Tag Archives: woodhaven

Woodhaven Memorial Trees to be decorated in Forest Park


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy Project Woodhaven

Woodhaven is doing its part to remember those who gave their lives in defense of the country during World War I, just in time for Memorial Day.

For the first time in over 70 years, the Memorial Trees in Forest Park will be decorated with red, white and blue bows thanks to a joint effort by Project Woodhaven, American Legion Post 118 and the Woodhaven Cultural and Historical Society.

“In the process of research with the Woodhaven Cultural and Historical Society, we found old news clippings about the Memorial Trees in Forest Park,” said Ed Wendell of Project Woodhaven. “We did some further research and pieced together the story of how after World War I people all over were looking for ways to commemorate those who died. In Woodhaven, they come up with the idea of planting trees for those who died from Woodhaven.”

In 1919, 53 trees were planted, with 17 more added in later years to bring the total to 70 trees.

In the years after the trees were planted, the women of the American Legion would adorn them with patriotic bows, and the families of the fallen soldiers would visit the trees in remembrance of their lost loved ones.

As time marched on, this tradition was slowly forgotten, but the 53 original trees remain in Forest Park.

To celebrate the revival of this once-forgotten tradition, the 53 trees will be reintroduced to the community during a reception on Thursday at Oak Ridge in Forest Park from 5 to 8 p.m.

During the reception, there will be a slideshow about this piece of Woodhaven’s forgotten history where guests will learn about the young men who died during the war and about Woodhaven during the WWI era. Light refreshments will be served.

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Civic fumes over a trashy situation in Woodhaven


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Frustrations aimed at the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) over their overnight enforcement policies came to a head during the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) meeting on May 16 at the Emanuel United Church of Christ.

The WRBA has repeatedly petitioned the DSNY to change its practice of issuing pricey overnight summonses to business owners along Jamaica Avenue for illegally dumped trash. In recent months, the WRBA has received numerous summonses over garbage found in front of the group’s headquarters, located at 84-20 Jamaica Ave.

“They ticket overnight because that’s when people bring their bags to the curb for pickup,” explained Gregory Mitchell of City Councilman Eric Ulrich’s office. “Unfortunately, there’s an issue that if people dump garbage in front of somebody’s business, the property owner can get a ticket themselves.”

The WRBA held a recent closed-door meeting with board members, elected officials and DSNY supervisors. According to WRBA Communications Director Alex Blenkinsopp, the DSNY officials explained that if they wanted a change in policy, they would need to petition their local city council member to change the regulations.

“When we were told by our city agencies to go to our City Council member because they’re not going to do anything about it, we realized this is a screwed up situation,” he said. “What are we supposed to do?”

Ulrich was considering changes in legislation back in October 2014 in the form of an “LS request” to investigate the feasibility of the proposed policy change.

“There’s really no way for us to legislate our way out of that problem,” Mitchell said. “We can change the law, but that’s not going to stop people from dumping garbage in the street.”

Blenkinsopp voiced his frustration over the situation to Mitchell. “It sounds like it took an awfully long time to find out we wouldn’t get any results from that process,” he said.

Assemblyman Mike Miller also voiced his displeasure over the situation.

“They don’t care,” said Miller, who participated in the aforementioned closed-door meeting with DSNY officials. “When we challenged them, they said, ‘That’s the way it is. This is the process. This is how we do it.’ It has to be changed.”

Miller explained that he has introduced legislation calling for a Citizen Review Board to deal with and discuss incidents such as wrongly issued summonses.

Mitchell proposed a follow-up meeting between WRBA board members and DSNY officials. He also mentioned that he would try to bring a DSNY supervisor to the next public WRBA meeting to address these concerns. In addition, he advised WRBA members to keep reporting incidents of illegal dumping to 311.

However, according to WRBA President Martin Colberg, the group once reported an illegally dumped mattress in front of their office, only to be hit with a pricey summons while sitting inside. Colberg said that he was considering installing security cameras outside WRBA’s Jamaica Avenue office to not only catch violators in the act, but to prove the group’s innocence to DSNY.

