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  1. Moneyside

    I expect to see the most vocal person on this forum in attendance.

    Ruben, take all that negative energy you direct toward this site & channel it in a more positive direction by attending the meeting.

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  2. I'm all out of bubble gum.

    Dairz nuttin rong wit piblik edukayshun. Dey tawt me real good.

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  3. TheRealRealRuben

    I don't think my idea of locking Squirts the Change bum in a cage with a sign that says "Do not feed the animal" will pass. It's too risque .

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  4. Anonymous

    Virginia Joe is paying a visit, let's ask him where his family lives and how there schools compare to ours

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  5. TheRealRealRubin

    Come to think of it, when are they going to let me out of my cage?
    Hate.

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  6. Theman

    How about cleaning up the homeless mans junk under the 40 street stop! It's getting out of hand

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  7. JuliaJ.

    Cathy Nolan is a tool of the teachers' union. She could not care less about education in NYC and neither could Virginia Joe Crowley. People should attend to boo them. I will bet Joe's kids go to great schools in the town in VIRGINIA where they live (and so does he for that matater).

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  8. I'm all out of bubble gum.

    @JuliaJ

    The main purpose of the public school system is to churn out the next generation of democrat voters. So in that sense, the politicians do care about it.

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  9. sm

    You cannot send your child to a public school south of the Blvd., i.e. District 24, and expect a good education. It is unfortunate, but if being honest, is true.

    But, with a child's education, there is (for some) an economic choice. You know that the schools are bad, so that means you will have to enroll in private ones in the city or move (some families hop over to the North side of the Blvd. simply because the district is better, not perfect, but better).

    It is math - where and how can you maximize what you have $$ in the best interest of your child's education? Public schools in District 24 should be considered the last resort - not the first.

    Sunnyside, especially south of the Blvd. is cheap re: cost of living (compared to Wechester where property taxes alone in the great public school districts can run anywhere from 10K-20K a year). What you save on housing (700K home and an additional 20K a year in property taxes in Westchester), put towards private education in the city.

    Or move to the North side of the Blvd. (District 30).

    You should not expect any legislator to act in your child's best interest insofar as establishing schools that rival those in the city. They will act for the "greater good" on numerous (sometime competing fronts) as constrained by the resources to do so. With tax revenue decreasing and other fiscal concerns at play, a person ought to truly consider where they live and the educational opportunities that district has for school-aged children.

    I love Sunnyside, but . . . as far as education goes in District 24, its lacking. And I don't expect any governmental agency to "fix it" anytime soon. . .

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  10. Rick Duro

    The question is "why are the schools 'failing'"? I teach in a tough city just north of NYC, where I grew up. This school system was EXCELLENT when I was there (thru 1987), but has now fallen on hard times. Based on my 11 years in education, both in Middle School and now HS, here is why schools 'fail'. My colleagues in NYC schools mention to me that they have it even worse than I do. Here is the TRUE story behind the #'s that the Emperor Bloomberg Administration likes to put out there. Again, if it is this bad outside NYC, it's definitely worse IN NYC:

    -My AVERAGE student was absent 33 times last year. Good luck getting a student to pass a NYS mandated exam, like the Regents, when they are out over 1/6 of the time. That is a TREMENDOUS amount of work to miss.
    The teacher is to blame? Somehow, I still get 60% of my students to pass the exam. Had the rest even showed up more often, they'd @ least have a chance. Attendance cannot be used as an excuse for a child's failure on these new state evaluations. That is absolutely absurd. Who is to blame? Parents/guardians/children.

    -The Avg student does about 33% of the HW and does not study for exams. They routinely stay up until midnight (plus)....first period begins @ 745am. I am an excellent motivator of students, making class very interesting and fun. My goal is to show them how something like the Neolithic Revolution is relevant to their daily lives. I take what matters most to them (music, movies, TV, tech, etc etc) and infuse it into each and every lesson. On 'parent teacher' nights parents of about 20 out of 150 kids show up. So, who is to blame here for the 40% that fail? Not me. Parents/guardians/students.

    -Children routinely come to school w/o a notebook, or anything to write with. Strangely enough they have their $300 phone, ipod with them and sneakers that cost more than a 3rd row Rolling Stones ticket Hmmm....priorities? Again, who is to blame here? I think you see a pattern.

