Tag Archives: Oakland Gardens

Survey says overcrowding problem at Queens schools


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Queens schools are failing in at least one subject– classroom sizes.

Hillcrest High School in Jamaica ranked highest in the number of oversized classrooms, 400, and Bayside’s Benjamin Cardozo High School follows with 385, according to a recent United Federation of Teachers (UFT) survey.

More than 230,000 students citywide spent some of the first few weeks back to school in crowded classes, the study found. About 6,313 classes were overcrowded, up almost 200 from last year, but more than 1,000 of those classes were found in Queens high schools alone.

Overcrowding is a problem throughout the entire city school system, but “Queens high schools have been hit the worst,” the UFT said.

Class sizes around the city in grades 1 through 3 have now reached a 14-year high. Although they have not reached the classroom size limit of 32 seats, first and second grade has grown to an average of 24 seats per class, with 25 in third grade.

“It is time to take this issue seriously,” said Michael Mulgrew, UFT president. “All our students, especially our youngest children, desperately need smaller class sizes.”

Recently Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that under his administration New York City schools had improved outstandingly on the academic side.

During his time in office many schools were shuttered, but more than new 650 schools were created. Bloomberg said 22 of the top 25 schools in the state are from New York City, and none were on that list before his administration.

“After 12 years reforming our once-broken school system, it’s clear that our hard work has paid huge dividends for our students,” Bloomberg said on his weekly radio show.

In fact, three Queens elementary schools, P.S. 46 in Oakland Gardens, P.S. 66 in Richmond Hill and P.S. 221 in Little Neck,  Richmond Hillwere named to the prestigious national Blue Ribbon award for excellence in education on September 24.

Despite the academic improvements, the UFT said children shouldn’t have to try to learn in overcrowded classrooms.

“Twelve years of Michael Bloomberg, and hundreds of thousands of students start the school year in oversize classes,” Mulgrew said. “There is no excuse for letting students stay in an oversize class.”

 

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Three Queens elementary schools receive Blue Ribbon award


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The coveted federal Blue Ribbon award will go to three Queens elementary schools this year, U.S. education officials announced early this week.

P.S. 46 in Oakland Gardens, P.S. 66 in Richmond Hill and P.S. 221 in Little Neck earned their prestigious titles on September 24.

The honor is given to public and private schools that have demonstrated significant student achievement, education officials said. It is based on overall academic excellence or improvement.

“We’re pretty excited,” said Principal Marsha Goldberg of P.S. 46. “The students realize the impact as much as the adults do. This is their expectation. To them, it’s another day at school.”

Principal Patricia Bullard of P.S. 221 said her school’s award was achieved through “the hard work of our conscientious students, dedication of our talented staff and support of our parents.”

“I am extremely proud of our entire school community for achieving this national distinction,” she said in a statement. “P.S. 221 is truly a special place.”

Over in Richmond Hill, P.S. 66 was also beaming with pride.

“I’ve been in this community as a teacher since 1976,” said Principal Phyllis Leinwand. “On a personal level, I’m very proud, having been in this area for nearly four decades, that this amazing accolade is being shared by the south Queens community.”

The U.S. Department of Education named 286 schools in the country this year as Blue Ribbon institutions. Award recipients also include two schools in Brooklyn and one in Manhattan.

“Excellence in education matters and we should honor the schools that are leading the way to prepare students for success in college and careers,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

“National Blue Ribbon schools represent examples of educational excellence, and their work reflects the belief that every child in America deserves a world-class education,” Duncan continued.

The Blue Ribbon honorees will be celebrated in November at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.

 

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Bellerose residents demand mosquito help after years with no West Nile spraying


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of CDC

Bellerose residents say they live in a forgotten land when it comes to the city’s efforts to eliminate mosquitoes.

“You can’t go outside. You can’t make it from your car to your front door,” said Maria Donza.

The bloodsuckers are keeping residents on house arrest and even alert indoors, said Donza, who added she sits with a bottle of bug spray at home.

The city has not sprayed the area since before 2011.

Pesticide was scheduled for Bellerose in August 2011, but the order was eventually canceled, according to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s (DOHMH) website.

The department recently targeted neighborhoods north of Bellerose, spraying parts of Bayside, Douglaston, Douglaston Manor, Glen Oaks, Little Neck and Oakland Gardens on July 25 and early the next day.

