Thursday, March 18, 2010

This Week's Forum South and West

Mixed Response to Woodhaven Power Line Fire

No Response from 911, but Hero Neighbor Steps Up

By Conor Greene

When a stretch of power lines went on fire during Saturday night’s storm, Woodhaven residents were alarmed and frustrated when they were not able to reach a 911 operator, but pleasantly surprised by the efforts of an off-duty Con-Edison worker who lives nearby and didn’t hesitate to react to the dangerous situation.

The action started at about 6:20 p.m. near the corner of 90th Street and 86th Road, when Richard Fogel’s daughter told him the upstairs lights were flickering. He opened his front door and was “greeted by a wall of rather intense smoke” that blocked his view of the street. When the winds shifted, he saw that the “whole block of power lines was smoking really intensely” before the approximately 300-foot stretch of lines “erupted into flames.”

The chaotic scene drew many residents from their homes, including some who rushed to move their cars from beneath the wires, despite the obvious risk. “Lots of people called 911 - it was kind of pandemonium for a while - but not one soul got through,” said an outraged Fogel. “No even a message to stay on the line, no recording, connection, anything – just dead.”

Fogal figured the fire would go out once the lines broke and fell to the ground, but he was concerned about prospect of live wires sitting in deep puddles of water. After his unsuccessful 911 calls, Fogel contacted the 102nd Precinct directly and was told officers were aware of the situation. Cops finally arrived on scene at 6:46 p.m., but the officers immediately retreated to their patrol car and left after quickly assessing the scene, said Fogel. It wasn’t until 7 p.m. that the police took control of the situation.

“It was a busy night, so I can forgive the cops and fire department [which never came to the scene] but I cannot forgive 911,” said Fogel. “If they’re not there in an emergency, what the hell good is it? Never mind the storm damage, what if I was having a heart attack or there was a bank robbery? The point is, it’s a technology problem.”

However, there was one bright spot to the situation involving a neighbor who works for Con-Ed, which is a company that doesn’t normally receive praise from Queens residents. After retreating back inside his house minutes after the fire broke out, Fogel looked out the window and noticed a man wearing a yellow Con-Ed rain jacket standing in the street.

It turns out Fogel’s neighbor Jose Aldana was taking the trash out at about the time the power lines caught fire. For more than 20 minutes, he oversaw the situation and helped keep residents away from the dangerous wires until authorities finally arrived on the scene. “The guy dropped what he was doing and tried to keep people away,” said Fogel.

The residents “were extremely lucky to have such a dedicated resident volunteer his own time and put his own safety at risk to keep his fellow residents safe,” wrote Fogel in a letter to Aldana’s boss at Con-Ed. “To reiterate, [he] took the initiative to put his own safety aside… alone and in the pouring rain when no one else was available.”

After Con-Ed’s poor handling of prior emergencies, including the 2006 blackout, Fogel said it felt strange to be praising the company. On top of Aldana’s efforts, Fogel was complementary of the company’s response to the area the next day. “An army of them were out here, and everyone was back on the next day. They did the right thing here, and I’m going to give the cops and firemen the benefit of the doubt, as I’m sure it was a mess. But we at least deserved a police cruiser, as 40 minutes is a little long to respond.”

The city received the second-most 911 calls within a 24-hour period during the storm, with the amount of calls for help didn’t return to normal levels until Sunday morning, according to reports. The NYPD receives about 38,000 calls over a 24-hour period on a typical Saturday.

Storm Report: Damage Control and the Aftermath

By Patricia Adams

The storm that hit the city this weekend damaged cars, homes, roads and subway lines throughout our readership area. Coastal areas experienced hurricane-like flooding conditions and electricity outages.

The New York City Parks Department has labeled it as one of the worst storms of the past decade, based on volume of calls. As of Tuesday morning, Parks had received more than 3,000 phone calls citywide about emergency tree conditions through 311. More than 1,458 trees down, split, or uprooted, including more than 150 calls about trees down on houses, and hundreds of limbs hanging or down.

Brooklyn had the most recorded calls with 1,201, Staten Island with 908, Queens with 817, the Bronx: 258 calls and Manhattan with a total of 38 calls. Citywide there were more than 1,600 trees that suffered damage.

About 350 staffers were assigned by Parks to work exclusively on storm response including 36 forestry crews and 50 field managers. An emergency contingency plan was activated and private tree service contractors assisted in removing trees from houses, streets and sidewalks. Parks is now concentrating on trees that landed on homes, cars and playgrounds.

According to the Parks Department the hardest hit areas were in Southeast Queens especially at Bayswater Park and Brookville Boulevard. One tree fell on two houses at 126th Street and 104th Avenue and at King Park in Jamaica one of five surviving trees planted more than 200 years ago by Rufus King, in honor of the 13 colonies, was toppled during the storm.

Council Member Eric Ulrich’s district which covers Howard Beach, parts of Ozone Park Richmond Hill, Woodhaven and Rockaway was especially hard hit by the storm. “We have experienced severe rain and high winds throughout this city, but my district has been hit extremely hard,” said Ulrich. “My office has received a number of calls from Hamilton Beach and Woodhaven during and after the storm, and we are dealing with each constituent on a case by case basis. I am asking all of my constituents to report any property damage to 311 and to report continued power outages, should they re-occur, to Con Edison as soon as possible.”

As of early Wednesday morning 26,000 customers remained without power. Thousands of company support personnel continue to work around the clock to help the crews that are addressing the most destructive rain and windstorm to hit New York City and Westchester in decades. Utilities from Michigan, Ohio, Georgia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Kentucky and Massachusetts are assisting Con Edison’s crews. All Queens and Brooklyn customers affected by the storm have been restored.

Tree Totals Car in Howard Beach

By Olivia Dibs

Despite the damage done to their car, the Clancy’s of Howard Beach are thankful that no family members were anywhere near the vehicle they had parked just minutes before a tree came crashing down on it outside their home on 100th Street off 156th Avenue.

Helen, Jerry and Jennifer Clancy had been at a party and arrived home about 8 p.m. They settled in to watch TV in the living room and shortly after heard a crashing sound from outside. “Our neighbor rang the bell and said ‘I think we have trouble,’ said Helen Clancy. One glance outside the open door led to the shocking discovery. The tree in front of the Clancy house had been uprooted by the fierce winds, taking four cement flags off the sidewalk with it, crushing the rear end of Jennifer Clancy’s car.

