Tag Archives: Rego Park

Op-ed: Proposals for QueensWay project


| oped@queenscourier.com

ASSEMBLYMEMBER MIKE MILLER

I want to take a moment to address the QueensWay project, a proposed public greenway that will transform the Long Island Rail Road Rockaway Beach Branch, which was abandoned over 50 years ago. Specifically, the former railroad extends 3.5 miles from Rego Park and Forest Hills down to Ozone Park. This proposed project is one of great concern to many residents in certain areas of the rail line due to its potential negative impact on the local residents.

Certain sections of the proposed QueensWay, specifically the area of the rail line that runs parallel to 98th Street in Woodhaven, will be adjacent to the backyards of nearly 200 homeowners. Although I have been informed by the Friends of QueensWay that they plan to build the QueensWay completely gated around the entrances and make it inaccessible at night, local residents should not be the ones burdened with the cost of building a more secure fence around their backyards to ensure the privacy and safety of their home.

To find additional evidence of the resident’s safety concern, you do not have to look any further than several incidents that have occurred in and around the vicinity of Forest Park in recent years. I echo the sentiments of residents by asking how can we expect the local precincts to carry the additional responsibility of patrolling and responding to incidents on the proposed QueensWay when our precincts are already being spread too thin within our district as it is? Many of the residents on 98th Street are okay with the rail line being underutilized and prefer it stay that way. I also agree that the rail line from Park Lane South down to Atlantic Avenue be left untouched as to not interfere with the quality of life of the local residents.

Further, as per the suggestion of the MTA in its 20-year plan, the rail line from Atlantic Avenue to Rockaway Boulevard should be left as is and eventually be used as a connection for an express line connection into Manhattan.

After carefully balancing the potential positive impact of the QueensWay versus the potential negative impact on certain local residents, I recommend that:

1) The QueensWay be built only on the part of the rail line that stretches from Rego Park to Park Lane South

2) The rail line from Park Lane South to Atlantic Avenue be left untouched as to not interfere with the quality of life of local residents; and

3) The rail line from Atlantic Avenue to Rockaway Boulevard also be left untouched, so it can eventually be used by the MTA as an express line connection into Manhattan

In regards to maintenance of the QueensWay, it must be said that this proposed project should not at all be compared to The High Line public greenway in Manhattan. I remain unconvinced that The QueensWay when built from Rego Park to Park Lane South could achieve anywhere close to the level of corporate membership, sponsorship, and support the High Line in Manhattan has based solely on the lack of surrounding businesses in the area and the lower level of tourism that attracts the private funding necessary to maintain a public greenway. Without a consistent level of support and sponsorship from local businesses in addition to private funding, I fear that the QueensWay will eventually become an eyesore for local residents when funding for maintenance becomes an issue.

Additionally, I am interested to know whether Queens-based companies and local businesses will be the ones who are given the contracts to build out this proposed project. I believe that if the QueensWay is going to be built for the benefit of Queens residents and if it will positively impact Queens’ local businesses, then why are there currently no Queens-based companies being sought for the contracts even in the early stages of this project? I can only see a positive impact on the economy of Queens if our own borough’s businesses benefit from building the QueensWay.

Michael G. Miller represents the 38th Assembly District, which includes the neighborhoods of Woodhaven, Ridgewood, Richmond Hill, Ozone Park and Glendale. He was elected in September of 2009 in the Special Election called by Governor David Paterson.

 

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Board derails QueensWay funding


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Woodhaven Residents Block Association

Community Board 9 has taken QueensWay funding out of its budget.

At its November meeting, the board voted 30-13 and concluded that its capital budget should not prioritize the proposal, which would convert a 3.5-mile former Rockaway Beach LIRR line into a public greenway.

Late last year, Governor Andrew Cuomo awarded $467,000 to study the project’s potential, and an additional $600,000 was raised through private donations.

The nonprofit Trust for Public Land has put together a team that will conduct the study.

“If the feasibility of a project can’t be figured out when it already has nearly a half million dollars to figure it out, then there’s a problem,” said Alexander Blenkinsopp, CB 9 and Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) member.

