Tag Archives: Ridgewood

Ridgewood gets ready to thumb-le at wrestling event

| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy of Julia's Beer and Wine Bar


A Ridgewood bar has given the thumbs-up to the neighborhood’s first-ever thumb wrestling competition this Thursday night.

With the battle cry, “1, 2, 3, and 4…Prepare those thumbs for war,” the event will take place beginning at 6 p.m. at Julia’s Beer and Wine Bar, located at 818 Woodward Ave.

Competitors will have the chance to square off in miniature plastic thumb wrestling rings complete with mini ropes and sponsored by Finback Brewery. A referee will judge the competition based on the official Thumb Wrestling Association (TWA) rules.

William Reder, bartender, brewer and co-partner of Julia’s, described the “tongue-in-cheek” event as a fun, offbeat way to celebrate Queens Beer Week.

“We encourage costumes and stage names,” he explained. “We want this to be more about having fun than competing.”

Ultimately, a champion will be crowned and will enjoy the “glory” of sporting the championship thumb ring. Other prizes will include beer, gift certificates and more from Finback Brewery and Julia’s Beer and Wine Bar.

Registration for the Ridgewood Thumb Wrestling Competition will be held the night of the event, from 6 to 7 p.m. Competitors must be 21 years of age and older to participate and must produce a valid state ID. Tickets for competitors are available here.

Julia’s will feature beer from Queens-based breweries, including Finback, in honor of Queens Beer Week. They also have an extensive menu of New York State wines sourced from small, family-owned vineyards, as well as a delectable menu of small plates, salads and appetizers.

The event is open to the public and cheering is greatly encouraged.


Ridgewood civic focuses on bike lanes and local businesses

| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso


Transit, tenants and trees took center stage during a three-part presentation hosted by the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association (RPOCA) on Thursday at the Ridgewood Older Adult Center.

Community Board 5 Public Transit Committee Co-Chair John Maier explained plans for new bike routes connecting Ridgewood and Glendale with other parts of Queens, including Rego Park. The RPOCA first requested the bicycle routes back in 2011. The Department of Transportation and Community Board 5 created a forum in 2013 to gather community input and feedback regarding preferred routes.

The first option for the proposed bike route plan would connect Ridgewood to Rego Park via various roadways in Middle Village. According to Maier, special road markings would be installed along Metropolitan Avenue and 69th Street. Eliot Avenue, however, is slated to receive actual designated bike lanes.

Option two would connect Glendale to Rego Park via 80th Street. Maier voiced safety concerns over the use of Dry Harbor Road for part of the proposed route and cited the narrowness of the roadway as being potentially problematic.

New pedestrian and bike passageways are also part of the Kosciusko Bridge Project, which began in 2014. Improvements also include the installation of a double suspension bridge aimed at increasing traffic flow.

Maier also announced that work may begin within the next one and a half years on long-awaited progress on the reconstruction of the bridge carrying Metropolitan Avenue and Fresh Pond Road over Long Island Rail Road tracks on the Ridgewood/Middle Village border. Originally planned in 2005 but delayed repeatedly, he told residents the project has been fully funded and is in the final design phase.

Maier also pleaded for help from the community in getting the stalled Wyckoff Avenue reconstruction moving. The project would implement much-needed street repairs and sewer/water line replacement along Wyckoff Avenue between Flushing and Cooper Avenues.  He asked community members to act as advocates for the project and request sponsorship from local elected officials.

Ted Renz, Community Board 5 member and executive director of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID), also spoke about changes and initiatives in Ridgewood’s busiest commercial district. According to Renz, the BID is experiencing an influx of new tenants and residential construction.

Renz cited ongoing residential development, including the 135-unit building slated for St. Nicholas Avenue, as well as two fully occupied 45-unit buildings on Putnam and Myrtle Avenues, as evidence of the commercial district’s popularity among a new wave of younger tenants.

“We want a balanced community,” he said. “If you don’t have young people, then you’re a dying community. Living over a store, which nobody wanted years ago, is now becoming chic and popular.”

In addition to attracting new residents to the BID, Renz also hopes to apply for a grant from the New York Main Street Program, a state-sponsored revitalization effort, in the future. Renz hopes to pursue the program once he receives a strong commitment from local retail owners.

