Tag Archives: woodhaven

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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Woodhaven man arrested for dealing drugs below parents’ day care: police sources


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

A Woodhaven man was busted Thursday for dealing drugs out of his home located below a day care center run by his parents, police sources said.

Officers from the NYPD Queens Narcotics Squad executed a search warrant at about 5:15 a.m. at the My Precious Moments day care facility at 85-09 88th Ave.

The raid was part of a two-month investigation into drug sales that 24-year-old Michael Gomez allegedly conducted out of his basement apartment at the location. In one instance, police said, Gomez sold unspecified drugs to an undercover officer as parents picked up their children from the facility.

Gomez and a friend — 23-year-old Selestino Rodriguez of Bleecker Street in Ridgewood — were in the basement apartment when police arrived Thursday morning.

In searching the apartment, officers recovered 7 ounces of Molly, 4 ounces of marijuana and more than $2,400 in cash.

Detectives took Gomez and Rodriguez into custody at the scene. Both 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.

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. No one at the daycare responded to calls for comment.

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City’s record murder-free streak ends after Woodhaven shooting victim dies


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

A man who was shot in Woodhaven Friday morning has died, ending the city’s longest period on record without any homicides, police said Sunday.

Eric Roman, 28, was found outside his home on 89th Street near Atlantic Avenue about 11:50 a.m. Friday, with gunshot wounds to the head, leg and hand, police said.

Roman was taken to Jamaica Hospital in critical condition, but succumbed to his injuries on Saturday night.

Police are still looking for Roman’s shooter, who fled the scene in a black Mercedes toward Jamaica Avenue.

As of midnight Thursday, the NYPD said the city broke a record — going 11 days without a murder — since it started tracking the data in 1994.

A 56-year-old Kew Gardens Hills man was also found dead in the basement of his home Saturday morning. The cause of his death is still being determined, but police are treating the case as suspicious, according to published reports, after the victim was found with a bruise on his forehead and his pants partially removed.

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Man shot in the head in Woodhaven


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Updated 7:22 p.m.

Police are looking for a gunman who fled in a black Mercedes after a man was shot in Woodhaven Friday morning, authorities said.

The shooting took place at 89th Street near Atlantic Avenue about 11:50 a.m.

The victim, a 28-year-old man, sustained a gunshot wound to the head and was rushed to Jamaica Hospital, where he is listed in critical condition.

Police said the suspect fled the scene in a black Mercedes toward Jamaica Avenue.

It was not immediately clear what sparked the shooting.

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Shoplifter cuts Woodhaven RadioShack employee after stealing headphones: police


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

An 18-year-old RadioShack employee was attacked with scissors after he tried to catch a man who swiped trendy headphones from the Woodhaven store, authorities said.

The shoplifter took three pairs of Beats By Dre headphones from a shelf at the 92-11 Jamaica Ave. businesses about 7:45 p.m. on Jan. 2, police said. He then walked out of the store without paying for them.

When an employee tried to stop him, he cut the employee with a pair of scissors and fled.

Police describe the suspect as a Hispanic man, about 30 years old, 5 feet 9 inches tall and 160 pounds. He was wearing jeans, a tan jacket and a brown 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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Police looking for suspect in Woodhaven home invasion


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

A robber broke into a Woodhaven house, threatened the homeowner with a wrench, then tried to use his stolen debit card, cops said.

The suspect forced his way into the 90th Avenue home through the basement door about 8:30 a.m. on Monday, according to police. He showed a wrench that he was holding to the 69-year-old man and took $20 in cash, a debit card and a cellphone from him.

He then attempted to withdraw money from the victim’s account three separate times, but failed, cops said.

Police have released video footage of the suspect, taken at one of the ATMs, and describe him as about 40 years old and 5 feet 10 inches tall.

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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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Fundraiser to help dog who was thrown from car


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Project Woodhaven

She was wrapped in a sleeping bag, thrown from a car in Glendale and left for dead.

Dasher, a young Rottweiler, had a bleak chance of survival when she was left at the intersection of Vermont and Cypress Avenue next to the Jackie Robinson Parkway on the night of Nov. 20, according to published reports.

But a quick response may have saved her life. She is currently seeking treatment at the New York City ASPCA but medical bills are racking up fast.

A firefighter at the scene decided that if Dasher survived he would adopt her.

To help the first responder pay for the medical bills, one local restaurant is holding a fundraiser on Wednesday.

Nier’s Tavern, located at 87-48 78th St. in Woodhaven, along with K9 Korral Inc. will be hosting the event from 5 to 9 p.m.

The event is called the “Let’s bring Dasher home fundraiser,” and a flyer is asking people to “Please come help this poor girl get better so she can get home.”

