Tag Archives: queens village

Queens Village teen scores internship at exclusive Manhattan restaurant


| amatua@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Mario Gonzalez

Lyanna Cintron remembers standing in her mother and step-father’s kitchen at age 9 and wanting to get her hands dirty to make dishes like shrimp lasagna, lemon butter fish and sushi rolls.

Today, the 17-year-old Queens Village resident is a student at Food and Finance High School and interning at Italian-American restaurant Carbone, which was founded by Mario Carbone, a Queens native who was named one of Food & Wine’s “Best New Chefs in America” in 2012. Reservations at the Greenwich Village eatery are made one month in advance and classic dishes such as minestrone, spaghetti pomodoro and veal marsala are served.

Cintron, who received this internship with the help of the Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP), has spent the last two months learning about the world of pastry. Her responsibilities include making frosting and ice cream from scratch, scaling recipes for cakes, taking inventory and more.

“Working at Carbone is actually an amazing experience,” Cintron said. “I’ve been learning a lot and meeting a whole bunch of new chefs that have been showing me the ways of the culinary world.”

Cintron said she’s an “all-around gal” when it comes to cooking but that her favorite meal to prepare is shrimp Francese, a flour-and-egg-battered shrimp dish that requires her to reverse batter the seafood. When she’s not cooking, the aspiring chef loves to watch anything Gordon Ramsey. The British chef and restaurateur is known for his abrasive teaching style on his television shows “Hell’s Kitchen,” “MasterChef,” “MasterChef Junior” and “Kitchen Nightmares.”

“I just love the way he is in the kitchen,” Cintron. “Even though some people say that he’s mean or whatever, I kinda like it because I feel like he’s only doing that to people to push them because he knows that they can do better.”

Cintron hopes to go to culinary school and slowly work her way to becoming a head chef or owning her own restaurant. She credits her teachers Chef Adrienne Terzouli and Chef Michael Lynch for pushing her to do better and the C-CAP program for placing her at Carbone and teaching her about networking. C-CAP is a nonprofit that has linked high school at-risk culinary students to the food service and hospitality industry for more than 25 years.

“Being a part of C-CAP was like God giving me the token to my dreams,” Cintron said.

After working at Carbone, Cintron said she has a new favorite restaurant. She has already visited the eatery twice with her family and plans to go again. Though her internship ends this week, she is already in talks with management to try to secure a position at the restaurant.

“[My teachers] always inspire me to do better and they always tell me that I’m going be the one of the ones that makes it in the culinary world so they just give me that nudge to keep going.”

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Queens Village man creates new take on empanadas


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos by Heather DiPietro/heatherdipietro.com

What started out as a way to bring a family closer together has now become a business looking to add a new twist to a traditional food and give customers a one-of-a-kind experience.

Jonathan Batista of Queens Village is the man behind YourPanadas, a business just started earlier this year with his wife, which takes the concept of empanadas and fuses them with different cuisines.

With no formal culinary training, the love for food developed in Batista after growing up with his grandparents and seeing his grandfather go from someone who was rarely seen in the kitchen to someone who prepared “restaurant-style food.”

After his grandmother passed away, Batista’s grandfather — who was from Panama and worked on the Panama Canal, where he was exposed to different cultures and cuisines — took over the kitchen and would cook for his family.

“He had a philosophy that if he cooked, everyone in the family would come and bring their friends,” Batista said. “He wanted a thousand people around him.”

Batista learned from his grandfather, who later passed away from cancer, how to cook different dishes and his favorite food was empanadas.

Years later, Batista — who has Dominican, Puerto Rican and Panamanian backgrounds — married a Trinidadian woman and was introduced to an even broader spectrum of food.

Jonathan Batista and his family .

He began cooking and making empanadas as a hobby and for family functions but slowly received positive responses and began to be paid to make dishes. In February, he decided to take that favorite pastime and turn it into a business.

