Tag Archives: north shore towers

Bringing an icon to life


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Diane Cypkin

College professor by day and entertainer by night, Diane Cypkin brings nostalgia, harmony and history with her to every performance.

Born in a displaced persons camp in Munich, Germany after the war, Cypkin grew up in a Yiddish-speaking home.

Now inBrightonBeach, Brooklyn, her shtick is making sure the story of well-loved entertainer Molly Picon — said to be the star of Yiddish theater inNew York City— lives on. 

Picon, a New York-born Yiddish icon, is well-known for her theater, radio, television and film performances over the span of seven decades. The film many may remember her most for is “Yidl with His Fiddle,” which debuted in 1936. She also starred in the 1963 film “Come Blow Your Horn” and “Fiddler on the Roof” in 1971 before she suffered from Alzheimer’s disease in her later years and died at age 93.

Still, the ties Cypkin has to Picon are many and strong.

Not only was Cypkin raised by a musically-inclined father and theater-loving mother, she has infinite knowledge of Yiddish theater in New York City after writing a great deal about it and even performing there for many years.

Cypkin also curated an exhibition at the Museum of the City ofNew Yorkentitled “One Hundred Years of Yiddish Theatre inNew York City” before the Lincoln Center Library of the Performing Arts inNew Yorkasked her to do an exhibition on Picon.

Now, through a few hundred artifacts — including pictures, programs, reviews, posters, music and costumes — Cypkin tells Picon’s story in English and sings her songs in Yiddish.

“I love her music, and her lyrics are poetry. When I sing it, I see it,” Cypkin said.

Although the premise of her performances revolves around the life and times of Picon, Cypkin said the concerts end up focusing more on the stories of the audience members.

“It’s Molly’s story, but it’s also our story. At the end, you end up talking about the lower east side, and the audience members all remember going to the Yiddish theater. They all remember their old homes and their parents. Molly is the icon around which our lives have turned. It’s the story about everybody who lived in her time.”

Cypkin, who recently performed forNorthShoreTowersresidents, said she got lost on her way to the venue. With no map and no G.P.S. system, Cypkin said she pulled over and found an AAA service truck on the side of the road.

“I said to him, ‘Listen, I have a show. Please lead me there,” Cypkin said. “It was just a pleasure to be there, and it was truly a wonderful audience.”

Cypkin is a professor of media and communication arts atPaceUniversityand has been teaching there for more than 20 years. In just the last year, she and her pianist Lina Panfilova have done about 30 shows throughout the tri-state area.

“I can honestly say it’s not just a concert I offer. It’s a community event,” she said. “By the time the show is over, we know each other well. I can feel the audience with me, and after the show, people run up to talk to me and share their memories. Every time I do a show, I love it all over again. I don’t get bored. You can, but I don’t.”

And Yiddish or not, Cypkin said everyone can enjoy the performance.

“You don’t have to understand every word of Yiddish. It’s the music, and it’s the way it’s presented. It’s the sound of a language.”

NORTH SHORE TOWERS FEBRUARY EVENTS LISTING


| editorial@queenscourier.com


Queens Museum of Art

Flushing Meadows-Corona Park

Queens, N.Y. 11368

www.queensmuseum.org

 

            ArtAccess presents Masala Bhangra Workout for Families Affected by Autism on Saturday, February 18 from 3 to 4 p.m. at an offsite location at 89-11 Merrick Boulevard in Jamaica.  With this workout, the entire family can enjoy the traditional Indian dance Bhangra and experience the exhilaration of the Bollywood culture. This class will be enhanced with visual images and the participation of an ArtAccess instructor to help engage children who suffer from autism. Registration is limited to six families. For more information, contact Jamaica Library’s Discover Center at 718-990-5113

 

            On Saturday, February 18, bring the family to explore the Queens Museum of Art from 11 a.m. to noonThe Museums Explorer’s Club for Families Affected by Autism will teach different ways to view the art and will show various exhibitions the museum has to offer.  Families will also have a chance to create their own artwork inspired by the pieces they were exposed to throughout the day. Groups will include up to six families affected by autism. Feel free to include grandparents, parents and siblings while registering for this free event. For more information, contact Jenn at 718-592-9700 Ext. 130 or email autisminitiatives@queensmuseum.org

 

            Starting on Saturday, February 4 from 6 to 10 p.m., take a walk through history with Frank Oscar Larson: 1950’s New York Street Stories. Through this event, participants can learn about New York history through stories and photography. This body of work is having its debut at the Queens Museum of Art and will continue on select Saturdays through May 20. 