    -Students get wasted before school even begins, in a variety of ways, what happens by the middle of the day? They are wiped out, exhausted and, you guessed it FAIL. My fault? I think not. The valuable lesson of doing drugs/drinking booze should be broached @ home first.

    -A child doesn't show up for their state mandated exam, the family has recieved phone calls, emails, letters reminding them of the date and importance of the test, yet, many are still absent. Guess what? They count AGAINST the teacher/school's stats. This is the fault of the teacher? No, of course not. But, according to NYS Bd of Ed it is....

    -Kids come to school w/o having eaten breakfast, then avoid the lunch (which is gross, if you could only see what gets passed off as 'food'), so, their body starts to shut down and they nod off. That's my fault? No, of course not. Poverty is a HUGE issue. Some of the same people that have helped to create this cycle of poverty with their gov'tal policies are the same clowns that are making our teacher evals.

    -Kid comes to school and has nothing else in mind but dropping out @ 17 on their own, or, being signed out by their parent @ 16. Thus, they do NOTHING each and every day, refusing to do any work, regardless of how creative we are in trying to encourage them to work. That's the teachers fault? Um, no.

    -Child comes to your class from Yemen in April, or any number of other foreign countries where the educational system for the masses is a mess. What do you think is going to happen when they take their state exam? We are not miracle workers.

    -Many children are eligible for 'special ed' services, but the parent has to sign off on it first. Some do not because they see 'special ed' as being 'mentaly challenged'. 'My child is not spec ed!' (I have heard this many times), it's all about pride. So, you have kids that do not belong in a regular class acting out, disrupting the learning environment. Some kids are given meds to deal with their ADD, ADHD, yet refuse to take them, this causes many problems in the classroom. Add to this the lack of funding for Guidance Counselors (we have 2 for 1100 kids), social workers, truant officers, psych services, etc and you can see the mess that has been created. Yet, this is the teachers fault? Nope.

    -If a kid is absent 24 times or more they are not technically eligible for a credit for that class, YET they DO qualify against a teachers stats when they fail the Regents exam. Hypocrisy, you bet'cha!

    There are MANY more examples I can list....

    I have grown exhausted listening to the 'blame the teacher' game played by Emperor Bloomberg and King Cuomo. Neither has a clue as to what goes on in a school. Or, maybe they do, but fear blaming those that are really to blame: the parents/guardians and students themselves. The media has not helped the situation, only telling one side of the story. One absolute Ahole is the editor of the NY Daily News. The pieces he/she writes are simply anti-teacher, never telling the REAL story. What is the goal of this absurd new teacher evaluation? Is it REALLY to improve our kids scores? Of course not, the hidden agenda is to get rid of high priced, veteran teachers and hire *2* 'wet behind the ears' rookies in their place, then in 2 years replace them once again. Get more people out of the pension system. Kudos to NYC Teachers Union for not agreeing to the teacher evaluation. We are being held accountable for things that we have NO CONTROL of. We get them for 45min a day, and for extra help after school if they decide to show up. We can only do so much, but are the easiest target. I'd say 10-20% of teachers do not belong in the classroom, just like on most jobs, it's not the apocalypse the media makes it out to be. This evaluation should have been targeted @ them, instead it is being used as a way to get rid of veteran teachers. What is to stop an administrator from 'stacking the deck' against a teacher by giving him the absolute worst groups of students? NYC Principals have their own budgets, they'd LOVE to dump 'expensive' teachers to free up dough. Also, take the HS science teacher @ Bronx HS of Science with their 100% Regents exam pass rate and toss them into the 'worst' school in the city....guess what happens...You guessed it, their #'s drop dramatically. There is definitely not a fair and equitable distribution of students. The #'s they preach about DO NOT tell the real story.

    Same goes for the lie behind the 'success' of Charter and Private Schools. They cherry pick their students, do not have the same populations of Special Ed and English Language Learners and can boot kids out for behavior issues, etc. Guess where they end up? You guessed it, the local Public School! Last, but most important, if their parents fought that hard to get them into a Charter School, or are paying for them to go to a Private School, they are ON THEM like white on rice, making sure they do what they are supposed to do, parental involvement equates to success in a child's education. Simple as that.

    Enough blaming the teachers. Let's start to look @ what is going on @ HOME that is preventing children from succeeding. We are not miracle workers.