YourPanadas takes the idea of empanadas and recreates them based on different dishes and also based on what the customer wants. Customers are allowed to choose the shells of the empanadas and select from an array of stuffing ranging from a beef and chorizo combo, curry chicken and Korean barbecue all the way to red velvet cake and s’mores. The menu also features Batista’s own take on traditional dishes such as tostones (fried green plantain) and fried yuca, and includes a “refreshing” organic drink called peanut punch.

YourPanadas also feature a new and innovative take on fried ice cream — put inside an empanada drizzled with dulce de leche — which is only available in person at markets or events.

“It’s YourPanadas. It’s your food so you decide what goes in your mouth. You decide what goes into your food,” Batista said.

Batista added that all ingredients used to make the empanadas are fresh and of high quality, and each empanada is individually fork-pressed — which is why the logo of the company features a fork.

The logo also shows Batista’s love for Queens — being born and raised in Jackson Heights and moving to Queens Village five years ago — with the colors orange and blue representing the Knicks and Mets.

“The premise of the company is we make these empanadas for people,” he said. “I’m very open to changing things, adding things, because this company is really about the customer. I just listen to my audience.”

Currently, customers can order empanadas through the business’s website or catch YourPanadas at La Marqueta located on Park Avenue in Harlem on Sundays from noon to 6 p.m.

However, Batista is looking to continue to grow the business and recently turned to Kickstarter in the hope of raising $10,000 to purchase the company’s very first food truck. The plan is to grow the company as a food truck business and later open a brick-and-mortar location.

“The love that we are getting is amazing,” Batista said. “I’m confident that we will make the goal just because of all the support we are getting.”

Even with being a new business, YourPanadas was recently nominated in the category for best market vendor at the upcoming NYC Vendy Awards on Sept. 12. Batista said that once they have a food truck, they plan to return next year and compete in more categories.

“It’s different than what you’ve had. Even if we have very familiar food items, we try to be different so you know that that food came from us,” he said.

For more information visit www.yourpanadas.com, or follow YourPanadas on FacebookTwitter or Instagram. To place an order the best way to contact Batista is via email at yourpanadas@mail.com.

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Cops seek potential witness in Queens Village homicide


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

Police are looking for a man who could possibly help them solve the fatal shooting of a Queens Village resident who was found dead in his apartment Wednesday.

On Wednesday night, the NYPD released video footage of a man walking across the street from the homicide location at 211-77 Jamaica Ave., near 212th Street. Detectives would like to interview the unknown person to find out if he saw anything while walking down the street.

Authorities discovered Jermain Gladimer, 25, inside his basement apartment on Aug. 5 at about 1:15 a.m. According to police, he had gunshot wounds to his head and torso and was pronounced dead at the scene.

There have been no arrests.

Anyone who can identify the witness or has any other information about the incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS, visit their website or send a text message to 274637 (CRIMES), then enter TIP577. All calls and messages are kept confidential.


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Police investigating deadly shooting inside Queens Village apartment


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo via Google Maps

A 25-year-old man was shot to death at his Queens Village home early Wednesday morning, according to authorities.

Police found Jermain Gladimer inside his basement apartment on Jamaica Avenue near 212th Street at about 1:15 a.m., cops said. He had gunshot wounds to head and torso and was pronounced dead at the scene.

There have been no arrests and the investigation is ongoing.

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Queens Village street to be named after slain police officer


| amatua@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Queens Village street will be renamed to honor Det. Brian Moore, who was shot and killed this May while on plainclothes patrol.

Moore, who was an officer in the 105th Precinct, was in an unmarked police cruiser on the night of May 2 when he stopped Demetrius Blackwell for acting suspiciously. Blackwell allegedly motioned to his waist as if concealing a firearm. When Moore pulled up to Blackwell, he was shot in the head and face and later died from his injuries; he was posthumously promoted to first-grade detective.

City Councilman I. Daneek Miller sponsored legislation that the City Council passed unanimously last Thursday co-naming the intersection of 222nd Street and 92nd Road as Detective First Grade Brian Moore Way.

