Tag Archives: rockaway

Sandy recovery process highlighted at town hall in the Rockaways


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

It’s been two years since Superstorm Sandy ravaged southern Queens and though the recovery process is slow, it is moving in the right direction, city officials said at a town hall meeting in Rockaway.

“We are approaching the two-year anniversary of Sandy and still people are struggling,” said Councilman Eric Ulrich. “We wanted to give the community a chance to hear about the recovery process and ask their questions directly to the city agencies.”

The meeting, which was hosted by Ulrich and Councilman Donavan Richards at Beach Channel High School in Rockaway on Oct. 27, provided updates on the state of the Rockaway boardwalk, ferry service, street and light repairs, Build It Back numbers, FEMA insurance and other programs presented by representatives of the DOT, EDC, DEP, Parks Department, Build It Back and the Mayor’s office.

“Sandy highlighted many of the vulnerabilities that we had in the city,” said Dan Zarrilli, director of Recovery and Resiliency in the Mayor’s Office.

He added that his agency is working on strengthening coastal defenses through sand replenishment and bulkhead expansion while also lobbying the federal government to keep FEMA insurance at an affordable price for residents.

Amy Peterson, director of Build It Back, said that even though the agency is not where it needs to be, much progress has been made. Since January, there have been 750 construction starts and 1,000 checks issued throughout the city.

When it came to the DEP, Emily Lloyd, director of the agency, said they inspected 51 miles of storm sewers on the Rockaway peninsula running from Arverne to Neponsit and added that there was minimal damage to the water mains in the area.

She also said that the agency is working on minimizing the crude smell of the Rockaway Wastewater Treatment Plant, located on Beach 107th Street and Beach Channel Drive, via odor control and an upgraded filtration system but said there will never be absolutely no smell.

Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver gave a much-anticipated update on the Rockaway boardwalk. He said that the construction of the boardwalk, which was started in April, will be finished by Memorial Day of 2017. He added that when finished this boardwalk will “rival all others in the world.”

The DOT, represented by Queens Borough Commissioner Dalila Hall, has allotted $2 million for resurfacing work throughout southern Queens. Hall also said the agency is diligently repairing street lights and traffic signals, which were damaged from Sandy, and is working on getting Select Bus Service to the Rockaways as the need for transportation became so apparent in the wake of the storm.

Finally, Kyle Kimball, president of NYCEDC, gave news that met with much uproar from residents. The Rockaway ferry service, which was put in as a temporary transportation method after Superstorm Sandy, will be ending this month. He mentioned that the $5 million a year it would take to run the service was not in the city’s budget.

Councilman Richards said that even though the city still has a long way to go in the recovery process is still a long way to go, two years after the storm hit, progress has been made.

“Our communities still need repairs,” Richards noted. “But the stronger we remain together, the more likely the entire community will be rebuilt.”

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$232M Arverne View Rockaway housing development reopens two years after Sandy


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy HDC and Kevin J. Laccone

Rockaway seems even more resilient with the return of one of its large residential complexes.

Real estate firm L+M Development Partners and the city Housing Development Corporation cut the ribbon on the $232.3 million Arverne View housing complex in Rockaway on Monday, two years after the buildings were devastated by flooding from Superstorm Sandy.

The 13-acre complex, consisting of 1,093 units throughout 11 buildings, features affordable housing for low- and moderate-income families and has a daycare center, a community center, a supermarket, more than 10,000 square feet of on-site retail space, laundry facilities, 24-hour security, management office and parking.

In October 2012, days before L+M was about to buy what was then known as the Ocean Village housing complex, which had many buildings in need of repairs, Sandy wrecked the community. L+M continued with the purchase in November and committed to rebuilding the housing development. The buildings underwent a $60 million interior and exterior rehabilitation, funded by federal, city and private partnerships, and new storm-proofing and resiliency measures were installed.

“The devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy just two years ago left many of my neighbors in the Rockaways without adequate shelter. I applaud both the public and private partnerships that came together to rebuild and restore Arverne View,” said state Sen. James Sanders Jr.

