Tag Archives: Sunnyside

MTA will boost service on 7, L and M lines later this year


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

File photo

With overall subway ridership up 2.6 percent across the city, the MTA is set to meet the increased demand by boosting service on three local subway lines this December.

Most of the changes will take place during off-peak hours, as the MTA reported ridership between or after rush hour periods reached its highest rate in 65 years in 2014, with more than 1.75 billion riders systemwide.

The biggest boost will take place on the L line, with seven additional round trips added between 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. on weekdays. Ridership on the L line — which services Ridgewood and Bushwick — grew 4.7 percent last year, the largest increase of any line in the system.

According to the MTA, the seven additional trains will reduce wait times on the L line to five minutes between the morning and evening rush hours. Last fall, the MTA similarly enhanced L train service during weeknight and weekend periods.

The MTA will also introduce two additional round trips on the 7 line — which services the rapidly-growing neighborhoods of Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside and Flushing — between 8 and 10:20 p.m. on weeknights. The agency said this will reduce wait times to under 4 1/2 minutes.

This service increase is expected to ease commuting, in particular, out of the Vernon Boulevard-Jackson Avenue station in Long Island City, which experienced a 12 percent growth in weekday ridership in 2014; and at the Flushing-Main Street terminal, which averages about 60,000 riders each day.

Finally, the M line will get an extra round trip just after the morning rush hour, between 9 and 9:30 a.m., reducing wait times to an average of 7 1/2 minutes. Since the line was rerouted in 2010 through Midtown Manhattan and northwest Queens (replacing the defunct V line), M train ridership is up about 31 percent, with an average increase of 6.2 percent at stations between Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village and Marcy Avenue in Williamsburg.

“New York is a dynamic city and it continues to grow as new or better housing options become available and more people come here for jobs or school,” said MTA New York City Transit President Carmen Bianco. “By making these schedule changes, New York City Transit is making the most of its resources to deliver service that accurately reflects ridership in growing areas.”

The MTA plans to spend $1.6 million to implement the additional service.

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Sunnyside playground unveils renovations, months ahead of schedule


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

Children and families in Sunnyside will now have a new place to enjoy the warm weather.

Local elected officials, community leaders and Parks Department representatives joined families on Tuesday morning to unveil the newly-renovated Lance Corporal Thomas P. Noonan Playground located at the intersection of 43rd Street and Greenpoint Avenue.

The $2 million makeover, which was funded by Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, was completed two months ahead of schedule and features new accessible play equipment, more swings, a play area for children from 2 to 5 years old and another for children 5 to 12 years old, and a new rainbow spray shower.

“The improvements to Noonan Playground are a perfect example of our community coming together and developing a project that all residents can enjoy,” Van Bramer said. “Between new plantings, additional play equipment, a new and improved Rainbow sprinkler as well as a one-of-a-kind historic memorial for our local veterans, we have solidified Noonan Playground as one of the borough’s top destinations to spend an afternoon with the family.”

Photo courtesy of Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer's office

Photo courtesy of Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer’s office

The renovations also include additional planted areas created within the playground, along Greenpoint Avenue and 43rd Street, improvements in site drainage and lighting, and new bike racks, benches, paving and fencing. The main entrance to the playground was also reconstructed.

“Just in time for spring, kids of all abilities will be able to enjoy this new play space with more swings, a separate area for toddlers, and new spray showers,” said Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver. “When the sun comes out in Sunnyside, this is sure to be a popular destination.”

Along with redesigning and expanding the playground, a monument was built to commemorate Sunnyside Vietnam veteran Lance Corporal Thomas P. Noonan.

A plaque was also installed honoring local veterans from the neighborhood, such as Donald C. Breuer, who was killed in action in 1972 at 26 years old during the Vietnam War. Breuer’s name is also included on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C.

“I am thrilled that Sunnysiders will get to enjoy the new and improved Thomas P. Noonan playground ahead of schedule, and just in time for spring,” said state Senator Michael Gianaris. “This park is not only a monument to veterans and a Sunnyside hero, but also an escape from city life that provides local children with the open space they desperately need.”

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Community project ideas on display at Sunnyside participatory budgeting expo


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Residents in the 26th City Council District got the chance to view project proposals that will be put to a public vote later this month during Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer’s participatory budgeting (PB) project expo Monday night at Sunnyside Community Services.