When asked if they could take their fight beyond City Council, Blenkinsopp explained that they have yet to receive a reply from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office regarding the matter.

“Back when he was public advocate, Bill De Blasio wrote a letter supporting a change in this law, but now that he’s mayor, he’s no longer responding to our reminders,” he said. “We can’t get the mayor to respond to his own previous policy decisions and to be consistent in his stance on this.”

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Your guide to Memorial Day parades and vigils in Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

The sacrifices of American soldiers will be celebrated across Queens in the days to come at various Memorial Day parades and vigils.

Among the celebrations are the following events, scheduled to take place rain or shine:

Woodhaven
Residents of Woodhaven will hold an early tribute to America’s fallen troops with a ceremony on Thursday, May 21, at 7:30 p.m. The vigil, sponsored by the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation, will take place at Forest Parkway Plaza, located at the corner of Jamaica Avenue and Forest Parkway.

The program includes patriotic music, a color guard, laying of wreaths and remarks from local elected officials and veterans.

College Point
The College Point Citizens for Memorial Day Inc. will begin their parade on at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 24, at the intersection of 28th Avenue and College Point Boulevard. Queens Borough President Melinda Katz is set to appear along with other local officials, and veteran Louis A. DiAgostino will be honored as the grand marshal.

Marching bands, drill teams and dance groups will all be performing at the event, and military servicemen and women will march in the festivities. The College Point Citizens for Memorial Day are accepting donations to offset parade costs. For more information contact parade chairman Rev. Adam Crabtree at 718-640-8840.

Forest Hills
The Forest Hills Memorial Day Parade hosted by the American Legion and the Forest Hills Kiwanis Club will take place on Sunday at noon. The parade starts from Metropolitan and Ascan avenues and will head westward down Metropolitan Avenue to Trotting Course Lane. From there, the parade will turn right and stop at the landmarked Remsen Cemetery between Trotting Course Lane and Alderton Street.

This year’s grand marshal will be Roland Meier, president of the West Side Tennis Club. Members of ROTC, band, and local civic and children’s organizations such as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts will march in the parade. Organizers of the parade will hold a ceremony at Remsen Cemetery to honor veterans.

Maspeth
The United Veterans and Fraternal Organizations of Maspeth will honor the men and women of the U.S. armed forces who made the ultimate sacrifice during their 31st Memorial Day Parade on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Grand marshals James Desio, retired US Army WWII veteran, and William Aronowicz, retired U.S. Marine Corp. WWII veteran, will lead the procession, beginning at Walter A. Garlinge Memorial Park, located at 72nd Street and Grand Avenue. At 2 p.m., there will be a memorial service for the deceased veterans of WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Middle Village
The St. Margaret Catholic War Veterans Post 1172 will honor those who died for the nation on Monday, May 25, with a special Mass at 9:30 a.m. at St. Margaret Church, located at the corner of Juniper Valley Road and 80th Street.

Then, at 11 a.m., post members and residents will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Middle Village Veterans Triangle, located at the corner of Gray and 77th streets near 66th Road. The ceremony will include prayers, a military salute and the playing of taps.

Glendale/Ridgewood
The Allied Veterans Memorial Committee of Ridgewood and Glendale, a committee made up of delegates from six veteran organizations, will honor the more than 1.14 million men and women of the U.S. armed forces who died in defense of the country during the 77th Memorial Day parade Monday.

At 11 a.m., the parade will begin at the Glendale War Memorial, located at Myrtle and Cooper Avenues, with a short memorial service to honor the war dead of Glendale. They will then march down Myrtle Avenue westbound to the Ridgewood War Memorial, located at Myrtle and Cypress Avenues, where there will be another short memorial service to honor the war dead of Ridgewood.

Howard Beach
The Howard Beach Memorial Day Parade will honor Vietnam War veterans, including the Howard Beach residents lost at war since the neighborhood’s founding.

