Tag Archives: U.S. Open

NYC teacher sentenced to community service for US Open drone crash

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

The New York City public school teacher arrested for crashing his drone into a stadium during the U.S. Open has been sentenced to five days of community service, according to the Queens district attorney.

Daniel Verley — a 26-year-old science teacher at the Academy of Innovative Technology in Brooklyn — was arrested on Sept. 3 after his unmanned model aircraft crashed into an empty seating area at the Louis Armstrong Stadium during a tennis match.

Authorities say that Verley, a Jamaica resident who is also a professional photographer, went to Flushing Meadow Corona Park that night at approximately 7:45 p.m. to take pictures of the iconic Unisphere with his new robotic drone.

During his second attempt to fly the aircraft, the drone lost its signal and flew away from the Unisphere, crashing into the famed tennis stadium during a U.S. Open match between Flavia Pennetta and Monica Niculescu.

No one was injured as a result of the incident.

District Attorney Richard A. Brown said the investigations of the incident revealed that Verley had never intended to allow the drone to fly into the stadium.

“I urge hobbyists and other members of the public to use common sense when choosing to employ these unmanned vehicles — obtain the necessary permissions and only use these vehicles in areas deemed safe as the reckless use of unmanned model aircraft near locations where large groups of people assemble needlessly puts the lives and safety of people at risk,” Brown said.

Verley has no prior criminal record and the charges against him will be dismissed six months after the completion of his community service.


PHOTOS: A look back at a US Open filled with stars and a huge upset

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Dominick Totino Photography

One player’s yearlong span of dominance, another player’s career and a history of rain delays all came to an end at this year’s U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

The last few days at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center were filled with historic moments beginning with Friday’s stunning defeat of defending women’s champion Serena Williams at the hands of unseeded Roberta Vinci in the semifinals.

Williams was looking to become the first woman since Steffi Graf in 1988 to sweep all four tennis Grand Slam events in the same calendar year. Williams looked well on her way doing it after the first set against Vinci, which she won convincingly, 6-2. But the unseeded Italian shocked everyone by taking the next set against Williams, 6-4, before finishing off the defending champ in the third and final set by the same score.

Vinci’s Cinderella run to for a U.S. Open title came up short in the finals on Saturday, also in dramatic fashion, as she lost to the 26th seed and fellow Italian Flavia Pennetta. Before a packed house at Arthur Ashe Stadium, Pennetta captured the U.S. Open title in straight sets — 7-6, 6-2 — then stunned everyone by announcing her retirement after accepting her championship trophy.

Sunday’s men’s final between defending champion Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer featured what will likely be the last rain delay in Arthur Ashe Stadium history. A retractable roof will be ready for next year’s U.S. Open, thus preventing delays for future finals and other marquee tennis matches.

Djokovic and Federer, the tournament’s top seeds, took the court around dusk and put on a show for the sellout crowd. Djokovic took the first set, 6-4, then Federer — a sentimental favorite among many in attendance — bounced back to win the second set, 7-5.

In the end, Djokovic assumed control of the match in the third set, winning 6-4, then won the fourth set by the same score to capture his second U.S. Open title and third Grand Slam event this year.

As in past years, the two-week tournament brought out huge crowds and celebrities from the stage and screen who took in the action. Among the notable names in attendance for the matches were singer/songwriter James Taylor; soccer champion David Beckham; New York Yankee infielder Alex Rodriguez; Anna Wintour of Vogue magazine; and actors Ben Stiller and Robert Redford.

It figures to be more of the same at next year’s Open, which is scheduled to begin on Aug. 29, 2016.


Tennis legends make appearances at 2015 US Open

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel/Gallery courtesy of Jennifer Pottheiser Photography for Time Warner Cable

Tennis legends Lindsay Davenport and Mary Joe Fernandez were among the big sports names attending the 2015 U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

Davenport and Fernandez appeared at the games courtesy of a Time Warner Cable question and answer series. As part of the series, fans also got to meet Jim Courier, a former No. 1 world ranked player; James Blake, a former No. 4 world ranked singles player; and Michael Chang, who was the youngest French Open/Grand Slam Champion ever in 1989.

Davenport—a six-time Grand Slam tournament champion who was elected into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2014 —said that the U.S. Open was always her favorite tournament and that she loves coming back to watch on the sidelines.

