Tag Archives: State Senator Joseph Addabbo

20-year-old Rockaway man among seven dead in Amtrak derailment


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo via Facebook

Updated Thursday, May 14 10:43 a.m. 

A 20-year-old naval midshipman from Rockaway Beach, who was on his way home, is among the seven people killed after an Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia Tuesday night, according to reports.

Justin Zemser, who was on leave, as a cadet at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland was on his way home to visit family in Rockaway.

The academy confirmed the death of Zemser, who was a sophmore midshipman third class. He was a member of the 17th Company at the academy, an English major and academic honor student. Zemser was also on the Navy Sprint Football Team, the Jewish Midshipman Club, and the Semper Fi Society.

“Justin was a talented, highly respected young man with a tremendously bright future. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to the Zemser family, and our extended USNA family, during this very difficult time,” said Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Walter “Ted” Carter.

Zemser’s parents released a statement on a Facebook page created in memory of their son, who was valedictorian at Channel View High School and finishing his second year at the academy. The page, titled “RIP Justin Zemser” garnered over 3,000 likes and features a profile photo of the young man with his mother, who lost her only child.

“He was a loving son, nephew and cousin, who was very community minded,” the statement said. “This tragedy has shocked us in the worst way and we wish to spend this time grieving with out close family and friends.”

State Senator Joseph Addabbo, whose district covers the Rockaways, sent out his condolences to Zemser’s family and called the young man  a “good Rockaway neighbor.”

“My deepest condolences and prayers go out to the family of Justin Zemser, a Rockaway resident who passed away as a result of the Amtrak train derailment Tuesday night. News of his passing was reported by the media. I understand Justin was returning home from his studies at the U.S. Naval Academy,” Addabbo said. “Many in Rockaway, including my staff member Sandee Doremus, had known Justin since he was a child and knew him to be a good Rockaway neighbor. Justin’s commitment to serve our country is still and always will be greatly appreciated.”

Councilman Eric Ulrich, who represents the Rockaways, also sent out his condolences to the family of the cadet, who was a former intern at his office.

“Today, the Rockaway community mourns the death of Justin Zemser, a local resident and former intern in my office, who lost his life last night in the tragic Amtrak train derailment. Justin was truly a bright, talented and patriotic young man,” Ulrich said. “My deepest prayers and sympathy go out to his family and friends who are grieving during this very difficult time. He will be sorely missed by all who knew and loved him.”

Zemser was also an intern at Councilman Donovan Richards’s office, who expressed his sadness upon hearing the news of his death.

Justin Zemser and Councilman Donovan Richards. (Photo courtesy of Councilman Richard's office)

Justin Zemser and Councilman Donovan Richards. (Photo courtesy of Councilman Richard’s office)

“I was greatly pained by last night’s train derailment, a pain that quickly intensified when I recognized one of the victims,” Richards said. “Justin Zemser showed great commitment and initiative as an intern in our office, well before he dedicated his life to our country by joining the U.S. Naval Academy. He was a rising star that will be greatly missed by the Rockaway community. His family is in my prayers and my office is always open if there is any way in which we can help.”

According to reports, the Amtrak train, which had left Washington and was heading to New York, derailed around 9:30 p.m. in the Port Richmond neighborhood of Philadelphia.

More than 200 people were wounded, including the train’s conductor.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of life from Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188 that derailed north of Philadelphia Tuesday evening,” Amtrak said in a statement.

Emergency responders are on scene and the investigation is still ongoing to determine the cause of the derailment.

The National Transportation Safety Board confirmed Wednesday the train was traveling at more than 100 mph, double the speed limit, as it was entering a sharp curve before derailing. Before entering the curve, the speed limit is reportedly 70 mph.

Service will be provided between Washington and Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Philadelphia, and New York and Boston, according to Amtrak. There will be no Amtrak service between New York and Philadelphia, but New Jersey Transit will honor Amtrak tickets between New York City and Trenton.

Anyone with questions about friends or family on the train can call the Amtrak Incident Hotline at 800-523-9101.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

‘Invention Convention’ showcases student inventors in Ozone Park


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER / Photo by Angela Matua

BY ANGELA MATUA

Student inventors gathered at St. Mary Gate of Heaven on Friday to display their work at the first “Invention Convention” in Ozone Park.

The sixth-graders were tasked by their science teacher, Joan Sorrerio, with creating a complex machine made of several simple machines, which can include levers, wheels, inclined planes and nuts and bolts.