    Rick

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  11. Rick Duro

    I call that the 'TEACHER EVAL MANIFESTO'.

    Rick

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  12. TheRealRealRuben

    Gotta agree with Rick, now if only we can figure out why Teachers need a whole SUMMER off?

    Year long instruction is the answer. to ALL your problems.

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  13. 123sunny

    So what does a parent who is involved do? I believe Rick's statements. But what do you do???

    If I am going to end up paying private school tuition so that I don't put my child in an environment like that [and I will not put my child in an environment like that] - then I don't want to pay more in taxes to 'support the schools.' Yet, everyone wants to raise taxes "for the schools" and for what?? How is throwing money into the schools going to solve the fundamental/cultural/societal issues that Rick describes? Many of those problems run deeper than money and deeper than the "school" - it is the child's home environment.

    And I AM supporting 'the schools' and society by placing my child in a private or charter school with peers that have an equal appreciation (at home and through the parents) for education. They become value-added members of society, at least the vast majority based on statistics of who continues through to selective high schools (and then onto college). At a minimum, I have given them the opportunity to reach their full potential - my responsibility as a parent.

    But if my taxes become too much (and at the same time I have to scrape by to pay 35K a year for first grade), NYC is not the place to live for the middle class. Its suburbs are not the place to live for the middle class.

    And sadly many Catholic schools are closing. They represented what seemed a semi-solution - reasonable tuition (5-10K a year) with a fairly solid education (depending on the school).

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  14. Origami version of Ruben

    heres an online tip rick - no one reads long posts. you look like you have a miserable meaningless life with nothing else to do... shorten it, couple quick points and be done. People will actually listen to what you say MORE if you write and speak less

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  15. Rick Duro

    sorry for the typos. did it quick.

    RD

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  16. Rick Duro

    Origami,

    Actually, my life is quite rich with friends, family, art, a career in the classroom/on the baseball field, SUDS, exploring the world, etc.
    What people who don't know me think of me is irrelevant.

    I just needed to blow off some steam re: the absurd issues of 'failing' schools and teacher evals.

    Those who want the truth, from an educator, will read it. If it is too long for the rest of our A.D.D. nation, well, so be it.

    RD

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  17. O'shea

    @123sunny
    A parent who is involved first teaches their kids proper manners. They make sure that their kids are ready for class everyday. Their homework is done and they come to class prepared to learn. Involved parents attend pta meetings and have an open method of contacting instructors if needed.
    Rick is right, the parents and students are the real problem enabled by the current administration.

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  18. O'shea

    Yes there is something terribly wrong with the public school system. I attended one of the "worst" schools in NYC. I had some of the best math teachers in the world. My global studies teacher taught business, checkbook balancing, global markets and the Us stock market during lunch period. I learned how to grow crystals, use of viruses as transport mechanisms in diseases like cystic fibrosis from one teacher. Then there was the use of everyday life to calculate problems during physics. The english teacher always thought i could become a better writer.
    It is the students and parents. It is not the teachers.

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  19. Origami version of Ruben

    Rick you could have copied and pasted the declaratin of independance in the middle and no one would have known!
    just a tad long, but hey I guess youre passionate about it

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  20. Woodside Mom

    Dear 123Sunny:

    Please note that Rick said he works in a school in a city north of NYC (Yonkers?) so don't assume that your zoned public school is not good - check it out! Call the school and set up a tour with the Parent Coordinator. Research the school stats on schools.nyc.org or insideschools.org (remember that there are duplicate school numbers in other boroughs, so have an idea of the school's address).

    You can't take advice from people who post here that certain schools or districts are "bad" and don't say whether they know from first hand knowledge (e.g. had a kid in the school). Even then, in large schools, some kids/parents will have a bad experience and many will have a good experience.

    District 24 has a lot of good schools and programs, including several primary school Gifted&Talented programs (one that's near to southern Sunnyside is at PS 153 - and busing would be provided if your child qualifies) and two middle school G&T programs. The seven traditional middle schools in the district all have Regents prep classes and allow advanced students to take one or two Regents (and IS 125 in Sunnyside offers FOUR Regents exams). I'm not sure this happens in any other district in the city.

    Although D24 has no primary charter schools, there are two middle school charters.