“I’ve always loved the sport since I first picked up a racket at 5,” Davenport said. “Even when I wasn’t playing, I was watching tennis all the time so I love coming back. I love being a part of it.”

This year Davenport worked as a coach for Madison Keys, a 20-year-old newcomer who was successful in her run in the 2015 U.S. Open until being bested by Serena Williams on Friday, Sept. 6.

As part of her question and answer session, Mary Joe Fernandez reflected on her experiences as a two-time Olympic gold medalist.

“When you’re playing for yourself, there’s pressure,” Fernandez said, “but when you’re playing for your country and teammates it’s another level of excitement and pressure.”

Fernandez, who has coached the Olympic women’s tennis team and served as an ESPN analyst since her retirement, said that her two children enjoyed using her gold medals to impress their friends at school.

“We have them in our family room behind the TV,” Fernandez said. “I bring [the medals] in to show-and-tell with the children, so they get a big kick out of that.”

The Q&A sessions are planned to continue through Wednesday, Sept. 9.


NYC high school teacher from Jamaica arrested in US Open drone crash

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo via WIkimedia Commons

A city high school teacher was arrested Thursday night at the U.S. Open after flying a drone over a tennis match and crashing it into empty seats in the stands, according to authorities.

Daniel Verley, 26, reportedly from Jamaica, faces three charges after the incident, including reckless endangerment, reckless operation of a drone and operating a drone in a city public park outside of a prescribed area, police said.

Verley reportedly works as a teacher at the Academy of Innovative Technology in Brooklyn.

According to published reports, the drone flew over the court at the Louis Armstrong Stadium on Thursday night before crashing into the seats at 8:28 p.m., startling both spectators and tennis players Monica Niculescu of Romania and Flavia Pennetta of Italy.

The black drone reportedly had four propellers and partially shattered on impact. No injuries were reported.

Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said in a statement that this incident illustrates that drones cannot be considered children’s toys.

“Many people operating unmanned aircraft are novices with little or no aviation experience and recklessly flying a drone near, over or into a tennis stadium or an airport or any other place where large groups of people assemble needlessly puts lives in danger,” Brown said.

The Courier reached out to Verley by phone for comment, but did not receive a response.


Ticket holders enjoy smaller games at US Open side courts and practice fields

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Alina Suriel

It’s a tennis-palooza!

Tennis fans at the U.S. Open at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center have multiple courts to choose from in addition to four main stadiums hosting the sport’s biggest names.

While the likes of Andy Murray and John Isner could be seen at the Arthur Ashe and Louis Armstrong stadiums, simultaneous matches taking place in 11 fields and West Stadium courts allowed fans to get even closer to professional players.

Peter Kraus and Ashley Hall, a stepfather and daughter who both love the game, attended the U.S. Open together, enjoying the side games as well as major matches in the large stadiums.

“We’re tennis fans,” said Kraus, who has been playing for 40 years. “I enjoy the game and think it’s good exercise and fun.”

“It’s inspires me to keep going, because in high school matches you don’t win every match,” Hall said. “Now I’m in college and my school doesn’t have a team, but it inspires me to start a team.”

Practice fields open throughout the day for player warm-ups were also accessible to the reported 700,000 attendees expected to watch the games this year.


Gwen Vauss, an amateur tennis player who traveled from Maryland to see the games, said she was able to see tennis legend Roger Federer at the practice courts.

“I feel like a kid in awe,” Vauss said. “This is my first U.S. Open.”

Cherron Marray, another amateur who plays tennis with Vauss, said that it was encouraging to see professional players make some of the same mistakes that she and her peers make.

“I’m just here to take in the whole experience,” Marray said. “I feel a tennis overload, but in a good way.”


US Open reveals culinary lineup featuring gourmet cuisine, food trucks

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Levy Restaurants

Tennis balls are not the only thing served at the U.S. Open.

The United States Tennis Association announced a lineup of culinary offerings at the upcoming tournament featuring old favorites, new dining experiences and celebrity chefs with international resumes.

Levy Restaurants — the official restaurant partner of the U.S. Open — has arranged for U.S. Open Executive Chef Jim Abbey and a culinary team of 250 to prepare food across five restaurants, 60 concession stands and 100 suites during the games, which are expected to attract more than 700,000 fans.

