2022 Election Profile: Michael Conigliaro runs for AD28

‘I’ve touched every part of the district’

By Jessica Meditz

[email protected]

Michael Conigliaro challenges Andrew Hevesi in Assembly District 28.

Republican challenger Michael Conigliaro hopes to win big next week against incumbent Andrew Hevesi in the race for Assembly District 28.

The district encompasses parts of Forest Hills, Rego Park, Ridgewood, Richmond Hill, Middle Village, Glendale, Maspeth and Kew Gardens, the latter of which was recently gained due to redistricting.

The boundaries of Assembly District 28. Photo: Redistricting and You: New York, Graduate Center of Cuny.

If elected, Conigliaro, 53, strives to focus on the issues of crime, small businesses and education within the district.

Reflecting on the fears he’s heard from residents about crime, he feels that the bail reform legislation passed in 2019 should be repealed in its entirety.

While he understands that he cannot get that done alone up in Albany, he would use a person-to-person approach to work with fellow Assemblymembers.

“I’d like to meet all of my fellow representatives in the state legislature and say, ‘Look, let’s take our political hats off as human beings. Look in your district,’” he said. “‘Can you tell me the people in your district right now don’t have the fear that the people in my district have?’”

Conigliaro is a proponent of using the funds allocated for community-based jails, such as the one being constructed in Kew Gardens, to improve Rikers Island instead.

He would take a tour of Rikers to see firsthand the problems it has, utilize his ability to get state money and work with City Councilmembers to advocate against jails in neighborhoods and for keeping Rikers open.

“Nobody wants a jail in the neighborhood. Nobody wants a homeless shelter. But these things have to be discussed, and there’s ways to figure them out,” he said.

“I believe that Rikers can be fixed, because it’s waterfront property. There’s other reasons why they want to take that place, close it and then put local jails. But I believe, when you look at the situation is in our neighborhoods…You’re really taking those neighborhoods now and you’re also hurting the fact that people are gonna say, ‘It’s open, I’m leaving,’ property values will drop, businesses will close and the domino effect is only bad rather than looking at the options.”

He shares the same sentiment for homeless shelters in the community, namely the men’s shelter located on Cooper Ave. in Glendale. As a civic leader, he has experience volunteering at faith-based homeless shelters, and supports them as a solution to homelessness.

Citing the 238 percent increase in 9-11 calls within Glendale as a result of the shelter, Conigliaro suggested that it poses a threat to the five schools within the immediate area.

Given his experience as President of the Community Education Council – District 24 school board, ensuring that children get the education they need is of utmost importance to him.

The matter includes protecting students by prioritizing school safety and rewarding students for good merit rather than on a lottery basis.

“I had parents calling myself and Superintendent [Madelene] Chan saying that their child is a straight A student, but didn’t get into any high schools because of this tiered lottery system rather than merit-based,” he explained.

“What you’re seeing is that a lot of children’s self-esteem are being affected by the fact that they’re saying, ‘I work hard, I want to get into a good school and I didn’t,’” he continued. “If you start creating a lottery rather than merit-based, you’re going to have children who are there via politics rather than merit, and the ramifications of that are really hurting the children because if they don’t make it at that school, you’re now creating another self esteem issue.”

Regarding small businesses, Conigliaro said that as a result of crime, inflation and the COVID-19 pandemic, local businesses have seen a decline.

In an effort to rectify this, he would like to find a way to give small businesses an incentive to come into the area by offering a small moratorium on the sales tax.

As for where he feels state money should be allocated in the district, areas such as infrastructure and assisting small businesses and homeowners come to mind, but he would ultimately like to conduct a study to figure where funds are most needed.

If given the choice of which committee in Albany to serve on, Conigliaro said he would choose Veteran Affairs.

“We have migrants coming in right now because New York is a sanctuary city, but we have veterans who served in all wars and many of them are out there with PTSD. They’re homeless, they’re jobless and they need our help,” he said.

He would look to work with Mayor Eric Adams and the City Council to provide homes to veterans in need.

Utilizing funds from the city’s Homeless Services Budget, his goal would be to set up facilities for them in buildings that have been foreclosed.

“When you see a homeless veteran out there, and they should all be thanked for their service, I just feel like [they] fought for [their] country, and now [they’re] home. If you need us to work with you and give you assistance for something, and some of them may not even be able to ask for it…I want to be a voice for them, and I want to utilize my skills to work to improve their quality of life.”

Conigliaro said that if elected, he would work in unison with colleagues, regardless of party affiliation, focusing solely on issues that impact the people they serve — whether it be education, crime, tax issues, the environment or quality of life.

He feels similarly in regard to constituents who may not agree with him on every issue, such as abortion — being he’s pro-life.