“My daughter just parked the car five minutes before [the tree fell], so I just thank God she wasn’t in the car,” said Helen Clancy. Although the car has been totaled, she’s keeping a positive attitude about the situation. “It’s just a car, and the tree fell on the car, not the house. And nobody got hurt.”

Residents on the block were frustrated with the closure of their street but the Parks Department was unable to take immediate action to remove the toppled tree because of the electrical wires tangled in the branches.

Helen Clancy maintains that everyone she has dealt with at both the Parks Department and Con Edison has been “very helpful.” “I don’t know how helpful the city is going to be as far as the cement work in front of the house, but everyone’s ok and with a little help, this will all be over soon.”

Bid for JVP Dog Run Hits Dead End

By Conor Greene

The push for a dog run in Juniper Valley Park has hit a road block after three proposed locations there were rejected by a Community Board 5 subcommittee. With no viable locations having been identified within the Middle Village area, the board has suggested the new Elmhurst Park as a possibility.

At last week’s CB 5 meeting, Dog Run Subcommittee Chairwoman Kathy Masi reported that the three proposed locations in Juniper Valley Park – near the area along 80th Street and Dry Harbor Road dedicated for passive recreation, between the soccer field and track in the western portion of the park, and behind the roller hockey bleachers – had been rejected earlier this month.

“Basically, we had opposition from all over the place, including residents, community groups and civic associations,” said Masi of local reaction during a December visit to the sites, an event she called “one of the worst experiences” she has had during her years of community involvement. “It was just not a nice situation – I was embarrassed by the behavior of all sides,” she added.

The community board eventually voted to send a letter to Community Board 4 about the possibility of setting aside space in Elmhurst Park, which is under construction at the former gas tanks site on Grand Avenue near 74th Street. Part of the thinking behind that idea is since the land is still “in the process of being dug up,” it would be easier to construct on there, said Masi.

On Tuesday, CB 4 District Manager Richard Italiano said he hasn’t received the request yet and would have to run it by his full board before commenting. A spokeswoman for the City Parks Department said the agency is open to considering proposals for dog runs provided a committed group agrees to maintain the area and a funding source is identified to fund creation and upkeep of the facility. “Once these precursors are in place, Parks can consider the feasibility” of a specific site such as Elmhurst Park.

Still, the idea of using space within the six-acre Elmhurst Park didn’t set well with some board members including Manny Caruana. “I can’t believe we would choose to put dogs where we put people. There isn’t room for both there,” he said. An informal straw poll of the board showed that about two dozen members, or roughly half the group, were in favor in general of having a dog run in CB 5.

In an interview Tuesday, Masi stressed that the letter to CB 4 is merely a suggestion. “From what I got, it didn’t look like they had open arms, and that’s okay,” she said. “I wouldn’t want to impose something on someone, so if they don’t want it, fine.”

There are other issues to hammer out on top of finding a suitable location, including a plan for funding both construction and ongoing maintenance of the dog run, according to Masi. “Looking for a dog run [location] was a little premature,” she said. “Part of this is my fault; I assumed they knew what they were doing.” She has since provided the group with information on forming a nonprofit organization, but in her view “nobody’s done anything else expect come to meetings and say they want a dog run.”

Masi also said that the group advocating for the dog run has shrunk considerably after members found out that installing a dog run would mean the end of off-leash hour privileges in Juniper Valley Park. Currently, dog owners can allow their pets to run free in the park during certain early-morning and late-night hours.

For a location to be deemed appropriate, it would likely have to be in an out-of-the-way area not near homes. Masi said that while some advocate have pointed to the run in Forest Park as a possible model, she found that area to be “disgusting” during several visits there. “I would never advocate to have that situation in Juniper Valley Park,” she said. “Of every run I’ve looked at, the really nice ones have private funding.”

At this point, it appears the push for a dog run has hit a dead end, unless the dog run group can come up with a funding plan and an appropriate location is agreed upon. “I’m willing to see this to the end, but I’m not sure where the end will lead,” said Masi. “We’ll wait to hear from CB 4, and then decide what the next step will be. Hopefully by the next meeting we will have something to discuss and the dog run people will have their ducks in order.

Glendale Couple Forms Local CSA Group

Residents Can Buy Shares of Fresh Produce

By Conor Greene

Area residents will have the option of purchasing fresh, locally grown produce directly from a Long Island farmer this summer through a new community supported agriculture group founded by a local couple.

Under the CSA arrangement, members pay an upfront fee at the start of the season, and then receive allotments of goods such as fruits, vegetables, eggs and flowers throughout the summer. Along with community gardens and greenmarkets, CSAs are becoming more popular throughout the city as people pay more attention to the food they consume.

“After two years [with the Brooklyn group] we learned a lot, but we live in Queens and looked around the neighborhood and said there needs to be more, so let’s try it,” said Kevin Burns, who is launching the effort along with his wife, Kimberly Ferstler. “The farmer takes the lead - they know what they can grow – and we do a little administration and set up the memberships, they do the planting and harvesting and bring it to us.”

Through their connections with the Greenpoint CSA, Burns and Ferstler were able to reach an agreement with Garden of Eve farm in North Fork. “Getting to know the farmer is a big part of it,” said Burns. “If you know the farmer, you know your food and have greater confidence in it… By the middle of the season, we do very nicely with the distribution and the shares are very generous.”

The couple is hoping to have between 30 and 40 members in the first year, which will run from June 12 to Thanksgiving. Full shares of organic vegetables cost $540, while a half share runs $280, and neighbors are allowed join together and split their bounty. Shares of fruit, flowers and eggs are less expensive, and a mega combo that includes all four categories is also available.

Part of the process has been educating people about how CSAs operate, but so far the idea has been warmly received at local civic meetings, said Burns. “Some had heard about them before, while others needed a little clarification on how it works.” There is also an educational component to the group, as the weekly selection often includes produce that members aren’t accustomed to. “You may get items that are new to you, but we explain what it is, how to cook it and provide recipes,” said Burns.

That’s also part of the fun, added Burns, as the group receives a list of available goods a few days before the farmer drops it off, but never knows exactly what they will receive. “It’s seasonal, so you get a sense [of what’s coming] and you learn to eat seasonally. It’s an adventure,” he said.

Typical deliveries include squash, broccoli, potatoes, lettuce and tomatoes. “There’s no guarantees [about the options], but when there’s a plentiful harvest, it gets to us,” added Burns. “Compared to what you get in the market, shipped halfway around the world, there is a world of difference.”