There will be a memorial day Mass before the parade at Our Lady of Grace at 101st Street on Monday at 9:30 a.m. At 10:15 a.m., there will be a brief ceremony on top of Hawtree-Ramblersville Bridge and the parade will officially commence at Coleman’s Square at 11 a.m. The parade will stop at the Vietnam War Memorial, located at 99th Street and 157th Avenue and then head to the World War II Memorial at Assembly of God Church at 158-31 99th St. They will then march to St. Barnabas Church at 159-19 58th St. before marching back to Coleman Square.

Laurelton
The Laurelton Lions Club will present the 26th Annual Laurelton Memorial Day Parade, featuring The Queens Area Pathfinders Marching Band and The Black and Gold Marching Elite Band, on Monday starting at 9 a.m. The parade begins at Francis Lewis and Merrick boulevards, and will end at the Veterans Memorial Triangle at 225th Street and North Conduit Avenue.

Sponsors for this year’s parade include the Laurelton Lions Club, American Legion Benjamin Moore Post 1946, Garden Club of Laurelton, Federated Blocks of Laurelton and Concerned Citizens of Laurelton in Conjunction with Col. Edward O. Gourdin VFW POST 5298.

Whitestone
The Whitestone Memorial Day Parade will honor veterans and public servants from the community on Monday, May 25. The event will begin at noon at Whitestone Memorial Park at 149th Street and 15th Drive with a ceremony. Following the ceremony, the parade will commence and follow a rectangular route around the neighborhood back to Whitestone Memorial Park. Jim Dunn, a veteran from The American Legion in Whitestone, will serve as the grand marshal.

The parade will feature classic cars, elected officials, children from local sports leagues, and it will also celebrate the 100th anniversary of Whitestone’s Engine 295/Ladder 144 of the FDNY. For additional, information or to volunteer call Devon O’Connor, parade chairman, at 718-757-8546.

Woodside/Sunnyside
This year the St. Sebastian’s War Veterans will host the Woodside Memorial Day Parade to honor fellow veterans on Monday starting at 11 a.m. Parade participants will get together at the St. Sebastian’s School yard located at the corner of Woodside Avenue and 57th Street.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and John V. Daniels Jr. Post No 2813 in Sunnyside will host a Memorial Day event to honor veterans on Monday at 11 a.m. The event will be held at John Vincent Daniels Square, located on Roosevelt Avenue and 52nd Street. During the ceremony, a wreath will be placed at the flagpole in the middle of the park.

Little Neck/Douglaston
This year’s Little Neck/Douglaston Memorial Day Parade, scheduled to take place at 2 p.m. Monday, pays special tribute to Vietnam War veterans. Dr. Loree Sutton, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs, will serve as grand marshal of the march sponsored by the Little Neck/Douglaston Memorial Day Parade Association.

The march begins in Great Neck from the corner of Jayson Avenue and Northern Boulevard, then proceeds west on the boulevard to the yard of St. Anastasia’s Church, located near Northern Boulevard and 245th Street.

Participatory budget proposals announced for District 32


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo

BY ANGELA MATUA

Councilman Eric Ulrich announced on Monday the results of participatory budgeting in District 32 for the areas of Kew Gardens, Richmond Hill, Woodhaven and Ozone Park.

The process, which allows community members to decide how a portion of the public budget is spent, began in November with local brainstorming sessions. Residents in these neighborhoods then met with city agency representatives to review the proposals.

The ballot included eight capital proposals submitted by local residents. A total of 692 constituents who cast ballots whittled down the proposals to five.

“Participatory budgeting empowers local communities and strengthens relationships between elected officials and the people they serve,” Ulrich said. “I am deeply grateful to everyone that contributed and I look forward to bringing PB back next year to allow my constituents a real say in how their tax dollars are being spent.”

The winning proposal with the most votes included technology upgrades at P.S. 90, P.S. 97, P.S. 66 and P.S. 306. The project received 465 votes with a total of $300,000 being allocated to the four schools.

Residents cast 326 votes to bring $200,000 worth of security upgrades to Ozone Park Library and renovations to Richmond Hill Library.

Rebecca Babirye-Alibatya, the manager at Richmond Hill Library, was excited to learn that the community voted to allow for much-needed renovations to the 100-year-old building, she said.