 

            Fifteen Islands of Robert Moses is a site-specific art infiltration into the Panorama of the city of New York. Artist and theorist Greg Sholette made and placed new islands about the Panorama’s waterways, where they exist as silent, post September 11 observers of the city’s past, present and future.  The opening party for this event is Saturday, February 4 from 6 to 10 p.m. It continues on select Saturdays through May 20. 

            Be a part of the Queens Internation 2012: Three Points Make a Triangle’s opening party on Saturday, February 4 from 6 to 10 p.m. This event is the fifth edition of the Queens Museum of Art’s biennial of artists living and working in Queens. Participants will be exposed to new and erotic artwork while they support individuals from their neighborhoods. This event will continue on select Saturdays through May 20. 

 

 

Nassau County Museum of Art

One Museum Drive

Roslyn Harbor, N.Y. 11576

www.nassaumuseum.org

 

            Families Making Art Together is an event that occurs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. from February 22 through February 24. The event features hands on art-making for children of all ages and their adult companions. There is a fee of the museum admission plus $5 per family materials and supplies. No reservations are required.

 

            On Saturday, March 3, participants can learn about Louis C. Tiffany’s Career as a Colorist at 3 p.m.  Tiffany’s use of color was celebrated during her lifetime and continues to be acknowledged today. Admission for this event is $5 for museum members and $15 for non museum members. The fee includes museum admission. 

 

Flushing Town Hall

127-35 Northern Boulevard

www.flushingtownhall.org

 

            Presented by Dr. Lih Chou of N.Y. Institute of Culture and the Arts, Flushing Town Hall hosts Lunar New Years Dance Sampler on Saturday, February 4 at 2 p.m. The sampler includes a variety of dance performances from China, Korea, India, Thailand, Taiwan and the Pacific Islands.

             Families can come together on Sunday, February 12 and enjoy Hip Hop with Illstyle at 1 p.m. Originating from class and contemporary hip hop and blended with an electric mix of dance and performance disciplines including tap and ballet, this event proves to be something the entire family can find interest in. This event is committed to delivering a positive message to all audiences.

‘Spiel’ was tons of laughs


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy of the Migdal Chapter of Hadassah

The Migdal Chapter of Hadassah at North Shore Towers (NST) recently put on a special Chanukah play.

Called a “spiel,” the play drew in a standing-room only crowd in the Coleridge Lounge on December 22. It was written and directed by Carolyn Dinofsky, chapter president, and comically combined elements of Jewish history and NST parody.

The cast — garbed in costumes — included both female and male members of the chapter.

According to Hadassah members, the highlight of the night was when Eneas Arkawy, chapter board member, stole the show by spiritedly impersonating the well-known, blonde and fashionable NST realtor Linda Rappaport.

Street Talk: What is your New Year’s Resolution?


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Evelyn Dubowy

“My New Year’s resolution is to go back to the gym and start physically moving more than I have been. I just want to keep walking and keep moving.”
Roz Sann

“My New Year’s resolution is to do as much as I can to save the planet and work with politicians to pass environmental protection laws.”
Barbara Leonardi

“My resolution is to stick to a diet and lose weight.”
Larry Lansner

“I want to continue working on behalf of the co-op and condos in New York City in order to create fairer laws to protect co-op and condo owners, and to continue working on political issues to make life better for our residents.”
Dianne Stromfeld

“My resolution is to be nice to people in order to create a more peaceful world.”
Marcel Smigel

Year in Review: A look back on 2011 at NST


| mchan@queenscourier.com

6

As Tower residents ring in the New Year, Board President Bob Ricken sat with the North Shore Towers Courier to reflect on the past year’s successes while looking ahead to the future of the co-op.

For the third consecutive year, residents can relish in the fact that there will be no increases in maintenance or Country Club dues.

Ricken attributes this mainly to the rise in apartment sales this year, which landed the co-op major headlines in the city’s most prominent daily newspapers.

The New York Times featured North Shore Towers on February 20 as “one of the strongest sellers among luxury co-op buildings in New York City.” Soon after, on August 19, the Towers stood out as one of the “best places to live in New York,” in an article published by the Daily News. The four-page spread boasted the facility’s amenities and even its lively history.

“It was probably more positive than I could have even been,” Ricken said. “These kinds of things really enhance the image of North Shore Towers.”

According to Ricken, apartment sales have increased a little more than 25 percent, with 98 sales last year and 125 this year.

What is important about that is we far exceeded what we budgeted for our flip tax,” he said. “That helped us keep down maintenance, and we had a large amount of money for flip tax because we had those 125 sales.”