The QueensWay, if built, would connect Rego Park, Forest Hills, Richmond Hill and Ozone Park to Forest Park, provide pedestrian and bike paths, as well as public green space and serve as an art and culture forum.

Marc Matsil, the New York State Director for Trust for Public Land, said CB 9 was right to have taken the QueensWay out of its priorities because “the funds were raised.”

The proposal, however, has met a varying amount of both opposition and support.

Many area residents believe instead of a new park, the rail line should be reactivated to provide more public transportation. Others say the safety of current parks, such as nearby Forest Park, should be assured before a new greenspace is created.

The WRBA decided not to support either the QueensWay or a train reactivation because there were “some important questions that couldn’t be answered adequately,” Blenkinsopp said, mentioning safety.

CB 9 has not yet replaced QueensWay with any other item on its budget priorities.

“We know there will be critics,” Matsil said. “Our goal is to work with everyone.”

Matsil said, however, there is an “immense amount of enthusiasm in the community” for the potential new park and that though the safety concerns are “fairly clear,” he is confident residents feel there is a “need for a project like QueensWay.”

 

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Autism expert says there’s still hope Avonte Oquendo will be found


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Close to six weeks have passed and although Avonte Oquendo’s whereabouts are still unknown, the search continues as hope in finding the autistic teen remains strong.

Avonte, 14, was last seen at the Center Boulevard School at 1-50 51st Avenue in Long Island City around 12:38 p.m. on Friday, October 4. There have been conflicting reports on how the Rego Park teen, who cannot verbally communicate and is supposed to be supervised at all times, managed to leave the school.

The NYPD and volunteers have been searching daily for the boy, whose family says loves trains. Police have searched for him by helicopter, with divers, and in patrol cars and search vans with loudspeakers echoing Avonte’s mother’s calls.

The command center for volunteers and family searching for the boy is now operating out of an RV located on the side of The Riverview School on Borden Avenue and Center Boulevard.

According to Andrew Baumann, president and CEO of New York Families for Autistic Children (NYFAC), this is not an isolated case. Children with autism are prone to running and throughout the country there have been many cases of children disappearing, he said.

“I don’t believe that anyone should give up hope on finding Avonte alive and in good condition,” Baumann said. “I don’t believe in giving up, these kids are really resilient.”

Baumann also said the teen’s family had no control over what happened because they trusted the school to take responsibility. He believes school security agents should hold back any child attempting to leave and report the incident to the principal.

“I don’t care how old the child is, no child should ever be allowed to walk out of the school during the school day,” Baumann said.

Last week Senator Charles Schumer called for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to both create and fund a program which would provide voluntary tracking devices for children with autism or other developmental disorders.

According to Baumann, these devices would and do work great, but there should be ways to make sure they are 100 percent effective and cannot be removed if the child were to take off their clothes.

“Now we need people to take action, if they see him they should stay with him until the police come,” said Baumann. “The reward is nothing. It shouldn’t be about the money and the reward, it should be about doing the right thing.”

If anyone sees Avonte, they should follow him and keep him within eye contact and call 9-1-1, said Baumann.

Since Avonte went missing, the reward to find him has increased to $95,000.

Avonte was last seen wearing a gray striped shirt, black jeans and black sneakers. He is 5’3” tall and weighs 125 pounds.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

 

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Plane carrying banner to help find Avonte Oquendo flies over Queens, Manhattan


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

A plane with a banner reading “Bring Avonte Oquendo Home 1-800-577-TIPS”  flew over Queens and Manhattan Sunday in an effort to help find the autistic teen who has been missing since early October.

A volunteer pilot flew the banner over the two boroughs for an hour yesterday afternoon, according to the Bring Avonte Home Facebook page.

Avonte, 14, was last seen at the Center Boulevard School at 1-50 51st Avenue in Long Island City around 12:38 p.m. on Friday, October 4. There have been conflicting reports on how the Rego Park teen, who cannot verbally communicate and is supposed to be supervised at all times, managed to leave the school, according to the family’s attorney, David Perecman.

A $95,000 reward has been offered for information leading to his safe return.

