Restoration of Hallets Cove nearly complete

Neighbors and residents of Astoria Houses will soon have a newly-beautified waterfront in Hallets Cove with its restoration nearly complete.

What used to be a community eyesore — filled with trash, shopping carts and dead animals — is now a revitalized part of the northwestern waterfront of the borough thanks to a $5 million restoration project.

Elected officials and community leaders celebrated the near completion of the restoration project at Hallets Cove in Astoria.

When the project broke ground last November, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards applauded the collaborative effort of the New York City Economic Development Corporation,  former City Councilman Costa Constantinides and the Mayor’s Office to help see old structures and debris be replaced with new wetland vegetation.

“What a difference. Just in time for summer, we’re here to celebrate making the Astoria waterfront healthy and beautiful,” Richards said. “For far too long, this beautiful piece of waterfront has been anything but that.”

Richards continued, “And while the rest of Western Queens waterfront wasa being developed into hubs of culture and community, this space was left to deteriorate and decay. We will never accept that. We lead with the premise, no matter what your socioeconomic status, it should not be a determinant on whether your waterfront sees investment.”

The site was also where longtime Astoria Houses resident Claudia Coger took Constantinides to see the abandoned pier along Vernon Boulevard. Constantinides then took new City Councilwoman Tiffany Caban to the site, continuing to advocate for its cleanup.

The project will bring new trees lining the street and new railing along Vernon Boulevard. The former eyesore also was the home of a longtime radio tower that began to decay in the cove.

“The first thing that my predecessor did with me was walk me right over here,” Councilwoman Caban said.

She added that the revitalization of a community landmark can help revitalize the people within the community as well.

“This is not going to just have public health impacts, but public safety impacts,” Caban said. “We know that restorations like this make our communities that much safer.”

A total of $3 million had been allocated by the Borough President’s office across fiscal years 2016 and 2017 towards the restoration project, under Melinda Katz. Constantinides and the Mayor’s office each allocated $1 million in funding.

The Parks Department is also currently working on a separate project adjacent to the Hallets Cove playground.

Queens Community Board 1 District Manager Florence Koulouris praised the ongoing commitment to the environment and highlighted the many steps the project has taken to get to its current point, which includes a pair of Borough Presidents and a pair of City Council Members.

“This shows how when people work together, things can change and people can make a difference,” Koulouris said.

Family fun day kicks off July 4 weekend at Victory Park

Just days after New York City Public Schools closed for the summer, kids and families flocked to Victory Park in Woodhaven on Thursday for a community and family field day organized by the NYPD’s Anti Domestic Violence Unit and supported by Community Board 9.

Organizers and supporters of the event, like Community Board 9 Chairperson Sherry Algredo, praised the teamwork and community effort to host the all-day celebration complete with the NYPD’s Sports Unit, the department’s game truck, and many other festivities.

Algredo highlighted the need for a tight knit partnership with the NYPD’s 102nd Precinct, which presides over Kew Gardens, Richmond Hill East, Richmond Hill, Woodhaven, and the northern part of Ozone Park.

“It’s very important for the community and the cops to work together because it establishes that trust factor within the community,” Algredo said. “It’s all about community support.”

Community Board 9 sponsored the highly-popular cotton candy machine and a bouncy house in Victory Park.

CB9’s District Manager James McClleland echoed Algredo’s remarks, saying it is “vitally important” to promote cooperation between the NYPD and the community.

The event serves as a precursor to the annual Night Out Against Crime events held throughout the city in August, he added.

He says that the community has been dealing with derelict vehicles, sometimes parked for months at a time and on side streets, often with out-of-state license plates, throughout the district. It’s a combination of education and enforcement, he says, that are needed to combat the quality-of-life issues, including illegal dumping.

“The new commander is making a commitment to get rid of these cars,” McClelland said. “Cars are sitting idling while residents look for open parking spots. It’s all over.”

Meanwhile, a game of cricket was set up for youngsters by the 102 Precinct officers.

Raju Sukhdeo, a member of the NYPD’s 102nd Precinct, and a five-year member of the department’s cricket team, helped teach the globally-played sport to a group of kids at the event.

Formed in 2010, the cricket team consists of both uniformed and civilian members and competes in international tournaments against other police teams.

“Not a lot of people from different cultures are exposed to it,” Sukhdeo said of the sport. “Having to do this is all the more fun.”

