Top 10 Queens stories of 2012
Jan 03, 2013 | 2733 views | 0 0 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The footprint of the proposed Major League Soccer stadium at Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
The footprint of the proposed Major League Soccer stadium at Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
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During the gas shortage, police in Maspeth shut down a gas station to prevent fighting.
During the gas shortage, police in Maspeth shut down a gas station to prevent fighting.
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The family of Ki-Suk Han gather to pay tribute to his memory after he was pushed to his death in front of an oncoming train.
The family of Ki-Suk Han gather to pay tribute to his memory after he was pushed to his death in front of an oncoming train.
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The Civic Virtue statue.
The Civic Virtue statue.
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1) Hurricane Sandy

While the entire New York City area was hit by the hurricane, parts of Queens were left devastated. The Rockaways and the neighborhoods of south Queens felt the effects of the storm long after the water receded and the winds died down.

The hurricane caused $37 billion in damages. After all was said and done, 48 New Yorkers lost their lives and 100 homes in Breezy Point were burnt to the ground.

Many residents were left without power and heat for weeks. With the destruction around Queens, the volunteerism of local community members became evident quickly. Signs on temporary shelters read, “No More Clothes Please,” and some volunteers were being turned away because there were simply too many people willing to help.

But it was heat and electricity that was needed the most. Many criticized the city’s “Rapid Repair” program for not getting anything done, as many residents were frustrated by weeks without utilities in their homes.

Looting and other criminal activity resulted in the wake of the storm, as criminals targeted those in need. However, with the extensive volunteerism and charity from a multitude of areas, the storm helped illustrate how Queens residents will take care of one another when the time comes.

2) MLS Soccer Stadium

Plans for a new Major League Soccer stadium at the Fountain of Planets in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park have community members uneasy about some the possible repercussions.

The 25,000-seat stadium is expected to have a 15 to 18-month construction period, and is currently slated for completion sometime in 2016. It may also get a boost to 35,000 seats if MLS can conjure up some support from the city.

Don Garber, MLS commissioner, says the park is the perfect place for the league's 20th team.

“This is the world's borough, this is the world's game, and this is the world's park,” Garber said.

The project has sparked a number of protests and backlash from the community since it’s announcement earlier this year.

While MLS says the new stadium is slated to create over 2000 construction, 150 full-time and 700 part-time jobs, State Senator Tony Avella fears the community won’t benefit from the project.

“I always get that promise with these mega-projects about jobs, and yet when they do happen they don’t benefit the people who really need them,” Avella said.

If approved, the project slated for completion in 2016, is said to host roughly 25 games a year along with around 15 other events. MSL also plans to use the Citi Field parking lot in an alternating schedule plan for parking at the stadium.

3) Gas Shortage

Following Hurricane Sandy, Queens residents quickly noticed that getting gas for their cars and generators would prove to be a difficult task. A chore that normally took little time resulted in hours of waiting on line for a tank of gas.

Police had to be sent to some stations to control the crowds and keep the lines moving, and gas rationing measures were put into place. At the height of the shortage, tempers flared and a fistfight broke out at one gas station.

One gas station owner said that he witnessed past shortages, but this was the worst he had seen because it resulted from a natural disaster. People were getting gas not just for their cars, but also for generators to heat their homes.

4) Grace Meng Elected in New District

Not only did Assemblywoman Grace Meng, 36, became the first Asian-American to represent New York in Congress back in November, she will also become the first person to represent New York’s new 6th Congressional District in Washington, D.C.

With an endorsement from Mayor Michael Bloomberg, she took the election in a landslide, defeating Councilman Dan Halloran with nearly 70 percent of the vote.

Meng is replacing Congressman Gary Ackerman, who announced his retirement in light of the new redistricting of the 6th Congressional District, originally occupying portions of both Queens and Nassau County.

The new district was created after New York City lost a congressional seat following the 2010 Census, eliminating Congressman Bob Turner’s district.

Meng also defeated both Assemblyman Rory Lancman and Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowly in the Democratic Primary in September.