So far, the biggest challenge has been coming up with a drop-off location where the food can be picked up by members each Saturday. The couple encountered issues with using local parks or businesses for distribution, so for the first year the items will be handed out from their Glendale home. “I think one of the bigger issues, which is why the library couldn’t [host the group] is liability,” said Burns, adding that he hopes the City Council will consider a law allowing CSAs to freely use public parks for distribution.

For more information, check

Board Backs Metropolitan Ave School Plan

By Conor Greene

The city’s plans to build a 600-seat school at the former Rite Aid site on Metropolitan Avenue was overwhelmingly backed by Community Board 5 members at last week’s meeting, albeit with some specific requests.

Despite backing the project, some members of the advisory board were unhappy with the lack of specific details provided by the city Department of Education. “We really didn’t see any plans at all for the site… so I’m giving this recommendation kind of blind in many respects,” said Walter Sanchez, chair of the board’s Land Use Committee. However, “I really don’t feel the board should object to a school there,” he added.

Under the current plans, the city School Construction Authority would build a new K-5school serving 600 students in hopes of easing overcrowding in District 24, which is home to the city’s most overcrowded schools. Three board members – Manny Caruana, Sylvia Knappi and Chairman Vincent Arcuri voted against the proposal.

Among the board’s stipulations are that a 16 foot wide driveway be built around the perimeter of the school, which would replace the vacant pharmacy on the site, to prevent buses from causing traffic backups along Metropolitan Avenue. “We believe it is vital that provisions be made for providing space within the property exterior,” wrote CB 5 District Manager Gary Giordano in a letter sent recently to the SCA.

The board is also requesting that the school be zoned so that it draws from neighborhood children currently attending PS 153 and PS 71, which are both currently overcrowded.

“Unfortunately, presentations to our board lacked specifics related to youth demographics in the area, and the specifics of overcrowding in nearby schools, justifying the need for this multi-million dollar project,” wrote Giordano. “Our inquires indicate that the overcrowding at nearby PS 153 impacts approximately 300 children, and that PS 71 in Ridgewood, while not as overcrowded, may be able to have a library and gym if this new primary school is build.”

The city has already agreed to Community Education Council 24’s request that the facility be built so that it can be converted to a K-8 building in the future if needed. The board has asked that an “appropriate size” gym be included in the final plans.

Sanchez also noted at last week’s CB 5 meeting that he would like the board to be presented with detailed drawings so that members can provide additional input.

Following the vote, Arcuri said he voted against the plan because “once again, SCA and DOE have failed to present demographics to prove the need for this school and to show where students would be coming from. That should be the first presentation by DOE,” he said. “We have down-zoned most of our district, yet we continue to come up with more classrooms.”

In response, board member Dan Creighton said he think “we owe it to our children to have schools that are the proper size” and include amenities such as a proper size gym and science labs.

There was also the feeling that it doesn’t matter in the end what board members and the community say to the city. “The point is, they don’t really care about the community board’s opinion one way or another,” said Vernon McDermott. “They feel they can put it through with or without us.”

Break-in Attempt Foiled at Community Federal

A S.W.A.T. team assembled inside the lobby of Community Federal Savings Bank located at 89 - 07 Jamaica Avenue in the early morning hours Saturday to move in on four bank thieves who were stuck in the ceiling of the bank. The four men were arrested after trying to gain entrance to the bank vault through the roof. Several duffel bags of what was presumed to be currency and valuables taken from the bank were recovered by police after they were tossed onto the street by the bandits before they were apprehended.

Madeline Conti Cancer Fund Holds Successful Fundraiser

By Patricia Adams

Howard Beach residents came out in full force on Saturday evening for the 2nd Annual Benefit Gala for the Madeline Conti Cancer Cure Fund (MCCCF) held at Roma View Catering. The fund was started by Howard Beach resident Angela Tuccio in memory of her mother, Madeline Conti who passed away on September 1, 2006 after a 16 month battle with lung cancer.

As president and founder of MCCCF, Angela has worked tirelessly to support the research and work of Dr. Jonathan Gerber who is a physician-scientist in Hematology at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins. His research is in the cutting edge field of cancer stem cells which give rise to and maintain the growth of various cancers. These same cancer stem cells are highly resistant to most current treatments and are often responsible for recurring disease despite favorable response to initial therapy. It is commonly thought that cancer stem cells must be eliminated in order to finally realize a cure for cancer.

Dr. Gerber’s research specifically focuses on blood cancer or leukemia. His work is aimed at improving our understanding of leukemic stem cells and identifying novel ways to target them. It is the hope that this work will lead to more effective treatments and ultimately, cures for leukemia. The research is expected to apply to many other cancers as well. The doctor received his undergraduate degree in Biology from the Johns Hopkins University going on to earn his degree in medicine from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He has remained at Johns Hopkins where he is working to complete a fellowship in hematology where he is expected to stay upon completion of the fellowship.

A proclamation from the office of state Sen. Joe Addabbo was presented to Dr. Gerber for his outstanding research accomplishments and his dedication to the cure of cancer. “I had the pleasure and the privilege of participating in the care of Madeline Conti for whom this Foundation is named,” said Dr. Gerber. “Madeline exemplified the spirit and heroism of patients with cancer. Angela has similarly exemplified the devotion and tireless support of caregivers.” He went on to praise Angela Tuccio for harnessing her efforts in support of research so that other families facing cancer may find help through their suffering.

Angela Tuccio moved the audience with touching words of praise for Dr. Gerber and his wife Linda, describing the incredible support the doctor and his wife extended in Madeline’s care, often spending hours on the phone delivering help and advice in addition to making recommendations to Madeline’s doctors in New York.

The Foundation presented a check in the amount of $40,000 to the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Care Center at John’s Hopkins for the continuance of Dr. Gerber’s Research. For more information about the fund, visit their website at

Thursday, March 11, 2010

This Week's Forum West and South

Aqueduct Project on Shaky Ground

By Patricia Adams

Although a casino operation is planned for development at Aqueduct Racetrack in Ozone Park, the continued drama surrounding the project is more of a circus than anything else.

Earlier this week, Rev. Floyd Flake announced that he would remove himself as an investor in the Aqueduct Entertainment Group (AEG), the consortium that was chosen to develop the long awaited video lottery terminals at the struggling raceway.

Insiders speculate that the Rev. Flake, as well as rapper Jay Z, had both dropped their investor positions with AEG due to a requirement by the State Lottery Division for the provision of extensive financial documentation from small investors.