Phil ‘Scooter’ Rizzuto gets his street sign

Longtime Yankees player, broadcaster gets childhood street corner named after him

Assemblywoman Rajkumar and Councilman Robert Holden present the street sign to the family of the late Phil Rizzuto.

The legacy of Phil Rizzuto, the Hall of Fame major league baseball player and broadcaster whose ball-playing roots began in Glendale, will forever live on at his childhood street corner which was recently co-named after him.

Nicknamed “Scooter” for his strides and speed on the base paths, the 5-foot-6 shortstop would play 13 seasons with the New York Yankees in the ‘40s and ‘50s, before becoming the voice of the team as a broadcaster for 40 years.

Family and friends joined together at the intersection of 64th Street and 78th Avenue in front of the house Rizzuto grew up in, reminiscing on the life and memories of the man whose famous “Holy Cow!” catchphrase would be shouted over the airwaves for decades.

“He was a wonderful dad,” his daughter, Penny Rizzuto-Yetto, said. “I am overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and the history people have. A lot of work went into this and I am incredibly grateful.”

The street co-naming was brought to fruition by the Newtown Historical Society, New York City Councilman Robert Holden and the Liberty Park Homeowners Association.

The idea was first brought to Holden’s attention last year. It was then up to Christina Wilkinson, president of the Newtown Historical Society, to collect the required petitions for the street co-naming to be officially recognized.

An old seat from the original Yankee Stadium was purchased by the Councilman in the ‘80s at a yard sale in Glendale, he said. Speaking next to the empty seat on display in front of a crowd of over 75 people, Holden envisioned the spirit of Rizzuto joining the joyous event in front of his childhood home.

Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar addresses the crowd at the street co-naming of “Phil ‘Scooter’ Rizzuto Corner”.

“Phil was one of the few Yankees that I really loved,” Holden, a self-admitted Dodger fan, said. “He was an inspiration as an announcer. What I loved about him is he made it really personal and he made it very warm hearted. He was just a great guy and the family knows that.”

Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar sported a red Yankees hat in support of the local Queens boy who attended Richmond Hill High School growing up. She praised his heroism, citing the stint in Rizzuto’s career, from 1943 to 1945, when he served in the Navy during World War II.

“Phil Rizzuto was a dynamite in baseball, both as a player and as we all know, a broadcaster,” said Rajkumar. “But he’s more than that, he’s a model New Yorker and an outstanding citizen. This is a man who stopped his Hall of Fame baseball career to put his life on the line for our country in World War II.”

Penny Rizzuto-Yetto, daughter of the late Phil Rizzuto, poses with a cannoli made for the event.

The block party featured a number of musical pieces performed by saxophonist Carl Bartlett, Jr., as well as “Scooter Pies” made by Rolo’s restaurant in Ridgewood, and Huckleberry soda and candy provided by the Newtown Historical Society. Yankee hats were also donated by the baseball team for the event.

Memories were shared by longtime friends of the family, including former Yankees public relations director Marty Appel, and Ray Negron, a special consultant to the Yankees.

“Those of us who fell in love with baseball in the 50’s, we live through those baseball cards,” Appel said. “I still picture in my head, his 1956 Topps card was just a magnificent, beautiful card.”

Negron added that in his nearly half-century with the baseball club, Rizzuto was one of the top three nicest guys he’s met through the sport.

“When Billy Martin got fired in 1978 — and he didn’t quit, he got fired — who sat in his room while Billy cried? Phil Rizzuto.”

Thumbs down for Innovation Queens

CB1 votes down proposed $2 billion redevelopment

A rally preceding last week’s Community Board 1 meeting pitted supporters and adversaries of Innovation QNS against each other, with mixed feelings about the project that seeks to rezone five city blocks to build a mixed-use residential and commercial district in Astoria.

Some seven hours later, the board voted 24-8 in disapproval of the project, marking a setback for the proposed $2 billion redevelopment.

Before the roll call vote was called, Elizabeth Erion, co-chair of the board’s Land Use and Zoning committee, labeled the project as “unprecedented” for the western Queens community.

“We as a board over the years have supported large scale developments,” Erion said. “We supported the Astoria Cove and recently the Hallets North development and we’re open to redeveloping areas of Astoria and Long Island City, as long as the development is appropriate, is contextual and it isn’t overbearing.”

