Gianaris represents Sunnyside, Woodside, LIC and Astoria.
Gianaris represents Sunnyside, Woodside, LIC and Astoria.
March 2, By Michael Florio
The crime rate has taken a nosedive this year throughout the 108 Police Precinct, which covers Sunnyside, Woodside and Long Island City.
Captain John Travaglia, the commanding officer of the 108 Precinct, said that the number of reported crimes for the year through Feb. 22 has dropped 25 percent compared to the same period a year ago.
The decline has been driven by the fall in property-related crimes, with there being 22 reported burglaries so far this year compared to 37 for the same time period a year ago. Furthermore, there have been 60 grand larcenies reported this year, compared to 87 a year ago.
“Burglaries have historically been a problem in this precinct and we are down 40 percent on the year,” Travaglia said. “We are very happy to report those numbers.”
The number of robberies reported so far this year is down–from 22 to nine.
Travaglia, who was spoke at the Community Board Council meeting in Sunnyside last Tuesday, spent a significant portion of the hour-long meeting paying tribute to his officers—particular William Caldarera and Corey Sarro.
The two officers received an award for saving the life of Bruce Brooks, a 66-year-old LaGuardia College professor.
Brooks suffered a heart attack and collapsed outside the college at 29-10 Thomson Avenue. The officers, who were on routine patrol, saw the professor lying motionless on the sidewalk, without a pulse.
Sarro began performing chest compressions, while Caldarera retrieved a defibrillator. After two attempts, the pair revived him and then EMS transported him to Elmhurst Hospital in stable condition.
Brooks, who was in attendance at the precinct meeting, presented the officers with a plaque that he had specially made.
“How can you thank someone for saving your life,” Brooks said.
“A doctor told me afterwards that less than two percent of people who collapse on the street actually survive without brain damage,” Brooks said. “I didn’t dodge a bullet, I dodged a bomb and it is all thanks to these guys.”
Brooks’ wife, Susan Gardner, was also in attendance to thank the officers.
“I can’t tell you how wonderful these officers were to me at a time when I was truly hysterical,” she said.
Gardner wanted to get the officers a gift, she said, until she was told it was against policy.
“But I realized there is no gift I could give them as great as the one that they gave me,” she said. “They have given me a chance to grow old with my husband. So, I thank them forever.”
The day of Brooks’ heart attack was the day he was retiring, according to Gardner.
Brooks spent 10 days at Elmhurst Hospital, before being transferred to NYU Hospital to undergo a triple bypass.
Now the doctors say Brooks, who is a lifelong handball player, will be playing again this summer, Gardner said.
Despite the decrease in crime, there was a murder reported on Vernon Blvd and 50th Street last month, the first murder reported this year. A man was struck and died when his head hit the ground.
The police arrested Kaheem Addison who now faces manslaughter charges.
“The [murder] investigation was spectacular and I couldn’t be happier with the detective squad,” he said. “I am very proud of them and the work they did in solving this homicide very quickly.”
For crime statistics, click here
March 2, By Christian Murray
Kids from the Bronx, gay activists and even a horse, all turned out in the snow for The St Pat’s for All Parade in Sunnyside/Woodside on Sunday.
The parade, yet again, took on a very political flavor this year—with Mayor Bill de Blasio and several city council members all noting that they would boycott the St. Patrick’s Day parade on Fifth Avenue again this year unless it is more inclusive of gay groups.
There were more snowflakes than shamrocks this year and attendance was down from previous years. Nevertheless the message about equality and human rights came through loud and clear.
“This is what pride is all about,” de Blasio told the crowd at the beginning event. “Pride in the city, pride in everyone’s heritage and pride in being whatever you want to be.”
De Blasio said this parade “celebrates Irish heritage no matter who you are,” while the Fifth Avenue parade is not open to all. While one LGBT group, Out@NBCUniversal, has been approved to march in the Fifth Avenue parade, de Blasio said that it was not enough. He said he is hopeful that more gay groups will be included by the time the March 17 takes place.
Several other politicians echoed the mayor’s sentiments.
“We will continue to stand up and make sure that the bigger parade on Fifth Avenue is more inclusive,” said Melissa Mark-Viverito, the council speaker, who also said that she and the city council would not attend unless all groups could attend.
However, the parade did include members of the horse-drawn carriage industry who were there to protest de Blasio’s plan to put them out of business–based on animal rights. Signs were placed in store windows along Skillman Avenue in support of the industry—which has a deep link to the Irish community.
De Blasio, at the end of the event, acknowledged that the contentious horse-drawn carriage bill would be subject to a vigorous debate.
There were also some attendees who expressed displeasure about the Mayor’s proposal to build on Sunnyside Yards.
The mayor acknowledged he had heard attendees voice their concern about the Yards along the parade route, reported Capitol New York.
However, it “opens an opportunity for a huge amount of affordable housing so people can continue to live in Queens, many of whom are being forced out right now by rising prices,” de Blasio told Capitol New York.
Among this year’s participants were the Niall O’Leary School of Irish Dancers, who performed classic Irish jigs.
The pipe bands and traditional Irish musicians added to the Irish authenticity of the event; so, too, did an Irish language school and all the Irish flags. Even the local Sunnyside dog group, SUDSMUTS, marched, with their dogs dressed in an assortment of green regalia.
At the same time, there were also several children’s groups marching under a multitude of banners, such as the Shannon Gaels and the Marching Cobras.
A plethora of gay groups were also out in force. Among them were the Lesbian and Gay Democrats of Queens and the Queens Lesbian & Gay Pride Committee.
By George Burles
Feb. 28, By Christian Murray
The St Pat’s for All Parade takes place on Skillman Avenue tomorrow and upon its conclusion many marchers and spectators are likely to head over to Queens Blvd. to participate in the third annual Sunnyside Irish Music Festival.
The festival, which officially starts at 3:00pm, is likely to draw hundreds of party goers to 11 neighborhood bar/restaurants, all located on or near Queens Blvd between 40th and 48th Streets.
In a coordinated effort, each venue will have live Irish music.
Fiddlers, accordion players, pipers, Irish dancers and guitarists will be performing throughout the neighborhood. Some pubs will have four-piece bands and others will have solo acts.
Each bar will have drink specials. Some bars will also offer authentic Irish food.
For a full list of bars/venues see below:
Feb. 27, By Christian Murray
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz has been a strong advocate for decking over the Sunnyside Yard for months—despite the cool reception it has received from western Queens leaders.
Katz began advocating for developing the yards in September, when she announced that they have the “potential for extraordinary development.”
Katz plays an important role in what ultimately happens to the Yards since the area would need to be rezoned before construction could begin. The community board and the borough president would get to weigh in on a rezoning—before it is shuffled along to the City Planning Commission for review and then the city council.
At the council level, Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer would have the ultimate say.
In September, Katz released a 138-page strategic policy statement where she said that the “partial or complete decking of the Sunnyside Rail Yards has the potential for extraordinary development.” She added that it is the largest parcel of ‘vacant’ land remaining in the city.
At the October community board meeting, Queens residents became more aware of Katz’ position when former CB2 chairman Joe Conley said that he had been in discussions with her about building over the Yards. He then called on the board to write a letter to Katz calling for a feasibility study.
While many members of the board were caught off guard by Conley’s request, they were eventually swayed by him and voted in favor of sending Katz the letter.
Conley was then subject to heavy criticism for requesting the letter.
These letters are often used by public officials and city planners to move ahead with studies—allowing them to claim they have the community’s support. For example, Conley’s letter last year calling for affordable housing in Queens Plaza was cited as a reason why city planners are studying the area for a potential up zoning.
Katz is well versed in city real estate matters. She had worked at the law firm Greenberg Traurig from 2009-2012, where she was a land use adviser for real estate companies. She took that position after being a city council member from 2002-2009, where she chaired the land use committee.
On Feb. 10, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in his State of the City address that he wanted to build 11,250 units above Sunnyside Yards, which received a frosty reception from western Queens leaders.
Katz, meanwhile, was publicly advocating for it. At the Queens Chamber of Commerce annual breakfast meeting Feb. 17, she said:
“We need to figure out how to utilize the property in a good way and I think housing is a great way,” reported the Queens Chronicle that covered the event. “Figuring out how to pay for it is the follow-up. … But it needs to be done carefully and it needs to be done in tandem with the community.”
De Blasio then announced last week that the city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC) sought a consulting firm to undertake a one-year study to determine whether building over the Yards is feasible. The administration is seeking requests for proposal from firms that would essentially provide recommendations.
“This is the first step in understanding whether development of the Sunnyside Yards is possible, and what it can contribute to the city and surrounding communities,” de Blasio said in a statement.
Katz’ spokeswoman, in an e-mail Tuesday wrote: “This feasibility study is a step in the right direction, and Borough President Katz looks forward to engaging community input.”
The e-mail also said: “Borough President Katz recognizes that potential development above the Sunnyside Rail Yards is attractive given the current growth and development throughout Long Island City and western Queens.”
However, western Queens leaders have been alarmed by the plan.
Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan was quick to announce that she had ‘grave concerns ’ about the plans. State Sen. Mike Gianaris was essentially against it—by saying only if it had community support, while Van Bramer continued to argue that the infrastructure would not be able to cope with it.
Nolan also said in a statement that such development would have “the potential to tremendously damage the middle class quality of life of our western Queens communities.”
Nolan then announced that she had hired local attorney Ira Greenberg on a part time basis to monitor de Blasio’s plan and to work with agencies, residents and other parties to make sure the community’s voice is heard.
State Sen. Mike Gianaris sent out a mailing to his constituents recently, which said that the building of new housing units should be secondary to meeting the community’s existing infrastructure needs.
Van Bramer, who has told the mayor that he supports the concept of affordable housing, has expressed doubts as to whether it should be in western Queens. He has consistently been saying that area is already in need of schools and parks—and continues to discuss the poor performing No. 7 train.
He said the Queensboro Plaza/Court Square area is likely to be rezoned that will bring affordable housing as well an influx of people.
“We have are a lot of challenges that we face today,” Van Bramer said at a recent civic association meeting, “let alone with a 100,000 more people.”
Feb. 27, By Michael Florio
Skillman Ave. will never be confused with Bourbon St. but this Saturday it will be alive with the sights, sounds and tastes of the Big Easy.
Nine Skillman Avenue establishments have organized the third annual Mardi Gras Bar & Restaurant Hop, which starts at 3:00 pm and goes late into the evening.
The event comes well after the official Feb. 17 Mardi Gras date. However, the bars will be sticking to the New Orleans traditions of beads, jazz and Cajun food.
Party goers are being asked to register at the Copper Kettle, located on the corner of Skillman Ave. and 51nd St., between 3:00 and 6pm. By registering, attendees will be able to get half-price beer specials. The cost to register is $5, which will go to the local food pantries.
Feb. 26, By Michael Florio
Two thousand participants—and countless spectators—are not enough to sway the MTA to keep the No. 7 train running this Sunday for the ‘St Pats for All’ parade.
The MTA is doing track work this weekend and the No. 7 train will not be operating between Times Square-42nd Street and 74th Street, from 12:30 AM Saturday through 4:30 AM Mon.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and parade organizers have been calling on the MTA to postpone the work and to keep to its regular weekend schedule.
The MTA, however, claims that the parade doesn’t draw enough riders for it to postpone its track work.
“We looked at ridership during the parade from the past few years and it does not draw enough to warrant postponing the work,” Kevin Ortiz, an MTA spokesman, said.
Brendan Fay and Kathleen Walsh D’Arcy, co-chairs of the parade, were very disappointed with the MTA’s decision since many participants rely on the 7-train to get to the event.
“There are groups from all over the city now trying to figure out how to get to the parade,” Fay said. “People are very frustrated.”
The pair was hoping the MTA would reschedule service as it had done so for the Lunar New Year parade in Flushing.
Walsh D’Arcy said that it might reduce the number of attendees. Nevertheless, “I think most people will find other ways to the parade,” she said. “But it will be an inconvenience and costly.”
Van Bramer was clearly upset with the MTA.
“I’ve asked the MTA to suspend their work this weekend and allow the thousands who want to participate in this very important event to do so,” Van Bramer told NY1 Wednesday. “And they’ve said ‘No.’”
“They [the MTA] have made exceptions for other parades and culture events–it makes no sense. The MTA consistently fails the people of Western Queens.”
However, Ortiz said the Lunar parade generates ridership that the St. Pat’s for All parade simply cannot match.
“The Lunar parade brings ridership in the thousands and this parade is a couple of hundred,” he said.
Ortiz said parade goers can use alternative routes such as the Q32 and Q60 bus to the start of the parade. They can also take the R-train to 46th Street and jump on the Q104 bus.
Fay said that several participants have told him they plan on taking the LIRR to 61st Street, while others will take shuttle buses.
Walsh D’Arcy said she thinks many people will now drive, taking up a lot of neighborhood parking spaces.
Parade Date: Sunday, March 1
Time: Speeches at 1pm; parade starts at 2pm
Starts: Corner of 43rd Street/Skillman Avenue
Feb. 26, By Christian Murray
Maggie Mae’s, the well known bar located at 41-15 Queens Blvd, reopens at 5:00 pm today after being closed for renovations for nearly a month.
The bar closed for construction on Feb. 1, and its owners have rebuilt much of the interior with 1800s reclaimed wood.
New floors have been put down. A new bar has been built, alongside new timber seats and tables.
“I just came in as an owner /partner last month and felt it was time for a revamp and I like the rustic look,” said James Moore, the former manager at Maggie Mae’s who now co-owns it with Sean Sorohan. “The neighborhood is also changing–there are a lot of new people coming to the area.”
The renovation is still not 100 percent complete but Moore said he is ready to reopen.
Feb. 25, By Christian Murray
Community Board 2 is in the midst of overhauling its website, as it aims provide residents with greater access to public documents.
The updated website will be much more comprehensive and is expected to be ready by spring. The public will have access to documents that deal with land use matters among others.
Pat O’Brien, the newly elected Community Board chair, said that he intends to upload as many documents as possible so the public is better informed.
“Any document that is public, we aim to put it out there,” O’Brien said. “I want people to know the facts so we can have a more informed discussion.”
He said that he plans to upload older documents in order to build archives. However, he said that will take time and resources are limited.
The board plans to create a Facebook page later this year that will be used to inform people of public meetings and events.
O’Brien said that his first priority, however, is getting the site ready.
Feb. 24, By Michael Florio
The 108 Precinct was introduced to Twitter late last year– and today it was the tool that was used to unite a lost dog with its owner.
This morning officers found a dog–named Snowy– near Queens Boulevard and 46th Street and used twitter to track down the owner.
“#lostdog found around QB & 46thst this morning around 7 am help us find the owner,” the tweet said, along with the photo of the dog.
Five hours later the 108 Precinct took to Twitter and noted that it had reunited Snowy with its owner thanks to its Twitter followers.
— NYPD 108th Precinct (@NYPD108Pct) February 24, 2015
— NYPD 108th Precinct (@NYPD108Pct) February 24, 2015
43rd Street and Queens Boulevard. Former Dime Bank.
43rd and Queens Blvd (former Dime Bank)
Sunnyside Shines cleaned his tag and then shortly after it reappeared (42nd Queens Blvd).
42nd Street (near Queens Blvd).
43rd Street and 43rd Avenue. .
44th Street (by Queens Blvd).
43rd (near Skillman Ave.).
43rd Avenue (between 42nd and 43rd Street)