Tag Archives: Sunnyside

Western Queens gets greener: park officials


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Valerie Medoff

Western Queens has gotten greener these past four years with a project that has planted more than 1,000 new trees — and the program will just keep growing.

Partnerships for Parks, a joint program between the nonprofit City Parks Foundation and the city’s Parks Department, celebrated on Dec. 12 the planting of trees and tree care events in Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside over the past few years.

Key project representatives, elected officials and local organizations, such as New York Restoration Project (NYRP), Trees New York, City Parks Foundation and NYC Parks/Forestry, gathered at the celebration ceremony where the “torch was passed” to community volunteers, who will now lead the program and continue to green the neighborhoods.

Since 2011, the Greening Western Queens (GWQ) Urban Forestry and Community Stewardship Program has brought more than 1,100 new trees and over 100 community-enriching tree care projects to the western Queens neighborhoods.

The four-year, grant-funded project was part of a $7.9 million initiative of The North Star Fund to invest in energy efficiency and environmental projects in the community, which was affected by a 2006 electric power outage.

The GWQ program was created in the summer of 2011, when honey locusts and Japanese pagodas were planted. Since then, the project has planted 1,127 trees, including 598 new street trees on sidewalks, 528 trees in publicly accessible private spaces, such as schools, churches and public housing sites, and a storm water mitigation bioswale on the site of the Steinway & Sons piano factory in Astoria.

Other works include training over 400 people in tree care best practices with Trees New York and supporting more than 1,600 people at over 128 volunteer tree care and greening events.

An existing tree inventory was also conducted, and 455 blocks were digitally mapped in the project area in collaboration with TreeKIT and 54 local volunteers during 27 citizen mapping events.

The program also installed 400 custom-designed, GWQ-branded tree guards in order to protect the young street trees and planted more than 1,800 native perennials in 117 tree beds.

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Sunnyside school to be renamed after former councilman, CB 2 chair


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

A new Sunnyside school, which opened its doors this September, will be named after a man who officials and residents call a “great advocate” of the western Queens community.

P.S. 313, located at 45-45 42nd St., will be renamed this Friday as the Walter McCaffrey Campus in honor of a former councilman, the late Walter McCaffrey, who represented the 26th District from 1985 to 2001.

According to Joseph Conley, who recently stepped down as Community Board 2 (CB 2) chair, McCaffrey had affection for Sunnyside and wanted to see the site, which once was home to the Sunnyside Jewish Center, serve as a location for a school.

“Walter was such a dedicated New Yorker and hard worker, and this is celebrating his legacy,” Conley said about the decision to dedicate the school in memory of McCaffrey.

The 75,000-square-foot school has a capacity to serve more than 430 students from prekindergarten to fifth grade. The facility features a gymnatorium, library, 20 classrooms, art and science rooms, and a rooftop play area.

McCaffrey, who died in 2013 at age 64, was born and raised in Woodside. Before being elected to the City Council, he served as chair of CB 2.

While in the City Council, McCaffrey also served as chair of the Zoning and Franchises subcommittee and was on the Land Use, Finance, Public Safety and Transportation committees.

In May, local politicians, community leaders and residents celebrated McCaffrey’s life during a ceremony renaming 61st Street on Woodside Avenue as “Walter McCaffrey Place.”

The school dedication ceremony will take place Friday at P.S. 313 with a concert at 8:30 a.m. and a ribbon cutting afterward.

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New 108th Precinct commanding officer wants to ‘harden’ community against crimes


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

The new top cop at the 108th Precinct wants to enlist the public in the battle against crime as he steps into a new job he said he feels lucky to have landed.

Captain John Travaglia was named commanding officer of the precinct, covering Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside and Maspeth, on Nov. 17, replacing Captain Brian Hennessy, who was assigned commanding officer of the 115th Precinct.

“We don’t choose where we work in the NYPD, they tell us where we work and my lottery numbers came out. I hit the lottery to be in Long Island City,” Travaglia said. “[Hennessy] left me running with a well-oiled machine.”

Just a few weeks into his new assignment, Travaglia was able to present good news during the Dec. 4 Community Board 2 monthly meeting, when he reported that crime in the precinct had dropped significantly over the previous 28 days.

Robberies were down 8 percent, felony assaults down 9 percent, burglaries down 6 percent, grand larceny down 15 percent, and reports of stolen cars were down 50 percent, according to Travaglia.

In his new position, the 22-year NYPD veteran plans to continue what Hennessy accomplished at the precinct, such as Community Friday, which involves taking time to focus especially hard on quality-of-life issues in the precinct.

Using his experience from a previous assignment at NYPD Highway Patrol, Travaglia also said he wants to do more traffic enforcement, since an important issue in the precinct includes high-volume thoroughfares that carry thousands of commuters to and from work. He plans to emphasize enforcement of Vison Zero — a program championed by Mayor de Blasio to reduce traffic deaths — and also create a enhanced effort to crack down on drunken driving.

“There is nothing more important than getting a drunk driver off the road. I can equate it to taking a loaded illegal firearm off the street,” Travaglia said. “If we can somehow prevent a person from being injured, if not killed, that’s just as good as saving someone from a violent demise due to a crime.”

In regards to crime in the neighborhoods, Travaglia said he sees the same types of crimes that he did in his previous posts at the 114th and 104th precincts, such as property-based burglaries, car theft, and grand larceny.

In order to keep the number of such crimes down, Travaglia said he would like to educate residents on how they can help “harden the target” and lessen their chances of becoming crime victims. For example, residents making sure their windows and doors are tightly locked, making sure valuables aren’t left in cars and being more vigilant of their personal property and information.

“It’s not at all to make people feel like the police aren’t here to prevent this. We are here, [but] we cannot be everywhere. I wish we could stop all the bad people from doing this, but we cannot be everywhere,” Travaglia said. “It really is the community being the eyes and ears for the police department. We need people to call. If something looks out of place, we need to know about it.”

Travaglia said he wants to hear from the community, and that includes concerns about problems.

“I welcome complaints, I welcome compliments. I want people to attend community meetings,” he said. “We need to know what the problems are. If someone sees a problem, we need it to be reported. We cannot work a solution if we don’t know what the problem is.”

The next 108th Community Council Meeting is scheduled for Jan. 27, 2015, at Sunnyside Community Services.

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Sunnyside movie theater closing for residential development


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Modern Spaces

And that’s a wrap for Sunnyside Center Cinemas.

The longtime neighborhood movie theater at 45-25 Queens Blvd. will be closing on Jan. 4, according to a published report, after its lease was not renewed because the owner wants to make way for a residential development.

The property was bought in 2012 for $6.65 million from Dime Savings Bank by John Ciafone, husband of Gina Argento, who is the president of film production firm Broadway Stages.

The new owner hopes to lease the ground floor, which has 52,000 square feet of air rights, for $750,000 a year to a developer looking to build a residential structure above, Sunnyside Post first reported.

“I’d like to bring much-needed affordable housing to the Sunnyside community, and I’m currently in the process of looking for a development partner with extensive affordable housing experience,” Ciafone said.

The property is currently being marketed by real estate firm Modern Spaces. The bar next door, PJ Horgan’s, which is also a tenant on the property, will remain open. And although the cinema is closing, Ciafone said that there might be a chance for it to return.

“Once the project is complete, I’d be more than happy to sit down with the owner of Center Cinemas to discuss lease opportunities,” Ciafone said.

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Crime down in the 108th Precinct


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Scott Bintner/PropertyShark

With just three weeks under his belt as the new commanding officer of the 108th Precinct, Captain John Travaglia had some good news to share with the community.

At Community Board 2’s monthly meeting on Thursday night, along with introducing himself to board members and the audience, Travaglia said they have seen a decrease in crime in the precinct covering Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside and Maspeth.

In the last 28 days, robberies have been down 8 percent, felony assaults 9 percent, burglaries 6 percent, grand larceny 15 percent, and stolen cars have been down 50 percent, according to Travaglia.

“We’re heading in the right direction. I can’t make promises that it will always stay that way but I hope it does. I hope I can keep up the good work,” Travaglia said at the meeting. “I credit a lot of this reduction to Brian Hennessy and the policies he had in place, and I look forward to continuing those efforts.”

Travaglia replaced Captain Brian Hennessy, who on Nov. 6 became the commanding officer of the 115th Precinct. Before becoming the new top dog at the 108th Precinct, Travaglia was at the 114th Precinct, and before that at the 104th Precinct.

“One of the best holiday Christmas presents I ever got was being assigned to the 108th Precinct,” Travaglia said. “I took over the 108th Precinct from Captain Hennessy. He did a wonderful job. He left me with a well-oiled machine. Our men and women are working very hard and very efficiently, and I just hope I can continue it. It’s pretty big footsteps to follow in.”

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CB 2 names new chair, executive board members


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

With tears in his eyes, Joseph Conley said goodbye to the position he has held for close to three decades as he handed over the reins at Community Board 2 on Thursday night.

Conley officially announced at the December Community Board 2 monthly meeting that he would be stepping down as chair of the board. He gave the news to board members two days before the meeting via a letter.

“It’s been a great honor for me, a great privilege to be a voice of the community board and in some cases the face of the community board,” Conley said during the meeting. “There is no other reason to say other than it’s time.”

Patrick O’Brien, who previously held the position of second vice chair and has been a member of the board for 13 years, was voted as the new chair of Community Board 2.

Although he is stepping down from his position as chair of the board, which covers Sunnyside, Woodside, Long Island City and a part of Maspeth, Conley will finish his term as a board member, which ends in April.

“I have made lifelong friends in this room, people that I have shared my life, my family and you will remain all my friends,” Conley said while tearing up. The members of the board and audience cheered and gave him a standing ovation.

Conley said he joined the board because of the issue of the “squeegee men,” who would attempt to clean car windows on the side of the road at Queens Plaza. Since then he said he has seen each community flourish in its own unique way.

When thinking of his proudest moment of being part of the board, he said it had to be the community’s input for the new Hunter’s Point South Park in Long Island City and helping to come up with affordable housing in that area.

“It’s tough, it’s really tough only from the sense of the inspiration you get every day from people, trying to help people, making a difference — so it’s very hard,” Conley said. “I’m very happy for Pat. He will be a dynamic leader. He’s very thoughtful, and he has a good grasp of the issues in the community, so he will do a great job.”

Along with voting for a new chair, the executive board members decided to also put forth a new “slate” and vote on a new first and second vice chairman, secretary and treasurer. The decision was initially met with opposition from some board members, who said they felt it was too soon to be asked to vote, especially with only knowing two days before that Conley would be leaving.

However, after going back and forth, the members voted and the new executive board was chosen.

“It’s going to take some time to get the lay of the land even having been on the executive board. There are things that the chairman, particularly this chairman, has done that are going to be hard to duplicate, but you find your way and in a couple of months you do your own thing,” O’Brien said.

The new executive board consists of Stephen Cooper continuing as first vice chair, Lisa Deller going from secretary to second vice chair, Diane Ballek staying as treasurer, and Denise Keehan Smith becoming the new secretary.

O’Brien, who is a lifelong Long Island City resident, said he plans to continue the focus on key community issues, such as quality of life, transportation and development.

“We still have all the same issues. We’re going to miss Joe, but we’re not going to stop working towards all of those [issues]. The good news is that he’ll still be around,” O’Brien said. “We have more issues than answers, but that’s why we’ll work on it.”

Community Board 2’s next meeting will be on Jan. 8, 2015.

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Police nab second suspect in ATM robbery of Sunnyside man


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Just days after the first suspect in the robbery of an elderly Sunnyside man was arrested, a second person has been caught, according to police.

Terrel Blanding, 27, of the Bronx, has been charged in the Oct. 26 incident at a Chase Bank at 46-10 Queens Blvd., authorities said.

Two men approached the victim, William Eichhorn, 81, after he withdrew money from the bank’s ATM about 9:23 a.m. that day. The pair then punched Eichhorn in the face and stole $100 in cash and a debit card before fleeing, police said. Surveillance footage shows the suspects following Eichhorn, who is legally blind, inside the bank that Sunday morning.

On Wednesday, police said they had arrested the other suspect, 29-year-old Thomas Fullwood, who shares the same Bronx building address as Blanding. It was not immediately clear if the two were roommates.

They have both been charged with two counts of robbery.

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Joseph Conley turning over reins of CB2 after decades of leadership


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

An era is coming to an end Thursday night as a longtime community board chair is stepping down after nearly three decades of volunteer service.

Joseph Conley, who has been chairman of Community Board 2 (CB2) for almost 29 years, announced to board members via a letter Wednesday that it is time for him to hand over the reins, according to Sheila Lewandowski, CB2 member. 

“For a lot of us it was a surprise,” Lewandowski said. “He has really done an incredible job.”

Although he is stepping down from his position as chair of the community board, which covers Sunnyside, Woodside, Long Island City and a part of Maspeth, Conley will finish his term on the board as a member.  He is expected to make the official announcement during the board’s monthly meeting on Thursday night. 

Conley’s decision to step down comes as the western Queens neighborhoods serviced by the community board are going through major developments. 

“Community chair is a very tough job, what you do is for the most part unnoticed and unappreciated and he operated at the best interest of the community,” Lewandowski said. 

Lewandowski also added that this changing of the guard serves as an opportunity to open up the spot to other people and also possibly change the dynamic of the overall board. 

“I know there is conversation on whether we should just go for the most likely candidate right now or take a moment to absorb that we will not have Joe and then look around the room,” she said. “I think people are still digesting the fact that Joe won’t be at the helm anymore.”

The community board will be holding an election for officer positions, including chairman, first and vice chairman, secretary and treasurer, at its monthly meeting Thursday night at 7 p.m. at Sunnyside Community Service, located at 43-31 39th St. 

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Sunnyside to host third annual Santathon for charity


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Sunnyside is decking the halls this weekend as the Santas come to town for a drink – all for a good cause.

Sunnyside’s Boulevard Bars, a collective of 11 bars and restaurants on and around Queens Boulevard, will be holding their Third Annual Sunnyside Santathon pub crawl for charity on Saturday starting at 3 p.m. The event will be sponsored by S.K.I Beer.

All who wish to participate are asked to come dressed in their best Father Christmas attire and can pick up $10 wristbands at any of the establishments taking part in the festive day. Wristbands allow those wearing them to enjoy $4 drink specials all night.

Participating bars include Jack’s Fire Dept., Bar 43, The Courtyard Ale House, Maggie Mae’s, The Gaslight, Arriba Arriba, Sidetracks, Molly Blooms, PJ Horgan’s, McGuinness’s Saloon and Bliss Street Station.

Map courtesy of Sunnyside's Boulevard Bars

Map for this year’s Sunnyside Santathon (Courtesy of Sunnyside’s Boulevard Bars)

All the proceeds from the sale of the wristbands will go to toys for local children and each participating bar will also be collecting monetary donations and also any new, unwrapped toys until Christmas.

During last year’s Santathon, Sunnyside’s Boulevard Bars raised over $10,000 in monetary and toy donations. They made donations to local organizations such as St. Teresa’s and St. Raphael’s Church, the 108th Precinct Toy Drive, MercyFirst Angel Guardian Orphanage in Brooklyn and Metro Homeless Shelter.

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Watch out, 5th Avenue! Sunnyside to host holiday window contest


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Sunnyside Shines BID

Instead of decking the halls this holiday, businesses in Sunnyside will be decorating their windows, hoping to catch residents’ eyes and take home a big prize.

Starting on Small Business Saturday on Nov. 29, the Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District will be sponsoring the Holiday Window Contest, encouraging local stores to decorate their windows for the holidays.

In its second year, the contest serves as a competition for not only businesses but also local photographers, who are asked to submit their photos of Sunnyside holiday windows to the Sunnyside Shines BID’s Facebook page.

“The photo contest was so fun last year, and it really encouraged people to go around and snap photos,” said Rachel Thieme, executive director of the Sunnyside Shines BID. “Around the holidays, businesses go all out.”

Los Verdes, a restaurant located at 46-26 Greenpoint Ave., was one of the businesses that took home a prize last year for their window display that included snow and holiday lights.

“We’re currently working on ideas to see how we can top it this year,” said Javier Quezada, owner of Los Verdes. “It’s cool because it creates a unified atmosphere in the community.”

To enter, participants have to take a photo of a business in the Sunnyside Shines district and their holiday window decorations. Then they must upload the image to the contest section on the Facebook page, and people can begin voting.

There will be cash prizes for the top three businesses with holiday windows and also for the photos on Facebook with the most votes.

The deadline to enter and vote is Dec. 24 by 5 p.m.

For more information and to check out the contest, visit www.facebook.com/SunnysideShines after Small Business Saturday.

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Sunnyside man caught with stun guns, machete in luggage: PA


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Port Authority

A Sunnyside man allegedly on his way to a movie shoot in Dubai was busted with an array of weapons in his luggage at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Jalil Dewan, 57, was due to depart from the airport the day before Thanksgiving when TSA agents discovered the contraband in his checked baggage, according to the Port Authority.

An inspection found that the bags contained two stun guns, pellet guns, starter pistols, four boxes of pellets and a machete.

JFKarrestPAPD

Jalil Dewan

Dewan admitted the bags belonged to him and indicated he was flying to a film shoot in Dubai Wednesday morning, authorities said.

Port Authority police confiscated the items and Dewan was arrested. He was charged with criminal possession of a weapon for the stun guns and received a desk appearance ticket.

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Identify this place in Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

WHERE

Do you know where in Queens this photo was taken? Guess by commenting below! The answer will be revealed next week.

Last week’s answer to “Identify this Place”: Queens Boulevard in Sunnyside 

image2-624x467

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Sunnyside BID encourages residents to ‘shop local’ for holidays


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

On this year’s Small Business Saturday, one business improvement district is making sure residents keep it local.

The Sunnyside Shines BID is celebrating Small Business Saturday on Nov. 29 with a kickoff event in Bliss Plaza, one of two new pedestrian plazas under the elevated No. 7 train, and with the release of Sunnyside’s first-ever Shop Local Holiday Gift Guide.

“We really want people to reengage with the local businesses here in Sunnyside,” said Rachel Thieme, executive director of the BID. “There are just so many opportunities and we do have a good variety of retail [in Sunnyside] and we really wanted to highlight that in this guide and showcase that there are so many different types of ideas here.”

The guide, which was created in partnership with students at LaGuardia Community College, is a full-color, printed brochure that features holiday gift ideas from 22 local shops. Residents that live in the area the BID covers will receive the guides in the mail next week.

Czarinna Andres, owner of Bing’s Hallmark, located at 45-15 Greenpoint Ave., said she is delighted the holiday gift guide will help promote local businesses like her own.

Photos courtesy of Sunnyside Shines BID

Photos courtesy of Sunnyside Shines BID

“Every bit of publicity helps local businesses. Launching the gift guide on Small Business Saturday is a perfect way to make the community more aware of the importance of shopping locally,” Andres said.

Seda Bagdasarya, owner of the jewelry shop That’s Incredible at 45-21 Greenpoint Ave., also hopes this guide will help improve business and bring more customers.

“It’s going to be very good,” Bagdasarya said. “It could be very helpful for business and I hope it continues every year.”

The Small Business Saturday kickoff event will take place from noon to 1 p.m. at Bliss Plaza, located on Queens Boulevard and 46th Street. It will feature free giveaways including the guide and Small Business Saturday-branded tote bags, while supplies last. There will also be live music from the Sunnyside Social Club.

“Resources like the Sunnyside Shines Shop Local Holiday Gift are creative, important tools to help promote local businesses and engage residents as they start shopping for the holiday season,” said Maria Torres-Springer, commissioner of the city’s Department of Small Business Services, who encourages New Yorkers to shop locally this Small Business Saturday and beyond.

For more information, visit www.sunnysideshines.org.

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108th Precinct names new commanding officer


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@NYPD110Pct

The 108th Precinct has a new top dog.

Captain John F. Travaglia has been named the new commanding officer of the police precinct that covers Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside and Maspeth.

He is replacing Captain Brian Hennessy, who on Nov. 6 became the commanding officer to the 115th Precinct.

Travaglia began his career in the NYPD in 1993 at the 105th Precinct. Throughout the years, he has also served in the 113th and 104th precincts, and Patrol Borough Queens South, Patrol Borough Queens North, Highway District, Highway 3 and Queens South Narcotics Division.

On Wednesday, Travaglia tweeted from the 108th Precinct’s Twitter account saying, “As the new Commanding Officer of the #108pct, I look forward to working with the wonderful communities of #LIC #Sunnyside #Woodside #Maspeth.”

The next 108th Community Council Meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 25, at 7 a.m. at Sunnyside Community Services, 43-31 39th St. in Sunnyside.

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New photo released of suspect in robbery, assault of 81-year-old Sunnyside man


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

Three weeks after an elderly man was punched and robbed at a Sunnyside ATM, police have released another photo of one of the men suspected in the brutal crime.

William Eichhorn, 81, was approached by two suspects after he withdrew money from an ATM at the Chase Bank at 46-10 Queens Blvd. about 9:23 a.m. on Oct. 26. The suspects, described as two heavy-set black men in their 20s to 30s, then punched Eichhorn in the face and stole $100 in cash and a debit card before fleeing the scene, authorities said.

suspects-1024x687

Surveillance footage shows the suspects following Eichhorn, who is legally blind, inside the bank that Sunday morning.

Police are offering a reward of up to $2,000 for any information leading to the arrests of the suspects and released two photos of them earlier this month.

William Eichhorn asks for the community's help in finding the suspects who robbed him. (THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano)

William Eichhorn asks for the community’s help in finding the suspects who robbed him. (THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano)

The surrounding community, Eichhorn’s family and local officials also came together on Nov. 4 to call for the public’s help in identifying and catching the suspects.

“I had a wonderful life here before this event and I hope to continue to have one in the future, and I hope we don’t have any more incidents like this,” Eichhorn said that day.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

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