“It’s really a test to be functional. It’s meant to be innovative and kind of get them involved in technology and practicing their presentation skills,” Sorrerio said.

In the past, St. Mary Gate of Heaven hosted science fairs but decided to take a different approach after the state requested that schools focus more heavily on science, technology, engineering and math. Through this project, students have been exposed to activities such as making blueprints and taking measurements.

Nayasha Ramnauth created a machine to help a specific segment of the population.

“My goal was to help the handicapped get their clothes,” Ramnauth said.

She used wood, a 20-foot rope, two 20-foot chalk lines, nuts, bolts and screws to fashion a machine she calls “Handy Dandy” that pulls clothes toward a person when they twist the crank on a chalk line.

Michael Panarse created “Fish Feeder” using simple tools such as an incline plane, metal wires, a toy railroad car and rubber bands. The feeder worked on a pulley system and when Panarse pulled a string, it triggered the fish food holder to spring forward and drop fish pellets into the tank.

Joshua Rampioray wanted to “make you a coffee in an instant” with his invention, “Hot Stuff.” He used wood, pipe holders, valves, hoses, sugar, diluted coffee, milk, a funnel and gears to build a coffee machine. The liquids and sugar were poured into different hoses and met in the funnel. To mix the coffee, he attached a spoon to a crank and then arranged a set of gears to twist the spoon into a cup.

Students presented their project to Sorerio and three were crowned winners at the end of the convention.

Nicole Morales won for “The Bucket Trap,” a mousetrap that lures mice on to a ramp and then to a cylinder covered in peanut butter. As they reach the peanut butter, they become trapped into the cylinder, which drops them into a bucket.

Jonathan Ruano received a second-place prize for the “The Fast Track Abstract,” which helps painters paint a canvas, and the third-place winner, Jose Acevedo, created an egg-cracking machine titled “The Eggonator.”

Democratic District Leader Frank Gulluscio and state Sen. Joseph Addabbo attended the event to show their support and browse the inventions.

“As a former teacher here and a member of the board of directors I’m really excited that the kids have taken initiative to go to the next level,” Gulluscio said. “The buzz and the smiles on the kids faces, it’s just enormous. I’m very happy for the kids and very happy for the school.”

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Addabbo suggests using proposed Glendale homeless shelter for veteran housing


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

The controversial plan to turn the abandoned warehouse located at 78-16 Cooper Ave. in Glendale into a homeless shelter appears to be moving forward, but state Senator Joseph Addabbo wants to make that proposal a little more specific.

If the city is going to make the site into a homeless shelter, Addabbo said, it should extend the facility to the homeless who have fought for this nation’s freedom.

“I will never agree that housing any individual at the Cooper Avenue site is a good idea,” said Addabbo, who is the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs. “But if the city is insistent on housing people, why not focus our attention on an overlooked issue? We can help the veterans who helped us maintain the quality of life we have come to know instead of warehousing possibly over 100 families into this building.”

“The bottom line is that nobody deserves to be without a home, especially those who initially left their homes to defend our rights,” he added.

Nationwide, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) estimates that one-third of the homeless population has served in the military at one point. Reportedly, the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) estimated that anywhere between 2,000 and 3,500 veterans in New York City are homeless.

Bringing families to the site could run the risk of further crowding school district 24, one of the most overcrowded school districts in the city, Addabbo charged. Changing the site to veterans housing would have minimal effect on the surrounding communities and also address the citywide issue of overcrowded schools.

Even so, Addabbo still believes that there are better uses for the long-defunct warehouse.

“With this Glendale facility, we can repurpose it in a way that helps people but also doesn’t negatively impact the community,” he added. “This site could alternatively also be used as senior housing, school or an animal shelter, as was suggested by a constituent, all of which are lacking in the borough and the city.”

While the DHS intends to address the current homeless crisis, the Cooper Avenue site would not be ready for residents for over a year, the senator noted.

“Keeping the proposal for 78-16 Cooper Ave. as a homeless shelter does not immediately serve anyone,” Addabbo said.

The Glendale and Middle Village communities have been combating the proposed homeless shelter since its inception. Civic and business leaders in both neighborhoods formed the Glendale/Middle Village Coalition for the specific purpose of filing legal action to stop the shelter’s development.