This year’s expanded food choices will include renowned restaurateur Ed Brown joining Iron Chef sushi master Masaharu Morimoto at ACES, the U.S. Open’s signature seafood stop which opened in 1997. The ACES menu includes fresh sushi and sashimi and Skuna Bay salmon served with green apple, red watercress, horseradish, cucumber and extra virgin olive oil.

The U.S. Open will also be welcoming its second food truck onto the premises this year with the arrival of Sweet Chili, which serves Thai and Vietnamese food combining both sweet and savory flavors. Dishes at Sweet Chili will include maple miso tofu (a maple-infused tofu served with jasmine rice), and chips and salsa served with fresh shrimp.

Other dining options at the U.S. Open include Michelin Star chef Michael White of Costata serving dishes in the Champions restaurant, Juice Press selling organic bottled juices and smoothies, and Maya serving modern Mexican fare from its New York restaurant led by former tennis pro Richard Sandoval. Lavazza brand beverages — the exclusive coffee of the U.S. Open— will be served in cafes, and the signature cocktail the Grey Goose Honey Duece —with vodka, lemonade, raspberry liqueur and honeydew melon “tennis balls” — has been brought back by popular demand.

Besides substantial additions to the culinary lineup, the U.S. Open will be extending service from two of the food village vendors up to the Arthur Ashe Stadium Club Level. Fans with tickets in that seating area will be able to order from Hill Country Barbecue and Maya to sample dishes such as Maya’s steak tacos made with grilled steak, salsa and cilantro and a chopped brisket sandwich tossed with homemade sauce from Hill Country Barbecue.

The U.S. Open will serve approximately 15,000 pounds of beef, 7.5 tons of crab, shrimp and lobster, and 85,000 pounds of poultry at this year’s games. The USTA Billie Jean King Tennis Center kitchens donate more than 10 tons of unsold prepared food to the local community and compost all food waste, collecting 240 tons to send offsite for landscaping and farm use.


Q&A sessions to give fans a closer look at tennis legends during US Open

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Time Warner Cable

Fans attending the U.S. Open will have the chance to come face to face with tennis legends during question-and-answer sessions at Time Warner Cable Studios.

James Blake and Lindsay Davenport are among some of the boldface names to appear at the sessions, which are slated to take place from Sept. 1 through Sept. 9. The all-star lineup also includes Olympic medal winner Mary Joe Fernandez, Jim Courier, a former No. 1 world ranked player, and Michael Chang, who was the youngest French Open/Grand Slam Champion ever in 1989.

TWC Studios has a simulated control room feed of all televised match courts so visitors will still be able to see the on-court action while at the facility, located in the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. As part of the this feature, guests can try out an interactive umpire chair with a “test your swing” component.

Time Warner Cable is serving as the WiFi sponsor for the games and will be providing the service free of charge for attendees. The telecommunications company is also offering tennis fans access to cellphone charging stations in its studio for the duration of the games.

The following is the weekly schedule for question-and-answer sessions with tennis pros:

Tuesday, Sept.1 – James Blake at 11 a.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 2 – Michael Chang at 1 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 3 – Mary Joe Fernandez at 12:15 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 4 – Michael Chang at 1 p.m./Lindsay Davenport at 4 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 5 – Jim Courier at 1 p.m./Michael Chang at 4 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 6 – Michael Chang at 4 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 7 – Jim Courier at 1 p.m./Lindsay Davenport at 4 p.m.
Tuesday, Sept. 8 – Mary Joe Fernandez at 12:15 p.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 9 – James Blake at 1 p.m.


Teens from Little Neck and Flushing to serve as US Open ball persons

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of New York Junior Tennis and Learning

It’ll be the experience of a lifetime.

Two Queens kids from the NY Junior Tennis and Learning (NYJTL) program will be front and center as ball persons at the U.S. Open next week to assist their favorite players throughout the games.

Shelly Yaloz of Little Neck and Gabe Sifuentes of Flushing will be two of six NYJTL students who beat out hundreds of others for the honor of serving as ball persons this year. Ball persons stand courtside at tennis games to retrieve stray tennis balls, replace old balls with new ones and do other tasks such as supply players with towels or bottles of water.