Other sources maintain that Rev. Flake was under pressure from his congregants to exclude himself from any affiliation with a gambling venture. While Flake remained unavailable for comment, he did release a statement in which he said the Aqueduct project had caused him to be distracted from his many obligations at his church.

Still, officials at the State Lottery refused to comment on AEG’s status or if they had met the state filing requirements. If the deal with AEG does fall apart on or before the March 31 deadline, it would result in the state losing the promised upfront payment of $300 million. According to published reports, AEG “remains committed to obtaining state licensing of all investors by month’s end, and has access to the needed cash.”

On Tuesday afternoon at a press conference, Gov. David Paterson recused himself, on the advice of his attorneys, from all pending negotiations concerning Aqueduct.

When reporters pushed the governor about choosing AEG in the first place, Paterson responded that he “certainly thought it was right at the time,” adding “whether or not they are able to comply with the protocols is the same problem that one of the other companies was unable to do last year, and so we’ll just wait and see whether that application is valid.”

According to published reports in the Daily News, AEG could lose their rights to develop the project because they failed to meet state requirements. Reportedly, the Lottery Division informed Gov. Paterson’s staff by memo on Tuesday evening that AEG is “unlicensable” for numerous reasons.

Local officials remain concerned as to the fate of the project and there is no confirmation as to what will happen in the eventuality that AEG is bumped from the project. “It is sad that after eight years this questionable process has not resulted in a signed agreement to get the project underway,” said Betty Braton, Chair of Community Board 10.

In the meanwhile AEG says they are continuing with their plans for development and are hosting a job fair associated with the project at a middle school in the area on March 20.

Maspeth Demands Immediate Steps to Reduce Truck Traffic

Crowley Calls for Change to Through Route Designation

By Conor Greene

Sick and tired of heavy truck traffic along Grand Avenue, elected officials and community leaders came out in force last week to demand that the city take action to prevent large vehicles from using local roads instead of nearby expressways.

The long-awaited Maspeth Truck Bypass Plan is still being studied by the city Department of Transportation, which expects to unveil several route options to the public in September. In the meantime, a group of officials led by Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) is requesting that changes be made to the through-truck routes that currently run along Grand and Flushing avenues into Brooklyn.

Currently, the through route becomes local truck routes once the avenues enter Brooklyn, meaning vehicles can currently exit the Long Island Expressway and cut through Maspeth to reach their destinations. Crowley wants the DOT to change the through route designation to a local route, forcing truckers to stay on the expressway until they reach their destination.

“For far too long the DOT has ignored the traffic problems in Maspeth... and has allowed trucks to use [the neighborhood] as a dumping ground,” said Crowley during last Friday’s press conference at the intersection of Flushing and Grand avenues. “Why is Maspeth the only location in the city where the DOT allows a through route to terminate at a borough boundary?”

Crowley notes it would only require a “simple adjustment” to change the route designation and alleviate the strain on local roads, and says the change could be implemented within days or weeks. “What we’re asking for is something so simple… It’s not fair for people to be using Grand Avenue to get to Brooklyn,” she said.

Joining the councilwoman at the event were officials including Rep. Joseph Crowley, Rep. Anthony Weiner, Senator Joe Addabbo, Assemblywoman Marge Markey, Jim O’ Kane of the Maspeth Chamber of Commerce, Gary Giordano of Community Board 5, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, and members of the Juniper Park Civic Association, which has been pushing for the Bypass for years.

A city DOT spokesman wouldn’t say whether the agency will change the route designation, and didn’t provide an update on the status of the bypass plan study. “We are studying the concept of a local truck route as we move ahead with the ongoing Maspeth Bypass study and discussions with the community,” said Scott Gastel in a statement.

Crowley spoke with Queens Commissioner Maura McCarthy before Friday’s rally, but the councilwoman’s office refused to provide details of that conversation.

After more than a decade of waiting for action to reduce the amount of trucks rumbling through the neighborhood’s commercial center, residents and officials say they are running out of patience with the DOT.

Robert Holden of the JPCA said the problem became much worse with the closing of the Staten Island landfill ten years ago, at which time community activist Frank Principe and Maspeth business owner Tony Nunziato began devising the bypass plan. “Here we are in 2010 talking about the same thing,” he lamented. “We’ve done so many studies, yet the DOT is not listening. Our patience has run out – we need something done right now.”

“It has sat on many a desk for too long,” said Nunziato of the bypass plan.

Assemblywoman Marge Markey, who has represented Maspeth since 1998, said the truck traffic negatively impact the local quality of life in numerous ways, including by adding to air pollution, creating hazardous conditions for pedestrians and clogging up roads for local drivers. “In these tough economic times, it is important that we do everything we can to help neighborhood businesses survive,” she said.

When asked why elected officials have yet to be able to get the truck bypass plan implemented, she laid the blame with the city. “It’s just that the DOT is working at a very slow pace. I think it’s a real embarrassment for that agency,” she responded.

Jim O’ Kane of the Maspeth Chamber of Commerce said the trucks have a huge impact on the many senior citizens living and shopping in the area. “They are intimidated by this truck traffic while crossing the street,” he said.

After the official press conference ended, members of the JPCA including Holden, Nunziato, Manny Caruana and Lorraine Sciulli called out several of the politicians whom they say only attended for a “photo op” after dragging their feet on the issue for a decade.

“Frankly, I’m surprised a couple of the elected officials dared show their faces,” said Holden, specifically mentioning Markey, Joe Crowley and Anthony Weiner. “Marge Markey never mentioned Tony Nunziato, who thought of the plan. What’s happened since 1999? Zero. She can’t even get trucks off the main street of her own town.”

Lydon Sleeper, chief of staff for Councilwoman Crowley, interjected several times that holding the second conference “is not right.”

“Had they done their jobs for ten years, this would have been done,” said Sciulli. “These elected officials didn’t do their job for ten years.”

Vision for St. Saviour's Parkland is Unveiled

By Conor Greene

While funding for the project is still up in the air, the Newtown Historical Society has unveiled its vision for public parkland at the former St. Saviour’s Site in Maspeth.

Based on input from area residents, Christina Wilkinson of the historical society has created a rendering for the 57th Road property, which currently sits vacant. “I met with the residents who live around the site, and they listed amenities they would like in the proposed park,” she said at last month’s Community Board 5 meeting.

Among the items suggested are a wrought iron fence around the property perimeter, a landscaped hill featuring a statue and flag poll, walking paths and benches, open space, restrooms, a children’s playground, gardens and flowers and trees, especially along the Rust Street side to buffer the greenspace from noise and pollution from passing trucks.

