Community Unites for Earth Day Cleanup Event on Future QueensWay Park


A diverse group of volunteers gathered on April 20 for an Earth Day cleanup event along the future site of the QueensWay park, organized by Trust for Public Land, Friends of the QueensWay, NYC Parks, and Councilmember Schulman. Credit: Mohamed Farghaly.

In a collective effort to revitalize a neglected part of Queens, a diverse group of volunteers joined forces on April 20 for an Earth Day cleanup event along the future site of the QueensWay park.

Organized by Trust for Public Land, Friends of the QueensWay, NYC Parks, and Councilmember Schulman, the Community Impact Day aimed to foster community engagement while laying the groundwork for the transformation of a disused railway into a vibrant public space.

The event, which drew over 75 participants, saw residents don gloves and utilize provided cleanup materials to rid the designated area of debris, marking a significant step toward realizing the ambitious vision for the QueensWay. Volunteers traversed a portion of the planned 4.5-mile park, spanning from Rego Park to Ozone Park, focusing their efforts on areas earmarked for phase one and phase two development.

With over 75 participants, residents donned gloves and utilized cleanup materials to rid the area of debris, marking progress towards transforming the neglected railway into a vibrant public space. Credit: Mohamed Farghaly.

Gary Weinstey, volunteer and sustainability manager at JFK underscores the significance of community engagement in creating a green space for the benefit of all stakeholders in Queens. 

“Today we are giving back out to the community and creating a green space and for the benefit of the Queens residents and to give back and provide a healthy a green space for the community,” Weinstey said. “It’s important to have a healthy green space that is as free of pollution and waste and to give an opportunity to the future generations to be able to have a space for greenery, and for some nature and for some environmental conservation.” 

Despite the daunting task of tackling environmental neglect, volunteers remained undeterred, recognizing the importance of their contribution to the revitalization efforts. While acknowledging that some debris may require heavy machinery for removal, participants expressed satisfaction with the impact they were able to achieve.

“I think it made a big difference,” remarked one volunteer. “Sure, there’s still work to be done, but events like these are crucial for fostering a sense of stewardship and pride in our community.”

Reuben Ramale, a board member of Friends of the QueensWay and volunteer highlighted the importance of community involvement in celebrating Earth Day and engaging residents in learning about the QueensWay project. As a resident of Woodhaven, with Forest Park as his local park, he emphasized the significance of initiatives like the cleanup event in transforming neglected spaces into vibrant community assets. 

“This is just our opportunity to one, celebrate Earth Day, but then also engage the community members to come out and get to learn a little bit more about the Queensway,” Ramale said. “For the last two and a half hours we’ve been cleaning this area, and there’s always more than enough trash to pick up around here.”

The cleanup event not only served as an opportunity to physically improve the future QueensWay but also as a platform for community members to connect and reaffirm their commitment to the project. 

The recent announcement of a $117 million federal grant has provided a significant boost to the ambitious QueensWay project, fueling efforts to transform a neglected 3.5-mile stretch of abandoned railway into a vibrant linear park and cultural greenway in Central Queens. Led by the Friends of the QueensWay (FQW) in collaboration with The Trust for Public Land, the project has garnered widespread support since its inception in 2011, with the aim of revitalizing the area and enhancing the quality of life for residents of Queens and beyond. 

The recent announcement of a $117 million federal grant further fuels efforts to transform the abandoned railway into a seven-mile greenway, offering new connections between neighborhoods and promoting health and connectivity. Credit: Mohamed Farghaly.

The grant, issued as part of the “Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods Program – Neighborhood Access and Equity Program” by the U.S. Department of Transportation, represents a pivotal moment in the initiative’s progress, signaling a commitment to fostering community cohesion and investing in transformative infrastructure projects.

With a specific focus on the Forest Park Pass project, the grant will support the extension of the QueensWay into Forest Park, encompassing approximately 1.3 miles of greenway, new greenway bridges, recreational amenities, and connections to existing facilities. Once completed, the QueensWay will span seven miles of greenway, providing new connections between neighborhoods and offering New Yorkers a safe and accessible way to enjoy the outdoors. This latest infusion of federal funding propels the QueensWay project into its next phase of development, poised to realize a vision of a dynamic urban green space that promotes health, connectivity, and community engagement.