    I recommend that all parents who care about public schools read the following article:
    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/03/tales-out-of-school/306645/

    P.S. Joe Crowley is my Congressman and I have no problem with the fact that his wife and kids live in Virigina. Congress is in session many, many weeks of the year and young children should not be separated from a parent if at all possible.

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  21. Rick Duro

    How did you miss my take on the Magna Carta in there? :)

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  22. 123sunny

    Dear Woodside mom - thanks. The G&T at 159 it is great (I know a few kids in the program and their parents speak highly of it), but unfortunately it is a 1-hour one-way bus ride from the Sunnyside pick-up, in the morning and in the afternoon, so two hours spent on a bus a day.

    The kids I know are older ages, putting a five year old (as they start G&T in kindergarten) on a one-way one-hour bus ride out to Maspeth seems a tough thing to do . . .

    I'm hoping the new school being built on 43rd incorporates a G&T program - the local leaders said it was entirely possible, but that the community needed to speak out and e-mail/call them (Nolan/Van Bramer) to let them know a local G&T is something the neighborhood wants.

    Unfortunately, given that in the most overcrowded district only about 30 parents showed up for the meeting last week . . . I am realizing more and more that I'm going to be shelling out 35K a year for a five year old to learn their ABCs.

    The local schools that you speak of have wonderful ELL (English Language Learner) programs - but that is not something my child needs. Thus, time spent on it for the majority of their classmates -- would not benefit my child nor be appropriate for them. Even then, P.S. 199 only has a 65% rate for grading a 3 or 4 (proficient) level in English in the third grade. That basically means only a little over half of the kids are proficient in English in third grade at a third grader's level.

    The school gets an "A" rating in progress reports - but progress reports are not the same as a 'quality' assessment reports - the school is making progress, but its qualitative numbers are still disheartening.

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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.
.

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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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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Maggie Mae’s reopens today after extensive upgrade

Maggie-Maes1Feb. 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.

 

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New CB2 chair to roll out updated website, will provide access to public documents

Community-Board-21

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.

 

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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
Maggie Mae’s reopens today after extensive upgrade
Maggie-Maes1Feb. 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.  
New CB2 chair to roll out updated website, will provide access to public documents
Community-Board-21 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.  
Precinct unites lost dog with owner through Twitter
doglost 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.
Poll: Residents may face hefty toll to use Queensboro Bridge, along with others
QueensboroFeb. 23, By Michael Florio A proposed plan that would charge commuters a toll for using the Queensboro bridge—and three other New York City bridges--was put forward last week by an advocacy group that includes the former NYC traffic commissioner. MoveNY, a group comprised of traffic experts, research planners and eco-friendly non-profit firms, claims the tolls would lower traffic congestion and raise funds for the MTA. Under the proposal, workers who commute to Manhattan via the Queensboro Bridge each day would have to pay about $60 a week. The tolls would also be placed on the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges. The toll on these four bridges would cost $5.54 each way if paid by E-ZPass and $8 each way for other drivers. There wouldn’t be a toll booth. Instead there would be a sensor that would charge E-ZPass drivers as they go over the bridge. For those without E-ZPass, a camera would take a photo of people’s license plates and they would receive a bill in the mail, according to Bart Robbett, Communications Advisor with MoveNY. The tolls on other MTA bridges—such as the Triborough and Whitestone-- would be lowered $2.50 each way. However, there are benefits for having a toll on the Queensboro Bridge for western Queens residents, Robbett said. For one, there would be fewer vehicles exiting the Grand Central Parkway and driving through residential neighborhoods to get to the bridge. “There would be fewer people going out of their way to get on the free bridge,” Robbett said. “These people are causing problems for [Western Queens] neighborhoods, by adding to the traffic.” “There would be less traffic at places such as Queens Plaza,” he said, where people start jockeying for position to get over the bridge. “They will have to pay, but they will see benefits,” he said. Samuel Schwartz, a former New York City Traffic Commissioner, developed the proposal after his research found that the streets near the free bridges were congested. The bridges with tolls, he found, had far less congestion. In addition to easing traffic congestion, MoveNY claims the new plan would generate $1.5 billion in revenue per year, which would go toward maintaining, expanding and modernizing the transit system and improving city bridges and roads. “I know we can do better — better with traffic flow, reducing traffic crashes and fatalities, and being fairer to drivers [who use other MTA bridges], especially in the outer parts of the city,” Schwartz said. State legislators would have to pass the proposal, since the state oversees the MTA.  
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

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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

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NYP: DeBlasio plows ahead with Sunnyside Yards plan
PRR-Sunnyside-Yard_viewW-1955_ArtHunekeFeb. 21, NY Post Mayor Bill de Blasio is moving ahead with the plan to develop the Sunnyside rail yards, according to the New York Post. On Friday — 17 days after Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the yards were off-limits — the city’s Economic Development Corporation issued a public notice seeking a yearlong feasibility study of the nearly 200-acre site. De Blasio proposed building 11,250 units of affordable apartments over the rail yards as a major initiative in his State of the City speech — only to be shot down within hours by Cuomo, who insisted the MTA needs the property for other uses. “It is not available for any other use in the near term,” Cuomo said in a statement immediately after de Blasio's State of the City Speech. But the mayor on Friday said it’s full speed ahead. “This is a tremendous opportunity to deliver on our vision of a more affordable city and smart development that responds to the needs of surrounding neighborhoods,” he said, calling the pending study only a “first step.” City Hall officials said the study will focus on the 113 acres owned by Amtrak — which is cooperating with the city — and another 44 acres where the land is owned by the MTA but the air rights belong to the city For the full story, please click here
Maggie Mae’s is undergoing a big makeover
Maggie-Maes1Feb. 20, By Christian Murray Maggie Mae’s, a well known bar located at 41-15 Queens Blvd, is undergoing a major revamp. The interior is being rebuilt from top to bottom with 1800s reclaimed wood from Pennsylvania. New floors are being put down. A new bar has been built, alongside new timber seats and tables. The bar closed for construction the day after the Super Bowl (Feb. 1) and its owners are planning on reopening it on Feb. 28. “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.” One of the walls has been removed and now the red brick that was behind it is exposed. Meanwhile, the popcorn ceiling is gone, and the old timber beams show through. The pool table and the duke box are gone for good. The games of beer pong will be no longer. And there will be just three TVs. The owners are also putting in a kitchen, which will begin serving food this summer. The menu is not expected to be extensive but items such as burgers, fish and chips will be served. This summer, the outside and front-door entrance will change significantly. There will be floor to ceiling windows and a whole new exterior sign. In the interim, the sign will change and the outside will be painted a different color. Moore said that the bar will have 18 beer lines when it reopens, with several craft beer options. Maggie Mae’s is also upgrading its large downstairs area that is typically used for parties. That space too is being rebuilt with 1800s reclaimed wood.
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
Aluminaire-HouseFeb. 19, By Christian Murray Sunnyside’s trash is about to become another city’s treasure. The 1931 Aluminaire House, which was going to be erected on the corner of 39th Avenue and 50th Street, is being transported to Palm Springs. The mayor of Palm Springs is a big supporter of relocating it there and has started a fundraising drive in order to do so, according to The Desert Sun. The structure appeared headed to Sunnyside Gardens, where architects in 2013 planned to build eight residential units behind the aluminum house on the former Phipps playground. The house was designed in 1931 and is deemed to be of architectural significance. It was designed to explore how materials like aluminum could be used to build low-cost housing. However, Sunnyside residents rejected the plan—and the house--and believed that the showpiece was out of character with the existing red-brick homes in the landmarked neighborhood. Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, at the landmarks hearing that decided whether it could go up in the neighborhood, said that more than 350 people had contacted his office in opposition to the proposal, with only five voicing their support. State Sen. Mike Gianaris, at the same meeting, said: “I’ve been in public service for 13 years and I have seen community boards discuss all sort of things…but I have not seen such uniform opposition as with this project.” The Landmarks Commission rejected the plan in January 2014. However, the aluminum structure is very much wanted in Palm Springs. The Mayor of Palm Springs has raised $200,000 of the $600,000 needed to bring it there in just one month. The funds are needed to be transported the home, which is in a crate, and reassemble it. At a recent $250 per-person fundraiser to bring the structure to Palm Springs, the mayor of that city reportedly said: “If you have a product, that is an incredible product, people want to be a part of it. Hopefully, a year from now, we'll be having one heck of a party in downtown Palm Springs."  
Sunnyside gears up to celebrate ‘St Pat’s for All’
St Pats Feb. 18, By Christian Murray The 16th annual Sunnyside/Woodside 'St. Pat’s for All' parade is scheduled to take place on Sunday, March 1—and will feature puppets, stilt walkers and plenty of Irish music. The St. Pat’s For All parade is arguably this neighborhood’s most popular event. When it began 16 years ago, it was largely a gay-pride parade – organized by a number of Irish men and women who were not allowed to march in the St. Patrick’s Day parade on Fifth Ave under a gay banner. Today, the Sunnyside/Woodside parade draws plenty of seniors, children, minorities, to even the local dog group--Sunnyside United Dog Society. “We are the opening act for all the parades around the city that celebrate the fun and festivities of Ireland,” said Brendan Fay, a gay Irishman and co-chair of the event. The event, he said, always takes place on the first Sunday in March. Fay said he is expecting more than 2,000 people to participate this year. However, there could be more. He said that there is still time for community groups to sign up and that those interested just need to go to the St Pat’s for All website and register. The event this year will begin at Skillman Avenue and 43rd Street and will end at 56th and Skillman. Music and speeches will begin at 1 pm, with the parade kicking off at 2pm. The parade will feature many of the same groups that have been coming for years—such as the Niall O’Leary School of Irish Dance, the Shannon Gaels Gaelic Football Club, the girl scouts, Swim Strong, The Red Cross, and Sunnyside Community Services. This year, five marching bands have already signed up as well as several Irish musicians. Several well-known gay groups, such as Dignity NY, Lavender and Green Alliance (an Irish LGBT group), Stonewall Democrats of NYC and the Queens Lesbian & Gay Pride Committee are expected to march. This year’s parade comes at a time when the Fifth Avenue parade is allowing one gay group to march-- under the banner of the gay NBCUniversal employees. However, none of the Irish gay groups are permitted to march and gay activists will be protesting the event again this year. Fay, however, said that the Sunnyside-Woodside event would carry on even if gay groups were allowed to participate in the Fifth Avenue parade. “When it was announced that one gay group was allowed, I was asked what would happen to the our parade if it [the Fifth Avenue parade] were open to all gay groups,” Fay said. He said the Sunnyside/Woodside event would continue. Fay said that the parade is no longer a gay event but a community event, where all sorts of groups participate. “This parade is special,” Fay said. “Sunnyside and Woodside have increasingly embraced the parade as their own– and different groups continue to want to participate.” He said local businesses—such as bars and restaurants--have got behind the event. Ten bars and restaurants known as Sunnyside's Boulevard Bars are hosting a joint Irish music festival, where Irish bands will play at their respective pubs after the parade. Meanwhile, several bars/restaurants on Skillman Avenue are expected to be offering specials. For Kathleen Walsh D'Arcy, the other co-chair of the event, the parade is also about embracing immigrant groups and other cultures. There will be groups representing Turkey, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Romania—and several Jackson-Heights-based Muslim centers, D'Arcy said. This year’s two grand marshals are Kerry Kennedy, who is the president of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, and Brian F. O’Byrne, a well-known Broadway and movie actor. Fay said that the St. Pat’s For All parade has become a model for parades around the country—where various ethnic groups are celebrated and where there is inclusion of LGBT groups. However, the No. 7 train will not be running between Times Square and 74th Street on the weekend of the event. Fay said that they have reached out to the MTA to see whether its construction schedule can change on the day of the event. They have not heard back from the MTA. Details: Date: Sunday, March 1 Time: speeches at 1pm, parade kicks off at 2 pm Begins: Corner of Skillman Ave. and 43rd Street St-Pats    
Car crash on Queens Blvd leaves 9 people injured, 7 seriously
@agraneri (Instagram)

@agraneri (Instagram)

Feb.14, By Christian Murray Nine people were injured following a multiple vehicle crash on the corner of Queens Boulevard and 43rd Street this morning, according to the FDNY. The crash took place at 4:03 am and seven people were taken to area hospitals in serious but stable condition. Two others were take to hospital after sustaining minor injuries, according to the FDNY. Details as to what caused the accident were not available. There were no reports that alcohol played a part in the accident.  The NYPD press office had not been notified about the crash by 10:15 am.
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