Tag Archives: Whitestone

Elmhurst man sentenced for fatal stabbing of wife


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com


The Elmhurst man who stabbed his wife to death in 2014 and went on with his day, after faking her suicide note, has been sentenced to serve 18 years in prison, prosecutors announced.

Luis Paguay, 43, was sentenced Tuesday after pleading guilty to first-degree manslaughter this past June. After his 18-year sentence, the judge also ordered five years of post-release supervision.

According to court documents, Paguay admitted to stabbing his 39-year-old wife, Maria Paguay, in their basement Elmhurst apartment between the night of Dec. 3, 2014, and just before 6 p.m. on Dec. 4, 2014. A large kitchen knife was found near the victim’s body.

After killing his wife, Paguay wrote a note in his wife’s name claiming that her death was a suicide, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. He then went to his job as a dishwasher at Ducale Restaurant in Whitestone.

Once arriving at the restaurant, Paguay noticed blood on his shoes and video surveillance from the site shows what looked like him washing his shoes in a sink, authorities said.

Maria Paguay’s body was found around 6 p.m. on Dec. 4, 2014, by her 19-year-old son who had just come home from school.

“Although the defendant ultimately took responsibility for his violent crime by pleading guilty to manslaughter, he first tried to make it appear that his wife took her own life by writing a suicide note in her name and letting her 19-year-old son discover his mother’s bloody remains upon returning home from school,” Brown said. “The lengthy sentence imposed by the court is a just resolution to this case.”

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Whitestone teen crowned USA National Miss 2015


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Katherine McQuade

Whitestone resident Katherine McQuade beat out 29 other beauty queens to be crowned USA National Miss 2015 in Walt Disney World earlier this month.

McQuade, a 19-year-old sophomore at Marymount Manhattan College, began participating in pageants at the age of 10 and has competed in about 150 in her career. She says that pageants played a huge part in helping her growth from a timid young girl into a confident adult.

“I was such a shy child growing up, I couldn’t even talk on the telephone,” McQuade said. “Pageants instilled in me communication skills, confidence, poise and grace, and helped me become the person I am today.”

McQuade’s main platform in the USA National Miss pageant was to promote and raise funds for pancreatic cancer research in honor of her grandmother, who died from the disease.

McQuade has been working for the cause since age 9 by selling handmade pot holders and donating all proceeds to the Lustgarten Foundation. She was inspired to use the craft for charity because it had been an activity she enjoyed with her late grandmother, who gave her a pot holder kit as a holiday present.

While McQuade has raised over $5,000 for pancreatic cancer research by selling pot holders in 16 states, she is far from finished with helping out the cause. The beauty queen is determined to have her pot holders reach all 50 states and raise $25,000 for pancreatic cancer research by the time she’s 25.


Raising funds for pancreatic cancer is not the only civic service the young beauty performs. She also created her own mentoring program at St. Luke’s school in Whitestone for pre-K students, among numerous other volunteer efforts which total over 5,264 hours of community service.

Thanks to her extensive community involvement, she has been the recipient of a Lifetime Presidential Award for Volunteer Service, featured on Time Warner Cable NY1 “Queens Person of the Week,” and has been on the cover of Supermodels Unlimited Magazine’s Role Model edition.

McQuade, a competitive dancer who aims to someday be a Radio City Music Hall Rockette, says that winning this pageant is only the beginning of her crowning dreams.

“I’ve been doing this for so long it would be a little silly not to keep going all the way,” she said. “I want to be Miss Universe, Miss America, Miss United States. I’m going to go for it all.”

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West Nile spraying to target northeast Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Image courtesy of NYC Health Department

Another round of West Nile spraying is set for parts of Queens next week in an effort to reduce mosquito activity and the risk of the virus.

The treatment, which will include spraying pesticide from trucks, will take place on Monday, Aug. 24, between the hours of 8:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. the following morning. In case of bad weather, the application will be delayed until Tuesday, Aug. 25, during the same hours.

Last weekend, the Health Department reported the season’s first human case of West Nile virus in a Brooklyn man. The patient, who was hospitalized with viral meningitis and over the age of 60, has been treated and discharged.