However, due to questions regarding funding for the property acquisition, the plan remains up in the air. The city Parks Department agreed last year to buy the land if local officials can come up the funds needed for acquisition, and the owner is asking for about $10 million for the property.

Wilkinson was hoping that the state’s Environmental Protection Fund would be the key to securing funding for the land, but that is in jeopardy due to the state’s budget deficit. In a letter to Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) last month, State Parks Commissioner Carol Ash said the governor’s current plan to close the budget gap would result in suspension of the property acquisition program.

“Governor Paterson has proposed a budget that will place an indefinite moratorium on land acquisition under EPF, starting in the state fiscal year commencing April 1,” wrote Ash in a February letter to Crowley. “If the budget is enacted by the state legislature accordingly, State Parks’ land acquisition activities will be put on hiatus.”

There has since been a push to restore the funding for land acquisition, with local State Assembly members including Marge Markey (D-Maspeth) and Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven) signing on to a letter being circulated by Robert Sweeny (D-Lindenhurst), who chairs the Assembly Environmental Protection Committee.

The city has refused to release the results of a recent appraisal conducted of the property, according to Wilkinson. However, according to the city Department of Finance, the two lots that create the square-block site have a market value of about $2.5 million, and the owner purchased the site for about $6 million in 2005.

The property was home to a historic 1847 until it was set to be demolished to make way for residential development. Local preservationists, including members of the Juniper Park Civic Association were given permission to dismantle the structure so that it can eventually be rebuilt on land in Middle Village. While the development plans never panned out, the site – which is zoned for manufacturing uses - was recently cleared and leveled for construction.

“It really would be a travesty to see this site developed, because it is historic,” said Wilkinson at the community board meeting.

Hearing Planned on New Maspeth School

PS 873 to be Housed in IS 73 Annex

By Conor Greene

The city has scheduled a public hearing on the recently-unveiled plan to open a new K-5 school on the IS 73 property in Maspeth.

Under the plan, a new school called PS 873 will open in an existing annex building adjacent to IS 73. It would be a zoned elementary school starting in 2010-2011, when it opens to about 50 to 75 kindergarteners. It would phase one new grade in per year until it tops out in 2015-2016 with between 270 and 350 students in grades K-5.

Education officials say the plan is feasible due to a “steadily decreasing” enrollment at IS 73 in recent years. It enrolls students in both 6th and 7th grades since it is fed by both K-5 and K-6 schools in the area. However, two of IS 73’s feeder schools – PS 49 and PS 102 are being expanded to K-8, contributing to the enrollment decline.

According to the DOE, IS 72’s current 7th grade class has just 590 students, compared with 715 students in 8th grade. Currently, IS 73’s 6th graders are housed in the annex building eyed for PS 873, but the DOE estimates that the space will be freed up for the new school as a result of the smaller 7th and 8th grade classes.

The DOE projects a combined enrollment for PS 873 and IS 73 of approximately 1,650 students in 2010-2011, well below the buildings’ capacity of 1,979. Of those students, between 270 and 350 students would be enrolled in the new PS 873. The change is intended to address the need to relieve elementary school overcrowding throughout District 24, according to the DOE.

The public hearing is set for April 14 at 7 p.m. inside IS 73, located at 70-02 54th Avenue. Comments can also be submitted by e-mailing or by calling (718) 935-4198. Speaker signup begins 30 minutes before the start of the public hearing and will close 15 minutes into the session.

There will be no question and answer period at the public hearing, so for additional details on the proposal contact Natalie Ondiak of the DOE’s Office of Portfolio Planning at (212) 374-3482.

Hallelujah! Stolen Chalices Returned; Arrest Made

By Patricia Adams

Two chalices stolen from St. Helen’s at the end of February were recovered by police after two men showed up at the parish rectory on Tuesday evening.

Howard Beach resident Thomas Kurplewski arrived at St. Helen’s Rectory accompanied by another parishioner. He was carrying a black plastic bag which he said contained the chalices. It was about 6 pm when Msgr. Al LoPinto opened the door for the men who told him they were there to return the chalices.

Msgr. LoPinto asked the men to be seated and informed them that he had to call police because of the ongoing investigation. Minutes later when they arrived, it was confirmed that the bag did indeed contain the stolen vessels.

According to police sources, Kurplewski told investigators that the chalices had been purchased from thieves on the street outside a Brooklyn housing project near Linden Boulevard, known as the Pink Houses.

Detectives who had vigorously investigating numerous leads in the case pursued questioning until Kurplewski admitted that it was his son, 20-year-old Theodore Kurplewski, who had broken into the church sacristy and stolen the chalices. He was subsequently arrested and charged with burglary and criminal possession of stolen property. The family lives just blocks from the church.

“I am just so thankful to God and to everyone who prayed for the return of the chalices,” said Fr. Rob Keighron. “The police, the press and the entire parish were all so supportive. I am glad that people recognized the wrong that was done here and that it was rectified.”

Msgr. LoPinto praised the police for their attention to the case and also expressed his thanks to the media for their handling of the case and to his parishoners for their support. “We’re so thankful to have this situation end this way. We so appreciate all the support that was shown since this incident occurred.

Deputy Inspector Joe Courtesis, commanding officer at the 106, said that many resources were dedicated to the investigation and credited Msgr. LoPinto for giving the police his full cooperation. The Inspector said he was looking forward to returning the chalices to the priests where they rightfully belong.

DA: Ozone Park Man Bit, Battered Infant Daughter

An Ozone Park man was arrested and charged with first-and-second-degree assault and endangering the welfare of a child in the brutal assault of his infant daughter, Hailey.

Juan Gomez, 23, of 104-01 Liberty Avenue allegedly caused extensive injury to the child left in his care while her mother went to work.

The infant was taken Schneider Children’s Hospital last week with bruises to her chest and eye, a healing fracture in her foot, a fractured ankle, a healing fracture to the lower leg, a bite mark to the right leg, seventeen fractured ribs (sixteen of which were healing), a lacerated liver and difficulty breathing due to a disruption to the lining of the lung.

District Attorney Richard Brown said, “The extent of the physical injuries that this innocent and helpless child suffered in just the first few weeks of her life is beyond comprehension. That they were allegedly committed by her father boggles the mind. This case will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

According to the charges, Gomez was alone with Hailey and became frustrated because she would not stop crying. He then allegedly bit her on the right leg, leaving a bite mark. To conceal what he had done, Gomez allegedly bathed the baby for the following week so nobody could see the bite mark.