“That issue and my opinion on it, quite frankly, should not stop someone from supporting me because of what I want to do about crime…about education…about property taxes…about our veterans and homelessness,” he said. “We can agree to disagree, but let’s work on the other things we can agree on, because you’re never going to agree on everything.”

He also understands the value of an elected official who’s transparent and accessible to constituents, which he said he will follow through on.

Since he’ll be new to the State Assembly, he feels that up in Albany, he can serve as a unifier — bringing a new perspective.

For this reason, Conigliaro feels that seats in the Assembly should be term-limited to two four-year terms, just like presidential term limits.

Furthermore, he is no stranger to running for election, having gone up against incumbent Joseph Addabbo for State Senate twice, and Lynn Schulman for Council District 29.

He is aware of the fact that Democrats outnumber Republicans in the district between eight and 10 to one. However, he continues to be approached by residents who say they didn’t vote for him in the last election, but will vote for him this time around.

“People are telling me that they now see what I’ve done on CEC 24, what I’ve done as a civic leader in general. I was the president of the Queensborough Community College Alumni Association, I’m with the Knights of Columbus…I do things for people in the community on a daily basis without being elected, and people see that,” he said.

“I don’t cry over spilt milk, but I think that the experience from those races has led me now for enough people to say, ‘I think it’s time to give Mike a shot.’”

Conigliaro’s first two years of life were spent in Ridgewood, he grew up in Kew Gardens, lives in Rego Park, has close friends in Glendale and went to high school in Richmond Hill.

He has two young daughters, aged 14 and seven, whom he raised while attending Concord Law School online, studying while they slept, and even in bathrooms during family trips.

“I’ve touched every part of the district,” he said. “We really have a beautiful district; we have parks, we have different civic associations…District 24 and 28 are really great school districts with good school superintendents,” he continued.

“People love living in any one of these neighborhoods in the district, and I think I can lead it well.”

Drag story hour rally met with backlash

“Bigotry has got to go,” local electeds say

By Jessica Meditz

[email protected]

State Senator Jessica Ramos confronts a counter protester while Councilman Shekar Krishnan speaks.

In response to a rise in hate against the local LGBTQ+ community, Jackson Heights elected officials held a community rally outside the Queens Public Library in the neighborhood.

Councilman Shekar Krishnan, Assemblywomen Catalina Cruz and Jessica González-Rojas and State Senator Jessica Ramos invited the community to stand in solidarity against anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-drag hate, in support of the Drag Story Hour NYC event that took place inside the library immediately after.

The rally, however, prompted some unwanted guests to take to the streets as well, expressing their disapproval of drag queens hosting storytime events for children.

“When we are met with hate, when we are met with depression, bigotry, homophobia, we respond with love. We respond with power, we respond together and send a message loud and clear that hate has no place here in Jackson Heights,” Krishnan said.

“Jackson Heights is the birthplace of the LGBTQ+ movement here in Queens in response to a hate crime when Julio Rivera was killed about 30 years ago, just a few blocks from here, and so we know what it means to respond to hate,” he continued. “In our community, we are proud to love and embrace everyone for who they are. We make sure our children grow up in a community where they can love whoever they want, where they can dress however they want and where we celebrate each and every single person here.”

(Photo: Office of Shekar Krishnan)

While Krishnan led the crowd through a series of chants, including phrases such as, “The people united will never be defeated” and “Bigotry has got to go,” a male counter protester approached the podium.

He continued to shout, “Stop grooming the kids” before being confronted by Ramos, and eventually removed by security. 

Ramos emphasized the importance of events like Drag Story Hour, so that children who are LGBTQ+ can feel safe and represented in the community, as well as encouraging people to talk about sex in an accurate and scientific way.

“I know it’s funny and I know it’s taboo, but I think a few people across the street missed the memo. I just want to say to everybody across the street, there is still time to come out,” she said while addressing the counter protesters. “There is an entire neighborhood ready to love you.”

Oliver Click, executive director of Drag Story Hour NYC and working drag performer, said that the No. 1 response they hear to Drag Story Hour is how so many people wish they had this opportunity growing up, and stressed how LGBTQ+ representation in a positive light significantly improves the mental health outcomes for that community.

“The rise in violent harassment and backlash that we’ve seen over the last few months has been shocking and heartbreaking,” they said. “But the support of our community including parents, teachers, librarians, city officials, local community organizers… has enabled us to not only continue our programming as usual, but to expand our outreach and celebrate creativity, empathy and joyful expression to the people that need it most.

Upon approaching the counter protestors for comment, the group was uncooperative.

Counter protesters demonstrated across the street.

A Jackson Heights resident and an employee at an elementary school, Jennifer A. (who requested her full last name be omitted), was in tears at the backlash the event received from the counter protesters.