Though no cases have reported in Queens this season, the following northeast neighborhoods are “being treated due to rising West Nile virus activity and because they have high mosquito populations”:

Parts of Auburndale, Bayside, Bay Terrace, Beechhurst, College Point, Flushing, Linden Hill, Malba, Murray Hill and Whitestone (bordered by Cross Island Parkway, Clearview Expressway and the East River to the north; Flushing Bay to the west; Northern Boulevard, 153rd Street, 35th Avenue, Utopia Parkway, 42nd Avenue, Clearview Expressway, 33rd Avenue, 215th Place and 31st Road to the south; and Cross Island Parkway to the east).

For these sprayings, the Health Department will use a very low concentration of the synthetic pesticide Anvil 10+10, which poses no significant risks to human health when properly used.

The Health Department recommends that people take the following precautions to minimize direct exposure:

  • Whenever possible, stay indoors during spraying. People with asthma or other respiratory conditions are encouraged to stay inside during spraying since direct exposure could worsen these conditions.
  •  Air conditioners may remain on; however, if you wish to reduce the possibility of indoor exposure to pesticides, set the air conditioner vent to the closed position, or choose the re-circulate function.
  • Remove children’s toys, outdoor equipment and clothes from outdoor areas during spraying. If outdoor equipment and toys are exposed to pesticides, wash them with soap and water before using again.
  • Wash skin and clothing exposed to pesticides with soap and water. Always wash your produce thoroughly with water before cooking or eating.

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Whitestone beer garden to open Saturday


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photos via Jägerhaus Gastropub & Biergarten's Facebook page

After weeks of anticipation from residents all over northeast Queens, Jagerhaus Gastropub & Biergarten in Whitestone is set to open this Saturday, Aug. 22.

The spot will begin its grand opening at noon with a keg tapping and ribbon-cutting ceremony. The day will continue with a special opening menu, games, live music and prize giveaways.

The beer garden, which is located at 15-16 149th St., aspires to serve authentic Austrian and German fare in the style of European biergartens, which offer beer and food at outdoor tables shared between multiple parties of guests.

Both the draft and bottled beer menus are exclusively made up of beer brewed outside the U.S, with most originating directly from Germany. Cocktails will also prominently feature European liquors and liqueurs.

Jagerhaus is currently accepting reservations for space in its dining room area. For more information, call 718-767-3486.

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Whitestone Waterpointe site listed for sale


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Cushman & Wakefield

An 18-acre waterfront property in Whitestone earmarked for the development of 52 single-family homes has been listed for sale by commercial realty company Cushman & Wakefield.

The property — located at 151-45 Sixth Road in Whitestone and known as Waterpointe — is currently owned by Edgestone Group, which paid $11.3 million for it in 2012. Cushman & Wakefield broker Stephen Preuss confirmed that the agency has been exclusively retained to arrange the sale, which is marketed to buyers looking to carry on Edgestone’s plan of building 52 homes and a waterfront park.

The property is listed to be sold “as-is.” Buyers would take up the burden of arranging for environmental cleanup of soil vapor which has been recorded to have elevated concentrations of aromatic and non-aromatic chemical compounds. Additionally, new owners would be tasked with mitigating any potential threat these vapors could pose to a residential community.

According to Preuss, the sellers did not name an asking price and are requesting proposals from potential buyers.

“Like any smart property owner, they’re seeing what the market has to yield currently,” Preuss said. “We’re in a very active market and there’s not a lot of large-scale, bulk land available in the boroughs.”

When contacted by The Courier, Waterpointe architect Joe Sultana disputed that the property was for sale and implied that he believed the listing to be unauthorized by the development team. Sultana said that to his knowledge the project was continuing as planned, with a meeting to discuss details of the development scheduled for September with members of Community Board 7.

Representatives of Edgestone Group LLC were outside of the United States when contacted by The Courier, and unable to be reached as of press time. Sultana was also unable to be reached to respond to statements made by Preuss.

Community Board 7 member Joe Sweeney said that he was troubled but not surprised by the conflicting accounts on the possible sale of the property.

“There’s no transparency even with the people that are working with them, this is obvious,” said Sweeney, a member of the zoning committee who has dealt closely with the project. “That’s what we’ve been battling with these people for years.”

The Waterpointe development has faced community opposition in the past due to proposed changes that would have seen 107 townhouses built on the space instead of the original 52 single-family homes. As most of the townhouses would have been two-family buildings, this would have resulted in a total of 203 units in the space, or around four times the original amount.

The changes were abandoned after an uproar from community board members and civic groups, and developers have since gone back to the original plan.