Ribbon Cutting

The ribbon cutting was only ceremonial as renovations were completed in March.

The apartments range in size from studios to five bedrooms in the buildings, which vary in height from four stories to a 19-story tower.

Originally built in 1974 for low-income families, Arverne View remained affordable housing by accepting individuals and families earning no more than 80 percent of the area median income of $66,400 annually for a family of four. And 25 percent of units in the buildings were reserved for those earning no more than 60 percent of the area median income.

“Throughout the rehabilitation of Arverne View, our goal was to provide quality homes in a great setting and at the same time preserve affordable housing for the many New Yorkers that need it,” said Ron Moelis, CEO of L+M. “Standing here on the second anniversary of Hurricane Sandy among these beautifully renovated buildings truly makes you appreciate just how much we’ve accomplished.”

 

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Real estate roundup: The Crossing in downtown Jamaica revealed, friends return to Sandy damaged house


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of BRP Companies

93-01 Sutphin Boulevard Revealed

“BRP Companies have released renderings of their 25- and 14-story mixed-use development project at 93-01 Sutphin Boulevard, in Downtown Jamaica. Dubbed The Crossing, the complex will contain 580 residential units and 100,000 square feet of retail space.” Read more [New York YIMBY]

After 50 years in business, Frankie’s Pizzeria has closed

“The operators of Frankie’s Pizza, which is located at 22-56 31st Street, left a note in the window that read: Dear Costumers! Thank you for your loyalty and support after 50 years of business– Frankie’s Pizza is closing!” Read more [Astoria Post]

Organic Coffee Shop with Vegetarian Menu Opens in Forest Hills

“A new coffee shop featuring organic and vegetarian menu opened this week in Forest Hills, a neighborhood that has been primarily served by coffee shop chains, including Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts.” Read more [DNAinfo]

Rockaway Park Friends Return To Homes Damaged In Superstorm Sandy

“Nearly two years after Superstorm Sandy, two friends in a Queens neighborhood are finally back in their own homes.” Read more [CBS]

Real estate roundup: More homeless shelters to Queens, borough’s dining scene thriving


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

City Plans Second Homeless Shelter in Rockaway, Local Pol Says

“Another homeless shelter will open in the next few weeks in Rockaway, the second to open on the peninsula this year, according to an elected official and the local community board.” Read more [DNAinfo]

Wanted: Gentrifiers for huge Long Island City warehouse

“Investors in a far-flung corner of industrial Long Island City are looking for a way to transform a 300,000-square-foot development site into a property that will raise its neighbors’ values.” Read more [The Real Deal]

The dining scene turning Queens into the new Brooklyn

“Brooklyn, once an affordable refuge for restaurateurs and diners creating and seeking culinary adventures, is losing its down-home charm. And Queens, long known for its cheap ethnic eats, is filling the gap. For the first time ever, four of its restaurants have won a coveted Michelin star, and there are plenty more contenders.” Read more [New York Post]

Real estate roundup: Rockaway boardwalk project delayed, permits filed for Rego Park apartment building


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Rockaway Boardwalk Renewal Delayed Again as Project is Redesigned

The rebuilding of the Rockaways’ boardwalk will likely be delayed another three months as the design is modified to address community concerns about access to the waterfront, according to an official. The delay, the latest of many since the city began the project after Hurricane Sandy, will impact the more than a mile-long stretch that will also include a giant “ROCKAWAY” sign implanted into the boardwalk. Read more [DNAinfo]

Downtown Flushing: Where Asian Cultures Thrive

People who live and work in downtown Flushing sometimes call it “the Chinese Manhattan.” Both downtown Flushing, in north-central Queens, and Manhattan are centers of commerce, transportation and finance, and both have shiny new buildings with expensive and sought-after condominiums. Read more [New York Times]

Permits Filed: 65-70 Austin Street, Rego Park

There, at 65-70 Austin Street, behind the Long Island Rail Road’s main line, a new building permit application has been filed for a seven-story residential building. The building would, according to the permit application, rise 70 feet and include 45 apartments spread over 34,550 square feet of net residential space, for an average unit size of less than 800 square feet (we’re guessing rentals). It will include 28 off-street parking spaces, which is only a few more than required by zoning. Read more [New York YIMBY]

New shuttle bus coming to Catholic Charities centers in southern Queens


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Senior citizens may find it difficult to navigate around southern Queens, but that will soon change for many.