The board was first introduced to the renovation project in December 2019, whose developers include the trio of Kaufman Astoria Studios, Silverstein Properties, and BedRock Real Estate Partners.

Earlier in June, the board’s Land Use committee voted 7-2 to not approve the project.

Erion cited longstanding issues that the board took into consideration, including the scale of the development, size of the buildings, the density of the project, as well as economic impacts it would have on the community.

“In those early meetings, and even now, some of the issues still remain,” Erion said.

She cited a May subcommittee meeting where a consensus was reached on how to proceed with the project’s recommendation.

“We agreed at that particular meeting, that the development as was proposed, as it was presented to us, was really an inappropriate development for the community and would have an impact on it in negative ways,” Erion said.

The proposed $2 billion development would allow for the construction of 12 towers between Northern Boulevard and 37th Street, ranging from eight to 27 stories tall. The redevelopment project also calls for 725—or 25 percent—of the 2,845 units to be affordable for those making $50,000 annually, and 60 percent of units to be within the price range of area median income.

Developers also tout the creation of 3,700 construction jobs that could last up to a decade, as well as 1,700 permanent jobs created. In addition, two acres of open space for play and leisure is included in the project.

CB1 board member Katie Ellman says that more open spaces in Astoria is a good thing, but cautioned her fellow board members on what the tradeoff for that would be under this redevelopment project.

“The tradeoff of what comes with that will lead to more inequity, displacement of residents, and just a complete change of our community,” Ellman, a third-generation Astoria resident, said. “So many of us are being pushed out due to the high cost of rent and high cost of living, especially families with young children. So what do we want our community to look like in the next year, five years, ten years? A vibrant community that is diverse in backgrounds, diverse in ages and diverse in incomes. My fear with this is that it will change the entire scope of Astoria.”

She added, “I can barely afford to live here now, how many of us will be pushed out?”

Board member Andre Stith voted in favor of the redevelopment, saying that he would not allow the project to dictate what his children can or can not aspire to.

“I’m not going to tell them that just because something is new and shiny, that they can’t afford it and it’s not for them,” Stith said. “I’m going to tell my kids to go out and get.”

During the public comment section of the meeting, which ran several hours long, Queens Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Grech voiced his approval of Innovation QNS, saying that the project does not include or require public funds for it to be implemented.

“There are a number of projects whose benefits do not come near Innovation QNS, that are being put forth and executed across the U.S. in places like Austin, Texas,” Grech said. “This is a great project that will create 2,000 apartments including 700 affordable homes.”

The project application will now receive a recommendation from Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, who has 30 days from the Wednesday, June 21 meeting to submit it. Next in the Uniform Land Use Review Process, or ULURP, the City Planning Commission will vote on the project. If approved, then it would be sent to the City Council for approval and a vote that would have lasting effects in western Queens.

Some opponents of the redevelopment plan, like Astoria resident Gil Lopez, say the ULURP process is broken, and called on their neighbors to continue to express their concerns with the developers.

“MIH (Mandatory Inclusionary Housing) and AMI (area median income) are nothing more than constructs of the real estate lobbyists,” Lopez said. “They are not affordable to the actual residents here, and that must be reformed.”

Lopez called the public engagement effort by developers as nothing more than a “PR stunt”.

“If the city and the community board want more open space, let’s take back the street we gave to Kaufman Astoria Studios and give it back to the people as a park,” Lopez said.

On Thursday, Queens Borough President Richards will hold a virtual public hearing on land use related to the proposed Innovation QNS applications.

Developers are specifically seeking a zoning map amendment, a series of three zoning text amendments and a series of zoning special permits pursuant to the large scale general development regulations in the zoning resolution.

A public live stream of the public hearing will be available at on Thursday, June 30 at 9:30 a.m.

Rochdale pays tribute to Alex Pauline

Neighborhood patriarch honored with street co-naming celebration southeast Queens

Alex Pauline, considered a father figure by many in southeast Queens, will forever be memorialized at the corner of 173rd Street and 134th Road, where new signage reads “Alex Pauline Road”.

The unveiling of “Alex Pauline Road” at the intersection of 173rd Street and 134th Road in Rochdale.

The life of Pauline, who died in November 2019, was celebrated just around the corner from where he called home in Rochdale Village, having grown up in “Circle 4” and playing basketball in South Rochdale Playground.