In fact, on the same day as the rally, she said that one of her young students requested to be called a different name and asked if they could stand in line with the opposite gender during school.

Jennifer said she would welcome a drag queen into her classroom any day with open arms.

“That’s what we’re taught to do, to teach them acceptance, and it’s very upsetting to hear all of this because it takes a lot of courage for a child to know themselves, and I credit their parents for that,” she said.

Vinyl Revolution Record Show returns to Astoria

By Stephanie Meditz

[email protected]

Vinyl Revolution Record Show invites over 50 record vendors to set up shop in one venue. Photo via their website.

On Saturday, Nov. 12 and Sunday, Nov. 13 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Vinyl Revolution Record Show will return to the Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden in Astoria for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Father-daughter duo Mike and Amanda Schutzman started hosting record shows 10 years ago at the Brooklyn Bowl. 

Mike Schutzman initially ran the show with the manager of his record store in Valley Stream. 

Amanda Schutzman has always been involved in the show, but she now works in records full-time and co-organizes it with her father. 

“Now I work for a large vinyl distributor that deals with record stores all over America for new releases and reissues and stuff like that. So I deal with 200 record stores every day,” she said. “So I was just like, hey, I’ll take over. I know enough of the business at this point.” 

Since it began, Vinyl Revolution Record Show has hosted several shows a year in Queens, Brooklyn and Long Island. 

“I think it just got bigger than we expected it to get, and we just kept doing them,” Schutzman said. 

The show invites roughly 50 record dealers, personal collectors and record store owners from all over the country to set up shop in the same venue. 

Vendors sell a range of merchandise, including vinyl records, CDs, 45 RPM records and record supplies like sleeves, boxes and collector bags. 

Steve Lobmeier of Steve’s Record Cleaning cleans records that attendees buy or bring to the show for $1.50 per LP. 

At a whopping 80 tables, the most recent show was the largest one yet, and the Astoria show will be the first two-day show. 

“It’s basically just a giant flea, but it’s all records,” Schutzman said. 

Mike Schutzman, an avid record collector, often sets up shop at record shows around the country, including Vinyl Revolution. 

He passed his love for vinyl and music onto his daughter, who is also a collector. 

“I was raised in a record store, so I’ve always been into music. I didn’t start collecting myself until about 10 years ago, maybe even more than that,” Amanda Schutzman said. “And I’m addicted like the rest of them.” 

She is grateful to work with her father and share this hobby with him. 

“We have all the same hang-ups and we’re constantly back and forth on the phone making sure everything’s planned properly, but we have a great time working together,” she said. “We’ve never really butt heads or anything like that. He seems to really know what he’s doing, so I fall in line and listen.” 

The Astoria show will also feature special guests DJ Shangri-La, DJ Nina Day and DJ Spag of punk band Two Man Advantage. 

DJ Shangri-La and DJ Nina Day will play music at both Astoria shows.

Tickets are available on their website for $5. With the price of admission comes a ticket for the raffles called every half hour. 

Early admission is also available from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. for $10. 

“It’s just nice to have the Queens, Brooklyn, New York City crowd come back to the shows because we haven’t done them in a while,” Schutzman said. “The atmosphere is the most exciting at Astoria.”

Dog Parade Held in Kew Gardens

First parade a huge success for the community

Pepper is the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man and the Ghostbusters were with him. Photo: Michel Leroy, @michelleroyphoto www.michelleroyphoto.com.

 

By Alicia Venter

[email protected]

Forest Park Barking Lot and We are Kew Gardens wished the community a “Happy Howl-o-ween,” partnering to host their annual Dog Parade and Costume Contest.

The parade on Saturday, Oct. 23 featured approximately 40 dogs, according to organizers Esta-Joy “EJ” Sydell and Anne Craig. 

Onyx the Husky was Harry Potter and won 2nd Prize. Photo: Michel Leroy, @michelleroyphoto www.michelleroyphoto.com.

Some owners joined their dogs in costume as they marched from Forest Park Barking Lot to Austin Ale House at 82-70 Austin St. The winner this year was a beagle named “Bella” who dressed as Wonderwoman. The whole family of Bella’s was there, celebrating their dog’s victory. In second place was husky “Onyx” dressed as Harry Potter and third place went to “Moose,” a chocolate lab dressed as R2D2.

Honorable mentions included local dog “Cleo” dressed as a “Poop Factory” and Queens Khalifa, a bulldog dressed as a sunflower. 

“I was really kind of impressed by them, because I thought there would be a lot of barking,” Sydell said. “The dogs were moving along like it was their day down the street.”

The dog park has held similar contests within the park for the past four years, but this year, Craig approached Sydell with the hope to bring the event more into the community. 