A new shuttle bus has been funded by Councilman Eric Ulrich to transport the elderly to and from their homes to five Catholic Charities senior centers throughout the 32nd Council District.

A total of $25,000 was allocated from Ulrich’s discretionary fund to pay for a driver, insurance and other vehicle-related expenses.

“This is important for senior citizens in this district,” Ulrich said. “[The bus] will be a lifeline for them.”

Along with transportation to and from the senior centers, where residents can participate in a variety of classes and workshops, the shuttle will provide rides to shopping centers and other local activities spots.

Ulrich hopes to extend the service to more of his constituents in the future.

“If this bus is successful now, I will do everything I can to extend it,” he said.

Residents and Catholic Charities officials thanked Ulrich for the allocation.

“We cannot tell you how much we appreciate this,” said Debra Hoffer, director of field operations for Catholic Charities. “Seniors will finally have the door-to-door service they need.”

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Breast cancer survivors create dragon boat racing team to raise funds


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Paddle for the Cure Dragon Boat Club


A new Queens-based dragon boat racing team is hoping to beat breast cancer by paddling.

The Paddle for the Cure Dragon Boat Club, a group comprised mostly of breast cancer survivors from the borough, is training in the World’s Fair Marina for competitions this year to support cancer research, while creating bonds with others who bested the disease.

The group, which is partnering with the Susan G. Komen Foundation, formed last year after breast cancer survivor Leah Salmorin reached out to trainer James Ma during a Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure fundraising event.

Dragon boat racing is an effective remedy for breast cancer survivors, because contrary to the prior belief that after surgery people shouldn’t exercise, the paddling helps women regain strength in their arms, according to Ma. Also, dragon boat racing is a fun sport that gives women a chance to interact and trade stories instead of exercising in a boring gym area.

“From experience working with them, they usually gravitate towards the sport and try to regain control of their lives after cancer,” said Ma, now president and coach of the club. “Each time they paddle, the race is already won as they enrich their lives by gaining strength and dignity.”

The club began weekly Saturday morning practices in May, hoping to compete in races in Rhode Island, Connecticut and Florida later this year.

They are collecting donations through events for equipment, and 20 percent of the funds raised will go to the New York City affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Foundation. The team will hold a bowling fundraising event on August 26 at Bowlmor Lanes in Manhattan that is open to everyone.

The club is run “by survivors for survivors,” but the group is open to anyone who would like to participate.

When Rockaway Beach resident Kelly Kelley, who beat breast cancer in 2007, received an email about the team, she felt it might be a refreshing experience to give it a try.

A tennis coach at The Mary Louise Academy in Jamaica, Kelley said she thought it would be a great fit because she likes sports and water.

And although drills were difficult for the women when she first started, she reminded her teammates that they beat cancer and can stand up against anything.

“We are a new team, we are new to the sport, so we have to work hard if we want to progress,” Kelley said. “I tell the other women, ‘Listen, it’s not worse than chemotherapy.’”

 

 

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WATCH: 93-year-old Rockaway man pulls pickup truck with teeth for ‘America’s Got Talent’ Judgement Week


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo by Eric Liebowitz/NBC


Rockaway strongman Mike “Mighty Atom Jr.” Greenstein proved on national television that he is still young enough to pull a pickup truck with his teeth, but was it enough to get him to the next round of “America’s Got Talent”?

In his second appearance on the NBC reality competition show Tuesday night, the 93-year-old tugged the approximately 5,000-pound vehicle along with his younger brother in the front seat and judges  judges Heidi Klum, Mel B, Howie Mandel and Howard Stern, and host Nick Cannon in the back.