Volunteers from diverse backgrounds join forces to clean up debris along the future site of the QueensWay park, marking Earth Day with community action. Credit: Mohamed Farghaly.

Ryan Matt, Community Outreach Coordinator for Trust for Public Lands, reflects on the significance of community engagement in events like the Earth Day cleanup for the QueensWay. 

“We had about 75 plus people come out and help us clean up the cleans the Queensway this morning,” Matt said. “It’s been a great turnout and we had a really nice morning, what was kind of to draw attention to this abandoned rail, which actually was just funded by the federal government to be built into a park. The full park would span 4.5 miles from Rego Park all the way down to Ozone.” 

Matt emphasizes the importance of stewardship and connection to the land, highlighting that the QueensWay is not just a tourist attraction but a space intended for the local community. 

Reflecting on the success of the cleanup event, organizers encouraged interested individuals to stay informed and get involved in future initiatives by joining the QueensWay email list, following social media channels, and reaching out directly to learn more about opportunities for participation.

For more information and to join the community effort, visit and follow @QueensWayNYC on social media.

Northwell Health Takes Over Glendale Hot Spot


Northwell Health has transformed Glendale’s former Shiro of Japan space into a healthcare hub, unveiling the Northwell Health Physician Partners at Glendale within Atlas Park. Courtesy Northwell Health.

In a stride towards accessible and comprehensive healthcare, Northwell Health has repurposed the former Shiro of Japan space at Atlas Park into a healthcare hub, officially unveiling the Northwell Health Physician Partners at Glendale. 

Now located within Atlas Park at 80-40 Cooper Ave Suite 4204, Glendale, the multi-specialty practice marks a pivotal addition to the community’s healthcare landscape, offering a diverse array of medical services under one roof.

The grand opening on April 19 heralded a new era of healthcare convenience for Glendale residents as well as local neighbors, as the facility, situated within the Shops at Atlas Park, commenced its operations. The $5.1 million investment is a testament to Northwell’s commitment to serving local communities.

The grand opening on April 19 marked a significant milestone for Glendale residents, with the $5.1 million investment showcasing Northwell’s commitment to community health.
Credit: Queens Ledger Staff.

Mark Talamini, Senior Vice President and Executive Director of Northwell Health Physician Partners, articulated the institution’s dedication to expanding healthcare accessibility in the area. 

“Northwell Health Physician Partners has made the investment in Queens a priority and that’s been made clear by our expanding range of health care services and medical specialists in the region,”Talamini said. “We want to be where people live and work to make access to care and the delivery of quality medical services as seamless as possible.”

This state-of-the-art facility encompasses a spectrum of medical disciplines, housing offices for primary care, behavioral health, cardiology, endocrinology, pulmonary medicine, urology, and various surgical specialties. With a team comprising 10 physicians and 27 support staff, the center ensures comprehensive healthcare delivery, boasting 16 exam rooms, an onsite clinical laboratory, and specialized equipment for diagnostic procedures such as ultrasounds and echocardiogram/stress tests.

Northwell Health offers a diverse range of medical services under one roof and a team of 10 physicians and 27 support staff. Credit: Queens Ledger Staff.

John D’Angelo, Senior Vice President and Regional Executive Director of Northwell’s Central Region, underscored the institution’s commitment to serving Queens and beyond.

“In order to empower ever healthier communities, it’s important that Northwell provides a range of complex care beyond the walls of our hospitals,” said D’Angelo. “We have a long history of service to Queens and we’re doing even more in Glendale by bringing ENTs, cardiologists and surgeons to the local community.”

The grand opening ceremony saw notable figures from the local community, including Tom Grech, President & CEO of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, and Ebony Young, Deputy Borough President, who lauded Northwell’s investment in Glendale as a testament to its leadership in healthcare.

“A 10-million dollar investment in Glendale is a great thing and as one of the largest employers in the state, with 86,000 employees, it is evident Northwell is a leader,” Gech said. 

For those seeking appointments or more information, Northwell Health Physician Partners at Glendale can be reached at 718-887-3090 or visited online at 

Nick’s Bistro Fights to Community Rallies to Preserve Outdoor Dining Oasis Amidst City Mandate


Customers and community members rally behind Nick’s Bistro, signing petitions and voicing support to preserve its outdoor dining structure, emphasizing its significance as a beloved community hub and dining destination. Credit: Mohamed Farghaly.