There will be food, raffles and entertainment throughout the night, and proceeds will help make sure Dasher finds her way home.

“We want to help get this dog a new home,” said Loycent Gordon, a firefighter and owner of Neir’s Tavern. “If we are not able to take care of pets that is a direct reflection of how we take care of each other.”

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Woodhaven building will finally be repaired 18 months after collapse


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Construction is now going full steam ahead to restore a commercial Woodhaven building that collapsed more than 18 months ago and has since been an eyesore.

The second floor front of the building, located at 78-19 Jamaica Ave., has been fully built back up and work will be “finished before the end of the year,” according to Elio Forcina, the building owner’s lawyer.

“My client is in the process of fixing the structure,” said Forcina. “It should be finished very shortly.”

The commercial building was originally occupied by a furniture store. The roof collapsed in April 2013, and the building has been vacant since. It has been a local eyesore since the collapse and was even close to being demolished in the summer.

But Forcina saved the building from being knocked down by suing the city for “arbitrary and capricious” conduct and settled on repairing it.

He now said once it is rebuilt, the building will bring pride to residents in Woodhaven.

“Once the building is completely renovated, it will be a structure the community is proud of.”

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Star of Queens: Suzanne Bettis, assistant district attorney, Iraq veteran


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

star of queens

BY ASHA MAHADEVAN

BACKGROUND: Suzanne Bettis was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and moved to the U.S. in ’97. She joined the Marine Corps when she was 17, because she wanted to be a part of something bigger than herself. She did two tours in Iraq as part of the unit that searched for and found troops who died on duty, processed their effects and sent them home to their families. She left the Marines in 2010, studied law at the New York Law School and now works in the office of Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown. Since August, she has made Woodhaven her home.

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: When she was a law school student, she set up an association that helped veterans and their dependents navigate the red tape of the Veterans Affairs department and get access to the benefits available to them. Now she is involved with the community falling under the 103rd Precinct. Every month, she attends the community council meeting to work closely with the community and the cops and reduce instances of gangs and gun violence. This year, she’ll be participating in the Veterans’ Day Parade.

GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT: “I feel like I am not done yet,” said Bettis. “I could go to law school because of the benefits from Veterans Affairs. That’s why when I was at school I focused on how veterans and their dependents can maximize the VA benefits. There are lots of veterans coming home now, and they should be able to use them to the best advantage. Also, many veterans can lose their benefits if they are convicted of criminal charges. At the DA’s office, we try to give them a second chance.” If they reform, for example, the charges against them are dismissed.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “Getting acclimatized to being home,” said Bettis. “Military people are closed up. I am learning to interact with more people, ease myself year by year to trust people and hope they don’t look at me as a threat. There are so many misconceptions about why people join the military. We are all not killers. I just want to be understood. In the military, we don’t have the luxury of being fallible. Turning that off when you get home is tough.”

INSPIRATION: “I have a lot of people to thank,” said Bettis, “but especially those men and women we had to send back home in boxes. At 18, 19, 20, they are willing to sacrifice their lives for people they’ll never meet. Everyone I processed, searched for, dug out of still burning Humvees, are special people to put themselves in that position, knowing you’ll never get the opportunity to go to school, get married, have a family life. Their story has to live on. Every day I come to work, interact with someone, this is the community they were protecting. And I have to continue doing that.”

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Woodhaven teen earns spot on national roller derby team


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo by Manish Gosalia

A Woodhaven high school senior isn’t letting anything block her way to roller derby stardom.

Maureen MacIntosh, 17, was chosen as one of only 30 teenagers from the eastern half of the United States to be on the Team USA Junior Roller Derby. The selections were officially announced on Monday, along with 30 other members from the western U.S.

More than 300 skaters from all over the country competed to be on the team, which will represent the United States in international events, such as the Junior Roller Derby World Cup.

“It as an absolutely amazing feeling because it was such a great confirmation of all the hard work I’ve done all year and all season,” MacIntosh said.

The accomplishment is no surprise to MacIntosh’s mother, Nellie, who first witnessed her daughter’s love for skating at the young age of 3 on the sidewalks of Woodhaven.

When she was 8, MacIntosh started looking for recreational rinks to skate at, and learned about roller derby from one of the owners. After researching leagues, she found out about the Gotham Girls Roller Derby, the only all-female, do-it-yourself, skater-operated roller derby league in the city, where she attended some games and basic lessons for younger girls.

Out of those lessons, the Gotham Girls Junior Derby was created in May 2012, with MacIntosh as one of its founding members.

Maurs Photo

A roller derby team has five players on the track at a time — a jammer, who is trying to score points, and four blockers, who are attempting to prevent the other team’s jammer from scoring.