“We need major renovations. We are one of the only libraries without self-check-in and checkout machines,” Babirye-Alibatya said. “Our basement is in need of renovations. The electrical wiring is as old as the building [and] there are so many things we can use the money for.”

Babirye-Alibatya said the library would also look to buy new computers and tablets and try to expand the basement to add more rooms to host activities for children and the community.

Residents also voted for emergency call boxes to be installed throughout Forest Park to improve safety with 312 votes from the community. The installation will cost $140,000.

Another school to receive funding in the district is P.S. 64 in Ozone Park, which received 237 votes for a $300,000 auditorium upgrade.

The 9/11 Memorial in Forest Park was the last proposal to be funded and received 239 votes and $250,000 for a total refurbishing.

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Suspect steals from 61-year-old woman using duplicate debit card: NYPD


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

A woman used a duplicate debit card at a Woodhaven supermarket ATM to take hundreds of dollars in cash from the real cardholder’s account, police said.

The suspect entered C-Town at 98-02 Jamaica Ave. about 1 p.m. on April 6, where she withdrew $783 from the cash machine, authorities said.

According to police, the suspect used a duplicate card containing information belonging to a 61-year-old woman, while the victim was in possession of her actual debit card.

The suspect, who was captured in a surveillance photo, is described as white or Hispanic, about 5 feet 5 inches tall and 120 pounds. She was last seen wearing a black jacket, blue jeans and a pink hat.

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

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Design workshops scheduled for Woodhaven/Cross Bay Select Bus Service plan


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYC DOT

The city Department of Transportation (DOT) will hold the first of four public design workshops for the planned Woodhaven/Cross Bay boulevards Select Bus Service (SBS) system next Thursday night in Woodhaven.

All are invited to attend the April 16 workshop at P.S. 306 NYC Academy for Discovery, located at 96-16 89th Ave. This workshop will focus solely on redesigning the portion of Woodhaven Boulevard between Union Turnpike in Glendale and Rockaway Boulevard in Ozone Park.

The following week, April 23, the DOT will hold a workshop at Queens Metropolitan High School, located at 91-30 Metropolitan Ave. in Forest Hills, focused on Woodhaven Boulevard between Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst and Union Turnpike.

An April 29 workshop at P.S. 146, located at 98-01 159th Ave. in Howard Beach, will center around Cross Bay Boulevard, and an April 30 workshop at P.S. 42, located at 488 Beach 66th St. in Arverne, will focus on implementing SBS in the Rockaways.

All of the workshops will take place from 6 to 8 p.m.

Representatives from the DOT will collect at each session “block-by-block feedback on street design and bus stop locations” for the Woodhaven/Cross Bay SBS. Last month, the DOT selected an SBS design that would include dedicated main-road bus lanes on Woodhaven Boulevard and offset bus lanes on Cross Bay Boulevard.

The plan, which requires the physical reconfiguration of Woodhaven Boulevard, also calls for the creation of SBS stations at major roadways that intersect the boulevard, such as Metropolitan and Jamaica avenues.

While each workshop focuses on a specific section, the DOT indicated that comments on any or all parts of the proposed SBS system will be accepted at all four sessions. Translation services are available and may be reserved in advance of the workshop by emailing brt@nyc.gov.

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Video captures $16K Ozone Park burglary


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

Two burglars are suspected of stealing more than $26,000 in cash from three businesses in Ozone Park and Woodhaven since late March, cops said.

One of the suspects was caught on video during the first break-in at about 3:30 a.m. on March 18 at Fortune Hut, located at 76-11 101st Ave. in Ozone Park, authorities said. The crooks cut a hole through a rear door and stole $16,000 in cash.

On March 30, between 4:20 and 6:45 a.m., there was another burglary in Ozone Park at a grocery store at 86-02 101st Ave., according to police. After prying open the side door, at least one of the suspects took about $10,000 in cash, cigarettes and phone cards.

The duo is also wanted in an April 3 theft between about 3 and 4 a.m. at a Woodhaven food store, cops said. At least one of the suspects entered the Golden Mango, located at 81-05 Rockaway Blvd., by breaking the rear window and grabbed an undetermined amount of cash.


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

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Civic group helps Woodhaven fire victims pick up the pieces


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Last week’s arson fire in Woodhaven that gutted eight attached homes dominated the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) meeting on Saturday, as civic members looked to help displaced families get back on their feet.

One of the victims displaced in the March 18 fire on 90th Street spoke at Saturday’s WRBA meeting. Jhadran Rojas and his wife Patricia were tenants in one of the neighboring homes destroyed by the fire. In addition to losing their home and possessions, the Rojas’ grief was compounded by the fact that their apartment was looted twice in one day. Thieves made off with the Rojas’ electronics and remaining valuables not lost in the blaze.

According to Deputy Inspector Deodat Urprasad, the new commanding officer of the 102nd Precinct, the precinct received numerous complaints over the years regarding drug use at the location where the fire started. Urprasad revealed that the alleged arsonist — identified as Luis Lopez — was arrested on March 15 on an unrelated charge, three days prior to setting the blaze. In addition, Urprasad said that officers at the precinct told him that numerous summonses for drug use have been issued at the location in the past.

“We have a special narcotics module in the 102 that handles these types of assignments,” Urprasad said. “They’re doing various search warrants. You may not see it, but they are effective.”

WRBA President Martin Colberg asked residents to remain vigilant and share information regarding ongoing complaints with each other and the board: “We have to pass information on to the 102 and make sure that we’re following up with these locations that we think are issues. We have to make sure to stay on top of it and that things don’t escalate.”

City Councilman Eric Ulrich thanked the WRBA for helping to coordinate the relief effort for the families displaced by the fire. He also thanked the first responders whose efforts prevented a larger tragedy and loss of life: “We really have the best of the best and we owe them a debt of gratitude.”

Ulrich was on the scene during the fire and helped the Red Cross relocate tenants displaced by the blaze to P.S. 210. He also opened his office to relief workers so they could access the Internet, register the victims and obtain vouchers for local hotels.

According to Ulrich, the Buildings Department and FDNY marshals entered the homes the day following the blaze and found numerous housing code violations. A total of six buildings violations were issued for illegal conversions. A representative from Ulrich’s office reportedly saw remnants of about seven bunk beds in one basement.

“That’s a fire trap,” Ulrich said. “Those people should be criminally prosecuted for putting people’s lives in danger. We have fire codes for a reason. People’s lives come first.”

Ulrich called for stiffer penalties and crackdowns on illegal conversions.

“It should not take a tragedy like what happened here in Woodhaven for the city to wake up and realize that however they’re doing it now is not working,” he said. “We need to be more proactive and less reactive.”

Both Ulrich and Assemblyman Mike Miller have partnered with Catholic Charities to create a special fund where tax-deductible donations can be made for the Woodhaven Fire Victims. The funds will go toward purchasing furniture and gift cards to Pathmark and Target. In addition, the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty agreed to pay tenants’ first month’s rent if they decide to relocate within Woodhaven.

WRBA members also collected bags of clothing and supplies for the victims at Saturday’s meeting. The donations were large enough to fill up two commercial vans.

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Tenant charged with attempted murder, arson in fire that destroyed eight Woodhaven homes


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the FDNY

Updated Monday, March 23, 12:41 p.m.

BY SALVATORE LICATA AND CRISTABELLE TUMOLA

A man was arrested for allegedly setting a fire that caused eight houses in Woodhaven to go up in flames on Wednesday night because his landlord had just evicted him.

Luis Lopez, 30, a tenant at 91-21 90th St., where the blaze started, was arraigned on Friday on charges of second-degree attempted murder, second-degree arson, endangering the welfare of a child and aggravated cruelty to animals in connection to the fire that left eight injured and killed two dogs, the Queens district attorney’s office said. Lopez, who faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted, was being held on $100,000 bond, according to court records. His next court date is April 7.

“The defendant is charged with setting a fire that could have killed numerous people and did take the lives of two dogs — all because the defendant was allegedly angry about being evicted from his apartment,” District Attorney Richard Brown said. “Arson is a serious crime and the defendant now faces spending a considerable amount of time in prison.”

On Wednesday, at about 8 p.m., Lopez was ordered to vacate the premises of where he was living, according to officials. About 10 minutes later, the landlord and her boyfriend smelled smoke. The door was blocked from the other side and it took them several attempts to escape from their basement apartment, prosecutors said. As the two fled, they saw smoke and an orange glow coming from Lopez’s first-floor bedroom.

By the time firefighters arrived at the two-story home, the flames had spread to the roof and adjacent residences.

The Courier/Photo by Salvatore Licata

The Courier/Photo by Salvatore Licata

About 39 units and 168 members responded to the blaze, which left six residents and two firefighters with minor injuries. The fire also displaced more than 60 individuals, officials said.

“The investigative work by our fire marshals resulted in the timely arrest of this suspect,” said Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro. “Setting a fire is a serious crime with potentially deadly consequences. Fortunately there was no loss of life at this incident, but tragically the quick moving fire destroyed eight homes before being brought under control.”

Councilman Eric Ulrich, Assemblyman Mike Miller and Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens (CCBQ) announced on Friday the creation of a special relief fund by CCBQ to help the families affected by the fire.

Donations will go toward providing essentials including gift cards to local supermarkets, clothing, replacement household furniture and other necessities. Monetary donations can be made payable to CCBQ online at www.ccbq.org or by mail. Contributions should designate “Woodhaven Fire Victims” in the memo. For more information contact CCBQ’s Office of Development & Communications at 718-722-6202.

“We cannot erase what occurred, but this fund will help these families work towards rebuilding for a better tomorrow,” Miller said. “We ask the community to help in any way they can to assist these residents in this time of need.”

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Four-alarm fire tears through Woodhaven homes, injures eight


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Salvatore Licata

Updated 3:11 p.m.

BY SALVATORE LICATA AND CRISTABELLE TUMOLA

A four-alarm fire broke out in a Woodhaven home Wednesday night, tearing through several neighboring houses and injuring eight people, the FDNY said.

The smell of ash filled the air as firefighters and first responders started to clean up some debris on Thursday morning from the fire-stricken houses that were ripped through by flames the night before.

The blaze started at about 8:15 p.m. Wednesday on the first floor of a two-story private home at 91-21 90th St., near 91st Avenue, according to fire officials. It was raised to four alarms by about 8:45 p.m and spread to the second floor and attic area.

Photos courtesy of FDNY

Photos courtesy of FDNY

As about 168 firefighters tried to control the flames, the fire spread from the house to seven other homes that all share a common attic area, according to published reports.

Walls of many of the houses were still intact but the attics were ripped through and daylight could be seen coming through the roof from the torn out windows of many houses.

Eight people, including two firefighters, were hurt in the blaze, the FDNY said. All the injuries were minor.

The Red Cross was at the scene of the fire, where it assisted 20 adults and eight children with temporary lodging and emergency funds for food and clothing.

“Our teams will ensure that the emergency needs of those impacted are met — temporary lodging, food, clothing, emergency financial assistance and emotional support,” said the Red Cross in a statement.

State Senator Joseph Addabbo, who urged the passing of state legislation calling for an end to cocklofts in aging row houses in a statement following Wednesday night’s fire, will be providing drop-off sites for those affected by the blaze. He previously trumpeted the legislation following a September 2013 fire in Middle Village that severely damaged six attached homes.

Donations of clothing and other essential items can be dropped off at the senator’s Middle Village office at 66-85 73rd Pl., and Howard Beach office at 159-53 102nd St.

The cause is still under investigation.

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Suspect wanted in robbery of Woodhaven Subway restaurant


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

A man who was apparently hungry for more than sandwich held up a Woodhaven Subway Sunday afternoon, getting away with $500 in cash, authorities said.

