Tag Archives: Springfield Gardens

Ozone Park PathMark will become a Stop & Shop supermarket next week

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Project Woodhaven

Now officially sold from its bankrupt parent company, the Ozone Park PathMark supermarket will be closed and reopened next week as Queens’ newest Stop & Shop store.

On Thursday, the Stop & Shop Supermarket Company sealed the deal it brokered in July with the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (A&P) to purchase 25 PathMark, Waldbaum’s and A&P supermarkets across the tri-state area. The deal came after A&P filed for federal bankruptcy protection, claiming that it suffered $300 million in losses in the last year.

Located at 92-10 Atlantic Ave., the Ozone Park PathMark is the first of six Pathmark and Waldbaum’s locations included in the deal that will be converted into Stop & Shop supermarkets. The market will close for a one-week period for renovations and is expected to reopen on Friday, Oct. 16.

Stop & Shop will complete the conversion process in groups of five newly acquired supermarkets. All 25 locations are expected to be completely converted by Nov. 13.

Once renovations are complete, the new Stop & Shop locations will have a modern decor, updated refrigeration systems, improved lighting, technological upgrades and other amenities. The markets will also feature brands affiliated with Stop & Shop, such as the Nature’s Promise product line, as well as locally grown produce and various organic products.

Pharmacies and/or banks located in the former PathMarks and Waldbaum’s will remain open during the conversion process.

“We are very excited to begin the store conversion process, and we will strive to minimize the inconvenience to customers,” Stop & Shop New York Metro Division President Don Sussman said. “Stop & Shop is committed to improving the overall shopping experience in these 25 stores to meet the quality, selection and savings that customers have come to expect from us.”

The other five new Stop & Shops are two other PathMark locations on Farrington Street in Flushing and Springfield Boulevard in Springfield Gardens and three Waldbaum’s on 26th Avenue in Bayside, Beach Channel Drive in Belle Harbor and Cross Bay Boulevard in Howard Beach.

Upon filing for bankruptcy in July, A&P put 120 of its 296 supermarkets nationwide up for sale. Other supermarket chains such as Key Food and Acme reportedly made bids to purchase various Pathmark and Waldbaum’s locations. Twenty-five other stores were completely closed.


Man who caused MTA bus crash charged for possessing 64 bags of cocaine

| amatua@queenscourier.com

Photo via Google Maps

The man who caused an MTA bus to crash at high speed into two parked cars and a metal fence in Springfield Gardens last weekend was charged this week with allegedly having bags full of cocaine on him during his wild ride.

Chevon Parchment, 24, of Elmont, Long Island was driving a 2015 Chrysler at Baisley Boulevard and 153rd Street after 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 3, when police attempted to stop him for not wearing a seat belt.

Police activated their lights and sirens but Parchment fled the scene and failed to stop at three stoplights and a stop sign, authorities said. When he failed to stop at a red light on South Conduit Avenue, his car was struck by an MTA bus, which then hit multiple parked vehicles, a metal fence and stopped near the side of a two-story house on Meadow Road.

According to prosecutors, Parchment was receiving medical attention at the scene, which required EMS to cut his clothing, when police noticed that a plastic bag containing 64 small Ziploc bags of cocaine were laying on top of his boxers. Each small bag contained 1/8th of an ounce of cocaine.

“What allegedly began as a traffic stop for driving without a seatbelt quickly escalated when the defendant attempted to avoid being stopped by the police,” Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said. “As a result of his alleged reckless actions, the defendant put the lives of pedestrians, bus passengers, the police – and himself – needlessly at risk.”

Parchment was charged on Wednesday with third- and fourth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, second-degree reckless endangerment, third-degree unlawful fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle, reckless endangerment of property and various traffic violations.

His bail was set at $10,000 and Parchment was ordered to return to court on Oct. 21. If convicted, Parchment faces up to nine years in prison.


Springfield Gardens community rallies to keep local bank open

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of state Senator Leroy Comrie

Updated Sept. 29, 9:50 a.m.


Springfield Gardens residents rallied with state Senator Leroy Comrie and other advocates Friday outside a Chase Bank slated to close, calling for the financial giant to reverse its decision.

Comrie was joined by Councilman I. Daneek Miller, Democratic Assembly nominee Alicia Hyndman, NAACP Jamaica branch president Leroy Gadsden, and a large number of residents and community members fighting to keep the branch located at 134-40 Springfield Blvd. open.