“This is a chance for residents of this district to really get a visual of the projects that are going to be on the ballot a week from now,” explained Amanda Nasner, PB delegate and Special Projects representative from Van Bramer’s office. “This is just a good visual to help people get excited about participatory budgeting.”

Van Bramer is one of 24 City Council members who have each allocated $1 million in discretionary funds for public improvement projects aimed at helping the community. Budget delegates from District 26—which encompasses all or parts of Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside—showcased their project ideas through vibrant displays and posters.

Many of the project proposals called for improvements to the district’s schools. Jennifer Munoz, a sophomore at the Academy of American Studies, advocated for much-needed auditorium repairs at Newcomers High School in Dutch Kills. At 15, Munoz is one of the youngest budget delegates in the district.

According to Munoz, the Academy of American Studies and Newcomers High School share the same auditorium. The project would replace the auditorium seating and upgrade the sound system at a projected cost of $250,000.

“Basically, the auditorium is being used a lot, so we need to fix it up,” Munoz explained. “They have broken chairs, so we’re trying to get them fixed.”

Other proposed school improvement projects include the installation of security cameras outside Bryant High School, resurfacing the P.S. 112 playground, and a series of technology upgrades at P.S./I.S. 78, P.S. 11, I.S. 204, P.S. 166, P.S. 12 and Aviation High School.

Woodside resident Tom Ryan and his daughter Katherine spoke in favor of the Woodside Reforestry project, which would fund the planting of Parks Department-approved trees along both sides of Broadway, from 48th Street to 69th Street, at a cost of $200,000.

“There are no trees there. It’s barren,” Ryan said. According to Ryan, both he and his fellow Northern Woodside Coalition members would assume the responsibility of watering and caring for the trees.

Miki Bairstow, a delegate from the Housing Committee, was on hand to advocate for six project ideas, including the installation of security cameras and playground upgrades at the Queensbridge, Ravenswood and Woodside Houses.

Kenny Medrano presented four project proposals on behalf of the Library Committee, including the installation of ADA-compliant push-button access for handicapped and wheelchair-bound patrons at both the Sunnyside and Woodside public library branches.

Several delegates proposed transportation improvements throughout the district. Nancy Silverman spoke in favor of a $55,000 proposal to provide seniors at the Jacob Riis Settlement House in Queensbridge with a 10-passenger van for day trips and various group outings. Ray Johnson and his fellow Transportation Committee delegates advocated for the $500,000 LIC Bikeway, the installation of bus bulbs at 31st Street and five real-time passenger information countdown clocks at bus stops district-wide.

Residents will vote for their favorite projects between April 11 to 19 at various locations throughout the district. Click here for details.

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Queens-based design studio surpasses $22K Kickstarter goal for Brick Lamp product


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of HCWD Studio

A Queens-based design studio is using Kickstarter to help turn a bright idea into a best-selling product.

HsinChun Wang and Ye Liu founded HCWD Studio in Sunnyside as a part-time venture in 2010, finally going full-time just over a year ago, with current plans to move to Astoria.

The design duo began making one-of-a-kind pieces, such as conceptual furniture, that they showcased in galleries and design shows, and have also done landscape and interior design work, but eventually they wanted to make more affordable, mass-produced products.

“Doing a conceptual project is fun, but it’s away from people’s everyday life,” Wang said.

As part of that effort, the studio has come up with several lighting products including its latest — Brick Lamp — and has turned to the fundraising site Kickstarter to help its production.

“The objective is to capture the moment of light — being concealed and revealed. This unique lighting design would turn a quotidian routine into an enriching experience, providing an unexpected, fun quality to a daily object,” a description of the product reads on its Kickstarter page.

BrickLamp-12-1024x680

As its name suggests, the LED lamp is shaped somewhat like a brick, with beveled sides so it is easy to grab and handle. The light has no on or off switch and is activated when it’s on its side; it can also be flipped upside down to let the side with the light shine upward.

“It’s practical and has everyday function, but people can still play with it,” Wang said.

A prototype of the light charged via an electric socket, but Wang said they wanted to create a more modern product so they not only downsized the lamp but also decided to make it more portable. They put in a built-in battery, which charges using a USB plug and has up to five hours of usage.

