$21.3M in federal funds secured for Queens projects

Platform to be extended, elevators to be added at LIRR station in Forest Hills; largest project of the bunch

By Jessica Meditz

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The Long Island Rail Road station in Forest Hills is the most expensive project of the bunch, with $7 million allocated. (Photo: Michael Perlman)

Just before Christmas, it was announced that over $21.3 million in federal funds were allocated for 15 critical projects across Queens.

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens), New York’s senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, secured the funds in the new 2023 government spending package that passed the House and Senate late last month, and has now been signed into law by President Joe Biden.

Meng obtained a total of $21,317,066 in federal money for the projects, all of which meet many urgent needs throughout Queens.

The largest portion of the funding will go toward upgrades for the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) station in Forest Hills – approximately $7 million.

Improvements to the station will include the installation of new elevators and the extension the platform length to accommodate more train cars.

Today, the Forest Hills LIRR station accommodates only six of the 12 train cars, meaning that when a train stops at that station, only the first six cars are able to open their doors. The planned extension will be able to accommodate all 12 cars.

Additionally, the implementation of elevators will make the Forest Hills LIRR station fully accessible, in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).

“The MTA is fully committed to make the entire system accessible, not just subways but the LIRR and Metro-North too,” MTA Chief Accessibility Officer Quemuel Arroyo said in a statement. “With these new elevators spread throughout the subway system and across Long Island, a large number of riders with disabilities, customers with children in strollers and visitors with luggage will benefit from an easier way to access mass transit.”

An MTA spokesperson said that the station’s accessibility upgrades are still in the design phase, and that more information can be shared when there’s a timeline for construction.

The allocated federal funds will also benefit other Queens cornerstones, including Queens College, borough hospitals, local nonprofits and small businesses.

They include $2 million for The City of New York’s District 6 Open Restaurants Dining Kits, $2 million for the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty (Met Council), over $1.4 million for Queens College’s Small Business Development Initiative,  $1 million for New York City Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst for the renovation of its Infectious Diseases Clinic, $1 million for the Queens Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Legal Desk support program, $1 million for Long Island Jewish Forest Hills’ establishment of Robotic Assisted Orthopedic Surgery, $1 million for the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty (Met Council), $1 million for Commonpoint Queens, $800,000 for LIFE Camp, Inc., $750,000 for 100 Suits for 100 Men, $750,000 for Churches United for Fair Housing, $750,000 for Queens College’s Colden Auditorium, $551,210 for DOROT (which serves older adults) and $250,000 La Jornada Food Pantry.

“As I’ve said, Queens deserves its fair share, and I’m thrilled to bring back more money for critical projects here in our borough,” Meng said in a statement.

“I am especially pleased that I was able to secure more than double the amount of what I obtained in last year’s government spending bill. I am always honored and proud to fight for Queens and I’ll never stop working to ensure that our communities have the resources they need. I thank the President for signing the new spending bill into law, and look forward to this more than $21.3 million benefiting our borough, and the neighborhoods I represent, for many years to come.”

The money that Meng secured is allocated under Congress’ Community Project Funding.

In last year’s government spending bill, Meng obtained nearly $10 million for projects throughout her district.     

Maspeth Federal Savings turns 75

Maspeth Federal Savings was joined by the community in celebration of its 75th anniversary.

Around 100 residents, students, and local elected officials gathered at the Maspeth location ⁠—the site of the original storefront that first opened in 1947 with a staff of only seven employees.

President and CEO Thomas Rudzewick said that Maspeth Federal Savings has grown to become an institution with seven different locations, nearly 200 employees, and $2.2 billion in assets over the last 75 years.

“We stayed to our mission. We wanted to make sure that this institution was a safe place to put your deposits and to get your home loan,” he said.

“Our mission is to create and maintain a professional environment that fosters the confidence of our board of directors, invites the ideas of our employees and exceeds the expectations of our customers,” he continued. “We are here to treat you like family, and we hope all of you feel the same way from myself and the board of directors that are here today.”

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, NYS Assemblyman Brian Barnwell, and Councilman Robert Holden congratulated Maspeth Federal Savings on their achievements and presented them with citations.

“Maspeth Federal Savings has become a trusted financial institution admired for its fiscal management and deep commitment to the community,” Richards said.“Thank you for contributing to financial literacy for community based organizations. Think about the impact that this has had on families and businesses, and how it has kept Queens such a vibrant borough.”

In the spirit of family, the St. Stan’s Players gave a musical performance, which included Sister Sledge’s 1979 hit, “We Are Family.”

Upon pointing out that the bank’s former President and CEO Kenneth Rudzewick, has a story quite similar to George Bailey from “It’s a Wonderful Life,” Holden said: “It’s rare that a bank is the center of the community for all celebrations, but Maspeth Federal has always been that. That’s because of men like Kenny and Tom Rudzewick.”

“With your help over the last 75 years, you did make living in Maspeth and the surrounding communities a wonderful life,” Holden said.

Maspeth Federal Savings Celebrates 75 Years of Serving the Community

Maspeth Federal Savings is excited to start the celebration of our 75th anniversary.

