Tag Archives: Whitestone

More than 100 townhouses, park and ‘eco dock’ planned for Whitestone Waterpointe site


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy Joseph Sultana Architects

Many Whitestone residents recently exhaled when they learned the new owner of one of two massive vacant development sites in the area agreed to work with the community’s wishes and construct dozens of single-family homes.

Now community members may start holding their breaths again.

Edgestone Group, which owns the 18-acre vacant Waterpointe site at 151-45 6th Rd., plans to construct 107 residential buildings on it — more than double the number of units that were originally promised for the property years ago.

Plans for the project, which were revealed at a Community Board 7 committee meeting on Tuesday, call for 97 two-family townhouse homes and nine additional single-family houses. In total there will be 203 units and most of the units will be two-bedrooms.

Years ago, developer Bayrock Group, which paid $25.7 million in 2005 for the property, originally had Department of City Planning special permits to build 52 single-family homes on the property. This plan was also supported by the community. However, the company fell apart financially and Edgestone purchased it at a discounted $11.3 million in 2012, city records show.

State Sen. Tony Avella has already declared war on Edgestone’s project, because its much larger than the original 52-home plan, although it still meets zoning regulations.

“This kind of threat to the neighborhood will not be tolerated,” Avella said. “It is time for us to take a stand against overdevelopment once and for all.”

In Edgestone’s plan, there will be two-car parking for the townhouses. Also, the new community includes a park at the waterfront with a walking path, a playground, a marina, a pier and an ‘eco dock’ from which people can go kayaking. There is also a 107th building that residents can use as common space for events.

Members of the community board were very cold toward the plan. Kim Cody, a member of the board and president of the Greater Whitestone Taxpayers Civic Association, pointed out that the project will flood the community with hundreds of new residents, which will burden schools, roads, sewers and other public systems.

“You’re going to put a lot of stress on our community,” Cody said. “It’s unneeded stress.”

Edgestone representatives said at the meeting that single-family homes wouldn’t “make sense,” because they would have to retail for $2 million each, and that would take too long to sell.

Architect Joseph Sultana, who grew up in Whitestone, added the more affordable townhouses gives younger potential residents the ability to purchase homes in Whitestone, one of Queens’ more affluent neighborhoods, and elderly residents will also benefit.

“My parents are getting older and they have a nice house in Beechhurst, but they don’t need a big house,” Sultana said. “They need to figure out where to live because they are thinking about selling their house.”

Currently, Edgestone is still working to remediate the site, which is covered by toxic soil that the former owner brought in. Representatives of the firm said they hope to start trucking contaminated soil from the site in September at the earliest.

This didn’t help warm the mood of the meeting, as members of the board are afraid toxic dust from the soil can spew into the community during transport.

“What I learned tonight is this is going to have a much [more] major impact on the community than I originally thought,” said Joe Sweeney, a member of CB 7. “In the end, yes it might be affordable, but at the detriment of the rest of the community.”

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Two 109th Precinct cops show NYPD’s friendly side in Whitestone


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of We Love Whitestone

While 12-year-old Joseph Prisco was playing basketball alone in a local Whitestone park one day, a squad car pulled up at the curb and one officer approached him.

Joseph thought maybe he was in trouble, but what the officer said shocked him. The policeman asked to “shoot some hoops,” according to the boy, while his partner waited by the car.

As the officer played with the preteen, he asked questions about where Joseph lived, sports he liked and school. When they finished playing, Joseph called his mother, Angela Delli Gatti-Prisco, and told her about what happened. She was stunned, and thought, “Since when does a police officer stop a car to play ball with some kid at a park?” she recalled.

But the men, Police Officers Justin Hubbard and Nicholas Hon, were just making certain the boy was okay when they saw him alone on March 26 at Clintonville Playground. Their actions inspired Delli Gatti-Prisco to write a letter of appreciation to the We Love Whitestone community group, which honored the two officers on Wednesday.

“In today’s day and age, many of us take for granted the protection and service we are provided by our ‘men in blue,’ the policemen of New York City, who day in and day out put their lives on the line for the lives of others,” the mother wrote in a letter to the group.