In the last year, HCWD Studio showcased prototypes of the Brick Lamp at design shows and fairs around the world and on March 11 launched their Kickstarter campaign to help with the investment required to mass produce the product.

blm-03cxx-1024x680

Between word of mouth from friends and design contacts, and being selected as a Kickstarter staff pick, they were able to reach their $22,000 goal within about 10 days. The Kickstarter ends on April 22, and has raised just over $26,000 as of Monday morning. With the extra money, they are hoping to create a fabric cord and additional finishes for the lamp.

Those that pledge $99 to or more will receive a Brick Lamp, which comes in concrete, walnut and a special edition aluminum version.

The studio plans on selling the concrete lamp for $110, the walnut for $145 and the aluminum for $300, and hopes to get it into other stores soon, and one day open their own outlet.

Wang admits the lamp isn’t for everyone — it’s for those who appreciate high-end products, he said, and “like the shape and innovation behind it.”

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Campaign started to bring new performance series to Sunnyside plaza


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Two groups are coming together to raise funds to bring a new performance series underneath the elevated 7 train in Sunnyside this summer.

The Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District and the coalition ReCreate Queens, which aims to build more creative spaces in Sunnyside and Woodside, launched a crowdfunding campaign on Friday in hopes of bringing a new series to Bliss Plaza.

Bliss Plaza is a new pedestrian plaza that opened last October in Sunnyside underneath the elevated 7 subway line at the intersection of 40th Street and Queens Boulevard.

The campaign, which has a goal set at $5,000, will fund a new monthly performance series called “Third Thursdays in Bliss Plaza” scheduled to start in June and run through October. It will provide local professional musicians and performers a public venue, making the plaza home to free concerts and a new site for culture and performance.

“Now that we have this great public space in the neighborhood, it’s time to program it,” said Rachel Thieme, executive director of Sunnyside Shines. “Bringing arts programming to Bliss Plaza helps create a more dynamic place and generates foot traffic and activity in the neighborhood, which benefits businesses, residents and visitors alike.”

ReCreate Queens launched a public call at the beginning of the month for performing artists, and submissions are due Friday.

“As a coalition of neighbors and creative professionals who want to ensure that the arts thrive in the area, it’s critical to us to showcase local artists and make their work accessible for everyone,” said Nancy Kleaver, founding member of ReCreate Queens. “With support from the community we will be able to pay our artists what they deserve, create a professional, festive performance area, and establish an annual series that will grow over time.

The series received initial funding from the Queens Council on the Arts and the first $1,000 donated through the online campaign will be match by the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership.

To donate, click here.

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Sunnyside parents, students, teachers protest against Gov. Cuomo’s proposed education reform


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

One Sunnyside school came together to let their teachers know that they support them in the fight against what they call Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s controversial proposed education changes.

Parents and students of P.S. 150, located at 40-01 43rd Ave., gathered with teachers on Thursday afternoon to rally against Cuomo’s plans, which include making teacher evaluations depend heavily on state tests and increasing the number of charter schools.

Once these changes are approved, then $1.1 billion in funding will be added for public schools.

“By increasing the stakes of these high-stake tests you are increasing the pressure on the teachers which then increases pressure on the students to perform,” said Karen Schumacher, a parent of a third-grader at P.S. 150. “There’s more to children, there’s more to teaching than a test score. We want our teachers to know that we love them, we think that they’re doing a great job and that they’re the most important thing and not a standardized test.”

According to Schumacher, along with being a way to show the teachers that the parents and students support them, the rally also serves as a way to let parents know what is going on and understand what the changes mean.

“We want to raise awareness. A lot of parents are busy and not active on social media and politics so they want to let them know what’s going on,” Schumacher added.

During the rally, teachers and students formed a human chain around one-half of the front and side of the school. Participants also handed out flyers with information on the proposed changes and asked parents to sign a postcard to send to Cuomo that read, “Stop waging war on public schools!”

Those who participated during the protest held signs that read messages such as “Protect our schools,” “Hear our (1.1 million) voices,” “We believe in public schools, “Our teachers are more than tests,” and “We support our teachers.”

“We want Gov. Cuomo to listen,” said Joann Rodeschin, UFT chapter leader at P.S. 150, who added that they invite Cuomo to come visit the Sunnyside school. “Kids are not just a test.”