In a move set to reshape the city’s culinary landscape, new seasonal regulations pose a dire threat to the flourishing al fresco dining scene, leaving restaurateurs and patrons alike reeling. Passed by the City Council in August, the legislation allows for year-round sidewalk seating but deals a heavy blow to curbside dining, limiting its availability to April through November. For many restaurant owners, this restriction proves economically unviable, as the costly dismantling and reconstruction of outdoor structures each year loom as insurmountable challenges.

For many restaurant owners, like Tom Avallone, managing partner of Nick’s Bistro located at 104-20 Metropolitan Ave, Forest Hills, this mandate signals a dire threat to their financial viability. 

New seasonal regulations threaten NYC’s al fresco dining, impacting businesses like Nick’s Bistro and its patrons, prompting concerns over economic viability and community loss. Credit: Mohamed Farghaly.

Inside Nick’s Bistro, a simple wooden plaque proudly declares, “Meals and Memories Made Here,” a sentiment that resonates deeply with patrons who have come to regard the restaurant as an extension of their own homes. Within its walls, families celebrate birthdays, host gatherings, and mark special occasions, forming bonds that transcend mere dining experiences. 

Avallone extends a warm welcome to every guest, often knowing them by name and treating them like cherished members of the community. Beyond being a mere eatery, Nick’s Bistro, with its outdoor dining area, has become a cornerstone of the neighborhood, fostering a sense of belonging and camaraderie. The potential loss of this vital component could have far-reaching consequences for local businesses like Nick’s, threatening not just their bottom line but the very fabric of community life.

Tom Avallone, managing partner, voices financial challenges and emotional ties to the restaurant, highlighting its role as a cherished community hub. Credit: Mohamed Farghaly.

“I don’t have an unlimited bank account where I can destroy something of this magnitude and throw it all away, and then build something back up and do it every year,” Avallone said. “People come here because of the quality of our food, that consistency, the value of our dollar and it’s been 14 years of us being here because of what we do for the community.” 

Avallone and his staff poured heart and soul into creating an outdoor dining oasis, a sanctuary where people could safely dine amidst uncertain times. With a hefty investment exceeding $165,000, Nick’s outdoor structure boasted hardwood floors, electricity, and even heaters to combat the winter chill. It was more than just a dining area; it was a lifeline for both patrons and employees alike.

“Come November, they want me to take it down and I’m able to put it back up again in April. But to remove a structure of this massive amount with the security features that we put in, the cameras that we have here as well – the structure was not put together with wing nuts and bolts, it was not put together like a Lego set, it was built with the integrity to withstand the test of time and to be in addition to our restaurant,” Avallone said. “By removing it, everything from the lights to the cameras and the living plants in the structure will all get thrown in the garbage.”

The proposed seasonal regulations, mandating the removal of outdoor dining structures in November, come as a devastating blow to both the business and its workforce, many of whom will face unemployment just before the holiday season. Constructed with city approval during the COVID-19 pandemic at a cost exceeding $165,000, these structures will be dismantled and discarded, along with living plants, only to be reconstructed come April. 

The recent announcement of seasonal regulations threatens to upend everything Nick’s Bistro has worked so hard to build. The city’s directive mandates the removal of outdoor dining structures from November through April, a move that could devastate the restaurant’s financial stability and disrupt the lives of its staff. For Avallone, it’s not just about the dollars and cents; it’s about the community they’ve nurtured and the employees who rely on Nick’s Bistro for their livelihoods.

“The whole idea is by losing the outdoor dining area come November, I’ll lose 50% of my staff automatically, because I’ll go from a 100 seat restaurant to a 40 seat restaurant.” Avallone said. “I will no longer be able to employ them and I’m going to have to raise my prices.”  

The Bistro’s outdoor dining area was placed on a non-revenue producing street, it exists harmoniously within the fabric of Forest Hills, its presence neither impeding nor disrupting the flow of everyday life. Unlike many city establishments, Nick’s does not burden its neighbors with parking woes or obstruct the rhythm of street cleaning routines. Its strategic location on a side street of 72nd Avenue ensures minimal impact on traffic patterns, allowing pedestrians and vehicles to navigate effortlessly. 