Finally, RPOCA Director Maryellen Borello sounded the call for volunteers to help with the Parks Department tree count in a 200-block radius in Ridgewood. According to Borello, the Ridgewood tree count will take place from June through August. Those interested in volunteering can visit www.rpoca.org for details.


Ridgewood getting its first Starbucks

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo via Dome Poon/Flickr  Creative Commons

Updated Saturday, May 9, 12:36 p.m.

Starbucks is setting up shop in Ridgewood later this year, according to the coffee company.

After initially saying that there were no immediate plans to announce a store opening in the area, a Starbucks spokesperson later confirmed to The Courier on Friday that the chain will be opening a location at 329 Wyckoff Ave., on the Bushwick border.

“We are committed to being a good neighbor in Ridgewood and to having an open dialogue with the community,” Starbucks said in a statement. “We look forward to acting as a gathering place for citizens and visitors of the community for years to come as well as sharing strong connections with the community both inside and outside our stores.”

The coffee place will be the first Starbucks in the neighborhood. Currently, the closest Starbucks to the area is in Glendale at The Shops at Atlas Park.

Construction can be seen on the lower level of the Planet Fitness. (Photo by Angela Matua)

Construction can be seen on the lower level of the Planet Fitness. (THE COURIER/Photo by Angela Matua)

Ridgewood Social, which first reported the opening, said the Planet Fitness on Wyckoff Avenue near Myrtle Avenue is renting out its space and being converted into the coffee shop. The gym has the same address as the one given by Starbucks for the future Ridgewood location.

“The construction/remodeling is well underway” and has been “confirmed with the manager of the Planet Fitness,” according to its website.

The gym declined to comment on the opening of the Starbucks to The Courier, but said there was construction going on in its building.


Note-carrying crook robs bank in Ridgewood

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Property Shark/photo by Nicholas Strini

Updated Tuesday, May 5, 10:15 a.m.

Detectives continue to search for a note-carrying thief who swiped money from a Ridgewood bank Monday morning, police reported.

According to authorities, the heist occurred at 10:30 a.m. inside the Popular Community Bank at 918 Seneca Ave. off Hancock Street.

Reportedly, the suspect — described as a black male in his 30s, standing 5 foot 9 inches tall with a medium build and medium complexion — approached a teller and handed over a note demanding cash.

photo courtesy of NYPD

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Police said the employee complied with the request and provided the crook with $300 in currency; the perpetrator then fled in an unknown direction.

Officers from the 104th Precinct responded to the incident; there were no injuries.

The bandit was last observed wearing a black and white striped shirt and a black baseball hat with the word “NETS” written on it.

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.


Ridgewood seniors dance with SPARC

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy Hillary Ramos

Seniors at the Ridgewood Older Adult Center (ROAC) are getting a chance to bust a move thanks to the Seniors Partnering with Artists Citywide (SPARC) program.

SPARC is a community arts engagement program that places artists at senior centers across the five boroughs. The program was created as a collaboration of the city Department of Cultural Affairs, the Department for the Aging and five of the city’s local arts councils.

The SPARC aims to positively impact seniors’ quality of life through direct engagement in arts and cultural activities; to reinvigorate neighborhood senior centers, such as ROAC, as vital community spaces through arts and cultural programming; and to increase the opportunities for arts residencies and workspaces for artists.

ROAC’s executive director Jackie Eradiri applied to be a part of the SPARC program through the Queens Council on the Arts, and in February, the professional dancers and choreographers, Hillary Ramos and Henry Holmes, came to the center to bring the art of dance to the Ridgewood seniors.

“It’s something different,” Eradiri said of the program. “It is something that I don’t have at the center.”

Seniors can participate in the program, which runs through June and takes place at ROAC three times a week, or they are free to just sit back and watch.

“We are passionate about working with non-dancers and sharing that joy and empathy you get when you watch people dance and when you, yourself, are dancing,” Ramos said.

“There are plenty of hurdles of ‘I’m too old to dance’ or ‘I can’t do that,’” she added. “We are trying to break down the intimidation of dance for the seniors and show the health, psychological and social benefits of dance.”