The protest at P.S. 150 is just one of hundreds that took place throughout the five boroughs on Thursday, where parents gathered to form human chains around schools.

“We are proud of being a public school, we love our public schools and we are the parents and the teachers and the students that are affected by these proposals, so we are the ones that should be heard,” said Deborah Alexander, a parent of a student at P.S. 150 who helped organize the rally. “It’s all a political dance and we’re just the pawns, except the pawns are children. It’s very disconcerting.”


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Sunnyside comedy group to hold fundraiser for LIC community farm


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Images courtesy of Sunnyside Comedy

A Sunnyside comedy organization is hoping laughter can help one Long Island City community farm grow.

Sunnyside Comedy, a group that brings stand-up comedy from throughout the city to Queens, is getting together with Long Island City urban community farm Smiling Hogshead Ranch, located at 26 Davis Ct.,  to put on a stand-up comedy fundraiser called “Funny by Nature” on March 27 at the Flux Factory located at 39-31 29th St. in LIC.

The event will serve as a benefit for Smiling Hogshead Ranch, as all proceeds from the show will go toward funding the farm’s infrastructure improvements, insurance and free programming in 2015.

“Smiling Hogshead Ranch helps cultivate community by gathering people around shared interests,” said Gil Lopez, co-founder of the Ranch. “Many of these interests are outside of gardening, and this comedy show is a perfect example. We hope to discover other common threads and encourage guests to explore the art on the gallery walls, our newly published zine ‘The Feed’ and talk to our members to learn more about what Smiling Hogshead Ranch is all about.”

The fundraiser, which starts at 8 p.m., will feature acts from a lineup of New York City comics, many of whom live in Queens and have appeared on late night shows such as “Conan,” “Late Night with David Letterman” and specials on Comedy Central.

The comedians taking part in the event are Ted Alexandro, Aparna Nancherla, Joyelle Johnson, Charles McBee, Harrison Greenbaum, Frank Liotti and Katherine Williams. The show will be hosted by Liz Magee.

The night will also feature themed raffles and prizes, and refreshments from city craft breweries.

“The whole point of Sunnyside Comedy is to bring laughs and promote all that’s wonderful in western Queens,” said Colin Anton Samuel, who co-founded Sunnyside Comedy with Lindsay Goldwert. “This fundraiser is the perfect embodiment of everything Lindsay and I want to do.”

Tickets for the show are $20 online at www.SunnysideComedy.nyc or funnybynature.brownpapertickets.com and $25 at the door, which opens at 7:30 p.m. on March 27.

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7 line is ‘endless nightmare’ for western Queens community


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

The western Queens community is demanding that the MTA make drastic changes in hopes of soon waking up from the “endless nightmare” that the 7 train has become.

Local elected officials, community leaders and residents gathered Wednesday morning underneath the elevated 7 train at the 40th Street station in Sunnyside to rally against the MTA and the deteriorating service of the subway line.

Along with ongoing weekend disruptions, in the past months the 7 line has seen trains breaking down, constant signal malfunctions and overcrowded platforms.

“We as a community are trapped in a bad dream that never seems to end, but worse than not ending, it has gotten much worse,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said. “This bad dream has turned into an endless nightmare, one that we cannot wake up from.”

During the rally, which comes a little over a week before the MTA base fare increases to $2.75 a ride, commuters shared their stories of riding the subway line and its impact on their daily lives.

“I am just very concerned. I understand that it must not be an easy job for the MTA, but on the other hand we need to get to work,” said Charlotte Neuhaus, a lifelong Sunnyside resident who uses the 7 line almost every day. “I hope that [the MTA] makes changes. They seem to come in, make some changes, but they aren’t dealing with the core problem. The fundamental problem is not being solved.”

Neuhaus said she has dealt with numerous train delays, signal problems, and long waiting periods.

Fellow subway rider Linda Burns said that for the 10 years she has lived in Sunnyside, almost every year has been met with deteriorating service on the 7 line. Some days instead of waiting for the train she decides to take a bus and walk to her job in Manhattan.

“[The MTA] keeps saying they are making these improvements but in fact the service has gotten worse,” Burns said. “It doesn’t really feel like they’re being honest with us.”

Van Bramer called the subway service problems “painful” not only for riders but also local businesses and communities.

