Tag Archives: Sunnyside

Rego Park woman sentenced for fatally pushing man in front of 7 train


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Daniel Schwen

A Rego Park woman began a 24-year prison sentence Wednesday for pushing a man to his death at a 7 train station in Sunnyside more than two years ago.

Erika Menendez, 33, pled guilty in March of this year to a manslaughter charge for killing Sunnando Sen, 46, at the 40th Street station on the night of Dec. 27, 2012.

According to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, Menendez was seen talking to herself and pacing on the platform at about 8 p.m. that evening. Moments later, she shoved Sen from behind off the platform and into an arriving Manhattan-bound 7 train.

Sen was pronounced dead a short time later from blunt force trauma.

During questioning, Menendez reportedly claimed she attacked Sen, whom she believed was a Muslim, because she hated “Hindus and Muslims ever since” the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Her prior record includes attacking a fire department battalion chief in June 2003 in front of his home on Palmetto Street in Ridgewood.

“[Menendez] committed what is every subway commuter’s worst nightmare — being suddenly and senselessly pushed into the path of an oncoming train,” Brown said in a statement Wednesday. “The victim was shoved from behind and had no chance to defend himself… [Her] actions clearly show that she is a threat to society and deserving of today’s sentence.”

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Hundreds celebrate Taste of Sunnyside’s fifth year


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

Stomachs were smiling under the elevated 7 train in Sunnyside on Tuesday night, as 28 local businesses came out to give the borough a taste of what they have to offer.

The Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District celebrated its 2015 Taste of Sunnyside, a one-of-a-kind culinary event highlighting local businesses, under the subway line at 46th Street and Queens Boulevard.

“This is our biggest event of the year. We try to promote Sunnyside and all the great local restaurants and other businesses,” said Rachel Thieme, executive director of Sunnyside Shines.

The festival, which was sold out, featured sample treats and beverages from 28 Sunnyside establishments. Cuisines ranged from various countries around the world including Tibet, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Italy and Paraguay.

Bites and beverages were also provided by event sponsors Associated Marketplace, Fresh n Save Marketplace, Lowery Wines and Liquors, Queens Brewery and SingleCut Brewery.

“Queens is moving and shaking. Folks are coming here to the borough of Queens to build and open their restaurants, to open their stores. We are in our core a borough of neighborhoods and those neighborhoods are sustained by our restaurants and our businesses and all of the community that comes out to support Sunnyside,” Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said. “Enjoy the fact that Sunnyside is on the move, Queens is on the move.”

The night also featured a full lineup of performers including local group Sunnyside Social Club – which filled the tent with mixes of folk, punk and jazz – and a presentation from the Thalia Spanish Theatre with Danza España and flamenco dancers.

“Sunnyside is an amazing place to live and work, start a business, raise a family, and I am so grateful every day to be a Sunnysider,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said.

Van Bramer also told the crowd that after tasting what the restaurants and establishments have to offer, they should go back out and “spend a lot of money” to support the businesses until next year’s Taste of Sunnyside.


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Your guide to Memorial Day parades and vigils in Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

The sacrifices of American soldiers will be celebrated across Queens in the days to come at various Memorial Day parades and vigils.

Among the celebrations are the following events, scheduled to take place rain or shine:

Woodhaven
Residents of Woodhaven will hold an early tribute to America’s fallen troops with a ceremony on Thursday, May 21, at 7:30 p.m. The vigil, sponsored by the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation, will take place at Forest Parkway Plaza, located at the corner of Jamaica Avenue and Forest Parkway.

The program includes patriotic music, a color guard, laying of wreaths and remarks from local elected officials and veterans.

College Point
The College Point Citizens for Memorial Day Inc. will begin their parade on at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 24, at the intersection of 28th Avenue and College Point Boulevard. Queens Borough President Melinda Katz is set to appear along with other local officials, and veteran Louis A. DiAgostino will be honored as the grand marshal.

Marching bands, drill teams and dance groups will all be performing at the event, and military servicemen and women will march in the festivities. The College Point Citizens for Memorial Day are accepting donations to offset parade costs. For more information contact parade chairman Rev. Adam Crabtree at 718-640-8840.

Forest Hills
The Forest Hills Memorial Day Parade hosted by the American Legion and the Forest Hills Kiwanis Club will take place on Sunday at noon. The parade starts from Metropolitan and Ascan avenues and will head westward down Metropolitan Avenue to Trotting Course Lane. From there, the parade will turn right and stop at the landmarked Remsen Cemetery between Trotting Course Lane and Alderton Street.

This year’s grand marshal will be Roland Meier, president of the West Side Tennis Club. Members of ROTC, band, and local civic and children’s organizations such as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts will march in the parade. Organizers of the parade will hold a ceremony at Remsen Cemetery to honor veterans.

Maspeth
The United Veterans and Fraternal Organizations of Maspeth will honor the men and women of the U.S. armed forces who made the ultimate sacrifice during their 31st Memorial Day Parade on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Grand marshals James Desio, retired US Army WWII veteran, and William Aronowicz, retired U.S. Marine Corp. WWII veteran, will lead the procession, beginning at Walter A. Garlinge Memorial Park, located at 72nd Street and Grand Avenue. At 2 p.m., there will be a memorial service for the deceased veterans of WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Middle Village
The St. Margaret Catholic War Veterans Post 1172 will honor those who died for the nation on Monday, May 25, with a special Mass at 9:30 a.m. at St. Margaret Church, located at the corner of Juniper Valley Road and 80th Street.

Then, at 11 a.m., post members and residents will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Middle Village Veterans Triangle, located at the corner of Gray and 77th streets near 66th Road. The ceremony will include prayers, a military salute and the playing of taps.

Glendale/Ridgewood
The Allied Veterans Memorial Committee of Ridgewood and Glendale, a committee made up of delegates from six veteran organizations, will honor the more than 1.14 million men and women of the U.S. armed forces who died in defense of the country during the 77th Memorial Day parade Monday.

At 11 a.m., the parade will begin at the Glendale War Memorial, located at Myrtle and Cooper Avenues, with a short memorial service to honor the war dead of Glendale. They will then march down Myrtle Avenue westbound to the Ridgewood War Memorial, located at Myrtle and Cypress Avenues, where there will be another short memorial service to honor the war dead of Ridgewood.

Howard Beach
The Howard Beach Memorial Day Parade will honor Vietnam War veterans, including the Howard Beach residents lost at war since the neighborhood’s founding.

There will be a memorial day Mass before the parade at Our Lady of Grace at 101st Street on Monday at 9:30 a.m. At 10:15 a.m., there will be a brief ceremony on top of Hawtree-Ramblersville Bridge and the parade will officially commence at Coleman’s Square at 11 a.m. The parade will stop at the Vietnam War Memorial, located at 99th Street and 157th Avenue and then head to the World War II Memorial at Assembly of God Church at 158-31 99th St. They will then march to St. Barnabas Church at 159-19 58th St. before marching back to Coleman Square.

Laurelton
The Laurelton Lions Club will present the 26th Annual Laurelton Memorial Day Parade, featuring The Queens Area Pathfinders Marching Band and The Black and Gold Marching Elite Band, on Monday starting at 9 a.m. The parade begins at Francis Lewis and Merrick boulevards, and will end at the Veterans Memorial Triangle at 225th Street and North Conduit Avenue.

Sponsors for this year’s parade include the Laurelton Lions Club, American Legion Benjamin Moore Post 1946, Garden Club of Laurelton, Federated Blocks of Laurelton and Concerned Citizens of Laurelton in Conjunction with Col. Edward O. Gourdin VFW POST 5298.

Whitestone
The Whitestone Memorial Day Parade will honor veterans and public servants from the community on Monday, May 25. The event will begin at noon at Whitestone Memorial Park at 149th Street and 15th Drive with a ceremony. Following the ceremony, the parade will commence and follow a rectangular route around the neighborhood back to Whitestone Memorial Park. Jim Dunn, a veteran from The American Legion in Whitestone, will serve as the grand marshal.

The parade will feature classic cars, elected officials, children from local sports leagues, and it will also celebrate the 100th anniversary of Whitestone’s Engine 295/Ladder 144 of the FDNY. For additional, information or to volunteer call Devon O’Connor, parade chairman, at 718-757-8546.

Woodside/Sunnyside
This year the St. Sebastian’s War Veterans will host the Woodside Memorial Day Parade to honor fellow veterans on Monday starting at 11 a.m. Parade participants will get together at the St. Sebastian’s School yard located at the corner of Woodside Avenue and 57th Street.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and John V. Daniels Jr. Post No 2813 in Sunnyside will host a Memorial Day event to honor veterans on Monday at 11 a.m. The event will be held at John Vincent Daniels Square, located on Roosevelt Avenue and 52nd Street. During the ceremony, a wreath will be placed at the flagpole in the middle of the park.

Little Neck/Douglaston
This year’s Little Neck/Douglaston Memorial Day Parade, scheduled to take place at 2 p.m. Monday, pays special tribute to Vietnam War veterans. Dr. Loree Sutton, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs, will serve as grand marshal of the march sponsored by the Little Neck/Douglaston Memorial Day Parade Association.

The march begins in Great Neck from the corner of Jayson Avenue and Northern Boulevard, then proceeds west on the boulevard to the yard of St. Anastasia’s Church, located near Northern Boulevard and 245th Street.

Taste of Sunnyside to feature 28 local restaurants, music and performances


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Sunnyside Shines

Foodies will once again be able to have some delicious fun under the 7 train next week in Sunnyside.

The Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District is presenting its 2015 Taste of Sunnyside, a one-of-a-kind culinary event highlighting 28 local restaurants, on May 19 under the elevated 7 line at 46th Street and Queens Boulevard.

After receiving an “overwhelmingly positive response” last year, the event, which will go from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., will once again be held in a block-long tent.

“Bringing all the flavors of Sunnyside into one visible food festival is an amazing opportunity for local residents and visitors alike to discover their new favorite restaurant, and a great way to help promote Sunnyside as a restaurant destination,” said Rachel Thieme, executive director of Sunnyside Shines. “Last year’s event exceeded our wildest expectations and we’re excited to be back under the 7 train again this year to sample all this delicious food.”

The food festival will feature sample treats from 28 restaurants including Salt and Fat and Venturo Osteria, which were both recognized by Michelin as a Bib Gourmand pick for 2015.

Many of Sunnyside’s newest restaurants are participating this year, including the neighborhood’s two new Tibetan restaurants, Tibetan Dumpling Café and Punda Tibetan Restaurant, as well as Dumplings & Things, Nonna Gina Brick Oven Pizzeria, Blu Orchid and the yet-to-open Italian restaurant Soleluna.

All of the participating restaurants will allow diners to travel the world without leaving the comfort of Queens. The full list of eateries includes Tibetan Dumpling Cafe (Tibetan), Los Verdes (Colombian), Blu Orchid (Thai), Claret Wine Bar (Wine Bar), PJ Horgans (Irish Pub), Tito Rad’s Grill (Filipino), Dog and Duck (Irish Gastropub) De Mole (Mexican), Bliss Street Station (Irish Pub), Dumplings & Things (Chinese), I Love Paraguay (Paraguayan), Aubergine Cafe (American), Arriba Arriba (Mexican), Los Pollos Restaurant (Peruvian), Bliss 46 Bistro (French), Nonna Gina Brick Oven Pizza (Italian), Punda Tibetan Restaurant (Tibetan), Copper Kettle (Irish Pub), Sidetracks (Irish American Pub), Tealicious Express (Bubble Tea and Juice Bar), Soleluna (Italian), 43 Bar and Grill (Irish American Pub), Murphy’s Lobster Grill (seafood), Salt and Fat (New American), Venturo Osteria (Seasonal Italian), White Castle (American), Dazies and Jack’s Fire Dept.