The Chase Bank branch is centrally located in the outdoor Pathmark Shopping Center at the intersection of Springfield and Merrick boulevards. It is adjacent to a walk-in medical clinic, a Pathmark supermarket and the community’s Municipal Credit Union (MCU).

During Friday’s rally, Comrie called upon Chase to reverse its decision given the groundswell of community support as well as the need for the financial institution.

“As not only the representative of this community but a loyal customer of Chase Bank, I see the vital function it plays every day in keeping commerce flowing,” Comrie said in a statement. “Evidence points to the great financial potential of this community. Instead of pulling out, Chase should recognize its very real possibility to be the fiscal and commercial hub of southeast Queens.”

Comrie’s fellow civic and community leaders voiced similar concerns during the rally regarding the effects the bank’s closure may have on the neighborhood.

“A closure of this Chase branch is a net negative for both our community and the bank,” Miller said. “In a community like ours, comprised of homeowners, middle to upper income families, and a growing commercial district in downtown Jamaica, it’s puzzling from a business perspective that Chase would want to reduce their presence in southeast Queens. It is my hope that the bank will realize this branch’s significance to local residents, as well as our community’s contribution to the institution, and that the business will remain open.”

Both Hyndman and Gadsden echoed the need for responsible banking and financial institutions like Chase Bank in underserved communities.

“Chase not long ago made a promise to this state to work with the feedback communities provide to improve business relations and help local economies,” Hyndman said. “This is the exact antithesis of that. Before Chase closes this branch, they need to seriously reconsider the community’s need and their own responsibility to act in good faith to minority communities.”

“One of the main things that stabilize the community are their banks,” Gadsen added. “If Chase bank wants our business across America and all the benefits that come with being federally recognized, they should be sharing services with the minority community. Not doing so is a form of economic discrimination. We expect the same type of service in the black community as everywhere else.”

The impending closing of the Chase Bank branch is not the only change coming to this community hub. The neighboring Pathmark supermarket will soon be replaced by a Stop and Shop super store after Pathmark’s parent company, Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (A&P), filed for bankruptcy in July.

“We hope that Chase will not abandon this community and remain a fixture for all who rely on it,” Comrie concluded.

Chase has three other branches located within a mile of the Springfield Gardens branch. A Chase representative declined to comment to The Courier on the matter.


Springfield Gardens dialysis patient named ‘Hero of Hope’ by the American Kidney Fund

| amatua@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Facebook/For Kidney's Sake

Angela L. Davis’ life was completely changed on Jan. 31, 2008, when, after passing out and being taken to the hospital, she found that her kidneys had failed.

Davis, a Springfield Gardens resident, started dialysis the next day and stayed in the hospital for five months due to complications. Her hospital stay, though challenging, allowed her to understand and empathize with people who were forced to change their normal routines to start a grueling process to artificially duplicate the functions of kidneys.

“Dialysis is very, very challenging, challenging on the body physically, challenging emotionally, and it takes determination and fortitude to get up every day and say, ‘We’re going to do this,'” Davis said.

In January 2012, Davis started For Kidney’s Sake, a nonprofit that aims to provide education and recreational activities for chronic kidney patients to relieve the isolation they may feel in response to their disease. Davis held a “Spa Day” for more than 60 dialysis patients in March and set up a mobile spa in a school gymnasium. People were treated to hand scrubs, massages and lunch.

“When you’re a dialysis patient, you lose a lot of your normal routines. If you were a person who likes to go out every weekend and drink beer, you can no longer do that,” Davis said. “A lot of times what goes along with giving up those things is giving up your friends or family that participate in those activities, so people feel isolated and depressed.”

Davis said people who attended “Spa Day” and other events hosted by the nonprofit have thanked her for getting them out of the house. Some patients had not left their house, except to attend dialysis treatment, in two years. Davis also hosted a Zumba party to encourage people to exercise and a trip to Dorney Park in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Her dedication to improving the lives with those with kidney disease earned her a “Hero of Hope” honor from the American Kidney Fund. Davis will attend the American Kidney Fund’s seventh annual gala in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 30 to receive the award.