About the incident, the cops said they were just doing their job and checking on the boy. That humble response resonated with community members.

“With all the bad publicity that cops have been getting, we felt that the majority of them are good and trying to do good things,” We Love Whitestone founder Alfredo Centola said. “And we wanted to acknowledge their going above and beyond their everyday duties.”

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Whitestone students, teachers walk to raise awareness for autism


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

Students at one Whitestone school are showing that you can start giving back to the community even at a very young age.

In honor of National Autism Awareness Month, the staff and students at P.S. 209, located at 16-10 Utopia Pkwy., participated in a walkathon at the school throughout the day on Friday.

Each grade at the school, which goes from kindergarten through fifth grade, went out and walked around the building four times.

Weeks before the walkathon, the school raised money to donate to the organization Quality Services for the Autism Community (QSAC) and its day school, an after-school program located in Whitestone. The school set a goal of $2,500 and as of Friday staff, students and their families raised close to $4,000.

“We have wonderful parents and our students are extremely involved so we’re really proud,” said Jacqueline Diaz Fernandez, assistant principal at P.S. 209. “The principal and I, we really feel that education is not just reading and writing and math. It’s so important that they really are well-rounded and ready to provide the community with extra services. I think we’re living in a society where everything is ‘me, me, me,’ and we want to teach the children that it is ‘us.’”

To raise money for the organization, autism awareness T-shirts were sold to staff members, 600 chocolate lollipops were made and sold, and pledges were made by the families of students.

“Autism is on the rise and we have some autistic kids in our building, and we wanted to donate money to something that directly affects our school and the children around us,” said Maria Sperrazza, a teacher and member of the special events committee that organized the event. “It’s fabulous that we can all come together and we always said P.S. 209 is a family.”

All the money raised before May 1 will go toward providing additional support to families at QSAC’s Whitestone location.

QSAC, which was started in 1978 by a group of parents who felt there weren’t enough services for children with autism, serves about 1,700 children and adults with autism in New York, with about 800 clients in Queens.

According to Pat Barrientos, external affairs coordinator for QSAC, events such as the walkathon help raise awareness for a disorder which a few years ago was found in 1 out of 110 cases, but presently affects 1 in 68 children.

“The lesson being taught here is about giving back, and at a very young age they are being taught to give back to their community and that’s a lifelong lesson that they will take with them — that it’s always good to share,” Barrientos said.

According to teachers, the walkathon served as a moment for the students to become aware of autism and also work together for a cause.

“I want to help stop autism,” said fourth-grader Kevin Bracken, who was named by the school as an autism awareness spokesman. “I think that people should fund and help all these diseases and disorders to help people. I love helping people.”

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New owner of massive vacant Whitestone site pledges to stick to zoning with development plans


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Christopher Bride/PropertyShark

The new owner of a contentious massive development site in Whitestone is going to give the community what it wants: single-family detached homes.

Tim O’Sullivan paid $13.6 million at an auction on April 10 for the 6-acre site near at 150th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues, which is zoned for smaller residential properties, and hopes to build two-story, single-family detached homes on the land. The property was previously known as the Cresthaven Country Club and was used for years by the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) as a summer day camp.

Residents and community leaders were planning to fight any development on the property that didn’t meet zoning, such as high-rises or other large properties, hoping to protect the character of the residential neighborhood.

O’Sullivan, who grew up in Whitestone, said he understands what the residents are feeling and wants to be on their side.

“We are looking forward to working with the community, state Sen. Tony Avella and our architect, Frank Petruso, to produce a development befitting this beautiful Whitestone neighborhood,” O’Sullivan said. “I grew up in Whitestone and I am happy to contribute to the neighborhood in a positive way.”

The site was part of the former Cresthaven Country Club and then was owned by real estate firm Whitestone Jewels LLC, but has been in foreclosure since 2007 after the firm defaulted on its mortgage.

Whitestone Jewels LLC purchased the site in 2006 for $23.3 million from the Catholic Charities, Diocese of Brooklyn, according to city records.