“Everywhere else in Queens has been mostly getting sprayed,” said resident AJ Sonnick. “I don’t understand why Bellerose has been forgotten.”

The 20-year-old said he was bitten four times in the 20 minutes he was in his backyard the other day.

“This is a beautiful neighborhood. It’s a great neighborhood to live,” Sonnick said. “It’s a shame that we just can’t sit outside.”

A DOHMH spokesperson said Bellerose has not been sprayed because no West Nile Virus activity has been detected there.

The virus is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. It can cause encephalitis and meningitis.

Insects carrying the potentially fatal virus were recently found in Auburndale, College Point, Holliswood, Middle Village, Pomonok and the areas north of Bellerose sprayed last week.

The pesticide is taken as a last resort in areas where there is a high risk of West Nile Virus transmission, the department said.

Catch basins in Bellerose have been treated with larvicide twice this season.

“Though there may be an increase in floodwater mosquitoes citywide, these mosquitoes do not transmit West Nile Virus,” the DOHMH spokesperson said.

However, State Senator Tony Avella said the city should take measures before Bellerose makes the infected list.

“Every year, we have deaths from West Nile Virus. Every year, it resurfaces,” he said. “So why don’t we do a much more proactive spraying to reduce that population rather than wait until it explodes on us?”

Mosquitoes “don’t know what a boundary is on a map” and can fly into new nearby territories, the legislator added.

The city urged residents to call 3-1-1 to report standing water, which can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

 

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West Nile spraying in Queens this week


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of James Gathany/CDC

On Wednesday, July 24, there will be West Nile spraying in parts of Queens to help reduce the mosquito population and the risk of the disease.

The spraying will take place between the hours of 8:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. the next morning. In case of bad weather, the application will be delayed until Thursday, July 25 during the same hours.

Neighborhoods: Parts of Bayside, Douglaston, Douglas Manor, Glen Oaks, Little Neck and Oakland Gardens.

Bordered by: Little Neck Bay and 39th Avenue to the North; Bell Boulevard, Long Island Expressway, Cloverdale Boulevard, 73rd Avenue and Springfield  Boulevard to the West; 76th Avenue, 263rd Street and Union Turnpike to the South; and Nassau County border to the East.

Parts of the following zip codes: 11361, 11362, 11363,  11364, 11426, 11427,  11004, 11005

For the sprayings, the Health Department will use a very low concentration of Anvil®, 10 + 10 a synthetic
pesticide. When properly used, this product poses no significant risks to human health.

The Health Department  recommends that people take the following precautions to minimize direct exposure:

  • Whenever possible, stay indoors during spraying. People with asthma or other respiratory conditions  are encouraged to stay inside during spraying since direct exposure could worsen these conditions.
  • Air conditioners may remain on, however, if you wish to reduce the possibility of indoor exposure to pesticides, set the air conditioner vent to the closed position, or choose the re-circulate function.
  •  Remove children’s toys, outdoor equipment, and clothes from outdoor areas during spraying. If  outdoor equipment and toys are exposed to pesticides, wash them with soap and water before using  again.
  • Wash skin and clothing exposed to pesticides with soap and water. Always wash your produce thoroughly with water before cooking or eating.

Photo courtesy of NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

Suspects captured in Kissena Park chase charged with robbery, fake gun possession


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

Two robbery suspects who led police on a high-speed chase through Queens have been charged with robbery, criminal use of a firearm and possession of an imitation pistol, according to the district attorney.

One of the defendants, Ravinder Dharamshot, 32, of Queens Village, has additionally been charged with reckless endangerment.

Dharamshot and his accomplice, 23-year-old Umair Farooq of Oakland Gardens, are accused of robbing several gas stations and a deli in the borough last month.

Around 5:15 a.m. on Wednesday, April 3, a police officer spotted a minivan that matched the description of the vehicle used in those robberies near Utopia Parkway and Cross Island Parkway and gave chase, according to the DA.

Dharamshot, who was driving the vehicle, allegedly started speeding dangerously, during which time he headed the wrong way down the Clearview Expressway and drove onto the sidewalk, nearly hitting pedestrians.

After striking a police car at Colden Street and Elder Avenue, injuring two officers, Dharamshot fled the minivan.
Farooq was apprehended shortly after the crash.

Following a manhunt through Kissena Park and the surrounding streets, police found Dharamshot in a parked car in Queens Village later that day.