“A Hero of Hope is a patient who inspires others by giving back to his or her community despite the many physical, emotional and financial challenges of living with kidney failure,” said Tamara Ruggiero, vice president of Public Affairs for the American Kidney Fund. “Angela’s outreach to dialysis patients, helping overcome the isolation felt by so many, is changing lives in her community, and we are honored to present the 2015 American Kidney Fund Hero of Hope Award to her at our national gala, The Hope Affair, next month.”

The American Kidney Fund is the nation’s leader in providing charitable assistance to dialysis patients and 97 cents of every dollar that the nonprofit earns goes directly to patients. The organization also provides grants to one of every five dialysis patients in the country to ease the burden of medical bills, and Davis is a recipient.

“I’m very proud to be honored and I believe that this award hopefully will shed light on not only my organization but the issue of the psychological impact that kidney disease has on patients because like I said before, kidney disease is challenging and you have to have the attitude that ‘I have chronic kidney disease but chronic kidney disease does not have me,'” Davis said.


Motorcyclist dies in Springfield Gardens crash

| amatua@queenscourier.com

Image via Google Maps

A 22-year-old motorcyclist was killed Saturday afternoon after he was struck by an SUV in Springfield Gardens, according to authorities.

Stephen-John Salmon of Laurelton was riding his motorcycle west on 140th Avenue when he was struck by a Toyota Highlander traveling southbound on Bedell Street at about 5:50 p.m., police said.

The driver, a 45-year-old woman, was making a left turn onto 140th Avenue when she hit Salmon, who was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.

EMS transported Salmon to Jamaica Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Police are still investigating and no arrests have been made.


Springfield Gardens teen completes All Star Code summer program

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photos courtesy of All Star Code

While most high school students were relaxing during their summer vacation, one student from Queens finished a six-week summer program with All Star Code (ASC), an organization that prepares young men of color for full-time employment in the technology field.

That student is De Andre King, 17, who lives in Springfield Gardens and will be a senior at The Urban Assembly Gateway School for Technology this September. During his sophomore year King was introduced to ASC for the first time at a job fair hosted by the technology school.

“In school they have a job fair. I was drawn to their table because of their presentation,” King said. “I applied for the program in my sophomore year. I was very passionate about it.”

Unfortunately, King was not accepted to the program on his initial application. He waited until the school held the job fair again during his junior year; this time, he was accepted.

As a nonprofit initiative, the ASC’s mission is to inspire, equip and support students in becoming creators and innovators in the technology field. They focus on increasing professional access to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education for young men of color.

“With everything that is going on today in the field of technology, I know the All Star Code program can give me the tools necessary to propel myself into the tech field,” King said. “It opens my eyes to the possibilities in the tech field.”

As a sponsor of the ASC program, AT&T believes in their work and helps support the program.

“We awarded All Star Code a $100,000 AT&T Aspire Grant to support students to graduate high school, preparing them for college or to enter the workforce,” said Marissa Shorenstein, AT&T New York president. “We believe in the mission of the program and commitment to introduce high school students to STEM and insure the future workforce. In addition to providing them with money, we provide mentorship for students.”

During the six-week program, King and the other students were tasked with completing complex projects using different coding managers. The group also got to make site visits to the offices of many tech giants including Google, Dropbox, YouTube and Yelp.

ASC Graduation

For their final project, King and his group created their very own app. Their “Novus Application” was designed to allow students to have all of their academic and non-academic information all in one platform and while on the go.

“Novus allows for better communication between students and schooling,” King said. “You can get information on school teams, grades and more. Sometimes it is hard to access information as student through the school.”

King believes the ASC program has taught him more than just coding and creating computer programs.

“One thing that sticks out to me is accepting that failure is in the process of growth. From there you can learn and improve,” King said. “Sometimes it is hard to admit or acknowledge failures. It really humbled me and taught me that it’s okay to fail. In each trial you will encounter failures.”


U-turn proves fatal for driver involved in Springfield Gardens crash

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Google Maps

A 60-year-old Long Island man died early Wednesday morning after colliding with another car while making a U-turn at a Springfield Gardens intersection, according to police.

The fatal accident occurred at 1:21 a.m. at the intersection of Rockaway and International Airport Center boulevards, about a mile west of Brookville Boulevard.