Ramos explained how they use different forms of dance to engage all the seniors in the center. The more active seniors can get up and dance, while those who may not be able to move as well can participate in limited mobility and chair-based movements to get them involved.

“There are so many ways to get them to move,” Ramos said. “We are trying to show that dance is the merengue, the cha-cha and the waltz, but it is also sitting in a chair and moving your body with gestures and arm movements. That is also dance. Those things do matter.”

“We are using dance and making it applicable to their realities,” she continued. “We have hybrid classes depending on who we have, who is here and what they can do. We try to show that dance is social and artistic.”

Joe Renz, affectionately referred to as “rubber legs” by his dancing partners, is one of ROAC’s most loyal dancers and really enjoys the chance to get up and move around.

“I think [Ramos] is putting everything out there,” he said. “I’ve gotten something out of it. It has helped me fine-tune some things.”

Another ROAC dance participant, Barbara Kovacich, said she takes pleasure in the social aspect of the program.

“I just like to enjoy the company,” she said. “It brings me closer with the people at the center.”


Mexican flavors in Ridgewood

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso


Revelers looking to celebrate Cinco de Mayo are just a short train ride away from Mexican Apple B.B.Q., located at 66-89 Forest Ave. off the Forest Avenue M train stop in the heart of Ridgewood.

Unlike most taco take-out restaurants, Mexican Apple B.B.Q. offers a unique fusion of authentic Mexican cuisine blended with southern barbecue. Owner Francisco Ramirez first opened Mexican Apple four months ago. Ramirez came to the United States from Mexico City with the dream of being an entrepreneur.

“I wanted to work for me,” he said.

His chef, Manuel Ramirez, hails from Veracruz. He had the idea of mixing his traditional and beloved Mexican recipes with American barbecue for a unique flavor combination he calls “Mexican-style barbecue.”

Ramirez spent time traveling through the south and eventually stopped in North Carolina to hone his barbecue skills before traveling north to New York. Chef Ramirez created his own original barbecue sauce and dry rubs from a blend of Mexican spices, such as hot dry peppers, mixed within a traditional southern barbecue base.

The restaurant also has a small smoker where they smoke dishes like their popular BBQ ribs for roughly seven hours. All of the meat is smoked and prepared in-house. Combinations of Mexican-style BBQ ribs, dry-rubbed ribs, pulled pork, brisket and chicken are available and range in price from $12.99 to $15.99.

Another unique aspect of Mexican Apple B.B.Q. is that they are one of the few local eateries to offer a traditional Mexican breakfast on a daily basis. A popular dish among early birds is the huevos rancheros ($7.99), a mix of two eggs over easy on a bed of corn served with chorizo, pico de gallo, guacamole, rice, beans and Mexican cream.

The huevos a la Mexicana ($6.99) features eggs with jalapeños, onions and tomatoes. They also offer an extensive selection of baked eggs, a brunch staple, blended with a range of meats and cheeses, including chorizo, Oaxaca cheese, bacon, Manchego cheese and spinach ($8.99). One of the more popular baked egg dishes is served with green tomatillo and chile de arbol ($8.99).
Mexican Apple B.B.Q.’s signature dish is the enchiladas platter ($10.99). Diners can chose from chicken, grilled beef, fried pork and Oaxaca cheese enchiladas served with cheese, lettuce, Mexican cream and their choice of green, red or mole sauces.

The chorizo quesadillas ($6.99) are another phenomenal choice. The generous and flavorful portions of Mexican spicy sausage and melted Oaxaca cheese are served with large sides of salsa, Mexican cream and homemade guacamole. The Al Pastor homemade tortilla tacos ($2.99) pack a ton of flavor in a small bite. They feature a mix of spicy pork and pineapples blended with cilantro, onion, radish, salsa, guacamole and lemon in a homemade soft tortilla wrap.

Desserts such as traditional flan Napolitano ($3.99) and Mexican Jello or “gelatina” ($1.99) provide a sweet finish to any entree. Mexican Apple also offers a unique selection of freshly pressed juice blends, including pineapple water, melon and hibiscus ($1.99). Their homemade Orchata is a sweet blend of roasted rice-infused milk, vanilla and cinnamon ($1.99).
Mexican Apple B.B.Q. will be offering specials for Cinco de Mayo. For more details, call 347-987-4778.