“There is consensus within the community that we want to honor those who serve and protect. Detective First Grade Brian Moore was a bright young man and a member of the elite Anti-Crime Unit; he received medals for Excellent Police Duty and Meritorious Police Duty,” Miller said. “Detective Moore’s untimely death shook both our city and our nation. To memorialize his dedication, service and life, we resolve to co-name Detective First Grade Brian Moore Way.”

Moore, 25, made 159 arrests during his time on the force. Thousands of officers from around the country and Canada attended Moore’s funeral on Long Island at St. James Roman Catholic Church in Seaford on May 8.

“It’s not many of us who can say we lived out a dream. But Brian could. He dreamed of being a cop,” Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said during the funeral. “He had an eye for the street…not even five years on, but he was already in anti-crime, already decorated…we need more like him.”

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Queens Village woman receives dream wedding with help from community


| amatua@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Minerva Santivanez

Minerva Santivanez met her fiance Edward Horan seven years ago and knew that day that the couple would be together a long time.

Her intuition was right, and on Sunday, August 2, the couple will get married at Russo’s on the Bay in Howard Beach with a little help from the community.

Though they were only engaged on May 23, Santivanez and Horan want to tie the knot before Santivanez starts chemotherapy treatment to fight her stage 4 cancer.

In November 2014, Santivanez, a Queens Village resident, saw bulges in her abdomen and went to Queens Hospital to have them examined. Doctors told her that they were tumors and that she would need surgery to have them removed.

During her recovery in the hospital, Santivanez experienced chest pain and difficulty breathing. Soon after, she became unresponsive and the staff went against hospital policy to give her a double blood transfusion that saved her life.

Though it has been a difficult journey, Santivanez said her fiance and family have been a great support system for her.

“I’m grateful that my fiance has been there the whole way through,” Santivanez said. “I told him, I don’t know how he deals with things, how he’s been so strong. My cousin Mary has been helping me out nonstop, her family as well.”

Once Santivanez and Horan got engaged, her cousin Mary Legaspi began using social media to raise funds for the wedding and hospital bills. Frank Russo, who owns Russo’s on the Bay, heard about the story through his son Frank Russo III and offered to provide Russo’s on the Bay for the service and reception.

“I’m trying not to cry right now because it’s been overwhelming,” Santivanez said. “Who does that nowadays? In this day and age nobody does anything unless you’re going to do something in return. They don’t know me like that and they just offered it.”

Once other people heard her story, the offers started pouring in. Thomas Knoell Designs donated wedding jewelry, Clay Bouquet Shop offered to donate a bouquet, Nidji Photography, Alice Escobar, Nick Kanellopoulos and his wife will be donating their photography services and DJ entertainment and several other organizations and people have offered to provide wedding services for free.

“Just listening to her story, sometimes you get caught up but every time you hear a story, if it can help … it’s a situation that we could participate in and that’s pure and that’s the most important piece, then I don’t mind helping,” Russo Sr. said.

Santivanez  said she cannot wait to meet these people so she can hug and thank them in person. She’s also excited to participate in a longstanding wedding tradition — the first dance.

“I’m excited for everything,” Santivanez said. “I’m hoping to beat chemo in the end and have it all be a bad memory. But the fact that everybody has been there for me, I want to be able to thank everybody. I just want to be able to hug them and thank them in person.”

Anyone who would like to donate to help Santivanez and her family cover medical expenses can visit her GoFundMe page.

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Retired NYPD captain to launch bid for open City Council seat as Republican


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Facebook/ Joseph Concannon

When he first campaigned for City Council two years ago, retired NYPD Capt. Joseph Concannon ran on the Reform Party line and was trounced at the polls on Election Day by the incumbent, Councilman Mark Weprin.

Now that Weprin is out of the City Council and in with the Cuomo administration, Concannon is going for the now-vacant 23rd Council District seat again, but this time as a Republican.

Concannon is scheduled to formally announce his campaign on Monday, alongside Queens GOP leaders and supporters in front of the 105th Precinct stationhouse in Queens Village.