Craig is part of the community organization We are Kew Gardens. The group is focused on building volunteer and community service opportunities for people in the neighborhood and creating events to engage the community.

“What began as a costume contest in the Barking Lot became a parade,” Craig said. 

Beyond Craig and Sydell, two key organizers of the event included Viana Tran and Hannah Bridgham.

Sydell has been part of the dog park, which is a nonprofit organization, since it opened in 2015. She has served as its president since 2019 and serves on Community Board 9 on the Parks, Recreation and Environment Committee. Sydell works in the community to support dog parks and educate the community on responsible pet ownership. 

Sydell’s love for the community shined through every time she spoke of the different businesses and organizations around the dog park. Austin Ale House has been overwhelmingly supportive of the park in its early years, and Sydell shared her deep appreciation for their help.

“Shoutout to the Austin Ale House. They’ve been nothing but really good to the dog park and the community as a whole for many years,” she said. She has held fundraisers at the restaurant, including Cocktails for Canines.

Among the attendees was Queens Borough President Donovan Richards. He enjoyed the event so much, Sydell and Craig shared, that he said he wanted to be a judge the following year. 

“We are going to hold him to that,” Sydell said with a laugh. 

“It was just really nice for Anne to bring this to me, so that we can combine forces and maybe draw some people in the community’s attention more to helping volunteer at the dog park, as well as just bringing some joy to the neighborhood,” Sydell said. “People really had great feedback and a great time. People who didn’t have dogs came out to watch. It was just a really fun, nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon.”

Judges included Roberta “Bobbi” Giordano, owner of the no-kill shelter Bobbi and the Strays, Mark Morrill, the Democratic District Leader for Kew Gardens, and Vina Castillo, who owns the Kew and Willow Store. 

Local pet supply stores donated the gifts given at the event: K9 Caterers, Dog Days and Cat Nights and Wagging Tails all provided supplies and gifts for the dogs, as well as gift certificates. 

Bobbi and the Strays donated “huge gift baskets filled with doggie toys and treats that were absolutely incredible,” Sydell shared.

“When it comes to dogs, the community really steps up,” Sydell shared. “You can’t be upset about dogs, especially in costume. What’s cuter?”

Both Craig and Sydell encourage the community, particularly the younger members, to get involved in the dog park and We are Kew Gardens, as well as the community at large.

“We believe in community service. We believe that communities are built by the communities that live in them,” Craig said. “We do these things like the dog parade to really engage the community. To get the community involved and have a really fun day, while also giving back to the community.”

‘Friends of Smokey Park’ brings community together for its first cleanup

By Alicia Venter

[email protected]

 

Phil Rizzuto “Smokey” Park sits in the middle of Richmond Hill, and long- time residents Aleena and Bill Knight have heard neighbors talk for years about their desire for the park’s renovation.

As the founders of the 95th Avenue Block Association, which was formed two years ago, the couple decided to lead the initiative to

beautify the neighborhood park themselves.

“My wife and I just decided, ‘let’s do it,’ so we did,” Bill Knight said.

Four months ago, the group “Friends of Snokey (Phil Rizzuto) Park” officially formed.

This past Saturday, they held their first cleanup, drawing elected officials and members of the community for a memorable afternoon.

In attendance were volunteers and members of Friends of Smokey Park, Juliet Ganpat, Pastor Charles McGowan of Gospel Baptist Church, Sherry Algredo, Chair of Community Board 9 and Senator Joseph Addabbo.

A few years prior to the group’s organization, the children’s playground was redone; the group now looks to other sections of the park to continue the improvements that were halted in what likely was due to funding, Knight said.

One of the goals that the organization has, though Knight acknowledges it “won’t happen right away,” is to put a three or four lane track around the large grass field within the park.

There is a large senior citizen community that frequents the park, Bill Knight explained. However, he noticed that they would do their morning exercises outside the park, while enjoying the park’s interior.

Another major concern they noticed takes place during the summer — during baseball games held in the park, visitors will park on the sidewalk, which causes safety concerns and concerns regarding the overall quality of the park.

“It will be available to local schools for track teams and groups,” Knight said. “More importantly, it [will give] senior citizens a safe place for them to walk around.”

The group also looks to renovate the basketball court.

“We are really serious about making an impact that will be beneficial to the community, not to us,” Knight said. “We are a non- profit. We have no skin in the game.”

Though they have long- term goals on the horizon, the group is also looking to make change now.

On Saturday, the group took rakes and trashbags around the park, cleaning trash and other debris. They also planted bulbs.

Aleena Knight and Joe Addabbo

“On a beautiful Saturday, these volunteers could all be somewhere else, with families or private businesses or home,” Addabbo said. “But they are there in the park, giving back to the community. It’s great to see, and I just came by there to say thank you — because too often those two words often volunteers don’t hear.”