The pair faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

 

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Op-Ed: Empowering women


| oped@queenscourier.com


BY ASSEMBLYMEMBER NILY ROZIC

Women’s History Month marks my third month as an assemblymember. It is a time to recognize the women who have come before to make this world a better place. While we have many great women to celebrate, we have more work ahead. At a time when polarization is defining many of today’s headlines, it is more important than ever to discuss how women’s voices alter the conversation. How can we work together to make our voices stronger? To borrow a phrase from Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, how do we make sure that we are all getting off the sidelines? How do we make sure we are not waiting in a never-ending queue or that we are equal partners in the policy and decision making process?

We have made progress in the number of women holding elected office, but women remain severely underrepresented in our political institutions. Women still only make up 21 percent of the New York State Legislature and 18 percent of Congress, so it is clear that something is missing. That gap will be filled by the next generation of female leaders, and we must do what we can to encourage them to get involved.

Women are underrepresented not because we cannot raise the money or talk to voters, but because we are less likely to even run in the first place. On average, a woman is asked to run for office seven times before she decides to run. More role models like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are needed to show young women they can aim high. There have been shining examples of this locally, particularly Congressmember Grace Meng’s historic victory this past November — a huge victory for Queens women!

I ran for office to show young women that they can do it too — that women could wake up every day, look in the mirror and know they can run and win. Mothers, aunts, sisters and daughters are good for our government and our nation.

The fight for equality will not be won simply by having more female legislators. While New York has passed many laws to ensure women’s equality, we still have many steps to take. The Women’s Equality Act proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo will shine a light on many of the problems faced by New York women and take a big step forward on issues of pay equality and reproductive rights. The Women’s Equality Act is an effort that I will continue fighting for, as it is clear that women’s perspectives lead to better understanding, better conversation, and eventually better laws.

There are also many times when women’s issues, such as reproductive rights, are discussed without input from female legislators or a discussion of how women are actually impacted. This scenario played out in Congress as House Republicans attempted to restrict access to birth control under President Barack Obama’s health care reform. Hormonal contraceptives are only available for women, yet there was not one woman on the panel invited to discuss the impact of the legislation. Underrepresentation is not always that obvious, however. The imbalance of women in public office creates a lack of female voices at times they are most needed. The simple act of more women running for office will change this dynamic, and it is important that we encourage young women to run.

Women’s History Month is about empowerment, and nothing is more empowering than knowing that no office is off limits. Politics has long been a field in which women could not imagine themselves participating, and thankfully it is changing. As the youngest female legislator in the New York State Assembly, I see firsthand the contributions that women are making in government.

I also know that as long as we continue to do good work and advocate for common sense policy, young women will play a significant role in helping our communities prosper.

Assemblymember Nily Rozic was elected to the 25th Assembly District in November 2012, representing neighborhoods in northeast Queens, including Flushing, Queensboro Hill, Hillcrest, Fresh Meadows, Oakland Gardens, Bayside and Douglaston.

QM3 bus hits, kills woman in Oakland Gardens


| ctumola@queenscourier.com


A 55-year-old woman is dead after a Queens bus struck her Thursday evening, according to police.

Around 7:30 p.m., a QM3 bus was traveling westbound on 73rd Avenue, making a left hand turn to travel southbound on Springfield Boulevard when, with the rear portion of the bus, it struck the victim.

She was taken to Long Island Jewish Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

The investigation is ongoing.

 

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Striking school bus drivers stand by their demands


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER / Photo by Alexa Altman

Maria Gentile has driven a school bus for more than 34 years. She knows the name of every student she carries along her route, through Bayside, Douglaston and Oakland Gardens. She’s witnessed the first and last days of school for countless families. When she drops a child off at home, she doesn’t drive away until they’ve made it safely inside.

“Safety is first with the children,” said Gentile, who gathered with dozens of other striking drivers outside a bus depot in Jamaica. Two weeks into the citywide school bus strike, drivers remain firmly behind their demands, calling specifically for job security.

“We just want to keep our jobs. That’s it,” said bus driver Jessica Saltos of Queens Village. “We’re not looking for a raise, healthcare, a pension, nothing at all. We want to keep working. That’s it.”

According to Gentile, drivers are fighting to retain the Employee Protection Provision (EPP), an amendment added in 1979 that guarantees drivers will retain routes, regardless of which company oversees the bid.

Strikers believe Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to instate makeshift drivers could be hazardous for the thousands of children who take buses to school. Certification, which normally takes roughly a year and includes drug testing, fingerprinting and hours of training, will take less than 24 hours for fill-in drivers.