The competition to make it as a ball person is intense, with prospective candidates tested on how fast they can run and how far they can throw, among other qualifications. As part of the program, NYJTL requires all of its participants to try out for the prestigious summer job, in addition to daily 4-hour training sessions during the summer and fitness conditioning and training.

Yaloz, 14, has been playing tennis with NYJTL since she was 8 years old and has never been a ball person before. She is proud of her competitive spirit, which she uses to her advantage as a tennis player.

“I’m a big fighter; in any match, I’ll try to fight,” she said. “I like the feeling of winning.”

Sifuentes, 15, attends St. Francis Preparatory School in Fresh Meadows and has been a ball person at the U.S. Open before and says that he learned a lot from the experience. He also used to attend the games every year with his family, even before he got the chance to actively participate on the courts.

“You can watch the pros deal with situations when they’re under pressure, so you can put [that experience] into your life and your tennis tournaments,” Sifuentes said.

Elena Bantovska, director of player development and competition at NYJTL, said that kids travel from all over the country to try out as ball persons, and the staff at the tennis center hoped that their students would be inspired by seeing their peers on the courts with the pros.

“It’s a huge experience to be on the court with one of your role models. That inspires them to do better and hopefully to compete on the grand stage as well,” Bantovska said.


US Open to host first-ever free day for fans

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Dominick Totino

Updated 5:22 p.m. 

The cover charge for one day at the U.S. Open will be love — or, in other words, free.

NYC & Company, the city’s official marketing, tourism and partnership organization, announced Tuesday that the 2015 U.S. Open — which will take place from Aug. 31 through Sept. 13 – will hold a free day for fans on Sept. 10.

During this day, tennis enthusiasts will be able to enter the grounds free of charge and watch the best doubles teams — men’s, women’s and mixed — play on the courts at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. During the day, there will be no games played in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Fans are then invited to stay and watch that evening’s women’s singles semifinals on the video screens throughout the grounds. A purchased ticket is needed to get into Arthur Ashe Stadium for the women’s semifinals.

“The U.S. Open is one of the most exciting times to be in New York City, where people come to the Big Apple to see the best tennis players in the world compete at one of the world’s greatest venues, the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing,” said Marty Markowitz, vice president of borough engagement and promotion at NYC & Company. “While in Queens, we encourage all U.S. Open guests to experience the wonders of New York’s largest borough, which has so many diverse neighborhoods offering authentic cuisines and cultural attractions that send visitors on a journey around the world without ever leaving the borough.”

The 2015 U.S. Open will begin on Aug. 31 with a performance by multiplatinum-selling artist Josh Groban and appearance by tennis legend Billie Jean King, who will be on the court to welcome fans to the opening night along with USTA Chairman of the Board and President Katrina Adams.

The opening ceremony will be shown live on ESPN2 as part of the network’s tournament coverage.

The announcement of the free day was joined by NYC & Company’s highlights of “must-see activities and destinations to explore throughout Queens during the 2015 U.S. Open.”

Some highlights include crossing Roosevelt Avenue and catching a New York Mets game at Citi Field, surfing at Rockaway Beach, visiting Queens’ largest Park Flushing Meadows Corona Park — where guests can enjoy the New York Hall of Science, Queens Zoo and Queens Museum —and also heading down to Long Island City and enjoying cultural centers like MoMA PS1 and the Museum of the Moving Image.

“We urge visitors to see and experience for yourselves just why Queens has been named the country’s top tourist destination,” Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said. “When you’re not watching the exciting action at the Open, we urge you to take advantage of the unparalleled array of culinary, cultural and shopping attractions that befit the ‘World’s Borough.'”

NYC & Company also highlighted the variety of hotel offerings in the borough which include locations in Flushing and Long Island City such as the Z New York Hotel, Wyndham Garden Long Island City and The Parc Hotel.

For more information visit nycgo.com/queens or nycgo.com.


State senator wants to landmark Flushing Meadows-Corona Park

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Landmark the park.

That’s what State Senator Tony Avella wants for Flushing Meadows-Corona Park to block development in the area.

These include an entertainment center at Willets Point — an area that is technically parkland — along with expansions at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and a proposed Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium.

The projects are either inside or on the edge of the park, but only the proposed soccer arena would require replacement parkland to be installed somewhere relatively close to Flushing Meadows. Normal park users, however, will not get the same access to this new park, Avella said, and Flushing Meadows would become overcrowded.