“My question to the MTA, if you are spending billions and if you are forcing us to have no train service on the weekend for the purpose on improving 7 train service reliability, why is it that in the past four months service has sunk to lows we’ve never seen before?” Van Bramer said. “It has been outrageous, it is potentially dangerous, [and] the level of service is disgraceful. Why is it getting worse and not better?”

At the rally, riders and local leaders asked the MTA to be more transparent in their decisions and to open communication with the communities being affected by the 7 line subway disruptions and service issues.

“Unacceptable just isn’t the word with what is going on with the delays, overcrowding and maintenance issues,” said Patrick O’Brien, chair of Community Board 2. “The MTA might call it the 7 line but for those of us who live here, it’s the lifeline that gets you back and forth to work, kids to school, doctor’s appointments, all the activities of daily life that are essential to the quality of life.”

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Selling point: Joe Abbracciamento site sells again and more big sales


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

The closing and sale of the nearly seven-decade-old Joe Abbracciamento Restaurant in Rego Park caused an emotional stir in the neighborhood last year.

The buyer, Criterion Group, had plans to demolish and build on the property, but nearly one year after the eatery closed, the new owner has sold the property. That transaction is just one of the big sales in the borough over the week.

Address: 62-98 Woodhaven Blvd., Rego Park
Price: $10,850,000

Plans to transform the former site of Rego Park’s beloved Joe Abbracciamento Restaurant haven’t gone anywhere. The restaurant and adjoining buildings were sold to 62-98 Realty LLC, a firm based in Flushing, for $10.8 million, according to city records filed on Friday.

After the family-owned eatery closed and was sold along with the adjoining buildings on the block for $9 million to Criterion Group, according to property records, permits were filed by the new owners to demolish the buildings and build a seven-story residential building on the lots with nearly 120 apartments and 60 parking spaces. The stores attached to the restaurant were closed last year for the impending demolition, which has not occurred as yet.

Address: 39-34 43rd St., Sunnyside
Price: $8,100,000

This warehouse building near Torsney/Lou Lodati Playground traded hands for $8.1 million, according to city records filed on Tuesday. Jay Kestenbaum is the buyer.

Last year, the FDNY tried to acquire this site to store about 100 spare and reserve fire engines, according to published reports. The plan needed Uniform Land Use Review Procedure approval from the city. Although it was approved by Community Board 2, the plan was met with some opposition. Residents cited potential problems of increased traffic and noise. The FDNY withdrew its application and plans for the site in August.

Address: 39-50 24th St., LIC
Price: $5,675,000

Greiner-Maltz Investment Properties closed on this apartment building on Tuesday. The four-story, 30-unit building has 21,680 square feet of space. There are also two vacant retail spaces in the building on the ground floor. The sale has yet to hit city property records.

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St. Pat’s for All parade includes Mayor de Blasio


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Demetrius Freeman/Mayoral Photography Office / Gallery photos by William Alatriste

Snow didn’t stop Mayor de Blasio from marching through Sunnyside on Sunday during the traditionally gay-friendly St. Pat’s for All parade.

“Here’s an example of a parade that’s inclusive of all and celebrates Irish heritage in a way that everyone can be a part of,” said de Blasio, who wore a green Department of Sanitation jacket to the parade down Skillman Avenue in the spirit of the day and the snow clearing that followed.

The mayor, who didn’t march in the Fifth Avenue St. Patrick’s Day parade last year because of its former policy barring gays, said he isn’t planning to participate this year either. He said concessions made this year to allow gays to participate are too limited. The Fifth Avenue parade will be held on March 17.

“I’m not ready to commit to marching because all we’ve heard is that one delegation related to NBC will be allowed to have members of the LGBT community in it,” he told reporters at the Sunnyside parade. “A lot of people feel, I think rightfully, that that is too small a change to merit a lot of us participating who have wanted to see an inclusive parade.”

De Blasio is the first mayor to have skipped the Fifth Avenue parade since former Mayor David Dinkins did so two decades ago, also in protest for excluding marchers carrying any displays of gay pride.

But the mayor said he would be marching in the St. Patrick’s Day parade in the Rockaways. He skipped it last year, mistakenly believing that it was exclusionary.

“That was an error on our part; it is inclusive,” de Blasio said yesterday. “There was a misunderstanding.”

Rockaway residents were offended last year when the mayor skipped their St. Patrick’s Day parade. This year’s parade in the Rockaways will be held on March 7. Uniformed Firefighters Association President Steve Cassidy will be the grand marshal.


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City collecting proposals for Sunnyside Yards feasibility study


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo via NYCEDC Sunnyside Yards Feasibility Study RFP

Mayor Bill de Blasio is moving full steam ahead with his plan to create 11,250 housing units over Sunnyside Yards, although Gov. Andrew Cuomo has voiced opposition to it.

The city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC)  announced Friday a request for proposals for a yearlong comprehensive feasibility study for building over the rail yards. The agency is collecting proposals until March 20.

The study will examine the prospect of decking the enormous rail yard, and building homes, schools, open spaces and community facilities for the neighborhood as well as improving public transportation and infrastructure, while not interfering with train operations in the yards.

“This is the first step in understanding whether development of the Sunnyside Yards is possible, and what it could contribute to the city and surrounding communities,” de Blasio said. “This is a tremendous opportunity to deliver on our vision of a more affordable city and smart development that responds to the needs of surrounding neighborhoods.”

De Blasio first announced his plan for the yards during his second State of the City address in January, but hours later Cuomo disagreed with using the yards because of long-term plans for it.

But Cuomo is not the only politician to oppose developing Sunnyside Yards. When an idea to build a new Jacob Javits Center over the rail yards surfaced last year, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan didn’t immediately respond favorably to that plan.

Both shared concerns of major development in the area without first addressing issues current residents are facing, including lack of sufficient public services. State Sen. Michael Gianaris addressed Community Board 2 earlier this month about the proposal as well, and stated similar concerns.

“Any talk of thousands of new housing units at Sunnyside Yards should be secondary to meeting our significant existing infrastructure needs,” Senator Gianaris said. “Western Queens is already in need of many more schools, parks and open spaces, and vastly improved mass transit, particularly on the 7 line. As this process unfolds, I look forward to working with the community to ensure our voices are heard loud and clear when it comes to Sunnyside Yards.”

Building over the yards is a key part to de Blasio’s goal of building and preserving 200,000 affordable housing units — 80,000 of which will be new construction — in the next 10 years.

There are nearly 200 acres of land at the site, 113 acres that are owned by Amtrak, 66 by the MTA and the remainder by private owners, according to the EDC’s request for proposals.

The EDC is working with Amtrak, which is in favor of development over its section of the yards.

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George Onorato, former Queens state senator, dies


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File Photo

Updated 5:00 p.m.

Lifelong Queens resident and former state Senator George Onorato, who served the 12th Senate District in western Queens for over two decades, died on Saturday. He was 86.

Onorato began serving the district, which encompasses Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside and parts of Woodside and Maspeth, in 1983 until he announced his retirement in 2010. He was succeeded by state Senator Michael Gianaris, who currently holds the position.

“George Onorato will always be part of the fabric of western Queens,” Gianaris said. “He dedicated his long and happy life to serving others and making the communities he represented better places to live. George Onorato served our country, our state and our neighborhoods in a way that made a positive difference in people’s lives. I will miss him. My thoughts are with his family at this difficult time. May his memory be eternal.”

Onorato graduated from Long Island City High School and served in the United States Army from 1950 to 1952.

Former state Senator Serphin Maltese, who served with Onorato in the state senate for many years, remembered him as a ” true man of the people.”

“He gave a special view on things,” Maltese said. “I’m sorry to lose him.”

Onorato was married to Athena Georgakakos and had three children, Joanne, George and Janice.

Visitation is scheduled at the Joseph Farenga & Sons Funeral Home at 38-08 Ditmars Blvd. in Astoria on Tuesday and Wednesday from 2 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m.

A funeral mass is scheduled to be held on Thursday at 10:30 a.m. at St. Francis of Assisi Church at 22-17 45th St., followed by burial at St. Michael’s Cemetery at 72-02 Astoria Blvd. in East Elmhurst.

With additional reporting by Robert Pozarycki

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Sunnyside and Woodside parents petition for a new middle school


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Map courtesy of Sunnyside Woodside MSP

A group of parents from Sunnyside and Woodside have started a petition calling on city and school officials to bring a new middle school into District 30, which is known for its overcrowded schools.