As the April 10 auction date was approaching, Avella and residents began to warn potential buyers about overdevelopment, and the new civic group We Love Whitestone was hoping to convince the city to purchase the property and transform it into parkland.

“Whitestone is a residential area dominated by one-family homes,” Avella said. “This lot sits immediately across from homeowners who do not want their community to be overtaken by large buildings that tower over their houses. I am happy to support a project that will preserve the look and feel of the surrounding community.”

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Whitestone community group wants park on vacant sites


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Christopher Bride/PropertyShark

What Whitestone wants is more green.

We Love Whitestone, a new civic organization that has been gaining popularity, is going on the offensive against possible overdevelopment of two massive vacant Whitestone sites, and hopes to convince city politicians of a plan to buy one and turn it into a park with ball fields.

The group recently voted to oppose any plans of development on the sites that don’t suit the area’s current zoning for smaller residential houses. It also began a petition on Change.org, which will be sent to elected officials, to have the city purchase a six-acre site near 150th Street and Fifth Avenue and transform it into a park. The petition is quickly approaching its goal of 500 signatures.

“It wasn’t dumped on or anything,” said Alfredo Centola, a founder of We Love Whitestone. “So have the city buy it back and turn it into something like Padavan-Preller Fields with on-site parking, a soccer field and an actual [full-size] baseball diamond.”

We Love Whitestone, which came to the resolution against overdevelopment during its March monthly meeting, has been quickly gaining support as a civic organization since its inception about five months ago.

Despite the group’s short history, it has already attracted approximately 500 residents on Facebook, has an email list of more than 1,000 people, and has about 150 paying members. An average of nearly 100 Whitestone residents have been attending regular monthly meetings as well.

The six-acre site that We Love Whitestone wants to see transformed was once owned by the Catholic Charities, Diocese of Brooklyn, which used the site for various Catholic Youth Organization activities, according to the community group.

Whitestone Jewels LLC purchased the site in question in 2006 for $23.3 million, but the firm couldn’t keep up with the mortgage and it has been in foreclosure since 2007.

The site is up for auction on April 10.

State Sen. Tony Avella already expressed his opposition against overdevelopment or rezoning of the site by potential buyers as well.

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Avella hopes to stop plans of overdevelopment on massive Whitestone vacant sites


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Christopher Bride/PropertyShark 

Winter may be coming to an end, but state Sen. Tony Avella isn’t planning a warm welcome for anyone who purchases a controversial site in Whitestone if they plan on overdeveloping the property or building something that doesn’t comply with zoning.

The large property, which comprises six acres of vacant land near the intersection of 150th Street and Fifth Avenue, will be up for sale on April 10 in an auction. The site was part of the former Cresthaven Country Club and then was owned by real estate firm Whitestone Jewels LLC, but has been in foreclosure since 2007.

Avella is planning to also contest plans for development that doesn’t meet zoning on another large vacant site near the waterfront, which comprises of about eight lots around 151-45 Sixth Rd., because he and community leaders want to preserve the look of the community. The site is also zoned for smaller–sized residential uses.

“Now that both are potentially moving forward with construction, it is imperative that the developers do not stray from doing what is best for the community,” Avella said. “Whoever decides to purchase and develop these areas must do so in a way that will not damage the character of the surrounding low-density residential neighborhood.”

Whitestone Jewels LLC purchased the six-acre site in 2006 for $23.3 million from the Catholic Charities, Diocese of Brooklyn, according to city records, but defaulted on its mortgage soon after.

It became the subject of a potential new school in 2013, however, residents rallied against any possible School Construction Authority plan.

The second development site, which is bigger and near the waterfront, had approved plans for 52 new single-family houses by developer Bayrock Group, according to Avella. But because of the recession the firm could not complete the plan, Avella said.

Then in 2012 Edgestone Group purchased the site for $11.3 million, according to city records. There is nearly 900,000 square feet of space of the lots that were purchased, records show, but they are zoned for smaller residential uses and Avella and community groups are determined to make developers stick to the zoning.