“To take the structure down during that wintertime between November and April when most people are scared about the effects of what COVID or the flu may bring makes absolutely no sense,” Avallone emphasized the impracticality of dismantling the structure during the colder months.

Avallone highlights the numerous benefits of their outdoor setup, including safety features, amenities for patrons’ comfort, and contributions to both the local economy and customer experience. From the living plants to the sliding windows for optimal airflow, every aspect was designed with patron comfort and safety in mind. Unlike some hastily erected structures, Nick’s was built to last, withstanding the test of time and weathering even the fiercest storms. 

Many patrons enjoy the option of outdoor dining at restaurant’s like Nick’s Bistro. Credit: Mohamed Farghaly.

Customer Marsha Woodfin emphasizes the importance of preserving structures like Nick’s Bistro’s outdoor dining area for the community, highlighting the joy and enhancement it brings to their dining experience and neighborhood ambiance.

“It just makes us all so happy, it’s such a pleasurable experience to come here. It’s added so much to the neighborhood,” Woodfin said. “They put in so much effort to make a beautiful space that’s comfortable. And we know it’s good for their business and it’s just added so much. We love sitting outside in the beautiful weather. A couple of years ago, you couldn’t do that. Nick’s did such a beautiful job with the structure making it so decorative, it’s not like some of the outdoor sheds that others have that are unsightly.”

Despite Avallone’s pleas for understanding, the city remains steadfast in its stance, citing concerns over uniformity and safety. While acknowledging the need for regulation, Avallone argues that Nick’s should not be lumped together with establishments that cut corners or neglected their outdoor setups. 

“Why does the city want to take them down? Because people that put barriers up during COVID did not maintain them,” Avallone said. “They’re not built with the integrity that we did. They are rat infested. They’re built shabbily. They are shaky structures. And yes, those should be taken down. But you can’t put me into the same barrel as everybody else. I want somebody with integrity and somebody who’s got their finger on the pulse of reaction and has the power to say no, we would be doing an injustice to businesses like Nick’s Bistro.” 

With nearly 800 signatures on a petition to save their beloved structure, Nick’s Bistro represents a broader struggle facing restaurants across the city. It’s a battle for survival in an ever-changing landscape, where the fate of businesses hangs in the balance between public health and economic recovery. Avallone emphasizes the unique circumstances of each establishment and pleads for a more nuanced approach to regulation.

“I’ve got a petition that we started that says let me stand, I’ve got close to 800 signatures already from customers that have come in and they’ve given me everything from their name, their address, their email address, their telephone number, and they’ve signed it.” He emphasized the integral role Nick’s Bistro plays in the local neighborhood, stating, “We’ve been around for 14 years, during the pandemic, we did a lot of donations during the time that people were suffering we did the most that we possibly could do to remain open and to take care of our community.”

Christina Chesleigh, a long-time patron of Nick’s Bistro and resident of the neighborhood, emphasizes the significance of the outdoor dining expansion in enhancing her family dining experience.

“I’ve been coming here since it was a tiny little shop used to sell cold cuts and the moment he was able to branch out, and especially into the street, I could bring my grandkids and my family,” Chesleigh said. “The outdoor dining just made the experience so much better. I’ve signed the petition because I don’t want to see Nick’s Bistro change. I even have a favorite table in the corner of the dining shed.” 

If the current ruling remains unchanged, Nick’s Bistro won’t be the sole establishment facing adverse consequences; numerous businesses relying on similar outdoor dining structures will also be significantly impacted.  As the deadline for removal looms, Avallone and his team remain undeterred, fighting tooth and nail to preserve what they’ve built. For them, it’s not just about a dining structure; it’s about preserving a legacy and safeguarding the future of their restaurant and community.

Grand Avenue Street Fair Draws Thousands


Thousands flocked to the Grand Avenue Street Fair held on April 27, spanning from 69th St to 72nd St and proudly sponsored by the Maspeth Chamber of Commerce. Families and children reveled in the diverse array of attractions the fair had to offer. From fun rides and engaging games to captivating arts and crafts, vibrant live music performances, delectable food stalls, and enlightening informational booths, there was something for everyone.