Since its formation, the coalition has raised thousands of dollars to fight the placement of the shelter and have filed an Article 78, an appeal to the city’s Environmental Assessment that it did on the site. The coalition charged the assessment was not complete and wants the city to do a full Environmental Impact study before moving forward with any plans.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

New travel plaza opens at JFK


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Follow me @liamlaguerre 

 

Weary drivers looking for a break can now zip over to John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and rest at the city’s only travel plaza.

Airport Plazas, a company that builds rest areas, held a grand opening on Thursday of its $13 million rest spot on the outskirts of JFK on 150th Avenue.

The retail lot has a Sunoco gas station, a Wendy’s, Qdoba Mexican Grill, 7-Eleven, a pizzeria, restrooms, a car wash and a dry cleaner, and Airport Plazas is looking to add a bank. There is also a food court with Wi-Fi and a screen with current flight information.

“JFK did not have a main street,” said George Abi Zeid, president and CEO of Airport Plazas. “This plaza is a main street for JFK. A place where you could stop, meet people, have a fresh cup of coffee… fuel your car, sit and relax, and you could use the facilities and use the restroom, which is one of the cleanest restrooms you’ll ever see in a travel plaza.”

Besides being a rest area, the travel plaza also offers four different fuel selections, including Diesel, E85, natural gas and Tesla Motors’ electric car charges. There are also many many parking spaces available.

The rest area is also expected to bring an economic boost to the neighborhood. The retail area will employ about 90 people, mostly from nearby neighborhoods, and bring an estimated economic impact of $40 to $50 million to the community, Abi Zeid said.

“The Port Authority needs every applause they could get these days,” State Senator Joe Addabbo said. “This is what it’s all about in these tough economic times as we look to go a little forward we look for ways in which we could increase jobs, protect our environment and hopefully again protect our economy.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

New state certificate to recognize NY Cold War veterans


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Cold War veterans throughout New York are eligible for a new special honor thanks to State Senator Joseph Addabbo.

The New York State Cold War Certificate, created for those who served in all branches of military during the 46-year standoff between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, is available to any New York resident who served in the military and was honorably discharged between the end of WWII on Sept. 2, 1945 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union on Dec. 26, 1991.

“The Cold War was an edgy time for Americans, and those in the armed forces were the ones charged with protecting us and protecting the country,” Addabbo, the Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans Committee said. “This recognition will further validate their hard work, bravery and selflessness.”

The certificate states: “In recognition of your service during the period of the Cold War, 2 September 1945 – 26 December 1991, in protecting peace and stability for this Nation, the people of the state of New York are forever grateful.”

Applicants can obtain the certificate directly from the New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs or Addabbo stated constituents can contact any of his three district offices for assistance.

For more information on how to apply for the certificate, veterans can contact Senator Addabbo, visit the New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs awards website here or call 518-591-5296.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Resorts World closes buffet, lets go of more than 100 employees


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Resorts World Casino shut the doors to its Aqueduct Buffet on Monday, and in turn on about 175 employees.

“I thought it was a drastic move, certainly one that could be reconsidered down the line,” said State Senator Joseph Addabbo.

The buffet closed on Jan. 6 after “trying to make it work for two years, and just couldn’t,” said a spokesperson for the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council (HTC).

“We have made the difficult decision to close the Aqueduct Buffet, which never caught on with our customers and has consistently lost money,” said Ed Farrell, Resorts World president. “We sincerely regret the impact this closure has on the buffet’s employees and are working closely with the HTC to ease this transition.”

The HTC is in contract with Resorts World and has begun helping the laid-off employees find new work.

In the interim, the buffet workers will receive up to five weeks severance pay, depending on how long they were employed at the casino and what job they did. They will also get 120 days of extended family medical coverage and preferential hiring in other Resorts World departments, according to the spokesperson.

The employees did not receive notice the buffet was closing, but the spokesperson said the “federal WARN notice,” the worker adjustment and retraining notification act, does not apply in this situation. The buffet had to have more than a third of Resorts World employees to receive forewarning.

The HTC will be meeting with the laid-off workers in groups and individually if needed, and Addabbo said he will be meeting with both the HTC and Farrell.

The state senator said if he had known the buffet were suffering, he would have liked to look at alternatives to closing it entirely.

“We see Resorts World as a job generator,” he said. “It has great potential. If it’s going to reach that maximum potential in creating jobs, this is not the way to go.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

West Hamilton Beach fire crew gets new ambulances to replace ones lost during Sandy


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Over a year after Sandy, two shiny new ambulances pulled up to the West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department to replace the ones the storm took away.