5) Racino at Aqueduct Finally Opens

After a long process that seemed like it would never come to an end, the much-anticipated racino finally opened its doors at Aqueduct.

In 2012, the Resorts World New York-run facility earned more than $653 million — a large chunk of which went to fund education in the state and helped a financially troubled horse racing industry.

The windfall led many to call for full casino gambling in the state.

The racino hasn't been completely without its issues. Some questioned Resort World's hiring practices and whether they came through on a promise to hire locally. And petty crime has been a bit of an issue.

But overall, the racino has proven to be a success and will only continue to grow in 2013.

6) R.A. Dickey Wins Cy Young Award

R.A. Dickey took home the Cy Young award for the Mets this year, making him the first to do it for the team since Dwight Gooden did it in back in 1985 and the first knuckleballer in the history of the game.

While he didn’t receive the deal he was hoping for to return to the team in the 2013 season, his season was one of the most dominating the team has ever seen, racking up the first 20-game winning season for the Mets in two decades.

He led the league in strikeouts, innings, complete games and shutouts, and came in second in both wins and ERA.

“This is a story that’s beyond me,” Dickey said. “It transcends R.A. Dickey. It’s bigger than that.”

He attributes his success as a true knuckball pitcher to his mentors and tutors: Phil Niekro, Tim Wakefield and Charlie Hough, helping him transition to the full-time knuckleballer in 2005.

It should also be noted that Johan Santana pitched a no-hitter during the 2012 season, the first in the franchise's history.

7) Vigil For Newtown Victims in Sunnyside

Benjamin Wheeler was just six-years-old when he lost his life on December 14.

And while the nation continues to mourn the loss of those 20 children and six adults taken in the horrific events that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, Sunnyside residents stood in support one of their own: his mother Francine.

The candlelight vigil was held in Sunnyside Gardens Park, where she had been an active member of the community before she and her family moved to Connecticut.

Students from P.S. 120 and I.S. 125 held candles and sang in prayer and memory of her loss, and the loss of so many other innocent lives that day.

The gunman, Adam Lanza, 20, killed his mother Nancy Lanza in the attack with a semi-automatic AR-15 assault rifle, along with the 26 other innocent victims at the elementary school, reopening the door to a national discussion on gun control and mental health awareness in hopes of preventing this from ever happening again.

8) Statue Moved From Queens to Brooklyn

Despite the uproar from some Queens residents, the statue Triumph of Civic Virtue was moved from it home near Queens Borough Hall to Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

The statue, depicting a nude Hercules standing over two female mermaids has sparked controversy in the past, with some arguing that it is sexist. But many supported the statue as an important artwork that should stay in Queens, where it was moved from City Hall Park decades ago.

9) Brewery Opens in Astoria

Queens is now home to the new SingleCut Beersmiths brewery in Astoria, bringing something the borough has not seen too much of over the last several decades. The founding team consists of former Greenpoint Beer Works employees Rich Brucheta, and Mark Muecke.

They introduced five new beers at their grand opening in the brewery’s new tap room, including the 19-33 Lagrrr!, Bob Sunburst Finish Lagrrr!, Dean Pacific NW Mahogany Ale, Billy 18-Watt India Pale Ale and Billy Half-Stack Idia Pale Ale.

Beer enthusiasts are invited to try out these beers every Thursday and Friday from 5 to 8 p.m., and Saturdays from 12 to 6 p.m. in the Tap Room.

10) Pushed on the Tracks

The image is still painted in everyone’s head of the helpless man, Queens resident Ki-Suk Han, holding on the edge of the platform with an oncoming subway car staring down towards his inevitable fate.

He was pushed there after getting into an argument with a man who was harassing people in a Midtown subway station.

And then just before the end of the year, another Queens man was pushed into the path of an oncoming subway train. Sunando Sen literally had no idea what was about to happen to him, as a deranged woman, later identified at 31-year-old Erika Menendez, is accused of pushing him in front of a 7 train in Sunnyside, killing him.

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