Police said Donald Angrum of Hempstead, Long Island was behind the wheel of a 2015 Hyundai Elantra traveling eastbound on Rockaway Boulevard when he decided to make a U-turn onto the westbound lanes.

As he did so, his vehicle was struck in the rear by a 2005 Chevrolet Impala operated by a 41-year-old man traveling westbound on Rockaway Boulevard, authorities said.

Officers from the 105th Precinct and EMS units responded to the scene. Both drivers sustained head and back injuries and were brought to Jamaica Hospital. Angrum died at the medical center a short time later; the 41-year-old driver was listed in stable condition.

No arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing.


PHOTOS: Queens residents enjoy a fun ‘Night Out’ with New York’s Finest

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Promoting greater harmony between police and the people they serve, Tuesday’s National Night Out Against Crime brought thousands of Queens residents out to venues across the “World’s Borough” for family-friendly activities.

From Astoria to the Rockaway Peninsula, each Night Out event included free games and activities for children of all ages as well as refreshments, live music and other entertainment. Residents also had the opportunity to meet with the officers who serve their community and learn more about the NYPD’s various crime prevention programs.

Local elected officials, including Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, attended each gathering and presented proclamations to the precinct commanders. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who made the rounds at Night Out events across the city, stopped by the 113th Precinct’s Night Out in Springfield Gardens.

The National Night Out Against Crime, founded by the National Association of Town Watch, aims to strengthen relationships between law enforcement and the communities. Millions of people across the U.S. and Canada were estimated to have participated in Night Out events Tuesday evening.


Armed bandits in Springfield Gardens stickup linked to earlier robbery: cops

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video and photo courtesy of NYPD

Two armed robbers wanted for tying up employees at a Fresh Meadows RadioShack earlier this month are suspected of pulling off the same crime at a Springfield Gardens cellphone store on Tuesday, police said.

The pair, while wearing hoodies, walked into a Metro PCS located at 219-25 North Conduit Ave. at about 3:30 p.m. on July 28 and took out silver firearms, authorities said. They then took a 30-year-old female clerk and a 47-year-old male customer to the rear of the store, where they tied them up. The suspects then removed money from the cash register and several cellphones before fleeing on foot.

According to police, the same suspects walked into a RadioShack at a Fresh Meadows shopping center on July 10, where they also tied up the store’s employees at gunpoint.

After the suspects entered the 87-12 Horace Harding Expwy. store at about 10:25 a.m., one of them displayed a silver firearm while the second forcibly bound the two employees with duct tape and then removed about $400 and various electronics devices, authorities said. The suspects then fled.


Police have released video from the most recent incident and photos from the RadioShack robbery. The perpetrators are described as black males, with the first suspect as about 40 years old, 5 feet 10 inches tall and 170 pounds.

Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS, visit their website or send a text message to 274637 (CRIMES), then enter TIP577. All calls and messages are kept confidential.


Stop & Shop to buy out Pathmark, Waldbaum’s supermarkets in Queens

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Updated, July 21, 2 p.m.

Stop & Shop is looking to grab six Queens supermarkets off the clearance rack.

The company announced Monday it is acquiring local Pathmark and Waldbaum’s supermarkets from the struggling Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (A&P), which filed for bankruptcy. In all, Stop & Shop is purchasing 25 Pathmark, Waldbaum’s and A&P locations in the tri-state area from the grocery giant for $146 million. The deal is subject to court approval, but is expected to be finalized before the end of this calendar year.

On Sunday, A&P announced it was filing for federal Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, its second such filing in five years, according to The Wall Street Journal. A&P reportedly racked up $2.3 billion in debts versus $1.6 billion in assets, according to its bankruptcy filing. Reportedly, the company lost $300 million between February 2014 and February 2015.

A Stop & Shop spokesperson said the acquired locations will remain open and become integrated into the national supermarket chain, and all of its employees would be retained.

“Stop & Shop is always looking for convenient locations to better serve our customers,” said Don Sussman, president of the company’s New York Metro Division. “We are very happy to have the opportunity to expand our presence in greater New York and serve new customers.”

Stop & Shop currently has five locations in Queens, including on Myrtle Avenue in Glendale; on Union Turnpike on the Glendale/Forest Hills border; on Northern Boulevard in Little Neck; and on 48th Street in Long Island City.