“Things like this bring back a positive morale,” said State Senator Joseph Addabbo, who got a ride in one of the new rigs after they were delivered on Thursday.

“Anything we can do to get back to the point of how we were before Sandy, or better than we were before Sandy,” he said.

Before the superstorm, the crew moved one ambulance from the beach town, which is below sea level, to “higher ground” at the Rockwood Park Jewish Center on 84th Street. It survived, but sustained some damage. The other truck was unsalvageable.

After the floods ravaged West Hamilton Beach, the roughly 45-man department received ambulance donations from Long Island and has since been operating status-quo with two ambulances.

But now, more safety and security has been delivered with the brand new rigs, upping West Hamilton Beach’s ambulance count to four.

“This will be a help to the community like everything else,” said Jonah Cohen, the department’s fire chief.

Now, the emergency crew can work without worrying about a vehicle breaking down, Cohen said.

“They’re first responders who are in a unique, isolated area,” Addabbo said. “When there’s any kind of emergency, severe storm, everyone looks to them. I’m speechless by the work they do here.”

The fire department needs two ambulances to operate efficiently. They will primarily use the new vehicles, keep one for back-up and donate the last to another volunteer fire department.

“To get two rigs that could help in a life-endangering situation, this is a life-changer,” Addabbo said.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES:

Howard Beach holds first meeting on $18M rebuilding grant


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

The first public meeting in Howard Beach for the state’s reconstruction plan was held at P.S. 146 on October 21.

Residents learned about the state’s NY Rising Community Reconstruction program, which is a plan that provides funds for rebuilding and revitalization of more than 100 communities that were severely damaged by Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.

The reconstruction program allows the neighborhoods to decide how funds should be spent in their communities, so the first meeting focused on identifying community needs and resources where residents would like to see the money invested.

Howard Beach was designated $18.3 million from the program.

“What I love about this program is that it’s not the governor telling residents what they are going to get,” said State Senator Joseph Addabbo. “It’s from the bottom up.

The residents are telling the governor how they would like to see that $18 million spent.”

Community resources are broken into categories, such as economic, housing, infrastructure, natural and cultural, and health and social. Each category contains a corresponding list of places in the community. Residents had the opportunity to add to more places to the lists at the meeting.

In the “necessities” section, people said they would like the community to invest in solar panels, gasoline on hand for generators, a central storm hub, and strengthening churches and high ground shelters, among others.

The Howard Beach NY Rising planning committee, which is made up of residents from the neighborhood, will take the feedback from the meeting to review. There will be three more public meetings to discuss the reconstruction plan, before a final plan is drafted and submitted.

The next public meeting will be on November 18 at P.S. 207. For more information about the program residents should visit stormrecovery.ny.gov.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Speed board installed near Lindenwood’s P.S. 232


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Office of Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder

Speeders take note and slow down.

A new mobile speed board has been installed across the street from P.S. 232 in Lindenwood, right outside the bustling Lindenwood Shopping Center on 153rd Avenue.

“The Department of Transportation (DOT) has finally responded to our concerns,” said Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder, who requested a “traffic calming device” be brought into the area.

School officials, parents and community members have been asking and fighting for safer streets around the elementary school for years. Administration and faculty members frequently escort students across the busy intersection at 153rd Avenue and 83rd Street.

In September, State Senator Joseph Addabbo requested P.S. 232 receive speed cameras for a pilot program designed to nab speedy drivers around city schools.

Now, the DOT has stepped in and put up the temporary speed board, setting the speed limit at 25 miles per hour. The organization is still completing a study that will determine whether speed bumps are needed in the area. DOT’s School Safety Unit has also committed to coordinate with the school’s parents and students to identify other solutions.

Goldfeder said the speed board will “deter drivers from using this stretch of road as a personal speedway.”

“This is the first step in the right direction, but we must remain vigilant to protect our children and community,” he said.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Pol honors Queens veterans


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Office of State Senator Joseph Addabbo

Area veterans were honored during State Senator Joseph Addabbo’s fifth annual Veterans Barbecue on Saturday, August 24.

Last year, Addabbo, the ranking Democrat member of the Senate’s Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs Committee, welcomed over 125 veterans and their families to the barbecue outside his Howard Beach district office. This year, the senator brought in and thanked over 70 veterans for their dedicated service.

“This is just our small way of saying, ‘Thank you for your service,’ not only to our local veterans, but also to their families,” Addabbo said. “All nobly served our country in years past, and of course, many are currently still doing so in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Addabbo and his staff reached out to various Queens chapters of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Catholic and Jewish War veterans and Vietnam veterans to be their special guests for the outdoor barbecue event.