 Children delighted in winning prizes and taking home goldfish, while adults seized the opportunity to acquaint themselves with various community organizations and indulge in purchases ranging from exquisite jewelry to artisan crafts and exotic culinary delights.

One booth at the fair caught the attention of visitors with its mission to support the American Cancer Society. Marsha Fromowitz, a board member involved in event planning, represented the organization and promoted their upcoming Relay for Life Event, set to take place on June 22 at Juniper Valley Park. The booth aimed to encourage sign-ups for the event while providing vital information on cancer screenings.

Representatives from the Department of Corrections were actively engaging with visitors at the event, providing essential information about recruitment opportunities within the department. They emphasized their role in disseminating details to interested individuals about the process of signing up for the corrections exam. Attendees were informed about test-taking procedures, application steps, and even provided with details about pay scales.

Another booth, overseen by Victor Orellana and his wife, stood as a testament to their family business. Hailing from Ecuador, they proudly showcased their handmade products, including necklaces, bracelets, and crocheted items. With a keen eye for detail, they crafted each piece with care, incorporating personalized touches such as engraved names. Their passion for their craft has spanned over three to four years, with weekends spent together as a family, delighting in the joy of creating and sharing their unique creations with the community.

As the festivities drew to a close, the Grand Avenue Street Fair stood not only as an annual celebration of community spirit but also as a testament to the diversity, talent, and warmth found within the Maspeth neighborhood as spectators eagerly await next year’s event.

Woodside on the Move Partners Serves 200 Meals in Community Food Distribution Event

Courtesy Woodside on the Move

Woodside on the Move, a community-focused organization, recently conducted a successful food distribution event in Astoria, serving nearly 200 meals to residents in need.



Woodside on the Move, a longstanding organization dedicated to community enrichment, recently hosted a successful food distribution event in collaboration with local partners. The event, which took place in Astoria, served nearly 200 meals to residents in need, highlighting the organization’s ongoing commitment to supporting the community.

The food distribution event was made possible through funding secured via participatory budgeting, a process that involved input from community members and support from Tiffany Cabán’s office.

Benjamin Kim, a Program Coordinator at Woodside on the Move, emphasized the importance of community input in securing the necessary resources for such initiatives.

“Our organization is all about community-based action,” Kim said. “It’s been really fulfilling to work closely with residents and local partners to address food insecurity and provide essential services to those in need.”

Woodside on the Move partnered with Roti Boti, a local restaurant and the Astoria Halal Fridge to prepare and pack the meals for distribution. Volunteers from the organization then delivered the meals directly to residents, ensuring that those facing food insecurity had access to nutritious meals.

“Our organization is all about coming in and doing like a community based organization, just for us to be ingrained with the community and for us to be able to bring these hot meals to where food insecurity might be occurring,” Kim said. “it’s been really fulfilling, and also to establish a closer relationship with Astoria residents as well as offer our services.”

In addition to providing meals, the event served as an opportunity for Woodside on the Move to establish closer relationships with residents and offer support beyond food assistance. Kim explained that the organization’s housing team was on hand to provide information and assistance with various services, including SNAP benefits and MetroCards.

“We’re not just here to distribute meals,” Kim said. “We’re here to listen to the needs of the community and provide support wherever we can.”

The success of the food distribution event reflects Woodside on the Move’s ongoing efforts to address food insecurity and support residents in need. With future events already planned, including one scheduled for May 4, the organization remains dedicated to making a positive impact in the Woodside community.

For more information about Woodside on the Move and upcoming events, interested individuals can visit the organization’s social media at woodsideonthemove for updates and announcements.

Courtesy Woodside on the Move

With collaborative efforts and community input, the organization addresses food insecurity while offering additional support services, reflecting its commitment to community enrichment.



Glendale Man Indicted for Fatal Stabbing of Girlfriend in Maspeth Tavern

Queens Ledger Staff

Queens DA announces indictment of Glendale resident for fatally stabbing girlfriend at Maspeth tavern; suspect arraigned on murder charges as domestic violence concerns persist in NYC.