Ricken said the work of the Political Action Committee also helped to keep costs down.

This year, Assemblymember Edward Braunstein, Councilmember Mark Weprin, City Speaker Christine Quinn, and two-time visitor State Senator Tony Avella came to speak at the co-op.

“Many of these politicians came to [Presidents Co-op Council] meetings and helped let city officials be aware that we have an inequity in our tax structure,” Ricken said. “And that was indicated this year when our tax rate was lower than we expected.”

Along with a total six-member Country Club increase from 2010, Ricken expressed that he was pleased with several other accomplishments throughout the year — including the annual Board of Directors election, which saw incumbents Phyllis Goldstein, Murray Lewinter, Phil Plafker and Bob Ricken re-elected. They will each serve another two-year term after running unopposed.

“I don’t believe that’s an indication that there’s lethargy among the people who live here,” Ricken said. “I think it’s an indication that they’re very satisfied with what the Board is doing. I’m very proud of the accomplishments of this Board.”

Ricken said he’s also pleased with continuous efforts in improving communication between the Board and residents. In order to keep the community on top of what goes on behind closed board room doors, Ricken said he slips letters under residents’ doors right after the meeting, so they won’t have to wait a month to hear important news.

He also said second on the agenda after reviewing the previous board meeting minutes is reading letters that residents have submitted — whether they are suggestions, criticisms, angry or positive feedback.

Ricken said the Board has also begun utilizing Power Point presentations during open meetings in order to pass along information to residents in a clearer manner.

“In other words, we’ve been extremely transparent, and there are very few surprises now for residents,” Ricken said. “One of the things that the Board is most gratified with is that the tone of the meetings is more positive, and the feedback from residents has been equally positive.”

The optimism may have also stemmed from the completion of several major projects this year, Ricken said.

Due to the high amount of money in reserve funds — which Ricken said is now in the area of $18 million — Tower residents now have a new chimney stack, which replaced one that was rotted over decades of use; new ramps; new rugs and logos in the entranceways; new doors in each of the buildings; revamped gardens throughout the community; improvements in the VIP Room, including fixing the men’s and women’s bathrooms and switching food vendors; the installation of the new pool room downstairs in the County Club; new furniture for the indoor pool and new pieces of equipment in the gym.

Looking to 2012, there will be several more items added to the agenda, along with replacing generators, which Ricken said is currently in a “long and very intense planning process.”

Residents and their families saw the importance of the generators when several storms pummeled through the region in 2011.

“We’ve had significant storms this year — not only with snowstorms, but there was a bit of an earthquake and there was also Hurricane Irene,” Ricken said. “It was gratifying to have about 350 of our residents’ relatives sleeping over because they didn’t have electricity in Queens or Nassau County.”

The co-op never lost power during these storms, Ricken said.

Ricken then complimented and thanked the staff, management and vendors for being on top of any possible storm damage.

“I’ve never received as many positive comments from our community about the job that they have done with snow removal and just keeping the place in an immaculate condition,” Ricken said. “It’s incredible waking up after a massive snow storm and find that all you see outside is black top.”

In 2012, the Towers’ two biggest contracts are up for review, meaning major upcoming projects include deciding which management and security companies to hire.

Currently, the co-op’s management company is the Charles H. Greenthal Management Corp.

“Even if we’re happy with our management company, we believe that we should always go out and interview other firms,” Ricken said, adding that co-op officials are presently interviewing management companies and will make a choice within the next couple of months.

The co-op will also go out for a new mortgage in 2012.

“Hopefully, with mortgage rates being lower, we’ll be able to save a lot of money in the future,” Ricken said. “The biggest challenge is always to maintain the finances of the co-op.

“You always have to plan for the future. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. My favorite quote has always been, ‘If you coast, you can only go downhill.’ We always have to have a focus on the future, on maintaining and improving everything we have. That’s the principle by which we budget and do long-range planning.”

Board addresses 2012 budget


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

While Towers residents can expect shortfalls in the budget this year, the end of 2011 saw an excess of revenue over expenditures.

“Budgeting is really not a true science. I would consider it more of an art,” said Mort Gitter, Board member and finance committee chair. “You can budget in a couple of ways. Over the years, we’ve adopted a slightly different approach with three components. Our primary aim is to maintain and preserve the financial integrity at North Shore Towers.”

At last month’s open finance meeting, Gitter addressed highlights of the 2011 budget and expectations for 2012, adding that for the third year in a row, there will be no maintenance or Country Club increases.

