from Queens College attended the hearing, claiming that because they are largely a commuter school, many of them would suffer.

“An increased fare could be the roadblock between a students and their degree,” said student Jaqi Cohen.

The MTA panel listened to each speaker, and will take each testimony into account when making their final vote. There will be two more public hearings the week of November 26, one in Staten Island and another on Long Island. After the last hearing, the board will vote on passing one of the four proposals.

For more information on the MTA fare hike proposals and to submit rider testimony, straphangers can visit www.mta.info.

Vallone ready to run next year

| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Councilmember Peter Vallone’s name will appear on a ballot next year, that much is sure.

“I cannot imagine not running,” the soon-to-be-term-limited councilmember said during a recent sit down at The Queens Courier’s offices with reporters and editors. Which race Vallone will jump into remains unclear.

Most speculation surrounding the Astoria politician regards his expected entrance into the borough president race, a candidacy he is not yet ready to declare.

“There are a couple of wide open fields out there like public advocate that don’t even have a Queens candidate in it,” Vallone said. “One of the reasons I haven’t announced is because there are a lot of opportunities out there. We’ll see soon when I announce.”

Vallone formed a new state committee at the beginning of the year that currently has more than $110,000, keeping his options open for any office that becomes available. His borough president war chest contains nearly $1.5 million.

If he were to throw his hat into the borough president ring, which already has former Assembly and Councilmember Melinda Katz and State Senator Jose Peralta, Vallone said he would continue fighting on a borough-wide scale for issues he considers important.

And what does he find to be most important? Public safety.

Vallone has branched out to areas of Queens he doesn’t currently represent on a public safety tour, speaking about why crime is up and what communities can do to stop it. An Astoria neighborhood watch program was recently resurrected by Vallone.

The chair of the council’s Public Safety Committee has been vocal about the need for the police department to continue stop-and-frisk. The controversial practice is the only way — barring federal legislation that closes loopholes — to get guns off the streets before they are used, the lawmaker said.

While he admitted stop-and-frisk is not always done properly – “there are bad cops out there,” he said – and may strain communities with a disparate number of stops, he said most of the tension is generated by “irresponsible elected officials.”

“When you have elected officials who are constantly accusing the entire police department of being racist, when you have elected officials saying that and leading rallies against police, that is going to turn community members against the police,” Vallone said, calling it “slander of the worst kind.”

The councilmember’s staunch support of stop-and-frisk often places him at odds with the more liberal-leaning Democrats on the city council and more in line with Republicans throughout the city.

“I have supporters in every party. And I have a lot of opponents in every party. The radical base of both sides doesn’t like me. The middle likes me,” said Vallone.

Having the support of the middle, the self-proclaimed conservative Democrat would not rule out running on the Republican line if he found himself blocked on the Democratic ticket of whichever office he chooses to run for. He garnered the Conservative line all three times he ran for city council, and was on the Republican line during his 2005 re-election.

“I think in Queens a Republican can have a shot.”

When Vallone decides what race he will enter, he certainly won’t be running for the job he wants most.

“If terms limits weren’t in existence, I would stay [in the city council],” Vallone said. “I wouldn’t even be looking at different offices.”

Long lines, wait times at gas stations cut

| brennison@queenscourier.com


As motorists are finally feeling less pain at the pump, with long lines and wait times drastically cut, many are asking what took the mayor so long.

“Last week, I waited for more than three hours on line and got no gas. Today, I waited under a half hour,” said Thomas Colwell, at a gas station at the intersection of Cooper and Myrtle Avenues in Glendale on Monday, November 12.  “Why wasn’t this done two weeks ago.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered odd-even gas rationing beginning Friday, November 9, which greatly reduced lines at stations throughout the city even as fuel remains scarce.

While many wondered why New York City didn’t follow New Jersey’s lead and begin rationing the weekend after Sandy, Robert Sinclair, a spokesperson for AAA, said the city may not have realized the scale of the shortage.

“I think the administration was dealing with a problem they didn’t fully understand then,” he said.

Six petroleum terminals that supply fuel for the area remain down, including two in New York— one in Brooklyn, one in Long Island — according to the U.S. Department of Energy. There is no timetable for when the terminals will come back online, Sinclair said.

The scarcity has also led to higher prices: fuel has jumped 15 cents since the storm in the city even as prices have fallen nationwide.

“Demand goes up and the product gets scarcer, the price goes up,” Sinclair said.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced he is launching an investigation into potential price gouging at gas stations in the city.

Under New York state business law, merchants are prohibited from taking advantage of consumers during an “abnormal disruption of the market” by hiking prices to an “unconscionably excessive price.”

Many have been forced to ignore prices out of desperation to fill their tanks. “I need gas, so right now the price really doesn’t matter,” said Joseph Foreman, a Middle Village resident.

Sinclair expects the shortages to remain for at least another week, if not longer, as just 60 percent of gas stations are pumping in the city.

With the deficit remaining, Bloomberg announced on Tuesday, November 13 that the rationing will remain for at least five additional days.

Cheap dates in New York City

| Nocera@queenscourier.com

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Want to take a date out for a night on the town, but worried the price tag is holding you back?  Here are a few inexpensive options sure to be full-priced fun.


Museum of the Moving Image

The Museum of the Moving Image features a number of exhibits that would interest any cinema fan. From replicas of early optical devices to screenings of classic movies, the museum offers a unique, interesting and fun date experience. General Admission is only $12.

Website: www.movingimage.us

Phone: 718-777-6888

Address: 36-01 35th Avenue


Broadway Student Rush tickets

Nothing says romance better than a night out at a Broadway show. While this may be out of the budget of the average student, Student Rush tickets make this an affordable and fun option.