“If the mayor wants to put a child in a vehicle with a driver who has no experience, what does that say?” said Gentile. “They’re going to rush to the school and throw the kid off the bus because they don’t care.”

The substitute bus drivers are set to make $14 an hour, a wage many drivers agreed doesn’t promote job longevity or dedication.

“[Bloomberg] is putting the almighty dollar above children’s safety,” said a driver.

On Monday, January 28, representatives from Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181 met with a mediator, Justice Milton Mollen, to discuss drivers’ concerns. While city officials did not attend the meeting, Local 1181 President Michael Cordiello said Bloomberg’s involvement in arbitration is “necessary to move towards a resolution and end this strike.”

 

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Queens man killed in drunk driving accident on LIE


| ctumola@queenscourier.com


A Flushing man was arrested today for killing his passenger during a drunk driving accident on the Long Island Expressway (LIE), said police.

The driver, 39-year-old Ricardo Rivas, was travelling eastbound on the LIE around 4:00 a.m. Wednesday when he hit the median right after the 108th Street exit, injuring all four of his passengers.

Carlos Rivas, 27, of Oakland Gardens, who was sitting in the front seat, was transported to Booth Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The three other passengers were transported to Elmhurst General Hospital in stable condition.

Authorities arrested Rivas at the scene, charging him with vehicular manslaughter criminally negligent homicide and driving while intoxicated.

Queens residents among those busted in prostitution, money laundering ring


| mchan@queenscourier.com


Eleven Queens residents were indicted — and two human trafficking victims in Manhattan were saved — after authorities busted a $7 million prostitution-based money laundering ring that spanned the tri-state area, the attorney general said.

A 16-month joint agency investigation led to the 180-count indictment of advertising corporation Somad Enterprises, Inc. and 19 individuals, who allegedly engaged in enterprise corruption and a variety of crimes, including money laundering, falsifying business records, narcotics sales and prostitution, the attorney general said.

“This investigation led to the arrests of multiple individuals who were part of a criminal enterprise that made millions of dollars by profiting off the exploitation of women,” Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said. “The message we are sending is clear. These crimes will not be tolerated in the state of New York.”

Manhattan-based Somad Enterprises is accused of being a front for the large prostitution and narcotics distribution ring, according to the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force and the NYPD.

The company, which authorities say allegedly posed as a legitimate business, “profited handsomely” in excess of $3 million by working with prostitution businesses to promote sex services through online, print and cable television sources.

Three “johns,” including a former guidance counselor and dean at Scarsdale High School, have already been arrested, the attorney general said.

Five of the 11 arrested Queens individuals — who each face up to 25 years in prison if convicted — hail from Flushing, authorities said. The others are from Forest Hills, Bayside, Whitestone, Oakland Gardens, Fresh Meadows and Jamaica.

The two trafficking victims have been brought to a safe haven, said the attorney general.

Calls to Somad Enterprises went unreturned as of press time.

 

Driver kills man in Flushing


| mchan@queenscourier.com


A sleep-deprived driver has been arrested for fleeing the scene of an accident after he allegedly mowed down and killed a pedestrian in Flushing, police said.

Shiwoo Lee, 22, of Oakland Gardens, told authorities he fell asleep behind the wheel on Saturday, October 20 around 6 a.m. when his 2007 Toyota Rav 4 veered off the road and struck a tree at the intersection of 164th Street and Booth Memorial Avenue, according to a criminal complaint. The vehicle also struck Vito Florio, 76, when it jumped the curb, cops said.

Florio, whose body was found lying in a wooded area with severe body trauma, was declared dead on arrival, according to police.

Lee told cops he had been awake for two days straight and was on his way back from Manhattan, driving four other passengers, when he began nodding off, according to a criminal complaint.

The group exited the vehicle and fled on foot after the collision, said authorities, who found blood on the hood and a broken headlight off Lee’s car.

Police said the investigation is ongoing.

Queens Morning Roundup


| brennison@queenscourier.com


TODAY’S FORECAST

Friday: Showers and possibly a thunderstorm. Some of the storms could produce heavy rain. High near 73. Southeast wind 10 to 17 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New rainfall amounts between 1 and 2 inches possible. Friday night: Scattered showers, mainly before 1am. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 60. South wind 5 to 8 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%.