Mexican Apple B.B.Q.
6689 Forest Ave., Ridgewood


Candlelight vigil held in Ridgewood for Nepal earthquake victims

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

Many of the Nepalese residents in Ridgewood joined together Wednesday night for a candlelight vigil to show their support for the victims of the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that hit their home country last weekend.

Candles were placed on the ground at Clemens Triangle at the intersection of Myrtle and Cypress avenues, while residents held up signs reading, “Pray for Nepal” and showed the strength of their community.

Assemblyman Mike Miller was in attendance, as well as Vincent Arcuri and Ted Renz of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District, which helped organize the vigil along with Bikash Kharel of the Nepalese American Youth Association and the Ridgewood Nepalese Society.





Assemblywoman supports Ridgewood Reservoir wetland push

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

File photo

Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan is leading the way in the fight for the Ridgewood Reservoir to receive wetland status.

As reported previously, Community Board 5 learned that Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) officials were questioning whether much of the 55-acre reservoir on the Brooklyn/Queens border met the requirements for wetland status.

The DEC claimed that Basin 3 of the reservoir did not meet wetland status criteria and that Basin 2 did not meet the acreage requirements. The agency could not check Basin 1 due to heavy vegetation surrounding the basin walls.

In an April 17 letter to Joseph Martens, commissioner of the DEC, Nolan expressed her concern over the fact that the Ridgewood Reservoir has yet to be fully inspected, and its future if it is not granted wetland status.

“I am very concerned that if the reservoir is not designated for wetland status then the space could be opened to development. The Ridgewood Reservoir is truly a unique site which consists of natural and largely undisturbed habitats for many species of animals,” she wrote. “I am against any development on this site and believe that it should be designated as a wetland. Both the state and city should have a strong interest in preserving this site for future generations.”


Ridgewood residents tackle housing, other matters at forum

| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso


Residents, community leaders and local activists revisited various issues and concerns affecting Ridgewood during the Ridgewood Tenants and Neighborhood Association‘s (RTNA) public forum, “Ridgewood: Your Voices, Your Issues,” on Monday at the Ridgewood Library.

“This is a way of starting a conversation and a way to bring together a lot of different people in the neighborhood,” RTNA co-founder and moderator Glenn Dyer said.

The group broke up into four different sections, each representing a specific topic or issue facing Ridgewood: housing, economic development, transportation and the environment.

Paul Kerzner, former Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association (RPOCA) president, chaired the housing group. He expounded on his idea of forming tenant co-ops set forth in the first forum back in February, using the analogy of geese flying together in a “V” formation to illustrate the need for Ridgewood’s many tenants to band together in their pursuit of affordable housing.

“Individual tenants in Ridgewood cannot get to their destination by themselves,” he said. “If they fly in formation and work together in a building, they can accomplish their end.”

According to Kerzner’s plan, tenants living in buildings with four to six units could feasibly purchase each unit for roughly $200,000 each, becoming co-owners of the building itself. By qualifying for mortgages and available federal loans, he estimated monthly out-of-pocket costs to be roughly $1,340, much less than the average rent in Ridgewood.

Ted Renz, executive director of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID), moderated the Local Economy group. Many residents voiced concerns regarding overdevelopment of Ridgewood and the sale of large retail properties to outside brokers and entities.

“We need to preserve Myrtle Avenue for the mom-and-pop shops and smaller entrepreneurs,” Renz said. “Our goal is to have input into getting a better store mix for our community.”

Many residents spoke in favor of a proposed six-to-nine-month moratorium on liquor licenses due to the sharp uptick in bars and nightlife venues in Ridgewood. “It’s oversaturation,” Renz said.

RTNA co-founder Matt Peterson agreed: “There are already a number of bars in Ridgewood. It’s not just a business. It attracts a whole culture.”

John Maier, co-chair of the Community Board 5 Public Transit Committee, led the transportation group. According to Maier, the biggest issue facing local transit is the loss of funding on a federal level.

“Our transportation fund has run out and is operating on a month-to-month basis,” he said. “We need to figure out how to get the money for better service.”