“We are committed to keeping North Shore Towers as a luxury complex,” Gitter said at the December 15 meeting. “But in order to maintain a luxury complex, you’ve got to spend money. We have to figure in our budgeting process how much money we can spend — taking into consideration the financial soundness of the community to keep this place running as a top notch facility, which does of course preserve shareholder value.

“Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn’t. But believe me, we give it our best shot,” said Gitter.

The co-op anticipates having an excess of revenues over expenditures of about $340,000, which Gitter said is “incidentally less than one percent of the amount of our budget.”

“That’s very, very close to being 100 percent accurate,” he said.

Revenues from operations in the year 2011 totaled $43,240,000, Gitter explained, while operating expenditures in 2011 approximated $42.9 million.

Gitter attributes this excess to fuel, water, real estate taxes and insurance costs in 2011 being slightly less than projected expenditures.

“That’s the reason. There’s no mystery to it,” he said.

However, due to major projects in the works for 2012 — along with rises in costs from major components of 2012 expenses — the co-op will see a shortfall of about $835,000.

Gitter said projected operation revenues for 2012 will be $43.4 million, and projected operation expenditures will come to $44,235,000.

He also said the 2012 projected expenses will exceed those in 2011 by approximately $1.3 million due to increases in wages and benefits, water rates, real estate taxes and building repairs.

Specifically, he said wages and benefits will go up by $350,000, as water and sewer rates, along with service contracts — work done by outside firms including the elevators and landscaping — continue to escalate.

He said repairs are going to be up in excess of $200,000 and real estate taxes for the community are projected to rise by approximately $700,000.

“Unfortunately, we still have to pay more taxes each year then we paid in the prior year. So even with all of the activity that goes on, our real estate taxes are rising, but hopefully at a decelerated rate of increase than what we have encountered in the past,” Gitter said.

However, Gitter said there are several ways to accommodate for this, without having residents suffer maintenance fee increases.

The majority of the money will come from the operating reserves — a fund that was created by shareholders a number of years ago and was designed primarily to guard against unforeseen cash shortages arising from spikes in fuel or operating costs.

This fund has built up to a point where it exceeds $4 million, Gitter said.

“For a number of months, we have wrestled with how to remedy this shortfall,” he said. “Normally, we do not advocate taking funds from our operating reserves to remedy shortfalls. There’s a lot of danger in that because once you start dipping into the till and taking money from your reserves, that accelerates year after year and it doubles up. So the fact is that you might cure [the shortfall] in one year, and you have a double problem in the following years. As a result of which, we have continuously resisted the temptation of taking any money from our reserves to remedy any shortfall that we may have.”

But this year is the exception, Gitter said, adding that this reserve fund is different from the capital improvement and emergency reserve funds.

“In the event that we encounter any cash problems in the year, we could take some of this money and not have to come back through the shareholders to pay our bills. We didn’t think it was fair that if we have this fund that at some point we would not take advantage of it,” Gitter said.

The co-op is also up for refinancing its mortgage — a one in 10 year event, said Gitter.

“Nothing is sure in this world, but we have a pretty good handle of what the market will be, and that we will save a significant sum of money in the refinancing over our current rate,” he said. “As the result of which, in 2013, our expenses should be less than they are now, since we are advertising a portion of our mortgage to the tune of approx $1.2 billion a year. We will save that money in 2012.”

Gitter said this also quenches the original fear of doubling up on debt from dipping into funds.

“When you add it all up, in the event that we take a shortfall in 2012 and you take [money] from the reserve fund, you will not be doubling up because when you add 2012 and 2013, the savings and expenses in 2013 will pretty well balance out,” he said. “We have resisted for many years, but we have a once in a long time opportunity to do it without any material adverse effect upon the finances of this cooperation. This obviously bestows a very significant financial benefit to each of you and all of the shareholders.”

In 2012, the co-op also expects to spend approximately $2,120,000 on capital improvement projects — a budget that Gitter says is “somewhat below” the monies spent in 2011.

“There’s a reason for that, and it’s not because things are not getting done or that we are not going to do them,” he said. “It’s just so much work that can be done around here without totally disrupting the lives of all of us. Everybody in this room has been subjected to the ramps, with the hammering and drilling. Next year, we’re going to have scaffolding.”

He said there is a “whole host of other capital expenditures that will be made,” but the capacity to do them is limited.

“All of the capital improvements will be done at the proper time, with minimal inconvenience to our shareholders,” he said.

These projects include but are not limited to upgrading a boiler, which is projected to cost about $680,000; fixing sidewalks and drains in the parking area in front of the buildings, said to cost $425,000; and improving movie theatre seating, which will total $75,000.