“We are a small community and do not want high-rise buildings or condominiums,” said Kim Cody, president of the Greater Whitestone Taxpayers Civic Association. For both pieces of property, we want the developers to come in knowing that the community wants single-family homes, and to bring in anything other than that would be detrimental to the community.”

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Queens men take home top prizes at sit-down arm wrestling competition


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

Even Mother Nature couldn’t keep New York’s strongest from showing what they got at an arm wrestling competition in Flushing over the weekend, the city’s first sit-down tournament in 12 years.

The New York Arm Wrestling Association (NYAWA) held the NYC Sit-Down Arm Wrestling Championships on Sunday at Cheap Shots Sports Bar, located at 149-05 Union Turnpike. The event was the first sit-down arm wrestling competition in the past 12 years, according to Gene Camp, founder and president of NYAWA.

“It’s good to get back and it’s something new for some of [the competitors],” Camp said. “It really brings out the broad strength in people, to find out who the true winners are because people with signature techniques can’t really use them in this event because they are sitting down.”

Although the snow began falling before the competition began, more than 60 men and women flocked to the sports bar to show their strength and make it to the top.

The event, which was opened to all ages, featured individual categories for amateurs and pros, 45 to 50 years old and over, women, and right and left hand classes.

“I thought it was a great turnout. I didn’t expect this kind of turn out [because of the snow]. Some of the best arm wrestlers in the city and state were here today,” Camp said. “It was a good competition; there were some very good matches. It was exciting and the crowd was really riled up.”


Jason Vale, who grew up in Whitestone and now lives in Bellerose, was one of the competitors and top winners of the day. The 47-year-old has been arm wrestling with his right arm since he was 20 and in 1997 won a world championship.

During the sit-down tournament Vale earned two first place awards and was given the MVP Strongest Arm Right. He was also awarded a Captains of Crush Hand Grippers award, along with $100 cash prize, for strongest arm.

“It felt great competing again,” said Vale, who holds weekly arm wrestling practices at his home. “I just love it.”

Like Vale, Angel Cosme was another returning arm wrestling champ, who picked up the sport 15 years ago. The 48-year-old Flushing resident said he had been out of the game for three years and returned to help referee the match. He decided to compete in both the left and right hand categories and took home two first place awards and one second place.

“I feel good but I’m just tired,” Cosme said. “After being out for three years I know I need to start practicing again.”

David Milburn from Jamaica also took home a first place award in an amateur left hand category.

The NYAWA’s next competition will be the 38th Annual NYC Big Apple Grapple International on May 3. The location has yet to be determined.

For more information visit www.nycarms.com.


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At Whitestone bowling alley, senior league flourishes


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

These seniors defy the bingo-playing stereotype of old age.

Every week a group of spunky seniors gets together to gripe about what’s ailing them, talk trash among friends and hurl bowling balls down the lanes.

“It used to be about girls but now it’s about medicine,”  John Murphy, 76, said about the banter among bowlers. He’s been part of what’s become a senior bowling league in Whitestone for a period of time that he doesn’t care to remember. “This is a great thing we have going here. It gives us something to do.”

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, around 40 to 60  men and women haul their bowling balls to Whitestone Lanes, where they put their money where their mouths are and compete against each other in pairs.

“It can get pretty crazy in here,” Murphy said before being yelled at by his partner for not plugging his score into the booth. “I’m being interviewed here. Can’t you see that? I don’t have time for you.”


The league has no official name but wagers are taken seriously and there’s a minimum of $2 to enter any game. Depending on how many people join that day, winners can gain as much as $400. And despite their age, many of the players come close to rolling a perfect 300.

The bowlers are all from around the area, and the only requirement to join the league is being in one’s golden years. The league has been around for almost two decades and with the neighborhood’s high population of senior citizens — 25 percent of people in the area are above 60, according to census data — there are always new recruits coming in.

“We do this 365 [days] a year,” Murphy said. “We’re here three times a week. Summer. Winter. It doesn’t matter.”