Professor Stephanie Wakefield managed the local environment group. Topics and ideas generated from this group included replacing the trash cans on Fresh Pond Road, community field trips to the Ridgewood Reservoir, poor air quality at the Fresh Pond Road bus depot and the need for additional green spaces in the neighborhood.

“People would really like to find a way to create more green space that is not a playground,” Wakefield said.

CB 5 member Henry Cross proposed holding a legislative forum in which area elected officials could address these topics.



DOT proposes changes to dangerous Myrtle Avenue intersection

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Image via Google Maps

Representatives from the Department of Transportation (DOT) offered a plan during the Community Board 5 combined Transportation Services and Public Transportation committees meeting Tuesday night to fix problems at a dangerous Myrtle Avenue intersection.

The Forest Avenue/Myrtle Avenue/George Street intersection was brought to the DOT’s attention because it is located within the Myrtle Avenue priority corridor.

This intersection “is listed among the corridors for which the Department of Transportation will design and implement safety projects as part of the mayor’s Vision Zero initiative, which aims at eliminating all traffic-related fatalities,” said Arban Vigni, project manager with the DOT.

The high-traffic area sees an abundance of not only vehicles, but also pedestrians, with high volumes of seniors and students using the crosswalk. Two buses, the Q39 on Forest Avenue and the Q55 on Myrtle Avenue, also pass through the area, adding to congestion.

“Judging from the frequency and severity of crashes that occurred here between 2009 and 2013, the intersection has been designated a high pedestrian crash location,” Vigni said.

During the five-year period, there were 18 crashes, six of them involving pedestrians. Two of those crashes led to severe injuries.

“It’s also worth noting that 50 percent of pedestrians that were involved in crashes were hit while crossing with the signal, whereas the average for Queens is as low as 37 percent,” Vigni said. “This basically shows that turning vehicles do not yield properly at this intersection.”

Vigni pointed out the odd geometry of the location as one reason for the high levels of pedestrian crashes at the intersection. The star-shaped intersection has Myrtle Avenue running east to west, Forest Avenue going north to southeast and George Street going southwest.

The DOT’s proposed changes include adding a concrete curb extension on the south side of the intersection.

“The curb extension would help realign the intersection somewhat and it would shorten the southwest crosswalk by seven feet,” Vigni explained.

This would not interfere with parking on George Street because there is a fire hydrant located on that corner, which restricts vehicles from parking there.

High-visibility crosswalks were already installed on April 15 to increase visibility of pedestrians.

Finally, “peg-a-tracks,” which are yellow dashed lines, will be installed in the center of the intersection to clarify direction of travel for vehicles on Forest Avenue.

The DOT plans to implement these changes in June.


Ridgewood community asked to support Nepal earthquake victims

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Screenshot via www.gofundme.com

After a devastating magnitude-7.8 earthquake rocked the country of Nepal on Saturday, residents of Ridgewood are being asked to come together to support the victims of this natural disaster.

Ridgewood has a large Nepalese community, and each and every one of them were shaken by the news of the massive earthquake that hit their home country. Some have lost family members in the quake, while others are still waiting to hear from loved ones.

The Nepalese American Youth Association (NAYA) is asking the community to help the earthquake victims by donating items needed by the survivors.

On their Facebook page, NAYA is asking for donations of medical supplies such as bandages, surgical gloves and masks, ibuprofen and sterile syringes. They are also looking for donations of energy bars, clean clothes, blankets, batteries, flashlights, duct tape and other necessities.

Donations are being collected at Nepalese Indian Restaurant located at 907 Seneca Ave.

NAYA has also created a GoFundMe donation page where anyone can donate any amount of money to support the relief efforts. In just four days, NAYA has collected over $3,000 from 78 donators.

NAYA is hosting a memorial vigil for the earthquake’s victims Wednesday evening, from 8 to 10 p.m. at Carl Clemens Triangle located on the corner of Myrtle and Cypress avenues.

For more information on donating and the vigil, please contact Bikash Kharel, treasurer and one of the founding members of NAYA, at 718-581-9840.


Ridgewood scout soars like an ‘Eagle’ at ceremony

| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso


Local high school senior Andrew Goh attained the highest rank a Boy Scout can receive — the Eagle rank — during a ceremony Sunday at the Onderdonk House in Ridgewood.

Goh is a member of St. Matthias’ Boy Scout Troop 327 in Ridgewood, led by Scoutmaster Tim Karcher. Goh’s family immigrated to the United States from Malaysia and established a life in Ridgewood, where Goh attended St. Matthias School.

For the past six years, Goh has been an active member of the Boy Scouts. He was first introduced to scouting by Thomas Dowd, former president of the Friends of the Ridgewood Library, while singing in the St. Matthias Choir. 

According to Tom Dowd — who, along with his brother John, are Eagle Scouts themselves — only 5 percent of scouts nationwide achieve the rank of Eagle Scout. In its nearly 70-year history, Troop 327 has had roughly 25 Eagle Scouts, including Andrew Goh.

As part of the journey toward the Eagle Scout rank, candidates must undertake a special service project aimed at helping a local school, religious institution or the community at large. Goh chose to refurbish the Onderdonk House picnic area as part of his service project.

“I worked on it last summer,” Goh said. “We repaired several of the tables and benches that were out of use. We also sanded everything down and re-stained them.”

The ceremony included a special portion called “Lighting the Eagle Trail” in which Goh’s family and fellow scouts were invited to light a row of 12 candles. Each candle is symbolic of one of the 12 principles of the Boy Scout Oath and Law: trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.

Assemblyman Mike Miller presented Goh with a special citation from the New York State Assembly in recognition of his achievement. Goh also received many honors and commendations, including a congratulatory letter from President Obama.

Troop 327 may be on its way to celebrating more Eagle Scouts in the near future. Two of Goh’s fellow scouts have achieved the rank of Life Scout and are currently pursuing their Eagle Scout titles.

Goh considers the troop’s camping trips as one of his favorite aspects of being a Boy Scout.

“The thing I like most about scouting has got to be the camping because just being able to go away for a weekend and hang out with your friends is a really nice experience,” he said.

Goh is currently a senior at Stuyvesant High School and is looking forward to his graduation in June. He will attend Princeton University in the fall, where he will study operations research, a division of applied mathematics.


Neighborhood’s finest food sampled at Taste of Ridgewood

| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso


Community members joined local civic and elected officials on Thursday to celebrate Taste of Ridgewood, the annual fundraising dinner and awards ceremony held to benefit the Ridgewood YMCA.

The event featured an assortment of sweet and savory cuisine from over 20 local eateries. Ridgewood’s rich diversity was represented in a wide range of dishes, including local Italian, Mexican, Greek, Latin, New American and Nepalese fare.

In addition to the tasting portion of the event, Taste of Ridgewood also included a special awards ceremony to honor state Senator Joseph Addabbo, Linda Monte, president of the Greater Ridgewood Historical Society, and Madeline Taub-Chan, superintendent of Community School District 24.

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

“The Y is an integral part of our community,” Addabbo said. “With the Y, our families are healthier, our communities are stronger and our students are smarter.” The senator announced that $500,000 from this year’s state budget would be allocated for the Alliance for the YMCA, with another $200,000 allocated for the YMCA of Greater New York.

Monte was recognized for her continued work with the St. Matthias Girl Scouts, as well as her preservation efforts through the Greater Ridgewood Historical Society. Monte was instrumental in helping to restore and obtain landmark status for the Vander Ende-Onderdonk House on Flushing Avenue.

“She is a living embodiment of the Girl Scout Law,” Donna Dowd said. “She has brought fun, confidence building and education to generations of girls and their leaders in our neighborhood and state.”

Monte praised the YMCA for providing valuable childcare services to working mothers and families at a time where such services were scarce. “I think it’s important for us not only to preserve our buildings, but our character and our culture,” she said.

Taub-Chan was also honored for her work as an educator and her commitment to expanding educational programs throughout the community.

City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley was also on hand to present special proclamations to both Monte and Chan for their work within the community. The audience was also treated to a performance from the Grover Cleveland High School Y Step Team.

Crystal River Williams and Dee Plowman, co-owners of Norma’s Cafe on Catalpa Avenue, received the first-ever Innovator Award.