“Normally when you have some alienation, [and] you have some land coming in, you have to replace parkland of equal acreage some place everyone can agree upon. You may actually replace the amount of acreage, but the number of people who use it would be significantly less.”

Landmarking includes a review of the park for its historical and cultural value. The independent commission will look at these and decide whether or not it goes to a full vote.

“We put together what I think are very significant reasons why it should be done,” said Avella. “The historic aspect of the park in terms of two Worlds Fairs, housing the United Nations for a period of time and the fact that it is the borough park.

All three projects require a vote from the City Council, and then approval from the state because green space will be lost. Avella said should the bill go to the state level — in order to approve any removed parkland — he would push his colleagues in the chamber to vote down the expansions.

Risa Heller, spokesperson for MLS, said the league wanted to help refurbish the park and have a long working relationship with the parks department.

“MLS is deeply committed the long term health and vibrancy of FMCP which is why we will make a significant investment in the park in addition to replacing community fields,” she said. “We plan to be a long term partner for the park and plan to do everything we can to ensure it meets the needs of the surrounding communities.”

Spokespersons for USTA and the Willets project were reached for comment, but were not able to respond by press time.


Where to play tennis in Queens

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Shamanth Rao

The U.S. Open is not the only place to play tennis in Queens. In honor of the end of the tournament, here are places where you can work on your serve, backhand and other racket skills in the borough, from private clubs to city park courts. 


Billie Jean King National Tennis Center
Flushing Meadow-Corona Park

The location of the U.S. Open, it also offers several different tennis programs, including junior tennis camps, adult lessons and private instruction with certified tennis professionals.

BumbleBee Tennis
21st Street, Astoria, 347-284-6061

There are lessons for kids starting at 2-years-old, instruction for adults, even beginners, and a cardio tennis program.

CityView Racquet Club
43-34 32nd Place, Long Island City, 718-389-6252

At this private club members can play tennis, squash or enjoy its fitness area, full service spa, juice bar, cocktail lounge and outdoor deck with a skyline view of Manhattan.

Cunningham Tennis Center
196-00 Union Turnpike, Fresh Meadows, 718-740-6800

It has a junior development program beginning at 4-years-old, various lessons for adults, and private or semi-private lessons seven days a week.

North Shore Tennis and Racquets Club
34-28 214th Place, Bayside, 718-229–9579

This tennis club has Har-Tru tennis courts, two platform tennis courts, lit for night play year-round and two squash courts, as well as lessons from tennis pros.

NYC Parks tennis courts
Various locations throughout Queens

Throughout the borough, you can play at one of the many tennis courts located at city parks and playgrounds. Some can be set aside by reservation and others are open to walk-ons.

West Side Tennis Club
1 Tennis Place, Forest Hills, 718-268-2300

The West Side Tennis Club has 38 courts with many different surfaces, including Har-Tru, red clay and Deco Turf, and bubble and platform tennis courts for when the weather gets cold.

Youth and Tennis Academy
Various locations in Queens, 718-658-6728

Tennis instruction is offered throughout the year for pre-school through high school aged children at different facilities in Queens.



Game’s still on at West Side Tennis Club

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Shamanth Rao


The rhythmic thwacks of tennis balls hit by wooden rackets resounded once again across the grass courts at the West Side Tennis Club on a recent Saturday morning amid the rumble of the occasional passing Long Island Railroad train.

Some 35 years after the U.S. Open ended its six-decade run at the fabled Forest Hills tennis haven, players took to the courts on August 18 for the first edition of the Evian Wood Racquet Cup. The event, which came just over a week before the start of the U.S. Open in Flushing, marked part of an effort to revive tennis at the historic venue with everything from new tournaments to lessons for children.

“This event is a great way to remember the past in a relaxed and fun way,” said Jason Zone Fisher, who was master of ceremonies for the Evian Cup.

The member-owned West Side Tennis Club is a long way from its heyday, which ended with the United State Tennis Association’s decision to move the Open to a more modern facility in Flushing Meadows in 1978, a year after Guillermo Vilas and Chris Evert won the event. The Club stayed alive by hosting the Tournament of Champions in the 1980s, and subsequently housing smaller tournaments.