Bites and beverages will also be provided by event sponsors Associated Marketplace, Fresh n Save Marketplace, Lowery Wines and Liquors, Queens Brewery and SingleCut Brewery.

Further promoting the diversity in the neighborhood, the Taste of Sunnyside will include a full lineup of performers, including a presentation from the Thalia Spanish Theatre with Danza España and flamenco dancers. Also performing will be local subway brass band Sunnyside Social Club, and the Underground Horns.

The Sunnyside Shines BID is also offering a “shop local” promotion where customers who download a Taste of Sunnyside Local Discount Card, available to download at www.tasteofsunnyside.com, will receive deals with participating business through May 31.

Tickets for the Taste of Sunnyside are on sale at www.tasteofsunnyside.com.

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Sunnyside Shines BID executive director honored for dedication


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of state Senator Michael Gianaris' office

One Sunnyside community leader shined extra bright this week, receiving an award for her dedication and commitment to the western Queens neighborhood she serves.

Rachel Thieme, executive director of the Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District, was honored by state Senator Michael Gianaris on Tuesday during the annual New York State Women of Distinction Ceremony in Albany.

The award is given to outstanding women from throughout the state whose contributions enrich the quality of life in their communities.

“Rachel and Sunnyside Shines are perfect embodiments of the wonderful character of our neighborhood,” Gianaris said. “More and more people are finding out that Sunnyside has among the finest restaurants, cultural institutions and public spaces in all of New York, and Rachel’s work is a huge part of that. From our two new public plazas on Queens Boulevard to Taste of Sunnyside, Rachel makes our neighborhood a better place to live and I couldn’t be prouder to recognize her as a Woman of Distinction.”

Thieme began serving as the executive director of the BID in 2012 and since then has worked with local business and property owners to promote and enhance Sunnyside as a commercial district.

“This recognition shines a bright light on our efforts to promote and beautify Sunnyside’s commercial district, and I am so appreciative to the senator for this opportunity,” she said.

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Woodside intersection, prone to accidents, gets new traffic safety measures


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

Woodside residents are showing that with determination and perseverance, changes can be made to prevent tragedies from occurring.

Civic activists, students from P.S. 11 and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer gathered on Monday morning at the corner of 51st Street and Skillman Avenue to announce the installation of a new traffic signal at the intersection.

“We’re here today to celebrate a huge victory, a monumental victory for this community because it’s the small things that really matter in the daily lives of everyday people and that stop light has been something we have all worked for for years,” Van Bramer said.

The call for the stop light came after a pedestrian was hit at the intersection and community members including Arthur Ferguson, who started a petition that gathered 265 signatures, and Van Bramer reached out to the Department of Transportation.

“This stop light is a great victory and a great sign of what a community can do to make its streets safer,” Van Bramer said. “This would not have happened without a communitywide effort and never giving up because we heard no several times but we knew that this stop light was needed. We knew that it was too dangerous.”

Ali Mamun, who has owned Woodside Super Convenient at 51-01 Skillman Ave. for 20 years, said that he has seen numerous vehicle collisions at the intersection and down Skillman Avenue, so he hopes the new light will help prevent any future accidents.

“It’s excellent,” Mamun said about the traffic signal installation. “We are so happy for it. Hopefully the light will help everyone now.”

Along with the installation of the traffic signal, a slow zone is in the process of being implemented in the Sunnyside Gardens-Woodside neighborhood. It is expected to be completed by the end of the spring.

The parameters of the slow zone are Queens Boulevard/Roosevelt Avenue as the southern border, 43rd Street as the western border, 58th Street to the east and 38th Avenue/Barnett Avenue to the north.

“Our students walk back and forth to school and it’s a safer neighborhood now. It just became so much better,” said Elizabeth Pena-Jorge, principal at P.S. 11, located just blocks away from the intersection. “Woodside, and Sunnyside, just became a better place.”

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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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