In statements made to police and prosecutors Gomez said that he would grab his daughter by the feet and ankles and push her legs back until the feet and ankles were bent back onto her chest, that he head butted the baby in her head and that his head piercings caused bruising to her head, and that he would throw his daughter up in the air – about a foot – and catch her by placing his hands over her rib cage.

If convicted, Gomez could face 15 years in prison.

Austin Street Businesses Report Mixed Outlook

Parking, Rents, Ticket Agents Remain Top Concerns

By Conor Greene

Small business owners along Austin Street have differing opinions about the state of the nation’s economic recovery. However, one thing is clear – local issues such as parking and rents continue to play a huge role in the success or failure of the neighborhood’s mom and pop stores.

During an informal tour of stores on Monday led by Rep. Anthony Weiner, merchants provided mixed reactions to the current economic climate along one of the borough’s most popular shopping strips. While some, such as Marie Sinanian of jewelry store Stoa, say business is as bad as it has ever been, others, such as Marc Pine of Instant Replay secondhand store, say the economy has actually helped his business.

However, most agree that while the jobs bill currently being debated in Washington would help small businesses, it is often local issues such as parking, foot traffic and rent prices that make or break local mom and pop style stores.

Sinanian, who has owned Stoa for 43 years in the area, including the past 15 on Austin Street, said business has been “awful, just awful,” adding that it is worse than last year. “Is there any way you people can tell some property owners to do something with lowering the rents?” she wondered, hitting on a common theme heard along the strip.

Sinanian also said that overzealous traffic agents cause some customers to vow to never return to Austin Street after receiving parking tickets. In one case, a woman bought a $65 item, only to find a $35 ticket on her windshield.

“There really is a sense among most shop owners along Austin Street that their only connection to city government is the traffic police,” said Weiner, comparing the unit to a SWAT team.

A few doors down, the owner of Dmitry Italian Silk Ties said he was recently forced to close his Manhattan location as a result of the economy, but chose to keep his Austin Street location open. “Obviously, there has been a little bit of a slowdown, [so] we’re trying to adjust,” he said.

While online sales have helped fill the gap, Dmitry said that the $1,000 tax credit that the $15 billion jobs bill would provide wouldn’t be enough to allow him to hire another employee. In addition, he said a row of empty storefronts that have been vacant due to a high asking price have reduced the amount of foot traffic that eaches his business.

The economy has had the opposite impact on Instant Replay, where owner Marc Pine says people have turned to second hand items to save money. In addition, many people are selling antiques and other valuables they normally would hold onto. While foot traffic has stayed pretty consistent, some new businesses seemed to be doomed by high rent prices, added Pine.

New York Diamond Boutique opened its doors just two years ago, prompting manager Michael Jaye to joke, “we like challenges, that’s for sure.” Still, by making customer service and quality merchandise top priorities, the store “is holding its own” and is even looking for a new employee, said Jaye. “Ever since Christmas, we’ve seen a greater influx of people coming through the door and being serious about shopping.”

Still, Jaye echoed other complaints about parking, and suggested that Austin Street become a one-way stretch to accommodate diagonal parking. Weiner said that would be tough to do because of the lack of parallel roads to accommodate the diverted traffic.

During the tour, Weiner spoke about the jobs bill, which the Senate has yet to pass. “I don’t think you are going to have a moment when the skies part” and the economy is fixed, he said. Instead, “little by little, bit by bit, people being more confident about the future of the economy” will lead to jobs creation. “What’s going to drive hiring is business coming back, but if they’re right on the bubble it gives them a push,” he said of the $1,000 tax credit the proposed bill would provide businesses for hiring.

On the topic of sky-high rents, Weiner said that ideally, “the wisdom of the marketplace” would solve these problems without government intervention. Still, “it’s very frustrating as a resident” to have storefronts sit vacant for months while the landlord holds out. “The further away the landlord [lives], the more difficult it seems to be to persuade him to take a deal that might not be perfect. Holding out for the perfect deal means creating a very bad economic environment for our stores.”

The Continuing Plight of Charles Park

Residents, Local Officials Outraged Over Gateway Neglect

By Patricia Adams

More than two hundred people packed the auditorium at Our Lady of Grace in Howard Beach on Friday night, hoping to get some answers about the dilapidated conditions at Frank Charles Memorial Park.

Residents, civic leaders and elected officials gathered at the town hall meeting to hear details about $200,000 in federal funding designated to help resurface eroded tennis courts and cleanup deteriorating baseball fields.

Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica), National Park Service Superintendent of Gateway National Recreation Area Barry Sullivan and Dorothy McCloskey, founder of the Friends of Charles Park, were all on hand to discuss the appropriation for the much needed park repairs.

But those in attendance were skeptical about the sincerity of the plan and charged that the funding is both insufficient and long overdue. Rep. Meeks told the crowd that as far as Charles Park is concerned, there has never been a desirable relationship between Gateway and the community. Meeks said he came to the realization that the park was not a good place for parents to bring their children years ago when he first visited the facility. Gateway countered with a promise to enter into a partnership with the community so that Charles Park would be re-established as a priority green space and not fall behind other projects.

Discussion about the money originally allocated by Meeks’ office—a total of $ 1million—was glossed over as the meeting moved onto a familiar reiteration of complaints lodged by residents and park goers. Tennis courts littered with fractured clamshells, broken concrete, faded lines and dangerously uneven surfaces make it near impossible for players to utilize the facility.

The other source of complaint is the condition of baseball fields which ideally would be used to host an overflow of games from nearby Ozone Howard Little League. “The problem with these fields is like nothing you’ve ever seen before,” said Joe M. whose two sons play at Ozone Howard. “They are overgrown, full of rocks and just plain dangerous.”

Additional problems at the baseball fields stem from the permits issued by Gateway for adult leagues that come from distant neighborhoods and who do nothing to help maintain the fields. Residents say the leagues use the fields, leaving litter behind, and often refuse to vacate when local kids leagues come in for scheduled games.

Lynne Kenny, longtime Howard Beach resident says that the conditions at the park are deplorable. “I am living here for over 40 years, and I am using the tennis courts for the last 20,” said Kenny. “It’s amazing that what should be such a beautiful park is just a disaster.” Playing on the courts is risky according to Kenny, noting that another regular took a bad spill on the court last Saturday.

