Tag Archives: Senator Joseph Addabbo

Conventional Wisdom: Cuomo pushes for center in Queens


| smosco@queenscourier.com

Images Courtesy of Resorts World

During his State of the State address on January 4, Governor Andrew Cuomo made many bold pronouncements, but perhaps his most ambitious statement was his proposal for the “nation’s largest convention center in Queens.”

And the governor already has a spot picked out and a developer in mind – Genting America, the company which brought the Resorts World casino to the grounds of the Aqueduct Racino in South Ozone Park, which announced its plans for a convention center in a letter of intent.

Dubbed the New York International Convention and Exhibition Center (NICE), the $4 billion project would be financed by Resorts World and would encompass 3.8 million-square-feet, with the first phase to be completed by November 2014 at the earliest.

The project would also include up to 3,000 hotel rooms, and officials believe, all told, it would bring 10,000 construction jobs, 10,000 permanent jobs and tens of thousands of ancillary jobs throughout the borough.

“I personally think this is a good thing,” said Paul Anteri, a resident from the area surrounding Resorts World. “It’ll bring more revenue to the area. Usually when you develop convention centers, it tends to bring a better type of people to the area. It brings business, jobs, tourism. A convention center means you’re going to need hotels, places for people to stay and eat. It’ll just help raise small businesses.”

While most elected officials are putting their support behind Cuomo, many believe developers must have their ears open to community input.

“I am enthusiastic about the idea of a convention center at the Aqueduct Racetrack site, but I also believe we should proceed forward in a cautious manner,” said State Senator Joseph Addabbo. “I am an advocate for community input on this project and feel most people would want to see plans or drawings for the proposal. Given our current economic situation, I would certainly work toward creating the thousands of jobs and revenue to the city and state the convention center brings.”

Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder echoed Addabbo belief that the community must be involved in the planning process.

“The proposal to build the largest convention center in the nation at Aqueduct is an ambitious plan that must be undertaken responsibly and appropriately with real community involvement and participation,” he said.

Representatives from the Queens Chamber of Commerce, which has advocated for a convention center in Queens for almost a decade, added that this project will give the people of Queens what it needs most – jobs.

“This is a great day for the people of Queens County and the Queens Chamber of Commerce,” said Jack Friedman, executive director.

Carol Conslato, the Chamber’s president, who attended the State of the State speech, added, “The Governor’s plan to build a 3.8-million-square-foot facility with 3,000 new hotel rooms at Aqueduct Racetrack is a huge victory for the borough of Queens.”

Howard Beach has come ‘a long way’ since racial incident


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Twenty-five years after escalating racial tensions in Howard Beach thrust the neighborhood into infamy, residents and local leaders alike say the “tight community” has changed for the better.

On December 20, 1986, Howard Beach emerged into the spotlight when a gang of white teens — waving bats and bellowing racial slurs — brutally beat three black men who chanced upon the neighborhood after their car broke down. According to reports, one of the three — 23-year-old Michael Griffith — was chased onto oncoming traffic on Shore Parkway, where he was hit by a car and killed after attempting to escape the mob.

Four of the assailants were charged with murder, manslaughter and assault, and the incident was deemed one of the most explosive racial crimes in the city in recent years by multiple reports — eventually making Howard Beach synonymous with hate, residents said.

“For people who are not from the area, it’ll trigger something when they hear the words ‘Howard Beach,’” said Margaret, a resident who did not want to give her last name. “That was one incident. It was a very unfortunate incident, but it shouldn’t define an entire neighborhood.”

Elected officials and community leaders shared the same sentiment, saying the infamous incident has stained the neighborhood’s name.

“There are people in every community of which race relations are what it shouldn’t be,” said Betty Braton, chairperson of Community Board 10. “We’re tarnished for something the community did not do or condone.”

Even still, Senator Joseph Addabbo said he’s “very happy” with where the community stands 25 years later.

“It’s always an effort to get Howard Beach out of that limelight,” he said. “We have come so far since then. It took a while to get to this point and I’m very happy where we are now. Howard Beach is a great community, made up of great, hardworking people. I think they do well promoting the good will of Howard Beach, where there are so many more positive things going on.”

