Tag Archives: Rockaway Park

Beach 116th Street Partnership, businesses working together to get back on their feet


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Maggie Hayes

Mark Mina watched his Rockaway Park storefront burn to the ground during Sandy, and over $1 million and priceless memorabilia go down with it. But today, his Beach 116th Street business has risen from the ashes.

“The storm just brought determination out and made us stronger every day,” said Mina, owner of MSM/Elite Production Consultants.

That October night, Mina said his company “lost everything, not even a paper clip was saved.” The landlord of the building called the night of the storm and said the place was up in flames.

“I ran down here with my truck. The fire chief tackled me to stop me from going in,” he said. “We sat and watched the building burn for about 12 hours. We couldn’t do anything.”

But the show had to go on, and Mina opened a temporary location in a John F. Kennedy International Airport warehouse.

Meanwhile, FEMA, Mina’s insurance company and Small Business Services said they couldn’t help him rebuild, and Mina paid about $130,000 out of pocket to rebuild what the superstorm took.

He set up shop on the second floor of a Beach 116th Street building and today says he’s “almost in the black again,” and the camaraderie amongst street business owners kept morale alive.

The Beach 116th Street Partnership was formed and “we weren’t alone,” Mina said.

“As we did feel in despair from government agencies, we worked and helped each other,” he said. “I just want to see this place prosper again.”

Krzysztof Sadlej, executive director of the partnership, said over a year after the storm, customer volume is “starting to pick back up, kind of to par.”

“We’re still gaining momentum,” he said.

Although Beach 116th Street is not completely whole, Mina said “good karma” is coming their way.

“There are still a lot of people healing,” he said. “But we have each other to lean on, to motivate and just get a hug if you need it.”

 

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Three people killed, two injured in Halloween night shootings in Queens, Brooklyn


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Three people died and two people were injured within a five-hour period during Halloween shootings across Queens and Brooklyn, according to police.

The two non-fatal incidents occurred in the Jamaica and Rockaway Park sections of Queens, said cops.

Around 7 p.m. on 148th Street near 88th Avenue an unidentified suspect exited his vehicle wearing a mask and shot a man in his 20s multiple times, said police. The suspect then fled northbound on 148th Street.

The victim was taken to Jamaica Hospital in critical condition.

An hour later, an 18-year-old man was shot in the right leg at Beach Channel Drive near Beach 141st Street, said police.

He was taken to Jamaica Hospital and is expected to survive.

Cops said there are no arrests at this time in both Queens shooting incidents.

In Brooklyn the violence was deadly, with three men losing their lives, according to police.

Shawn Rhodes, 46, was shot multiple times at the Linden Houses in East New York around 7: 30 p.m.

Three hours later, Anthony Seaberry, 19, was fatally shot in East Flatbush.

Around 11:30 p.m., 37 year-old Kevin Thompson died after he was shot in the neck in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn.

 

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City Council District 32 candidates Ulrich, Simon look ahead to Election Day


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

File photos

The heated race for City Council District 32 is coming to a close.

Councilmember Eric Ulrich, the incumbent, has represented District 32 in the City Council since 2009. He stood with Belle Harbor, Breezy Point, Broad Channel, Hamilton Beach, Howard Beach, Lindenwood, Neponsit, Ozone Park, Rockaway Beach, Rockaway Park, South Ozone Park, South Richmond Hill and Woodhaven through natural disasters and hard-pressed community issues.

“I am proud of my campaign and my work in the City Council over the past four-and-a-half years. I am running on my record of accomplishments and my ability to deliver real results for my constituents,” Ulrich said.

However, Lew Simon has not been far behind. He said he worked tirelessly through Sandy to ensure the safety of the district.

“The support we’re getting on our calls and door to door campaigning is phenomenal – people want change and they don’t feel like they’re being represented in City Hall on issues from schools to street lights to Sandy rebuilding,” Simon said.

Simon suffered a setback earlier this month when he received a stent due to partial heart blockage. He now said he’s spending every day “making sure every voter turns out” on Election Day.

 

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Rockaway Sandy survivor to run New York City Marathon for 20th time


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of John Edwards

Rockaway Park resident John Edwards, 59, was hoping to run the ING New York City Marathon for the 20th time last year, but Mother Nature had other ideas.

The race was canceled due to the massive city-wide damage caused by Superstorm Sandy. But it wasn’t a time for Edwards, who is not related to the politician, and his family to look forward to a marathon anyway.

Sandy flooded his basement, ruining irreplaceable pictures, documents and furniture, destroyed windows in his house and totaled two of the family’s cars. Edwards estimated that the damage cost more than $60,000.

“People were going from house to house helping each other and people were covered with sewer water,” Edwards said. “I don’t think it was time to be celebrating a New York City Marathon when we had people down here who didn’t know what they were going to do the next day.”

Now, nearly a year later, he has repaired his house and replaced items lost, thanks in part to insurance. And as part of his return to normalcy, Edwards is once again gearing up for the Marathon on November 3.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Edwards said. I don’t expect to run fast, I expect to just get through it.”
Edwards, a manager of a bakery on Long Island, began running when he was 27 years old.

At that time he routinely played baseball in Brooklyn bar leagues with friends.

“On the weekend we played ball, ate burgers, drank beer and gained weight,” Edwards said. “But then the groundballs would be going through your legs, because of the gut you’d be growing, so [a friend suggested] let’s go and do a little running.”

Edwards and teammates eventually began entering races and he developed a love for running. In 1982 he entered and completed his first city marathon. Since then he has completed numerous races around the city and his hobby evolved into an addiction of sorts.

As he is training for the Marathon, Edwards wakes up as early as 3:30 a.m. to do daily runs, which can vary from a short three miles to much longer distances, such as a recent 18-mile Marathon prep race.

“I think it’s a combination of sheer pride and natural endurance and then love of the sport,” Mary, Edwards’ youngest daughter, said.

Edwards is known throughout the community as a “running guru.”

He founded the Rockapulco Running Series in 2001, which are various runs in the Rockaways throughout the year, including themed half marathon runs for Christmas, Labor Day and Memorial Day. He is also a member of the local running club the Rockaway Gliders.

Edwards restarted the local Catholic Youth Organization track team at nearby St. Francis de Sales in 1996 so his daughters could run with other youngsters. But even after his children outgrew the league, he continued to train young runners for nearly a decade.

His daughters will now join him in his 20th Marathon. After more than three decades the hobby has become a family bonding activity for Edwards, one that Sandy wasn’t able to break.

“It’s been a way for us to stay connected,” Edwards said. “It’s nice.”

 

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Primary guide: City Council District 32


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

SIMON

As the clock ticks closer to city primaries on Tuesday, September 10, The Courier would like to provide you, the reader and the voter, with a fair, detailed guide of who is running. Here is a list of the City Council District 32 primary candidates (Belle Harbor, Breezy Point, Broad Channel, Hamilton Beach, Howard Beach, Lindenwood, Neponsit, Ozone Park, Rockaway Beach, Rockaway Park, South Ozone Park, South Richmond Hill and Woodhaven), who they are, what they stand for and what they want to continue to do if they go on to the general election in November.

Name: Lew M. Simon

Party: Democrat

Occupation: Private school teacher, Assembly District Leader

Personal Info: Simon was born and raised in Rockaway. He has been a community and civic leader for over 30 years. He works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, helping all who need help.

Platform/Issues: To secure funding and build much-needed schools. Make school safety and stopping bullying a priority. Reduce busing and keep siblings together in neighborhood schools. Establish an HOV lane on Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevards during peak hours. See that every community has a good community hospital with a well-equipped emergency room. Will continue to fund all senior centers, Meals-on-Wheels and Access-A-Ride. Will increase funding for volunteer fire and ambulance departments. Increase the staffing levels so that each community board will have a building inspector. Will continue to fund the fight for additional firefighters and police officers. Support direct mass transit service to midtown Manhattan in less than 30 minutes (Rockaway Beach rail line). Clean up graffiti in Woodhaven and Ozone Park.

Name: William Ruiz

Party: Democrat

*The campaign for this candidate did not submit a profile as of press time

 

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South Queens residents seek help at post-Sandy town hall


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Maggie Hayes

Carl Teresa drained his retirement savings to pay for Sandy home damages and is tired of getting the runaround from city and state agencies, he said.

Eight months after the storm, south Queens is still not whole, and Teresa said he is just one of many still struggling. Homeowners gathered at a town hall forum in Howard Beach, hosted by Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder and Congressmember Hakeem Jeffries, to ask pressing questions that still exist months later.

“You can’t get a straight answer from anybody,” Teresa said. “You talk to one person who has answer A, then another who gives you answer B. Nobody has the same answer.”

Teresa had his Rockaway Park home was inspected three times by FEMA agents before he received money for his damages. The first inspector, he said, left the state without relaying information. The second did not do an accurate inspection, he said, and the third was finally able to get Teresa a $31,900 FEMA assistance grant.

The basement apartment of his two-floor home was destroyed — inundated with over 30 inches of water — he said. The apartment is home to his mother-in-law, who has Alzheimer’s disease. She relocated to the first floor with Teresa and his wife until the repairs were complete.

Teresa estimated the damages cost him at least $70,000. He is on Social Security disability, and cannot return to work to replace the money lost.

“How do I support myself the rest of my life,” he asked.

Jeffries and Goldfeder advised people in predicaments similar to Teresa’s to register for the city’s Build-it-Back program, which is geared towards assisting homeowners, landlords and tenants whose properties were damaged by Sandy. It offers several pathways to relief, including reimbursement for out-of-pocket payments.

“People shouldn’t be forced to drain their bank accounts and decimate their savings in order to repair a home,” Jeffries said.

The two also discussed updates to FEMA’s flood and evacuation maps. Evacuation zones will be changing from letters to numbers, Zone 1 being the highest priority. Most of Howard Beach will be located in Zone 1, Jeffries said.

A rep from Neighborhood Revitalization NYC was also in attendance to speak about mold treatment. The program, which got cheers from the town hall audience, coordinates mold inspection and fixes free of charge. Members of the city’s Department of Financial Services as well as FEMA were also present to answer individualized questions.

Goldfeder, a notable advocate for Sandy victims since the storm, asked the Department of Environmental Protection to clean out catch basins in the hope to better preparing the area’s sewer system for any future storm.

“It has been a daily, daily struggle,” he said. “Almost every day is a new challenge.”

“Now, we need to make sure we are prepared for the future,” he added.

Those interested in the Build-it-Back program can visit www.nyc.gov/recovery for more information. To see the preliminary flood and evacuation maps, estimated to be released at the end of the summer, go to www.region2coastal.com. For those seeking flood insurance information and agents, visit www.floodsmart.gov.

 

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Man discovered dead in car on Rockaway street


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

The body of a 51-year-old man was found inside a vehicle in Rockaway Park Friday afternoon, said police.

Around 3 p.m. officers discovered the man unconscious and unresponsive lying across the front seats of a Ford Mustang at 135 Beach 120th Street.

The medical examiner will determine the cause of death and the investigation is ongoing.

Arrest in AK-47 killing of Queens teen


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Authorities have arrested two men for the shooting death of a Far Rockaway teen this weekend.

Dashawn Deverow, 21, of Rockaway Park and Jamane Yarbroughm, 16, of Arverne, have been charged with the murder of 17-year-old Xavier Granville, said police. Deverow was also charged with criminal possession of a weapon.

On Saturday December 29, at about 12:30 a.m., the killers, wearing masks and carrying an AK-47 assault rifle and a .45-caliber pistol, shot Granville after a late night party in Far Rockaway as he was heading home, the Daily News reported.

According to police, authorities found Granville in front of 249 Beach 15th Street with a gunshot wound to the head, and pronounced him dead at the scene.

Flight 587 ten years later: Holidays without a loved one


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan.

For Angilda Delacruz, 21, without her aunt and godmother Magnolia Pena, the upcoming holidays are the toughest part of the year.

“When we were little, we would always go to her house, and she would always have these baked cakes ready and chocolate lollipops in her fridge. We would always get in trouble for stealing them,” Delacruz said.

“The holidays were her thing. We always knew that out of everybody, we would always get the best presents from her. The first couple of years after this happened, we didn’t really celebrate the holidays because it wasn’t the same,” she said.

Although it took almost a decade, Delacruz said her family has gotten used to the loss, and has started celebrating the holidays again.

“It doesn’t feel like 10 years,” she said. “It feels weird. It feels like time stood still, yet it passed by so fast at the same time.”

The family also just welcomed a new addition, one-month-old Gavin, who would have been Pena’s first grandson.

“Every time that a big moment happens, I think about her not being there. She was the one we all expected to always be around,” she said. “I know that it seems like everybody says this, but she was the best person ever.”

Click here for the full story and photo gallery.

Flight 587 remembered 10 years later


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan.

Click here to view our Flight 587 memorial gallery.

Ten years may have passed since the tragic crash of Flight 587, but hundreds of loved ones who gathered to mourn at the memorial site remember as if it was yesterday.

“After 10 years, we still have open wounds from what happened,” said Rafael Almonte, who laid flowers for his brother, Juan Bautista Almonte. “Each day that passes, our wounds open, then close, and open again.”

Family and friends gathered for the 10 year anniversary memorial held in Rockaway Park on Saturday, November 12 to honor the 251 passengers, nine crew members and five people killed on the ground when American Airlines Flight 587 crashed in Belle Harbor in 2001.

The plane was en route from John F. Kennedy (JFK) Airport to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. According to reports, the disaster is attributed to a pilot error in overusing the rudder in response to wake turbulence.

“Over the past 10 years, you have shared strength that has transformed grief into hope and promise… hope that together we will continue to heal and a promise to remember those we lost and to continue making them proud of us every single day,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

“We honor them each day in countless ways and countless personal ways. Today, publicly, as a people, we also thank those who loved them for keeping their memories alive, for raising their children, and for finding the strength to go on with your own lives,” he said.

A moment of silence followed a bell toll at 9:16 a.m. to mark the moment Flight 587 crashed at the corner of 131st Street and Newport Avenue. Family and friends then read off the names of all 265 victims.

“I don’t really have words to explain because it was so hard for our family,” said Yishel Matos of Bay Shore Long Island, who came with her sister, niece and nephew to mourn the loss of her brother Orlando Matos. “It’s like a puzzle and you’re missing a piece. The family, after he died, was never complete. It really changed our life. We miss him.”

Following the ceremony, several family members visited the actual crash site — located 15 blocks away from the memorial — to lay flowers on the small plaque dedicated to the victims.

“But as you know all too well, every day in the wake of a tragedy is a day of remembrance — a time to honor and an occasion for finding strength,” Bloomberg said. “For every day, we also know that the presence of those that we have loved and lost is always with us.”

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan.

Rockaway Park charter school might close


| mchan@queenscourier.com

The final dismissal bell may soon ring for six underperforming charter schools in the city — including one school in Queens.

According to officials, Peninsula Preparatory Academy Charter School in Rockaway Park joins 46 other struggling schools on the list for potential closures released by the Department of Education (DOE) on November 2. Of the 46 schools facing the ax, 24 are elementary and middle schools, 17 are high schools and six are charter schools.

Schools become candidates for the chopping block if they have warranted a failing grade on the most recent progress report or if they’ve received a “C” for three consecutive years. Schools also qualify for closure if they have received a rating of “Underdeveloped” on the most recent Quality Review or if they were identified as “Persistently Lowest Achieving” (PLA) by the State Education Department.

“The goal of these discussions is to gain a better understanding of where weaknesses in their educational strategy lie and why they are struggling,” said Deputy Schools Chancellor Marc Sternberg. “We’ll take the feedback into consideration as we explore options to improve performance and support student success, and continue to work with all of our schools to ensure that students have access to high quality options.”

According to DOE spokesperson Frank Thomas, Peninsula Preparatory is being considered for closure for many reasons. He said besides the fact that the charter school’s renewal is coming up this year — which puts the school under close examination — Peninsula Preparatory is not on track to meet set goals. He said the school also has a higher than average teacher turnover rate, which means that teachers are frequently leaving the school after brief terms — causing the school to replace teachers often.

Peninsula Preparatory received a “C” on the last two progress reports.

“We’re following our plan of action to improve student achievement, and we’re doing the best that we can,” said Principal Ericka Wala. “We’ll see how it unfolds. I feel good about the progress we’ve made so far.”

The list of schools put on notice has doubled since September, when 20 public elementary and middle schools in the city were targeted for closure, including two elementary schools in Queens — P.S. 215 Lucretia Mott in Woodmere and P.S. 181 Brookfield in Springfield Gardens.

P.S. 215 in Woodmere received an “F” on the most recent progress report and P.S. 181 in Springfield Gardens received a “D.” The schools each performed one grade worse than they did on last year’s progress report. P.S. 215 received a “D” on last year’s report, while P.S. 181 received a “C.”