“We all are extremely proud that our reserves are at a point that they give us confidence in knowing that we can meet our immediate needs comfortably,” Gitter said.

In 2011, the capital improvement fund saw $7.1 million, and Gitter said the fund will increase to $7.5 million in the year 2012.

The emergency reserve fund is “stable,” Gitter said, and will increase from $3 million to $3.1 million in the new year.

The only fund that will see a decrease is the operating reserve fund, which Gitter explained will be used to fund the 2012 deficiencies. Currently, it has $4.6 million. By the end of 2012, it will have $3.8 million.

In total, there were $17.6 million worth of funds in 2011, and 2012 is expected to see $17.3 million.

“There’s no magic to it,” Gitter said. “We’ve operated efficiently and in addition, we have been able to save very, very substantial sums of money than our expenditures.”

Officials inaugurate new ‘Courtesy Bus’


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy of North Shore Towers Apartments Incorporated

Towers residents now have a new set of wheels to take them round and round.

In a ribbon-cutting ceremony on December 19, co-op officials inaugurated the new North Shore Towers Courtesy Bus and opened its doors to the community.

The Courtesy Bus — which has been around for at least 20 years — mostly accommodates the older residents in the com­plex who don’t drive anymore. One bus can fit 28 passengers, and major location stops include Roosevelt Field Mall, Source Mall and other local shopping areas.

The bus operates Monday through Friday, except on certain holidays, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

 COURTESY BUS SCHEDULE:

 MONDAY

9:45 a.m. – Local shopping at Roosevelt Field Mall, Source Mall,

Union Turnpike, Lake Success, Pathmark, Waldbaum’s.

11 a.m. – Pick-up/Drop-off at local shopping.

1 p.m. – Pick-up/Drop-off at local shopping, Union Turnpike,

Lake Success, Pathmark, Waldbaum’s.

1:45-2 p.m. – Pick-up at Roosevelt Field Mall and Source Mall.

3 p.m. – Pick-up at local shopping.

TUESDAY

9:45 a.m. – Local shopping at Great Neck, Macy’s,

Union Turnpike, Lake Success, Pathmark, Waldbaum’s.

11 a.m. – Pick-up/Drop-off at local shopping.

1 p.m. – Pick-up/Drop-off at local shopping, Union Turnpike,

Lake Success, Pathmark, Waldbaum’s.

1:45-2 p.m. – Pick-Up/Drop-off at Great Neck and Macy’s.

3 p.m. – Pick-up at local shopping.

4-4:30 p.m. – Pick-up at Great Neck and Macy’s.

WEDNESDAY

9:45 a.m. – Local shopping at Garden City, Roosevelt Field Mall,

Union Turnpike, Lake Success, Pathmark, Waldbaum’s.

11 a.m. – Pick-up/Drop-off at local shopping.

1 p.m. – Pick-up/Drop-off at local shopping, Union Turnpike,

Lake Success, Pathmark, Waldbaum’s.

1:45-2 p.m. – Pick-up at Garden City, Roosevelt Field Mall.

3 p.m. – Pick-up at local shopping.

THURSDAY

9:45 a.m. – Local shopping at Great Neck, Macy’s,

Union Turnpike, Lake Success, Pathmark, Waldbaum’s.

11 a.m. – Pick-up/Drop-off at local shopping.

1 p.m. – Pick-up/Drop-off at local shopping, Union Turnpike,

Lake Success, Pathmark, Waldbaum’s.

1:45-2 p.m. – Pick-Up/Drop-off at Great Neck and Macy’s.

3 p.m. – Pick-up at local shopping.

4-4:30 p.m. – Pick-up at Great Neck and Macy’s.

FRIDAY

9:45 a.m. – Local shopping at Manhasset, Union Turnpike,

Lake Success, Pathmark, Waldbaum’s.

11 a.m. – Pick-up/Drop-off at local shopping.

1 p.m. – Pick-up/Drop-off at local shopping, Union Turnpike,

Lake Success, Pathmark, Waldbaum’s.

1:45-2 p.m. – Pick-up/Drop-off Manhasset.

3 p.m. – Pick-up at local shopping.

Crocheting for a cause


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Winter winds may keep on howling, but hundreds of U.S. soldiers are warmer now thanks to the Towers’ Knit and Crochet Club.

The group — 35 members strong — knits for a good cause. For the last four to five years, the North Shore knitters have fashioned and donated hundreds of yarned creations to U.S. service members, mothers in need and battered women.