Marcin Pieciak, a 36-year-old resident of Glendale, was indicted on charges of murder and criminal possession of a weapon in connection with the fatal stabbing of his girlfriend, Sarah McNally, at a Maspeth tavern in March, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced.

McNally, a 41-year-old bartender, was tragically killed during the incident at Ceili House Bar, where she was working at the time. According to authorities, Pieciak allegedly stabbed McNally multiple times before inflicting self-harm.

District Attorney Katz condemned the act, stating, “The defendant is accused of cruelly and brazenly taking the life of someone he purported to care for and doing so in front of her colleagues and bar patrons. We are grateful to the grand jury for returning these serious charges and we will work to seek justice for Sarah McNally.”

Pieciak was arraigned on an indictment charging him with murder in the second degree and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree. Supreme Court Justice Ushir Pandit-Durant remanded the defendant and scheduled his next court appearance for June 18.

McNally, originally from Ireland, had been living in the United States for about a decade. The tragic incident occurred on March 30, around 6:30 p.m., prompting a swift response from law enforcement.

According to authorities, Pieciak arrived at the tavern where McNally was working and allegedly launched a violent attack, stabbing her multiple times before turning the knife on himself. Both were rushed to Elmhurst Hospital Center in critical condition, where McNally later succumbed to her injuries.

Details emerging from the incident reveal a harrowing sequence of events: Marcin Pieciak entered the Ceili House Bar on Grand Avenue in Maspeth, where Sarah McNally was bartending, and proceeded to stab her 19 times in the neck, back, and chest, as captured by surveillance footage. Following the attack, Pieciak turned the knife on himself, inflicting multiple self-inflicted wounds to his throat. Despite efforts to detain him, Pieciak confronted responding officers with knives, prompting them to safely disarm him.

Assistant District Attorney Gabriel J. Reale, alongside Assistant District Attorney Veronika Podoprigora, is spearheading the prosecution, with oversight from Assistant District Attorneys John Kosinski and Karen Ross, and Executive Assistant District Attorney for Major Crimes Shawn Clark.

The incident underscores ongoing concerns about domestic and interpartner violence in New York City. According to data analysis by Gothamist, such violence has been on the rise in recent years, claiming 71 lives in 2022 alone. Those experiencing domestic violence can seek support from the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233, which offers assistance in over 200 languages and operates 24/7.

St. Matthias Catholic Academy Fighting Closure Threat with Community Support

Mohamed Farghaly

Principal Keri-Ann Wade-Donohue leads efforts to reverse declining enrollment and fundraising shortfalls, emphasizing the school’s legacy of academic excellence and Christian values.


The St. Matthias Catholic Academy in Ridgewood is facing a critical juncture in its 114-year history as financial woes threaten its existence. With the specter of closure looming over St. Matthias, the Ridgewood community rallies behind desperate efforts to stave off the shutdown of the cherished neighborhood institution.

The announcement of the school’s precarious financial situation earlier this month sent shockwaves through the tight-knit community, prompting parents and faculty to rally in a concerted effort to save the beloved institution. With a looming deadline in June, the academy’s fate hangs in the balance.

Established 114 years ago by the Sisters of Notre Dame, St. Matthias Catholic Academy has been an enduring fixture in Ridgewood, nurturing generations of students with a blend of academic excellence and timeless Christian values. However, recent years have seen a decline in enrollment, exacerbated by shifting demographics and the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Principal Keri-Ann Wade-Donohue, alongside dedicated parents and faculty, spearheads a determined campaign to reverse the academy’s fortunes before it’s too late.

“Our academy has a long and storied history, we’ve been in Ridgewood for 114 years, we are part of the Brooklyn diocese,” Wade-Donohue said. “We’ve had a very good record and have made a huge impact in the neighborhood over the years.”

St. Matthias Catholic Academy holds a storied legacy within the Ridgewood community, boasting a tradition of academic excellence and a commitment to instilling Christian values. With a comprehensive curriculum spanning pre-K to 8th grade and innovative programs such as a hydroponics lab, the academy has long been a beacon of educational innovation.

Principal Wade-Donohue paints a stark picture of the academy’s plight, noting a sharp drop in enrollment from over 400 students a decade ago to a mere 152 presently.

“We really need to build that number in order to be sustainable,” she emphasizes, highlighting the urgent need to attract more students to secure the academy’s future.