Avonte was last seen wearing a gray striped shirt, black jeans and black sneakers. He is 5’3” tall and weighs 125 pounds.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

-With additional reporting by Angy Altamirano

 

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Boy in subway photo not missing teen Avonte Oquendo


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

After a photo showing a boy on the subway that resembled Avonte Oquendo emerged online Tuesday, police have confirmed it was not the autistic teen who has been missing for close to four weeks, according to reports.

A teenage boy posted on his Facebook a photo of who he believed resembled Avonte riding a F train Tuesday afternoon, according to reports. The image showed the side view of a boy sitting down wearing a tan jacket, green pants, and staring straight ahead. The teen reportedly said he asked the boy if he was Avonte and received no answer.

Police reportedly located the pictured boy and said it was not the missing autistic teen.

Avonte, 14, was last seen at the Center Boulevard School at 1-50 51st Avenue in Long Island City around 12:38 p.m. on Friday, October 4. There have been conflicting reports on how the Rego Park teen, who cannot verbally communicate and is supposed to be supervised at all times, managed to leave the school, said the family’s attorney, David Perecman.

Since Avonte went missing, the reward has increased to $95,000. The reward money includes the support of Health First, the employer of the missing teen’s mother, Suzanne and Bob Wright, co-founders of Autism Speaks, David Perecman of the Perecman Firm, Mayerson & Associates, a New York Law Firm which represents individuals with autism, Manhattan Children’s Center, a nonprofit private autism school an anonymous donor, an anonymous donor and other supporters. ­­

Avonte was last seen wearing a gray striped shirt, black jeans and black sneakers. He is 5’3” tall and weighs 125 pounds.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call Crime stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).  The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

 

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Op-Ed: Where are we one year later?


| oped@queenscourier.com

BY STATE SENATOR JOSEPH ADDABBO JR.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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NYPD may scale back search for missing autistic teen


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

As Avonte Oquendo, the autistic teen last seen leaving his Long Island City school nearly three weeks ago, still remains missing, police may need to scale back their search.

Avonte, 14, was last seen at the Center Boulevard School at 1-50 51st Avenue in Long Island City around 12:38 p.m. on Friday, October 4. There have been conflicting reports on how the Rego Park teen, who cannot verbally communicate and is supposed to be supervised at all times, managed to leave the school, said the family’s attorney, David Perecman.

According to Avonte’s grandmother, the security guard appointed to the front of the school said she had seen Avonte running towards the door, asked him where he was going and after he did not respond, she just allowed him to leave because she did not know he was a special needs student. Yet, according to Perecman, no student at the school is allowed to leave the property until dismissal.

Avonte’s mother, Vanessa Fontaine, previously told The Courier the school “failed her” when they took close to an hour to inform her that her son had gone missing.

However, according to reports, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the school safety officer did nothing wrong.

On Monday, Kelly also reportedly said the NYPD may have to scale back its search for the teen.

The NYPD has had more than 100 officers searching the streets daily for the boy, who family says loves trains, and looking for him by helicopter and with divers. The police have also been driving around in patrol cars and search vans with loudspeakers playing Avonte’s mother’s voice.

Avonte’s family has also sought help from the Texas Equusearch Mounted Search and Recovery Team, a group of volunteers that have assisted in finding numerous missing people throughout the country.

The team traveled to the site on October 18 to “evaluate the situation” to determine if they have the resources to help search for Avonte.

The family has filed a notice of claim to sue the City of New York for $25 million, citing claims of negligence against both the Department of Education and the Special Security Division which provide the security agents for the school.

An initial $5,000 reward for Avonte’s return was offered by Mayerson & Associates, a New York Law Firm which represents individuals with autism. Manhattan Children’s Center, a nonprofit private autism school, announced it was matching the law firm’s offer with an additional $5,000 from the Gelb Family Foundation.

Since then, the reward has increased to $89,500 with the support of Health First, the employer of the missing teen’s mother, Suzanne and Bob Wright, co-founders of Autism Speaks, David Perecman of the Perecman Firm, and an anonymous donor.

Reverend Al Sharpton held a community outreach rally on Saturday, October 19 at the National Action Network headquarters in Manhattan where members of the organization pledged to canvas the city in search of Avonte.