“I’m here to prove that i’m the world’s greatest strongman—agewise or otherwise,” Greenstein said before performing for the judges.

EMS was standing by in case something happened to Greenstein. Mandel asked him if he was alright after he seemed out of breath following the stunt, but EMS personnel said the second-generation strongman had a good heart rate.

During the show’s season nine premiere on May 27, he used his choppers to pull a 3,500-pound station wagon, with his 84-year-old brother, his brother’s wife and his “lady friend,” inside of it. The feat earned yeses from Klum, Mel B and Mandel, and another audition during Judgement Week.

But Stern turned him down because he felt Greenstein “needed more showmanship.”

That same sentiment may have been felt after his second performance, and on Wednesday’s episode he was not chosen as one of the 47 acts to perform live at Radio City Music Hall.

“It doesn’t disappoint me. I love doing it and I’ll keep on doing it as long as I keep going,” Greenstein said after learning he was cut.

Throughout the Judgement Week auditions, the judges kept expressing that it was a competitive season.

Greenstein was up against several impressive variety acts, some of which made it to live shows, including a man who performs feats of strength, 26-year-old JD Anderson.

If he had gone further in the competition  Greenstein would have liked to have tried to bend iron bars across the bridge of his nose, something he hasn’t done in almost 40 years. But he’s happy to have just honored the legacy of his father, Joseph, the first “Mighty Atom.”

“I got my message across and that was my father’s memory,” he said.

Greenstein was not the only Queens resident to appear on the show this season. Roger “Rogue” Quan, a Briarwood magician who owns Rogue Magic and Funshop in Elmhurst, received four yeses from the judges on the July 1 episode. Though he did not make it onto the Judgement Week episodes and was not selected as one of the finalist for the live shows, Quan is thinking about auditioning for another season.

“I was really disappointed,” Quan said. “I already prepared my next four acts. Maybe I’ll try again next year.”

 

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Rockaway beaches back on track in time for July 4 holiday


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

SALVATORE LICATA

Finding a beach with a lifeguard in Rockaway should be a breeze for beachgoers — finally.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has finished its sand replenishment from Beach 60 to Beach 149 and the beaches will resume normal operation, according to Zachary Feder, a Parks Department spokesman.

The replenishment finished in time for the July 4 holiday, the busiest time on the Rockaway beachfront.

The Parks Department said it expected to have its peak complement of lifeguards on duty for the holiday weekend.

Many beachgoers were upset last weekend when they were told over 30 beaches were closed due to sand replenishment and were not given any advanced notice. But the Parks Department did say on its website there would be rolling closures, happening daily, until the project was finished.

“There were some closures while the Army Corps was working,” Feder said.

Now with the replenishment finally over, the beaches of Rockaway, which make up about half of the Parks Department beach property throughout the city, should have access similar to that of Coney Island and Orchard Beach.

However, 30 blocks of Rockaway beaches are still closed because of the nesting season of the piping plover, a federally protected bird species.

 

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Channel View HS baseball advances to PSAL championship game at Yankee Stadium


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre


After years of disappointment for the Channel View High School baseball team, players are now confident that “no one can swim with the Dolphins.”

Despite three previous winning seasons, including one tied for the conference title, the Rockaway team was a one-and-done squad in the playoffs each year. And even though they finished first in the Queens B South conference this season (14-2 PSAL), they faced doubts of their chances in the postseason. The Dolphins knew they would sink, not swim, in the playoffs this year again if they didn’t step up.

“Other teams, rivals, even the school doubted us at first,” senior infielder Sergio Galdamez said. “They said we wouldn’t past the first round. But look at us now — we’re in the championship.”

Channel View proved the critics wrong with four consecutive wins in the postseason, including three against higher-ranking teams, to reach the PSAL Division B championship game at Yankee Stadium on June 12 against five-seeded Bronx High School of Science. The Dolphins are like a fish out of water as they make their way to uncharted territory, but players believe they’ll be ready for the final game.

“I don’t want to think about being nervous,” said senior Kely Aponte, the team’s ace who will pitch in the championship game. “I want to stay confident to go out there and do what I do.”