EVENT of the DAY: Job Fair

There will be a Halloween themed family sleepover this weekend at the Long Island Aquarium. At the Creatures of the Night Spooktacular, kids will get rare glimpse into the nighttime habits of three new animals in the Creatures of the Night exhibit. You can also dress up in Halloween customes, and enjoy craft time and a screening of “Monster House.” Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Neighbor of Federal Reserve bomb suspect speaks

The day after a Queens man was arrested for allegedly attempting to detonate what he believed to be a real bomb at the New York Federal Reserve Bank in lower Manhattan, a neighbor spoke out, saying he had no idea what was being plotted, just downstairs. Read more: Queens Courier

Tigers sweep Yankees in ALCS to reach World Series

Prince Fielder waved his arms frantically, gleefully calling off his teammates while the crowd at Comerica Park roared. From the moment the big first baseman signed his massive contract in January, an entire city had been waiting for a chance to celebrate like this. After another dazzling effort by Detroit’s starting pitchers and another soaring home run by Miguel Cabrera, Fielder caught the final out to send the Tigers to the World Series — with a sweep of the New York Yankees, no less. Read more: ESPN

Nassau officer killed on LIE while responding to collision

A Nassau County cop who responded to an accident on the Long Island Expressway was killed early today when he was struck by another vehicle passing the scene of the crash, sources said. Officer Joseph P. Olivieri, 43, was struck at 4:43 a.m. on the eastbound roadway near exit 35 in North Hills. Read more: NY Post

Comedic relief: Obama, Romney bring on the jokes at annual dinner

President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were within arm’s length for the second time this week, as they shared the stage at the annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Dinner Thursday and delivered feisty quips at each other’s expense. Read more: CNN

Queens man put on “No-Fly List” stranded in Austria

A 26-year-old Queens man was returning home from a trip to Austria when he was stopped at the airport and told by airline agents that the Department of Homeland Security had prohibited his travel. For over two weeks Samir Suljovic, of Oakland Gardens, has remained stranded in Austria, where he was on vacation visiting friends and family. Read more: NBC New York

Queens judge denies perv’s request to lower jail sentence to spend Christmas with family

A Queens judge slammed a pervert’s request to lower his jail sentence to be with his four children for Christmas. Oross, 45 of East Islip, LI, plead guilty in September to having repeated sexual encounters with a 14-year-old student in a Susan B. Anthony IS 238 classroom and in his car, more than a dozen times in 2009. Read more: NY Post

 

More West Nile spraying in Queens Thursday


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of James Gathany/CDC

On Thursday, September 13 there will be another round of West Nile spraying in Queens to help reduce the mosquito population and the risk of the disease.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that the 1,993 cases of the disease that have been reported so far this year is the highest number reported to CDC through the first week in September since 1999, when it was first detected in the U.S.

The spraying will take place from 7:30 p.m. Thursday until 6 a.m. Friday morning in the following parts of Queens:

Middle Village, Maspeth, Rego Park and Ridgewood, bordered by Grand Avenue, Long Island Expressway and Queens Boulevard to the north; Fresh Pond Road to the west; Metropolitan Avenue to the south; and 80th Street, Farmville Avenue, Woodhaven Boulevard and 63rd Road to the East.

Parts of Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest, Hollis, Holliswood, Jamaica Estates, Jamaica Hills and Oakland Gardens, bordered by Long Island Expressway to the north; 188th Street, 80th Drive, Utopia Parkway, Homelawn Street and 169th Street
to the west; 90th Avenue, 191st Street and Hillside Ave to the South; and Hollis Hills Terrace, Richland Ave and 210th Street to the east.

Parts of Pomonok, Auburndale, Flushing and Bayside, bordered by 33rd to the north; 162nd Street, Laburnum Avenue, Kissena Boulevard to the west; Booth Memorial Boulevard, Utopia Parkway and 48th Avenue to the south; and Clearview
Expressway to the east.

The pesticide being used, Anvil 10 + 10, poses no health risks when used properly, but the Health Department recommends that people take the following precautions to minimize direct exposure:

• Whenever possible, stay indoors during spraying. People with asthma or other respiratory conditions are encouraged to stay inside during spraying since direct exposure could worsen these conditions.

• Air conditioners may remain on, however, if you wish to reduce the possibility of indoor exposure to pesticides, set the air conditioner vent to the closed position, or choose the re-circulate function.