Remembered as a husband, father, coach, mentor and a teacher, Pauline’s family and friends paid homage to the man whose tough love and guidance helped raise a neighborhood.

“When God gives you a calling, you have to follow it,” his wife, Dolores Joseph-Pauline, said at the street co-naming event on Saturday, June 18. “I knew I had to share him with the world.”

Also known as “Coach Al,” Pauline gave back to his community in the form of teaching, working as a custodian and also serving as a basketball coach at PS80Q, his former elementary school.

A graduate of Springfield Gardens High School, he would find his love for basketball and coaching before meeting his wife at their alma mater York College.

On the day before Father’s Day, his son, Aleek, helped unveil the new sign before hosting a free basketball clinic at South Rochdale Playground in his father’s honor.

“Me and my family are truly blessed to have had Alex Joseph-Pauline as our king,” Aleek said.

The father of three also worked as a direct care counselor for the mentally challenged on the weekends, when he wasn’t busy being a public school teacher and a basketball coach during the week.

In 1988, he founded “Drug Free That’s Me,” a nonprofit that used basketball as a way to teach the youth about the negative effects of alcohol and drug use, as well as countless other life lessons taught along the way.

Friends and neighborhood residents gather to celebrate the life of Alex Pauline.

The nonprofit had participants including Shaheen Holloway, the head coach of Seton Hall University, and former NBA player Lamar Odom. Pauline also helped coach professional athletes including WNBA player Tina Charles, NBA players Danny Green, Kenny Patterson, Sundiata Gaines, and future NFL pro Kevin Ogletree.

Aleek would also be coached to a basketball career at Norfolk State University, as well as a career overseas in Europe.

In the program’s basketball tournaments, Pauline would use halftime to preach and teach about the dangers of drug abuse and crime, while offering an alternative from those very same vices.

Brian Corbett, a Rochdale native, was on hand to celebrate the life of Pauline, who he says served as a role model for himself and others while growing up in southeast Queens.

“He taught us about responsibilities and how we were looked at at the time by police as young Black cats and how to conduct ourselves,” Corbett recalled. “He kept a swear jar for when we were playing basketball. If you said a cuss, you would add to the collection and he would use it to buy shirts. He was an exemplary human being.”

Led by a performance by the Elite Marching Band of Queens, the street co-naming ceremony included remarks from Council Speaker and Rochdale native Adrienne Adams.

“What makes this community so special is the everyday people who live here and care so deeply about their neighbors, especially our seniors and our young people,” Adams said. “Rochdale village residents look out for one another and support each other in every way they can.”

Council Speaker Adrienne Adams gives the street sign to the family of the late Alex Pauline.

She continued, “One such unsung hero was Alex Pauline, who grew up in circle four and basically called Rochdale Village Hall all of his life. He served as a positive role model and father figure for children in the neighborhood and his students at PS 80.”

State Senator Leroy Comrie urged the community to “pay it forward,” in honor of Pauline.

“We have other young people in our community that need your guiding hand, that need to see you,” Comrie said. “They see your actions and they see your deeds already. Just pay it forward to them to let them know that they’re loved because we need to continue to pay it forward and nurture our young people, and to continue to provide opportunities in the spirit of Alex Pauline.”

A celebratory walk to the nearby basketball courts along the newly co-named street served as a walk down memory lane for family members and friends of Pauline.

“On a daily basis, he and I couldn’t walk from our building to the store or to our car, without him running into a young person, a parent or a colleague,” said Pauline’s wife, Dolores. “I’m glad they chose this time to recognize him.”


Juneteenth in Queens celebrated at Roy Wilkins Park

Juneteenth—the newest federally recognized holiday—originated on June 19, 1865, when Union Army general Gordon Granger proclaimed freedom for the enslaved African-American people in Texas.

More than 150 years since it began, the holiday gained national recognition in 2021, when President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law, making it the first nationally recognized holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was adopted in 1983.

For the second year in a row, the borough held its “Juneteenth in Queens” event at Roy Wilkins Park in St. Albans, a day-long celebration including over 100 vendors on-hand and live musical performances.

Pon Di Ice, a Jamaica-based business at the Juneteenth in Queens event at Roy Wilkins Park.