Soon after September — following the release of high school progress reports — Law, Government and Community Service High School in Cambria Heights also found its way to the constantly-expanding list of schools at risk of termination. The school scored the lowest in the borough this year, with an overall total score of 40.9 percent. It has received a “D” this year and the last, and falls in the bottom 6.7 percentile of city high schools.

But according to DOE officials, decisions to close any school have not been made yet.

For the first time, the DOE has instated an “early engagement process” for charter schools in which DOE and school officials remain in “an ongoing conversation and discussion about areas that schools are doing well in and are not doing well in,” Thomas said.

Any decisions on which schools will close will not come until mid-December at the earliest.

“This isn’t a list of schools to close — it’s just a list of schools that are struggling,” Thomas said. “We take a close look at them to see if they can do better in the future. We always know that they can do better.”

Last year’s list included 12 Queens schools — none of which were closed.

South Ozone Park students using iPads


| aasperin@queenscourier.com

Goodbye bulky social studies textbook. Hello slim, sleek iPad2.

Students at Our Lady’s Catholic Academy in South Ozone Park are closing their “old-fashioned” textbooks and notebooks as they enter the touch-screen world of Apple for assignments, note taking, tutorials and more.

“I’m so emotional,” said 11-year-old Katherine Duarte of South Ozone Park. “I think I’m going to be able to learn a lot more things than with a regular book because it’s interactive.”
Thirty-one students of Ricky Sosa’s sixth-grade class traded in their Mead paper notebooks for iPads last week, thanks to a $10,000 grant from the Alive in Hope Foundation and Futures in Education. Additional funding was acquired through school fundraisers, increased enrollment and cost savings from the discontinued use of paper textbooks.

Principal Kevin Coyne, 32, of Rockaway Park, said this year’s sixth grade class had the greatest gain in standardized test scores, especially in the reading area. As a result, he decided to write a grant to the Alive in Hope Foundation to help students move forward with a new approach.

“Education is limited by traditional technology,” Coyne said. “With an iPad, children can access vocabulary by tapping on a word and instantly seeing the definition or explore geography with 3-D maps.”

Coyne added that with the use of an iPad, the child becomes more active in effective learning. He said although many think Catholic schools are “stuck in the 20th century,” OLCA is breaking boundaries by becoming the first school in the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens to introduce iPads to students.

“I wanted to do this not because it’s the ‘cool thing’ but because this is going to be a tool that will maximize a student’s learning experience,” he said. “We’re bringing kids to the present.”

Priscilla Uy of Futures in Education, an organization providing tuition assistance and program support to students of Catholic schools in Brooklyn and Queens, said the introduction of the iPad to the classroom is priceless.

“It’s going to help kids keep up with the world and be up-to-date with technology,” said Uy, 30, of Oakwood in Staten Island. “It’s a great gift of education. We’re giving a lot of kids in this neighborhood an opportunity they might not otherwise have.”

Children in Sosa’s class will ditch their heavy textbooks and opt for iBooks, which will enable them to highlight, take notes, and even look up words in a built-in dictionary. The iPad even has the ability to read back to them.

“These students have the tools right in front of them,” said Sosa, 26, of Kew Garden Hills. “You’re presenting the information and letting them explore it themselves.”

However, there will be restrictions as to what his students can access. Educational-based applications in geography, science, math and anatomy are all acceptable but students do not have access to the Apple App Store and the iPads can only be used in the classroom.

But what about hard-copy textbooks? Sosa said the class isn’t completely exiling books, pens and notebooks from the classroom, but that the iPad is simply an additional tool that will be integrated in the curriculum to help students on a more personal level.

“If a student has a question about a word or something they don’t understand, they have the ability to go on Google and look it up themselves,” Sosa said. “We do the research together and learn together.”

Ananda Persaud, 40, mother of 11-year-old Kayla, who received an iPad, has mixed feelings toward the new technology being introduced to her daughter.

“I’m a little wary because I wonder, what about manuals and textbooks,” said the mother of three from Ozone Park. “But my kids know a lot about technology, they even teach me, so I’m supportive.

Sebastian Araya, 11, of South Ozone Park, admitted he would probably take fewer notes with a pen and paper but that the iPad would still do more good than harm for him.

“I need more help in math, so I can use the iPad to play math games,” Araya said. “It’s different because I’ m learning in a fun way.”