The chain will more than double its presence in the “World’s Borough” with the addition of three Waldbaum’s stores on 26th Avenue in Bayside, Beach Channel Drive in Belle Harbor and Cross Bay Boulevard in Howard Beach, as well as three Pathmark locations on Farrington Street in Flushing, Atlantic Avenue in Ozone Park and Springfield Boulevard in Springfield Gardens.

The 19 other Waldbaum’s and Pathmark locations that Stop & Shop purchased are in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties, Staten Island, Brooklyn, the Bronx and New Jersey.

The 25 stores Stop & Shop acquired represent about 10 percent of A&P’s 296 stores nationwide. As part of the bankruptcy filing, A&P put up 120 supermarkets for sale at a combined $600 million, which will be tested at an upcoming auction. The company is closing 25 other locations immediately; none of those stores are in Queens.

Stop & Shop has 395 stores from New Jersey to Massachusetts employing over 59,000 workers.


Pedestrian fatally struck by car on Belt Parkway

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

A pedestrian walking on the Belt Parkway in Springfield Gardens was hit and killed by a car Saturday morning, according to police.

The accident occurred just after 2 a.m. near Exit 22 (Springfield Boulevard).

According to authorities, the unidentified adult male was walking along the eastbound parkway adjacent to the south side of the concrete median divider when he was struck by a 2003 Nissan Sentra driven by a 21-year-old woman.

Officers from the 105th Precinct found the man lying on the roadway unconscious and unresponsive, with trauma about the body. EMS responding to the scene pronounced him dead at the scene.

No arrests were made and the investigation is ongoing.


Bank robber strikes twice in Springfield Gardens

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

He lost one, he won one.

A bank robber had mixed results in two bank robbery attempts in Springfield Gardens on Friday afternoon, police said, failing to get cash from one branch but succeeding at another location a short time later.

Reportedly, the first attempted heist occurred at 3:39 p.m. inside the Bank of America located at 216-02 Merrick Blvd.

Police said the perpetrator approached a teller and handed over a demand note. He then fled the scene after the employee refused to comply with the request.

About a half-hour later, authorities said, the same crook walked into the Chase bank located at 231-02 Merrick Blvd. at about 4:10 p.m. and again passed a demand note to the teller.

Reportedly, he also motioned to his waist and threatened to shoot if the teller did not comply with his demand. Police said no weapons were displayed.

Authorities said the employee handed over $1,191 in cash to the bandit, who then fled in an unknown direction.

Both robberies were reported to the 105th Precinct; there were no injuries.

The NYPD describes the suspect as a clean-shaven black male between 30 and 40 years of age, standing 5 foot 9 inches tall who was last seen wearing a white T-shirt and a black baseball hat with the letters “NY” written on the front. Police said he wore sunglasses during the first robbery attempt.

Anyone with information regarding the heist attempts or the suspect’s whereabouts is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS, visit their website or send a text message to 274637 (CRIMES), then enter the code TIP577. All calls and messages will be kept confidential.



Former governor inspires Merrick Academy graduates in Springfield Gardens

| amatua@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angela Matua

After lining up to receive their diplomas, Merrick Academy graduates in Springfield Gardens received some advice from the ceremony’s commencement speaker, former Governor David A. Paterson.

Paterson, who was the first African-American and legally blind governor of New York, spoke about the hardships he faced in school and throughout his life. His parents moved to Hempstead when Paterson was a child to avoid New York City public schools, where he would have been placed in special education classes because of his impairment.

After graduating from high school a year early, Paterson attended Columbia University. It was during college where he faced one of his biggest challenges, he said.

“Something happened to me in my second year of my college life that almost ended any chance of me ever having any career,” Paterson said. During the summer of his sophomore year, he attended a barbecue and was asked by the host to come up with a list of 15 people who could work at a catering service, bagging lunches for children going to day camp. Paterson included his name on the list but was not hired because of his impairment.

“He did not think that I could put an apple and a sandwich in a lunchbox and close it,” Paterson said.

His underage brother was also hired, which upset Paterson even further. The former governor said that when he went back to school he was too upset to study and was in danger of failing out of school. Paterson went back to Hempstead to speak to an old teacher and she encouraged him to take a break from school and find a job to boost his confidence. He went back to school a year later and graduated with a degree in history.

In an interview with The Courier, Paterson said he spoke about his struggles to make his message relatable to all students.