“Over the past few weeks and months, my close friends and family have been encouraging me to take my zeal for public service and community activism to the next level,” Concannon said in a press release issued Thursday. “Many of my friends as well as the people I meet every day express their dismay with the current leadership in the City Council, our mayor and the direction this city is headed in as a whole.”

While five Democrats are seeking the party’s nomination in the September primary, the Republicans appear to be unifying early around Concannon. Sources with the Queens GOP indicated earlier this week that he is the only Republican seeking the seat.

More evidence of GOP unity was noted in Concannon’s press release, which listed Queens GOP Chairman Bob Turner, Councilman Eric Ulrich — the lone Queens Republican in the city legislature — and Queens Conservative Party Chairman Tom Long as guests scheduled to attend the campaign launch.

In August 2013, Concannon launched a challenge to then-Councilman Weprin after the City Council passed into law the Community Safety Act, two bills bringing greater oversight to the NYPD and aiming to end “bias-based profiling.” Concannon opposed the act, claiming the regulations would impede police officers in their service, and received the support of numerous unions representing members of the NYPD.

Even so, Weprin was re-elected in November with 84 percent of the vote in the district covering all or parts of Bayside Hills, Bellerose, Douglaston, Floral Park, Fresh Meadows, Glen Oaks, Hollis, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, Oakland Gardens and Queens Village.

Since then, Concannon has remained politically active in holding rallies calling for public support of the NYPD, most recently following the murders of Police Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu in Brooklyn last December, and P.O. Brian Moore in Queens Village in May.

“Not since the violence and division this city faced decades ago have people felt so disconnected from their government,” Concannon said in Thursday’s press release. “I am running to restore some respect and common sense to our local government, the kind of common sense that is embarrassingly lacking in the NYC Council.”

Concannon added that he plans “to spend the next few weeks and months earning the right to be their voice and champion.”

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Mark Weprin’s former City Council seat won’t be filled until November


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Jeff Xie

Mark Weprin officially left the City Council on Sunday, June 14 — apparently three days too late for a non-partisan special election to fill his seat.

Mayor Bill de Blasio proclaimed on Monday that the vacancy will be filled at the Nov. 3 general election, and that the political parties will nominate candidates for the election in the Sept. 10 primary.

According to a spokesperson for the city Board of Elections, a non-partisan special election cannot occur if the vacancy occurs between 60 and 90 days of the scheduled September primary. Had Weprin resigned before June 11, the mayor would have been obligated to call a non-partisan election.

Weprin had announced in May he would step down from the City Council to join the Cuomo administration as deputy secretary for legislative affairs. At the time, he said he would leave within two weeks, but ultimately delayed his departure.

Following the traditional election format now leads to a competitive Democratic primary among previously announced candidates including former Assemblyman Barry Grodenchik; Rebecca Lynch, former assistant commissioner with the New York City Community Affairs Unit; Celia Dosamantes, former aide to Assemblyman David Weprin and Rep. Grace Meng; attorney Ali Najmi; and former City Council candidate Bob Friedrich.

Whoever wins the Democratic nomination will face the Republican nominee in the general election. Sources close to the Queens County GOP identified retired NYPD Capt. Joe Concannon as a probable candidate.

Once the general election winner is certified, he or she will be sworn into office immediately and will fill out the remainder of Weprin’s term, which expires in 2017.

Regardless of the outcome, the 23rd Council District — which includes Bayside Hills, Bellerose, Douglaston, Floral Park, Fresh Meadows, Glen Oaks, Hollis, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, Oakland Gardens and Queens Village — will be without a voice in the City Council through November. Constituent services are continuing to function from the district office, and staff members are forwarding and following up on any complaints or service requests received.

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Driver dead in one-car crash outside Rosedale home


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo via Google Maps

A 39-year-old man is dead after a car crash in front of a residential home on the Queens/Nassau border in Rosedale Sunday morning, according to police.

Reportedly, the accident occurred at 4:55 a.m. in front of a home on Hook Creek Boulevard near Essex Place.