“It makes people feel good. People want to come together for the good of the community and for charitable causes,” said club leader Linda Cohen-Pignataro. “It gives us a really great feeling to be giving something to the community and to be supporting others. It’s all for charity.”

Club members meet once a week, every Thursday night from 6:30 to 9 p.m. to knit and crochet together. Among many others, their hard work has benefited the Reserve Center for Marines, Sailors and Airmen, the Pennsylvania Air National Guard’s 111th Fighter Wing, Warmth for Warriors, Long Island Jewish Medical Center, and the Women’s Health Center in Jacobi Medical.

The handmade crocheted constructions vary from scarves, hats, blankets, baby caps and booties, depending on where they’re shipped.

“I made these for my babies when they were young, and now I’m still making them,” said club member Shirley Mendell, who said she has been knitting since she was little.

The 83-year-old speedy stitcher can knit one baby sweater — complete with cute baby animals on the front — in just one week.

“It makes me feel very good, and it keeps me busy,” she laughed.

The group donates at least six scarves a week to the Reserve Center in Lafayette, Pennsylvania.

“We have American soldiers in harm’s way. The most important thing that civilians can do is let the soldiers know we haven’t forgotten about them,” said club member Annette Mauer.We want the soldiers to know that there are civilians back home who really care about them.”

In fact, about a month ago, the 111th Fighter Wing awarded the Towers’ Knit and Crochet Club with a Certificate of Appreciation. The group also frequently receives “beautiful thank you notes” from the organizations they help.

“I enjoy that they appreciate this,” Mendell said.

To join the Towers’ Knit and Crochet Club, or to donate much needed material and money, call Linda Cohen-Pignataro at 718-224-2881.

To view more photos, see the North Shore Towers Courier’s January issue.

Bringing fabric dolls to life


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan.

Three women — donning deep purple-hued feathery dresses and gossipmonger smirks — make themselves home in Sylvia Landau’s apartment.

The trio has spunk and attitude, only their stories are fiction and they’re made of fabric.

“It’s where your imagination takes you,” Sylvia said. “When you’re in that mode, you just want to try everything. What can you lose, right?”

The North Shore Towers resident’s passion for creating fabric art dolls stems from her early love for arts and crafts as a teenager. Sylvia’s first stint with sewing slowly grew into making jewelry — before her love for creating fabric dolls took over full force.

“I love these dolls and I love doing this. I just have to. I don’t cook or clean, so I have to do something with my time now that the children are grown,” she said.

Sylvia — who also dabbles with sculpting — even taught a few fabric doll making classes at the Adult Education Center in Great Neck, but she said she wasn’t able to recently because not enough people signed up.

“There are not too many crazy people out there who want to do this,” she laughed. “It’s a little kooky.”

Still, the pleasure that comes from making dolls come to life is enough for Sylvia to continue creating every single day.

“I’m obsessed,” she said. “My eyes are always open for things that will give the doll a story. It’s just something that is always with me.”

Sylvia works on at least three to four dolls at a time, and it can take a couple of weeks to finish one piece, she said, “depending on how the motor is going.”

To this day, Sylvia has fashioned at least 50 fabric dolls, most of whom live in the nooks and crannies of her husband Herb’s and her cozy Towers apartment.

“It’s getting crowded in here,” she joked, taking a step back to look at the multihued hodgepodge of dolls that line the walls and tabletops — each with its own individual story, telling of a different “ah ha!” moment.

“I don’t always know what I’m going to do or where I’m going with it, and sometimes it will lie around for months when all of a sudden, it hits me with what to do with it,” she said.

And the studio to produce these soft figurines is located right in Sylvia’s very own apartment.

The doll making fanatic dedicated an entire workroom with enough fabric inside “to take care of the entire world.” It’s overflowing with fabric, lace trim, paint, shoelaces, tassels, string, yarn and polyester-filled blank doll heads.

“My grandchildren laugh and laugh, but they usually go along with me,” she said, adding that the doll’s face very often dictates the end product.

In fact, Sylvia’s “Are You Shopping or Just Looking?” doll — prominent for her sour face — won an Artists Craftsmen of New York honorable mention in 2009.

“It’s the way her face turned out. She just didn’t look like a nice person,” Sylvia said, adding that the doll — holding a pencil and writing pad — was an angry shopper totaling her bill. “She looked nasty, and once I put the apron on her and filled the paper bag with merchandise, I knew what she was going to be,” Sylvia said.

“Your imagination just starts to run.”

To view more photos, see the North Shore Towers Courier’s January issue.