By showing a valid student ID at the box office, discounted tickets (sometimes up to 50 percent off) can be purchased. Often, one person is able to purchase two tickets. However, they must be bought at the theater’s box office the day of the show and are in limited quantity, so get there early before a line forms. Check the show of your choice’s website to make sure they offer rush tickets.

Central Park

Sometimes it’s best to just stick with the classics. Beautiful scenery and plenty of activities make Central Park an iconic date destination. The fact that almost everything is free is also pretty attractive.

Picnicking, hiking or just strolling through the park are just a few options. The Central Park Zoo is also open year-round and will only set you back $6 ($12 if you’re paying for your date).

Website: www.



Habana Outpost

This Fort Greene restaurant offers very affordable, Latino-inspired meal options. But, more importantly, it has very affordable drinks: draft beers start as low as $2.75. The frozen mojitos are a bit pricier — around $8 — but are well worth the cost. The Habana Outpost also has a number of events, like movie screenings, throughout the fall.

Website: www.habanaoutpost.com

Phone: 718-858-9500

Address: 757 Fulton Street

The New York Aquarium

Located off of the Coney Island Boardwalk is the New York Aquarium. General Admission is $14.95. For $5 more, you can purchase the “Total Experience” tickets that give you access to the Aquarium as well as new 4D theater ride. If that’s still too expensive for you, on Fridays after 3 p.m., admission can be had for a pay-what-you-wish donation. Exhibits include a shark tank (and feedings), sea lion shows and a year-round outdoor penguin exhibit.

Web: www.nyaquarium.com

Phone: 718-265-3474

Address: 602 Surf Ave


New York Botanical Garden

What says date better than 250 acres of flowers and trees? “Grounds-Only Admission” to the New York Botanical Garden will cost you $5 with a student ID ($10 without). This gives you access to a large amount of the Garden’s grounds, which boasts some of the most well regarded botanical exhibits in the country. On top of that, admission is free all day Wednesday. Tickets for specialty exhibits will cost extra however.

Website: www.nybg.org

Phone: 718-817-8700

Address: 2900 Southern Boulevard

Bronx Zoo

From butterfly rooms to anteater eating shows, the Bronx Zoo has plenty of exhibits and activities for couples. And general admission is only $16.95. On Wednesdays, it’s suggested donation entry fee.

Website: www.bronxzoo.com

Phone: 718-220-5100

Address: 2300 Southern Boulevard

Staten Island

Clove Road Park

Tucked away in northeastern Staten Island is Clove Road Park. The park boasts a huge amount of green space, which means you’ll never have a problem finding some privacy.

Website: www.nycgovparks.org/parks/CloveLakesPark

Long Island

The Melting Pot

It’s a chain restaurant, yes, but it does things right. Located in Farmingdale, the Melting Pot’s fondue-centric menu offers diners a deliciously unique experience. While it can get a bit expensive, a quick poke around the menu will reveal cheap deals for food and drinks.

Website: www.meltingpot.com

Phone: 631-752-4242

Address: 2377 Broadhollow Road

Tommy’s Place

Tommy’s Place is a cheap and cozy option for any date. Located in Port Jefferson, the Irish pub/restaurant features a laid back, casual atmosphere. With fairly priced food and drinks, live music and outdoors seating (weather permitting), you can’t go wrong.

Website: www.tommysplace.com

Phone: 631-209-1900

Address: 109 Main Street

Queens Morning Roundup

| brennison@queenscourier.com

Today’s Forecast

Thursday: Mostly cloudy, with a high near 48. Breezy, with a northwest wind 17 to 20 mph. Thursday night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 37. Northwest wind 11 to 16 mph.

Event of the Day: Bruce Lee Fights Back From the Grave

Devil Science Theater 3000 is an interactive event where the audience plays drinking games and makes fun of terrible movies while being egged on by professional comedians in the crowd. Find our more or view more events

Ex-St. John’s University dean Cecilia Chang rejected sweet plea deal before suicide

In the end, disgraced St. John’s University dean Cecilia Chang chose death over a life of dishonor — even at one point rejecting a sweet plea deal of two to six years in a so-called Club Fed prison, the Daily News has learned. Read more: Daily News

Gov. Cuomo fires Emergency Management chief over Sandy tree removal: sources

Office of Emergency Management boss Steven Kuhr was fired after allegedly sending workers to clear a tree in his Long Island driveway as other victims of the storm suffered, sources said yesterday. Read more: NY Post

Nor’easter brings snow, surges to storm-shocked city

A nor’easter brought heavy wind gusts and a snow Wednesday to a city trying to recover from last week’s superstorm, and coastal communities in the five boroughs were forced to endure another round of storm surges. Read more: NY1

Councilman James Sanders rips LIPA over Rockaway power outage

As tensions mount on a powerless Rockaway peninsula, the barbs being tossed at the Long Island Power Authority are becoming harsher with each passing day. City Councilman and soon-to-be state Sen. James Sanders Jr. blasted the utility on Wednesday and its top executive Michael Hervey after Sanders was told many of LIPA’s customers in Queens could be without power for up to three more weeks. Read more: Daily News

New York AG goes after post-Sandy price gougers

The state attorney general yesterday slapped a subpoena on Craigslist, demanding that the popular Web site identify sellers who jacked up prices on post-Sandy gas, generators and other supplies, The Post has learned. Read more: NY Post

Ex-con who shot Nassau County cop and motorist dead should be thrown in prison for the rest of his life: prosecutors

The Queens ex-con who gunned down a Nassau County cop and a motorist near Belmont Park to avoid returning to prison should spend the rest of his life behind bars, prosecutors said Wednesday as the alleged triggerman was indicated for murder, robbery and weapons possession. Read more: Daily News