Sultana has said that the 52 single-family units would retail for about $2 million each. Forty of the homes will be between 2,000 to 3,000 square feet, and the remaining 12 will be bigger, more luxurious and situated closer to the waterfront.

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The Octagon Building in Whitestone hits market for $26.5M


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Cushman & Wakefield

A Whitestone office building — described as a “trophy asset” in its market and which housed vitaminwater and smartwater offices — has been put up for sale, according to real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield.

The Octagon Building, located at 17-20 Whitestone Expwy., is a 63,110-square-foot, five-story, elevator-serviced building with 235 feet of frontage, offering extensive visibility from the Whitestone Expressway.

The property, which includes on-site parking with 200 spaces, is currently going for the asking price of $26,500,000 and is exclusively being sold by Cushman & Wakefield.

“This is a trophy asset in the Queens office building market with extremely high visibility on the Whitestone Expressway,” said Thomas A. Donovan of Cushman & Wakefield, who is exclusively marketing the property with Stephen R. Preuss. “It is the location where vitaminwater and smartwater were created and offers a potential corporate headquarter location along with a substantial signage opportunity.”

The building will be given at 97 percent occupancy, currently consisting of 15 tenants and 20 office suites. Additional income is available from two roof antennas, Fed-Ex/UPS pickup boxes, and an electronic billboard, according to the real estate firm.

The Octagon Building is located close to LaGuardia Airport, three major highways — the Long Island Expressway, Cross Island and Grand Central parkways — and various bus lines. It is also near the Throgs Neck and Whitestone bridges.

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Whitestone officials pledge action to deal with overhead helicopter noise


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of George Mirtsopoulos

Lawmakers at the city, state and federal level met with Whitestone residents this month to address complaints of excessive noise pollution from low flying helicopters and outline courses of action to lessen the impact on the community.

The meetings follow the collection of data from Stop the Chop NY, a website developed by Whitestone resident Dan Aronoff to collect submitted complaints on incidents of disruptive noise from overhead aircrafts. Aronoff has been working with leaders of the We Love Whitestone civic group to call attention to the issue, and the site has collected nearly 1,800 complaints so far since its launch in June, with most originating in northeast Queens.

As a result of the meetings, some officials have agreed to accept complaints from the site at their respective offices, including Councilman Paul Vallone, state Senator Tony Avella, Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz and Congressman Steve Israel.

Officials also offered individual pledges to action, including a plan from Borough President Melinda Katz to invite stakeholders affected by helicopter noise to roundtables discussing the broader topic of aviation noise, and to facilitate additional meetings among elected representatives from Queens and New York City at large.

As part of their course of action, Avella and Simanowitz are currently in talks with U.S. Senator Charles Schumer’s office to call the FAA’s attention to the issue of helicopter noise pollution.

“There is no reason residents of northeast Queens should be subjected to ever-increasing helicopter noise when alternative flight patterns are available,” Avella said.

Vallone plans to introduce two pieces of legislation. One of the resolutions will call on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to amend a helicopter route along Long Island’s north shore to require helicopters to either fly only over water or at higher altitudes. The second resolution would require the City Council to be notified of annual data relating to the location, routes, rules, regulations and other guidelines that exist pertaining to commercial and tourist helicopter routes.

“The never-ending attack on our quality of life by the helicopter flights across our communities has led our office to start a new united approach,” Vallone said. “Together we discussed ways to address the lack of accountability, data, complaint recording, city, state or federal regulations on this issue.”

According to Aronoff, a meeting with Assemblyman Edward Braunstein will also take place in the coming weeks, and he is expecting to attend meetings in the fall with FAA representatives and helicopter operators. While he expects fewer submitted complaints to the site after the summer due to seasonal decreases in helicopter travel to the Hamptons, he will continue to collect data on his website for later use.

Aronoff said he has received emotionally moving testimonies from users of his site affected by the issue, including music producers unable to hear the nuances of their tunes to mothers of developmentally challenged children disturbed by constant overhead noise.

“There are people who are getting in contact with me as the website developer and telling me how they appreciate what’s going on because it’s become unbearable for them,” Aronoff said. “It’s beyond just quality of life; there are real impacts to people and real lives being affected by this.”

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20-year-old Flushing man indicted for terrorism support


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

A 20-year-old Queens man was indicted this week for his support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and for wielding a knife at a federal officer, officials announced.

A federal grand jury in Brooklyn handed down the indictment on Monday charging Munther Omar Saleh, reportedly of Flushing, with attempt and conspiracy to provide material support to ISIL, and assault and conspiracy to assault federal officers, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.

The indictment accuses Saleh not only of conspiring to “provide material support to ISIL” but also of devising “a plan to conduct an attack in New York,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin said. Authorities believe he was preparing to specifically detonate a pressure cooker bomb in the New York metropolitan area on behalf of ISIL.

In a criminal complaint filed upon his June arrest, Saleh, a U.S. citizen who enrolled in a Queens college specializing in aeronautics in January, demonstrated his “violent jihadists beliefs” and support of ISIL through his online activities.

That online activity included tweets in support of recent terrorist attacks, translating propaganda materials to English for ISIL, and a May 7 email to himself that contained information about the construction of a pressure cooker bomb and searches for parts that could be used in an explosive device.

Authorities also believe that his activities revealed a “continuing effort to conduct a terrorist attack on behalf of ISIL, including by learning how to construct and detonate an explosive device,” according to court documents.

There were additionally searches of New York City landmarks and tourist attractions, surveillance cameras, weapons, ammunition, remote control helicopters and drones that piqued law enforcement interest.

Saleh and another individual were arrested on June 13 near 20th Avenue and the Whitestone Expressway after they allegedly charged at a federal officer while armed with knives.

The same indictment also charges Fareed Mumuni, a 21-year-old Staten Island resident and U.S. citizen, with attempt and conspiracy to provide material support to ISIL, assault and conspiracy to assault federal officers, and attempted murder of federal officers.

Authorities arrested Mumuni  just days after Saleh, reportedly believing they both conspired to provide support to ISIL and planned to carry out an attack on New York.

During the execution of a search warrant on Saleh’s home, he allegedly tried to repeatedly stab a FBI agent in the torso with a large kitchen knife, and was arrested. The agent was wearing body armor and reportedly suffered only minor injuries.

Both men’s arraignments are scheduled for Aug. 20. If convicted, Mumuni faces a maximum sentence of 85 years imprisonment and Saleh faces a maximum sentence of 65 years.

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Slow response to Whitestone Volunteer Ambulance appeals for funding


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Whitestone Volunteer Ambulance Service

The Whitestone Volunteer Ambulance Service (WVAS) is having trouble raising funds for its new emergency vehicle, with only seven people contributing to their online campaign since its creation one month ago.

The funds will go toward buying equipment for the new vehicle, which was bought with a 2013 grant from the Women’s Club of Malba. Although the campaign has 135 Facebook shares, only $175 has been raised out of the $20,000 needed to buy a list of 40 different pieces of equipment, including a stretcher, oxygen masks and an oxygen tank.

“It’s disappointing that no one’s really come forward yet, but this has been a trend that we’ve been seeing in the past few years,” said Jason Fassler, director of public relations for the WVAS. “People aren’t really donating.”

Fassler said that it is only in the most recent years that the volunteer organization has had trouble collecting donations, and that WVAS once had so much community funding they could buy a new ambulance every three years. Now, the company is struggling to continue providing all the services it has traditionally performed in Whitestone.

Difficulty outfitting a new ambulance is just one of the problems that has arisen from the lack of donations to WVAS. According to Fassler, the youth volunteer squad has had to shut down because it cannot afford to pay the yearly insurance, and the organization may not be able to provide non-emergency care to Whitestone residents in the future.

Assemblyman Ed Braunstein’s office has contributed some help to the WVAS in the form of the $125,000 capital grant, but these funds still are going through the approval process.

“Whitestone Volunteer Ambulance provides free emergency response services to anyone in the community who is in need,” Braunstein said. “A donation to their cause will help all of us continue to have the peace of mind that in the event of an emergency, help is never far away.”

Alfredo Centola, president of the We Love Whitestone civic group, said that the community needs to be responsible for supporting local ambulance services, and that he has heard of other such volunteer organizations with funding trouble.

“People need to realize that these local ambulances provide a lot of services,” Centola said. “A part of it is people aren’t aware of their existence and what they do and don’t do.”

The Whitestone Volunteer Ambulance Service was established in 1947, and currently has a roster of 75 volunteer emergency medical technicians, drivers and dispatchers to answer 115 calls per month. It can be used by residents at no charge for emergency medical care and transportation through a 24-hour hotline, and also transports community members to and from medical facilities in non-emergency situations.

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EXCLUSIVE: Incoming Whitestone beer garden reveals drink menu


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo via Facebook

Whitestone’s incoming beer garden Jägerhaus Gastropub & Biergarten has finally revealed its long-awaited beer and cocktail menu exclusively to The Courier.

Jägerhaus Gastropub & Biergarten will open at 15-16 149th St. this summer and serve authentic Austrian and German fare in the style of European biergartens, which serve beer and food at outdoor tables shared among multiple parties of guests.

The Jägerhaus team is aiming for authenticity in their Austrian and German fare. Both the draft and bottled beer menus are exclusively made up of beer brewed outside the U.S, with most originating directly from Germany.

The draft menu includes three sizes of up to a liter with price points that are the same according to size, regardless of selection. Each draft option is accompanied by a brief description to illustrate their flavor and summarize the methods of their production, such as the Krombacher Dunkel, which has “solid bread and chocolaty notes with roasted coffee malt undertones,” or the Radeberger, a “light, floral German Pilsner with a clean and refreshing taste.”

Cocktails will also prominently feature European liquors and liqueurs. The Black Forrest Tea is made with iced black tea and Stroh Jagertree, which is a concentrate that is diluted with hot water and is only produced in Austria. Another drink, the B&B, combines savory and sweet flavors by having apple liqueur, Bulleit Bourbon and bacon garnish.


Oliver Keegan, a chef who has worked at the prestigious Princeton Club on 43rd Street and the Hudson Hotel outside Columbus Circle, is on the Jägerhaus team, along with restaurateurs Bill Gross Christopher Keegan and Christopher Lohnes.

The developers of Jägerhaus have been slowly releasing information about the beer garden on social media, and a big chunk of their food menu can already be viewed on the Instagram page, @jagerhaus_gastropub. According to Gross, around 30 to 40 curious locals come by daily to see what is going on at the site of the pub.

“We’re trying to build the anticipation if you will,” said Gross. “We want to build something and do it right.”

The tentative opening date for Jägerhaus Gastropub & Biergarten is Aug. 8.

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Whitestone pageant queen pursues charity causes and higher education


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Margaret Skourlis

Whitestone resident Margaret Skourlis may be a pageant queen, but she’s a beauty with a brain and a killer resume.

The former Miss Supermodel USA-Petite was back on the pageant circuit this month as the New York representative in the national Ms. UNITE pageant, a charity event to benefit victims of domestic violence. While she did not raise enough donation money to place in the top spots of Ms. UNITE, Skourlis, 34, is a seasoned competitor who won her first title in the Miss Greek Independence Pageant as Miss Messina 2001, and has competed in a total of 15 pageants in her career.

“I’ve grown drastically in that [with] every pageant title I’ve held throughout my life, I was able to do different things to help different communities,” said Skourlis.

Although Skourlis herself has deep roots in Queens, having been born in Astoria and then moving to Whitestone at age 4, her father is originally from the Greek city of Kalamata and her mother is of Greek descent as well. The beauty queen promotes Greek tourism while competing in pageants in order to help stimulate the country’s economy during its current times of international debt and financial crisis.

Skourlis is also involved in giving back to the local Greek community by serving as the vice president of the Intercollegiate Hellenic Society, a nonprofit aimed at bringing together young people to promote Hellenic culture. The organization helps students get firsthand experience studying abroad and has a longstanding relationship with Montreal, a city that Skourlis has promoted in pageants in an effort to increase tourism.

“For years, we’ve been sending students to the city of Montreal, to experience the beauty of Montreal and to learn about the antiquity,” said Skourlis, who enjoys visiting restaurants and cafes in the old port of the Canadian city.

While the average person might feel satisfied if they had all of Skourlis’ accomplishments, she is always striving to learn more and broaden her own skill set. She is currently making her way through an online course with Harvard University to learn computer programing, but she already has a bachelor’s degree, two master’s degrees, and 16 certifications from Cornell University, along with paralegal, modeling and real estate sales certifications.

“When you meet different people you learn different things, but then getting background knowledge helps you change the world,” said Skourlis. “And my real goal is to be able to help the world and change people’s lives.”

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Alleged drunk driver from Whitestone has run-in with sanitation truck


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo

BY KIRSTEN E. PAULSON

There wasn’t a clean getaway for a Whitestone man charged with reckless endangerment and DWI after driving the wrong way on the Long Island Expressway and slamming into a sanitation truck, prosecutors announced.

Salvatore Ferrara, 34, reportedly claimed he did not realize he was driving on the wrong side of the road when his 2009 Mercedes-Benz collided head-on with a city Department of Sanitation truck at around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday on the Greenpoint Avenue exit ramp of the Long Island Expressway in Long Island City.

Police on the scene allegedly observed Ferrara standing unsteadily on his feet near his totaled vehicle with bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and a strong odor of alcohol on his breath.

According to the criminal complaint, Ferrara allegedly told officers that he had been driving his car from the city, and that he had had two mixed drinks, a couple of beers and two bumps of cocaine several hours before the accident occurred.

Both Ferrara and the sanitation driver were injured in the crash. The truck driver suffered pain to his arm, while Ferrara was hospitalized for chest pain and rib injuries.

Ferrara faces charges of first-degree reckless endangerment, operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and an infraction of vehicle traffic laws. If convicted, he could serve up to seven years in prison, according to the Queens district attorney’s office.

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Identify this place in Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

IMG_2822

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

Last week’s answer to “Identify this Place”: St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Whitestone

St-Nicholas-Orthodox-Church-in-Whitestone-624x624

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Whitestone beer garden opening in upcoming weeks


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo via Facebook

Whitestone will soon be getting a new hotspot where locals can sample German cuisine in a trendy beer garden.

Jägerhaus Gastropub & Biergarten is set to open at 15-16 149th Street this summer at the former site of a Greek restaurant, Exo, which closed earlier in 2015. The spot aspires to serve authentic Austrian and German fare in the style of European biergartens, which serve beer and food at outdoor tables shared between multiple parties of guests.

Culinary veteran Bill Gross is involved with the incoming project, adding a wealth of experience and training to the restaurant’s development team. Gross has worked in major NYC restaurants such as Le Cirque, Eleven Madison Park and Cafe Gray, and is also a graduate of the Baking and Pastry Program at the Culinary Institute of America.

Construction is still underway at the beer joint, which will likely open in the upcoming weeks, and owners have already begun getting the word out on social media with Facebook and Instagram pages although Jägerhaus does not yet have an official opening date.

For updates on the pub’s progress, follow them at facebook.com/jagerhausnyc or check out their Instagram account at @jagerhaus_gastropub.

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Whitestone resident develops website for local helicopter noise complaints


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

HELICOPTER

All they want is some peace and quiet.

A Whitestone resident is taking the issue of overhead helicopter noise into the hands of the community by developing a website for residents to digitally submit complaints.

Technology consultant Daniel Aronoff launched the beta test version of his site, “Stop the Chop NY,” on June 24 in an effort to fight back against sound pollution from helicopters and small airplanes flying over north Queens. Information gathered on the site will be sent to local city, state and federal representatives to appeal for their help in seeking relief.

“We wanted to have a community engine that we could control to try to effect change,” said Aronoff, who has lived in Whitestone in 2013 after purchasing a house his grandparents owned in the 1950s.

The site is being spread to the Whitestone community by Aronoff and civic group We Love Whitestone, and has already garnered more than 130 noise complaints. It will be open to other affected communities in mid-July after troubleshooting for operational issues which may occur during the initial trial period.

Features set to be added to the site in the near future include maps of collected complaints and the ability to submit reports of multiple incidents at the same time.

While a site designed by aircraft noise complaint company PlaneNoise is used by the Port Authority to officially collect complaints about airplane, Aronoff saw a need for an additional page because citizens are not able to easily access data collected from that site. Some residents have also said that they are frustrated with not being able to enter in multiple complaints at the same time, and that the page is generally not user-friendly.

The choppers passing over residential areas in north Queens are largely used by tourists from out of town and wealthy patrons chartering speedy transportation to the Hamptons. A study published by Bloomberg News shows that helicopter trips have significantly gone up in East Hampton Airport in 2014. Thanks to the increasing popularity of cellphone applications which allow chartered flights to be summoned almost instantaneously, this number is not likely to go down any time soon.

We Love Whitestone president Alfredo Centola says that he and his neighbors have noticed the increase in air traffic and the resulting noise, noting that sometimes he has even seen two separate aircrafts passing overhead at the same time.

“What happens is, Queens has been all of a sudden assaulted by these helicopters and small planes flying overhead,” said Centola, “and it’s progressively gotten worse.”

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