Since then, the St. Matthias community has embarked on an intensive recruitment drive, aiming to enroll an additional 50 students within a two-week timeframe. Miraculously, enrollment has surged from 125 to 146, demonstrating the community’s dedication.

To complement enrollment efforts, a GoFundMe campaign and an alumni initiative have been launched. The alumni effort has garnered $57,000 in donations, while the GoFundMe has raised over $17,000. Despite these commendable strides, the academy remains far from its fundraising target.

Faced with an imminent closure decision, parents and faculty unite in a race against time to enroll an additional 50 children within what was a two-week window.

“We need to have an enrollment of 180 by next year and now we’re at 152, so we’re still gonna be short by 28 If we don’t pick up some student registrations this coming week,” Wade-Donohue said. “Also, the goal for the fundraising was $1 million and we are significantly short of that.”


Courtesy St. Matthias

The St. Matthias Catholic Academy in Ridgewood faces closure due to financial struggles, prompting a community-wide effort to save the institution, which has been a cornerstone of the neighborhood for 114 years.

In their battle for survival, St. Matthias Catholic Academy opens its doors wider, inviting interested families to explore enrollment opportunities.  Each new enrollment brings them one step closer to their goal and they are now offering families a $1,000 credit towards their first year’s tuition. Financial aid is also available, ensuring that St. Matthias is an option for anyone who is interested.

“We pride ourselves on traditional Christian values and a strong educational package,” Wade-Donohue asserts, underscoring the academy’s commitment to excellence.

Beyond the confines of parental involvement, the academy extends an appeal to the wider Ridgewood community for support. Through events like radio bingo and upcoming student performances, St. Matthias seeks to engage and mobilize community members in their fight to preserve a cherished institution.

Marek Mscisz, a parent of a seventh grade student at St. Mathias Catholic Academy, expressed his fervent support for keeping the school open. He emphasized the positive impact the school has had on his daughter and the community, highlighting its uniqueness and the strong bonds it fosters.

“The kids, you know, look forward to attending and love the school,” Mscisz said. “We believe in the importance of keeping this whole thing going and ensuring that the message is received. There isn’t going to be closure.”

He shared concerns about the disruption it would cause to his daughter’s education and lamented the prospect of having to relocate to another school as she is on the cusp of approaching the eighth grade and graduating amongst all of friends and known faculty members, the thought of uprooting to unfamiliar grounds dampens the excitement of her impending milestone.

Reflecting on the significance of their mission, Principal Wade-Donohue encapsulates the academy’s unwavering resolve.

“Not only is there a legacy behind St. Mathias, but we are a safe and solid educational institution that welcomes all and we are here,” Wade-Donohue said. “We are here to help and to serve and that is why it’s important that we stay open.”

As the clock ticks down, the fate of St. Matthias Catholic Academy hangs in the balance, its survival hinging on the collective efforts of a determined community unwilling to let go of a century-old legacy.

Parents interested in enrolling their children or providing  support to the academy, please reach out by calling (718) 381-8003, emailing, visiting the academy’s website at or donating at the GoFundMe at


Courtesy St. Matthias

Despite challenges, the community rallies behind the academy, with recruitment drives, fundraising campaigns, and appeals for support from both parents and the wider Ridgewood community.

NYC’s Pollinator Port Project Transforming City Landscapes for Native Bees

Department of Transportation

Ydanis Rodriguez, NYC DOT Commissioner, announces the launch of the Pollinator Port Project during Earth Week, highlighting the city’s commitment to supporting native bee populations.


In a bid to bolster urban biodiversity and support at-risk native bee populations, the New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT), in collaboration with The Horticultural Society of New York (The Hort) and Rutgers University, has launched the Pollinator Port Project.

Unveiled during Earth Week, this initiative aims to create habitats for native bees in select NYC DOT public plazas and Open Streets, deploying innovative structures like ‘bee hotels’ and ‘bee bunkers’ alongside strategic vegetation plantings.

“Bees are essential for the health of our planet, and this initiative will create habitats for at-risk native bee populations and help facilitate important scientific research,” NYC DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez said.