In recent years, financial issues – including upkeep of the near-century-old complex – forced Club leaders to explore selling the property. A $10 million deal to sell to condo developer Cord Meyer was rejected by members in 2010, much to the relief of many tennis fans.

In May 2011, the Landmark Preservation Commission rejected a bid to landmark the complex’s 15,000-seat tennis stadium “due to the deteriorated state of the building’s architectural features.”

Bob Ingersole, tennis director of the West Side Tennis Club, said the Club’s finances have “gone from poor to improving to stable.”

“We are now in the black,” he said, declining to offer more details or discuss other sale possibilities.

The Club has worked to increase its member base, Ingersole said, attracting more than 100 new members in recent months and bringing in more tournaments. In late August, the club held the Nesquik “Little Mo” International Open for kids, an event that featured appearances by Max Mirnyi and the Bryan brothers.

While it’s trying to keep up with the times, the West Side Tennis Club still feels right out of a past age. Colorful parasols, white chairs, fading photographs and polished name boards stand amid meticulously trimmed grass courts.

Bitsy Metcalf, who grew up learning tennis in New Orleans and wants to start playing regularly again, enjoyed the wood racquet retro-themed Evian Cup.

“I’d love to come back,” said Metcalf, 29.


Queens’ Morning Roundup

| ctumola@queenscourier.com


Wednesday: Partly cloudy. High of 82. Winds from the ENE at 5 to 10 mph shifting to the SE in the afternoon. Wednesday night: Partly cloudy. Low of 72. Winds from the South at 5 to 10 mph shifting to the WNW after midnight

EVENT of the DAY: Family Karaoke Night at Manducatis Rustica

At this Long Island City restaurant’s karaoke night there are over 40,000 songs to choose from plus $5 specialty drinks for adults and gelato for kids of all ages. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Brazen thief steals 2 silver Torah crowns from Queens synogogue during evening services

Two valuable silver Torah crowns were stolen from a Queens synagogue during evening prayer services, police said Tuesday. Read more: New York Daily News

Councilman proposes emergency lane along Queens Boulevard

While traffic on Queens Boulevard can be frustrating for drivers, one official says it may be causing bigger problems. Read more: NY1

Cagey peacock ruffles Queens cops’ feathers

They can rappel down skyscrapers, rescue plane-crash survivors from an icy river, and go toe-to-toe with terrorists.But elite NYPD Emergency Service Unit cops were outsmarted yesterday by a plucky peacock that has made a Queens neighborhood his home away from home for the past week. Read more: New York Post

Busted pipe slowly turning freshwater ponds salty in Broad Channel

A busted drain pipe and valve system is slowly ruining the ecology of Jamaica Bay, driving away birds that usually breed along two freshwater ponds. Read more: New York Daily News

Sources: U.S. Open ref arrested in connection with husband’s death

Sources say that police arrested a U.S. Open tennis referee Tuesday who is a suspect in her husband’s death. Read more: NY1

NYPD: Muslim spying led to no leads, terror cases

In more than six years of spying on Muslim neighborhoods, eavesdropping on conversations and cataloguing mosques, the New York Police Department’s secret Demographics Unit never generated a lead or triggered a terrorism investigation, the department acknowledged in court testimony unsealed late Monday. Read more: AP

Blasting goes awry along 2nd Avenue subway; buildings, sidewalk damaged

Blasting along Manhattan’s still-under-construction 2nd Avenue subway line caused some damage Tuesday afternoon. Now, authorities want to know if human error was to blame. Read more: CBS New York

Searching for a new neighbor on ‘Sesame Street’

“Sesame Street” held its first-ever open casting call in New York this week to find its newest neighbor — a Hispanic character to reflect the long-running show’s increasingly diverse audience. Read more: Wall Street Journal 

BC/WSJ poll: Heading into conventions, Obama has four-point lead 

After Mitt Romney selected his vice presidential running mate, and just days before the political conventions kick off next week, President Barack Obama maintains his advantage in the race for the White House, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Read more: NBC news

Queens Morning Roundup

| brennison@queenscourier.com


Friday: Scattered showers and thunderstorms, mainly after 5 p.m. Mostly sunny, with a high near 92. Southwest wind 7 to 13 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30 percent. Friday Night: Showers and thunderstorms likely, mainly between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 69. Chance of precipitation is 60 percent.