Oquendo was last wearing a gray striped shirt, black jeans and black sneakers. He is 5’3” tall and weighs 125 pounds.

The NYPD has released a new photo of Avonte together with an image of the shirt he was wearing the day he went missing.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call Crime stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).  The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

 

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Reward for missing autistic teen increased to $75K as search continues two weeks later


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy NYPD

After two weeks since Avonte Oquendo was last seen leaving his Long Island City School, the search continues for the lovable autistic teen.

Avonte, 14, was last seen leaving the Center Boulevard School at 1-50 51st Avenue in Long Island City around 12:38 p.m. on Friday, October 4. There have been mixed reports on how the Rego Park teen, who cannot verbally communicate and is supposed to be supervised at all times, managed to leave the school, said the family’s attorney, David Perecman.

According to Avonte’s grandmother, the security guard appointed to the front of the school said she had seen Avonte running towards the door, asked him where he was going and after he did not respond, she just allowed him to leave because she did not know he was a special needs student.  Yet, according to Perecman, no student at the school is allowed to leave the property until dismissal.

Avonte’s mother, Vanessa Fontaine, previously told The Courier the school “failed her” when they took close to an hour to inform her that Avonte had gone missing.

However, according to reports, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the school safety officer did nothing wrong and investigations show she did what she had to do.

The NYPD has officers searching the streets daily for the boy, who family says loves trains, and looking for him by helicopter and with divers. Recently, the police has been driving around in patrol cars and search vans with loudspeakers echoing Avonte’s mother’s calls.

Avonte’s family also sought the help from the Texas Equusearch Mounted Search and Recovery Team, a group of volunteers that have helped find numerous missing people throughout the country.

The team said it would be traveling to the site on Friday, October 18 and would “evaluate the situation” to determine if they have resources to help search for Avonte.

The family has filed a notice of claim to sue the City of New York for $25 million, taking claims of negligence against both the Department of Education and the Special Security Division which provide the security agents for the school.

An initial $5,000 reward for Avonte’s return was offered by Mayerson & Associates, a New York Law Firm which represents individuals with autism. Manhattan Children’s Center, a nonprofit private autism school, announced it was matching the law firm’s offer with an additional $5,000 from the Gelb Family Foundation.

Since then, the reward has increased to $75,000 through the support of Health First, the employer of the missing teen’s mother, Suzanne and Bob Wright, co-founders of Autism Speaks, David Perecman of the Perecman Firm, and an anonymous donor, according to Autism Speaks.

Reverend Al Sharpton will hold a community outreach rally on Saturday, October 19 at 9:30 a.m. at the National Action Network headquarters located at 106 West 145th Street in Manhattan.

Avonte was last seen wearing a gray striped shirt, black jeans and black sneakers. He is 5’3” tall and weighs 125 pounds.

The NYPD has released a new photo of Avonte together with an image of the shirt he was wearing the day he went missing.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

 

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Mother of missing autistic teen: Son’s school ‘failed me’


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

ANGY ALTAMIRANO AND CRISTABELLE TUMOLA

The search continues for Avonte Oquendo, who family members say is a shy yet happy, lovable, care-free and loving boy.

Avonte, 14, who is autistic, was last seen leaving the Center Boulevard School at 1-50 51st Avenue in Long Island City around 12:38 p.m. on Friday, October 4.

There have been mixed reports on how the Rego Park teen, who cannot verbally communicate and is supposed to be supervised at all times, managed to leave the school, said the family’s attorney, David Perecman. Some say the boy ran away while there was an altercation between other students in the lunchroom, while others say the teacher and aide lost sight of him while moving from the lunchroom to the classroom.

According to Avonte’s grandmother, the security guard appointed to the front of the school said she had seen Avonte running towards the door, asked him where he was going and after he did not respond, she just allowed him to leave because she did not know he was a special needs student. Yet, according to Perecman, no student at the school is allowed to leave the property until dismissal.

Perecman said it took the school close to an hour to inform the boy’s mother that he had been missing.