A lineup made up of The Goode Dance Project NYC, Nadia Renee, Chad Milner, Supe, Devore Dance Center, Ralph McDaniels & Friends, Neveah Flowers, Cash Sinatra, Isaac Sawyer, TGIFLY, Riflette Cheerleaders, Black Spectrum Theatre, the Bartlett Brothers and Michael Pugh performed for the liberating event on Saturday.

The day is nothing new to Sophia K-Franklin, who helped hand out free books from the vendor tent of Lena’s Library, a southeast-Queens based literary initiative that lends out books for free.

Sophia’s daughter, Lena, helps run the library, which also serves as a place of occupation for special-needs adults.

With dozens of books and magazines about Black history and prominent Black figures on display underneath their festival tent, Lena’s mother emphasized the importance of promoting literacy one book at a time.

“Don’t leave it for somebody to tell you, because they’re going to tell you their version. You read it so you can tell your own version,” K-Franklin said. “This day finally acknowledges that we were slaves and we were freed. And we have to live in a state of being free. Because you can be free and not ‘free’.”

Sophia K-Franklin highlights the importance of literacy and Black history at the Juneteenth in Queens event at Roy Wilkins Park.

The southeast Queens mom’s message was echoed by a number of elected speakers, including Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman and State Senator James Sanders Jr.

“It’s not just a day off for our kids,” Hyndman said to the crowd at Roy Wilkins park. “Let’s remember that it’s not just a day off work because there was a time when you had no days off.”

Sanders noted that even after the 1860’s, an era of sharecropping slavery was introduced until Black people were given the right to vote with the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965.

“Since then, we’ve entered into a type of wage slavery,” Sanders said. “Now comes a time where we have to have a revolution of the mind, where we have to liberate ourselves from a type of wage slavery.”

He questioned the crowd of how much of southeast Queens is owned by the Black community.

“How many of the stores do we own? I would argue not enough,” he added.

Sponsors for the second annual event included E.W.G. Glass Recycle Corp., NHSJ American Recycling Management LLC., Resort World Casino, UPS, ELMCOR, Black Spectrum Theatre Co. Inc,. A Whole New JFK, VOYCE, NYC Parks, Dr Bronner’s, KAAGNY, Lyft, Greater Jamaica Development Corp., REBNY, EmblemHeath, HNTB, Patrick B. Jenkins & Associates, Life Camp, Mercury, 100 Suits, Queens Chamber of Commerce, NYC Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes, NYSABPRL, NYC Human Rights, conEdison, NYC Vicinity District Council of Carpenters and SEQ U.P. Front.

Food vendors manned the grill at the Juneteenth in Queens event at Roy Wilkins Park.

As a Black History major, K-Franklin also celebrates Black Solidarity Day, normally celebrated on the first Monday in November as a reminder of the collective strength of the Black community.

She acknowledged that with federal recognition of Juneteenth, it’s only natural for the commercialization of the new holiday to follow.

“You’ve got to celebrate yourself everyday,” K-Franklin said. “Don’t wait for the government or commercial media.”

It’s the celebration of culture and giving back to the community, she says, that should be prioritized before capitalizing and profiting on the day.

“We don’t need to be going shopping,” she said. “But we’re not going to get away from it because anybody will use the opportunity to make a buck, but do the right thing with it.”

“We gotta be careful we don’t get used, and the commercial takes us over. That’s what we don’t want.”

A Juneteenth flag flies at the Juneteenth in Queens event at Roy Wilkins Park.

Vendors displayed their artwork at the Juneteenth in Queens event at Roy Wilkins Park.

Lena’s Library is visited by the mascot of the New York Islanders, Sparky the Dragon.

A makeshift basketball hoop set up at the Juneteenth in Queens event at Roy Wilkins Park.

South Richmond Hill fire kills three family members

GoFundme launched for family

A five-alarm fire broke out in South Richmond Hill last Friday and claimed the lives of three people.

The Little Guyana community is mourning the loss of three residents of the same family who lost their lives due to a raging fire in South Richmond Hill last Friday.

FDNY Firefighters responded to the deadly blaze at 104-18 125th Street, just after 2 p.m. When firefighters arrived, the fire began spreading to neighboring homes and due to windy conditions carried flames across the road, damaging adjacent homes as well.

More than 200 firefighters and 45 companies responded to the five-alarm fire at the intersection of Liberty Avenue and 125th Street, eventually getting the raging flames under control at approximately 4:44 p.m. Five firefighters sustained minor injuries.