Other players who use the park regularly echoed Kenny’s sentiment adding complaints about broken benches, litter all along the shoreline and throughout the park and bathrooms that are almost always locked and virtually unusable due to filthy conditions when they are open.

Frances Scarantino, founder of S.T.A.R.S Youth Program and community activist has been part of the fight to restore the park since 1996. “It’s extremely frustrating that Gateway has never worked with us to make this park the kind of facility that it could be.”

Scarantino secured a grant and held fundraisers in order to purchase equipment for a playground in Hamilton Beach that is a part of Charles Park more than nine years ago. Now she says everything the community worked so hard for is basically useless. “Because of the lack of maintenance by Gateway the playground has fallen into a state of complete disrepair and should be considered dangerous.”

Senator Joe Addabbo told The Forum his concerns lie in the fact that money that was allocated for repairs to the park has not been accounted for. “What needs to happen here is that Congressman Meeks needs to take a much stronger stand. A lot more work has to be done by his office to remedy this situation.”

Addabbo also maintains that Gateway needs to concentrate on administrative help for the park and that the federal government needs to make a serious financial commitment to provide much needed funding. “Charles Park needs be considered along the same lines as some of its more famous Gateway counterparts like Ellis Island and Yosemite,” said Addabbo. “We simply are not getting our fair share.”

The money referred to by Sen. Addabbo was a $1 million appropriation earmarked for Charles Park from Rep. Meeks several years ago. But according to Gateway spokesperson Jane Ahern, neither National Parks nor Congressman Meeks’ office was able to confirm the designation of the money for Charles Park and so it was never applied to park projects. According to Meeks’ office the line item went to Gateway, however it was not used there.

Now there is more than $2 million dollars in appropriations that have been applied for by Congressman Meeks’ office and neighborhood group, the Friends of Charles Park. The group has also asked Meeks to request an additional $1 million so that Gateway can establish a maintenance budget for the park. Decisions on the appropriations will not be made until October.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

This Week's Forum West and South

Church Break-in Shocks Parish Community

Chalice Stolen, Offering Box Looted

By Patricia Adams

The discovery of a break-in at St. Helen’s Church sometime between last Thursday afternoon and Friday morning has sent shock waves through the parish community and left one priest missing a valued treasure he’d hoped would be with him forever.

Father Rob Keighron says that despite the fact that a priest should always be filled with hope, he has serious doubt that the person who stole his one-of-a-kind chalice from a locked cabinet in the church’s sacristy will ever return the vessel. “It’s so disheartening and sad,” said Fr. Keighron, “and I just don’t have confidence that it will be returned to me.”

The chalice, a custom crafted art work, was made for Keighron by the Adrian Hamers Inc., the world’s leading manufacturer of church items for over 120 years. The chalice was a gift to the priest from his parents and siblings on the day of his ordination to the priesthood nearly four years ago.

“The chalice is a symbol of my religious life,” Keighron said. “In addition it came from my parents, my family-- and was given to me on the most special day of my life. It was something I knew I would have with me always to keep them close to me. Now it’s gone”

The chalice was created with representations depicting the symbolism of his vocation and has a large black onyx orb at the junction between the stem and the cup. “I chose the symbols on the chalice to signify the path of my calling as a priest and my religious life. Everything in the design represents my vocation and my love for the church.”

Detectives from the 106 are vigorously investigating the crime, pouring over surveillance videos from cameras around the
church and the school across the street. Inside sources say Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has instructed those handling the case that it is to be treated with the absolute highest priority.

Dozens of churchgoers lined up to offer their sympathy and support for the young parish priest after mass on Sunday. “I really am sickened by this,” said Justice August Agate, a lifetime St. Helen’s parishioner. “I am only hoping for everyone’s sake that whoever did this will realize the gravity of their crime and return this blessed chalice to Fr. Rob.” Others just shook their heads as they tried to comfort the man who at most times is comforting them.

On Friday morning, shortly after 6 am, Monsignor Alfred LoPinto went to open the church and found the premises had been vandalized. He called police and Fr. Rob at once to inform him that his chalice was missing.

Police believe the thief entered the church through the front door at some time during the snow storm on Thursday, toward the later part of the afternoon, possibly toward the evening. The door was broken into and in- side the church the offering box to the poor was ripped out of its slot on the wall. The door to the sacristy was forced open and the cabinets used to store valuables werebroken open.

“At first I didn’t really process it,” said Fr. Keighron. “I never leave the chalice in the sacristy. I only use it on Sundays and I keep it locked up in the rectory.” This was the first time, according to Fr. Keighron, that it was ever left in the sacristy.

One point that police and parishioners hope will get out to the thief is that the real value of the chalice is not in the precious metals used in its construction. “The real value is in the fact that this is a usable work of art and in the craftsmanship,” said Fr. Keighron. But the fact that the chalice has an estimated appraised value of more than $10,000 makes hopes a little dimmer that it will be returned.

According to Howard Beach jeweler Denis Croce who owns Marlowe Jewelers, the thief has in their possession something of great value to its owner but of little worth in the open market. “I am sure that whoever stole this chalice will come to realize very quickly that it’s not an item that you can just unload at a pawn shop or have melted down.” Croce explained that it would be extremely difficult for anyone to sell the item and that even if an unscrupulous dealer were located, the amount of money they would offer is nowhere near the estimated value of the chalice.

Now as Fr. Rob and his parishioners sit and wait in the hope that his chalice will be returned, plans are being made through insurance to replace the vessel. “The insurance company will pay for me to have a replacement, identical to that of the chalice that was stolen.” But he says it’s hardly the same.

“I will get something that looks exactly alike but it will not be the chalice I used to celebrate on the most important day of my life. It will not have come from my family and it will not be the chalice that I have used at every Sunday mass I have celebrated since becoming a priest. So no, it will not be the same. It will never be the same.”

The police are asking anyone with information to please call Crimestoppers at 1-800- 577-TIPS.

Precinct Battles Burglary Spike

By Conor Greene

Residential burglaries are up throughout the precinct, including a huge spike over the past month - in part due to an apparent pattern in Maspeth.

The 104th Precinct has seen a 40 percent rise in home break-ins during the past 28-day period and an increase from 71 to 77 for the year to date, Captain Ray DeWitt reported at Monday’s COMET civic meeting.

There was good news in other major crimes last month, including decreases in robberies, assaults, grand larceny and auto thefts, according to DeWitt. However, burglaries con- tinue to be a problem through the precinct’s confines, and a pattern has been established by the NYPD in northern Maspeth.