The suspect entered the restaurant at 92-12 Jamaica Ave., near Woodhaven Boulevard, about 4:40 p.m. and told the employee that he had a gun, according to police. He then took $500 before fleeing in an unknown direction.

Police have release video footage of the suspect from the robbery and describe him as black, about 6 feet 2 inches tall and 250 pounds. He was last seen wearing a hat, black sneakers and a black coat.


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

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Community Board 9 chooses Lisa Gomes as new district manager, angering BP Melinda Katz


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Members of Community Board 9 selected Lisa Gomes to fill the long-vacant post of district manager — a move that Borough President Melinda Katz blasted as an attempt by the board to “steamroll this important decision” before new members join the board.

“Over six months have lapsed since the former district manager tendered her resignation,” Katz said. “The length of time it has taken the board to move this forward demonstrates the ongoing governance issues which have been prevalent on Community Board 9.”

Katz was so upset about the move that she issued a press release several hours before the meeting on March 3.

“It’s perplexing at best as to why Community Board 9 feels it is absolutely necessary to steamroll this important decision upon a board that may or may not be the same in 28 days,” Katz said in the statement.

Community Board 9 covers Kew Gardens, Richmond Hills, Ozone Park and Woodhaven.

Queens’ longest-tenured district manager Mary Ann Carey resigned last year in October and since then Community Board 9 was without a leader. The board members made a decision on Tuesday night during a closed meeting that lasted for over an hour. But just as the board members were about to heed Katz’s urging to select a new district manager, the borough president sent a letter to the board asking them to postpone the decision until April, a request that baffled board members.

“I think it’s ironic that the borough president highlights how long the process has taken as a potential problem and then urges us to take even more time,” a community board member said. “That seems a little weird to me. Especially when one of her former staffers happens to be a finalist for the job.”

The board members went ahead with the voting process between three candidates and ultimately voted to appoint Lisa Gomes to the district manager’s post. The former Katz staffer was not selected.

“[Gomes’] familiarity with Community Board 9, with its members and with its neighborhoods, made her a strong candidate for the job,” the board member said. “With her at the helm we are preserving institutional memory and maintaining continuity even while she has pledged to improve the way the office is run.”

Lisa Gomes served as a temporary district manager since October and she served as a board staff member for over 20 years.

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Inclusive Queens soccer program teaches kids skills beyond the field


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Soccer Kids NYC

BY ANGELA MATUA

A new soccer program for children in Queens hopes to have kids setting goals on and off the field.

Soccer Kids NYC was created by Noe Canales in September 2014 after he noticed that other programs did not focus on teaching lessons that could translate to all aspects of a child’s life.

Canales said that Soccer Kids NYC strives to teach not only the fundamentals of soccer but also skills that children can utilize off the field like teamwork, respect and perseverance.

Soccer Kids NYC differs from other programs in several ways. Canales, who is a certified special education teacher, integrates children with special needs into all classes. He hopes to remove the stigma that families of special needs children typically deal with.

“Soccer Kids NYC wants to help in getting rid of that pervasive thinking,” Canales said of the three-month course that costs $179. “Our mission cuts across all lines; our program is for children with special needs and typically developing children. We don’t believe in labels except for our kids’ names.”

He believes this inclusiveness contributes to the program’s 99 percent retention rate. The coaches at Soccer Kids NYC also strive to make their classes affordable for everyone, he said. Though children typically attend classes once a week, students are encouraged to join other classes if there is available space at no extra cost. They also provide a refund to all families who are not satisfied with the program.

Scouting the right coaches is important for Canales, who is also a teacher at TheraCare Preschool Services, a preschool in Rego Park that accommodates children with and without special needs. Coaches are trained extensively until they are ready to lead a class. This approach is the reason he can provide a quality program, he said.

“My experience with larger programs has been that they will first find a location to expand and then work on hiring and staffing those classes with a coach,” Canales said. “This approach hinders the quality of a program as many times these coaches are not fully trained to lead a class and consequently, our kids get the short end of the stick.”

Every season, parents are encouraged to leave feedback for the coaches. Canales said they have not received any negative feedback yet, but the coaches still come together to reflect on ways to make the program better.

The feedback has been all amazing,” Canales said. “This is something that we feel extremely proud of.”

Classes are taught in Bayside, Woodhaven, Middle Village, Elmhurst, Flushing, Kew Gardens and other parts of Queens. Canales said they are not in a rush to expand but would like to eventually teach classes in other parts of Queens and New York.

 

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State suspends license of Woodhaven day care center following drug raid of basement apartment


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

A state agency suspended a Woodhaven day care center’s operating license less than a week after police raided the apartment below the facility during a narcotics investigation.

The Office of Children and Family Services withheld the license for My Precious Moments group family day care at 85-09 88th Ave. following its own probe into matters unrelated to last Thursday’s raid, according to an agency spokesperson.

Meanwhile, 24-year-old Michael Gomez — who lives in a basement apartment below the day care center, which his mother owns — remains locked up on charges after police found quantities of MDMA (Molly) and marijuana in his residence.

Ridgewood’s Selestino Rodriguez of Bleecker Street — a friend of Gomez arrested with him at the scene last Thursday — was released without bail following arraignment.

The NYPD Queens Narcotics Squad, with cooperation from the 102nd Precinct’s Field Investigation Office, executed a search warrant at the location following an investigation in which Gomez allegedly sold quantities of Molly and/or marijuana to an undercover officer on Feb. 3 and Feb. 17.

Both transactions reportedly occurred at Gomez’s residence while children were at the day care center.

During Thursday’s raid, police recovered 7 ounces of Molly, 4 ounces of marijuana and more than $2,400 in cash.

Gomez and Rodriguez were charged with felony counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance and a misdemeanor count of criminal sale of marijuana. Gomez was additionally charged with child endangerment, criminal sale of marijuana and criminal sale of a controlled substance. Both suspects are due back in court on March 9.

According to sources, My Precious Moments opened in May 2009 and cares for 16 children—12 of whom are between 6 weeks and 12 years old. Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown noted that the day care center is located less than 1,500 feet from two parochial schools: St. Elizabeth Catholic Academy at 94-01 85th St. and St. Thomas the Apostle Academy at 87-49 87th St.

No one from My Precious Moments responded to phone calls that the Times Newsweekly made Tuesday morning.

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Woodhaven man arraigned after allegedly dealing narcotics below day care, within drug-free school zones


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

A Woodhaven man remained behind bars in lieu of $20,000 bail Friday afternoon for allegedly dealing drugs from his apartment below a day care center his mother owns and operates, prosecutors said.

Michael Gomez, 24, was arrested Thursday morning on drug possession charges after police raided his apartment located under the My Precious Moments day care facility at 85-09 88th Ave. A friend with him at the scene, Selestino Rodriguez of Ridgewood, was also taken into custody.

My Precious Moments opened in May 2009 and cares for 16 children — 12 of whom are between 6 weeks and 12 years old. Queens District Attorney Richard Brown noted that the day care center is located less than 1,500 feet from two parochial schools that serve pre-kindergarten through eighth grade: St. Elizabeth Catholic Academy at 94-01 85th St. and St. Thomas the Apostle Academy at 87-49 87th St. Both are in drug-free school zones.

The NYPD Queens Narcotics Squad executed a search warrant at the 88th Avenue location following an investigation in which Gomez allegedly sold quantities of MDMA (Molly) and/or marijuana to an undercover officer on Feb. 3 and Feb. 17. Both transactions reportedly occurred at Gomez’s residence while children were inside the day care center.

During Thursday’s raid, police recovered 7 ounces of Molly, 4 ounces of marijuana and more than $2,400 in cash.

Gomez and Rodriguez were charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminally using drug paraphernalia, criminal possession of marijuana  and endangering the welfare of a child. Gomez was additionally charged with criminal sale of marijuana and criminal sale of a controlled substance.

Both suspects were arraigned Thursday night in Queens Criminal Court before Judge Toko Serita. Gomez was ordered held on $20,000 bail, while Rodriguez was released on his own recognizance. They are scheduled to return to court on Mar. 9.

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