Founded in 1947, Maspeth Federal Savings continues to be a financially viable, independent mutual savings institution that is committed to building multiple, mutually beneficial and lasting relationships with consumers, businesses and organizations within the communities we serve and to demonstrate behavior that focuses on the customer.

“We are proud that throughout our 75 years, we have stayed true to the mission of our founders by putting our customers, communities and employees at the forefront of everything we do” Thomas Rudzewick, president and CEO, said. “We look forward to the next 75 years by remaining focused on delivering a more diverse, sustainable and innovative bank for the future”.

To commemorate their 75-year anniversary, the bank invites customers, friends, and neighbors to stop by on Wednesday, April 20th at 12 p.m. at our Main Office in Maspeth. Coffee and cake will be served and customers can be a part of the bank’s history in celebrating this special occasion.

The bank will also host a “75 Days of Giving” initiative, slated to begin on April 25th, which will consist of a series of events, giveaways and “random acts of kindness,” culminating with rewarding a grand prize of a brand new electric 2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E.

“We sincerely thank our customers who have been loyal to us over the years and allowed Maspeth Federal Savings to be a part of our wonderful community, and this celebration is our way of expressing our thanks.” David Daraio, chief operating officer, said.

All are encouraged to enter the raffle by filling out a digital entry on the bank’s website at https://www.maspethfederal.com.

55th annual Maspeth tree lighting awakens holiday spirit

Last Friday, the Maspeth Chamber of Commerce brought holiday cheer to the neighborhood with its annual Tree Lighting Ceremony.
Held in Maspeth Memorial Square, a sentimental corner of the neighborhood, residents gathered on the chilly night to sing Christmas carols, watch performances and spend time with their kids.
Assemblyman Brian Barnwell spoke at the event, thanking the Maspeth Chamber of Commerce and Maspeth Federal Savings Bank for making the tree lighting possible every year.
“Without you guys, we’d be in big trouble,” he said. “In the beginning of the pandemic, they bought and distributed masks to all the first responders that we had. They do so much behind the scenes, and they might not even be aware of their impact.”
The crowd watched the children of “A Song and a Dance” on Grand Avenue perform their holiday-themed routines, with tunes ranging from “Jingle Bell Rock” to Ariana Grande’s “Santa Tell Me.”
Maspeth music icons Liz and Bill Huisman brought their folk inspired sound to the crowd, encouraging everyone to sing along and enjoy the music.
When the tree and all the hanging lights lit up after a ten-second countdown, the scene felt like a winter wonderland in the middle of Maspeth.
Bill Huisman called all the children in attendance to join him in singing classic Christmas carols while he played his guitar.
In the spirit of giving, two raffles were held, and two lucky winners got to go home with an Amazon Echo and a brand new bicycle from local business Grand Bicycle.
The highlight of the evening was when Santa Claus arrived. Even though it happens annually, Maspeth resident Tammy Sanchez said events like the tree lighting are essential to the community, especially now.
“They really put a lot of effort into it year after year,” she said. “With all the craziness going on in the world, this is the one thing that they can do for the community to bring happiness and get everyone into the holiday spirit. I am thankful that they do this for the neighborhood.”

Maspeth Federal donates $10,000 to Relay For Life

For the 17th consecutive year, Maspeth Federal Savings will be a corporate sponsor of the Relay for Life event in Middle Village.
“We are proud to support such an important cause and fight against a disease that touches so many people’s lives,” said Kristen Sapienza, senior bank officer and marketing supervisor. “The Relay for Life is an amazing event that not only raises funds for essential programs and patient services, but has also formed a community support system for anyone who has been affected by cancer.”
The event involves teams of taking turns walking or jogging through the night around the track at Juniper Valley Park. It will take place on Saturday, September 25. For this year only, there will be a “pop up” three-hour version of Relay For Life from 6-9 p.m. A festive atmosphere includes music and entertainment.
“Funds raised through Relay For Life help ACS fund and conduct breakthrough research, and give cancer patients and their families the resources they need, like free rides to chemo, free places to stay near hospitals, and a live 24/7 helpline for answers and support,” said Leslie Orlovsky, senior manager of Community Events with the American Cancer Society.
For more information or to register, call (347) 850-6868 or e-mail [email protected]

Grand Avenue Freeze-Out

The BStreetband performed the songs of Bruce Springsteeen at the parking lot of Maspeth Federal Savings at Grand Avenue and 69th Street last week.
“They were really good,” said Kathleen Connell. “I felt like I was actually at a Bruce Springsteen concert. Their saxophone player would have made Clarence Clemons proud.”
The BStreetBand debuted as Backstreets in 1980 in Asbury Park before an audience of over 2,000 Boss fans.
Nearly 6,000 performances later, they still thit the stage, playing over 175 shows per year throughout the country.
Maspeth Federal’s upcoming “Movies Under the Star” program include Guardians of the Galaxy on August 18 and a drive-in movie night featuring The Little Mermaid on August 25. That performance requires registration beforehand.

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