“They failed me, they really did. [They’re] supposed to be a second parent, when you put you kid in school for the day and until they get home. They failed me as a school,” said Vanessa Fontaine, Avonte’s mother. “Now the school system is not trusted. They shouldn’t have waited an hour to notify me that my son was not there.”

The Department of Education decline to comment, saying it is a police matter.
Avonte’s family held a vigil on Friday, October 11 in front of the school, right next to two tents that have worked as “ground zero” for the family to gather volunteers, hand out flyers and serve as an information center.

Daniel Oquendo, the boy’s father who has been at the site with his older son, Daniel, said people have come from all over the city and outside of New York to lend a helping hand.
“It kind of gives you hope for mankind,” he said. “We appreciate everything everyone is doing, we see the love and we appreciate it.”

The NYPD has officers searching the streets daily for the boy, who family says loves trains, and looking for him by helicopter and with divers.

The family has filed a notice of claim to sue the City of New York for $25 million, taking claims of negligence against both the Department of Education and the Special Security Division which provide the security agents for the school.

“Time is of the essence and they did not make use of the time appropriately,” said Perecman.

“There are lots of questions and no answers and no Avonte.”

An initial $5,000 reward for Avonte’s return was offered by Mayerson & Associates, a New York Law Firm which represents individuals with autism. Manhattan Children’s Center, a nonprofit private autism school, announced it was matching the law firm’s offer with an additional $5,000 from the Gelb Family Foundation.

Since then, the reward has increased to $70,000 through the support of Health First, the employer of the missing teen’s mother, Suzanne and Bob Wright, co-founders of Autism Speaks, David Perecman of the Perecman Firm, and an anonymous donor, according to Autism Speaks.

Oquendo was last wearing a gray striped shirt, black jeans and black sneakers. He is 5’3” tall and weighs 125 pounds.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

Photo courtesy of NYPD

 

 

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Reward for safe return of missing Queens teen increased to $70K


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

Updated Saturday, October 11, 8:01 a.m.

The family of a missing autistic Queens teen held a vigil for him Friday as the reward for his safe return was increased to $70,000.

An initial $5,000 reward was offered by Mayerson & Associates, a New York Law Firm which represents individuals with autism. Manhattan Children’s Center, a nonprofit private autism school, announced Thursday it was matching the law firm’s offer with an additional $5,000 from the Gelb Family Foundation.

The reward was increased to $70,000 through the support of Health First, the employer of the missing teen’s mother, Suzanne and Bob Wright, co-founders of Autism Speaks, David Perecman of the Perecman Firm, which is representing the boy’s family, and an anonymous donor, according to Autism Speaks.

Avonte Oquendo, 14, was last seen leaving the Center Boulevard School at 1-50 51st Avenue in Long Island City around 12:38 p.m. on Friday, October 4.

The Rego Park teen, who cannot verbally communicate, somehow managed to escape the school, though he is reportedly supposed to be supervised at all times.

The family, according to published reports, has filed a notice of claim to sue city, and has said that a security guard at the school saw their son leave but didn’t stop him and waited a long time to let the child’s mother know that he was missing.

Oquendo was last wearing a gray striped shirt, black jeans and black sneakers. Oquendo is 5’3″ tall and weighs 125 pounds.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

A vigil for the missing teen was held at 5 p.m. Friday across from his school.

Video via YouTube/Autism Speaks

 

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$10,000 reward offered for safe return of missing Queens teen; family plans to sue city


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

Updated 4:20 p.m.

As the search continues for a missing autistic Queens teen, a $10,000 reward has been offered for his safe return.

The New York law firm Mayerson & Associates, which, according to a press release from Autism Speaks, dedicates itself “almost exclusively to the representation of individuals with autism” is putting $5,000.

On Thursday afternoon, the Manhattan Children’s Center, a nonprofit private autism school,  announced it has matched the law firm’s offer with an additional $5,000, for a total of $10,000. The additional reward money is coming from the Gelb Family Foundation.

Avonte Oquendo, 14, of Rego Park, was last seen leaving the Center Boulevard School at 1-50 51st Avenue in Long Island City around 12:38 p.m. on Friday, October 4.