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Whitestone auto center grooms new generation of tech-savvy workers


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Don’t call these car-loving high school kids grease monkeys.

On Tuesday, students from Thomas Edison High School broke out their laptops to fix a Lexus SUV in a timed competition that pitted them against 12 other high schools in the greater New York area, testing their skills with computers as much as with wrenches.

The event was hosted by the Center for Automotive Education and Training in Whitestone and winners are awarded scholarships for continued education in the auto world. But the center’s bigger goal with such events is to remedy an industry that is facing an aging workforce that isn’t being replenished by a new generation of skilled workers.

“There are more laptops here than there are cars,” said Nick Crispe, a spokesman for the center. “There’s still an engine in there but it’s not the greasy, dirty environment that it used to be.”

Pairs of high school kids rushed from laptops to the cars they were tasked with fixing. The two Thomas Edison High School students Jose Sanchez and Christopher Sookraj hopped between a diagnostics list to their laptop, which was connected to the Lexus that they needed to fix as part of the competition. The event was meant to mimic a modern car dealer shop.

As the technology under a car’s hood continues to look more like a computer’s hardware, the industry’s demand for tech-savvy workers has increased. The old image of a grease-caked mechanic is no longer accurate as cars become more computerized with electric cars and advanced clean-diesel engines.

“I was iffy about this at first,” Sanchez said. “But then I got really into it and now I want to get into this career.”

Even the word mechanic has fallen out of use in the industry for the preferred term, technician. Automotive schools characterize this time period as confusion and the average age of technicians – formerly known as mechanics – is nearing the late 40s in Ford, General Motors and Chrysler Group, according to USA Today.

But Crispe and others believe that as the image of cars in popular culture begins to align itself more closely with technology to become the Smart Car, a new wave of students can be attracted into the industry.

“There was a stigma that stopped the younger generation from joining this area,” Crispe said. “If you love cars and technology this is the perfect career now.”

Thomas Edison’s team didn’t win the competition, but they left the event with new-found inspiration about a career that will be a big part of the future. The winning teamed hailed from Orange-Ulster BOCES in upstate Goshen.

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Newly constructed Whitestone office building starts search for tenants


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of CBRE

The marketing campaign for leasing in the Whitestone Expressway’s new office building is about to kick off, and real estate firm CBRE was named the quarterback to market the property.

The glassy, newly constructed 16-16 Whitestone Expwy. building boasts about 60,000 square feet for office space, half of which will be occupied by the owner, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 30 Pension Trust Fund. It is expected to be completed by summer and the asking price is $50 per square foot.

CBRE will be looking to fill the other 30,000 square feet of space in the six-story building.

The new structure features on-site parking, various utilities and is LEED Gold certified, which is the second highest level of green-friendly rating by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The building offers numerous green measures, including solar power. Future tenants can expect about 40 percent energy savings, according to CBRE.

“This state-of-the-art, energy-efficient office property stands alone in the market and serves as a model for new building development in the area,” CBRE’s Roy Chipkin said. “In addition to being the only new construction ‘green’ building in Queens, this exceptional, highly visible property offers convenient access to a number of major roadways.”

CBRE was also the firm that handled marketing for the sale of the property in 2011, which was sold by Skanska USA Civil Northeast for about $12.5 million. Skanska’s old building was partially demolished after the sale.

Photo courtesy of Scott Bintner/PropertyShark

16-16 Whitestone Expwy. when Skanska owned it. (Photo courtesy of Scott Bintner/PropertyShark)

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Pressure builds to expand school program in northern Queens and Whitestone


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

A push to expand programs for gifted and talented students into middle schools in a northern Queens district has the support of local elected officials and at least 500 parents who have signed petitions backing the effort.

“We’re tired of getting the run around from [Superintendent Danielle Di Mango] and the city,” said Lisa Fusco, a parent from Whitestone who is leading the charge in an appeal that will now go to Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina.

The program’s fate is decided by each school district’s superintendent. The parents who are signing the petition have children in School District 25, where the program is limited to seven elementary schools. Fusco and the other parents decided to write the letter after meetings with School District 25 Superintendent Di Mango and education officials didn’t produce any results. They expect to send the letter by the end of the week.