“We should show our veterans that we appreciate their dedication and commitment not just on Veterans Day, but every day of the year,” Addabbo said.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Push for speed cameras around Howard Beach schools


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Speeding drivers will be put to a stop if one south Queens pol has his way.

State Senator Joseph Addabbo is pushing for Howard Beach’s P.S. 232 and 207 to be considered for a pilot program designed to nab speedy drivers around schools.

A new state law went into effect on Saturday, August 31 that permits the city to establish a five-year demonstration pilot program to monitor school speed zones citywide and allows surveillance evidence to be used to impose liability for speeding.

Addabbo, who voted for the bill, said parents and school officials throughout his district have expressed concerns about speeding drivers traveling the streets in their school zones that see heavy traffic, but have inadequate traffic-calming measures.

“I know there are a number of schools in my district that face unsafe street conditions each school day. I am prepared to examine every school and every method available to ensure the safety of our schoolchildren,” he said.

P.S. 232 neighbors the bustling Lindenwood Shopping Center at 153rd Avenue and 83rd Street, and school staff wants to keep students safe around arrival and dismissal time. P.S. 207 parents similarly want to keep kids safe from the speeding drivers that zoom down its residential street.

The new law required Addabbo submit his requests to the Department of Transportation to get the two approved cameras. He also intends to work on crossing guard areas, pedestrian crosswalks, stop signs, traffic signals and speed bumps around school zones.

Through this legislation, the city can set up speed cameras in up to 20 school speed zones in each borough at any given time. Liability for violations would be imposed upon the vehicle’s owner and violations would be determined through the city Parking Violations Bureau.

The initial speed cameras installed in the borough will be rotated over time and locations may be determined based on state statistics on where crash ratings and posted speed limits versus speeds clocked were the highest.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Howard Beach gets new senior housing location


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Howard Beach is home to a new senior housing location, providing more than 80 units of affordable housing for the elderly.

Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development and Management Corporation, a century-old organization, has various housing sites through Brooklyn and Queens and recently completed renovations at the Cross Bay Boulevard location, formerly the Fineson Center.

“The opening of the Catholic Charities’ senior housing residence is a huge victory for the Howard Beach community and all of the residents in Queens,” said Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder. “Our growing senior population can finally achieve the quality housing they deserve.”

All resident applications have already been accepted, and the applying period is closed, said a Catholic Charities official.

The Fineson Center, constructed as a private hospital in the 1960s, closed in the summer of 2009 to begin the conversion into a senior housing facility.

Catholic Charities additionally provides accommodations for the developmentally disabled, mentally ill and the isolated, according to its website. The official said this Howard Beach spot has additional units designated for people with disabilities.

Goldfeder said the new housing will also allow residents to keep “financial and economic independence” and remain “in their own backyard.”

“This building will finally provide a centralized location for our diverse senior community to meet under one roof,” he added.

The new facility, outside of housing units, will also have laundry facilities, resident lounges and offices. State Senator Joseph Addabbo also recently secured the return of a U.S. Mail collection box in front of the building.

There is not yet a set occupancy date for the new residents.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

87-year-old Ozone Park man waits half hour for ambulance


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

AmbulanceInMotionHC0507

A concerned community is responding to what they say is a “worrisome” and “life or death” situation.

Ralph Franzese, 87, was walking from his Ozone Park home to his car parked outside on 133rd Avenue last Tuesday, July 30. Despite having his walker for stability, Franzese fell backwards, cracking his head on the sidewalk. He then waited nearly a half hour for an ambulance, according to the FDNY.

A teen girl walking by saw the fall and ran to Franzese’s aid. Others nearby gathered around the senior and called 9-1-1.

While they waited for what was estimated to be 10 to 15 minutes, Frank Dardani, resident and president of the Ozone Tudor Civic, arrived on the scene and called for an ambulance a second time, he said.

The wait continued for roughly another 15 minutes, and an EMS team arrived, amounting to a wait time of 26 minutes.

“From my understanding, response time for emergencies is supposed to be four-and-a-half minutes. That’s out the window,” Dardani said. “What the real numbers are right now – that’s scary.”

The initial 9-1-1 call was made at 4:24 p.m. An ambulance arrived at 4:50 p.m., according to an FDNY spokesperson.

“Those had to be the longest [26] minutes,” said State Senator Joseph Addabbo, whose own home is just around the corner from Franzese’s. “Response time is life or death.”

During the wait, Dardani said Franzese was “very jittery” and did not want to sit still. The elderly man has a low-grade dementia, he said, and did not want to go to the hospital. Neighbors worked to keep him calm and still.

When the ambulance arrived, EMS workers emerged and said they came from Woodside, which ultimately caused the long wait.

“We get an ambulance from Woodside?” Addabbo said. “That makes no sense.”

Just a few blocks away, on 133rd Avenue near 95th Street, is the Lindenwood Community Volunteer Ambulance Corps. Franzese was near 87th Street. However, the group doesn’t receive 9-1-1 calls and did not pick anything up on its scanner.

The 9-1-1 response time was recently criticized in July after a teen fainted at City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s press conference and waited more than a half hour for an ambulance.

Franzese was eventually bandaged and brought to Jamaica Hospital. Dardani said he is “doing fine” and no problems were found aside from a head wound and swelling.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

East Coast Car Association keeps ‘cruising’


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Mike Bilski

For 12 years, the East Coast Car Association (ECCA) hosted an annual Cruise Night that showcased antique cars and raised funds for St. Mary’s Hospital for Children, all in a Forest Hills McDonald’s parking lot.

But this year, Mike Bilski of the ECCA was told McDonald’s could not host the Cruise Night because of corporate policies. With that, he and other members went looking around for a new venue.

“There we were, we had no Cruise Night,” he said. “We were trying all of the churches [but] nobody wanted us.”

Enter State Senator Joseph Addabbo. One night, Bilski was driving back from a friend’s house when he passed Resorts World Casino.

“I thought to myself, ‘[that lot] is empty,’ he said.

Bilski and the ECCA crew were referred to Addabbo, who met with Resorts World and worked out a deal. Now, the casino holds the Cruise Night every Tuesday from 5 to 9 p.m. in its VIP parking lot.

“For years, that association and its members have not only displayed some of the most beautiful cars of past generations, but they have also made substantial contributions to the community, especially the younger residents,” Addabbo said.

Bilski said the casino also donates to St. Mary’s, which was happy to see the ECCA’s nonprofit endeavors continue.

Since the VIP lot is larger than the ECCA’s previous home in Forest Hills, the Cruise Night can now accommodate more vehicles. The events have featured as many as 100 custom and antique cars and 50 motorcycles along with pick-up trucks and antique bicycles.

“We’re able to raise more money, and we’re getting a very diverse crowd and a very diverse range of cars,” Bilski said. “It’s not just antique cars anymore. We’re getting a lot of imports, low-riders and tuner cars.”

Attendees must contribute a $3 donation to each Cruise Night. The event will go on every Tuesday through November at Resorts World.

On Sunday, August 4 they will host an additional Cruise Night at Maspeth Federal and another the following day at Atlas Park.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Attorney general investigating Sandy charity money


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Sandy relief money is reportedly being kept under lock and key.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman released a preliminary report on Wednesday, July 17 detailing how charities have spent more than half a billion dollars of Sandy donations. At least $238 million of the more than $575 million had not been spent as of April of this year, according to the report.

“All one needs to do is look around Breezy Point to realize what a travesty [this] is,” said Arthur Lighthall, president of the Breezy Point Cooperative.

Councilmember Eric Ulrich echoed Lighthall, saying “sitting on this money while so many people are still in need is an insult.”

The report also asks whether some of the funds reportedly spent on Sandy were actually used for non-storm-related purposes.

“We have a responsibility to the people who donated their hard-earned money to help our community rebuild to make sure that the contributions they made were used as advertised,” Schneiderman said.

The Attorney General’s Charities Bureau, which regulates all state charities, reviewed the Sandy contributions and found that 58 percent of donations had gone to storm relief efforts; 17 organizations reported potentially using funds for non-Sandy purposes such as preventing future disasters; and responding organizations granted half of the $336 million they had received to other organizations.

“This funding is urgently needed and we cannot accept that charitable donations are not being spent as intended,” Ulrich said.

Schneiderman’s Charities Bureau is heightening its review of Sandy fundraising and seeking more detailed answers from the responding charities, including a clearer account of how money has been spent and plans for remaining funds.

“My constituents are not assisted by monies collected for victims of Sandy that are not distributed,” said State Senator Joseph Addabbo. “These funds are useless unless given to those who [are] truly in need.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES