Tag Archives: Sunnyside

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.


RECOMMENDED STORIES

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.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

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

RECOMMENDED STORIES

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. 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

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.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

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.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

LIC-based grocery delivery service aimed for mom and pop stores


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Images courtesy of Pickup Later

One new delivery service is trying to level the playing field for local mom and pop shops battling the big, online food delivery companies by offering customers the option to have groceries delivered within hours of placing an order at neighborhood stores.

PickUpLater, a Long Island City-based online grocery service started at the end of 2014, allows customers to go on their website and order from a local store’s inventory.

As a resident of Long Island City for the past six years, owner Kodjo Hounnaké said the idea was born after he was ordering from GrubHub and he asked himself why such a service was not available for groceries from local stores. 

Although Hounnaké says he aims for the service to go nationwide, PickUpLater currently only offers customers groceries from Foodcellar & Co. Market, located at 4-85 47th Rd. The service is available for residents in Long Island City, Hunters Point, Astoria, Greenpoint, Sunnyside and Woodside. It has also started to deliver in Manhattan, below 59th Street. 

PickUpLater owner Kodjo Hounnaké

PickUpLater owner Kodjo Hounnaké

The delivery areas are expected to expand, once Foodcellar opens its second location in Court Square. 

Unlike giants like Fresh Direct, Hounnaké added that PickUpLater has groceries directly from the store, not from a warehouse. Also unlike grocery delivery service, Instacart, which delivers from large stores such as Whole Foods Market and Costco, the idea of PickUpLater is to stick to the local mom and pop shops. 

“We’re not [the grocery store’s] competitor; what we offer them is to remove that extra cost and that extra stress,” Hounnaké said. “We’ll come in and do everything for them. In a sense we are their ally not their competition.”

Once the customer places an order on www.pickuplater.com, a personal shopper then does the work of purchasing the items on the list. Keeping an emphasis on “real time interaction with customers,” the personal shopper will text or call customers with any updates or replacement options.

The groceries will then be delivered in two hours, or more, depending on the customer’s request. They also have the option to pick up the products from Foodcellar.

For orders over $35, pick up fees are $0.99. Deliveries scheduled for more than two hours, the fee is $3.99 and $5.99 for deliveries scheduled within two hours.

PickUpLater opens at 7 a.m. and deliveries are scheduled between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. Pickup hours are from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Sunnyside map updated to attract more visitors to neighborhood


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District

Navigating the streets of Sunnyside just got better.

The Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District, in partnership with the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce and LaGuardia Community College, has released this year’s updated map for the neighborhood.

The map features full-color illustrations and an updated business directory of Sunnyside. A total of 15,000 maps were printed and will be distributed at hotels in Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside, local businesses and real estate offices, and community events.

The introduction of this map is an effort to bring in new people to the neighborhood while also familiarizing new residents with the area.

“The Sunnyside map is a great piece to promote the neighborhood,” said Rachel Thieme, executive director of the Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District. “I was glad to see how well it was received last year, and we are grateful [to our] local businesses for supporting it again this year.”

The map, which will be updated every year with a new business directory and is printed locally at Paper Plus Printing, was started last year following a design competition among students at LaGuardia Community College. The artwork featured on the map for both this year and last year belongs to former student Carmen Zhu.

“Like Sunnyside itself, [the map] is both retro and fresh, and a useful, free, tangible gift to visitors and residents in this era of all online resources,” said Rigoberto Cardoso, president of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Brooklyn artist reveals interactive public art project on Sunnyside billboard


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Margeaux Walter

Keep calm and look up, Sunnyside. That’s the message behind one artist’s new interactive project hitting the skies of the western Queens neighborhood.

The organization 14×48 revealed its latest public art project with Brooklyn artist Margeaux Walter on Tuesday on a billboard located on Greenpoint Avenue between 45th and 46th streets.

The project, “Keep Calm Billboard,” features a collection of different uses of the slogan “Keep Calm and Carry On” covered all over the vacant space and will be up for a minimum of four weeks.

Walter decided to use the slogan in reference to advertising and consumer culture. The slogan originated in the British Stationary Office during World War II and was created as war propaganda but never distributed.

She added that she was given several options for locations, but chose Sunnyside because it is close to where she lives and a community she frequently visits.

“The slogan is not one that fits into a specific class or ethnicity of people, but rather is universally recognized and used,” Walter said. “I wanted the billboard to be in a neighborhood that was both multicultural, and also in a commercial and heavily trafficked pedestrian area.”

Walter is also inviting people to tweet their own “Keep Calm” message with the hashtag #keepcalm14x48. The tweets will then be made into postcards and distributed along Greenpoint Avenue and at Ave Coffee House, located at 45-01 Greenpoint Ave.

The messages will also be available as a Twitter feed at http://www.14×48.org/campaigns.html#campaign7.

“My hopes is that people will tweet their messages, and then grab a postcard from another community member, turning this advertising slogan into a personalized message,” Walter said. “In turn the voices of community members will be a form of advertising campaign, one that is actually about the individual and not the consumer.”

This installation is 14×48’s seventh project in the city. The organization repurposes vacant billboards as public art space in order to open the door for emerging artists to have more opportunities in public art and to brighten the urban environment.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Sunnyside Shines BID names holiday window photo contest winners


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Sunnyside Shines BID

Christmas might be over but the holidays are still being celebrated in Sunnyside.

The Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District (BID) announced on Tuesday the winners of this year’s Holiday Window Contest, which brought it more than 1,100 votes.

The contest began on Small Business Saturday on Nov. 29, with the BID hoping to encourage local stores to decorate their windows for the holidays.

First place went to Sunnyside Thrift Shop, located at 45-14 Greenpoint Ave., which took home $300. Sunnyside Florist at 40-05 Queens Blvd. won second place and $200, and Pure Spa and Salon at 40-15 Queens Blvd. won third and $100.

“We hoped to encourage Sunnyside stores to create a festive holiday shopping environment,” said Rachel Thieme, executive director of Sunnyside Shines. “The holiday window contest was a fun way to engage businesses and local residents to get into the ‘shop local’ holiday spirit.”

In its second year, the contest served 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.

To enter, participants had to take a photo of a business in the Sunnyside Shines district and its holiday window decorations. Then they uploaded the image to the contest section on the Facebook page, and people began voting.

Photographer Mehdi Smita of Woodside won $250 for receiving the most votes for his photograph.

Mehdi Smita of Woodside won for his photograph.

Mehdi Smita of Woodside won for his photograph.

“The holiday window contest improved business. I saw more people coming in to look at our windows because of the contest,” said Ayman Kasem, manager of Sunnyside Thrift Shop.

This contest was part of the BID’s plan to promote local shopping during the holidays. On Small Business Saturday, the BID held an event and also released the first-ever Shop Local Holiday Gift Guide, which featured gift ideas and coupons.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Op-ed: Local input needed before moving convention center to Sunnyside


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BY ASSEMBLYWOMAN CATHERINE NOLAN

There is a proposal to move the Javits Convention Center to Queens, but it should not go forward without input from the thousands of residents who live in the neighborhoods nearby.

There have been proposals to develop this historic industrial space almost since it opened in 1910. The Sunnyside Yards have attracted attention by impractical dreamers, unscrupulous speculators and even some visionary city planners. Still, any serious plan must address the concerns of local residents and businesses before it can be supported by government.

Affordable housing is an important citywide goal, but the plan as pictured in the Daily News looks grossly overbuilt. Residents have a right to see density and scale addressed. Lots of open space must be part of any plan in a neighborhood of few existing parks.

Any plans to develop Sunnyside Yards need strong, local review. I would propose LaGuardia Community College play a lead role in a community-based needs assessment, shared and developed by local residents, students, businesses, community boards and elected officials.

• Any plan must include the effects of remediation. The Yards have been subjected to industrial runoff for so long, they probably warrant Superfund status. What will be the effect of a major cleanup on our community?

• Transportation is critical. The N, R, G and 7 lines are overcrowded and often shut down due to needed upgrades. Bus service is inadequate, and a multi-modal connector to the East Side Access Project must be addressed as well.

• Our community has few health facilities, an antiquated police precinct and inadequate fire and sanitation services. Extensive resources would have to be added before our community could absorb any large infusion of new residents.

• Long Island City has thousands of important jobs in the auto, transportation, food, film, cultural, tech and manufacturing industries. These need to be maintained, not pushed out.

• Our schools have long been among the most overcrowded in the city. Many students attend classes in trailers. Obviously, this has to be resolved for current residents who are now fighting for pre-K, elementary and middle school seats.

We need a plan that recognizes that thousands of us — from Sunnyside Gardens to Hunter’s Point, from Dutch Kills to Ravenswood — have already chosen western Queens for our homes, businesses, education and creative community. We are not going away just because the big boys in Manhattan have decided to tear down the Javits Center and develop luxury housing on the far West Side.

It is not NIMBY to say that our community will not support proposals if we have no say in their development. Those of us who decided to live, work and love our neighborhoods with the Sunnyside Yards as they currently exist must be included in any plans.

Catherine Nolan represents Sunnyside, Ridgewood, Astoria and Long Island City in the state Assembly.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

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.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

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.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

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.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

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.

RECOMMENDED STORIES