Addabbo noted the presence of Community Board 9 Chair Sherry Algredo and the Partnership for Parks. It was “great to see” the city park’s department providing supplies and support to the group.

“It is always great when you can see the local folks take an initiative to upkeep their parks and be involved in their community,” said Algredo. “That is exactly what some residents have chosen to do and hosted their first ‘It’s my Park’ cleanup this past Saturday. Community Board 9 was happy to be there to support this effort and we applaud all the volunteers that came out and worked hard in this cleanup initiative.”

The Park’s Department was not just supporting from afar.

Alejandra Vanegas, outreach coordinator for “Parknership for Parks” was in attendance, helping the organizers plant bulbs and clean.

Her job is to help provide the tools and provide support in the organization of the event so as to make their vision of beautifying the park a reality.

A huge part of the organization of the group was Senator James Sanders Jr., who suggested the group form.

The 95th Avenue Block Association has printed newsletters monthly and delivered them door-to-door with information regarding Community Board meetings, and events.

Now, the Friends of Smokey Park has a Facebook page, which they encourage nearby residents to join. Visit www.facebook. com/groups/friendsof- smokeypark for more information.

Astoria Characters: The Next-Stage Performer

Anna starred in a hit TV show in Greece.

It’s a glorious morning in Astoria Park, so Anna Tsoukala celebrates by bursting into song.

Her voice – “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child, Sometimes I feel like a motherless child … A long way from home, a long way from home” – pierces the somnolent silence, shaking the sunlight and floating over the East River like a rose petal in the wind.

It’s just a traditional tune, a spiritual, yet there’s something in her choice that resonates far beyond this time and space.

Anna, you see, is a long way from home. 

Born in the port city of Piraeus, Greece, she spent the first decade of her life in Tunisia, Libya and the United Arab Emirates, places where her father, who was in the construction industry, found profitable work.

It was during that time that she made the grand proclamation that would define her life: “I’m going to be an actress and a singer,” she triumphantly informed her skeptical yet supportive parents.

Anna, who has long raven-black hair and loud neon-red treble clef-shaped earrings, started with dance, immersing herself in ballet, gymnastics, flamenco – anything and everything that got her body on its feet.

By the time the family returned to Piraeus, Anna had mastered many steps, including the ones that would lead her to a successful career on stage and screen.

“I always saw acting and singing in my mind,” she says. “But I didn’t take lessons until I was 18 after my father died. He’s my hero – he rescued two people from a burning boat even though he knew he wouldn’t survive the act. So I poured my energy, my sadness into acting and singing.”

For seven years, she studied the craft, including at the top-ranked Greek Art Theater — Karolos Koun.

During her student years, she was cast in the hit-TV series “Don’t Say Goodbye,” which is what most of her fans still identify her with.

In 2015, after becoming a leader in Greece’s #MeToo movement, Anna moved to Astoria.

“I had nothing, and I didn’t know any English,” she says. “I chose the United States because it’s a spiritual country where people from all over the world come to make their dreams come true.”


She settled in Astoria because of its significant Greek population.

“People really helped me out,” she says.

For the first six months of her stay, she was alone and lonely, but things changed when she began singing at her church.

“When they introduced me to my pianist, a Greek-American man, I fell in love immediately and knew that I would marry him,” she says.

Six months later, she became a bride.

“He’s my angel,” she says dramatically. “People told me it was a risk to marry so quickly, but everything in life is a risk.”

She picked up a couple of roles in movies, including the 2022 short “Rootless,” which just happens to be about a young woman in Greece who comes to New York City to pursue an acting career, and will appear next year in “The Last Night.”

“We’re hoping to bring ‘The Last Night’ to the stage, to Broadway,” she says.

When Anna’s not on the stage or the screen or working on musical numbers with her husband, she’s a tutor, giving children private lessons in the Greek language, theater and music.

At night, she studies vocal performance at Juilliard.

It is, she says, a very full and satisfying life.

But it’s far from static.

She has big plans.

Sometime, she’s not sure when, she wants to move to West Palm Beach, a culture-rich city that’s fluent in film and opera.

After that, she sees herself in Los Angeles, specifically Hollywood, if not in films then at least living there.

“I’m taking things step by step,” she says. “I’m not going fast – I have to build things up.”

Nancy A. Ruhling may be reached at [email protected];  @nancyruhling; nruhling on Instagram, nancyruhling.com,  astoriacharacters.com.