EVENT of the DAY: “Knocked Up” at Rufus King Park

8 p.m. – 10:30 p.m., A one-night stand results in an unexpected pregnancy for entertainment reporter Alison (Katherine Heigl), who vows to be a good mom and keep her career on track by trying to make things work with the slacker (Seth Rogen) who knocked her up. It’s anything but smooth sailing as the odd couple gets acquainted, but Alison finds there’s more to her baby’s daddy than she originally thought.  Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Teacher sues over ‘preach’ of contract

A veteran public-school teacher who was canned for calling students “racist” and referring to herself as a “Messenger of God” is suing to get her job back. Dr. Patricia Missick, who had been fined and reprimanded several years ago for verbally abusing students and for incompetence, riled eighth-graders at JHS 189 in Queens by repeatedly mentioning her close ties to God. Read more: NY Post

Carriage horse bucks itself free near Central Park, sends driver, 2 passengers spilling into street

A runaway carriage horse wreaked havoc during the start of rush hour Thursday afternoon, unhitching himself and running off before hitting a parked car near Columbus Circle. A man and woman were enjoying a ride around the popular tourist spot around 4:20 p.m. when the driver tried to merge into traffic at the circle, witnesses said. Read more: Daily News

Banned soccer players can now use Flushing Meadows-Corona Park during U.S. Open

The city banned thousands of amateur soccer players from using Flushing Meadows-Corona Park during the U.S. Open — and then back-pedalled following a Daily News inquiry. Soccer leagues, primarily made up of immigrants, have used the fields for decades but were informed earlier this year that they would not be allowed to use the park from Aug. 25 to Sept. 10. Read more: Daily News

Romney says he paid at least 13% in taxes for last ten years

Mitt Romney has paid no less than 13 percent in personal income taxes over the past ten years, he said Thursday. The presumptive GOP nominee has faced withering criticism from Democrats over the release of his tax returns, including a charge by Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid that Romney had paid no taxes for a ten year period. Read more: NY1

NYC report critical of public housing agency

The city’s public housing authority is beset by inefficient management and bureaucratic practices that contribute to a growing repair backlog of hundreds of thousands of work orders, a city-hired consultant said in a report made public Thursday. City Housing Authority Commissioner John Rhea said following the release that he will seek to overhaul the agency’s board, and officials stressed that some of the recommended changes in the report by The Boston Consulting Group were already under way. Read more: NBC New York


Tennis Center parking plans not met with Love

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Phil Hertling

Officials and advocates are currently volleying parking plans at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Designs for new structures to relieve parking problems at the center will not breach the area allocated to the U.S. Open rented from the city, a Tennis Association representative said. But park advocates say that any new, permanent construction is too much.

Some became vocal about the recently-announced plans to revamp the center — expected to begin next fall — arguing that adding parking spaces to the plan would infringe on the green space of the borough’s largest park, and convert public space into commercial.

Daniel Zausner, managing director of the Tennis Center, said plans to expand on parking would not affect any additional areas of the park; rather, parking structures are expected to be built on the center’s existing lots.

“We’re taking our existing parking lots in that perimeter and building up,” Zausner said. “The most critical thing is we’re not impacting the spot in a footprint perspective.”

The two lots the center currently has, Zausner said, accommodate a little more than 300 spots. With one lot getting a two-tiered structure, and the other a three-tiered, the center will be able to park about 800 cars total. That is still a stretch for the thousands of people the center sees a day when the U.S. Open takes place, Zausner said.

Green space supporters, however, said even building a structure was too much. Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates, said the Tennis Center was still violating its rental agreement with the city.

“This isn’t a commercial area,” he said. “It’s public park and most certainly [parking garages] will encourage more cars to come in.”

Kim Ohanian, third vice chair of Community Board 7 and head of the board’s Parks Committee, said bringing more cars in would also have an environmental effect on the park.

Ohanian added that the Tennis Center needed to promote taking mass transit as opposed to driving when attending the U.S. Open.

The center had some 600 spots allocated at what is now World Ice Arena, but lost the site when ground broke on the project more than 10 years ago. Since then, the city did not compensate for parking, aside from city parking in Shea Stadium’s parking lot. When Citi Field was completed, however, the Mets took full control of the parking, Zausner said.