“Hopefully, they won’t think of me in the best of times because they don’t need me in the best of times. They need my words when things are not going well,” he said.

Graduate Enola Fasola, who wants to be a video game designer when he grows up, said he learned about perseverance during Paterson’s speech.

“I learned that if something happens to you, you can always rise back up,” Fasola said.

Principal Dr. Karen Valbrun said seeing her students graduate was a proud moment for her, and that she is excited to find out what they accomplish in the future.

“My message to them is no matter what disability, no matter what challenge stands in front of you, if you want to accomplish something, nothing should stand in your way,” Valbrun said. “To hold such a high position, in spite of what the media may say about black students especially in terms of being disadvantaged or fatherless homes or whatever other negative perceptions that may lie out there, they can still achieve.”


Former New York Knick Anthony Mason honored by Merrick Academy in Springfield Gardens

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photos by Anthony Giudice

Merrick Academy in Springfield Gardens honored New York Knicks star and Queens native Anthony Mason by dedicating its basketball court in his memory on May 20.

The court will now forever be known as “Mason’s Court.”

Mason was born and raised in Springfield Gardens before making it to the NBA to play for his hometown team, the New York Knicks. Earlier this year, Mason died of a heart attack at the age of 48.

Before Merrick Academy became Queens’ first charter school, the gymnasium belonged to a church in the neighborhood where Mason spent his youth shooting hoops.

“Anthony Mason was a member of this community, and it’s wonderful to be a part of some communities that are producing great people who have achieved a lot in life,” said Gerald Karikari, chairman of the board of trustees for Merrick Academy. “While he was taken away from us too soon, we want to honor his spirit because we want you to know that if you play basketball on this court, you too can do anything you want.”

Mason’s family and former teammate on the Knicks, John Starks, were present at the ceremony to honor Mason’s memory.

“This is only fitting that this court will be named after him, in this community,” Starks said. “Anthony came from this same community that a lot of you guys come from and he learned, just like you guys learn. And he was able to reach his goals and his dreams through school,” Starks told the students in the gym.

Mason’s son, Anthony Mason Jr., spoke to the children about his father and following their dreams.

“When you come in here and you see this gym, and you see Anthony Mason’s name, let it inspire you,” Mason Jr. said. “So when you see that name, know that your dreams will come true, and can come true, through hard work and being dedicated.”

After the ceremony, both of Anthony Mason’s sons, Anthony Jr. and Antoine, took the ceremonial first shots on the court, followed by some shooting by Starks and the children who were in the gymnasium.


Participatory budget results announced for District 31

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilman Donovan Richard's Office


Councilman Donovan Richards announced last week the winners of the participatory budget process for District 31.

More than 2,000 Rosedale, Laurelton and Springfield Gardens residents voted in this year’s budget process and found out exactly where their tax dollars would be going on Wednesday, May 13.

Richards, along with Council Speaker Mark-Viverito, tweaked the process by launching early voting, lowering the voting age to 14 and introducing the first electronic ballots in the history of participatory budgeting in New York City.

The most votes went to Springfield Gardens Education Complex (1,614 votes) to provide $525,000 for a sound and projection system to be installed in the auditorium.

Lilly Lucas, president of Excelsior Preparatory High school, which is housed inside the complex, said the upgrades are a blessing. Lucas, who graduated in the ’60s from the high school, previously named Springfield Gardens High School, said nothing in the auditorium had been upgraded since she was a student.

“I’ll put it to you this way: those curtains that are in the auditorium are the same curtains that I had when I was a student here,” Lucas said. “We have to do a lot of compromising when we have events, which are many since there are four schools here. It’s such a wonderful blessing.”

Lucas said the process of participatory budgeting was exciting this year because many children who attend one of the four schools were eligible to vote.

The students of I.S. 231 will hone their musical abilities with a new $300,000 music studio after 1,031 residents voted for the project.

The last project to be funded with 945 votes was the installation of reading and chess areas in Brookville Park in Rosedale and Springfield Park in Springfield Gardens.

“I want to thank everyone involved in making this year such a success, especially the students and faculty of our local schools,” Richards said. “I strongly believe that as we continue to bring this more direct form of democracy to our neighborhoods. It is crucial we engage our youth in the political process and prepare them to be the future leaders our city needs and deserves.”