Officers from the 105th Precinct found the driver, Benjamin Louis of 110th Avenue in Queens Village, unconscious and unresponsive with severe trauma about the body. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.

Detectives with the NYPD Collision Investigation Squad determined that Louis, while behind the wheel of a 2001 Acura sedan traveling southbound on Elmont Road, lost control of the vehicle. The sedan then went onto a grass field, smashed through a fence and then collided with the front steps of the Hook Creek Boulevard residence.

The investigation is ongoing.

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Celia Dosamantes, former Meng and Weprin aide, officially seeking City Council seat


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Celia Dosamantes

A former aide to Assemblyman David Weprin will run for his brother’s vacant City Council seat.

Celia Dosamantes confirmed to The Courier that she will run in the upcoming special election for the 23rd District seat, which covers Bellerose, Glen Oaks, Queens Village, Oakland Gardens and other eastern Queens neighborhoods. Councilman Mark Weprin vacated the seat Friday to begin a new role with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.

Dosamantes, the youngest candidate for the seat thus far at 24 years old, grew up in Bellerose, and has lived in the district for most of her life. Because of this she believes she knows much of the problems the area faces.

“The reason why I’m running for this seat is because I grew up in this area. I love this community,” she said. “It gives me an opportunity to help grow and strengthen this community.”

Dosamantes is leaving her current role as deputy chief of staff for Assemblyman Philip Ramos. Before that she served as the executive assistant for Rep. Grace Meng and, prior to that, a communications and legislator director for David Weprin. She has also served as executive director of the Bangladeshi American Advocacy Group.

If elected, she intends to support senior services, transportation, job creation and increasing resources for schools. She hopes to be on the education committee as Dosamantes comes from a family with a background in education. Her mother, grandmother and aunt were all schoolteachers.

Dosamantes has already taken the lead on one key issue in the community, organizing a protest with residents against the recently announced juvenile jail in Queens Village.

She also wants to create a task force against domestic violence, and hopes to fight for another precinct in the area to share responsibilities with the 105th Precinct, which she believes is overburdened.

“An officer died in our area,” she said, referring to P.O. Brian Moore. “There is no reason why our district shouldn’t have the best policing services.”

In entering the race, Dosamantes faces a potentially crowded field that includes lawyer and activist Ali Najmi; former Assemblyman Barry Grodenchik; and Rebecca Lynch, a de Blasio administration staffer.

Dosamantes said she has a lot of support from people in the neighborhood and many volunteers. She also may have the support of the large Hindu population in the area. An example of Queens diversity, Dosamantes has an Indian mother and a Mexican father, as well as some other influences, and speaks four languages including English, Hindi, Bengali and Spanish.

Dosamantes recognizes that winning the seat will be an uphill battle as the youngest candidate, but she thinks she has a chance.

“I think it’s up for grabs,” Dosamantes said. “I am the underdog, but I also represent the people’s candidate because I come from the district.”

Mark Weprin has yet to endorse a candidate running for his seat. Reached by phone, he didn’t want to comment specifically about Dosamantes either.

“I will make an endorsement eventually,” Weprin said. “I have worked with her. But I’d rather not comment on any one candidate at this time.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio has yet to schedule a date for the special election, which by law must take place within 60 days.

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First-degree murder indictment for alleged Queens Village cop killer


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Updated 4:08 p.m.

A Queens Village man accused of fatally shooting a police officer last month pleaded not guilty Thursday afternoon to an indictment that includes first-degree murder charges, District Attorney Richard Brown announced.

Demetrius Blackwell, 35, of 212th Place allegedly shot P.O. Brian Moore as the officer and his partner, P.O. Erik Jansen, approached him in their unmarked police cruiser on the night of May 2. Moore was struck in the head and died two days later at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center.

Blackwell was arrested hours after the shooting and remains in custody. He appeared in Queens Criminal Court Thursday afternoon before Judge Joseph Zayas for arraignment on a 12-count indictment that includes charges of first-degree murder, aggravated murder and attempted murder; second-degree criminal possession of a weapon; and drug possession charges.