The teen, who cannot verbally communicate, somehow managed to escape the school, though he is reportedly supposed to be supervised at all times.

His family is saying a security guard at the school saw their son leave but didn’t stop him and waited a long time to let the child’s mother know that he was missing, according to published reports. The family has filed a notice of claim to sue the school district and city.

Oquendo was last wearing a gray striped shirt, black jeans and black sneakers. Oquendo is 5’3″ tall and weighs 125 pounds.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

 

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Police searching for missing autistic teen last seen leaving LIC school


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo and video courtesy of NYPD

Updated Monday, October 7, 12:40 p.m.

Cops are looking for a missing Rego Park teen who is autistic and cannot verbally communicate.

Avonte Oquendo, 14, was last seen leaving the Center Boulevard School at 1-50 51st Avenue in Long Island City around 12:38 p.m.

The teen is reportedly supposed to be supervised at all times, but somehow managed to escape the school.

He was wearing a gray striped shirt, black jeans and black sneakers. Oquendo is 5’3″ tall and weighs 125 pounds.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

 

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Rego Park shopping center may soon have housing


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

A developer has filed plans to build a new residential tower on top of a shopping center in Rego Park, city officials said.

The city’s Department of Buildings (DOB) approved a work permit on June 24 to allow Vornado Realty Trust to construct 314 housing units above the Rego Park Center at 61-35 Junction Boulevard, according to the department and published reports.

According to The Real Deal, the 24-story building would likely be a rental complex.

The shopping center, located near the Long Island Expressway, is home to many stores, including Costco, Marshalls, Bed, Bath & Beyond and Century 21. It opened in 2010.

Vornado declined to comment as of press time.

 

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Suspect wanted for Rego Park rape


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

The NYPD is asking for the public’s assistance in identifying a suspect wanted for rape in Rego Park.

On Friday, a 52-year-old woman was exiting the R train on 63rd Drive and Queens Boulevard around 10 p.m. when the suspect began to probe the woman for her name and phone number, said cops.

After she refused to answer, the suspect followed her into a nearby Rite Aid where police said he started to harass her.

The suspect then left and waited for the woman outside of the store. Once she exited the Rite Aid, he followed her to her home on Saunders Street where he allegedly grabbed her, threw her down a flight of stairs and raped her. The suspect then stole her cell phone and purse, said police.

The victim was transported to an area hospital.

The suspect told the victim his name is Junior, and he is described as black, in his 20s, around five feet seven inches tall and has a mustache.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

 

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Star of Queens: Barbara Stuchinski, president, Forest Hills Community & Civic Association


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Stuchinski, Barbara photo

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Barbara Stuchinski is deeply involved with her community. Not only is she president of the Forest Hills Community & Civic Association, Stuchinski is also involved with the Remson Park Coalition, Community Board (CB) 6, which oversees Forest Hills and Rego Park, and the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) of CB 6. Stuchinski’s responsibilities varey: maintaining quality of life, traffic mitigation, maintenance and landscaping of parks, providing awareness for emergency preparedness and much more.

BACKGROUND:  Stuchinski was born and raised in Forest Hills and resides there today. She considers herself a “100 percent Queens resident.” Though she is now retired, Stuchinski once worked in education as well as doing office work, but has always been involved in volunteer work.

FAVORITE MEMORY: “My favorite memory is when I convinced Parks Commissioner Henry Stern to name a playground in Forest Park after Joe DeVoy, who was president of the Forest Hills Civic Association before me,” recalls Stuchinski. “It was a tremendous accomplishment, and a touching way to remember someone.”

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “My biggest challenge was definitely securing a space for the schools on Woodhaven Boulevard and Metropolitan Avenue,” said Stuchinski. “It was a huge fight that took 17 years.”

INSPIRATION: “My inspiration has been watching people who do things for other people, I’m just aware of it,” said Stuchinski. “My parents taught me, if you see someone who is less fortunate than you, you should reach out.” While Stuchinski realizes it isn’t always easy devoting so much time to others, she truly believes in being altruistic. “If you’re just here to take care of yourself, there’s no point in being on Earth.”

MELISSA FERRARI

 

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