All Saints Episcopal in Woodhaven Celebrates 125th Anniversary

All Saints Episcopal (formerly St. Matthew’s) on 96th Street; two churches serving Woodhaven and Richmond Hill for over 2 centuries. St. Matt’s closed in 2011; All Saints will celebrate its 125th Anniversary this month

This is the story of two churches that share history, heritage and a church building. The first is All Saints Episcopal Church on 96th Street and 86th Avenue in Woodhaven, which is celebrating a major milestone this month, its 125th Anniversary.

All Saints came to Woodhaven from Richmond Hill, where they held their first service on Sunday, November 26th, 1897. The small group of worshippers that gathered that day could never have guessed where their wee gathering would lead. 

Within a few years, All Saints would lay a cornerstone on a few lots they purchased on Lefferts Boulevard and on All Saints Day in 1900, appropriately enough, they celebrated their first mass in their new building.

In those early days in Richmond Hill, All Saints was surrounded by untamed woods and farmland. Over the next century, as the area around them changed dramatically, All Saints remained steadfast to its commitment to serving the community.

The other church in this story is St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, which was organized in 1901 as a mission of the Church of the Resurrection in Richmond Hill, to accommodate the growing population of the Brooklyn Manor section of Woodhaven.

St. Matthew’s started in a storefront on Jamaica Avenue near 91st Street but soon a lot was purchased on Willard Avenue (now 96th Street). St. Matthew’s first service in their newly built wooden church was held on the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6, 1901, and because of the flowers that populated the field it was built upon, it took the nickname “The Church in the Daisy Fields.”

Both churches flourished through the 20th century, not only serving their communities but becoming important and valued parts of their respective neighborhoods. Countless weddings, christenings, baptisms and funerals were held in both churches, touching the lives of tens of thousands of families in Richmond Hill and Woodhaven.

However, both churches found themselves in difficult positions as the 2010s came to a close. St. Matthew’s membership had been rapidly declining and the diocese made the difficult decision to close the church which had served Woodhaven for 111 years. 

Woodhaven Historian Allan Smith next to the baptismal font he was baptized in inside All Saints Episcopal Church on 96th Street and 86th Avenue in Woodhaven.

On Sunday May 22, 2011, a deconsecration mass, performed by Bishop Lawrence Provenzano of the Long Island Episcopal Diocese, was held. To the community of Woodhaven it appeared that the beautiful English gothic-style church on 96th Street was gone for good.

Meanwhile, All Saints Episcopal in Richmond Hill was surviving, but in a building that was no longer suited for long-term use. The Long Island Episcopal Diocese then made a decision that changed the history of two of its churches. 

All Saints Episcopal was relocated from Richmond Hill to Woodhaven and the diocese installed the Rev. Dr. Norman Whitmire, Jr. to guide this change in July 2013. Fr. Whitmire has worked hard since then to build connections and relationships with the Woodhaven community. 

Under his stewardship, All Saints Woodhaven has thrived. They have offered services in English and Spanish, undergone a major renovation and started a Senior Lunch Program (on the 3rd Saturday of every month).

All Saints streams all High Masses, weekday masses, and various other services over the internet and upholds its commitment as a friendly, inclusive, and diverse parish where all are warmly welcome.

What could have been a disaster for two churches was averted, and a stronger more modern church has evolved. 

All Saints Woodhaven will cap off a week of celebratory events this Friday, November 4th at 7:30 pm with a formal dinner and dance that will take place in the recently renovated and handicapped accessible parish hall (with a brand new elevator) overlooking the historic Wyckoff-Snedeker cemetery.

For more information about All Saints Woodhaven visit them online or call them at 718-849-2352 for more information.

 

Forest Hills Gardens Foundation updates archive, engages public

Rediscovering and preserving Forest Hills Gardens history

By Michael Perlman

[email protected]

Archives Committee of FHG Foundation at work.

The Forest Hills Gardens Foundation’s board and Archives Committee is on a mission, preserving a photo, illustrated map and a publication at a time.

Last week, they reviewed the archives, and brainstormed how to take it a step further by sharing never before seen memorabilia with local to worldwide residents and researchers.

The locations featured in most photos are easily identifiable, but as for others, the Foundation and residents may feel like team players and can say, “There’s a mystery on our hands.”

Many photos featuring early Gardens residents also remain to be identified.

Founded in 1909, Forest Hills Gardens, designed by principal architect Grosvenor Atterbury and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., is a quintessential example of an earliest planned garden community nationally.

This model residential development, complete with Tudor and Arts & Crafts-style mansions and rowhouses, few apartment buildings, winding streets, lush parks and monumental trees, was inspired by Sir Ebenezer Howard’s Garden City Movement.

Today, clubs including the Men’s Club of Forest Hills, Women’s Club of Forest Hills and West Side Tennis Club remain in existence, which are testaments to neighborliness and community spirit for generations.