Debra McGowan, a parent of a first-grader at P.S. 11 in Woodside, presented the petition during a “State of Our Schools Town Hall” meeting on Tuesday organized by Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, chair of the state Assembly Education Committee.

The petition, started on Feb. 12, comes after the parents starting calling on the School Construction Authority and Department of Education last year for a new middle school in the area which serves elementary schools P.S. 150, P.S 11 and P.S. 339, slated to open in the fall.

McGowan said since last year, parents have come up with potential sites and have presented it to the SCA. However on Feb. 6, the parents were told by the agencies that according to the latest census there are not enough children in the area to justify a new middle school.

“The children in [District] 30 are zoned to I.S. 125, which is in technically [District] 24, but there are 1,700 children in that middle school and that is a thousand too many,” Nolan said. “So to suggest that situation should continue is ridiculous, to say there are not enough kids, when there are going to be more.”

Along with having to attend middle schools that are overcrowded, McGowan added that students from Sunnyside and Woodside have to cross dangerous thoroughfares such as Queens and Northern boulevards to get to their designated middle schools.

McGowan said she is trying to get as many signatures as possible by the end of the month and will present the petitions at the next Panel for Educational Policy meeting scheduled for Feb. 25. She added that the goal is to not miss out on the 2015-2019 capital plan, which would look to build three middle schools in Queens.

“We’re here and I need signatures to prove that we’re here,” McGowan said. “I feel that we need to let them know that we need to build a school in the area.”

More information about the petition can be found on the Sunnyside Woodside MSP Facebook page

The DOE did not immediately respond to request for comment. 

Along with the petition, during the town hall meeting, Nolan and education advocates described how the state owes the city school system $5.9 billion as a result of underfunding, and they criticized Governor Cuomo’s education agenda. 

Some of the issues voiced by those present at the meeting included problems with the emphasis on high stakes standardized tests, lack of funding for arts and music, and asking to keep the current cap on the number of charter schools in the city. 

Representatives from the coalition Alliance for Quality Education, which calls for quality education for city schools, plan to march and lobby for public education in Albany on March 11 and have started using the hashtag #wecantwait to gather supporters. 

“There may be some bad things happening but we do have a chance to make some good things happen,” Nolan said. 

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Hybrid batteries stolen from 12 cars in 108th Precinct


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons/Shoreline

In the past few months, car thieves have been walking away with more than just personal items when breaking into the trunks of some hybrid vehicles in western Queens.

According to the 108th Precinct, which covers Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside, since November expensive hybrid batteries have been stolen out of the trunks of 12 hybrid Toyota Camrys in the area. The majority have been taken from Long Island City.

All of the vehicles, which can run on electrical power as well as a gasoline engine, have been taxis and include 10 yellow cabs and two livery vehicles.

The batteries cost from $2,000 to $3,000. They also have no serial numbers, making them untraceable, according to Debra Markell Kleinert, district manager of Community Board 2.

“The 108th is being proactive and working with the community to try to resolve this issue,” Markell Kleinert said.

The incidents are currently under investigation by the Grand Larceny Squad and 108th Precinct’s Detective Squad.

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Siblings to open Sunnyside restaurant serving authentic Chinese dumplings


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Sunnyside Shines BID

Sunnyside will welcome a new restaurant to the neighborhood this weekend, offering authentic Chinese dumplings and other menu items expected to “melt in your mouth.”

Dumplings & Things is set to open its doors this Sunday at 45-26 46th St., just under the iconic Sunnsyide arch.

The restaurant is owned by siblings Lorraine and Sam Li, who opened their first location of Dumplings & Things in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

“We chose Sunnyside for its diversity and we think we can offer something new and different to the neighborhood,” Lorraine said.

The Dumplings & Things menu features five types of Chinese dumplings, including pork, chicken and vegetable selections. Aside from the dumplings, the menu also includes a large selection of noodles — such as “melt in your mouth” pork belly noodles — soups, baos and rice platters.

“We are delighted to welcome Dumplings & Things to Sunnyside,” said Rachel Thieme, executive director of the Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District. “Sunnyside is fast becoming known for fantastic dining options from all over the world, and Dumplings & Things is a welcome addition.”

Starting this Sunday, Dumplings & Things will be open seven days a week. The hours will be Sunday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.

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