If convicted, Blackwell faces life in prison without the possibility of parole — the maximum sentence under New York State law. He remains held without bail and was ordered to return to court on Sept. 17.

“The defendant’s alleged actions are a direct attack on society and the law and reminds us of the dangers that our police officers face each day — and the ultimate sacrifice they may be called upon to make — as they carry out their sworn duty to protect and serve our communities,” Brown said in a statement Thursday.

Moore and Jansen, both assigned to the 105th Precinct, were riding in the unmarked car along 104th Road near 212th Street in Queens Village at 6:15 p.m. on May 2 when they allegedly observed Blackwell adjusting his waistband, law enforcement sources said.

The officers then pulled up alongside Blackwell to question him when he allegedly pulled a black firearm out of his waistband and opened fire on the officers, according to police. Moore sustained two gunshot wounds to his head; Jansen was uninjured.

Following the shooting, Blackwell — in an attempt to alter his appearance — stole a t-shirt and a pair of sneakers, prosecutors said. Police, however, caught up to him later that night at his home. The gun he allegedly used — a silver revolver reported stolen from Georgia in 2011 — was also recovered.

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Five-alarm inferno in Queens Village amid stormy weather


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@FDNY

Updated Monday, June 1, 11:24 a.m.

Firefighters battled a five-alarm inferno at a Queens Village commercial building Sunday night amid wild weather that caused street closures borough-wide due to flooding.

According to the FDNY, the blaze broke out at about 6:30 p.m. on the ground floor of the warehouse located in the area of 218th Street and 98th Avenue.

Hundreds of firefighters from across the city were battling the inferno, which was upgraded to a five-alarm fire at about 8:47 p.m. Sunday. No injuries were reported, and the blaze was brought under control about four hours later.

The 109th Precinct tweeted that the odor of heavy smoke from the fire wafted across northeast Queens. Residents in the Queens Village area were advised to keep their windows closed and limit outdoor activity until the smoke dissipated.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Meanwhile, as thunderstorms carrying torrential rains rolled through the city, the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) reported numerous road closures due to flooding.

As of 9:01 p.m. Sunday night, the OEM reported flooding forced the closure of the westbound Jackie Robinson Parkway at Union Turnpike in Glendale and the Long Island Expressway at Utopia Parkway in Fresh Meadows. Both roads have since reopened.

The 104th Precinct also reported that part of Cypress Avenue at Vermont Place in Glendale was closed after a sinkhole developed at a construction site.

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Queens Village rallies against plan to open juvenile jail in former school


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Nearly two dozen Queens Village residents and local leaders came together Wednesday to rally against the Administration for Children’s Services’ (ACS) plan to put a facility for juvenile offenders in a former school.

Through the Close to Home initiative, which was signed into law in 2012, ACS is seeking to convert the building at 207-01 Jamaica Ave. into a “limited secure placement facility” for about 18 youngsters from New York City who committed crimes before turning 16. The building once housed the Merrick Academy, a public charter school.

Normally, these offenders would be held in institutions upstate, but the law seeks to bring the children closer to family members and lawyers in the city, while giving them education and counselling services.

However, the protesters argued that the community has not received enough information about the plan and they fear with just limited security the delinquent offenders could escape and cause harm to the surrounding community, which has a school and single-family detached homes.

“By approving a correctional center in a residential neighborhood, it will increase the devaluation of our homes, crime and the stigmatization that has historically reduced the quality of life in southeast Queens,” said community activist Mohamed Hack. “While I support the mission of the ‘Close to Home’ initiative, I understand that there are more fitting locations for ACS to use to meet their goals.”

An ACS spokesman said a public hearing was held in Queens two years ago about the facility. Also, agency officials met with Community Board 13 on May 11.

To protect the community, security at the facility would include a secured driveway for vehicles transporting youngsters, locked doors and windows, and a control room with security cameras and television monitoring by employees 24 hours, seven days a week.

Nevertheless, protesters are still hoping to get ACS to reconsider putting the facility in the building, and once again using it as a school.