Tower trees lit to kick off holiday season


| photographers@queenscourier.com

Tree-resized2

The night before Thanksgiving, North Shore Towers started to show its holiday cheer with a tree lighting event sponsored by Greenthal Property Sales.

In addition to lighting the outdoor lights, residents enjoyed refreshments and took part in some holiday karaoke.

To view more photos, see the North Shore Towers Courier’s December issue.

Diva tribute held in VIP Room


| photographers@queenscourier.com

JCresized

Singer JC entered residents recently with her diva tribute on Friday, November 25 in the Country Club’s VIP Room. During the revue, JC performed songs made famous by Cher, Judy Garland, Barbara Streisand, Bette Midler, Celine Dion and Aretha Franklin, among others.

To view more photos, see the North Shore Towers Courier’s December issue!

 

Country Club hosts ‘Spooky Spectacular’ Halloween party


| photographers@queenscourier.com

Maryanne Langone  Sheila Levine   Patti Mcarty

To help celebrate Halloween, the Country Club held its “Spooky Spectacular Halloween Party” on Friday, October 28.

Party-goers were encouraged to come in costume and were able to enjoy food, drinks, live music and dancing.

To view more photos, see the North Shore Towers Courier’s December issue!

 

Bob Ricken honored as a ‘King of Queens’


| jlyons@queenscourier.com

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North Shore Towers Board President Bob Ricken was one of 35 honorees at The Queens Courier’s recent fourth annual “King of Queens” event, which recognized leaders in the borough from a variety of fields.

While Ricken might have at first been unsure about accepting the award, he said he eventually did so because of the cooperative.

“I really felt North Shore Towers deserved it [the honor] so that’s why I became very excited with the opportunity,” he said. Ricken also said, “I really believe we’ve been a miracle in the last few years.”

Ricken explained that the “miracle” has been avoiding maintenance increases for the last two years and Country Club dues increases for the last three even in the current economic environment. He also noted that the cooperative is waiting on the New York City tax rates to determine what will happen with maintenance for next year.

“One of the promises I made when I got onto the Board was I would work to that end but I never thought we’d achieve it in this economic environment,” Ricken said.

Ricken said that he thought the November 3 event, which was held at Terrace on the Park, was “magnificent.” He said he was excited to meet everyone, particularly Matilda Cuomo, who was honored as “Women of the Year,” and New York City Comptroller John Liu, who was recognized as “Man of the Year.”

“I found that the people there were excited to be there; the program was just brilliantly put together,” Ricken said. “The whole tone was a pro-business, pro-community, pro-Queens kind of an affair and it made you feel good to be there and be a part of it.”

Among the people on hand for the event were Ricken’s wife Susan; Board members Herb Cooper, Phyllis Goldstein, Phil Plafker and Jim Short; General Manager Glen Kotowski; Assistant to the General Manager Bruce Vogel; Controller Robert Serikstad; Security Director Kris Debysingh; realtor Linda Rappaport; counsel Errol Brett; Country Club Manager Mary Anne Langone and vendor Pouran Eshghi.

“I really appreciated them being there,” Ricken said.

Ricken said that the event was a great public relations opportunity for North Shore Towers since he was able to speak with bankers, lawyers, business people and political people.

“These are people who can well afford to live here,” he said.

When it comes to being a leader, Ricken said that he thinks it’s important to be “a warm fuzzy with teeth.” This means being good to all people while still making tough decisions when necessary. He also said it’s important to treat people fairly, collaborate and recognize that “a mass of people know more than you.”

Ricken has served as the President of the North Shore Towers Board of Directors for about the last three and a half years. In that leadership role, he said the most rewarding part has been having the community grow to respect the Board and appreciate their accomplishments. He also said there is now a tone in the buildings that the Towers is a great place to live.

“I’m also very appreciative to have a Board that works cooperatively together. That doesn’t mean we have any yes people on the Board,” Ricken said. “It means that we have our own arguments, our discussions and then come out with a decision that’s best for the community. I think that collaboration and cooperation on the Board is what I appreciate probably more than anything.”

To view more photos, see the North Shore Towers Courier’s December issue!

Dancing in a winter wonderland


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photos by Mike Savitzky

The cold December weather did little to discourage Towers residents from celebrating the start of the holiday season, as they danced to warm up during the North Shore Tower’s Country Club’s “Winter Get Together” event.

On Friday, December 2, party-goers enjoyed a buffet of appetizers, open bar, desserts and a night of music and dancing — provided by DJ Lynn Johnson — in the VIP Room.

See the North Shore Towers Courier’s January edition for more photos.