In addition to being a blocker, MacIntosh, who uses the derby name Hale E. Williams, inspired by the lead singer of Paramore, is also the pivot.

The pivot, who is identified by a stripe on her helmet, tries to communicate as much information as she can to the other blockers. She also acts as the jammer when needed.

MacIntosh has learned a lot from the older Gotham Girls and from the entire experience of roller derby.

The Gotham Girls Junior Derby is coached by veteran Gotham Girls players from the adult league, and practices consist of more than just skating. The girls do dynamic stretching, agility drills, running and other cardio, and exercises to make sure their muscles are strong for games.

The roller derby has given MacIntosh a love for exercise and being healthy, which has rubbed off on her whole family, according to her mother.

“To see the change in my daughter since she’s started playing has made me feel good,” she said. “To me she seems happier than prior to skating.”

MacIntosh, a student at The Mary Louis Academy, was dead-set on going away for college, but now wants to stay in New York City to continue skating with the Gotham Girls Roller Derby.

She is also determined to keep participating in the sport well into adulthood.

“I hope my body can hold out for that long because there is nothing else that I’d rather be doing.”

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New historical research group started in Woodhaven


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Woodhaven is known for its history, but there was no central repository for the trove of information about it — until now.

The Woodhaven History Research Group was recently started by Ed Wendell as part of the Woodhaven Cultural and Historical Society.

The new group’s mission is to perform methodical searches of archives of the neighborhood to record names, addresses and any interesting pieces of information it finds about the town into a database, something that Wendell said would connect residents to the history of Woodhaven.

“There is all this great history about Woodhaven that many of us don’t even know yet,” he said. “My hope is to build a database that will outline the hyper-local history of the neighborhood.”

Wendell came up with the idea for the research group by chance.

He was invited by a local resident to a house where the man’s parents once lived. As they were checking out some of the home’s antiques, Wendell came across a flyer from the early 1900s with a man’s name on it who had a dog training service at the time. When Wendell plugged the name into the computer, he found “an incredible amount of history on the guy.”

He then wanted to have a place where he could archive such history, which is how the group began.

Wendell found a website that has archived The Lead Observer, Woodhaven’s newspaper, dating back to the early 1900s. He said he would like to split up the members of the group by giving them specific research areas.

After the research is completed, Wendell said he hopes that all members of the group will meet up and put together the pieces of history until “the puzzle is filled.”

The first meeting will be on Oct. 28 at the Avenue Diner, located at 91-06 Jamaica Ave., at 7 p.m. Wendell encourages all those who are interested in doing some local research and even those who would just like to learn more about Woodhaven to come down.

“I want people to be interested in their hyper-local history,” Wendell said. “Once you start searching, you never know what you’re going to find.”

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Plans released for possible QueensWay


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy of thequeensway.org

It’s the Queens way.

A 3.5-mile stretch of recreational, walking and biking trails is planned for central and southern Queens as part of a multi-million dollar proposal that has coined the name, QueensWay.

“This will be a wonderful park for Queens,” said Will Rogers, president of The Trust for Public Land.

The QueensWay plans, proposed by W X Y architecture + urban design, will add a mix of new recreational and cultural opportunities and nature trails for the borough, said the Friends of the QueensWay.

The path, if built, will cross through the neighborhoods of Rego Park, Forest Hills, Glendale, Richmond Hill, Woodhaven and Ozone Park, affecting over 322,000 people living within a mile of it.

In the plans, there are proposed areas for ecology and education, where planners are hoping to build an outdoor classroom for children to be able to learn the biodiversity in Queens.

Also, there will be two sets of trails for bicyclist and pedestrians to ensure the safety of everyone who uses the QueensWay.

Furthermore, there are plans for basketball courts, a skate park, habitat wetlands, arts-related programs and a gateway entrance from the QueensWay to Forest Park.

“Parks are too often neglected and QueensWay would offer more access to open space and parkland,” said state Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky. “Parks provide an economic benefit to local business, retail establishments and restaurants and people of all ages would be able to enjoy the recreational opportunities which this new green space would provide.”

The estimated cost for the QueensWay is $120 million and, if started, will take three to five years to build.

Although it has the backing of many elected officials and community leaders, some feel the narrow stretch of former rail line could be put to better use.

Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder is a staunch advocate for the restoration of the Rockaway Beach rail line, which once ran on the property being looked at for the QueensWay. He has formed a coalition to fight to get it back.

“The QueensWay and Trust for Public Land have wasted taxpayer dollars on expensive, out-of-state consultants and one-sided studies that don’t actually represent the interests or needs of Queens’ families,” Goldfeder said. “Our growing coalition, including the MTA, will continue the fight to expand transit in Queens while easing commutes, creating jobs, cleaning the environment and expanding our economic development.”

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