“When our schools are overcrowded and underfunded, instead of placing a juvenile detention center in a building that was intended to be a school, let us support projects that protect the safety and quality of life in our communities while at the same time foster economic growth and community development,” said Celia Dosamantes, who is mulling a run for Councilman Mark Weprin’s seat when he leaves office.

Another rally is set for Saturday at noon in front of the building.

Rally 2

The building at 207-01 Jamaica Ave.

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Residents oppose plan to create a Queens Village jail for juveniles


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Christopher Bride/PropertyShark

Residents and community leaders in Queens Village are strongly opposed to a plan to convert a former school into a facility for delinquent children who have committed crimes as part of the state’s “Close to Home” law.

The law, enacted in 2012 by the Cuomo administration, seeks to bring young offenders from facilities upstate closer to their families and lawyers in the city.

The city’s Administration of Children’s Services (ACS) has targeted the building at 207-01 Jamaica Ave., the former home of the Merrick Academy charter school, to be the facility for troubled city youngsters,  who have been arrested before they turned 16 years old and are considered “at-risk.” The city agency is hoping to house 18 youth offenders at the site in a “group home” setting, and The Children’s Village will operate the site under a contract with ACS.

However, Queens Village residents said they have not been adequately informed about the plan and don’t want teens with criminal backgrounds in their residential neighborhood, fearing they could escape and harm the community.

“I understand they want to bring them closer because now they are 200 to 300 miles away, but it doesn’t have to be a residential area,” said Mohamood Ishmael, president of the Queens Village Civic Association.

The facility will be a “limited secure” building to feel less like a jail, but will have a secured driveway for vehicles transporting youngsters, locked doors and windows, and a control room with security cameras and television monitoring by employees 24 hours, seven days a week.

An ACS representative said a public hearing was held in Queens two years ago about the facility. Also, agency officials met with Community Board 13 on May 11.

Besides bringing delinquents closer to their support circles, the program will also provide education and counseling services.

“While plans for this proposed facility are still being formulated, ACS’ goal for this, as well as all other limited secure placement facilities, is to provide a safe, stable and close-knit residential environment for young people to receive residential rehabilitation services while in our care, while also ensuring the safety of residents and the surrounding community,” according to prepared remarks by an ACS spokesman.

The Queens Village facility wouldn’t be the only one Queens residents are against. In South Ozone Park, residents are fighting against a facility from opening there, and filed a class action lawsuit against the operator of the planned juvenile jail and the building owner, according to reports.

Residents and leaders said the Queens Village building should be used as a school again since it once housed the Merrick Academy.

“All the schools in this area are overcrowded,” said Celia Dosamantes, a concerned resident and budding politician who has interest in running for Councilman Mark Weprin’s seat when he leaves office this year. “It was a school. Why can’t they use it as a school again?”

Residents will protest at the site Wednesday to stop ACS from further considering it.

 

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Queens Village mailman busted for dumping letters in trash


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Property Shark/Christopher Bride

A postal carrier based in Queens Village dumped more than 2,000 pieces of mail in the garbage while on the job, federal agents charged in a criminal complaint filed last week.

Prosecutors said Norberto Cintron, 30, allegedly trashed hundreds of items over a five-month period dating back to January of this year. He is assigned to the Queens Village post office located at 209-20 Jamaica Ave.

Cintron admitted to postal investigators that he dumped mail once or twice a week during the period, according to the criminal complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of New York.

The U.S. Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General was tipped off to problems regarding Cintron on April 28, when the acting manager of the Queens Village post office reported finding undelivered mail stored inside collection boxes on Hillside Avenue.

Later, an anonymous tipster reported to investigators observing a certain USPS vehicle — which they determined Cintron operated — was not delivering all of the mail.

Postal agents recovered undelivered mail from Cintron on May 1, which he allegedly claimed to have dumped two days earlier, according to the criminal complaint.

Cintron was charged on May 15 with delay or destruction of mail and was released following arraignment on $10,000 bail.

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