Country Club holds open meeting to update members


| jlyons@queenscourier.com

Open Country Club Meetingresized

Country Club members gathered in the VIP Room in November for an open meeting to update them on finances and activities.

Near the beginning of the meeting, Board president Bob Ricken encouraged members to join the Country Club Committee.

“It’s one thing to be in the Country Club,” Ricken said. “It’s another thing to be involved in letting us know what you’re feeling.”

Phil Plafker, a Board member and chair of the Country Club Committee, thanked the committee’s volunteers for their time, effort and input.

Plafker shared the Country Club’s membership numbers as of October 31, 2011. As of that date, there were 1,327 general members; 111 house members; 52 tennis members; and 333 golf members. Total membership was at 1,823, which represents a six-member increase from 2010.

For the third year in a row, there will be no increase in membership dues for the Country Club.

“I think that’s a really big plus,” Plafker said.

Plafker explained that for next year’s season the only increase will be cart fees for 18 holes of golf, which will increase from $18 to $20.

During the meeting Plafker also detailed the Country Club’s sources of revenue. The largest amount, 41.3 percent, comes from general house membership, which is expected to produce $1,265,000 in revenue for 2011 and $1,285,000 in 2012 revenue. The second largest revenue generator is golf membership, which represents 39.3 percent of the Country Club’s overall revenue. It is projected that golf membership will bring in $1,203,000 in revenue both in 2011 and in 2012.

The Country Club has budgeted $329,000 for capital improvements in 2012. Of that, the largest amount, $135,000, has been designated for interior refurbishments, including in the VIP Room kitchen.

“The kitchen will be expanded. It’s going to be expanded to help us maintain what we had this past year,” Plafker said. “I think everyone was happy with [the food service] we had. I personally have never seen such social activity here at the Club in my 18 years of living here as we did this past year.”

Plafker said that other work to redo the VIP Room will not be done until the kitchen expansion has been completed.

The ladies’ card room will also be expanded to include more tables.

Another item on the capital improvement list that Plafker highlighted was $15,000 being allocated for a golf course architect and planning. He said that the Towers is currently working with a golf course architect to determine what needs to be done to maintain the course so that it won’t “cost a bundle of money at a later day” to take care of it. Plafker said they are also determining what the cost would be to improve the golf course and “beautify it that much more.”

Plafker also said that the suggestion box that was placed in the reception area of the Country Club a year ago “has been very useful.”

“We have made some minor changes as a result of these suggestions and I’d like to thank everyone who did participate in giving us some suggestions,” he said.

Controller Robert Serikstad reported that, as of October 31, 2011, the Country Club operations were $8,815 ahead of budget. Additionally, cash on hand was at $925,181, which is slightly higher than what it was at last year at this time.

Subcommittee chairs also spoke during the meeting. Towers Men’s Golf Association co-president Ed Vesel said that they “had a wonderful season.” He noted that the sponsored golf program is still in effect and that a number of those members have already purchased apartments at the Towers.

Roz Worobow, president of the Towers Ladies’ Golf Association, also spoke about the sponsored golf members.

“We have integrated them. It’s as if they live here,” she said. “They are very happy so we’re happy. We would love to get more lady sponsored members. If you want to recommend someone we’re here to help.”

Tennis Association president Werner Nass said that they too had a “very, very successful season.” He said members enjoy the fun and competitiveness of tennis in addition to participating in the group’s many social events. In addition to having about 50 active Tennis Association members, Nass said the group also has 25 associate members.

Plafker spoke on behalf of a couple subcommittee chairs. In regards to publicity, he said that the Country Club has been having a dialog with North Shore-LIJ about them using the facilities once in a while as a “thank you for being our neighbors.” He also said that there will be new member receptions held twice a year.

Board member Shelley Sander also gave an update about the newly formed committee that she chairs, the Gym, Aerobics and Pool (GAP) Committee. It includes the gym, fitness classes, indoor and outdoor pools, billiards room and boxing room.

Sander that that there is money in the 2012 budget for new gym equipment.

“But it’s very crowded in there so we will be reviewing our current inventory to see what might be a candidate for replacement based on condition and utilization,” Sander said.

Other things that the committee is working on are expanding aerobics class offerings, a decorating upgrade to the boxing room and selecting new furniture for the outdoor pool area.

Following the committee updates, the floor was opened up for questions, during which time it was asked what the entertainment would be for the holiday shows.

“The committee has decided not to have two of the three shows,” Plafker said. “We only will have the Memorial Day show because July 4 and Labor Day were not well attended.”

However, Plafker said there might be events in the VIP Room instead for those two holidays.