District 25 is bordered by Flushing Meadows Park to the west and Bayside to the east, and it encompasses Pomonok to the south up to Whitestone and College Point.

Using the force of 500 signatures, the contingent of parents will be sending a letter to Farina requesting that she support their efforts to expand the gifted and talented program into the district’s middle schools.

Elected officials representing the area have also sent letters to Farina in support of Fusco’s efforts. The list of lawmakers backing the effort includes Rep. Grace Meng, Assemblyman Ed Braunstein and Assemblyman Ron Kim.

The Department of Education didn’t return  requests for comment.

“Providing students with a challenging curriculum to compete in today’s globalized world is extremely important,” Meng wrote in a letter to Farina advocating for the program to be expanded into School District 25. “We must work together to grant all qualified students equal access to G&T programs.”

Meng pointed out that the program is in the middle schools of neighboring school districts 24 and 26. She also advocated for school district 28 to get the expansion.

The gifted and talented program is currently in district 25’s elementary schools but once students get to sixth grade, the program ends. The program is meant to provide extra services for students with a high aptitude who get bored easily in regular classes, according to the Department of Education.

“They’re dropping the ball,” Fusco said. “And I don’t know why, but hopefully our letter to the chancellor will help create Gifted and Talented in District 25.”

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Fire guts Whitestone home, kills family’s beloved dogs


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Ray Colalillo

Flames gutted a Whitestone house on Wednesday afternoon, leaving the three-story home a smoldering shell and taking the lives of the owners’ two pet dogs.

“My two dogs were killed and they were the most valuable things I had,” said James King, who with his wife owned the house at 149-61 Powells Cove Blvd.

King and his wife were out of the house when the Fire Department called him about the fire.

But the couple’s shih tzu dogs, Benjamin and Chip, were inside the home, where they died in the blaze.

According to neighbor Ray Colalillo, the fire started in the rear of the home, which faces the East River, at 1:30 p.m. and quickly moved through the front of the building as strong winds stoked the flames. The Fire Department characterized the fire as a “two-alarm” blaze, and it took an hour for firefighters to extinguish the fire. When the firefighters arrived, they swiftly broke through the front windows and jumped into the blazing home, according to Colalillo.

Photo courtesy of Whitestone Civic Association

Photo courtesy of Whitestone Civic Association

“At first I saw smoke from my window,” Colalillo said. “And then pretty soon flames were bursting out of the windows and skylights. By then I called the cops. Within five minutes firefighters were here and they moved quick.”

The Fire Department is still investigating the cause of the fire. King’s son and daughter, who are now adults and no longer live at the house, looked on as firefighters picked through the wreckage of the home they grew up in.

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Whitestone and northern Queens residents push for expansion of school program


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Parents in Whitestone and Flushing are trying to give the city a new lesson plan.

Lisa Fusco, from Whitestone, and 150 parents in northern Queens signed a petition to the city Department of Eudcation demanding the creation of gifted and talented programs for the middle schools in their  district. Several of the parents are also meeting with Borough President Melinda Katz and Department of Education officials on Dec. 10 to discuss the issue.

District 25 is bordered by Flushing Meadows Park to the west and Bayside to the east, and it encompasses Pomonok to the south up to Whitestone and College Point.

The large area has six middle schools, but none of them have gifted and talented programs. For Fusco and others, that’s a problem.

“Our children are in the gifted and talented program in the elementary schools and we would like them to continue this wonderful program into middle school,” said Fusco, whose fourth-grade daughter is enrolled in the program in P.S. 79. “It would be such a shame if they had to stop this program.”

The gifted and talented programs are meant to provide extra services for students with a high aptitude who get bored easily in regular classes, according to the Department of Education. Parents must sign up their children for tests to get into the program by November, and children are tested in January and February.

While the program is usually meant for elementary schools, the group’s request isn’t unprecedented. School District 26, which runs along the border with Long Island, and District 30, Long Island City and Astoria, both have middle schools that offer the gifted and talented program.