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

“Norma’s is a community-driven, small and intimate cafe that has a menu made up of local finds specific to the neighborhood,” said LaKeisha Harris, executive director of the Ridgewood YMCA. “The cafe is not only a coffee shop. It provides a warm ambiance for Ridgewood residents. They help support local entrepreneurs by using the space to display and sell the work of Ridgewood artists.”

Brian Taveras, a local high school junior enrolled in the music and YMCA Scholars Program, hosted the awards ceremony. Taveras shared his own personal struggles and explained how the YMCA was instrumental in improving his life.

“It’s hard being a teen,” Taveras said. “A year ago, I didn’t know where I was going. The Y gave me an outlet and multiple opportunities. I used to be a closed book, but the Y helped me to be confident and share my stories. The support given to teens through the Y is very important.”


Ridgewood man arrested in Ozone Park hit-and-run

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos via Twitter/@NYPD106Pct

A Ridgewood driver was apprehended Sunday night shortly after hitting a man on a scooter with his SUV in Ozone Park and fleeing the scene, police said.

The 35-year-old victim was riding his scooter southbound on Woodhaven Boulevard just after 10 p.m. when an SUV that was traveling northbound on Woodhaven struck him as it was making a turn at Rockaway Boulevard, cops said. The vehicle then fled.

Police took the suspect, Darren Roach, 47, into custody near his home at Onderdonk and 70th avenues a short time later.

Roach has been charged with leaving the scene and criminal possession of a weapon for having a stun gun, according to police.

The scooter rider was taken to Jamaica Hospital with a right leg injury.




A Ridgewood child sexual abuse victim finds her voice years later

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons/Wally Gobetz

After years of staying silent, a victim of child sex abuse from Ridgewood has found her voice and is working to help others bring their abusers to justice.

The woman is a longtime resident of Ridgewood and alleged that she was sexually abused as a child by a close family relative. Both her identity and that of her alleged attacker are being withheld due to the pending litigation.

The woman claimed the abuse started when she was just a toddler and continued until she was 9. She said that the relative would regularly engage her in sexual activity.  Each time the abuse happened, the relative would threaten that he would harm her and other family members if she spoke up.

“I grew up in domestic violence. The rapist was an alcoholic and a wife beater,” she said in an interview with the Ridgewood Times. “So, him threatening me every single time that he would abuse me, and saying if I tell anybody he would kill my mother, and me seeing him beat my [family member] constantly to the point that she would have to go to the hospital, obviously I would be afraid of this man.”

When her mother discovered what was going on, she immediately called police. However, the victim said nothing out of fear for her own life and her family members’ lives.

She remained silent on the issue for years, but the current law requires that sexual abuse cases involving minors must be reported within five years after a victim reaches the age of 18. The victim, now 41, is ineligible to make a case against her abuser under the current law.

“I feel like I fell through the cracks of the system,” she said. “Now I found my voice. I’m going to speak, I’m going to scream and I’m going to do everything I have to do because I am reclaiming my life.”

The victim is an active supporter of Assemblywoman Margaret Markey’s Child Victims Act of New York (A2872/S63), which passed the Assembly four times since 2006 but has never made it to the floor of the state Senate for a vote, The bill seeks to completely eliminate the statute of limitations for victims of child sexual abuse and create a one-year period of time when victims of child abuse who are now adults can bring a civil suit against their abuser and anyone who has protected or covered for the predator.

After hearing about the legislation from a close family relative, she filed a domestic incident report against her abuser with the police department and reached out to Markey. Upon learning of her story, Markey invited the Ridgewood resident to Lobby Day for the Child Victims Act on Wednesday in Albany.

“With research showing that one in five of all children in the U.S. are sexually abused, it is not only important to raise public awareness about this scourge,” Markey said in a statement. “It is also vital that we reform outmoded laws to provide justice for victims and expose pedophiles and those who hide them, also helping to protect future generations of children from abuse.”

Opponents of the act include the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens, which claims that the open-ended statutes could lead to litigation and settlements that could financially destroy the diocese. In response, Markey penned a letter to Pope Francis asking to schedule a meeting with New York survivors of childhood sexual abuse when he comes to the U.S. in September.

As of Wednesday, Markey has yet to receive a response from the Vatican.