The championship game is also a déjà vu moment for Channel View head coach John Mangieri, who won a city title at Yankee Stadium when he played for Archbishop Molloy 20 years ago. Mangieri said he’s excited to see his players living a dream that he has been through before.

“Four years ago this program had kids with no gloves, kids showed up in jeans,” Mangieri said. “These kids will have lifelong memories, and win or lose they are champions in my book.”

 

 

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Ferry runs aground in Jamaica Bay


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

Updated 5:20 p.m.

A Seastreak ferry ran aground near the eastern end of Jamaica Bay Wednesday afternoon.

The 65-foot long boat was on a private excursion with 29 people aboard, including 25 local Rockaway residents and business owners, and a few crew members, when it became stranded around 12:30 p.m., according to officials and the ferry company.

There were no injuries and the passengers were unloaded from the vessel and taken to a wharf just west of the Cross Bay Bridge, near where the incident happened, the FDNY said.

The ferry was moving at about 2 knots (1 mile) per hour when it ran aground in the eastern area of the bay after the captain noticed shallow water and slowed down the boat, Seastreak said.

The vessel did not appear to suffer any damage, and remains stuck in the water until it can float freely during the next incoming tide.

“I am told the boat encountered an uncharted shoal.  We are sorry this happened and that our guests were inconvenienced.  Thankfully, no one was injured,” Seastreak Spokesman Tom Wynne said.

Seastreak said the accident’s cause is still being investigated.

 

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93-year-old Rockaway strongman moves on to next round of ‘America’s Got Talent’


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos by Craig Blankenhorn/NBC

Rockaway strongman Mike “Mighty Atom Jr.” Greenstein pulled off enough yeses from the “America’s Got Talent” judges to earn another appearance on the reality competition show.

The 93-year-old was featured in the NBC program’s season nine premiere Tuesday night, where he pulled a Plymouth station wagon with his teeth.

He impressed judges Heidi Klum, Mel B and Howie Mandel with his strength, but judge Howard Stern said no.

But three out of four was all Greenstein needed to go to Judgment Week, where he will audition again, and the judges will determine which 48 acts will compete in the live shows for America’s vote. Judgment Week will air in July.

Greenstein, wearing a “Mighty Atom & Sons 1940” t-shirt, in honor of his father, the first “Mighty Atom,” who became renowned for his strongman act, both shocked and amazed the audience when he revealed his talent.

“You might say I have been carrying on his legacy,” Greenstein said during an interview for the show.

Though he never made a career out of his strongman act like his father, Greenstein performed as a hobby, after doing shows during WWII all over the country.

“My dad would be very proud to see me doing things like this,” Greenstein said. “I hope the judges think of me as something extraordinary, especially at my age.”

In his younger days, he would bend iron bars, break chains and pull vehicles with his hair and teeth.

“The hair is no more, so I am still pulling with my teeth,” he said.

Greenstein said, even at 93, his teeth are all his own.

He used those choppers to pull the 3,500-pound station wagon, with his 84-year-old brother, his brother’s wife and his “lady friend,” inside of it.

With cheers of encouragement from the New York City audience, he towed the car a full-vehicle length and impressed the judges.

“That’s amazing at any age,” Mandel said.

But Stern turned him down because he felt Greenstein “needed more showmanship.”

The comment elicited boos from the audience and even host Nick Cannon.

Greenstein said in his next appearance he wants an open-back truck with about 20 to 30 people in the back of it.

If he goes further in the competition, the strongman told The Courier he would like to bend iron bars across the bridge of his nose, something he hasn’t done in almost 40 years.

“I feel with my mental capacity I can do it.”

 

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93-year-old Rockaway strongman to appear on ‘America’s Got Talent’


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos by Craig Blankenhorn/NBC

Don’t let his age fool you.

At 93 years old, 5 feet 4 inches tall and 140 pounds, Rockaway resident Mike “Mighty Atom Jr.” Greenstein can pull a car with his teeth.

He will show off his feats of strength on the Season 9 premiere of “America’s Got Talent” next week.

The grandfather of three and great-grandfather of two is a second-generation strongman.

His father, Joseph, the first “Mighty Atom,” was a Polish immigrant who came to Texas and started working in the oil fields in the early 20th century, where Greenstein was born.

But, Joseph, with a belief that strength was also built from mental ability, a philosophy he passed onto his son, later started performing as a strongman, and became renowned for his act.

Greenstein, along with his four brothers, trained with his father, but he didn’t perform himself until he joined the service during WWII.

After his father performed for the men at a camp in North Carolina where Greenstein was teaching aviation, he was asked if he could do a strongman act.

Remembering his father’s training and borrowing his equipment, Greenstein agreed and continued the shows at other camps and in area towns to raise money for war bonds.

“I enjoyed entertaining and enjoyed the applause,” he said.

Greenstein never made a career out of the act like his father, and went on to be a mechanic for Trans World Airlines and a wedding photographer, but continued to do strongman shows on the side.

Part of his act would include putting chains around his chest and breaking them, lifting weights by hand and his teeth, and bending them across the bridge of his nose. One of the feats he still performs today is pulling cars and trucks with his teeth, which he says are “still his own.”

In recent years, the senior citizen’s strongman abilities have garnered attention through the media. After finding out about his skills, “America’s Got Talent” came calling, and Greenstein went out for an audition.

During the season premiere, at 8 p.m. Tuesday on NBC, he will show off his car-pulling skills in front of judges Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, Mel B and Howie Mandel.

Hosted by Nick Cannon, the reality competition showcases a range of performers, from singers to dancers, to jugglers and magicians. The winner receives a $1 million prize.

“As I grow older I enjoy it more that I can still do certain things,” Greenstein said.

“There is nothing you can’t do if you put your mind to it.”

To see how Greenstein did on the “America’s Got Talent” season premiere, click here

 

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FEMA to pay for Sandy-damaged boilers in Rockaway NYCHA buildings


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Rob Bennett for the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio

New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) residents in the Rockaways and other parts of the city will receive a much needed fix to their buildings following Superstorm Sandy.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Senator Charles Schumer announced Sunday that 60 boilers in 110 separate NYCHA residential buildings in the Rockaways, Coney Island and the Lower East Side that were damaged in the storm will be replaced.

FEMA will provide approximately $100 million in funding for the “new state-of-the-art-boilers.” Since Sandy, NYCHA has been spending $3 million per month for temporary boilers in the buildings.

Officials said that instead of repairing the boilers, as is normal, FEMA had agreed to replace them, speeding up the process of restoring regular service to the affected buildings.

“For more than 16 months, bureaucratic infighting and red tape have denied NYCHA residents the most basic of necessities—reliable heat and hot water,” Schumer said. “Today we’re firmly on the path to righting a wrong that has too often left NYCHA residents in the cold during the winter and in the dark at night.”

The final funding agreement is expected to be in place in time so boiler replacement can start later this year, according to Schumer.

 

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Pols push for St. John’s Hospital to be reimbursed for Sandy expenses


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the office of Assemblymember Goldfeder

Local pols want to keep the lone Rockaway hospital from flat lining.

Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder and State Sentator James Sanders sponsored a bill to bring $4.3 million to St. John’s Episcopal Hospital to reimburse them for expenses spent during and after Sandy.

“St. John’s is the only healthcare facility available to serve nearly 100,000 families on the Rockaway Peninsula,” Goldfeder said. “We must ensure that St. John’s has the tools necessary to protect its current services and expand in order to serve our community and keep our families healthy for many years to come.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo allocated $1.2 billion in his executive budget for healthcare facilities. Goldfeder requested a portion of that be reserved for St. John’s.

During the superstorm, the hospital worked on “caring for the many sick, elderly and homeless community members who entered our doors seeking shelter and medical assistance, and not the cost or how it would be recouped,” said Richard Brown, St. John’s CEO.

“These much-needed funds would help our recovery and aid us in upholding our mission of service to the people of the Rockaways,” he said.

 

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