According to the 2010 census, the vast majority of Howard Beach residents — close to 77 percent — are white, only about 2 percent are black and close to 17 percent are Hispanic.

“We’re a lot more diverse than in the past,” said Christina Gold, president of the Lindenwood Alliance. “We’ve become bonded. We’re one family. What happened 25 years ago… I don’t think we have that issue now, and we’re going to continue to be that way.”

Still, some residents said 25 years isn’t enough time for people to outgrow such “deep-rooted” feelings of hate.

“To say that it’s vanished — it’d be wonderful to say that, but I don’t think so,” said Meybol Geramita. “Unfortunately, people don’t change that quickly.”

This March, a noose — long a symbol of hatred and intolerance — was discovered hanging on a tree near Lindenwood’s P.S. 232, much to the disgust and dismay of the neighborhood. However, elected officials deemed it an “isolated incident,” pointing to the diversity of the neighborhood as proof.

“Unfortunately, no area of our great city is immune to hate crimes. We’re seeing it in Queens and also in Brooklyn, but nowhere should it be tolerated,” Addabbo said. “I think there are still remnants of [racism], but we have come a long way, and as the years go on, it’ll keep diminishing.”

Senator Joseph Addabbo to hold mobile office hours


| mchan@queenscourier.com

For two Thursday evenings in December, Senator Joseph Addabbo will hold office hours at libraries in Richmond Hill to hear from constituents looking to voice their concerns. Addabbo will be available from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on December 8 at the Richmond Hill library (118-14 Hillside Avenue) and at the same time on December 15 at Lefferts library (103-34 Lefferts Boulevard). No appointments are necessary.

Addabbo and Goldfeder tour Aqueduct Racino


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Senator Joseph Addabbo

After touring Resorts World New York City on October 3, Assemblymember Phil Goldfeder (left) and Senator Joseph Addabbo (right) learned the Racino — set to open on October 28 — was up to speed with construction. They also previewed other amenities separate from the casino, including an indoor parking lot and family-friendly restaurants.

Martin Luther now has a middle school


| brennison@queenscourier.com

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After more than 50 years of serving Queens as a high school, Martin Luther expanded this year to include sixth, seventh and eighth graders.

The ribbon was cut for the new middle school on Thursday, September 29 on the revamped third floor of the Maspeth school building. Politicians, local business owners, parents, administrators and students were on hand to usher in the school’s new era.

“When so many parochial schools seem to be cutting back on programs, we’re trying to expand,” said Head of School Randal Gast. “The bricks and mortar of the future at Martin Luther as well as our community and our church [are the children].”

The school year kicked off for the 32 middle school students on September 7. While there are plans to expand in the coming years, Principal Barbara Chin-Sinn added that a smaller class size allows more one-on-one teaching time with each student.

State Senator Joseph Addabbo and Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley – both of whom have been incredibly supportive of the school, Gast said – spoke to the students about the opportunity they have at Martin Luther.

Crowley, whose brother and sister both attended the high school, said part of their success is due to the foundation they gained at Martin Luther.

“You’ll have even more of an advantage because you’re coming in at a younger age,” said Crowley. “You have a very unique opportunity.”

“At a time when schools are struggling to survive, here you are cutting the ribbon on an expansion at Martin Luther. That’s why you should really be proud today,” said Addabbo.

Chin-Sinn joined the Martin Luther staff after 25 years at St. John’s Lutheran School in Glendale. Chin-Sinn’s vision includes making sure each student is prepared for high school.

“Quality education is important,” she said. “Our teachers are very well-equipped.”

Each eighth grader will take the Regents exams in both Intermediate Algebra and Living Environment this June.

Academics is not the only benefit the students will be able to take advantage of. There are programs both before and after school for students, including band, basketball, volleyball, photography, chess and drama.

“It’s fun,” said sixth grader Sally of the extracurriculars. “There are lots of clubs to choose from.”

All the students are involved in some extracurricular activity, said Chin-Sinn.

The programs before school begin at 7 a.m., with extracurricular activities after school lasting from 2:45 until 6 p.m.

“I’m excited about the myriad of opportunities that are open for these children,” Chin-Sinn said.