Clubhouse of West Side Tennis Club.

The Forest Hills Gardens Foundation’s history can be traced to 1909 as an advocacy group, formerly known as the Forest Hills Gardens Taxpayers Association (FHGTA), with a mission statement that reads: “The purpose of the Association shall be the promote the common welfare of all persons residing within the territory of Forest Hills or Forest Hills Gardens.”

“They successfully advocated with government and service providers to help obtain a local fire company, increased rail service, a post office, schools, a playground and much more,” said Foundation President Bruce Eaton, a 23-plus-year Gardens resident who feels that he enjoyed every minute of it.

“The Gardens is an important community from a historical perspective, but also to those of us who live here. It is a physical manifestation of how good community planning can enhance our quality of life,” he continued.

As for the Foundation, he explained, “Residents crave to know our history, so it falls on us to help preserve it.”

Although the Foundation originated as the FHGTA, it morphed into the Community Council circa 1919.

“When the Sage Foundation Homes Company pulled out of the Gardens in 1922, the community formed the Forest Hills Gardens Corporation to take over the community’s maintenance. Many of the people who helped create the FHGC and who became leaders within the FHGC were from the Community Council,” Eaton continued.

“There has always been synergy.”

When residents and visitors picked up a copy of “Forest Hills Inn,” an early 20th century illustrated pamphlet by philanthropic organization Russell Sage Foundation’s subsidiary, Sage Foundation Homes Company, they learned about the Gardens’ benefits of location, education and business, as evident by the planning of parks and open spaces alongside homes embodying architectural treatment.

This primary source exists within the archives. The archive also enables its audience to realize the potential for restoring neglected sites such as the historic Flower Shop and trying to solve the mysterious disappearance of relics such as original signage from a series in Station Square, which is supposedly safeguarded by restrictive covenants.

Forest Hills Flower Shop circa teens, but now abandoned.

The Forest Hills Gardens Foundation’s archive features historic events such as annual Fourth of July celebrations in Station Square, which includes Col. Theodore Roosevelt’s “100 Percent American” speech on July 4, 1917 at Forest Hills Station, as well as festive gatherings on Flagpole Green.

Col. Roosevelt delivers his 100 Percent American speech, July 4, 1917.

Eaton began serving as Treasurer in 2011 after longtime resident Paul Stanley died.

The much-admired William E. Coleman served as President since the 1990s, and then in 2018, Eaton acquired his role, representing a younger generation of Foundation leadership.

That is also when the organization was renamed from the Forest Hills Gardens Taxpayers Association.

Major committees include Finance, Nominating, Archives and Website & Marketing.

“We have 10 board members and are looking to expand,” Eaton said.

The Forest Hills Gardens Foundation’s board and Archives Committee consists of diverse members who have a significant interest in history and participation in community affairs.

Forest Hills Gardens resident Bea Hunt, who co-chairs the West Side Tennis Club’s Tennis History & Archives Council, is also grateful to serve on the Board and Archives Committee of the Foundation.

“We have a unique opportunity to expand the Foundation’s physical and electronic archives, in order to document and preserve our great heritage for residents and researchers worldwide,” she said.

“I am delighted to serve on the board of the Foundation, since it fills a large vacuum in the preservation of our local history,” said resident Ann Chamberlain, who is also active on the board of the Forest Hills Women’s Club and has served on the Forest Hills Gardens Beautification Committee.

She explained, “The Forest Hills Gardens Corporation’s mission is to maintain, and where needed, repair the physical plant that is the Gardens, whereas we strive to record the Gardens’ evolution throughout its over 100-year existence.”

One may wonder about an estimate of historic images and documents that exist within the archive.

“We are planning on doing a drive to gather more photos and documents on our website, but there are 829 historic images and 340 historic documents, dating from 1910 to 1935 or so. We have over 100 vintage home photos that current owners seem to enjoy,” Eaton said.

Some of his standout images are the early construction of Station Square and early community events such as Children’s Day.

Childrens games at annual 4th of July festivities circa teens.

“Perhaps my favorite depicts horses drinking from the horse trough (now benches) that was in the middle of Station Square,” he added.

Eaton is also very much intrigued by Forest Hills Gardens Bulletins by the Sage Foundation Homes Company from 1915 to 1925.

“There are so many things that are still topical today, such as mosquito control and the Spanish Flu of 1918, and many others that truly reflect the time; such as WWI’s impact and the process of building a community,” Eaton said.

In 2017, www.foresthillsgardensfoundation.org was launched, and it has become a searchable resource.

Highly illustrated Forest Hills Gardens map, 1927.

Eaton said, “In the upcoming year, we intend to scan the Gardens Bulletins in a more interactive format. They are online now, but you cannot perform internal searches. A portion of the photographic images are downloadable, but we intend to make them all downloadable at some point.”

