New school to go up in Woodside, to open in 2015

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27 Responses to New school to go up in Woodside, to open in 2015

  1. Bliss & Skillman

    2015? By then, it'll probably be opening at 120% over capacity too!

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  2. Pat

    Instead of building new schools why not just buy the Catholic school buildings that are closing and ready for school .. This would certainly keep the children in the same areas as they now are and avoid
    unnecessary travel for them.

    Shouldn't take too much to make these buildings ready.

    Just think of the tax dollars that could be saved ..

    Throwing another school into this area of 39th Av and 57 to 58th Sts
    just makes for more overcrowding .. Traffic dropping off and picking up kids now is horrible, just think how it will be if this new school is
    opened ..

    Doesn't anybody think the plan through .....

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  3. rue43

    Of course they're going to waste taxpayers money building new schools when perfectly good ones stand empty because there's more kickbacks and corruption to be had that way. Follow the money.

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  4. velociraptor

    Perhaps the city doesn't want to use the former Catholic schools because there might be some left-over Jesus teachings embedded in the walls and ceilings like asbestos waiting to poison all those budding young secular "progressivists".

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  5. John K. Wilson

    We have a dearth of park space (the kind with grass and trees) and parking in Sunnyside and Woodside.
    Why not build subterranean parking garages where the new schools are to be built---3, 4, or 5 levels down---and put green park space on top? A level or two could be sold in advance (as individual parking spaces), to help finance the construction; and the rest could be rented by the hour, day, week, or month---to provide ongoing cash flow. Then, rent, or buy, the much needed (and already built) school space from the several Catholic schools that have closed recently. School over-crowding would be relieved immediately---not at some point in the future. My fellow commenters, above, believe this is a good idea; and, I have suggested this in the past.
    I believe this would meet the most needs, make the most number of people happy, and cost the least. It would still provide temporary construction jobs, permanent garage and park maintenance jobs, AND, it would generate taxes for the city---taxes on parking, as well as payroll taxes.

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  6. James Prender

    People are actually very stupid. After 2005, and the first round of selling schools by the Catholic Church; policies changed, every school in contract between 2006 and onward was rented with a 30 year contract for quite a bit of cash. The Diocese still owns all property that the DOE rents, and smart, money minded real estate agents from the Diocese made iron clad contracts. In any event, the public schools score far less on all state tests. IT was PR BS from Bloomberg to keep himself in office. The Colleges had to come up with core standards because after a decade of low scoring and poor teaching, most public school students can't get into or maintain a 3.0 index.

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  7. RF

    Wait wait wait Velociraptor's old man grumbling actually gave me an idea. Why don't Pastor Storck and all the other "oppressed" churches getting kicked out of the schools rent space from St. Raphael's? This would generate money to help keep the school open and give the churches places to worship. It's a win win for everyone.

    Even the super-extremist NRO should be ok with this, or is he going to demand every female student wear a chastity belt?

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  8. farork

    the schools are crowded because they bus kids in..ps 150 is full of buses every morning bringing them in

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  9. velociraptor

    RF

    I doubt very much that the fees paid by the Grace Fellowship are much compared to the cost of running a Catholic school or of the city building new schools but it's still not a bad idea. It still doesn't address the larger issue that they're being driven off school property strictly out of ideological reasons.

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  10. Sean

    What are the addressees of the catholic schools that are closing? If James Prender is right though, it sounds like one reason the city isn't doing it is because of the structure of the real estate deals with the church.
    Underground parking garages and parks are a nice idea, but 120% of capacity for children is a problem that obviously has to be addressed. I think people are tying to do their best to help the neighborhood. We'll see if the new school allows a lot of bussing and in fact does not solve the overcrowding problem. I've read a few comment strings on this incredibly useful blog. They always take a very cynical, angry tone. That's too bad. I hope the pessimists don't stop the good work the owner of this blog does.

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  11. sunnysider

    What happened to the school on 43st betwwen queens blvd and one block south where sunnyside jewish center used to be... how are those plans comming along..

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  12. Funbers

    Upon first read the 120% over capacity number seemed really high to me. I just saw a NY1 report in which Jimmy Van Bramer claimed P.S. 11 was 17% percent over capacity. Huh? So what is the real number?

    Back on December 29, 2011 Sunnyside Post quoted Van Bramer as saying, “PS 11 is about 120% over capacity.” (http://sunnysidepost.com/2011/12/29/plans-in-the-works-to-combat-sunnysidewoodside-school-overcrowding/)

    Found an article in the Queens Gazette back on December 21, 2011 that quotes Van Bramer saying “P.S. 11 is at 120 percent capacity, way over where they need to be. We need an answer for P.S. 11.” (http://www.qgazette.com/news/2011-12-21/Front_Page/Elected_Officials_Seek_Construction_Funding_For_PS.html)

    The terms "capacity" and "over capacity" are easy to gloss over, but there's a huge difference. Not sure if this speaks more to numerical illiteracy or the stat polishing of politics. Either way, it bothers this concerned Woodsider.

    For example, if you have a 50 student population to start with:
    20% over capacity = 50*1.20 = 60 students
    120% over capacity = 50*2.20 = 110 students
    120% capacity = 50*1.20 = 60 students

    Basically, 120% capacity and 120% OVER capacity are completely different. Completely.

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  13. sean hughes

    they have to build new schools since they are closing all the catholic schools

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  14. Sunnyside UP!!

    Looooooove Wilson's idea!!!!!!

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  15. ted

    Uh, I presume the Catholic Church OWNS the property that the schools that have been closed is on - how much money would they want from the city to sell the buildings and/or the land?

    The Church might figure it can get more money by selling off the land to developers. People cannot assume that they are going to put the good of the community over their own financial best interest.

    Are there laws that demand public schools OWN the building/land a public school is on? I mean, is it practical for public schools to LEASE land insofar as, what happens when the lease runs out?

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  16. Eduardo

    PS 11--along with most other schools in the area--are at about 120 % capacity... meaning that it is completely filled, plus 20 % too many students.

    I'd bet everything that JVB was misquoted by this site--I seriously doubt he's fudging numbers here.

    20 % over capacity already far too overcrowded--there's no need to overstate the demand here.

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  17. Sunnyside Post

    Eduardo, Funders,
    The school is at about 120% capacity. The story has been corrected. Thanks.

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  18. Anonymous

    For the life of me, I can't figure out where this school is going to be. And damn it, I hope I can move out of here by then, since I live on 57th Street, between 39th and Woodside Aves. One side of 39th is the LIRR. The other side has a small warehouse type business. But, I can't see a school going in there. And, gee, thanks. The Catholic school on the OTHER end of my block is already a pain in the ass with all the double parking and driveway blocking from parents who don't care that people LIVE on this block.

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  19. JustPaula

    What about overcrowding on MY BLOCK? I live on 57th Street between 39th and Woodside Aves. I already have to deal with all of the parents from St. Sebastian School who double park and block my driveway when they pick up their kids. Are you telling me that now I get to another, bigger school at the other end of my block??? And, geez...there isn't even enough room for a school there? There is a smallish warehouse type business, backed up to homes on one side of the street and the other side is the LIRR tracks. Are you sure of the location????

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  20. JustPaula

    Scratch that last question by me. You have the location right, alright. I just remembered that while heading out just before 10:00am on Friday morning, I saw a bunch of people in business suits on the corner, with a camera set up. Now I know why.

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  21. RF

    @ Velociraptor

    If we could parlay for a second, I doubt you and I will ever agree on the Grace Fellowship in public school. That's fair and it happens. A lot of us have gone back and forth on this.

    I have no idea how large the margins are for what needs to keep St Raphael open, all I'm saying is it couldn't hurt, I actually think a sustained source of income might be a big help. Along with Grace, maybe there are some others affected by the ruling who could come. Though I do wonder if the Catholic Diocese would be ok with another sect of Christians using the school? Still could be worth a try.

    St. Raphael has been around a long time and they've done a lot of good, I believe NOBODY wants to see an institution like that go. If it gives Grace an area outside of public school to worship, again, it's a win win.

    Can anyone out there with contacts drop a line and ask, either the Diocese or Pastor Storck? Mr. Nolan? Sunnyside Post? Mr. Novak? Can't hurt to ask right?

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  22. RF

    edit: what is needed to keep St. Raphael open.

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  23. IrishSunnysider

    RF this sounds ok but I don't see it happening.

    First of all, Velociraptor is right that it's probably not enough money. Also, I just don't see the Catholic Church allowing other sects in there to worship. You also don't know if Pastor Storck would even want to worship there, many Protestants/Evangelicals have "misgivings" let's say about the Catholic Church. Just stating fact here.

    If I could become workable though I'm all for it.

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  24. Raquel

    St. Raphael already rents the annex to PS 199 - they will probably rent more space to the public schools. Sad about St. Raphael closing right after St. Teresa's closing. Nolan et al. will not do anything about it either.

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  25. Raquel

    As far as Pastor Storck goes, the location of P.S. 150 may have been better than the area where St. Raphael is. St. Raphael is more or less in the middle of nowhere.

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  26. Rocky Balboa II

    When I was in school the classes were already "overcrowded". However, the kids went home and did homework and the parents helped them. I think that what is happening is that the system has been dumbed down and too many parents use the schools as "baby sitters". I know too many parents who don't have a clue about what their kids are doing in school. And too many kids are on their dumb boxes at night.

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  27. Pat

    Right on Rocky ............................

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No. 7 train service resumes– after commuters faced morning delays

7subway1

Riders on the No. 7 train faced rush-hour delays this morning that lasted about 90 minutes–following FDNY activity at the 5th Avenue station.

The MTA stopped train service between Times Square and Hunters Point Avenue (in both directions), and riders were advised to take the N,R, Q, F and E lines.

Many No. 7 trains were just sitting in stations as commuters tried to squeeze into trains. The MTA also told many commuters to take the bus.

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Sunnyside Shines reviews 2014, looks ahead at annual meeting

taste of sunnyside

March 4, By Christian Murray

Sunnyside Shines held its annual meeting Monday and focused heavily on its beautification projects as well as it events.

The BID provided an overview of its 2014 achievements—spotlighting the opening of the plazas at 46th and 40th Streets; its tree planting and tree-guards program ; the Taste of Sunnyside; Sunnyside Restaurant Week; as well the effectiveness of its sanitation and graffiti-cleanup programs.

The meeting did not cover items such as the Sunnyside Yards proposal or real estate development.

Rachel Thieme, the executive director of the BID, put together a PowerPoint presentation and went through each item in front of about 60 attendees.

Bliss PlazaThieme said that the plazas have proven to be a big success–often bustling with people eating lunch or hanging out with friends.

“We felt that those areas [by the station] were being underutilized,” Thieme said. She said they needed to look more welcoming—and the addition of tables, chairs and planters have made a significant improvement.

Thieme said that plenty of people walk through the upgraded plazas each day. Citing MTA statistics, she said that the 46th Street turnstiles were swiped 4.64 million times in 2013–while the 40th Street turnstiles were swiped 3.39 million times.

Thieme said that the BID started a five-year plan last year to make certain that every block within the district has trees and tree guards.

“Some blocks have lots of trees… with plenty of greenery, while others have just one or none,” she said.

In 2014, the BID installed 27 new tree guards. This spring, the BID will be adding 27 new trees and tree guards, care of funding it received through Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.

After the Katz expenditure, the BID will have 153 trees and 54 tree guards.

Thieme said that the BID cleaned 156 instances of graffiti from storefronts and gates in 2014. She urged landlords and business owners to reach out to her office and let her know what needed to be cleaned.

The BID reported that it collected more than 2,000 bags of trash each month and that it would soon be getting more trash cans.

Thieme said that about 600 people attended the Taste of Sunnyside last May, with more than 30 restaurants participating. She said that holding it under the 7 train proved a success, since it was such a visible location.

The event will be held under the 7 train again this year—with the date planned for May 19.

tree guard

tree guard

The BID also organized Sunnyside Restaurant Week in October, where 33 restaurants offered specials for a week; summer strolls—providing a jazz concert as well as arts & crafts; and contests such as the Sunnyside Holiday Window Contest, for the store most decked out for the season.

These events will all continue this year.

The BID held its annual election on Monday and the same board members and chairman John Vogt were reelected. The board, however, was expanded from 17 to 19 members—with the addition of Francine Israel (property owner) and Giuseppe Falco (a commercial tenant).

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Sunnyside Shines district

Sunnyside Shines district

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Frozen yogurt store ‘4 Squared Flavors’ reopens after being closed for winter

4squared

March 3, By Christian Murray

The frozen yogurt store 4 Squared Flavors reopened March 1st after being closed for winter.

Khalil Nayl, the co-owner of the 45-12 Greenpoint Avenue store, said its business as usual after being closed since November 1st.

Nayl said that the landlord was very supportive of the store during the winter months, providing a discounted rent.

4 Squared Flavors, which officially opened in March 2014, continues to offer 16 flavors, including: Irish mint, mango tango sorbet, red velvet cake, pistachio, very strawberry, cookies ‘n cream, New York cheesecake, and blueberry.

The store’s walls remain the same–painted pink and green.

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Crime rate tumbles year-to-date
Brooks, Calderoa and

Prof. Bruce Brooks, Corey Sarro, William Caldarera

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

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Snow, costumes and politics all on display at St. Pat’s for All Parade

Parade21

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.

Participants

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.
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By George Burles
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Irish Music Festival takes place tomorrow–following parade

NEW Poster - Irish Music Festival 2015_JPEG

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:

Postcard_Back - Irish Music Festival 2015 JPEG

 

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Borough President Katz a big supporter of building over the Yards, despite western Queens leaders’ trepidation

SunnysideYardsmap

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.

Borough President Melinda Katz

Borough President Melinda Katz

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.

CatherineNolan-250x250Assemblywoman 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.”

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Mardi Gras bar crawl planned for Skillman Avenue Saturday
Costumes from 2014 event

Costumes from 2014 event

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.

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SkillmanMardiGras1

 

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No. 7 train is down for St. Pats for All parade

St.-Pats-for-All-475x356

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.”

7subway1The 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.

Details

Parade Date: Sunday, March 1

Time: Speeches at 1pm; parade starts at 2pm

Starts: Corner of 43rd Street/Skillman Avenue

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Borough President Katz a big supporter of building over the Yards, despite western Queens leaders’ trepidation
SunnysideYardsmap 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.
Borough President Melinda Katz

Borough President Melinda Katz

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. CatherineNolan-250x250Assemblywoman 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.”
Mardi Gras bar crawl planned for Skillman Avenue Saturday
Costumes from 2014 event

Costumes from 2014 event

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. . SkillmanMardiGras1  
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Sunnyside graffiti vandal blankets neighborhood with tag
43rd Avenue, 43rd Street

43rd Avenue, 43rd Street

Feb. 23, By Christian Murray A graffiti vandal has been targeting the walls of Sunnyside spraying his tag SBR all over stores on 42nd Street, 43rd Street and 44th Street. The police are following up on it; Sunnyside Shines has been struggling to clean it; and Jimmy Van Bramer’s office has been brought into the loop. The likely perpetrator of these tags goes under fictitious Facebook handle Esayebeare Bereal, where he showcases some of his work. Despite his false name, he has many friends who follow his posts. The owner of an establishment on 43rd Street described the graffiti as "childish and ridiculous." “I don’t know what people get out of it? Some sort of high,” he said, without giving his name out of concern that his store might get tagged next. “I don’t know whether writing an article about him will encourage him, stop him or even help lead to his arrest,” the owner said. Esayebeare Bereal engaged in a Facebook chat with the Sunnyside Post last week (see full transcript below), where he admitted to doing it and said he does it to be famous. He said that he was raised in Sunnyside and admitted to tagging under the name SBR, which is not affiliated with a street gang or group. He was not prepared to be interviewed over the phone out of fear that he would get "locked up." He targets 42nd and 43rd Street, he said, since he knows people who live there. However, in the messages, he said that he is thinking about easing up on 43rd Street. "I'm done with 43rd street to many yuppies complaining about sunnyside. But they wasn"t here when it was a bad neighorhood." However, his work has annoyed many, including Sunnyside Shines. “It is frustrating that one individual is so intent on destroying small business property in our neighborhood,” said Rachel Thieme, the director of Sunnyside Shines. “We’re very much aware of the graffiti situation in Sunnyside right now, and are coordinating closely with Council Member Van Bramer’s office and the 108th Precinct, as well as our graffiti removal vendor to ensure graffiti is removed as soon as possible.” The freezing weather, however, has slowed down efforts to clean up the graffiti, Thieme said. Nevertheless, when Sunnyside Shines was able to clean off the graffiti outside Café Bene (42nd and Queens Blvd) recently, Esayebeare Bereal struck back again days later. Esayebeare Bereal argues that he is capable of doing quality artwork but is fearful of getting caught by the police and said that paint is expensive. Most don’t appreciate his graffiti in any form-- viewing it as nothing more than vandalism. .

Transcript of Facebook chat by sunnysidepost

. graffiti6

43rd Street and Queens Boulevard. Former Dime Bank

. graffi3

43rd and Queens Blvd (former Dime Bank)

graffiti4

Sunnyside Shines cleaned his tag and then shortly after it reappeared (42nd Queens Blvd)

IMG_0094 . graffi5

42nd Street (near Queens Blvd)

. graffi1

43rd Street and 43rd Avenue

.
Barnett Ave., 43rd Street

Barnett Ave., 43rd Street

. 44th Street

44th Street (by Queens Blvd)

Possible tagg

Possible tag

. 43rd and 43rd

43rd (near Skillman Ave.)

. EuropeanEatMeat

43rd Avenue (between 42nd and 43rd Street)

1234aaa

Facebook Page

  .
NYP: DeBlasio plows ahead with Sunnyside Yards plan
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Maggie Mae’s is undergoing a big makeover
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James Moore and Sean xx

James Moore and Sean Sorohan

. Maggie Mae's inside
Aluminaire House is wanted: Mayor of Palm Springs plans to bring it there
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