“I don’t understand why the DOE lacks a citywide policy on [gifted and talented programs] and why it provides [gifted and talented] classes in one district and not another,” said Morris Altman, the president of the education council in District 25.

Justin Chang, from Whitestone, has two boys who are enrolled in the program at P.S. 79, and he worries about what his kids will do if there is no equivalent teaching method being used in the local middle schools.

“They are different and they need help in a different way,” Chang said. “I would just hope they consider opening the program for our district.”

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Elmhurst man stabs wife with kitchen knife, fakes her suicide note: DA


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

CrimeSceneTapeHC1010_L_300_C_R-624x416

The estranged husband of an Elmhurst woman was charged Thursday night with stabbing his wife to death with a kitchen knife and trying to make the murder look like a suicide, authorities said.

Luis Paguay, 43, was arrested after police found his wife, 39-year-old Maria Paguay, unconscious and unresponsive with stab wounds on her body inside her 50th Avenue basement apartment at about 6 p.m., cops said. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.

Paguay allegedly stabbed his wife multiple times in the neck and chest with a large kitchen knife sometime between Wednesday night and before 6 p.m. Thursday, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. The victim’s 19-year-old son found her as he returned home from school.

After stabbing his wife, Paguay allegedly wrote a suicide note in his wife’s name and then left for his job as a dishwasher at Ducale Restaurant in Whitestone, Brown said. When he arrived at the restaurant he allegedly saw he had blood on his shoes and according to surveillance footage, he attempted to wash his shoes in a sink.

According to the New York Daily News, the couple had recently separated and the victim’s husband had gotten angry that she was in a new relationship.

Paguay, who is awaiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court, was charged with murder, tampering with physical evidence and criminal possession of a weapon. If convicted he faces up to 25 years to life in prison.

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Whitestone family brings the Christmas lights back after winning reality show


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Eric Jankiewicz

The Lynch family keeps on shining.

After winning a reality competition series on spectacular Christmas lights last year, the Lynch family has put up their sparkling holiday decorations once again with a bunch of improvements and a whole new fan base. ABC’s “The Great Christmas Light Fight” brought the family a winning prize of $50,000 and a level of fame that stretches past the borders of their Whitestone neighborhood.

“Just the other day I had a tour bus out front that came all the way from New Jersey,” Kevin Lynch said. “And before that we had some people from Norway here asking me for advice about how to do this stuff.”

Along with Lynch’s new fame, he has also upgraded his decorations.

“I did something different this year. I put LED lights in them and it made my display even brighter,” said Lynch, a retired firefighter. “You can see this house from pretty far away now. My goal is to see it from space. We’re not there yet, but we’re getting there. I’m waiting for that Christmas card from the man on the moon and when we do [get it], I know I’ve reached my goal.”


The house is ready for Christmas, with about half a million lights, according to Lynch, who puts up all the decorations up with the help of his wife, Tina. Thousands of plastic statues are carefully placed on the lawn, roof, balcony, windows and anywhere else he can fit them.

For 18 years, Lynch and his family have been decorating their house for Halloween and Christmas, with work starting in September. Halloween is a much smaller display that goes up even as he’s working on his Christmas lights.

But rather than completely disassembling the Halloween display, Lynch is able to adapt some of the ornaments so that they can be used for Christmas. In one case, a Halloween figure with a severed head is converted into a snowman. After Halloween, he brings down the ghouls and continues the frenzied race to assemble his legions of angels and nutcrackers.

The work is done now. And so Lynch prepared for the other part of the winter spectacle — the arrival of thousands of kids and their families who travel to Whitestone to gaze at his handiwork.

“There’s over half a million lights in the house. We like it big and bright. All the cords are buried in the ground so you can come up to the lawn and porch and take pictures,” Kevin said. “Get as close as you want and make sure to bring a letter for Santa.”

The display at Lynch’s home, 166-04, 23rd Ave., Whitestone, will stay up through Jan. 7, when he begins the laborious process of taking down all the decorations and putting them in storage for next year.


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