• Remove children’s toys, outdoor equipment and clothes from outdoor areas during spraying. If outdoor equipment and toys are exposed to pesticides, wash them with soap and water before using again.

• Wash skin and clothing exposed to pesticides with soap and water. Always wash your produce thoroughly with water before cooking or eating.

Residents are also advised to take steps to reduce the number of mosquitoes around a home or property, including eliminating standing water in yards. In addition, New Yorkers are urged to:

• Dispose of used tires, tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar containers in which water collects;

• Drill holes in the bottoms of recycling containers that are kept outdoors. Make sure roof gutters drain properly and clean clogged gutters in the spring and fall;

• Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use and change the water in bird baths twice a week;

• Clean vegetation and debris from the edges of ponds; and

• Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs, and drain water from pool covers.

John Messer kicks off campaign against state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo by Lev Radin

An Oakland Gardens attorney officially launched his second try at defeating a nearly 13-year State Senate incumbent, hoping a newly-redrawn majority Asian district and a one-on-one primary will give him a leg up this time around.

John Messer, 42, pointed out that since the new 16th District, which is now 53 percent Asian, no longer includes Bay Terrace — an area that voted largely for State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky in a primary race two years ago — he foresees a more level playing field. He also expects this year’s two-way battle to bode well in his favor.

“Everybody knows that when you bring more people into a race and you divide the vote, it gives an opportunity for an incumbent to win even though they don’t have a majority of the votes,” Messer said.

Stavisky won a three-way 2010 primary challenge against Messer and Isaac Sasson, a retired professor and cancer researcher, with 45 percent of the vote. Sasson is now supporting Messer, who rallied supporters at his July 22 campaign kickoff at the Flushing Mall.

“We hear the same thing over and over again,” said Messer, who has thrown in $351,000 of his own money to the campaign. “Voters of this district want change. Nothing I believed in two years ago has changed.”

Messer accused Stavisky of never hiring an Asian staffer in her dozen years as Flushing’s senator while pointing to his own two Asian campaign co-chairs, as well as his Chinese wife and three kids.

But Stavisky’s spokesperson, Josh Goodman, said the claims were false. The incumbent senator, he said, has had Asian-American staffers over the years, as well as Chinese and Korean language services available at her Flushing district office.

“Anybody in the community can always get help from Senator Stavisky regardless of her ethnic background and linguistic issues,” Goodman said. “I think it’s a little insulting of Mr. Messer to suggest she doesn’t understand a community that she serves so well.”

Stavisky — the first woman from Queens elected to the State Senate — has the backing of every Asian elected official in the city, Goodman said, as well as the Queens County Democratic Party and both U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer.

The winner of the September 13 Democratic primary will take on Republican candidate J.D. Kim.

Oakland Lake Park path to receive much-needed work


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Oakland Park

It took nearly two decades, but the makeover is almost complete.

The Parks Department announced plans for a $1.6 million remodeling of the pathway around Oakland Lake Park at a recent Community Board 11 meeting, ending a 16-year initiative to revitalize the park and allowing locals to finally enjoy the wetland.

“I’m very relieved,” said Jerry Iannece, chair of Community Board 11. “We are getting completion on a project we’ve been working on for almost two decades.”

The Department of Environmental Protection [DEP] spent years rebuilding and cleaning the ecosystem of the lake and created a park booming with wildlife for locals to enjoy, except there was no dry path to walk on.

The trail is flooded and overrun with mud and grime, making for an unstable surface that is difficult to walk through and spoils footwear, say park-goers.

“Oakland Park is a natural wonder,” said Vince Tabone, general counsel of the Friends of Oakland Lake and Ravine. “It’s a unique experience to take friends and family. It takes away from the full experience that you have mud on the pathway.”

The Oakland Lake Path Improvement plan involves building a new raised boardwalk around the lake and imputing drainage pipes under the path to prevent flooding from excess water running down the park’s slope, according to a Parks spokesperson.

The agency expects to start the project by spring 2013 after a review by the Department of Environmental Conservation and awarding a private contractor the bid.

It should be ready for residents within a year of this process, according to representatives from the department.

No one is more proud about the new path than Iannece, who is running for the 25th Assembly District seat. He has been leading the charge to protect the park since 1996 when he was president of the Bayside Hills Civic Association.

With the completion of the walkway set for the near future, Baysiders can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“I could bring my kids here and we could do the nature walk,” said Bayside resident Jorge Chong. “It’s the only park around here with a lake.”