Initial searches of the building where the fire started were delayed due to structural issues, FDNY said. As of Tuesday morning, the cause of the fire is still under investigation by fire marshals.

Three people were killed in the blaze—Salima Persaud, Balo Persaud, and their son Devon Persaud.

Two of the bodies were found on Friday, while the third body wasn’t found until the day after, with emergency personnel still on the scene nearly 24 hours later.

A GoFundme has been started by an extended family member for funeral expenses, with over $43,000 raised in two days.

2022 Election Profile: Assembly Candidate Ramon Cando

Ramon Cando, a Democratic district leader and proud member of Laborers Local 78, is one of two candidates in the running for the New York State Assembly’s 30th District—representing parts of Elmhurst, Woodside, and Maspeth.

Cando, 50, champions his role as part of a 3,200-member labor union of asbestos abatement and hazardous waste handlers in New York City, Long Island, and New Jersey.

He will be running a contested primary against Steven Raga in the upcoming June 28th Democratic primary to try and fill the seat of outgoing State Assemblyman Brian Barnwell, who announced back in April that he would not seek re-election this year.

Public safety is a top priority for Cando, who said that the recent uptick of crime over the past two years has led him to run as a “common sense Democrat” with goals of repealing bail reform and granting judges the power to determine how dangerous defendants are. He also opposes the “defund the police” platform, insisting that the NYPD budget should be increased.

“Every single day there’s a shooting,” Cando told The Queens Ledger in a one-on-one exclusive. “I am really concerned that we’re getting used to it.”

Cando also carries the endorsements of City Councilman Robert Holden and U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi.

Previously, as the District Leader for Assembly District 35, Cando earned 2,148 votes (58 percent) in the 2020 hyperlocal election, defeating James Fogle for the position.

In his capacity as a District Leader for the past two years, Cando says he helped distribute face masks, PPE equipment, and information about the vaccine in his Elmhurst community.

Cando, who immigrated from Ecuador in the 1990’s, points to his post-financial career in labor organizing as a factor into his decision to run for State Assembly.

“As a member of my union, I’ve learned how to organize my people,” Cando said.

While door-knocking within the district, he says he often meets constituents who are only interested in voting in the Presidential election. He stresses the importance of local races to residents in his district with the hope of earning their vote.

Cando’s pathway to Albany goes through new areas of the district that have been and are currently represented by other, more progressive, hispanic candidates, such as Catalina Cruz (AD39) and Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas (AD34).

The political newcomer sees an opportunity to bring out a more traditional latino vote, focusing his campaign run on crime and homelessness throughout the district.

Cando argues that many progressive avenues of public safety reform, including investments in city schools, and social services, may need 20 years to see results.

He says the younger generation of latino progressives are very passionate, but aren’t learning from what happened to countries like Venezuela, which went from one of the wealthiest Latin American nations in the world to a majority of its population living in poverty.

“The younger people — the progressives — these are the new socialists,” Cando said. “Why take money from our police officers? New York City is already one of the most expensive cities in the world.”

Gennaro criticizes Albany’s “soft on crime” policies

By Evan Triantafilidis

City Councilman James Gennaro voiced his displeasure with the governor and the state legislature, claiming that Albany’s “soft on crime agenda” is to blame for not addressing rising crime and public safety concerns.

Gennaro pointed to a spike of major crimes in New York City, citing a nearly 60 percent jump in February compared to the same month last year. He expressed concerns with how the state has failed to allow judges to consider dangerousness when deciding whether or not to remand a defendant.

“New York State is the only state in the country whose judges cannot consider dangerousness with regard to defendants,” Gennaro said at a press conference held at Pomonok Houses on Monday morning. “And that has led to many defendants perpetrating repeat violent crimes.”

Gennaro, who represents portions of Kew Garden Hills, Pomonok, Electchester, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest, Jamaica Estates, Briarwood, Parkway Village, Jamaica Hills and Jamaica, gave Governor Kathy Hochul a failing grade in regards to public safety.

“This failure of leadership on critical safety imperatives has led me here today to state that this represents a gross failure of leadership on the part of the governor and the state legislature,” Gennaro said. “And now that the state legislative session is over for the year, we have to wait for next year’s legislative sessions to hope for a functional and effective criminal justice system that the city and state needs and deserves.”

Joining Gennaro at the press conference were Tamika Williams-Moore, president of the Pomonok Houses Association, and Michael Nussbaum, president of the Queens Jewish Community Council.

Nussbaum stated that the criminal justice system in the state is, and has been, broken.

“It’s been broken for years,” Nussbaum added. “There has been a failure from the city level as well as the state level.”

He called upon Governor Kathy Hochul to call a special session of the state legislature in September to deal with the singular issue.

Williams-Moore said that two recent shootings in the NYCHA complex last month has residents fearing for their safety.

“As far as crime goes in our communities we see a lot of robberies, we see people breaking into cars, we see vandalism, but we don’t see a high incidence of murders, which we’re very proud about,” Williams-Moore said. “We want to keep it that way. And we would be happy if we had no shootings at all. So there has been years where Paumanok hasn’t had any shootings or murders. And we want to go back to those days. Those were the golden days.”

A green and clean southeast Queens

Adams calls for beautification of southeast Queens neighborhoods

By Evan Triantafilidis

Despite not attaining one percent of the city’s agreed upon $101.1 million budget for its parks and green spaces, Council Speaker Adrienne Adams spent her Saturday morning advocating for a greener and cleaner southeast Queens.

NYC H2O interns Adid Rahman and Yael Colchero go into Baisley Pond as part of Saturday’s cleanup event.

A rally held at Baisley Pond Park in Jamaica highlighted the need for community involvement in beautification projects and praised the ongoing efforts already underway for cleaner streets, parks, and open spaces.

Representatives from city agencies and community advocate groups were in attendance to cheer on each other before a community cleanup of Baisley Pond Park.

“For a long time, southeast Queens has grappled with issues of traffic in our neighborhoods, from consistent illegal parking to inadequate litter basket service,” Adams said. “During the height of the pandemic, the people of our communities have bore the brunt of this long-standing problem.”

Within the city’s budget for parks is $43 million added for upgrades and maintenance, and an additional $4 million is slated to bring 50 Urban Park Rangers for programming, wildlife management and staffing at nature centers.

The budget also calls for $22 million to increase litter basket service above pre-pandemic levels and funding a waste containerization study and 1,000 rat-resistant litter baskets for $5 million.

An additional $488 million in capital funds will go towards funding parks improvement projects, including planting 20,000 trees per year, and adding new greenways in Brooklyn and Queens.

The one percent threshold for parks was a campaign promise of Mayor Eric Adams that will fall short by a few hundred million dollars.

Carl and Zara Williams

“Our beloved green spaces and waterways like Baisley Pond Park also require improved maintenance and care,” Councilwoman Adams said. “They have been and continue to be a haven for all of us throughout this pandemic. So it is imperative that we invest in their upkeep.”

Adams, the former chair of Community Board 12, added that her former Community Board has one of the highest rates of illegal dumping complaints in the city.

New York State Senator Leroy Comrie says he believes in the leadership of Council Speaker Adams and Majority Whip Selvena Brooks-Powers, to transform southeast Queens’ open spaces into an example for both the borough and city.

He expressed the importance of community cleanups like Saturday morning’s event, where volunteers from the Carpenter Contractor Alliance of Metropolitan of New York showed up to pick up litter throughout the park.

“You want to be able to come to a clean environment, near your home, that is maintained by a community effort,” Comrie said. He also applauded the local initiatives that “increase the opportunity for local participation and do everything else necessary to make our parks beautiful.”

Brooks-Powers honed in on the local problem of illegal dumping that she called a chronic issue across the city, especially in southeast Queens.

She cited a recent cleanup on the boardwalk in Far Rockaway where organizers and volunteers collected over 80,000 pounds of trash.

“This surprising number is a testament to how serious the issue for our community really is,” Brooks-Powers said. “Every day, my staff and I field calls from constituents, reporting another incident of littering, and we are hard at work to respond to the dumping issues and cleanup requests.”

As part of Saturday’s cleanup, interns from NYC H2O went into the park’s pond to remove debris and garbage. Students learned about the history and ecology behind Baisley Pond, which was once a reservoir built in 1858 to supply what was at the time the City of Brooklyn.

The pond serves as a native habitat for wildlife including turtles, frogs and red-headed ducks, says Matt Molina, director and founder of H2O NYC.

“We are cleaning here today because we want students to see the beauty of the park rather than the garbage,” Molina said. “And these cleanups are something that we love doing because they bring out the best in the best New Yorkers.”

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