Tag Archives: Rego Park

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


| 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


| 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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Congregation fears Rego Park synagogue will be demolished


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A growing congregation in Rego Park fears their beloved synagogue will be demolished in the near future despite assurances from the site’s new owner that it will remain.

Supporters of the Ohr Natan synagogue, built in the former Trylon movie theater, have collected more than 1,300 petition signatures so far in their efforts to keep their congregation on site.

They say new property owners, Trylon LLC, have plans to demolish the house of worship and temporarily move the congregation in about four years when their contract expires.

“My life has changed because of this synagogue,” said Ester Davidov, a congregation member. “We don’t want this to be destroyed. It means everything now.”

Rabbi Nahum Kaziev, who heads Ohr Natan, said the synagogue sees about 1,000 people weekly and almost 50,000 annually.

“It is a first home to some people, a second home to others,” he said. “We have survivors from World War II and the Holocaust.”

Ohr Natan took over the property’s lease in 2002 and poured $2.1 million into renovations, Kaziev said.

The synagogue distributes food to 480 needy families a week, he added. It also offers kids’ programs, free language classes and “around the clock” support.

“This home might be destroyed. It is unthinkable,” Kaziev said. “It is a holy place. Small houses of worship mean more to people.”

But site owner Simon Alishaev, who is also the president of the Bukharian Jewish Community Center in Rego Park, said a demolition is not in the plans.

Any changes made to the building would not happen for at least five years, he added.

“We’re not developing anything for now. We’re not closing or breaking down the synagogue,” Alishaev said. “We’re not throwing anybody in the street.”

It would remain a synagogue, he said, but under new leadership and with more programs and services.

Still some congregation members said they wanted their synagogue untouched.

“It’s hurtful,” said Miriam Ilyaev. “We’re all praying it gets resolved.”

 

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Queens has most immigrant seniors in city: report


| mchan@queenscourier.com


Queens has the largest number of immigrant seniors in the city, with Flushing leading the list of neighborhoods, according to a new report.

The borough is home to about 162,000 foreign-born people over the age of 65, says a study by the Center for an Urban Future. The report shows more than 25,000 live in Flushing.

“Immigrants are critical to Queens,” said Jonathan Bowles, executive director of the New York-based think tank.

“They’ve driven a lot of the economic growth in the borough,” he said. “They make up almost half of the population in Queens. It’s important that they can grow old in the city.”

Droves of immigrants, mostly from Asia, first made their way to Flushing in the 1970s, Bowles said.

Since then, many more have moved from Manhattan’s Chinatown to the northern Queens neighborhood for a more affordable way of life that is surrounded by immigrant services. In the last decade, more than 8,000 immigrant seniors have settled in Flushing, according to the report.

“They want to live in Flushing because it’s more convenient for them in terms of language barriers,” said Kathy Liu, program director for the Flushing YMCA’s New Americans Welcome Center. “It’s one of the neighborhoods which allow immigrants to go to different agencies to help them in their language.”

The center is a one-stop shop for non-English speakers and one of many locations where immigrants can receive for free literacy, citizen preparation, job readiness and computer classes year-round. The facility sees natives from China, Korea and even France, Liu said.

The Flushing branch of the Queens Library, which offers similar services, is the most heavily used branch in the state, said Queens Library spokesperson Joanne King.

Still, the report shows immigrant seniors face a number of challenges, including a higher poverty rate. They are also less likely to receive government benefits.

“Many don’t qualify for retirement or housing benefits,” Liu said. “With rent so high in this area, they find it very difficult to live with the savings they brought from their own country.”

According to the report, Flushing has the highest concentration of poor seniors. More than half of all Korean seniors in the city who are below the federal poverty line live in Flushing, the study found.

The Rockaways had the second largest group of poor immigrant seniors, 3,154 people.

“Immigrant adults have all of those traditional challenges, but then they have additional ones because of language barriers or a lack of familiarity with programs and services that are available,” Bowles said. “I don’t see this as a problem necessarily, but as a challenge that New York City policy makers have to plan for.”

Some other highlights:

  • Bellerose, Rosedale, Forest Hills and Rego Park, trailing slightly behind Flushing, also made the list.
  • Howard Beach and South Ozone Park had the largest change in their immigrant senior population. They saw a 112 percent jump, which amounts to nearly 5,000 seniors.
  •  Over the last decade, the number of immigrant seniors in Queens increased by 42,000, while the number of native-born seniors dropped by nearly 41,000.



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Cyclists take part in sixth annual Tour de Queens


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

After completing the Five Boro Bike Tour last year, Astoria resident Jennifer Chakrabarti wanted to do a bike ride with her nine-year-old son Bhaskar.

The family-friendly sixth annual Tour de Queens on July 7 fit the bill. This year, it began in Chakrabarti’s “backyard” at Astoria Park.

“I like that it’s a slow-paced so that kids can do it,” Chakrabarti said. “That’s what really drew us to it, because he wanted to do a ride.”

About 1,250 riders from all over the city saddled up for the annual bike tour to experience a relaxing ride and enjoy unique views of western Queens neighborhoods, which was a major lane change for the event.

For the first time ever, the ride started in Astoria Park instead of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. It continued for nearly 20 miles through Long Island City, Ridgewood, Maspeth, Middle Village, Rego Park, Forest Hills, Corona and Elmhurst.

The ride also highlighted Juniper Valley Park at the halfway point, where the group gathered to rest, eat and reenergize.

“We change the ride up every year to showcase different parts of the borough, to demonstrate the interconnectivity of the different neighborhoods and to show how easy it is to bike through the borough and to show people the sites,” said event director Ben McRoberts of Transportation Alternatives.

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, whose district was included in the tour, hoped the ride could help future business.

“Not only is it healthy for all of us, but it is a great opportunity for people to see sites and small businesses that they never get to see,” said Van Bramer, who participated for the first time this year.

SEE MORE PHOTOS FROM TOUR DE QUEENS 

About 100 volunteer ride marshals in orange jackets followed riders to keep them on track and assist in case there were any issues. Paramedics also followed closely behind the bikers in case of medical problems.

The NYPD escorted the ride to manage the crowd and traffic and provide a safe atmosphere. Many participants felt secure with the cops guiding the tour, especially after the tragic events of the Boston Marathon earlier this year.

“With this number of people, I guess there is a little bit of safety concern,” said Astoria cyclist Jonathan Co. “But I feel pretty safe for the most part.”

 

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Forest Hills, Rego Park get more bike racks


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Rosa Kim

Forest Hills and Rego Park cyclists are getting nearly 40 more places to lock up and park.

The city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) has installed most of its proposed 39 bike racks within Community Board 6, a spokesperson said, with remaining sites to be scheduled over the next few weeks.

“Without a doubt, we need these bike racks,” said cyclist Sterling Dadone. “We don’t have places to lock up, so we lock up to whatever we can — fences and gates.”

Specific locations of the racks were not disclosed as of press time. But CB 6 District Manager Frank Gulluscio said they will be scattered throughout the district in high volume areas.

Bikers can already find the racks up and down Yellowstone Boulevard and along Woodhaven Boulevard, Queens Boulevard, Austin Street and Selfridge Street near commercial, civic or recreational hotspots. Sidewalks have to be at least 11 feet wide to support a rack.

“More and more people are asking us about bike racks and paths in the district,” Gulluscio said. “It’s a good thing. You just see more and more people on bikes.”

He added that the district’s close proximity to Manhattan and its lack of parking makes it an ideal hub for bikers. According to the district manager, there are currently less than ten bike racks in Forest Hills and Rego Park.

“Why not leave your car and take your bike if you can lock it up near a store?” he said. “We look forward to the city going green. That’s what it’s all about at the end of the day.”

Resident Victor Ortega said the racks will make life easier for him and his fellow cyclists.

“I wouldn’t have to park my bike somewhere and worry about it,” he said.

Additional reporting by Rosa Kim

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Wednesday: Overcast with a chance of rain, then a chance of a thunderstorm and a chance of rain in the afternoon. Fog early. High of 84. Winds from the SSW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 30%. Wednesday night: Mostly cloudy with a chance of a thunderstorm and a chance of rain. Low of 73. Winds from the SSW at 5 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 20%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Outdoor Cinema Presents Our Nixon

Outdoor Cinema is an annual international film festival now in its 15th year. Outdoor Cinema 2013 will show eight films from around the world, all in their original language with English subtitles. Prior to the film there will be music, dance and food to enjoy. Our Nixon (U.S.A.): A documentary about Nixon’s presidency using never-before-seen footage shot by three of Nixon’s top aides with their home video cameras will be shown at Socrates Sculpture Park on Wednesday, July 3 at 7 p.m. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Breezy Point homeowners sue over devastating loss during Sandy

Scores of Breezy Point homeowners have filed a major lawsuit against the Long Island Power Authority and National Grid. Read more: CBS New York

Crime decrease last year in 112th Precinct was actually an increase

It turns out crime was actually up — not down — last year in Forest Hills and Rego Park. Read more: New York Daily News

Emails appear to reveal officials knew of 911 system lost calls issue 

CBS 2 has obtained emails from Emergency Medical Services supervisors that address “lost calls” in the city’s 911 system, indicating officials knew of problems with the system early on. Read more: CBS New York

Hundreds more majestic Canada geese killed in name of airline safety in Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge

More than 260 geese were rounded up for slaughter at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Tuesday morning as part of an ongoing effort to reduce bird strikes at nearby JFK Airport. Read more: New York Daily News

New Yorkers’ new domain: ‘.nyc’ gets initial OK

New York City likes to think of itself as a domain like no other. Now it can boast as much on the web. Read more: NBC New York

U.S. to delay key health-reform provision to 2015

The Obama administration said on Tuesday it would not require employers to provide health insurance for their workers until 2015, delaying a key provision of President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law by a year, to beyond the next election. Read more: Reuters 

Bayside deli holds knaidel contest in honor of spelling champ


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Congressmember Grace Meng

Spelling whizzes or news junkies could land themselves a free matzo ball.

Ben’s Kosher Deli of Bayside is offering a free knaidel to any customer who buys a quart of chicken soup and can spell the word that sealed a local teen’s recent victory at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Correctly spelling knaidel — a Yiddish word of German origin that means “dumpling” — sealed Arvind Mahankali’s victory on May 23.

It was the M.S. 74 eight grader’s fourth and final showing at the competition after finishing third the last two years.

“Knaidel may be hard to spell, but it is definitely delicious,” said Ronnie Dragoon, founder and owner of Ben’s Deli.

Keen customers can save about $1.50 if they nail the spelling. A quart of chicken soup costs $7.99 on its own.

The promotion runs until June 30 at the participating Ben’s in the Bay Terrace Shopping Center. It is located at 211-37 26th Avenue.

The restaurant has given away more than 50 knaidels since the promotion began on June 6, managers said.

Another Ben’s location in Rego Park recently announced a new dish named after the local spelling whiz.

Arvind dined on his “mini knaidels” with Congressmember Grace Meng on June 9.

The lawmaker also gave the spelling champ an American flag that was flown over the U.S. Capitol in his honor.

“Only in Queens, the most diverse county in America, can an Indian-American kid win a national contest for correctly spelling the Yiddish word for matzo ball,” Meng said. “It is a tremendous honor to congratulate him on his outstanding achievement. He has made our borough and our city and state proud.

 

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Burglar wanted in 13 apartment building thefts


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

Police are looking for a man who stole cash from the basement change machines of 13 different Queens apartment buildings.

The burglaries occurred between April 18 and May 20 in the Forest Hills, Rego Park, Woodside and East Elmhurst sections of the borough, said officials.

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 by texting their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

 

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Rash of Forest Hills burglaries prompt safety meetings


| editorial@queenscourier.com


A rash of burglaries in Forest Hills has prompted a second safety meeting in two months.

Home and car break-ins have skyrocketed in Forest Hills and Rego Park this year, according to the 112th Precinct.

According to Captain Thomas Conforti, property crimes make up 80 to 85 percent of criminal activity in the 112th Precinct.

A special meeting geared towards teaching precautionary measures was held by the precinct’s Community Council on May 6. The first was held early last month.

Residents were told to keep windows, doors and garages locked at all times. The 112th Precinct also encouraged residents to bring in mail and newspapers each morning so intruders do not assume the house is unoccupied.

Concerned residents can also have their homes surveyed for by police for free under an NYPD service.

Little could be said about break-in details because of ongoing investigations, Conforti said. But at least two arrests have been made in connection with the burglaries.

For more information on safety, call 718-520-9321.

-BY LUKE TABET

 

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Queens dentist charged with sexually abusing teen patient


| editorial@queenscourier.com

handcuffs-with-color-web-size11

A Rego Park dentist has been charged with sexually abusing one of his female teen patients.

The defendant, Bedros Yavru-Sakuk, 62, a Edgewater, New Jersey resident, allegedly touched the 19-year old woman inappropriately over her clothing repeatedly without her consent, said the district attorney’s office. The abuse took place between September 2012 and April 2013.

“The charges in this case are disturbing,” said District Attorney Richard A. Brown. “The defendant is accused of taking advantage of his position of power and abusing his patient while he was supposed to be treating her. This is a serious breach of trust and cannot go unpunished.”

Yavru-Sakuk was arraigned on Monday and released. He is set to return to court on June 20.

The defendant faces up to three months in jail if convicted.

-BY ROSA KIM

 

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