The Pollinator Port Project is poised to transform NYC’s bustling streetscapes into havens for bees, promoting biodiversity and ecological resilience within the city. These efforts align with the United Nations’ Environment Program’s emphasis on the critical role of bees in sustaining life and biodiversity.

“We are thrilled to work with DOT to support bringing pollinators to NYC public plazas and open streets, and to share more with New Yorkers about the pollinators that help their green public spaces thrive,” stated Georgia Faulkner, senior director of partnerships, programming, and public space at The Horticultural Society of New York.

The project’s scientific underpinning comes from Rutgers University’s expertise, led by Dr. Kimberly N. Russell. By integrating science and design, the team is crafting habitats – Bee Bunkers and Bee Barrels tailored to meet the specific needs of native bee populations.

“Most bee species cannot live in hives, so we need to give them other materials to build their homes,” Russel said. “Our hope is that these Pollinator Ports connect green spaces, giving bees the resources, they need to move around the city and pollinate our flowers.”

The initiative also carries significant educational and community engagement components. The Hort, known for its commitment to greening urban spaces, will oversee the installation and maintenance of these habitats across the city. Additionally, Rutgers University will conduct research on the movement and behavior of bees in urban environments, fostering a deeper understanding of their ecological significance.

Department of Transportation


Bee Bunkers: Burrowing bees find refuge in these protected soil chambers, providing safe nesting grounds for their eggs until spring.


This groundbreaking project has garnered support from various stakeholders, including the Ittleson Foundation, which provided a $50,000 grant to Rutgers for the first three years of the study.

The Pollinator Port Project will encompass several NYC DOT plazas and Open Streets, including Parkside Plaza and Gates Ave in Brooklyn and  34th Ave in Queens.

Bee hotels, resembling birdhouses filled with natural materials like reeds and bamboo, offer ‘rooms’ for solitary bees to nest and rest, where female bees lay eggs and provide food for developing larvae. These hotels will be strategically placed in planted areas of public plazas and Open Streets, facilitating bee movement across boroughs.

Alternatively, bee bunkers provide protected soil for female bees to build nests and lay eggs, ensuring the safety of developing larvae until spring. Burrowing bees, known for their docile nature, tend to forage within a few blocks of their habitat. These bunkers will be situated within existing planters to minimize interactions with people.

Anthony C. Wood, executive director of the Ittleson Foundation, lauded the initiative, stating, “Turning public plazas and open streets into habitat for at-risk bees is brilliant and exactly the type of innovative environmental model we love to support.”

Mackenzie Pitt, Communications Manager at the Horticultural Society of New York, sheds light on the collaborative effort behind the Pollinator Port Project, which seeks to create havens for at-risk native bee populations within the urban expanse of New York City. The initiative, born out of a partnership between Rutgers University, The Hort, and the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT), aims to address the pressing need for habitats that support pollinators, particularly native bee species, in the city’s concrete jungle.

“The polio project is a collaboration of Rutgers, the Horticultural Society, and DOT, made possible by a grant from the Ittleson Foundation,” Pitt explains. “It’s both a research and a social experiment and that there’s never been this form of installing the habitats for native bees in this way. It’s all about creating.”

Pitt underscores the significance of these habitats for native bee populations, emphasizing their role in sustaining the city’s ecological balance.

“These native species are the ones that take care of our native flora and allow for humans to benefit from all the needs and benefits we get from plants, particularly our native plant species,” Pitt said.

With New York City’s landscape predominantly characterized by concrete, the provision of suitable habitats becomes imperative to prevent the decline of these essential pollinators.

Reflecting on the project’s origins, Pitt highlights The Hort’s mission to “green the in-between,” bringing verdant spaces to unconventional urban locales. Through their partnership with DOT and community engagement initiatives, The Hort has been instrumental in maintaining green spaces in various neighborhoods across the city, laying the groundwork for the Pollinator Port Project.

The project’s expansion underscores a broader commitment to enhancing green spaces and fostering ecological resilience in urban environments. By harnessing the power of collaboration and innovation, NYC aims to become a beacon for biodiversity conservation and sustainable urban development.

Department of Transportation

Bee Hotels: Resembling birdhouses, these structures offer solitary bees ‘rooms’ to nest and rest, aiding in the conservation of native bee populations in urban environments.

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