Dec. 21, Staff Report
Faith-based organizations will out coming tomorrow (Monday) to pay tribute to the officers tragically murdered in Brooklyn Saturday.
A candlelight vigil will be held at Police Precinct 108 at 6:30 pm for the community to pay its respects to the fallen NYPD Offices Wenjian Lui and Rafael Ramos.
Dec. 19, By Michael Florio
The new elementary school on 42nd Street in Sunnyside has been renamed The Walter McCaffrey Campus.
McCaffrey, who was born and raised in Woodside, represented the 26th Council district—that Jimmy Van Bramer represents today–between 1985 and 2001.
McCaffrey died July 10, 2013, at the age of 64 as a result of ongoing health issues made worse by a car accident two months prior to his death.
This morning former Community Board 2 chair Joe Conley and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer went to PS 343 (45-46 42nd Street) to formally change the name of the new school and unveil a plaque in the late councilman’s honor.
“We have lost a champion and a good friend,” said Conley, shortly after McCaffrey’s death last year. “His wit, humor and intelligence were unmatched,” he said, adding that “he was still very involved in the community right up to the end.”
Meanwhile, Van Bramer referred to McCaffrey as a “political giant.”
Prior to being elected in 1985, McCaffrey served as chairman of Community Board 2.
In May, the corner of 61st and Woodside Avenue in Queens, New York, was renamed “Walter McCaffrey Place” in his honor.
Dec. 18, By Christian Murray
A 59-year Manhattan man pleaded guilty today in connection with two home invasions—including one that involved a 97-year-old Sunnyside woman.
Salvador Morales, from 158th Street, would follow older women home, gain access to their apartment and then rob them.
“One’s home is their castle and should be a place of refuge and safety, not a crime scene,” said Queens District Attorney Richard A Brown. “In robbing his victims inside their homes, the defendant stole more than just money and personal property, he stole his victims’ security.”
Morales will be sentenced to 11-years prison, Brown said.
The 97-year old Sunnyside woman was targeted by Morales on April 19, 2014, when he followed her into her apartment building.
Morales, who was wearing a surgical mask, rode up the elevator with the woman and then a short time later knocked on her door claiming he had been sent by the landlord to check for leaks.
Morales then ran the water in her kitchen.
He then asked the victim for change for $100 and the 97-year-old produced an envelope containing cash.
Morales then splashed water on the woman’s hands and convinced her to remove her rings in order not to damage them.
He then fled the apartment with the woman’s rings and the envelope containing more than $700 in cash.
In Flushing, Morales followed two senior citizens home after they left a nearby bank on April 5. As the two women were entering their apartment, he pushed both of them to the floor. He then fled with one woman’s pocketbook contained more than $1000.
The other woman sustained a fractured leg as a result of the push and was taken to hospital.
Dec. 17, By Christian Murray
Get ready for the latest round of No. 7 train weekend service cuts.
The MTA released its schedule for the first five months of 2015 and the No. 7 train will be out of service between Times Square and Queensboro Plaza for nine weekends. Five of those weekend will see cuts between Queensboro Plaza and 74th Street.
In addition, there will be weekend service cuts between Willets Point and Flushing-Main Street on three other weekends.
The first weekend of the Times Square/Queensboro Plaza cuts is scheduled to take place January 17-19, which will be the first of four weekends in a row that it will be down.
The MTA says that the cuts are in order for it to install a new Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC) signal system; replace elevated tracks; and for the reconstruction and fortification of the Steinway Tubes (which connects Queens to Manhattan).
The MTA, which is a state-run agency, claims that majority of this work has been scheduled over weekends when ridership is lower than normal.
Van Bramer said that it was unacceptable that the MTA would close service for several weekends in a row in January and February—during the coldest month of the year.
He said that residents might be a little more forgiving about the closures if they had seen improved service as promised. However, “the truth is that over the past few months No. 7 train regular service has been poor and there have been lots of delays.”
He said that on December 11 the delays were so bad that the overcrowded subway platforms put commuters at risk.
Dec. 16, By Christian Murray
The Sunnyside Greenmarket, which had been operating from May through December, has been approved to open all year round.
The coordinator of the program received word about 10 days ago–after putting in a request earlier this year to open every Saturday for the entire year.
Greenmarket representatives started a petition drive in August calling for a year-round market. More than 1,000 residents signed it. The community board then sent a letter of support.
The market operates every Saturday from 8 am through 3pm and is located on Skillman Avenue between 42nd and 43rd Streets.
“I think the neighborhood is ready for it,” said Jessenia Cagle, the coordinator of the market, in September. “There are a lot of people in the area who like fresh, local food—and they don’t want to have to go too far to get it especially in winter.”
The market, which opened in June 2007, has proved to be a success. Presently there are 16 farmers/vendors out each weekend selling vegetables, meat, fish and bread.
Most of the vendors will continue to operate during the ice-cold winter months—with only the wine and fish vendors unlikely to participate.
The move to open a year-round is not unprecedented in Queens. Cagle said the market in Jackson Heights, which was once seasonal, now operates all year round.
Dec. 15, By Christian Murray
The owner of Sunnyside Center Cinemas has rejected the six-month lease extension that he was offered by the building owner last week —saying the extension is just too short.
Rudy Prashad, the owner of the Center Cinemas, said it was not worth hiring new staff or unpacking his equipment for six extra months. His last day remains January 4.
“My bags are packed and are pretty much sitting at the front door,” he said.
Prashad said that he mulled over the offer over the weekend but decided it didn’t make sense. “I’ve been making preparations, dealing with staff and it just doesn’t work for me to go back for that short of time.”
Prashad said that he had been trying to reach the owner for the past year to work out where he stood with his lease. He said that if he had been offered the extension three months ago then it would have worked out.
However, at this point, he would be only be willing to stay if he was offered at least 12 months.
Prashad said that movie theaters like his tend to make their money in summer and scrape by in winter. A six month lease would end just before the summer peak seasib kicks in.
Several residents are hoping that the property owner John Ciafone will offer Prashad a longer lease.
Many want to know if Ciafone is able to build the apartments above the theater without completely demolishing it.
A rally is scheduled to take place between 12:30 and 1:30 pm in front of the theater this Sunday and is being organized by local residents Ty Sullivan and Jon Storck.
“We hope it might help open up a discussion between the landlord and the theater owner,” Sullivan said, who believes the rally will be worthwhile.
Sullivan said the loss of the theater would hurt low-income families the most– since many would be unable to afford going to the big multiplex cinemas in Astoria or elsewhere.
The rally, Sullivan said, also aims to show that Sunnyside is a community and that people care.
“This is a neighborhood that is made up of independently-owned and family-owned businesses,” he said. “It’s family-friendly and affordable and we don’t want to lose that. We want to tell buildings owners that is who we are and that’s how we would like to remain.”
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said he supports those involved in the rally—such as Sullivan and Storck.
“I want them to know I am behind them and I will be amplifying their voices as their council member,” he said
Van Bramer encourages John Ciafone to come back to the negotiating table to see what can be done.
“I will be reaching out to John Ciafone and his family again,” he said.
Dec. 14, By Michael Florio
Two Sunnyside comedians are turning the neighborhood into a go-to place for comedy.
Comedians Lindsay Goldwert and Colin Samuel, who have formed Sunnyside Comedy, have already produced two local shows and are about to put on their biggest event yet.
The two will be hosting “The X-mas Comedy Show” at Murphy’s, located at 48-20 Skillman Avenue, this Tuesday (Dec. 16) and are bringing nine comedians to the venue. Tickets will be $10 and will be sold at the door. The show starts at 8:30 pm.
“We have put a lot of work into the Christmas show and are excited about the comedians who we have performing,” Goldwert said. (see line up below)
The two teamed up and began hosting comedy shows together this fall, after meeting at an open mic night in Manhattan over the summer.
“We both live in Sunnyside and Colin told me he was trying to put together comedy shows in the neighborhood,” Goldwert said. “It is a lot of work for one person and when he asked me to join, I did.”
Samuel hosted one show over the summer prior to teaming up with Goldwert. However, their first show as a duo, took place in October at The Dog and Duck on Skillman Ave.
The two have hosted two shows since– another at The Dog and Duck and one at Marlene Tavern.
Goldwert said that each venue provides attendees with a different experience. The Dog and Duck is a more casual venue, where people can enjoy a drink and the show, while Marlene Tavern has the classic comedy club feel to it.
Goldwert has been doing standup for a year, while Samuel has been in the business for some time.
They decided to host shows in Sunnyside to help promote local businesses, while also fill a void in the community.
“We love living here and wanted to bring comedy to the community,” she said. “There is a growth of comedy in LIC and Astoria and we wanted to add to that by bringing comedy shows to Sunnyside.”
“We like the idea of bringing something new to the neighborhood,” she added.
The pair aims to promote local businesses by having them sponsor shows. Each show will feature giveaways, with prizes provided by local bars and businesses.
Goldwert said Sunnyside Comedy plans to host three shows a month, with each show being free unless otherwise noted. Two shows a month will be at The Dog and Duck with one at Marlene Tavern.
For more information on Sunnyside Comedy, go to Twitter at @ComedySunnyside or Facebook: https://facebook.com/puttinonthebliss
Photo source: ‘It’s in Queens’
The event was originally planned to take place at Marlene’s Tavern but has been changed to Murphy’s at 48-20 Skillman Avenue.
Dec. 11, By Christian Murray
A petition has formed and a rally is being planned as local residents try to save Sunnyside Center Cinemas from the wrecking ball.
An online petition started Wednesday that has already garnered more than 240 signatures. Meanwhile, Ty Sullivan and Jon Stork, two local activists, are already planning to hold a rally outside the theater that is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 21 (details to come).
The petition—called “Save the Sunnyside Theater”– is addressed to the property owner/developer John Ciafone. It reads, in part, “Save the movie theater from demolition and have a new lease extended.”
Meanwhile, Sullivan is reaching out to the media and various community groups as he plans the rally. He is designing posters, fliers and launching a social-media campaign to generate community interest.
This activism comes at a time when Ciafone has just offered the owner of the theater Rudy Prashad a six month extension to his lease. After the six months, he would operate on a month-to month basis.
Prashad, however, seeks a longer lease claiming that he has organized movers and contractors to remove all the seats from the theater as required. Furthermore he has already told his staff about the upcoming closure.
“I don’t want to be in the same position in six months time where I am now,” Prashad said. “Then I’m operating on a month-to-month basis when I can be kicked out any time.”
“I need a 5 year lease–although I would take something in between,” Prashad said. However, he has not dismissed Ciafone’s offer at this point.
Prashad said that he has been surprised by the community’s desire to keep the theater going. “It shows people have a passion for the community and that they are looking out for their children and their neighbor’s children.”
Ciafone said that he decided to offer Prashad an extension since he still has a lot of work to do before he can start construction. Asked if he could do better than offer Prashad a 6 month extension—he said “that’s the best I can do.”
Ciafone plans on building a 5-7 story building with about 60-70 apartments—with about 20 percent of those units being “affordable”. The building will also have ground floor retail and a community center on the second floor.
The building requires new foundations since it was not constructed with 5-7 stories in mind. Therefore, Ciafone said, the theater has to be demolished. Furthermore, there will be a need for underground parking.
“When I finished we could invite him [Prashad] back,” he said.
Ciafone was nonchalant about the “Save the theater” petition. “I could get a petition going with just as many signatures from people wanting affordable housing,” he said.
“The likely closure of the theater is a reflection of changing times,” said Community Board 2 Chair Pat O’Brien. “You want to see small businesses prevail and they are the backbone of the economy but if they don’t have lease then there is not much you can do.”
O’Brien said it is a shame what’s happening since the cinema is one of the last vestiges of old-fashion entertainment in the area. He said there used to be several theaters in the neighborhood at one time and also the Sunnyside Gardens Arena.