Eaton believes that there is nearly not as much awareness of the Foundation’s pursuits as there could be.

“Many residents would enjoy perusing the content on our website if they know about it. I also feel they would be surprised at our achievements spanning a 113-year history,” he explained.

To organize and catalog an extensive collection based on professional standards, Certified Archivist Lois Kauffman was appointed, and in January 2022, archival records were organized in acid-free folders and five archival document boxes.

Rusty metal was removed and deteriorating documents were copied onto acid-free paper. Then a finding aid was produced to inventory and describe the collection.

The collection consists of six series: Incorporation, bylaws, tax exemption; Board of Directors; Projects, activities, history, publicity; lectures and special events; publications; photographs.

A decision was made to store these materials in an environmentally-controlled storage facility.

Eaton explained the next steps. “Now that we have a real structure, we will conduct outreach to local residents to gather more materials that we know many residents have. We will add to our collection and make them available digitally. The Seeler family, longtime residents, agreed to donate bound copies of Forest Hills Gardens Bulletins, which we will make scannable online. At some point, we may request materials that the Sage Foundation donated to Cornell University and are stored there.”

When the Foundation reoriented its focus on education and preserving history, at least one major event takes place annually.

Eaton said, “This year, we held a presentation honoring the 200th anniversary of Frederick Law Olmsted’s birthdate, with Olmsted biographer and Gardens resident Justin Martin speaking. It also featured a video we produced of the Olmsted family’s impact on the Gardens.”

In recent years, also of great public interest, was a film and lecture about the Olmsteds and presentations by guest experts on Grosvenor Atterbury and the influences that shaped the Gardens.

Scholarly articles have also been published locally.

According to Eaton, the board has some very ambitious thoughts on what the Foundation can become. “We have been debating a drive to create a physical presence in the Gardens where residents can come browse our materials and website in a gallery-like setting, but that would be a long way ahead.”

Although restoring historic properties falls outside their scope, the board and Archive Committee may be able to assist with research requests to help accomplish that.

To submit vintage photos or reproductions, email [email protected]

Porcelli: The Other Side of Education (11/3)

CTE Shop Class: Now It’s High-Tech

The Growing Importance of CTE

By Mike Porcelli

Two events last week highlighted for me why CTE is increasingly important for students now more than ever.

First, I attended another event highlighting the tremendous job opportunities available to workers of all ages trained to operate and maintain the latest technology.

Manufacturing Day kicked off last month with an event presented by Long Island Manufacturers talking about the high-paying careers in all levels of their industries. Recent grads spoke about how various STEM programs and initiatives like Robotics Camps and industry internships helped guide them to very satisfying career choices.

In a follow-up to closeout Manufacturing Month, Haas Automation and their community of educators held a Demonstration Day to expose students to the power of modern, advanced manufacturing equipment, and the vast array of high-paying jobs for the operators.

Their goal is to produce enough high-tech machinists for generations to come, something our economy must achieve to survive. These jobs require high levels of training that CTE programs can provide, leading to very demanding, profitable and secure careers quickly.

Such modern manufacturing equipment is totally unlike the simple machinist tools I used in high school. Today it’s all computer-controlled, and all future machinists will need to be computer programmers as well. Hence, the increased importance of CTE for every trade.

The other encouraging event I participated in last week was a meeting with the DOE’s new Pathways Office. I’m so happy to see the DOE is pursuing a strategy of career guidance for students at an early age and will no longer push every student into college programs that don’t meet their needs.

Working toward his objective to better match education programs to each individual student, Chancellor Banks has outlined a bold vision reimagining the student experience based on career-connected learning that leads to long term economic security for all, rather than programs that benefit the administrators more than the students – a great improvement over the previous system.

His vision is to integrate academic excellence with real world skills and experience, giving students a shortcut to rewarding careers. CTE is an essential part of this vision. I hope to see the new Pathways Office implement programs that work for all students.

Speaking of all students, DOE also has a new office of Diversity and Inclusion. I’m sure the work they do will be beneficial, but when it comes to providing students with their best educational experiences, diversity must mean offering the wide variety of programs that match each student in terms of their aptitude and ability to succeed, and inclusion must allow every student to be included in the program that best suits their needs, not those of the “system.”

Diverse training and matching the diversity of student abilities must be achieved.

Student success depends on this

Academic & Trade Education are Two Sides of a Coin. This column explores the impact of CTE programs on students, society, and the economy.

Mike Porcelli: life-long mechanic, adjunct professor, and host of Autolab Radio, is committed to restoring trade education in schools before it’s too late. https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-porcelli-master-mechanic-allasecerts/ 

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