“It’s throughout the precinct, all over and not confined to one neighborhood,” said Officer Tommy Bell of the precinct’s Community Affairs Unit. “But there is a pattern in the Maspeth area. They’re all so close to 73rd Street. We believe one person may be responsible for all those.”

There was one burglary between 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. on February 23 near 53rd Avenue and 73rd Street, when a number of items were taken, including jewelry and bags. The same afternoon, there was an unsuccessful attempt on the same block when a homeowner found a Hispanic man trying to pry his way into her home through a rear window.

There was also an assault during attempted burglary at 57th Road and 71st Street on the afternoon of February 20. The resident was home at the time and was punched in the face by the would-be thief. Civic member Mike Harte noted that it took police over an hour to respond to that incident, even though it was a crime in progress and the perp fled.

Officer Bell said the call was dispatched to the precinct as a past incident, meaning it wasn’t prioritized correctly. “The [investigation] process started when the officers got there, but obviously they should have gotten there sooner,” he said.

Many of the burglaries have taken place during daytime hours when the homeowner is at work, cautioned police. Other recent Maspeth incidents include:

February 23, a perp broke into a house near 67th Street and 51st Road after breaking a rear window.

Tools and copper were stolen from a construction site near 69th Place and 52nd Street during the daytime on February 19.

There has also been a recent string of break- ins in West Maspeth between Maurice and Grand Avenues:

A house near 59th Avenue and 57th Road was entered through a rear window between February 19 and 23rd, with unknown items taken.

No items were reported stolen after a perp entered a residence near 56th Drive and 61st Street between 5 p.m. and 8:30 a.m.
on February 20-21.

And on February 20 at about 7:20 p.m., a tenant heard glass breaking from an adjacent vacant apartment near 58th Street and 57th Place in West Maspeth. The tenant heard glass breaking and saw two men jump from a front window.

While the precinct’s northern area has been hit especially hard lately, police say other areas of Ridgewood, Middle Village and Glendale haven’t been spared. The 104’s burglary stats took a huge hit last week, with nine on Monday and Tuesday alone, said Captain DeWitt. Of those, five were in Maspeth. There have been 19 burglaries overall in the past two weeks.

Areas hit in other neighborhoods include a break-in along the 500 block of Seneca Avenue, where a front door was pried open; a daytime burglary on 84th Place near 64th Road; and a burglary on Harman Street near Woodward Avenue while the resident was out for the evening.

South Ozone Park Man Flees from FBI

Sought in $7 Million Mortgage Fraud

By Patricia Adams

The FBI is hunting for a South Ozone Park man they believe is the mastermind of a $7 million mortgage fraud scheme. Ishwandat (Danny) Raghunath, a 46-year-old Guyanese national, fled before agents were able to arrest him at his home last week.

On February 22, agents converged on Raghunath’s residence off Conduit Boulevard in South Ozone Park, but authorities said the suspect had already gone on the lam. He allegedly recruited straw buyers, people who consent to have their names and personal details used by others to obtain mortgages with no intent of ever occupying the homes. These individuals are sometimes offered several thousand dollars for the favor and asked to sign forged documents.

“Buyers” with good credit ratings were allegedly selected to purchase homes in Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx. The indictment goes on to say that the buyers were offered $5,000 for the use of their names along with a promise of investment opportunities without having to make any payments.

After submitting falsified mortgage applications to banks and inflating sale prices of the properties involved, Raghunath took the money from the loans and put it in bank accounts under his control. Mortgage payments were made on the properties for a few months and then cut off, forcing lenders to institute foreclosure action against the buyers.

Co-conspirators Phyllis Seemongal, 49, of Queens, and 40-year-old Halal Ahmed of the Bronx were arraigned and charged with bank and wire fraud.

Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to call the FBI at (212) 384-5000.

PAINTING HER TOWN: Renowned Artist Madeline Lovallo Shows Locally

By Patricia Adams

The work of Howard Beach resident and renowned artist Madeline Lovallo is currently being shown at the Ozone Park district office of Council Member Eric A. Ulrich. Inspired by local scenery, Lovallo’s work includes a selection of oils on canvas ranging from the Carousel at Forest Park, shoreline images of Jamaica Bay and views from the sidewalks of Jamaica Avenue. The artist has completed works capturing Woodhaven Hamilton Beach, Howard Beach and Broad Channel.

For the last thirty years, Lovallo has been delighting art enthusiasts with her work in oil on canvas and watercolors. Her formal training began in 1973 when she attended the Brooklyn Museum Art School, as well as The Forest Park School of Art and The Drawing Room in Manhattan.

In 1983, Lovallo relocated with her family to Paris for her husband’s job. Upon her arrival in Europe she was taken by the classical beauty of France, especially captivated with the charm of the winding streets. She wanted to become a part of the Parisian art world and began studies at the American Academy of Paris and Lancaster’s Studio. When she returned home several years later, Lovallo became a member at The Art Students League in Manhattan and the Alliance of Queens Artists.

She has continued with her work and has taken her love of painting to the level of instruction. Lovallo has offered workshops for children with the cooperation of the New York Public Library system and continues to teach drawing to students at her Howard Beach home.

Madeline Lovallo has been showing her work in single shows and group exhibitions since 1985 in the United States and in France. She has been commissioned by numerous museums, galleries and individuals for works in the mediums of oil, watercolor and pastels. Lovallo has been the recipient of many awards and honors, having been recognized for her achievements with various proclamations and citations. In 2005 she was presented with a Certificate of Recognition by Mayor Bloomberg.

Locally, the artist’s works have been purchased by the New York City Parks Department and collectors throughout the city and the tri-state area. Councilman Ulrich says the unusual offer to use his district of- fice as a venue for Lovallo’s one-woman show came so that his constituents would be able to enjoy her work. “Madeline is a truly distinctive and talented artist—an absolute jewel of Queens.”

Madeline Lovallo is very clear when describing the inspiration for her ability to capture the beauty of her local surround- ings. “I am very blessed to live in a beautiful area surrounded by inspiration from the waterways, parks and neighborhoods of south Queens.” And whether she is depicting shoreline scenes from Hamilton Beach or Broad Channel or portraying familiar retail establishments of yesteryear, Lovallo’s passion and sentiment about her surrounding communities is evident.

Ms. Lovallo is affiliated with the Salmagundi Club in Manhattan and her work can be seen online at Council Member Ulrich’s district office is located at 93-06 101st Avenue in Ozone Park and is open Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm.